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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Back to the 'Other Side'

July 28, 2005
San Carlos, Sonora, 27o 56' N 111o 03' W, About 250 mi S of Nogales AZ

We had a pretty good weather window to cross the Sea of Cortez Monday night so we got the boat ready and hauled anchor at 0100 Tuesday morning to make the 80 nm passage from Isla San Marcos to San Carlos. This was a lot earlier in the month than we wanted to be here but long term weather this time of year is highly unpredictable so we bit the bullet and made the jump.

The trip over was pretty un-eventful, we had light NW winds for most of the trip, motorsailing (that means running under power of the engine with the sails up to help as much as they can) all but an hour. I heard a couple of large whales cross our wake in the night and Linda saw some dolphin jump high out of the water in the morning but other than that we didn't see much in the way of wildlife. However, I trolled two lures and managed to catch a 31 in. Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) in the morning. This is the first Dorado we've caught since early December, last year. So far we've had three excellent meals from this one beauty and have about three more to go.

We arrived at 3pm Tuesday and dropped anchor in Bahia San Carlos which is one of the most protected natural harbors we've visited in Mexico. To date, only Puerto Escondido has better all around protection from the wind.

It's obvious to me that the mainland of Mexico gets the most money. Even though the prosperity and glitz of Baja towns like La Paz and Cabo San Lucas are impressive, the development in little bergs like San Carlos is even more so. There are expensive vacation homes all around the hills of Bahia San Carlos and Guaymas, an industrial port city 15 minutes by bus up the road from San Carlos, is easily as hustle-bustle as Mazatlan or Zihuatanejo.

We spent our first day here riding the bus out to Guaymas to find out about cross country bus service to Tijuana. It's even easier and cheaper then La Paz, $56 USD one way leaving every hour on the half hour. There are three bus lines offering about the same service so we should have no problem finding a seat for our trip back to the States.

A slip in a marina is not as simple though. There are slips available in Marina San Carlos; we're not sure how many, but they are first come, first serve so if someone takes the last slip before we do we'll have to go elsewhere. Not that we're anxious to leave the boat in Marina San Carlos, since it's $10.75 USD per foot per month. For NAKIA that's $430 USD for one month slip rental, $175 more then we paid in the states. This is the off season and most marinas offer discounts just to keep their slips full, not MSC apparently. Fortunately, there are also slips available at Marina Real, about 10 nm from Marina San Carlos, for $230 USD. If the facilities there are as secure (we've yet to take a look) we'll probably be leaving NAKIA there.

The weather took a turn for the worse since we've been here. Though the temps are not as high as on the Baja, the humidity is much higher. And because of the mountains to the east, we get huge lightning storms developing every afternoon. These storms are pretty incredible, size wise, and after they spend all afternoon getting higher and bigger they slowly start making their way down the mountains and out into the Sea of Cortez bringing lightning, high winds and rain with them. The really bad part is the wind and lightning don't really get cranked up until after midnight so it's not until you're trying to get a good nights sleep that the boat starts to bounce around w/ gusts over 30 kts and lightning going faster then flash bulbs at a New York fashion show. I had to sleep with a pillow over my eyes last night just to keep from getting woke up. Of course Linda is oblivious to it all and sleeps right through without even so much as turning over.

Oh well, we only have a week to put up with this stuff and then we can get on our bus to the States.

John and Linda