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~ Chapter Four ~
San Quintin to Santa Rosalillita
Despite the noise made all night by the renegade anchovy, I slept well and was up at dawn to take advantage of the high tide to leave the shallow bay. Fortunately another fishing panga was leaving the other Old Mill pier at the same time, and I was able to follow in his wake to stay in the deepest part of the bay to get to the entrance. I could use all the luck I could muster up today because I already had a lot of work cut out for me. Today was going to be the longest leg of my entire trip...over 150 miles. That may not seem like a long distance but running at 18 miles per hour it becomes an all day trek.
My destination for the day was Santa Rosalillita, a large and beautiful natural harbor where the Mexican government had big ideas. In addition to planning this bay as one of the main supply stops for gringo boaters traveling the planned Nautical Ladder, Santa Rosalillita held the distinction of being the west port of the 86 mile "land bridge" that Mexico had on the drawing boards to truck yachts from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Cortez. But to me this small seaside fishing village held only one special distinction...it was the only place for 250 miles where I could get gasoline for the Vaka Viti.
The size of the swells increased as I headed south. They averaged about 4 feet in height, about twice as high as I had experienced since I left Los Angeles. But the wind was down, the sun came out and the ocean surface was smooth so I was loving life. After a serious tag with a lobster trap float and a few tangles with kelp I hit glassy waters and sunny skies. Miles of empty beaches lined the coast until I closed in on Punta Baja. I had visited this rocky fish camp before, delivering clothing and toys to the local people. As much as I wanted to stop and say hello again to these warm people I knew that I had to make good time getting to my next gas stop before dark.
In planning for the trip I continually read about the infamous Sacramento Reef south of Punta Baja. This 2 mile long and 2 mile wide reef had claimed more than its fair share of boats over the last 3 centuries, and I was determined that it would not be nibbling on the bottom of my little panga. Charts showed the safest path as being over 5 miles off shore, or taking a narrow channel between the beach and the reef for those daring souls who wanted to challenge the thick kelp beds. By this time I was a master of dodging kelp so I chose the inside passage. I passed the huge reef with no problem and continued heading south.
Around noon I noticed a huge tanker grounded on the shore. From the looks of the rusted hull it had probably been there for some time. South of the tanker the coastline transitioned from sand to low cliffs. Centuries of waves had cut a variety of caves into these cliffs of many different sizes and shapes, making the view along this long run extremely interesting. During the previous days of cruising I had seen twice as many dolphins as seals. Today the tide had turned (pun intended) and the seals were dominating the water all day long. However the one encounter I did have with dolphins this day was one of the best memories I have of the entire trip.
People love to talk about dolphins and to debate their intelligence. Beyond being just plain cute they do seem to harbor a level of gray matter not usually found in the animal kingdom. And the more I watched these wonderful mammals dance along the sides of my boat the more interested I became. And then they just plain blew me away. With 2 dolphins escorting me on each side of the boat I could see the competition heating up. One dolphin would jump out of the water just a little higher that his buddy and then visa versa. Finally the most ambitious dolphin decided it was time to Go for the Gold. Without fanfare he (or she...I haven't yet figured out how to tell the difference yet) jumped out of the water from the left side of the boat and flew directly over the front of my boat. He was literally over the interior of the Vaka Viti about 8 feet in front of my face! Keep in mind that I was traveling at 18 to 20 miles per hour and that his timing had to be impeccable to perform this stunt without error. As he crossed over the boat at eye level he flopped his tail to splash water on my face and then in an instant this mischievous prankster dipped back in the ocean on the other side of the boat! I laughed spontaneously at this impromptu extravaganza and almost could not believe what I had seen. As if to say the show is over (and we know who won the contest) the four dolphins turned around and swam away. It was an instant in time I will never forget as long as I live.
The two bays just north of Rosalillita were extremely protected and beautiful. The perfect place for a solo kayaker to set up camp and enjoy the Baja sun. I waved as I passed him and he smiled and waved back. I envied his free time and lack of a destination. Still I was excited about my adventure and soon I rounded the last point before Santa Rosalillita.
In the late afternoon I noticed a solo man walking northward along the beach totally naked. It seemed to be an odd place to see someone because there were no roads nearby and no development of any kind. His pace was slow but determined and then he stopped. He appeared to be looking at me. And then he continued walking, and I kept motoring.
As the sun slowly snuck up on the horizon I entered the natural harbor and headed towards the protected north west corner. I threw out my anchor and pulled out my sleeping mat and bag. I was exhausted. And I was very happy to have made it this far with no problems. There were a billion stars in the sky and the trip started to take on a new feeling. The feeling of nature. It was a very fulfilling way to fall asleep.