Saturday, November 5, 2011

Turtle Bay

As the sun began to light up the night sky, the silhouette of Isla Cedros appeared on the horizon.  The northwest wind picked up so we shut off the engine and unfurled the jib.  Our plan was to sail between Cedros and the mainland, but an early morning report from the Baja Ha-Ha rally leader told of heavy kelp and large tuna traps stored in the passage.  To avoid these challenges, we decided sail out to sea, past the west side of island, and then down the coast to Bahia Tortugas (Turtle Bay).  We wanted to get to Turtle Bay as quickly as possible to avoid arriving and anchoring in the dark – it was going to be tight.
Cedros Island
Winds were light and the waves were coming from multiple directions as we wobbled our way along the island.  Suddenly there was a loud crash on the foredeck.  Closer inspection revealed that the hydraulic boomvang had parted ways with the boom and was now lying on deck.  The boomvang is mounted on about a forty-five degree angle between the boom and the base of the mast.  It pulls down the boom when sailing down wind and keeps the boom from falling to the deck when the mainsail is lowered.  Days of wiggling and swinging had caused the mounting screws to work loose.  The screws were collected in a coke bottle, a short piece of rope suspended the loose part under the boom, and a spare block-and-tackle served as a temporary boomvang.  The last remaining problem was that a topping lift had to be rigged to support the boom before dropping the mainsail.  Enough boring mechanical details for now, let’s just say that stuff breaks.

We were motor sailing with a couple of miles to go and a pack of boats behind us as the sun was setting.  The boats ahead were a couple of miles away and provided no path for us to follow as we approached the anchorage.  Fortunately, we had the GPS coordinates provided by one of our cruising guides.  Thanks to a combination of these waypoints and Trisha and Chuck keeping a sharp eye out, we raced into the anchorage at about six knots with a handful of boats tagging along close behind.

In the morning we woke up in a huge anchorage with a hundred or so sailboats in the waters all around us.  Turtle Bay is the home of a tiny fishing village with dirt roads and few amenities but amazingly friendly people.  Aside form its natural beauty, the most prominent feature is an over abundance of yellowish, brownish dust covering everything.  Thanks to a period of very high winds, the dust was distributed in sand storm style over all the boats in the anchorage.  Turtle Bay reminded us of a lesson learned long ago in California.  An ice cold Tecate beer costs three dollars near the beach and one dollar five blocks inland.

We had just started our Mexico experience.  We practiced a bit of Spanish and realized that recycling is more of an American phenomenon.  Garbage is garbage in Mexico.  After fifteen years of owning Interabang, I jumped from her deck into the water for the very first time in Turtle Bay.  This was the first of many firsts to come.
Derrick and the Skipper from Knuckle Dragger

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