Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 15 - Rough seas and honey bees

Some nights I can sleep with the wind howling through the rigging and the boat 'a-pitchin': other nights... not so much. Last night was one where I found myself often waking, with dread. It really felt like the boat was drifting. Maybe because I knew it was a west wind, trying its hardest to edge us to shore rather than away from it.

Groggy over a cup of tea while cooking up the morning grub, I was day dreaming about exploring Amortajada Laguna (the shrouded lagoon). That would have to wait, however, until the noon high tide to allow a dingy boat entrance. Meanwhile, a strong breeze had carried the fragrance of my hot cakes onshore and before I could serve them, the busy bombers had arrived. I had read in one of the guidebooks that this island hosted an endemic specie of bee. (Later the conversation was whether they might have bred with a highly aggressive African bee).

Now, anyone who knows me will attest to my discomfort around any sort of stinging insect in close quarters; this was no exception and a sight to behold.  I couldn't tell whether the captain was amused or annoyed as I ran about closing port lights, exploding on deck through the hatch, waving dish towels and yelling at the little bastards who were interfering with my galley duties.

Mind you, they're very cute, as they hover through port holes at eye level looking for pancakes, or water, or whatever attracts them. And they were more than persistent: shooing and swatting had no effect at all. They would leave briefly, then return with friends. It felt like an hour of this went by before I finally put up the white flag. Furthermore, we had been misinformed by our neighbors the previous night about when high tide would occur, and now half of the morning had been spent swatting bees, so the estuary expedition was off. Time to pull anchor and leave for the next cove south. My time in the Sea of Cortez was drawing to a close.

Leaving the bees and drifting sandbars behind, we set a south east course for Isla San Francisco and protection from a south west wind, should one arise during the night. This time the captain aimed for a promising, but little used anchorage at the leeward side of Isla San Franicisco.

On route and spitting distance off the tip of Isla San Francisco lies Isla Coyote, a rock no bigger that a football field, which supports a small community - a few houses, a chapel, and a cemetery. The few children that live there attend school in San Evaristo, commuting 6 miles across the channel by panga boat. I can hardly imagine what it must be like to live on this tiny poke of land; perhaps not much different than living on a boat at times ...
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The beauty of the leeward side of Isla San Francisco island caught me unaware, with its colorful geography, stacked and layered like an expensive wedding cake. After a quick snoop through the small cove, we motored to 'The Hook' on the windward side of the island for a more sheltered location. Unpredictable winds had most everyone on the VHF scratching their heads these days, which meant picking the right cove for the night was like choosing the Trifecta.

'The Hook' is my favorite spot, so far, with its close proximity to trails and phenomenal views - the dizzying kind. Something about this place speaks to me and makes me want to stay. I am glad to have had the chance to be here twice.

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