Santa Rosalía and Bahia Concepcion

On the way to Santa Rosalía we stopped at Santo Domingo, an anchorage at the north end of Bahía Concepción. Santa Rosalía is a nice little town on Highway 1. We’d driven through it on the way down last fall but hadn’t stopped. It’s a mining town with a long section of the highway fronted by huge abandoned mine buildings. At the time, we thought there wasn’t much to stop for. It does have a marina, though. Santa Rosalía has a Fonatur marina. Fonatur was a big effort by the Mexican government in the early 1980s or thereabouts to build marinas and other tourist developments to bring in the gringo dollars. Their marinas are all built to the same plan. Puerto Escondido was originally a Fonatur marina, but it’s now privately owned and has much more of a resort look and feel. Santa Rosalía clearly hasn’t had any additional money invested in it. The docks can handle around 20 boats if they aren’t too big. The washing machines worked. The pool was primarily used by gulls. The showers were on the interesting spectrum. Because we used a lot of marina showers, we developed a loose rating scheme based on general ambiance, lighting, water flow and temperature. At Santa Rosalía, we added insect life to the list. There we saw our first cockroach in the shower (we think 5 centimeters is large). Santa Rosalía is on the ugh end of the list, but you do what you gotta do, and maybe not being able to see without glasses is not necessarily a bad thing.

In spite of the showers, we liked Santa Rosalía. The marina rates are inexpensive (perhaps one reason why the showers are interesting). The town is a short walk from the marina. Provisioning is easy. There are good restaurants. It feels like a safe, well-cared-for town. It’s a mining town rather than a tourist town. We got a big project started and finished there: shade curtains for the cabin and forepeak. We’d been hauling around a 50 foot roll of shade cloth since we drove down last fall. We used the floor by the marina pool to lay it out and cut it to size. Four days later, we did a test fit. There were a few minor adjustments, but the final version did a good job of cutting the heat in the boat. We repurposed the webbing from old jack lines and sail ties to make tiedown loops. We think they will also work well when Gypsy goes into the storage yard where it will get very hot.

The central part of town is a short walk from the marina. One day we walked by what we figured out was a miners’ meeting at the town plaza. They were hoping for a 6 percent increase in wages. We found out later that they didn’t get it. The mine, originally Belgian owned, is now owned by a Korean/Canadian concern. They are trying to get AMLO, the Mexican president, to give them more land so they can stay open. That is probably a gross over-simplification, but the end of decent jobs will have an impact on the town. The library was open and is named after Mahatma Gandhi. It has computers and a small collection of books. We talked to some of the library staff and met the director. We wandered some more and found a nice ice cream shop, a couple of good tortillerias. On our second try, we walked up to the cemetery on top of the hill south of town.

The quickest and most obvious way to get to the cemetery is to follow the path rimmed with white rocks. We’d tried walking up earlier through the neighborhood but didn’t go far enough, probably because it was getting hot and we really didn’t know quite where the road went. The cemetery is huge, and very different from American cemeteries. No lawn, for one thing. The sun, salt air and wind have all taken a toll on gravestones that aren’t that old. There doesn’t seem to be any predictable order to where graves are placed.

Next stop, back to Bahía Concepción, to see what it’s like south of Santo Domingo. We anchored at Posada Concepción for a night. Did some dinghy fishing with good results – a rooster fish that we released, and a nice sierra that we kept.

Playa El Burro was our next destination. On the way back to the dinghy, we bought a kilo of nice shrimp from a guy in the parking lot by the beach. We ran it to the fridge and headed back in for lunch at the sports bar on the beach. Berta’s had a foosball table, a pool table and one or two tables to sit at to eat, and five things on the menu. We had fish tacos. They were good.

Back at Gypsy, the decks started to get hot, so we put up our new shade, put foil covered bubblewrap in the windows and settled in to sweat it out in a slightly cooler cabin. The next day we walked down the highway to try to find a tienda and some wifi. Concepcion is beautiful but is a Telcel desert. At Berthas Pollo we bought some internet time and had some really good fish tacos, better than Berta’s on the beach.

We tried the hike that supposedly had petroglyphs. We didn’t see them but someone had marked a trail of sorts with rock cairns. We made it maybe a quarter of the way before being done in by the heat. More dinghy exploration of the little bays that make up Bahia Concepción. No luck fishing, but it’s a beautiful place.

Anchored the south side of Punta Chivato. The guide book talks about the hotel there. It’s now derelict, and the caretaker passed away last year, so we were able to just wander through it. In its prime it would have been a beautiful place to stay. One story we heard was that it was built or bought by an Italian mafioso who was using it to launder money.

Isla San Marcos is known for its gypsum mining. We stayed upwind from the mine in a nice little cove called Sweet Pea Cove. Lots of net floats in the water nearby. There’s an abandoned fish camp on shore. There are sea caves in the coves nearby. Dolphins swim by. And flies. Thankfully they aren’t the biting kind, but they are an infernal nuisance and we must have swatted dozens of them. We had bees looking for fresh water. Usually we ignore them and they go away. One climbed into the head faucet. Later Nina pumped some water to wash her hands, and out gushed eight bees.

Back to Santa Rosalía to wait for a weather window to cross to San Carlos on the mainland. The marina was full. The ongoing project on the breakwater now involves jackhammering. When we were there earlier, they were using a crane to remove old hurricane damaged pilings, a much quieter project. It was time to leave.

We left in the evening for San Carlos. It’s a 70 mile trip that will take us about 14 hours so it makes sense to arrive in daylight rather than at dark. It will be cooler than doing it in the daytime. Pangas will be harder to see, as they often fish without running lights, but there weren’t any to see. We managed to avoid a freighter by Isla Tortuga. The crossing was smooth until about 0100, just past Tortuga, when the chop kicked in with 3 foot or so waves at about 3 second intervals. It got bumpy. We dropped anchor the next morning in Bahía Algodones near San Carlos and discovered we were in a different time zone, an hour ahead, and really in need of a nap.

4 thoughts on “Santa Rosalía and Bahia Concepcion”

  1. Best post. Sounds very relaxed cruising, as it should be on Gypsy Kramer adventures.
    Joy and I just returned from ten days in South Sound. It was filled with new discoveries for us, since we usually go north to our summer cruising places. We found some good anchorages with swimming and hiking. Nice weather. We feel very lucky to be out there.
    Fair winds,


  2. Your mentioning of pelicans in this post and frigate birds (in March) reminds me of a book the CAP book group read, The Alehouse at the End of the World – Steven Allred. Did you read it? I don’t remember if that was before you sailed away. An enjoyable fantasy. The author was at the book group. Really interesting guy.


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