Loading Map

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

South of Agua Verde

30 May 2007
25 degrees 30 minutes N, 111 degrees 01 minutes W
Either San Marcial (Williams) or San Marte (Cunningham) depending on which guide book you're using.

About a week ago someone flipped the Summer switch to the ON position and it's been warm and flat calm ever since. We struggled to sail from Moreno Rocks to Punta Prieta on Saturday and managed to cover 12.5 nm in five hours. The next morning we roused Flying Free out of bed for a hike up an arroyo north of where we were anchored. Except for the soft sand and gravel dry stream bed it was an easy and very beautiful walk all the way back to the tallest of the dry "waterfalls." It would have required more strenuous climbing up some loose rock to get past this one so we made it our turnaround point. There was an abundant variety of vegetation, and several hummingbirds buzzing around to enjoy it too.

On our return to the rocky beach landing we explored what appeared to be an abandoned village complete with its own cemetery. There were several small primitive huts, and fenced pens for goats, chickens, and cows. The lush palm tree oasis at the mouth of the arroyo would seem to indicate the presence of ground water, and perhaps it used to be plentiful enough to support families and livestock. The most elaborate grave of the dozen in the cemetery was dated "Abril 1989."

We returned to the boats for lunch and a short siesta before an afternoon snorkel on the south side of the point. The water clarity was perfect for snorkeling in 5-15' depths, and we saw all the usual suspects including one of the largest Crown of Thorns sea stars that I've ever seen. I wish we'd had the spear with us to get rid of the critter. They are very poisonous and they devastate coral reefs. This one was so big that you could barely see the poor coral head it enveloped.

There has been no shortage of awe inspiring wildlife sightings. In the "pure dumb luck" category we were visiting with friends who had dinghied up from Puerto Gato, when a baby (25') gray whale appeared out of nowhere headed straight for Ray and Jayne in their dinghy off the stern of Nakia. It missed hitting them by veering off to port and continuing up the side of Nakia passing within 15' of our vantage point at the rail and continuing on towards Flying Free. It was pale mottled gray in color, and headed south where I'm hoping it hooked up again with its mother.

The second coolest thing was when we were enjoying a late afternoon in the cockpit and noticed the sound of a rushing river. Way across the glassy calm sea we watched a densely packed pod of hundreds of dolphin moving through the water. We can only assume they were chasing fish since they changed direction several times. We've also seen, but mostly heard (at night), fin whales passing the anchorages. They have a unique sound which I think our whale book describes as an asthmatic wheeze, and once you've heard one, you'd recognize it anywhere. The coyotes were also out yipping at the moon, and I caught a glimpse of one on the beach one afternoon.

Here's something we need help with. As we entered the anchorage at Punta Ballena yesterday we counted almost 20 rays, the most we've seen swimming on the surface anywhere so far this summer. Our fish book only has entries for a few species of rays. We recognize all the various sting rays, mantas, and bat rays but we're not sure what these were. One of them was orangeish brown and definitely not white underneath; the other was brownish gray with a white belly and a black "raccoon" band between its eyes, and it had "horns" like the manta. Both kinds were small (2-3'), diamond shaped, swam in schools of 2-6 near the surface (and commingled in even larger schools), and regularly leaped clear out of the water to splat like their bigger cousins, the manta rays. While we were in La Paz someone said that the ones people see jumping all the time in the Sea are called something like mobilars or mobilas. If anyone is interested in researching these for us, we'd love to hear more about the different species of jumping rays.

Today we had a short sail from Punta Ballena to San Marcial. It was less than three miles so we even towed the dinghy. We'll probably spend one night here before moving a little north again. This is the first day in a week that we've had any sustained wind, so I guess we're out of the doldrums for awhile.

Linda and John