It has been a good day in Bahia Santa Maria. I was able to give some water to Georgia (they do not have a watermaker, I do, and I had water to spare to fill up their sun shower), had a shower of my own (lukewarm, sun is not far enough overhead to really toast the water during the afternoon), went and explored the mangrove estuary with the dinghy, was invited to try out fishing from a panga (I declined), and found some tiger beetles on the beach.
Also had an interesting troubleshooting exercise with Georgia regarding why
I could hear them when they hailed on VHF 16 and yet they could not hear
me. Why? Their volume was turned down to zero. Took a while for us to
sort that out. Ben turned his radio volume up, problem solved. Those are
the good kind of problems as they are an easy fix.
Then, we decided to test out handheld radios on VHF 18. They could hear me
and I could not hear them. Why? My radio was set to international
frequencies and VHF 18 is duplex on international frequencies. In the USA
VHF 18 is simplex and designated 18A. I set my handheld to USA frequencies
and then we could all talk. Another nice-to-have problem as it is also an
The Mexican Navy has appeared in the form of what looked to be a buoy tender and associated patrol boat. They didn’t stop by, but were here for several hours anchored out in the bay.
There are a lot of critters out on the miles and miles of sand dunes along the bay, all leaving tell tale tracks behind in the sand. There are lizards, lots of small rodents (mice? rats?) with their tiny toes showing in the sand. You can even see tracks left by beetles in the sand – they look for all the world like the track a wide jacket zipper would leave if pressed into the sand. There are also some larger animals out on the dunes, at least three different ones, something along the lines of a small fox, also rabbits, perhaps an animal larger than a fox (coyote?), definitely a dog, and what looked to be a hoofed animal – perhaps a pig?
Observed a hawk fly away with lunch in its talons, there are interesting looking birds in the mangroves, looked like an ibis to me.
Also on the dunes are enormous numbers of scattered sea shells and sand dollars, a dolphin skull and a large aquatic turtle shell, and stuff from people – dead pangas in pieces, disintegrating rectangular wire lobster traps, and polypropylene line. It’s the kind of place one could spend a lot of time at if you like beach dunes. The dunes themselves are really flat with a shallow slope, which means that pulling the dinghy clear of the surf can easily mean pulling the dinghy along for 200 yards across the sand just to get to an area that is about where high tide will be. I anchor the dinghy in the sand with the anchor, just in case the tide does rise a foot when I’m not ready for it to.
The low elevation also means you can look straight across the sand dunes, and this leads to a weird optical effect. When approaching the beach it’s easy to look at a particularly tall dune with plants on it and think to yourself, “I think I will walk to that dune.” After landing and pulling the dinghy up the beach, you then walk inland a quarter mile to the first tall-ish dune, step up the 6 feet to the top, and realize that what you’ve been looking at is several miles inland across a sea of sand dunes. So bring extra water with you if you decide to hike to that particular dune.
Back on board Beetle I have been chasing down a SEMARNAT permit, which is a $27 individual permit that is good for visiting all the [marine] national parks in Baja (perhaps even in all of Mexico, I do not know), and which I will want to have if I anchor out at Los Frailes on my way towards La Paz, as the north end of Los Frailes appears to be within the boundary of the Cabo Pulmo UNESCO reef structure park. It’s fairly amazing to be in Bahia Santa Maria, which is really quite remote, no roads here, no traffic lights, no nothing) and still be able to tap into the communication features of Puerto San Carlos – a town of 5000 people that is around 8 miles away across the sand dunes and adjacent Magdalena Bay. I sent email to IGY Marina in Cabo San Lucas, they suggested using someone named Victor as a boat agent for purposes of getting the permit and gave me his telephone number, I call him on the cell phone and he said no problem, I can take care of that for you. Ben and Lucie and I used the HP scanner I have to make copies of the first page of our passports and I emailed them off to Victor. He will have (or is supposed to have) permits waiting for us at IGY’s office, to be picked up by me on Friday or Saturday. Pretty cool to make that happen from the middle of the bay surrounded by sand dunes.
Which leads to tomorrow’s plans. Ben & Lucie want to spend tomorrow night inside Magdalena Bay, so we’re off to visit Man of War Cove in the morning. Apparently there is a 50 building town there, no connecting roads to the mainland (in fact we’re going to a place that is simply on the other side of the sand dunes that we are seeing from the anchorage), and there is a port captain there so we are supposed to sign in to their guest book upon arrival. Should be fun!
The mangroves are best explored by dinghy. The waterway is super shallow on either side with steep drop-offs to deeper water (deep being relative, here deep means 3 feet). The mangroves grow right to the water’s edge and are pretty much impenetrable except in perhaps 3 areas where a small path had appeared in a place where a mangrove tree had fallen down. The paths looked to be animal tracks, good for something less than 30″ tall and very narrow. There are lots of fish in the water.
lots of cousins of night herons in the mangrove trees, they would fly out abruptly as the dinghy neared. Also big herons, egrets, and sand piper birds running about. The sandpipers are mostly on the small flat mounds of sand that you navigate the dinghy around. Also some grasses are growing in some of the flat sandy spots.
spot the birdie?
Here’s one of the flat bits that are exposed at mostly-low tide. The ground is not as soggy as one might think, though you only walk in a few feet before hitting the wall of mangroves again.
Enjoy the evening.