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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Four: North America

Monday, January 14

San Pedro to San Diego Yesterday a complete engine check was done by the men in the Naval Air Station and the controllable propeller was completely overhauled as well. It was fortunate that they were so willing to cooperate because there is no other seaplane base in San Diego. The engine is running like a charm and should need no more attention until we reach Miami. Take off is being delayed by the fleet of destroyers which is putting out to sea at about 16 knots, and raising havoc with the surface of the harbor.

Across Lower California. As the destroyer fleet completed its movement out of San Diego Harbor, we taxied into position for the take off. With so much uncertainty over the fueling arrangement in Mexico, we had taken on a heavy load of gasoline and it was almost too much. The Naval fliers who watched the attempt must have thought we were going out to join the destroyer formation, the way we ate up the bay. The international boundary was soon passed, and we started on the long trudge down the peninsula which is known as Lower California. The coast was a dry barren strip flanked by flat topped buttes, one of which is so distinctive as to figure prominently on the charts for position identification by mariners. The headlands which we used in laying our course were generally low extensions into the sea, but occasionally there was a rocky prominence. There was very little change in the appearance of the peninsula throughout its northern half except that we saw no more buttes, the mountains thereafter being irregular and often conical. They rose in a succession of low hills from the Pacific, the highest peaks lying on the eastern side. The appearance throughout was arid and desolate, although there were trails along which an automobile might travel. It is said to be possible to drive clear to La Paz, 700 miles south of San Diego, but at times the chauffer must steer by dead reckoning navigation! Occasionally small settlements appeared, usually of only a few fishing shacks. The only industry perceived was at St. Quintin, where an extensive system of rectangular vats was laid out close to the shore, presumably for reclamation of salt. Calculation showed that darkness would set in before we could possibly reach La Paz and in consequence, on reaching Sebastian Bay, the course was changed for Guaymas, 200 miles due east on the other side of the Gulf of California. The entire country was arid and desolate, partly I suppose because of volcanic remains, and partly also because of a meager rainfall, which must be insufficient for any except desert vegetation. We looked for mines but saw none, although there were numerous trails. For centuries this has been a favorite potting ground for prospectors who search for gold and silver. The charts of this region are not accurate, because as we approached the eastern margin of the peninsula, where the land rises to its greatest height and then drops off sharply into the gulf, a peak was encountered whose summit was about 6000 feet although on the map it was listed only 3800 feet. In the valleys between the peaks were numerous small circular areas, the dried beds of former lakes. These surfaces form the best of landing fields for airplanes, and there was a particularly good one five miles inland from the central portion of Angeles Bay. The bay was a lovely sight, a mixture of soft blue water and reddish islands. The course passed the southern tip of Tiburon Island, whose friendly shore tempted us to land for an impromptu visit. Its name should have been a warning; it is attached also to one of the most voracious sharks of this region. The opportunity was passed by, and we have discovered in Guaymas that the island is infested with a tribe of primitive bandits, which attacks and kills white men who penetrate its territory. It was even planned two weeks ago to organize a group of miners and prospectors to carry out an armed invasion of the island for the purpose of brutal extermination of the inhabitants, which number perhaps 200.

Guaymas itself is one of the series of small seaports which lie at intervals of 200-300 miles along the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is touched by the Southern pacific Railroad, which runs southward from Arizona and joins the Mexican railroads on the plateau at Guadalajara. The harbor is formed by the protection of a rocky headland and a series of islands, and it was with more than usual thrill that I circled and dropped the plane into its sheltered water; because once, I spent a night here with Dr. Ralph Balch, in the course of my first airplane flight through Mexico.

What a stupid thing to have done! We have entered a foreign country without stopping at the border to obtain the proper visas and we are in for a peck of trouble. The officials are being very decent but still it is hard for them to overlook so gross an error. I suppose it will have to be fixed up directly with Mexico City although for the moment they are passing us on to Mazatlan.

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