notes from the boat
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To Isla Monserrat and Back - 19th October 04
On October 9th we left Agua Verde where we'd spent a productive week finally designing the Indigo Moth web site (it's only taken five months!) and so we decided to head across to Isla Montserrat for a few days, an island we had yet to visit.

Heading across to Isla Montserrat we were greeted by dozens of dolphins feeding. We managed to distract them for a while and along they came with us, swimming and diving in the bow wave, a beautiful sight. Winston however, now howls when he sees dolphins, we think he can hear them and is trying to communicate or perhaps he simply thinks big fish, the overall effect is hilarious.

A little later, as we ate lunch we looked up to see the hump of a fin back whale breaking the surface and disappearing below.

Continuing on, we had a strike on the fishing rod and line paid out rapidly. Dorado. As we reeled it in we could see another dorado in the water and decided that if they were a couple then we could go without another fish dinner, the price of love. Back she went (female dorado are distinguishable from the males due to the shape of their heads) and on we went to Isla Montserrat.

Anchoring, we spent the rest of the afternoon snorkelling around a reef in some of the clearest water we've experienced in the Sea of Cortez. Returning to the boat at dusk for a pleasant dinner and glass of wine, we were just getting ready for bed when the wind picked up and we found ourselves in 14-20 knots of wind in an anchorage exposed directly to the west. Surprisingly, the wind direction was of course, directly from the west. The wind and swell increased and we prudently raised the anchor and headed out in the dark back to Agua Verde. Having done quite a bit of night sailing, we weren't worried but there were a couple of sharp pointy bits to be avoided between Montserrat and Agua Verde and as we've mentioned previously, the charts in the Sea of Cortez haven't been updated since the 1800s.

Using radar, electronic charts, binoculars and finally our massive search light we finally spotted the 115 ft rock, Solitario about quarter of a mile away. Visibility was bad and it seemed shockingly close as the rock loomed out of the darkness. We were then able to find our way into Agua Verde, locate the second reef, drop anchor, drop anchor again (this time it set, the holding in Agua Verde is notoriously bad) and finally at about 1am, go to bed. Quite an exciting day, all in all and certainly one to remember when asked what we do all day!

The next morning we tried again and headed back out of Agua Verde to a small unnamed bay a few miles away. Dropping anchor we snorkelled ashore and enjoyed the variety of life upon the reef. Heading back towards the boat, Carl spotted a large dark shape in the water about twenty feet away. Shark or dolphin? We hurriedly climbed aboard and realized that it was, in fact, a large Manta Ray languidly cruising past. Into the dinghy we jumped and motored to catch up with it. Perhaps 15 feet across, it was like a huge bird soaring past, its wing tip flipping up casually and breaking the surface of the water. Taking turns, we were both able to jump in and see it swimming by, a truly magical experience.

To finish off the day as we were enjoying the sunset, two large fin back whales cruised past a few hundred feet away. Close enough to hear them breathing, the whales surfaced, dove and continued on their course.

Yep, another day in the Sea of Cortez, sometimes it's just like being in a National Geographic!

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