Saturday, April 29, 2023

Hiking, Sardines, Underwater Maintenance

Caleta San Juanico, Baja California Sur

Intermezzo anchored in Caleta San Juanico, in solitude

We arrived in Caleta San Jaunico yesterday at 12:24pm after an easy motor from Isla Coronados. I wish I had waited until later in the morning to leave Coronados as a nice southerly wind sprung up just as I arrived in San Juanico and blew most of the afternoon. I could have sailed instead of motored. Lesson learned. 

We anchored in the southern end of the caleta, more than a mile away from the four other boats anchored towards the northern end. When I arrived, I wanted solitude. Later in the afternoon, I felt lonely and wished I had company. I seem to vacillate between these opposing feelings that arise when I'm alone, most of the time balanced in the middle. It doesn't take much to shift me in one direction or the other.

I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning inside the cabin and taking care of "paperwork". The Starlink internet connection is great for allowing me to take care of business while in a remote anchorage with no cell service.

This morning I landed the paddle board on a nearby sandy beach to go hiking. My paddle board skills have improved to the extent that I felt comfortable wearing my daypack while paddling. Conditions were calm, but if I lost my balance, my hiking shoes, towel and lunch would have suffered a dunking. When I was learning to paddle board, I would regularly fall off for seemingly no reason, just lose my balance. I fell off that board in every possible direction, front, back, right, left. Somehow my inner ear and body learned to work together while standing up on the tippy board, though. I and the contents of my pack made it to the beach as dry as a bone.

I hiked about a mile north along a shoreline ridge to another beach close to where the other boats were anchored. I ate a sandwich, drank some water and headed back. It was short but strenuous hike through rocky desert under a hot sun.

On the way back, I looked more closely at a dark patch in the water that I had noticed earlier from the top of the ridge. I had originally thought it was a patch of rocks in shallow water. But upon closer observation, the dark patch was moving. It was a huge school of sardines, I'd estimate over 450 feet long and 150 feet wide. The shape of the patch undulated like a cloud, similar to a murmuration of starlings, but moving more slowly and in two dimensions rather than three. Pelicans were floating above the huge cloud of sardines, occasionally taking flight and diving to eat some. An all-you-can-eat sardine bar for them to enjoy and gorge upon.

When I returned to Intermezzo, I dove in the water to cool off. I put a snorkel and mask on so that I could see if any underwater maintenance was needed. The anodes on the propellers needed replacing and a thin layer of weed was growing on the bottom. I spent the afternoon changing anodes and cleaning the bottom. I started out just wearing my swimsuit, but got chilled quickly in the 70°F water, so I changed into a shorty wetsuit. Much better for warmth in the water, but annoyingly buoyant when trying to work underwater. 

When the underwater maintenance was finished, I warmed up with a shot of Patron añejo tequila and a (very) hot solar-heated shower off the stern of the boat, then enjoyed a cold beer while basking in the sun. A nice way to end a very active day.

Tomorrow we set sail for Punta Chivato, about 55nm north of here, the longest passage since the crossing of the Sea from Mazatlan. I'm going to leave at sunrise and expect to arrive before sunset. Southerly winds are suggested by the models, so I'm hoping that we get to sail at least some of the way.

Paddle board landing zone

Caleta San Juanico, looking north from the ridge trail

Hiking the ridge trail in the desert sun

The huge cloud of sardines, pelicans sitting atop