How Beautiful It Is!

Trip Start May 14, 2011
Trip End Nov 02, 2011

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Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Sunday, August 21, 2011

We celebrate our 100th day in The Sea of Cortez at Isla La Ventana. As you can see by the photo, we are ready for action!  Actually, the flies are not out of control, but pesky just the same. 

Isla La Ventana is among our favorite spots thus far on this trip.  We have the entire cove to ourselves and it is as beautiful as it gets.  We hike high above the anchorage where Andrew climbs another 100 yards for some awesome photos.  The beauty surrounding us is unbelievable.  

Towards evening the wind begins to kick up.   In less than 10 minutes Amizade turns 180 degrees and is facing west.  The wind builds and we suspect that we are going to experience our first "Elefante".   This is a common local wind occurrence named so for the unique elephant shaped clouds that occasionally form prior to the strong winds.  As evening approaches, the cool air from the Pacific Ocean rushes across the peninsula from west to east, through the low valleys and arroyos to the warm Sea of Cortez.  This one comes roaring in at 28 kts.  The Elefante continues for the next 9 hours with winds averaging 15 to 20 kts until 2 a.m.  The anchor holds like Gorilla Glue, but the sudden gusts of wind keeps me awake.

Light warm breezes, calm seas, and plenty of sun greet us the next morning.  We circumnavigate Isla La Ventana by dinghy exploring the shoreline, coves, and bird habitats.  La Ventana (the window), is a rock formation located on the south-east side.  Frigate birds have taken residency on the sculptured rock to the exclusion of any other birds.  Further ahead we come upon what looks like “cormorant corner”—a huge flock of anhingas gather together for a morning chit-chat and swim. 

We come full circle and drop the dinghy anchor near Amizade for some snorkeling.  The water temperature is perfect.  Feeder fish and spiny starfish are abundant here, but to our disappointment no colorful reef fish in this spot.    

Another night, another Elefante; this one is not as severe as the first.  We are only 5 miles from the village, so we make our way back early in the morning.  It's time to make one last provision run to the market and check the internet.  Back on board Amizade we find a whale shark in the anchorage, slowly swimming by the boats.  This one seems to be accustomed to boats and eyes us curiously as it swims slowly past.  A perfect send-off—gracias and adios Bahía de Los Angeles! 

A short distance away is Bahia El Pescador where we spend an afternoon kayaking to a white sandy beach.  I should re-phrase that--I take the kayak to the beach while Andrew swims beside me.  There's no way I can swim 1/4 mile even with fins; and we learned from an earlier experiment that a one-person kayak is not designed for two people! 

We return to Ensenada El Quemado to enjoy this beautiful anchorage a second time.  Here we prepare Amizade for the passage south to Santa Rosalia.  Extraneous items are stowed away,  refrigerator defrosted, lines checked, and the dinghy is brought up on the foredeck and tied down securely.  Time to relax, swim, read, and watch the rays pop up and down.  At night our cockpit light attracts zillions of bait fish.  We can hear them slapping against the hull and thrashing on the surface in search of food.  Andrew shines the 2 million candella light on the water's surface  to find even more exotic swimmers....tiny bright red fish frantically zipping around plankton.  What a busy night down there!

Southerlies are predicted with no end in sight, common for this time of the year.  Amizade  takes it in stride...we motor into the wind and make our way 12 nm to Las Animas Slot.  It is already occupied--no room for another boat.  We drop the anchor in the cove next to "The Slot" to wait out winds gusting between 18-24 kts.  The wind drops to 10 kts which allows the swells to enter the cove making it very uncomfortable.  At that moment, we spy KASASA sailing past.  We make radio contact and follow them into East Animas to get out of the wind and swells.   

Our last contact with KASASA was in Santa Rosalia about 3 weeks ago.  It was so good to see them again.  Ian kindly picks us up in his dinghy (since ours' was stowed on deck) and takes us ashore to inspect the whale carcass decaying in the tide zone.  He also took Andrew out for a 'fishing' expedition one afternoon.  The fish caught were too small to keep, and 4-5 sea lions started following them.  Sea lions won't take a fishing lure, but will take a fish off your lure if you catch a fish.  On the way back, a Blue-footed Boobie took the lure and Ian and Andrew spent several minutes disentangling the poor thing. Fortunately the bird was OK and flew off.

One afternoon Ian free-dives 15 feet in search of Chocolate Clams.  He has to first find the tell tale location of the clam and then dig down 2 feet under the sand to retrieve it--one clam per dive!   Ian can hold his breath for one minute and 15 seconds--he comes up with 8 clams in as many dives! What an effort to get those succulent clams...but worth every breath!  Ellen made grilled clams in the shell for appetizers that night...they were EXCELLENT!  Gracias Ian and Ellen!

It's time to say "hasta luego" to all the friends we met along the way—wonderful people with fascinating stories.  We are ready to wind up our trip in this area and make our way south. 
See you back in Santa Rosalia!
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