Turtle Bay to Cabo
17 February 2011 | Cabo San Lucas
Virginia and Dennis
We are now on Mountain Time: we lost an hour, so the sun goes down little later -or the sun comes up a little later (as it seems on the overnighters) but it seems like the day is longer.
Tuesday Feb. 8th, we put the dinghy in the water with the sling we had made for it – worked great, no more hoisting it half way up the mast to get it over the lifeline. We were headed for shore to revisit one of our favorite restaurants and use an internet café. One-armed Pedro greeted us on the wooden pier and was happy to take our basura (garbage) and watch our dinghy while we were ashore for a few bucks. There was no one around to bother the dinghy and the garbage was just piled up on the pier in a heap but we recognized him from past years so apparently he’s made this his vocation. We found the internet shop where we spent about an hour paying bills, catching up on some of our email, and posting our last blog. We did encounter a problem though in that the keyboards didn’t have a tilde (~) character on them and Virginia had that character in her email password…so she didn’t get to check her gmail account. It was also a little slow going as we tried to translate instructions/prompts until we discovered how to request English on the Google homepage –guess that tells you how often we’ve been abroad. We were disappointed to find that both restaurants were closed. They must only open during certain seasons and when the big Baja Haha fleet comes through – then they are fully operational. But there were only four sailboats in the anchorage at this time. Not a problem, we had plenty of food stores aboard. Turtle Bay is a small town with all dirt/gravel roads (you feel like you need a shower after being passed by one or two vehicles). The only paved one is the road that heads out of town and becomes dirt again just beyond town. They have several small grocery stores, more auto parts stores than restaurants (it’s a 40 mile dirt road to the paved Highway 1), and lots of friendly people. We purchased a tomato and a head of cabbage as Dennis is determined to make the switch from lettuce to cabbage in his lunch sandwiches (cabbage is supposed to last twice as long as lettuce). The school, medical facility, and church are structures that stand out and are very well maintained. The houses are painted bright colors.
We met another couple in the anchorage, Ann and Andrew aboard Windsong, a Hunter 32, who are from the Sacramento area. They too are retired and cruising Mexico this season. We hope to meetup with them again further along our route.
Wednesday, Feb 9th, we used our new sling to pull the dinghy out of the water and set it onto the bow of the boat without removingthe outboard and shore wheels – worked just fine. That will make it more convenient to manage the dinghy at anchorages where we are staying just a day or two. Another boat headed out of the anchorage just ahead of us so we had a buddy along the way that day. Weather forecast showed wind for sailing in the morning only so we wanted to get an early start. But alas, we had to motor sail all day. The only significant wind hit us as we arrived at Bahia Asuncion. It died early in the evening and we had a very calm and quiet night.
We didn’t get a chance to visit our buddy boat as they took off early in the morning while we headed to shore. Asuncion is a larger town than Turtle Bay. They have paved roads, street signs, even some stop signs at intersections, and the road headed out of town is a divided highway. They had a nice looking medical facility. We ate an early lunch at Juanitas (a couple of tacos and rice, our first Mexican food – yum). We didn’t realize until after they had served us that they actually weren’t open yet. But they hadn’t said a word and just served us with a smile. In fact we laughed together when Dennis asked for a Pacifico beer and they pointed out that the walls of the restaurant had the distinctive Tecate stripes – no Pacifico served there! We found an internet café that did have the tilde on the keyboard so Virginia changed her gmail password and finally got access. We hustled back to the boat and around noon we headed to Hipolito, a short sail away. And we did get to sail. We sailed all the way. Only bummer was that we snagged our fishing line on a lobster pot float and lost a lure and hook, despite circling a number of times to try and release it. Hope the fisherman who next checks the trap doesn’t snag himself on that hook. We anchored in Hipolito just about dinnertime.
Friday Feb. 11th, we headed to Punta Abreojos where we planned to do a whale watching excursion. A recent boating publication (the Log) gave directions for hailing the park guides by VHF radio from that anchorage. Again we had light winds and only got to sail for about an hour before turning on the engine. We are enjoying the Baja coast landscape – it continually changes: low beach land, plateaus, peaks ofvaried heights – very interesting scenery. And we are seeing dolphins just about every day. As we approached Punta Abreojos, we saw a whale just ahead of us. We had to dodge several dozen lobster pots as we made our way to the anchorage. We were hoping some of the fishermen would approach us for a sale, but no such luck.
Saturday Feb. 12th, the prior evening, the beach was wall-to-wall pangas (small fishing boats) but at sunrise, we were awakened by virtually the entire fleet heading off for the day. We tried hailing the park guides for San Ignacio whale watching, but had no luck. We called the park on the sat phone and they said they don’t come out into the open ocean, so evidently the info in the Log publication was not accurate. We called a contact mentioned in one of the cruising guides and they confirmed that you really have to get there by land. So we headed to shore, but this is a very small town with no bus service and we were unable to find a way to get ourselves to San Ignacio. But we walked the town. They have a very large church with stained glass windows and a nice baseball field with bleachers and a concession stand –no grass of course. We found an internet café, but it was closed on Saturday. Couldn’t find a post office to mail our valentines – oh well, guess they’ll be late. We saw a big fish processing plant and realized that all the fishermen probably worked for the ‘company’ and thus weren’t free to sell directly to us. However, they were all very friendly and waved as they cruised by Libertad. We went back to the boat and spent the afternoon cleaning and napping.
Sunday Feb. 13th, we are headed 30 mi. south to Punta Pequina to anchor in Bahia Juanico. Another day of motoring. But we got in our whale watching afterall aboard Libertad. We saw groups of spouting whales several times that day. Twice they were very close to the boat (Virginia says 20 feet, Dennis says more like 20 yards away). It was a very calm anchorage, as promised in the cruisig guides.
Monday, Feb. 14th, Valentines Day, we didn’t go ashore this time. From the boat we can see that although it is a very tiny town, they have an airstrip and some two-story homes that appear larger than in previous towns. We could also see a large church and hear the bells chime. A double-ender sailboat was in the anchorage with us; we had seen them before but didn’t have a chance to visit. As they cruised by us heading out of the anchorage we had a brief chat and agreed we’d probably see them further south again. Weather looks like we’ll get some wind for our overnight sail to Bahia Santa Maria; we left at 1400, hoping to time a daylight arrival in Bahia Santa Maria. We had lots of wind, lots of whales, lots of waves, and lots of sailing. We caught our first fish – but too small so threw it back. It was wonderful to sail all day. We turned on the watermaker and made 10 gallons or so. At nighttime the winds clocked up to 20-25 with big seas and so we got lots more practice with reefing the sails. And of course that meant we arrived earlier than anticipated. We got there about 0600, when it was still dark. We were glad we had decided to go to this familiar bay where we had been 3 times before with the Haha group rather than Mag Bay. We had to maneuver around some fishing boats at the head of the bay and work our way with a head wind over where a few other sailboats were anchored. First time anchoring in 25 knot wind and we were apprehensive about dragging the anchor but the wind was off shore and if we dragged it would only put us back out to sea so we slept soundly as the sun began to rise. The winds blew all morning, our wind generator got us all charged up and the anchor held tight.
Tuesday, Feb. 15th. The weather grib files indicate that the winds will lessen this morning and then get even lighter this afternoon and continue to lighten up during the following days, so we decided to head on out again about 1330 when the winds in the bay got below 20 and do another overnighter to Cabo (170 miles, so it will be a stretch to get there before dark). We sailed with about 11 knots apparent off the stern quarter averaging 7 knots SOG (speed over ground) for the rest of the daylight hours. We talked to Darren and our granddaughters when we were out at sea; so glad we bought the sat phone. Night watches were much easier than the trip to Santa Maria. We motorsailedall night to consistent winds and somewhat calmer seas, so you didn’t have to be at the helm to constantly adjust the sails and our course. It is still quite cold on the night watches so the long underwear, ski hats, and neck scarves are still in use.
Wednesday, Feb. 16th, we had a huge group of dolphins around the boat in the early morning. Winds slacked off as predicted so we continued to motorsail. Had to use the engine almost all day – lots of time to read. We arrived in Cabo just as the sun was setting. No big cruise ships, but several large yachts in the anchorage. We were the only sailboat. Lots of lights and music happening around us. And it is warm again!
Thursday, Feb. 17, woke up to three large cruise ships anchored near us. We were preparing to go ashore in the morning to do our paperwork with Immigration and the port captain, when we saw another sailboat anchoring in the bay – and it was another Amel! After 3 hours at the Immigracion office (lots of people having lots of problems ahead of us), when they finally called our number, we were done in about 30 minutes including the trip to the bank. En route to the Port Captain, we stopped for lunch –we were starving after the endurance test getting our tourist visas. Getting late in the afternoon, we found the Port Captain office closed at 1430! so we’ll have to finish that up tomorrow. We found a Laundromat and internet Café and we’ll head back tonight or tomorrow to make use of those. Heading back to the Libertad, we visited the other Amel in the anchorage, C’est La Vie, a 1983 Mango 53. Bob is a nice fellow who is soloing. He had done the Baja Haha and was headed north to San Diego for the summer, and then he will return here next season. We were invited aboard to see the differences in our boats. Lots of things were the same and others were bigger or wider as his boat would allow. He is younger than us, and works from his boat. He uses a 3G card in his laptop and has internet access on this boat just about anywhere. We may just try that.
This trip to Cabo was quite different from the last three that we did with the Baja Haha group – not only because we are on our own with no additional crew, but because we were able to stop at more anchorages along the way and see more of this coast of Baja. The back-to-back overnighters was a new experience but we are becoming more relaxed with the routine.
Some of you have asked what we do at night in the anchorages. We brought along our travel games from our family camping days and some puzzles (Dennis stayed up until 2am one day finishing a jigsaw puzzle). One new addition to the boat was an LCD with built in DVD player and we have quite a collection of movies so we have movie night a couple times a week. The games and movies make it feel more like home than on past trips. But we miss all of you!