However, heavy shoaling in the estuary and an unusual huge south swell made the approach to the channel impossible. We elected to find the next most hospitable anchorage, which was off the beach near a hotel some ways out of town.
|the crew swim to shore|
We needed groceries. Anchored about 1/4 mile from the open beach, it was hard to tell from the boat how big or small the surf was breaking on shore. From the sound of loud crashing waves, we decided the dinghy was not an option. Emmett, in full gear, with dry bag, set out for the beach to test the waters. We all held our breaths as we watched Emmett rise and fall in the waves almost breaking near shore. A few moments later Emmett called on the handheld VHF to say, "Go for it!!!" Excited by the prospect of fresh fruit and pastries in the town, Vincent, Brooke, and Crystal donned wetsuits and jumped in. After successfully filling the dry bags with exciting new entree options, the crew split into two groups; one to make phone calls home, and one to return the groceries.
|Emmett and Brooke prepare to swim in the cold ocean|
On our way back, we (Vincent and Crystal) met a fisherman who picked us up in a truck and gave us a lift back to the beach. We filled him in on why we were dripping wet, dressed in wetsuits and walking through a dusty town with sugar smeared on our faces. Our description in Spanish must have sounded something like, "We swim. For food. Sailors, yes. We like fish, too!" After our interesting description of what we were doing, the fisherman shook his head and warned us of the rip current, as well as the increasing size of the waves as night falls. He suggested that we make the long swim home in the morning. The sun had set, but in the darkening twilight we swam out into the breakers of the cold Pacific ocean. During this time Emmett and Brooke had safely reached the boat, radioing that they had made it. After a few attempts, we returned to the beach in complete darkness, feeling a bit defeated and unsure of what to do next.
By the mysterious ways of this world, the fisherman had been watching us, and as we walked down the beach weighing our options, our paths once again crossed.With few words exchanged, we were in his truck on the way to his cozy self-built home where his immediate and extended family lived. We thanked him profusely for opening up his home to us, and he responded by telling us an amazing story: He explained that once, while crossing the border to the United States, an American had saved his life in the desert when he had run out of water several days before. This man took him in, hydrated him, fed him and gave him money to get to his destination. He said that after that experience, he vowed to help anyone in a compromised situation...with a special soft spot for Americans.
Our hearts were deeply touched, and our minds at ease among our new friends. And fast friends we became, staying up until the wee hours looking at family photos and reminiscing with little notice of our language barrier. When the dishes were done and we were outfitted with new, dry pajamas, we quickly fell asleep. We woke rejuvenated, ready to attempt our swim again.
It still seemed a bit too rough to swim through the large shark-infested ;) breakers, so the group elected to try another method of reaching the boat. We knew the town had a large fishing fleet, so we decided to try hiring a boat from the town of San Quintin all the way through the channel and estuary area back to the boat. Hitchhiking towards town on this rural stretch of highway, one of the vehicles that passed was a BerryMex agricultural worker transport bus. We flagged the bus down, but unfortunately, the driver informed us that it was only for BerryMex workers. It was a unique experience to be standing where the food that we so effortlessly enjoy from the common American grocery store is actually produced. In a twist of fate, the driver turned around and invited us onto his empty. With the jams pumped up high, we raced into San Quintin, listening to America's finest dance remix modern pop!
He dropped us off on a dusty corner and pointed in the direction we should start walking. We hitchhiked until arriving at the Old Mill, a popular tourist hang-out and hotel. It being 5 o'clock in the afternoon, the fishermen and their pangas (motor skiffs) were done for the day. We were told that no one would take us all the way. Not only was the boat about 20 miles away, it required careful navigation through the drifting sand bars of the circuitous, narrow channel. Finally we found a panga operator who agreed to take us not only back to our boat, but on what became a memorable white-knuckle ride. The panga was a high-speed wave jumping machine, and the operator was highly attuned to the patterns of the breaking waves that we faced outside the channel. It was thrilling and a bit terrifying, but we safely arrived back to Liberatia with lots of groceries and memories. We thanked the panga driver and paid him for his gracious favor.
|Happily ever after.|