The day before yesterday, let’s see, that would have been Wednesday, we decided to leave the anchorage on the north side of Punta Evaristo and enter Bahia San Evaristo. We wanted to be a little closer to the tienda and the palapa restaurant and figured the SE and E swells had probably died down by now. As we turned the last corner to enter the bay, we were amazed to find it completely empty of cruising boats. We had the place totally to ourselves. Since there was still a swell coming in, we got as far south as we thought prudent to get behind the little spit of land that provides the only protection from the east, and meager protection at that.
It continued to be fairly rolly all day Wednesday and we opted to not go ashore at all. Promptly at sunset, though, the wind dropped and shortly after that the swells laid down as well making for a reasonably pleasant night.
Thursday morning it was rolly again. At times REALLY rolly. Ol’ Babalooie was tied alongside the mother ship and at times seemed to be almost airborne due to the swells rolling through. However, just south of us, where the spit protected things better but the water was too shallow to anchor in, the swells laid down so, even though the first few minutes of a dinghy ride ahsore would be a bit bouncy, it shouldn’t last too long. We waited until my camera battery was recharged before venturing out. I had to decide whether or not to put the outboard on Babalooie or not. The outboard would give us more speed going ashore but also makes the dink seem a little less stable unless we both sit down in the bottom. The oars are slower but that also afford me a little more control. Things don’t happen quite as fast under oar power as they do under outboard power. Ultimately, I opted for the oars. Heck of a lot simpler than putting the outboard on the transom in bouncy conditions.
By the time we got underway, the worst of the swells were over although it was still plenty rough. But, the dink behaved well and soon we were in smooth water. As we neared the shore over by the palapa restaurant, we heard someone shout, “Hey, it’s Babalooie!” We couldn’t think who was here in San Evaristo that read this blog. That morning s/v Wilful Simplicity had moved from the north side into the bay but I was pretty sure Steve & Charlotte don’t read the blog. We had seen a couple of inflatable dinghies come around from the north side and assumed they belonged to s/v Swan and s/v Orion, neither of which even knows us, much less reads the blog (or so I assume). Who could it be? Once we landed we found out. We had first met Al Foster in La Paz when he was staying at Casa Buena at the same time we were while he fixed up his new-to-him boat, Solana (sp?). He was there when we had our pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner at Casa Buena. I don’t think we’d seen him since then. Well, who should be standing on the beach calling to us but Al and his wife, Sharon as well as their traveling companion, Greg from s/v Aventura. It was good to see Al again and see that his boat, which we had only seen on the hard, was out plying the Sea. Sharon made us feel like celebrities because she had been reading the blog for quite awhile and was happy to finally meet us. We had a great little reunion and then showed them the way to the tienda. While they were shopping, Lulu and I walked back over to the north side to get some photos of the salt-drying beds.
By the time we got back over to the bay, s/v Orion and s/v Swan had both moved from the north side to the bay. We met back up with Al and Sharon and Greg at the Palapa restaurant where we had a few beers, ate some fish tacos and just BS’d the afternoon away. By the time we left, we had destroyed the palapa’s beer supply. However, it’s not like they had very much to begin with. When we had been there a few days before, they had to buy a case of beer from the tienda since the owner’s father wasn’t back from La Paz with a new supply yet. However, she assured us that she’d have cerveza today (Friday).
San Evaristo is a tiny little fishing village. Besides the tienda, there’s a school, water de-salinization plant, a currently non-working ice plant, and the palapa restaurant. The local folks rely on fishing to make a living. The restaurant is a recent business attempt. It’s just now kind of getting up and running and the family running it is trying to make a go of a business that will only exist when the cruising fleet comes through. The only things on the menu at the moment are fish tacos and whole fried fish. The tacos can be bought ala carte or as part of a meal. Right now, even that meager fare is in jeapordy since they haven’t been able to get out and get fish lately. Why not? Well, therein lies a sad tale.
Seems that sometime Tuesday night, when we were anchored on the north side of the punta and there were possibly no boats anchored in the bay, some armed bad guys came in and stole many of the pangas and all of the working outboard motors that were on the beach. The ones that were locked up at the owners’ homes made it through but that’s a very small percentage of the pangas. This put almost all the fishermen out of work. Each panga may support as many as three families. One of the victims was a young man of 16 who had just bought his first panga and outboard and was so proud to be finally earning a living on his own. He was making payments on the boat & motor. They’re now gone, he has no insurance, and still has to make payments. This is why the restaurant was running low on fish. One of the stolen pangas belonged to the restaurant owner’s husband. No panga, no fish. The policia were here on Wednesday taking pictures and statements. Yesterday, a contingent of Marines spent the night camped on the beach but it was kind of late for that. Nothing left to steal. The thieves had to have had some inside knowledge as they seemed to know which outboards weren’t worth taking. They also took advantage of the swells coming in from the east, knowing that there would be few, if any, yatistas anchored. If the bay had been as full of cruisers on Wednesday night as it was last night, I doubt the bad guys would have taken the chance. Too many potential witnesses, most equipped with long-distance radios. Since most of the pangueros don’t live in their little shacks down by the water, the number of possible witnesses was probably pretty low. All in all, this was a total bummer for this little community. A rude awakening to the big bad world outside.
Yesterday, a contingent of fishermen went to La Paz, the capitol of BCS, to see about getting some kind of financial aid to help them recover. Locally, the cruisers have started a donation fund to help the local folks at least meet their daily expenses while they try to figure out how to finance new equipment so they can start fishing again. Thankfully, there are still a few pangas fishing. If you are anywhere near to San Evaristo and would like to help out, cash contributions can be given to Charlotte on s/v Wilful Simplicity. Contributions of equipment are also welcome. Check your bilges for things like VHF radios, VHF antennas, unneeded batteries, gas cans, etc. Contact Charlotte if you have anything to donate and she’ll make sure it gets where it needs to go.
In other news, by the time we went to bed last night, the population of the bay had grown from 2 to 13. We had a weird wind change. The prevailing wind had been out of the east and then, around sunset it turned around and came from the west. This pretty much follows the expected diurnal onshore/offshore pattern but last night it was very dramatic. The wind changed direction 180 degrees in less than a half hour. Boats were dancing all over the place due to currents and eddies within the bay. At one point, we were turning a full circle while every other boat in the harbor, except one, sat stone still. The other turning boat, s/v Tranquila, was anchored near to us and was doing exactly the same thing we were. I yelled across to them that I was glad to see them turning with us as otherwise I’d feel like a freak among all the stationary boats. Eventually the winds settled down and everyone faced the same direction. It blew off and on all evening but, as far as I know, no one dragged and I only saw one overturned dinghy, an inflatable, this morning. This morning, 7 of the boats have cleared out already.
So, what about us? Well, we plan to head across to Isla San Francisco tomorrow morning. We just got an e-mail from our daughter telling us that our Australian “daughter”, Aimee, will be in La Paz in 2 weeks for a short visit. So, our goal is now to make it to La Paz in time to see her.
Happy Friday and have a great weekend.
UPDATE, 5/22/2013: Heard on the morning nets that 4 of the 8 stolen pangas have been recovered, without their outboard motors, of course. The contingent that went to La Paz was successful in that the government of BCS is going to replace the stolen outboards and possibly make low interest loans available for replacing the still missing pangas. So, things are looking up.