We stopped for one last beer with Manny at La Trokería before leaving Mazatlán around 10pm. We had a 95nm trip ahead of us (map), and we wanted to leave the estuary at high tide. Philippe, Keith, and I all stayed alert for our initial departure. With a nearly-full moon and a misty drizzle, we made our way past a few big ships on our path out to sea. As Untangled pushed through the water, the bow waves kicked up the most unreal bioluminescence. It was as if someone had dumped neon green glow sticks into the water. With each wave, the surface sparkled with bright turquoise and lime colors that pulsed into view and then faded as the wave subsided. We all tried to capture it in photos and video, but it was impossible.
After an hour or so, we established our watch cycle – 2 hours of solo watch followed by 4 hours of sleep – and got to work (or sleep). Since it was dark and we had little wind, we left the sails down. People said we should get ready to motor a lot in Mexico, and they weren’t kidding!
Our first stop was Isla Isabel (or Isla Isabela, depending on your source), a small island where we planned to anchor and explore. As with most islands, it’s a protected national park. It’s called “the Galapagos of Mexico” because there are no natural predators on the island. Our Cruising Guide to Mexico has a picture of a Blue-Footed Booby, a beautiful bird with bright blue feet. I crossed my fingers I’d get to see one. On our approach to Isla Isabel we were surrounded by marine wildlife – surfacing whales, playful dolphins, and jumping Mobula Rays were all spotted nearby.
We arrived around 2pm and dropped anchor in about 25 feet of water on a sandy/rocky bottom. We’d read that this anchorage has a tendency to “swallow” anchors, so Philippe and Keith put on their snorkeling gear and checked our spot to be sure we were properly set and wouldn’t get the anchor rode wrapped around anything. We were all pretty tired from the overnight passage, so we spent the evening relaxing, reading, making dinner, and playing cards.
The next day, we headed into shore on our hunt for Blue-Footed Boobies. It turns out there’s little hunting to do. In fact, the biggest challenge is not stepping on them! There are thousands of them on the island. Some are guarding their precious eggs, others are moving about. A friendly island tour guide helped us find our way to a hiking path, which we used to walk to the other side of the island. The path was mostly through dense forest, and took us alongside Crater Lake, the caldera of a prehistoric volcano that has since filled with water.
Throughout the hike we saw tons of Blue-Footed Boobies, iguanas, Brown Boobies, and other sea birds. The birds filled the air with loud squawks and screeches. It was spectacular.
After the hike we put on our snorkeling gear and jumped in the cold water to see some fish. I didn’t take the VIRB, so unfortunately we don’t have any photos, but they were amazing! So many colors, shapes, and sizes. We spent an hour or so in the water, then went back to Untangled to warm up and prepare for our next leg. We left Isla Isabel around midnight to time our arrival in San Blas with high tide. We had about 45nm to go, and fell quickly into our 2-on/4-off watch routine (map). We ended up arriving a little early, so we anchored in Matanchen Bay for a couple hours before making our way into the shallow channel where Marina Fonatur is located.