Friday, May 10, 2013

Bahia Tortugas - Turtle Bay

I was anxious to get to Turtle Bay. It seems to be a favorite of many cruisers and is often referred to as the halfway point down Baja California. It did not live up to my unreasonable expectations but was, nevertheless, a memorable stop for many reasons. The locals, while not unfriendly, didn’t demonstrate the same warm welcome we had enjoyed in Ensenada. Perhaps because the people of Turtle Bay don’t have the orientation towards tourism that cruise ship destinations develop. We did have an excellent meal in a local restaurant and bought supplies at three small grocery shops. But the true adventure was at the fuel dock before we even got into town.
We really didn’t know what to expect at Enrique Jr.’s fuel dock. Because I had read warnings in two different cruising books and also a scathing review on, we carefully monitored the process. I have to say that although Enrique comes across as brash and over-powering, we received exactly as much diesel as we were charged for and at nearly the same price as we had paid in Ensenada. He also graciously allowed us to leave our dinghy at his dock while we explored the town.

The fuel pump station is at the end of a 400 foot wharf, approximately 15 feet above the water (I swear it was much further than 15 feet, 20 feet, maybe more, but I defer to Mike who had a calmer head at the time). A narrow floating dock is tied to the pilings of the wharf and rusting iron steps with a broken rung must be climbed in order to reach the wharf above. 

When we reached the lower dock, Mike jumped out and tied off the dinghy. I jumped out and immediately sat down.  The lower floating dock is not only narrow but also segmented and bucks wildly with the surge of the sea. Mike scrambled up the stairs with the jerry cans while I sat at the bottom, looking at the rotten stairs, and loudly exclaimed “No way in hell am I climbing that thing!” Before I knew what was happening, there was a burly, no-nonsense Mexican man on either side of me, one pushing me off the dock and the other pulling me onto the stairway. And so I was welcomed to Turtle Bay.

That was our only trip into town although we stayed in the bay for 2 nights. It was a comfortable anchorage but night-time wind and currents moved the boat enough that our anchor watch alarm went off frequently both nights. We had started with a 100 foot radius and by the end of our stay had upped it to 250 feet. With over 200 feet of chain out, we were just moving with the motion of the sea, not dragging anchor. There were two other sailboats anchored in the bay, both headed south with La Paz as their destination. One was a man who has single-handed from Japan to Victoria, Canada and down the Pacific Coast. I hope that we see him again and have the opportunity to hear about his solo sailing experience.

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