The Boat Ranch

The kids are too young. Too young to be toting machine guns and randomly stopping cars in the middle of a vacant, dusty highway that heads south into the desert. Their weapons glisten in the heat as they stare at the jumble of surfboards, cases of Pacifico beer and jugs of bottled water in the back of the truck. One looks at us and smiles. He surfs, too, he says in broken English. The others wave us on and we pass, heading down the Trans-American highway, looking for surf.

The road disappears into a haze of pollution and dust, sucking us deeper into Baja. The checkpoint, Tijuana, Ensenada and Santo Tomas left behind as we vanish into the heat waves on the horizon. The first Pacifico is opened as the sun sets, burnishing the last waves of the day, the sets pulsing in from the Pacific as night comes with a sudden hardness. From the top of the cliffs we can hear the surf surging across the rocks that line the beach. The waves glow with a faint hint of phosphorus as we settle in for the night. The trip has been a long one and the road has worn exhaustion into our bones.

The Boat Ranch sits at the end of a forgotten point. Created by a guy named Layton, a itinerant surfer from Southern California, the ranch is host to 12 boats in different states of metamorphosis. The first boat, hauled down from the states by Layton over the axle busting ruts that lead to the end of the point, has transmorgified into a rustic bungalow. The others are in various states of repair or disrepair, none seaworthy but all providing refuge those who travel to the vacant sliver of land that pushes out into the ocean. They?re fine accommodations, giving us all the luxury we need: shelter from the sun and rain, a place to cook simple meals that fill the belly, and from the deck of a boat called ?The Duke?, a clear view of the swell which batters the point.


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