Monday, April 10, 2017

San Evaristo: Off the Grid, Coromuel Winds, Two-Legged Paradox

Intermezzo has moved into one of the more remote areas of the Sea of Cortez. If anyone is wondering why I haven't responded to email, that's why. I'm only reachable by satellite phone and email for the next week or so. It's also the reason there a no pictures to go with this blog. I'll catch up posting pictures when I next have a good internet connection.

We spent a few days in La Paz picking up some provisions, a few items from the marine chandlery and, finally, mounting the wheels on the dinghy. The wheels will make it much easier to haul the dink up on the beach, a back breaking effort without them. We also enjoyed a couple of nice meals out.

Reviewing Steinbeck's Log from the Sea of Cortez, it seemed the crew of the Western Flyers did the similar things, plus some collecting of marine specimens along El Magote, the narrow land barrier that forms La Paz's harbor.

On Saturday we left La Paz and headed to Isla Espiritu Santo, anchoring in Ensenada de la Raza. We chose this anchorage as it would provide shelter from the forecasted northerly winds. However, the winds blew from the south, throwing up a decent swell and making for a bumpy night's sleep. The weather forecasts have been totally off for the past two weeks; I've pretty much given up on them.

This time of year, winds called coromuels often start blowing in the evening and continue through the night. We're getting familiar with these winds flow in from the Pacific Ocean and across the low lying land of the Baja peninsula, blowing from the southwest. So, the prevailing wind during the day is from the northwest, the direction we are sailing in, and the coromuels blow in the evening from the southwest, while we are at anchor. Figures.

I enjoyed snorkeling on Sunday morning along the steep rocky shore of Isla Galeo, a tiny island just outside our anchorage. The water was clear, there were a lot of fish and I was glad to see some healthy, live coral.

Steinbeck and company made Isla Espirtu Santos one of their collection stations, gathering specimens from tidal pools at the south of the island.

Steinbeck'a narrative for each chapter of his log typically follows a three part pattern. He describes the setting of the collection station, what they observed while collecting and lists in some detail all the creatures they extract and preserve from the tidal zone for scientific study. He narrates an installment of his travelogue of their adventure in the Sea. And he covers a philosophical topic.

At Isla Espiritu Santos, Steinbeck discusses a duality of good and bad qualities in humans and the resulting ethical paradox. Man loves the good- tolerance, kindness, generosity, etc.- and considers the bad- cruelty, greed, self-interest, etc. - undesirable. Yet he envies and admires the person with bad qualities who succeeds economically and socially. He would rather be successful than good. He compares this to the animal kingdom where "good" translates to a lower chance of survival and "bad" with a stronger chance.

"Man might then be described fairly and adequately as a two-legged paradox. He has never become accustomed to the tragic miracle of consciousness. Perhaps...his species is not set, has not jelled, but is still in a state of becoming, bound by his physical memories to a past of struggle and survival, limited in his futures by the unseasoned of thought and consciousness."

We spent Sunday night at Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida, the island immediately north of Espiritu Santo, separated by just a narrow gap. It was an uneventful night, safely tucked in out of the way of coromuels.

Today we visited Bahia Amortajada, another of the Wester Flyer's collection stations and kayaked in the shallow bay and mangrove channel. I'll describe what we saw there in my next post.

We're spending the night in a calm harbor of San Evaristo, a tiny village in the shadow of Sierra de la Giganta, the tall mountain range that rises right out of the Sea along the east coast of the Baja peninsula. There are quite a few other boats here. The next few anchorages we will visit, while remote with respect to permanent residents and infrastructure, are popular among cruisers due to their natural beauty and the abundance of marine life. Their appreciation of such an environment seems to keep the anchorages quiet and peaceful, the people on the boats friendly but who mostly keep to themselves.