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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

San Francisquito and Isla Las Animas

From Santa Rosalia we made a 15 hour, 75 nm passage to San Francisquito on July 22. We could only sail for a few hours, but John hooked three dorado, the last and smallest of which he managed to get to the boat. It was just as well that it was a small one since both the refrigerator and freezer were packed. We spent five nights at San Francisquito, all but one of them on the outside east of the entrance to the inner harbor. We went inside one night after a strong chubasco possibility was forecast, but nothing materialized and we came back out the next morning. The inner harbor is very secure and the water is flat even in a strong breeze, but with a Mexican Navy presence established just up from the beach, we prefer the privacy of being outside.

We took a couple of hikes, but couldn't snorkel because the water was too green and cold. The coyotes sang us to sleep at night and one morning at dawn I counted a group of seven of them on the beach. We waited for a period of calm weather and sailed out to Isla Las Animas on July 27. We had a terrific three hour spinnaker sail practically from anchor up to anchor down, and were thrilled to find we could see the bottom in 20' of water when we got there. This year's crop of fledged pelicans stopped their fishing practice and gathered around to see what Nakia was all about. One was especially enamored of the new potential roosting place, and we had to shoo him off the rails twice before he decided we weren't being very hospitable (the first time I actually had to give him a gentle shove underneath his tail!).

We went ashore for a hike the next morning and were relieved to see that there were not many "diaper babies" in evidence. This is what we call the ones which haven't fledged yet because they still have fat white tails and can barely waddle around. They are also the ones which make the prehistoric scream that sounds like someone's being murdered. It's very odd that after they fledge you never hear another peep from a pelican.

So unlike last year, when we visited a month earlier in the breeding season, this time we could hike most of the island without disturbing any babies. We climbed over the first ridge to the valley of the chollas but when we had to watch every step to avoid the prickly "leaves" on the ground we climbed up to the next ridge where there was also a better breeze. And because it was such a clear, dry day we got the bonus of seeing terrific views of Islas (from south to north): Esteban, Tiburon, Partida, Angel de la Guardia, and Smith.

After our hike we cooled off with a snorkel. I couldn't stay in long because the water temp was still only 74 degrees, but it was nice to see that there were trigger fish and grouper in the same large numbers as last year. We snorkeled twice the next day, and while we were there John caught a Mexican bonito and a grouper - yum.

I hated to leave the clear water but we needed to get back to San Francisquito before the southerlies picked up again so that we could do some more hiking in this area. We had a much longer motor trip back against a wicked full moon flood tide - the channel is notorious for its "jumping waters" - and it was slow going. Last night we got rolled around in the east anchorage so we moved inside today after our morning hike. We'll probably stay here until the winds calm down again.

There are only six boats (regularly checking into the nets) north of here with an anticipated 30+ coming in behind us! It's going to be interesting to see how many we actually pack into Puerto Don Juan for the first hurricane this season...

Linda and John