Baja, Isla San Louis to Isla Entrada, April 15th 2001.

In the morning we set off to circumnavigate Isla San Louis and look at the calderas. I landed at the beach in front of the largest caldera and walked over the berm to look at the bottom. It is still dry and covered with nesting pelicans at this time year. In the very center of the crater is a plug of red basalt.

When I got back in my boat the other two guys wanted to turn aside to go around a large rock. This turned out to be Isla Pomo, an island of pumas that crumbles into the sea and floats away. (“Enchanted Rocks” according to our cruising guide). There were several caves in this island, one large with a sandy beach in the end. Sid landed inside here and was the only one of us make landfall on this interesting island. We found two other caves that were deep and narrow. This island has steep sides dropping directly into the water and we only saw one other place where a kayak might land. Both looked like they would be under water at high tide.

After circumnavigating Isla Pomo, we turned back to Isla San Louis to finish rounding that island. At the north end of this we turned out to sea and headed to the next island. Isla Entrada is made of layers of white and red basalt dropping steeply into the water. Curiously this island did not seem to be covered in bird droppings like all the others. We looked forward to staying somewhere we would not get screamed at by birds everywhere we went. Sid and I landed for a few minutes on the south face of the island, which was too steep for birds to nest on. Also too steep to camp on. As we rounded the corner of the island we discovered that it sloped gently into the sea on the north end and was knee deep in nesting birds, not to mention guano. We had been told by our local friend that there was a landing beach on the west side of the island. We explored the entire west side and found no-place to land. Finally on the north tip of the island we found a small beach. If the weather turned bad, the wind and waves from the north would make this a bad place to be. In addition we were pretty sure that this beach was under water on high tides. We circumnavigated the whole island looking for a better place to camp and found none. So we went back to the small sandy beach.

We were there on a neap tide, with the sun and moon pulling in opposite directions to make the lowest tides of the week. But since this hadn’t been or original destination we didn’t have tide tables for the area. We knew that tides could swing as far as 11 feet in this area! I found a patch of sand above the tide, with perhaps enough room for two tents, but Konstantin pointed out a gull nest right next to it. Even down on the sandy beach we were pretty close to several pelican nests and we could watch the adults feeding the fuzzy baby birds. The pelicans seemed to settle down and ignore us after a while, unlike the gulls.

I left on my 3 mm wetsuit and got out my diving gear for the first time on this whole trip. This gear has been taking up a huge amount of space between my foot pegs and the front bulkhead of the kayak. Almost as much room as three dry-bags! The Pacific Ocean had been too rough to go diving or even fishing. Konstantin had tried fishing a few times from his kayak since we got to the Sea of Cortez, but caught nothing. I put my gear on and swam out into the water without a weight belt, spear, or pry-bar. Just looking around. I dove a few times and held myself down to rocks on the bottom. I looked in cracks for lobster but saw none. I found one large rock scallop and managed to break it off by hand. I saw lots of small conch shells lying upside down on the bottom, even though they were still alive! I brought one to Konstantin and he said I should get more because they are good eating.

Konstantin loaned me his spear gun and weight belt and I went after some trigger fish I had seen off the point. I managed to spear an angel fish instead and brought that back. It was so easy to spear that I figured it must not be good eating. The other two guys said that they had never seen anybody else eat angel fish but they would give it a try. I went back out looking for trigger fish again. Konstantin had told me the best technique is to watch them and try to find a place you think they will patrol past again soon. Then dive down and wait on the bottom for them to come by. Keep the gun cocked and pointing up until one comes close. I tried this but the trigger fish stayed away when I was down. Finally in desperation I took a shot at one small trigger fish that was staying just out of reach. To my surprise, the spear hit the fish as it jerked to a stop at the end of its tether. The fish stayed on the spear long enough for me to grab it and head for shore. I went out one more time to collect a handful of small conch to complete our seafood dinner.

I filleted both fish and fried the meat in olive oil with a little sesame oil in it. I had heard that trigger fish has a texture that makes it taste like lobster. But fried in even a drop of sesame oil I had trouble telling the difference between trigger fish and angel fish. Both tasted good to me. Konstantin steamed the conch and pulled them out of the shells for us. These tasted like clam but a little meatier. They had a tough chewy texture almost like insufficiently pounded abalone. Konstantin and Sid each took a small taste of the fish, and then warmed up their normal camping dinner. I was left to eat all the fish myself and ended up totally stuffed! Carrying the diving gear was such a burden, we had so few opportunities to use it, (I never went diving again the rest of the trip), and everyone else was so uninterested in eating fish, that I am considering giving up on bothering the next time I go to Baja. Perhaps a simple fishing line and lures would be appropriate next time.

The lines of shells on the beach and the number of Gull prints almost had us convinced that the top of the beach would stay dry. We moved our boats up onto the rocks and set our tents up as far from the water as we could. We stayed up until 9:30 at night watching the water advance and marking it with conch shells. Konstantin worried about the tide and woke up many times in the night to check the water level. The water rose close to the tents, then started back down again. We were OK!

All text and images Copyright © 2001 by Mike Higgins / contact