Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sea of Cortez to Cabo

     A brisk sail down the Sea of Cortez brought us to La Paz for the haul out and bottom painting, and then San Jose del Cabo where we will start reprovisioning for the Clipper route to Hawaii, and eventually home to Victoria, BC. We tucked in to the anchorage at Cabo for a few days of party monster antics in the bay with sea doos and speed boats spraying us with waves every few minutes, and two-for-one giant margaritas on shore. We picked up John Duggan, Irish mariner extra-ordinaire and Al Kitchen, our very own Bluewater Fleet captain, back in San Jose del Cabo, to make up a capable threesome for the twenty one (or so) days Pacific crossing to Hawaii. I wished them all a "Buen Viaje!" and took the short cut home via Westjet to Victoria. We shall meet again in a months time at the port city of Hilo, Hawaii, ready for the next chapter on board Chantey V.

The Three Marineros plot strategy
Los Arcos, Cabo

SamuelTaylor Colridge

Monday, April 11, 2016

Isla Carmen, Loreto, Puerto Escondido

Bill and Michelle, SV Adagio 

A lumpy overnighter was in store as we crossed the Sea of Cortez to Isla Carmen. The brilliant spectacle of the burnt umber desert mountains, against the azure blue sea over white sand, glowed around us as we entered the bay. Anchored nearby were our new friends Bill and Michelle on power vessel Adagio. They invited us to go snorkeling on an old 120 ft. submerged wreck. We watched in awe as scores of multi-coloured fish darted in and out of the bones of the shipwreck. Afterwards we went ashore to check out an abandoned salt flats and processing camp. The crumbling buildings stood sentinel over another time; a rusted out child's wagon and bulldozer, a half-caved in medical office. Bill and Michelle invited us back to Adagio later for a yummy prawn supper with poblano sauce. The end of a perfect day on the sea. Off to Puerto Escondido in the morning, we shall miss our new-found companions.....till we meet again, Fair Winds!
Isla Carmen

     Puerto Escondido is a hurricane hole so many cruisers hang out here as they sail the Sea of Cortez. This is prime cruising ground with the painted desert cliffs towering above clear blue-green waters and pink and white sand. Tied to the mooring ball behind us was SV Full and Bye from Victoria, BC. We spent several days with old cruiser pals Anne and Dick touring the darling village of Loreto and catching up on past voyages, before making our way towards La Paz. The white slip of crescent beach of Bahia San Francisco awaited us. A sublime place where time stands still against the crimson hills and lapping waters.
Dick and Anne, SV Full and Bye

Loreto street view

Loreto mission

Steinbeck's Canyon

San Francisco Bay

          "A painted cup of crimson dew,
            holds a flower just for you,
            Scarlett, pink and orange, too,
            Evening hides them from our view."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mazatlan to Copper Canyon

Kelly and I at Plazuela Machado

    The entrance to the marina was the usual hair-raising spectacle with the dredging machine dominating the centre of the channel and waves crashing over the rocks on either side. But once through we settled in comfortably at the El Cid Marina to await our guest Kelly from Victoria. Unfortunately, it was almost Semana Santa, the biggest holiday season of the year, and the party atmosphere had already begun with the pounding beat of Mexican rap music from dawn til dusk.


     Once known as the Jewel of the Pacific the old town of Mazatlan has been beautifully restored. It was good to revisit the Plazuela Machado and sit amidst the leafy courtyard once again. Kelly and I checked out some of the enchanting artisan galleries while Daragh had the pulpit reconfigured to accommodate our slip back home in Victoria. We trekked the five miles of endless beach along the Malecon and stopped for refreshments at the old Sheik Hotel, and the Sky Bar atop the retro Hotel Kensington with a spectacular view of the entire city.
A very Porky Pig!

Topolobampo and Copper Canyon

     An unexpected delight was the trip to Topolobampo and the Copper Canyon. The name sounds like something right out of Dr. Seus! We made the crossing from Mazatlan in a record time of 32 hours at 6.9 knots due to a one knot current boost and flat seas on route. The entrance is a long wide channel loaded with shallows, but was well-marked and relatively easy to navigate into well-kept and  very welcoming Palmira Marina.

     We met Michelle and Bill on Adagio at the dock and we made up a nice foursome for our trip next morning to the Copper Canyon via the Chiahuahua Railway, affectionately known as El Chepe'. This hidden treasure is actually one of the world's great railway journeys with 37 bridges and 86 tunnels covering 653km and some of the most amazing mountain vistas anywhere, through the Sierra Madre.

The Raramuri selling basketry
El Chepe'

      El Chepe' has comfortable seating, air conditioning, and even a nice dining car. But the highlight is hanging out of the boxcars between the cars to enjoy the magical view with the wind in your face!
      We departed first of all at the rather ramshackle but spotlessly clean frontier town of Creel, home to Mexican cowboys and the Raramuri. These are the aboriginal people of Chiahuahua who often live in tiny huts or caves cut into the canyon. They dress in brilliantly coloured skirts and scarves, have their own language and quietly sell handmade basketry and wares to the tourists.

      The next day we rode a coach back to the Posada Mirador. The hotel is perched precariously on the edge of the immense canyon itself. Below you can see the tiny native huts and caves peppered around the canyon walls, like peering into the past. We took a gondola ride across the canyon. I was shocked to see a little urchin of a girl scamper up the rocks and jump between the massive boulders! It was of course, her 'back yard' but it was still very disturbing to observe, and hard to comprehend this way of life.

      The most impressive zip line in North America is also possibly right here plunging across the canyon ravines. After two days of hiking the trails and lounging on the deck mesmerized by the scenery, we prepared to take our leave back to the Divisadero train station. However, a group of protesters had blocked the railway to Creel due to some labour dispute. After a few uncertain hours a train was re-routed to take us for the long ride back to Los Mochis and Topolobampo, where we plan to cross the Sea of Cortez for Loreto.