San Carlos

A sign on the road on the hunt for the Catch-22 movie set. We didn’t see any donkeys, alive or upside down.

Bahía Algodones. The movie Catch-22 was filmed in the area. We watched the movie and set out the next day on foot to a vaguely noted location. We didn’t find it. Not surprising since the sources we found that mention it were not very specific as to location. One of them mentioned that the novel was by Kurt Vonnegut (really! Joseph Heller is the author) so we discounted that site’s accuracy. We ended up with a nice walk down the road to La Manga, a fishing village down the road, and back along the beach. There was an abandoned hotel on the way.

The anchorage started to get rolly and the bay started to fill with jetskis so we headed toward Marina San Carlos. We dropped anchor in the small bay outside of Marina San Carlos on the edge of the mooring field. Bill wasn’t comfortable with the anchorage, so we headed into the marina for a slip. We figured that a couple of weeks should give us plenty of time to get the boat prepped for haulout.

The official name of San Carlos is San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas. Up the road from Guaymas, it’s a town spread along the highway, built for gringos from the US and Canada. The marina is busy. There are at least thirty day charters that come and go multiple times a day (three hour tours, anyone?). The comings and goings were fun to watch, and the onboard karaoke was definitely worse on the way back in. But we were there to get Gypsy ready for the marina seca, the dry yard. The storage yard is down the highway maybe a kilometer from the marina and we walked down to take a look at it. There’s a work yard where you can work on your boat, and a huge secure dry yard behind that. Boats get hauled by a tractor down the road and it looked like a good place to store Gypsy while we were north for the summer.

As a gringo town, San Carlos is very car centered. The highway cuts through it and most of the stores are stretched along the highway. There are sidewalks, but it’s a long, hot walk to the supermercado, bank, or farmacia. There is a local bus, but we haven’t been riding buses this year due to Covid.

Gypsy flying her signal flags to welcome the Cuauhtemoc.

One of the highlights of our stay in San Carlos was the arrival of the Mexican navy tall ship the Cuauhtemoc. The Mexican navy is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year and the tall ship Cuauhtemoc was making stops in the Sea of Cortez. It came to San Carlos just after we arrived and we joined the local flotilla to welcome them. It was a beautiful day, about 50 boats milled about while she set sails and got underway. She’s a three masted square rigger, 295 feet long and 39.4 feet wide, with a crew of maybe 200.

Prep time got underway. San Carlos is hot, so the new shade came in handy. We covered the window foil on the big windows for a fancier look, and tried to cool Gypsy down. Most boats on the dock have air conditioners running constantly. The heat is not too bad when there is a wind blowing, but when it’s still, it’s a very buggy place. We started cleaning and washing lines. The box of aluminum foil came out and we wrapped anything with plastic parts or bearings to keep the grit out and the sun from frying it. We got everything done, found a hotel for a couple of days so that we wouldn’t have to camp out in a boat chockablock with gear. Air conditioning, nice showers. All set to haul out, we got a message that the hydraulic lift was broken and we wouldn’t be able to haul on Wednesday. We’d planned a couple of days on the hard to finish up a few jobs better done out of the water. Friday we’d take a bus to Tucson and fly out the following afternoon. Nope. The yard didn’t have a definite date that parts would arrive, they’d contact us (which meant we needed to contact them). First word was we’d be able to haul on Friday. No, parts had to come from the States, so probably the following Weds. Hotel rooms were all booked for the weekend, so we moved back aboard. We have enough space to sleep. We still had some food that we were going to give away, but it was pretty bare bones – a lot of tuna quesadillas. Dinners out. We did discover a restaurant nearby that has live bossa nova on Wednesday and Thursday nights, decent affordable Mediterranean style food. Meanwhile, we’re in limbo, in hurry up and wait mode, in a country that has perfected the art of mañana.

Twelve days after the bad news, we get hauled out. We are the first boat of five, which means there are going to be a lot of boats going down the highway. Sailboats get hauled with a hydraulic lift pulled by a tractor. The whole thing goes down the road a couple of kilometers to the marina seca, or the dry yard. We got parked in the work yard, so that we could have access to the boat to finish up a couple of projects. We got them done that afternoon, spent one last night on Gypsy, and got a ride from friends the next morning into Guaymas to catch the bus to Tucson. Nine hours, 4 dubbed movies, two stops with dog sniffers going through the bus, one military checkpoint, and the US border itself, we finally arrived at the Tufesa bus station in Tucson. The next day we boarded a very full plane for the flight to Portland, via Seattle, and made it home for the summer.

Cerro de Tetakawi, San Carlos’ iconic mountain from the ocean side of the bay.

4 thoughts on “San Carlos”

  1. Thanks for your blog. It is interesting. I’m in Battleground. Just took ASA 103-104 around the San Juan Islands. Hope go do some cruising after I retire.


  2. Bill and Nina, It has been wonderful to share your journeying! Thank you so much for the photos, the narratives, the humor, the glamour(!)…the adventure.


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