Wednesday, February 2, 2011
We visited Topolobampo in late January crossing from the south end of Isla San Jose on Baja, an easy 95 NM passage. Topo is located inside a large bay that is mostly less than 10' deep although there is a dredged channel leading up to the town that is used by large ferries and cargo ships. When we first arrived we anchored just inside the bay behind the barrier island at the way point in Captn Rains' Mexico Boating guide. The next day we traveled up the channel and into the yacht basin and docked at Palmira Marina. We went to Topo and Palmira Marina based on a write up by Pat Rains on her web site and we were looking forward to staying at a new marina facility similar to Palmira's marina in La Paz. What we found was disappointing.
The marina is still under construction although the first stage of docks are done and mostly occupied by sport fishing boats. The marina is continuing to install more pilings and docks. The shore side facilities are still under construction. The restaurant is not open, the parking area is still dirt, there is only one uni-sex shower, and no laundry. There is a small tienda at the marina office selling basic food supplies (bread, soft drinks, candy, etc.) and some boat supplies that cost at least twice what they sell for in the US. The staff does not speak English and they would not answer the VHF radio although they were pleasant in person.
The town of Topo is very impoverished, dirty and lacks basic shops other than one medium sized grocery and a few small tiendas and Modelorama. We did not find a hardware store and only one restaurant which is located at an hotel and opens at 5 PM. All the streets are dirty and lined with trash. We saw a dead rat on the side of the road. The locals are not the friendly and quick to smile people that we are used to meeting in Mexico. They seem to be downtrodden by the poverty. Even the residence of Turtle Bay which is one of most impoverished towns we have visited are more friendly than the people of Topo. We would not recommend this town to other cruisers although the anchorage inside the barrier island is a good place to stop for a nights rest if needed.
Here's an overview of what we found in Topo -
30 & 50 amp power on docks – the 50 amp plug on our dock was broken
Water on dock NOT potable – storage tanks are bad
WiFi only near office, not on docks
One unisex shower
No restaurant – might (!) open in a month
Slow expansion of docks – working on some pilings – still 50 slips mostly taken by sport fishers and permanent yachts
No one in the office speaks any English, but Eduardo on the dock speaks a little
They do not answer VHF radio hails
Very small tienda in office
You must walk across the main road into/out of town to get to town - this road is 100 yards from marina with MANY large trucks and train all day and night
There is a smallish grocery store in town but they only take pesos
One restaurant in town – it was closed the day we walked by
Buoys marked on charts for estuary entrance are WRONG, but there are buoys