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SV Panta Rhei Retirement Trip
Blue footed boobies are VERY cute
Larry Nelson
30 March 2011 | Isla Isabella, Mexico
Our plan was to leave San Blas early in the morning on a high tide, then stop at Isla Isabella to see the blue footed boobies. It was tight timing. We arrived at 3 pm and left at 6 pm. We had time enough to launch the dinghy and land on the island to see the birds. We didn't have time to snorkel in the incredibly clear water. Drat. Karen's wound prevented swimming anyway.

The birds AMAZED us. First of all, they group in colonies. The first colony we encountered were frigate birds. These are big birds with larger wing spans than Pelicans. They can fly very well and they cover the sky all the time. While in the trees below there are nests on about every branch of the trees. The trees looked like lime trees. They had little tiny leaves and lots of green limes. I've posted pictures in an Isla Isabella album. The trees are fairly short, so we could view all the nests close up. They were filled with downy chicks (along with the adult males and females). The density was amazing. Birds were everywhere. Dead birds on the ground. Young birds and parents in nests, and adult birds in the sky overhead. But...all frigates. We walked on through the trees. Eventually we came to the edge of a very high cliff. Right on the edge of the cliff were the boobies. We saw yellow footed boobies and maybe some red footed boobies. The blue footed boobies were the best. Mostly, they didn't run or fly away. They wouldn't let you touch them though. That would get you a peck from a sharp bill. Many were not moving because they were guarding young birds. They were obvious because they were all fuzzy even though they were full adult size. One of the birds must have been sitting on an egg. He/she wouldn't move but tried to caw us to death. I have sound movies (which are tough to share because of their size).

There were 5 other boats in the anchorage with us. It's a tenuous and tiny anchorage with a reputation for not giving back anchors that are put down. We all anchored close because that is where the "spot" of sand was. Fortunately, we anchored first and we got our anchor back. (The anchors get stuck on big rocks what cannot be raised). We left for mazatlan, a 90 nm passage. In order to arrive in daylight, we had to leave sometime during the night. But there is fishing gear (i.e. nets and long lines) all around us and without daylight you can't avoid it. It can catch your boat like it was a fish. This makes BOTH you and the fisherman mad. To avoid the fishing gear, we left in the daylight when we could see the floats. It's still tough to miss it, but we managed it. That put us into Mazatlan at 9 am. Fortunately the "noserlies" died during the night and we got a reasonably smooth passage. We even managed to sail a couple hours before the wind died. That was nice.

Our neighbors at Isla Isabella on SV Groovy reported that they had stayed the night before in the anchorage at San Blas. One of the boats got it's dinghy motor stolen even though the dinghy was raised high in the air (on a spinnaker halyard) next to where they were sleeping with all the doors and hatches open. It turns out that staying in the marina was a good strategy. The raising the dinghy on a halyard has been heretofore the accepted anti-theft strategy. This is a case where the twin forces of economy and adventure only balance with more money spent (on a marina), just as we suspected. It's too bad for the town though. All the boats in that anchorage left instead of doing the jungle tour and eating out at the restaurants. And of course everyone who hears their story will tend to avoid the city. It's a recipe for making poor people poorer.