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Action Packed Days in Sleepy Turtle Bay

I don’t know what it is about this dusty little Baja outback town but what should be the sleepiest little village on the coast is once again full of adventure for us. We first visited Bahia Tortugas nine years ago having sailed down from San Diego with a small entourage of other boats with 20-something crews. In the week we spent here, we somehow managed to pack our days full, which included kite surfing and BBQs on the beach, spending hours at the beach palapa slurping down 10 peso Pacificos with other cruising crews and even finding a hopping discoteca up on the hill one Saturday night.

Of course, our time here this visit has been spent a little differently, but so far Turtle Bay has not disappointed us in excitement, despite appearances. Our first day here was actually pretty quiet as one would expect here; we spent a few hours just wandering around the town taking it all in. Nestled in barren desert hills, the entire village is covered with at least a centimeter of caramel colored dust which billows up each time a car zooms down a narrow dirt road. We found ice-cream at a small well-stocked tienda, fresh flour tortillas (a Baja specialty), and (can you guess?) a playground which was surprisingly new in the town square overlooking the bay and fisherman hauling their pangas out of the water.

Unlike wandering around other small towns in the U.S., however, where residents typically eye strangers with suspicion, when we would pass a local Turtle Bay resident we’d get a huge smile and a wave and a ¡buenas tardes! whether the person was walking or driving. We met a local woman who spoke very good English and enjoys helping passing cruisers; when she found out we were looking for tortillas she told us to hop in her car and she’d drive us the two blocks to the tortilleria. We thanked her profusely but explained that since we hadn’t been off the boat in three days we didn’t mind the walk.

Yesterday, on our second morning in town, we tune into the morning VHF net and hear an announcement that bocce ball will commence on the beach by the beer palapa at 1 pm. Now, back when we were kids ourselves cruising down here we always snickered a little at the old farts playing bocce ball on the beach. This time, we packed up a picnic lunch, the sand toys, swimsuited girls and a pocket of pesos for beers and arrived ready for bocce at 1:05 pm.

The delightful afternoon was spent doing what we’d come to Mexico for: spending time with members of our fellow cruising community as well as the locals who love to come and practice their English while we practice our Spanish. As a warm wind ruffled in from the bay, we enjoyed ice-cold Pacificos from Regelio’s La Playa palapa bar, shared appetizers and stories and plans with our new friends, watched as Leah and Holly made new friends of their own of all ages and nationalities, danced to music blaring from nearby speakers, and played several rounds of bocce ball.

We returned to Wondertime yesterday evening smiling from ear to ear after our fun-filled afternoon. We noticed that the anchorage had filled up considerably; apparently the FUBAR powerboat rally from San Diego to Cabo had caught up with us and about 50 powerboats had joined the (thankfully very large) anchorage. The VHF radio was buzzing with talk about the impending front coming through with southerly winds (again!). We’d been expecting the front to arrive this weekend and knew that there may be some light southerly winds that night but the really honking stuff was due to come today (Saturday).

As we fed the girls some dinner, read books and tucked them into bed, indeed the wind had come up from the south already; we soon had some lively bucking action going on due to the 2-mile fetch across the south side of the bay. An hour later, the wind abruptly died dead still. Then a few minutes later it came up again, clocking around 90 degrees to the west. This time the wind was coming off the hill to the west of town and the wave action was much calmer and we slept at last.

With the wind expected to pipe up again from the SW today, we ate breakfast this morning while underway to the south side of Bahia Tortugas where we’d be in the lee of the shore, a much more comfortable and safe place to be in a blow. Most of the boats anchored near town slowly trickled south as well and the fleet of 50 or so are all tucked in, hanging on as 20-30 knot winds buffeted our ships around.

A long windy day stuck in the boat turns into a wind measuring experiment for Leah with our hand-held wind meter

We’ve spent the day listening in on our VHF radio (think cruising boat party line if you’ve never listened in on one before). There was chatter about the boats being tossed about that were still anchored on the north side of the bay, [power]boats that had headed out to sea towards Cabo, originally attempting to outrun the front and limping back defeated, people requesting rides from the local pangas to a party being held in town for the FUBAR (and then the excitement of getting home in the dark across the rough bay).

So far, everyone is safe, anchor watches are being held and anchors are holding on tight. Just another action-packed day in sleepy little Turtle Bay.

*2300 update: the wind has dropped to nearly nothing and it’s raining(!) buckets. What will tomorrow bring??

One Comment

  1. Karisa says:

    Ah, you can only imagine what reading your posts does to me. Three years ago we were just rolling in to La Paz and loving that we were in the middle of living our dream. Someday we’ll do it again, but for now, we get to live vicariously through you and relive our adventure all over again. We miss you guys. K