So this Baja adventure has been good to us so far. But somehow it seems to be getting better. It was so easy to get stuck in the city of La Paz, wrapped up in all the things we had “to do.” But now we are back on the water, roaming free as birds. And it feels good. Not to mention the fact that we got our scuba compressor working while we were in La Paz and we are so excited to be doing more of our most passionate passion!
First stop was back to Espiritu Santo Island, or islands actually, since pressed up against it are the smaller islands of Partida and Los Islotes. We were excited to see more of this place, above and below the surface, after falling in love with a couple of the anchorages while visiting with my parents in May. Every cove is just idyllic. And the colors! The water is every shade of electric turquoise. And when you look through your magic polarized glasses you get just a glimpse into infinity. Seriously, if you like to look at water, get yourself a pair.
We sailed up to the popular anchorage, called Caleta Partida, which is the small cut between the two largest islands. This is a popular place because it is one of the only coves that provide adequate protection during the summer Coramuel winds. We got to know these SW winds that come up strong and suddenly at sunset on the excursion with my parents, and we were happy to avoid thrashing ourselves to sleep at night. There is nothing like arriving to a lovely anchorage with welcoming waves from friends, which is the greeting we got from Resolute and Sangvind. You often have an idea of where your friends are heading, but you never know how long they’ll be there or if they actually made it. This time of year the daytime wind is not consistent, so often when you get a good steady blow most boats like to see how far north it’ll take them. We all visited and made plans to explore sea caves together the next day.
The rocky islands are amazingly diverse in color and texture. Fortunately both Erik and Meagan from Resolute are real live geologists and shared with us their narratives of the formations. The rock is volcanic in origin and the dark stuff on top is lava flow while the pink fluffy looking layer is volcanic ash called tuff. The many colorful layers indicate that the rock was formed over many depositing events over time.
We caravanned through the shallow cut between Espiritu Santo and Partida to explore the other side of the island, watching Jaden do acrobats behind the dinghy. We found three large caves to play in, each very different from the next. The shade and the mystery within were welcomed treats on this day. One was round and big enough for the boats to anchor inside. One was large with a couple different entrances. One was only wide enough to swim in with a few different dark windy paths that lead deeper or lead out to the sun. I love the reverberating sounds of trapped water and air bouncing off walls. We floated within the dissonant rhythms, loudest in the narrow dead ends. It was a special day.
We were super excited to do some diving on the islands so we spent the next two days exploring below the surface. We checked out a pinnacle that rose from 40ft to the surface just off the northern point of the anchorage. It had been a while since we dove with tanks and we so enjoyed going slow, looking in all the cracks and crevices, seeing all the little things, and holding still long enough to become reef. We swam amongst barracudas, a single large barking sea lion, schools of snapper and angelfish, and found the most critters and color in only 10-15ft of water.
We planned the next day to visit two little islands just off the north end of Partida called Los Islotes. These are very popular with the tourist boats out of La Paz because of the beautiful undersea life and because it is a bustling sea lion rookery. I had been here in the past and had incredible experiences with young frisky sea lions shooting all around, playfully chewing on my fins and snorkel. We read that in the summer months they are mating and the males tend to be territorial and unpredictable, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Getting here is a bit of a challenge because you can’t take the big boat (too deep to anchor) and there aren’t many places to anchor on the big island reasonably close enough to dinghy over from.
We read about this one anchorage, closest to Los Islotes, but only large enough for one boat to swing in, and only protected enough to use as a day anchorage. We headed north and hoped that no one else had the same idea. It was a windy morning and we thought about passing the islands and continuing north while we had wind and since the surface was so choppy. We saw that the anchorage was empty and remembered that the wind was predicted to die in the late morning so we sailed in from the blustery to the still and, like clockwork, the wind died and the surface flattened an hour later.
We loaded our gear into the dink and motored a mile to the two small islands. There weren’t many folks around, maybe one other tour panga. There was a heavy current so we stayed close to the rocks and began the dive swimming against it. Although there were lots of sea lions hauled out on the islands we only saw around four in the water, and one of them was a larger male who was barking incessantly and keeping between us and the other smaller females. We took the hint and kept our distance though he got pretty close to us. Even with the paucity of mammals the dive was spectacular! There was a sort of canyon that cut between the islands and while we inched through, because the current was ripping, it lead to a clearing of pure magic. There were schools of tiny fish dancing into sculptures overhead, morphing with the waves. The walls were covered in sea fans and soft corals with small colorful shrimp and fish darting between them.
Los Islotes is a beautiful place and completely worth the trouble of figuring out how to get here. We made it back to Orion and found another sailboat and panga had anchored in the small cove while we were gone… apparently more than one boat fits. We took Orion back down to our secure anchorage at Caleta Partida to hunker down for the evening blow and prepare for a longer journey the following day.