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Inland Travel

Inland Travel, Passages, People, Places

Huahine/Raiatea/Tahaa/Bora Bora

As we sailed away from Tahiti on Friday, August 11, we weren’t sure where we were headed. We could sail over to Moorea and spend the night. Or we could do an overnight to Huahine. (Yes, we had checked out of French Polynesia, but we planned short visits under the radar to some of the other Society Islands. By checking out in Tahiti, we could have Tahiti Crew take care of the process.)

As we sailed in the vicinity of Moorea, we decided to just keep going to Huahine. The first hours of the passage were in 18-20 knot of wind and big seas. Conditions mellowed out during the second half of the trip.

On Saturday, August 12, we arrived in Huahine around 10:00 a.m.  We were lucky to find a free mooring ball in the anchorage near the pass and close to the town of Fare. Naps were the first order of business. Before that, Sarah and Bob from Rhapsody stopped by and we made plans for dinner. We went ashore around 4:00 p.m. and walked around before meeting Sarah and Bob for dinner at the Huahine Yacht Club. The cocktails and the food were good and it was a fun night. Rhapsody left the next day.

Linda and Trevor enjoying their welcome drinks

Tom took this picture from the Huahine Yacht Club

Huahine Anchorage

On Sunday, we had a lazy day on the boat. Trevor and Linda swam out to the entrance to the pass to see a whale. Blue Beryl came in and anchored near us. We barbequed steak on the boat and played cards that night.

On Monday, we went to shore and made arrangements to rent scooters on Wednesday. Dinner that night was on Blue Beryl. Tuesday was a holiday in French Polynesia and nothing was open. We stayed on the boat all day.

Dinner on Blue Beryl, Linda took the picture

On Wednesday, the crews of Blue Beryl and Aldabra rode scooters around the island. We rode for only three hours but it was a great way to see the whole island.

Sharing a coconut on the scooter ride

Trevor and Linda


Yvette and Alex

Stopping at a lookout

A view of another bay. That’s the cruise ship Wind Spirit

After lunch at the Huahine Yacht Club, we took the boats (Aldabra and Blue Beryl) halfway down the island to a different anchorage. It was a windy, rainy night and we did only a little bit of exploring the next day before picking up the anchor and going down to the anchorage at the end of the island. There were a lot of boats there. It was really windy. But Trevor and Alex got to kiteboard, and it made them very happy. After they were finished, we pulled up anchor again and went back to an anchorage near town.

Trevor enjoying a dinghy ride

We liked Huahine. The town of Fare had a nice vibe and it would have been easy to stay longer, but we had a lot of ground to cover and none of the crew had unlimited schedules. So, on Saturday, August 19, we left the anchorage at 7:00 a.m. and sailed to Raiatea. The winds were in the mid-teens and we sailed on a broad reach with just the jib. We arrived around noon and picked up a mooring ball across from town, got in the dinghy and headed across the channel to shore.

We got ice cream bars at the grocery store and started a bit of a search for motor oil for my next oil change. I should have bought it in Tahiti, but I forgot. The gas station was closed so we walked down to the operating base for Dream Yacht Charters to see if we could use the mooring ball we were already attached to. At the base, we were told we needed to provide a 6-pack of beer. So we walked back to the grocery store, bought the beer and then took the dinghy to the base. Once we presented the 6-pack to the base manager, we were told that they could no longer allow us to use the mooring ball. He told us that it was prohibited by local authorities. He got on the computer and showed me where we could anchor. I gave him the 6-pack anyway and headed back to the dinghy. We returned to the boat and headed north through the east channel and up to the east side of Tahaa to an anchorage on the reef. Blue Beryl joined us there, as did a few other boats.

On Sunday, we continued north on the east side Tahaa and rounded the island from east to west. Then we headed south down the west side of Tahaa to the Coral Gardens. It was quite windy but we found a decent place to anchor next to the reef. Blue Beryl arrived a bit later and we snorkeled the Coral Gardens in the afternoon.

The Coral Gardens are a small pass between two motus on the outside of Tahaa. You can walk up one motu and then slip into the water and follow the current through the coral. It is quite picturesque. I went down, then swam back against the current to go down again.

On Monday, August 21, Aldabra and Blue Beryl left Tahaa and sailed over to Bora Bora. We left at 7:00 a.m. and arrived in the early afternoon. It was a nice sail, with the spinnaker, until our spinnaker halyard broke and the spinnaker dropped into the water. We gathered it onto the boat and continued on in through the pass. After wandering around a bit, we attached ourselves to mooring balls in front of the Bora Bora Yacht Club.

Aldabra in Bora Bora

The sailboat Szel with Jamie and Fiona was also on a mooring near us. Linda and I took the dinghy over to see them for a visit. Later that evening Aldabra and Blue Beryl had drinks and dinner at the Yacht Club and Jamie and Fiona came later and sat at the table next to us. We chatted a bit before we left and they had their dinner.

Dinner at Bora Bora Yacht Clug: Alex, Tom. Trevor, me, Linda and Yvette

On Tuesday, August 22, Trevor went up the mast to retrieve the halyard that had frayed and broken.

Trevor up the mast

Then we followed Blue Beryl as we motored around to the back side of Bora Bora, through very narrow, shallow channels. Trevor drove and we picked our way through, sometimes within an inch of touching the bottom. In a catamaran, the trip would have been a breeze, but with a deep keel, it was quite nerve wracking. In the end, we arrived at a beautiful anchorage. We explored the motu on foot and in the water, and had a dinner party that night with Blue Beryl on Aldabra.

Crusing around the island

The next day, we had a swimming race between the two boats. Alex represented Blue Beryl and Trevor represented Aldabra. Trevor was handicapped in two ways. He was wearing his snorkeling mask instead of swim goggles. And he was wearing his swim trunks. Alex, with no swim trunks and with swim goggles beat Trevor by a small margin. But they were both completely spent.

After the race, Aldabra headed back around the island, following our track from the day before. After picking up a mooring ball in front of the Yacht Club, we took the dinghy to town to find out about a ferry for Trevor to get to the airport. After sorting that all out, we found a restaurant for lunch and a gas station to buy motor oil. Then we went back to the boat so Trevor could pack. Linda took him back to town later that afternoon so he could take the ferry to catch his flight back to Tahiti. He then spent the night in the Tahiti airport and caught a flight the next morning to San Francisco. (Once home, Trevor began his job search and rather quickly landed a job in his field.)

We had a quiet night on the boat. Then on Thursday, Tom and I went to shore early to hand over our laundry to Julie, a very nice woman who picked it up in her car. Back at the boat, we did some cleaning and reorganizing, along with paperwork to enter the Cook Islands. We had dinner that night at the Bora Bora Yacht Club and retrieved our laundry from Julie while we were there. We also took showers there and dropped off our trash.

On Friday, August 25, Linda and I took the dinghy into town to fill up a jerry can with gasoline and buy 2-stroke oil and some groceries. It was a windy day and we spent the rest of it on the boat, stowing things and otherwise getting ready for a passage. Alex came over and inspected the rigging and gave me a report on areas of concern.

At his suggestion, we connected the inner forestay and the starboard running backstay. We pulled the port running backstay back to a car on the rail because it was getting chafed on the spreader. It was a very windy and rainy night and we stayed on the boat.

On Saturday, August 26, Jamie of Szel and Alex and Yvette of Blue Beryl came over for a weather meeting. We all decided to leave that day for Penryhn Island in the Cook Islands. We were now saying goodbye to French Polynesia.

Inland Travel, Places

Port Phaeton

We pulled up the anchor in Cook’s Bay about 6:00 a.m. and headed out the pass. All was nice and calm and we had a good sail at first with a single reef in the main and partial reef in the jib. The seas were big but it was fine. Once we rounded the southwest point of Tahiti, we had winds on the nose in the low twenties. With the seas also big, we were making very little headway, even with a motor assist. Eventually we took down all sails and motored into the wind at between 2 and 4 knots. It seemed like it would take forever, and we were looking at other options to anchor in case we couldn’t get to Port Phaeton before dark. In retrospect, we should have broken the trip into two days, stopping first at the airport anchorage in Tahiti and then moving on to Port Phaeton the next day.

We kept up the slog all afternoon, staying outside the reefs with large waves crashing over them and finally made it to what seemed like a tiny little pass between reefs with large breaking waves. We followed our charts and our eyeballs and made it into Port Phaeton just before dark and dropped the anchor behind the other boats in the bay. A tough day but the bay was calm and it was easy to sleep.

On Tuesday, September 20, we contacted Marc Bordas, who watches boats in Port Phaeton. He showed us where our mooring ball was and we moved onto it that morning, after the owners departed for Papeete for some repairs. We also visited with Sarah and Bob on Rhapsody who were occupying the mooring ball that the owners would return to. Sarah and Bob helped us understand the general area. Later we had sundowners on their boat as they prepared to leave the next morning for Papeete. Sarah and Bob had left their boat in Port Phaeton under Marc’s care for several weeks while they went to Oregon to meet their new grandson.

Port Phaeton is very remote and quiet, away from the zillions of boats anchored on the west side of Tahiti. It is to be Aldabra’s home during the upcoming cyclone season, on a mooring ball under the watchful eye of Marc Bordas. I only wish I could find a 12-volt dehumidifier because it will be rainy here. But they seem to be out of stock.

During that first afternoon, Linda and I tied the dinghy up to a tree and walked up a dirt road to the main road, coming face to face with a large Carrefour super market. We were overwhelmed with the selection of good food after being in the Tuamotus and Moorea. It is all very expensive, but I’ve become used to that.

On Wednesday, September 21, we walked about a half mile to pick up a rental car from an auto repair shop. We toured around Tahiti Iti, visiting the famous Teahupoo surf break and driving up to the top of the Belvedere hill for an amazing view of both sides of the island. We continued around Tahiti on the east side and ended up at Point Venus for a fun lunch. Our circumnavigation continued as we drove along the west side of Tahiti back to Port Phaeton. A long day but fun to survey both islands.

Looking from Belvedere toward the reef we went through to get to Port Phaeton on the right
Looking down at where Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti meet

The next day, we drove back back to Marina Taina to visit Tahitit Crew. We needed a better Internet box and they had one being turned in later that morning. So we headed to the port area where many of the boating stores are. We were looking for a fitting to transfer butane cooking gas from the bottles sold in French Polynesia to the bottles on the boat. But no one had the fitting.

When we returned to to Tahiti Crew, they directed us to Michel, who runs the chandlery at the marina. He told us how to make the fitting and hose and said he would help if we got the parts. Meanwhile, we picked up the Internet box, had lunch at La Casa Bianca and then headed into downtown Papeete.

We shopped at the big market so Linda could buy gifts. And we shopped at the great Venus fabric store next to the market. As we walked along the waterfront next to Marina Papeete, I saw a few boats I know but couldn’t get in to say hello.

On Linda’s final day, we visited the botanical garden, which is quite near Port Phaeton but in rather sad shape. It is just barely being cared for. We also ended up at La Casa Bianca for one last lunch since we were looking for a museum near there that is unfortunately closed for renovation.

The next morning, on Saturday, we got up at 3:00 a.m., took the dinghy to shore, and drove to the airport to get Linda there in time for her flight. I was back at the boat by 6:00 a.m. and gathered up laundry to take to the laundry mat. One load costs between $10 and $14 dollars, which is cheaper than in the Tuamotus where one load is $30. I didn’t have enough coins to fully dry all the laundry so I took it back to the boat to dry. That day was a laundry management day.

I stayed put on the boat on Sunday. I used the time to re-mark the anchor chain so I know how much I have let out. I defrosted the freezer. And I filled the diesel tank with fuel from the remaining jerry jugs that were still full.

On Monday morning I headed back toward Papeete. I started with Michel at Marina Taina, who helped me with my butane hose fitting and sent me to the Cope plumbing store to get the right barb. Then I went to Technimarine in the main port to see about hauling the boat out for a day in October. I have a thru-hull valve that needs to be replaced and I’d rather do it when the boat is hauled out. If I do it in the water, and something goes wrong, the boat could sink. I ran into Andrew and Liane of Waveriders at Technimarine. They are having trouble with some leaking thru-hulls and need to haul out as soon as they can. My final stop was at Nautisport to see if they can fix my BC for diving. They will call when it is ready.

And then it was back to Port Phaeton with a little stop at Carrefour.

On Tuesday, I stayed on the boat to defrost the refrigerator and run the watermaker. The next day, I returned the rental car and remained somewhat captive on the boat to clean and tidy up. Mundane, I know, but that is part of cruising life, especially when you are just about the only occupied boat in the anchorage. This is a place where people leave their boats for periods of time. So I am surrounded by many empty boats, except when the sailing school is in session.

While checking the bilge on Wednesday, I discovered some oily water in a compartment that leads to the bilge. I changed the oil in the diesel engine and the transmission. It looks like the engine is not leaking oil at this point so I will just keep an eye on it.

For the rest of my solo days I did small projects and cleaned. I also baked a bit (granola and cookies) so I could use up ingredients and the butane in the tank that needs to get filled.

Sailing school in Port Phaeton ed
Inland Travel, Places


On Thursday, September 15, Linda and I put the dinghy back on the davits, and pulled up the anchor, rather early in the morning. We headed out of the pass near Marina Taina and motored over to Moorea.

Heading to Moorea

The wind was next to nothing but the seas were nice and big.

Approaching the pass at Cook’s Bay

We entered the pass at Cook’s Bay and had the anchor down by noon. After a nice lunch, we hung out on the boat and enjoyed the view and the peace. In contrast to the density of boats in Papeete, the Cook’s Bay anchorage had nine boats, all spaced reasonably apart. The wind was gusting down from the hills but the water was flat except when tourist and dive boats returned with their clients and left nice big wakes.

The anchorage in Cook’s Bay. That’s Pasito, last seen in Rangiroa

The next morning we put the dinghy in the water and cruised around the bay to explore.

Touring around Cook’s Bay
The clear shallow water inside the reef looking into the bay

We stopped at a dock at the end of the bay, bought some groceries and had lunch at the snack before going back to lounge on the boat. After a very windy night, we got up early to get to shore in time to join a “nature” tour of the island with a guide Etienne and two very nice couples from the U.K. We saw vanilla and pineapple plantations, a small botanical garden and a beautiful park with hiking trails and great views. It gave us an opportunity to see the other anchorage, Opunohu Bay, without pulling up anchor to go over there. Our guide told us he met Obama there when he was finishing up his memoir. He was staying on Bruce Springsteen’s yacht when he visited the bay. We also toured the Hinano distillery and bought some spirits.

Growing vanilla
Vanilla flowering
Posing in front of Opunohu Bay
A view from the park
A sampling of fruit on the tour
A sacred grove of chestnut trees. Communication was by pounding a coconut on the base of the trunk
Sunsets come in all colors

Swimming in Cook’s Bay is not all that inviting. And there is very little room to anchor outside the bay between the reef and the little town. So we mostly lounged on the boat. We were looking for a weather window to sail back to Tahiti and all the way around to the connection between Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, a place called Port Phaeton. We rather spontaneously decided to head over on Monday morning, September 19.

Inland Travel, Passages, Places

Hiva Oa and Tahuata

The trip to Hiva Oa was a nice upwind sail for about five hours. Johno hand steered as we made our way south. Once we were at the latitude of Hiva Oa, we turned left and motored into the wind for another twelve hours. We anchored in Baie Hanaiapa on the north side of Hiva Oa. There we were befriended by Noah and Ky from the sailboat Genesis. They stopped by our boat for a visit and then Dana, Johno and Marshall went over to their boat for sundowners.

The next day we joined them on a little expedition to the coast west of the bay. We anchored our dinghies and swam to the rocky, surgy shore to walk toward a waterfall. We couldn’t get all the way there without risking lives, so we went back to where we started on shore and got ourselves back to the dinghies. Later we all went to shore to walk around the quiet, picturesque village. At one house, a group of people were sitting in a circle, playing ukuleles and guitars. We walked a distance up the main road that leads to the other side of the island, enjoying all the rich vegetation and scenery. On our way back to the dinghy dock, we noticed that Migration was coming into the bay with Bruce and Alene onboard. Both dinghies motored out to greet them and invite everyone over to Aldabra for cocktails. It was a fun evening getting to know both couples better.

Because Migration and Genesis had already visited places we wanted to go to, we heeded their experience. A south swell was expected, and they warned us that the Tahuata anchorages would b e miserable. We had intended to go to the west side of Tahuata and then up to the south side of Hiva Oa, to provision in the town of Atuona. Instead, we rented a truck and started checking off what we wanted to do on Hiva Oa. We went into Atuona and bought provisions, we dropped off some laundry, got fuel, visited the Gauguin museum, got on the Internet and drove to Puamau to see the ruins there, having lunch at a nice place called Resto Puamau. The drive to Puamau was breathtaking as we wound down from the ridge to the coves on the northeast side of the island.

The beautiful north side of Hiva Oa
Exploring the Ruins of Hiva Oa

While the days were busy with errands and boat projects, we got together in the evenings a couple more times with Migration and Genesis. One night was game night and dessert on Migration and another was back on Aldabra for after-dinner drinks. Bruce also helped trouble-shoot issues I was having with Sailmail.

The next morning, those two boats left the anchorage. They were delightful company and we hoped to see them somewhere else along the way. We then did our final errands in town. We bought beignets from a little bakery, bought a few more provisions, filled the truck and some jerry cans with diesel, got a tiny amount of gas before the pump ran out, and hunted everywhere for Internet. Finding none, we went to a hotel on a hill above the harbor, the Hanakee Lodge, where they offered a package of lunch, wifi and use of the pool for the afternoon. The lunch of poisson cru was delicious, the wifi worked and the pool time was nice.

Internet and a swim

Afterward, we picked up our laundry and returned the rental truck to the owners, a very lovely, warm family that we would have liked to spend more time with. They were very touched that Johno had washed the truck and that we returned their one-month-old vehicle in the same condition as when they gave it to us. If we weren’t planning to leave in the morning, they would have had us come to their house for hospitality. We promised to contact them if we return to Hiva Oa.

On Friday, June 24, from our anchorage in Hiva Oa, we went west around the corner and south across the Bordelais Channel, which had lots of wind for our little crossing. We anchored in a small bay on the other side of the channel, on Tahuata, Anse Ivaiva Iti, just south of Hanamoenoa, which had too many boats in it. The bay was idyllic, with a nice, soft-sand beach. We swam to the beach and hung out for the afternoon.

The next day we motored four miles south to Hanatefau, an anchorage just to the north of Hapatoni. The anchorage is surrounded by a vertical wall of palm trees and other lush greenery. The anchorage was a bit crowded but we found a spot in about 50 feet of water with a sand bottom. It was quite windy during our stay, so I stayed on the boat the next day and Marshall, Johno and Dana went to shore for a walk. The following day, we hung out on the boat and swam at times with some pods of spinner dolphins that seemed to have made this bay their home. There were dozens of them and they hung out all day. We also swam with mantas that slowly moved around as we gawked with admiration.

Swimming with the spinner dolphins

At 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 28, we left Tahuata, motor sailing down to the southern tip of the island in brisk winds. Once we rounded the tip, we pointed as high into the wind as we could, heading for Fatu Hiva. After about five hours of upwind sailing, we pointed dead into the wind, took the sails down and motored the rest of the way, another six hours in 16 knot winds and big swells.

Inland Travel, Passages, Places, Places

Ua Pou

On Sunday morning, June 12, we did a day sail to Ua Pou, about 25 miles south of Nuku Hiva. The island’s tall spires are stunning.

Approaching the Stunning Spires of Ua Pou

We anchored for a couple of nights in front of the main village of Hakahau. We walked around and found some stores and bought additional provisions. And we dropped off some laundry at the bakery. When we picked up the laundry the next day, we bought baguettes and took advantage of their wifi. Later that day we walked up to the cross on a hill for a scenic view before finding a restaurant for some poisson cru.

Looking Down at the Anchorage in Front of the Town
We walked up a hill and could see this other anchorage on the other side

We explored a few more anchorages on the west side of Ua Pou. Baie Hakahetau was in front of a village. We joined Sarah and Bob on Rhapsody for a walk up to Manfred’s house to taste and buy his delicious chocolate bars. Then we walked to a waterfall and swam in the pool beneath it.

Waterfall at the end of a hike

Looking out at the anchorage after out hike

Baie Vaiehu was an uninhabited bay with good snorkeling. The last one, Baie Hakamaii, was in front of a picturesque village with no easy way to go ashore. We hung out on the boat until evening and then pulled up anchor to sail to Hiva Oa.

Last anchorage on Ua Pou
Inland Travel, Passages, Places

Leaving Nuku Hiva

The tattoo festival ended with judging, awards, presentation of the winning tattoos and dancing by some of the notable tattooed people.

Judging and Presentation of Tattooee and Tattooer

After that, Marshall and I busied ourselves with chores (such as changing the oil, getting cooking gas) and then took some time to go over to Daniel’s Bay (Taioa). There, we hiked up to the waterfall and had lunch at Kua and Teiki’s along with other cruisers, including Sarah and Bob from Rhapsody. (Kua and Teiki serve meals at their house in the village. They grow or catch most of what they use. They are both outgoing and Teiki especially has a big personality. He’s very animated and can pose as a fierce warrior. We also got fruit from them.)

On Sunday afternoon, June 5, we went back over to Taiohae Bay. The next morning, we picked up a nice 4×4 rental car from Regina (our guide Mate’s mother) and took a slow, scenic trip to the airport to pick up Dana and Johno.

Touring around the island going toward the airport

Their plane was early and their flights had been easy. We then drove back to Taiohae where we could get them a bite to eat and let them swim. The next day, we took the rental car on somewhat the same tour that we took with Mate, Taipivai and then over to Hatiheu. At the ruins near Hatiheu, there was a brief dance performance for the benefit of the Aranui passengers, who had come in that morning. Then we went to the Chez Yvonne restaurant and ate the same traditional Marquesan meal that was served to the Aranui passengers. During lunch, several local musicians played and sang.

Brief Performance at the Ruins for the Aranui Passengers

After lunch we drove back to Taiohae and stopped at a couple of grocery stores to provision. It was perfect timing because the shelves had just been restocked with supplies from the Aranui.

Once provisioned, we left the next morning to go back to Daniel’s Bay. We were the only boat in the anchorage that day and all night. Marshall and Johno fixed the propane tank fitting with parts that Dana and Johno had brought with them. They also put in the new transducer for speed/depth/temp so we now have accurate depth.

Dana and Johno in Daniels Bau

The next day, Thursday, Marshall, Dana and Johno hiked to the waterfall while I did some chores on the boat. I met them in the village for lunch at Kua and Teiki’s.

Hiking in Daniel’s Bay

On Friday, Dana and I finished cleaning the boat bottom while Johno and Marshall fixed the disconnected wire that was preventing the motor kill switch from working. They first replaced the relay before discovering that it wasn’t the problem. It was a head-scratcher so they tried a number of ideas before sorting out the problem, a wiring one.

We all then went snorkeling. I swam by Rala (UK) to chat with Ian and Laura. And I stopped by Tohora (New Zealand) to meet that family, which had recently arrived from Hiva Oa.

The next day, after a quiet morning in Daniel’s Bay, we packed up our gear and headed back over to Taiohae to attend the evening gala and dance performance. It was kind of like a school recital. Evidently, there is a local dance school for women and girls that has been in operation for a couple of years and they now have five teachers. The performances were mostly by the students and teachers, with some guest appearances from other local dancers. We saw little girls, pre-teens, teens, young women and older women. All the dancing was special. The appreciative audience filled the hall, with lots of locals and expats, and kids happily running all over the room.

One of the younger dancers
Group Shot of the Dancers
Inland Travel

Mexico Via Copper Canyon

The start of the boating season is a bit earlier for me this year, by more than two months. That’s good because there’s so much to do. But it’s so hot here on the boat in Nuevo Vallarta that it’s hard to get much done.

I left San Diego on Friday, October 4th in a small car crammed with boat parts and supplies. Because I was traveling alone (due to illness on the part of my expected traveling companion) I headed to Arizona rather than crossing the Mexican border from California. Once I crossed at Nogales, I headed south about 20 miles until I found the funky compound with the Banjercito office, immigration and a few other somewhat-incomprehensible services. With the required documents in hand, I was able to get a visa and a temporary import permit for the car. Fortunately, no one needed to inspect the car, because if I had been directed to open the trunk, all the little parts would have tumbled to the pavement.

With that hurdle out of the way, I could relax slightly as I drove the rest of the day’s distance to Hermosillo. The roads were pretty good and the inspection stops by the Federales were quick. Most highway toll booths were taken over by community members who asked for donations. They were protesting the fact of the highway not been free.

Once in Hermosillo, I found my way to the Holiday Inn Express (not sure what I would have done without GPS because Hermosillo is a big, confusing place), which had relatively secure parking right in front of the lobby door. A sign saying that the hotel was not responsible for car robberies reminded me of the risk I was taking by transporting all these parts I worked pretty hard to procure. But the next morning all was right with the car as I got an early start south.

The second day of travel was much the same as the first. More brief inspections, more citizen-run toll booths, lots of wide-open space. A couple of puzzling accidents on the northbound side of the highway. How long will it take to clean up a very large truckload of steaming manure out of the lanes? I arrived in Los Mochis in the late afternoon and checked into the Fiesta Inn, which is at the edge of a shopping mall. The for-pay parking is part of the mall and there was a guard stationed near where the hotel guests park. I was encouraged, but still nervous about my payload because I was going to be leaving the car there for a week. I spent Sunday doing some errands nearby the hotel and scouting bus stations. My friend Jules arrived that night and we found an outdoor spot to have some wine and catch up on our summers. (Jules and her husband Jeff had visited the Canadian Maritimes while I had studied all summer to get my ham license and my captain’s license and to learn more about diesel and outboard engines.)

On Monday morning Jules and I started walking with our duffles toward a nearby bus station, which wasn’t far, but it was hot and our duffles were heavy. Before we even got out of the parking lot, we hailed a taxi. As he was approaching the station, the driver saw that our bus was leaving so he followed it and flagged it down. We jumped on board and relaxed for the two-hour ride to El Fuerte, one of Mexico’s many Pueblos Magicos. The bus left us in the middle of this clean, smallish town where people had gathered to shop and have lunch. Had it not been so hot and unshaded, and had we not been hauling duffles, I would have liked to just sit in the middle of the activity and gawk. We walked the two blocks to our hotel, La Mansion Serrana. As we checked in, the proprietor arranged for us to take a tour later, when the sun wasn’t so hot. We then walked around the town, had lunch and explored the local museum.

At four o’clock, our guide Felipe and helper arrived in a beat-up SUV, towing a boat. They took us to the Fuerte River and launched the boat. We sat in the bow and Felipe paddled from the stern as we floated down the river watching birds. We stopped in a farming area and walked 300 meters up a path to about 50 petroglyphs. Felipe oriented us along the way to all the plants and birds and then described the petroglyphs, which had been uncovered after the river had flooded several years ago. Once delivered back to our hotel, we had dinner in town and turned in for the night.

On Tuesday, we got an early start to catch the El Chepe train into the heart of Copper Canyon. The early part of the ride wasn’t noteworthy, but as the day went on we were treated to spectacular views of the steep faces of the mountains as the train slowly wound its way into higher elevations. As the day went on, I realized that I wasn’t feeling all that great. So when we got to our hotel in Divisadero (along the Continental Divide) I crashed for the evening while Jules integrated with the handful of other guests.

El Chepe Train Winding Through Copper Canyon
Scenes from El Chepe
Looking at our Hotel Perched on a Cliff

The next day, we walked to the adventure park to look into our options for the day. We decided we didn’t want to ride the zip line. And several workers told us we couldn’t hike down into the canyon without a guide, and there were no guides. They also said that we couldn’t take the teleferico down and hike at the bottom because it was closing early for maintenance and we would be stranded. Tired of hearing no, we rode the teleferico down and began a hike back up, with no guide and a few directions from the teleferico operator. The hike was hot and exhausting and at times we didn’t have a trail. But we could see where we wanted to go because the teleferico cables stretched overhead. Our path took us through small settlements of Tarahumara (Raramuri) families and along a small river gorge. We had water but just a half of a Clif bar for food. When we finally found our way back to the adventure park, their restaurant looked very attractive for a late lunch/early dinner.

Looking Down at the Route of our Hike
Hard to Capture the Vast Expanse that Makes Up Copper Canyon
Another Attempt to Capture the View

When we returned to our rustic, mountain-style hotel, it had been taken over by a very large group of retired teachers from all over Mexico. They were having a grand time together and would be our traveling companions the next day on the train as it returned west. The next day we walked several miles through the adventure park and back to take a look at the Hotel Mirador and its views before catching our train.

On the train, we traveled two hours back to the town of Bahuichivo. There, we were picked up and driven to our hotel in the town of Cerocahui. The La Mision Hotel is very nice but a tad expensive because they monetize everything.  As the only guests that night, we had a private tour of a local girls school and the hotel vineyard, which included a wine tasting. Because it was the only option in town, dinner was also expensive but the food was good.

The Village of Cerocahui Covered in Morning Fog

The next day we were driven about an hour or so to the Mirador Cerro del Gallego. You look into the second-deepest canyon in the world and see the town of Urique, nestled right by a river. You can stand on a platform that juts out into the middle of nowhere and be awed and terrified at the same time. (Unfortunately, the lighting at that time of the day was bad for photography.)

Looking Down From the Mirador at Urique

As soon as we got back to the hotel, we set out to find the waterfall right outside of town. It wasn’t too hard to find and the trail leading up to the fall was beautiful. As we were walking back, we bumped into the owner of our next hotel. He was coming to pick us up, so timing was perfect. (Hotel La Mision was expecting 57 people that day so we couldn’t stay there another night.)

The Waterfall

Mario is one of three brothers who run a mountain-top eco-lodge outside of Cerocahui. His grandfather started Rancho San Isidro more than 60 years ago. Grandfather was Mestizo but he married a Tarahumara woman and their son married a Tarahumara woman. The Rancho sits next to their uncle’s ranch and is surrounded by shared Tarahumara forest. They have built a bunch of creative cabanas for guests. Our spacious adobe room sat alone overlooking a canyon and they built a fire in the pit for us that night. They offer all kinds of activities. We elected to go horse-back riding with Mario’s brother Tito but we also could have gone on long hikes all through the mountain trails. The family is very gracious and helpful and the food is great. After our ride, the brothers delivered us back to the train station and we rode six hours back to Los Mochis.

The Dining Room at Rancho San Isidro
Our Cabana at Rancho San Isidro
The View During Our Horseback Ride
Jules on Her Horse and Me on My Little Mule

I was very relieved to find the car unmolested when we arrived back at the hotel. We got to explore Copper Canyon and avoid the loss of material possessions. We set out early on Sunday morning for Nuevo Vallarta. The trip was uneventful except that some of the people who had taken over toll booths were rather menacing and would block our way if we didn’t give them the amount of pesos they wanted. We stopped at a mall in Mazatlan to have lunch, fuel up and go to an ATM. The last part of the trip, from San Blas to Nuevo Vallarta is slow and tedious, but scenic. We arrived at the marina at about 7 o’clock, in time to have dinner with Jeff at a local taco place.

Since arriving at the marina, I’ve mostly been trying to cope with the heat while muddling through some purging and reorganization of gear. It’s about 95 degrees in the boat during the day. I have fans going, but unlike most boaters here, I have no air conditioning. Right away, mechanic Gil and his son Gilberto started work on my motor. They’ve replaced the motor mounts and brackets, aligned the engine with the shaft, changed out all the hoses, installed a new throttle cable, inspected the fuel injection pump, cleaned the heat exchanger and injectors, changed the fuel filters and v-belt, replaced the coolant, and probably a few other things. So even though I’m not accomplishing much, they are.