Puerto Escondido to Agua Verde to San Evaristo 11/11/13
21 November 2013
Puerto Escondido to Agua Verde to San Evaristo 11/11/13
We left Puerto Escondido to head south and had a nice downwind sail with winds from the north in the mid teens. Unfortunately, the wind only lasted about an hour, so we had to turn on the iron genny (engine, for those of you unfamiliar with the term). We had been motoring for a while when we noticed a sailboat in front of us that was sailing with just their genny. We were getting closer and closer as there was no wind for them to sail. Finally when we were very close they flagged us down and we went over to see what the problem was. Their steering had broken and they had no engine, so we offered to tow them for the last 7 miles into Agua Verde. We towed them right into the north anchorage where there were 5 boats and not much room to maneuver. We untied them, but evidently it was too deep for them as they didn't have much anchor chain, so they began to sail on their genny back to the main beach where it was shallower, but very rolly. A panga with several local fisherman came out to see if they could help and they towed them back to our anchorage and took them in close where they could anchor in shallow water. The sailor spoke Spanish and after telling the fishermen what the problem was, the fisherman told him that he would take him to Constitucion (the nearest big town) to get his broken steering welded tomorrow. The town is several hours away, part of which was a bad dirt road from the village of Agua Verde out to the highway. This is one of the things we love about Mexico. The Mexicans will go out of their way to help someone in need, whether they are Mexican or gringo. This fisherman took the day off of fishing (which is his livelihood) to drive this sailor to town and find a welder and wait for him and then bring him back to his boat. All this for a stranger in need. We enjoyed a couple of days in Agua Verde with 4 other boats of friends. While we were there more boats kept coming in and by the time we left there were 11 boats in this little anchorage!! More than we'd ever seen there before.
When we left Agua Verde for San Evaristo there was no wind so we motored and Ed put out the hand lines. He had been trolling for a while when a fish hit the lure and Ed caught a nice size Dorado. He was excited because it had been a long time since he had caught a Dorado. (He has hooked up Bonitos and other undesirable fish that he's thrown back) He was just sitting down to rest after cleaning and filleting it when another Dorado hit the line. When they drag behind the boat on the hand line they bounce along the surface of the water on their side and look like they are water skiing!! Two in one day!! Ed was really happy. He cleaned this one and handed it off to me to fillet. I said, "Two fish are enough, why don't you pull in the lines." He said, "No" and kept on fishing, and guess what? He caught another one!! This one was a little bigger and friskier as he slapped his tail and jumped, then dove under water in an attempt to dislodge the hook. But Ed prevailed and pulled him on board too. He was flopping around so much in the cockpit it was hard to get the gunny sack on him, but once we did he calmed down. I said, "Enough, I'm not filleting another fish!" Ed was tired also after catching and cleaning 3 fish so he pulled in his lines. Then just when I finished filleting the last fish and was getting ready to make lunch Ed said the engine was over heating and he turned it off. Fortunately the wind had come up and we could sail downwind wing and wing. So I went out into the cockpit to sail the boat while Ed went inside to check out the engine. So, lunch would have to wait. The engine had lost a lot of water so Ed was going to add more, so he had me start the engine again. Then 30 seconds later he told me to turn if off. Evidently a hose had come off and when he added water it came right out the hose. So he put the hose back on and had me start the engine again so he could add water. Then a minute later he had me turn it off again. There was another problem. The pulley had come off the sea water pump so it wasn't pumping sea water to cool the engine. So this took him a lot longer to fix than the hose. We were getting closer to San Evaristo quickly as the wind had picked up to 15 knots. Every so often Ed would call out to me, "how much more time do I have?" And I would tell him. By this time we were getting quite close to San Evaristo, so I called one of our friends (Rick on s/v Hotel California) on the radio that was anchored there and let them know our situation. They said they would stand by and help us if we needed it. That made me feel a lot better, in case we had to sail in and anchor under sail. Ed came through with 10 minutes to spare!! We got the engine started again, added water, and it cooled right down, just in time to turn into the anchorage. Whew! We jumped in the water for a swim and to cool off, it felt wonderfully refreshing. We had so much fish so we invited several friends over for dinner to help us eat some of the Dorado and we had a great evening together. Boy, did we sleep well that night.
The next morning, Mike and Judy, on s/v Milagro, and Ed and I went ashore and we met some local people who had just arrived by panga. They live on the island of San Jose. We hadn't even known anyone lived on San Jose. We spoke to Alva who told us they have a ranch on the island and there are about 15-20 people living there in their little Pueblo. They raise goats and cattle. They had come to San Evaristo to take some goats to La Paz to sell them. Picture this: Alva came in the panga with her husband, father, 2 sons, AND 27 GOATS!! It was a 1 hour panga ride from the island to San Evaristo with 27 goats. They unloaded the goats and took them to a pickup truck on the beach. The truck had sides and hanging from an arm on one side was a scale to weigh each goat. A man would put a simple rope harness around the goats' belly and pick it up and hang it on the scale (sort of like hanging a fish on the scale to weigh it). Another man wrote down the weight on his paper, then they put the goat in the truck and picked up another goat and hung him on the scale. It was interesting to watch this process. In talking to Alva we found out that she's lived on the island for 20 years (she's 36 and has 3 kids). They get their water from a well on the island, for bathing, washing clothes, etc., but have to come to San Evaristo to get their drinking water. San Evaristo has a desalination plant and they sell water to several small pueblos or fishing camps nearby. San Evaristo, itself, is quite small with no more than 100 people living in it. They have a small store, with basic necessities, which also supplies the fishing camps nearby. The people from the fishing camps come in their pangas to get food, and water in big barrels. They usually come with wives and kids and fill up the pangas with so much supplies that we wonder how they get back to their villages without capsizing. By our standards, these people live a bare subsistence life. But they are a happy people who are very content with their lives. Alva told us they eat healthy, goats and cattle for meat, milk, cheese, and chickens for eggs and meat, and fish, and they grow vegetables. When we asked her if they needed anything on the island, she said they needed a teacher as there was no school there. That was the only thing she was unhappy about. But there were schools in a couple of small communities, Agua Verde being one of them, that they could take their kids to. It was a 1-2 hour panga ride to go to school.
On our third day here we went snorkeling and it was like swimming in an aquarium. The water was very clear and there were a lot of different colorful fish. The rocks had coral, starfish, urchins, oysters, and other things. I saw a small octopus scoot under a rock and a long trumpet fish swimming around giving me the eye. There was a Crown of Thorns starfish about 1 foot across with 13 arms. It looked like a cross between a fat starfish and a porcupine. There was a fish that was perfectly camouflaged in the rocks. He was mottled with shades of brown and was very hard to distinguish from the rock. I watched him for a while and he never moved. I wanted to see him better so I swam down and scooped up a handful of sand, then swam over him and dropped the sand on him. He scooted away about 2 feet and settled on another rock. As I was sitting in the cockpit this afternoon enjoying the day, it was hard to tear myself away from it and go inside to write this blog. We're in a flat, calm anchorage with clear turquoise water, low 80's, warm sun, gentle breeze, and just about perfect conditions. Life is good!