Sunday, January 2, 2011- Bahia de los Muertos
We spent the few days before Marie Noel’s arrival doing boat chores and provisioning. My major task was to fix my dell computer (which I hate). For some reason, it had stopped recognizing my telcel nokia stick modem. I tried the modem on another machine, and it work well. I decided that there was something wrong with the driver for the stick and tried to down load a new copy from telcel. No luck. Finally, and only desperation would drive me to this, I decided to call Dell. Of course the 800 number would not work from Mexico, and there was no other number on the website. I had an inspiration and called the 800 number using Skype and it quickly put me in touch with a lovely man in India named Charles. He very efficiently took billing information before passing me on to lady with an unpronounceable Indian name to take care of my technical problems. She was able to drive my computer remotely and did so for the better part of an hour. Unfortunately, she did not fix the problem – instead suggesting that I call nokia. She talked me into getting a program to ‘declutter’ my computer. After an hour and a half, I was $100 poorer and the modem still did not work. Somewhat disgusted, I decided to give the new software a try. Damned if it did not fix the problem.
Marie Noel arrived at 5 on the 20th after a very long day. She had gotten up at 3 EST – a 14 hour day. We took her to the Costa Baja Beach Club palapa – which she decided looked like a movie set – for a nice early dinner and retired early.
The weather forecast was good for the next couple of days, so we left early and headed north. By the time we got as far as Isla San Francisco, the wind had come up from the south, making that a poor anchorage. We continued up to the village of San Evaristo which has a lovely harbor. Marie Noel and I took a stroll through the village which boasts about 20 families, a school and a desalinization plant and visited a remarkably well stocked tienda. Then back to the boat to introduce her to dorado, which, as we expected, she found to be delicious.
The next morning we woke to an unusual sight – fog on the hills behind San Evaristo. The wind had died down, so we headed back to San Francisco, one of my favorite places. The beach is white and the water an extraordinary aqua color and we had a lovely mellow day beach combing, reading, and napping. The water was 72, but with the air temperature at 76, we did not feel the need to swim.
Later that afternoon, a young woman, Alicia, from a 37 foot sailboat named “On Verra” kayaked by. Her boat was home ported in Portland Oregon, so we hailed her, asking where in Portland she lived. She was somewhat vague about that. In fact, I don’t believe she ever lived there, but it was a good home port tax wise. While talking, she mentioned that they had been down in Patagonia in their boat and had gone on to Antarctica. Earl immediately asked her to come over for drinks and share their stories with us. I warned Earl that I was determined to have dinner at a reasonable hour, so to cut off the drinks at 6 so that they would leave.
They did not seem to have a dingy and Earl had offered to give them a ride, but they said no problem. Sure enough, promptly at five, they arrived together in a ride on top kayak. They were fully dressed, he with a beret, she sitting on his lap, and a bowl of fresh ceviche on hers. Alfredo looked quite delightful with his hat and wonderful smile. He spoke wonderful Italian English and Alicia looked delicious in a rather raggedy tee shirt. What a couple they turned out to be and what a story they told! It was enough for several books and a couple of movies. Needless to say, they did not leave at 6.
Alicia was born in New Orleans and started sailing at the age of two. After completing St John College, she headed for San Francisco where she worked teaching sailing. Before long, she was crewing boat deliveries in the Pacific and it was not long before she parted ways with her college sweetheart. She had met Daniel, a computer software sailing man. In time they bought On Verra and set off, with Daniel doing some telecommuting. Seven years later found them on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean, part of a community of sailors who were living the good life, swimming, sailing, eating fish and coconuts, playing beach volleyball and partying.
Meanwhile, Alfredo was single handing a steel hulled sail boat eastward across the Pacific, headed for the same atoll. 500 miles from it, his engine threw a rod and spewed oil all over the inside of his boat. The winds died and he limped slowly to his destination where he was met by the earlier arrivals. Everyone pitched in with parts and labor, and within a week the engine was working. It was such a nice place that Alfredo lingered for five months instead of the one he had planned. Over that time, Alicia and Alfredo had become friends, Alicia secretly swimming across the lagoon for coffee while Daniel worked on this computer.
Things finally came to a head on Alicia’s birthday. She and Daniel had decided to have a Garden of Eden party. They were dressed as Adam and Eve in strategically placed leaves. Everyone came appropriately dressed with plants and body paint. Daniel came wearing an apple, the forbidden fruit. In the course of a wonderful party, many leaves were lost, and at the end of the evening Alicia announced that she was going home with the forbidden fruit. The next day, Daniel kayaked all her stuff across the lagoon and shortly thereafter both boats left headed for the tip of Africa. Poor Daniel was dealing with a boat that was not set up for solo sailing and had a tendency to sea sickness. Periodically, Alicia would leave Alfredo and help Daniel out on the On Verra. Eventually after some very rough sailing they made it to South Africa. Daniel found some crew and headed for New York. Alicia and Alfredo headed for Brazil.
They loved Brazil. Unfortunately, after a while it was discovered that Alicia had no visa, so it was time to sail on. Their new friends loaded up their sail boat with provisions, including tons of green coconuts, and off they went. Alicia was running a fever and went below. Sailing with a 20 knot wind, six miles off shore Alfredo ran into a reef which took the bottom off his boat. It took two minutes to sink and the life raft did not deploy. They had just enough time to save their passports and a little money. Holding on to some floating jetsam, they swam towards shore and found a dive platform on to which they climbed. From there they swam after coconuts and water bottles and back on the platform they watch pieces of Alfredo’s life drift by.
In time, some fishermen rescued them. Alfredo bemoaned his situation to a fellow Italian that he met. He was told that nothing he lost was irreplaceable; this man had lost his son which put it in perspective. He had a 61 foot boat in Maryland which needed to be delivered to Palermo and he gave Alfredo the delivery job, despite Alfredo having just sunk his own boat. Their travels and story continued, and I will not try to remember it all. Eventually, Daniel called Alicia and told her to come and get the boat. He said he had bought it for her and she should have it. Once again, Alicia and Alfredo had a home. In the years since they have sailed everywhere. As she told us, if they want to go somewhere, they sail. After Patagonia they had gone to San Francisco, found it too cold, and had come to the sea of Cortez. The boat has spent two summers on the hard here. During the first, they hiked the Pacific Crest trail from Mexico to Canada and hitch hiked back. The second, they bicycled 8,000 plus miles around the USA. Now they are off to Pitcairn Island which they have never visited. One future destination is South East Asia from which they want to make a trek to the Himalayas. On the 37 foot sailboat they have 2 bikes, 5 pairs of boots, 5 sleeping bags, two tents and God knows what else. Pretty hard core!
The next morning, Earl found that his grey water tank was not working, so we headed back to La Paz to fix it. Earl had a spare. The pump was in a pretty hard to get to place under the guest bunk, but he eventually replaced it. Unfortunately, it did not solve the problem. After much analysis, he discovered that he had put the new pump in backward. It works very well now.
We spent another few lovely days at anchor with Marie Noel around Espiritu Santo. The time went far too fast. We had a couple of days on land before she left and we took a trip to Todo Santos to see the Pacific Ocean, shop and visit the original “Hotel California”. We also had a chance to introduce her to our friends John and Maria Luisa who loved her.
Then it was time for her to leave and two days later our friends Clark and Joan arrived from La Conner Washington. Now, having celebrated the arrival of 2011, we are headed to the mainland. We ran down to Muertos yesterday, a lumpy ride with 30 mile an hour winds. It is still howling today, but the forecast is for it to come down. It looks like there is about a 48 period of okay weather which should see us across to the mainland. I am keeping my fingers crossed!