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Crossing the Sea of Cortez by ferry

December 28, 2019

Getting to the mainland from the Baja, there are two options to consider. The first option is to drive back up on the peninsular and around to the mainland. Or the second option is to take a ferry from La Paz to the Mainland of Mexico. We decided to take the ferry option. Two Companys offer the ferry crossing: BF (Baja Ferries) or TMC (Transportation Maritima de California). The BF offers a ride directly to Mazatlan on a fancy boat with cabins and lounge and restaurants onboard. But you cannot stay in your vehicle, and your dogs have to be in a crate. The TMC ferry is a roll on roll off the commercial ship, which service Tobolobomba, which is about 300km north of Mazatlan and allows tourists to drive on. If you make reservations for the upper deck, you can remain in your vehicle with your dogs and sleep in your bed. The price is also a third lower, and it includes a free meal.

Water in the boat is the ruin of the boat, but water under the boat is its support.

Rumi

So we decided to go with TMC and to make the reservation on the top deck, we drove to the Ferry terminal in La Paz, which is about 45 minutes up the coastline. We had to go through the border/military checkpoint as Baja is not considered to be part of the mainland and vehicle imports, passport control and tourist cards had to be proven to be valid. Which it was. After paying a port fee of 175 pesos, we were able to park and go to the TMC office in the terminal. The office is a small commercial truck office, and with our limited Spanish, we were able to make some reservations. Even though we did not get any paperwork or paid any fees, the sales lady assured us that our ferry ride would be on Friday (in two days) and we should return to this office by 4:00pm to purchase our tickets. With good faith, we returned to La Paz and waited our time. At the same time, there was a big tropical storm brewing, and lots of rain was falling, which caused significant flooding in the area. We were rather glad not to be on the ocean while this storm is happening.

Friday

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. – Stephen R. Covey

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Friday arrived, and the weather returned to the sunshine. At 2 pm we decided to head out to the ferry terminal. After getting through all the controls again and paying the port fee again, only this time, it went from 175 pesos to 245 pesos ( I guess the LuvShk grew in length over the floods) we went to the TMC office to get our tickets. We showed our original quote of 7100 pesos written with a pen on the brochure. The Salesperson honoured the quote and handed us the tickets. She then directed us to park on the parking lot and wait until the loading starts at about 6:30 pm for departer at 9:00 pm, and the ride would be about 8 hours.

6:30 pm rolled around, and one by one, the big semi-trucks started to load back on to the ship, up the ramp on to the upper deck. It was a long process, and there were a lot of trucks loaded. And like the game of Tetra being stacked with not an inch to spare. Finally, at 9:00 pm, it was our turn to reverse drive on to the steep ramp up the upper deck and getting fitted exactly with no room to spare between semi-trucks.

Reverse up the steep ramp to the upper deck

The TMC ships are a roll on roll off and are not passenger ships, i.e. there are no cabins for passengers. You sleep in your vehicle or on the floor somewhere on deck. There are mostly truck drivers and a few adventure tourists with cars or RV style vehicles. By about 10:30 pm, we finally started the journey on the sea of Cortez.

The voyage

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Boxed in between trucks- no inch to spare

As soon as we started to sail, we went to the galley to get our dinner, which was some stew with rice and beans. It was nothing special, but it filled our tummies.


The sea was calm, and it was time to go to sleep. Early the next morning, we could see Topolobampo, our destination port. With breakfast in the air and great conversations with truckers and ferry workers, our passage was an excellent experience. Even our dogs had a great time in their own house. We would recommend this trip to anybody.