Isla Isabella and Chacala
23 January 2009 | Chacala
We left Mazatlan on Tuesday afternoon after watching the Obama inauguration. We had the great idea of moving Warren Peace to an anchorage at the other end of town to avoid navigating the very narrow channel from the marina at night in total darkness. We motored to the anchorage around 4:00PM and dropped the anchor for a nice, relaxing evening. While cooking dinner on the BBQ, I noticed five or six pangas all around the boat setting nets and it was quickly determined that we were in the middle of their fishing area and completely surrounded by fishing nets. WE COULDN'T' GET OUT OF THE ANCHORAGE...WE WOULD BE TRAPPED! I stopped cooking and pulled the anchor immediately to motor out of there just before the final net would have closed off the entrance. It was now dark and we had to navigate into the main shipping channel in pitch black while cruise/cargo ships were departing...lots of traffic coming out of the main channel. This was just what we were trying to avoid! We finally dropped the anchor again around 7:30PM in a small anchorage inside the channel. We had a quick dinner and went to bed until midnight. Our journey to Isla Isabella was approximately 85 miles total over night and uneventful...just the way we like night passages...uneventful.
We arrived Isla Isabella around 3:00PM and the small anchorage on the east side of the island was already full with four other sailboats. We simply squeezed in between the most northerly anchored boat and a huge pinnacle....Islotes Las Monas. Our stern was only a couple of boat lengths from the pinnacle...too close for comfort, but we had no other reasonable place to go. This remarkable island is a popular destination when crossing the Sea of Cortez from Baja or traveling between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. It is uninhabited except for the residence of the Warden who oversees this magnificent Bird Sanctuary. Seasonal fishermen frequent the area and their camps line the beach in the southern cove. Though skipped my many cruisers because of the anchoring perils, both National Geographic and Jacques Cousteau featured the island in television specials as a wonderland of unspoiled nature. (See picture of the pinnacle)
Yesterday morning we pulled the anchor and set sail back to the mainland...Chacala. We are now getting very close to Bandaras Bay and the temps also indicate our latitude. We keep all the fans on the boat going all the time during the day. In the evening the temperatures are quite comfortable and cool. Our trip back to the mainland was like going to Sea World in San Diego. In all our years of sailing we have never seen so many whales...they were literally everywhere from the beginning of our day to the end. We tried to take pictures, but it was difficult to capture. However...some of our endeavors paid off and did get a few shots that we'll post. Thank goodness for digital cameras because we took about 150 pictures and only got about 10-15 shots that actually show the whales. In addition to the whales, we saw huge sea turtles, pods of dolphins, flying fish, boils of bait fish and some jelly fish. Almost from the beginning of the day we were avoiding fish nets and long lines throughout the entire journey. No wonder the ocean is being over fished...however...it is their way of making a living.
It was quite surprising to find the Chacala anchorage virtually empty...we were the only boat there. The beaches are gorgeous and lined with palapa restaurants which is where we intend to spend our day. They do have cold beer here...just pick one...Dos Equis, Pacifico, Tecate, Modelo, Corona. We're thinking about trading some of our beer for some lobsters with the fishermen. There were some medium swells coming through the anchorage so we also had a stern anchor set to keep the boat from rolling so much. It's not uncomfortable in the anchorage, but I think it would have been without the stern hook.
Tomorrow we will enter Bandaras Bay where Puerto Vallarta is located. We'll go to LaCruz which is just west of PV on the bay. Bandaras Bay is a major location for tourism (by air or by ship)...lots of whale watching. Diving is also excellent. There is a huge regatta in March that we may attend...the Bandaras Bay Regatta. We are now only about 40 miles north of the bay.
We are having fun and will continue on down the Mexican coast to Barra de Navidad next week weather permitting. Barra is our most southerly destination this year and plan to spend a month there.