Saturday, January 12, 2013

East Cape to Banderas Bay - What a Ride!

We started off on what is called the "Southern Crossing" to mainland Mexico the other day, with my Dad Herb onboard. The initial goal was to go from La Ribiera Marina (near Los Barriles on the east cape of the baja peninsula) to Isla Isabel (the Galapagos of Mexico), or straight on to Puerto Vallarta depending on conditions.
Cabo Riviera Marina - VERY much a work in progress

Herb & Chris ready to go!
The weather forecast seemed favorable before heading out, a steady 20kt NNW wind, which would make for a lively downwind sail. Unfortunately we forgot the standard "add 10kt" factor for the east cape wind forecast, and found ourselves in gusts to 35kt on the first night! Our first hint things were going to be wild probably should have been the breaking waves on our way out of the marina, as the NNW wind was sending big rollers straight down the channel. These two factors combined to give Anne-Marie her worst case of sea sickness to date. Luckily Herb and I were feeling fine and took all the shifts for the first day so she could get some rest.
Anne-Marie - Out for the count
Luckily Herb didn't mind the wild conditions
The second day brought with it very pleasant conditions. With a pretty steady 15-20kt wind from the stern we were able to make good speed as the sea state calmed considerably. The second night saw the wind drop down to 5-10kt, and the third day to the point that we were practically becalmed, and decided to motor the last 18 miles to Isla Isabel.
Anne-Marie trying not to throw up
Herb enjoyed the conditions
Anne-Marie was reluctant to stop at Isla Isabel, since she had finally recovered from her sea sickness, and was worried when we started up again it would be back. I knew she would be happy to explore the island though, and a strong wind was forecasted which was just as likely to make her sick again, so we hunkered down at Isla Isabel for the worst of the wind.

Isla Isabel is known to "swallow" anchors, since the sea bottom is covered in large rocks instead of the more forgiving sand we prefer. It was our first time using a trip line on the crown of the anchor, so I decided to jump in with my snorkelling gear before we attempted to set the anchor. As it turned out, our trip line was too short, and the anchor was just hovering a couple of feet over the sea bottom. It was probably for the best though as the area we dropped the hook was covered in massive bolders which surely would have tangled the anchor chain. After hauling the anchor back aboard, I decided to swim around with our hand held VHF radio and look for a sandy spot among the rocks to try and set the anchor. After five minutes of swimming around I found a suitable spot and sent Anne-Marie my position. She came in with Starship and dropped the hook. We were still a little off so I dove in again and moved the anchor onto the sandy patch. I remained in the water while Anne-Marie and Herb backed down on the anchor, so that I could watch and ensure we had a good set to weather the pending blow.
Going in to check on the anchor
Securely anchored at Isla Isabel
All that work really paid off though! The anchorage was incredibly beautiful and interesting. Isla Isabel is known for it's large flocks of nesting boobies (blue, green and red footed), frigate birds and iguanas. With no predators on the island, the birds let you walk right up to them!

Between the thousands of birds everywhere you looked, the sounds of their chirping and whistling, and the creepy deserted research station on the island, it seemed like a scene from Jurassic Park.

Creepy abandoned research station...
The forecast for our trip from Isla Isabel to La Cruz was looking great! We had an amazing sail, flying the spinnaker for most of the time, several dolphin encounters, and caught a skip jack tuna! It was pretty funny as Anne-Marie had just mentioned she smelled fish, and moments later line was ripping off the reel. One hour later we had some delicious breaded skip jack for dinner, courtesy of Anne-Marie. It's hard to get fresher than that...
Do you smells fish??
Yup, here is one!
Finally we arrived in La Cruz as the sun was rising. Got the boat set back up into living mode and explored the town a bit. After that we all collapsed in exhaustion. Soon my Mom Michelle will be joining us for a week of exploring Banderas Bay.
For a few more pictures not on the blog, be sure to check out our Picasa album here:

Also I compiled a short video of the boobies and dolphins we saw on our trip,only available on the blog, not in the email blast, enjoy:

La Cruz

1 comment:

  1. Great panoramic photos, Chris. This way one gets closer to what you guys experience. Thanks for sharing. It was also very interesting to read how you did set the anchor at Isla Isabel. Through your words I could imagine well all the efforts which were put into this task by yourself, Anne-Marie and Herb. Happy sailing and anchoring!!


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