Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Five colorful kayaks plunge through choppy seas along Carmen Island’s rocky coast. Yellow Tempest, Blue Tempest, and Red Romany frolic in the waves. Sea Green Romany (that’s me) parallels Yellow Explorer, trying to encourage and keep him off the rocks. The dark sea is studded with whitecaps

I see something floating in the waves, olive green or brown, about 18” across. Perhaps a mat of sargassum, a prickly seaweed. Wavelets distort my brief glimpses. Then it rises on a crest, a sea turtle, backlit in the water. Round body, long front flippers, stubby back flippers, little round head in the air. A perfect silhouette--a tiny island of tranquility in a turbulent sea.

“This beach sucks!” announces Ryan of the Yellow Tempest. We’ve landed at the first available beach after Yellow Explorer capsized in the wind. It was the first potential landing spot in half an hour of paddling after the rescue, but it’s sloped, rocky, and exposed. The coastline is about to turn into an even more exposed direction.

We hunker in the little dry watercourse, or arroyo, out of the wind for lunch, and consider our options. I check the landing at the next beach over, and it’s not feasible with loaded boats, 3’ dumping waves, and dog-sized rocks in the surf. Yellow Explorer is not going any further. Indeed, the Port Captain would come out the next morning to pick him up in a motor boat. He has overestimated his skill, and is not interested in continuing with a forecast of building wind.

I declare that we’re staying at “Sucky Beach” for the night. Campers can start excavating their sleeping hollows. There are still waves to be played in, however. I go ride some in the little break off our beach, then stay close to the cell phone to organize pick-up logistics. Ryan, who is the other guide and organizer of this trip, goes with the other two wave-frolickers to explore the coast for the rest of their afternoon. I don’t want to know if there’s a perfect beach just around the corner.

Of course the boys return with reports of just that beach. It’s the most perfect in all the world. Sandy landing, glowing golden in the sun, dancing girls (and one handsome guy, they note), angels sliding down sunbeams, turning into masseuses when they touch the ground, beach music playing from the cactus-tops, cold beer flowing from the cactus tap.

“Sure, whatever,” I say. “Just don’t tell me there’s a clean point break at one side of it.”

“Yeah, there is! That’s the best part of it! We surfed it for hours.”

I groan and go flatten a little sleeping nest beside my kayak for the night. Where would we be without imagination?