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Compass Rose
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We just bought a boat in San Carlos and are considering sailing it to Manzanillo in order to have it shipped to Seattle.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who's made that trip about what it's like. We've never sailed on the Sea of Cortez before and are a little apprehensive about our first trip on the boat being such a long one. I'd appreciate anything anyone can share about their experiences.

 

Steve W.
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Not sure any one does it non stop. We will be leaving San Carlos late Oct. cross over to Baja then to La Paz then over to  PV for Xmas then spend New Years in  Manzanillo then down to Z town for some time and then back up San Carlos before the 6 month visa runs out.
It is a shame that you do not have some time to spend in the Sea before taking the boat back to Seattle. Their is just so much to do and see on the west coast of Mexico and the Baja.
In the sea it is like lake sailing with one eye on the weather and the then down south it is about the same but since it open to the ocean we keep two eyes on the weather but have never had a problem.

mesa
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The when is more important than the how.  Hurricane season is on now so you should not consider leaving before late Oct or early Nov.  Generally from then until mid Dec the weather is calm with occasional light southerlies.  After mid Dec you can expect strong(45kts+) northerlies that can last up to 4-5 days with a few days gap before the next one.  These can extent thoughout the sea.  There are daily weather reports on a few of the ham and single sideband nets that are good.  Once out of the sea and down the coast the weather is generally calm but occasionally there are strong localized storms that last from a few hours to most of a day.  Another thing is to watch out for fishing nets especially along the mainland coast.  These can be anywhere out many miles and can cover large areas.  During the day you can usually see the floats but at night they can be a problem. 

 

 

Galley Wench
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We've done San Carlos/La Paz/Manzanillo, but not all the way in one shot!   Are you in San Carlos now . . . if so how did you ride out the storm?

Can't recommend the mainland route either . . .  our buddy boat was snagged (in the middle of the night) by a fish net.   Had to wait till dawn to get untangled!

Last edited on Fri Sep 4th, 2009 10:38 pm by Galley Wench

Compass Rose
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Thanks for the input, people. It's much appreciated.

Galley Wench, no, we're not in SC right now. We're in Seattle and trying to figure out how to get our boat here - and feeling very thankful and fortunate that it's not on the hard at Marina Seca. I read in another thread that several boats were washed out of the yard onto the main road. Our boat is fine, and more significantly, it's just a boat - we're concerned about people there and hope there are no serious injuries or worse.

It looks like there's currently no road into SC. We're wondering when it might be fixed and whether trucking our boat via Tucson will even be an option in the foreseeable future. If not, we may have to sail it down to Manzanillo and move it from there.

We closed on our boat purchase exactly eight days ago. Do we have amazing timing or what? Oy vey!

 

 

Galley Wench
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We have our boat on the hard in Marina Real .  .  . word from the marina is that there were no boats damaged, in, our out of the water.   A friend did make it the yard, even though it was locked could see that all mast were still standing.   

We had friends truck their boat (41 foot Hunter) from San Carlos to the Bay area several years ago.  I undersstand they are no longer doing that, but surely there's a better way than Manzanillo.   Also know of several delivery captains in the La Paz area.  

 

Anu
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Hi

Mesa had good weather and timing info.

Our stops along the way for two of the last three years were Agua Verde, Isla San Francisco, Muertos, Mazatlan (2nd trip), Chacala (both trips), Ipala, Tenacatita, Bahia Navidad, Manzanillo, Zihuatenejo.

You can, of course, get out in the middle of the sea and run SSE for 1200 miles but you miss the wonders of Baja and some of authentic (rather than touristic) Mexico.

Good luck

Howard

Compass Rose
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Howard,

It looks like the distance from SC to Manzanillo is about 610 miles... we were thinking we could make it in a week in a straight shot, or we could (possibly) take two weeks and stop at a few points along the way. Even two weeks wouldn't be a lot of time, but if we had that amount of time to make the trip, where would you recommend stopping?

I agree - it would be a real shame if we weren't able to do a little cruising on the Sea of Cortez before we move the boat north.

Galley Wench
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Compass Rose wrote: Thanks for the input, people. It's much appreciated.

Galley Wench, no, we're not in SC right now. We're in Seattle and trying to figure out how to get our boat here - and feeling very thankful and fortunate that it's not on the hard at Marina Seca. I read in another thread that several boats were washed out of the yard onto the main road. Our boat is fine, and more significantly, it's just a boat - we're concerned about people there and hope there are no serious injuries or worse.

It looks like there's currently no road into SC. We're wondering when it might be fixed and whether trucking our boat via Tucson will even be an option in the foreseeable future. If not, we may have to sail it down to Manzanillo and move it from there.

We closed on our boat purchase exactly eight days ago. Do we have amazing timing or what? Oy vey!
Just curious, if you take the boat to Manzanillo what route would it take to Seattle?
 

 

Compass Rose
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Hi Galley Wench - the boat would go up the west coast to Nanaimo, B.C. (then we'd pick it up there and bring it to Seattle). The shipping company doesn't stop at any U.S. ports - something to do with labor union issues, apparently.

Last edited on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 05:16 am by Compass Rose

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So it will go by sea, and not by land! 

Steve W.
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Not Howard but you have ask a hard question.

 But I will give it a shot as to how I would do it in two weeks.

Leave San Carlos  and plan to arrive mid day at San Juanico (about 20 miles north Loreto) or Coronado Islandand (7 Miles north Loreto).  I find I am ready for a rest stop after get the boat out San Carlos with all the traveling and running around I've done.
I shoot down to Puerto Escondido And stick my nose into the harbor to see it then leave ( if you want to top up fuel tanks I would plan to arive after 9 AM.) and head south to Agua Verde.
I then pick one of the cove on Isla Partida or Isla Espritu Santo ( we like Partida cove) (La Paz would be nice but lose to much time. Good place to get fuel)
Then cross over to Mazatlan Then Chacala ( PV would be nice but is in the back of the big bay an would lose to much time.)
From Cabo Corrientes to Manzanillo there are many place to stop for the night if you need a rest. I would plan Bahia Tenacatita, Bahia Navidad and then Manzanillo.

I think that could be done in two weeks but a lot of traveling and lot of engine hours to keep the speed up but this will give you an idea of the crusing grounds down here.

Hope this helps
Steve


Compass Rose
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Steve, thank you SO much. That's super helpful; we really appreciate the suggestions. Would appreciate anyone else's thoughts for possible itineraries too.

GW - we haven't made a final decision yet by shipping by land vs. water. It'll depend how soon Marina Seca can get up and running again, the costs of the respective options and what we decide about embarking on such a long trip for our first outing in the new boat. We'd definitely break her in, that's for sure!

Last edited on Wed Sep 9th, 2009 05:16 am by Compass Rose

behang
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Based on just one season under our belts in Mexico, but covering pretty much all the territory he mentioned, I agree with the basic lines Steve drew for getting down to Manzanillo. But as for shipping the boat back, why is it Manzanillo- did Dockwise stop serving La Paz?  That would be a whole lot easier for getting the boat back to Puget Sound, and I thought it was one of their standard loading points.

We are in Phoenix right now but hoping to get back to our boat in San Carlos by the weekend... waiting and watching the reports on the roads.

Behan
s/v Totem
(hailing port Eagle Harbor, WA- but currently lying Marina Real San Carlos)

Galley Wench
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Have to agree with everyone that it would be ashame to leave without exploring The Sea of Coretz.    This will be our fifth season in the area and here are the stops that we really enjoyed.

Santa Rosalia (if they get it cleaned up)

Isla Carmen and the islands/marine park around Escondido

San Juanico, absolutely  wonderful!

Agua Verde

Isla Esprito Santos (various bays ie Partida)

La Paz --  the whale sharks there last winter were spectacular!

If you have time, visit Mazatlan fine, however if you have cut corners anywhere, this would be one to skip.    There is a great port north of Mazatlan about 100 miles Altata, however it does take some planning (and guts) to get in . . . not well marked channel and you pretty much have to surf across the opening! But what a sight to see all the shrimpers and their multicolored sails.

If you decide to go to Manzanillo, we highly recommed that you stop in La Cruz (Banderas Bay -- PV area) .  It's a great anchorage and a new state of the art marina.    Well worth the time, a great little fishing village about 20 miles west of PV on the pennisula.  Great place to wait for the perfect time to round Corrientes!  You'd probably be able to pick up a buddy  boat out of there!

I know that Dockwise was loading boats out of La Paz, at least they were two years ago.  

Diana

s/v Summer Wind

Compass Rose
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Diana, thanks very much for the suggestions! Are the places you like less touristy? That is, is it still possible to see "real Mexico" cruising the Sea of Cortez?

Re Dockwise: yes, they do ship from La Paz, but the quote we got from them was much higher - $12,600, WITH a 20 percent discount applied. So the regular rate would be about $15,000 from La Paz to Nanaimo, which seems pretty pricey.

We were able to get a much better rate from Yacht Path, possibly because they're in the process of merging with another company (and moving their offices to Fort Lauderdale). They didn't tell me which one, but I think it's probably Dockwise.

We'd prefer to move the boat to La Paz, if that option was feasible.... though on the other hand, it seems like it'd be wondeful to cruise it down the coast to Manzanillo. I just wish we'd have about three months to do it, and that it wouldn't be our first real trip out on our new boat.

Galley Wench
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From San Carlos to La PaZ, there nothing but small villages or less than that (with the exception of Santa Rosalia), so be sure to provision for the entire time before leaving San Carlos.   Absolutely NOTHING touristy about this area of Mexico.


Forgot to mention a wonderful little place called Timbabiche where you can buy fresh lobsters from Manuel a local fisherman.  He usually comes by within minutes of you dropping anchor.  That in itself is an experience not  to miss!

If you want to see some of the pictures of our special places, check out our blog, The Adventures of Summerwind    http://wingandsail.blogspot.com/

If you haven't done it yet, get one of the guide books on The Sea . . . Gerry Cunningham has a great one, particularly if you want to explore out of the way places.   John & Pat Rains also  have a wonderful book that gives lots of great information.

Last edited on Tue Sep 8th, 2009 01:37 am by Galley Wench

Compass Rose
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Diana - I read through the first page of your blog and wow, you have some gorgeous photos on there! It looks like you've been to some fabulous places. And that lobster - yum!! So Miguel actually goes diving for it on order?!? Amazing. Who's the guy with the "French bakery" boat?

It sounds like you made it from San Carlos to Mazatlan in eight days (in November 2008) - is that right?

I'm so glad to hear that it's possible to avoid touristy places while cruising the Sea of Cortez. That definitely makes it more appealing to us.

What type of boat do you have?

It looks like you and your husband are living the life; good for you!

BTW... we also have a website - it's an online boating magazine called Three Sheets Northwest. We cover boating and other marine-related issues focused on the Pacific Northwest. We've been writing about our search for and purchase of our boat on there (under The Sailboat Search Chronicles), if you're interested in checking it out.

Thanks again for the info - your site definitely makes me want to cruise the Sea of Cortez! I really hope we get to.

Look forward to reading more about your adventures.

Deborah

Galley Wench
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Thanks . . . I enjoy photography!  

That's one of the great things about The Sea . . . other than Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) in the far north there is nothing touristy about it; the scenery and the people are wonderful!  

We have a Hunter 42.   We bought her in San Carlos in the summer of 2005.  We live in the mountains of Arizona (3 hours north of Tucson) and it gets cold and snowy here in the winter, so we're usually out of here by mid-October and stay until Spring.

Yes, the lobsters are fresh, we watched him dive for them!   He even removed the tails so all I had to do was wash them, put in foil with a little garlic, wine and butter. . . YUM!

Last year we did the mainland route (our one and ONLY time) and took our time.   We stopped at Yavarras (a bit like the Bubba Gump fish company camp), Toppalabombo, then Altata (a wonderful stop) and Mazatlan.   We then did an overnight to Puerto Vallarta (actually La Cruz, we're not into touristy either).   Stayed for Christmas, and then down to Barra de Navidad, where the French  baker is located.   I can't remember his name but he's on the radio every morning . . . 'dis is da French baker, on dock  . . ."

The 2006-2007 season we did a straight shot from La Paz to Barra de Navidad, through the Lorenzo Channel and then across.  I think it took us four days (with one overnight stop)!   It was an easier rounding of Corrientes because we were able to get further out.   From Barra it's onoly about 4 hours south to Manzanillo, so you should be able to do it 3+ days.

Once you round Corrientes everything changes, the cactus give away to white sand beaches lined with palm trees.   The temperature rises almost immediately.  It a bit like the caribbean. but not as remote!

The big issue in the Sea of Corez is the weather . . . it can go from flat calm to 25 knots in a matter of hours, especially in the northern half.   For weather reports we rely on Bouy Weather and local radio reports on the Ham radio.    The best times we've found to sail from San Carlos in the fall is October . . . mid October to Thanksgiving.  The northers start blowing in after Thanksgiving and it's usually February before the last one blows through. 

Hope this helps!

Diana

Last edited on Tue Sep 8th, 2009 05:16 pm by Galley Wench

Anu
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Hi Compass Rose

I'm assuming that you are experienced offshore sailors when you write about making a two-week passage.

  Even though the Sea of Cortez has a rather benign reputation it can get a bit gnarly out there and can be frequently choppy with square waves when the northerly winds blow contrary to the incoming tide. I ran into Los Frailes from Muertos with 50 kt following winds one late November and the Cerralvo Channel is no place to be in a blow. Friends have experienced 50 kt winds between Cabo and puerto Vallarta albeit in January.

Leaving before November risks a late-season hurricane and even so expect to motor a bit since you'll be in the change from prevailing southerlies of the summer to northerly winds of winter.

If you check out the route (by route-planning software) of SC to Agua Verde or Isla San Francisco to Muertos or Frailles and then to Cabo Corrientes, I think you'll find the difference in distance to keeping in the middle of the sea miniscule. You can't do a rhumbline anyway unless you put wheels on your boat.

Taking the Baja route gives you many options when shaking down a new boat.

On another note: If you are still in SC would you mind taking a couple of pictures of my boat, Anu, which is on the hard at Marina Seca and sending them to my e-mail, hwrdgylbaker@yahoo.com. I've been assured that the boat is still upright but I may need to come down and check on water damage and to re-tarp her. We didn't intend to refloat her until January and we've still got six weeks of tropical storm activity.

Thanks in advance

Howard

Compass Rose
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Galley Wench wrote: Thanks . . . I enjoy photography!  

That's one of the great things about The Sea . . . other than Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) in the far north there is nothing touristy about it; the scenery and the people are wonderful!  

We have a Hunter 42.   We bought her in San Carlos in the summer of 2005.  We live in the mountains of Arizona (3 hours north of Tucson) and it gets cold and snowy here in the winter, so we're usually out of here by mid-October and stay until Spring.

Yes, the lobsters are fresh, we watched him dive for them!   He even removed the tails so all I had to do was wash them, put in foil with a little garlic, wine and butter. . . YUM!

Last year we did the mainland route (our one and ONLY time) and took our time.   We stopped at Yavarras (a bit like the Bubba Gump fish company camp), Toppalabombo, then Altata (a wonderful stop) and Mazatlan.   We then did an overnight to Puerto Vallarta (actually La Cruz, we're not into touristy either).   Stayed for Christmas, and then down to Barra de Navidad, where the French  baker is located.   I can't remember his name but he's on the radio every morning . . . 'dis is da French baker, on dock  . . ."

The 2006-2007 season we did a straight shot from La Paz to Barra de Navidad, through the Lorenzo Channel and then across.  I think it took us four days (with one overnight stop)!   It was an easier rounding of Corrientes because we were able to get further out.   From Barra it's onoly about 4 hours south to Manzanillo, so you should be able to do it 3+ days.

Once you round Corrientes everything changes, the cactus give away to white sand beaches lined with palm trees.   The temperature rises almost immediately.  It a bit like the caribbean. but not as remote!

The big issue in the Sea of Corez is the weather . . . it can go from flat calm to 25 knots in a matter of hours, espcially in the northern half.   For weather reports we rely on Bouy Weather and local radio reports on the Ham radio.    The best times we've found to sail from San Carlos in the fall is October . . . mid October to Thanksgiving.  The northers start blowing in after Thanksgiving and it's usually February before the last one blows through. 

Hope this helps!

Diana



Great info, Diana - thanks again! It sounds like wonderful cruising down there. But do you mean you think we'd be able to make it from SC to Barra in 3+ days? That seems awfully quick even for a straight shot. At any rate, we'd hope to be able to take two weeks to make the trip. I think that would be enough time - though of course, not nearly as long as we'd like to have.

We'd need to get there before the end of November, so hopefully that timing would be good, weatherwise. It sounds like it would be.

Thanks again for the info. (BTW, I realized I neglected to send you the URL for our website - it's http://www.threesheetsnw.com, if you're curious)

Howard, I haven't sailed offshore but my husband has and is an experienced sailor who has his advanced skipper certification and has been sailing essentially his whole life. So in that regard, I'm not worried.

We wouldn't be leaving until after Nov. 1 - we want to avoid hurricane season and wouldn't be able to get insurance to leave before then anyway. We'd probably leave around the second week of November. Thanks for the input on weather and distance. That's all good to know.

Unfortunately, we're not in SC or I'd gladly take a photo of your boat and send it to you. I hope your boat's okay - from what I've read on here, it sounds like only a very small number of boats in Marina Seca were affected.

Galley Wench
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Compass Rose wrote: Galley Wench wrote: Thanks . . . I enjoy photography!  

That's one of the great things about The Sea . . . other than Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) in the far north there is nothing touristy about it; the scenery and the people are wonderful!  

We have a Hunter 42.   We bought her in San Carlos in the summer of 2005.  We live in the mountains of Arizona (3 hours north of Tucson) and it gets cold and snowy here in the winter, so we're usually out of here by mid-October and stay until Spring.

Yes, the lobsters are fresh, we watched him dive for them!   He even removed the tails so all I had to do was wash them, put in foil with a little garlic, wine and butter. . . YUM!

Last year we did the mainland route (our one and ONLY time) and took our time.   We stopped at Yavarras (a bit like the Bubba Gump fish company camp), Toppalabombo, then Altata (a wonderful stop) and Mazatlan.   We then did an overnight to Puerto Vallarta (actually La Cruz, we're not into touristy either).   Stayed for Christmas, and then down to Barra de Navidad, where the French  baker is located.   I can't remember his name but he's on the radio every morning . . . 'dis is da French baker, on dock  . . ."

The 2006-2007 season we did a straight shot from La Paz to Barra de Navidad, through the Lorenzo Channel and then across.  I think it took us four days (with one overnight stop)!   It was an easier rounding of Corrientes because we were able to get further out.   From Barra it's onoly about 4 hours south to Manzanillo, so you should be able to do it 3+ days.

Once you round Corrientes everything changes, the cactus give away to white sand beaches lined with palm trees.   The temperature rises almost immediately.  It a bit like the caribbean. but not as remote!

The big issue in the Sea of Corez is the weather . . . it can go from flat calm to 25 knots in a matter of hours, espcially in the northern half.   For weather reports we rely on Bouy Weather and local radio reports on the Ham radio.    The best times we've found to sail from San Carlos in the fall is October . . . mid October to Thanksgiving.  The northers start blowing in after Thanksgiving and it's usually February before the last one blows through. 

Hope this helps!

Diana



Great info, Diana - thanks again! It sounds like wonderful cruising down there. But do you mean you think we'd be able to make it from SC to Barra in 3+ days? That seems awfully quick even for a straight shot. At any rate, we'd hope to be able to take two weeks to make the trip. I think that would be enough time - though of course, not nearly as long as we'd like to have.

We'd need to get there before the end of November, so hopefully that timing would be good, weatherwise. It sounds like it would be.

Thanks again for the info. (BTW, I realized I neglected to send you the URL for our website - it's http://www.threesheetsnw.com, if you're curious)

Howard, I haven't sailed offshore but my husband has and is an experienced sailor who has his advanced skipper certification and has been sailing essentially his whole life. So in that regard, I'm not worried.

We wouldn't be leaving until after Nov. 1 - we want to avoid hurricane season and wouldn't be able to get insurance to leave before then anyway. We'd probably leave around the second week of November. Thanks for the input on weather and distance. That's all good to know.

Unfortunately, we're not in SC or I'd gladly take a photo of your boat and send it to you. I hope your boat's okay - from what I've read on here, it sounds like only a very small number of boats in Marina Seca were affected.


Deborah:  

The 3+ days would be from La Paz to Barra de Navidad.   Just checked our log and we left from Los Muertos (on the east cape of the baja) and it took us 54 hours to make it across and around Corrientes to Impala, which is about 1 day sail from Barra de Navidad.   If neceessary I suppose you could make Manzanillo from San Carlos in 6 days (if the westher cooperated) but you'd miss some of the best of Mexico. 

GEEZ :( we have a friend who drove to San Carlos to check on his boat.   He called a few minutes ago,  apparently everything isn't 'ok' in Marina Real dry storage as we were advised.    Found our hard bottom dingy, which was tied securely (we thought) to the deck, hanging over the side of the boat.   Has not been inside yet. . . . got my fingers crossed, because he just found water up to the floor boards on a friends boat!

 

Last edited on Tue Sep 8th, 2009 06:15 pm by Galley Wench

Compass Rose
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Hi Diana,

Oh no! I hope your boat is okay. The other boat must have had some serious leaks to be on the hard and have that much water in it, no? I have my fingers crossed for you!

Ah, okay, three days from La Paz to Barra makes sense. If we do the trip I think we'd be able to take two weeks, so at least we'd get to see a little of the area. There's never enough time, though - at least at this stage in our lives. We're planning to go long-distance cruising in a few years. I can't wait for that. That niggling thing known as work never fails to get in the way. I'm already looking forward to retirement!

Deborah

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Galley Wench
If you would be so kind to ask your friend to look at our boat Sea Change On the hard in Marina Real.  Tayana 37 Cream and red


Thanks
Steve

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Steve,   Sorry for the delay, I was out for a while.   Unfortunatley our friend had already left the 'muddy' yard, however when I emailed Isabel regarding our boat, I asked if she contact dry storage and have some confirm all is ok with yours.

The damage to our boat appears to be minimal.    Apparently when the dingy blew off it pulled the lifeline loose on one side and there was a little water in the bilge, but dry inside.

Deborah --  love your site!

Last edited on Tue Sep 8th, 2009 10:51 pm by Galley Wench

Steve W.
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Galley Wench

I thought the boat was OK, Just  thought that it would be a good idea to have someone eye ball it if they were in the yard.

Thanks for Checking

Steve

John S
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Compass Rose

The Sea of Cortez from San Carlos to La Paz is not to be missed, especially the area from Loreto/Conception down to La Paz, and all the wonderful islands around La Paz, Espiritu Santu, San Francisco, etc, all within an easy day sail from downtown La Paz. The Sea of Cortez is definitely the "real" Mexico, you won't see many high rise condo there.

I sail with an educational schooner (85 ft) that sails from Sausalito (San Francisco area) to Mexico in winter, and often does the route from Cabo to La Paz and then out to the surrounding islands for a few months exploring, and then back to Cabo for return to Sausalito. The trips are from December to early March. It can be quite cool then and some nasty Northers, but if you watch your weather you should be OK. And you would be headed south all the time anyway.

This year we are returning to the same area but will do a Rotary sponsored trip to take clothing and other supplies to remote fishing villages that cannot be reached easily (or at all) by vehicle. If you sail south, look for us, 85 ft. steel schooner named "Seaward" (owned by a nonprofit 'Call of the Sea')


I can send you some nice photos of the islands, and also of anchorages, and fishermen bringing fresh lobsters to the boat. All in all, it's quite a unique and very authentic experience. Totally different that the 'Gold Coast' of Mexico, ie, Mazatlan-PV-Manzanillo, etc. which are all very beautiful in their own ways but hardly pristine Mexico.


We sailed down as far as Manzanillo for several years (winter) but decided to stay in the lower Sea of Cortez, more interesting sailing and great anchorages.

Even if you eventually sail all the way to Manzanillo, don't miss cruising for at least a few weeks in the islands around La Paz, and even a stop in La Paz itself, still a very delightful and real Mexican city. Costa Baja Marina is closest as you enter the channel, out near the ferry, Marina La Paz is all the way down channel and walking distance to downtown.

A word about the shipper you mentioned, be prepared for significant delays, and you may also have to sign an insurance waiver the absolves the shipping company from any liability, even if it's their fault. I wouldn't think there would be so much difference in price between La Paz and Manzanillo? Dockwise might be more expensive but they are generally dependable and if they don't have a full load they will negotiate with you. Another option might be to check the price for Ensenada, might only take a week or so to work your way north up the coast of Baja and then get a more competitive bid from Ensenada to Seattle?

No matter which route you take you can't help but have a good trip...




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Steve W - I sent you a PM



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