17-Jan-2003 -- We arrived in the vicinity of Isle de Guadalupe 48 hours later. Reach did 154 nautical miles in the first 24 hours out of Ensenada. Most of the time was over six knots, with a reef in the main and ‘Monty’ at the helm. The constant winds and accommodating swells supported this record breaking pace. We were now really on our way.
The crew spent the crossing getting the at-sea routine, sea legs and watches down. I did the 7 to 11PM and again the 3 to 7 AM, with Kevin picking up the midnight and morning watches. It was beautiful following the near full moon cross the sky and the rising sun was welcomed as it washed out any left over ‘watch stupor’. We saw little traffic, a freighter hauling goods north and a princess cruise ship hauling tourists south.
Reach dropped anchor on a narrow ledge at the north east end of Isle de Guadalupe.
The place has volcanic origins, rising 5500 feet off the sea floor to a height of 1200 feet. From the distance it looked like eastern Washington flood basalts. However, up close one could see the violence of spent cinder cones and the veining of fracturing rock. This 20 by 5 mile speck of exposed mountain top is the western most part of Mexico. It is managed by the Mexican Navy with commandant’s house located with eight permanent fishing families on south end. I couldn’t imagine this place being administrated by a career guy.
The return to Baja from Isle de Guadalupe took almost three days. Our plan was to head east to Turtle Bay (just south of Bahía Sebastian Vizcaíno) for a quick overnight, then south 245 miles to Bahía Magdalena (Mag Bay). With our sea legs and daily schedule in place, I expected an uneventful and routine crossing.
The taste of lobster and butter was still on our lips when Kevin caught a 15 pound yellow fin tuna. What a magnificent fish, looked like a rocket in the water. There were just enough hands and feet to land the fish, dig out the net, find the camera, and, oh yea, sail the boat. You would think we never saw a fish before. Kevin was clearly more excited then Cole or me and required an extra ration of beer to wind down. We filleted the critter out and enjoyed raw, grilled, seared, boiled and leftover tuna for two days.
Our other excitement was passing through and documenting a confluence for the Confluence Project (www.confluence.com). We were reminded by an e-mail from Jerry of Kevin’s participation in documenting a confluence in Southeast Alaska a few summers ago. A quick check of their web site identified a confluence a few miles east of Isla de Guadalupe. The Confluence Project is an interesting endeavor. The organizers are asking volunteers to find and document our world from the arbitrary framework of primary intersections of meridians of longitude and lines of latitude. The locations include all land-based confluences plus those at sea that offer views of landfalls.
Based on participation, this project appears to be creating a confluence of its own. The site offers a page showing every photographed confluence overlaid on a world map. One can click on pixel-sized individual pictures to zoom to or view groups as regions. In a way, the project is showing the forest and the trees. Mario Lossa, the Spanish essayist, says ‘awareness of the forest creates the feeling of generality, the feeling of belonging that binds society together and prevents it from disintegrating into a myriad of [selfish] particularities.” We are indeed a small world.
Reach approached its confluence (29N 118W), not with the sprit of lofty ideals, but with the gusto of boys with toys. Gadgets that is. We raced towards our destiny with my hand held GPS duct taped to the steering pedestal with the confluence coordinates programmed in. Kevin would pilot the boat to within 100 yards then transfer navigation down below to Cole and me. We were at the navigation station with digital camera in hand, waiting to capture the ‘event’ on the desktop GPS.
From topside, Kevin was yelling “One mile. One-half mile. 1000 feet. 500 feet. You got it!”
Reach was moving over 7 knots on a broad reach as Kevin transferred navigation.
“Go south a little.” Cole would relay the message up. “Now back north, hold it there, yes, yes.” The digits on GPS screen ticked down showing we were right on course.
“What happening down there?” Kevin screamed down.
“Hold it steady, steady, yes! Yes! We got it!”
High fives all around, the camera captured 29 00.01N 118 00.00W. With system error included, we were within 50 to 80 feet of the arbitrary position. Our names and the pictures of the three of us looking back at Isla de Guadalupe will be entered on the Project’s web site later this spring. Why this is almost as exciting as having an asteroid fragment or some disease named after you.