Thursday, March 31, 2011

Punta de Mita to Isla Isabel

We were up well before dawn on Saturday, March 26th, the day the Honcho made its final departure from Punta de Mita. We got underway just in time to see one last spectacular sunrise over the bay, before we headed north to another storied bay, Bahia Mantanchen. Sailing conditions were excellent and we made good time, getting the anchor down in Mantanchen Bay in mid afternoon. This bay is famous for it's great surf and its Jejenes, otherwise known as noseeums, nono's,  or sand fleas. All of those appellations are often preceded by a rather forceful adjective because of their ability to inflict an itching, bleeding, scratching kind of misery on everyone they come in contact with. We were well prepared, with fine mesh bug screens on the hatches, DEET laced sunscreen and bug repellent, and a take-no-prisoners attitude. We passed a peaceful and bug free night and got the anchor up early to head for our next destination, Isla Isabel.

Punta de Mita Sunrise
Isla Isabel has been described as the Galapagos of Mexico because of its remoteness and isolation. Consequently it is the nesting and breeding ground for vast numbers of sea birds, particularly blue-footed boobies and the magnificent frigate birds. The island is a Mexican National Park and a World Heritage Site, so its unique flora and fauna are well protected. It was truly a spectacular place to visit.

We anchored on the east side of the island, just south of Isleo Mona Menor, about a hundred yards off the beach. Eager to explore the place, we pumped up the inflatable kayak and paddled ashore. There we were confronted by a couple of Mexican naturalists who informed us that it was illegal to land there and advised us to go around to the south side of the island and land at the fish camp that was located there. It was too far for our flimsy kayak so we went back to the boat and launched the dinghy and motored around to the spot we were supposed to land. Our entire experience there was fascinating, but instead of trying to put it all in words, I'll let the photos do most of the talking.
The Honcho at Anchor, Isleo Mona Menor in the background

Fish camp on the south side of the island, our dinghy is at left. Notice the hundreds of birds above the hill.

Booby chick on the beach. There were thousands of these babies on the beaches of Isla Isabel. Below, an adult blue footed booby

These birds will grow up to be incredible flyers and fishermen. The boobies appeared to nest mostly on the beaches and rocks, while the frigates built their nests in the trees or grassy areas inland.

Frigate nest in a tree. Notice the chick. These birds showed no fear of humans, we were literally within an arms length of this mother and chick. Below, a frigate chick stares back at the camera

Isla Isabel is an extinct volcano and therefore has a crater lake in the middle of it.  With very little impact from man, it looks wild and primitive, and beautiful in an eerie way,

The following day we got the anchor up and, punching into a 15 knot headwind, the Honcho began the long beat to Mazatlan, 85 miles distant.

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