Instead of jumping out of Turtle Bay (on the Pacific side of Baja about halfway down that 750-mile-long peninsula) and spending a two night offshore trip to get to Bahia Santa Maria a couple hundred miles further south via a more direct route; and because the reinforced northwesterlies continued to build, we explored the coast and visited more anchorages. We think this was a good decision - many folks skip this section of Baja but it‘s worthwhile if you give yourself the time to do it, and/or the weather gets unfavorable. The series of anchorages we were now going to visit are little more than bights in the side of Baja. You come around a point, and tuck into the lee of a point of land. There is usually some small fishing village, some pangas parked out front. Although we have good directions from the Rains and Charlie‘s Charts guides, it typically boiled down to go out and anchor 100 feet in front of the pangas. They know the best place to moor and if there’s kelp you can follow their trail through it safely, and that is what we did.
Bahia de Asuncion is about 60 miles south of Turtle Bay. We had a broad reach with a double reefed main in 15-24 knots for most of the trip, which lasted about 10 hours, or most of a day. We ran the engine for about 1.8 hours to get into the anchorage and charge the batteries.
Our next stop was Bahia de San Hipolito, 42 miles south - again a broad reach in 20 knots under a single reef - travel time was 6 hours, with 1.8 engine hours. This anchorage had good sandy holding and was fairly calm - nice place to stay and though we did not take advantage of it that day, the town on shore looked interesting to explore.
We departed Hipolito the next day for Punta Abreojos - again in the good winds of 20-25 knots but with the waves increasing in height - but still only about 5-6 feet and choppy. I caught a small skipjack leaving the anchorage, but he was too damaged to release and after the mercy killing we had a nice tuna lunch in our future. The winds died early in the morning and we began to motor, but then it picked up in the afternoon to be right on the nose - we motored sailed into the anchorage last in the afternoon and I struggled to get down the sail in 25 knots of wind. This was the only anchorage on this trip down the outside of Baja that really was rough - we rocked and rolled all night in swells and chop. We even had to stow the gin bottle immediately after pouring our beverages.
Needless to say we left Abreojos the next morning for Punta Pequena, about the southeasternmost of the anchorages between Turtle Bay an Bahia de Santa Maria - a long day, reaching east and south 70 to 80 miles, moving farther into the base of Baja.
We had a lot of wind this day - but we still had to motor sail in order to make our course good for the day. [MS: We’re used to the Pacific NW where in prevailing conditions the wind and water lie down at sunset. Not here, not now: the wind stayed constant at 10 to 20 knots increasing to the mid-20s during the night; dawn was typically the only time the wind eased to the mid-teens. That said, we heard these conditions we experienced were stronger than normal but still steady and out of the prevailing NW and N directions, so they did not threaten bad weather.] We did not want to enter any of these anchorages at night - since they are filled with lobster pots and other small hazards, and the charts tend to be inaccurate by about ½ mile. So - with about 10-11 hours of light an 80 mile day is really long. We set the main, and with engine and wind were able to average about 8 knots per hour, with the wind at about a 140 degree angle. This is too far aft to sail effectively in the rolling swells. We estimated most of the swells at about 8 feet but a power boat following us said they were often bigger. We could have set the geniker, but would have had to come up a bit into the wind, and would not make the anchorage by dark. Such is the way of navigation and the vagaries of wind.
The Punta Pequena anchorage had roughly the same geography as the others, but was really very well protected and had excellent holding. The local bottom trawlers had hunkered down in here to wait for the winds to die down. As did three 60-foot racing sailboats. The weather report was for a lot of wind where we were going - south and west now - in the 30-35 knots range - so we all waited for it to calm down a bit. We were getting regular weather forecasting from Don Anderson on Summer Passage on the Amigo Net. This really helped in the trip planning.
We jumped off early the next morning and by 0700 we set the geniker. We had a wind angle of about 130 degrees aft - which is perfect, and 9 knots of wind. Since we had not had the opportunity to set this sail for a couple of years - it was great practice. The wind increased throughout the day and by dusk we flying along in about 12-15 knots. About ½ hour before dark we doused the geniker and raised the main. We sailed through the night in about 15 knots off of the beam. At 0700 we had passed Bahia Santa Maria and were 15 miles offshore of Bahia Magdalena (Mag Bay). The question now was - do we head inshore to Mag Bay and anchor, or go on to Cabo. We chose to push ahead. We had spent a bit of time coming down the coast so far, and were anxious to get to the end of Baja.