Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 9 - Desert island disco


A routine begins each morning: make breakfast, clean galley, stow and secure anything below deck that moves, and finally, on-deck chores. If you’re not up and out of bed by 6 AM, you’re not sailing before 10 AM. After two days of stormy weather and pitching seas the boat felt like a cradle, gently rocking on a quiet, calm sea so rising early today was especially difficult.

We left the anchorage at Bahia El Cardonal and noted a promising morning breeze only to find, as we nosed out of the cove, the wind predictably died. It's pretty baffling. I'm told that so far this year the weather has been unusual, including an unseasonable storm followed by a lack of north winds (or any kind of wind for that matter), but we head out anyway with gusto and high hopes.

Provisions and water are starting to run thin. The nearest village which may, or may not, have supplies is San Evaristo, a tiny fishing village on Baja's mainland northwest from our current location and located directly across the channel from the Isla San Jose. We are already three days behind due to illness and foul weather combined.

With sails up and a southerly wind pushing us north, we should have been clipping along but, noooo… wind from the south (good) is at 1-2 knots (bad). Add to that three-to-four foot northerly sea swells and we are pretty much drifting backwards. It's now mid-afternoon and we’ve covered only a couple of miles so we tack around, catch what little wind there is and ride the swells to the cove just one up from where we started. Not a lot of progress but we are rewarded with yet another beautiful anchorage off the island of Espiritu Santo, Caleta Ensenada Grande.

This bay consists of 3 coves, each with a picture-perfect white sand beach and colorful rock formations. The captain chose the middle cove sandwiched between one smaller and another larger and deeper cove to our south. It's a nice sandy anchorage close to shore in 18 feet of clear, aqua water. Only one boat, Prole, occupied this cove and we figured there wasn’t room for too many more. We made a quick trip with the dingy to meet our neighbors on Prole, Mark and Susan, catch up on weather news and to ask if they knew about shopping in San Evaristo.  The couple own a hazelnut farm in Oregon and Mark makes amazing lounge hammocks suitable for dangling in the rigging for the ultimate experience. That’s where we found him as we pulled up, swinging in the breeze between the masts and reading a book.

The cliffs and beach at Ensenada Grande are especially nice. Ochre sandstone shaped in smooth undulating formations extend to a rock ledge hovering over the water, making interesting slurping sounds as swells flop into the airspace. This looks like a good rock hopping and snorkeling location too. Beyond the beach are several curious land-locked pools at the base of a cliff which contain a surprising quantity of some kind of fish, many well over a foot long. It's hard to figure how these fish survive, cut off from ocean water by a sand berm with no evidence of fresh water anywhere, except perhaps from runoff down what appears to be a dry waterfall during the rainy season . Considering the small size of these dwindling pools one has to wonder if they can survive until the next rainy season, still many months away.


During the late afternoon beach explore, new boats make their way into Ensenada Grande and we see them bobbing in the distance as they try to choose – ‘eeny-meeny-miney-moe, to which cove do we go?’. Soon we had two new sailing neighbors with others divided among the other two coves. It’s pretty full now – or so we think.

Just as the sun dipped behind the far distant mountains of Baja's mainland, two more boats burrowed in between us and the beach – this time motor yachts had anchored a short 80 feet away. Not just any motor yachts, but the large, modern sort loaded with lights, equipment and local Mexican twenty-something’s. Our neighbor Mark (on the Prole) later described these boats perfectly - they look like they were built by Italian tennis shoe designers.

Sometime during dinner - a meal concocted with what little was left over in the fridge - a new sound came blasting across the water and filtered through the open hatch. A vaguely familiar noise yet so uncharacteristic for this iconic, peaceful anchorage that I almost couldn’t believe my ears. The Italian tennis shoe party had started. The two motor yachts were rocking with two dozen squealing kids dancing to disco. The situation was too funny to be upsetting and we figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. We powered up some music on the Compass Rose and had a couple of  margaritas. I climbed up on deck with a video camera to capture the irony (below). And sometime around 2:30 AM the disco party was finally over. Aye Carumba!

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