We headed out from Puerto Escondido and started our way North on July 17th, 2017. We got some sailing in and headed to Puerto Ballandra, on Isla Carmen. We first anchored in the Northern area of the bay but decided to move into the southern bay due to quite a bit of swell coming in from the South.
We also found the cell reception better in the Southern part of the bay (1-3 bars). Ballandra was one of our favourite anchorages. It was absolutely picturesque! There was only one other boat with us that came in the later afternoon, so it was quite intimate. The water was clear and turquoise and begged for a swim. We blew up the paddleboard as well and ventured to shore with Ruby, who was happy to run free on the beach! We explored the southern coastline via paddleboard and even saw huge dorado swim right underneath us. Our anchor waypoint was 26° 1’003 N, 111° 9’907 W .
The next afternoon we picked up and sailed north to Isla Coronados. The western anchorage is really big and can fit lots of boats. Although we didn’t find this anchorage as beautiful as Ballandra, the water was spectacularly clear and was absolutely full of sea life. It was hot, so we were sleeping in the cockpit and were accompanied by a pelican for several hours of the stern, swimming about and fishing by the aid of our Luci light and saw trigger fish swimming below us as well. The next morning, we were entertained by a huge pod of dolphins swimming about the anchorage.
They seemed to know we were watching them and swam right beside Bloom’s hull- peering up at us through the waters. There was decent cell reception in this anchorage as well and we were anchored at 26 6° 712 N 111° 17.043.
Next, we headed North again up to La Ramada, just north of Caleta San Juanico. This was another stunning spot, and we were the only boat in the whole anchorage for our stay. We had fun exploring the shore here and searching for the Apache Tears and Cruiser’s Shrine mentioned in Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer’s ‘Sea of Cortez’ Guidebook.
The shrine was a bit tricky to find as there was a fork in the path to the right that was not at all obvious. It looks like some previous cruisers have piled a few rocks on either side of it, so you can look for that.
From La Ramada we headed north to Santo Domingo, about 47 nautical miles. This was a full day with a big swing around to enter Domingo when we arrived as it is surrounded by a shoaly area. It is a fairly ‘roadstead’ stop as it is quite open, so watch your weather forecast if you go here. Cell reception was excellent at this stop and we could hear coyotes howling on shore at night.
We picked up first thing in the morning and ventured the 36 nautical miles further North to Santa Rosalia. It was a hot and uneventful day so we were grateful to arrive around 4pm, although it was in the absolute heat of the day and it was HOT. We’ve never experienced heat like this, being Canadians. Wow. You instantly drip sweat from every part of your body.
We spent a fantastic (and did I mention HOT?!) 5 weeks in Santa Rosalia. This little town has a lot to offer! There are zero tourists here, so you really get an authentic Mexican experience. The marina is a Fonatur marina, which are not known for their beauty or being well-kept. The office manager Isabel was really nice and very helpful. They are extremely low-key about paying. You just go up and check in and it is all very casual. The rates are very, very low- about 8 pesos a foot when we were there in July/August. There is a small pool (okay, not very clean or nice so we didn’t use it but the pigeons did! LOL)
There is WiFi as well as excellent cell reception and the office is air conditioned and has a small lounge area. There is a decent laundry facility on-site that charges about 30 pesos for a wash and 30 for a dry. The washrooms are okay, but they lock them so you need to get a key. They are quite unkempt and after showering with a very large cockroach, I decided to shower on the dock in a swimsuit from then on. This was actually way nicer anyhow as the water would cool down just a little at around 8pm and sometimes there was a tad bit of breeze so you could cool off a tiny bit (I use the words cool off extremely loosely!). We slept outside the entire time we were here. (We slept outside for the entire summer, actually!) There were no bugs at all- just the occasional early morning or late night ferry arriving to wake you up. The Mexican navy boats are docked here and the fellows onboard are extremely nice. We were a tad grossed out at them swimming in the marina though. It is not clean water by any means!
The itself is fantastic- it has the coolest vintage ‘old west’ vibe with all of its wooden buildings! Santa Rosalia was a huge copper mining town back in the day and it used to ship its copper up to the Pacific Northwest. Instead of sending the ships back empty- they would load them up with lumber and send it back to Santa Rosalia- hence, the many wooden buildings.
The town has the most amazing community feel to it and the locals are out every night walking the malecon, swimming in the ocean or hanging out in the city park and playground. We were sad to leave Santa Rosalia, but had heard a lot of horror stories about hurricanes hitting this marina. Being it hurricane season that it was it was time to move on to San Carlos, on the Mainland side…
On a quick sidenote, we had several t-shirts silkscreened when we were in Santa Rosalia. The guys working at the shop were amazing, super accommodating and the tees were only 90 pesos each with a 5 day turnaround. They turned out great! Mario from Imagina in Santa Rosalia is highly recommended! Here are the shirts: