Thursday, August 11, 2016

Shark Hunting in San Francisquito

                         "In the desert, you often get a sense of being in a trance
                                                       -- of time standing still. 
                                                 It's a special kind of existence."

                                                                              -- Martin Scorcese 

Me on heavenly Bahia Santa Elena near San Francisquito. Note my 
footprints through the deep, sugar-soft sand... :-) 

After shoving off from Santa Rosalia at 1:30AM, we sailed north through 30 knot winds and lightning and arrived at San Francisquito the next day.

The map shows Santa Rosalia and Bahia San Francisquito

We followed our buddy boat s/v Kashmira into the tiny Cala San Francisquito, 
the eensy-weensy inner harbor.  They had recently anchored there and assured us that the little harbor is 11-13 feet deep -- more than deep enough for us.

According to our cruising guide, teeny Cala San Francisquito is supposed to be only 4-9 feet deep,
 as the image above shows. 

Espiritu rests in 13 feet of water at Cala San Francisquito -- 
NOT the 6-9 feet as the guidebook shows

Take this information with a grain of salt -- but 5 year old guidebooks say this little harbor is 9 feet deep, and now it's 13 feet deep. Climate change/sea level rise deniers, take note... #justsayin' 

Not 10 minutes after we dropped anchor, we saw this sight off our starboard bow:


What in the hell...?

In all of our years on the ocean, this is the first time I've actually seen a 
Jaws-like shark fin slice through the water. 

Coincidentally, our friends Steve and Sue of s/v Kashmira were excited to take us ashore and introduce us to their friend Beto the shark hunter, who lives just off the beach. 

Wait -- Beto the shark hunter?

Is this some sort of shark haven? It didn't say anything about that in the cruising guide...

Welcome to Playa San Francisquito -- evidently the shark capital of the Sea of Cortez!

Thousands of little pink crabs swarmed the beach in great waves 

Note the grumpy little face and the one giant pincer. This is not a birth defect -- 
they're all this way, apparently an evolutionary adaptation over the millenia.

We climbed the steps and approached the house of Beto the Shark Hunter. He greeted Steve and Sue warmly, who have known him for many years. 

This shark mural greeted us on Beto's front porch

Sharks teeth hang on the wall of the house of 
Beto the Shark Hunter!

Now a bit concerned, I started peppering Beto with questions, like: "Well, the sharks around here are smaller, less lethal species, right? There aren't any great white sharks around here, are there?"

"Oh, si there are..." said Beto the shark hunter. 

Whelp. Really? Great whites? In the Sea of Cortez?

I had more questions:

"Well, in all of the years you've lived here, you've never heard of any swimmers actually being killed by a great white, have you?"

Beto: (pause) "Well...when it's your time, it's your time!" he said with an impish grin and a wave. 


Chris sits with Beto the Shark Hunter on his comfortable porch.
Beto told us that five different rattlesnakes had slithered onto this very porch in the last 24 hours. 

Lift those feet, Chris!

Here's the thing about Beto, though. Don't be fooled by his humble appearance. He is actually educated and quite sophisticated. He lived in New York City for several years and is quite the businessman -- he owns and rents out the vacation properties on the beach.

 I started to think that Beto was having fun with me and slightly embellishing his shark and snake tails for his own amusement. 

But I couldn't tell for sure. 

The towel rack in Beto's bathroom is an actual whale bone

We thanked him for his hospitality and returned to the beach.

One of Beto's beachfront rentals in San Francisquito

grass and sand

Steve and Sue told us about a gorgeous beach called Santa Teresa -- about a 
mile walk across the desert. We headed off.

The trail to Bahia Santa Teresa

Chris stands next to a gigantic cactus -- hundreds of years old!

Me taking direction and running on an abandoned runway

Finally we arrived at beautiful Bahia Santa Teresa 

There was an abandoned vacation house on the beach. While it had been battered
 by hurricanes in recent years, it still had good bones. 

We fantasized about buying the house with 
s/v Kashmira and fixing it up together

The house was open, so we went in and poked around.

Oh noes! The abandoned vacation house had a "World's Most Dangerous Sharks" poster on the wall! 

Soon my imagination began to run wild...what actually happened to 
the owners of the house, anyway?

Eaten by great whites, perhaps?

Wasp nest under a spray deodorant can in the 
medicine chest of the abandoned vacation house

We walked back back across the scorchingly hot desert to the anchorage.

On the hike this giant sticker cluster seemingly jumped off the ground and imbedded itself under my skin. Once they've pierced the skin surface, they expand and are very difficult to remove. I was worried for a few minutes if it had pierced my achilles tendon.

I was finally able to remove the stickers, and we continued on through the desert.

Once we arrived at the anchorage, sharks be damned, I went for a good long swim.

Chris went spearfishing and brought home two bleeding triggerfish without getting mauled by one of the big guys -- yay!

Amongst cruisers, San Francisquito is not known for marauding sharks or poisonous rattlesnakes, but for that other virulent attacker: bees.

The next morning we awoke to find dozens of the little buggers swarming the cockpit, which presented a problem: We were out of underwear and we had to do laundry.

I reminded myself that the bees don't want me -- they are in search of water. So I washed our laundry in the kitchen sink, took a deep breath and scampered up to the bow to hang the laundry.

Immediately the bees swarmed from every direction, and I only got one sting as I quickly and bravely clipped the clothes to the lifelines.

The bees took great gulps of water as they swarmed our clean laundry.
I guess I should thank them -- they helped the clothes to dry more quickly.

Unfortunately my bee sting developed into a large cellulitis on my thigh. I treated myself with Keflex and within 48 hours the infection had cleared. 

I had a dream that I was ambushed by a giant bee/wasp mutant that had two stingers -- one so large that he carried it beside him like a great appendage...gee...wonder why I had THAT dream? 

(Sometimes a stinger is just a stinger...)

The next day we welcomed s/v Linger Longer, Stryder, Firefly and Vivacia to the anchorage.

cactus and boats 

This giant moth desperately wanted to enter Espiritu. About 6 inches across, 
he pressed himself desperately against our bug screen.

Ted and Brenda invited the fleet aboard s/v Firefly for a potluck. At sunset, we all stood on the bow in silent amazement and watched the International Space Station gently float across the darkening sky.

The next night we had a bonfire (AKA trash burning party) on the beach.

Chris and I brought our guitar and mandolin to the beach bonfire

Beach bonfire at San Francisquito

After 10 days here, we pulled anchorage and headed north to Bahia de Los Angeles
 without seeing another 
shark since that fin sighting on day one...

...which meant our stay here was pretty spectacular. :-)   #grateful

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