Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turtle Bay

We left Ensenada Friday morning, motoring in no wind. Our course took us southwest between Isla Todos Santos to starboard and Punta Banda, home of the famous La Bufadora, to port. Once clear of the island we caught a fifteen knot breeze out of the northwest and the Honcho headed south toward Isla Cedros, about 260 miles away. On the way we would pass well out to sea from San Quintin and the notorious Sacramento reef. Cedros lies at the southwest corner of the vast Bahia Vizcaino, just northwest of Punta Eugenia. The famous Scammons Lagoon is in the southeastern part of Bahia Vizcaino.  The lagoon is a breeding and calving ground for Gray whales which migrate annually from the arctic sea. In the winter the place is teeming with whales and while spectacular, it is not a good place for a sailboat. Scammon's Lagoon got its name from captain Charles Scammon, who discovered this breeding ground in 1857 and was the first to harvest the gray whale for its oil. On many maps the bay is called Bahia de Ojo Liebre.  Scammon and other whalers set up shop in the lagoon and over the next few decades nearly drove the grays to extinction. In fact, by 1900 they were thought to be extinct. Think of the David Crosby/Graham Nash song, "Wind on the Water". Fortunately the taking of grays was banned and their population has rebounded, and now thousands of them make the annual trek along the Pacific coast to breed and calve not only at Scammons but in many of the bays and inlets along the Baja coast and Sea of Cortez. We'll see lots of these animals as we cruise south from here.

Anyway, we passed about 60 miles out from Scammons lagoon, and to westward of Cedros Island and tiny San Benito Island as well. Turning southeast we rode a strong wind and rolling sea toward Turtle Bay, arriving at 2:00pm after sailing a distance of almost exactly 300 miles, taking a little more than two days.  This place got its name for the large number of sea turtles that once used it for the same purpose as the Grays at Scammons, only the story ends differently. There are virtually no more turtles left in Turtle Bay.

Here in Bahia de Tortugas we took on fuel, had a nice lunch at Enrique's, wandered around the dusty town of 4,000 and generally lazed about for a couple of days. Rested and ready, we'll leave this afternoon for Bahia Santa Maria, 225 miles down the coast.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Lisa and Leif-

    I have been following your blog and am extremely jealous. I have to admit that I couldn't figure out how to set up the reply right away so it took awhile. We are all living vicariously through both of you. Enjoy and keep us posted.