On September 15th we headed back to Puerto Escondido for the exciting and
long-awaited arrival of Catherine and Tony who unfortunately had timed their
arrival to coincide perfectly with the arrival of hurricane Javier. This
hurricane was the one to watch out for as it was predicted to head closer to
the Sea of Cortez than any of the others so far this season. We were on
radio alert monitoring the weather every twelve hours as Javier moved closer
and closer. Between Catherine's severely blistered feet resulting from her
26.2 mile (marathon distance) walk for breast cancer, Carl's bruises from
the car accident and the imminent arrival of hurricane Javier, it seemed
like a few days rest might well be in order.
As we've mentioned previously listening to the radio for the weather report
takes place each morning and evening. The Mexican government had issued a
hurricane warning, all the boats were heading for hurricane shelter and we
decided to stay put in Escondido for a couple of days until we knew what was
going to happen. Just as well we did as the next night we encountered one of
the now familiar chubascos. Lots of rain, 40 knots of wind and welcome to
the Sea of Cortez as we all sat in the cockpit drinking hot chocolate, rain
pouring down on us reflecting on how much like Scotland it was.
Days pass slowly when waiting for weather. We lay around eating, drinking
and sleeping. Hot, we'd swim from the boat, swim back to the boat, swim
around the boat. Winston and Carl learned how to fetch sticks thrown from
the dinghy. Tony and Carl went fishing, we all waited for news of Javier,
and Carl and Tony went fishing again. The fish weren't biting and so we had
to resort to eating Chicago pizza from Loreto. It wasn't bad. Carl made
margaritas, Tony made margaritas. We all slept. After a pint or two of
margaritas, Cocktail Cove seemed like a good idea so we fired up the dinghy
and arrived late and loud. Perhaps something we said however as people
started leaving not long after we arrived.
The good news came, Javier had been downgraded to a tropical storm and we
celebrated with another trip to Loreto, McLulu's tacos all round. Tony had
tried a few different tacos, carne asada, chile con carne, shrimp and more,
all excellent. One bowl stood untried and when asking what it was we were
informed it was Chicharrones. Perhaps the closest description is deep fried
pork rind. Lulu, a large Mexican woman, then thought for a moment and
decided that no, in fact it wasn't Chicharrones but didn't choose to
enlighten us further. Apparently that was enough information for Tony who
ordered one immediately. Take a nice crispy pork rind, add sauce and what
was crispy rind becomes not-so-crispy fat. To top it off, sometimes the odd
pig bristle gets left behind which Catherine, while accepting a bite,
discovered so it was a hairy, fat taco Tony very slowly, almost reluctantly
it seemed, enjoyed!
The remnants of the hurricane finally arrived and we enjoyed a sleepless
night with swirling winds. Nothing close to a hurricane itself, but enough
to make us realize that we didn't want to see the real thing.
We finally had the all clear from Radio Don and with great excitement, we
headed south from Escondido. We stopped off at Honeymoon Cove on Isla
Danzante for breakfast, snorkelling and bottom cleaning. This of course,
refers to the cleaning of the hull (as opposed to the after-effects of the
hairy, fat taco), a tedious task selflessly, generously and brilliantly
undertaken by Carl and Tony as there are barnacles, sea lice and of course,
the inevitable stinging jellyfish and others are reluctant to do the job.
Leaving Danzante we headed off to Agua Verde, actually managing to sail for
a few minutes despite the unpredictable winds. Catherine and Tony have
joined us on Indigo Moth in Marina del Rey and spent several days with us in
Ensenada without the boat actually moving so we felt we should prove we
could sail the boat. While not the best sailing, at least we moved.
As the name suggests, Agua Verde (Green Water) is a particularly nice bay
where we'd previously enjoyed the goat feed. The fish are plentiful and the
snorkelling excellent. On the way to Agua Verde while the fish were being
unusually shy (now named the Dudman Curse), we did see many mantas rays
jumping and somersaulting out of the water, something it seems impossible to
Two Sierra (Spanish mackerel), one Dorado, one Rooster Fish, a Triggerfish
that slipped away and several Yellowtail later and the Dudman Curse was
lifted. More fish than we thought we could eat (but it's amazing what you
can do when you try), Sierra for lunch and then an evening barbeque on the
beach featuring Tony's 2 feet, 4 inch Dorado (now that's a fish) with rice
and corn. Tony built a fantastic fire pit, Catherine marinated the Dorado
and grilled it to perfection over the embers, a glass of wine and an evening
to remember. We'd moved the boat earlier to a more protected area as the
swell had picked up and so we had a long, slightly wet dinghy ride across
the bay with amazing phosphorescence to light our way. Literally, a
brilliant end to the evening!
It was during the successful fishing expeditions in Agua Verde that Carl
became known as The Butcher of Baja. Having tried several methods of killing
fish quickly and efficiently, the day Carl bludgeoned a roosterfish almost
to death with Winston?s stick (having forgotten any other tools,) he
rightfully earned this title. We delicately turned our heads away as the
stick was wielded, Winston averted his eyes and winced, the roosterfish
gasped its last breath or five, the dinghy anchor replaced the stick, thud,
gasp, gasp, the bottom of the dinghy (now renamed the Abattoir) awash with
blood, gasp, thud, gasp. The Butcher's job complete... final gasp... gasp...
absolutely final gasp. Silence from all involved.
Tony and Catherine had generously arrived with an enormous (2.5 cubic feet)
block of peat moss for our friends on Ventana (the ones with the composting
toilet.) We decided we should let them know their troubles were over as we
checked into the Amigo Net one night. Carl had been perfecting Margarita
Madness and decided to add crew member, Peat Moss to the list. Chris and
Julie on Ventana were relieved and we arranged that Peat would travel north
to meet up with them on board "Pelican" with John. John very kindly
understood that Peat would not be pulling his weight as a crew member and
would spend most of his time reclining on a spare bunk! Too much tequila,
Too soon it was time to head back towards to Puerto Escondido despite the
obvious temptations to stay. On the way back conditions were as we expected
them to be in the Sea of Cortez, wind on the nose all the way but it was
heading back to the Hidden Harbour (as Escondido appropriately means) that
it was strike after strike on the fishing rods. Tony landed two large
Skipjacks, one after the other. Skippys are the fish we've come to hate as
they are completely inedible and strike more than anything else. They put up
a fantastic fight though and have to be landed in order to get them off the
lines, hopefully retrieve the lures, then back they go. Strike three and
Catherine decided that this one was hers and a big one it was too. Not
wanting to disturb the Dudman marital peace, it may have been slightly
bigger than Tony's but of course, it's not the size that counts!
We thought that was a successful ending to the Dudmans doing Baja. We
decided to spend our last night together in Escondido where we could buy
beer, ice and tequila (all the essentials having run out). Tony decided to
let the lobster off the hook (not quite literally as he didn't get the hook
anywhere near it) and we were all ready for a good night's sleep.
The next morning Tony inspected the brakes to the truck and discovered that
brake pads were no longer in evidence. Facing the prospect of an eighteen
hour drive to LA, Catherine and Tony decided that brake pads were necessary
and so a trip to the local mechanic was in order. We'd caught Reuben on a
good day apparently, not hung over and quite jovial. We asked if we could
return in a couple of hours and he nodded, si, si, return in two hours, or
three if we wanted to. We left the truck, not entirely sure the repair would
take place but liking Reuben's approach, we could return in two hours if we
felt like it and hopefully the repair would be complete.
We took the opportunity to fill up the gas and diesel tanks and heading to
the grocery store we ran into John and Barbara from Songline. They had been
north in the Sea of Cortez for weeks and had lots of exciting adventures to
tell. Two or three hours later the brake pads installed, food and fuel
bought and it was getting late in the day. Catherine and Tony decided to
stay just one more night and a good one it was too as John and Barbara
joined us for dinner and the margarita recipe was perfected a little more.
5am the next morning, the Dudmans were up, packed and off. We waved goodbye
and hoped they made it back safely. It had been fantastic. Catherine and
Tony had mastered all the challenging idiosyncrasies of boat life, shutting
the fridge door very quickly so the beer stays cold, using the toilet only
when absolutely necessary, turning off anything consuming power as we?re
solar powered, using a teaspoon of fresh water to shower and so on.
Catherine's email upon returning follows:
Trip home was exhausting. Got pulled over for speeding, luckily we didn't
get a ticket or give up any cash. Then we nearly rear ended someone, and my
right foot smashed the windshield!
On top of that, we got food poisoning from East Wind on Sunday night, so we
were both fighting for the bathroom from about 10 pm Sunday night till 9 am
So all in all, the perfect trip!
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