Sunday May 01 Cedros Town
I sleep late and wake up wonderfully refreshed, and as soon as I remember where I am and that I am alone I begin to generate the excitement of a kid about to go on vacation. I skip past random synapses firing off and thoughts of family and turn my focus to this, the long segment to Ensenada — 140 miles or approximately 28-35 hours.
But underway the fun doesn’t last long. The familiar pitching motion when motoring directly into the prevailing northwest swells begins. At first we rock gently and our speed remains at 5 knots, a rhythm gentle enough to carry my breakfast cereal from the galley to the helm without spilling the milk. The Baja bash builds with the morning winds and our speed slows in proportion to the size of the swells. So I give up my folly of an Ensenada destination (the weather rules) and alter course to seek protection in the lee of Cedros Island. The bash builds to afternoon strength and in our final hour our speed slows to 3 knots. RD and I take a pounding and then arrive outside the harbor of Cedros Town.
But entering the harbor is a bit unnerving. The guidebook specifically instructs cruisers to anchor outside the harbor and contact the Cedros Island Port Captain to obtain permission to enter the harbor. But I can not hail the Port Captain, or anyone. Furthermore both the guidebook and the chart-plotter are short on the specifics that would be helpful. Is there a bar to cross at the entrance to the breakwater? What is the depth inside? What obstructions are around the corner? Where is there a dock I can tie to? Where can I anchor?
I give myself permission to continue under the guideline that it is a lot easier to seek forgiveness than get permission (a guideline that seems to work well in Mexico, where you are not likely to get explicit permission from any official). I am on full alert passing the breakwaters and into the harbor. The depth holds at 20 feet, and there are no usable docks for cruisers. But shortly thereafter I am anchored in placid water and shut down my alerts along with RD’s engine. Suddenly it is strangely still. I decompress in the cockpit with a drink and study the lay of the land. There are no officials, and no one seems to care. All this gives new meaning to the term “safe harbor.”
For some reason I have taken a liking Cedros Town: this unassuming surprise off the cruisers’ path. I am the only gringo sailboat in the inner harbor. — sharing the water with traditional fishing pangas.
I dink to a town dock and to my surprise find a clean buffed up town based on a thriving salt-producing industry. The economic trickle-down effect has turned this village into a prosperous community. A wide paved main street and lack of dust gives me the impression of a general well-being of the community that I have not found in Turtle Bay or other small Mexican villages.
When I inquire of three police officers in a modern patrol car (itself an anachronism) about the location of a restaurant they offer to give me a ift directly to it. The female officer who speaks English says with a smile “it’s OK, you are not under arrest”. On the way to the restaurant she asks me if I’m afraid to travel alone. “No. I say.” And then follow it up with a thoughtful “Would it help?” She laughs, and I like that. We arrive at the local restaurant, and I thank them for the ride.
In the restaurant I reflect on the conversation. Am I afraid to travel alone? I can’t remember even asking myself the question. Am I afraid of entering a strange harbor without information? Well, if by day at least wary. If by night, I’ll always take a pass till morning.