Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Baja Bash - Pausing in Man of War Cove

This is the village at Man of War Cove - all of it. 
Whether under power or under sail, the trip from Cabo San Lucas to Ensenada is called the "Bash" for good reason. With prevailing winds from the northwest it is almost guaranteed that you will be beating into wind and waves for 700+ miles. In order to avoid as much discomfort as possible we stopped along the way, waiting in protected bays for calm weather windows.
For a sailboat it isn't just a matter of comfort. Trying to sail into the wind while being buffeted by oncoming waves can make forward progress impossible. Running the engine is imperative. Sailboats like ours generally can't carry a lot of fuel and options for refueling are few and far between on the outside coast of Baja. Two other sailboats who were bashing up the coast at the same time as we, actually ran out of fuel along the way. One was unable to continue sailing into the wind and had to turn back almost 200 miles to refuel. When your forward progress is only 3 to 6 miles per hour, a 200 mile back track is painful. The other boat was forced to seek refuge in a small bay where no fueling services were available. We are still keeping our eyes and ears open for them, wondering what was the end to that story.
It's a long run from the southern tip of Baja to Magdalena Bay with no options for stopping.  After more than 2 days of bashing with both wind and waves against us, we were glad to reach safe harbor. We anchored at the first opportunity and got a good night's rest. Then we moved several miles further inside the bay to Man of War Cove where there is a small fishing village. It was very pleasant to rest and relax there for a few days. At first there were 2 other boats anchored by the village but more boats arrived over the next couple of days, all of us waiting for another calm weather forecast. By the time we left there were 7 of us, most headed, as we were, north to Ensenada.
The village is on an isolated island. There is a town about 15 miles away but the only way to get to it is by boat through a narrow channel. We needed fuel. All the boats needed fuel. An enterprising local man named Antonio took our jerry cans in his panga and had them filled in the town. It's quite a trip for him but quite lucrative, too, and one of the few ways to make money in his village. We heard of another boat who got fuel from someone else the next day and it fouled his tanks. We were lucky. Another boat had no cash and there was, of course, no way to pay with credit card. It turned in to quite an ordeal for them taking several days to travel by boat, truck, and bus to a city large enough to have an ATM and then back to their boat with fuel.


As my photos show, the beach was literally covered in a variety of seashells. Many cruisers are, as you can well imagine, avid beach combers and shell collectors. Really, what else are we going to do with our time? It's kind of a gray area, though. According to the government body that overseas fishing in Mexico, it is illegal to take any natural materials off the beach. On the other hand, official government websites promoting Mexico tourism often tout the best beaches for seashell collecting. We have heard stories of cruisers who were searched and fined for trying to take seashells out of Mexico. It's all very tempting when you see the shiny chunks of abalone shell or piles of dead coral washed ashore but I try to limit myself to collecting beach glass. I think I can argue that beach glass is not "natural" right?


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