The crew of the BlueJacket wishes you a hearty "Ahoy!" from Isla Isabel near the mainland of Mexico!
It's been a long, hard struggle to make it here, but we prevailed! The fiasco with the propeller easily set us back 8 days, so I'm very happy that we were able to complete all of the rest of our tasks so quickly. Normally it takes us about a 7 to 10 days to get ourselves ready to leave, once we get launched, and this time was no different. Well, it was slightly different as we had a survey done while trying to get ready to leave.
As I described before, a survey is an inspection that gets done every 5+ year for insurance purposes. Its purpose is to make sure that the boat is seaworthy and to set a value on the boat. In general we came through with flying colors, but there were several things which were pointed out. In my opinion it's great to have another set of eyes look over the boat and make suggestions on things that need improvement. Everything that was suggested was minor and I tried to correct most of the things before leaving, but it still took time on top of our normal list of things. As a result, there were many long days trying to get everything done. I had hoped to get out of the marina in 5 days, but reality struck and it ended up being 7.
When we launched we noted that there was a clicking noise coming from the prop. We took several sea trials and decided that the issue was with a line cutter on the prop shaft. When we removed it, the problem went away. A screw had stripped out, so I re-drilled and tapped it and had it put back on, which appeared to solve the issue.
One of our indulgences while being in La Paz was eating out. There are quite a few wonderful restaurants, but our hands down favorite is La Pazta which offers a wonderful fusion of Italian and Thai. While talking to our waiter, Joel, he told us about an American who was staying with him. I had barely heard of it before, but there's a web site for "couch surfing" which connects travellers to people who are willing to share their homes with travellers. Joel had taken in 2 American brothers who were riding their bikes from Washington state through the Baja. The older of the two was headed back to the US and the younger brother, Garret, wanted work his was down to Argentina. He needed to get across to the mainland, but the ferry was very expensive, so he was looking for to get across to the mainland. After talking with the brothers and a lot of discussion, we decided to take him along. That solved solved 2 problems: It got Garret to the mainland and it gave Sue someone to stand the night shifts with, as she doesn't like being in the cockpit alone at night.
On Saturday we got Garret and his bike loaded onto BlueJacket and headed out of the marina. Our plan was to move 51 nm to an anchorage named Muertos and from there to make the 250 mile passage to Isla Isabel near the mainland. We were about 3 miles from our marina when suddenly the clicking reappeared with a vengeance. Luckily another marina was nearby, so we pulled into the fuel dock and called the diver who had put the cutter back on. Normally I would have just jumped in with my gear, but it was all stowed and we just didn't want to pull it out and have to clean and dry it. It took quite a while, but he eventually made it, removed it and determined that a bearing surface had disintegrated which allowed the cutter to vibrate. Finally at around 11 PM we got moving again.
Rounding the point N of La Paz and entering the San Lorenzo channel was quite bumpy as the winds had been blowing out of the N for several days and the seas were 5-8'. Garret didn't take this too well and spent quite a bit of the trip bent over the side of the boat. Due to our late start, we didn't get in until well after sunset, but Muertos is a big bay with lots of places to anchor. Unfortunately we anchored next to a motor yacht who was blasting the best of the 70s...Garret recovered nicely and we enjoyed a nice BBQed chicken dinner.
The following morning we pulled up the anchor at sunrise and headed out. The forecast NW winds were actually SE (guess which direction we were headed?), so we motored along until 6 PM,when we put up the sails, with a double reef, and started motor sailing. A front was forecast to come through overnight and at midnight the winds picked up to 15-20 out of the NNW, so we shut off the motor and started sailing. As the night progressed, the winds increased to 20-27 kts and we had 6-10' seas. It was quite a wild ride at times, with following waves occasionaly breaking into the cockpit. The winds relaxed into the 17-23 kt range the next day, which gave us a great sail.
At around 7:30 last night we approached Isla Isabel. What really concerned me was that the guide book talked about lots of floating long-line fishing lines and nets surrounding the island and we were approaching at night in 5' seas. Luckily the full moon was out, so that helped. We didn't encounter any nets, but according to a boat that we talked to over the VHF, there were lines just N of the island, There were 2 other boats in the anchorage, which is a narrow bay with reefs on either side, so we carefully picked our way in and anchored over rock (yuck!!!). Believe me, once the boat was secured, we popped a Corona and toasted ourselves. It was good to be in.
Isla Isabel is known as the "Galapagos of Mexico" due to the large number of nesting birds (Blue-footed Boobies and Frigates) and iguanas. It's also a national park and World Heritage Site. We'll spend the day here, explore the island and then move on tomorrow.
-- Geoff, Sue & Garret
For the cruiser:
We anchored at 25'50.51N, 105'59.925W in 31' over rock. Use a trip line on your anchor in case it gets stuck.
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