Yesterday afternoon at San Marte I took the kayak out and met an inflatable dinghy with a homemade canopy, with a little dog that looked like a miniature husky and sounded like a squeaky toy, dancing around on its bow. Piloting the dink was Janice, who’s a year-round cruiser with her husband Jay on their boat (didn’t catch its name), from Sausalito. We must have talked for a half hour, with her holding onto the kayak so we drifted along the shore. They spend the hottest time of the year at Bahia Los Angeles on the Baja coast and she says it’s pleasant, much better than San Carlos. She gave me an update on Escondido, said the moorings were a joke because they were designed with rope leading from the cement blocks, then tied to chain, so they wrap around the blocks in low tide and chafe. Becoming unmoored is not uncommon. We talked about food and she said they’d just caught a fish, which she cleaned, because they’re going to be there another two weeks and provisions getting low. She hates catching fish because they’re sometimes still alive when she starts to clean them and she has to bonk them over the head with a hammer.
I wished I had time to get to know her better, but we left first thing this morning before they were up. Maybe I’ll see them again someday.
Crisis du jour was motoring out of Punta San Marte this morning, when we hit a reef. first time that’s happened when I was aboard, and we still don’t know whether we sustained damage. But it seems that we dodged the bullet this time, mainly thanks to the shape of our hull and keel which allowed us to wriggle off the reef backwards. The Morgan is designed with a shoal keel, only 3’11” deep, for bareboat charter use in the Caribbean where there are a lot of coral reefs.
I was in the galley starting the oatmeal when I heard a stomach-wrenching crunch beneath us and the Capt. screamed “Fuck!”. He didn’t see the reef coming and the guidebook we’ve been using said there should have been ten feet of water over it even at low tide. But we’re having extreme low tides right now, just after the full moon. He used the rudder to make a sharp reverse turn and then another, and within minutes we were free of the rocks below, which seemed to be inches below the water’s surface. I checked the bilge and didn’t see any water pouring in. He wants to dive while we’re here in Escondido and check the hull. Lesson learned: in reef areas, the 1st Mate should hang over the bow and watch for poorly charted rocks, looking ahead of the boat since the depth finder only shows what's directly beneath us.
Escondido’s main claim to fame is being a very secure hurricane hole. Several developers have tried to put in a Viennese-style canal residential development and other amenities here, but they failed before completion, so there are a few abandoned buildings and a lot of cement. But there’s a dinghy landing and a store and fuel dock. If we’re going to make our Sea crossing from here we want to make sure we have plenty of fuel. There's a yacht club of sorts here, headquartered in one of the crumbling buildings, and its best feature is a library, where I exchanged some books. A couple dozen people were practicing for LoretoFest, coming up in May, and it appeared the music was going to be mostly old folk. For all us old folks.
It’s actually chilly here although we tried to find a spot out of the wind. Mooring balls march across the inner anchorage where we’ve dropped anchor, and the report is that they charge a peso a foot for boats to stay here, moored or anchored.