We departed from Cabo San Quitin on Saturday November 20 and after a 28 hour passage (190 nms) arrived in Turtle Bay on Monday mid-morning, around 12 noon.
Our time in Bahia Tortuga was our first anchorage in Mexico and provided the first opportunity to really experience the quiet desolation of the Baja Peninsula. Bahia Tortuga gains its notoriety from the Baha Haha, an annual influx of sailboats arriving on their first port of call on the 9-10 day rally to Cabo San Lucas. As such, everything on the waterfront is geared towards yatistas (boaters). Maria’s restaurant provides excellent free wifi for patrons along with a view of the bay and all the fresh tacos one could want. In town, we found a pretty nice grocery market with some limited produce, any number of non-perishables and a small meat counter. Interestingly, there was no fish market in town (that we could find) nor were there fish for sale at the grocery store. Our best guess was that all the fish was sold directly from the local fisherman, or there was no need for sale to others because everyone in town *was* a fisherman.
After scoping out spots to anchor, we settled into our anchorage here around 130pm (it takes quite awhile to pick a viable spot and lay out the appropriate amount of chain for Captain Ryan to feel we are well positioned). This entailed trying out one spot, pulling up the anchor, talking to an anchored cruiser (who has been here for two weeks) and settling into our spot just a bit to his starboard side and laying out 150 feet of rode to secure our position. As one would expect, even anchoring is no small job for Dakota’s crew and one that requires careful consideration and thought!
After securing Dakota, we set about regrouping from a long passage, getting the interior/deck of Dakota cleaned up and figuring out our afternoon. At first, we thought about going ashore, but after feeding the crew and cleaning up, it was already almost 3 pm and with sunset approaching at 430pm, we decided to stay on board, rest up and go to shore the following day with plenty of daylight. We also decided, since our littlest crew member has a hard time with taking the dinghy ashore, especially when the dinghy landing is a beach landing we’ve never tried before here, to go ahead and hire a panga (a local fishing boat, who also provides fuel/water/taxi services to shore) to take us safely to the pier here. Our well-used Charlie’s Charts and other cruising guides have indicated that the pier is …. um.. tenuous as best and given our peek at the pier/dock, we felt it was best to rely on local knowledge of the bay and ride aboard their hard-sided boat to get to shore. (Good choice!)
So after connecting with Enrique (the local purveyor of fuel, water and taxi services), we refueled Dakota, handed off our basura, loaded our water jerries onto his boat and hopped on board for the 3-4 minute ride to shore. We were happy to let the professionals bring us up to the pier, take care of our water jerries and set out on foot to check out the small, quaint village that is Bahia San Bartolome/Tortuga. And what an experience that was for the boys! The narrow, dusty roads were quite a contrast from the perfectly manicured roads we know back home in suburban Rocklin and we could see from Elliott’s face that he was definitely taking it all in. The leash-less dogs were a bit worrisome to him (as he has had some negative dog experiences in his recent past), but as we meandered through the quiet streets in town, he became visibly less concerned –as the dogs were more interested in lying about and soaking up the warm sun than bothering with some yatistas. 🙂
A quick jaunt through the small town connected to us with some other yatistas who are crewing our neighbor, a catamaran, back to San Diego from Panama for its owner. And we all made our way to the seaside restaurant, Maria’s, for some fresh-caught tacos de pescado and quesadillas for the kids. Maria’s crew were so welcoming! And thankfully were able to decipher my not-so-great gringa Spanglish AND provide an excellent wifi connection so that we could upload some pics and recent blog posts. (And we later learned that we could boost their wifi signal from our boat way out in the harbor and get some much-needed weather info for our next leg to Mag Bay!)
The afternoon was (relatively) relaxing and uneventful.
After lunch, we made our way back to the local mercado for some fresh produce and fish (once again, we were amazed at the local prices–even for tourists)–our entire grocery bill was just $6 USD for fresh tilapia, produce, diet coke and salsas! And our ride back to Dakota, via Enrique’s panga boat, was lovely and quick (despite Finley’s screams of terror).
Later, Enrique visited us to settle our diesel/water bill (the most expensive part of our stay so far, but well worth it since fuel will not be available for the next 400 miles to Cabo San Lucas) and we sent them off with some homemade cookies we baked on our passage down to Bahia Tortuga.
Checking the weather tonight, we decided to go ahead and make the big jump tomorrow afternoon to our next port of call, Bahia Santa Maria (Santa Maria Cove)/Bahia Magdalena (Mag Bay), with possible tuck-ins at Bahia Asucion if needed for weather. And yet again, we are preparing to embark on our longest passage yet! (250 nms).
We feel good about the experience we are gaining on our way down, as we get to know Dakota’ limits and constraints, as well as our crew’s ability to withstand long passages (i.e., how to pass the time without going stir crazy, how to manage sleep and watches for myself and Ryan, managing our energy/water/fuel consumption). We do, however, remain vigilant about checking weather as much as possible (particularly swells since we are still out on the Pacific coast) and continue to hope for fair winds and following seas.
So, onward to Mag Bay/Santa Maria Cove!