November 19, 1998
Beach of Two Stone Waves, Baja California Sur, Mexico
I am sitting comfortably in my Therm-a-Rest chair enjoying the
warmth of a small bon-fire. My father is near-by reading the Lonely Planet
Guide to the Baja by the light of a Petzl headlamp. We are camped out in little
cove south east of Mulege.
Before leaving Mulege, I dropped into El Alleyman, a dusty little electronics
shop, with the only internet access in town. I was still sitting at the
computer 35 minutes after the store had closed, but the lady was very
patient with me and didn't seem to mind. I wrote a one page summery of
the past month and sent it to my mother to be posted on my website. I
plan on adding my full journals to the site when I get to La Paz. It took
me several tries to connect to El Allemande's server, because the phone
system here is transmitted via micro waves - which are less than adequate
for sending data. The single email cost me 15 pesos.
The following afternoon we paddled into Bahia Conception and camped on
Isla Coyote with Sarah, and Paul, a young couple who we had met at the
Orchard Camp ground, and accompanied us on the paddle from Mulege. That
night, the largest meteor show in years was supposedly going to take place
from 1am to 6 am. I saw a few before going to sleep, and was looking forward
to the event very much. Sarah and Paul had there alarm clock set for 2 am, and I told them
to wake me up too. In the morning, they said that after staring into the
heavens for over half an hour without seeing a single shooting star, there
was no point in waking me. Oh well, life goes on.
After departing Isla coyote, we headed toward a string of small buildings
surrounding coyote Bay, in search of the NOLS headquarters. I was mainly
just curious to see where the big bucks are going, but I also wanted to
see if they would sell us one of their used water bags - which unfortunately
they didn't have any to spare. Their facility is entirely solar powered,
and I was impressed by their self composting toilets, and efficient water
conservation system - which involves using their "Gray water" (water from
showers and washing dishes) to water the plants. As we were leaving, a
sea kayaking course was arriving back from a 3 week paddle to Loreto. We hope to do
the same distance in a single week.
In need of water and groceries, we stopped into Playa Santispac. There
was only one store, and we found some things to be rather over-priced.
A gallon of water cost 12 pesos - double the price found in Mulege. However,
the were a few good deals. Oranges were only a peso each, and our lunch
- six bean burritos, two side dishes of rice, and two Sodas, came to a
total of just 36 pesos, or 3.60 US.
It took us most of the afternoon to paddle out of Bahia Conception, and
we spent last night camped out in a little cove at the mouth of the Bay.
Over the past month, we have had a lot of people tell us that Bahia Conception
is a place so beautiful.... it is not to be missed. Myself, I didn't find
it any nicer than most of the places we have visited. It is very pretty, but
pretty alone gets boring quickly. Snorkeling in the Bay sucks, because
of the sandy bottom. Fish like rocky bottoms... and I like spearing fish.
I'm addicted to it. I can't go snorkeling with out bring my gun, and I
don't leave the water without a fish. Today at noon, I hit a large bronze striped Sea Chub,
and the beast put up such a fight, he twisted the tip off my gun, and
swam away with it in his belly. That was my new tip too. I just had it
duct taped on. I was totally pissed off at myself. I should have been
using my other tip which is already busted.
We landed early today, because I wanted to get some writing done, but
first I had to go snorkeling. I taped the old tip on, and in no time I
hit another large sea chub. This time, I grabbed him by the tail so he
wouldn't get away. Most divers prefer to put their fish in a bag, or on
a string which they attach to their waste, but I don't have a either, so I just take the fish
out of the water and set a rock on them so the birds don't take it. After
I have speared a fish, I usually try to keep it far away from me while
in the water. Some of those bad boys have nasty looking teeth. The last
thing I want to do is tie it to my waste, then have it watch me slaughter it's mother. Five
minutes after getting back in the water, I spotted a bright orange fish
that resembled a grouper. I had never seem one before. I dove down parallel
to him, too a second to aim properly, then connected with him from a distance
of 5feet. After flipping through my fish identification book, I found
that the fish I had speared was a very rare Leopard Grouper which Metamorphosed
into a "golden Phase" - something only one in a hundred of them will do
I filleted it, chopped it into strips, and marinated it in seasons.
There was a lot of water left in the pot after I was done boiling
the fish, so I threw in a package of dried refried beans. That was
a big mistake. The beans where mixed with chilly peppers, which
totally drowned the taste of the fish. Dad has been asleep for hours,
and the fire is almost out. A few minutes ago, I heard something
and shined my headlamp in that direction. A pair of green eyes starred
back at me. Itlooked to be about the size of a raccoon. This place
is totally dry. There is no fresh water in sight. I have no idea
how they can survive - other than by stealing from careless campers.
I better make go make sure all our food and water is locked away
in our hatches.
November 21, 1998
Palm Tree Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico
We are now just 4 miles down the coast from where we landed two days
ago. Yesterday morning, the swell was quite large, and combined with the
high tide and steep beach, it made for a difficult exit. The surf was
dumping from a height of about 3 feet, so we carried our boats down the
beach to where it was more protected. When we were ready to shove off,
I held the bow of dad's kayak to keep it from sliding down the embankment into the water, while he got in and put on his spray skirt. After the last of a large set of waves
had hit the beach, I gave the boat a tug, sending it out into the water
using the retracting wave to assist. There was no one to help me, so I
had to perch my kayak on top of the bank, then get in, and push myself
over the lip - being careful not to crack the middle of my hull due to
the strain placed on it from the loaded compartments on either end. My
timing was just right, and I slid down the steep pebbly bank and into
the water with ease. Even though the wind was not very hard (about 10
knots), and we have paddled in much larger seas, my father was pprehensive
about continuing and suggested that it might be safer if we headed back
in. He has been far more conservative since his first capsize. He would
not have hesitated in such conditions two weeks ago. I assured him that
if this got worse, we could land at the next sheltered cove, which laid
just beyond the headland four miles away. After rounding the headland,
my father capsized less than a thousand feet from where we were to land.
I was more than a little surprised. The seas were small, and the wind
was light. After flipping the boat right side up, it took me five minutes
to pump the water out, and just a few seconds for him toget back in. We
are getting quite good at the procedure. I hope we aren't forced to do
more practice. The beach was south facing and protected by a shoal, so
the surf was small and the landing easy.
Although the underwater visibility was poor, I was able to spear a fair
size blue chinned Parrot fish - named for its colorful appearance and
beek-like mouth. We then went for a long walk up into the hills behind
the beach. There were spectacular views looking down either side of the
coast, and an abundance of interesting forms of cactus, but the hike was
somewhat unnerving due to the waist high labyrinth of thorny plants which
covered the ground. After a delicious meal of parrot fish and noodles,
I made a short call home to give our location, then we hit the sack. This
morning, as we were packing up our gear to head out, I took a close look
at the sea conditions and concluded that they were not any calmed than
what we had exited from yesterday. My father agreed, and opted for a hike.
I sat in the shade of a palm tree (which was the only one in site), and
mended my neoprene gloves with needle and dental floss, and my straw hat
with a needle and fishing line. I also came upon a large Tarantula, which
was 20 times bigger than any other I have ever seen in the wild.
Yesterday, I found that my scuba mask was not sealing to my face well,
and water was leaking in under my nose. Today, I shaved off my mustache
and the problem seems to be fixed. The underwater visibility was horrible,
and I could hardly see beyond the tip of my spear gun. It was the first
time I have ever left the water without a fish. Tonight we will be eating