12/28/2012 – Santa Rosalía

Well, so far, we love this town.  Granted, we’ve only been out for one walk but, as of now, we could see living here even more than we could see ourselves living in all the other places in Mexico that we’ve visited so far and decided we could live in.

Our first impression of the place was from the marina itself.  On our way in we passed the Marina Fonatur which had only 2 boats tied up and looks exactly like every other Fonatur marina that we’ve seen.  And I literally mean that it looked exactly like the others.  Other than the ineptitude that the powers-that-be in Mexico City seem to show in demanding how these places be run, we really have nothing against Fonatur marinas and, in fact, if we leave Siempre Sabado here while we venture back to the States sometime in the future, the Fonatur marina is where we’ll probably choose to leave her, it being modern and secure.  However, for this trip we were really hoping to find a spot at the “old marina”,  Marina Santa Rosalía.  We’d heard a lot about it and wanted to experience it ourselves.



We motored by and it looked like there were 2 empty slips, side-by-side.  But there were a bunch of people on the dock and they looked like they might be waiting for someone so we pulled up close and asked if there were any openings.  They hollered back, “Sure, help yourself.”  I guess they were waiting for us.  We pulled up to the dock on our starboard side next to a small sailboat named Plum Duff, which was what our first sailboat was named when we bought her.  There were 3 or 4 guys there helping us tie up and welcoming us to the marina.

Tucked in all snug.

Tucked in all snug.

After we got all tied up and stripped off some of our layers of cold weather clothing, I started gathering my papers to go up to the office and check in.  David, on Plum Duff, assured me that I didn’t really need any papers, that all the forms were really easy to fill out without them.  He told me that Toby would probably be up in the office and that, if he wasn’t, that he (David) would come up and check me in.  Both Toby and David told us that this was a place where the inmates run the asylum.  Our kind of place for sure.  This is definitely not a Fonatur marina.

Up at the office I found Toby and told him I wanted to check in.  “What?” Apparently a little hard of hearing.  I told him we were the new boat that just arrived and wanted to get signed up.  “What new boat?”  “That Westsail 28, the one with the green canvas and the baggywrinkle.” I said as I pointed out the window.  “Oh, okay.”  Turns out Toby owns the Westsail 32, Pear-D, that you can see to the left of the gate in the first photo.

Signing in consists of filling out 2 pieces of paper.  The first and most important is the tally sheet.  It’s got several columns on it with headings like “Beer”, “Soda”, etc.  Apparently, they have a couple of fridges that they keep stocked with beer, soda, ice (maybe), etc.  When you grab one, you just put a mark on your sheet and, when you get ready to leave, you settle up.  Everything is paid when you get ready to leave, including your moorage.  It’s all run on the honor system.  The other form is for the port captain and includes a little information about us and our boat as well as where our last port of call was.  When we leave, we’ll fill out another that tells the Capitanía del Puerto where our next port of call will be.  That’s it.  All done.  No need to show proof of insurance or boat documentation or anything.  Toby issued me a key which opens the office itself so you can get a beer, peruse the library, take a shower, whatever, after hours.  During the day, someone is usually up in the office just hanging out.  Granted, the docks are kind of rickety and the showers not terribly clean, but we’ve been in worse places and the funkiness adds to the charm.

This morning, we dropped our dirty laundry off at the office.  It’ll get washed, dried, folded and delivered back to our boat this afternoon for 45 pesos per load plus a 20 peso propina (gratuity).  That’s not a spectacular deal but it sure ain’t bad.  And you can’t beat the convenience.

After breakfast, we decided to take a walk and get a general lay of the land.  Toby gave me a few pointers using the map on the wall and off we went.  As soon as we got off Highway 1 and on to the one-way streets running through town, we were immediately charmed.  It reminded both of us of Avalon on Catalina Island.  Except, this is how we pictured Avalon to have looked before it became a tourist destination.  People obviously actually live here year-round.  It’s a real town.  It just happens to remind us of Avalon.  But it’s not touristy and definitely not gringo-ized either.  Both good things.

Santa Rosalia 3

I’ll get brushed up on the history of Santa Rosalía over the next few days but, for now, I know that it was once a copper mining town with the mines run by a French company.  The story is that they exported copper to the US on ships and the ships returned with lumber from Oregon and Canada.  Consequently, unlike almost anywhere else in Baja, most of the buildings are made of wood with traditional European style architecture.

I think this is a women's clothing store

I think this is a women’s clothing store

We could live here

We could live here

The library

The library

But, it’s still Mexico.

Santa Rosalia 4

Santa Rosalia 2

We walked through the main square where the government offices are:

Government building

Government building

And also a gazebo sporting gargoyle light fixtures:


See all that metalwork?  That’s largely the French influence I believe.  Matter of fact, this church was designed by Gustav Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) and built in Brussels.  It was purchased by the French mining company, disassembled and brought to Santa Rosalía where it was reassembled.

Iglesia Santa Barbara

Iglesia Santa Barbara

Tomorrow we’re going to go out and check out the town’s mining history.  That should make for a bunch of good photos.  There’s also an old cemetery up on a hill that we want to check out.

We also were tipped off to a bunch of good places to eat and saw a few others on our own.  They all need to be checked to make sure they meet our gustatory standards.  But not tonight.  Last night, Lulu used the last of our Christmas turkey to make a big pot of Turkey and dumplings.

turkey and dumplings

Having eaten all the dumplings last night, but still having a healthy amount of stew left, tonight she’s going to add potatoes and corn to the leftovers and we’ll eat hearty turkey stew.  Just the ticket on these chilly Baja nights.  And by “chilly” I mean somewhere in the mid-60s.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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9 Responses to 12/28/2012 – Santa Rosalía

  1. sounds like a wonderful town–can’t wait to be there ourselves! wondering what you have decided/determined to be wrong with the engine/transmission? hope all is well, or at least easily repaired. happy new year! we will toast you from across the sea of cortez!

  2. Don Strong says:

    Steve: I love it! Great reportage. I am envious to the max, sitting in my office working. Davis CA is mimicking Portland OR on the cold and rainy end. It was but one year ago today that my son and I were doing what you guys do so well. http://seaofcortezsail.blogspot.com/
    Thanks for your wonderful blog.

  3. Don Strong says:

    PS. Our next trip will definitely include a visit to Sta. Rosalia. D

  4. Beverly says:

    Looks like a really nice little town. Thanks for the pictures.

  5. John Dakins says:

    snow, 29F in St. Louis. Mid 60’s sounds pretty nice. Great story~nice to have you blogging again after a brief intermission.

  6. Ava Skye Wilcox says:

    I remember that gate in Santa Rosalia!

    • sryoder says:

      I bet you do, Ava. I’ll bet every cruiser who’s ever stayed at the old marina has that same picture in their files somewhere. Our picture looks almost exactly like the one in the “Sea of Cortez Cruiser’s Guidebook”. Only the boats in the background are different.

  7. Vicki David Geiger says:

    Hi, just read about my brother David on Plum Duff. Actually looking for a way to contact him with some important info. He is still there or at conception bay. Wonder if there is a phone in the old marina? Any info you may have would be appreciated.

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