31 October 2014 | Current location: Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay) 27? 41.1'N 114? 53.2'W
Current location: Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay) 27? 41.1'N 114? 53.2'W
Oct. 29 (pm): After our breakfast omelet, which was really yummy, we continued our sail down along the coast toward Bahia Tortuga. In the early afternoon, as we took down our sails outside the entrance to the bay, a humpback whale surfaced close by. That was really neat!
We motored into the bay, between the rocks that lurked on both sides of the entrance, and Bahia Tortuga opened up before us: a spacious, placid bay almost completely ringed by shoreline, and backed by high, dry hills. About a dozen sailboats were already anchored, and local pangas (small boats) buzzed around among the sailboats, offering to sell fuel or ice, to take trash to shore or to provide boat taxi service. We dropped the anchor in 30 feet of water and put SCOOTS' sails away, 52 hours after leaving San Diego.
We opted to refuel using one of the fuel pangas (Enrique has the local monopoly on fuel sales), rather than using the rickety fuel dock near shore. Enrique and his helper pulled up next to SCOOTS in their panga, and Eric told them we needed 250 liters of diesel. The panga held a large plastic tank, from which Enrique pumped fuel into our tank, powering his pump with an extension cord hooked into our boat power. There was no fuel gauge, so Enrique pumped fuel until our tank bubbled over. That's just how it is. Welcome to Mexico.
After refueling, we floated our dinghy and went around to visit friends on some of the other boats in the anchorage, to hear how their voyages went and to share cervezas and stories.
Back on SCOOTS, we had some dinner and relaxed. The anchorage at night is magical: perhaps fifty boats, each with its masthead anchor light shining like a single star, dotting the dark water of the bay.
We spent a very pleasant night on anchor, and awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the bay. Dawn illuminated a steady stream of arriving sailboats, each crew glad to be at their goal, to drop their anchor and rest for awhile.
Each morning, the Grand Poobah (Richard Spindler, the publisher of Latitude 38) holds a SSB (single sideband) radio check-in from his boat, Profligate, during which he reports the day's weather forecast, asks whether any boats have serious mechanical problems or medical emergencies, and then calls on each boat to give their GPS position. Today he added an additional VHF check-in, since so many boats are now local to each other, though a few are still at sea. Cruisers' radio nets are a great way for cruisers to stay connected, to learn important news (and sometimes gossip), and to make arrangements to help each other out with all those mechanical problems or other issues. When we're on our own in Mexico, after the Baja Haha ends, we'll tune into some of the established nets regularly.
After breakfast, we called Juan, who offers a water taxi service in his panga, Juanita. When he arrived, we piled in and rode to the end of the rickety fuel pier, where we disembarked on a set of equally-rickety stairs that came down to the water.
We walked down the pier, and wandered around the town of Bahia Tortuga. The town is so different from the cities and towns I'm accustomed to in the US: the roads and yards are all dirt; the houses are multi- colored cinderblock structures, many with vehicles in various states of disrepair in their front yards; dogs run freely in the streets; the signs are all in Spanish. I love the contrast! Eric and I have been having a good time trying out our minimal Spanish.
At lunchtime, we stopped into Maria's Restaurante, and took a table in the shade, on the terrace overlooking the beach where the cruiser's dinghies and the locals' pangas came and went. We ordered some food, and made use of the free WiFi offered there (I was able to upload some photos and an update to Facebook). The food was good, and it was fun to watch the activity on the beach.
After lunch, we wandered over to the baseball field, where the annual Baja Haha "Baseball" Game was held at 3 pm. It was a fun spectacle: the Grand Poobah pitched to a long line of batters (Sean and I included). There were a full outfield and infield, as well. No score was kept, no outs were counted, and the rules were stretched quite a bit. Many of the local kids participated, too, which was fun to see.
When the game finished, we joined many other cruisers at the Vera Cruz Restaurante (and Disco) for dinner, then walked back down to the beach, where we hired another panga to take us back to SCOOTS for the night.