What a Bonanza!

On Thursday, April 23, we set out from La Paz for another trip out to the islands. I could tell Capn Cranky Pants was not pleased as we got underway. “Are you unhappy about going out?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he grumbled. “I’d be glad if Theophilus were coming with us. As it is, I’m just gonna have to read and snorkel.” “That is pretty rough,” I agreed. I thought about putting him in charge of cooking for the week, you know, to give him something to do; but the thought of meals consisting only of ham, cheese and eggs gave me pause.

Our first stop was a new to us: Playa Bonanza, on the East side of the islands. Its emerald waters and 2-mile long white sand beach make it a beautiful anchorage. Koiya and I swam ashore to get a closer look at some goats, and ended up meeting Mrs. Gull, who squawked and flew at us because we unwittingly got too close to her nest. Later, we were happy to be visited by dolphins feeding on the fish in the bay.

The next morning, we thought we heard an outboard motor. Todd poked his head out and then called us up to see the commotion. A school of large predatory fish were churning through the water, occasionally breaking the surface. Pelicans, frigates and gulls swooped and dove from the air. It was a feeding frenzy, Sea of Cortez-style! Some of the big fish swam close to our stern, and I thought I saw the large forehead of a dorado/mahi mahi; but I’ve heard that those fish hunt in pairs. Koiya thought they might be tuna.

We went for a great hike ashore, which would more accurately be called a “wander”, as we couldn’t find the trail. Still, we saw some great ocotillo and cactus plants, as well as black rabbits and lizards. And, back on the beach, we saw a pair of oyster catchers and their two fuzzy little chicks. One chick fell behind its parents, and Koiya tried to be helpful by herding it toward them. (Sometimes there is such a fine line between helping and harassing!)

Our next stop was what’s called the Back Door of Caleta Partida, a seldom-used anchorage where we had a wonderfully calm night. Koiya and Capn Got No Pants went for a skinny dip, and as the sun set we watched the dolphins and jumping manta rays.

Because we enjoyed it so much the first time, we made another stop at Los Islotes for more snorkeling with the sea lions. Koiya and I were visited by one particularly playful youngster, who repeatedly charged straight at our faces, just to loop away at the last second.

We spent a couple of nights at Caleta Partida, where Todd got the bosun chair out for Koiya to swing on. We also snorkeled near the shoal there, so that Koiya could do some puffer petting (they are actually porcupine fish) and Todd was fascintated by a cute little octopus. And, on the way out, we saw a couple of humpback whales!

Our last stop was another new anchorage for us: Ensenada La Gallina. We went on a dinghy excursion to explore the nearby coves. As we zipped along, Koiya yelled “I saw a big turtle!” and just a moment later, “I saw a sunken ship!” Sure enough, we were over the intentionally-scuttled Fang Ming, which we were thrilled to discover was only about 20 feet down, so we could snorkel on it.

All in all, Toro had to admit that it was one of our best trips to the islands yet. Toro was particularly pleased that we didn’t have any of the typical strong night time winds, which meant Capn Fretsalot got plenty of rest!

After a great sail back to La Paz, including sailing the entire length of the channel and anchoring under sail, we were shocked to find out about the swine flu outbreak. Some citizens of La Paz had even taken to wearing masks in public! To be on the safe side, Toro insisted we take masks into town with us. But things seem to be calming down now, and there have been no cases in this state.

We’re in the marina today, washing down the boat and filling our water tanks. Tomorrow we’re headed out again. See all the latest photos here:

From 20090423LaPazAndBonanza

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