As the Baja Ha Ha fleet started to close in on Turtle Bay, our daily role calls via Profligate (Lattitude 38’s own 63 ft. catamaran, “the committee boat”) switched from SSB back to VHF. We did the standard role call, followed by medical emergencies, and mechanical needs. It was during this role call where other boats started airing their laundry list of repairs, including another boat that had a sail tear. My ears perked up as I made note there was a sail maker from Ullman Sails crewing aboard French Curve. Other laundry items included SSB’s that weren’t transmitting, water makers that weren’t pumping, fuel hoses that were leaking, and an assortment of requests for various spare parts. There was always someone out there ready to lend a hand, offer a suggestion or plain old come over and fix it. The motto was to help others when you can, and hopefully when you find yourself in need, the favor will be returned. There was a request for fuses aboard Illene. We had just bought a “boat” load of fuses before leaving San Diego, so we answered the call. Upon delivery we were greeted with a trade for three cold beers!
Turtle Bay was beautiful and huge! As the Grand Poobah put it, you could literally fit 1,000 boats inside Turtle Bay, and not have any problem with over crowding. He was right! The best part about this anchorage was watching the local fisherman grab their fishing pots each morning, while hundreds of hungry pelicans swarmed desperately over their heads hoping for any scraps of fish.
Baseball is a huge sport for the kids at Turtle Bay and it is a Ha Ha tradition to play a friendly game of baseball with the locals. While most of the fleet went to play baseball, we went into robot mode to transition the boat from passage ready, to anchorage ready. We were so excited to start exploring Turtle Bay, but first our list of chores included Grant climbing the mast to retrieve our halyard and the rest of the SSB antenna that was stranded at the top of our mast, putting up our sun shade, and hoisting our hard bottom Fatty Knees off our top deck and into the water. We accessed our popped baton pockets and consciously decided to leave them out of our main sail for the next passage. Upon further inspection our tachometer miraculously started working again. (Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) Probably just a loose connection.
That evening the fleet was encouraged to stop by the Vera Cruz restaurant for Baja Ha Ha dinner and drink specials. I was super excited to start using my Spanish after we arrived in Mexico. Sadly, despite also being a Spanish Major, I felt a little rusty. For the most part the people at Turtle Bay were very shy. I gave up being shy, and started greeting people with a friendly Hola! Response was an immediate Hola! in return. The town was small and didn’t have more than a few dirt roads, a handful of restaurants, a couple of small tiendas for groceries, one gas station, and no bank. El restaurante Vera Cruz couldn’t be that far, right?
We combed the beach and couldn’t find it. I took a chance on a random truck that stopped for a moment, with two normal looking jovenes inside. I leaned into the window and said, “Buenas Tardes! Saben dónde esta el restaurante Vera Cruz?” They exchanged glances and I listened to their response. My translation got us directions to find La Calle Principal, and turn left. “Ok, Gracias,” I replied. Of course none of the streets had street signs. So, which one is La Calle principal? As we got closer we stopped inside another tiny grocery store and asked again. “La calle principal, Sí, Sí,” along with lots of hand motions, and the possibility that we were looking for a green building. The truck drove by again, the two jovens waved, they asked if we wanted a ride. “No, no Gracias! Estamos Bien!” (We’re good!)
After a few more blocks we got to a street that looked fairly prominent and made our left, but unfortunately no restaurant in sight. We stopped two more people on the street along the way and repeated the question. “Sí!, Sí!” they replied, along with more hand motions. We continued onto a crossroad and stood at the corner. Now what? Grant was ready to abort this mission several blocks ago due to a setting sun, but I encouraged us to continue. We stood for no more than a few minutes before we saw some familiar faces, emerging from behind the shadows of the buildings across the street. Some of the Baja fleet coming back from the baseball game! (Perfect timing!) We joined them and ended up at right the restaurant without a sign. But the Baja Ha Ha 2008 seemed to make it legit enough. We found it! We sat down with friends, shared stories and had our first taste of real authentic Mexican food! Of course not without our Pacificos!
The next day we attended the Baja Ha Ha potluck and beach party. The morning net gave us insight for how to properly attend a Baja Ha Ha cruisers potluck.
- Never bring chips and salsa.
- Bring enough food to feed all of the people on your boat and then a double it.
- Bring your own dishes, plates and silverware.
- If you are the first in line you need to take less food to ensure the people at the back of the line still have food.
- Do not eat more then you brought to share.
- No heaping plates full of food or happy sampling one of everything.
- Bring your own drink or buy beer on shore.
- Take a water taxi for a few bucks or dinghy yourself to shore, but beware of the possibility for dangerous surf landings.
Humm. . . landing in the surf with items for a potluck, no bueno. So we opted to take the water taxi panga. It was clear these guys knew what they were doing. We safely arrived on the beach at the party and started mingling with the other cruisers. We continued to meet even more boats and crew from the Baja Fleet such as Pamela (another Pacific Seacraft!)
Many of the locals showed up on the beach just to take it all in. They parked their cars, listened to the music and watched the show. A gaucho showed up with his horse and let a few people take a run with it around the beach. There were traditional beach party games, such as volleyball, tug of war and a water balloon toss for the kids. A local ice cream truck stopped buy and sold us paletas. A brilliant dessert for such a hot day, at .80 cents each, who could say no?
In San Diego we had bought a ton of candy for the sole purpose of handing it out to the children of Turtle Bay for Halloween. Except we soon forgot what day was Halloween and we never took our candy to shore. I decided to fill a good portion of my backpack with about 2 lbs of candy. On the beach I was approached by two little boys asking me for dinero or dulces? (money or candy?) I guess I have that approachable face. I assumed the money was for the ice cream guy, but they seemed satisfied with the candy. Then I asked if they knew where there were more kids and they pointed to all of the cars parked at the beach. (Ok, more specifically they pointed out this green truck where the rest of their brothers and sisters were.) I happily went to each of the cars and handed out candy to all of the kids I could see. One little girl was so excited, her face lit up like a Christmas tree!
We climbed to the first ledge of a very sketchy cliff with some other cruisers for an optimal photo opt. Then we caught up with friends Cake and Sea Otter, once again. We had a wonderful time, but knew we had to head back to the boat to get Maluhia passage ready once again, in order to leave first thing in the morning for leg two of the rally. So, we all piled in Cakes dinghy and they kindly took us back. The next leg would be two days, two nights and would take us even further South.