(November 16 – 18, 2017)
We wanted to get an early start on our trek from San Jose Del Cabo to Los Frailes, and we fully intended to hit the gas dock as soon as it opened at 8AM. But of course, we weren’t quite ready in time, and after a few minutes’ delay, the large fishing charter yachts began rolling in, one after the other. Directly in front of us, they left their rumbling, billowing diesel engines running on idle, depositing fumes almost directly into our open v-berth hatches, while they spent well over 40 minutes each filling their fuel tanks with more fossil fuels. After a 20-minute wait, during which only more fishing boats rolled in and got in line for fuel, we decided we weren’t desperate enough to wait (or inhale) any longer. We abandoned both our place in line, and our dear friends on Taliesin Rose, and made our way out of the small bay.
As it almost always is in the lower Baja area of the Sea of Cortez, the day was sunny and hot. The wind was light, and mostly from the north, but we are determined to get some sailing in. So, we put up the sails, and pointed northeast, out into the sea.
Taliesin Rose had made it out of the fuel dock, and into open water. Seeing our position, they radioed us. “We just wanted to make sure you were watching out for those rocks over there, they’re off the shore pretty close to you.” I checked our charts. We were clear, but I had to confess, I didn’t see the rocks. I was using my Garmin BlueChart charts, which didn’t show any rocks at all. In fact, it was even lacking significant details on the shoreline itself. Our chartplotter, running Navionics charts, did show the rocks. I knew at that point that BlueChart Mobile (now discontinued by Garmin and replaced with Garmin ActiveCaptain) was going to be replaced with either Navionics Boating or iNavX with the next internet I got. I turned a bit further east to make sure we steered well clear of the rocks.
It was nearly sunset when we arrived at Los Frailes. The sun burned red as it fell toward the horizon, illuminating the surrounding desert hills with the colors of fire. The palette turned to pinks and purples as it touched the horizon, and it was then that the bat rays started to dance. Against a blazing pink and purple backdrop, they leapt out of the water in a display of virulent bellyflops. One after another, they soared, as if to welcome us to the bay. For 15 minutes, as we selected a spot and set our anchor, the rays danced all around the bay.
The next morning was a school day. As usual, I woke up early, made coffee, and then set to work putting together the girls’ school assignments. The girls made surprisingly and uncharacteristically efficient work of it, and when they were done, we packed up for the beach.
Beach packing is always a chore. It drives Rich crazy. But really, having a great day at the beach requires several pieces of critical equipment. The first few are easy: swimsuits, towels, sunblock, all packed into 2-3 backpacks. Throw those in the dinghy. And if swimming is an option (and it always is), then several floaties are necessary, including the water-wing lifejackets. Oh, and we wouldn’t want to find a good place for snorkeling and be caught without our snorkel gear, so the big red bag has to come along also. Plop that in the dinghy. Now it’s nearly lunchtime, so the options are eat before we leave, or make a picnic lunch for the beach. Whenever possible, the latter is always the better option, because people need snacks at the beach even if they ate lunch right before they came, so you’re going to have to pack food anyway. Get that all loaded into the large, soft-shell cooler, and toss that in the dinghy. Now grab the beach shade, and the cockpit/beach chairs, and throw those in.
At this point, the dinghy is full, and you still have four people and their last-minute must-haves to get in the dinghy. Somehow, we usually get everyone all in, and Los Frailes Beach Day was no exception. We chose a plot of beach, and pointed the dinghy at it.
The sand was white, soft, and warm when we landed. I did some beach yoga, and Rich toured the edges of the murky water sitting in the arroyo. It looked like a fabulous breeding ground for skeeters, but somehow we hadn’t noticed any the night before. The girls swam, and it wasn’t long before Taliesin Rose joined us on the beach. The girls had a blast drifting in and out on the waves, while the adults sat on the beach and chatted. Soon, the sun had made sufficient progress across the sky to tell us that it was time to head back. As we did, we were surprised by two bat rays doing their twilight bellyflopping dance right next to our dinghy.
For our evening entertainment, we planned a potluck with Taliesin Rose, with an Indian theme. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed for my chicken curry pot pie, so I texted Vikki that I was switching to Italian. I wasn’t sure she’d get the text (and she didn’t), and I felt bad switching, but we ended up with a lovely international dinner.
Los Frailes was fun and beautiful, but there was nothing on shore other than beaches and some private homes, and we’d heard so much more about Bahía de los Muertos, so we decided to move on together in the morning.