Mazatlan, Mexico

Sunday April 1, 2007

Sewed the jib sail yet again. The entire foot of the jib needed resewing this time. We'd skipped that part when we last sewed the jib back on the dock in South Beach Harbor, San Francisco, but now we could no longer ignore it. Also handsewed a small tear that had been fixed with tape by the previous owner but needed to be redone.

Monday April 2, 2007

Fixed dinghy, scrubbed BBQ. Went for dinner over at Chessie where we proceeded to abuse Richard of his Republican work ethic. He took it all in good fun. What a guy.

Tuesday April 3, 2007

Karen from Chessie had her sister and family down for holidays so we all decided to go sailing today. We decided to take the two boys sailing with us, Karl and Keenan. Got everything organised and left the dock in El Cid about 9:30am. There was little wind but Karl had a great time raising sails, running around the deck and generally making himself useful. These teenagers aren't bad value. Our original plan was to head down to Stone Island for the day and anchor out overnight. Chessie went ahead to check out depths excetera and decided it wasn't suitable especially since there was a nasty swell rolling into the anchorage. So we about turned and headed for Deer Island instead.

Since Richard owned a hookah (no not the type you smoke silly people) Karl and Robin decided to finish cleaning the last of the barnacles off the keel. The water up this neck of the woods is still surprisingly cold. Robin got tired soon after finishing the bottom of the rudder. Karl took over and disappeared for half an hour doing the entire bottom half of the large deep keel. Thats the last of those Zeewha barnacles, now grown to penny size. After that task was complete we ate, drank, Richard cooked spaghetti which was a major hit and we fell into bed replete.

Wednesday April 4, 2007

Came back in to Marina in the morning. Was hairy at the entrance with waves lumping up over the sand bar, depth reading 12 feet. We attempted to wait awhile to catch a period of low swell, but tho' we thought we could read it, when we went the waves lumped up just the same almost breaking behind the boat. There was much spinning of the wheel to and fro to keep us straight between the rock walls of the narrow entrance. (We later learnt that Karen got some nasty bruises a week later when they left the marina - she was on the bow and a wave unexpectedly lumped up and broke over her). El Cid had messed up and put someone in our slip (mutter! Mutter!) so we gave up and decided to head over to Marina Mazatlan. Anyway it will be safer to leave the boat there while we are away in Copper Canyon as there's no surge from the swell at the entrance.

Thursday April 5, 2007

Easter Thursday. Computer. Michelle got up with another bright idea this morning. She'd finally get around to putting all the MP3 music onto the Ipod she bought over 6months ago and has never used. So after tearing 3/4 of the boat apart getting out first the computer, then the monitor, then the cables, all which of course are rarely used so are packed deep down in crevices which require one to upend the boat to get to, she was ready for work. After finally assembling all bits together the computer decided not to cooperate and refused to boot. So after trying various options with the SATA HD, she figures she'll just add one of the spare IDE HDs she's carrying around and boot that up. However just to make sure that progress is totally hampered, she forgot to pack an IDE Data Cable (the big wide flat grey cable found inside your computer box for you computer illiterate folks). By now it was midday and Easter Thursday which meant stores are staring to close for the Easter festivities. So she jumped a bus and headed over to a computer store which had been recommended, only to find it closed. Things were never meant to be easy.

Friday April 6, 2007

Easter Friday. There must have been a million people on the beach today. All of Mazatlan was on the beach. We got a bus part way then walked around the last mile of the long Malecon (esplanade) as a seward approach to the old city. Enjoyed a visit to a little-known out of the way restaurant which does great seafood.

Saturday April 7, 2007

Some stores were open again this morning so Michelle did another 4 bus hop to try and purchase said computer cable but no luck. Store still closed. Traffic is brutal because of all the Easter holiday makers. Farewelled the Chessie relatives with drinks and then dinner over at a palapa bar.

Sunday April 8, 2007

Drinks and nibbles on Chessie and said our farewells as they are headed into the Sea for a couple of weeks before heading back down to PV. We will catch up with them again October-ish if all goes to plan.

Monday April 9, 2007

Chessie left :( Scrubbed the boat. We finally tracked down the visas. The chick over at El Cid Marina had signed them in last Wednesday but because it also had Stormcats name on it she didn't put two and two together and they sat there directly under her left elbow even as we asked five times if thay had come. Finally we got the UPS tracking number from the sender in PV, looked it up on line to find that the girl had signed for the package. Printed out the info and confronted her with it. Oh here thay are! Sigh! Now we can get on with the rest of our lives. Oh well the times not exactly been wasted but we probably would have chosen a different itinerary. Anyway we'll do Copper Canyon from Mazatlan now instead of Topolobampo.

Michelle finally had success with the computer cable. Located some computer stores (more by luck as she saw them from the bus along a different route than she normally takes) and finally got the computer booted, the music copied to Ipod and half the boat put back together.

Tuesday April 10, 2007

Robin decided he'd finish the wiring of an inverter to shore power. Of course one job is never as simple as one job. He decided the sink plumbing needed redoing and this had to tie in with plans to redo the entire floor of the boat so he had to plan ahead for that event also. Looks like a 2 day job - sure! Replumbed the galley sink so that it gradually slopes down to the hull - before it always got an airlock whenever we went sailing - now it works continuously. Finally wired in the newish 1500 watt inverter - now have 110 volts at all outlets automatically whether or not we are connected to shore power. Slow improvements!

Also the head had never worked quite right even tho' Robin had done the stinky job of completely refitting it with a new seal kit in Newport CA months ago. Slowly leaked sea water in via the input valve - he found that the bronze surface contacting the valve flap had eroded/corroded slowly over the years by a smidgeon, so he thought about it overnight and then just turned it upside down and rescrewed it on and now it does not leak! Also had a leak around the seal around the pump handle. He figured this is because of wear on the plain internal bronze bearing allowing movement of the pump shaft in the rubber seal. So he drew up a plan of a plain bearing to be added to the outside of the shaft and went looking for EL TORNO (a lathe!). Found a shop by asking locals and got the bearing made out of stainless steel for $30 in one afternoon - all conversation in broken Spanish. The bearing was easy to fit in 5 minutes with external set screws and it works - numerous days later we now have a fully functioning head. Was it worth fixing an old simple Groco head? We figure there was not too much wrong with it after many years so better to try than buy a new-fangled more-complicated head that may of course only last a year or two anyway. Maintenace in exotic places over many days.....

Copper Canyon, Mexico

Thursday April 12, 2007

Hopped bus to Los Mochis, a 7 hour trip, which is the starting point for the train up the Copper Canyon. It was very dry country from Mazatlan up to Los Mochis and quite flat although a lot of the land was irrigated from the large rivers draining the Sierra Madre. We decided we didn't want to return via this route so we'll take the train all the way to Chihuahua, thus a cunning plan for exploration was beginning to emerge.

Friday April 13, 2007

Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) is an extensive canyon area in the Sierra Madre that covers some 25,000 square miles, and incorporates six massive gorges or at least 6 Grand Canyons. We had not realised the breadth and height of the mountain range - one local pamphlet described the US/Canadian Rocky Mountains as an extension of the Sierra Madre and we came to think that that about sums it up. The top elevations vary from 7,500 feet to 9,500 feet, with a few mountains actually reaching to 12,000 feet. It was hard to figure out what ground we wanted to cover in the few days we had to explore the area. Just sitting on the train, traversing the 650km from Los Mochis to Chihuahua was going to swallow up 17hours of time.

The railway itself is a marvel of engineering. It began in 1872 as the dream of an American, who figured that if he could put a railway through from Chihuahua to Topolobampo, he would shorten the existing rail route from San Francisco to Kansas City by more than 400 miles. We can't figure out how the hell he came to this conclusion. Anyway, he began the project but ran out of funds and various other attempts were made to complete the rail throughout the region. It finally opened in 1961 after the last stubborn section of track, which drops 7,000 feet in just over 122miles (195km for you literate type peoples), was laid. The railway line from Los Mochis to Chihuahua has 36 major bridges, 97 tunnels, and follows the most convoluted route you can imagine to traverse from sea level to just over 8,000 feet at its highest elevation.

So armed with a semi-decent plan we got up at 4:30am in order to be at the station by 4:45 and on the train for a 5am departure. From what we had researched we were advised to take the first class train as the 2nd class was very rustic and included livestock for company. We have since found out this is a lot of poppycock. The only difference was the 2nd class train made a few more stops and didn't have a club car. It also left an hour later which would have been fine by us. I dunno where travel guides get their information from. Are they paid to support the tourist industry? Anyway, our first stop would be Bahuichivo (pronounced Ba-we-chEEvo), 252km from Los Mochis.

The first leg of the journey was in the dark and we really didn't see much until we crawled passed Sufragio, a small community in which we didn't stop. If we'd had enough time yesterday we would have taken the local bus up to El Fuerte, found a hotel and saved ourselves the trouble of getting up at 4:30am. However we arrived in Los Mochis too late so we decided against this. The terrain at the beginning of the trip was mainly farmland with plenty of water but after La Fuerte it started to dry out significantly. The guidebook called this area the Sinaloan Thornforest life zone and "thorn forest" was about the right word for it. It's predominantly cactus and thorntree, rocks and dust.

Pics taken leaning out of the train carriage door. Fun~!

Once we hit Rio Fuerte the scenery started to get really intersting. We crossed over the river on a fairly substantial bridge and realised we were now in the foothills of the Sierra (This mountain range runs all the way up to Canada). Shortly after that the train crosses over the spectacular Chinipas River. There is a foot and burro bridge suspended hundreds of feet below the trestle bridge of the railway line. Later the railway skirted a large lake formed by damming one of the rivers - of course the train crossed one end of the lake on a bridge with the water a couple of hundred feet below. There was a couple of very enthusiastic gringos on board leaping from side to side in the openway connecting the carriages, exclaiming and clicking cameras and leaning out the open windows. Michelle tried it for a while and almost got run over by the boys - good to see such young enthusiasm tho' from a couple of 50 year olds. There weren't many on the train so Robin found a roomier area at the front of one empty carriage with large unimpeded windows on both sides. The train lurched and swayed continously so it got tiring - nice to be able to sit and relax and still see most of everything. The trip from Temoris to Divisadero probably had the most diversified scenery, ranging from fairly dense forest (although very dry at this time of year) to minute plantations (including palms and mangos) which lie below rugged craggy peaks and twisted rock formations. Leaving Temoris, the rail zig-zagged above the small town so that three levels of rail are visible. It was a great experience to travel this way but it´s hard to comprehend why it was ever built? For 50 tourists a day? There are some freight trains, but not many, and then there is the upkeep and the several carriages seen lying downslope of various precipitous slopes. Later we learnt that a major road is to built largely following the route of the railway - must be going to make $s for some major forces somewhere!

Rio Fuerte

We arrived in Bahuichivo around midday. A couple of vans were at the station which offered a courtesy trip to Cerocahui and their respective hotels. Prices were way uppish (for Mexico) but all meals were included so we took the least expensive, the Paraiso del Oso (Paradise of the Bear). Turned out to be a good choice at a motelish adobe place with a very large airy common eating area. They immediately served us a reasonable 3-course lunch then soon after took us on a guided tour which whiled away the afternoon, and included free of charge, being tossed about on some very serious dirt roads. First a visit to the village of Cerocahui itself which had an old restored church, founded by some Jesuit fellow hundreds of years ago who somehow conned "some" of the Indians into thinking he knew it all. Also learnt that the 1st Jesuit guy that happened by was obliged by the Indians to keep going - maybe he was more honest? That afternoon and over the next few days we learnt somewhat of the Indians and especially the Tarahumara. (Of course we knew of the influence of the Jesuit priests, brave blokes no doubt, travelling in these remote places and establishing missions - they got to Santa Cruz, CA in the 1700s all the way from Mexico with sufficient viruses to completely eliminate the local Indians there). We heard and read that many of the Tarahumara resisted Christianity (and thus the expedited chance for all of them to get to Heaven within a period of 50 years). While most have intermarried, we were amazed to learn that there were still many pure blood Tarahumara. We naturally asked if we would see some and were assured that we would (tho' we didn't that day). Of course we did later, and saw lots living close to road and rail, or selling stuff in the towns, but obviously preserving alot of their traditional lifestyle - trad dress etc. We also read that there are still "several thousand" of existing "gentile" Tarahumara families who are descendents of those who chose to never accept the ways of, or make contact with, the invading Spaniards. The railway and the roads in this region leave a massive area which is remote - very hard walking country and the existing roads stretch the notion of absurdity. The Tarahumara walk everywhere - you see walking tracks fading into the distance and depths around distance ridges. No-one else in Mexico (well a few mad gringos and the original Jesuits) are going to walk too far. If they want to live that way they seem safe enough from interference. And it also seems reasonable that their loyalty to their way of life preserved them. They largely stayed aloof from the Western invaders - with minimal contact and many miles between each Tarahumara group there was the opportunity for our viruses to be gradually assimilated over say a hundred years without everyone dying all at once.

Leaving Cerocahui our driver (who had the disconcerting habit of revving the engine every 10 seconds to test whether the wheels would spin) took us up the first really really scary road. Our guide was a young US lass who had been a volunteer at the hotel for months and she seemed unfazed so we figured the odds were we weren't going over the edge just yet. Single lane road, a couple of inches of "bulldust" here and there, 2,000 foot sheer drop on the right side with never any barriers of any kind, blind corners .... This was the beginning of the road down into the Copper Canyon (Barranca de Cobre) to the town (the only one) of Urique. (We had read in one guidebook that it took 8 hours down and back in a bus to get there and that it wasn't worth the effort - mistake! Our later experience going to Batopilas showed that we should have gone. One way was 2 hours not 4 and we could have stayed the night. Maybe we will come back before we leave the Sea of Cortez). Anyway, this afternoon our tour stopped just before the main descent into the Canyon and took us up a private track to the top of a view point. SOME VIEW! What can we say? The camera can't grasp it! The Copper Canyon is supposed to have a volume 6 times that of the Grand Canyon (a place to the north somewhere near the extension of the Sierra Madre popularly called the Rocky Mountains- ED. Robin).

Later back at the hotel, it turns out the male hotelier was an ex-pat gringo married for some long time to the daughter of a local Tarahumara Indian chief. It was volunteered information and we didn't like to pry, but she made great Margaritas. The best part of the gossip though was that the lookout area they drove us to was private property owned by Dad - the guests of the more expensive hotel in town don't get to go there. So we lucked out.

Saturday April 14, 2007

The hotel was named after the Rocks looming above. Something about Yogi Bear in Espanol. Robin figured the view and hike would be a lot better than staying at ground level. He had asked the young US lass the way up, suggesting the right side up an obvious dry water course. She had said Oh No you can only go up the left side from the road to Cerocahui. Of course he went up the right side (did you expect anything else?) - a 30 minute doddle so he claims.

Before noon we were back to Bahuichivo Station to catch the next daily train East into the mountains. After a couple of hours of high country stuff - lots of pines, which don't seem particularly Mexican, in country which is getting dryer all the time - we stopped at a place called Pasado. Our last-night's hotelier had recommended a hotel here, an imitation castle no-less. Also not so cheap as Mexico goes, but its only for another night and again includes 3 meals.

Bahuichivo Station Pasado Hotel

One of the hotel guys became tour guide and took the new arrivals for a stroll around the hill mid-afternoon. The footpath did a flattish hairpin after 10 minutes and suddenly the high rim of the Copper Canyon opened before us again. Not quite so precipitous down to the bottom as yesterday, but quite a vista. A 15 minute gradual descent of a couple of hundred feet took us to a cliff face, partial cave, small spring and adobe brick rooms where 2 or 3 families numbering a total of 12 Tarahumaras were living. They had some hand made stuff on display and Michelle bought a colourful shawl (needed it too since she had forgotten to pack anything warm and had not quite presupposed (back at sea level) the small difference of 8,000 feet altitude). Seemed like an uneasy interface between us and them. We had come to gawk and were embarrassed to do so, they were selling stuff, the men were not about, the kids were cute, the only woman retired to her adobe cottage and gave shy advice as to what pesos were needed for the shawl. It almost seemed like one was supposed to take what one wanted of the goods displayed and leave $s as one felt.

Robin got a might weary of the slow paced guided walk on the return trip (the aching-museum-leg syndrome) and took a short-cut up over the Canyon Rim in the direction of a posh hotel and found another way back to ours. Michelle got back and met a gregarious Californian, Gretchen, and her friend who had arrived late at the hotel and missed the guided walk. Robin turned up and we decided to redo the hike, via the stairway to heaven this time, staright over the top of the Rim via the two rival hotel's stairs and footpaths. Gretchen and friend got to the best view real quick. The view was all you could ask for and more. On arriving back to our lodgings we had a couple of beers to lay the sun to bed and our pleasant hotel which was feeding us 3 meals again provided a 3 course dinner of pumpkin soup, carne asada and creme caramel. Our trip on dry (very dry) land is taking a while to lose its appeal.

View from the top

Sunday April 15, 2007

Relaxing morning. Caught the train to Creel around 2pm in the afternoon. Stopped briefly at Divisadero and we were kicking ourselves for not having hiked over there earlier and caught the train from there instead of Pasado. It was only about a 5km walk. Lining the station were the most food stalls we've seen in one place. It was the equivalent of Mexican fast food. The train actually stopped here for about 20mins for people to jump off and grab what they needed. Sadly we'd already eaten so we couldn't sample their wares. The view from the rim here was particularly impressive - we could just glimpse it from the train window. There were the Indians hawking their wares, dressed in their colorful attire. Compared to the rest of Copper Canyon this place was a fairly bustling metropolis. However to keep it in perspective it did consist of just one street I think.

Another 58 miles of train track and we finally arrived at Creel, the approximate midway point and center of a region inhabited by the Tarahumara Indians. The mainstreet and square were very clean and paved, the result of thriving tourism; the rest of the streets were dirt/gravel. The brightly dressed women were selling pottery, hand woven baskets and shawls in the square. Several shops also stocked Tarahumaran arts and crafts which included dolls, necklaces and violins? We have no idea why they make these. A concrete statue of Christ gazes down at you from the cliffs at the north end of town, testimony to the Jesuit priests who have ministered here since the early 17th century.

We found a hostel for overnight which cost us the enormous sum of 37 dollars and included dinner and breakfast a minor fraction of what we had paid the last 2 nights. But the bed was a brick and sadly they didn't have a drop of wine much to Robin's chagrin.

Monday April 16, 2007

During the rainy season Creel is usually used as a base from which you do hikes out to various waterfalls. However since it was currently the very end of the dry season most if not all the waterfalls weren't running so we elected for a trip down to Batopilas. This trip is not for the faint-hearted. You ride down the dirt road in a "school" bus (tho' Robin was impressed by the solid chassis and numerous well-tended grease points underneath - yes he actually checked out the bus!) and it's a bone-jarring adventure 80miles down a perilous switchback goat track to the bottom of the canyon. Many many places are just wide enough for the bus to stay on the road with dry wash-outs being the edges of drops of 100 to 1000 feet. You don't want to think about what happens if another vehicle happens along from the opposite direction but somehow the driver stops. It takes roughly 8 hours and your stomach is choking your tonsils for more than half the trip. The driver appears to be very competent or so Robin said. Basically he said he was happy because the bus driver drove like he drives, accelerating out of corners and proper stuff like that - what do you think? Then the driver began to talk to the passengers behind him, turning round very politely etc whilst a 4,000 foot drop slid by and by just 3 feet away. Mexicans are lovely people and there are times when its best for us to concentrate on the view. We passed by Cerro El Pastel (Cake Mountain) aptly named for it's alternating layers of pink and white volcanic rock and all sorts of stuff like that.

After travelling for 4 hours through a dozen sizeable canyons, up-down-up etc and expecting all the while to begin the big descent any moment, we really knew when we finally got there - that is the top of the bottom. There it was, the road a distant squiggle, another 4,000 feet down at about a 70 degree angle. We'd come half the distance and only decended 2,000 feet. In many stretches it was not possible to see the bottom by looking straight down from the bus window nearest the edge. Also amazing to spot was this enormous slag heap,left over from the old silver-mining days, rising hundreds of feet back out of a chasm, and starkly beautiful in the afternoon sun. It was also a brief toilet stop - the banyo was situated on the precipitous edge of the slag heap, the world's longest long-drop? The Urique and Basihuare rivers were thin slivers at the bottom of these canyons which trace tight paths before losing themselves in unnamed chasms further along. The scenery was indeed breathtaking if you could forget about how perilous it was. Overall the decent was 6,000 feet and you spent half of that looking down over the steep-sided canyon walls into the chasms below - if you were game to look! Still better than watching the driver chat to people.

It was very cold in Creel before we left but thankfully the further we descended the more comfortable the temperature became. The stands of pine trees began being replaced by forests of cactus again. We arrived in Batopilas to whitewashed houses, palm trees (seriously), mango, pawpaw and banana trees. It turns out it's 30 degrees warmer down here than at the top of the mountain in Creel. We got off the bus, our legs slightly jellified after the trip although admittedly the bus driver was superb and gave us no actual cause for alarm (maybe chatting preserved his concentration), and located decent lodgings at a very reasonable price. We wandered up to the requisite square (even the smallest town has to have one) found a bite to eat and returned to our room promptly falling asleep. Most locals were "typical" Mexican but there were a few Tarahumara men. In this region they wear white skirts, short at the front with a long tail at the back. Robin fancies getting one.

Tuesday April 17, 2007

Our goal for today was to hike over to the Santo Angel Custodio Mission in Satevo, a 6km jaunt up and down hills which followed the meandering river, the mountains soaring on either side. The only other ones walking were, you guessed it, Tarahumaras. When we finally rounded a bend and caught sight of the mission in the distance it was breathtaking. It was picture perfect framed by the stream with a footbridge that crossed in front of it. Once you get close you start to realize how amazing Satevo Mission really is. It's enormous, as big as a small cathedral. It has 3 domes, large, medium and small, in addition to 4 half domes. It's not the most beautiful church you will ever see, and it's currently being restored but the thing that really makes it impressive is the rugged, inhospitable, totally isolated locality. Added to the mysteriousness of the entire site is the fact that they don't really know exactly when the Mission was built other than it was built by Indians directed by a Jesuit Priest. There seems to be no written records documenting this old mission. Most put the date at somewhere around 1760. What was this Jesuit Missionary thinking when he built this huge monstrosity way out in the middle of nowhere?

Large wooden doors open to expose simple wooden benches on a stark stone floor. Walk forward a few feet and you realize there's graves underfoot in the stone floor, some inscribed with names and dates, others completely blank. One of the strangest things is that you have the entire altar covered with images and statues of the Madonna, while Jesus sits quite unobtrusively over on the side lines kind of like an afterthought. But then again no-one knows how it was "decorated" when first built.

We completed our tour of the mission, sat in the shade and drank a couple of bottles of water then got up the courage for the hike back. It was quite hot down in the bottom of the canyon. We stopped halfway to take a quick swim in the river. Michelle was molested by a bull but Robin determined it was just after seeds under the rocks and hand fed it for a while. Then just as we started out again, a family in a car stopped to pick us up which was greatly appreciated (No cars going and this only the second coming back). He owned a restaurant in Mexico City, left us his card. On the bus down there had been only one other tourist couple (the rest were local village people) and we saw only two other tourist cars at the bottom of the canyon. Robin decided to hike the rest of the town later (he was chasing beer of course!) and came back with the verdict that the bar around the corner was the sole choice. So we headed around to said establishment around 4:30 in the afternoon, had some refreshing ales, ate dinner and called it an early night since tomorrow we had to be up at a the crack of dawn. Batopilas was a neat place - one of the unique ends of the Earth and as different as all the rest of them.

Wednesday April 18, 2007

Robin dear Robin

Up at 4:30am (dawn definitely hadn't cracked) to catch the bus back up out of Batopilas Canyon. The worst part was the first part of this journey back up the mountain was in the dark and we could vividly recall how narrow the road was, how deep the valleys on the edge of that road and we had the same bus driver who yapped to a girl he was obviously interested in the entire way up the switchback mountains. He was a terrific driver and he no doubt knew every bend in the road but nevertheless it was mildly disconcerting when he turned his head to talk. We made it back to Creel in one piece and found some sun to sit in and warm up. It was still very cold at this altitude. Then we went in search of coffee and found a surprisingly great coffee shop attached to a Best Western hotel. The couple running it were artisans as well as having the skills to make the best cup of coffee we've had since we were in La Paz back in December 06. After our caffeine injection we had a snack then headed off to waste another couple of hours until the train arrived to take us to Chihuahua.

We visited the dinosaur museum which was mildly interesting but sadly lacking in dinosaur bones, and then the artisano museum which turned out to be surprisingly good and very educational. It gave the history of the Tarahumara Indians as well as displays of their skills and crafts. What more, the majority of the exhibition seemed to have been done mostly by the indians themselves which was a nice surprise indeed. Maybe it was a school project but we're not at all sure of the origins of the museum. After that we toddled off to check out a tienda which had bins of dried herbs. We had a great discussion with the herb lady about the medicinal properties of the different herbs she had on hand. Thus having managed to while away a few hours we headed back to the train station thinking that it was about time it made an appearance. Alas it was running an hour late so we entertained ourselves watching the local indians selling wares. The kids really have the art of selling down pat. Their entire body language and those huge coquetish dark brown eyes makes it so hard to resist them.

The rest of the trip by train from Creel to Chihuahua held more surprises. After the dry arid land of the Sierra's we began a slow placid slight decent through rich farmland. Sadly the camera had run out of battery power by now so that was the absolute end of picture taking. We arrived into Chihuahua at 8:30pm at night, caught a taxi straight to the bus station, hopped a bus with just enough time to grab some water and did an overnight trip to Durango. You'd think after all the sleep we've been missing out on we'd have passed out but they play movies on these buses that are so loud they'd wake your 10th generation removed grandmother from the dead.

Thursday April 19, 2007

18hours of busrides and we are finally back home on Warrior. It is so good to be home. We missed the old girl but she behaved herself beautifully. The leg from Durango to Mazatlan was phenomenanly beautiful. The road wound along a pine-covered mountain ridge for over 40 miles. You could see the road way out in front 10 miles away going round the end of the huge ridge. Later when you got to that point, there it was again going around the end of the ridge 10 miles away... It was definitely worth the extra bus ride from Chihuahua just to see this leg of the trip. Again Robin had compliments for the driver because he passed every slower vehicle at the first safe opportunity! A huge modern coach this time using every inch of both lanes including the lines on both sides, except at blind corners where he did stop in time on several accasions for the semis coming the other way (they often needed both lanes just to get round some of the corners). A 7 hour trip for only 150 miles on a really good 2-lane highway. The Sierra Madre is substantial place.

The seawater cooling pump on the refrigerator has been making a noise since before we left to go to Copper Canyon. We were actually worried about leaving it on while we were away but took the gamble with it. Robin pulled it apart today and it seemed ok. It runs from the same line that brings in seawater to the galley sink, and the raw water pump for cooling the diesel engine, you know that thing that actually lets us motor along occasionally. The foot pump for the sink seemed a little odd as well as and it appeared that there was air in the lines somehow, especially odd since part of the line is below sealevel. So he pulled it all apart, redid all the joints with teflon tape and it seemed a bit better but still not optimal. The noise in the refrigerator pump decreased though so there is definitely something going on there somewhere. We were to discover more about this problem later.

Saturday April 21, 2007

Robin organized a wine tasting (yes we can get wine in Mexico you just gotta sniff it out!) for half a dozen people over Bob's Marine Mart, a floating boat which serves as a shop for all kinds of odds and ends. We wanted to restock our depleted wine stores but we also wanted to taste what we were buying. Somehow word got around the marinas and by the time we got there (we were running late) there were at least 30 people there and all were having a grand old time. Bob had managed to get hold of a wine distributor who promptly opened a dozen different wines and needless to say a very good time was had by all. Bob seemed happy enough with the sales although I think only about 6 boats bought wine. We bought 5 cases off Bob and another 4 mixed cases at a liquor store we found along the Malecon (ie Esplanade). It will be fun getting it all stowed away in a couple of days when it gets delivered.

Monday April 23, 2007

Michelle's Birthday. Breakfast in bed. Drinks by the seaside. Dinner at a beautiful Italian restaurant. A new black sarong with colorful dragonflies all over it. A beautiful birthday card from Jade. Emails from Al and Mel. It was a great day all in all and I was completely ruined and utterly spoilt as always.

Tuesday April 24, 2007

We are finally escaping Mazatlan today. Will be leaving 6pm tonight. We have to wait for the tide to come in so as to escape the entrance to the marina channel as it's very shallow. The sandbar has built up quite significantly over this past winter. Hopefully they will be able to dredge it out a bit as it's quite dangerous at the moment if there is any kind of swell.

The wine arrived yesterday so today we spent a goodly part of the morning getting it all wrapped and stowed. We have it down pat now though and even though it looked like a lot of work, a couple of hours saw it all safely tucked away.

The wine sorted and ready to be packed and the wine stowed.

We did some last chores to get ready for the passage and Michelle ran out to buy some hot chickens at the last minute. They make great snack food on passages especially if the weather is rough. You seriously don't feel much like cooking when the boat is heeled over at 25 degrees or there's any kind of swell bouncing the place around.

crossing sea of cortez, mexico

Wednesday April 25, 2007

7:00am We'd covered 60miles overnight but sadly we are heading towards Cabo San Lucas rather than Los Meurtos and thus La Paz. The wind is right on our nose for the direction we are wanting to go, (NATURALLY!) so we are having to tack a long way south. However, it wasn't too bad because we started off only 30degrees off course. Since the cosine of 30degrees is 0.866 (Robin is dictating this can you tell??), 90% of our progress is in the right direction. We are desperately hoping for a windshift today which will allow us to do some northing but since it's still another 120miles across the Sea of Cortez we are not too worried at this point.

7:00pm Getting ready for our 2nd night at Sea. The wind gradually shifted during the day so that we did a big curve pointing more towards Los Muertos, or basically where we wanted to go. Another major windshift arrived late this afternoon. We had gone as far south as the latitude for Cabo San Jose. The windshift enabled us to take the port tack and head north still not exactly for Los Muertos but definitely making progress in the right direction. We actually saw the outline of the Baja Penisula this evening just as the sun was setting. It was 50miles offshore but the mountains are so high along this stretch of the coast that we were able to see them from so far away. Usually you lose sight of land somewhere between five and ten miles offshore depending on how flat the shoreline is. It would be nice if this holds but the wind gods seem always ready to play tricks on you.

Thursday April 26, 2007

Michelle was on watch this morning watching the sun rise then looked over and caught sight of the Penisula outlined in by the rising sun. It was a spectacular picture. We're still 50miles offshore but we'd managed to cover quite some distance overnight until the wind died completely early this morning. We are now heading to Muertos but are having to motor as there is zero wind whatsoever. This sailing business - you are completely at the mercy of the sea. There's either too much wind, wind straight on the nose so you have to go completely out of your way, or there's zero wind. The perfect sailing days are so few and far between. No wonder we get excited when we get 15knots that aren't on the nose.

The motor was overheating by 10degrees again which seemed odd since we'd checked it out at Deer Island and there didn't seem to be much on it. Anyway we stopped the boat and Robin jumped overboard with snorkel and flippers and cleaned everything again - it made no difference to the overheating engine. Then he for no particular reason tried pumping the seawater pump to the galley sink. The foot pedal went down but didn't come back up while the engine is running. Ah huh! There seems to be a partial blockage in the water intake pipe itself. Yet another chore to add to the list for La Paz. We motored on but kept the revs low so as to not overtax the engine cooling and create further problems.

La Paz, Mexico

Friday April 27, 2007

Arrived at La Paz Midday. By sundown yesterday we'd made it just past Los Muertos and decided we may as well push on to La Paz. So last night just after dark we entered Cerralvo Channel with about 5knots of variable wind. It took us a few hours to crawl our way up towards the first point, Punta Gorda at speeds often as low as one or two knots. Then just around Punta Gorda, a Corrumel Wind hit and we literally went from doing 2knots to 7knots in about 30seconds. Was quite a rush. Robin was on watch at this point and just before the wind hit it was so erractic that he did a complete 360 degree circle with the boat. He had actually backwinded the jib so he just continued on around so he wouldn't have to start the motor and wake up Michelle. She nevertheless woke up pretty fast when we suddenly took off. We were trying to time it so we'd arrive at Lorenzo Strait at daybreak but with the extra wind we were fast making an early rendezvous. In the end we furled the jib and sat pointed into the wind waiting for daylight so we could navigate the narrow, shallow channel. The Corrumel didn't die down at all and we clawed our way across the bay towards La Paz, directly into the wind yet again! Finally found our slip and Robin got the boat docked inspite of the fact that there was a huge catamaran tied up right behind us which left him very little room to manouever the boat, and ther was a 15 knot breeze! Again his leet (elite) piloting skills prevailed though. With the cat in the way he misjudged the turn into the slip by a couple of feet (it may even have been impossible to go in that way). So he stopped the boat and let it drift sideways with the wind with a couple of feet to spare either end towards cat and dock. Once drifted past the cat, he turned the boat and reversed it back past the cat once more until there was room to drive forward into the slip. By then we were sufficiently frazzled that we gave up trying to do everything ouselves, Robin yelled for help and a couple of locals appeared to catch lines. We decided we would try to stay awake until 7pm but we had no chance. We both laid down and passed out, rousing ourselves long enough to grab a bite to eat before passing out again.

Saturday April 28, 2007

Today we slept, ate, slept, read a book, slept some more. We couldn't believe how tired we were. One wonders how we're ever going to do a 24day crossing across the Pacific without becoming zombies. Wandered around to the Marina restaurants and saw that Gerry Destarte was still here docked. We had said goodbye to him last December. So we dragged him out to dinner with us and over a few drinks and great food we did a catchup on mutual friends etc.

Sunday April 29, 2007

Got up late today. Still feeling a tad slow. Michelle managed to hose everything down to try and rid the boat of some of the accumulated salt. That last trip we did saw us harvest enough salt to have a years supply of table salt. Ok maybe I exaggerate but it seemed like it. Robin decided reading a book was about as much effort he could donate to the day. We wandered around at dusk and had a meal at one of the restaurants at the Marina. That about sums up the day.

Monday April 30, 2007

Took mainsail in for repairs. Michelle decided life was too short to try and fix the baton pockets herself so she has enlisted the help of the professionals. They also went over the entire mainsail and listed the other weak areas which are marked for failure at some point. Will be having the entire leech reinforced as well since that seems to be rotting fast. Robin had a diesel leak to both clean up and fix, plus the water intake pipe to investigate, but no-one can remember which days he did all this so we will leave it till May.