We pulled up anchor at 2:00 am on January 17th and headed out pointing east! I went back to bed, my shift would start at 5:00 am. I came up to take the helm noting calm conditions, gentle swell, beautiful stars. The full moon was just beginning to set. As the sun started coming up I was concerned to see that the sky was quite colorful again today, and included some virga along the horizon. Beautiful, but hopefully we were not in for a repeat of yesterday! We passed by the last of the Midriff Islands, Isla San Pedro Martir, at 7:00. There were tons of sea birds and even a sea lion. At noon the wind shifted to behind us and we put up big pink! I really love that sail. I felt like a show off in front of all of those plain looking shrimp boats we were passing. We were entering shallower waters created by silt carried by the numerous river estuaries of the mainland. The landscape was low and more green here, quite a change from the arid, steep lands we had been seeing on the peninsula. We entered the tiny shallow bay of Pozo Moreno and had the bow and stern anchors down at 4:00. We didn’t want to swing onto the rocks to either side of the cove. It was peaceful and really pretty with a couple of fish camps on the beach and almost no swell. We thought this was an excellent anchorage……until we were swarmed by a cloud of little bugs. We closed up everything as fast as we could but hundreds found their way into the cabin. Ugh! Welcome to the mainland side. At least none of them were biting us! Tomorrow we head south!
January 18th, we woke up slapping at bugs. There were three kinds of fruit fly sized pests, none of them biting but definitely bothersome. We put all of the fruit in the fridge, trash with food waste in the anchor locker, and cleaned the sink and all surfaces of any food bits. I then discovered that I could spray them right out of the air with soapy water and wipe them up with a moist paper towel. Bill did not think it was a good idea to be spraying soap around…….maybe he was right since the boat is constantly moving, and slipping without soap-covered surfaces happens enough as it is. I went to the all-knowing Google and found that using red wine with a small amount of soap in it attracts the bugs and with no surface tension on the liquid due to the soap, they sink. Perfect! I had bought some red wine from a vendor at the Mission de Nuestra Senora that we visited in Loreto. It tasted like what you think wine bought from a vendor selling it through the fence outside the Mission would taste like, perfect to use as a bug killing trap! I set out two dishes and immediately saw a couple of bugs dive in. Within a couple of hours, there were about 50 in the bottom of each dish.
We set off at 10:00, the bug war made us a little late, to go to Algadones with the goal of visiting the Soggy Peso Bar. We had been to the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands on a charter trip years ago and we thought it would be fun to visit the Mexican version. We were hoping it was still there and serving! We arrived at the large bay of Algadones and had the anchor down by 2:00. Once again we were the only boat in the bay. We could see the Soggy Peso Bar from our anchorage and it was still in operation. The water here was still 63 degrees so our pesos definitely would not be getting soggy. We dinghied in to the beach with an easy landing on sand with no waves, explored the beach a bit, and went to the bar. We selected a table in the sand looking out at the water and Sacagawea. “Dos Cervezas, por favor!” and life is good!
We took our time in the morning. It felt good to cook a nice breakfast and enjoy our coffee. The propane ran out just as the eggs finished cooking. It’s OK, we have another one! For propane, we have a larger cylinder for the grill and two slightly smaller ones for the range. We had been using the tank that ran out for the last 6 weeks. I don’t even worry about running out. I cook whatever meals we want, bake bread and cookies, it is perfect! We will get more before we hit 6 weeks and a second empty tank. We pulled up the anchor and moved just a little bit further south to San Carlos. This bay is tucked well inside and around a long arm of a peninsula. There is supposed to be some wind coming and we were hoping for a slip in the marina but they did not have room for us. No problem, there is also a large anchoring field in the protected bay. We would have no problem finding a good place to set the hook.
As we were coming in, we saw our friend Bill on The Cat heading out for a sailing race. His crew on the foredeck must have wondered why we were aiming Sacagawea right at them and waving like mad! We shouted back and forth quickly as we passed, promising to drop by before we left the area. We made on our way into the small fuel dock where we took on 117 gallons of diesel total. We have three tanks; two 45 gallon tanks and one 90 gallon tank. They last pretty long since we also have the sails for propulsion. The last time we had filled up was Dec 21, almost one month ago and we still had about 63 gallons left. The wind that was forecast was already coming up when we were ready to leave the fuel dock. We had a very tight turn around to get back out to the anchorage and the wind was blowing us up against the fuel dock. Bill was at the helm and I managed the lines. Bill decided to leave the aft line attached to the dock and use it as a crack-the-whip type spring line. I released the forward and side lines and stepped aboard. He started gently pulling away in reverse, pulling the aft line tight, then pivoting around the fender he had tied to the aft corner of the boat, pulling the bow out into the wind. Once we completed almost half of our 180, he had the attendant release the line and I pulled it aboard. Brilliant! We finished our turn and were anchored by 12:30 with extra anchor chain out and our riding sail up to keep us steady in the high winds. There were amazingly beautiful homes covering the hills around the anchorage. Much larger and more posh than any others we had seen so far in Mexico, and a far cry from the tiny homes we commonly saw on the peninsula.
The wind abated quite a bit by evening when a large motor yacht moved in quite close to us and dropped a suboptimal anchor. They started dragging slowly right away. It turns out they were shooting a music video! I am sure Sacagawea is in the background with me on the transom gawking and taking pictures. Maybe they can smudge me out or something? It was all very interesting to watch. The girls pretending to be happy and dancing in tiny dresses looked like they were freezing between takes in the fresh breeze. In the chop, the pink-haired singer was trying to dance on the back of a jet ski and sing his song while another pretty woman drove them slowly in circles. They stopped filming when they ran out of day light. I wish I knew the name of the band so we could look it up!
January 20, the wind was gone for the moment and we were ready to get off the boat, but first we needed to change the oil. Every 100ish hours of engine time we change the oil and every other change we change the filter as well. Both needed to be changed this time. We have about a 20 hour trip tomorrow and we want to keep our Iron Genny in good shape. It is a messy job but we are getting better at it. We saved some plastic containers that mushrooms come in from the store. They fit exactly in the space under the oil filter which holds onto at least a pint of thick black oil so when the filter is removed it catches the mess. Chores done, we set off for a dinghy tour of the bay and the marina. It is a really charming area. We both wish we had allowed more time here. We hiked across the little peninsula to some rock formations, climbed up and looked out over the water. Next, we explored around the bay which got really shallow, even for a dinghy, and made for a large no-go area for about a third of the whole bay. We put-putted our way through the marina then we buzzed over to The Cat to chat a bit. Bill was glad to see us and gave us a lovely wind chime he had made for us from shells and a piece of driftwood he found in the Sea of Cortez. So nice and thoughtful! We were parting ways after leap-frogging each other all the way from San Diego, as he was planning to cross back to the Loreto area with Stogie his dog, and of course we were heading south. The goodbyes seem to be more frequent as we progress.
January 21, we left at 6:30 am for an overnight cruise south to Topolobampo. There was a nice breeze to start us out so we put up the sails as soon as we were on our course after turning out of the bay. In the distance we could see some kind of disturbance in the water. I was concerned about the possibility of some anomalous wind event. We had been caught before in the San Juan Islands with sails up watching the odd texture in the water until we were slammed by big wind from a totally unexpected direction. I warned Bill and we both watched on alert as the disturbance came nearer. It was dolphins! So many, a super pod! It took us a whole hour to move through and past them. Wow! They rode our bow wake, jumped, and danced. Amazing! We continued on through the day and overnight, taking turns at the helm so we could get a few hours of sleep at a time. The weather was terrific, the winds remained fair, the stars were incredible. What a great cruise!
Topolobampo is a small town near Los Mochis. People drive to Topolobampo from Los Mochis for a day at the water or a nice dinner out. There is a somewhat complicated 20 mile channel to get into Topolobampo off of the Sea of Cortez. We turned in to the channel at 11:00 am, carefully followed our red and green markers, and arrived at the dock at 3:00 pm. We called the marina when we were floating outside their breakwater asking which slip they wanted us in. They said take the slip next to the large blue motor trawler. We started toward the entrance but there was no space next to the only big blue motor trawler we could see. We circled back out into the channel. Bill called back and explained the problem. The manager asked Bill to describe what he was seeing. “A breakwater, behind that a thatched roof palapa building, some flowers, a palm tree” The manager asked if we could see a man wearing an orange shirt waving? No. Ahhhh, come around the corner you are at the other marina. Our mapping software labeled the wrong marina as “Marina Palmira”! To make us look even smarter and put together, I lightly (emphasis on lightly) hit the corner of the dock. Oops! No damage done, I feel it shouldn’t count. We went to check in at the office and Nelson, the manager, was fabulous! He helped us arrange a diver to clean the bottom and change our zincs, arranged for a driver take us to and from Los Mochis for our Copper Canyon Train excursion early in the morning on January 24th, and even invited us to go to dinner in town in his car. Absolutely! All of this was complimentary. What a wonderful marina for cruisers as none of us have car on board!
We went to dinner at Nelson’s favorite restaurant. It was located on the main drag of Topolobampo which was right along the waterway. A wide modern sidewalk was lined with eateries spilling onto the walkway. Charming! We had a great time talking and gaining a little insight into the culture. He was saving money to fix up his house and buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. He didn’t want to ask her until the house was what he felt was up to her standard. Then someday he hoped to own a boat. We told him we thought he had a good plan. We also found out the “big blue motor trawler” was in fact our friends on Tits Pierre! They were on the train trip already and we would see them the next night when they returned.
We devoted January 23rd to boat chores. We washed the salt off the boat, looked for any loose or broken fittings even at the top of the mast (good job Bill!), added more to the lists of things to fix or improve, then prepared for our big adventure in the morning.
Early the next morning Javier, our driver and son of the marina owner, picked us up in his sedan and drove us to the train station. We thanked him over and over a little apologetic about the early hour until he explained that this was part of his job. He worked for the marina and the days he spent as a chauffeur were among his favorite. He told us of driving all the way to San Diego for the Baja Ha Ha party to promote the marina. We were there! We met him there! We were here because of that promotion! We all had a laugh as we exited the vehicle and entered the train station. I had worked hard to get these tickets. The train goes out on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and returns Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday with no service on Sunday. I hoped everything was in order. Before we left Puerto Escondido I emailed for the tickets, emailed back to pay, and received the tickets electronically. Next I found what looked like a decent hotel with a free shuttle from the train and back. We printed the tickets on our little printer that has been a life saver several times. We were only able to get first class tickets for the trip out to Creel, we had tourist class on the way back. I thought it would be good to see the difference anyway. I went to the window, showed what I had and the smiling lady at the window said “Bueno, Bueno, Bueno!” Woohoo! Let the land excursion adventure begin!