Ship's Log
Thursday, August 3, 2000
Von Donop Inlet

Rapidly She Looses Faith

    Deb and I woke early to another warm sunny day. The water where we were anchored, although warm, was not very inviting due to the hundreds of jellyfish clustered around the boat. We decided to stay in that spot another day and explore the saltwater lagoon. After breakfast Marty and Sherry appeared on their way towards "Hole-in-the-Wall." We asked if they wanted to spend the day with us and they agreed. Soon, they were rafted up along side of us. Von Donop07.jpg (42131 bytes)

Marty set his anchor about 60° off our bow. It was really fun getting to know another couple. We talked about life in Canada, and in the U.S. We broke down several stereotypes and misconception we each had about the other. Marty has so many wonderful stories about the places they’ve traveled to around the country. We talked about sailing and life. After a while, Deb and I decided to take the dinghy to the lagoon and go for a swim.

Now the interesting thing about the entrance to the lagoon, is that the mouth is very shallow and very narrow. So, at high tide, there are rapid going into the lagoon, and as the tide goes out the rapids slow down and eventually change directions and rush out towards the sea. This means that the nutrients in the lagoon never get fully flushed out and the water and creatures therein are extraordinarily tropical, this also means getting my little dinghy into and out of the lagoon would be a challenge. And it was.

We rowed over to the rapids and got out when we could make no more way. We took a rope and stretched it across the rushing water. I attached the boat to the center of the line and with each of us on opposite banks, we walked it up the rapids as far as we could. The current got to be too strong for Deb to keep a good footing, so near the top she let go and I managed to maneuver, drag, lift the boat to the pristine lagoon. I rowed over to the other bank and Debbie climbed aboard. The lagoon looked like an alpine lake. There were giant trees coming right down to the muddy banks. Von Donop08.jpg (65759 bytes)There were no sandy beaches or wind-blown rock formations like there were in the inlet just a hundred yards away. We found a small island no more than 50 feet in diameter. I beached the boat and we began to explore the grassy knoll. I looked as if we could have been at a 10-thousand foot glacier-fed lake. And to add to the surreal scene was the underwater life. The nutrient-rich seawater enable orange, red and purple starfish to grow larger and than any I have ever seen—some were no less than two and a half feet across. The oysters were as big as my fist and filled the shoreline. We swam in the warm water and collected oysters for dinner. We lounged in the moss and grass and watched in amazement as herring and salmon leapt from the sea to catch low flying insects.

As the sun fell past the treetops we decided to head back to the boats and begin the shucking process. We piled our day’s treasures into the small boat and headed back towards the entrance. The current was moving rapidly out towards the inlet. I could see our boat sitting at anchor about ten feet below the level we were floating. The ride to them was going to be a challenge. As we approached. I pulled one paddle in the boat and guided us using a single paddle as if in a canoe. The difference is we weren’t in a canoe, we were in a bathtub. Flat, wide with little motivation to actually remain facing forward. Looking back…I realize about ten reasons why I should have paid more heed to Debbie’s worried look. She is a smart one. How I get her to follow me on some of these crazy adventures is a testament to my persuasive talents. I calmed here and said, "This may get loud but there is nothing to worry about." She looks relieved. Her faith that I won’t kill us gives me a false sense of security. I add, "All you have to do stay in the boat and it will be over before we know it."

A father and son were climbing on the rocks near the top of the rapids. His wife and daughter were at the bottom. The father shouted to us, "Are you really going down there?" We laughed and I said, "You dial 9-1 then when I give you the signal dial 1." (A little joke I got from our waiter in San Jose Del Cabo as he prepared the flambé.) And just like a boating safety movie, at the peak of our laughter we hit our (first) rock and it stopped us completely. The water rushing around us, I tried to row through it, but it was a rock. It was then Deb and I both realized that I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. As the water spun us around the rock I saw the terror in the son’s face. However, Deb’s question, "Are we okay?" Proved to me she still had a glimmer of hope of our survival. We sped sideways down the rapids and slammed into another rock in the center of the water. We both fell forward and I managed to put my foot on the rock to get us free. Except we were free from rock and half out of the boat. We spun the other way and stopped against another rock. The boat quickly filled with water. When I saw the terror in the mother’s eyes, I knew we were near the bottom. The whole family was now rushing toward us. I remember yelling, "Stay in the boat!" However, the boat was now sitting on the bottom of the rapids and water was rushing over both of us and taking everything we had with it. We bounced from rock to rock somehow laughing too hard to get really scared. Finally, we were sitting at the bottom of the pool below the rapids in only 2 feet of water. I stuck my finger up and said to the family, simply mortified by our display of stupidity and said, "Now would be a good time to dial that other 1." They didn’t laugh. Deb shouted, "Don’t try this at home kids." We laughed and made our way to the shore. Once safe on land, Deb’s hysterics gave way to well, hysterics. "You could have killed us! My favorite shorts are gone. Why do I follow you into this stuff?" By the time she was finished, I had the boat almost all the way bailed out. Fortunately my camera was in a dry-sack floating peacefully away. We climbed back in the dinghy, recovered the floating loot and were soon safely back aboard the Burrito. Marty and Sherry watched the whole thing through their binoculars. They saw we were laughing and therefor knew not to call the coast guard in just yet. The poor dinghy was a bit worse for the wear. There were deep gouges in the fiberglass and the wooden center board was cracked and seeping water. VonDonop05.jpg (52886 bytes)
The rest of the evening Deb or I would periodically break into laughter and express our disbelief that it actually happened. We changed into dry clothes and began the process of shucking oysters. It was hard work, but worth every salt-fill cut. The oysters were huge and delicious. Deb and I made pasta and garlic bread. Marty and Sherry fried up the oysters in crackers and oil. We combined them and had the feast at our place. After dinner they invited us aboard. We sat in their cabin played hearts and told stories until we couldn’t keep our eyes open.

More Marty stories to come…

It's a small world after all. It's a small small world.

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