El Tiburon and her crew left San Diego harbor around 1200 on October 25th, two hours behind the rest of the Baja Ha-ha fleet. There was a 4-6 ft swell and decent winds for most of the day but we had to turn on the motor in the evening. We arrived in Ensenada around 0100 and tied up next to a bunch of fishing boats. A man met us and said the marina fee was $35 plus tip and a soda. The next morning at the immigration office we discovered we were at a fishing dock, not the marina, and therefore didn’t have a marina receipt to show the immigration officers.
It took half a day to complete all the paperwork and seek out a Mexican SIM card (which is why we had stopped in Ensenada in the first place). I had momentarily recovered from a queasy stomach and got around to unpacking all the groceries and organizing the galley. Kitty had her first steps on foreign soil.
We left Ensenada around midday on the 26th, despite a bad weather warning we received at the immigration office. The weather report appeared to be not-so-bad so we thought they just wanted to prolong our exit and reap another dock fee from us. The swell outside the harbor was significant, and I promptly went to bed for fear I might throw up all over the cockpit. All of us threw up at some point except Luke. We sailed through the night with a 6-8 ft swell and winds up to 25 kt. Andrew, John and Luke performed their watches with heroic effort while I lay in my berth trying to keep my cookies. I remained in my cabin until the next morning when we motored into Bahia San Quentin. As we arrived seals leapt from the water around our boat as if to welcome us to shelter.
We spent the 27th anchored half a mile from the only other boat in sight. The boys went surfing while I brought myself back to life (hot shower) and performed an over due painting job (hot pink toenail polish). The other boat in the anchorage was a Catalina 42 named C42 and had a Brit named Joe for crew. He came over in his dinghy for a beer in the evening. We chopped up some slices of salami and John made a beer bread, which we ate with butter and creamed honey for dinner. As soon as Joe returned to C42 we all crashed for night of deep and uninterrupted sleep.
On the 28th we motored over to Punta Baja, a surf break with a tiny fishing community nestled in the hills. The swell in the anchorage was annoying and the surf wasn’t very good so we moved on to Punta San Carlos. Dinner was a Filet Mignon roast (Trader Joes’s), cornbread muffins and baked potatoes. We arrived at night in the pitch-black darkness and couldn’t see a thing. Creatures were moving in the waters around our boat and we knew they were porpoises only by the sound of their blowholes.
In daylight, the bay was impressively desolate. After a breakfast of crepes and Nutella on the 29th, the boys decided to inflate the dinghy for the first time. Upon doing so, a critical piece of equipment (the plug) was lost to the drink. John suited up to dive for it but upon readying the tank, another critical piece of equipment (the ring attaching the tank to his back) was lost to the drink. Someone suggested we open a bottle of wine and use the cork to plug the dinghy but then I remembered that I’d purchased some plastic airtight bottle stoppers to keep our Pellegrino fizzy. Sure enough, one of them fit perfectly.
Luke took Andrew and John with their boards over to the surf break then came back to El Tiburon to get Kitty and me. Luke and I tried to beach the dinghy so Kitty could go for a walk. What we couldn't see was that the waves were actually a pretty decent size, the beach was actually pretty steep, and that it was made of smooth, loose rocks the size of oranges, which all conspired to make it close to impossible to haul the dinghy ashore on our own.
Some amused locals came over and near wordlessly helped us haul it out, but imagining how we were going to get back out again was daunting. We formulated a plan that involved stuffing the contents of the dinghy into the side crevices, having Kitty lie down in the middle, I would be at the front and go in to my waist to keep the nose pointed into the waves and jump in when Luke got the motor into the water. We waited for the break in the waves and rushed to put the plan into action. It worked! We pulled it off without a hitch and I waved goodbye to our audience.
We were high-fiving each other about 3/4 of a mile from both shore and boat when the dinghy motor stopped. The oars were nowhere to be found. We thought we may have to swim the dinghy back to the boat but on the third try the motor started up again. We made it back safe and sound and learned some valuable lessons!
Meanwhile, Andrew and John had decided to leave the break to investigate a windsurfing camp on the point. They weren’t able to communicate their new position to Luke because his VHF radio was still wedged in the rubber dinghy and couldn’t be heard. It was a long paddle back to the boat. In the early evening we weighed anchor and left for an overnight motor to Isla Cedros. I made a loaf of cinnamon raisin walnut bread for dinner.
Andrew and I did our night watches together and identified all the constellations we could see, which included Pegasus, Capricornus, and the Pleiades with Orion rising in the East.