Posted by: Carol | August 3, 2008

Isla San Jose

CBParker_D3_20080804_IslaSanJose-058PHOTO GALLERIES
2008 Mexico 3 – La Paz to Loreto

We’re cruising today, heading slowly northwards with Loreto as our final destination. Today we’re anchored at the south end of Isla San Jose, a large island 16 miles long, located 42 miles NNW of La Paz.

Yesterday Mike and I dove at Los Islotes, two pinnacles of rock rising some 50 feet up out of deep water that is a rookery for California Sea Lions with a permanent population of some 400 animals. It’s a wonderful place to dive, beautiful scenery with a swim through arch, and lots of sea lions. Last fall when I dove here I played with baby sea lions in their nursery. This time I played with a good-sized teenager. We both lay on the sandy bottom facing each other, then she swam towards me until her nose was about three inches from my mask, before veering away and making a couple of back flips. She did that a couple of times, peering right into my face plate. A big bull swam in big circles just under the surface of the water, barking continuously even though submerged, bubbles rising from his mouth, but not showing any signs of aggression.

There was also a lot of colorful scenery underwater at Los Islotes, orange cup coral blooming with bright yellow flowers, purple sea fans, green and orange growth on the rock. I even saw an orange Christmas Tree worm, something we saw lots of in the South Pacific but which I didn’t expect to find here.

We had lunch and anchored for the afternoon in a nearby bay named La Embudo (Funnel), another variation on the turquoise waters/red sandstone cliffs so prevalent on the west side of the Islas Espiritu Santos. I took my kayak to the beach and swam with the pelicans. There were maybe 200 of them quietly perched on the rocks and cliffs edging the water, with just a handful flying overhead hunting for a fish lunch. But very occasionally, maybe every half hour or so, the entire flock would take to the air and dive bomb the water for fish en masse, dozens of pelican bodies splashing into the sea simultaneously.

In the evening after dinner we lay on the deck watching the stars and occasional passing satellite until the fiberglass got too hard and we gave up and went to bed. It turned into a restless night, however, as the corumuel started to really blow, probably gusting close to 30 knots. A neighboring motor yacht pulled up anchor in the wee hours of the night and repositioned, apparently having trouble with a dragging anchor. We could see lightning flashing in the direction of La Paz and think the city might have had quite a storm, but for us it was only the strong gusty wind.

We spent this morning motoring to a new location. I entertained myself riding the boom, in my opinion the most comfortable place on the entire boat! We had a couple of diversions on the way over – first coming across a child’s inflatable raft floating on the surface some 12 miles offshore. We decided to collect it and add it to our arsenal of water toys, but it turned out to be a trickier procedure than first expected. Like a scrap of paper loose in a parking lot on a breezy day, the raft would wait for us temptingly as we approached, and then skitter away in a gust of wind at the last minute, leaving our 65 foot 28 ton vessel out of reach. Finally we decided on the direct approach – since I was wearing a bathing suit instead of underwear beneath shorts and a t-shirt, I peeled off the extra layers of clothing, my watch and sunglasses, and jumped in to grab the raft and hand it up, then climbed back aboard Raven via the swim ladder.

Our other adventure this morning was the really big fish we didn’t catch! We were trolling for mahi mahi hoping for a fresh fish lunch, when something much bigger hit our line. We never saw it, but heard the zing of the line jerking taut. The bungie cord Rod uses as a shock absorber snapped in two, and our fishing line (330 pound test) broke as well and our fish got away with a 6 inch squid-shaped pink rubber lure. Best guess is that we hooked a marlin.

Today’s anchorage is off an expansive white sand beach, with a mangrove lagoon nearby and mauve colored foothills spotted with cactus at a slight distance. Our cruising guidebook says there are 6″ scorpions roaming those foothills! We’ll probably go for a hike down the beach later this afternoon, and explore the lagoon by dinghy tomorrow morning at high tide. The lagoon is named Laguna Amortajada (Shrouded Lagoon) and it is the largest mangrove lagoon on an island in the entire Sea of Cortez.

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