The Mexican Navy is No Longer Searching For Me!

Air temp: 63 degrees
Humidity: 80% Barometer: 1008 mb
Speed: 3-4 knots Course: 240 degrees magnetic
Distance Left to Hawaii: 2526 miles
Point of Sail: Close Hauled Stbd tack pointed south of Hawaii
Wind speed: West 20-25 knots
Swells: From the west 8-12 ft

Finally enroute to Hawaii. For the last time! Just cleared out of Cabo San Lucas. Cruising along with a double-reefed main and a storm sail. No doubt, the winds will calm down significantly once I get past the cape a few miles.

I have no doubt everybody reading this blog was confused as to my last post. Some of you were thinking “WTF – you left for Hawaii five days ago, what do you mean you’re going to get a Zarpe (Mexico Clearance Papers) in Cabo?” Well, the truth is, the Port Captain in Nuevo Vallarta was a stickler for paperwork. After a brief visit with him and Velma (who did not resemble my lifelong friend from my favorite show at all), the lady at the Nuevo Vallarta book store who does all the gringo boat paperwork, visa’s, TIPs, etc… made it clear I was going to have a problem clearing out due to my lack of a TIP. A T.I.P. – Temporary Import Permit – is a 10 year permit for your imported boat or vehicle in Mexico. No one could tell us upon checking into Mexico if this was something we actually, really needed. We were told by some we should obtain one if we were going to be there for more then six months. We were also told no one really cares. Those who have them said they have never been asked for it. A few cruisers who were asked for it when checking out of the country said they had to buy one on the spot for $300 pesos ($25 American. No big deal). None of this was the case in Nuevo Vallarta. At least not with the Port Captain I was working with. Of course, that’s Mexico. Every situation is different with every person.

It was made clear to me the lack of having a TIP was going to be a problem in Nuevo Vallarta, as they won’t issue me one on the spot and then I would be on Customs’ and Immigrations’ Radar for not having one. Thus, I might have to stay there and go through the process of obtaining one, which can take a while in Nuevo Vallarta. Velma and the Port Captain made it clear; it would be best to go north to Mazatlan 160 miles and east 100 miles (wrong direction for Hawaii) and check out there. Apparently, Mazatlan will give you a TIP on the spot. This advice took me by surprise. So, of course, I thanked the Port Captain, checked out of Nuevo Vallarta with the Port Captain with exit papers to go to Mazatlan. The Port Captain made a point to stress the importance of checking out of the country and obtaining a TIP. I was now on his radar. Darn. I had every intention of blowing off Mexico and their clearance papers and going straight to Hawaii. What are they going to do in Hawaii? I’m a citizen; they won’t kick me out. I assumed they would search the boat extra thoroughly for contraband because I avoided customs and immigration in Mexico. All I had to do was sail into international waters and what could Mexico do? Unfortunately, Mexico’s international waters extend pretty far west at this latitude thanks to a group of islands 300 miles due west of Nuevo Vallarta, mainly Isla Revillagigedo and Isla Socorro. These islands, unfortunately for me, have a Mexican Navy Base and are known for confiscating vessels who fish in their waters illegally. No matter, I would sail north of them by 50-100 miles and be clear. 200 miles west of Nuevo Vallarta and 75 miles north of these islands I heard what I had been keeping an ear out for on the VHF. It was around 3 am. My Spanish is adequate, but my understanding of it is fairly good. Loosely translated, I heard a radio call informing the Mexican Navy to keep an eye out, if not perform a light search for, a ” Yachtista sail nombre Camanoe ” (Sailboat named Camanoe). I was assumed to be heading for the general vicinity of San Benedicto, which is one of the islands between Hawaii and the mainland. With 36 mile wide radar, I don’t think the Mexican Navy would have had a difficult time finding me. Damn, the Port Captain must have contacted the Mazatlan Port Captain checking up on me. At that point, Camanoe and I tacked over onto the other tack straight for Cabo San Lucas 150 miles north. A little out of my way, but better than a huge fine. As it was made clear to me by Velma, that’s what would happen. It would have been a great sail, except there was a tropical cyclone which was dying out above Cabo. Which meant I had some very strong wind and large seas. In the end, nothing broke, Camanoe did excellent, all the way down to a double reefed main and tiny storm staysail. However, sadly, I lost my spinnaker. I will say it again. I lost my spinnaker. I was in disbelief for a good five minutes.

The spinnaker was securely tied on deck where I always keep it. Thinking back, Camanoe was hit by one particular wave which completely engulfed the boat and even put a fair amount of water in cockpit. Which really means something as Camanoe has a center cockpit. In hindsight, that might have been the wave which freed the spinnaker from the deck. All that was left of it were a few pieces of the bag and the lines I had tied over the top of the bag as an extra precaution. This will be at least a $3500 replacement. Especially, when you include an ATN spinnaker sock, spinnaker sheets, bag, and an ATN tacker. New rule: If I’m not using it, it goes down below! Unfortunately, this is really going to slow down my trip to Hawaii. Especially in light winds. But, If I don’t go now, I will never go. I loaded up extra fuel in Cabo and will have to motor in the light stuff in search of wind. There is a lot of food on board and unlimited water thanks to a watermaker and backup hand-pump watermaker.

Cabo; what a trip. I pulled in, grabbed a slip, which only cost me $62 for two nights, hired an agent to clear me out and obtain a Zarpe for me. The agent assured me Cabo wouldn’t care if I had a T.I.P. or not. All he needed from me was a passport, visa and crew list. Later that day my paperwork was in hand. I washed the boat, topped off fuel and obtained a few supplies. The agent cost me $80, but saved me a day of marina fees and riding buses. The next morning I would be off to Hawaii.

In total, I had 93 pesos ($7 USD) in change I had to get rid of that night before I left. Deep into the local part of town, about a one mile walk inland, I found a local taco restaurant where I gorged on tacos and beer for 86 pesos. Not as cheap as ‘Tacos in the Backyard’ in La Cruz, but in Cabo that’s pretty good. So what do you do with 9 pesos? Less then a buck. In the Tienda (little corner store) across the street from the taco joint I placed my 9 pesos on the counter in front of the lady and said, “Mas cerveza por favor, yo tengo nuevo pesos” (“More beer please, I have nine pesos”). This didn’t phase her for a second. She pointed to the cooler with the cheapest beer and said, “Uno” (one). It was a brand I’d never heard of before or care to give recognition to. It was crap. But it was 9 pesos, so I departed quickly with my prize and cruised around Cabo for awhile walking through the markets and tourist shops. All in all, a good farewell to Cabo.

-CAPT

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La Cruz de WannaStayForever?

Some people get to the port of La Paz on the Baja side of Mexico and never leave, coining the term, “La Paused.”  Well, we’ve been in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (pronounced wanna-cox-lei) for over three weeks and we really have no plan as to when we’ve leaving.  Thus, I’ve decided that we’re now in “La Cruz de WannaStayForever.”  I’m up for other name suggestions along this same idea.

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Hanging out on s/v Charisma with Charisma rum drinks, the setting sun and Camanoe in the background. (Thanks Ann for the photo!)

Anyway, I haven’t been writing much because, although we’re loving this area, I can’t say that when we finish up a day that I have anything EXCITING to share.  We get up, Dave starts a project while I either go ashore for provisions or work on my own small projects, then by early evening we’re cleaning up the boat and ourselves and either making dinner or going ashore for cheapo tacos.  We go to bed and start all over again.

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Enjoying “Tacos on the Street” where they only serve three dishes, but they do them very well (L) and “Tacos de Luna” (R), or as we call it, “The Backyard Taco Place” or “The 10 pesos a taco place.”

The little town of La Cruz is very sleepy. Not much opens prior to 10am, except for the Mercado del Mar where we’ve bought freshly caught shrimp a couple of times.  Most of the taco joints don’t appear until 7pm or later.  And when I say, “appear,” that’s exactly what I mean.  All of a sudden, people appear with grills and they’re dragging out plastic tables and chairs and they serve THE BEST, cheapest tacos you can imagine.  A lot of the time during the day, I just roam around and meet up with other cruisers.  I’m in no hurry to be anywhere or to return anywhere and that’s a nice feeling.  The produce market is every Tuesday and Friday at 5pm; there’s usually a cruisers’ swap meet on Saturday mornings and there’s a large artisan/farmer’s market every Sunday from 10am-2pm.  Otherwise, you just sort of hang around La Cruz and wait for something to happen or someone to invite you to go do something.

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Tuesday produce market (L) and the Sunday morning market along the Malecon (R) in La Cruz.

I’ve travelled into nearby towns, Bucerias, Sayulita and Nuevo Vallarta.  While Nuevo is very much a smaller version of Puerto Vallarta, mainly a resort town, Bucerias and Sayulita are small beach towns that are frequented by locals and tourists alike just looking for a little sun and surf.

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Enjoying a beach and surf day at Sayulita with a warm empanada.

Dave’s been working on various boat projects he wants done before he jumps to Hawaii in a couple months.  He has a sea anchor and a sea drogue for dire emergencies and he’s glassed-in, bolted, and basically secured all items necessary to deploy either one should he get into a bad storm.  We’ve hooked up a trolling generator (which I made a canvas cover for), which required Dave to make a step on top of the wind vane platform in order to attach the generator.  He’s reinforced our stanchions and glassed them in to keep them from leaking.  He figured out why the propane locker was letting in water whenever it rained or we had the hose on and then proceeded to fix that.  I’m sure I’m forgetting something else that he’s worked on and I can’t even begin to explain EXACTLY what all those projects were and how they help, but just know that while I’ve been soaking up the La Cruz atmosphere, Dave’s been a slave to Camanoe. 

I’ve helped out where I can, mostly with the sewing machine.  We have a lot of open shelves in the salon and galley, so my job has been to sew lee cloths/curtains for all these open areas.  There was also the trolling generator cover to protect it from sun and moisture and I also created a sleeve for our two hatch covers so they can be stored nicely without banging into each other or scratching up the boat. 

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Pre and post lee cloth shelves in the salon (top photos) and galley (bottom photos).

Yes, I realize how little time my projects took compared to Dave’s.

So, what’s next after the projects are complete (or at least, complete enough for Dave to sail to Hawaii)?  Well, I’m hoping to head a little farther south to Barra de Navidad and possibly Manzanillo before heading home to the Bay Area.  There’s no exact date set yet for Dave to begin his crossing, so when we figure that out, I’ll have to get a plane ticket.

But, in the meantime, La Cruz is a nice place to play and relax and work on boat projects.  The anchorage is full of friends, the town is sweet, and we have everything here that we need. 

Sorry for the rambling…I think the La Cruz lifestyle is causing my brain to go soggy.  Maybe I should just do photo posts instead. 🙂

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Double rainbow anyone?

Bahia de Jaltemba

Friends on s/v Navigo have decided to head south towards Manzanillo, so sadly, they left us behind to explore Jaltemba and the Banderas Bay area by ourselves. 😦  We hope to catch up to them before I head home.

I assumed, after our Chacala beach time that we wouldn’t need to go to the next beach town in the next anchorage. But the Capt’ insisted that he wanted to check it out.  The Bay of Jaltemba consists of three small towns; we anchored just off the beach of Rincon de Guayabitos.  While it was a similar beach town to Chacala, this one is much more oriented towards tourists (Mexican and abroad).  There are many resorts and hotels and palapa restaurants with Feliz Horas.  But it’s a lovely beach and definitely worth a stop.

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Beach palapa (top) and the colorful Cocos resort (bottom).

The highlight of our stop was the one hour, couples massage we received from the Arena Mar Masajes for $480 pesos (about $37 USD).  We were just passing by and they stopped us to promote the special.  What sold us were the American tourists that were inside the salon who told us they just had the massages and LOVED it.  They didn’t lead us astray – we both loved our massages.  It was a small, but clean salon with very professional masseuses.  With tip we ended up paying less than $50 USD total for two, one hour massages.  As Dave says, “Fantastico!”

We also enjoyed the local delicacy; BBQ-ed shrimp and fish kabobs on the beach.  We also had the chance to drop our laundry off at the local lavandaria.  They were only charging $13 pesos per kilo and we were hurting for some clean laundry and the bucket method was taking too long and I refuse to do the sheets and towels in the bucket because they’re too hard to wring/dry.  Anyway, we piled EVERYTHING into a laundry bag in the morning and by the end of the day and only $150 pesos later,(less than $12 USD) everything was clean, dried and folded up nicely. 

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BBQed fish kabobs on the beach (top), beautiful palm in a plaza beside the beach (middle), and the colorful beach scene in Guayabitos (bottom).

So basically, Jaltemba is where we treated ourselves.  But don’t worry, we’re back to boat projects and doing laundry by hand…the true cruising lifestyle. LOL

-SME

Chacala Charm

Little side note to the Chacala post.  We couldn’t help but take a picture of one of the signs that lines the trail from the anchorage to the beach.  It’s completely random and we can’t figure out if there was a problem with people on the trail or if they were climbing the chain-link fence to do their…ahem…business.

 

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Yep…it says what you think it says.

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Cha Cha Chacala

We heard good things about Chacala. A lot of good things.  But we couldn’t help but wonder, could it be as good as everyone says it is??  Well, small town, perfect beach, good food, cheap beers and nice people…We couldn’t ask for anything better!

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Palm-lined trail from the anchorage to the beach (L); Stone-paved roads and colorfully painted homes throughout the town add to Chacala’s charm.

Chacala is a bit of a rolly anchorage, so everyone puts out a bow and stern anchor (for non-sailors this means one anchor pulling from the front and another anchor pulling from the back in order to keep the boat in one direction, with bow into the swells/waves, instead of spinning around).  This was the first time I’d been on board for putting out the stern anchor.  Basically, we dropped the bow anchor like normal and then we quickly put our dinghy into the water and Dave pulled our stern anchor out by rowing the dinghy backwards from Camanoe.  It was a little more complicated than this, but it’s hard to explain.  It’s hard enough figuring out a good place for just the one normal anchor, but to figure out where to put a second anchor is like a puzzle.  You don’t want either anchor to be on top of some one else’s or in a place where another boat is going to have to cross one of your anchor lines in order to pull theirs up.  Basically, you talk/shout to/radio the boats around you and get a consensus of how much chain/rode people have put out and where they have dropped their anchors…which is always a guestimate, since it’s not like you can see EXACTLY where your anchor is once it’s down.  And it’s hard to remember exactly where you may have dropped your anchor if it’s been a few days.  Everything ended up working well for us, but there was someone in the anchorage that dragged while we were there, which can be very scary.  And for some reason, always seems to happen in the middle of the night.  Silly anchors.

OK, back to the town of Chacala. There’s not much there.  In fact, the first time we went ashore we ran into Patrick and Dawn from s/v Deep Playa (HaHa-ers) and they suggested one of the small tiendas (spanish for store) for some fruits/veggies and possibly some cough medicine for poor Dave.  It didn’t take us long to find the shop since there’s only one main road and it’s only a few blocks long.  Deep Playa had warned us that the produce might not be fresh and that the trick is to come back each day until they get something fresh in…or take the bus to the next town over, Las Veras.  We went into the store and quickly realized that it wasn’t a particularly fresh produce day, but they did have tortilla chips, which we desperately needed (you have no idea how fast we go through tortilla chips).  So we walked around hoping to figure out where the Las Veras bus picks up.  We asked a local and he said it was back down near the tienda we had just come from.  As we were walking back, we saw a blue van and we hailed the driver; he said HE was the Las Veras bus and that he could take us now and it would be 12 pesos (less than a $1 USD).  We piled in and then he proceeded to go up and down a couple of Chacala streets honking randomly.  We guess he was letting people know he was leaving for Las Veras because after honking a couple of times, a couple of people came out of their houses and hopped in.  Nice system.  I wish MUNI in SF would honk and wait outside my door for me when it’s time for the bus to go.  LOL

Anyway, it was about a ten minute ride into the next town and the van/bus driver gave us info on how to find the produce market.  We wandered around, found Dave some cough syrup, which was pretty easy, since you only have to cough to get your point across to the pharmacist/shopkeeper. What was harder was trying to explain that we also wanted cough drops.  Finally I saw some Halls lozenges and asked the cashier, “Come se dice?”, thinking she’d tell me how to say ‘cough drops’ in Spanish, but instead she just smiled and said, “Halls.”  I felt kind of stupid and just shut up.

Anyway, more wandering and eventually we found the produce market.  The only clue was that there were boxes of fresh produce lining the sidewalk outside this little hole in the wall. Looks are deceiving, because this was some of the freshest stuff we’d seen in a while. Especially the oranges, which, by the way people in California, do you realize how lucky we are to have Naval Oranges??  It’s a pain to peel and de-seed the oranges from Mexico.  Seeds???  Totally ruins the oranges.

Sorry, fruit tangent.

I picked up some fresh avocados, apples, tomatoes and finally got up the nerve to try some of the Mexican squash we keep seeing.  It made a lovely addition to the veggie curry I made that night for dinner and there was still plenty leftover to add to spaghetti the following night.  I think I’m addicted to Mexican squash now.

Heading back to Chacala was a bit of an adventure.  The driver had told us to wait at the OXXO (their version of 7-11) store. So Dave and I hung outside until we saw the blue van and flagged it down.  He stopped, but sort of laughingly said, “No, you have to wait on the bench over there.” while pointing to a bench on a side street NEXT to the OXXO.  We saw a couple of the people that had ridden into Las Veras with us sitting on the bench.  Oops. Totally missed that clue.

We headed to the bench and about 10 minutes later the driver came around.  This time, completely packed with kids just getting out of school.  The van is large, but really only meant for about 10 passengers and the driver.  Dave and I had to squeeze into the last row of seats along with a rather large, elderly lady and a teenager carrying a tray of BBQed coconut treats.  In all there were 19 people in the van.  All the kids were yelling and laughing and teasing each other while Dave and I tried not to fall onto the tray of coconut.

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Bussing back from La Veras; 19  people in a van!

Chacala was also the first place, if you can believe it, that Dave and I had an official beach day.  Nothing to do but just relax in the sand, soak up some sun and play a little frisbee.  Navigo joined us after awhile and we all bought some hammocks from beach vendors.  The guy came around earlier in the day when Dave and I got to the beach and we ended up buying one for 500 pesos after the vendor originally wanted 950 pesos.  We felt pretty good about that deal until Bob on Navigo talked one of the guys down to 400 pesos for a hammock!  Good dealing Bob!  The hammocks are SUPER nice and are made in Acapulco.  Large enough for two and fits on our bow when we have the dinghy in the water, making for a great place to relax and enjoy the sunshine from Camanoe.

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Bob from Navigo relaxing in his new hammock (L), Dave shuffling up the Uno cards on our beach day (R).

We thought we’d relax longer in Chacala, but we’re suddenly realizing that we’re running out of time on this Mexican adventure.  Hurricane seasons starts in May, but if Dave is going to jump somewhere, he’ll need to do it before April.  If we keep going south, what do we do with the boat after May??  Too many options and too many things to still see and dwindling bank accounts.  It’s quite a conundrum.

Anyway, we’re pushing south into Bandares Bay and seeing what happens from there…more to come!

Welcome to the Jungle!

San Blas was an interesting stop.  We’d heard some warnings about dinghies being stolen right off of people boats!  Plus, everyone warns about the Jejenes (no-see-um bugs) that eat you alive.  The theft warnings…hooey.  Jejenes…TRUE! They eat you alive!!  But, although I’m still itching almost two weeks later, I was very glad we spent a couple days in San Blas.

Actually…we were in the Bay of Matanchen, which is the anchorage near San Blas without having to cross into the San Blas estuary.  It’s a very large, very beautiful bay surrounded by beaches and beautiful, green mountainsides.  The sun sets each evening over a sliver of beach lined with picturesque palm trees – pretty much every picture looks like a postcard.

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Pretty, golden sunset (top) and a foggy sunrise (bottom) in the Bay of Matanchen/San Blas.

We decided to not travel into the actual town of San Blas [Dave was getting over the cold he caught from me 😦 ], but we did take the jungle cruise tour from nearby La Tovara with friends on s/vs Navigo and August Moon.

We were the first boat out in the morning (7am) and got to see many birds that only come out first thing in the morning.  Really cool to see some of them drying their wings from the tops of the trees.  We also caught glimpses of iguanas and some limar-like monkey things (still not quite sure exactly what they were…but they were cool to see).  However, by the time the cruise was half over and we were visiting the local Cocodrilaio (croc refuge), we hadn’t seen a single croc in the wild!  The bigs crocs at the refuge were cool to see, but it was a little sad that they were in such small pens.  It looked like they were in the process of fixing and/or building new pens while we were there, so they may have just been in temporary spots.

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Welcome the the Jungle…literally (top); bird drying its wings in the early morning sunlight (middle); and Crocs in the cocodrilario in La Tovara (bottom).

Anyway, I was starting to get a little worried that we’d leave the tour without seeing a single croc that wasn’t in a cage.  But, on our way back from Tovera Springs, as we were racing back along the jungle path, I spotted one sunning himself on a big rock.  I shouted to the tour guide, “Crocodile!!” and pointed back behind us.  He put the ponga in reverse and we all got a close-up view of Mr. Crocodillio.  After that, we kept spotting more crocs sunning themselves along the shoreline.  It was very cool and made the trip to San Blas complete.

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Crocs in the wild!

Good Times in La Cruz

Yes, I need to update the blog on San Blas, Chacala, Jaltemba and now La Cruz, but we had fun last night (our first night in La Cruz) catching up with cruising friends and I thought I’d share a little video.

Karaoke in La Cruz

 

Singers include Nicole and Aaron from s/v BellaStar, Jenn from s/v Ventured, and Ben and Mickey (lead singer) from s/v Chase.

Awesome. I liked the “whoo-ing” the best.  I’m sure the natives in attendance got a big kick out of the gingos.

-SME

Isla Isabel is for the Birds

We were able to successfully sail the entire 93 NM crossing from Mazatlan to Isla Isabel.  However, it was a rolly overnight passage, which made for a not happy and sleep-deprived first mate.  By the time we finally got sight of the small island around 3am (thanks to the super large, bright, full moon), I would have given anything to speed up the sunlight so we could anchor safely.  We actually only got up to the anchorage about an hour before sun up and I was able to lag a bit offshore before finally getting Dave up at 6am so we could shift the sails around and head straight towards the island.  By 7am, the sun was providing plenty of light and we checked out both south and eastern anchorages before settling on the eastern one and dropping the hook.  By 7:30am, I was tucked into the aft cabin and sound asleep.

We awoke about 2pm and Dave radioed with friends on s/v Deep Playa who had been in the eastern anchorage when we arrived but were now gone.  They had pulled anchor shortly after we arrived and headed towards their next stop, but they gave us some tips on the anchorage and how to get ashore and recommended that we switch to the southern anchorage if there was still room there (it’s quite small).  We pulled our anchor, which was a bit difficult because of the rocky bottom, but luckily we’d put a trip line on the other end of the anchor so Dave could pull and finagle the anchor out of any rocky crevices. 

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View of the rocky southern anchorage at Isla Isabel.

We circled around the southern anchorage for almost two hours trying to find a spot that was both a safe distance from the three boats that were already in there and within the “safe” anchoring spots marked in our guidebook.  Isla Isabel is a tricky spot, with many reefs, extended rocky points and one large pinnacle rock that you don’t want to accidentally wrap your anchor chain around.  I was still exhausted from our crossing and it was a chilly afternoon and all I wanted to do was curl back up into the warmth of my bed, so we headed BACK to the eastern side of the island and re-anchored in the same area we’d been in before.  The other boats around us must have enjoyed watching us circle for two hours only to come right back to the spot we’d been in before.

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Isleo Mona Menor that we anchored in front of in the eastern anchorage of Isla Isabel

Anyway, so after a good, solid day of rest, we headed ashore the next afternoon in the dinghy.  Isla Isabel is a National Park and is quite interesting in that it’s a volcanic island and a sanctuary to many different seabirds.  The isolated island provides the birds with protection from natural predators and so the birds are completely comfortable with humans walking right next to them and admiring their habitat.  You have never in your life seen so many birds soaring overhead at all hours of the day and night.  It is a quite a sight to be anchored here with birds overhead, fish jumping all about the boat and whales breeching less than a football field’s length away from the anchorage. 

Our mission that first day was to see the infamous Blue-Footed Booby birds.  We arrived on shore near the island’s active fish camp and a couple of local women that are a part of the research facility on the island met us on the beach and asked us to sign their guest book.  We met Christian from s/v Altair on the beach and the three of us decided to head up the path towards the lighthouse (Cerro del Faro) to see the booby nests.  Christian said he’d been to the island before, so it was nice to have someone that knew where to go and had some background information about the birds.

All along the lower part of the path are frigate birds. Large, black birds, some with vibrant, red necks that they puff out.  Like the guidebooks promised, these birds did not seem to mind us at all walking right amid their nests.  Sometimes they’d fly away as we came close, but most of the time they’d stay right on the branches extending into the pathway, almost as entertained by watching us as we were by watching them.  A couple of times though, as a frigate would go to take off, you’d have to duck so you wouldn’t get hit by their massive wingspan.

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The higher up we got on the ridge the more booby birds we could see.  There are the blue-footed boobies, but there are also green-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and yellow-footed boobies.  Apparently, their foot color depends on their diet and the more saturated the color, the more appealing they are to a potential mate.  We were also told that mating happens only between two boobies of the same foot color. So you won’t see blue-footeds and green footeds mating with each other.  

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Green-footed booby with her eggs (L) and Steph getting close to some blue-footed boobies.

What’s really interesting about these birds, is that when they mate, the males do a little dance. They lift up one foot, and then the other showing off their color.  The female goes for the guy booby with the best colored feet.

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A blue-footed booby doing his best dance.

Besides the crazy bird population on this island, Isla Isabel also has a leftover crater from when it was an active volcano and some pretty spectacular cliffside views of the ocean and each of the rocky beaches surrounding the island.

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Views from the lighthouse on Isla Isabel.  The top photo is looking east over the island; you can see the research building in the bottom right and the colorful fish camp shacks along the beach.  The bottom photo is the northern side of the island with some booby birds handing out in the foreground.

Our second day ashore we went hiking with s/v Navigo as well as Russ and Barry from s/v August Moon to find the crater and explore some of the other areas of the island.  The crater is now filled with water, so it just looks like a normal lake and the other hiking trails sort of wander into nothing, so eventually we headed up the same lighthouse trail we’d been on the day before so Navigo and August Moon could also check it out. 

Isla Isabel 183   Isla Isabel 177

View of Lago Crater that’s now filled with water (L), and a “dead end” on part of the blue trail (R). At least the short trail gave us a good view.

In all we stayed anchored at Isabella for five days.  We probably could have fit all the hiking, exploring, fishing, etc into a couple of days, but it was nice to be leisurely and enjoy the surroundings for awhile.  It’s actually a little hard to explain how much we are in awe of this place.  It’s kind of an amazing spot and we know that not very many people have the opportunity to get all the way out here and really experience all that the island has to show.

-SME