Posted by: Sailing Camelot | September 10, 2011

AUG 4th to 12th – Bahia Quemado

We enjoy the quiet bay for another couple of days. It takes a very uncomfortable night of high swells -and the rolling and pitching that goes with it- to pry us away from Ensenada El Pescador. Just three miles up there’s another bay, Bahia Quemado, better protected from winds and swells.

We get there and make ourselves at home in less than an hour. There are only two other sailboats anchored in this spacious bay. I’m happy to see that there’s a nice stretch of white sand beach, an expand of desert beyond the beach, a few spectacular little coves hidden in the rugged rocks, and a multitude of birds. Perfect!

Bahia Quemado

The Desert beyond the Beach

We end up staying here about a week. We socialize with our neighbors, swim, read, explore. We are visited often by wandering dolphins, timid turtles, curious seals, and two big whales.

This is NOT a shark fin...

Wait a minute. WHALES? I thought they all left for Alaska for the summer, we haven’t seen any since last March… But I’m told that there are a couple of different kinds of whales that prefers to spend the summer in the neighborhood. Good, I better resume my high-alert watches when we start travelling again!

This is what I could see of a Fin Whale... and it was BIG!

The two whales come in the bay a few times, usually in the morning, quiet yet massive presences that make me slightly apprehensive when they gently swim close by the boats.

At sunset we get another show of Devil Rays jumping high off the water, slapping back with loud noises that sound like loud hand-clapping. These incredible animals have carved a special spot in my heart, so I hope you’ll forgive my obsession with them. I have 614 pictures of them in less than an hour, and it was really hard to pick just a few of the best ones to show here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

At night, in total darkness, I hear seals whooshing close by, whales blowing in the distance, coyotes howling and barking up in the surrounding hills. Quite a cacophony that somehow sounds like music to my ears! In the inky night the pelicans keep fishing, incessantly bomb-diving all around us. How can they see their pray in the darkness remains a mystery to me…

The next morning we spot a couple of young and playful coyotes roaming the beach. Could these two be the ones responsible for last night’s ruckus? It sure sounded like they were having fun…

Coyote on the Beach

Coyote at play

Today we took an extensive tour of the bay on our dinghy. While we’re returning to our boat we see a large Navy ship in the distance, easily recognizable by its characteristic blue-gray color and ominous shape. These vessels have a way of looking quite intimidating. The ship is moving at a very slow pace while a sizeable boat is being launched from its stern. Within second a big white plume of water can be seen behind this boat, signaling high speed and a predetermined destination: our bay! We’re not alarmed, but nevertheless decide to pick up our pace and try to reach Camelot before they do. Pointless exercise, as these guys are moving very fast. The Navy Patrol Boat zooms past us, so close I can see the uniformed crew armed to their teeth, their grim faces staring ahead. I offer a friendly wave that remains unacknowledged and unreturned. They leave us in their wake as I lower my waving arm with a disappointed shrug. Fine, whatever… Tom tries to explain their countenance. “They’re working, honey. They don’t know yet if we’re just friendly tourists or dangerous drug smugglers. Cut them a break and stop pouting!”.

There are three other sailboats close to ours; by the time we reach Camelot the Navy guys are already boarding one of our neighbors, their expression unreadable. We observe them, trying not to be too obvious about it, waiting for our turn. They must be conducting a pretty thorough search, as it takes them about half an hour to finally come to us. Tom is on deck, friendly as usual, welcoming them to our boat. The boarding maneuver is interesting and a little hair-raising. The pilot, a stern looking guy in aviator mirror sunglasses, points the bow of their boat directly on Camelot starboard side. I’m wondering if he intends to T-Bone us… With great skill he hovers at about an inch from our boat’s hull, allowing the inspecting official and his assistant to effortlessly step aboard.

Boarded by the Mexican Navy

Bienvenido a bordo!” hollers Tom to the startled soldiers. Ha! I guess they were not expecting such a warm welcome. There are 12 young guys on the Patrol boat, every one of them (excluding the pilot) pawing an assault rifle, ready for action if needed. I repress a sneeze; you really don’t want to startle these guys…

I guide the officer in the cabin and let him roam around to his heart’s content. I offer him our paperwork, passport, visas, boat documentation, insurance papers –would offer him my first-born if I had one!-, but he curtly declines while he keeps inspecting every corner of my floating home. Not a word is spoken for a long while. Finally satisfied, he cracks half a smile (could that really be?) and steps up to the cockpit where Tom is waiting. Out of nowhere he whips out a clipboard -seriously, dude, where did you hide it?- and starts asking questions in very good English (why am I no longer surprised). Tom answers each one, since he’s the one being addressed.

The usual: what’s your name, where do you come from, where are you going, how long have you been here, when are you leaving, do you fish and if so do you have a license, and so on. Questioning over, he asks us both to sign a document bearing our name and the boat’s name. I didn’t have time to read it, not even a line of it, so we may have signed away our boat for all we know…

Mexican Navy Guys

Ready to take off

Formalities completed, he –FINALLY!- opens up in a wide and friendly smile, introduces himself as Fernando, wishes us a pleasant stay in his country which he hopes we are enjoying so far, and even consents to my request of taking a picture of his boat and crew. Wow! Talk about an instant transformation! As Fernando and his sidekick leave Camelot, stepping gracefully back to their vessel, the whole crew lightens up. Smiles, greetings, arms waving –as much as the rifles allow them to-, they leave us to go to the next sailboat. You’d think they just left a great party, so happy they look! Tom murmurs in my ear “Good enough for you?”. Yeah, I say, now I like them better.

The Navy guys leaving Camelot

Off chasing the Bad Guys

 

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