Turtle Bay – Giving Back to Mexico

The waterfront of Turtle Bay.

A week or so ago, our first anchorage after a 36 hour very smooth run from Ensanada was Bahía Tortugas, or Turtle Bay. This has been by far the best and most rewarding part of the voyage for me to date.

I was looking forward to this stop because I had organized a medical supplies donation from CUBAR participants to the town as a way of giving back to the community.

Bahía Tortugas is very remote on Baha. They are at the end of approximately 100 miles of deserted partly gravel road. The community is about 3,000 people and their livelihood is fishing and lobstering. There is no official firehouse or emergency services, so they are on their own in emergencies.

The dock at Turtle Bay. Pangas tie up and you scramble up the ladder.

About 10 years ago a group of citizens formed an association to work on improving the health and safety of the community called the Asociacion pro bienestar Bahia Tortugas.  They are a group of about 17 men and women who have gotten firefighting and EMS training on their own in order to support their community.  About 10 years ago an old American ambulance was donated by Russ Harford, an expat living in the community, but they had no supplies, no funding and also no place to acquire supplies from easily even if they did have money for it.  A new ambulance was provided by the government recently, but still without supplies. 

They help a lot of folks with serious injuries make it to the hospital.  CUBAR brought them some basic supplies two years ago, but they really needed all the basics for accident care, and during that CUBAR visit one of the participants had a head injury and was delivered by the ambulance to the hospital. 

Through conversing with Turtle Bay native Isabel Harford and her husband Russ in San Diego as my liaisons, we developed a list of needed supplies, collected financial donations from the CUBAR fleet and I ordered up the supplies to be delivered to stage in San Diego.  The Montecito Fire Department also donated a bunch of equipment and uniforms.  It took about a half dozen boats to carry the stuff to Turtle Bay. 

I got quite the Spanish workout communicating by text to coordinate our dropoff visit through texting in Spanish with Esdras, my local contact.  On the day of the visit, we were greeted at the boat by a group of the Bomberos, or firefighters, and the President of the Association, Señor Jose Ignacio Perpuli, by panga.

Unloading supplies onto the dock with the bomberos. You can barely see me and Christy in the panga below – the ladder is steep. Courtesy Justin and CUBAR.
Some of the supplies in front of the ambulance that they will fill up, and the bomberos! Courtesy Justin and CUBAR.
In front of the station. They don’t have a firetruck but the ambulance lives here. Courtesy Justin and CUBAR.

Through my and Christy’s Spanish and their enthusiasm, we had a wonderful time visiting with the group and touring their station. They were excited also because Esdras had invited us out to see the Lobster facility where he was working that day, and to host us to a big meal.

We crammed into their van for a 45 minute trip on the dusty gravel road to Punta Eugenia to visit the Lobster Cooperative where lobsters are received from the fisherman. The Cooperative has 35 teams of 2, and the holding facility prepares them to be shipped live to US and then to China. The facility looks out on massive kelp beds, and also houses an Abalone Nursery where they are breeding abalone and working to repopulate the bay with juvenile abalone.

A live lobster. Now I know how to hold one! Esdras is both a bombero and works here at the lobster facility and the abalone nursery. Courtesy Justin and CUBAR.
The view from Punta Eugenia of kelp beds where the abalone live.
The abalone larvarium where they are bred.
An 5-6 year old abalone for breeding. They are slow growing. They wait until the abalone are 1 year old before putting them into the bay.

The absolute topper of the day was the journey out to a fish camp where one of the bomberos was living and working for the season. They put on an incredible lobster and fish feed for us, complete with gorgeous views.

Preparing the bountiful feast.
House with pangas at anchor in the distance.
The fish camp.
Larry and Larry fixing the seafood cocktail drink that makes you go “wow!”
Larry, me and Sean at the fish camp. Photo Courtesy Justin and CUBAR.

Our group videographer Justin is preparing a video about the whole experience that I will be able to share soon!

Into Mexico!

The Marina Coral in Ensenada. Finally in Mexico!

After our aborted departure on October 30th due both to a stabilizer issue and then 50 knots wind reports telling us to stay in port, we had a lazy afternoon with a nice lunch courtesy of Sean (thanks Sean!) at the Kona Kai resort next to the Police Dock.  It was a beautiful day, although we did feel a bit like we were in limbo.

Still in San Diego…..

The next morning we were up and out and successfully made it to Mexico.  The winds were still gusting up to 35 knots for a few hours with big waves and we took a lot of water over the bow and port side,  but we had secured everything well and rode it out into Ensenada.  The winds had another effect which was fires – we saw several large fires on our way down the coast, including one that seemed to have started spontaneously as we passed with huge amounts of black smoke suddenly pouring off the hillside.  On our way into the Ensenada harbor there were fires on the shore – we could see firefighters actively fighting them. 

Wildfires above the bay in Ensanada.

In Ensenada Marina Coral staff took us to town to the Customs and Immigration offices, as well as the Port Captain. It was hopping there as this is prime season to enter Mexico by boat.  We had to check ourselves into the country and obtain a Temporary Import Permit (or TIP) for the boat.  The TIP allows us to have the boat in the country for 10 years.  They ask for a list of equipment on the boat and serial numbers of the engines.  If you do not get a TIP, the government has the right to confiscate your boat.  It seems similar to the US process of registration and tax collection.  In this case no tax payments are required. 

One of the very professional Mexican Officials. Photo courtesy CUBAR and Justin Edelman.

There was some confusion over names.  The boat documentation has Jr. listed next to Larry’s name, which he never noticed was there, but it’s not on his passport.  Much confusing discussion in Spanish and English ensued about where the owner, his son, was (we do not have a son), and us telling them the boat is named after our daughter.  Hijo versus Hija and lots of perplexed faces all around.  In the end, we reached comprehension and the officials decided I would be listed as the sole boat owner on the TIP to avoid any problems with the mismatched Jr.    Larry seems ok with that for the moment. 

That evening there was a spectacular seafood feast for us hosted by Marina Coral.  They obviously specialize in all types of ceviche and oysters cooked with various toppings.  I ate until I felt like I would explode.  We listened to a lecture by a professor who is part of a conservation group kayaking the entire Baja peninsula to bring awareness to the history and environmental gems of Baja.  It sounded somewhat harrowing at times with the huge Pacific swell!    Topped off the evening with the best margarita I have ever experienced – no mix used here, and churros, a classic Mexican dessert.

All the captains assembled for the CUBAR Captain’s Briefing in Ensenada.

The Odyssey Continues…

We’ve spent the last 9 days in San Diego, soaking up some hot weather and getting LOTS of boat chores and work done. Today was departure for Mexico day.

Tunamen’s Memorial on Shelter Island.

Most our nights were at the San Diego Harbor Police Dock on Shelter Island, but not because we were arrested. It is a bargain place to stay as a public dock, and one of the only places available when we made reservations a month ago. San Diego is full of boats staging for entry into Mexico around November 1, either with CUBAR as we are doing, the much larger sailboat version called the Baha Haha, or just going on their own. Marine insurance companies won’t allow boats to be in the hurricane zone in most of Mexico until November 1st when hurricane season officially ends, which leads to this bunching up of folks waiting to go.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Vessel. If you look really closely you can see one of their underwater vehicles on deck.

On walks around Shelter Island, various entertaining sites.

Larry loved this.
Friendship Bell from San Diego’s sister city Yokohama in Japan. I was surprised to see that this gift was made in the 1950s so soon after WWII.

Most of the time we have been here it has been unusually warm for this time of year according to the locals, up to 90 degrees. We have loved it, but one related effect is the Santa Ana winds, which are blowing in localized areas in California and causing sudden and terrible fires. The last two days we have periodically smelled smoke and seen haze from the Los Angeles fire.

CUBAR (Cruise Underway to Baja Rally) officially kicked off with registration last week, and a Captain’s meeting and dinner at the San Diego Yacht Club last night.

San Diego Yacht Club

After listening to various weather reports, we decided to depart early this morning after hearing about the Santa Ana winds that would affect part of our day’s cruise, but not be more than 25 knots. We were up and out at 6am, then had a deflating return to the dock when our stabilizer breaker kept popping. But luck was with us and we were able to find the source through the ingenious and speedy service call from Boomer (more to come on all of this from Larry) and we were on our way again at 9:15am.

Exiting the harbor we passed a US Navy destroyer up close and personal, which made former navy officer and Miss Miranda crew Sean very happy. They called us on the radio and at first I thought we were in trouble, but they just wanted us to hold our course.

Photo credit to Sean. Lots of military vessels around us this week!

Soon after that we got several texts and messages from CUBAR participants who had left early in the morning. They were experiencing 50 knot winds, and one had decided to turn around and come back. We made a speedy decision to return and wait the winds out, which are supposed to be much better tomorrow morning. So we will be a day late entering Ensanada, but we will still be there for Halloween and the Day of the Dead!

Paddle boarding witches!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Southern California

We’ve stayed at several great spots on our way to San Diego. We are fortunate that a number of yacht clubs let us stay on their dock for a night or two as reciprocals from Seattle Yacht Club. It’s fun to see the variety of clubs large and small on the California coast. I have to remind myself that there are millions more people in California than in Washington, and hundreds of miles of coastline, good reasons for the plethora of clubs!

Mylar Balloons are a Scourge

As we were coming down from Santa Barbara, I saw a funny looking item floating in the water. It was pink, which is not a color used by fishermen on floats. We got closer and realized it was a balloon. I wanted to grab it to prevent it from winding up in the gullet of a whale or dolphin.

Three balloons retrieved from the water. I regret that we couldn’t get more.

As we headed in, we retrieved more, but could not get all we saw as winds were picking up and we needed to get in to port. I thought there must have been a party that lost control of its balloons, but the manager of the yacht club told me it is such a scourge they have a monthly contest for who can pick up the most balloons, and the prize is Prime Rib dinner for two! Every month!

Marina Del Rey

We stayed two nights at the California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, a gigantic man-made boat basin that holds over 6,000 boats. They assigned us their end-tie guest slip so docking without the use of our bow thruster was not a problem.

After trying unsuccessfully to arrange for a diver to investigate the underwater tunnel of our bow thrusters, I flagged down one of the many divers zooming around the basin and he was very kind to take a look, and verified there was nothing in there.

Very nice diver checking the bow thruster tunnel.

That afternoon we hopped on our bikes and rode the path to Venice Beach and beyond to the Santa Monica pier. Venice was both seedier than we thought it would be, and much less active, despite it being in the 70s and sunny. It was a weekday though, and I expect even Southern Californians do have to work.

The pier reminded us of Coney Island.
The swarming of pigeons and seagulls felt like The Birds!


Yesterday we got in pretty early to Oceanside. It’s a much smaller boat basin, for less than 1,000 boats and no super yacht sized boats. The harbor shares the oceanfront with Camp Pendleton, the largest Marine base on the West Coast.

We walked around the circumference of the marina to the beach, never finding the long boardwalk that we had read about. I suspect that our guidebook is becoming out of date since it was published 12 years ago.

Looking out from the Oceanside Yacht Club deck.
Miss Miranda at the end-tie.

The sea lions have become an increasing presence as we make our way down the coast. We have seen them lounging on docks and finger piers. We were serenaded all night by their barking at Oceanside.

The sea lion float. Quite odoriferous downwind.

Today we will make it San Diego and a week of preparations for our Mexico departure on the 30th!

Sightseeing in California

We spent a couple of much needed rest days in Santa Barbara, and also got to visit with some friends from our Wisconsin days who had moved there years ago! Thank you both Maria and Dave for some wonderful meals and local perspectives.

Looking from the breakwater in Santa Barbara out to the hills and marina.

After sleeping a lot of the first day, broken up by a sushi lunch on the pier and walk out the breakwater, we got out around town the second day.

We visited the Santa Barbara courthouse, one of the most highly recommended sites in town. Beautiful Spanish style construction, and still a working courthouse.

Cool ceiling shot.
An open air hallway. Can’t do this in Seattle!

Instead of proceeding to another sight-seeing spot, I agreed with Larry that sidewalk people watching and having a local beer seemed like a good idea. We hung out on State Street doing that, and were thrilled to see a Farmer’s Market get set up for that evening. I proceeded to buy lots of gorgeous local produce and some pasture raised meat from Fess Parker Ranch. (We ate the NY Strip steak last night and it was one of the best we have ever had!) I should have taken pictures of all the vegetable stands but my hands were too full.

Dinner with Maria was at a local Middle Eastern place called Zaytoon, recommended by our friend Alan from Seattle, that she also loves. We highly recommend it too – lovely outside patio with firepit tables that kept us comfortable in the cool evening breeze. Food uniformly fantastic.

Palm trees lining Ventura Harbor.

Yesterday we made a short hop over to Ventura where we could stage our next leg and also get free reciprocal moorage at the Ventura Yacht Club. We much appreciate the availability of a spot and the hospitality.

On the dock at Ventura Yacht Club.

In the afternoon the winds picked up quite a bit so we were glad to be in the harbor. We visited the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center and walked out on the beach.

Those figures in the distance are surfers done for the day.

I had not been aware of this national park before – it is a series of islands that have a number of plants and animals that are unique to these islands. The waters around the islands are marine park. The island life was decimated in the early 1900s by the introduction of livestock and ranching, but since becoming protected and the removal of non-native species, have made some dramatic recoveries.

Larry directing the life guards.

Catalina Island off of San Diego is another of the Channel Islands, but not part of the park. We hope to spend a few days there, but that is going to be weather dependent. Today we are heading to Marina Del Rey, where we will probably stay for two nights and see if we can head over to Catalina on Saturday after some winds pass through.

Mermaid guarding the harbor.

Arrival in Santa Barbara!

It is 5:30 am Monday morning and we have just pulled into the Arrivals dock in the Santa Barbara Harbor to await a slip assignment (hopefully!) – they are first come first serve, but still had two slips at 5pm last night. If they don’t, we will anchor.

To all our insomniac friends, thank you for coming along with us on the journey through your text messages and emails! We love having your company during dark nights. Now get some rest.

Looking to the head of the Arrivals dock.

570 nautical miles and 69 hours from our departure from Brookings, numerous Point passings and 3 really nice days and uneventful nights. Whale sightings too numerous to count. Several sea lions and lots of pelicans. Dolphins swimming on our bow for an hour last night while I slept. Lots of ramen noodles, frozen burritos and frozen leftovers.

Larry napping on the calmest day.

We passed San Francisco near sunset but it was hazy and we had to dodge cargo traffic. No stunning view of the Golden Gate bridge, but a fabulous sunset.

Moonrise over San Francisco
Sunset off San Francisco. The cargo ship looks tiny there but by the time we cleared the harbor behind another one it was within a mile or two of us, picking up its pilot to enter the harbor.

I don’t have any pictures of this but there are numerous oil wells off the coast now. It is a weird site to see these huge hulking brightly lit towers appear on the horizon. We gave them a wide berth.

We will spend a couple of days here exploring, sleeping and enjoying the warm weather!

At the Dock in Brookings

Our first day in Brookings we worked away on the standard tasks like cleaning up what had become a messy dirty boat. It’s kind of hard to vacuum or do much in the way of dishes when we are rolling around. Not to mention, our trash compactor had shorted out while compacting just after leaving Neah Bay and we had to wait until we were back on shore power to be able to open it again so our trash had accumulated.

It was a bit smelly on the transient docks. We were the only pleasure boat amongst the fishing boats that were also taking refuge from the weather. But, it wasn’t as bad as it was in Petersburg this summer with the cannery running full blast! This was a working commercial dock. No amenities other than the fuel dock and a huge dusty parking lot full of hundreds of crab pots. Very economical spot for us.

View from our stern to our neighbor.

We were right across from the Coast Guard station, and had full view of their basketball court. It’s a good thing they are so good at rescuing people because they could not earn a living playing basketball.

You can see both of the Coast Guard boats peaking out here. They were across the channel from us.

The first night we watched them doing exercises in the channel in front of us clearly practicing tying up to and towing another boat. They move fast!

The red small craft warning flag flying in the wind at the Coast Guard station. This was finally gone Friday morning when we departed.

We walked to explore the marina area and around the jetty to the beach side. The beach was the prime scenic view in the marina area. It felt wonderful to walk with short sleeves and feel the sun on our skin. We are definitely moving into the land of summer.

We several excellent shrimp meals out at two nearby places. Local shrimp are in season and are good-sized and very tasty.

A parking lot neighbor to us. Don’t worry Mom, we did not have any tattoo emergencies.

Our friend Judy, half of our friends Stuart and Judy from Anacortes, picked us up for shore leave to spend a night at her home and graciously chauffeured us around on supply errands and to the Redwood forest, which I have always wanted to see.

Panoramic shot attempt to capture the entire height of one of these majestic trees.
It was amazing to stand next to these gigantic stumps from fallen (not logged) trees.
Amazing bark overgrowth resembling a face! Must have been quite an infection or injury that made it grow so exuberantly.

Overall a fantastic stop!