Isla Espiritu Santo and Partida

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Sea of Cortez, Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico

024-32.080 N
110-24.900 W
Marine forecast for this location

The IslandsAhoy from Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida (aka "The Islands")!

We've been very busy lately and I'm behind on writing my logs. Luckily I'm up-to-date on my photos, but lets not even discuss how far behind I am with my videos. Anyhow, we're back in The Islands, as the cruisers in La Paz like to refer to these islands. We were out here for about a week before returning to La Paz to watch the Baja off-road race. One of the really nice things about these islands is that they're so close, but when you get here, it feels like you're in a completely different world. The southern tip of Espiritu Santo is only about 15 miles from La Paz, so it only takes 2+ hours to get here.

As the satellite photo on the right shows, Espiritu Santo is the larger island on the bottom of the image and Isla Partida is the smaller island on the top. The two are separated by a narrow channel 2/3rds of the way up. The combined length is about 12 miles and at maximum the width is about 5 miles. The vast majority of the anchorages are on the western shore, where the rock has been weathered away to form deep cuts in to the island. In general these anchorages provide good protection from the prevailing winds, but they're open to the W. Generally this isn't an issue, except for what's known as Coromuel winds, which form during the evening when the cool, dense air from the Pacific ocean flows across the low, hot land of the Baja peninsula in the La Paz area and blows from the west onto The Islands. We've been lucky as the Coromuel winds have been very light when we've been out here, but during Easter week people were reporting up to 45 kts of wind at night. That could certainly be a sporty anchorage!

ColorIt's difficult to describe how stunning these anchorages are. The water is teal green which contrasts beautifully against the white sand beaches and striated red cliffs, which at some places rise 600' above the water. The cliffs aren't just one color. They're layers of bright red followed by dark brown followed by a light sandstone, etc. I would love to know the geology of the area.

The water is equally amazing. Right now it's in the mid-70s, but what's really cool is what you see at night. The water is rich with phosphorescent creatures who emit flashes of light. When you stare down into the water, it just twinkles all of the way to the bottom. If you move the line which is tied to the dinghy, it sparkles like a magic wand in a Disney movie and you'd think that you were conjuring up a spell when you place your hands in the water and they literally explode with light.

There are several wrecks which have been sunk in the area to provide marine habitats and diving sites. Strangely they're not marked with buoys, so it can be a bit of a challenge to find them, despite having good GPS waypoints. When I dove at the Lapis No 3 wreck, I had to take the anchor line and swim down to the bottom, where I determined that I was deeper than the bottom of the wreck and then work my way towards shallower water where I eventually spotted the wreck. Then I tied the dinghy anchor line to the wreck and explored it. As far as wrecks go, it wasn't very exciting.

Sea LionsOne of the really fun things that we did was to snorkel/dive at a Sea Lion colony located on Isla Islotes, which is off of the N end of Isla Partida. The park service has placed mooring balls in the area which are designed for small boats, so we pulled into an anchorage on the N end of Partida and took the dinghy out to Islotes. Thankfully it was a nice calm day, so the 1 mile ride wasn't rough. The rocks surrounding the island were covered with Sea Lions who bark and make a variety of grunting sounds which just fill the air and form a wonderful chorus.

The water was full of Sea Lions and they're quite playful and curious. They'll come right up to you and circle you trying to figure out who you are and if you want to play. It was really amazing to watch groups of them form underwater balls where they twist and turn all around one another in a high speed game of Twister. The male bulls, which are huge, can be a bit aggressive if they think that you're getting to close to the females. Unfortunately I was having camera problems in the morning, so we went back to the boat and then came back in the afternoon for another swim. If you can tear yourself away from watching the Sea Lions, there's a tremendous variety of sea life in the area. You can find a photo album from the area here.

SunsetFrom here we're headed N to Isla San Francisco. While it seems hard for me to believe, we've been told that it only gets more beautiful as we had north. There's no doubt as to why people love to cruise in this area. It's beautiful, there's plenty of resources of cruisers and the people are friendly. I know that some of you are worried about our security, but the problems which plague the boarder areas don't effect us down here. The biggest problem so far has been that they just don't understand the concept of ICE cold beer.

-- Geoff & Sue

P.S. Sue was just listening to the SSB radio net weather and said "A catabiotic enhancement of the pressure gradient. That makes sense."
Log ID: 1445

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Photos/Video: Photo Album Isla Espiritu Santo  Diving: Swimming with Sea Lions at Isla Lotes 

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