We launched at a reasonable hour again and headed around the first point where the map showed a long thin inlet, like the mouth of a river. We had been disappointed on this whole trip to find most of the features on the map to be lost behind tall gravel berms. But this inlet, called Boca San Carlos, was open to the sea! We paddled in and landed for a few minutes at the fish camp inside (abandoned this time of year). We paddled up the estero as far as we dared, a kilometer or so, until our kayaks ran aground in the shallow water. The water seemed to continue around a few more bends and might have been interesting to explore on a higher tide. Back out of the estero we found two Mexicans wading in the shallows close to shore. We stopped and asked them what they were fishing for. The young fisherman showed us one of his “catches” an octopus! He held it up and posed for us to photograph him.
Around two more points we expected to find another estero or inlet. But Estero Santa Anna was dry at low tide. Inside Punta Santa Anna we saw an active fish camp at the mouth of another estero and decided to avoid the crowds.
We stopped for lunch on the last sandy beach before the coastline turned sharp left and became steep and mountainous. Our plan was to stop at the first “paradise” that we found and take the rest of the day off and perhaps a day and a half. But we never found the right beach. We passed up gravely beaches at three arroyos, including ones that we had high hopes for because they had names on the map. Punta Coyotitos and Paraje la Balina. On the way we saw pelicans diving on a bait ball. We paddle past 100’s of birds sitting on rocks, too full to fly. Many flew from us anyway, upchucking their crop to drop ballast. Gulls zoomed in and fought over eating the mess in the water. The same gulls zoomed down and surrounded every pelican after it dove on the bait ball. Perhaps to catch fish chased to the surface or slipping out of the beak of the fisher bird. But I think they mobbed the pelican to stress it out and try to get it to upchuck all the fish.
Finally we found a gravel beach near Punta la Anita that would do for a campsite and landed for the day. We ended up doing a respectable 24 kilometers on a day we had planed to cut short! The bait ball drifted south with the current past our camp bringing a cloud of screaming gulls with it. This only lasted until after sunset when the birds couldn’t see to dive any more. But after full dark I saw a glow in the water about where I thought the bait ball had last been seen. I hypothesized out loud that this was phosphorescence growing in the water with the fish, but everyone else convinced me that we were seeing the glow from a city on the mainland, clear across the Sea of Cortez!
I set the frame of my tent up as a drying rack when we landed and didn’t hang the tent on it until after dark. Shining my flashlight around at the gravel I thought I saw little black beans lying everywhere. It looked like someone had dropped a handful of black coffee beans into the gravel. I stared to be upset that someone had spilled food in front of my tent, which might attract animals. But when I picked one up they turned out to be black obsidian pebbles in the gravel!