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Farewell Dear México

Alas, the time has come to say, “Farewell” to our dear friends here in México and set sail for the South Pacific. Our boat projects are complete. Provisioning is done. Food for the crossing is prepared, farewell dinners and parties complete, ZARPE in hand and the weather window we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. It’s hard to believe we’ve been preparing for this for close to two years now. Well, actually Dan has been preparing for it for many years but together we’ve been planning this for about two years. Where oh where did the time go?

Together we’ve spent countless hours talking, planning, reading, working and preparing for this awesome adventure. We’re both so excited the time has finally come to weigh anchor, hoist the sails and let the winds carry us to exotic locales in the South Pacific and points beyond.

We’ve talked with many people who have made this journey and one thing we are looking forward to is that first sight of land on the other side of the ocean. They say you can start to smell the land when you are a day or two out and the moment you get your first glimpse of the lush green foliage and the crystal clear bay at Hiva Oa it is simply awe inspiring! Our friends, Ray and Chicgaila on SV Seanote said it was such an awesome and emotional experience that it brought tears to their eyes and they could hardly speak. Oh how exciting it is to be part of the elite few who make this journey. Rest assured we will be posting lots of pictures along our journey.

Hiva-Oa-3

This morning as we prepare Dazzler to depart the anchorage here at Punta de Mita the humpback whales are all around. They are jumping and playing and giving us quite a show. I can’t help but think it’s nature’s way of saying, “Until we meet again we wish you farewell and safe travels dear friends.”

From here we travel southwest a little over 300 miles toward the Socorros which will be the last place we will see land until we reach Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. It should take two to three days to reach the Socorros and from there we will determine what course we will head to take the best advantage of the winds.

Map - Punta de Mita to Socorros

The big thing is to make sure we cross the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) at the best position. The ITCZ is an area of low pressure encircling the Earth near the equator.

ITCZ
Map Obtained from: http://mapineds.blogspot.com

This is where the trade winds of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet. Here you will find areas of convection that often generate vigorous thunderstorms over large areas. You may also find the issue of no wind…the doldrums! Ideally you want to cross in the area where the ITCZ is at its narrowest point. Of course it changes all the time so finding that spot can be tricky. I’m not too worried as Captain Dan is pretty skilled at reading weather and knowing what’s what out there and where we should go.

Pacific Puddle Jump Group
Pacific Puddle Jump Group from Banderas Bay. Courtesy of Latitude 38 Magazine & The Pacific Puddle Jump Group. Visit them at www.pacificpuddlejump.com and www.latitude38.com

Yes, it’s a vast ocean but all of the registered Pacific Puddle Jump participants communicate daily via SSB video nets. The one for the Banderas Bay jumpers, of which Captain Dan is the Net Manager, meets daily at 0100 Zulu on 8294.0 USB. This is the primary frequency. The alternate frequencies are 8297.0 USB and 6224.0 USB. Each of us will check in and give our location, sea state, weather conditions and crew information. The net is designed to provide us with an additional safety net for as we will know who is where and if help is needed, who is closest.

Those boats, like Dazzler, that have a licensed HAM radio operator aboard will also likely check into the Pacific Seafarers Net. They have high powered, land based radio equipment that reaches all the way to New Zealand. Once you check in with them they track you until you reach your intended destination. And, they upload your information on their website so family and friends can track you as well. You can’t have too much communication when you are out at sea!

Nightide
Nightide is the sailboat on the right.

Our departure time today is 1100 local time,     1700 Zulu. We expect the journey to take anywhere from 21-28 days. For those concerned about our safety, know that in addition to all the safety equipment and communication we have on board Dazzler, there are over 160 boats leaving the Americas heading to French Polynesia within the next few weeks. This means there are lots of boats out there heading the same direction. Some have already left and at least one that we know of, SV SuAn, has already arrived in Hiva Oa. Yesterday two boats left here in Punta de Mita and today as we are departing, our friends, Helen and Ian on Nightide are also departing. The excitement level is high and we are all hopeful for a wonderful passage.

To say the least we are excited about the adventure that lies ahead of us and we look forward to sharing it with you, our friends and followers. As we’ve said before we will be posting a daily update of the crossing and hope you’ll follow along. You can go to the bottom of the page and sign up to follow us. You’ll get an email each time we post an update.

As we leave the bay here at Punta de Mita, I will scatter some of Daddy’s ashes as we have done in important places along the way. I know he will be watching over us and making certain we have a safe passage.

And as we sail off into the big, blue ocean I’m reminded of a prayer I heard a few years ago…

Lord, we pray you’ll keep an eye
Upon our humble boat.
Watch her and protect her
And make sure she stays afloat.

Let the breeze blow gentle
And a tranquil sea prevail.
Bless all those aboard her
When in port and under sail.

Unknown

Dan & Jilly Pre-Departure

Off we go!!!

Until next time…

Jilly

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Isla Isabel…The Galapagos of Mexico – Part II

If you caught Part I of this story then you already know the beauty and splendor that is Isla Isabel. If you didn’t, you need to check that out. (Click Here for Part I) And yes, the shore adventure was spectacular to say the least. The birds and iguanas combined with the beautiful views would have been enough for me to say this is a place no one should miss but then no trip to Isabel would be complete without some snorkeling or diving in her magnificent, clear blue waters.

After our morning hike around the island we headed back to Dazzler to cool off and enjoy a cool, refreshing Pacifico or two. There’s nothing better than an ice cold beer after a hot and steamy trek through the jungle. We took a break, sat in the cockpit and enjoyed the views for a while. It was a wonderful day and we were the only ones in the anchorage. It was just us, the ocean and the wildlife.  There’s something so special about being in an anchorage when there isn’t another soul in sight. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…it makes me feel like an ancient explorer. Well, let’s just leave my age out of this!

DW 12 IslandBeing able to see the all the fish from above was wonderful to be sure but we finally decided it was time to take a peek at the undersea world of Isabel.

With the monoliths less than a hundred feet from our stern we didn’t even need to fire up the dink. We just donned our lycra suits, grabbed our gear and jumped in the water. For those who aren’t familiar with lycra suits, we use them almost every time we go snorkeling. We had ours made in La Paz by a lady named Katty at the beginning of the summer. She charged about 800 pesos which at the time was about $40 USD. Not too bad for a custom made suit. They look like a wetsuit…only a bit more fashionable and the are made of lycra. They aren’t meant to provide warmth rather a thin layer of protection from jellyfish and other such stinging undersea creatures. I am allergic to bee stings and while I’m not certain if a jellyfish sting would give me the same reaction we don’t see any reason to take a chance. Also, in the Sea of Cortez there are these little jellyfish that look like tiny, floating, purple eggs. Their sting is extremely painful and it’s easy to swim into a swarm of them without even noticing because they are so tiny.k

Under the seaSuited up and ready to go we leaped into the water. WOW! That was really nice. First a few frosty cold ones to chill our insides and now a splash in the water to cool the outside. Yes, this was shaping up to be quite a wonderful day.

The water clarity made for some amazing snorkeling around the monoliths. We saw trumpet fish, sergeant majors, parrot fish, a turtle and a host of other colorful sea creatures. One thing I did notice, however, is we didn’t see even one ray. In the Sea of Cortez you could hardly get in the water without running into a few or even a few hundred of them. The further south we’ve come the less and less of them we see.

Isabel is as beautiful and magical underwater as she is on land and I’m sure I could spend a lot of time telling you about how beautiful it was beneath the surface but then I’m not that good of a story teller so here’s some photos and a short video of our day here.

Watch Our Isla Isabel Video…Click Here

After our snorkeling adventure we showered and prepared for a spectacular dinner. Captain Dan jumped in the galley and made crab stuffed mushrooms with a balsamic, shallot reduction sauce. Oh yeah!

Yep, Isla Isabel will remain very near and dear to my heart! If you ever get a chance to see this place, do NOT pass it up! I promise you will not be disappointed.

Until next time,

Jilly

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Isla Isabel…The Galapagos of México – Part I

DW Isabel SignFirst let me begin by saying that some people call her Isla Isabel while others may refer to her as Isla Isabela. Isabela is what you might see on charts and plotters, however I have chosen to go with what the Mexican government calls her which is Isla Isabel. No matter what one chooses to call her, Isla Isabel is truly paradise on earth!

Imagine sailing into a tropical anchorage. The water is so clear you can see the colorful fish as they perform their elegant and perfectly timed water ballet beneath your boat.

11 DW Beach

The beach is white and the island itself is covered with lush, green, tropical foliage. Large waves slap the rocks that line a portion of the shore and with each slap they burst into peaks of white foam leaping into the air as if to say, “Look at me!” Soaring  above the island in the sapphire blue sky are literally thousands and thousands of birds riding the air currents and swooping down into the trees searching for a suitable place to call home. The intense cackling of the birds can be heard clearly as you lower your anchor and prepare for your stay in utopia! Yes, Isla Isabel is truly a sight to behold and one that should not be missed if you can help it.

1DW South AnchIsabel is a volcanic island located approximately 15 miles from the west coast of mainland Mexico and 90 miles south of Mazatlán. The island is a little less than a half a mile wide and three quarters of a mile long and was deemed a National Park on December 8th, 1980. It’s often been said it was one Jacques Cousteau’s favorite places and that Cousteau himself actually made the recommendation to the Mexican government to designate this island as a National Park. He spent a great deal of time here and has aired many specials on this fabulous gem. One visit here is all it takes to understand his love for the island.

The days we spent here we had 50’+ visibility through the crystal clear waters. From the boat you could look down and see our anchor lying on the sea floor. There were colorful fish of all shapes and sizes swimming around Dazzler making it feel as if we were living on top of a tropical aquarium. Now we’ve seen some pretty clear water in the Sea of Cortez but this was simply amazing. I think what made it extra special is the abundance of sea life here. We even got to swim with a sea turtle. We’ve seen many of them on this journey but they pop their head up out of the water for a brief moment and then they are gone. It’s so quick it’s difficult to get a decent photo. Not here, here we were able to follow one and capture a little video as well. (Check out Part II of Isla Isabel coming out on Sunday, December 10th, 2017)

And while the sea life and water are truly spectacular, the life on land was just as riveting. Isla Isabel is known for her extensive bird population including nine species of seabirds. I have never seen so many birds in one place. If you don’t like birds, I recommend you stay on your boat but if you do you will miss a truly exceptional adventure. We, on the other hand, love the wildlife and were excited to take a trip on shore to experience it up close and personal.

1DW AnchorageYou can anchor your boat in the southern anchorage that is just east of the fishing village but you need to be cautious of the rocks. There are many. They are more like boulders than rocks and cruisers have been known to call them “anchor eaters”. We chose to anchor on the east side of the island near the monoliths and were glad we did because the swell hitting the southern anchorage was pretty big during our stay. The boats anchored there were really rockin’ and a rollin’. When we arrived at the island the Guardia del Parque (Park Guards) were there on their pangas to tell us where we could drop the hook. Apparently there are some coral beds on the east side of the island these days and they want to be sure the cruisers are not harming them.

DW Dazzler at IsableAt first Dan wasn’t very happy about where we were told to drop the anchor as it was a bit close to the monoliths for our taste. When I say close, we were a little less than 300’ from the underwater shelf that surrounds them. As a rule we tend to anchor a bit further out so if weather comes in and we need to bug out we have a little extra room to maneuver but when in their waters you abide by their rules or you move on. That said we stayed where we were for three days and didn’t have any issues with the anchor dragging or getting caught on any rocks. Captain Dan does recommend that you put a float on your anchor line whether you are in the southern or eastern anchorage. This will help you to retrieve your anchor should it get caught in the anchor eaters.

1DW HabitatsOne day we took the dinghy ashore to explore the island. In the water as you approach the east end and of the fishing village you see these dome shaped objects just below the surface. They are underwater habitats for lobster and other small fish. Once you reach the shore you will see a dozen or so of these creations sitting on the beach. I’d never seen or heard of such a thing before. The Mexicans are not particularly known for their concern over the ecosystem so it’s nice to see this, even if it is just a small attempt to help preserve the sea life.

We landed the dinghy on the beach at the fishing village which is a perfect spot to start exploring. On the southeast side of the village there is a peninsula where you can walk to the top of what I refer to as “Boobie Rock”. There were hundreds of brown-footed boobies nesting there. The cool thing about this place is that the wildlife literally has no fear of humans. You can get within a foot or two of these beautiful birds and their nests and they won’t even move. We tried to give them a little more space to help ensure they keep their friendly nature. On Boobie Rock we saw nests with eggs, newborn birds, juveniles and their parents. It was so awesome!

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From the top of Boobie Rock you can see fabulous views of the anchorage and the fishing village. Giant waves crash upon the rocky point on the east side of the southern anchorage as the swells come rolling in. There are small tidal pools that are intermingled amongst the rocky shore and iguanas and snake lizards lie upon the warm rocks sunning themselves as the birds soar overhead. Continue reading Isla Isabel…The Galapagos of México – Part I