5. Loreto to Conception & Back
22 Jan 01 to 29 Jan 01
Hi yous guys,
Bruce and Kitty were waiting for me on Monday 1-22-01 when I arrived at Hotel La Pinta, (a
good place but El Posada De Los Flores would have been more interesting, as we later
discovered) in Loreto. We had breakfast, cleared in and out of the port of Loreto, got chow
and departed for Escondido in about 4 hours. The Migration official was a bit miffed that I did
not present him with Marv and Mary Ann's passports and visas. Instead I had 4 copies of their
passports, visas and airline tickets, as was instructed in Charlie's Charts, to show him that
they flew home over the weekend when he was closed. He said he had to check the old crew’
s visas, not copies of the visas. His supervisor had to intercede and explained that people
who illegally chartered out their boats cleared their clients out in just such a manner (they
must have read Charlie's Charts) and they were concerned that I was running an illegal
charter operation since I had so many crew changes. I had to swear that I was getting no
money for my “services”. He said that they were going to inspect my boat anyway. I didn’t
see how they could tell if I was taking paying passengers just by inspecting my boat but later
found out from the cabbie that they would probably look for drugs and probably tear up my
boat in the process. But they never showed up, at least not while I was there. Anyway, we
got our 20$ (haggled down from 25$) cab to Escondido and piled everything into the dink and
headed for the boat.
We departed Escondido, while looking over our shoulders, the next day and then anchored off
Loreto to run in town to get copies of Bruce and Kitties airline tickets (yes, they also had
reservations to depart Mexico over the next weekend, another hassle in the making) since we
forgot to get them yesterday. On the way back, the dink dident start for the longest time.
Probably flooded, right? Finally got started and headed out. Went between Isla Coronados
and the “main”land, avoiding the shallows, rounded Punta Mangles, missing its dangerous
roca, and stopped at the quaint cove of San Juanico. A very nice must-see place.
Next day we headed out, rounded Punta Pulpito and a few others, bashed our way north and
landed in Bahia Conception and then Bahia Coyote therein. It was weird finding Coyote. We
had paper charts, Charlies Charts, Jack Williams Baja Guide, the little green boat and our
eyeballs and none of them agreed. Steinbeck, in “The Log From The Sea Of Cortez”, wrote
about the mysticism of piloting in Baja and I believe it. In some parts of Baja, if one wants to
navigate one must propitiate. We should have poured some tequila into the water, mumbled
some Spanish sounding words, mostly ending in an o, and then proceed to find the
anchorage. Instead, we conferred, debated, took positions, called each other names, laid
bets, and eventually made it. We wont talk about who won the bet. It was quite picturesque
but still disappointing as the highway ran right along the beach and there were numerous
campers and beach houses all around, unlike the almost pristine wilderness that we had
become used to in the past.
Tempus was fugiting, so back we started. We bashed our way downwind (we dident bash the
boat into the waves, instead, the waves bashed into the stern of the boat), and the autopilot
had a hard time keeping up with the action, but eventually we ended up back at San Juanico,
another Steinbeckian landfall. Going north, San Jaunico is easy to find. Going south, we
couldent believe our eyes - San Jaunico was nowhere to be found. The islands and
headlands all merge into the hazy background and become indistinguishable. Of course we
did find it, after much discussion, debate, position taking, … It was still beautiful (hadent
changed a bit in the past 2 days) and quite protected from the north wind.
The next day we went offshore and passed Isla Coronado to starboard and anchored in Bahia
Salinas on the NE end of Isla Carmen. For reasons unmentionable to such gentle readers as
you, we just had to spend the night attached to Carmen. It’s a personal thing. Don’t ask.
Salinas gave us good protection from the north wind but then what did it do? It blew from the
south, and then from the west. The anchor and snubber (I had perfected the snubber
deployment technique so that the chain dosent rub against the snubber anymore) did their
things and all was well except that the waves kept the boat in motion all night long. That
Carmen… Carmen del Bronco…
That left a short ride back to Escondido on Saturday, as planed. Bruce and Kitty departed on
Sunday, per their plan, and Mike Ford on his Krogen 39 “Number One” showed up. He
anchored next to me in the Waiting Room. I originally went into Escondido to anchor but the
Spade dident like the mud so I went to the Waiting Room, rather than use the Max, in order to
avoid dealing with a muddy chain and anchor one extra time. I had a miserable night
dreaming about petty Migration officials, Mexican jails, and amorous cellmates.
Monday morn Mike and I took the dink to the dinghy dock, got a cab, dropped off the laundry
at the Tripui store on the way by, and got to Loreto’s La Pinta hotel by about 0845 where
Jerry and Gale were waiting for me. Had breakfast and started the routine of clearing into
and out of the Port of Loreto, getting fishing licenses, doing e-mail, shopping, and cabbing
back to Escondido. What a drag. To get a fishing license all you have to do is go to the
fishing license place and fill out a form, go to the stationary store and buy a bank payment
form, go to the fishing license place to have the new form filled out for the bank, go to the
bank, pay the fee, get a stamped copy of the bank form, go to the drugstore and make 2
copies, return to the fishing license place, present the stamped bank forms and get your
license. Lucky I had a few blank bank forms.
A part of that running around process included going to immigration. My friendly Migration
official was there waiting to take care of me. This time I came prepared with Charlies Charts,
Gale, Jerry and Mike. Same routine, only worse. I HAD to have Bruce and Kitties original
Visas as he told me last week. I showed him Charlies Charts where it said that if
crewmembers departed when the immigration office was closed, get 4 copies of the
passports, visas, and airline tickets, etc. He dident read Charlies Charts. He dident want to
read Charlies Charts. He gets his orders from on high, written in Spanish, and he was
sticking by them. They said for him to check the visas of the crew to be checked in, not
copies of this, that or the other thing, but the real thing. It dident matter that he saw their real
visas last week when I cleared them out of Loreto, he had to see them again when clearing
in. He had me sit down while he took care of Mike Ford and then consulted with his superior.
A dark and somber interlude. Just as before, supervisor, in black leather jacket, marches in
and starts talking about paying customers. Not a word about visas or airline tickets. I present
Jerry and Gale for interrogation. Silence. Mike Ford jumps up and, unsolicited, testifies that l
am a good, non-charging, friends-for-crew kind of skipper; always have been, always will be.
I think that had an effect, that plus the fact that they had zero hard evidence to the contrary.
So supervisor departs, stage right. Now back to el muy importante Migration official. Just as
before, Jose never mentions hiring out my boat, he goes back to visas. Henceforth and
hereafter, he edicted, I must accompany the departing crew to the airport and have the
resident Migration official sign and stamp off the crew list accordingly. Then I must go to him
the following day and present the signed off crew list for his perusal, signature and stamp. So
OK, I have to clear into the Port of Loreto, which has no port, by taking a 20$ cab to the
airport on Sat or Sun, get the signature, get a 25$ (non-negotiable at the airport) cab back to
Puerto Escondido, which is a port but has no immigration office, return to Loreto Monday via a
20$ cab, get the signature of Muy Importante Migration Official, and then get another 20$ cab
back to Escondido. Perfectly clear. And then to stress just how muy he was, he demanded
that I get 2 more copies of the crew list. I then got out my little street map as he helped
someone else. He saw me waiting map in hand and knew that I was going to ask him where I
could go to get two more copies. He caved in. He graciously offered to make me the 2 extra
copies on his fax machine. But then he blew it. He ended up stapling the extra copies to MY
copy of the crew list, thus admitting that he had no need for the things. I certainly had no
need of them. But justice was served. And I wasent in jail.
Looks like I ran over my allotted space so I better say goodbye for now.
Bruce and Kitty Horowitz
The one that got away.