Boobies, Boobies Everywhere!

We had a wonderfully relaxing week in Altata, but it was a bit on the cool side, so we decided to bypass Mazatlan in search of warmer water. We figure we’ll hit Mazatlan on the way back up to the Sea of Cortez. We plotted a course for Isla Isabel, a nesting place for frigate birds and boobies, about 200 nautical miles southeast of Altata.

The bottlenose dolphins in the Altata channel gave us a grand send-off, riding our bow and cavorting about our boat. Koiya was beside herself with excitement, because she spotted a mother dolphin with a baby! The calf was about 4 -5 ft long, so it wasn’t tiny, but we were thrilled to see it. As Koiya said, “Not many people get to see dolphins, and even fewer get to see dolphins in the wild, and even fewer get to see a calf!”

We had no problems with depth in the channel itself, but by the time we were making our way out to sea, the tide was going out and there were breaking waves directly in the path indicated by our GPS waypoints! “Yee-haw!” yelled Todd, “Let’s see what this baby can do!”

Just kidding. I don’t think I should quote what Capn White Knuckles actually said. After backtracking and taking another look around, we decided we’d have to ignore the waypoints. We steered a bit to port, and had some tense moments as we powered over the large waves that seemed to be on the verge of curling. The depth finder would read 10 feet, then we’d rise on a wave to 16 feet, then slide back down to 10 feet again… it was nerve-wracking! But thankfully, our engine is strong and reliable, and we were soon out into deeper water. Whew!

Once out to sea, we set the spinnaker and enjoyed perfect sailing conditions. The sea was calm, the breeze was strong enough to move us along at between 5 and 6 kts, the sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot. Delightful! We flew the spinnaker all day and through the night, on into late the following afternoon. The wind picked up for a bit, so we struck the spinnaker, but soon afterwards the wind died down again.

That evening and afternoon we struggled with the variable wind; its changing directions and intensity called for frequent changes in our sail configuration. And unfortunately, the waves built up a bit. The waves weren’t big, but they were confused (coming from different directions). This made for a pretty uncomfortable ride when the wind was light and we were limping along at 3 kts; we’d pitch and roll every which way.

The one upside of our slow speed was that we arrived at Isla Isabel at around 7am, so we had the benefit of daylight for finding a spot in the anchorage. We dropped our trusty new 55-pound Delta anchor, having come over 200 nautical miles and putting only 5.2 hours on the engine. Considering that about half that time was coming out of the Altata channel, we were pleased to have come so far under sail.

Todd went below to get some sleep, and I sat down in the cockpit to enjoy a nice strong cup of tea. I was sipping it peacefully when WHAM! Something dropped out of the sky right on to my head! And there it was in the cockpit well, struggling to right itself: a brown booby! It scrambled up and jumped onto the jib sheet, where it struggled to keep its balance. It seemed as stunned as I was, but after a few minutes it flew away just fine.

When the bird hit my head, I cried out in alarm, and woke Todd. “What’s going on?!” he yelled from below. “A booby just fell on my head!” I replied. “Wow, we really are in paradise!” he exclaimed. “In Vegas that would cost $20!”

We were happy that Ralph and Glenda on Our Country Home were also at Isla Isabel. They owned the slip that we rented for our boat back in Emeryville. We didn’t really know them until we came across them in La Paz (adding to our belief that everyone who sails ends up in La Paz eventually!). They’re a sweet couple that we enjoy spending time with. They had caught a yellowfin tuna, and invited us to join them for dinner one night. Delicious!

When I thanked Glenda for cooking and thanked Ralph for catching the fish, Ralph told us that Glenda had caught it. Turns out, Glenda was cleaning up the boat when the fish hit, and she fought it, reeled it in, gaffed it, cleaned it and cut it into fillets… all while Ralph slept below. This tells me two things: (1) Glenda is the coolest grandma in the world (next to Koiya’s Bachan, of course!) and (2) when it comes to division of labor at sea, we women are all in the same boat!

Onshore, we were thrilled to see the nesting frigate birds and boobies up close. We felt like we were in a National Geographic special (though Capn Booby was confused by the lack of naked women). It is hard to love frigate birds because they are moochers and thieves, getting most of their meals by harassing other birds into dropping their fish. But they are beautiful in flight, with their long scissor-like tails and impressive swoops and dives. And when nesting, the males puff up the large red pouches under their chins, putting on quite a display.

As far as boobies go, how can you not love them? One species has bright blue feet, while another has pale lime green feet. We loved seeing all the chicks of varying ages, from little white fluff balls, to motley tweens, to almost-adults with just a touch of fuzz. It was fun to hear all the different noises they make, from squawks to whistles. We have seen some really neat places on this trip, and Isla Isabel is right up there as a highlight!

As we all miss Komodio, our bearded dragon, we were glad to see all the iguanas lazing about the island. They weren’t quite as cute as Komodio, but then, who is?

The fishermen on the island were super friendly and helpful. One named Julio was leading a tour for a group of Mexican high school kids, and he invited us to taste their yummy fish tacos and fresh oysters from his town on the mainland. The oysters were so good, even Koiya ate two! The following day we scored some free tacos from a group of bird watchers.

We would have liked to stay a little longer to snorkel, but the swell grew a bit so the anchorage got a little rolly. And you know, Capn Snoozey doesn’t sleep well when the boat rocks too much! So we were off… to San Blas! See all of our Isabel photos, and video of the booby that landed on our boat, here:

20080125IslaIsabel

5 Responses to “Boobies, Boobies Everywhere!”

  1. Frank and Lillan says:

    Hi you three out there
    I just got the site from Eva and have enjoyed reading about your adventure,
    you must just love life right now, what a great sailing adventure you are having and the website is great.

    Please add us to your email, we will enjoy and look forward to you next entry.

    Safe sailing from the boat accross from you in Emeryville.
    Frank and Lillan

  2. Katie McCall says:

    Susan — I had a crazy Booby experience recently too! Of course, mine was at US Master Nationals in Tucson…

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=hPGUOLIUq98

    May a warm wind blow on your back,
    *katie

  3. Doris Schuhmann says:

    Hallo Ihr 3,
    es ist einfach toll, dass wir immer sehen koennen, wo ihr gerade seid. Lasst es euch gut gehen und weiterhin viel Spass.
    Liebe Gruesse Doris und Werner

  4. Susan says:

    Oh Katie, I loved that!
    Of course, anyone who doubts that you’ve got boobs obviously didn’t see the top you wore to Raven’s 1st Birthday Party!

  5. reynato says:

    i love sailing with my friends and family…

    thanks for the photos..

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