As mentioned in a previous post, some of our recent adventures included nearly hitting a reef and saving a panga full of sub-machine-gun-toting Mexican military men. They both happened at the same island! A very interesting 24 hours. Also the first place we saw a shark (though not while swimming).
When it came time to leave Willard Bay, Windfall decided to head straight to Refugio. Third Day decided to head north to San Felipe and then cross to Puerto Penasco. We decided to head north five miles to check out a group of islands nearby called Las Encantadas - The Enchanted Islands. They are volcanic formed and full of amazing geological features. One of the islands is mostly pumice and the rocks float off in the tide! We talked Third Day into stopping with us.
Unfortunately, the guide book we had that talked about it did not have any GPS way points and only written and hand drawn descriptions of where to anchor. While approaching an island at the place we thought we were supposed to be, Jack and I got up on the bows just to make sure we didn't see any rocks. Good thing we did! The water visibility was terrible, the wind was on our nose at 20 knots, and just about 20 feet from our starboard bow I saw the submerged but close to the surface jagged edge of a pillar rock. Barely able to do more than jump, scream and point, Patrick interpreted my actions correctly and slammed us in reverse. Thankfully our boat quickly responded and we veered off and approached at another cove, this time successfully.
Our first action once anchored was for Lori and her kids, and Jack and I to go exploring on the island called Isla San Luis. It has a obsidian core left in the volcano crater, and chunks of obsidian litter the hills, among the ash and rocks and pumice. It is a very barren place. While on shore, Jack sees a shark fin slice the water. Okay, interesting.
The next morning, Jack, Patrick and I decide to go snorkeling. The water visibility was horrible, but we wanted to spear fish. We had only been in the water a little while when Patrick notices three men dressed in camo waving their guns to get out attention. It did. We loaded up and went toward the shore to see what they wanted. Through the language barrier we understood that their boat was broken down in the cove around the corner, that they had walked over to get our help, and that their battery was bad. Nothing motivates you to help like men with big guns asking for help. (Just a joke, we would have helped anyone. The island was very isolated)
Patrick drove Jack and I back to our boat, called Rich for assistance, loaded up a jumper cable and then picked Rich and his battery up. They drove back to the beach, picked up one of the men (all they had room for) and then drove off around the corner and out of sight. I was a little nervous. But they returned soon enough and said they had given them a jump, shook hands and left them. Patrick told us that the man in the dinghy had asked if we had seen sharks. It turns there are known to be a lot of sharks around this island, and he was surprised to see us swimming there! Okay, that ended our need to be on this island and we decided to pull anchor and leave shortly later.
As we motored around the corner we saw the panga full of men, floating around a dangerous reef. They saw us and started waving a red flag frantically. Oh Boy! In our boat, we couldn't get close enough to them to help without endangering ourselves, but we started calling out a Pon-Pon (a distress call one step below Mayday. Mayday is used if someone's life is in danger. Pon-pon is used if there is someone in distress, but not imminent loss of life.). While we coordinated radio contact with those on the Baja peninsula who might be able to help, we also contacted Rich who decided to dinghy out from his anchored boat and see if he could help.
Rich is just the nicest guy. He brought them his starter battery and left it with them! The men in the panga were stationed out of San Felipe and Rich just asked that he could pick up his battery when he got up there. A big gamble, but one Rich was willing to take. Once they had Rich's battery hooked up, they powered off north. It turns out that Rich's gamble was no gamble at all. When he arrived at the military station in San Felipe there was a new battery there, waiting for him. International goodwill thrives.
6 days ago