Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Alone Again

[Editor's Note: Written as we returned from Bahia de Los Angeles to Santa Rosalia in mid June.]

Rock Finds
Rock Finds
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Something about timing precludes the Conger Clan from exploring new territory at the same time as every other boat in the cruising fleet. We headed north for the Vancouver Island inside passage about two months before everyone else. When it came time to head south to Zihau, we got down there at least three weeks before the rest of the troops. Now heading into Bahia de Los Angeles area north of Santa Rosalia, we leave the summer Sea of Cortez fleet in our wake and head into the wilderness toot sool. At least we're consistent.

For three weeks, we haven't seen another living cruiser. We've seen living souls, though few enough even of those. A couple of pangas, some sport fishers, a pair of tourists escorted out of one of the resorts. We even saw a quartet of hikers on the way up Volcano Coronado. These exceptions to prove the solitary rule, however, just make things a bit more interesting while leaving the cruising grounds isolated and beautiful.

Unexpectedly, the Sea of Cortez has literally flattened the family with its harsh, desolate beauty. This area makes Espiratu Santos look positively lush. There are no trees; In fact, in some places you would be hard pressed to find even so much as a blade of grass. Humans can barely shoe-horn an existence in the few tiny pocket arroyos and lagoons. Animals find the lifestyle nearly as challenging.

We often sail at roughly 2 knots. That's hardly a sail, I realize, but with no swell or wave action, we can float quietly and peacefully while DrC plays his guitar and the girls and I study. We don't have any where in particular to go so we just waft along, moving, I suspect, almost entirely on the tide. It's amazing how far you can go at 2 knots if there are no waves to slap you around.

Our patience is frequently rewarded by encounters with the abundant sea life. While the landscape is almost alien with its rocky, volcanic geology, the Sea of Cortez itself is so full of life we can hardly move the boat without running into something. What we believe to be fin whales are everywhere we go. We can see and hear them blowing all around us as we passage from one small anchorage to another. On several occasions, the big guys have come near the boat. Once, we all ran to the bow to watch three lurch past. There is no question the creatures were considerably longer than our boat. The tail fins alone looked nearly 10 feet from tip to tip if not wider. Two passed along side us just under the surface while a third decided to go straight under the boat. We gasped, ooh'd, ah'd, and panicked as the huge fin slid slowly through the tramps at about 20 feet below us. OMIGODWTF. I love whales, but I really think that they are creatures better seen from a distance. It's hard to be calm when a creature half again the length of your house gets a bit curious.

We have also seen several pods of feeding dolphins as well as whatever you call a bunch of very pleased-with-themselves seals. We hear coyotes on shore so there must be something somewhere to eat. When we anchor in turquoise waters off white sand beaches, the bottom 25 feet below us is so clear we can practically snorkel by sitting on the transom with a rum punch and peering over the side. And while our fishing luck continues to run towards nothing more exciting than sculpin and trigger fish, we could dine almost nightly on lobster and clams were we so inclined. The official going rate in these remote anchorages for lobster is five medium sized creatures for a box of orange juice and a 2 liter bottle of Fresca. Deep fish like tuna is a bit pricier, requiring us to hand over several tomatoes, a half dozen eggs, and a package of tortillas. The barter economy is live and well.

Without the distraction of buddy boats, fellow cruisers, or the temptations of town, we've settled into a steady routine. Morning is school and boat chores while underway or at anchor. A hot lunch, then we go our separate ways. If at an anchor, the children often take the dinghy and head off on their own adventures. The basic wildness of our girls grows daily, the freedom and safety and stunning natural beauty of the landscape bringing out the same in the spirits of our children. We snorkel and we hike. We study, watch movies, and practice our instruments. We read and read and read and read.

The regret and sadness is palpable on the boat as we make our way southwards back towards Santa Rosalia. Soon Daddy will leave for several months. Soon Don Quixote will be tied unnaturally to a dock in a harbor for months on end. Too soon we will be surrounded again in people, food, the Internet, and all sorts of tempting ways to spend our money. DrC is at the helm, Aeron in his lap. A world music mix plays Caribbean sounds as a background to swoosh of the beam sea and 15 knots of wind while the sun slowly sets on our last relaxed sail of the season. I lean into my husband's back with tears in my eyes and whisper in his ear, “We're not done yet.”
Don Quixote in Animas Slot
Don Quixote in Animas Slot
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Toast. You keep us going!
Kirk and Donna
L440 Ainulindale

jody said...

Excellent post, Toast. All the reasons why I want to head out right now.

Relentless Toil said...

This is amazing.

Singing Land Cruiser said...

My Dear Toast, your words are wonderful. Christi and I can't wait for your posts. We are on day 7 of our new life. The Blue Mesa is very nice. Stay safe, M&C