Yesterday brought a bit of excitement in the Escondito area. A whale was spotted off shore tangled in a fishing net. Some divers went in trying to cut it loose but it kept diving and they couldn't complete it before it got dark. I guess they will keep trying tomorrow but they may never find it again. It could well die if it isn't removed.
I called porter and my brother yesterday. That was nice. Porter told me all about his trip to India, and Terry told me more about dads funeral. It sounded nice. Sort of a small crowd. That is the problem living a long life. Anyone else who would come to your funeral is already dead!.
I had supper with Lance and Michael, the same Lance that I met up at San Juanico. He had come down here and is camped near me. Small world. He and Michael just got back from a 5 day kayak trip out to Isla Monsarrat. It is about 8 miles offshore, and rarely visited. Michael is from Ontario Canada and is pretty hard core. He carries a cast iron skillet with him even on backpacking trips. He likes to cook over fires and feels the cast iron is the only way to do it right.
I also called my friend Barb in San Diego and asked if she wanted to catch the bus and meet me down here and we could drive back together over the next 2 weeks or so. She was excited to come so the plan is i will paddle to Agua Verde, she will get off off the bus here in Escondito, get my truck, and drive down to meet me there. We will rendevouz in about 5 days, which leaves me plenty of time to get there, allowing for bad weather.
Friday Feb 20. I packed up and started towards Agua Verde. The winds were predicted to be from the south, right on my nose, so I didn't expect to get very far, but they stayed pretty light and I made 7 miles before I beached just south of Candelero Chico. The coastline is, again, spectacular. I hate to keep using that word so I need to find some synonyms. High jagged cliffs coming right down to the water, with beautiful sand beaches in between.
I caught 2 fish today!. Well, actually I hooked 2, both got away. One felt pretty big and it seemed like he dove and tied up in the rocks and line broke. The other was a croaker, not really anything to eat, and while I was getting the camera to document the glorious event he spit the hook and swam off. But I have hope that I may not starve after all!.
Saturday. Last night it was dead calm when I went to bed but not long after it started to blow hard. I was camped on sand, and had anchored the tent with lines tied to sticks and weighted down with rocks. After a while some of them gave way from the pressure of the wind and I had to go out and find bigger rocks! It was a really warm night, cloudy overcast skies, and no dew at all. It was the dryest i have ever woken up with down here. The wind sort of died and popped up again all night, calm by morning.
I was in no big hurry, 5 miles to go, and I expected the winds to be light from the south again like yesterday. I caught a light canyon breeze and rode it for a while, and hooked another fish, this time a small but very pretty Sierra. I realized that having a fish thrashing in the boat with twin treble hooks is a quick disaster. The fish hooked me too!. I had a pair of needle nose pliers in my kit so I dug that out to grip the hook and disgorge it from him, and let him go.
About then a nice wind filled in mostly from the south, coming off the land. . The shore is trending largely to the southeast so I could sail pretty parallel to it. The wind kept building and was getting pretty serious. Even that close to shore, a few hundred yards, I had whitecaps and short steep waves. The boat was doing well but I decided to reef. I am so glad I reworked that part of my system the other day. It was quick and easy, worked slick, and in a minute I was back sailing fast and comfortable. The wind and seas kept building but I was handling it well. I reached my destination by about 10:00, 5 miles upwind, not bad. This was the best sailing I have had on this trip.
As I was approaching the protection of a giant rock, I was sailing hard, the rigging was being stressed, and leeboard was flexing in its socket. I had beefed that up last summer and knew it was strong, but I didn't like the way it was flexing. That is a thick heavy bolt holding it on. Shouldn't be flexing. All of a sudden there was a loud pop and the bolt snapped right off and the leeboard dropped into the water. I have some lines attached to it for controlling its position in the water so I didn't lose it, just pulled up and set it in my lap. Luckily I was only a few feet from the protection of that big rock and was able to coast in those last few feet and pull up to rest and figure out what was happening. I was very lucky it broke in a place where i could duck in out of the wind. If it had broken a bit sooner when I was out there I would not have been able to sail, and I am sure the wind was too strong to paddle against it. I may have just had to drift offshore with the wind until it settled down and I could make way with just the paddle.
I waited a while and things actually settled down pretty soon. I was able to get back on the water and paddle around the corner to a little cove called Punta Carrizalito. It is a wilderness beach, but just around the corner from San Cosme, an area reached by car from the road leading down to Agua Verde.
There is a hot spring that bubbles up in the rocks at low tide. People have scooped out the rocks to make a nice pool. I soaked for a while, a very nice relaxation after my crazy morning sailing.
I happened to have the right parts with me to repair the broken leeboard socket. I am glad I brought that stuff! I also noticed that the glue on the some of the reinforcing patches on the reef points were starting to peel off already, so I sewed them on. That was hard, all I had was an ordinary sewing needle and it kept bending when I tried to push it thru the heavy fabric. I used the pliers to push it thru and pull out the other side and that worked well, but was slow. I thought I had tossed in the speedy sticher awl but I guess not. Need to remember that next time.
When I was walking around today I saw a road runner! Never seen one before. It was pretty brushy so didn't get to see him pour it on, but what little I saw him run was pretty cool. and no "meep meep" either. I wonder if that is all just fake....
Some people walked along the beach from their camp over by the road here to the hot spring and we visited, Cory and Ann from Idaho. Cory was fishing, and he gave me 2 lures that he likes, and some wire leader to reduce the chance of breaking the line. Wow what a nice guy. In discussing my trip, Ann asked if I had been to San Basilio (Juanico ) and when I said yes she asked if I had met her friends Ryan and Keegan. Yes I camped right by them!. They were the ones who paddled this same trip I am doing ( more, actually, Mulege to La Paz) 6 times before. Cory and Ann had done a 10 day paddle around Isla Espiritu Santo down by La Paz. That is supposed to be the very best place, very popular.
I am sleeping under an old palapa, no tent tonight. The bugs don't seem too bad, and the wind is down.
Sunday. Last night it was dead calm when I went to bet in the palapa. Not long after the wind picked up and howled for hours. The dilapidated walls of the palapa did little to blunt the wind, and I had stacked all my gear bags as a wind block but that didn't help much. At least there were stars out, I reasoned, so things won't get too bad. About midnight it was still howling, I hadn't slept at all, but the stars were now blotted out by a cloud cover. Dang. This is not getting better. I tossed my tent and sleeping gear in a bag and headed for a more sheltered spot I saw earlier in the day, tucked up in a tight grove of trees. It was calm in there and I set up the tent and settled in for the rest of a very comfy night.
Today I puttered àbout and fished. Checked out the hot spring again, still only luke warm. Later I spoke to some folks who were just coming back from it and they said it was scorching hot. Dang. My bad timing. When i started fishing i promptly lost one of the new lures that Cory had given me. Dang, those are expensive. I think I had a pretty big one on but when they get hooked they head for the rocks to hunker in and the line gets cut. I was tempted to stop so as not to lose any more, but then i realized if i didnt use it then i might as well lose it!. I rerigged and trolled a bit around the rocks. I caught anther small sierra that I released, and then finally caught a fish big enought to keep and eat. A small sea bass, or cabrilla. I started a fire to fry it over, and tossed it into my regular bean dish. It was small, but still there was about as much meat as from a small can of tuna. Perfect for me.
While I was paddling about I ran into Scott, the guy I first camped near up in Coyote .dang, this is too wierd. I keep seeing the same people. Nice though.
A while later I ran into a group of 6 paddlers from the other beach heading for the hot spring. We sat out in a flotilla in the middle of the bay and visited. They were cool.
I paddled over to the next beach over and it was really cool. A perfect half moon bay, sandy beach, a nice broad meadow with the rugged peaks back behind. A big outdoor kitchen, a couple of palapas. One was built up on top of a giant rocky hill , with 105 steps carved out of the rock and faced with adobe bricks with pretty little stones and shells set in the mortar. Wow, that was a huge job, but a very nice result. Shame, the whole place looked pretty ignored and abandoned. Someone later told me it a private place and the owner hated anyone coming ashore. No signs, but I guess they got blown out from the hurricane. No one there to yell at me anyway.
Monday. Travel day. My last on water this trip. The wind was predicted to be moderate today, and tomorrow would bring on 3 days of hard blow so I wanted to get to Agua Verde today. It is 8 miles of open water, without any type of protected landing along the way, so I got an early start. There was a light breeze out of the north, seemingly not enough to sail in so I was paddling but after 2 hours when I checked the GPS, I had gone 5 miles, so the wind was definitely helping me. I have never paddled that fast before.
The 3rd hour the wind filled in and I pulled into the harbor by 10, a very nice run.
Agua Verde is a good harbor with a nice little town there, seems like about 50 homes. . Mostly a fishing camp. There is a good artesian spring up in the hills that is piped into town and every house has running water clean to drink. There is a tienda, church, a school. Several homes have gardens because of the generous water. The mountains are rugged all around, and the road in is pretty new I think, within the last 40 years, and rugged. I will find out how rugged in a few days when Barb gets here with my truck and we drive out.
As I pulled into the harbor I came past a really nice yacht anchored, Kaia, don't know the type, but very traditional looking. Daniel and Michelle loved my boat and invited me aboard for coffee. Their boat was big, at least 37 ft, and tiller steered. I love that. Hate wheels. They also said that even though they have an engine they never used it. They had just come down from Los Angeles and were on their way north into the Sea of Cortex, sailing the whole way. That is tough this time of year, most of the wind is from the north so they have been bashing their way along, and then only for 4 or 5 hours a day. They said that when they got to this harbor a few days ago they were becalmed just outside for a day and a half before they could sail on in. Didn't want to use the engine. Dang I love these kids.
I also saw Slow Mocean again, people I met up in Santespac. The big cruise ship was also in the harbor. Some of their folks were on a mule ride up in the mountains, a bunch of others were paddling kayaks around in big groups.
I came ashore and met Ken and Fransica, the only gringos camped in the whole area!. They are from Canada and come here for 6 months every year. Other folks come and stay a short time, but they stay. As I wandered about and spoke to a few local folks I learned that Francisca a was helping to build a restaurant, and she was also the only medico in the area. I don't know if she is a doctor, or nurse, or what. Cool though.
As I wandered on I met a group of ladies that were actually working on building the restaurant. They were putting up concrete pillar's for the roof. I joked "Arriba, tengo hombre" Hurry, I am hungry!. They laughed. There was a cute little white dog that came up, looked just like Kenzies little Shelby. I was so homesick.
Then I past a group of teenage boys playing futbol. They invited me to play. Funny. These guys were good!.
A man was tending a garden and we started visiting. He is Leonardo, the primary school teacher. His wife is the restaurant lady, good friends with Francisca. They invited me in for coffee. I felt bad, they were not having anything, but offered me some. They speak no English, ( except "okey dokey" we laughed. I have met several people that that was the only english they knew. I wonder where that comes from. )and my Spanish is poor, but we all tried and had a nice chat for a while. Their house is new, solid, cement block, with a solid cement roof and floor. Simple but clean and solid. They had a light from a battery with a solar panel. There was no internet in the town, but several people have satellite TV. Leonardo's dad came in and I was in one of the only chairs in the house and I offered him my chair but he said no problem, he sat on a bucket.
It was quite dark when I headed home, but there was a sliver of a new moon, so I did OK, but I have got remember to grab a flashlite when I go out any time after supper.
Tuesday Feb 24 first thing this morning I met met Bobby, a Canadian who had hitchhiked in yesterday. He has been traveling all over Baja with a backpack and his thumb. Nice guy. I wandered around the town more, it is built up on both sides of a wide arroyo that splits it all in half. There doesn't seem to be any sort of "our side" vs "the other side". There are many goats here. Hundreds I am told. They sell goat milk and cheese at the tienda but I am not getting any yet. I am running short of Mexican cash, I had plenty in the truck but forgot to get some for my wallet before I left escondito. I need to ration what I have for any sort of emergency. I have some US cash, that will work in a pinch.
I spent the morning visiting with Ken, the resident Canadian. He is pretty interesting, has a ham radio set up here, and makes sourdough bread in his camper. He described the local politics, land issues, water allocation, fishing restrictions imposed by the fishermen themselves.
A yacht couple came to shore in their dinghy and went shopping and when it came time to head back to their boat it surf was up and thy were going to have trouble getting launched. Bobby and I got into wet clothes and waded out to steady the boat while he got his motor running. He took off and was doing fine crashing up and over the waves but his engine died right then and he grabbed the oars and pulled on passed the breaker line and got the engine running again. Later he came over and asked if he could buy my SSB receiver so they could get weather. Since I am heading home I sold it to him for about what it will cost me to replace it.
Some other yachters came along, they were in a big 47 ft yada yada and they asked me "are you kayaker with the weather radio? We are having trouble getting a forecast. " that is a switch! Usually it is the kayaker begging info from the better equipped yachters.
Bobby suggested we go for a hike up the arroyo and maybe scramble up one of the ridges. I was dubious about the feasibility of off trail rambling because the brush has been so viscious. We walked up and saw a likely looking ridge and worked our way up, along and over to a pass that led us back down into town from the other direction. It actually worked out just fine. I was pretty injured when Bobby got tangled in a thorn bush and was pulling to free himself and I was too close and when it released it wacked me right in the face. I was really lucky it didn't put an eye out, but I had blood running from several wounds. As we came on into town we met a goat herder checking on his flock. There were goats scrambling all over the steep cliffs as we scrambled along under them. They looked just like mountain goats up there. We got back into town just as it was getting dark. I had told Bobby I didn't want to be out there after dark and he said no problem, there is a moon, we'll be fine. Yeah, I have had that experience of planning on the moon and it is late. Well tonight it is cloudy so no moon.
Back in camp bobby and I pooled our kitchen and had a meal together. He is an interesting character. Has a good bit of outdoor travel experience, and has hitchhiked all over the world.
Wednesday. Barb got here about noon. We rambled about a bit, explored a beach around the next point. The wind and surf is still high. Moved camp off the beach and into the bushes out of the wind. My tent was filling up with sand. We will stay here a few days and then move on.
Thursday. We hiked around to another beach, where there was a cave up high on a cliff, and some ancient rock art. The wall had been stained white, and red hand prints were plastered all across it. Also interesting to wonder what, if any , message was intended by rock art. None has ever really been deciphered.
Along the beach we happened upon a sea turtle laying in the sand at the waters edge. He looked very old, barnacles on his fins and face, he could hardly lift his head. I heard they can live for more than 100 years. I am guessing he was not going to live much longer.
In the afternoon we went to take the boat out for a little sail. I noticed that my little pelican box was missing. Dang. I had been robbed! I had left the boat down on the beach and had moved everything that I thought would look valaubel, but forgot about the box. It had a wind meter inside, sort of valuable. After we launched and were out beyond the breakers and went to set sail, I noticed that my main sheet (the line that controls the sail) was missing. Double dang. They stole that too!. Had to paddle back in and go find another line. Oh well, I blame myself, for leaving stuff out there. Ken and Fransisca told us that some trouble kids prowl the beach and steal stuff. Dang.
We bought some fish from the men down on the beach, red snapper. They were so beautiful. Really red! Fried it for supper.
After that Ken and Fransisca stopped by to visit, noticed my guitar, and invited us to join them in (with the guitar) walking over to her friend's house to visit. There were several people there, mostly family, and we had a good time. They loved La Bamba and Eres Tu. There was a young teenage boy who remembered me from the soccer game the other night, and one guy is the one we bought fish from. The boy filmed much of the singing on his phone. The lady, Leanore, is going to make some tortillas for me tomorrow. Sweet.
Friday. We went to Leanors for the tortillas. I visited with he nephew for a while, he is a fisherman, and i asked if he was not working today. He explained that no, he had exceeded his quoata for the month so he could not catch any more until March (tomorrow) . the quoata system is really interesting, especially being self imposed and voluntary by the fisherman themselves. I was later told that this guy is in school to become a schoolteacher. That's cool.
So this is the end of the sailing voyage. I will be on the road home over the next 2 weeks or so.
We packed up and headed up the road out of Agua Verde. It is a pretty rough road, with many steep sections and washed out in arroyos. We stopped at San Cosme to soak in the tidal hot springs I found on my way down. It was perfect and hot today! We camped nearby.