The Dark Side of the Moon?
October 2, 2016
The new moon was two days ago. Last night headed back to the boat in the dinghy we could see thousands of stars and the milky way in the dark night sky. The night was still and the water flat and calm. When you looked over the side of the boat into the water it looked as though the night stars were reflecting back at us. But, then the stars started to move like fireflies darting through the water. The phosphorescence was as bright as the stars and just as glorious to watch.
We left Puerto Refugio after an amazing 10 days and headed back south to Bahia de Los Angeles. After picking up a few supplies, we left again for a new anchorage, Punta Pescador. As many different beautiful bays and islands we have stopped at in the Sea of Cortez, we never stop gazing in wonder as we enter a new place. They are all beautiful, the same but different. Each place is unique but still has that magical Baja feeling where the desert meets the sea.
Our first morning in Pescador, Mike and I were out on deck blowing up our inflatable paddleboards to drop in the water when something caught the corner of my eye. I saw blows out in the distance right at the entrance to the anchorage. We’ve had dolphins come close to shore where we anchored, but we’ve never seen whales. I got out the binoculars and recognized the distinctive tall black dorsal fins that could only mean one thing – Orcas! They were coming into the anchorage and getting closer. Just as I was focusing my attention off the bow of the boat, I got a call on the radio from one of the other boats in the anchorage that there was another Orca behind our boat.
As I was watching them get closer to shore, and our boat, I could clearly see a grey dolphin just in front of the Orcas. My heart sank. I really didn’t want to see a dolphin kill. But, I kept watching and saw that the Orca that was behind our boat came around from the other side essentially corning the dolphin from both directions right by the shore. There was some splashing and the birds went a little nuts overhead so we knew they got the dolphin. We suspect that they had been chasing him for a while and just tired him out when he came into the anchorage, because he wasn’t moving all that fast. One of the other boats nearby told us that killer whales often kill dolphins and other whales for sport rather than food. I have no idea if that is true, but it made me a bit less excited for another Shamu sighting.
That night we had a squall come through that added a bit of excitement to our evening. The wind and rain weren’t too bad, but there was lightning and thunder all around us. Unfortunately, in a sailboat the mast acts as a big lightning rod, so we’re never thrilled about lightning. We were talking to one of our friends on another boat about the weather over the radio when he asked us how tall our mast was. We laughed and said “not as tall as yours!” His boat was bigger and does have a taller mast. If lightning is going to strike, it’s going to hit the tallest point around. We disconnected the radio and put our handheld electronics and other communication devices in the oven, which can act as a Faraday cage and protect them if we get hit. Mike and I went in our cabin and sat on the bed, as that was the best place to be away from anything metal. We had an hour or two of waiting out the storm as it finally passed and we could relax and get some sleep.
We had been looking at the weather forecast and it looked like we were going to have some calm and settled conditions for the next few days. Mike really wanted to get out to Isla Partida, about 20 miles away. This was the perfect time to go! We told several of the other boats in the anchorage about our plans, and three other boats decided to join us. We had an awesome sail in some pretty light winds, but I think the staysail we added before we left California really helps give us that extra lift in light conditions. We beat the other three boats to the anchorage – not that we were racing. Along the way, we saw a marlin, a fin whale and some dolphins. And, just a couple of miles outside of the island we hooked up on a nice dorado! Not a record breaker, but it was enough to share with the other boats for dinner.
Isla Partida has been fantastic. It is not a very large island, but it has a nice crescent shaped bay on one side that gives us a beautiful anchorage. Like most of the islands in the Sea, it has volcanic origins which are visible on shore as you can see where the molten rock hardened. We hiked up all along the ridgeline of the island which gave us 360 degree views of Baja, mainland Mexico and the other Midriff Islands. I simply can’t describe the views in adequate words. The bright blue water surrounding the boulders at the base of the island, the reefs clearly visible through the clear water, the ripples and waves on the water from the wind and current for miles in every direction – simply breathtaking.
Whale jaw bones we found on shore…
We also found a couple of fabulous reefs around the island to snorkel and dive. The abundance of sea life was almost shocking. We saw schools of yellowtail, grouper, snapper, moray eels, all the various reef fish, octopus and lobsters! It was fun to see those lobsters fly through the water to find a rock to hide under when you get close. Everywhere you looked there was life. The rocks were covered with sea anemones, sea urchins, scallops, sea stars, fans and all kinds of plant life.
If you came to Baja and only stayed on land, you would think this a barren place. On shore we saw a few lizards and heard some squeaking bats, but that was about it. The minute you look under the water it is a whole different story. It is like a secret world waiting to be discovered. You just have to be adventurous enough to dive in!
We’ve had enormous fish feasts with the other boats here, as the fishing has been amazing. It has been so much fun getting to know the other cruisers who came out here with us and all sharing in the bounty that the Sea has given us. We’ve even had a few laughs. The other day some of the crew from three of the boats (including us) went out diving around one of the points. The fourth boat stayed behind because he said he had some boat chores to do including cleaning the bottom. When we were returning, we all decided to get together to cook the fish that were caught, so we headed over to boat #4 to extend the invitation.
As we approached boat #4 (not telling any names) we saw that the hookah was going and our friend was in the water to clean the bottom. We got a bit closer and saw him behind his boat about to exit the water up the swim ladder. He couldn’t hear us approaching with the loud hookah compressor and was faced away from us. But, as he started up the ladder we saw that he was wearing a mask, weight belt and nothing else! That was our second moon… We all busted out laughing. Not to disparage our friend, but it wasn’t exactly Brad Pitt’s derriere! He turned around, saw us and started laughing too. I guess you have to have a sense of humor if you clean the bottom of your boat in the buff!
The water has started to turn colder and so have the nights, which means that fall has arrived in Baja. We’ll be starting to make our way south soon to follow the sun. It may not be an endless summer, but we’re going to try…