Posted by: vlbyers | July 11, 2010

Exploring Espiritu Santo

Biggest island of Los Islotes

Bored eh?

Barb and Michael, chillin

Passageway through island

Mushroom rock now reinforced with fiberglass, Balandra Bay

Whatcha gonna do with Isla Espiritu Santo in background

Whatcha gonna do in Caleta Partida

July 9, 2010
We are here in a cove called Caleta Partida. It is between two islands, Isla Partida on the North side and Isla Espiritu Santo on the South. There are many anchorages along these 2 islands, Espiritu Santo especially has many ‘fingers’ of land which extend ¼ to ½ mile and provide shelter. The orientation of the island is such that the opening of most of the anchorages face the south to south-west, which for this time of year leaves you open to most of the wind. We chose this anchorage because it is much more protected from the south and south-west. The islands are separated by a small channel which at low tide is not navigable. We anchored in about 20 feet of sand pretty near to the beach on the south-west side of the bay. The bay is beautiful, white sand beaches, cool green-blue water, a few reefs scattered about (gotta be careful about those with the boat, but beautiful for snorkeling), the hills of the islands while not too tall provide some shelter from the winds and are mostly scrub with an occasional cactus. On two of the beaches there are fish camps set up. The main one has about 5 huts and looks to be about the same amount of fishermen who use these, judging by the number of pangas (open boats with outboard motors used for fishing and transportation via water) on the beach. The other camp only has one house.
We pulled into this pretty place 3 days ago, dropped anchor and jumped in for a swim. At that time we were the only boats here and we felt we were in paradise. The water was calm without much swell except for the occasional panga speeding by and the wind was gentle and kept us cool, so we got a great night sleep. The next day was spent with activities not requiring much energy expenditure, we must have needed to recoup from our transit! During the transit we did sail, raised the main, had the jib (the front sail) up for a few minutes but there wasn’t quite enough wind so we got out our Spinnaker, that big colorful sail and flew that for about an hour till the wind dropped and couldn’t even keep our ‘chute’ filled. We motored the rest of the way with our poles, fishing, in the water but didn’t catch dinner.
We were able to get up enough energy after lunch, at 3pm, to hop in the dinghys and go exploring. We went through the channel between the islands to explore the north side of Ispiritu Santo where there were caves. Harrison and Danielle, forever my swimming and snorkeling buds since they are always willing to accompany me, and I jumped in the water with me to explore the inside of the caves. Reminder to self, ALWAYS take your snorkel gear. The caves were pretty awesome there weren’t any sea lions or much other life besides crabs which kept Harrison out of one of the caves. There were just the echoes of our ooohs and aaaahs. Danielle ended up with a scrape on her foot and I on my knee from the barnacle encrusted rocks which were difficult to see in the low cave light. After that we were more careful of thrashing about, she was pretty proud of her ‘war’ wound. We think it is going to leave a scar, way cool!
After the cave exploration we felt a few hunger pangs. Since we were not successful in our fishing that day we ventured up to the main fish camp where the fishermen were bringing in their catch of the day. We bought a yellow tail tuna that had just been cleaned and filleted, how fresh can you get. Fish tacos were the first idea then someone mentioned sushi, sushi it was. We gathered all the ingredients and clambered aboard Whatcha gonna do, they do have a great table on their outside deck, and we all took turns making our own sushi rolls. We finished off ½ of the fish and all the veges and were much satisfied, and by this time it was dark so we gathered all of our stuff and headed back ‘home’ in our dinghy.
The next day was spent lazing around, reading, playing instruments and eating. The sun was warm but not hot and since the water was a little on the cool side it didn’t entice us much, are we getting spoiled or what, won’t even jump in the water if it is below 80 degrees. In the afternoon Michael and the kids, Larry and I took the dinghy AND the snorkel gear to a little beach just adjacent to us. The kids and I snorkeled the beach and the rocks around and the guys took a hike about ½ mile inland. We found many shells, some were 5 and 6 inch oyster shells and some were the small white shells that I am collecting for my grandchildren. The water in this bay was significantly warmer than in the bigger bay so we just hung out until Barb said it was time to come home, what would we do without Mum.
That night it was fish taco night, Barb provided most of the ingredients, I did make some black beans that afternoon in my pressure cooker which I was pleased to bring. I also brought the dessert, the much sought after oatmeal, craisin cookies that Michael even hides from his children! We had our girls and kid movie night with Julie and Julia and the boys had their ‘rumtini’ movie night with Inglorius Bastards, complete with microwave popcorn compliments of Whatcha gonna do!!! Another fun-filled day and supposed to be an early night for our plans of early raising the anchor and off to Los Islotes, the sea-lion rookery.
The next day started at 0700, preparing for the hour-long trip to the rookery. We assembled our snorkeling gear, swimsuits, sunscreen, fishing gear and snacks. Whatcha gonna do offered to take their cat (not kitty, boat) there and anchor so we could all enjoy the sea lions. The rookery is comprised of 2 small islands which are incredible, guano covered and worn beautifully by the elements. We anchored about 50 ft off the island in 50 ft of water. We were the first there and the sounds of the lions on the islands could be heard miles off. The sea lions have their pups from May to July so we were expecting to see some young ones. This rookery is a sanctuary and protected by the Mexican government, as with many of the islands is a part of their national park system which requires permits for use. Many people hire pangas to bring them to the island to snorkel or scuba dive and at times it is quite crowded, we felt lucky to have the place to ourselves. We donned our jelly suits, fins, masks and snorkels and jumped in the water. Since it was still early there were few sea lions in the water so we made our way toward shore, keeping the required 15 ft off. After a few minutes swimming around we were surprised by a large lion swimming directly underneath us. The sea lions are not aggressive by nature and are used to humans but the sight of these large creatures still gave us a thrill. We used the kayak to paddle around the two islands and were able to get many of the lions to come quite close to us, we saw some very little pups some of which were still nestled by their moms. The little ones are quite playful and would jump and splash with each other and then dive in and under our kayak. We were able to kayak through a tunnel in one of the islands which had about an 8 ft passage, at the other end of the passage sat a huge lion which made us question if we should go through. We paddled slowly and carefully, keeping to the opposite side as this giant and noticed that he had blood on his mouth and was dripping blood from his tail area. They may not be aggressive by nature but this one certainly got wounded in some way, maybe in a bid for a female with another lion, wonder what the other one looked like. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.


  1. Wow am I jealous!!!! You all seem to be living the life only I could wish for. I am glad to see you are having fun and safe. Miss you all……

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