Monday, 16 January 2017

San Blas

The travelling fish band

The area around Isla Isabela is quite shallow with depths of 100 - 200 feet.  This means there are lots of fish, which means there are lots of long lines.  We had some light wind on the morning we left and were able to sail, which was a good thing, the first long line we spotted got hooked on the fishing gear we had trailing behind....after that we were better about spotting them.  The long lines are anchored at one end and have pop bottle floats every 200 feet or so with a flag at the far end about a mile away.  There are many stories of entangled boats and wildlife.  Kialoa with her full keel was able to pass over them but we were glad not to have the engine running as they could have easily been sucked into the propeller.  We picked up a troupe of fish on the way.  I have never seen fish travel with the boat before but this small group was with us for about an hour.  Jay tried interesting them in his fishing lure but they were intent on their goal and did not bite.
Kialoa doubles as a dryer
 The entrance into San Blas is very shallow and we had a bit of nail biting trip across the bar and up the river to the marina.  San Blas is renowned for its mosquitos and jejenes, and they were there, but with some bug spray and long pants and shirts at the right time of day it is manageable.  Here we had a chance to do laundry and reprovision.  It is a lovely mexican town and was once the main customs port for the spanish on the west coast of mexico.  Due to the shallow river depths and bugs the center of commerce moved further south.  The old spanish fort has been restored and commands an impressive view of the town and surrounding area.
The slow moving rivers and mangrove swamps in this area also provide a perfect breeding ground for crocodiles.  Along with the crew of Airsupply we spent an interesting day touring up river and seeing crocodiles in the wild.  Keep your hands to yourself!
A historic church in San Blas, the canadian flag is providing
shade for one of the local vendors!

heading up river
A crocodile

The curious cat fish
We are not in the desert any more!  

The Galapagos of Mexico

A beautiful sailing day

Jay and I left Los Frailes on Dec 7th making way for Isla Isabela, also known as the Galapagos of Mexico.  This small island is 30 miles off the mainland coast of mexico, some 70 nm south of Mazatlan.  It was a 214 nm journey from Los Frailes.  As I planned for a 4 knot average speed we gave ourselves 48 hours to make the passage.  The first day out we had beautiful winds, as predicted, and far exceeded our 4 knot average planned speed.  As our arrival time was looking to be around 2 am we had to start slowing down, and slowing down some more and in the end drifted for a while near the island waiting for daylight.  The anchorage is tricky, wide open to the south with lots of rocks and reefs, it is important to take good care.  Jay snorkelled around and found us a small sandy spot to drop the anchor.  We had timed our arrival to coincide with a period of very calm weather and were delighted that the predictions held.  It gave us 3 days to explore this very unique spot.  The birds are phenomenal.  Every bush is full of frigate birds, and not just a few, many!  The grassy areas are the home of every variety of boobie.  This is their breeding ground and due to the remoteness of the island the birds are not frightened of people and tend to just watch you walk by.
There is a small fishing camp and an old research station but other than that it is untouched.  We had some fantastic snorkeling trips.   The rock formations underwater were beautiful.  This wild, remote island definately lived up to our expectations.
Kialoa at anchor, Isla Isabela

Rugged cliffside

A small collection of the fishlife

The Igaunas were not very concerned about us.
Trees full of frigate birds
A closer look at a fully ballooned male

Blue footed boobies involved in courtship
Jay and the fish

Next stop San Blas!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Some people love heights

Some people love heights, I am not one of them!  When Jay and I were putting the sail cover on the main sail shortly after arriving in San Evaristo a small cotter pin fell to the deck.  As everyone knows this is cause for alarm, where did it come from?  I checked every place on deck that I knew would need a cotter pin and there were none missing.  So the only other place to look is up the mast.  And it must be checked, a lost cotter pin can mean a lost mast, so up I went.  Luckily for me it was flat calm in San Evaristo and so my trip to the top was without incident.  I carefully checked every single connection from the top to the bottom.  There was nothing amiss and all cotter pins were where they should be.  So the loose cotter pin remains a mystery, but a good inspection of the rigging is never a bad thing.
Jay and I slowly worked our way towards La Paz, we had some lovely sailing, endured a rain storm (see photo below) and some flat calm motoring.  We checked out the huge mangrove lagoon at Amortajada, had a brief stop at Los Islotes and enjoyed more good snorkeling on the way.

The dodger nearly got wet in the rainstorm!

Just one of the birds that call Amortajada home.

One of the rocks at Los Islotes.  These rocks are home to a large
sea lion colony, many of them are young and curious and approach
people who come to snorkel with them.  It is quite a thrill to be
in such close proximity with these beautiful wild animals.

As much as I love being in the water with the sea lions I do find them a little intimidating and prefer to have someone in the water with me.  Since one of us had to stay on Kialoa as she drifted in proximity, I did not join Jay in the water this time.

We arrived in La Paz in early Dec and spent three days shopping for groceries, doing laundry and picking up some of the things that are easiest found in cities.  As the plan included heading south to the mainland coast, a place Kialoa has not been before I also needed to pick up the appropriate cruising guide.  It is always good to find out about where you are going before you get there!
Jay and I departed La Paz Dec 3, motored north into light but slowly building winds.  As we approached the San Lorenzo channel and our turn east and then south the winds built enough that we ended up having a beautiful downwind overnight sail to Los Frailes, a large bay on the southeast corner of the Baja Peninsula.  This bay has fantastic snorkeling and is just around the corner from Cabo Pulmo Marine park which is a large shallow bay that has extensive coral reefs and is completely protected from fishing and gathering.  It was a hot hike over a dusty road to the beach at Cabo Pulmo but very worth it. The snorkeling was great and the water temperature was becoming much warmer as we got further south.  It was so nice to be snorkeling without a wet suit on!
These funny looking fish are called Mexican lookdowns.

Just one of the sea turtles we spotted while snorkeling.
and one of the beautiful and bright parrot fish.