Turtle Bay

We have talked of this place many times as a mystery to our imagination and now it will be only a memory. Bahia de Tortugas is a common place to stop in for a rest, a refuel, and a toast. This place is a fine feature of the earth being a naturally enclosed harbor offering all the protection an ocean going vessel desires. I will give you an account of the journey…

The East hills of Turtle Bay and a photo of the chart…

San Quintin gave us an invite to move on after a rolly night at anchor. We awoke to sunny skies and a light offshore breeze and off we went. We were headed to Isla Cedros, 130nm South.

We had a fabulous passage to the island including a delightful meal that included breaded zucchini with a creamy garlic lemon sauce, grilled onions and peppers and 1/4 saltwater cooked quinoa. Both our madres are very interested in what we eat so I will sometimes mention this. We both love to get in the galley underway – it makes for a more challenging cooking operation, but very fun! We have no fridge and it is no problem, so far eating has been more enjoyable than ever and we are almost always hungry.

The night was most beautiful on this passage. At 2AM to be trimming the sheets (pulling on the ropes that attach to the sails! I used to hate reading sailing books and not have clue what was going on, so I’ll give some details for Allie Bean!) and watching shooting stars while having a dolphin or two playing off the bow is a spectacular alternative to sleeping!  All cozy in asleeping bag snugged into the lee cloth with water rushing past the hull is nice too (as long as you know your mate is clipped in on deck!).

Isla Cedros runs north to south and shoots out of the water in jagged peaks that can be seen from miles away. It rises nearly 4000′ and includes a coniferous forest, freshwater springs, large sea lion colonies, a bustling town, a major salt industry and a technical school where teenaged bajaians can learn to make a living from the sea.

Approaching Cedros from the North

We arrived at the north anchorage in the evening and laid the hook against steep cliffs and barking sea lions on the northeast side of the island where there is only a small fishing camp. We planned to have a short rest before heading to sea again and making the passage between a notoriously heavy region of sea, the Dewey Channel, during daylight. The winds were forcasted as N and NE making this open roadstead “anchorage” rather unsettling. Andrew called this a place a cross between a dog pound (barking sea lions) and a wave pool. The beach reaches deep water very quickly so it is necessary to drop the hook close to the beach.  The winds were North into dusk  so we did get some protection here but the chop was un-be-liev-able! I have never felt the boat pitch and roll either at anchor or at sea as much as this place. Andrew tried to sleep in the cockpit to monitor the winds while I in the lee cloth. Items that have never budged an inch under sail were being slammed to and fro.

Spanish Galleons explored this peninsula in the 1500s finding refuge at Cedros as well as fresh water, timber, and other resources. They sailed as far North as Oregon and back to it again. They found junipers here and gave the island it’s name, Cedar Island, which it still remains today. Thanks to Jack William’s awesome guide book from the 80’s we have been filled with many fun facts!

Most exciting was the 3AM alarm to head back to sea. Here we found ourselves with no wind and the engine (Yanmar 1GM diesel) would not start. Ah! But do not fret! Ichi (who I will call the intelligent Japanese man who designed our engine) has cut some corners in the ignition system. We have found many times we push the button to start the engine and we get nada. We continue to push… possibly up to 20 times and as we are about to look into hot-wiring her, she fires up. Here, I will elaborate: There are several connections from the button to the starter motor that can become loose, corroded or otherwise. Apparently Ichi also chose an inferior gauge wire (too small some suggest) and some dodgey plastic harnesses, perhaps. We have only read these things. When in San Quintin we looked into this situation and found that the connection to the starter had jiggled itself loose! We tightened it down and she fired right up. Upon checking this connection again the morning of our escape we found it tight! But no starty! So, we hot-wired it. It is very easy… although we have never done this before. Literally all you have to do is touch some conductor of electricity (generally a screw driver is selected) to the hot terminal on the starter and the ignition terminal on the starter and it will start, easy although dangerous. IF! You have your head in there and the alternator belt whips around – watch out! Fortunately, we are equipped with this nifty little device that has two little alligator clips to go on the above mentioned terminals and they connect to a little button, which Andrew pushed and we both grinned in delight!

I would like to take a moment to say hello and give a shout-out to Steve-O. He is a wise and skilled marine mechanic who taught Andrew many things and we would be rather helpless in regards to our engine without his generosity. Before leaving on this trip we removed the engine and completely overhauled it from exhaust system to valve adjustment. We have not one, not two, but rather three or more spares on board for almost any emergency including a full array of Lucas lubricating products and other fine specimens! Thank you Steve!

So, off we went for a fine sail! The NE winds began to blow and the sails filled and we had the rails in the water and it was a beautiful sight. We sailed her clear to Turtle Bay and it was the best day of my life.

A windswept smile to the sea

We saw several pangas blasting through the waters within the passage from Isla Natividad, Isla Cedros and Punta Eugenia as well as many trap bouys, a salt barge in tow, and a decent South setting current.

Friendly crew that flew past on the way

Once anchored in the bay we crashed out after having earned ourselves a most rewarding sleep. Today we rowed our dinghy to the pier where we were greeted by this cute little dog whom had a little dog house on the dock.

Tying to the small dock on the pier

We climbed a set of yellow stairs that led to a rather pooped on pier and a most friendly man who walked with us all the way to the market and then to the Panderia and back.

Headed back to the pier with groceries

The men on the pier stored our groceries while we went back to town for a cerveza and some chilquiles! They had everything at the market one could need. We stocked up on oranges, mangos, bananas, apples, breads, eggs, cheese, cookies, water and more. The town is typical Mexicana lined with dirt roads and filled with charm and life painted over with the colors of the rainbow and decorated with whales bones.

Headed up the main drag in turtle town

The most exciting part of this bay is the panga man (Gordo Jr.) who comes to your yacht anchored in the bay with his boat full of fuel and his generator and fills up your tank for the reasonable fee of $3/gallon. What a treat it was. Lastly, this place is a dry and dusty desert and it’s beautiful at sunset…

That is poop on the rock, not snow

4 Responses to “Turtle Bay”
  1. Allison Shephard says:

    Dang…Isla Cedros sounds awesome! How cool that there is a grove of junipers growing there. You know I love the history blurb–good stuff 🙂 Oh and thanks for dumbing down the sailor talk for me! Hahahaha–maybe I’ll pick up on the terminology as I read your blog. Hope you’re hanging onto your lunch and continue to have “best days!” Much love friend!

  2. Jenny Shade says:

    Oh, so cool for us folks here slogging away at the 8-5. What a nice relaxing break I just had reading of your adventures. A nice mini-vacation. Now back to work! Thanks for the update! -jen

  3. Joaquin says:

    Gordo Jr. had the filete!?

  4. Steve and Susan Gold Coast Marine says:

    You two have your Gold Coast Marine Jackets on? Thanks for the kind words and I’m always here to help you both 🙂 Wish we all spent more time but maybee later. Trimm crew!!

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