North to Isla San Pedro Mártir – 30th July 2021

Our intention was to leave last Saturday, after provisioning in Santa Rosalia, but the forecast southerly winds disappeared and so its only now we’re on our way.

It’s 70nm from Isla San Marcos to Isla San Pedro Mártir and we aimed to leave around midnight. In the end we were off at about 0230,with a nice ESE breeze. Once clear of the island’s shelter, we got great lift and Momo dug in her heels and flew! We averaged 7.5 knots for the first 25nm, before taking two reefs in the sail, to calm things a bit in the big quartering seas. Fun for us, less so for the cats! It was pretty impossible to sleep so we just took turns napping.

It’s 0845 now and while the winds eased, we’ve still got 2m swells and making good speed. Bernie just took a reef out to try and balance the rolls with increased speed! It’s amazing really that a small scrap of canvas can haul 15 tons of yacht along so easily!

Alex is stretched out on the shelf above my bed and Jack is under the table. Neither seems worried and certainly not sick. They’ve definitely become solid little sailors! We’ve got the lure out and I really hope we get a Dorado. I’d give a lot to see their reaction to such a big fish!

0950: It didn’t work. Momo’s rolling like a bitch! 25nm to go.                           1135: Got the light air sail up now and making 4 knots. It’s less rolly which I’m grateful for. Ever since I started on fluoxetine I’ve been inclined to feel a bit off, not quite sea sick but average, in rollers. I’ve never been prone to sea sickness and its the only thing I’m doing differently. Who knows. I’m blaming the drug! 19nm to go.

Isla San Pedro Mártir is the most remote island in the sea of Cortez, the closest land being Bahía San Francisquito 30nm away. Its steep – to shoreline only offers deep anchorage and it’s seldom frequented. However, it’s home to numerous migratory and local sea birds, and it’s nutrient rich waters teem with marine life. We’re keen to see for ourselves, so waited for this weather window to sail up, followed by a calm day. According to Windy, which I have to say is notoriously inaccurate here!

We hooked two Dorado en route and they both got off! I didn’t see the first but the second one was small, less than 1m, so I was glad to let it go! Bernie not so much! A young brown booby also got its foot hooked but we released it with little more than its pride dented. We pulled the lure in after that, not wanting to get another bird.

2000: OMG. I cannot wait to share photos with you. This Isla is just amazing. I’m so glad we risked this anchorage and came. It’s absolutely teeming with life. We were escorted into our anchorage (which we approached very cautiously) by dozens of young Brown Boobies, dropping the pick about 1620. We’re in 52ft of clear midnight blue water, under towering guano covered cliffs that look as if there’s been recent snow. Huge cacti stand like aspens on a ski field.

Along with the Boobies, we were treated to an exuberant display of double flips by a huge ray, and massive sea lions coming to see who the interlopers were. Those we heard long before seeing them! Though tired and hungry, we decided to take a bag of lime chips and a cold beer on deck and just enjoy the scene. The cats joined us, on high alert at all the strange sights and sounds. I threw a few spuds, veges and fish fillets in the oven to cook themselves while we progressed to a nice chilled sauvignon blanc. Such an incredible place. Just when I think the Sea of Cortez couldn’t get better, it does.

Saturday 31st July: It’s about 45 minutes before sunrise and I’m on deck again enjoying the cooler air with mis gatitas. I slept like a log.

Who knew that seals and sea lions make such an enormous range of noises. They honk, bark, sneeze and cough like an old man, scream like a distressed woman, roar and huff like lions, make a range of sheep noises (Bernie even wondered if there were sheep here!), goat and cattle noises, do great elephant and monkey impersonations, and so many more! Astonishing.

At dusk the adult Boobies and Frigate birds returned to roost, checking us out first. The Boobies, especially, are very curious, getting close enough that two bumped into the stays! I decided to swim and put the rope ladder I made over. Bliss! We didn’t want to put the dingy over or the sails away yet, in case the anchoring proved problematic overnight. But it’s fine and with no wind this morning, all is well.

1100: Before breakfast this morning I noticed Alex leap out my window, then stop half way and adopt that stalking stillness cats do on the hunt. Looking around her I could see a booby sitting on the guard trail, not a metre away. Entranced I tiptoed outside with my camera. By then there was another bird on the rail and a third on the dingy. Wondering, slightly worried, where Jack was, I crept up the starboard waist, taking pictures as I went. The booby on the dingy flew off when I got about 2′ from it but the others stayed. Then I noticed Jack sitting in the sail, glaring intently at both birds, totally entralled! They watched me go quietly right to the bow, seemingly unconcerned by my presence. I got wonderful photos of both cats and the two Boobies interacting, fascinated with each other. Jack, I could tell, was dying to touch them, reaching her paw out, then chickening out! I called Bernie to come and see, and he brought his fancy camera. We spent a good half hour watching them all. Magic.

Unsurprisingly, the Boobies decided the solar panels were a great perch. The cats were somewhat intimidated by their sheer numbers. In the end I scared them off with the mop! They got the message! We don’t really want poop all over the deck.

1st August : We had an amazing afternoon yesterday. We took the dingy to explore the immediate area. The water is so clear and we got incredible pictures. Then…. Then! We swam with the seals and sea lions. I got in first to see how they’d react. It was a wee bit scary but they were just really curious. So so cool. And I finally saw a turtle while I had my camera!

As if that wasn’t amazing enough, we spotted a huge pod of dolphins and motored over to them. We got in the water near by and after some time, the nosy ones came over to check us out. Such an epic experience to swim with wild animals, spontaneously. Once we got back in the dingy and started the engine, a bunch of them played in the bow wave. It was so beautiful. We felt truly blessed. I just am blown away by the sea life here.

Today we decided to circumnavigate the island! It took just over two hours and was stunning. The geology of this place is fascinating. I wish Matt was here to explain how you get so many different colours, types of stone and shapes of the land masses in one place! We saw literally hundreds, if not thousands, of sea lions and seals. Bernie got some great photos. We saw three injured sea lions, two probably from fighting, but one stuck in fish net around its head and shoulders. I tried to get it off but it wouldn’t let me. It was pretty upsetting.

After I made lunch, Bernie went hunting. I didn’t want to go, partly coz we don’t actually need any fish and he was just obsessed with getting a “big” grouper (he didn’t!), and partly coz I needed me time. It was good too. I do need my own space at times. So the cats and I chilled, bird watching! The Boobies are so tame. I even touched a couple of them. They just glare at you, the closer you get, not that worried! Alex had a run at one, trying to see it off! It went! But she only was being brave because I was there! Both cats are fairly intimidated by so many big birds circling Momo. They watch from safety under the shade cloth. Sensible kitties.

August 2nd: I’m out enjoying the early morning cool again. The cats are chasing moths, which are enormous here. More like the gorgeous wee Humming birds I’ve seen in San Carlos. The Frigate birds are hunting overhead. They are majestic birds, very distinctive. They’d make a nice tattoo! They perch on the very top of the massive Cordon cacti, so presumably there’s no thorns right on top! We saw some big hunting birds with white heads on them too. I wondered if they could be Bald Eagles, but I don’t know if those come this far south. I’ll look it up when we get internet again.

Apparently the island used to be mined for guano. There’s certainly tons of it! We’ve seen lots of stone walls built around the island, in odd places. It must’ve been highly dangerous, as its very steep and much of the rock looks crumbly. We wondered if the walls were to stop rock falls. Something else to research later!

I think we’ll spend another day here if the weather stays calm. Its just so wonderful. I don’t know why yachties don’t come here more often. The anchoring isn’t that bad. It’s sand and small stones in this bay so good holding, even if it’s relatively deep. You just put more chain out! And it’s remarkably sheltered, except from the north. Still, perhaps we should keep the myth going, and not let this incredible slice of paradise be overrun by humans!

1530: We’ve just been fishing. I got two triggerfish and a hogfish before I lost my spear tip. So annoyed. I shot another hogfish and it sped under a rock. When I pulled the line I just got a broken spear. I took the gun back to the dingy then got Bernie and we dived to try and find the fish and/or the tip. No joy. So I swam with my camera after that and saw two turtles and a huge moray.

However, Bernie got the catch of the day, a real trophy. A beautiful 9lb golden grouper. They are great eating and plentiful but hard to get, so fast and clever! He was stoked and I think plans to can it. He also got a smaller brown grouper, so we’ll be good for a few days.

San Francisquito tomorrow, weather permitting.

Not enough Internet for photos!

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