Log #62i Santa Rosalia and across the Sea of Cortez to Kino

July 3, 2017 in Logs by Series, Series 62, Series 62, The Logs

Log #62i Santa Rosalia and across the Sea of Cortez to Kino

Elliot Lake, Ontario

July 13, 2017

Hi Folks,

It has been a long time since my last log of sailing in the Sea of Cortez. This log gets us across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland side as shown in the chartlet below. The town of Santa Rosalia is an interesting Mexican mining community.

Elliot Lake where we are living was also a mining community with eleven uranium mines in the area. However the market for uranium here has collapsed, and all the mines are closed. The town was originally set up as a planned community in the mid 1950’s reaching a population of 24,000 and planned with an infrastructure for 40,000. To save it from being a ghost town, it has re-invented itself as a retirement community, with extremely economical house, condo and apartment prices. A three bedroom house with full basement and garage can sell for $95,000 to $150,000. A two bedroom apartment with a spacious balcony in a nine story apartment building built in the mid 1970’s (ours) rents for $750 a month. The town has a full hospital, fire and police services, a good library, a community theater, and a wide variety of chain stores, grocery stores, car dealerships, and repair and mechanical shops such as Canadian Tire, Rona, and Napa. There are over 100 lakes within a 50 mile radius, and miles of cross-country, ATV and hiking trails. It is not a suburb of any larger community and the larger cities of Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie are two hour drives either side from Elliot Lake

We have rented a lovely two bedroom apartment and are shore-bound for the summer. I have attached an account of our return to land in the article “Where are they now?”. It gives an up-to-date account of our move ashore.

We are trying to sell our trailer and have our eye on a 30 foot Grampian sailboat at the North Channel Yacht Club (a 25 minute drive away) to sail the glorious North Channel of Lake Huron.

More about the transition from live-aboard on a sailboat to life ashore in my next covering letter for my next log.

All the best,




Log #62i Santa Rosalia and across the Sea of Cortez to Kino

Written in Elliot Lake, Ontario

July 3, 2017

The pilot book indicated Marina Santa Rosalia, the town’s first marina, as an active place, advising reservations as it had a wait list during the busy season from April to October. However the marina is no longer. A few decrepit docks and a broken concrete ramp are all that is left in this location, with a few local fishing boats pulled up on the shoreline. Even Marina Fonatur where we stayed (27° 20. 403′ N, 112° 15.796′ W) is under-used with many of its stores and offices unoccupied. Perhaps it it more active during the summer season, but in March it was a sad situation, as we have found in other Fonatur Marinas in Escondido and Guaymas.

Santa Rosalia is a quaint historic mining town, with the remains of mine shafts, slag heaps and decrepit wooden-timbered foundries and machinery dotting the harbour and town hills. Wind-blown dark ash and slag clutter some of the streets. The museum, closed for repairs, had several inches of the ash covering its entrance area. The town was built by El Boleo, a French consortium, in the 1880’s but closed in the 1950’s. It regained a lease on life when a Mexican, Canadian, and Korean consortium reopened it in 2012 using modern methods and facilities to mine copper, cobalt, zinc and manganese.


We enjoyed wandering through town. There is Iglesia Santa Barbara, known as Eiffel’s Church, as it was designed and built by Eiffel in 1884 and displayed at the Paris exposition of 1889. Built with steel beams (think Eiffel Tower) and cast-iron plates it was portable and easily moveable. El Boleo’s director bought and shipped it to Santa Rosalia shortly after the exposition. It is an interesting structure with its steel girder arches and metal plating.






Eiffel’s Church


                                            Metal girder arches of the interior of Eglesia Santa Barbara


Although the museum was closed for renovations, we saw much evidence of the mining history of the town in some of the foundry buildings still being used as this shopping centre with its canted industrial roof.





A memorial park featured a small locomotive used in the old mining era,while another one was abandoned above the ruins of a foundry.











  Along the seawall of the harbour is another set of foundry ruins, some abandoned and some across the road housing a mining museum.

As we had a 100 mile passage planned for Isla Tiburon, we left Santa Rosalia at 1300 Feb. 11, first motoring futher into the harbour to return a book on the Panama Canal to our friends on St. Leger. They had been through the canal before and lent us the book as we will probably be going though it in a year or two. As we exited the harbour we were contacted by VHF by another sail boat approaching Santa Rosalia for harbour information. The skipper was single handing and wanted to know the layout before entering. We advised him of both the location of the Fonatur Marina just inside the entrance and the location of the anchoring area the far side of the harbour. If he had an old pilot book, he probably thought the original marina was still operational. I don’t think there is a newer pilot book out yet that is not at least ten years old.

On our way north, we were able to motor sail with a ten knot SE wind astern. A small pod of dolphins passed us heading south, but they did not stop to play around our bow wave. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Baja, and watched a lovely full moon rise above the open water of the Sea of Cortez. The panorama at sea of the sun, moon and the stars is fantastic. Even the cloud formations and movements are intriguing, trying to calculate their directions and associated weather conditions. The glow of sunrises or sunsets on the clouds add another dimension of ethereal beauty to the enjoyment of the seascapes.

Sometimes the vistas are tranquil complacencies (a la “Take time to smell the roses”) while other times they engender concern and forebodings about possible storm developments in the monstrous darkening cloud formations as night approaches or as sunrise reveals.

We originally planned to anchor in Dogs Bay off the southern coast of Isla Tiburon, the largest island in the Sea of Cortez (1,208 square miles). It is “the jewel” of the Seri Preservation Territory, and represents the transition from the southern to the northern reaches of the Sea of Cortez. The Seri are the remains of native tribes, with about 500 with Seri blood, but fewer than 100 full-blooded Seri on the mainland side of the sea. This area of the mainland from just south of San Carlos/Guaymas up to Kino Bay and Tiburon Island in the north is referred to as The Lost Coast (see the attached chartlet below). It is called “lost” as the indigenous Seri people are almost extinct and it is out of the way of the usual tourist destinations. However, it has the glorious isolation of the pristine Sonoran desert coastline, ideal cruising grounds scattered with uninhabited offshore islands and several reasonably shetered bay anchorages.

We elected to bypass Isla Tiburon as we had a good breeze, it was early morning just about sunrise, and since the anchorages on the south were open to southerly winds, and since going ashore was not permitted without a Seri guide, we opted to continue motoring around and down to Kino Bay where we dropped anchor at 0815 off the south shore of Isla Pelicano (28° 48.602′ N, 111° 57.732′ W). after a 97 nautical mile passage cross the middle section of the Sea of Cortez.

Kino has a large expat community of retired Canadians and Americans with Bahia Kino Club Deportiva, an active trailer and boating social club with many activities and a rescue service and VHF net. More about this community in my next log which will then take us down to San Carlos where we will put Veleda away for the summer while we return to Canada.