So I am a slogger – a slow blogger. Catching up on the Taco Run… when we last left off we were eating lobster in San Quintin. It was indeed delicious but we had great weather, so it was time to move along south.
We left San Quintin in the late morning for an overnight run to Cedros Island. We try to always arrive in unknown anchorages and harbors in daylight as well… you can see! As our boats are slow, and daylight is not unlimited, that means that we do a number of overnight runs to accommodate distances that require more than 12 hours of cruising. The benefit is that we often arrive in a new location in the morning, with the whole day ahead of us.
The run to Cedros was also an opportunity for the fishing fans (basically the captains of all seven boats) to see what they could catch. Igloo headed out early to run the ridgeline and to try to win the unofficial but obvious competition between the not-so-casual-fishing-captains. They radioed back to say that they were going to catch a huge fish… when asked what they would do with this giant fish, they responded, in a way that only Alaskans can, “the same as we’d do with a moose of course!”
The captain of Red Rover caught our first fish, a Pacific Bonito. And at the same time there were “fish on!” calls from every boat. Finally!
As the afternoon wore on, we had a fun call from N6201 Sumlaki, cruising south about 20 miles to our starboard. Tom and his family were moving the boat to La Paz and were full of funny family stories as we cruised together, but apart. We chatted with each family member as they came on watch and even watched the sunset together. That was fascinating as we saw the sunset several minutes before they did! So cool. Another Nordhavn moment – not planned, not even in eyesight, but with a warm sense of community and family.
The night run was smooth and beautiful with a sky full of stars. Dawn broke and the mountains of Cedros Island grew out of the water in front of us. Vince was at the helm of Last Arrow and he pretty much summed it up – being tired, all of the work on his commissioning, all of the dollars and hours “invested” in these boats – it was all worth it for a stunning moment like that. The chatter on the VHF subsided as we all soaked it up.
The cruising guides note that the various anchorages on Cedros Island are mostly for fair weather. And fair weather was with us… We found the “La Palmita” anchorage and dropped the hooks. The anchorage is basically a slight indentation in the steep island’s shore, with a shelf for convenient anchoring depths. There was absolutely not a wiff of wind or swell as we found our spots along the shelf. Incredible – I mean, we were out in the Pacific Ocean! The “La Palmita” anchorage is noted by several small palm trees and some greenery growing around an old cistern on the very desert-like island shores. This historic location was where Spanish galleons once found fresh water and where in later years small fishing boats obtained drinking water. A newer version of the cistern is just down the beach and is still used today.
With a gorgeous setting and beautiful weather, dinghies, kayaks and paddle boards popped off of boats like fleas hopping off of a dog. One by one they found their way to Red Rover’s swim step where an impromptu margarita and cerveza-fueled swim party erupted. All members of the Taco Run were in attendance and jumping off of Red Rover, swimming, floating and generally cavorting in the water were the tasks at hand. So. Much. Fun! I later learned that this is a location for Great White Sharks. Um. Glad I didn’t know that.
The next day a portion of the group took their dinghies to Cedros Town to explore while others continued to play on the water. We took the dogs on a beach exploration and prepped for the evening ahead when a “fish fry” was planned on Epoch. The concept was that we would all prepare our various catches and celebrate Jeff and Shannon Huber’s (Igloo) birthday. They are married AND they share the same birthday. How cool is that? We made poke with our bonito and dinghied over to join the party on Epoch. While the wind did come up for the party and the remainder of the night, everyone was happy and having fun enjoying our stunning anchorage and each other’s friendship.
In the morning we rolled out as a group, heading toward Turtle Bay with a goal to get there before the 155 boats of the Baja Ha Ha arrived. The Ha Ha is an organized rally of sailboats, moving together from San Diego to La Paz. After dodging hundreds of lobster pot buoys we arrived in Turtle Bay to find 11 boats in the harbor. The next morning when we woke up there were over 160 boats. Turtle Bay is a small town with mostly dirt roads, friendly people and a can-do attitude. We enjoyed our time there and the festive atmosphere that the Ha Ha brought along with them.
Our beach landings went much more smoothly in Turtle Bay. We had learned to each have one leg out of the dinghy on our approach, enabling us to scramble quickly up and out of the dinghy and make it to shore without incident. The Turtle Bay kids were entrepreneurial with all of these boats in the bay and they greeted each dinghy, offering to “watch” the dinghy for a few bucks. They also helped hold the dinghy in place in the water as we unloaded, making it all a lot easier. The town kids got to know Zoe and Max and thought they were pretty special perros. Which they are… Each time we would come to shore kids would come running yelling “Zoe y Max! Zoe y Max!” It was too funny. These canine celebrities that live with us, I tell you. The town’s kids are also pretty used to cruisers and know that they might have something special in their pockets – CANDY! We had heard this story and came prepared. As we walked by the school one day, 10 faces peered out at us through the metalwork of the gates saying, “candy? candy?” We left a lot of sugar in Turtle Bay. Sorry Turtle Bay parents.
Another thing we learned is that we could trade for trash removal. Garbage, as always is a problem on the boat. Especially in hot temperatures. We had a stash of bottles of Coke, candy, school supplies, cigarettes (and no we don’t smoke) and beer, ready to trade. We happily left a few bags of trash in Turtle Bay and made some young people on kayaks and older ones in pangas, smile.
We had a great time wandering through town with Jeff, Shannon and Lisa and were fortunate to meet a really friendly butcher who wanted to explain his craft to us. He took us around to the back of his house (where the carniceria was located) to see the process of making chicharrones. He was very proud and loved showing us his work.
One of our goals in walking the town was to find an elusive “Internet Cafe.” We found one, but the internet wouldn’t work with so many people in town. Ah well, connectivity is overrated. All of this wandering was making us thirsty and we found our way to Tacos Maria. Maria is an enterprising woman who found her way onto channel 16 on the VHF radio to invite the 160+ boats in the harbor in for tacos. Maria and her sister set up a taco stand in an old park and welcomed cruisers with a car stereo that was cranked up for ambiance. Kevin and I had met her the previous night and she remembered my name when she saw me at lunchtime. Impressive. While the pricing was inflated, the tacos were fantastic. Maria offered 3 tacos, beans and rice and a drink (beer or margarita) for $10USD. While that is a steep price for tacos, it is one of the few days that these families have this kind of huge audience. We were happy to pay and happy to get to know Maria and her lovely family.
The following evening we had another fabulous dinner, this time in the courtyard of a family home. We had met the granddaughter of the family on the beach – she was helping us with the dinghy, and she invited us to her grandmother’s home. The family had set up a “restaurant” just for this weekend with seating available in their living room, or in the courtyard in front of the home. As we had the dogs, we sat outside. There were 3 or 4 options on the menu, all variations of shrimp. We had the garlic shrimp which was amazing. The smile on the granddaughter’s face when she saw that we had come to their home made our entire day. A special evening for sure.
The following afternoon we left Turtle Bay and made another night run to Punta Abreojos, or really, more specifically to the bay behind the point. Our goal was to visit the whale sanctuary nearby, but we were too early in the migration season. Abreojos turned out to be a very rolly anchorage. We had the opportunity to deploy our flopper stopper and see how well it dampens the roll – it truly does. We learned some more lessons about how to ensure that the “fish” stays open underwater and that it continues to support the roll dampening. That said, it was still a rolly night, and with a significant shore break, we couldn’t get to shore on the dinghies. That meant only the potty patch as an option for poor Zoe who kept looking out the back of the boat at shore, saying “take me there” with her eyes. She eventually gave in and all was well in the world.
Amidst the rolling, the group had a VHF discussion about next destinations. After some chatter, we decided to break into two groups, with one group preferring to visit Punta Pequena and do a few day runs and our smaller group of three boats (Red Rover, Epoch and Gitana) running directly from Abreojos to Bahia Santa Maria/Magdalena Bay.
The run was really very calm with a beautiful night sky. Gitana caught two dorado (yum!) that we would later enjoy together. We arrived at Bahia Santa Maria at daylight, as did a score of boats with the Ha Ha. After looking at the shore break that was too difficult for our dinghy landing skills, we cruised around the bay and continued onto Magdalena Bay which is adjacent to Bahia Santa Maria.
Magdalena Bay (called Mag Bay by most cruisers) is a very large, enclosed bay with very little or no swell, depending on where you are in the bay. The cruising guides note that the bay is the size of San Francisco Bay. It’s quite large!
We worked our way into the bay and up into the NW corner, anchoring in calm and beautiful Man-o-War Cove at Puerto Magdalena. Ah. Finally, a cove that felt like anchoring in the PNW (well not with the trees, rocks or temperature, but with a calm easy anchorage). The lack of swell meant happy dogs and beach running, as well as a nice solid night of sleep.
We had read in the cruising guide that there was a Port Captain in Puerto Magdalena. As a foreign-flagged vessel, we are required to check in, and check out with the Port Captain in every port that we visit that has a captain. This is an entirely new process for us, as Canada does not require anything similar. We added copies of all of our paperwork to our document binder and Scott, Hugo and Kevin, the three captains, headed to shore to visit the Port Captain. The Port Captain was watching TV in his house, adjacent to his office, when the three gentlemen approached. He introduced himself as “call me Gregory” and said hello. While he was friendly and welcoming, he wasn’t interested in reviewing paperwork or having the guys sign his official book. They noted that we might be here for a week, and he waved his hand – that’s great… easy! With their 2 minutes of Port Captain work complete, the three amigos decided to hit the grocery store. After relieving them of all of their limes they came back out to the boats to report in.
That evening, Michelle made an incredible dorado dinner and we all enjoyed fresh fish and margaritas on Gitana, followed by a super solid night of sleep. Sleep is never as fantastic as it is after a night run.
We ended up spending nine days in Mag Bay, partially because it was delightful and partially because of the approach of what became Tropical Storm Raymond. More on the storm later.
After a good sleep we set out to explore. Our first stop was the beach of course, with our dog friends. We hiked over to what we later learned was an eco-camp called Magdalena Whale Camp that focused on whale watching. The whale camp wasn’t yet open for the season, but we could easily wander through it. The camp featured two full-size whale skeletons that had been carefully re-created and placed on the hills around the camp, a gorgeous central palapa/kitchen and tent platforms. It was super cool.
We later motored over to a very long gorgeous white sand beach with stunning sand dunes. This beach actually was the spit of land between Mag Bay and Bahia Santa Maria, and it only took a few minutes to walk between the bodies of water. Spectacular. We spent multiple days on the beach with the dogs running and swimming, the humans drinking cervezas on the sand and generally relaxing.
The rest of the Taco Runners cruised into the bay within two days of our arrival and along with them came… the Baja Ha Ha. One night the Ha Ha held a woodfired pizza night with a bonfire on the beach at the Whale Camp, and came by to invite us “and the other power boats.” Mike and Elaine (Partida) joined Kevin and I and we dinghied over to the beach for some fun with the sailors. The evening included a discussion by the “Turtle Girls,” a team of turtle researchers sailing on one of the boats, about how to capture, record and report information on sea turtle sightings.
Another night we were invited to join a shore party at the town’s only restaurant with the Ha Ha participants.
Back to Tropical Storm Raymond. Everybody loves Raymond, right? Not. We had been watching the developing storm with our weather router, Rich Courtney. The storm went from a grouping of thunderstorms to a tropical depression to a tropical storm over several days. Rich predicted that the storm would lose energy as it came north into “colder” waters and as it reached land. Which it did. The storm track shifted a few times as tropical storm tracks tend to do. The primary tracks had the storm landing in Cabo San Lucas, which was the destination for the Ha Ha. The Ha Ha only had about 45 or so slips in Cabo, which were assigned in the order that people signed up for the rally. So… with over 150 boats in the bay, there was tremendous discussion on what to do. Most of the boats ended up leaving to go to Cabo and about 20 stayed behind with us. Two of the Taco Run boats left prior to the storm as well to be in Cabo in order to attend to prior commitments. That left 5 Taco Runners and 20 now called “Ha Ha Yee Hawers” in the bay, getting ready to ride out the storm. A funny thing – the 20 remaining sailboats were primarily from the Pacific Northwest, with quite a few from Shilshole, our former home. Hearty people.
Raymond deteriorated as predicted, and became a “post tropical storm depression” when he turned up the coast and passed us offshore. We did have some impacts from the storm, with a night of bands of thunderstorms and accompanying high winds, shifting wind conditions/directions and some rain. As the wind clocked around, we (and the sailboats) chose to stay in our anchorage where our anchors had proved to hold. And continued to hold. Love our Rocna! For 36 hours we pitched on the anchor, in an experience that felt much like being underway in heavy chop of 2-3 feet. So we hunkered down, made waffles, watched movies, sat in the cockpit listening to the “bash” of the swim step slapping on the waves and waited for it to be over. As quickly as the storm came, it left and the anchorage was once again peaceful.
To celebrate the passing of Raymond we partied. First, with the Yee Hawers in a Nordhavn-inclusive lobster grill on the shore, and second on Red Rover in a postponed Storm Party. Postponed because there was no way to dinghy between boats during the actual storm due to rough conditions.
The lobster party was an example of the amazing generosity of the Mexican people. It was Mexican Independence Day, and the small restaurant on the shore was closed. A call to the owner resulted in a “my restaurant is yours” offer. The entire group gathered at the restaurant, cooked on their grills, ate at their tables and cleaned up to leave it as we had found it. Boaters were asked to bring a side dish, which all of the power boats did. I think the sailboats were out of food as they had not planned to still be out! The lobster and the camaraderie added up to yet another incredible memory.
The Yee Haw left the following day, excited to catch some west winds on their way to Cabo. As we are not lovers of wind, we chose to wait one more day and enjoy a smooth ride south. What to do? More partying. It was now Mike Bremmer’s birthday, and a celebration had to be had. So the aforementioned Post Depression Party was held on Red Rover with an incredible spread of food, mostly provided by former birthday people, Jeff and Shannon Huber (Igloo) who made yummy caribou tacos. The party included two friends from Pairadice, a 47 Selene who also weathered the storm in the bay. We met John and Tracey in Tracy Arm, Alaska a few years ago and were delighted to see them again. As they were also heading south, they joined in with our fun.
After smooth water, a storm, multiple parties and lots of time relaxing, it was time to head out. The following morning we waved goodbye to Mag Bay and headed out on the 26 hour run to San Jose del Cabo – the last leg of the Nordhavn Taco Run. A beautiful night run concluded with a sunrise view of Cabo San Lucas and Los Arcos. We had arrived!
To celebrate the incredibly calm water between Cabo and San Jose del Cabo, we decided to document the fleet with a drone photo shoot. Kevin was the drone pilot, I was the lead boat captain and Scott (Epoch) was the photo shoot manager, making sure that everyone was within what felt like inches of Red Rover. Scott called out orders from his handheld VHF on his flybridge and laughter rippled across the radio. With everyone in flying formation, we moved slowly north, with the drone zipping around us.
And as we each pulled into the marina at Puerto Los Cabos, the Taco Run concluded. What a great experience of community, friendship, seamanship and adventure!