Monday, March 1, 2010

return to Isabela

It was only a few extra miles out of our way to stop at Isabela, so with favorable weather, we started the 40-mile passage from Matanchen Bay at dawn and anchored just after lunchtime. It had been 2 months since our last visit, and we were curious to see what had become of all the nesting boobies and frigatebirds. It turned out that most if not all of the booby chicks had fledged, while the frigatebird chicks were still mostly covered in down.

One of the hardest things a frigatebird chick has to learn is what to do with those long wings.

The adults don't seem to have all the answers.

After our shoreside safari, we went snorkeling. Although the visibility was not great (~15 feet), we saw several new species of fish, a big moray eel, and a school of large skipjacks (a type of tuna). The coolest thing was hearing the pods of humpback whales calling to each other under water. It sounded like a mix of cattle and sea monsters. We wished we could see the whales while we were swimming. A few hours later we got underway with a favorable breeze to carry us the 80 miles to Mazatlan. A half hour after setting sail, we got much a much closer view of whales than we wanted. Two of them surfaced a few boat lengths ahead of us and we had to quickly decide whether to turn or hold our course. As the whales dove, we could actually see one of them passing under the boat!

It was a beautiful moonlit sail to Mazatlan, although the wind veered and we had to motor a good part of the night. Calm waters and scattered clouds reflecting the moonlight overhead - an inspiring time to be out alone on the sea. Night passages such as this are one of the greatest rewards of sailing.

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