Sea of Cortez Islands Recap – Isla Partida

Our time in the islands was great and there are many memories to share, so I’m splitting them up.  This is Part Three…the stops on Isla Partida.

Our sail from Isla San Francisco to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida was a bit crazy.  We had heard that the northern winds were supposed to die down by the time we wanted to leave (along with s/vs Navigo and Estrellita…which by the way, their blog links are in the right column).  However, the winds were still in the 20 knot range with forceful gusts and the wave swells were reaching upwards of 10 feet.  (For non-sailors; this is a still a doable sail, but it’s not easy or fun and I’m usually grabbing the “oh shit” handles).  Actually, Dave was having a great time. Silly Capt.

On a side note; the rough ride caused all the books in our berth to go flying which prompted us to complete one of our many projects that had been on the backburner – figure out how to secure all our books.  Dave needed to cut and sand a piece of teak to fit as a bookend and then we needed to secure some bungee-cord across the whole shelf to keep anything from flying out on passages.  It works pretty well.  Check that one off the list.

Anyway, back to the sail.  We radioed back and forth with Navigo and Estrellita and all agreed to continue on thru the sloshing sea since it was such a short sail (only 20 nautical miles) and Navigo was trying to get down south to make the crossing to Mazatlan in a few days.  It was a good decision because we had the whole anchorage to ourselves. Sort of like a private island/beach. 

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Private anchorage.  Estrellita on the left and Navigo on the right.

Dave and I spent our first full day exploring the three bays that make up Ensenada Grande via our dinghy.  Bob on Navigo was also out and about in his dinghy and Camelia was trying out their inflatable kayak for the first time.  While Dave and I stayed out for a while on the dinghy exploring the snorkeling areas and going ashore on one of the other bays, Navigo and Estrellita went for a long hike up the cliffside to get a view of the Sea from the other side of the island.  It sounded like the hike was quite a feat and we were happy to get to relax and enjoy our surroundings from on the boat. 

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Exploring via dinghy (L), and Camelia in the kayak with Navigo in the background (R)

Estrellita convinced the rest of us to have a bonfire on the beach that night after their hike.  We thought we would try to postpone until the following evening, but they were pretty hyped about it, so we gave in and we’re so glad we did.  Not only was the bonfire fun, but we had the most spectacular sunset.  Of course, this was the ONE time where I didn’t bring my camera.  I just wanted to enjoy the evening and be a part of it instead of documenting it, but now I’m kicking myself.  Navigo and Estrellita both got awesome shots of the setting sun, so you’ll have to check the photos out here.

The next day we decided to try the other hike recommended by our guidebook over the arroyo to some limestone caves that have fossilized shells.  Estrellita joined us.  Well, we wouldn’t exactly call this a hike. More like a climb. Over lots of rocks.  And there were only a couple of caves. And not a lot of shells.  But it was still a fun time and I felt pretty proud of myself for keeping up with the crew as we hoisted ourselves over boulders. 

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The start of our hike – the small beach/cove on the southeast side of Ensenada Grande.

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The flipside – the view from the top.

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Hanging out in one of the caves

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Livia and Carol from s/v Estrellita take a break.

Our next stop on Isla Partida was an anchorage called Caleta Partida.  It’s actually in between the two islands (Partida and Espiratu Santo).  This was our last stop with Navigo for a while as they were heading out to Mazatlan while we stayed behind with Estrellita to explore.

During our first full day in Partida, Carol on Estrellita wanted to try out his kite board and Dave offered to operate the rescue dinghy should he need it.  Livia and I decided to wander the beach (which was at extreme low tide).  The winds weren’t too consistent for kiteboarding, but we did see Carol stand up a few times and actually kiteboard for a couple seconds before the kite deflated and knocked him back into the water.  After a while watching, Livia and I hopped into her kayak and explored the bird-lined cove just to the north side of the anchorage.   This was my first time kayaking; fun, but at the same time, more taxing on the arms than I thought it would be.

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Carol up on his kite board (L), deserted fish camp up on the Caleta Partida beach (Center), and super low tide with a beautiful sky (R)

Livia told me a funny story about how pelicans typically die from brain damage because they dive into the water over and over and over.  I have no facts on this, but it has to be true. All the pelicans around here are a bit nutty and it made me a little more cautious as we approached all the pelicans in the cove!  I must say though, one of my favorite pastimes while we’ve been cruising is to sit on the beach and watch the pelicans diving.  It’s a kick.  I’ll try to post a video of it if we ever get consistent WiFi.

Our next adventure in Partida was taking our dinghies to the far side of Espiratu Santo and exploring the sea caves.  This was one of my most favorite memories so far on this trip.

The islands are remains of a large volcano that has eroded, so the cliffsides are an amazing mixture of various rocks and sediments and leftover volcanic rock.  I can’t possibly explain the beauty we saw when we came around the east side of Espiratu Santo to go to the sea caves; and I don’t think the pictures do it justice.

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There were only a couple of sea caves that we were actually able to dinghy into, but they were pretty amazing inside as well.  I really wish my camera had a “cave” setting.

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It was a beautiful day all around and we all felt very lucky to have the means to experience these remote areas. 

The night before we left Caleta Partida, our friends Bob and Ann on s/v Charisma anchored right next to us and invited us over for Charisma drinks (YUMMY rum concoctions).  It was Ann’s birthday (same as Bob’s on Navigo) and it was so nice to catch up.  Ann was nice enough to give us some wheat flour so we could bake some bread (we were down to canned soups and beans after being away from civilization for a few weeks) and we gave them our tips on getting around to the far side of the island to check out the sea caves.  We will hopefully catch up to Charisma again on the mainland when they return from a trip home for the holidays.

And with that, we left these beautiful islands and started heading south towards the mainland.  We left without Estrellita as they wanted to wait for better wind in the anchorage and attempt to kite board again.  It’s hard to leave without our buddy boats, but as Dave kept saying, “I want some palm trees!”  So Mazatlan, here we come!