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Bahia Tortugas

Another beautiful day had us arriving with a gaggle of rally boats into Bahia de Tortuga two days after our departure from Ensenada. The trip so far had been very calm and windless but we were still looking forward to anchoring for a few days, getting off the boat and topping up water and fuel.

Arrival to Turtle Bay

Arriving to Bahia Tortugas

Our first order of business upon anchoring was the fuel, which of course everyone else was doing too. We had two options – schlep jerry cans to the beach via dinghy, walk up the hill to the gas station, schlep back down the hill, load onto dinghy then get back to the boat to transfer into the tank. This option was not very enthusiastically received by the crew, so we decided to call the local fuel guy to bring it out to us.

Now, I will admit that the cost of this was exorbitant, and there was much grumbling within the fleet about the price, which did seem to fluctuate randomly. But my take on this is that these people were providing a service. We could have done it ourselves at the cost of at least half a day, by the time we got the dinghy off the deck, got the fuel, got back to the boat, filled up, got the dinghy back on deck etc. etc. As it was, they pulled up alongside, a price was decided upon and 10 minutes later our pockets were a little lighter but our tank was full and we were ready to head into town.

Many of the fisher folk were using their pangas to pick up cruisers from their boats to take them to shore, so we flagged one down and off we went. We pulled up at the shockingly derelict pier and scrambled out, timing our exit with the swell and dodging the broken steps and rusty nails with a lightness of foot that I never knew I had, and will probably never have again. Amazing how the spectre of tetanus can turn a galumphing gorgon with all the grace of a narwhal on crack into a nimble sprite with all the suppleness of an ethereally lissome prima ballerina.

The dreaded dock, view from the beach & pangas. Copyright Kimberley Stewart

A small town of about 600 families, the bounty of the Pacific Ocean has provided generations of fisher folk a living catching and selling lobster, abalone and fish to those in the larger towns up and down the Baja pensinsula. Times have changed though and now most people work for large fishing co-operatives who export their catch directly to other countries. I think the rally provides the locals with a good amount of cash to supplement their income for the year and so the whole town prepares for the influx of visitors and tries to provide whatever services they can.

There were pop-up bars on the beach, homes turned into temporary restaurants, the local teen boys were on the beach to help pull dinghy's ashore to earn a few pesos, Rosa was the lady to speak to at Maria's restaurant if you wanted laundry done, and the only paved road in town led to a small internet cafe by the police station and a couple of small tiendas with fresh fruits and vegetables for those needing provisions. As it was Halloween little bands of local children were dressed up and walking along the beach in search of treats. Word traveled quickly about the gringo (Daz) with a huge bag of candy and he was surrounded with a clamoring throng of excited kids,shyly holding out their hand for a few lollies. So cute. We enjoyed lunch and a few beers before making our way back down the dock and risking our lives to get back into a panga.

Touring the town

Halloween night had us handing out candy to intrepid trick or treaters who were going from boat to boat in their dinghy! The crew of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot invited us and a few other cruisers over to their boat for drinks. Lots of fun meeting new people and a few of the musicians onboard busted out their instruments for an impromptu jam session!

Dinghy Trick or Treat!

The next morning Kimberley and Eric took a class in Celestial Navigation run by another cruiser. They had brought a sextant with them on the trip and had been taking readings along the way down. Daz and I explored the town, organized for water to be delivered to the boat the next day, had lunch on the beach and made our way to the village baseball field.

In just about every town we've been to in Mexico, baseball is life. Everyone plays it, young, old, boys and girls. The field is green and lush, sometimes astroturf, sometimes the only place in town where there's lawn. It's importance to village life can be measured by the care the townsfolk take in maintaining it. As a way to thank the locals for their hospitality during the rally visit and in recognition of the significance the game has to the community, throughout the year leading up to the rally various sponsors and individual ralliers donate bats, helmets, balls, gloves, hats – anything baseball – and a locals vs. rally game is played. The locals are dressed in their uniforms, even the littlest ones. The rules are a little different than normal. No one strikes out, everyone gets to make a home run and at the end, all the children get to choose individual items to keep. It was a lovely way to spend a warm sunny afternoon.

Photos Copyright Kimberley Stewart

Our last night in Bahia Tortuga culminated in a party on the beach. Locals brought in food to cook for us, the beer was cold, the pangas ferried people to and from their boats, local artisans showcased their wares and the cruiser kids swam in the beach. Some partied on until late but with an early start the next morning, the crew of Eione headed back to the boat to get ready for our next stop, Bahia Santa Maria which would be another 2 day trip.

With the sunrise came calm seas and no wind and along with most of the fleet we weighed anchor and slipped quietly out of the bay, sipping our coffee as the sun rose from behind the hills. The forecast called for an increase in wind later in the afternoon and we were hoping to shake out the sails finally!

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