The famous Bahia Tortuga

We had to alter course to dodge the motorboat that’s coming at us full throttle. What the hack? We are sailing, we have right away. And what do they want anyway?

They finally turn a little but as they come close wave at us warmly yelling loud “hello hello”. Even a last hail of hello on the VHF radio, and they turn around. Apparently, they had just come to greet us! We suspect it’s this Enrique fuel guy who is referred to on Navionics as the English person to contact if you want to get fuel. According to what we’ve read and heard, Turtle Bay is the place along the coast where most yachts refuel.

The wind is still pretty strong and we are making good progress upwind towards the anchorage on the North side of the Bay, by the village. We have two reef in the main. Getting close, we start furling the jib, but it’s not coming easily. Yalçın goes on deck to check the furling drum and it’s has rotated half a turn. It’s worrisome because that is the part that tensions the forestay (the cable that holds our mast at the front). To relieve the load of the forestay, we head downwind. The main load on the mast is now on the backstay. Yalçın is eventually able to tidy up the situation at the bow and furl our headsail while I keep steering downwind as the light goes down.

The trip that was so close to being over, is not anymore. We now have to beat up against a good 20 knots gusting 25, with the hugly pointing angle that the main sail only gives you close hauled. Our VMG is aweful! But we made it finally, with a nice lift when the wind finally diminished as we reached the protection of the anchorage. I must admit I thought about firing up the engine to support the sail and end our sufferings earlier. Yalçın insisted on trying a little longer, just to see, in case in the future motoring is not an option. Of course the way to go, glad we did it in the end.

The next morning, a man in a panga approached Yalçın who was in the cockpit to ask if we needed fuel. He also warned us not to leave our dinghy on the beach as one got stolen there recently. The alternative was to tie to the pier. After a lazy morning and beginning of afternoon, we decided to go for a late tacos lunch on-shore. So off we went to dinghy to the pier. We were happy to get rid of our one week trash as well (we hadn’t resolved ourselves to dispose it on the island as they probably don’t know what to do with garbage. Not recycling is already painful enough on our eco-friendly consciousness!). Jesus was probably also happy as he walked to us on the pier and collect our generous 50 pesos tip in exchange of the disposal of our trash bag in his large bin.

At the end of the pier, the beach. A man is sitting there drinking a beer and smoking, he seems oblivious of us which is good news as Yalçın explains that the panga guy of the morning also adviced not to talk to the men drinking on the beach. It feels like a 90s role play videogame!

To our left, a couple of what looked like restaurants on the beach and the perfect place to get a snack after our exploration. To our right the beach and dead ahead, half destroyed buildings. We’ll learn later on that it’s likely to be the old fish cannery that closed in the late 90s. A woman playing with kids offers help, not knowing what to ask, I declined. We ran into Jesus again and confirmed that the pier was a good place to leave the dinghy, he approved and even invited us for a coffee at his house later. How nice!

We managed to find our way to a dirt street through the ruin and we wandered in the town looking for places to lightly reprovision. Dirt roads with almost no one walking but four wheel drives occasionally passing by full of people. The town felt dead (was it because it’s Sunday?) and driving around seemed to be the only activity. We found three stores, the most remote being at the beginning of a paved road, the famous Highway 1. The stores had some limited stock, most non perishables, but we still managed to find tomatoes, avocado, bread, potato chip and everything to have a Mexican snack at the boat, even made in Bahia Tortuga, Baja tortillas. Each of our purchase felt a little more precious than if bought in a supermarket as we are used to. We walked back to the beach, really wondering what the people who live here and that we saw park in front of these stores or liquor stores were doing all day.

Back at the beach, we decided to try the beach shack we had seen earlier. It had tables outside and really looked lovely. We climbed up the stairs and clumsily asked the kids who were inside if food was served here. The reaction wasn’t as expected, it seemed to be a no. Half ashamed, we decided to retreat to the boat and share our tortillas, salsas and have a beer from the beautiful view of the cockpit.

At least, made in Bahia Tortuga

I don’t really think we managed to figure Bahia Tortuga out. We had expected a lively little town from its status in the Baja-haha rally, from the pilot book or Navionics reviews. Was it COVID that killed the grove? We did hear some music coming from the town like the first night, so obviously, we had missed the fun.

Hidden Bouchon

Check out our little video about sailing in and out of Bahia Tortuga on YouTube…

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