sailing homepage : trip reports : 2: baja-haha : day5: turtle bay

Nov 3, day 5: Anchored at Turtle Bay; shore trip and baja-haha potluck party

After a much needed night's rest at anchor - without the boat in motion or being woken for a night watch - the crew awoke ready and eager to explore our first Mexican stopping point! Um, except for Sean, who likes to start slowly when he can. After we all enjoyed a quick breakfast, Sean dropped Sara, Briana and Will off on shore, and went back to Wanderlust and back to bed. He did a bunch of boat chores too, but only after more sleeping.

Will whipping up omelettes


Haha beach party potluck

The girls wandered off in search of adventure, walking up and down the dirt roads, enjoying their taste of true Mexico, and watching the local children play. They ended up at the Vera Cruz and enjoyed some grub and beers in the sun, met the skipper from 'Beagle,' and accepted a few drinks. Flirting never hurts. The gals enjoyed their afternoon without the Wanderlust boys again.

Will, meanwhile, went off by himself on a secret mission. Under the guise of looking for fresh lobsters, langostas fresca, he was really on a mission to find a cake mix for Sara's birthday party later in the week. We would be sailing from Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria on the special day, and a surprise cake would result in serious boyfriend points. That's the kind of thing you need to keep a relationship alive.. or should we say "afloat"?

Now, cake mix would be available in an annoyingly wide array in your average American supermarket, but in this small Mexian town, on the edge of the Baja desert, it was not a plentiful item. Will went store to store, even recruiting some help from local boys. He probably offered them money or glory or something; Will's Spanish isn't that good, no one is sure what he offered.

It was a long trip. An interesting development was the house to which he was led that contained a small energetic Mexican woman who offered to bake Will four cakes. No, no, uh, una pastel para quatro persones! The woman called another woman, who also insisted on making us four cakes. During a lull in the awkward Spanglish conversation, right when they were calling a third woman, Will managed to escape.

On his way back to the pier, stopping in on one last supermercado, Will hit the jackpot and found cake mix and, miraculously, some icing in a can! Sweet! Walking onto the pier, kids in tow, cake and mix in a thin see-through plastic bag, Will noticed Sara and Briana walking towards him. Oh no. The mission must not be compromised!

Thinking fast, Will quickly exchanged the cake mix for a heavy case of water a nearby Haha boater was lugging down the pier. With only a few words of explanation before the girls were within earshot, it was pure luck the other cruisers understood the need for deception. Will helped them load their groceries into their dinghy, got a whispered description and location of their boat, and returned to the girls.

The three called for their chauffeur, Sean, and Will tormented the local kids while waiting. He first tried to play ro-sham-bo for money, then flipping coins for money, and was trying to ask them if they had any cards in Spanish when Sean finally arrived. As they were leaving, Will flipped his coins to the afternoon's tour guides. It must not have been enough, as Sara explained they were yelling profanities as we left.

After dropping the girls at the boat to get some food ready for the beach party later that afternoon, Will and Sean went after the cake. The owners of the boat - name forgotten, but it was a lovely blue hull - were moving her closer to the beach for the party, so the boys had to pull along side and transfer the cake James Bond style while moving.

Back to Wanderlust where the bag was transferred onboard, and while Sean and Briana distracted Sara, packed away safely. Sara had no idea. No time for celebrating the incredible and exciting clandestine operation - the Wanderlust gang was back together, and it was time for the Turtle Bay Beach party!

Beach party


Sean hiking around the desert

The crew decided to heed the warnings of fellow haha-ers regarding the dangers of landing a small dinghy in large surf, especially given that with four people in our 10' Purpeat, powered by our 10HP outboard, we would be a sitting duck in the breaking seas. A panga was hailed to take us over to the beach.

Pangas are ubiquitous in these waters - they are open air fiberglass boats, usually about 15ft long, with large 70HP outboards on them (not unlike our tin cans back in Canada). They are typically fishing vessels, but when a fleet of gringo boaters roll through, they quickly re-badge themselves as taxis and garbage collectors. For a dollar they will haul anything or anyone!

The party was something to behold: about 700 sailors, all anxious to relax after the first (longest) leg, were gathered on a rise above a huge beach in the afternoon sun. It was a potluck meal, the closest caterers being hundreds of miles away, although the locals somehow managed to find a way to truck in thousands of beers and a few mobile food stands.

Duane Burchell, party mogul/promoter, would have appreciated the effort that went into such a party in the desert. Our pasta dish, a pesto job with some nice fresh cherry tomatoes, dissappeared quickly, while the Wanderlust gang destroyed whatever we could get our hands on, including some fresh fish and grilled pork tenderloin.

After eating and drinking to our heart's content, the crew splintered off and did their own thing for a while, content to let the legs and mouths run as required to get into the beach mood.

Fantastic Four (Will not shown)


Here he is!

Sean wandered around taking pictures, Will joined a volleyball game (having NOTHING to do with the stunning South African teenager who was also playing), and the girls started a dance floor and enticed fellow beach-dancers to join them. We were all having fun when the event organizer, 'The Grand Poobah', called everyone together for the tug-of-war.

The game was men vs. women, and in the spirit of true feminism, one man was deemed to be equal to eight women. With an 8:1 tugging ratio, it was a funny-looking war. Pooh-bear selected Sara and Briana to be the anchors of women's team, while Sean and Will tried to convince everyone on the men's team to pull for a while then let go. That plan got nixed in the name of safety - ha.

The women won - what a surprise - and Briana and Sara celebrated with high-5's, pats on the back, and the admiration of a cute little blond girl as uber-cool chics she can look up to. Sara and Briana felt good to be a role model. ;)



Crew making the Wanderlust sign

Sean and Will joined a game of rugby on the beach, which they thoroughly enjoyed despite burning lungs and legs. It was occasionally difficult to remember that it was a 'touch' game. Will almost flattened others several times. Sean scored the winning try and it marked the end of a beautiful afternoon.

As the sun was setting, Team Wanderlust boarded the panga to return home and Briana earned herself a new nickname: "Plungy". In no less than 3 minutes she fell into the water, into the boat, and into an innocent bystander's lap. The Haha had proved it's worth with the beach party, it was an opportunity to make new friends, hear others' sea stories, and relax from the race-pace required to get to Turtle Bay.

It's not exactly the most relaxing way to travel, but for a crash course in the cruising life, the Haha rally is a great idea. It really seems to get lots of new or first time travellers off their duffs and moving, and when we told the Pooh-bear Richard that, he seemed genuinely pleased.

All slept well after our characteristic evening movie. Another hard day at sea. It's a rough life.

Turtle Bay sun setting


Anchor light constellation