The day before yesterday I had ridden the bus up to Mulege to get my truck. I spent yesterday hanging about playa Santespac and went into town for a few groceries and internet. I call McKenzie and had a nice visit. She had been to my dads funeral and it sounded really nice. I was feeling really deflated and sad, cried a bit on the phone with her. She and Julio are doing so well.
I tried to call Porter in London on skype but there was no answer. I think he is traveling to india this week and i have no idea the time zone difference. It could be as much as 12 hours offset from me.
Back at Santespac I had drinks with Ron and Diane, they had already read my blog post from a few hours earlier and were interested in hearing of my voyage. After they left I had dinner with a fellow who is riding his bike to the tip of south america. He is a video expert and is making a film of it all.
Tuesday. Today I drove back to Loretto, 70 miles, beautiful country. Some of the road is along the coast and i could see where i had been sailing for the last 3 weeks. Other times the mountains along the coast were too steep and the road bends inland across the desert.
I stopped in town to get a pass for the national park islands. I will sail out there later this week. When I got back to the Puerto Escondito area I was not sure where I was going to camp. The marina area is not well suited for camping near the water with my truck, there is so much developed concrete shoreline. I drove out into a wild area south a few miles playa Quemado. AKA rattle snake beach. There are a bunch of RVs parked out here but there are many bushes and trees between them all so you cannot see one from the next. I found a really nice spot with shade and protection from any wind that might come up. It was a short walk along the beach to the marina were I got my boat from Greg and Sonya. I was a day later getting back than I thought I would be, and they were a bit worried since they were wanting to leave tomorrow. But all is well. At the marina I filled some water jugs and took a shower with hot water! My first since leaving SanDiego a month ago. It was heavenly.
As I sailed out of the harbor thru the boat anchorage, I heard someone on a boat say "honey, kyle is sailing out, quick get the camera, I want a picture of his boat under sail" that was fun. Then the wind died and I had to paddle out the rest of the way in ignominious failure.
It didn't take long to sail to my camp, and I fixed a really nice chicken and veggie pasta supper. The bugs were worse here than I have seen. That might suck for the next few days. My ankles are still an itchy mess from the bugs over at Escondito and this is worse.
Wednesday. Wandered along the beach and met several of the neighbors. Some guys were playing guitars and I joined them for a while. Fun. I hiked up a trail to the top of a hill that overlooks the whole area. Stunning. From above you can see the shape of the concrete marina at Escondito. There is a big circular section called the Elipse, and a bunch of canals dredged out to form islands and bays. They obviously had big plans for a huge development that has never happened. There is the unfinished shell of a long L shaped 2 story building that is just raw concrete, and now falling apart.
The mountains behind here are rigged steep cliffs with narrow canyons gouging into them. One of them, Tabor canyon, is nicknamed Steinbeck canyon. When John Steinbeck visited the region years ago he describes going on a hunt for mountains goats up in the hills and legend has it that Tabor was the place. I have read his description and I don't make the connection, but it is a fun hike to an oasis in a spectacular setting.
Down below, on the plains back behind my beach you can tell that part of the road in is an old airstrip. There are mature trees growing up out of it so it hasn't been landed on for a long time, but it makes a dandy road!.
Back in camp I worked on my project to add reefing capability to my sail. I had to glue on big patches of sail fabric to the spots where the reefing attachment points will go. Normally I would place grommets to tie the reefing down but I don't have any so I sewed on some loops of rope. I also needed to make some slider rings so the sail can slide up and down the mast. I had scrounged a short piece of PVC pipe from the marina shop and I used a hacksaw blade to cut it into rings. I got it all assembled by dinner time but tomorrow i still need to tune it all up and address how to manage the additional lines and stuff. I think it is going to turn out slick.
Thursday. Finished the reefing system and took it out for a spin. The wind was really honking so it was a good test, and it worked great despite the fact that a part broke almost immediately. A while back I had found on the beach a little plastic hook thing with a rope adjusting clip thingy. It looks like it came from an adjustable bungee cord , and it would have been perfect to clamp the reefing line down quick and snug, but I guess it had laid out in the sun too long because the first time I cranked down on it it snapped. No worries, just do a quick line tie and we were golden. The sailing was fun but since I had no weight in the boat the waves just tossed me all over the place. It would have been much better with my usual 400 pound load of water , food and gear! Something to hold me down and glide thru the waves instead of being tossed up and over.
Back on the beach I tweaked a few things, and added a tie in the middle of the sail to keep the foot from dragging in the water. It should have been an easy sew job but since the sail was still on the mast and the wind was whipping it around it was a lot tougher. I was pretty worried that I was going to stab myself with that big needle and bleed all over my nice white sail!.
Tomorrow i am planning to sail over to Isla Carmen for 4 days, and spent some time this afternoon getting food and gear sorted out. Some rain is forecasted for the next few days.
I visited with a guy camped near me, he was nice enough, a young ER doc from Colorado, out on a road trip. He had a bunch of really odd tattoos on his chest. Some sort of mathematical formulas. When I asked him what the significance of them were he went off a tangent about what they meant and how they were the basis of all life in the universe or some such. I wanted to learn actually what was the significance of them to him personally, that he would tattoo them on his body like that. Hell, I don't even put bumper stickers on my car because nothing really seems all that important. I never did get an answer out of him. Odd fellow. Nice, interesting, but very very odd.
I drove over to Escondito to get water , take a shower, and check emails on their internet. On the way home it was just getting dark and as I passed the Tripui hotel complex I succumbed to the whim of having a nice restaurant dinner. I was the only customer at first, but a few other folks showed up before I left. It was a very nice place. Linen table clothes, soft jazz on the sound system, and no bugs! I was hoping to try some Mexican wine but they were all out of that so I had to settle for Chilean. I had a combination platter of fish taco, chicken enchilada, and chilli rellano. I ate slow and sat and was mellow for a long time and savored the entire experience. had coffee and flan for dessert. Truly a decadent treat for me and i loved it.
Friday. I didnt sleep much last night, dang, too much coffee. But i was packed and on the water by 9. I had parked my truck down the way at the camp of Jay and Dianne from Montana. I paddled across to Isla Danzante and across the next channel to the south end of island Carmen , about 5 miles. It was a beautiful calm sunny day. I could see a whale spouting off in the distance.
I was sitting on shore taking a break when I felt a breeze starting to build so I jumped in to take advantage of it, and headed north along the east shore of Carmen when of course the wind died. Paddling more. Hot and calm, I jumped in to swim once in a while. I only had 3 miles to reach my destination. À slight breeze did finally pick up and was sailing slowly the last mile. Off shore not too far i could see 2 small boats sailing quite quickly in the other direction. They were the NOLS boats, rowing!.
As I approached my beach there was a yacht anchored there, it was Dave and Betty on Pegasus. They invited me on for beer and visiting. Turns out I had met them briefly the other day when I hitched a ride into Loretto to catch the bus, they were the other folks hitching the same ride going in to the farmers market. They are from Colorado. Very nice folks, turns out they know Steve and had heard several of his tales that included me! We had a good laugh at how small the world is. They have a really sweet dog, Zephyr, a brown labradoodle, the snuggled right into my lap. Several dolphins kept swimming around us and Zeph really likes watching them.
I paddled over to the beach and set up camp on a nice flat meadow on a bluff above the beach.
I have to admit i am getting a bit tired of having to paddle so much on this voyage. I was expectingng to be able to sail much more than I have. Tomorrow will be a rest day though, and my next camp is only 3 miles along. Then back down and across to my truck.
Somebody asked how I navigate on this trip. Pretty simple, I just follow the coast line. Hard to get lost. I have a guidebook with arial photos of each section with notable features and good camps highlighted with GPS coordinates and notes. Good camps are usually defined as having a shore landing protected by a land feature from the prevailing northerly winds. If the shore is exposed and the wind is blowing, the waves crashing on the shore make it hard to land and harder to launch when it is time to leave. I have a little GPS and as i travel south along the coast i just look at the latitude numbers to tell where on the chart I am. Each degree of latitude is 60 miles, each minute is a nautical mile, 1.1 land miles. I can tell distances between points just by subtracting the minutes from each other. It gets a bit tricky when you cross from one degree into the next because there are 60 minutes in each degree so i have to think in "base 60" not base 10 like we normally do.
Each day I study the chart and make notes on a little tablet I keep handy in the boat with me. I jot down the latitudes of possible camp sites along my route and pull in when I get there.
Saturday. It started raining early today, not too hard but off and on. I stayed in the tent and napped a lot. Amazing how much I can sleep when the opportunities arise. The skies were beautiful and dramatic, with the peaks shrouded in low clouds and the sun peaking thru from time to time to make everything sparkle.
I fiddled on the boat a bit, adjusting how the sprit spar attaches to the mast. I needed to move an attachment point but I needed to drill a hole in the aluminum pole. lacking a drill, I wandered the beach until I found a board with a nail in it, and used the nail, pounded with a rock, to start the hole and then the screw did its thing to sink it home. I was quite proud of that beach repair.
Today was the day of the hermit crabs. I know they are everywhere along every beach I have been on this trip but have never seen them. Or maybe never noticed them. They are a small land critter, not a water crab, and they crawl inside an empty sea shell to serve as their covering. They are soft shelled, having no hard protective shell of their own, just the borrowed one they move in to and walk around wearing the shell, and when they feel threatened they pull their legs into the shell and are pretty well hidden and protected. As they grow they abandon the old shell and move into a new bigger one. I see their tracks in the sand all the time. It is a pretty continuous line of tiny little foot prints, and sort of resembles a skinny bicycle tire track. Last night I glanced out of the tent and saw one bumping into the tent, i am sure wondering "what the heck has gotten in my way, I walk this same path every night and now I am stuck!" I thought they are usually a night creature but I started seeing them everywhere all day today. Really odd. While I was sitting on my pad having lunch one wandered right passed me and when I made a move he froze until I was real still and he opened up and wandered on. I started seeing them crawling everywhere, sort of out of the corner of my eye and the moment i looked at them they would freeze. Kind of creepy. Like that scary movie where the mannequins would sneak up behind the guy with malicious intent and then freeze whenever he would turn and look at them. "Sure, it it perfectly normal that that mannequin is posed with an axe aimed at my spine. After all, this is the sporting goods department" Later I found one (a crab, not a mannequin) that had crawled up my sitting pad. (I wasn't sitting on it at the time...) I got my camera and took video of them. I will try to get it onto YouTube someday. Or just go google hermit crab, you will see plenty. Down on the beach I started seeing them everywhere also. They were crawling across the gravel and a bunch were chowing down on the carcass of a dead buzzard. I guess they are scavengers, just like cockroaches and lobsters. Yes, you fancy people, lobster is a just a marine cockroach. Think about that the next time you pay $72 a plate and roll your eyes exaggerating how good it is. Cockroach.
I also saw a bunch of marine crabs. As the tide goes out they crawl around on the rocks. They are pretty quick to scamper to cover whenever I come near, but one dumb one had crawled into a little cave in a rock with nowhere to go and as I moved in close to examine him he took a strong defensive position, waving his claws at me and looking all bug eyed. I am sure he was thinking, " dang, this cave seemed like such a good idea at the time. Now what do I do?". These crabs were mostly drab colored, brown like the rocks. There were a few bigger ones that were brightly colored blue and red. One odd thing, on the rocks where the birds perch and eat I see only the remains of crabs that are orange, like the ones you get by the bucketful down at Joes. But I never see those kind anywhere, I guess they are underwater, but the ones that look easy for a bird to get are these brown ones I never see remains on the rocks. Hmm. More study is required here.
The tide pools here are different form others I have seen. There is very little life in them, fishes and crabs, but no anenomes, barnacles, or mussels. I wonder if that is because it gets so warm here in the summer. And no coral here either. Not until you get down to about La Paz.
Sunday. Woke up to rain, but it stopped shortly after I woke up. I broke camp and hit the water heading north. I only had 2 miles to get to Arroyo Blanco . I dallied along, i saw some whales spouting a long ways off. and the sea was full of manta rays . These were small, between 1 to 3 feet across. Many of them were just lazing on the surface with their fins sticking out , and sometimes one would leap out of the water and land with a mighty splash. The experts don't know why they do this. Maybe to avoid a predator, maybe to dislodge some skin cootie, or maybe just for fun to show off to the bros. "Dude, I hucked the most righteous air today".
I was content to sit out there on the water and laze about with them but the storm clouds were building again and I could hear thunder so I hopped on over to the beach. Arroyo Blanco is really interesting. It is a deep narrow notch set into a huge white limestone cliff, with a perfect white sand beach. It was so white it hurt my eyes. I had just set up my tent when it started to pour. I crawled in and sat, and noticed that the water was pouring off the cliff wall and heading right for me. I reached out and dug a llittle moat in the sand and that did the trick. The water would pause just enough to sink in and not drown me. After the storm I looked up and noticed that there was a big pile of rocks up on the cliff just waiting for the next rain storm to dislodge one little rock and the whole thing would come down on me. I moved my tent away to a safer dryer spot.
It started raining again about supper time so I moved my kitchen over to a huge alcove in the cliff right at the water line. It would flood at high tide but was fine for a quick meal out of the rain. The stove didn't want to work so I had to dismantle it and clean the jet and all was well. I was keeping an eye on the tide tho! It was coming in. As I cleaned up and moved out there was a brilliant full rainbow perfectly framed by the limestone arch over my head. Spectacular. Sad there was no way to catch something like that with the camera I have.
Monday. Rest day. I puttered about. Got restless, trying to decide if I should move my camp back on down the coast towards "home". The forecast was for moderate winds today and tomorrow, then strong on Wednesday. If I didn't make it back all the way tomorrow I might get stuck somewhere for a few more days. No big deal, just stuff to agitate over. The skies were blue, the rain was over, and i could feel a nice breeze building. While I was thinking, I saw a whale spout out there a ways. That did it. I would go for a day sail whale watching!. The surf rolling in was surprisingly big. These were not the usual wind waves but they seemed like swells coming from somewhere far off. As they came into my little bay they seemed to get bigger and compress on each other and some would really pound in on the beach. I launched quick, and paddled out thru them. All was well and it was pretty fun.
Outside the bay, no wind. Just a few puffs from various directions. I could see the whaled spouting way off but didn't feel like paddling that far, and the wind sure wasn't going to take me. There were no manta rays jumping todsy. I didnt see one. Yesterday they were thick. I bobbed about for a few hours, waiting for love. None. I paddled back in .
The big white cliffs around me are pretty cool. They are composed of hundreds, maybe thousands of feet thick of sea shells, Every size and kind you can imagine, all mashed together and turned to stone. Many of them are in perfect condition and as they weather out of the rock they look exactly like the live ones down on the beach today. It is hard to imagine the beach situation a million years ago that would have shells collected that thick. I have seen some beaches that are all shells, but certainly not a thousand feet thick. What an amazing world it was then.
To get up on the cliffs and walk out overlooking the sea, on one side there was an easy little friction scramble and then an easy walk. I have done that one several times just to get up and stroll about overlooking the sea. On the other side it was a lot harder. I could see a way that went, but it had a lot of loose rubble on steep slab, not my idea if fun, so I aborted on that one.
I tried a hermit crab experiment. I had a bag with a bunch of cracker crumbs that I dumped out on the sand right by a rock that seemed to have a bunch of crabs wandering under and out. It was pretty good sized pile of crumbs. By morning it was all gone. Not a trace. And not even any tracks. These little guys clean up the beach and leave it spotless!
Tuesday. Travel day. The winds were predicted to be moderate today, and strong tomorrow, so I wanted to most of the way home today, 10 miles, maybe even all the way if conditions were good. I was up and on the water before 7. Paddling. Past my previous camp, past the tip of isla Carmen, into the channel between Carmen and isla Danzante. The wind picked up, but right on my nose, so I was " motor sailing " (paddling with sails up..) Into the wind.
Today was day of other kayaks. For the entire last month I have not seen other kayakers, other than a few playing around beaches. Today I saw 18. There was a party of 4 boats out in the channel, they were out on a 3 day jaunt. Then at Danzante there were about 10 parked on the beach. They were out for a day tour, accompanied by a power boat that brought along chairs, tables, sun shades, food. All the luxuries for a nice day out. Then I saw a group of 2 trying to find their group of 3 to hook up with. Wow!. Overwhelming to say the least. At least they were all paddlers wanting to get out and enjoy nature in a peaceful way.
On Danzante I wandered about on some rocks right by the water's edge. There were 2 crabs, an orange one, and one of those fancy blue and red ones. When I approached, the orange one went right into the water and escaped. The blue one would not go in the water!. I sorted of chased him one way and then the next, and he would scamper back and forth right on the edge of the water, but almost looked like he didn't want to get his feet wet. Very odd.
Heading on across, paddling, when about a mile out from my beach I caught a little wind and coasted on in under sail. Finally! That was nice.
The rain storm I had out on the island really hit hard here. They had flooding that took out parts of the road, and big gullies washed out on the beach.
I think I will take a few days here and then launch for a final leg down to Agua Verde. I have been hearing how nice it is. It is about 20 miles so I should be able to make it in 2-3 days, plus allowing 3 extra for weather. Then noodle slowly for home.