Jul 19, 2012

Isla Coronados - Odd Toothy Fish

Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times,
It's the only time we've got.
Art Buchwald 

Main Baja land across Isla Coronados west cove
We left Puerto Balandra by mid-day, one of the latest departures we ever made for there were no winds in the morning and thankfully we have daylight until about 8:30 pm and the sail is only 12 nautical miles. The winds are slight and finicky and we are surrounded by land on nearly all sides so we keep changing how we sail our course. Moreover, we encounter currents so it is a tricky sail.

On the only open side to the Sea of Cortez, waters are calm but I keep commenting that I see a line of white caps that doesn’t make sense since there are nearly no winds – a rogue wave, a fast boat we cannot see, strong winds we cannot feel? As the white caps quickly approach we are definite they are neither from the wind nor from a boat so we keep a watchful eye. We start hearing a lot of popping as it gets closer. With the binoculars we can finally make out a huge pod of dolphins racing towards our boat. They are all in a line that probably extends ¼-½ mile wide and some are doing belly flops while landing from their high jumps. What a sight but it was over so rapidly! Next time I think we’re seeing a rogue wave I hope to be more prepared with camera at hand…

Nearing the bay where we will be anchoring, we have to follow a very narrow and shallow entryway. As we have our eyes peeled on the rocks near our keel, many 4-5’ rays glide effortlessly under Déjàlà. We’d love to take the time to watch their beautiful dance but we just can’t afford to hit bottom so we have to pay attention rather than enjoy the show…

Water in the bay is now down to 73.4 degrees (down 10 degrees)! Deep undercurrents must be feeding this area and it is teaming with life. We are surrounded by birds, dolphins, rays, turtles, and dancing fish sounds. We wondered if at night they would abate and they did only slightly perhaps due to a very bright moon.

During dinner we watched pelicans frenetically bomb dive for their last meal before nighttime. Other birds follow in their path.

Déjàlà alone at anchor in cove, see that small dot where the water gets lighter green! 
Remember if you double-click on picture, you get a much better view.
The place is somewhat magical in that it looks so barren on land with only dark volcanic rocks surrounding a pure white sandy beach yet it oozes with air and water based life everywhere you turn.

My favorite tree, white peeling bark with tinges of gold, red new branches,
very small white/green flowers peeking out, leaves to follow. 
Strong resinous smell when touched.  Wonderful
Fun cactus with low arms.  Unusual to see arms so low to ground.
White flower on vine that produces small egg size green gourd like fruits.
Three dolphins welcomed us to anchor and have been playing in the bay the whole time we have been here. Large rays seem to mingle with them as they play in the water in close quarters. Below are several types of fish including needlenoses and our first ‘live’ moray eel. For a sure way to make them disappear, all we have to do is take the camera out…

No storm tonight even though we watched very large thunderheads form on the eastern horizon as we sailed here and were making plans to weather it as best and as protected as possible.

We are now floating in aquamarine water less than 10’ deep enjoying a colorful sunrise and rainbow illuminating rugged mountains sipping our first coffee of the day ready for our next hike and discoveries of this new area. The water is so green that when pelicans fly low over the water, their usually white underbelly and wings look electric bright green as well.

Sunset over the volcano of Isla Coronados
We hiked to the top of the island, a mere 928’ in about 1 hour. The view from up there is magnificent. We see Déjàlà, alone at anchor, life is peaceful and sweaty!!!

We visit one last beach we hadn’t been to before to find out it is not layered with white sand like the others but with white powder. The sand is so fine here that it is powdery and sticks to everything. It is very soft on the feet. Nikki has a blast rubbing, and rubbing, and rubbing in it until her whole face is caked with the stuff. She has it in her eyes and on her tongue but doesn’t want water to wash it off; she’s a happy messy puppy.

Just before sunset we watch two whales swim up the narrow channel between the island and the mainland. The larger of the two is showing off its moves and arches its whole body out of the water, does a 360 and slaps back into the sea with a thundering sound that echoes. That sound is so deep and loud, it speaks to the size of the whale. Since it is so dark, we do not know what type of whale we have just been watching but the next day when another boat comes around the anchorage, they speak of having seen blue whales – for what it’s worth. We are glad we saw the whales before darkness set in for all nights the thunderous clapping continued and we would’ve wondered what the heck that type of sound was coming from if we hadn’t seen the source firsthand.

The next day while we take Nikki to shore in the dinghy, another whale is near us. Now it’s one thing to see a whale in the distance from shore or from our boat, quite different to feel one brush against the hull of your boat like in Bahia San Quintin but it’s yet an entirely other story to be near one in a small dinghy – one can feel extremely vulnerable all of the sudden. We take Nikki to shore safely only to look back and see that the whale is heading where the boats are anchored. We watch from shore for a long time and never see it again. We cannot figure out where it went from there but we return to Déjàlà hoping we don’t run into it on the way back. 

Trigger fish found dead on several beaches...  Great teeth!
Side view of trigger fish

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