10 Pacific Baja Pit Stops

Northbound boaters don't have a ton of options for breaks during the bash, but they do exist.

The Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula is ruggedly beautiful and sparsely populated. Its pristine coastal waters hold a treasure trove of marine life and colorful flora and fauna, and the sportfishing is world famous. On the weather front, Pacific Baja is swept by the West Coast’s prevailing northwest winds, but they’re usually not too bad in April.

The outside of Baja is infamous for its lack of yacht services and reliable overnight anchorages. Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas are havens, but the 740-nautical mile stretch in between is kind of an abyss. Want to sleep every night in a comfortable anchorage? Dream on. Tired and hankering for a quiet slip with dock power? Forget it. Need an emergency haulout? Sorry, no boatyards are to be found along the Baja abyss. The only diesel pier for recreational boats is at Turtle Bay, where it’s expensive.

However, 10 reliable “pit stops” are perfectly useful, and since many boaters are planning to head up Baja during April, or to bash north before summer hurricane season begins down south, I present them here, in geographic order from south to north.

 

Magdalena Bay Area

From Cabo San Lucas it’s about 175 miles up the coast to Magdalena Bay. However, 25 miles short of there is a pit stop, should a crew need to rest or time their entrance. Experienced boaters anchor in the lee of Punta Tosca [1 ] in fair weather. After giving this reef-fringed point a healthy 1-mile berth, we’ve carefully anchored one and a half to two miles northeast of the old and new lighthouses. This spot has served well as a lunch stop or for a daylight nap. But because waves driven by strong northwest winds can suddenly wrap around the point, I don’t recommended an overnight stay. From here, boaters are looking north into the jaws of the dangerous Canal de Rehusa (Reject Channel), which they must avoid.

Two more pit stops in the Mag Bay area [2,3] — both just single-boat anchorages — are only half of a mile inside the two entrance points, Punta Redondo and Punta Entrada. Past these possibilities, most boats proceed four miles north inside Mag Bay to make a pit stop off Belcher’s Point. Or they’ll continue another six miles north to the popular Man of War Cove in Puerto Magdalena. Or they’ll continue 18 miles north outside Mag Bay’s perimeter island and slide easily into Santa Maria Bay.

 

Bahia San Juanico

Beefy trawlers heading up the coast from Mag Bay often bypass Bahia San Juanico [4], 85 miles due north of Cabo San Lorenzo, because they’re eager to jump offshore and bash 225 miles northwest — smack into the teeth of the northwesterlies — to reach the 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 pit stops for overnighting, or for pumping down deck fuel, or for a daylight nap before bashing north in the calmer overnight hours.

 

Eyes Wide Open

Abreojos Bay [5] is the second of three reliable pit stops on the blustery coast between Mag Bay and Turtle Bay. The name “Open the Eyes” refers to eight hazards within its 10-fathom curve, so I suggest approaching from the east and anchoring in either of the two roomy coves within three miles northeast of Punta Abreojos. The crew should keep their eyes open to avoid colliding with a whale. Laguna San Ignacio’s national park and whale sanctuary is 15 miles east, but private boats and dinghies aren’t allowed, so Abreojos anchorage is where visitors can board one of the park rangers’ pangas to go pet the whales.

 

Asuncion Bay

Asuncion Bay [6] — the last of three consecutive overnight pit stops — is about 50 miles up from Abreojos and 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, Shari Bondi and husband Juan Arce at Campo Sirena can bring fuel to boats at anchor or shag parts or repairs in town. Asuncion has a larger population than Turtle Bay, and it’s closer via paved road to Highway 1.

 

Turtle Bay

More than just a pit stop, Turtle Bay [7] is the largest and most reliable overnight anchorage on the Baja Abyss. It’s where boaters line up to fuel up from Enrique’s fuel hose at the end of the rickety old pier, and, as the saying goes, “Turtle Bay is halfway!”

 

Cedros Island

The crew can make a comfortable pit stop at Cedros Town Harbor [8] on the southeast side of Cedros Island. Before arrival, contact Cedros Island Outdoor Adventures to line up fuel, alongside docking, mechanical help or a local fishing guide.

At the north end of this 20-mile island, the other pit stop is dubbed “Cedros Island Yacht Club [9].” That’s dark humor, because nasty weather is the reason boats stop here, then get stuck waiting to cross Bahia Vizcaino. It’s just a narrow ledge in 45 feet of water about two to two and a half miles southeast of Punta Cedros Light on the island’s north headland. Punta Norte village nearby has a dozen shacks but 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” that dot the north shore of Bahia Vizcaino. Landfall in this bay, known as Fondeadero San Carlos [10], might be easier for some northbound boaters than holding a tough course for the west side of the infamous Sacramento Reef. Approach it from the south to avoid breakers off the west shoreline. Hoping to get a good night’s rest, I’ve anchored here, one and a half miles northeast of the islet off Punta San Carlos, about a dozen times but half those times the wind picked up and rolled us right out.

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