Joel, Tom and Kim set out on an inland adventure tour to the States of Sinaloa and Chihuahua to experience authentic Mexican culture and see the spectacular sights of the Copper Canyon, which many like to call the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'.
We started our trip from Puerto Vallarta on a 13 hour bus trip to Los Mochis, where we hopped on a second bus for a mere 2 hour ride to El Fuerte.
Some of us arrived in El Fuerte (our first destination on the way to the Copper Canyon) a bit dazed by lack of sleep, but others managed to sleep through the distractions during our trip. (Guess who slept and guess who didn't!!) Our travel accommodations were the antithesis of what many may have expected... no rugged country-style public transportation for us with livestock, chickens, and supplies... rather, we travelled first class on a TAP bus to Los Mochis, which had large cushy inclining seats, movies played on LCD screens, snacks, and a washroom, and then the Norte de Sinaloa bus to El Fuerte.
While it was much more comfortable than we first imagined, there were many things to keep the insomniacs among us awake during our overnight trip. Many fast turns made using the washroom a major challenge... and there were a few stops along the way. Overhead lights turned on spontaneously throughout the night for no apparent reason, and on 3 occasions we were boarded by inspectors and/or policia (complete with automatic rifles) who, according to other more experienced travellers, were searching for stowaways, mysterious baggage and weapons. There were many interesting sites to peer at through the window: small commercial buildings were gated and locked up for the night, men sat on plastic outdoor chairs shooting the breeze at all-night outdoor food kiosks, and stretches of road were lit by flashing red and blue lights where police and/or military engaged in searches and apprehension of people on the wrong side of the law. It was fascinating to watch all of the activity along the highway in the middle of the night, and comforting at times to be sitting inside a comfortable bus that whizzed past it all.
By now we're accustomed to seeing heavily armed police in public places, and seeing army trucks loaded up with armed, fully uniformed soldiers riding in the truck beds, some with identity concealing balaclavas. While unsettling at first, their presence becomes almost comforting, particularly amid the negative media stories about crime and violence in this magnificent country.
We added a few photos in the gallery...
We were eager to untie the lines at Mazatlan to head further south, and after a 19 hour overnight sail under the stars, we dropped anchor at Isla Isabela for a rest before continuing on to Nuevo Vallarta. Humpack whales swam nearby and breached numerous times, putting on an incredible private show for us, and massive flocks of birds flew around us and made spectacular plunges into the sea for their dinner.
Isla Isabela is an isolated volcanic island which is home to an incredible number of birds and iguanas, and is known as the `Galapagos of Mexico` for this reason. It is also famous among sailors for its tricky anchorage, due to the rock strewn bottom, surrounding reefs, and submerged pinnacle rocks (beauty has its price!). After enjoying a few hours of R&R and the incredible view, we set out again just before dusk so we would reach Nuevo Vallarta just after sunrise. Raising the anchor took a bit of finessing as the chain wrapped around numerous rocks during our short stay, due to the changing current and tide. The trip onward to Nuevo Vallarta started out great with 12 - 15 knots of wind and 6 - 7 knots of boat speed. Unfortunately, as night fell, so did the wind, and we were left using the diesel drifter for the rest of the night. By the time we reached the Marina the next morning we were happy to be able to stay put for a while and catch up on some much needed sleep!
(check out our new photo gallery to the right)
The Trip: two days and 250 nautical miles without a pool bar... (see photo gallery) (brand new feature on the right!!)
The Destination: El Cid Marina and Resort, Mazatlan - two pools with bar service... (see photo gallery)
The Question: Does EVERYONE retire here?
The Characters: Kim, Tom, three squid, and an iguana... (see photo gallery)
The Plan: Trip to 'Old Town' , produce from the Market, a swim in the pool or two, an indulgent meal or two, all within 48 hours... (see photo gallery)
The Next Trip: Overnight sail to Isla Isabel on January 24, then on to Nuevo Vallarta... (see future photo gallery)
01/20/2012, La Paz to Mazatlan
It was GREAT to be 'home for the holidays'!! Email, skype, and webcams make it easy to stay in touch, but nothing beats being together in person with family and friends! The time passed too quickly, and while it was hard to say goodbye, we were not unhappy to leave the cold snowy weather behind.
After being re-routed to Loreto for a couple of hours because of an issue at the La Paz airport (a plane was 'disabled' on the one and only runway), we arrived safe and sound in La Paz, and back on the boat just after sunset. Here the evening air requires nothing more than a long sleeved T shirt, but everyone still complains that it's chilly!!
We spent a couple of days unpacking, reprovisioning, catching up with friends, and even managed to soak up a few rays by the pool as well as sip a last marguerita at our favorite resort bar before preparing for our voyage across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan.
We leave momentarily to meet up with Lynn and Doug (S/V Miramar) at Balandra Bay, where we'll set out together for a 2 /2 day sail to the Mainland.
Its hard to imagine enjoying anywhere more than the Baja peninsula but we look forward to new adventures and the promise of even warmer weather as we head further south.
More photos to come!
Since arriving in La Paz we felt we deserved a break as we had been on the move for over 2 months. So in typical cruiser style we decided to relax and do some boat maintenance! First on the "to do" list was to fix the steaming light. This is a light halfway up the mast used when motoring at night. (We had noticed it wasn't working one night on the west coast when the lack of wind forced us to motor.) This task involved first eliminating any fault in the cabin wiring and circuit panel (e.g., to avoid going up the mast). Unfortunately all was well with the "ground floor" wiring meaning the likely cause was at the light itself. Oh well, Tom wanted to tryout his new climbing harness anyway. A trip up the mast should require two people, one to go up and the other to tend the lines to keep the climber from coming down before he plans to! We use a block and tackle system that Tom uses to pull himself up and Kim tends a second line as a safety.
Once this was all organized Tom went up and dangled in front of the light, figured out how to open the casing (this required Kim sending up extra tools on still another line) and finally testing the circuit determining that the problem was, surprisingly, a burn out bulb! We had a spare but weren't sure where it was and thus a second trip up the mast was needed to complete the task. And yes Mark, I did go to the top and checked the genoa lead, it was fine. And you thought we would be sitting by the pool having a drink!
With the festivities of the 'HaHa' behind us, and having had our fill of the hustle and bustle of Cabo, it felt great to move on. Our first destination was Los Frailes, which is 45 miles northeast of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. Los Frailes is a popular anchorage for cruisers heading further North to La Paz, as well as those preparing to cross the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, and seemed like the perfect next stop for us! Los Frailes is well protected from "the northers" (north winds that often blow 20-30 knots for 1-4 days).
The tip of the Baja Peninsula is where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez meet, and the waters mingle, creating changes in tides, currents, and winds. An hour and a half into our journey, light sailing conditions shifted to lumpy seas (a.k.a. our scenic, relaxing sail in a light breeze with the warm sun reflecting in the dappled surface of the beautiful blue sea turned to a gusty afternoon with eye-watering wind blasting us in the face while we braced ourselves in the cockpit, trying to keep our eyes on the horizon while it shifted back and forth 45 degrees. As we rocked up and down 8 foot waves, sea spray splashed into the cockpit).