Posted by: Carol | August 6, 2008

Candalero Chico

CBParker_D3_20080805_SeaCortez-029PHOTO GALLERIES
2008 Mexico 3 – La Paz to Loreto

We did go for our beach walk – in one direction the beach was sand for miles, but we went the other direction and the beach was nothing but banks and banks of small stones, 2-3 inches in diameter. Kind of hard work walking – we had the VHF radio with us and after an hour plus walking decided to bag the return and called Rod for a dinghy ride home. The next morning Mike and I explored Laguna Amortajada – Mike in the dinghy and I in my kayak. It was very inviting, wide wide shallow waterways defined by parallel banks lined with mangroves. Herons and pelicans roost in the branches, and small fish are protected in the tangle of mangrove roots, making it an ideal nursery for future generations of sea life. Small rays the size of a man’s hand scooted across the soft bottom.

Then we pulled away for the day’s destination, a nearby village named San Evaristo. Rod was hoping for a restaurant, but in a dusty seaside fishing village, population 200, 65 miles from La Paz by what looked to be a torturously winding mountain road, his hopes were not surprisingly in vain. We spent a quiet afternoon anchored there, the little town appearing deserted, but at twilight when the air started to cool, people started to appear on the beach – kids playing in the water and fishermen launching their pangas for a night’s fishing. We left at dawn the next morning and passed those same pangas still out on the sea, finishing up the night’s work.

Yesterday was a day full of highlights. As mentioned, we pulled out at barely dawn as we had a lot of miles to cover, cruising northwards towards Loreto. Our first goal of the day was Isla San Diego, a small barren rocky island that Rod had spotted from his window seat jetting back from the Philippines. He had pegged it as a promising dive site due to a very long shallow submerged reef he could see from the air.

We made two dives on Isla San Diego – the first dive was world class, with an unbelievable number of fish, huge schools of assorted species, and absolutely crystal clear water. Our second dive on the reef wasn’t quite as amazing, but we did come across an enormous bed of garden eels in about 9 meters of water, bodies rising up from their holes in the sand bottom, swaying in the current, and sucking back into invisibility if we approached too close. There were many hundreds, if not thousands, of them.

After lunch we continued on our way, the entire passage some 40 miles. This was a voyage of cetaceans – we passed through huge pods of dolphins covering a couple of square miles. A few would play with Raven’s bow wave for awhile, including mothers showing their small babies the ropes. And highlight of the afternoon was our encounter with a pod of sperm whales (of Moby Dick fame), most likely matriarchs and their offspring (having read about sperm whale habits in the marine mammal ID book). There were quite a few of them and we spent half an hour or so checking them out – even got close enough for me to get some really good photos.

We arrived at the village of Agua Verde late in the day – again Rod had hopes of a beachside cantina. This time there actually was una restaurante, but the cook was sick and we were told to come back manana. Our anchorage here filled up quickly with several Mexican-owned motor yachts – the occupants taking full advantage of their assortment of water toys – snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking, water skiing and more. It was quite a festive group.

This morning, Wednesday, began with a dive circumnavigating a dramatic rocky spire rising up at the entrance to Agua Verde’s bay like a humpback whale breaching. A nice hour cooling off in the ocean, although nowhere near as spectacular as yesterday’s dive. Then we headed north again, with plans to anchor overnight in Candelero Chico, a small protected cove with three nearby islands that reminded early Spanish explorers of candles. The water is glassy today and we’ve seen a lot more sea life, including (from a distance) a pair of what we think were blue whales. They were careful to keep a distance between us and them, and even though we spotted them three times, killing our engine and trying to be unobtrusive, we never got close enough to see a lot of details, but we could tell they were huge. Blue whales are the largest animals to ever live in our planet’s history, up to 100 feet long and weighing 400,000 pounds! We could see the shape of the dorsal fin and the tall columnar shape of the blow, and both fit the description in the ID book. We also came across a school of dolphins creating a huge turmoil in the sea, apparently feeding, splashing until the water was churned up like the edge of a shallow reef. They raced over exuberantly to join Raven, but then went back to churning up the water. We’ve also seen quite a few manta rays flying up out of the water.

This morning’s weather report showed a tropical disturbance developing in the convergence zone, some 1000 miles south of here – so we will be keeping tabs on how it develops. We are only a day out of La Paz if we make a straight run for it, and that is the strategy of this trip – to keep within a safe distance of home port if the threat of hurricane starts to develop.

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