Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017-22 Ensenada to Bahia de Tortuga (Turtle Bay)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 8AM:

After the decision to avoid some uncomfortable weather from the north, the CUBAR fleet got underway this morning from Marina Corral for the 36 hour run to Turtle Bay, one day earlier than planned.  Based on a boats normal speed, the slower cruisers started leaving at 8PM last evening.  By 8AM this morning, most all the fleet was underway.  Wild Blue exited the Marina at 5AM getting a bit of a head start, and based on a cruising speed of 8.5 knots. hopefully left enough time for fishing along the way.  Our projected arrival in Turtle Bay is 5PM tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon the fleet was warmly recieved by the staff of Marina Corral.  After a quick call on VHF 71, each boat’s slip assignment was received.  At least six harbor staff took Wild Blue’s dock lines as we moored.   Port Clearance and Immigration was efficently handled by the officials with assistance of Marina Coral staff, all this transpired while we sailors relaxed with Ensenada Maragritas.

Once cleared, Denny and Alex braved crossing Ensenada’s “high speed” coast highway to the supermarket.  The store was large, much like any stateside market, just all products were labeled in Spanish, with prices in pesos.  Our cost for four heads of lettuce, three large bundles of green onions, and three pounds of Roma tomatoes was 97 pesos, or $6.86 US.

At 5PM the cruisers gathered in a tent erected in Hotel Coral’s courtyard, as more refreshments were served.  The CUBAR Fleet organizers recommended an early morning departure Wednesday (today) as opposed to staying at Ensenada.  Strong winds and increasing seas are forecast for Thursday so we best be close to Turtle Bay by then.  Next a delicious seafood buffet with mussels, cerviche and fish was consumed. It then was “vamos a la cama” as we need to arise at 4:30AM.

By 6AM, about 12 boats were approaching Punta Banda at the southern edge of Ensenada Bay. Coming at them and expecting to pass between Todos Santos Island south end and Punta Banda was the Star Princess, an 800-foot cruise ship.  The lead boat in this CUBAR group was Tanglewood, and skipper Peter calmly called the Star Princess, alerting the watch that these 12 boats were turning to port around Point Banda, and that a Starboard to Starboard crossing was indicated.  There was a delay, but at last the Star Princess agreed, after some posturings about S to S passing being against the rules, and that the Princess was being very nice to accommodate the request.  No boats nor ships touched each other!

Sunrise over Ensenada
At noon, the wind is 10 knots North northwest.  Seas are 2 to 3 foot chop.  Skies are slightly overcast.

Note that any internet connection is weak and spotty so this Blog will not be updated much until our arrival tomorrow.  Likewise doesn't cover the entire route so our position may or may not show up.

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 3PM:

Last evening the wind piped up between 15-22 knots as the CUBAR fleet blew down the Mexican coastline towards Turtle Bay.  The wind driven seas built up to 3-6 feet during the nighttime hours, causing the cruisers to rock and roll down the course.  Unfortunately one boat's autopilot failed, requiring the crew to hand steer most of the 280 mile run! A 2/3's moon came out by 10PM casting a large spotlight on the fleet.  However, the Wild Blue crew opted to keep the 500 watt forwarding facing floodlight on the path in front of the boat.

Our crew of three decided on 2-hour watches, day and night.  Alex took the 6-12 watch, Bob the 10-4 watch and Denny the 8-2 watch.  It was easy to sleep as the boat's autopilot and roll-stabilizers kept boat steady.  All crew were happy and rested as they adjusted to the watch schedule, especially since Bob's Tina had prepared a fresh batch of homemade enchiladas!

By 2PM on Thursday, the bulk of the fleet had arrived and anchored in Turtle Bay.  Two boats decided to hug the coastline and anchor the night under the protection of Point San Quintin, avoiding the big seas.  Brown Eyed Girl, a Skipjack 28, and Sprezzatura, a Nordhavn 40 have communicated with the fleet organizers and will join the group at Turtle Bay.

Punta Cantinas on North side of entrance to Bahia Tortuga
Light House on Punta Cortina
The Wild Blue crew launched their tender and toured Turtle Bay then cruised the shore, deciding to beach the boat just west of the pier, a bad decision.  As we approached the beach, two young entrepreneurs took our lines, and negotiated a $2 landing/launching fee, which we promptly accepted.  Then the crew headed to Maria's Bar overlooking the Bay and beach.  Halfway through just one Pacifico, we could see the beach waves battering Wild Blue's tender.  Eventually our crew fought the seas, with the help of the locals, launched the now water-logged craft.  Surprisingly and although riding low in the water, the engine started and whisked us back to the mother-ship, where we emptied buckets of  salt water and sand.  Crew and tender survived with damage only to our egos...
View from Maria's Pub.  T/T Wild Blue taking waves over the stern.
So the fleet is safe and secure.  It appears we will stay anchored here until Sunday, unless we decide to leave early.... Buenas Nochas, Alejandro....

Friday, November 10, 2017 - Noon:

All the rested CUBARistas seem to be enjoying the sun, light breeze, and calm seas.  A low swell with a longish period is rolling into the Bay and is not uncomfortable.  We do get some role from the wakes of speedy pangas ferrying "yatistas" to and from boat and shore.  Rumor has it today a potluck party will happen aboard the yacht Varnebank.

Enrique's Pier where fuel  is available at high cost and
pangas are available at low cost.
The party aboard Varnebank was the highlight of Turtle Bay!
 Communicator Christie aboard Varnebank reported that Brown Eyed Girl is working its way down the coast but will overnight along the shore and will join the group here tomorrow around noon, unless the fish are biting!  The yacht Sprezzatura decided not stop in Turtle Bay and is on the way to Santa Maria instead.  They will wait for the CUBAR Fleet in Magdalena Bay.


  1. Following your CUBAR blog. Really appreciate the posts Alex. My dad and brother, Larry and Brandon, are on the 28’ Skipjack, Brown Eyed Girl. Stay safe and happy cruising.

    1. Thanks B. We chatted with the Brown Eyed Girl crew in Ensenada. They had fun along the way there catching Bonita and Skipjack. Hope to get a report on their Turtle Bay run when they arrive.