Blue footed boobie with Appa, Sea Otter, and Alute in the background.
Right after I posted the previous blog from the satellite phone, the wind sprang up and we started sailing towards Isabela. Beautiful morning, breakfast on the stove, boat surging ahead eagerly toward landfall, very nice.
We arrived at Isla Isabela around 1200 or so. After a brief look around, the Rocna dove off the nose of Appa, passed through 10 feet of crystal clear water and grabbed the nearest rock. A shot of reverse confirmed that we were set and the race to get in the water started. Max won. Dove right off the bow. I'll bet the water temp was in the 80s. Not too warm and very refreshing.
The anchorage we were in had a reef just off our stern and that was connected to a large boulder which in turn made up the eastern part of the anchorage. This boulder had many caves burrowed into it by the wave action. When a particularly big swell rolled through, it would go into a cave and cause this shuddering BOOM! The snorkeling was great with an amazing variety of fish swimming around.
I swam with Samey for awhile but she is so determined to do everything herself, it can make for a taxing time. She wants no help in swimming to the reef and none at all on the way back to the boat. "I'm fine!" she says over and over. She has no fear of anything in the water and can't understand the dangers of tides and currents. She has been practicing diving under the water and gets pissed at her life jacket which is keeping her at the surface. So hard for her and frustrating. But it is a joy to watch her skills develop and as time goes on, I'll be more at ease swimming with her. While at Muertos she was dog paddling all over the pool, so we are close to her actually swimming.
After snorkeling and hanging about in the water, Max jumped back in the water and speared a fish for us. I think it is a grouper. Then I grilled that sucker and we headed over to Sea Otter for dinner. All of us were too tired to do much after dinner and I found my pillow around 9pm and called it a night.
The next day we went to shore and explored the island a bit and got some good photos.
Ben and Max found geckos but I think I've already blogged about that.
After exploring the island we set off for San Blas. San Blas has a bar entrance and is shallow. It is advisable to wait till day and have a pilot boat show you in. Being that Appa needs 8 feet of water to float in, I decided to sail to Manatchen Bay which is 2 miles south of San Blas. The wind was up so we sailed the whole way.
We left for Manatchen right after lunch and were making great time. Ben sailed with Sea Otter and did he have adventure. First they had humpback whales jumped out of the water for around 30 minutes. A baby and mama were there also. Baby was jumping also. Then they ran over a fishing line with a net attached. I always thought Island Packet yachts,with their full keel and therefore protected propellor would not have to worry about tangled props. Wrong. That net was so entangled that Mike had to clear it with a knife. Dark out, murky water (this area by San Blas has lots of run off so the water is brownish), and the boat pumping up and down in the swells made for an interesting time. They eventually got the net off and took off again.
We had a bit of our own adventure. The wind was dying down to about 10 knots or so and we were just sailing along with another 20 miles to go. The sun had just set. I was reading my book and not paying to much attention to the water. I saw no boats and knew we were 10 miles offshore. The beam of a flashlight cut through the air and landed on us. A panga materialized out of no where and was heading straight for us with the flashlight acting like the lightbar on a police cruiser. Rapid fire Spanish was being yelled at me and slowly I could make out that we were headed for their nets. It would really help if they used the light to direct me where they want to go but no, they thought it better to wave it around, occasionally blinding me, whilst pointing in two directions at once. I turned to port and they shadowed me till we were clear of the net. Once back on course, I opened my book and was just about to start reading when another panga appeared. Same stuff, yelling, flashlight being handled like it was actually hot to hold and then I felt it. We started to slow down and it felt like we hit a rubber band. You could hear a stretching type of noise and then the line came off the keel with a twang, hit the propellor, and then the ripping started. Luckily we were sailing so no entanglement but the ripping sound went on and on then the line hit our rudder and with another twang, it was gone. We left the poor fishermen in our wake, holding their net, and probably cursing me. I felt bad but you have to understand. The lines are not marked in any way that we could see. Add the fact that some of the pangas had no running lights, you get ripped nets. After that episode, we put out a dedicated watch with wide eyed binoculars and had no further problems.
We sailed 45 miles that day and dropped the hook in 12 feet of water and waited on Sea Otter. All boats are compromises but I'll take my boat any day. Appa may not have the most tankage, storage and huge centerline king sized beds but we can sail the hell of her. Give me performance anyday. Love, love our boat. Fast and strong.
The purple dotted line was our course. You can see us come in, anchor, leave for San Blas, then leave again 2 days later. I have to add here that ALL the blogs I followed mentioned that the charts for Mexico are damn near useless. I would have agreed 2 years ago. So far, my charts are dead on. Some much so that when we did the La Tovara river tour, my charts were dead on for that also.
The straight purple dashed line is when I power up the nav software. It'll draw a line from last power up to current one. See the river with the purple line. Amazing. To me anyway.
With Sam asleep and the boat gently pulling at her anchor, Max, Jen and I fired up the computer and Step Brothers while waiting for Sea Otter. The movie ended and Sea Otter rolled into the bay. They were wiped and we all went to bed. All the screens were on as we were expecting the bug invasion.
The next day we decided to head into San Blas proper as we wanted to tour the river on the La Tovara crocodile tour. It ends at a fresh water stream with a chain link fence to keep out the crocs. It was recently repaired. Not replaced. Repaired. Hmmmm.
San Blas has depth problems. The bar is constantly changing and that changes the depth. We draw 8 feet. I see 9 in places on my charts. We went in slow and had Sea Otter in front to call out problem areas. Never touched although it was close. We got a spot in the Fonatur marina and it was pretty nice. The people were great.
The jungle river tour was great. Jen wrote about it so see her blog.
Doing the tourist thing
Fresh water swimming. Haven't felt this clean since Seattle. Really. That is Benny falling in after using the rope swing.
We had no bugs in San Blas. None. Is it because of the near non stop spraying they have been doing nation wide to help get rid of dengue fever that is sweeping the area, or the quarter moon (our tour guide says this is the reason)? I don't know but we loved it. I'll type it again, no bugs in San Blas.
We got up in the morning and got some school out of the way, we went for a walkabout of the town.
After the walkabout, Jen did some shopping. Not a mega, walmart, etc to be found. She said it was interesting.
I bought ice. One huge block. Huge! 6 pesos. Beat that thing with a hammer and we are once again civilized. I am really considering a nice maker. Really.
A timely email from Michael made us reconsider Chacala and we decided to spend one more night in San Blas and then leave for Banderas bay in the morning. About 60 miles.
I woke up to Sea Otter hailing us on the radio, or so I thought. I stumbled out of bed and hailed him back on the radio. No answer. Then the laughter started. Mike was outside my window calling our boat name. Is it my fault that Tutmark did such a great job on the vhf antenna install that it sounds like real life? I think not.
0600 we we up and out the marina, going slow and once clear of the harbor, revved up the diesel and started motoring to Banderas bay. The wind would prove to be fickle till the final 15 miles. In the meantime, we had other problems. Fishing lines. Again with the fishing lines.
We ran over no less than 5 lines with Max having to get in the water twice to free us. We were motoring and Max dropped his fishing line in the water and noticed that we were dragging something on our rudder. Fishing line. Big line. A quick look back verified that we were dragging about 1/2 a mile of line behind us. How was this fishing line marked? With white and blue bottles. Sometimes orange crush bottles. Once in a while there would be a pole with a garbage bag hanging off it. Just one though. It seemed that the pole would be marking the middle of the line. Seemed. We had lookouts posted and Sea Otter was also looking for lines. No matter, we ran them over. Good thing was they never got in the prop. They hit the keel and run under it and I think since the keel is waaaay down there and the prop is close to the keel, the line comes up and just gets caught on the rudder. The line has many many hooks on it and these would get attached to our rudder. So in the end, all fishing lines were left intact and no one got hurt. What a pain though.
I tired from typing. More later...