Isla Isabela – The ‘Galapagos of Mexico’

Departing Mazatlan, our fellow dock neighbors bid us farewell, casting our lines for us as we set our sights on Isle Isabela.

Once underway we motor sailed the majority of the passage due to light wind. We were fortunate to have a bright full moon the entire night. Peggy lucked out catching a breaching whale off to the starboard side making an impressive splash. birds-and-rockOur timely arrival to Isabela had us approaching the island well into morning. Tuned into the marine radio, two boaters (one referring to himself as a naturalist) were discussing their island discoveries. Triggering one of Peggy’s phobias… they reported seeing a 5 foot milk snake. Yuck!

While evaluating the anchorage options, we cruised into the south bay, narrowly avoiding the underwater pinnacles. We eventually dropped the hook on the East side of the island with a firm hold in sand and rock bottom.Isablea-sign

The island is overpopulated with Frigate birds and Blue Footed Boobies, Brown Footed Boobies, Iguanaiguana’s and lizards of all sorts. We set the dinghy in the water and ventured to the south bay entrance, which offers the only reasonable entry/exit to beach the dinghy and adjacent to the fishermen’s dwellings.II-Fish-Village We walked around to explore and photograph the Frigate birds, lizards and iguana. We didn’t trek far enough inland or uphill to locate the Boobies though… (Remember Peggy’s snake phobia?).

love-birds

 

After two days on the hook, we set sail eastbound for LaCruz de Huanacaxtle. With a light breeze we sailed peacefully and eventually had to motor sail to maintain our speed to arrive timely at high tide Saturday morning.

Sea of Cortes: West to East

While Peggy recovered from the flu, Steve prepared the boat for our upcoming passage from La Paz to Mazatlan. On the mend from the flu with a well provisioned boat, we bid our farewells to our La Paz friends and cast off to Playa Pichilingue Cove. We spent the night on the hook while enjoying the sunset and settling in early for a full 1 ½ day passage across the Sea of Cortes. The alarm summoned us to get underway at 3 a.m. Once we were on the move into the San Lorenzo Channel, we were greeted with a stunning Valentine’s Day sunrise.sunset

Overall it was an uneventful motor sail across the Sea of Cortes. Shortly after sunrise a pod of dolphins swam alongside Flyer. They lagged behind as we continued east; stopping to fish with a pod of jumping manta rays. Continuing eastbound, two humpback whale flukes made a brief appearance.

MazatlanThe real excitement ensued as we approached the entrance to Mazatlan Marina District. From the outside looking in it appeared to be a normal, routine entrance… until we entered the mouth of the canal. The current was similar to a rapids, mild rapids, but still more excitement than Peggy was prepared for. Steve took the helm while Peggy set lines and fenders while being greeted by departing mariners more familiar with this dicey approach. Our arrival to Marina Mazatlan was greeted by friendly boaters and dock staff.

Our intention was to only stay 4 days. During our visit we attended the daily ‘safety meeting’. In our yacht club circles this is referred to as ‘Green Box’ or simply ‘happy hour’. We dropped the dinghy in the water to explore the area. The surrounding canals and channels offered some spectacular homes, the El Cid Golf Course, a few iguana and some cool birds. We can confidently report a stay at the El Cid resort/timeshare would be luxurious and expensive. We were able to watch a pro fish cleaner and took note on how to properly clean and fillet future catches. During our stay, we met more friendly and intriguing people during our 8 day stay at the Marina; learning all kinds of fascinating things about the region, the surrounding cruising locations and the city of Mazatlan itself.

Our stay at Mazatlan Marina was extended after we rubbed the bottom at the dicey entrance we were introduced to upon our arrival. As a precaution we played it safe, returning to the dock to thoroughly investigate any possible damage to the keel, rudder and overall condition of the boat. Fortunately a thorough inspection revealed no damage or indication of any damage… just a rub on the sandbar. We set out to explore the Mazatlan Mall which didn’t disappoint. It took some convincing, but Steve finally found a few things to freshen his wardrobe. Hey, it’s not a complete makeover, but it’s a start!

We bid our farewells as we departed Mazatlan once again. Our departure out of the harbor again rubbed the bottom of the sandbar. We backed Flyer into th with our new destination of Isla Isabela – claimed to be the ‘Galapagos of Mexico’. Stay tuned for an update.  Esperamos poder compartir nuestras aventuras – We look forward to sharing our adventures

La Paz Carnaval 2016 “Las Muses de Alegria” or “The Muses of Joy”

Carnaval came and went in La Paz this year.

Carnaval

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trojan-horse-carnavalWe took in the festival and parade. Evidentially, the ‘Muses of Joy’ theme is primarily focused around the sultry outfits of teenage girls and young women. Pegusus-CarnavalEveryone seemed to enjoy the event having a good time. The parade and festivities were held over 3 days, ensuring everyone in La Paz could appreciate the events. Overall, Carnaval La Paz 2016 featured the routine gamut of street festivals and carnivals – hosting the usual carnie rides, games, vendors and street food.beef

madues-2-CarnavalThe Carnaval symbolizes ‘Day of the Dead’ themes. The artistic illustrations embody a celebratory representation that differentiates Carnaval from other festive events.

We played it safe; steering away from street vendor eats, and took in a fantastic sushi joint – Jiro Sushi. Angie, the owner, was extremely hospitable. The food was exceptional and very fresh. An extraordinary sunset delivered fantastic dining entertainment.

There are several sites along the coasts that will be roped or fenced off in an effort to protect the turtle nesting and hatchling sites. We were fortunate to discover one in the midst of the Malecon in downtown La Paz. Hopefully the new hatchlings will all make it to the water and swim off safely to enjoy a fulfilled life at sea.

Now that we’ve taken in some of La Paz’ treasured eateries, sent the laundry out and re-provisioned, we are ready to take up the dock lines and set sail east to Mazatlan.
la aventura continúa con el continente – the adventure continues to the mainland

Island Excursion February 2016

Considering we are accustomed to being at anchor, leaving La Paz for the weekend was exciting. Being back ‘on the hook’ was long overdue. Destination: Islas Espiritu Santo and Partida (The Holy Island and the Parted Island).

Esirtos

A mere 27 n.m. north of La Paz, the islands allowed us to explore the surrounding area; disconnect from civilization and evaluate our preparedness to cross the Sea of Cortes to venture to the mainland. These islands offer pristine anchorages, spectacular geological landscapes and remote beaches. It goes without saying that the waters are an ideal translucent turquoise blue… perfect for swimming, diving and snorkeling.

Espirto-anchorageSandstoneOur first night out we anchored in the Ensenada de la Raza, a cove of Isla Espiritu. The shearing cliffs have been artistically sculpted by the wind and weather framed by the red layers of “tufa” volcanic ash. Cardinal-CoveThe beaches are trimmed with mangroves at its east head. We had flat calm seas, a peaceful overnight anchorage.

Friday we ventured northbound to Isla Partida. After exploring a few anchorages, we settled into the El Cardonal cove of Partida Island; taking up residency for 6 days. The winds funneled through the cove nightly. Our anchor settled into the sandy bottom holding 22 gross tons of Flyer securely. The sandy beaches are lined with saguaro cacti, mangroves, brush and unfortunately trash and debris – a reminder to visitors that we aren’t so removed from ‘civilization’ after all. Steve braved the cold waters to inspect the bottom of Flyer, do some bottom cleaning and evaluate our anchor hold.

We were visited by a few sea turtles. One of which floated around the cove for the better part of the day. DSC_7821Steve put the GoPro to work, capturing the sea turtle’s visit while swimming with it. The sea turtle didn’t seem to mind Steve’s presence as long as he stayed off to its side, not obstructing its path, giving the turtle plenty of personal space.

Espirto-santos-hillsWowie! We got to experience the corumuel winds while at anchor. Gusts accelerated upwards of 35 knots. The positive is that we were securely anchored. The negative was the lack of sleep while monitoring our holding and evaluating our position. Once we set sail to return to La Paz we had a good sail with the jib furled, the northerly winds pushing us at a steady 15 knots and three bottlenose dolphins greeting us back to the harbor. Peggy-DrivingUnbeknownst to us we arrived back to the marina under ‘closed harbor’ conditions due to high winds. It was nice to be greeted by fellow mariners and friends at the dock.

February 4th – 9th is the annual Carnaval festival. This year’s theme: “Las Muses de Alegria” or “The Muses of Joy”.  Following the Easter calendar, this year’s Carnaval falls at the early extreme of the spring season, just six days from the earliest possible date of Fat Tuesday, traditionally ending Carnaval with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. It is also 30 days ahead of the latest possible date for the end of Carnaval.

Stay tuned for an update after the festival for a report and photos. Until then… todo lo mejor para un año bisiesto emocionante – wishing you all the best for an exciting leap year.