What is conveyed by a name? There is a Captain Cook in
history, as I remember it his short-suit was winning popularity
contests. Four guys that work together have made plans
to go to Baja fishing. I am one of those guys and from
the start I am apprehensive. Three of us had fished in
Baja many times but never with access to a boat. A fellow
with the last name of Cook is part owner of a boat and
wants to fish Baja. How big is this boat? And his description
goes it is a small 22' fiberglass it is not a heavy boat.
The roads in Mexico are less than the best and narrower
than most. Ok bring the boat along.
final arrangements find Captain Cook and I sharing his
vehicle and the other two will share another vehicle.
Cook has never been to my house but for me to go into
Escondido is not logical and for that matter I have never
been to his house. I give Cook directions and on the appointed
morning I have all of my gear outside and ready to load.
I go out to the end of my driveway and wait, one cup of
coffee, two cups, it is chilly and I go back inside the
house. Cook is half an hour late by now. I hear something
and look outside to see a boat half as big as the fucking
Queen Mary. Cook has a Chevy S-10 to pull this maritime
monster. We load my gear and head the beast south.
Cook is apprehensive about driving in Mexico and I have
volunteered to do that at least through the cities. We
get about 20 miles from my house and encounter the first
of several sharp turns. I hear a thump and look in his
side mirror to see my Weber kettle rolling down the highway
distributing parts to the four winds. You ask why is your
Weber along? We assign large items like this to prevent
duplication and I was to bring my barbecue. From one we
are now down to none. We stop and manage to find all the
components. The little S-10 does a surprisingly good job
of pulling the boat.
In Calexico we get insurance and I take over the wheel.
Not surprising there is traffic congestion getting into
Mexacali. I love to drive in Mexico I especially like
traffic circles. I lick my insurance policy and stick
it on the windshield. Then I turn my hat around backward
as Clint Eastwood's brother did in all of the "Any
Which Way" movies when things were about to get bad.
I don't have any trouble. But, now we are still inching
toward Mexico and I am at a big disadvantage, a strange
vehicle and pulling one big assed boat. I have been aced
out of a squeeze down lane several times and it ain't
gonna happen again. I am competing against a Ford pickup.
I win but in the process I failed to notice that at the
height of five feet the maritime monster is wider than
the trailer. Oops, ripped the right side mirror off that
Ford truck with the boat overhang.
Rather than hassle here and tie up traffic worse than
it already is we will go over there. The open spot that
we could get to was in Mexico, big mistake the accident
was actually in the US. $40 later we are on our way again.
The border agents helped negotiate and escalate the repair
bill but on the plus side all the hassles with boat registration,
identification, and inspection were not imposed upon us.
next event worthy of recording is in Puertecitos as we
look at the boat ramp. Remember Cook got us off to that
late start. The ramp is now occupied with local fishermen
cleaning their catch. We now must wait until they finish
and if another Mexican fisherman comes in before the current
occupant is finished, you wait more. I don't how this
custom came about? I do know that it is futile to try
to change it. The ramp clears and Captain Cook hands me
the keys to his truck saying "I can't back that up".
This is a very congested area and I get to attempt this
with no previous experience with this set up. The distance
from the ball to the trailer wheels will determine how
"fast" or "slow" the trailer responds.
This is a dual wheel deal and I have no experience with
one of those.
Because it is so very constricted it takes several maneuvers
just to get the truck and boat aligned to back toward
the ramp. We get through the rest of the situation with
out too much scratched paint and bent fenders. I am happy
to report the cement wall on the ramp was not damaged.
Captain Cook is now in the boat and I drive the truck
and trailer to camp.
At camp we find that Captain Cook has no anchor. I can't
believe this is happening to me. Within walking distance
there is an inlet we can tie the boat in the center of
the inlet, he does have a lot of rope. Another surprise,
I am able to reconstruct the Weber and it lasts for several
The next morning we go to the inlet. The boat has come
very near to sinking. This is very cold weather for Baja
and for some reason Captain Cook thinks that he must swim
to the boat. Last night we set the boat with no one aboard
it seems logical that we should be able to recover it
in a like manner. Cook strips to his skivvies and dives
in (I commend him for that but by now I am sure he has
earned several signs). The bailing begins and the boat
is brought close enough that Chuck gets on and helps.
With the boat riding much higher in the water I suggest
that we have breakfast. Declined.
Submerging the battery and starter in salt water is not
a good idea. Chuck takes the starter apart dries, clean,
and reassembles it. The battery is very dead so we take
the battery out of Cook's truck. The boat has the Chevy
stove bolt 4 banger with a Merc I/O drive. The motor is
persuaded to start. A whole lot of the morning has passed
us by and again I suggest let's have breakfast. No let's
go for one short fishing session.
Larry and Cook have the front seat with Chuck and I are
behind them facing backward. The two in front are eating
peanuts and the stuff from shelling the nuts is getting
in our eyes. My stomach is growling but I would hold out
at least a week before I would ask either of them for
a single nut. We go about 7 miles from camp and start
to fish Captain Cook has a fish finder but he ain't got
no idear what the bullshit on the screen indicates. We
start to catch some mutant looking catfish that grunt.
They turn out to have a "Y" bone structure and
ugly reddish flesh. Finally we start for camp.
In about two miles the motor revs increase and the boat
comes to an almost stop. Almost because the wind is doing
about 30 MPH toward the west and it moves us toward shore,
the near shore. A wind from the opposite direction and
we would be bound for mainland Mexico. Without any investigation
whatsoever Captain Cook announces the out drive blew up
again, that makes the 18th time. There is no paddle of
any kind on this boat. I wonder why did you want to bring
this boat to Mexico when it is so poorly equipped that
even Captain Kangaroo wound not allow it to set sail on
a kiddy pool. Larry keeps on fishing this is clearly not
his problem. He snags a large triggerfish.
We talk about what will happen when we hit shore. Since
Cook owns the boat he should be among those that go for
help. I am the only one who has a good grasp of directions
and where help might be available. The shoreline where
we will come to rest is not pretty, if fact it is relatively
ugly. Large rocks but a low rise to the land. The boat
issues a loud thud as it contacts the first of those ugly
rocks. Larry throws his fishing pole down and declares
“I am not staying”. Through this very logical
and democratic process Chuck and I are left to take care
of this piece of shit boat.
This trip occurs long before the sophistication of my
current trips. We didn’t have access to tide charts
for one thing. Our hikers leave then Chuck and I agree
the first thing that we need to do is decide which direction
the tide is going. I get ashore and after about 15 minutes
I have reached a decision that the tide is going out.
Chuck yells that he thinks the tide is going out because
the boat was setting more solidly on the rocks. It is
now about noon, if we strand the boat midnight will be
the next opportunity to recover the boat. Neither of us
likes the midnight scenario.
There is one large pole aboard the wounded boat. We can’t
move the boat from inside. Our only choice is to get in
the water. It is still cold and the wind is blowing but
at least the wind don’t blow under water. We ease
our Caucasian asses into the water my dick went inverted
and let me tell you it was an instantaneous reaction.
We push, lift, pry, and I personally threw Larry’s
fishing pole in the ocean with reducing the load as my
only motive. We finally get the boat to float. Then we
walk it to a small indention in the shoreline. We tie
it in the center as had been done last night.
Since we end up ashore that is where we stay. We look
longingly to the north for signs of a rescue boat. Hours
go by and we actually begin to warm up some.
Now let me imagine what the other two guys are doing.
As they departed I gave them my very best dead reckoning
point toward a settled cove called La Castillo. To walk
directly to the road would have been a short walk but
that is taking you farther away from civilization. The
probability of encountering a motorized vehicle on that
road and getting a ride is somewhere near minus six. They
did encounter a couple of nasty arroyos that required
circumnavigation but eventually they reach the goal. Here
they find two Americans who have been out fishing. They
have tidied up and are preparing to get into a tent or
tents with a couple of female beauties. They had whiskey,
food, and pot with a resin content that would stick your
lips together and the last thing they wanted to do was
relaunch the boat get wet and cold again just to rescue
Captain Cook said they were just about to go inside the
tent when the subject of where do you hail from and where
do you work comes up. When one of them hears NCR he says
that he has the contract to wash the windows there. Where
we were at that particular time there was in excess of
two miles of windows. Since we were all NCR people he
would go get us. He has about an 18' Sea Witch, an aluminum
boat with a 40HP motor a very nice set-up for Baja.
Finally we see a boat coming from the north. There has
been no other boat traffic. The boat nears and I am surprised
to see that Cook is not on the boat. These guys ask if
we are the NCR guys they were looking for? We confirm,
untie and tie onto their boat. Now we are wet to the neck
again. They ask can you raise the out-drive, neither of
us know how. Chuck did not want the job of steering this
dead boat. The wind has not diminished. The tow-boat needs
to point about 30° to the right of the desired course.
The forward speed is very slow and steering response on
the dead boat is hard to detect. We now have two wind
components forward speed and the wind that nature is being
so kind to provide. I am freezing! Before reaching La
Castillo I have no feeling in the lower 2/3rds of my extremities.
When we beached walking was very difficult however falling
down was very easy.
We thank the guys and untie. Where is the truck and trailer?
Where is Cook and Larry? These two come strolling down
the beach toward us. I ask about the truck and trailer
and the reply is it is still back at camp and that is
3 or so miles farther north. What in hell's name have
you two been doing for all these hours? There is a cave
at the west-end of the beach and they had been in there
sleeping. It is fortunate that I didn't have a weapon.
They then found a guy with a small Japanese truck that
was powered by a Buick V-8. He took them to our camp.
Chuck and I go crawl into the cave, it is not much help
as the wind is still hitting you and we are still wet.
Time goes by and of course those two guys have lost any
favored status that I might have previously bestowed upon
them what is taking the idiots so long? Remember the battery
on the boat? Cook's truck has no battery and the cable
connections are different on the battery in the other
truck. No, the other truck does not have a trailer hitch?
As the sun begins to tuck in behind the mountain here
they come. Shortly before reaching the turnoff the trailer
comes off the truck. The ball has come off Cook's truck.
The little truck with the big engine picks up the trailer
and comes to the beach. He swings around and backs the
trailer into the water. I don't know why we keep doing
the boat stuff but Chuck and I get the boat on the trailer
and that requires getting back in the water. I am impressed
as the little truck pulls this load of shit up a soft
sand beach and onto the hard road above. Larry has walked
back along the road finding the nut and lock washer. That
lock washer has obviously failed.
I say to Cook "have you got any Scotch on this truck"?
He produced a full 1.75 liter bottle. I took a large sample.
This is the first thing to hit my stomach since about
7:30 this morning. That was the best drink that I had
ever experienced. I sampled it again.
I suppose that I was not in real danger of dying but
I thought that I was. After that trip I avoided Cook in
combination with any liquid, even the water fountain.
If he was there I detoured around him.