San Carlos – A Gringo Party Town!

Algodones Bay, San Carlos.

Algodones Bay, San Carlos.

Palms lining the beach at Algodones Bay, San Carlos, Mexico.

Palms line the beach at Bahía Algodones.

Beachside villas, Bahia Algodones, San Carlos, Mexico

Beachside villas on Algodones Bay.

Watersports at San Carlos, Mexico Looking out into Algodones Bay, San Carlos, Mexico

Groovy anchored between the palms.

San Carlos harbor anchorage.

San Carlos harbor anchorage.

San Carlos Harbor

San Carlos Harbor

Marina San Carlos.

Marina San Carlos

Marina San Carlos.

Marina San Carlos.

Marina San Carlos.

Bahia Algodones villas, San Carlos, Mexico Raccoons raided the pantry on a neighbor's boat.

Raccoons raided the pantry on a

neighbor's boat.

Raccoons raided the pantry on a neighbor's boat. Resort near the Soggy Peso Bar.

Resort near the Soggy Peso Bar.

Resort near the Soggy Peso Bar.

We are back in vacation land...

Resort near the Soggy Peso Bar.

...back on the beach...

Soggy Peso Bar, San Carlos, Mexico Soggy Peso Bar, San Carlos, Mexico Soggy Peso Bar, San Carlos, Mexico Palacio Municipal, Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico

The "Palacio Municipal" in downtown Guaymas.

The cathedral in Guaymas, Mexico

The cathedral in Guaymas.

The cathedral in Guaymas, Mexico The cathedral in Guaymas, Mexico The cathedral in Guaymas, Mexico The lighthouse outside the Fonatur/Singlar Marina.

The lighthouse outside the Fonatur/

Singlar Marina.

Marina San Carlos.

Marina San Carlos.

San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Early October, 2011 - After saying goodbye to the bugling elk and

Route 66 memorabilia in Williams, Arizona, we hustled down

from the mountains to Phoenix where we put the trailer into

storage, gathered a few things together, and took the overnight

bus to San Carlos, Mexico.  Groovy was waiting for us in her slip,

and she eagerly welcomed us back.

San Carlos has special meaning

for us, as it was not only the end-

point of our cruise last year, but

is the place where our cruising

ideas were initially hatched

during Thanksgiving of 2005.

A friend of ours has a

lovely home at Marina

Real in San Carlos, and

he had taken us out in

his open fishing boat

that fateful Thanksgiving

weekend.  Feeling the

wind in my hair and

watching the sun

sparkle on the brilliant

blue sea, I was

enchanted and suddenly

blurted out, "Hey Mark,

we could do this -- we

could go cruising!"

As a lifelong lover of the woods and

the desert, his feet planted firmly

between pines and cactus, he looked

at me in wonder.  "Cruising?!"

"Sure!"  I said, "We could live on a sailboat and sail the seven seas and

fish for our dinner and swim in tropical anchorages…"  It was all so

vivid in my mind.  He wasn't sure what to think, but he was very excited

to catch a yellowfin tuna during that little Thanksgiving excursion.

As we motored along the rugged shore with the fish on ice in a cooler,

I spent the next several hours painting a colorful picture for him of us in

our swimsuits living on the sea and sailing from one exotic port to the

next.  I realized I had made an impression on him when we returned to

the dock and he suddenly said, "Well, if I'm going to be fishing for my

dinner, I'd better see how this thing is filleted."  He closely watched

every flash of our captain Carlos' fillet knife, studying the way he

expertly carved up the

fish.  "Wow," I thought,

"Maybe we really could go cruising…"

A long long time had passed between

that little fishing trip and our cruise of

the Mexican coast on Groovy last

winter, but when we pulled into San

Carlos this past June we felt like we

had come full circle.  We sailed by the

island where Mark had caught his

yellowfin tuna on our friend's fishing

boat, and we anchored just outside the

entrance to Marina Real where we had

seen a Beneteau anchored way back

in 2005.

This past summer had given us the chance to revisit our home in Phoenix and run

away in our trailer to the Utah red rocks for a few weeks.  Now we were back in San

Carlos with a new cruising season ahead.  For us San Carlos seemed to be a point

of intersection, the juncture of past dreams and present transitions.

A lot of the boats we had traveled with

last season were on the docks in San

Carlos, and the air was abuzz with their

various plans:  Central America, Panama

Canal, South Pacific, Caribbean.

We didn't have any concrete plans beyond

sailing the Sea of Cortez for October and

November.  We took the kayak out into the

harbor and enjoyed the early morning light,

slowly getting used to living a water-based life


One morning a couple told us they had had

returned to their boat after a night ashore to

find that otters had wreaked havoc aboard.

They had seen webbed footprints, but it

wasn't clear if otters were really the culprits.

After a little sleuthing, it turned out that a family of raccoons lived in

the bushes next to the marina docks, and they had taken advantage

of the boat's open hatches to get aboard and raid the pantry.  Food of

all kinds was strewn throughout their cabin.

Mark was returning from the shower one night and saw the raccoons

up close.  It was a little family of five, and they were very cute,

although one parent hissed in annoyance at having its photo taken.

San Carlos is a gringo

vacation town, and one

afternoon we joined some

friends to check out the

Soggy Peso Bar.  This

breezy little beachside bar

sits on the edge of the white

sands of Algodones Bay,

and it has a fantastic view

looking back towards the

Marina Real enclave of

waterfront villas.

The beers were ice cold and

the beach scene was hot,

and in a flash we realized we

had left the US along with our

life in our trailer, Route 66

and Utah's red rocks far

behind.  We were in our beachwear once again,

back in the land of sand and sun, back on the

Mexican coast.

The village of San Carlos is a small vacation

community that was built on a single rancher's

ranch land a few decades ago.

Ten miles down the road is the

much older city of Guaymas,

complete with a historic city center.

We took the bus there and strolled

around one afternoon.  A

"Municipal Palace" building

dominates a huge, open plaza, and

the cathedral lends a touch of

charm to the otherwise gritty town.

A lighthouse marks the entrance to the

municipal marina, and there is a nice

"malecón" or waterfront boardwalk for


We had dashed down to

San Carlos in hopes of

resuming cruising while the

water was still warm at the

very beginning of October.

When we arrived it was reportedly 91

degrees.  Fantastic!!  We couldn't wait to

get going.  But two hurricanes showed

up on the radar down south--Jova and

Irwin--and although we were far from

their path, the weather promised high

winds and choppy seas in our

neighborhood for a while.

So we waited in the marina and

watched the water temperature slip

down to 82 degrees over the course

of a week.  Finally our window of

opportunity came, and we left the

marina for Bahía Algodones around

the corner where we got the boat

prepped for this season's first

crossing of the Sea of Cortez.  Punta

Chivato and Bahía Concepción

would be our first stops on the Baja side.