Who are the Baja Bashers? They’re the couple hundred U.S. boaters who may only now, be departing Pacific Mexico headed northbound, hopefully before the next hurricane overtakes them.
The outside of Baja is infamous for its lack of yacht services and reliable overnight anchorages.
The 740 nautical mile stretch between the yacht havens of Los Cabos and Ensenada is know as the Baja Abyss.
If you imagine that you’ll be able to sleep every night in a comfortable anchorage, dream on. If you’re tired of bashing and just hanker for a quiet slip with dock power, forget it. If you happen to need an emergency haul out, sorry, you’ll find no boat yard along the Baja Abyss.
July usually brings a lessening of the prevailing Northwesterlies, and if you’re lucky, you may get only light southerlies. Of course, you’re keeping track of nasty weather creeping up from down south, right?
Because you can’t dawdle on this exposed outside coast of Baja, a brief rest may be all you get. Here’s where to stop along the abyss.
MAGDALENA BAY AREA
After rounding Cabo Falso and heading up the coast, it’s about 175 miles to the entrance of Magdalena Bay. However, when you’re still 25 miles away and need to rest or time your entrance, here’s the first little rest stop.
Experienced boaters can anchor in the lee east of Punta Tosca in fair northwest weather. After giving this reef-fringed point a healthy one-mile berth, we’ve carefully anchored 1.5 to 2 miles northeast of the old and new lighthouses. This spot has served well for a lunch stop or daylight nap. But it’s wide open to the south, and because waves driven by strong northwest winds can suddenly wrap around the point, Tosca is not recommended for overnight. From here, you’re looking north into the jaws of the dangerous Canal de Rehusa (Reject Channel), which you must avoid.
Two more rest stops in the Mag Bay area are found only a half mile inside the two entrance points, Punta Redondo and Punta Entrada, both just one-boat anchorages. Overlooking these quick and easy possibilities, most boats proceed four miles north inside Mag Bay to make an overnight stop off Belcher’s Point. Or they’ll continue another six miles north to the popular Man of War Cove in Puerto Magdalena.
Or, instead of entering Mag Bay proper, they’ll just continue 18 miles north outside Mag Bay’s perimeter island and slide easily into Santa Maria Bay. But that’s open to the southwest swell from summer storms farther southwest.
BAHIA SAN JUANICO
Power boaters heading up the coast from Mag Bay often bypass Bahia San Juanico, 85 miles due north of Cabo San Lorenzo, because they’re eager to jump offshore and bash 225 miles northwest –thirsty to reach that diesel hose at Turtle Bay. Meanwhile, little San Juanico Bay almost always provides a tranquil anchorage in the lee of Punta Pequena. San Juanico is the first of three reliable rest stops for overnighting, or for pumping down deck fuel, or for a daylight nap enabling you to continue bashing north in the calmer or cooler overnight hours.
OPEN YOUR EYES
Abreojos Bay is the second of three reliable rest stops on the blustery coast between Mag Bay and Turtle Bay. The name “Open the Eyes” refers to eight hazards within the 10-fathom curve, so I suggest approaching from the east, anchoring in either of the two roomy coves within three miles northeast of Punta Abreojos. Keep your eyes open to avoid colliding with a whale. Laguna San Ignacio National Park and Whale Sanctuary is 15 miles east, but since you can’t take your own boat or dinghy into the park, Abreojos anchorage is where you board one of the park rangers’ pangas to go pet the whales.
Asuncion Bay is about 50 miles up from Abreojos, and of these three rest stops, this larger bay provides the best overnight shelter. Avoid the lighted island, and anchor off the village beach about a mile north-northeast of the lighted point. Asuncion village has a Pemex station (diesel and gas), two fishing cooperatives, grocery stores, restaurants and good drinking water. Best yet, Campo Sirena (VHF 16) can bring you fuel at anchor or shag parts or repairs in town. Asuncion has a larger population than Turtle Bay, and it’s closer by paved road to Highway 1.
The slogan goes, “Turtle Bay is Half Way!” More than just a rest stop, Turtle Bay is the only reliable overnight anchorage on the Baja Abyss. The bay is pretty much enclosed, but it’s not a hurricane hole. Take diesel from Enrique’s fuel panga or que up to fuel by hose from the tall end of the rickety old pier. Hunt around town for provisions and eateries.
If you’ve already cleared into Mexico, you can make a comfortable rest stop at Cedros Town harbor on the southeast side of Cedros Island. For help, contact Cedros Island Outdoor Adventures (text Jose 619-793-5419) to see about alongside docking in the harbor, to line up fuel, mechanical assistance, emergency medical help, an overnight stay at their BnB, or a local fishing guide. At the north end 20-mile Cedros Island, the other rest stop is dubbed “Cedros Island Yacht Club.” That’s dark humor, because nasty weather ahead is the only reason northbound boats ever stop here, then get stuck here waiting to cross Bahia Vizcaino. It’s just a narrow anchoring ledge in 45 feet of water about 2 to 2.5 miles southeast of Punta Cedros Light on the island’s north headland. Punta Norte village nearby has a dozen seasonal fishing shacks, no water or electricity.
SAN CARLOS, BCN
At 90 miles north-northwest of Cedros Island, the anchorage in this broad indent east of Punta San Carlos is the least bad of six “small hopes” dotting the north shore of Bahia Vizcaino. Known as Fondeadero San Carlos, making a rest-stop landfall here might be easier for some northbounders than holding a tough course for the west side of the infamous Sacramento Reef. I’ve anchored here about a dozen times 1.25 miles northeast of the islet off Punta San Carlos, hoping for a good night’s rest. Approach this bay from the south to avoid breakers off the west shoreline.
ISLA SAN MARTIN
San Martin is a small island shaped like a Chinese coolie hat floating on the horizon. It lies about 70 miles up from Fondeadero San Carlos, and a small hook-shaped bay on the island’s southeast side provides very rare anchoring shelter from south winds and seas – such as during hurricane season. It’s small and sometimes crowded with aquaculture buoys, so the last boat in might have to anchor just north of the sandspit opening. But keep this rest stop in mind when you’re bashing north with a summer storm on your tail.
From here, it’s easy peasy up to Ensenada Harbor, where you can get a temporary mooring in order to clear out of Mexico for the U.S., only 60 miles further. Or rest and revive at one of Ensenada’ three nice marinas with fuel and eateries, and a boat yard in town for repairs.
I hope these 12 rest stops prove useful for this month’s Baja Bashers.
12 Baja rest stops in geo order south to north.
- Punta Tosca outside Mag Bay
- Punta Redondo just inside Mag Bay
- Punta Entrada just inside Mag Bay
- Bahia San Juanico in Bahia San Lazaro
- Punta Abreojos in Bahia San Lazaro
- Bahia Asuncion in Bahia San Lazaro
- Turtle Bay is Half Way
- Cedros Town harbor
- Cedros Island Yacht Club
- Fondeadero San Carlos
- Isla San Martin south shelter
- Ensenada harbor and services