Flight of the Errant Torpedoes

Baja de los Angeles to La Paz

Baja Sea-Kayaking Adventure #4

26 days, 480 miles, Nov 1977 with John and Al

Ray Jardine

1977-10-27Flight of the Errant Torpedoes page 2 of 28

We spend the remainder of the day - and all the next one - working on our gear. John and Al sand their paddle blades and varnish the shafts. We sort our provisions and place them into waterproof plastic bags. And we carry out a final scrutinizing of our gear to determine what is actually needed and what could remain behind. Obviously we must keep the weight to a minimum. Excess weight is the bane of those traveling by personal propulsion, and we were already stretched by the necessity to carry all our drinking water. Each man would carry 6 gallons.

In addition to these tasks, it fell to my responsibly - being the only one with any kayaking experience - whatsoever - to school the remainder of our small group on the dangers of a capsize at sea, and what to do to help prevent it. Standing in water waist deep, we launch a kayaker and have him practice nearly tipping over and recovering with a brace stroke.

At one point John shoves his new paddle end-wise against the seabed and bends the blade through an obtuse angle. The fiberglass blade is still green, and as yet too soft. So we bend it back, and all seems well. (But much later in the journey, far from civilization, that blade would break at the bend.)

I attempt to teach the Eskimo roll, but with little success. It would be understandably difficult to grasp the rolling technique in so short a time, especially when the instructor can hardly perform the maneuver himself. Failing that, I emphasize the time honored philosophy of "don't capsize," which based on my experience seems to work better the more one is frightened.

We also discuss a few techniques for rescue at sea, in which the capsized person is aided by the other two. In waters this warm, the person in the water might be able to swim to shore with his flooded boat. Or if too far from shore, that person could grab on to the back of another kayak, and that kayaker could tow him to shore.

We are ready to install our home-made rudder assembles to our boats. But I am horrified to discover that I had neglected to bring a very important part: the bolt that would connect my rudder assembly to the boat's stern. I shudder at the dismal prospects of finding an 8-inch by 5/16th-inch bolt anywhere around here. With no other options that I can think of, I wander off to find the local dump with thoughts of finding something to improvise with.

By and by, I find - of all things - an old airplane that apparently had crashed out here in the desert long ago. It has been divested of anything even remotely of use or interest to the locals, but it's framework is still intact and it isn't long before my pliers have extracted a suitable bolt. Not only had I found the needed size, but it was a grade 8 cadmium plated aircraft bolt, far superior to the one I had forgotten in California. Beaming, I return to camp.

We pay a small fee to leave John's van safely parked under a palapa belonging to one of the residents. Then with our gear in order we are at last ready to depart, come early the next morning. So we top off the day with a sumptuous dinner of turtle steaks at the well-known Casa Diez.

The story has 28 pages. This is page 2.
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