Isla Partida and Isla San Francisco
July 14, 2016
As you last heard from Mike, we left La Paz and anchored in Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida a week ago. When you leave La Paz and cross the San Lorenzo Channel, the first island you come to is Isla Espiritu Santo, which is part of the National Park System in Mexico. (We got annual park passes while we were in La Paz.) Espiritu Santo has beautiful red rock faces that show the striations that formed due to the movement of the tectonic plates. It is quite beautiful. We decided not to stop at Espiritu Santo because most of the anchorages do not afford protection from the strong summer southerly winds. We intend to go back to the island when we head back south later in the year when the winds shift to the north.
Isla Partida is the next island north of Espiritu Santo and much smaller. We pulled into Ensenada Grande, one of the larger anchorages. Just as the sun was setting, we were treated to a show of mobula rays jumping in the air. They are so fun to watch, and I got some great pictures. After relaxing the next day, we were treated to another show the second night. The water was full of bio luminescence. It looked like fireflies darting around in the water. Mike dropped a line over the rail to trail through the water, which made it look like fireworks were going off. So cool! And, the night was so clear with just a sliver of a moon that we could even see the Milky Way. It was pretty special to sit out on the deck at night and experience all the beauty in the dark.
The next day we dropped the paddle boards in the water to go exploring. Ensenada Grande has three lobes or fingers of the entrance to the anchorage, and we paddled around them all to check out the beaches and see what other sea life we could find. Because it is so close to La Paz, and because it was the weekend, the anchorage and beaches were pretty crowded with local people renting boats to come enjoy the water. We were also a bit disappointed in the visibility, as the water is pretty green. Apparently there is an algae bloom happening that generally occurs when the water starts to get warmer. We were told that it is really late in the season for this to happen, but that the visibility should start to get better later in the summer and as we head north into the sea. So, we didn’t really do any snorkeling or diving here.
On our way paddling back to the boat, we saw some other folks returning to their sailboat in their dinghy. We paddled over to say hello and introduce ourselves. Cruisers are pretty friendly people and always interested to hear the stories of other cruisers! We met a really nice couple who have been cruising around the world for the last 13 years! Impressive. They had two friends on board who were guests for a couple of weeks. They were curious about our paddle boards, and we let them try them out and they then invited us aboard to hang out.
We decided the next day to head further north to another island called Isla San Francisco. But, first we stopped at some rock out croppings called Los Islotes off the northern tip of Isla Partida. Los Islotes is home to a sea lion rookery. You could see and hear the sea lions barking up a storm, and I got lots of pictures of the babies on the island. Meanwhile, Mike wanted to see if there was any good fishing off the islands. He caught a skipjack and a bonito, which lived to swim another day because those fish are not on our dinner menu.
After Los Islotes, we headed for Isla San Francisco, about 20 miles away. The water was unfortunately dead calm, and we had to motor. We did see a couple of large sea turtles and a pod of pilot whales! When we got to Isla San Francisco, we decided to anchor in the smaller anchorage on the east side, as it looked more protected from the southerly winds that usually come up at night. However, we did not anticipate a large easterly swell that came through in the middle of the night, making it a very rolly and uncomfortable night. After anchoring, we put on some fins and swam to shore. The shore was pretty rocky, with a lot of small red rocks rather than powdery sand. Supposedly, there are a lot of agates on the beach that you can collect. We looked around for a while, but we didn’t really know what we were looking for.
We decided to hike over the dunes and the salt flats to the other side of the island that has a southwesterly facing anchorage. We spotted our neighbors from Ensenada Grande as well as another boat we met back in May when we were in Bahia Los Frailes. Despite the anchorage being open to the south, it looked calmer than our anchorage, so the next morning, we picked up the anchor and moved to the other side of the island. We spent the day pretty much relaxing inside the boat as we were both on sun overload! Even with lots of sunscreen, hats, long sleeve shirts, etc., it is easy to over do it and need a day out of the strong sun here.
One of the boats invited us to a bonfire on shore that evening. Their three kids had worked hard collecting what little wood there is on this desert island and got a pretty decent fire going on the beach. They invited all the boats anchored in the bay, and about 20 people showed up. Several of the boats had kids & teenagers aboard, and they all seemed to get along. One of them even played the ukulele for us. It was really fun talking to everyone of various nationalities. We always seem to find a lot in common with other boaters! The wind kicked up pretty good while we were all hanging at the bonfire, and all of the dinghies had a bit of a challenge getting off the steep beach and through the surf. Even though it was probably 1 am by the time we got back to the boat, we all agreed it was a great time.
We decided to try and do some fishing the next day, but we got a bit of a late start since we were up so late the night before. We put the dinghy in the water and headed out around the island. We caught several triggerfish, which are really beautiful fish. They are a roundish fish with beaks like a parrotfish. They have a lot of blue shimmery color on them. We heard that the locals eat them, but they really aren’t that big. We just weren’t sure if we wanted to go to the trouble of filleting these little fish, so they got to swim on. But, the highlight of the fishing trip was a show that a marlin put on right in front of our dinghy launching himself up in the air about 10 times. I had never seen anything like it! Awesome!
After we got back from fishing, we got an invite to a pot luck on another boat. A fishing boat had given them a bunch of marlin, and they offered to share it with us and another boat. We had a delicious meal, drank some wine, told some stories, and had another late night. But, it is all good!
We weren’t quite satisfied with our fishing expedition yesterday, so this morning we got up early (well, earlier) and decided to go a bit further out to and island called Isla Coyote on the northern end of Isla San Francisco, which has some rocks surrounding it that we thought looked good for fishing. Mike reeled in a huge snapper! We deduced from our fish cheat sheet that it was a greenbar snapper. We’re estimating it was about 20 lbs. That was enough for our freezer, so we headed back to the boat. After Mike finished cleaning the fish we shared some with our neighbor. I am really looking forward to some snapper fish tacos for dinner tonight!
We’re in the process of making a plan for our next destination, so we will keep you all posted.