Sunday, November 29, 2009

Isla San Francisco - Thanksgiving Day and more

[GPS: N 24° 49' 17" W 110° 34' 20"]
Thursday morning we moved on to Isla San Francisco. We sailed most of the 20 miles there alongside Laura, beating against the northern wind. About halfway there, Reel Summertime came motoring past us. We anchored in “the hook” at the SW end of island. There were at least a dozen boats in the anchorage – half of them powerboats, including a huge (170’?) “Time for Us” that we had seen in La Paz.

We had Thanksgiving dinner aboard Laura with Michael & Laurie. What a feast! Michael cooked a whole chicken, with fresh green beans, and potatoes au gratin. Cathy cooked dressing (with sausage, celery, onion, apple, etc) and a cranberry jello. Laurie baked an apple pie (and we found one last small container of ice cream deep in our freezer to put on it). Doug brought some Chardonnay and his appetite.

Friday we walked across a salt pond to the “agate beach” on the east side of the island, where we just walked along the beach looking for interesting stones, and Michael did some snorkeling.

Cathy went back to the boat and Michael, Laurie, and Doug did a hike up to and along the ridge on the SE corner of the island, overlooking our anchorage and the agate beach.

Saturday we took our dinghies for a ride for about 2 miles along the western edge of the island to a small island, Isla Coyote, just north of Isla San Francisco – between it and Isla San Jose. There is a small fishing village on the island. We pulled our Porta-Bote dinghy up onto the rocky shore next to the fishing pangas, while Michael and Laurie anchored their inflatable dinghy just off the beach. We watched some of the fisherman filet their catch on wooden tables on the rocky beach. The blood dripped off the tables onto the rocks, and when the fishermen had finished excising their filets, the carcasses where thrown into a pile by the edge of the water. They mostly had large sting rays and manta rays, but also some hammerhead sharks. They excise the barbs from the sting rays and take them way out to sea to dispose of them since they have children on the island and don’t want to take any chances on them getting hurt. They also had some beautiful chocolate-colored clams that we watched them shuck. We walked up the hill to the covered porch of their dwellings, where a lady was selling shell earrings, necklaces, etc. and made a few purchases. At the top of the hill was a small chapel building, but some of the ceiling had collapsed and there was debris all over the floor. We also bought some tortillas from the lady in the cook shed.

We got back to our dinghies and motored over to a beach on the north side of Isla San Francisco that was advertised as the shell beach. Our beachcombing turned up a few specimens, but nothing much more than what we had seen on the beach where we had anchored. Cathy found some interesting crabs.

We got back in our dinghies to head back around to the anchorage. As we passed the NW point of the island and turned south, we were hit with 12-15 kts of a SW wind in our faces and a building chop. As we pushed the dinghies through the chop, we realized this direction would be going right into our anchorage. We saw several boats fleeing out of the anchorage, and listening in on our handheld VHF found they were all going over to the mainland to seek shelter at San Evaristo about 9 miles away. We contacted them to make sure our boats were still securely anchored. We finally made it back to our boats. Michael & Laurie decided to move around to the east side of the island (anchor off the agate beach). We decided to just stay put – we felt better when we saw a yellow-hulled boat come in that we had seen in Caleta Partida and had been sailing the Sea of Cortez for over 25 years – local knowledge is a comforting thing.

We had been expecting to wait until Monday to leave for Mazatlan rather than Sunday because our grib files had been showing a weak low spinning across the south end of the sea. But now our gribs were showing that the low had weakened and pretty much dissipated – and that these westerlies that we were getting were not just coromuels – that they would continue through Sunday. So we decided to check the weather again Sunday morning – and probably leave for Mazatlan.

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