Loc: before lagoon entrance no. 5
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 25,3 km
Start: 7:20 End: 13:15
It was pretty windy all night, and I was already hoping that our tent would be dry and not soaking wet with the morning due. But no way…I hate stuffing soaking wet tents, and Fylkir is thankfully doing the job now in the morning. So nice to have a strong man with me!
We were blessed with another sunny paddling day inside the lagoon, with light to moderate following wind close to a lovely coastline. We passed Puerto Cortéz with the one and only Navy station close to the water after Ensenada.
I was a bit mourning the hospitality of the Navies of all South American countries on my other trip which seemed to continue in Mexico when Lisa and I got received with Victor’s help in Ensenada by Admiral Rodrigo Lozano who promised us to support all over. Unfortunately, they could not live up to it due to some internal reorganization, quite a pity! It would have been nice to get a bed and a shower here on the way. But we will survive on our own…
The Navy station had a larger ship in the harbor, and we could watch some morning briefing of a handful of soldiers. About 500 m behind the ship into the bay, we found a large stranded gray whale bobbing up and down in the low waves running to shore. Poor guy…he already started to dissolve on the head and was stinking a lot. I was ferry gliding in the bit of current and was landing upwind the whale, while Fylkir missed the ferry gliding need and ended up landing downwind the stinking whale…he survived
Next “highlight” was an old shipwreck close to shore…quite large, but rusty broken in two halves. It still had a bow figure (a pelican), a seagull as captain and a small sea lion as a passenger…cute!
We also found a dead turtle on the shore which still had head and flippers, just dried like a zombie. Plus a bunch of dead seals and many dead birds among a lesser load of empty bottles and trash than yesterday. The coast trends now southeast and doesn’t catch any more the full load of them with the northwesterly wind floating trash across the bay. Three lovely indented white shell beach bays even were almost clean, so nice! Only where the road hit the beach and where people could easily access we found piles of trash. Why?
This island has a well-maintained dirt road from Puerto Alcatraz or even earlier down to the southern end, obviously built by the Navy and decorated with a handful of well made “attraction” signs like for the wreck, for some special rocks and for the lagoon bay where we were now camped. Nice effort, just wondering how the very welcomed tourists will get here?
We really loved our sightseeing paddle today, got out a bunch of times for pictures here and there, and finally neared the long sandy spit marking the lagoon entrance no.5 where we planned to camp for today. We would cross tomorrow for the last section inside the lagoon.
The choice of action was now either to paddle around the spit which showed in now 20 knots wind not really inviting small breakers plus the to be expected current including tidal races which we had to deal with in a smaller scale around the Puerto Alcatraz spit. Or we could paddle with the lowering tide into the southern inlet end and hope to still find enough water to get to a beach which has a short portage over the spit. High tide has been at 10 am, and it looked like we had still enough water depth to get quite far into the bay. We had to drag over a few shallows, and despite the outgoing current, we found enough channels to paddle up to the very last beach with a very short portage over to the channel side. Lucky us!
This narrow spit end might be over flooded at some point with extreme conditions, but our investigation of the high tide marks, tide times and tide heights showed dry sand on top for tonight. Good!
We set camp and decided to go for a hike along the beach towards the outer point. A fishing boat was anchored in the outer bay, a second one just left the bay going back “home” to the sheds on the inner side. We found five guys from the anchored boat collecting oysters. The used heavy metal poles to pluck off the shells from the rocks, and two of them were even diving half submerged for the precious oysters. A tough job! One guy offered us to taste the fresh raw oyster meat, and Fylkir gave it a try…I am not keen on this sort of natural food, sorry…I’d have to starve to swallow a raw oyster.
Back to the tent, we were relaxing a bit before Fylkir started cooking like every evening. We have two small screw-on gas stoves ad a bunch of gas cans to use. For a quick dinner with two components, we have also two pots. One stove was burning already normally with the pot on, while Fylkir was screwing the other stove on the other can. We knew the issue that this stove released always a bit of gas of a very full can before the rubber sealing does its job fully. One can be quick on screwing it on – there is always a bit of gas coming out. Fylkir was on the way to do the setup as always in the wind shelter of the open vestibule on sandy ground. Now this time, while he was screwing on the second stove, it must have been somehow too close to the already calmly burning stove that the leaking gas suddenly caught fire and Fylkir obviously dropped it in panic reaction before the burner could be screwed on fully and sealing it fully – resulting in a huge fireball setting the whole vestibule and outer end of the inner tent on fire…FUCK! SHIT happens…I was inside reading when Fylkir shouted FUCK! Get out! Out! Out! Thank goodness our wonderful tent has two exits, and I was hurrying to open the inner tent and to rush out the thankfully open outer tent door with Fylkir following me quickly.
Our sleeping bag was spread out and clipped to the outer tent to give maximum shadow inside against the hot afternoon sun. I ripped the bag off the clips and tried to suffocate the flames, which was useless as the gas pressure was still high and the flame ball accordingly large. I dumped the sleeping bag and we managed to kick the burning fireball of a gas can away with a sandal, and thankfully the rest of the tent didn’t continue burning itself, just half of the vestibule and a bit of the inner tent melted away from the heat of the gas can fireball…it could have been so much worse!!! We could have had our whole camp and equipment on fire!
And much worse – Fylkir or I could have burnt our clothing or ourselves badly…Fylkir got only some sore burnt skin on the inside of his right thumb which might end up in some blister, we’ll see. The outside of his other hand also got a bit hot and shows no hair anymore, and also his left side of his head smells a bit burnt on the tips, but nothing serious. THANK GOODNESS!!!
We learned: Never operate two gas stoves to close to each other…especially not screwing one while the other one is already burning, as there might be always some leaking gas before the can is fully sealed with the stove. Fylkir said it was minimum half a meter apart, and still, the other can was just for a fraction of a second leaking some gas, and it caught fire…
Ok, we cleaned up took stock of the losses: One fully useless tent – the worst loss. One pair of sandals, one pair of neoprene socks, one cheap double sleeping bag, one dry bag, one tent pole bag and a tad bit melted sling of one hiking pole. One thumb was a slight bit burned, a few smelly hair tips…It could have been much, much worse!!! We turned the tent’s whole side perfectly into the now quite strong wind and covered the nasty gaping opening on the burnt side with a rescue blanket and a bunch of cloth pegs. That will keep due and draft off for this night, but not the crabs and sand hoppers…which we haven’t seen here on this beach any (yet)…
Amazingly, we suddenly saw a huge smoke pile coming from the few fishing sheds on the other side of the lagoon…do our fishermen friend have a similar issue this night, or are they “only” burning heir trash???
A quick call to Ben, our contact in La Paz confirmed it would be easiest and quickest to paddle tomorrow to Puerto Chalé just 20 km across the bay – and to find a lift with a fisherman to La Paz where we can buy a new cheap tent and sleeping bag, and hopefully get back the same day with the same fisherman. Our sponsor will hopefully send us a new tent to Cabo San Lucas…so sorry for the loss of our precious palace!