hello, again, so sorry this is so long. it is simply the unedited raw notes from each night in my tent. someday I will boil it down into a "magazine article" format for your pleasure. and I am having troubles managing photos now. I will try to add them when I can.
Mulege to loretto. Jan 19 - Feb 7
Concepción flashback- I met some wonderful people in Concepción the last few days. I already mentioned Ron and Dianne on Batwing. They came thru with another home run for me by introducing me to Larry and Kay who live right on the river in a gates community in Mulege. They were kind enough to let me park my truck in their yard for the weeks I am out sailing. And it is just across the street from the Internet cafe i use and Saul's Tienda (store), one of the best in town.
The big music jam last week was hosted by Blake and Sonny on Slow Mocean, a huge catamaran in Bahia Santespac with a giant after-deck, perfect for parties and bar mitzvah s. I also met Caleb, who keeps a motor home on shore and a sailboat in the bay. Very nice situation. And Bill and Kim on Just Dandy. They buddy boated with my friend Steve last year, Kim is from Salt lake, went to East high. We felt like old neighbors.
Monday Jan 19. I spent the day provisionig food and water and scouting a launch site for the boat tomorrow, and had lunch at La Patron's , the last cafe on the Rio Mulege before it dumps into the Sea of Cortez. What a wonderful spot, great views, dirt floor, and the fish tacos were awesome. Ramon served me, while Lilli (his mother, Senora Patron,) ran the kitchen. I was the only one there, and she came out and visited with me. She has been running the place for 25 years and says she is going to turn over to the kids soon. This whole section of town along the river has been destroyed by hurricaines repeatedly in the last several years. They were telling that after almost 40 years without, that have been hit hard almost a dozen times in the last 20 years. Kay and Larry's place has been uninhabitable since the last storm in Sept, they are living in and RV in their driveway. (But they did get the bathroom in the house working first off. Priority uno you know. )
This next section of of coastline I am sailing, from Mulege to Loretto , is one of the most popular kayaking voyages in Baja. It is about 60 miles, mostly wilderness, only one tiny village and a few remote fish camps along the way. I have seen most of it on Steve's boat last time I was here, and am so excited to be doing it by kayak, touching almost every spot along the way. Most people do it in about a week, but I am thinking I may take as long as 2 -3 weeks, just to savor every delight.
Tuesday. I got another early start, up at 5:30, so I could get the boat rigged and loaded and moving by sunup . everything went smooth and I had the truck park back at Larry's and on the water by 7. I was launching in the Mulege river and had to paddle about a mile before I was in the Sea. This can sometimes be the crux of this first day if the tide is coming while you are trying to paddle out . Fortunately the tide peaked at about 6 AM today and was flowing out when i launched so I had an easy time. Another potential problem is with the big hurricane, all the usual launch spots are under tons of rubble, so it was good I had scouted out a spot earlier. Also, all the storm rubble has piled up in the mouth of the river making it hard to find a useable channel, especially at a lower tide level. I made it out with no problems, and was on my way. It was a beautiful card!m day, perfect for paddling, not so good for sailing. I paddled for about 5 hours and 12 miles before any wind came in, and that was light wind at that. It was fine tho, because just then a pod of about 10 dolphins showed up and they stayed with me (or I with them, not sure which...) For almost an hour. Always before when I have seen dolphins they seem to be in a hurry to be getting somewhere else and are soon gone, but these guys just lazed along at the same pace I was going, rising every few moments to spout and then down under again, first on one side of me, then the other. The water was very clear and could see them swimming under my boat. At one point on of them jumped clear out of the water and landed on his\her back with a big splash. It looked like just for fun. Or showing off!.
I was having so much fun watching them that I had forgotten to notice where I had planned to land. No worries, this section of coast is a continuous series of rocky headlands with a cove and beach right next to it. One looked like a better landing spot than others so I headed on in under sail. Turned out it was a pretty bad spot. The beach above the water looked pretty smooth, sand and small cobbes, but right under the water at the shoreline was a floor of big slippery rocks. When I jumped out of the boat to pull it in I almost went down and a wave pushed me in and washed over the side of the boat. And of course I didn't have the spray deck in place, since I had just opened it to climb out. Oh well, no harm down and a lesson learned. Check out the landing better, and be prepared to back out quickly if it looks bad up close.
The camp spot was pretty nice tho, a previous camper had cleared the cobbles away for a really smooth sleeping spot. I lounged about, got up and walked, then took a nap. It was a hard day, my arms hurt from so much paddling, and I was very tired. I had exceeded my distance goal by a few miles (I wanted to get around a few minor points on the coastline to be in more protected waters and I had done that. )
The last few nightnights , and tonight as well, I am sleeping without a tent, just out on a tarp. A Storm is brewing later in the week but for now it is nice to sleep out. No bugs, no wind and not too cold.
Wednesday. Today is a red letter day for my voyage. I trolled a fishing line while I was underway, and had fish for supper! Although the 2 activities aren't really related.... Other than the fact that I trolled my line by the boat of the man that caught the fish I had for supper. Close enough eh?
I got another early start today. I was so tired yesterday that I employed a different strategy today. Instead of paddling to exhaustion hoping the wind would blow, and then being too tired to sail, today I took a nice break on shore about 11, after paddling for 4 hours. I had made about 8 miles. I had rigged my line with a homemade lure. A lady had told me that she has as much success with lures made from strips of colored plastic shopping bags, so i had made a few of those back home for this trip. I selected a red and white one, thinking it migh remind a fish of a baby squid. No joy, but really, if I catch one small fish a week that would be plenty for me. After my shore break, I sat there until I saw evidence of wind out on the water and then launched. I sailed for a few hours, and when it started getting a bit fierce I pulled in to a picture picture Baja cove with a perfect pea gravel beach. There was a fish camp palapa up the beach and I could see people moving about. The panga on shore looked like one that I had sailed by earlier and they had waved at me. I scouted about for a place to camp in case the winds didn't soften, and as I sat in where I thought I might settle, a man from the camp over, introduced himself , Juan, and asked me (in Spanish) if I wanted to come up to the camp and get some fish. I said sure, and by the way was it OK if I camped here. He assured me yes no problem . he asked me if i had any sugar and i said a little, and that i would come over to the camp in a little while. "Mas tarde". I spent some time clearing an area to sleep. This spot appearantly had once been a place do toss trash fish. There were dozons of old dried out sharks heads and sting rays. All quite small, but really interesting to look at.
a while later I wandered over to the fish camp and brought Juan some sugar, coffee, a few tortillas, a few apples, and 2 granola bars. He was thrilled with it all, and wolfed down one of the bars right away. He took me over to a giant insulated tub full of fish and ice. He pulled out 2 cabrillo (sea bass). I said I didn't know what to do with them so he filleted them for me in about 2 minutes and put them in a bag. Wow! What service!
Juan said he has a house in Loretto, and is out at this camp for 3 months. Every so often They run a boat into town to bring in the fish and get supplies. The camp is well built but rustic and primitive. I did see a solar panel stacked in the back of the room, and an ancient propane camp stove, but it looked liked he cooked on the fire most of the time. There were a few cots on the dirt floor, and a few old truck seat benches on the ground. He was wearing a pair of sandles that were hand made with a letter sole and seatbelt webbing. He was wearing some tan dockers that were cleaner than the pants I was wearing. I felt a bit shabby next to him!
There were 2 small boys running around the camp and I asked them if they were his sons but he said no , they live at the rancho casa up the arroyo. I saw no house up there but it must have been. I had brought several tiny keychain flashlights on this trip, thinking they would make nice gifts. I gave one to the youngest boy, he was maybe 5 or so, with strict instructions to only use it at night. " solo en la noche". He ran over to show his brother , about 7 maybe, playing over on the other side of a big brush thicket and I walked over to give a flashlight to him. His little brother gave him strict instructions " solo en la noche". There were 3 other people over there clearing brush and putting it into a giant pile. A young man about 25, a lady about his age, and an older woman sitting on a log. She asked me if I had a light for her, I laughed and said of course. The young lady was standing there and I said Uno mas, para usted. On more, for you. They all seemed pleased. The man came over laughing, said he had seen me sail in. We all introduced, (all this in Spanish) but I don't recall their names. I asked what they were doing and they said making a sombra (shade roof or palapa. ) They were doing really hard nasty work but they looked as fresh and clean as if they were going to the mall! I need to learn that trick. I assume they live at the rancho casa but don't know for sure. There is a really bad road leading into this camp, but I did not see any truck parked. I asked the man if the 2 boys were his sons and he said no. I still don't know where they fit in!
I walked back to Juan, the fish guy, he was cooking a potato over a fire for his supper. I had brought my guitar over and asked if he liked music, yes, so I played La bamba. He really got into it, tapping his toe so vigorously he almost spilled his coffee. Then he asked me if I knew any Credence or Beatles or Rolling stones ! I guess I need to work more of that into my repetoir if I am going to travel the wilds of Baja!
I went back to my camp and started a tiny fire. I carry a small frying pan exactly for this possible scenario, but my stove would be too hot in one tiny spot. No bueno for cooking fish, I needed coals. when the fire had burned down I fried the fillets in oil and garlic (of course) . I also put on a pot of beans y arroz con cebollo, temate, y pimientos. When it was all done I tucked in to best fish burritos ever. And I have enough left over for breakfast. Mmm.
All in all this was the best day of my trip so far. I experienced a bit everything that I had imagined I would out here. Muy bueno
Thursday. OK , life on this little beach just just keeps getting better. I didn't leave this morning. Seas too rough. Most of the time the winds have been dying down over night and the sea calms down until the winds pick up again the next day, usually by afternoon. But last night the winds blew all night and all today, and the waves keep getting bigger, crashing onto the beach with a boom and a roar. I think it would actually be OK out on the water but just getting off the beach to start would be very hard. I need to make sure that no matter how calm it is when I arrive somewhere I need to consider the waves on the beach if I ever want to leave.
As I got up and about there a lot of activity going on at the fish camp. A pickup truck came roaring down the dirt track to the camp, as the panga also came zipping up to the beach with 2 people in it. One guy got out, and the truck guy jumped on and the panga took off. I walked over to the camp and the new guy was sorting the fish kept in the camp on ice, putting them into plastic tubs by type and size. Antonio, the brush cutter from yesterday was working with him. Juan was hanging out. It took about an hour. There were many sharks, (with the heads cut off, because I guess they will still reflexively bit he you long after they are dead) and many cabrillo. One was huge almost 3 ft long, and bright yellow. They loaded the fish and ice into a giant insulated tub on the truck. I offered to help and Antonio had me help lug a few of the tubs to the truck.
Juan told me that that was about 5 days catch of fish, and was about normal. The drive to Lorreto was about 4 hours, and they would return later that day with more ice to fill the camp tubs.
I wandered back to my camp and had breakfast, the leftover fish and beans from last night. Oh it was even better than before. When I looked back at the camp the panga had returned and been pulled up on the beach, and the truck was gone. I guess the road going on past the camp is the way to town.
Behind my camp behind the beach of rock is a nice little lagoon, brackish water. Many birds land on it and it is interesting to watch. I walked around it and then on up the road, the way the truck had come from that morning. About 2 miles along, it doubles back down to another beach with a very large developed camp. There were several small houses, plywood, painted bright colors, and one huge place, huge even by US standards. It was made of block faced with stone, with huge windows facing the sea. What a spectacular spot. I wandered about on the dirt track that connected the houses but didn't run into anybody. One lady with a child was at a house up the hill and I waved and hollered hola.
I walked back over to my camp, it was sunny and hot but the wind kept howling and it was cool in my camp, where just a breath of breeze finds its way in. I layer down and napped for a while.
After that I needed shade. I could have rigged a tarp but I decided to walk over to the fish camp and sit under the shade trees that Antonio was cutting out of the brush. I could see him working on it so rather than sit and eat in front of him I found some other shade and nibbled my lunch. After that I walked over and asked him if I could help. He looked surprised but yes, and has me haul the branches over to the pile as he cut them. His wife and mother were not around helping this time so he seemed to appreciate it. He was cutting the beaches out with an Axe and a machete, both quite effective. These were thick thickets of brush that had been growing there for at least a thousand years and there was much dead stuff and just a nasty tangle of brush to cut out. Luckily there were no thorns, nothing lethal, just lots of it. Once in a while we would talk, trying to communicate the best we could . he was very patient with me. I guess he was planning a nice shady park-like area there, large, maybe a few hundred feet across. They had cows there and they needed the shade, and it would be nice for people too . he used to work as the computer programmer for a large tienda (store) in Lorreto, in fact owned by the guy, Pedro, who also runs the restaurant in Puerto Escondido, where I have spent several weeks once before and got to know him a bit. Small world. Now, Antonio and his wife live out at the rancho casa and tend the cows for the patron that owns it. They stay out there for many months at a time. His mom was there visiting for a few weeks with her husband Carlos (not Antonio's dad) . He seemed to really enjoy being out there. Dang, I know I would. At some point during the day he asked me if I would come have supper later with his family at the casa. And bring my guitar. Cool!
We worked until about 4:30, when he called it quits. That was a tough day. I think he was surprised that I stuck with it. He asked me if I was consado(tired) but I said no, this was the kind of job I did back in Utah. Cutting out brush and dragging it off. Just like back home! He asked me if I used a chainsaw, I said no, by hand "manos".
I went back to my camp and stripped down for a quick wash in the ocean. I didn't go in far, the waves were really crashing in hard, but it sure felt good to rinse off the dust and sweat and yes a bit of blood. I walked over to the casa. It was a really nice place, rustic, but clean and tidy. There was big kitchen area, plywood with thatched roof, with a dirt floor packed hard and swept very clean. There was a big raised cooking hearth made of cement block, with a fire going and several pots simmering. The yard was all fenced in, I guess to keep the case out. He had a fig orchard growing, and a small garden with cilantro and onions growing. They were growing in just bare soil and I so much wanted to discuss composting and mulching but the language barrier was too great. He had horses and a tack room, a corral with several goats, and a milk cow. He had chickens but no eggs yet.
He had a big well right in the yard, with a gas powered pump that they used to fill a giant cistern in the barn for the animals, and a tank up on the hill for the house. he said it was not good to drink, only for the animals, and cleaning, and watering the plants. They bring in purified water from town to drink. (Whew! Earlier, when we were working he offered me some water from a big jug, but I declined because I didn't know where it came from )
Aside from the kitchen there was a larger structure with several doors which were bedrooms.
Sitting in the kitchen, we had coffee. Seems brewing coffee is uncommon anywhere in Mexico, ( and even in the US in hispanic places). Everyone use instant coffee. Not bad, really tho. Its all good. They were shocked that I preferred it black, unsweetened. They add sugar and milk (right from the cow) like everyone else in the world.
For supper we had chicken mole con arroz (rice) with a pile of just-made-on-that-fire tortillas. It was so good. They handed me a pepper to much on to spice it up. Soo good.
Then I played a few songs. Carlos asked for Hotel California, and they seemed to appreciate my efforts on LA Bamba and Eres Tu in Spanish. Those little boys, that I still don't know how they fit in with the family, were there and dancing along. Very fine.
Antonio's mother, Isebell, said she had 5 sons, and 2 daughters (I think) . Her husband Carlos was a nice guy, quite tall and burly, a bit gruff, but nice. He had come in with a bag of fish he had caught and gave me one for my breakfast tomorrow. (Not filleted this time. I will need to clean and cook it whole!
As it was winding down, I asked if I could take their picture, so they all gathered around the fireplace for it. Antonio and I traded email addresses and I told his wife I would email it to them. She seemed very pleased. I think she said her name was Americanas. Antonio said he was 27, and she was 20. she was very cute and pleasant, very animated while cooking and serving the meal, and from what I could tell was very funny. She and Antonio cozied up for the music and seemed like a happy couple. He said she liked living out there at the camp and I repeated a few times he was "hombre fortunando" ! He said yes, he knew that.
A very nice day in every way.
Friday. Wind still blowing hard. I listened in on the ssb cruiser net for a forecast and it will blow again tomorrow, but then Sunday soften. I hope the seas drop quickly , after the wind stops. That is one thing I have yet to get experience on. The waves come up pretty quickly with fresh wind, but after it blows so hard for so long maybe there is so much stored energy in the waves that it may take a while to drop. Anyway, I expect to stay here another 2 days at least. Not that that is a bad thing. This is very nice.
For breakfast I cooked the fish that Carlos gave me last night. I even had to clean it! That was easy. I placed a big flat rock over the fire place, thinking I could cook on that like those survival books show. Maybe, but after stoking the fire several times and the top of the rock still only warm, I caved in and used my pan. What a chump. Anyway, it was great, and I had it with beans and rice.
One thing happened last night I noticed this morning. I had pulled my boat up to the top of the gravel berm above the surf line, and certainly nothing yet had come anywhere near that far up. But when I woke up I noticed that the boat had been shifted sideways and had about an inch of water in it! Ouch. No real problems, but that could have been real bad. I do pull the anchor out and set it up the beach, just in case, but I never really thought it would be necessary!
I walked over to another little cove next door and saw the enormous bone of a whale. It had been there for many many years, but it was huge. No idea what part it was, maybe some sort of vertebrae that the fins took to. It was 6 feet across and 3 ft in diameter with some long piece sticking out of the middle of it at least 10 more feet. Really cool.
A truck pulling a small trailer with several men on board came by today and went up toward Antonio's place, no idea what was up with that. I walked over to help him with the brush cutting and he had started but had left, left his coat hanging on a tree, but I worked all afternoon and didn't see him. Guess whatever the men came for kept him busy all day.
It is really cold tonight. I still haven't set up my tent yet this voyage but I may regret that tonight. I did move my camp a few feet around the corner into a tiny clear in in a tight copse of brush for a bit more wind protection. I have everything I brought to wear on tonight, and have huddeld under the sleeping bag to type this and am plenty warm "inside".
Saturday. It warmed up a bit with some clouds coming in, and winds softening. I could have left today but the waves on my beach were still big until much later in the day. Need to make sure i land on good protected beaches. (But then i would have missed the wonderful experince of this beach camp!). Tomorrow looks perfect for continuing on. I expect to make it to San Nicolas tomorrow, a small town where I can stock up on water and whatever else.
I walked about some, worked on cutting brush again. Juan came over to visit ( Antonio later corrected me that I had it wrong, his name was something else but I missed it and so will just keep on calling Juan. I am pathetic. Sorry buddy.) Anyway, he mentioned that there were many snakes to watch out for in this thicket when it got hotter. Right now they were all out seeking sun. I had wondered about that, I have walked around a lot and not seen any snakes, or tracks in the sand. I am sure they are there tho.
Juan had been feeling ill in bed, in the morning. I am sure it was a hangover. His groceries came in last night, including beer and the floor was littered with empties. Once he was up he seemed dine. He was showing me his work tools. Snorkel gear, Hawaiian sling spears, huka pump, rifle for dear. He said he had been in the Marines and was a pretty good shot. He pointed out his handmade seatbelt sandals, very proud of them, and rightly so. I said I had noticed and admired them the first time we met! And he asked to see my boat! We walked over and he inspected every aspect of it. He seemed to know a fair bit about sailing craft. That was fun.
I ran into Antonio and his family late in the afternoon, I was on my way over to say goodbye and they were coming in from a day of fishing out on the point. They invited me over for supper again. Con guitara of course. I brought some apples for the kids, and a big onion for Isabell. They served lamb barbacoa. Very good. They asked me to play all the regulars. Hotel California, LA bamba, Carlos was drumming on the fireplace, Eres Tu. Isabelle was humming it all thru supper. They made a mountain of tortillas right there in a moment while we visited. They used a metal press, but said they sometimes press them by hand.
Antonio said they have about 100 head of cows, and 500 sheep. I saw several cows today but no evidence of sheep.
Antonio asked me a question about something I never did understand, and no one in the group speaks any English at all , so he was trying to help me understand. Something about "guessing " I think. Instead of just laughing it off and going on to something else, He wrote it out on paper and diagramed how it would be, and i got my little dictionary and found the words, but I still didn't get it. I felt so bad that he was trying so hard and I just didn't get it. I took the paper and promised to have my bilingual friends explain it and I would email him the answer.
He said that the NOLS group over at playa Coyote , where I stayed when I first got here, had been coming there to his place by kayak a few times, 15 people each group. That was cool.
I was dying to ask him about what motivated him to leave the computer job and move to the wilds to be a ranchero. He seems to be quite well educated, and could be a significant person in his town. But here he is out the wilderness. I know I would love it, but I would like to hear his thoughts. I had formulated the question from my Spanish phrase book and wrote it down , but i was sure I would not understand the answer in Spanish and it would just be a big frustration. When I get home I am going to have Julio help me translate a letter for him and ask it that way.
I also want to understand the business of the ranch and the fish camp. He was not working as a fisherman, but had help sort and load the catch. And Juan really didn't help sort and load. I wondered if he was an independent and got paid by how much he caught, but then there were 3 other men who came and went and their fish seemed to all be mixed up in the common weekly ice tank. Did they split it evenly? All fascinating questions I hope to figure out some day.
And 2 kayakers paddled by today going north. I hope they had a good day. And it makes me feel better knowing I am not the only but job out here.
When I was walking the beach there were several rocky sections being exposed with the falling tide. They were swarming with crabs, mostly little reddish browns ones, but some were larger, with bright outrageous colors blue, red, yellow, with spots, they looked really cool. I couldn't get a picture because the minute I approached they would scurry for cover. But wow what a show
Sunday. Launched early, headed for San Nicolas, about 14 miles along. Started paddling but ended up having a nice breeze much of the day and I landed there about 1:00. Spectacular coastline along the way. Much more green color. Big rocky cliffs with nice coves in between.
San Nicolas is a tiny village, more than a fish camp but just barely. Maybe 50 homes, hard to tell, it is all spread out along both sides of 2 long lagoons and up on the bluffs above. Seems like the main industry is fishing, and livestock. There are quite a few cows and donkeys roaming free , people fence thier yards to keep them from taking shade in thier palapas. There is a school and a small tienda but they were closed today, being Sunday. There are a few gringo homes here, I was told by Ron and Dianne to look up Terry and Lupe when i got here, and even Antonio and Isabelle knew them. When I arrived I asked and everyone knows them, but they were not home.
My landing on this beach was a bit of a learning curve. The beach is open to the north swell and even tho there really wasnt much wind today there were some waves about 1-2 feet high rolling in. The beach was gradual ad they were not pounders like at the last camp, but when I came in for my landing I was surprised how much the waves wanted to force me sideways which would result in a nasty roll, probably breaking the mast and the outriggers. Not trivial!. I couldn't use the rudder, since that had to be up for when I landed, and using the paddle as a rudder was not as effective since I was going the same speed as the water. I needed to take long powerful rudder\steering strokes to force the boat in line. I made it OK but it is sobering how much power even these littler waves have. If\when I come in on bigger waves there will be no room for error.
After I walked about a bit and scouted a camp site, I decided I wanted to move about 1/2 mile along the beach so i got to practice my "wave" launch and landing again. I did get a bit of water in the boat both times but no harm done and a bit more learning.
My campsite is along past the edge of town and up off the beach up in the dunes, behind some brush. Very secluded and protected if the winds blow.
There was a little taco type stand right in the middle of the beach front, and being mid afternoon when I stopped by the guy, Mario, said he was pretty well shut down but he could fix me a bowl of rice and beans, with coffee. Real brewed coffee! Not instant. I jumped at that. It had been simmering most of the day and was so thick the spoon stood up in it but it was delicious. He didn't charge me anything for the meal because it was all practically leftovers. He said he had only arrived there 5 days ago to cook for the fishermen. Seemed very nice, patient to talk with me with my pathetic attempts at Espanol.
I have ran into 2 men here missing about 4 front top teeth. I don't know it that is all the result of some past bar brawl, or there is something about this place...
San Nicolas is famous as a watering supply stop, appearantly there are really good wells here with drinkable water but the tienda guy is the guide to get it, and was gone, so tomorrow I will tank up. I expect to be here a few days before I move along.
Monday. it started raining first thing! Not much but enough to make the roads wet. It felt very nice. I worked on some gear repair, did some laundry washing. Went to find water and visit the tienda. Mario had some coffee for me. At the tienda there was a lady there helping explain where I could find water. Not far from my camp there is a for-hire camping spot with palapas and water spigot, she said was good drinking water. A shower too! As it turns out, she is Lupita, the woman i was suggested to meet! I walked right over, got my water and took a shower (cold, but nice) . there was a cute little dog that came to visit, he was limping. (Seems I see a lot of limping dogs in Baja. Only one 3 legged dog, but lots of limpers. I suppose they must step on a lot of thorns! And wonder if they get much care or are just expendable when they can't keep up any more.). Anyway, I check this little guys paw, didn't see any obvious sore or wound. And he didn't seem to mind me touch it. Maybe it was a ploy to get attention! He was licking water off the floor so I filled a bowl for him and he just ignored it until I poured it into a big sea shel.l, then he lapped it up. That was funny. The camp was a very nice place, well constructed, but looked to have not been used in quite a while. There was some new palapa construction going on nearby tho. I wonder if they try to cater to kayakers coming past. There doesn't seem to be much tourist activity going on, which is strange because it is such a perfect beautiful spot. It is definitely a place I will return to!
The weather report says that a big wind is coming in tomorrow and for a the next few days. I am happy to stay here a while. Plenty of food and water and friendly people here.
Just for fun I launch the boat in a light breeze and cruised up and down the coast. Nice to sail for fun and not to have be getting anywhere!
I took my guitar over to Mario's, he was busy preparing the evening meal for the pescadoros, but he drummed every implement he touched on every cooking vessel he was using. That was fun. He borrowed my guitar and played a few chords, actually knew what he was doing but was out of practice. Like the other folks, he requested Hotel California, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Credence. Funny he said the exact same as Juan and Carlos. He said one of the fishermen has a full size guitar and played "ranchero" (traditional Mexican) songs. I would like to meet him and play but they get up and leave early and come back after sunset totally exhausted. It may be hard to connect that one.
The building next to Mario's place was a nice concrete structure, small but new and fresh paint and had some sort of official looking logo on the side. Upon close look it was an Alcoholics Anonymous building! Mario said drinking and smoking is strictly forbidden for the fishermen. They all work for Santiago, the big company man, and wants his crew sober and hardworking. No smoking, no drinking. Wow. It makes sense, but I would never have guessed.
Tuesday. Big winds coming today so I stayed put. Visited with some fishermen who were launching pangas near the palapas where I got water, the one man was the son of Terry and Lupita. He pointed to the huge tree shading the camp, said they planted it when he was a little boy. Said his dad was already out fishing.
Took a long walk along the coast. Several miles. It was stunning. Big sandstone cliffs along the water, with occasional beaches, mostly pretty steep and rocky. There was a dirt road that contoured along the whole way. I passed several abandoned camps. I wonder why the people moved on. Some of them were really nice. I would live there! I came to one camp with 3 men there. 2 brothers and a cousin. They invited me in for fish tacos. They had a nice place, with a sleeping palapa with a concrete floor swept clean, several plants they were growing. Basil, bougainvilla, lime trees, yucca for medicinal salve , palm trees. They had to haul in water for everything so every plant was a special one. They had a big TV antenna on a pole and I asked if they got TV there, they said yes but someone stole their TV! And computer too! Dang. I asked if they were not working today and they said they were divers and worked nights for catching lobster and scallops. About to go to sleep for the day. I walked as far as playa Ramaditas, a fish camp with 2 good sized homes . one man said he lived there 30 years. I was really tired and foot sore when I got back, bought a grape cola drink at the tienda. That really went down nice.
Back in camp, i did a few more repairs. The zipper fly of my pants broke so I stole a button from my shirt and sewed it on my pants, cut a button hole, melted the edges. . Much better . no breeze now....
Cooked on the fire again tonight, this morning too. Almost as easy as getting the stove going now. Making some big quesodillas with all the trimmings. Mmm mmm good.
After supper I walked over to the fish camp with my guitar. , all the men were gathered around the kitchen area eating. Mario introduced me to Diego, they guy with the guitar. He got it out and we played together for the next few hours. So much fun. Again, they all wanted to hear Hotel California, and Credence. Everybody jumped in on La Bamba and Eres Tu. One guy, Salvador, had a bunch of Alan Jackson songs on his cell phone he played for me. He knew pretty good English, said he was a trained coffee barrista from Lorreto, working fish right now for a few months. Diego said he had only been playing guitar for a year, but he was really good. He knew some really sophisticated licks up the neck, mostly traditional Mexican folk songs. Several of the men gathered around and sang the songs with him. I showed him some chords for the songs I was playing , he caught on quick and jumped right in, playing variations up the neck. That was way cool.
It was a bright half moon as I walked back to my camp. About half a mile. I only needed my headlamp to manuever around the pangas and all the gear around them.
Wednesday. Big waves today, all the pangas were grounded and the pescadores had the day off. I visited with Salvador about the business. The men are in teams of 2, and they each get paid on a third of their catch. They work every day the weather allows, and take their relaxation days when the weather is nasty like today.
I have a big blister on my toe from the hike yesterday so did not wander off too much today.
Just down the beach from me where the palapas and water is there is an old panel van parked, old, obviously not running. But it turns out it is home for Jesus, one of the fishermen. I was washing socks at the spigot and he came up the same time, needed to fill his rubber boots with soapy water and then he walked around for a while to get them clean. Quite ingenious! He lives in the van, not sure why doesn't live in a house at the camp with the men. He keeps a pretty low profile, there is really nothing obvious that shows he is there, I have walked by it several times and never noticed until today. He said the men mostly zip across the bay in the pangas to fish over by an island called San Ildefanso. It is several mies but they get there in 20 minutes with their high powered pangas. He shows me his fishing gear, a hand line wrapped around a board with several hooks attached every several feet. He baits the hooks with fish and run it out. . Simple, but that is how he makes his living. I see big mounds of old netting on the beach, but none in the boats. Maybe they use the nets in other seasons.
Tonight I finally got a good fix of pelican diving. One of the things I so loved about living on my boat was every night watching pelicans feeding in the bay right by me. I have been quite disappointed this trip, I see them everywhere, but they never seem to be feeding. Tonight they were going crazy right in front of my camp. It was interesting , they were right in the surf, jumping up a few feet and diving into the very next wave for fish. I wonder if the storm drove the fish in closer. And several times 6 or 7 birds would all lift off together and dive right back in simultaneously. It was amazing the way they all seemed to know the fish were there. And it was not like they were flying up and looking around for a place to dive next. They were up and back down in so quickly it almost seemed like they knew the fish were right there before they even lifted off. Pelicans are so cool to me. They seem to just hang out and bask in the sun all day but then when it is time to work they just get after it and gitterdun. I need to get another boat so I can name her Las Pelicanas.
After supper I went over to the camp to jam with Diego. There were fewer men there than last night, it was quite the big scene last night, tonight only a few were there. I suspect a number of them went into town for some R&R while the weather was bad. One older guy sang with Diego, he was amazing. He sang the old ranchero songs with such feeling I didn't even need to understand the words to be touched by them. They sounded better than most professional bands I have heard playing in restaurants.
Thursday. I had planned on getting an early start today and sneak around Punts Pulpito early before any weather came in. Pulpito is the biggest point to traverse on this trip, and can get difficult in nasty conditions. The alarm rang at 5:30, I heard raindrops on the roof, turned the alarm off, and went back to sleep. No travel today. When I woke up at 7 things seemed better, the sky was only partly cloudy and clearing, the surf was manageable on the beach, wind was gentle out of the west, and I had 7 miles of east in order to round the point. Conditions seemed perfect. I can do this I decided. I loaded up and hit the water by 8:30. All was still well. I paddled hard and had the sail up too and rounded the point at about 11. Conditions still good, but the swell was coming on a bit larger, and the wind out of the north, as predicted, was building. There is a sheltered cove just on the other side of the point and I expected to pull in there and rest. However, Pulpito is a huge rock outcrop, much taller than the land around it, and the wind was howling more on the back side that on the front, and when it all mixed on the downwind side it was chaotic. The wind would clock around in all directions quickly, just like home in my Utah mountain lakes. the sea was flat but the wind was crazy. I decided to head for one of the coves just across the way and get away from the chaos as quick as I could. I made it across the the bay just fine, and drifted into a sheltered little cove with a very rocky shore. I pulled the boat up on the rocks and had lunch and a bit of a nap in a little cave in the rock. After a few hours, I decided to move on to find a beach with a better landing, I knew there was one within 2 miles. I could stay close to shore and out of any real nasty sea and wind, and I drifted along just fine. Paddling, no sail up, but just the mast gave me some momentum with the wind blowing hard like that. Within about half an hour my perfect little cove opened up, I could see a nice sand beach there at the back of it, and calm as a mill pond.. A seal lion came over and checked me out, and a pod of dolphins was lazily cruising about, so I figured this was the right place!
The cove is called Sequicesmunde. Cool name .
I set up my tent right against a big rock wall out of the wind and had a nice peaceful evening. All in all a very satisfying day. Rounded the big point in good style and found a fine wilderness bay to call home tonight.
Friday. It was spattering a bit of rain when I went to bed last night, but at about 4 AM it started pouring. My tent has seen me thru many bad storms and I have high confidence in its seaworthiness but tonight I had set it up a bit odd to accommodate the small space that I had against this cliff, and after a while I had a trickle of water coming in one of the corners. Nothing fatal, but annoying. I moved some stuff around and made sure my sleeping bag stayed on the pad and all was well.
One odd thing is that I had an infestation of rolly bugs during the night!. It was warm and humid earlier in the night so I left the bug screen open to encourage more air flow and while I was dealing with the rain trickle I noticed gazillions of these little guys in the tent. I have never seen them in this quantity before, nore ever in a tent. No harm, they dont bite, but it was weird. The next morning as I mopped up and mucked out, I also had to the sweep those little guys out from under everything and from every corner. At least they are easy to sweep! They don't run or scurry, they just curl up in that cute little ball and roll on out the door.
The rain lasted until at least 9, and was overcast most of the day. I didn't feel like moving on so I sat around and read. I am reading this book about a guy who sailed a 19 ft open boat around the world solo. He has endured single passages of over 4000 miles at a time, being shipwrecked and rescued himself, got locked up in a Saudi prison, and of course his wife divorced him during all this. He is a master mariner and tells a good story. I have yet to discover if he successfully completes the circumnavigation. When he got locked up in Saudi Arabia his freedom required that he fly to Switzerland and he had to abandon his boat, but in the last chapter I was reading he showed up in Cairo with a replacement and he is continuing on. What a guy. OK, I have to stop living and writing about my life now and read about his. Bye bye
Saturday. OK the guy gave up on his voyage in the Canary islands, off the cost of Africa. After 25000 he had had enough with only 3000 to go. Good for him. He did enough.
It rained again last nigt, but not as long and hard, and i stayed cozy dry. Got an early start heard towards San Juanico 7 miles along. Winds were calm but picked up a bit, still gentle, from the south, and I was heading south so I tacked back and forth into the wind. I paddled a bit to help the sails, and even just a lazy paddling stroke Mae a big difference in speed an tacking angle. I coasted into the cove about noon and it was a glorious scene. I had visited San Juan I do a fees back with Steve in his boat and it is one of the most spectacular places ever. The bay is about a mile across, with a soft sand beach stretching across the north side, with 2 huge rock outcrops in the middle of the bay. One a long series of red rock pinnacles with osprey nests perched on top of each. The other is a big flat topped haystack of white rock with grass and tall cardon cactus growing up there. The osprey catch fish and sit on top of the cactus eating them and then fly the leftovers to the nests. Along the one side of the bay is a huge long sloping arch if golden sandstone that swoops gracefully down and then up to a point . this place is so amazing, it has haunted my dreams for years, and is a huge draw for me make this trip, and I was back.
There were 2 boats anchored in the bay as I sailed in, the people on Gaelsong from Alaska were waving and taking my picture so I went over to meet Marci and Chile Willi. They offered me a beer as I pulled along side, what wonderful people. Then I saw Slow Mocean, the big catamaran where we had the jam session party up in Santespac 2 weeks ago. Blake was out fishing but Sonny invited me aboard, said " we are so glad to are OK, we wondered when you would get here. Blake will be back soon, please join us for lunch". She whipped up a fish fry with salad and some sort of veggie flat bread she made. Not to be repetitive, but what wonderful people!
Then I pulled over to the beach to make camp. There is a long bad dirt road into here, and mostly only the more hardcore adventurures make it. There were a few trucks parked, with camps set up. I would meet them all in the next few hours. Hans and his wife, from Germany, in a huge 4x4 RV on steroids. The tires were 3 feet tall. He calls himself the crazy German. He and his wife Carol have driven all over the world. He is a diesel mechanic and they stop and get a high paying job somewhere for a while and then keep on driving.
The couple on the beach near me, Ryan and Keegan from Montana, drove down here but have 2 really nice sea kayaks. They have done the trip that I am doing about 6 times before.
Lance is camping near me, a kayaker too but he also drove down here. He is from Oregon and has grown huge fields of berries and pole beans, the same that I used to pick for a dollar a day as a kid.
À lady camped down the beach stopped by to gather some firewood. It is pretty sarcce along this stretch, Since the wind usually blows the other way and deposits most of the wood on the far shore across the bay, plus a lot of people camp here and burn what little does come along. Anyway, she introduced herself, Gayle, and her husband Martin, from Banff Alberta, and invited me to come join their fire tonight. Marci and Willi were coming too. Before it got any darker I went out into the desert and found a few nice branches and dropped them off at their place. Martin came out and invited me to join them for supper . She had cooked fish and pasta, with wine, and some shrimp for "dessert". Wow what a feast. They said " we know you may be tired eating kayak food ". Well, not really, but that was very nice. The day had been partly cloudy and during supper we had a spectacular sunset along with a rainbow, and lightning in the clouds off in the distance. It also rained a bit again , but then stopped and started to clear off. They assigned me to light the fire. Everything was pretty wet from the rains, and I had to make 2 tries to get it. I started paying guitar and Martin is a great singer and joined me on almost every song. Marci and Willi came over, he told stories about growing up in Chile and migrating to the states as a teenager. They now run a small vacation lodge in Alaska.
Sunday. The night was really wet with dew. I took a walk along the road out. Not very far along there is a tiny farm off the road, new since I was here last. It is really cute, a small stone building, with a huge thatch palapa beside it, with goats, and a nice garden. I guess they truck in a lot of water to keep it going, but it really is very cool . people tell me they sell goat cheese and vegetables but nobody was there. I will go back tomorrow.
A new boat came in, a big pilot house trawler. I sailed over to see it. The wind was starting to stomp so it was quite a fun ride. They invited me on board and she looked familiar. Turns out she an avalanche specialist from Alaska, and has been in several avalanche training films I have seen, plus she has written several books that I have read. She is Jill, he is Doug, I don't recall their last names . when they are not sailing, they are big time into rowing. They rowed across the Atlantic. Doug was showing me how I could convert my kayak into a rowing rig and go much faster and easier. I am sure I could but not likely. they have left the chilly north behind and spend most of their time in Baja now.
Tonight we had a fire over at Hans place, it was fun. Another couple form Montana, Mark and Trisha, were camping down the beach and joined us, as well as Nancy and Drew who had just drove in this afternoon from British Columbia. Mark had a guitar and we had fun jamming.
Monday. Wow, just noticed that it is February. For a few days now. I have been in Mexico for about a month now. I have never lived in a tent in a "backpacking" type of travel mode for that long. Cool.
Today the skies were clear for the first time in several days. It got windy later but was a very nice day. I took the boat out and around the bay, it was à several mile jaunt. I put out a fishing line and trolled it while I went. Later when I pulled it in I realized that I had never removed the safety hook cover! I probably lost several fish that wanted to be caught but they couldnt get that cover off to do it. Later I snagged on the bottom and lost my lure and weight. Maybe I am just too dumb to be a fisherman.
By the time I turned around I was out of the bay and out in big wind and water. I hoisted the sail and Had a fun ride back to camp.
As I sat in camp a big RV rig came In and got stuck in the beach sand. They got themselves unstuck but it took almost an hour. George and Dominique from Oregon. Very near folks. They said they have been there 5 or 6 times and have been stuck in the exact spot 3 times! I guess that Lance, the camper next to me, knows them from coming to this beach every year at about the same time. It sounds like there is a whole community of folks they all know. Just like the yachting crowd knows each other. Cool.
Mark and Trisha left today, and gave me a big bag of tortillas, bananas, oranges, and a tiny zucchini squash. That was nice.
Spent the evening at the campfire with Hans the crazy German and his wife Carol. They really very nice. He has a wicked fun sense of humor. This beach seems to be really picked clean of firewood and somehow he always has big logs for a big fire every night. I asked him where he finds it. " no problem, I just rent it from the little store down the beach!"
He was telling about them driving their super RV across the steppes of Mongolia, where are no roads, you just point and go. They drove for weeks, meeting herders living in horse hide yurts . they drove 36 miles up a dry river gorge thru a huge mountain range and came out to the edge of the Gobi desert and kept on going.
Tuesday. When i started out this morning, I never would have guessed I would be steering by celestial navigation by the of the passage, but as I began the 11th hour of paddling and the sun was down and the dark was becoming complete, I noted the white sand beach in the distance i was heading for and glanced up to grab a star to steer by and thought, "I am never going to trust another weather report as long as I live".
After a few days in paradise at San Juanico, I was feeling anxious to get moving on. I am not sure why. This is as beautiful and peaceful a spot as you could ever find. Maybe I was feeling that I had 200 miles more to go and even though I told myself I would be happy to just noodle along at a slow pace and and not feel any pressure to move on and finish, maybe I really did feel it. Or maybe it was that I was running low on peanut butter and needed to reprovision soon. Actually I have about 4 days of food left, but there is nothing that says " Danger Wil Robinson. Scarcity and famine ahead" like the rattle of a knife in the bottom of a jar of peanut butter.
But I had been thinking that maybe tomorrow I would move along. The next stretch of coastline is almost continous steep cliffs coming right down to the water with only a few places in the next 13 miles to pull out if the weather turned nasty. I tuned in to the weather report and he was predicting light winds from the north this morning, moderately brisk winds in the afternoon, with strong winds tomorrow and the next. It seemed that if I was going to go, today was the day. So I packed up and hit the water by 9. That is a late start for me but with the winds as predicted, I would scoot right along and be to my destination, Boca San Bruno, by early afternoon.
As I paddled along out of the bay I was met with a light wind from the south! I kept paddling thinking it was just a morning variant and it would shift to the north soon and I would be cruising under sail in style. Sure enough it shifted soon, but into neutral. No wind. I kept paddling. Kept paddling. Snacking and taking little breaks. I usually stop after about 4 hours, get out on land, walk around, then continue on and the winds will have picked up and I sail for the next few hours. By 1:00 I was still paddling, passing Punta Mangle, one of the possible pull out spots. I thought I felt some wind coming up and I didn't want to waste it going on land to rest so I raised sail and kept going. It was a nice little breeze for a few hours, not pushing me much faster than I would be paddling but at least it was a free ride and very comfortable. I was approaching Boca San Bruno about 3 PM and thinking I should pull in and call it quits. There was still a bit of wind, and I was thinking if I pull in now I will just have to get up tomorrow at 5:30 and paddle this next section in the calm, and maybe the strong winds will pick up early and I will be in a pickle with no safe place to pull out for 7 more miles. So I gambled on the wind today and kept on going. I normally don't like to be on the water much later than 3, but today it seemed to make sense. The weather was not likely to get nasty, and if this wind held I would be snug in a camp by 5. I lost that gamble. After about 30 minutes the wind died and I was back to paddling. I thought about paddling back to San Bruno, but I liked the idea of having this rough section behind me today, even if it meant paddling. Tomorrow I would be in protected waters with an easy stroll on into Loretto no matter what the winds did.
As the cliffs of the main shore stayed to my right, The volcanic peak of Isla Coronado loomed up on my left across the channel. I knew there were really nice beach camps there, and the channel is only a few miles wide. I thought it might be nice to cross on over and land there to camp tonight, maybe even stay a day and climb the volcano since I had covered so many miles today and would be so close to Loretto and peanut butter.
By now I knew I was looking at paddling on after dark, which doesn't bother me in these sorts of conditions. As the day faded the colors on the water were incredible psychedelic reddish golds and blues and purples all swirling on the smooth ink black water. Over next to the island I saw a bright white rock island poking out. Odd, I don't recall seeing a guano rock on the chart there. It kept getting bigger until the full moon rose completely out of the water and turned golden.
It wasn't long til it was pretty dark. I was following my star, it turned out to be Orion's boot. Thinking I should check the GPS soon. I could hear waves gentle on the rocks to my left, and soon a a little cove opened up, the white sand beach glistening in the moonlight. I pulled in and glided to a stop after almost 11 hours . wow what a day. I wolfed down a can of refried beans on tortilla and crashed out cold on the beach.
And I am never going to trust another weather report.
Wednesday. I was so tired last night and it was so calm I didn't bother putting up the tent, just slept right there on the beach. Big mistake. It was so wet with dew when I awoke about midnight I was completely soaked. I spread a tarp over me which may not have helped any since it just held it all in and captured the moisture I was putting out.
I woke to discover that I had landed in the most beautiful little cove with a white sand beach. Not the big on shown on the map but this was even nicer. It was so peaceful. I had a few visitors during the day but nothing like the hoards I could see zipping past to this main beach. This close to Loretto the other main beach is a big draw for day trippers from town. Later in the afternoon even a huge (but small) cruise ship pulled in and anchored so the guests could go play on the beach.
Some fishermen pulled up to clean and sort their gear. They had several hundred yards of gill net rolled up in their boat and they were sorting it out into smaller bundles to store for the season. They said they fish like that November, December, January. I wasn't sure if there was some sort of official netting season and they had to quit, or if the fish just move on and the catch was too small to bother anymore. The net was about 12 feet wide, with a rope of floats along one side and weights on the other. They were pulling it out of the boat and separating it into smaller lengths of about 45 meters (they told me) and tying those into bundles. As they pulled it out yard by yard, there were many big sections where the net was torn all part and there were huge gaps. They said lobos (sea lion) would tear thru the net, steal the fish and ruin the net. Dang. And they look so cute swimming by me in my boat!. They said they can fix it, but it looked like it would take a very long time to do so. Funny, one of them was looking for a small piece of line laying my foot and when I handed it to him he said " thank you" in English. I asked oh do you speak English? He laughed and said (in spanish) "no, just that . "
I went for a hike up the volcano. That was some of the roughest country I have ever seen. Endless builder fields of rough volcanic rock. It was odd. Other than being in the general shape of a cone shaped mountain , I could see no evidence of how the rocks would get moved into the position they were in. The rocks were not formed into a common mountain topograghy like ridges and gullies that water or a glacier would normally push or carve them into, just rocks strewn about In a random hillside with piles and mounds and hollows with no sort of continuity to it, as if this was the way they landed when the volcano erupted once upon a time. Very confusing to navigate thru. I would climb until I got to what I thought was a high point only to find it was separated from the rest of the mountain by a big random hollow.
There was very little vegetation but what there was was seemed very robust. There was no soil evident anywhere, but sand and dust must collect in the crevices down below the boulders and at some point some tough desert plant would find a start. There didn't seem to be many old dead plants around anywhere. What was growing almost seemed like it was all first generation. And the development of an environment for more plant life must be very slow. These plants have very few leaves to fall to create mulch that would create an environment for more growth. With very little rain fall, no freeze thaw cycle, no flash floods, a spoonful of soil may take thousands of years to form.
I didn't even get halfway up to the summit before I called it quits and enjoyed the view for a while and headed back down.
There were some Mexican fellows on the beach that had been fishing but when I visited with them I learned that they work at the airport in Loretto and were just out enjoying a day off. They spoke good English and were really excited to hear about my journey. One of them said "you speak such good Spanish! Where did you learn? Most gringos don't know anything " wow! I never thought I would hear that!
They offered me a tamale and when I was finished I turned to toss the corn husk wrapper off into the brush, thinking it was a nice natural addition to the vegetative mulch. One of them hastily took a few steps towards me saying "here let me take that for you. We like to keep the beaches clean!.". Dang , I felt so bad. I never litter, even a tiny bit, and always pick up a bit more that I find, and here he was educating me on not even leaving a corn husk behind. As I walked back to my camp I picked up a can and a plastic bottle to make up for an onion skin I tossed out into the brush when I made supper.
After a little nap in my tent i went back to the beach and there 3 ladies snorkeling in the bay . they had no boat so i assumed (correctly) that they came from the cruise ship. As they got out of the water they noticed me sitting there and hastily held up their swim fins to cover oh my god they were naked! They laid down on their towels to sun themsleves in their natural state and so to prevent even the temptation of pervness I walked up the beach the other direction. When I came back they were dressed and I walked over and said, " I usually don't even get one mermaid wash up on my beach and here I get 3 at a time. welcome!" we had a nice visit. they are crew on the cruise ship and were enjoying some time away while the guests were out on the other beach. They were all from the states, the ship sails in Alaska in the summer and Baja in winter. It comes out of Cabo San Lucas up to here and back every week.
Thursday. Thinking no more mermaids were likely to wash ashore, I was up early and paddles over to Loretto, about 8 miles. I caught a bit of wind and pulled in just before noon. Loretto is the first Spanish settlement in Baja, the mission was built back in the 1700s. It is a cute small place with no big international chains of stores or malls or high rise hotels. No big harbor, just a small panga harbor used mostly now for taking out sport fishermen. However, it does have an international airport and a cruise ship stops here once a week so tourism is big business and most of the town is art galleries, gift shops, and restaurants. Big houses and developments as going up along the shoreline.
My plan was to grab a few food items (peanut butter...) Check email, and leave within an hour. I wanted to move along a few miles down the coast where i could camp. My boat was parked on a public beach which seemed safe enough but just to avoid mischief I wanted to lock the boat to something so I dragged it up to a palapa and as I pulled it under I forgot that I had a mast that is taller than the palapa and as I tugged, the bracket that holds the mast up in the boat tore out from the bolt holes . Damn. That sucks. Luckily, there is nothing too complex on this boat. I could have fixed it with a scrap of rope or wire, but I happened to have a few spare bolts, longer, with bigger washers, so I set to work with my swiss army knife and vice grips and had it all set right in about an hour. The bolts were way too long tho and would tear the spray cover, not good, so I added hack saw blades to my shopping list to trim them off.
As I was walking along looking for an internet cafe I bumped into a friend of mine, Gerrish Willis, from Moab. I knew he was going to be in Baja this winter but our itineraries were too vague to try to arrange a rendezvous but golly there they were right there ag a sidewalk cafe. With Internet. He and 3 other friend were driving around Baja, camping, kayaking, doing all the fun stuff. In chatting it turns out the other guy, Steve Peterson, was teaching at Snow college in Ephraim Utah about 35 years ago when I was there and we knew about a gazillion people in common, probably had even skiied together back then. Even better, I mentioned that my parents up in Logan used to know a girl from Ephraim, she was going to school in Logan and kept her horse in the field next door and she and my parents visited every day that year and became dear friends and they talked about her all the time. OMG he said, that is my daughter, and I have met your parents!! They gushed about how grateful they were to my parents for taking their daugher under their wing whie she was away. What a sweet connection to make in a foreign land thousands of miles from home.
After they left I got on the internet and had a message from my daughter that my dad had died the week before. He had been in failing health all year and could go any time, but on the other hand he could live on for years. I left for this trip knowing that might happen and that the chance was slim I would get word about it time to get home for a funeral. I discussed it my with brother before I left and I felt good about going. My dad and I had always had a good relationship and had become quite close in the last few years since my mom died. He had always been so excited about my sailing adventures, he even came down to California to visit me on my boat and we have a nice 3 day cruise together. He would always introduce me to his friends " this is my son that lives on a sailboat and is going to Mexico in kayak he built". I visited him before he left and told him I was leaving soon and he seemed excited but I think his mind was too far gone to really grasp what that meant anymore. I was sad as I left but felt that death , whenever it came, would be a relief for him. It has been so long that he just seemed to have no joy in life anymore. He couldn't read, or watch TV anymore, it is all too confusing for him. He doesn't seem to enjoy eating anymore, food doesn't taste like anything anymore. He couldn't really hold a conversation anymore, his mind just didn't register stuff anymore. Each day seemed like a void of nothingness for him. I always wondered if he knew he was in a void and did it bother him or if the void was so strong that even that realization didn't register for him anymore. Odd thought. I wanted to ask him but it just didn't seem right.
My daughter was able to get to Logan and be there with him when he died. He didn't know she was there, he was asleep and died peacefully. I am so glad she could be there, and glad he wasn't suffering (if he was suffering...) that nothingness anymore.
Back at the beach i was ready to move on, i couldnt camp there, and didnt fancy getting a room, way too expensive. the wind had picked up and waves were wildly crashing on the shore . I waited a while to see how they might settle down. As I was sitting there a lady stopped and asked me " do you speak English, and are you going out in that?" She was from Minnesota and knew a little something about paddling in big water. She wished me week if I did go. About 5:30 i had decided it had calmed down enough to give it a go. I had 4 miles to get to my intended pullout spot, and with this wind I should be there in an hour, and even if the sun went down first I would have a big full moon to light the way. Just as I was getting ready, Steve came back down to see if I was still there. He offered to help steady the boat in the surf while I got myself situated and moving. That is always the hardest part of a surf launch, those first 30 seconds from when you get in and seated and get paddling, before the first wave hits you and rolls you over on the beach and really spoils everything. I said you bet thanks. We waded out, I got in and started paddling and he gave a good shove off. I had about 100 yards to go, straight into the wind and surf, before I got past the harbor wall and could turn and start coasting downwind. I did well, shipped very little water and rounded the corner as they were yelling yahoo for me. (I think that is what they were yelling. I hope it wasn't that I had forgotten something important on the beach....)
As soon as I rounded the corner I reached up and got the sail launched and was really cruising, good comfortable conditions, and I could tell the winds and seas were softening. But within 30 minutes the wind had died out entirely. Not a breath. And I had 4 miles to go. I paddled and paddled, a few hours, the sun was down, but dang, no moon. I confess my understanding of lunar scheduling is woefully lacking, I know the moon rises a bit later each day, but it came up at 6: 30 only 2 days ago. Surely it would be up soon after that tonight. Nope. So I kept paddling. Nighttime paddling is always cool, but this had an especially cool aspect. Every few minutes I would paddle thru a school of some kind of fish that just went crazy trying to get away by jumping out of the water in a frenzy. The water would just boil and it startled me bad the first time, but I flipped on my headlamp the next time and could we them jumping. They were not flring fish, but they sure were trying to be. Jumping and skipping across the water in all directions, going several feet in the action. Some would even hit my boat! I was waiting for some to land in my lap. I was wondering if I should try to grab one. Many ocean fish have sharp nasty spines on their fins and can cut and skewer you badly, so I didn't want to, but dang what a story to tell if I caught one with my bare hands!.
By about 7:30 i got to about where the GPS said my takeout was, but still no moon. I could hear waves crashing on the shore off to my right, I could hear more crashing onto a bar up ahead. And all in pitch blackness. My headlamp is way to small to illuminate a beach 100 yards off. I was hoping to find an old dilapidated pier that protects the shore from surf, and there was supposed to be a nice beach to land on just behind the pier, and I knew it had to be close but i could see nothing. I decided to do the good seamanship thing stand off until I knew what was what. I dropped anchor and waited. I was getting cold now that I wasn't paddling. I swabbed out the little bit of water that had gotten into the boat, put on every stitch of clothing I had, and snuggled down under the spray deck. It was actually pretty cozy, and I dozed off for a while. Finally , at about 9:30 the moon started to rise. It took almost 30 minutes for it to get high enough in the sky to show what I needed. I paddled around the gravel bar up ahead, could see the pier over on the shore, and in a few minutes coasted to a stop on the beach. Safe and sound. In bed asleep by 10:30. I love it when a plan works. But what was with that moon? Dang. I need to learn more.
Oh, While i was getting gear out of my boat over on the beach, a truck came down the dirt road to the edge of the pier. I didn't know if it was a gang of rowdies or what, so I just sat there in the dark and waited. They stopped, the radio was still on, playing some romantic music, and a guy and girl got out and walked to the pier and snuggled up close. They probably even kissed. You know kids these days. I guess this is a local make out spot! Sweet. After a bit they drove off to his place for ice cream. Or something...
Friday Feb 6. I slept in but was was up and on the water by 8:30. I wanted to get to puert Escondido, a big yacht harbor 8 miles along. This was where I will stay for a few days, rest up, reprovision, I will leave my boat and go get my truck, which I will leave here when I travel on to La Paz.
I paddled t hours, not a breath of wind, warm, nice sun. Every hour I would jump in the ocean and swim about a bit to cool off. At one point even grabbed a line and started swimming, pulling the boat. Hmmm that didn't last long. Back in and paddling. The shoreline was spectacular, with big mountains rising up from behind the beach. The Sierra Gigante range form here and run much of the rest of the length of Baja. They have spectacular pointy Matterhorn looking peaks with big cliffs going up to the summits. They look like it would be an amazing challenge to climb them. Just the approaches thru the valleys to the ridges look epic. I actually wonder if these have ever been summited!. I have to check on that.
The wind picked up the last mile and i fairly flew into escondito harbor. This is a totally enclosed natural bay, with a tiny opening on the south side, so i as I pulled into the harbor I now had to face the wind that I had been riding on the outside to get here. I was tacking and paddling hard to make way, and as I passed a boat I heard " hey kyle, over here, welcome!" It was Bill and Kim on the Just Dandy, who I had met in Santespac! They had just pulled in a few minutes ahead of me and had just dropped their anchor. I came aboard to visit and and enjoyed a beer with them.
The harbor was full of boats, some of which are here pretty permanently, some coming in and moving on. This the only full service marina in this part of Baja where people can haul out into a work yard and do major repairs. There is wifi on shore, and a small tienda, mostlly snack foods. Funny, i found myself craving cookies once i got here. Of course i bought a package. Chocolate creme on chocolate. There is a community of boaters here that is pretty quirky but overall a lot of fun. I look forward to hanging here a while.
I sailed over to a beach out beyond the marina area and made camp. A few bugs here tonight. Had to get out the headnet during supper. I have not seen bugs in Baja (except for that infestation of rolly bugs a while back at Sequicesmunde) until now. I guess because of the mangroves over yonder.
Saturday. I was going to catch a ride up to Mulege today to fetch my truck, i had my camp all struck and loaded on the boat, but then at 8:00 on the local radio chat session they mentioned they were going to do a potluck and jam session here this afternoon so I decided to stay. I paddled out around the bay, watching the birds and fish. I have got to get some functional gear and catch something. Anyway, I ran into Jesse,, on the Francis Lee, beautiful twin masted Cheoy Lee ship I had seen here years ago. He had left for a while but came back . his ship is very "rakish" looking, if that is even a word. It has really nice wood aft rails, a sharp bow , looks very "pirate". He is a nice fellow.
Ashore I did some laundry, took a shower ,the water was cold, but very refreshing. Was going to get on the internet but The battery on my tablet was dead, I didn't bring a wall charger so I had to put it on the solar panel, and when I finally got charged, the internet was down so no email updates today.
At the laundry I got re-acquainted with Sonya and Glen on Gitana, had met them up at Santespac on the jam boat. It was funny , she had bet him that I would have a guitar along in the kayak, he said no way, he lost. They are going to let me raft my boat up with them while I go get my car.
Since i wasnt leaving today after all, but had already loaded up camp, I had to paddle back over and set up my tent in the same spot I had just taken it down from a few hours earlier. My laundry was still a bit wet so I spread it out all over the bushes to finish drying.
The potluck was very nice. There was a butternut squash casserole that was heavenly. Wonderful desserts. Brownies and a lemon cake. I am really craving sweets. My provisions were pretty low so I didnt have much to bring, but I sliced up some cheese and tortillas on a platter and they were all gone so I guess that was OK. The music started, I played with Don from Kamas Utah with harmonica. Benjamin from Germany was a young fellow bike touring along Baja. He had a guitar he bought used in Ensenada, and poor thing, it is really taking a beating. The top is pulling apart from the body and he is holding it together with duct tape. He loved my little guitelele. And there was a guy with a saxophone. That was fun, don't play with the sax man very often.
I had to watch the clock and scamper out by 6 in order to paddle over to my camp before it gets dark.
Sunday. I am going to go to Mulege today to get my truck. I spoke with a guy driving to the states today, but he was leaving at 5 and that didn't sound good to me. Another group was heading in to Lorreto at about 9 for the farmers market and I arranged a ride with them. I arranged to tie my boat up while i was gone with Glen and Sonya on Gitana, anchored close to where I was camping, and near the marina. I expect to be back tomorrow.
I knew i could catch the bus from Lorreto to Mulege which starts leaving by about 1 each day, and then a few more thru thru the afternoon, but I wanted to hitchhike and the bus was my backup. I got dropped off on the main intersection in town and stuck out my thumb. Many folks , especially locals, waved and pointed out to the side, indicating that they were turning off soon and would be of no help to me. After almost 2 hours I gave up and walked to the bus station.
While I was waiting, a fellow came up who was also waiting, it was the same fellow I saw out in Bahia Concepcion kayaking to his secret camp in a little cove way out there!. And I realized that I had also seen him the other day on the beach at Lorreto when I launched on that wave day. He seemed a bit crazy, talking weird and I sort of wanted to keep my distance. He got off partway along and I didn't see him again.
The 12:30 finally left about 1:30, and pulled into Mulege about 4:30. We had stopped at a military checkpoint where we all had to get off the bus and they went thru our bags, and then again at a little cafe on the outskirts of Mulege. Funny, I recall stopping at that same cafe on the southbound trip I made down here 5 years ago. It made no sense to me to make a potty stop that close to the regular stop so i figure the cafe must be owned by the mother of the owner of the bus company. The bus was very nice, new, not some rancid old chicken bus. It had air conditioning, reclining seats, and a movie on the overhead screen, just like an airliner but without the peanuts. Fortunealty I had brought my own.
In Mulege I walked across town, 10 minute s, to Larry and Kay's place where my truck was. They said they had been wondering if I was OK , and what should they do with my truck if I never showed up again. "Those storms were pretty strong while you were out. We worried about you". When I went to start my truck the battery was dead as a door nail. Not even a click. I think I must have left the dome light on from my pre-dawn start 3 weeks ago. Aftter a nice visit, Larry gave me a jump and I was on my way.
I wanted to visit with Ron and Diane on Batwing down at Santespac, I could see them anchored there so I pulled in and tried to hail them on the radio. no answer, so I went ahead and set up my camp on the beach. I started for a walk along the beach, and noticed their dinghy pulled up near a motor home parked not far from where I was camped! They were visiting some friends there so I joined them for a drink and visiting. Nice .