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~ Chapter Nineteen ~


San Francisquito to Las Animas


"When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe


I woke up well after sunrise and poked my head up over the gunned to see where I had ended up after my early morning adventure. I found myself sitting 50 feet off the beach next to the rocks at the north end of San Francisquito Beach, right where I had been snorkeling the previous afternoon! The light I had been following was a navigational aid located at the outer end of the rocks. Of all of the places I could have ended up after the madness that took place the night before, I could not have hoped for a better place to end up. I motored down the beach to the resort and pulled the Vaka Viti up on the beach to clear my tab with Charry. The bill for the gasoline, cocktails and beer totaled $73. I gave her $85 and thanked her once again for her wonderful hospitality.

My goal today was to reach Bahia de los Angeles, a funky fishing village in a spectacular natural setting only 85 miles up the coast. As it turned out I never even got close. The first of several obstacles throughout the day was a dangerous rip current which we had named the 'standing wall of death'. This current was almost always active at the far tip of the north point at 'Francisquito and the boiling white water and criss-crossing waves could usually be seen from the cabanas and the dining area at the resort. I had seen it from shore many times before but I did not know what to expect going through it in a boat. It would have been possible to go out and around this bubbling caldron if I wanted to head a bit south and then around, but I preferred to take the most direct route north which went right through the middle of the madness. The boat flipped and flopped as I moved slowly forward through the whitewater, but soon I was passed the rumble and tumble and headed north on calm seas.

The wind and water did not stay calm for long. Within 2 hours I was fighting a direct 20 knot head wind accompanied by 2 to 4 foot seas. The wind only continued to get worse and the sea was now a canvas of whitewater in all directions. I held my breath each time the hull of the Vaka V raised up and then slammed down into the trough of the next wave, only to heave up and slam down again and again and again. I reached a point where I was questioning the integrity of the boat, even though she had fared well under other rough conditions on this trip. Soon I found myself guiding the boat between 6 to 8 foot swells and realized that it was nothing short of stupid to continue on. Forget Bahia de los Angeles, just get me to a cove to ride out this wind storm.

It was very difficult to read the map and drive the boat through the waves but I had to find a place to hole up. The Auto Club map was not detailed enough to show smaller coves, so I pulled out the guide book I had used to walk my way through some of the other coves further south. A small cove dubbed 'Animas Slot' seemed to be my nearest refuge, but mile after mile it eluded me. Finally I noticed a cove that had similar characteristics to the one mentioned in the book, and I pulled in hoping for the best. After rounding the corner and slipping past the island in the center of the cove I entered a very protected cove, complete with calm waters and a sandy beach. If I was going to be stuck anywhere, this was an awesome place to be stuck.

The sun was on the second half of it's journey across the daytime sky and it was even a bit warm when I found a protected pocket away from the wind. The residual swells from the wind wrapped into the cove and prevented me from landing the boat directly on the beach. So I anchored her in 4 feet of water and took the lifeboat to shore. Although it was a beautiful place it was devoid of any life and I had never felt so far from a Krispy Kreme store in my entire life.

All of the clothes that had been laying on the deck had gotten wet with sea-spray and I was also soaked to the bone. I brought a shirt and shorts to shore and laid them in the sun so I might have some dry clothes to sleep in later on. It seemed unlikely that I would be getting out of this cove anytime soon, although I had hoped the wind would die down as sunset neared. I walked the 100 yard beach to gain a bigger perspective of my new found home. I found what appeared to be an old campfire in the northwest corner of the cove. It probably belonged to some unfortunate pangero who got stuck here under similar circumstances. I eventually reclaimed my now-dry clothes and rowed the raft back to the boat. I set up the deck of the boat for the evening and then realized that I had not eaten all day. I nibbled on a granola bar and took a swig of water before going to bed just after sunset. The wind continued to howl all night long.


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