Sunday, December 6, 2009

Turtle Bay

An approaching weather front caused us to move up our departure from Ensenada. We decided to do a 2-day passage to Turtle Bay, 1/3 of the way down the Baja peninsula and about 250 nautical miles away. It's an all-weather harbor that is used by most boaters passing along this coast, but it's very remote by road.

We started out of Ensenada mid-afternoon with plenty of breeze, but it died down after midnight and we had to turn on the engine. In the light of dawn, we were surprised to see a 200-foot Coast Guard buoy tender closing in on us from behind. No lights, no AIS, being as stealthy as you can be in that size of vessel. After shadowing us closely for at least a half hour, they informed us by radio that they would be sending over a boarding party. The Coast Guard does this routinely not only in US waters, but along the Mexican coast and throughout the Caribbean. On one hand, it seems like they're overstepping their bounds when we're not even in US waters. On the other hand, if something should go wrong and you need assistance, its mighty reassuring to have them around.
Having someone come alongside your boat in heavy seas can be dangerous and scary, but conditions this time were calm. The boarding party very thoroughly inspected our safety equipment, while interrogating us on our history with the boat and the purpose of our voyage. Seemed a bit odd to us that they would look so closely at a boat heading south; after all, the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs is going the other way. Nevertheless, they found no deficiencies and let us continue on our way.

The rest of the day was uneventful, but we did see a vivid green flash as the sun sank below the horizon. On our second night at sea we crossed the Bay of Vizcaino, and by the dawn of the 3rd day out we were approaching Cedros Island and the off-lying San Benitos. Originally we had planned to stop at the San Benitos, but I had to get back to an Internet connection to grade papers and administer final exams, so we carried on to Turtle Bay, arriving outside the bay just at sunset. By the time we got the anchor down, it was dark.
In the morning, we were happy to see Renova anchored close by. There were several other sailboats, but none we recognized. We dinghied ashore and had a nice lunch at Enrique's restaurant, followed by a short stroll through the dusty streets of town. We'll be here for a few days while I finish fall term responsibilities; the next Internet connection is hundreds of miles down the coast.

1 comment:

Gary O. Grimm said...

Wow - You saw a green flash! Over years I have tried to take photos and have a few taken with a telephoto lens.