Another boat trip today, but this one far different than yesterday’s peaceful glide through the mangroves. Today we went out on a real boat, one with twin 496 cu. in. engines, leather seats and a stereo. Today we finally met our friends’ Sea Ray.
We’d heard lots of stories about this mythical beast, but we’d not had any first-hand experience with it, due to what seemed like a never-ending series of problems which our friends had been working through little by little. We’re not down here often enough to see the thing running between repair bouts, until today when the only issue on the maintenance chalkboard was a mysterious oil leak that was not a deal-breaker. So we met them at their condo in the next development up the beach and drove to the marina where we discovered that the batteries, all four of them, were too dead to start the engines. Rather than give up, our Captain plugged the boat into the dock and we sat on the back patio while the batteries charged and discussed the plusses and minuses of the 4 major Star Trek series. Eventually covering all the nuances of those shows, the batteries were still too dead to fully start the boat so the Captain got out his little lithium battery jump and forced the ship to life. We were on our way!
It was a beautiful day for cruising Bahia San Franciso. Light wind, a little chop and clear blue skies. Exiting the harbor, we stopped to have a look at the colony of nesting Blue-footed Boobies, perched on the guano-clad rocks, a hundred feet above the sea. There were only a handful of birds present, as their season is over, but the few that remained defied understanding of how they could sit on such tiny ledges with webbed feet.
It’s always nice to cruise along the shore here and look at houses from the ocean side of things. Being a tropical tourist town, the houses are all painted bright colors and are decorated with festive gardens on their sea-facing patios. All you see in town are austere fronts that hide the character that can only be seen from the ocean.
We spun around Honeymoon Island, made very green by the recent rains but void of any nesting Pelicans. Two Great-blue Herons were standing on their massive nests, constructed in the large Cardon cacti above the shore. One bird stood on guard below the massive cactus arms. A few gulls and some Oystercatchers wandered the rocks below, looking for a meal.
We turned back to the west and passed the harbor entrance, coming around the point that forms the left side of the channel. And as if by magic, the sea changed instantly. No longer smooth as glass, it was now choppy and rough, and it was immediately apparent that no one would want to take a long trip in that kind of water. After braving the swells our Captain turned around and took us back to shore.
A late lunch was on the agenda so we took the bumpy ride out to La Manga, a tiny fishing village just up the coast. Twenty years ago, it was nothing more than a few temporary fishing shacks and a couple of boats pulled out on the shore. But little by little it has grown and now sports a small school, several restaurants and a mechanic. To my eye, there is still no running water or electricity but these places pop up throughout the 3rd world and people get by. We had a nice fish lunch overlooking another bay, with precisely the opposite view we have from our place.
It was late afternoon when returned to our place. The tide was exceptionally low – in fact, lower than we’d ever seen it so we took our spotting scope and binoculars and went out back to have a quick scan of the estuary. The water was low out there too, but not nearly as low as it was on the beach and the birds were not all that great. So packed up and returned in time to catch one more amazing sunset.
For those of you that are fans of travel books, and interested in this particular part of the world, I highly recommend “The Log From the Sea of Cortez” by John Steinbeck. It’s a modest volume covering Steinbeck’s participation on an oceanic research expedition led by Ed Ricketts (of “Cannery Row” fame) to the Sea of Cortez in the early 1940s. It captures the spirit of the place quite well, despite being almost 80 years old. He talks at length about the destruction of the ocean in a way that is highly relatable to what continues today. An interesting difference – he refers to the Japanese fishing fleets emptying the local stocks, at a time just before we went to war with them. It’s good yarn, and educational to boot.