Aug 3, 2012

Santa Rosalia – Fighting a Strong River-Like Current

Try not to become a person of success,
But rather try to become a person of value.
Albert Einstein 

Old fishing boat sunk inside the harbor
Our sailing guidebooks for this area had warned us that Craig's Channel, 10 or so nautical miles south of Santa Rosalia, had strong currents and best be avoided in light wind conditions or for people like us without diesel engines to power through if necessary. We therefore safely sailed outside Island San Marcos on our way up. It took a little longer but we didn't have to fight that 'unseen/unknown' force of nature.

However, we did not expect to find current at the very entrance of Santa Rosalia as none of our guidebooks warned us of the possibility. Just a few miles short of the marina, the winds died off and we were suddenly having what sounded like a river pushing us south at approximately 2.5 knots. Unfortunately that meant motoring since we couldn't fight the current with lack of wind. We eventually made it but would've planned a different path of entry had we known the possibility existed.

Later on, we asked the 'old timers' about these currents and those only brought blank stares. They had no clue what we were referring to. I'm guessing most people motor through it without noticing. We also discussed it with someone who came through it the following day and has been a captain in Europe for 20 years and his reply was that after five days of carefully watching the currents (his boat was docked with great view of the entryway and the currents), he couldn't figure out their pattern - these currents didn't seem to be tied to tides, winds, or certain time of day. So we crossed our fingers hoping we wouldn't have to fight the same current on the way out and north. Fortunately we didn't have to.

Unused ore tower for loading boats going to Tacoma
Post industrial chic is a succinct way to describe this small mining town of approximately 15-16,000 people. First developed by the French with colorful wood buildings (wood coming from Tacoma, WA!), and a small metal church designed by the Mr. Eiffel (brought over from Belgium!), it has quickly fallen in disrepair since the mine closed down in the mid 1980's. There is always a hopeful company trying, or hoping to re-open, the copper mine but roadblocks seem to be the norm, not the exception. The current endeavor from a Canadian company also seems to have met with several new logistical problems and many people were just laid off a week or so before our arrival.

Leaning chimney - their version of Pisa?
The absolutely huge cemetery silently speaks volumes of the tens of thousands of people who gave their lives working in the mine. It covers a whole hillside overlooking town and the ocean.

Antique Boleo Mine train
A few gems remain although don't look too closely for they need tender loving care as well: the museum, the government's office building (formerly the school for French kids), and a few houses near the museum.

French school turned into government offices
The French had their own separate school in the days!
Mining museum
Church steeple
Church made of steel
Santa Rosalia is too close to the border and that seems to change the makeup of a town in a somewhat negative way. In the nearly 9 months we have been in Mexico, we hadn't been faced much with drug addicts roaming the streets or homeless people eyeing you or your belongings. The town is full of them along the malecón and it is quite sad to witness. The malecón near the marina was completed in 2005 and is already in complete disrepair as if 25+ years had already gone by! Instead of keeping it up, they are making improvements on a new malecón more south of town. This seems to be the Mexican way - always start something new instead of taking good care of what is already there.

We had wished to visit what this area at large had to offer but it's the wrong time of the year to do so. Most tour guides/companies do not work after May ends due to the heat and the lack of visitors. We'll have to come back in the fall for there are marvelous cave paintings to visit as well as hikes to get to/from there. St. Ignacio is also a nearby oasis where 100,000 date palms grow but they were full that week due to a festival named after their patron saint as well as a date festival. Since we don't particularly enjoy crowds we decided to skip it for now but would love to see this green sanctuary upon our return. Finally there are rivers to swim in but the rainy season hasn't replenished them yet…

Bare bones of train car
Ore melting bucket
So we leave Santa Rosalia knowing we have more to explore and a desire to be back soon. The town was just large enough to provision for the next 2-3 weeks, update the blog, wash the boat inside and out, get some fabric and a few stainless steel screws to complete some small repairs. On our sail outbound, huge thunderclouds enveloped the town and the surrounding mountains. We could see them build quickly from our 20-25 miles-away vista. Lightning, thunder and rain hopefully are revitalizing the dusty town. Thankfully it did not catch up to us as we headed to San Francisquito Bay.

Clever Boat Name: Sail A Vie…

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