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La Paz to Isla Isabella

We began our sailing adventures in 2005 on the Baja California Peninsula in La Paz, Mexico, where we had left our boat for several weeks over the holidays and New Years while we flew home to visit friends and relatives in Seattle, returning to La Paz in early January.

After several days of boat projects and provisioning, we departed La Paz on Tuesday the 11th, spending the evening in nearby Balandera Bay, a pretty little cove near La Paz which we had been wanting to visit for some time.  This is where the famous "Mushroom Rock" - a prominent, precariously balanced natural sea stack - used to be.  Years ago, the wave action and hurricane winds finally won out and it fell over and even though there have been many attempts since to both cement it back up and even replace it with a fiberglass replica, there is nothing there now.

The weather on our first day out was completely calm, still and hot.  The entire Bahia La Paz was glassy smooth, perfect conditions for RJ to test out his new wakeboard he received from Santa.  But that evening in Balandera, the diurnal breeze picked up considerably from the SW and finding ourselves on an uncomfortable lee shore, we were forced to move to better protection across the cove during the night - something we loath doing here since among other things, the electronic charts of the area lack detail and are off in some places by several miles (see the photo on the next page) making them all but useless for close-in midnight navigation.

But all turned out well and we spent the following several days in the better protection of Bahia De Los Meurtos and then Bahia Los Frailes (see Cabo San Lucas to La Paz for details and photos of these great spots) working our way back south down the Baja Peninsula before making the 220 mile crossing of the Sea of Cortez from Los Frailes to Isla Isabella, dodging the fishing boats and their miles of unlighted long-lines along the way.

Isla Isabella (known as the "Galapagos of the Sea of Cortez") is simply a magical spot with many thousands and even tens of thousands of nesting sea birds along with land iguanas of every size.  Long before you spot the low-lying island rising from the haze, you call tell where it lies by the huge swarms of birds circling above it.  The birds have no natural predators on the island, so they are completely unafraid of people, allowing us to get extremely close.  We took many photos (hundreds actually, of which only a few are posted here) of nesting Frigate Birds with chicks, nesting Sulas (Brown, Blue and Red Footed Boobies) as well as Herman's Gulls, Brown Pelicans and even the occasional Tropic Bird.  We also saw many whales, dolphins and leaping Manta rays on our crossing and even had a few suicidal squid and flying fish hitch a ride along the way!

As always, click on the images to see a larger view.


Marina Palmira in La Paz. A little far from the center of town, but a great place to leave your boat if you go home for awhile.

This boat name cracked us up. Very appropriate for a Tri.

The kids playing in the surf while the sun sets over Bahia Los Frailes.

The kids with their home-made driftwood bows, Los Frailes.

Buried turtle egg clutch marked by driftwood on the beach at Los Frailes so that the idiots driving rental cars on the beach won't smush 'em.

This squid made it into the cockpit crossing to Isla Isabella at 2am. Eric found him (by stepping on him in the dark!) in time to throw him back in!

We are still trying to get the ink stains left by his more unfortunate buddies out of the teak deck.

This flyign fish and many of his buddies weren't as lucky. It's a common occurance to find them on deck after a night crossing.

Sea Turtle in the middle of the Sea of Cortez, seen as we crossed to Isla Isabella.

Isla Isabella has been a National Ecological Perserve preserve for more than 20 years.

Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic have both done TV specials on the island.

Approaching Isla Isabella. You probably can't see it in the resolution of this photo, but the air above the island literally teams with sea birds.

The anchorage at Isla Isabella. Check out the sea birds in the air.

Frigates and Boobies soaring in the updrafts above the cliffs at Isla Isabella.

Sula at anchor at Isla Isabella with Frigate Bird in the foreground.

One of the many trails leading through Iguana and nesting sea bird habitiat on Isla Isabella.

Blue Footed Booby with chick on the cliffs above the western side of Isla Isabella.

Isla Isabella south cove anchorage from the hill to the west.

Nest Frigate Bird with red pouch coloration seen during breeding season.

Frigate Bird.

Soaring Frigate Bird. These are big birds. The wing span of an adult is around 7 or 8 feet.

Frigate bird mating display.

Frigate bird chick.

Nesting Frigates cover the trees and shrubs over the entire island.

Blue Footed Booby, Isla Isabella.

Booby Chick.

Brown Booby with chick.

Kids playing on lava rock beach yet to be smoothed by the waves. Like Hawaii, this is a relativly new island formed from volcanic activity.

Figates and Boobies soaring on the updrafts above the cliffs on the west side of Isla Isabella.

Rock formation "Islotes Las Monas" off the east side of Isla Isabella. Boats can anchor here and the snorkling is reportedly very good.

Islotes Las Monas as seen from the ridge above.

Precarious trail leads along the cliff edge above the anchorage on Isla Isabella.


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