"The ocean is made of water -- H20
Two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.
But there is a third thing that makes it water --
and we don't know what that is."
-- D.H. Lawrence
Espiritu rests at Isla San Francisco
Chris and I finally pulled anchor in La Paz a week ago and headed north to explore the Sea of Cortez.
For the first time on this trip, we flew the spinnaker.
The former bowman is happy
This Wimpy Cruiser (moi) is always nervous about hoisting a spinnaker, as the memory is still fresh of countless horrifying, spinnaker-flying brushes with death during our racing days.
I think that's Leonardo DiCaprio at the top there...
As you can see, this innocent looking, usually brightly colored swath of sailcloth can wreak havoc like no other piece of equipment on the boat.
But it also makes you fly...
Anyway, despite my fear I didn't fight Captain Chris because I knew how much he wanted to pop that damn spinny. Thankfully the wind was light so actually, I was happy too...
The spinnaker and me, anxiety free!
As the map shows, we started at La Paz (at the bottom in white letters). Our itinerary
would include Isla Partida and Isla San Francisco.
First stop: Ensenada Grande at Isla Partida
For the first time, I strapped on our spearfishing gear at Isla Partida and headed for the reef. I plan on becoming an expert spearfisherman by the end of our summer in the sea.
The visibility was unlimited, but the few remaining coral were not healthy appearing.
I was shocked to see a deadly Crown of Thorns
sea star devouring the reef on Isla Partida
We've seen documentaries on the Crown of Thorns. It's a sea star that feeds on coral, and it's proliferating and destroying coral reefs all over the world due to overfishing of its predators (large fish).
I got off one shot from the speargun, which missed my target (a large parrotfish) by a mile. I spent 15 minutes fumbling and bumbling in the sand trying to reload the thing, but this Wimpy Cruiser was too weak and incompetent, and reloading proved harder and more complicated than I originally thought.
Ah, well. Looks like spaghetti for dinner tonight.
The next morning, we headed ashore for a hike.
I was surprised by the greenery along the well kept trail
This desert hare let us get incredibly close. I've heard rabbit stew is tasty grub.
Maybe I should go grab the speargun...?
The geology of the island looked like a melting chocolate cake, which kinda put me in the mood for the tasty, decadent, sugary treat. Sadly, on a desert island in the Sea of Cortez, there is no actual chocolate cake anywhere to be found, which is probably a good thing.
This cave looks like it drops directly into hell.
Needless to say, we did not enter.
Another gorgeous yet foreboding cave on Isla Partida
After a couple of lovely days here, we headed north for the short hop to Isla San Francisco.
True story: We have 7,500 songs on our iPod. As we approached Isla San Francisco, I had the iPod on "shuffle." And what song should pop up?
"When the Lights Go Down In The City," by 80's supergroup Journey.
A song about...SAN FRANCISCO!
Lyrics to the song
And -- not only are we visiting Isla San Francisco, we're also on a JOURNEY!
The Jewel of the Sea of Cortez
We climbed to the top of the mountain to get the de-riguer shot of Espiritu in the middle of the bay. There is a pretty good trail which we ecstatically climbed. We couldn't believe we were here.
There was some dicey class IV-V rock scrambling at the very tippy top of the mountain (meaning there is at least a slight risk of death). Since we have mountaineering and rock climbing experience we took several deep breaths, planned our route together, and went for it.
Emerging victorious from the exposed area, we bounded down the trail on the other side -- giddy with the life-affirming joy one earns after surviving slightly risky adventures in the wild.
Chris looks down on the trail winding before us on the hills below.
That's a couple of hundred feet down on the right.
A slightly bloody knee was my souvenir of the
There are some salt mines on the island. As everyone knows, salt is
my drug of choice (I can handle it, because my BP remains 116/70. Anyway, come-on,
I've given up chocolate cake...what do you want from me?).
I was in ecstasy!
I felt like Tony Montana in Scarface. Only with salt.
Chris gently holds the skeleton of one
who had been here before
Day 2 of spearfishing -- still no kills but I did manage to reload the thing myself after much practice. Also, I had a couple of bounce-offs and I hit one poor guy in the eye before he scampered away in terror.
Sigh. I actually tossed and turned that night worrying about the fate of the wrasse with the blown out eye. Was he in pain? Was there any way I could possibly bring him some tylenol? Or maybe a little fish-sized eyepatch?
Anyway, I'll keep working on my spearfishing skills.
Yes. Spearfishing is sexy.
That evening, we watched a spectacular full moon pop over the mountain at dusk.
A magical full moon lights up the bay just after sundown.
After another night of fluky, sometimes quite blustery Coromel winds, we pulled anchor again to head north. But our chart plotter, which had been dogging us with malfunction after malfunction over the past several months, failed again.
Captain Chris made the decision to turn around and return to La Paz to deal with the problem.
It made me think of a quote I had recently read in People Magazine:
"All challenges can be met with joy."
I know, I know. People magazine? Sorry, I always cite my sources, no matter how embarrassing. Anyway, I don't even remember what the context was, but the quote was so simple and powerful that it stuck with me.
We're a bit disappointed because our good friends aboard LeaHona, Interabang and pretty much every other buddy boat of ours have all sailed north.
But I'm not completely alone...
Me and my buddy Angelica at our favorite
local hangout Super Burro -- together again.
So, for the time being, we're back in La Paz dealing with the chart plotter issue...with joy.