Wednesday, December 14, 2016


We last updated our blog in April of this year with our trip to the Copper Canyon.  Please check out our April 9th posting and earlier for a view of life on a cruising powerboat. 
Our trip from Topolobampo to Isla San Francisco was uneventful and we almost made the anchorage before dark.   We traveled with our friends Salacia N40 again.  The trip took 13.75 hours. with beamy swells in the 4-6 foot range.   Winds peaked at 22 kts making for a wet but safe ride.  It was a relief to get into the lee at the picturesque Isla San Francisco….
Our neighbors at Isla San Francisco-
Salacia on the hook as well-
Weather remained outstanding so we got some kayak time in (Keela seems to adjusting)  along with a little baking….
These were just as good as the ones we got in Myers Chuck Alaska (see previous blog entry) .   Warm weather helped too..
This cruising thing takes a toll but the crew of WORKNOT is up to the task…
Box score:  13 hours…94 miles 57 gallons diesel


Now that we are back cruising again plan to catch up on the blog and keep more current.  Thanks for hanging in there during our summer sabatical......

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Copper Canyon MX by Train March 2016

The plan when going to Topolombampo was to use the town as jumping off point for a trip to the Copper Canyon.

Our friends on Salacia agreed to watch Keela if we would return the favor by watching Chewy.   Dogs are not allowed on the train from Los Mochis to the Copper Canyon area and this will limit our time in the canyon.

Chewy and Neil charting a course…

Copper Canyon, in northern Mexico, is a series of massive canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. Popular for hiking, it gets its name from the copper-green hue of the canyon walls. The famous Chepe (Ferrocarril Barrancas del Cobre) train connects the region via over 80 tunnels and nearly 40 bridges. Divisadero, a frequent stop on the line, offers views into Urique Canyon.
Our journey started with an early morning taxi ride from Topolombampo to Los Mochis.  (Last city El Chapo was captured in).  We arrived about half an hour early 6 AM for the train planning to buy our tickets at the counter.  This after being assured by many travelers this was the best plan.  Well, plans and Mexico often don’t go as planned.
IMG_0494Translation-as of a few days ago NO TICKETS sold at the station for the first class train to Copper Canyon.

 Dissapointed,  we were about to head back to the boat when the conductor got a call.  After some tortured Spanish to English work on my behalf he agreed to let us pay cash for tickets assuring us we could buy a return ticket on-line. We boarded the train and now the real fun began.  We were leaving cell phone coverage behind and the webiste for tickets says all tickets require 72 hours advance purchase.  We planned to return in 48 hours………I’ll make a long story shorter but by a bit of luck we got return tickets worked out and printed about 4 PM that afternoon.  Internet coverage came and went and everytime we got coverage another step was advanced.  Thanks to Neil, the guy at the hotel and an agent who was supposed to go home at noon but stayed to help we could at least return without having to wait the required 72 hours.  Did I mention the hotel we were staying in  (1 of 2 available) was completely booked for the following week?
The train ride averaged about 30 MPH as it wound its way up steep grades and sheer cliffs.  The cars were old but clean and the staff showed a great deal of pride in passenger service. 
Decent food in the dining car and great views made it a pleasant trip worth the effort.
At one of the stops along the way local women approach the train selling handmade baskets and baked goods. 
Creative chicken coop with a bridged access to protect the hens from coyotes.

View from the balcony of our hotel.

Amazing carved front door at the hotel lobby.  Both sides match!
An incredible tram (our choice of transportation) ride gives great views of the canyon.  Next to the tram is a world famous zip line….said to be the longest in the world.
Length: 8,350 feet
Vertical Drop: 1450 feet
Average Percent Grade: 17%
Two cables side by side
Top Speed: 65 mph
Flight time: 2 minutes 20 seconds

Our trip home started here and was equally a breathtaking as the ride up the mountain.
At the train station about 10 of these stoves are set up.  Best use of a 55 gallon drum yet.  A simple wood fire is built in the upper section and the plate on top allows for a variety of cooking temperatures.  Oddly, all of the vendors were serving the exact same thing.  No variety what so ever……..

Mary has a new friend as we prepare to leave.  Dogs, kids, elderly and disabled people all played, walked and hung around the active tracks clearing out just as the trains (freight and passenger) arrive.  IMG_1371
Recommend this trip for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and wants to see Mexico in a different light than the typical beach resort.  Our only disappointment was the food quality was pretty poor.   A real change from our usual results in Mexico.   

Mary has a new friend….

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mazatlan to Topolobampo 2-29-16

Weather was good for our trip north with Salacia for the next few days.  Both crews were up and ready to go at 7AM for 27 hour journey.  Neil (Salacia) had started his engine and I was about to unplug WORKNOT shore power when he noticed lower than expected voltage on his main house battery set.  A few minutes of quick trouble shooting did not reveal anything so we scrubbed the trip and started to diagnose in earnest.   House voltage was only low about half a volt but we all get a feel for our boats idiosyncrasies.

Multiple 8D (150# each) batteries are common on cruising boats to provide 120V house power without running a generator via an inverter.   Most are sized to support the vessel on anchor with only a few hours of generator time each day.  This means lots of high current connections.  After a good cleaning of a dozen or more connections the voltage stabilized as expected.  It was now near lunch time and too late to leave and reach Topolobampo (TOPO) in daylight the next day. 

They say a schedule is the most dangerous thing on-board and we are blessed not have one.  Delaying a day vs. arriving in a “new to us”  anchorage at dark was an easy decision.
Both boats left on time the next day for Topo.  Although the harbor had been closed twice while we were in Mazatlan due to high surf our departure was easy.  The dredge we dodged on the way in was not working as we left and the depth in the channel was much deeper the entire way out.  (never lesss than 14’)
Salacia leads the way out to sea

Seas were very calm and winds were less than 15 kts almost the entire trip.  We even had a little bit of fog.  Fished the entire way but no joy. 

Topo is a large deep water port chosen by us because its the closet port to the Copper Canyon.  A passenger train runs from Los Mochis (20 miles inland from Topo) to Chihuahua. This takes it to the heart of the Copper Canyon, said to be larger and deeper than the US Grand Canyon.

On WORKNOT we have charts derived from multiple sources.  The expectation is no matter what the source the charts will have the same data.   Garmin, Chartworld and Navionics charts all showed different locations for the buoys at Topo.  Neil has C-Map charts and they were slightly different as well   One of my charts showed an entrance channel that has been abandoned and replaced by a deep water channel that crosses an area shown as only 8’ on the current chart.  To help sort this out the marina sent us an email with the latest chart information.  Another reason not to enter a strange harbor in the dark.

The correct chart information from Garmin-
Two additional charts views with out of date information on the entrance-

Entering Topo was actually easy.  Proceeding to the offshore safe water buoy a well marked entrance channel was clearly visible on radar  and at least one chart set.  The entrance is used by freighters and ferry boats.  Over 10 miles long the entrance had breaking waves on both sides reminiscent  of the bars along the west coast of Oregon. 
Just before the harbor is a very private yacht club with a dozen or more nice yachts, a pool and lush grounds.  We inquired and were quickly sent to the commercial marina and told there were no visitors allowed at the yacht club-ever. 

Very Private Yacht Club

A large collection of fishing boats also line the inner harbor. 

The dock at Topo is owned by the same folks who own Marina Palmyria in La Paz.  Small with about 25-30 slips we were the only visiting boats in the harbor.  Docks were clean, in good condition and inexpensive.  Very little English spoken by the marina staff or anyone in Topo.  Omar, security guy for the marina, was extremely helpful and well versed in Google Translate.  He made our stay easy helping get laundry service, cabs and directions to the limited amenities in Topo. 


Sunset at Topo-

We found a friendly restaurant near the harbor and enjoyed several simple but good meals there for very few pesos.   Run by 4 women, lunch was whatever was on the stove that day.  Generally the town is poor and it shows.  Hard working people making  way in a tough agricultural economy.  

The malecon is about a mile long and was all but deserted.  Millions of $ spent there to make it impressive but looks like the development just quit. 

Dozens of exercise machines idle along the malecon.01cd8b44049cdad03b614127bc0008263259f92b34

Topo is near Los Mochis, a town of nearly 300,000 people complete with Starbucks and the regular big city amenities.  Took the local bus there for $17 pesos (just under $1 US).  Lots of buildings and other construction activity in the city.  It’s surrounded by massive agricultural areas and serves as a major hub for the area. 
01a3ca2041665d041eed84841cebed625f81e8d43f The driver spoke no english but figured we were “yatistas” and diverted the bus to take us right to the harbor entrance.
Snug in the harbor we left for the Copper Canyon with Keela in the care of Salacia….


Sunday, February 28, 2016

La Cruz 2 Mazatlan 2/14/16

After more than 2 week relaxing between Paradise Village and La Cruz we moved north to Mazatlan. 
One of the highlights of the trip to Paradise Village was the chance to dive again with PVSea Dive.  Wayne Elliot was nice enough to pick me up for another round of diving with Sue and her team.
Water temps have cooled down just enough to require a wet-suit. Turtles, ells and rays joined the variety of schooling fish to make it another great dive experience.   So glad I took the certification course in Las Vegas so I can add these experiences to the cruising playbook.  Check out SCUBAFY and its Elvis impersonator instructor/owner. 

Your’s truly at 50’
We left La Cruz anchorage at 9AM in order to meet up with Salcia who was leaving from Paradise Village.  We stopped at La Cruz fuel dock to use us a small refund due from the marina.  Getting cash or a credit card refund in Mexico seems to be near impossible.  I’m told its related to the way transaction taxes are collected.  We took on 150 gallons and the price had fallen to $2.75/gal.  Just 30 days before it was $3.43/gal.  Don’t expect to need fuel until we start the trip North to Ensenada.
Seas were very good for the entire trip.  Several long-line detours as we made our way north.  Salacia was ahead of us for half the trip and kept us informed of long-line locations.  He snagged one but was able to get free without incident.  Our luck was a better this time. 

Big moon most of the trip and it really makes a difference on the night watch. 

The sunsets on the west coast are just spectacular.  Really enjoy MOST of an overnight trip.  Still; from about 2 AM to sun-up can be tough on everyone.

Mazatlan Marina is very well protected and just north of the commercial harbor.  Entrance includes a very aggressive turn and narrow.  Each time I’ve entered the plan was to take pictures but it was just too busy as we arrived.  Lots of fishing boats heading out, a dredge mid channel and morning sun just above the horizon dead ahead. 
Mazatlan is home to the longest malecon (Malec√≥n is a Spanish word that refers to a paved public walkway by a lake or ocean) in the world according to several sources.  Just over 13 miles long.  Some scenes from the land side:
IMG_1173 IMG_1176
Cliff Diving Platform.  Could not get Neil or Diana to try it however…..
                                                                The landing zone for cliff divers

The old town market is big attraction.  Anything you can image to eat is available here.  Crowded with hundreds of vendors it's been elbow to elbow every time we visited.
Kinda gives new meaning to “The Whole Hog”
Good food is big part of why we love traveling in Mexico.  “Shrimp Boat” from one of the oldest resturants in the old town district.  Not only is it more food than any two or three people should eat but its kept warm with a fire built inside the “boat”.  All for $$400 pesos or about $22 US.  Great lunch spot overlooking the Malecon.
Diner at the “Fat Fish” featured ribs. 2 x 1 pricing at $$199 pesos including baked potato, salad and soup.  This is a single serving of ribs.  Don’t miss this one if you find yourself in Mazatlan. 
Keela got another “summer” hair do from a groomer who came to the boat to trim her and Chewy from Salacia. 
BOX SCORE 23 Hours 116 gallons 170 miles