Isla Isabel THe Island that saved our sanity


Second of all, having friends who are cruising with us is just wonderful. While we were in Newport Beach, we met Greg and Marga aboard S/V Dogfish. I intended on writing a blog post about them and our shenanigans in Orange County, but I could never quite capture the magic of midnight moonlight salsa dancing party on their foredeck. They abandoned us, left our safe little harbor, raced down the coast, and made it into the Gulf of California before hurricane season, but we reunited in Mazatlán and it feels so good.

***I’d just like to take a minute to shout out to the OC because that little piece of paradise was so, so good to us. I never expected to find any friends, let alone kindred spirits. You know who you are, and we love you.***

Counted among those people is Dogfish. (Cruisers tend to refer to each other as a unit. Instead of celebrity mash-up names, we use boat names. There are too many white guys out there with the same name, plus when you hail each other on the radio you use boat names.) Maybe one day I’ll get to a post about the special friendships created while cruising, but today is not that day. For now, suffice it to say, all of us were uber-ultra-mega excited to hang out and go see things that only happen if you live this crazy lifestyle. Dogfish was so excited that they left Mazatlán several days ahead of us and sent us an email saying “You should come here. You can hear the whales singing.” As if we needed any more encouragement, that little email got us to rev the engine and chop the dock lines for our overnight passage.

When we finally showed up at Isla Isabel we were in a sorry state. After a night of a stalling engine, we were hardly in the mood to be social. We were crabby, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel. They were in their dinghy and on their way out to go free diving. Not only did they let us pout and sulk, they helped us find a good spot in the extremely rocky anchorage. In a moment when we didn’t trust our engine to stay running, it was incredibly comforting and empathetic. Once we were settled and the engine was intentionally turned off, the only option available to the crew of Small World was to take a nap. On some level, I thought it might turn into a day when we hid inside the boat, just a pair of gremlins, too grouchy to interact with others. But Dogfish wasn’t falling for it.

This poor little red-billed tropicbird flew into boat, chipped its bill, and was rather dazed and confused. Once it regained full consciousness, we helped it get to a spot where it could take off again.

“We’re going on a hike! We’ll pick you up in 30 minutes!” Fine. Twist our arms. We’ll have fun with you.

Within 100 yards of our beach landing we were surrounded by frigatebirds who, despite their perch atop the trees, were eye level with us since the trees were rather short. The males had their red neck pouches on display and the babies leaned out of their nest to get a better look at us. They were all chattering and preening and carrying on as though a group of four humans within a foot of their nest is the least concerning thing in the world.

Atop the peak, Craig realized a life dream. There were boobies everywhere. We were surrounded… by blue footed boobies. They chattered and whistled and stared at us as we invaded their camp. Some showed off their eggs, and others tried to hide their chicks. Since there are no natural predators on the island, the birds are fearless. Their mating dance remains uninterrupted as you walk by. Suddenly, you’re living inside an episode of Planet Earth.

During our time on the island we hiked, whale watched, snorkeled, and shared our days Dogfish. There were so many moments when we would all look at one another and wonder how the hell it was possible that this was our reality. We would surface from a dive below the surface and practically shout with a flood of emotions after hearing whales singing as they teach their young how to swim north. There are some other languages that have words to describe some very specific emotions, and I feel very strongly that English is missing a word for these moments.

Isla Isabel is a gem. The UNESCO World Heritage title is likely a clear indication of just how special this place is, but I think this tiny little chunk of land and sea will be home to a piece of our heart and soul. We finally started enjoying ourselves, started exploring, and stopped transiting. We are looking forward to sharing this spot with friends soon!

These are photos that I couldn't make work in this cool new scrolly thing...

P.S. To the sport fishing boat who came in on our last day… we saw you shit off the stern. Screw you. I hope you gave yourself pinkeye when you went swimming later.

Created By
Krystle McMaster

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