Sunday, February 19, 2017

Isla Angel De La Guarda (Guardian Angel Island)

[Kyle]We had lots of wind behind us for our departure from Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, which had us hoping we would be anchored by early afternoon. A few hours later, the wind died on us so we decided to motor to ensure our arrival the same day and keep us from having to be out overnight.

Another early start and we soon had visitors

Disturbingly, the giant 167' ‘Sail Rock’ at the entrance to the harbor did not show on our main electronic chart (luckily we have multiple guidebooks and charts, and had arrived in daylight!)

Guardian Angel is the same island at which we were stalled without wind on our way north – now we would actually anchor in one of its many bays: West Bay nestled at the north of the main island, in sight of Isla Division and Isla Mejia.

On the way into the anchorage, we saw several whale spouts. Once we got closer, we found the spouts were coming from Blue whales! We have never seen them in the wild before (at least we'd never been close enough to identify them with certainty). These creatures really are enormous. An adult Humpback swimming among them would look like a calf.

We made it in time for a beautiful fiery sunset.

First day at anchor - Isla Angel De La Guarda

This group of islands is part of a protected chain that is totally uninhabited. We took off in the dingy go ashore on the nearest island: Isla Mejia. From the boat we had sighted a little shrine there and so headed first to that before walking around in the SW area of the island. The island was hilly and with few obvious trails, but we attempted to climb some of the hills for the views. Kyle took a nasty fall, ripped a foot long tear in the back of his shorts and pulled off a chunk of skin from his hand (oops), so rather than walk too much further, we took the dingy over to a small spit to explore the NW area where we were thrilled to see a pair of ospreys and their giant nest. The walk was an absolute pleasure of constant discovery of something new and interesting. Aside from the ospreys we also saw lots of other sea birds, mostly gulls, and the beaches were littered with lots of beautiful seashells as well as a few bones of bigger animals like sea lions and even a few whale ribs. The island is covered with what looks like a beefy variety of Saguaro cactus and it seems strangely surreal to to see seagulls sat in cactus. We also got to see several of the local iguana species warming themselves in the bright sunshine. WOW!

Exploring Isla Mejia

There was reported to be great snorkelling here, but the water is still a bit too cold this early in the year– even with wetsuits – so instead I dug out the sailing kit for the Pudgy and spent a happy hour sailing around the bay with a big smile on my face, while Maryanne relaxed in the cockpit with a book.

Kyle couldn't resist a bit more sailing - this time in the Portland Pudgy!

Second day at anchor - Isla Angel De La Guarda

Kyle setup the motor on the dinghy and we planned a circular route into the bigger bay at the north of Isla Angel de la Guarda by circumnavigating Isla Division. The route had us starting south of the Division Island across a very shallow gap marked as ‘false passage’. While we knew we could not take Begonia that way, we figured we had a good chance of finding a passage for the dinghy - we just made it by lifting the engine and punting with the oars across the shallow flat rocks at mid tide.

A shallow passage eventually led us to Arch rock and more osprey

We poked around in West Bight hoping we might find a good place to land and go ashore. While the scenery was spectacular, none of it looked like suitable hiking land since there was no obvious walking trail to follow. The hills were both too steep, and looked more loose than the one Kyle had slid down the previous day.

So we moved on with the dingy, and rounded Arch Rock, where we saw lots of small caves in addition to the arch, as well as another set of nesting ospreys.

Views of the main island

We finally found a suitable place to land and go ashore on the main island at Middle Bight. There, we were able to climb inland for a little way, marvelling at the many strange species of drought and heat adapted flora and their utilitarian beauty. We also saw (and smelled) a big chunk of a decaying baleen whale on the beach.

Piedra Blanca

Leaving the main island, we took the dinghy across for a closer look at the very spiky Piedra Blanca (white rock) - home to seagulls, cormorants, and a few cranes, for a quick circuit.

From there, we went further north to Isla Granito (Granite Island) – home to several colonies of sea lions – many of which seemed young and happy to come and inspect us in our bright yellow dinghy. It was clear that Granito was their island. All of the good beach landing spots were wall-to-wall sea lions.

Sea lions of Isla Granito

We made it home an hour or so before dark, which gave us just enough light to prepare Begonia for our next leg. After sunset, the only other artificial light visible (aside from our boat lights) was the flashing white navigation aid two miles away on Isla Granito (Granite Island). We could hear the sea lions over there, too, Their barks slowly fading with the last of the light.

1 comment:

kate rodenhouse said...

There is so much to comment on, and yet... I feel compelled to compliment Kyle on that curly hair he's sporting in the sunset photo. OH MY. Were they holding auditions for "Annie" nearby by any chance? Hehehe! I kid, it's with love that I kid! No, seriously, you look like you're completely in your element. And what a gorgeous sunset!