Isla Espiritu Santo

Isla Espiritu Santo

We LOVE IT when friends come to visit. So we were especially happy when one of Drew’s closest friends from Vancouver Canada, Tom, came to visit us in La Paz. When he arrived we greeted him at the bus station with a margarita and unfettered excitement. We spent the first couple of days wandering aimlessly around La Paz showing off the city and discovering new adventures. Then, along with Dan from s/v Natasha we headed out to the islands. Drew and I have been to Espiritu Santo before, so we knew it would be the perfect place to go for a few days of relaxation. For the next four days we snorkeled, fished, and reveled in the beauty of our surroundings.

One of the best experiences of the week had to be swimming with the sea lions at Los Islotes. Everyone told us that it was not to be missed. Everyone was right! There are many companies in La Paz that will take you out there, but we just took the dinghy over, tied off, and jumped in with our snorkels. The only thing to watch for is the big males – they aren’t interested in playing and if you get too close to the pups they give you a warning snort.

We also had a really fun and interesting experience with manta rays. One night Tom noticed a couple of rays circling the boat so we grabbed a flashlight to see if we could get a better look. Within a minute we had them swarming at the light. We finally figured out that the flashlight was attracting the krill that the manta rays were eating. For the next hour we just sat out on deck watching the manta rays feed at the light. It was fantastically beautiful.

The weekend came all too soon and it was time to return to La Paz and return Tom to Canada. One of the hardest things about the cruising lifestyle is leaving old friends behind, but getting the chance to share new and beautiful places with the people we love definitely starts to make up for all the goodbyes. It’s also great to see things through a fresh pair of eyes. After so long of living on the boat it’s easy to lose track of how truly exceptional my life is. Having Tom here reminded me of all the things I have to be grateful for.

 

My only catch of the weekend - a hound fish, Apparently only good for bait.

My only catch of the weekend – a Mexican hound fish, apparently only good for bait.

Tom helping scrape the bottom of the dinghy

Tom helping scrape the bottom of the dinghy

Frigate birds - if you look closely the males have large red throats

Frigatebirds – if you look closely the males have large red throat pouches that they inflate for mating

A local fishermen fileting our dinner

A local fishermen fileting our dinner

Tom enjoying the bow nets

Tom enjoying the bow nets

Swimming with the sea lions

Swimming with the sea lions

A particularly photogenic little lady

A particularly photogenic little lady

Dan coming back from spearfishing with his catch

Dan coming back from spearfishing with his catch

Sailing back to La Paz with calm seas and perfect wind
Sailing back to La Paz with calm seas and perfect wind
Cruising the Sea of Cortez

Cruising the Sea of Cortez

We arrived in La Paz back in February with the intention of staying a month and then moving on into the Sea of Cortez for further exploration.  Nine months later we finally found the momentum to carry us north.

Our original goal was to leave La Paz on Thursday evening after completing a few final tasks. At the last minute Drew was offered the opportunity to play music at a local spot, The Shack, so we decided to leave early on Friday instead.

We didn’t have any specific plan for where we were heading other than “north”. Once we got under way and out of the La Paz channel we discovered two things. One, the wind was certainly not going to be any help getting us north, and two, the sea was so choppy and rough that motoring was going to be a frustrating and uncomfortable method of getting us anywhere. The decision was easy – we would pull into Isla Espiritu Santo, which was a short 3-hour motor, and try again the next day. We anchored in a little cove called Bahia Gabriela at the south end of the island.  We spent the afternoon fishing from the dinghy and deciding where we would venture to in the morning.

We made it out of the anchorage by 7am and up to Isla San Francisco by late afternoon. Upon arrival to Isla San Francisco we were immediately bombarded with tiny biting bugs, motivating us to get an early start and venture further north to Bahia Agua Verde.

On the way to Agua Verde we had beautiful calm waters, hundreds of little yellow butterflies surrounding the boat, and I caught my first fish of the trip. On the recommendation of Mary from S/V Hot Spur, we were hoping to buy some goat cheese in the nearby village but when we arrived they informed us that unfortunately the newest batch wasn’t ready.

Our final stop north was at Bahia Candeleros. It was my favorite. The bay was the most beautiful shade of blue and the beach led so gradually into the sea we could walk for what seemed like half a kilometer before entering waist-deep water.

We swam everyday and fished and finally made time to clean the bottom of the boat. We were even inspired to practice with our bows. Currently I am only able to hit the target on about 2 out of 3 shots. My bow is a 30 lb, which is just slightly over what I should be using but I am hoping by using the heavier bow I will gain strength in my arms and will ultimately be able to shoot harder. This will come in handy if I ever hope to use it for hunting.

Our time in the sea was filled with the most relaxed and beautiful days that I can remember but eventually we had to leave our little paradise. For the first time since this sailing adventure began a year ago, I wasn’t really ready to leave. I am usually the first to get stir crazy in a new anchorage, but Candeleros was still new and exciting for me. It felt peaceful and perfect.

We set sail in the early afternoon. We had a bucket full of chocolate clams waiting to be cooked for dinner but I threw my fishing lines out anyways. I ended up catching 3 big fish right in a row.. Every one of them fought so hard they nearly pulled me off the side of the boat, then promptly threw the hook and got away. Luckily I didn’t lose any lures. About 15 minutes later I hooked a 4th fish and managed, with the help of Drew, to get it on deck. I have never tried filleting because usually I go so long between catching fish that, when I do, I want to make sure I don’t destroy the meat, but since we had all those clams waiting anyways, I decided to give it a try. I had my handy book in hand for reference (this book has taught me everything I know about fishing), and I got started. I’ll cut to the chase – I butchered the fish, and not in a good way. I was shocked at how little usable meat I got from such a big fish and I felt pretty guilty for killing an animal and then wasting so much of it. I think I will wait to try filleting again until someone with experience can walk me through it.

At the end of the day, I made fresh salsa and Drew barbequed. We ate our beautiful dinner on deck just as the sun set.

I love the sea.

Fight Crab

Drew antagonizing the locals:

Isla Espíritu Santo

Isla Espíritu Santo

Last week we took a short vacation and sailed over to Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida. These islands are National Parks, and have no infrastructure of any kind. In addition to the natural beauty and crystal clear water the primary draw for the islands are the friendly sea lions that swim with tourists, playfully nipping at snorkels and fins. Spoiler alert: we didn’t swim with the sea lions. We wanted to…but first it was too cold and cloudy, then it seemed too windy, and finally, the waves were too big. Basically it never seemed perfect so we kept putting it off until we finally needed to head back to La Paz and then it was too late. Even though we were never able to swim with the sea lions, we had an amazing time just relaxing and enjoying the island experience.

During the week we were at the islands, we anchored at several bays along the western edge, each different and beautiful. Some with big cliffs and turquoise water, others with sandy beaches and soft waves. At the second bay, we were able to anchor so close to the beach that I could not only see the sandy bottom clearly, but I could jump in and walk all the way to shore.

As soon as we were settled, we were anxious to get into the beautiful, clear water, so we jumped in and made our way to shore to have a picnic, laze around and explore. It was picturesque. After a couple of hours on shore, we decided to head back to TIE Fighter. This is the beginning of the ONLY bad story about our week at the islands. We were halfway back to the boat when I began feeling some stings around my belly. I lifted my stomach out of the water to examine the burning feeling, at which time we identified a jellyfish tentacle wrapped completely around my waist. Drew almost immediately began feeling the stings around his neck also. By the time we got back to the boat we had jelly fish tentacles around our neck, chest, arms, legs, and waist. We jumped from the water and scrubbed down with towels. A short time later the red tentacle tracks grew into big painful welts. By the afternoon the pain had mostly gone, but the angry red lines stayed for several days. After that, we were both a little wary of jumping into the water without checking first.

The rest of the week was easy and comfortable. We saw the Blue-Footed Boobies that nest on the island, lots of puffer fish scanning the bottom for food, and big black manta rays that would leap straight out of the water, flapping their wings as if they could fly, then splashing back down with an enormous crash. We fished almost every day, made a beach bonfire, snorkeled around the reefs and went on several hikes through the desert. It was about at close to perfect as it gets.