Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in Topolobampo

1730, Marina Palmira, Topolobampo, Mexico
We are alongside this outback marina in an isolated little fishing village come commercial port since yesterday afternoon. The wind is howling through the rigging and dust is flying everywhere. We are sharing the docks with another couple in a cruiser. We really hadn’t planned to spend Christmas here but until this gale blows itself out we don’t have much choice. Hopefully we’ll be able to leave by Sunday afternoon. We will proceed directly to La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta) and make up the time we have lost.
We launched as predicted and spent 2 days at the fuelling dock finishing off a few projects, fuelling and getting the engine looked at by Omar (the best mechanic in Mexico). He arrived late Tuesday night determined to get us away as soon as he could. After a 3-hour session, adjusting our valves, changing the raw water impellor (and chasing all the bits that had broken off the old one), we were good to go. Lesson: change the impellor every year. It costs less than having a mechanic locate and remove all the broken bits.....
That night we experienced our first significant rainfall in Guaymas. Although it only rained for a short time, it was long enough for us to finally locate the leak in the aft cabin, the one right over J-G’s pillow. We’ll know if we were successful in plugging that leak with the next rain, whenever that will be.
After saying our farewells to everyone we left Guaymas for Mazatlan. We were a full day behind Warren Peace which was also headed there for Christmas. That afternoon we realized that we were missing our Mexican courtesy flag. It was beginning to look pretty ratty at the end of last season so we had packed it up to bring home for repairs. It is still there, ratty as ever. Fran came up with a solution. We have a sewing machine aboard and lots of white material. Red and green was more of a challenge until Fran looked into her tea-towel drawer and lo and behold a red and a green set of Christmas tea towels. She produced the flag in no time, complete with artwork.
Fran's creation
Where's the dolphins??

The following day we heard that a gale was headed our way with winds 35-50 kts. Although the wind would be in our favour we would arrive at the harbour mouth to the Mazatlan marinas well after the gale hit us and there was no doubt that the entrance would be closed. It was an easy decision to divert to Topolobampo, just a few miles ahead of us and the only safe haven between Guaymas and Mazatlan. The entrance is a bit complicated but it is well buoyed for the big ships. The problem is that the big ships don’t use the secondary channel to the marinas and this is one of the few commercial ports that do not have an updated and detailed harbour chart. Luckily we got within internet range shortly after arriving at the outer buoy and were able to download the waypoints for the channel from the Southbound Group’s file page. One of the fishermen also gave us directions by waving us away from the shallows and his nets.
This marina is a nice change from Singlar. It is well maintained and the marina crew seem to be a happy bunch. Everyone has been very courteous and helpful. The owner of this marina also owns the Palmira Marina in La Paz where we have stayed several times. Here he also owns many of the power boats tied up at the other docks. Hope he is making money in La Paz this weekend because he isn’t making much here with just 2 paying boats. He does have a good plan for this marina. Topolobampo is expected to grow into one of the more important big ship seaports on the coast and he is counting on significant economic and population growth in the next decade and he wants to cash in on the pleasure boating traffic. Already it is the doorway to the Copper Canyon. Boaters stop here, leave their boats and take the bus to Los Mochis to the railhead to do the Copper Canyon tour.
Our best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas.
Marina Palmira

Eduardo fishing for Lisas, the easy way...

Saturday, Christmas Eve,24 Dec 2011
It was one windy night last night but it died suddenly at about 1AM then set back in by dawn. We had supper with Ralph and Barbara aboard Pacific High (the cruiser mentioned above). Throughout the evening we were buffeted by 30-40 kt winds. When we left we discovered that tgheir stairs and Ralph's sandals had been blown off the dock. With conditions like that in the marina we can well imagine what they would be offshore.

All the best for a very Merry Christmas from Gosling in Topolobampo.

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