Portal swings briskly from side to side, as we watch the flock of birds from the beach. There is a stiff breeze and we are grateful for this reasonably protected anchorage here in Bahia Asuncion.
We arrived yesterday, after another early morning start from Turtle Bay. Since leaving Ensenada, our first Mexican port, we have had great passages to various small bays and islands. Our first stop to Isla St Martin was somewhat disappointing - we had hoped to explore an enclosed lagoon on the small desolate island, but I awoke with a migraine and spent the day vomiting, as Charlie and the crew moved us to the mainland, 10miles away. We read about a small village there, with a few resources, and the local “Carlos” who would answer our radio call with information. As it turned out, anchorage was taken in 5ft at low tide (barely enough for our 4ft keel) and well offshore so that rowing to land was out of the question. Mr Carlos never answered our curious calls, and our active imaginations have since surmised that the small town must have been decimated by the Cartel, nothing left but torn Tecate signs.
We fled that wild and lonely place, around 4am, with our sights set on Isla Cedros. Anticipating two nights at sea, we were thrilled when we averaged over 5.5 knots, making anchorage by the following evening. Along our way, we were intercepted by a most humbling sight – Three Californian grey whales chose to swim with us for over two hours. We turned our engine on immediately and tried to alter course, but they insisted on accompanying us, sometimes getting so close their blow-water splashed in our faces. Rising up on our stern, then diving below our keel, it was a most terrifying and beautiful experience! They never so much as nicked our vessel though, so I suppose they were well aware, and had no intent of harming us.
Arriving in Cedros, we rowed ashore in our trusty dinghy “Luckey” and were again surprised - a quaint and vibrant town of 2500 inhabitants surrounded us, the people a friendly and relaxed bunch. Colourful buildings with descriptive drawings painted directly to the facade, small side streets of cobbled stones, and cute business’ like the Papeleria selling paper supplies. Being Easter, there was a local parade through the town, complete with Jesus on a cross and his disciples, being banished by the Romans as the story was read aloud through a truck’s sound-system. We made good use of the local internet cafe and taqueria, making friends with the jovial by-passers. We were all a little sad to leave the following morning, grateful for the unique small-town experience, void of tourism.
At 2am we set off for our next stop – Turtle Bay. Another pleasant and swift sail, saw us anchoring in the well protected bay around 1pm. Touched by the tourism of the annual “Baha-ha-ha” cruisers race, it was never-the-less an enjoyable resting point with delicious coffee and plenty of fresh food and water provisions. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach under palm-tree umbrellas, grateful for some rest after such an early start.
The next morning was again a pre-dawn rise though, as we needed to make Bahia Asuncion before dark. We again averaged over 5knots, with reefs in the main and jib, flying downwind in sharp heavy seas. Occasionally we would spot another sailboat beating their way north, and all agreed they were crazy! Thankfully an hour or so of daylight remained after entering the bay, since we dropped anchor 4 times before finding a good hold. Eventually we had success by removing our CQR and installing our Danforth anchor instead. A lighter, weaker anchor, but more appropriate for the loose sand we found here. My muscles were pulsing with exhaustion, after hauling 40ft of chain in and out, in and out, though I still don’t regret removing the poorly placed windlass Portal originally came with.
Now we are here, giving ourselves a full day of rest, drinking coffee and chowing down fish tacos. This is a large bay with a significant village, and so far we have had much help from the local people, particularly in refilling our propane. We will restock on food and water here, then make the run to “Mag Bay”, 200nm from here. Provisions don’t sound promising there, but being a well-protected anchorage, it will be a good rest stop before another 150nm downhill run to Cabo San Lucas. We are definitely taking longer than expected along this western coast, but have decided it is well-worth the delay – such nice communities and the glimpse into rural Mexican life is not to be missed.