Ahoy from Geoff & Sue aboard the BlueJacket!
I'm happy to report that we finally made it to Isla Monserrate. I've been wanting to get here for the past 2 years, but we've never made it. Thankfully this year the weather gods cooperated and we were able anchor there. Isla Monseratte is located between Agua Verde and Puerto Escondido (along with a lot of other beautiful places). There are anchorages located on the SW and N ends of the island, so one would think that it would be easy to find an anchorage. Not so!
The Sea of Cortez lies on a NW/SE axis and the winds tend to blow in those directions. Swell develops from the direction that the wind has been blowing and can take a couple of days to disappear. Also, strong winds in either the N or S can create swell that has nothing to do with the local winds. And you can have swell appearing from multiple directions, which really makes thing fun! As a result you can have times where you have southerly winds and swell from the NE and NW, which makes finding an anchorage where you're not getting rolled very challenging. The problem with swell is that it doesn't have to be big to get a boat rolling as the boat gets synchronized with the swell period and a little 6" swell and roll you 5-10 degrees side to side. Not fun!
And such was the case when we headed to the SW anchorage of Monserrate, as pictured above. The winds had been blowing out of the NW for days, but were forecast to switch to the SE the following morning. The NW swell was large enough that it would wrap around the points protecting at the anchorage. There are 2 anchorages on the SW side we tried to sneak behind a reef which would block the swell, but we were surrounded by shallow rocks and if the wind switched as forecast, we would have been in trouble. So we pulled up the anchor and headed to the other anchorage. It seemed to provide better protection, so we dropped the hook there and headed into shore. There's not a lot to do there, but the views from the bluffs overlooking the anchorage are amazingly colorful and the snorkeling is quite interesting. The next morning the winds switched to the SE and we got out of there just before it got too bumpy.
We then headed to the N end of the island an dropped the hook on the W end of Yellowstone beach. The anchorage is named for the yellow mustard color of the sandstone cliffs that line parts of the beach. The beach is one of the nicest that we've seen in the Sea as it's clean sand and goes on for close to a mile. There are also arrayos (canyons) which go quite far into the interior of the island giving you a unique view of the plant life and structure of the island.
Unfortunately we found out the hard way that if you're on the W section of the anchorage, that swell can work it's way around from both sides and you end up with a very rolly anchorage. As a result of a rolly night we moved to the E side and tucked ourselves into the corner. That made things much less rolly, but swell still appeared from different angles at various times. We suspect that it was tidal induced as it only lasted for an hour or two.
One of the things that I wanted to do was to dive at Isla Galeras, which are a set of small islets about 2 miles N of Monserrate. Unfortunately the wind was howling and kept us from heading out for 2 days. The following day we tried, but the swell was very confused and white-capping, so we turned around.
The following day it was very calm and we made it out there only to find it quite boring. However, there was a rock ledge 1.5 miles further N that looked quite promising and I had a wonderful dive with more small/medium fish than I've seen in one place since arriving in the Sea. We're talking large schools of yellowtail snappers and pacific creol fish. I even had a harmless guitar shark swim a couple of feet under me and settle into the sand! That was very cool.
From here we're going to start heading S to La Paz where we're going to leave the boat for hurricane season.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
On the SW end we tried to first anchor at around N12-42.629 W111-03.000. Lots of rocks! We then moved to N25-39.108 W111-02.603 and anchored in 16' over sand.
On the N end we anchored in 18' over sand with good holding at N25-42.553 W111-02.735 and at the beach directly in front of the boat there's an arroyo with a pea-gravel bottom that goes back probably 1/2 of a mile. It's easy walking and very interesting.
For the diver:
On the SW end there's good snorkeling all along both anchorages are they're strewn with large boulders.
On the N end we snorkeled the W point and multiple reefs on points to the E and found them pretty boring. Very few fish.
I checked out the N end of the E island at La Galeras and found it fairly shallow and not overly interesting. The exposed rocks at N25-45.698 W111-02.858 were much more interesting, but had quite a bit of current at the start.
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