By Gene Kira, July 1, 2002, as published in Western Outdoor News:
I'm headed down to good old San Felipe, and the Yuma weather forecast is for a high temperature of 110 degrees. Pretty darned warm.
That shouldn't be a problem, though, since the schedule calls for lots of pool time, a banana boat ride, lots of beach walking and star gazing, and a nice, icy-cold, air conditioned hotel room.
Ahhh...the joys of not camping in the summer!
Luckily for Ol' Baja Softy, this is going to be a super-deluxe trip, with all the modern luxuries. None of that tent-on-a-frying-pan stuff this time. About the biggest hardship I'm anticipating is running out of Flexx-Rap tape for my remote control finger.
Actually, camping in 110 degrees isn't that uncomfortable, as long as you're not trying to live aboard a boat with no air conditioning and no fans. That's what I call hot and miserable. Hot, humid air seems to be magnified a thousand times inside a boat, and planning this summertime trip to San Felipe got me to thinking about an "old Baja story" related to tropical weather and hot boat cabins.
This little-known East Cape story comes in several versions. Here's one of my favorites:
Many years ago, when the East Cape area was still young, a very overweight American man from Los Angeles won a sailing yacht in a poker game while he was on vacation in Guaymas.
The American man wanted to take his prize home, but he hardly knew how to sail a boat, so he hired an experienced young boy from Guaymas to help him, and the two of them set off westward across the Sea of Cortez, headed for the Baja coast.
Unfortunately, the weather was deadly hot, so hot that when the boat was about halfway across the Cortez, the American suffered a fatal heart attack while he was down in the boat cabin trying to use the head.
The boy, as it turned out, didn't know how to sail either, and he wasn't strong enough to get the American man's heavy body out of the boat cabin. The terrified boy retreated to the deck, locked the cabin door, and drifted aimlessly in the tropical heat for several days.
As luck would have it, the boat finally ran aground at East Cape, right in front of today's modern Hotel Rancho Leonero, which in those days wasn't much more than a cluster of rustic palapas built by a man named Gil Powell.
The boy from Guaymas, freed from his ghastly confinement with the American's rapidly declining body, jumped ship and disappeared.
Col. Gene Walters, owner in those days of Rancho Buena Vista across the bay, caught sight of the boat, and--citing the law of the sea--claimed the abandoned derelict as his property. He ordered a member of his staff to sneak out to Rancho Leonero that night, cut the boat's anchor rope, and tow it back to Rancho Buena Vista before Gil Powell could lay claim to it.
Walters' man dutifully snuck out to the boat, opened the cabin door, and was rendered nearly unconscious by a blast of fumes that was described as being like a cross between sewage gas and tear gas. Fearing for his job, the man pressed on, discovered the source of the fumes, and tried to drag the American's body up on deck.
But by then, the body had attained a consistency something like a rotten banana, and it kept coming apart as the man tried to drag it--an arm here, a leg there. Eventually, the remains were scooped into a number of five-gallon buckets, and the poker-playing American was given a respectful burial--still sealed in said containers--on a hilltop somewhere between Rancho Leonero and Rancho Buena Vista.
Col. Walters got his boat, but unfortunately, the very next night it was "claimed" for a second time--some say by Gill Powell--and it was never seen again.
(EAST CAPE HOT BOAT STORY, HOT BOAT STORY PART 2, PART 3 CONCLUSION)
(Related East Cape articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main East Cape information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the East Cape area in "Mexico Fishing News.")