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Choppy seas made for a beautiful, but rough ride.


After hearing so many stories about impounded boats in Mexico, we were relieved when the check-in process in Ensenada was finally over. We had our 6-month tourist visas, our 10-year temporary import permit for Stormy (our trusty boat), and we got the green light when we hit the big red button at customs. Our Mexican courtesy flag is now fluttering under the starboard spreader, and we are free and clear to travel the seas of Mexico.


Antonio’s Bahia Tortugas Bar


Beginning of the first night watch.

It’s 290nm from Ensenada to Bahia Tortugas. This meant two days and three nights of ocean sailing, complete with night watch, which we decided to do in three hour shifts. With winds blowing at 10 – 15 knots, we were able to sail most of the trip. This, however, did not stop the boat from feeling, at least to a sailing newbie like me, like it had been thrown in a washing machine. We were tossed up and down on 4ft. wind waves that came on top of 8-10ft. swells. Part of me was secretly thinking I would rent a car as soon as we got to land again and drive back home. Luckily, upon my first sight of Bahia Tortugas, I was smitten and realized I had gained my sea legs!


Bone and rock sculpture on the beach at Tortugas.

Bahia Tortugas is a small, out-of-the-way fishing village that’s mainly accessible by boat. The town formerly had a cannery business, but it’s all closed up now, leaving the town to rely on a fishing co-op and passing cruising boats as their main source of revenue. We had planned to stay two days, but ended up staying five. The people we met were great and Antonio’s beach bar was the perfect place to recover from our long nights at sea. We bought water from a truck on the beach and had diesel delivered by panga – a type of modest-sized, open, outboard-powered fishing boat common throughout much of the developing world.

After a last night of tacos with new friends, we headed for Magdalena Bay and another two days and nights at sea. After surviving the last stretch at sea, I was now confident in my stamina. The trip took longer than expected and the nights were rough, with very little moon to light our way. I did realize, however, as I sat looking out into the darkness searching for lights, hearing waves blowing off the top of the swells all around me and the occasional deep breath of a dolphin, that my heart was pounding faster than ever, and I felt more awake than I have in a long time. It is not always easy…it’s an adventure.

We won’t stay in Magdalena Bay for long; just enough time to rest up and get ready for the next leg of the journey.