S1E8: Sailing from San Diego, CA to Turtle Bay, Mexico


We couldn’t have ordered better sailing as we left San Diego harbor and watched Point Loma recede into the horizon. Spirits were high all around, as you can imagine.  Being Halloween, our crew surprised us by popping out of the salon into the cockpit in modified pirate costumes consisting of a fuzzy red ‘viking’ hat with white horns, stick on black moustaches, hairy red beards, and plastic swords. They preceded to ‘take over the ship’….until they realized they couldn’t read a chart plotter and still didn’t know how to work the sails. Thus ended the mutiny.

In the middle of all this fun, we were sailing along happily at 6.5 – 7 kn (same as wind speed) using our main and jib with an apparent wind angle of  80-90*.  At 2:00 in the afternoon we gave up following our PredictWind weather models…they just weren’t accurate at all.  By 8pm that evening, the winds had fallen off to 7-8 kn and we put up the big Code 0 and alternately sailed and motor-sailed through the night at 3-5 kn.

We all managed to complete our overnight shifts; Don and Phyllis shared a 3 hour shift from 9 pm to midnight, Janet and Alisa shared a 3 hour shift from midnight to 3 am, then Don and Phyllis were back on until 6 am when me and Alisa gratefully fell into our beds for some sleep. Throughout the night we saw 8-10 kn winds and using only our main and jib sailed through the night.  By 8:30 am on our 2nd day we were down to 1-5 kn of variable winds, so we fired up the motors and plugged away on course. But all was not bad… Don and Phyllis woke me up abruptly to man a fishing line since we had TWO fish on! With bleary eyed and uncaffeinated, I hauled myself on deck to reel in…. a little baby Dorado. Of course we released him. Luckily, the other line had a nice blue fin tuna on that made a delicious lunch and dinner!  Our catch also quelled the ongoing threats of mutiny if sushi was not provided!

Day 3 saw much of the same, without the fish, and at midnight-thirty we gratefully arrived in Turtle Bay along with about 8 other boats. We anchored near the cliffs and all four us fell into our beds for some sound sleep.

Turtle Bay

Getting Fuel

Waking in the morning, we looked out on beautiful Turtle Bay. After some coffee, and a quick clean up and change of clothes, we launched the dinghy and headed into town. We’d been listening to the radio traffic amongst the fleet that morning and head a familiar theme from those attempting to get fuel from Enrique, Jr. at the pier. Since we’d done the Baja HaHa in 2016, the story was hauntingly familiar about the ‘magician,’ Enrique, who is apparently still able to fill a 40 gallon fuel tank with 60 gallons of fuel. We also remembered what Enrique had done to our friend Ricky the year before…

Ricky’s Story

In 2016 when we had been to Turtle Bay on the HaHa, rather than chance the fuel at the pier, which was suffering from reports of bad fuel and and over-reporting the fuel delivered, we had asked a panga driver, Ricky, to take our fuel cans into town to the Pemex, fill them, and deliver them back. We gave Ricky money for the fuel and sent him off for what should have been an hour or two. The hours drug slowly by as we waited….and waited….and waited. Finally, around 9 pm, Ricky returned with filled fuel cans and explained what had happened.  Enrique, Jr., the fuel dealer on the pier, had caught wind of Ricky’s errand and called the local police, charging him with selling fuel without a permit. Ricky was then detained for over 12 hours being questioned. Now Ricky was a police officer himself (before marrying and moving to Turtle Bay), so there really was no question of Ricky’s innocence; rather just a ploy to keep him from providing a competitive alternative to Enrique’s little game he had going.

How We Got Fuel in Turtle Bay

Unwilling to patronize Enrique, we loaded our fuel cans in the dinghy and headed into town with the intent to walk up to the Pemex, fill them, and hitch a ride back.  We didn’t get very far when a dark, rusty red pickup truck pulled alongside to offer help….you guessed it…..IT WAS RICKY!  We caught up with Ricky’s family news and their year, talked about us getting Bonzai, and then loaded up in the back of Ricky’s borrowed truck for ride to the Pemex. On the way back, Ricky ran us to the Tortilleria (tortilla store) and tienda (general store), then drove us straight up to our dinghy on the beach.  Calling over a couple of the local boys, they loaded all our stuff into the dinghy and we were set to go!

Some Turtle Bay History

Turtle Bay is a small town of about 2500 people. Fishing is the main employment, with only about 37% earning an income. But nevertheless, Turtle Bay has pioneered the advancement of sustainable fishing methods in Baja. Years ago, the fishermen of the area formed a co-op to study, promote and advance sustainable fishing methods and today are leaders in exporting ‘certified green’ live lobster and abalone to Asian markets.

The Baja HaHa arrival into Turtle Bay is economically very important to the town. Ricky, for example, told us that the money he makes while the HaHa is in town buys everything for his family’s Christmas. So, schools and most non-tourist related business is closed so that the residents can earn money helping us gringos.  While in Turtle Bay, expect the pangas to come around several times throughout the day offering to take your trash into town, offering rides to shore, offering…well, anything you might need. In town, the restaurants are staffed and stocked and waiting for your business, residents with vehicles will offer you a ride if you’re walking, and everyone is helpful and friendly.

Baja HaHa Fun!

A big part of the Turtle Bay experience on the HaHa is the annual baseball game pitting HaHa participants against the local kids.  The Poohbah provides all of the equipment and we play on a beautiful baseball diamond complete with bleachers and a snack bar serving cold drinks and beers.  Everyone gets a chance at bat and no one’s turn at bat is up until they hit the ball. The game is tons of fun and somehow the local kids always win 🙂 . At the end of the game, all of the equipment is donated to the local school for the kids.

The HaHa also puts on a big beach party including volleyball and the annual Tug of Rope contest: Men vs. Women.  Spoiler alert: the women always win.

Our beach party ended when Alisa was hit in the back with the tug of war rope, bruising her back pretty badly. I had also twisted my ankle getting out of the dinghy…leaving Bonzai with 1/2 our crew on ‘injured reserve’ for a couple of days.

But, of course, none of that stopped us from having fun on Bonzai! Alisa managed to keep cooking delicious food and we thoroughly enjoyed our rest and play time in Turtle Bay.

Up Next….

Turtle Bay to….. well, Bonzai experienced some disasters. Stay tuned.

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Survey Results!

We got our survey results and….there were no surprises! Yay!

Brad Destache of Destache Yacht Service had completed our survey, going over every system on the boat, including a mechanical survey of the engines and an engine fluid analysis.  At the same time, though we didn’t show it in the video, Chris Catterton of CC Rigging in San Diego had completed a full rigging survey as well.

The boat survey was a 37 page document, but we’ll just cut to the chase…WHAT DOES THIS BOAT NEED?

  • Repair impact compression point on the port hull to eliminate potential for water intrusion.
  • Determine the significance of the crevice corrosion on the starboard rudder gudgeon and port stern tube; repair IF necessary.
  • Repair starboard keel bottom grounding damage. (This was a fairly minor scuff)
  • Replace holding tank cabinet lower hinge on port side.
  • Confirm the water staining on the port engine space hull surfaces is the new swim step shower and service to eliminate water ingress.
  • Consider replacing the GPS antenna.
  • Determine the significance and service or repair voltage gauges which are pegged while running.
  • Renew the wire terminal end of the starboard engine oil pressure gauge and test for operation.
  • Install terminal covers per ABYC standards on the positive battery terminals.
  • Replace the wire nuts used for electrical connections at the port engine space blower with appropriate butt connectors.
  • Reconnect starboard engine space blower.
  • Secure batteries so that they do not shift more than one inch in any direction.
  • Replace cracked port engine exhaust hose and ensure 2 clamps are installed at each connection.
  • Remove unused service hoses in the port space and permanently cap any supply sources.
  • Connect Shurflo pump in the port/aft hull.
  • Service swim step shower to eliminate leak.
  • Permanently cap the drain fitting valve on the starboard fuel tank to ensure integrity.
  • Service or replace port shower drain pump screen to eliminate leak.
  • Replace port and starboard propeller shaft cutlass bearings to restore tolerances.
  • Replace hatch lock/handle on forward fiberglass hatch.
  • Replace lens on the port side deck hatch (crazing and cracked).
  • Descale and determine if rusted port engine mounts and propeller shaft coupler is serviceable. Replace if necessary.
  • Renew kinked port engine oil cooler hose with a factory or otherwise formed hose.
  • Service starboard mast mounted winch.
  • Re-run mainsail halyard to eliminate chafing against the rope clutch above.
  • Determine origin of fuel sitting in the starboard engine space bilge; service and clean.
  • Replace the enclosure cap on the AC power connection for the battery charger to eliminate shock hazards.
  • Replace cracked stanchion bases.
  • Ensure flares are current per Federal regulations.
  • Replace solar panel power supply wires with appropriate boat multi-strand wire.
  • Reconnect the solar regulator wires to eliminate short circuit hazards and to allow the panel to charge the batteries.
  • Remove disconnected negative wire the house battery bank to eliminate short circuit hazards.
  • Reinstall the Y valve and hose connection, or permanently cap the through hull valves on the starboard and port toilet direct discharge.
  • Install appropriate circuit protection device on the DC power supply to the inverter.
  • Cover the 12 volt positive and negative buss bars aft of the battery switches to eliminate short circuit hazards.


  • Replace the standing rigging
  • Service the winches on the mast
  • Service the primary winches as per manufacturer specifications
  • Reconfigure the reefing clew lines

As you can see, we had 2 ‘big ticket’ items:  replacing the cutlass bearings and replacing the standing rigging; as well as a few moderately expensive items such as replacing the stanchion bases and a couple hatches.  After gathering estimates to complete all of the recommended and required repairs, we went back to the Seller and asked that he contribute 1/2 of the repairs that were due to ‘deferred maintenance and repair’, which he readily agreed to.  And just like that, we had a deal!

All that was left was to close. As I alluded to in the Financing blog post, our closing day became a stressful, headache infused day due to our Essex Credit agent’s decision at 10:00 am to put off closing for a week, although over half a dozen busy people had cleared their schedules for it.  He was convinced to get on it though, and at the end of the day we were….NOT CLOSED.

What?  Essex Credit missed the deadline for the wire transfer. Catamaran Company agreed that a overnighted cashier’s check would be acceptable.  But…Catamaran Company’s bank put a 10 day hold on the check. For real. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that in anticipation of closing, we had scheduled Bonzai! to be hauled out and had arranged for all of the subcontractors to begin work in 2 days.  We had kind of had to beg and plead to get on everyone’s schedules because they were all backlogged on their schedules. We also had another deadline….the Baja HaHa Cruiser’s Rally 2017 was due to depart in 2 months, and we had signed up for it (more about why we did that later).  SO, if we delayed the work for 2 weeks, we were seriously running the risk of not having it all completed in time for our October 30th departure.  ARRRRRGHHHHH! What to do?  Well, we did the only sensible thing we could do….we called the Seller.  And bless his understanding and compassionate heart…he agreed to allow Bonzai! to go into the boatyard for repairs prior to closing.

This decision was not made lightly, because the ‘what ifs’ were pretty significant. What if the boat is damaged on the way to the boatyard? We had insurance and the previous owner had insurance, but who would be loss payee vs. who is actually out the money?  What if there is an accident in the boatyard? What if someone is injured on the boat before the closing date?  That would be a very messy nightmare situation. But we and the previous owner agreed to take the chance.



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