Beautiful anchorages, more fishing, and a 33 hour non-stop cruise!
We left Isle San Francisco the next day and sailed to Caleta Partida, which is by far one of my favorite anchorages of the trip. We pulled in to this protected cove, only to find 14 other sailboats with a myriad of sizes and styles, already coved out. We pulled up and anchored in about 8 feet of water. Mountains surrounded us on all sides, and the water was shallow with a sandy bottom, and oh so beautiful. Myself and Lauren decided to take the dinghy over to the shore where it looked like it may be good fishing. I ended up spearing a good size fish that turned out to be a type of puffer, which are excellent to eat-if you know how to properly fillet them. Otherwise, you could die. Haha. We had to throw him back unfortunately. After returning to Viva, I decided to take the dinghy across the cove to one more spot that I thought may be good fishing. And was it ever. About 35 feet deep, rocks everywhere, fish everywhere, and despite pretty big waves I dropped the dinghy anchor and jumped in. Just so you know, despite being about 50 miles from La Paz, I’m wearing a wetsuit to stay warm. I located a good size Trigger which I think you all have seen photos of on Facebook. He was staring at a hole under a rock and I was right over top of him. He looked massive. Fish always look about a third bigger under water. I shot him right through the side of the face (sounds brutal but this is the proper technique) and he swam right into the hole with the spear still through his body. He was very strong and did not want to come out from hiding. This was at about 12 feet under water. It took me 8 dives to try and pull him out. I really thought I was going to have to cut the cord and lose the spear. Every dive I had to go down 12 feet, with the spear gun in one hand and try and pull that spear with the fish on it out from under this rock. On the 5th or 6th attempt, I yanked too hard and my right hand slid down the spear and sliced open my ring and pinky fingers where the spear bungees hook on to. Blood was everywhere but I wasn’t giving up. I wanted that Trigger fish! Finally, on dive 8 he came out. He swam with great intensity even with the spear still through his body. It was a tough 20 yard swim back to the dinghy, through the large waves, with at least a 4 pound fish trying to swim off the end of the spear. I made it back and got the spear, the gun, and the fish into the dinghy. I followed with myself and proceeded to pull up the anchor. Or at least attempt to. Just as I thought my adventures for the day were over, my dinghy anchor was stuck under a rock, about 35 feet down on the seabed. I motored the dinghy around and tried to free the anchor all to no avail. My only option was to dive down and free it, unless I wanted to buy Bob a new anchor. So threw the fins back on, strapped on a weight belt, and took a deep ass breath. I used the anchor line to assist my descent, and had to equalize my ears at least 4 times. Maybe 5 I don’t remember. I made it all the way down and got the anchor free and just moved it away from the rock and started swimming back up. It took about 45 seconds or so and was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I actually enjoyed the challenge.
The crew was pumped when I returned to Viva with this big ass fish. Bob said it’s the biggest Trigger he’s ever seen. Lauren filleted it perfectly and we grilled it up for dinner that evening. It was spectacular. That evening after dinner something truly strange happened. A storm cell moved in and we had thunder and lightning! It never actually rained on us, but after a beautiful sunset, watching the lightning in the dark clouds above the mountains was amazing.
The next morning we left Partida and headed for La Paz! We were to lose Chelsea in La Paz and gain Diane and Macarena. 2 new crew which would make us 6. We had a great time in La Paz, meeting new friends and going to bars, great restaurants and I got to watch 2 Chieeeeeefs! Games. Which as you know we won both. We did lots of work on the boat, turning the tool room into another bedroom, and lots and lots of cleaning. I ate authentic street tacos, amazing sashimi, and fresh fruit that was to die for. A week at the marina was more than enough, as we were all ready to leave after about 4 days, but it was nice to really get to explore the city. La Paz is not a tourist city like Cabo or Cancun, so I feel we got an authentic Mexican experience.
Viva has a transom shower that we use most of the time for our daily (or every other or 3 days :-D) showers. This is a simple faucet with a hose mounted on the steps on the back of the boat. Only the cold water faucet works, and the hot is corroded shut. So I took it apart to see if I could fix it. What a can of worms. I walked over 8 miles around town asking locals who spoke about as good of English as I speak Spanish, where the plumbing stores were. Well, I found a couple and actually found the part I needed! So I thought. As it turned out, the threads didn’t quite fit. I ended up ordered 2 brand new faucets (one as a backup) for Bob over ebay, and shipping them the Helena in New York, who will be joining us in Puerto Vallarta. Bob was sure they would be around 200 bucks a piece and I got him 2 for 33 dollars. Boom.
On our 5th night in La Paz, Bob’s best friend, also named Bob, who is the Captain of a Mystic 82, a 105 foot super yacht invited us over for “hamburgers”. We walk over to the next marina, and right next to Carlos Slim’s (richest man in the world along with Mr. Gates) SUPER SUPER yacht, was “Online”. Online is owned by a guy named Bill, and Bob is the captain and lives on it 365 days a year. Bill is a guy who when asked, “why have I never seen you in Forbes magazine?” responds, “Forbes is for people who want to be in Forbes”. He wasn’t there, but we heard many stories. Bob’s burgers (hehehe) turned out to be a full flank steak that he had been marinating for 2 days, and he served it with horseradish and roasted potatoes. As a lot of you know, I’m a pretty big foodie, and this steak gave me the freaking chills. Sooooo good. We also got to drink some Cabernet, straight out of the barrel, in real crystal glasses. I should mention that Bob is also the chef of Online. We got to go down to the engine room and look at the 2, 1500 horsepower turbo charged engines. The engine room had over twice the square footage of my sailboat. This evening was a real treat that we definitely didn’t expect.
The day we left La Paz, we first went to a swap meet where we had a shit load of stuff to sell from cleaning out the old tool room. I think Bob made 3 or 4 thousand pesos, and Seth and I bought a new hank-on drifter, 2 rope clutches, a sea-brake, and numerous blocks all for 100 bucks! Captain Bob gave me 3 rope clutches, and I’ll sell one on ebay for 150 and make my money back plus some. That’s how I roll. We left La Paz around noon, and sailed 8 hours to Los Muertos where we did a little fishing and I speared my 11th fish! Oh! And we caught our first fish on a pole trolling! A Skipjack Tuna! It was delicious! I speared a Flag Cabrilla, another “excellent” rating on the taste factor in our book. I also managed to reload the speargun in the water for the second time (this is nearly impossible) and I handed it off to Lauren and she almost immediately shot a good size Parrotfish. Her first with the spear gun! The water clarity at Muertos was as clear as we had seen so far. There were these huge rock hallways that you could swim through and just beautiful underwater scenery everywhere you looked. I can’t wait to come back with my family and close friends and bareboat charter down here for a week. Nikki, Clay, Amber, Greg, Ash, Ryan, Ashleigh, Scott, Amy, Keith, Michael, Renee, Megan, Andrea, anyone who would be down- I’m talking to you guys! Other than plane tickets, we could do it for 75 bucks a night on a boat that sleeps 12. $75 each for 7 people, so with more, the cheaper it gets! 4 couples and 2 singles would be ideal. You can’t beat it! Fishing and a new beach every day! And on a catamaran, it’s barely sailing. No heeling, steady at anchorages, and the wind on the Baja is pretty light in comparison to the Caribbean. Keep this in mind ;-)
I woke up at about 530 a.m. on the 13th to head to our last anchorage, Los Frailes, which took us about 8 hours. 8 hours is seriously such a short ride on a sailboat. I mean that not only was it only about 50 miles, but 8 hours flies by. But this 8 hours may have been the best of the trip. Banana pancakes for breakfast, dolphins in the bow waves, HUGE whales off our port beam, and we caught a freaking Dorado (Mahi Mahi) on one of the trolling lines! The book rates this on as “none better”. We filleted it up immediately and put it in the fridge for dinner. Lauren mixed up some white Russians to celebrate and other than losing our basil plant off the stern right as we pulled in to the anchorage at Los Frailes, it’s been a perfect day. I suited up to do a little fishing, but unfortunately I didn’t have any luck. My spear tips needed to be sharpened so I came back empty handed. I had a really cool moment however, when I went down to chase a trigger fish and ended up going after a flag cabrilla. I shot, missed, and retrieved my spear, and on the way up took a second to look around. I was about 20 feet below the surface and could see the light hitting the top of the ocean, I was surrounded by 2 different schools of fish and 100’s of aquarium fish. It was beautiful moment to have by myself, and mother nature as my only companion.
We met on deck at 5:45 the next morning to begin our 33 hour crossing to Isla Isabel. We double reefed the main, fired up the engine, and we were on our way. Everyone enjoyed the full day sail and we ended the evening watching "Australia" together in the cockpit. My watch was from 7-11pm and I ended up staying up until about 4a.m. due to a couple cups of coffee. I woke up around 7, and went back to sleep around 8 until at about 10 when I heard Bob yelling at me to come look at the 100s of dolphins swimming around the boat. There wasn’t another boat in sight, the water was super calm and there were easily 250 dolphins all around, with about 20 swimming right off our bow. I’m sure you all saw the video on facebook!
We arrived at Isla Isabel around 1230 pm and dropped anchor on a rocky anchorage. We attached an extra float just in case we had trouble pulling it up. We didn’t. The island was an old volcano that erupted 1000’s of years ago and left a huge crater in the middle that is now a lake. The island has tens of thousands of frigate birds, the largest concentration in the world. There are also 1000’s of blue footed boobies, and 1000’s of iguanas crawling around everywhere. Back on the beach there were about 10 fishing huts and the local fisherman that stayed there were the only humans on the island. They hooked us up with some lobsters they had caught the night before and we ate them for breakfast! We spent the early part of the day snorkeling and spear fishing the north side of the island. Lauren shot a Flag Cabrilla, and I got another Trigger Fish, Pacific Grunt, and a Colorado Snapper! Maca kept saying she was seeing these huge fish that she thought were sharks. I told her it was unlikely but that I would keep my eyes open. I was guiding Lauren over to a good spot where I knew a bunch of Snapper were hanging out, and on the way there I grabbed Lauren's ankle because I thought I saw a shark! I pointed at it and basically said "WTF is that a shark!?" through my snorkel and by the time I finished my sentence that she obviously couldn't understand, she shot the damn thing! As it turns out it wasn't a shark, and it was too big and it got away, but it still makes a great story! We decided last minute to leave the island around 2 pm, so we could get to Chacala on the mainland a little early so we could have an extra full day there. I stayed up until about 1130, and we dropped anchor at about 1230. I was out like a light and didn’t hear a thing! I woke up around 7 a.m. and looked out my portlight. Greenery, palm trees, beach, beautiful houses and beach bars were all I could see. The smell was completely different than that of the baron dessert of the Baja. Although I loved the Baja, it was refreshing to be in the tropics and see some actual plant life! There are about a dozen Tiki hut style beach bars all along the beach, and it’s mostly filled with Mexicans, not a tourist destination at all like one would expect. Diane decided to go home from here on the second day and we spent an evening at a restaurant sending her off properly. Today will be our last day here at Chacala, and we will head south for La Cruz tomorrow.