Most of the logs (or blogs) of boats that travel along the Pacific Coast of Mexico will include an account of a stop at Isla Isabel. This remote island, about twenty miles off the coast, makes an easy stop on the passage between the Baja Peninsula or Mazatlan, and the area around Bandaras Bay and Puerta Vallarta to the south. This was our fourth trip along this stretch of the coast, but the first time we had visited Isla Isabel.
We arrived at Isla Isabel after leaving San Blas, a distance of forty miles. Most of the fishermen who work from the fish camp here are also based in San Blas. This is a serious fish camp, bringing in lots of fish in challenging conditions, and moving their catch across forty miles of ocean in open boats.
Isla Isabel is known for it's birds, especially its Frigatebirds and its Blue Footed Boobies. Hiking around the island is an exercise in avoiding the nesting birds. Creeping along the edge of a cliff, fifty feet above the surf, the hiker has to decide between a solid footfall and an aggressive nesting Boobie. If the hiker is old enough, the iconic images from Hitchcock's 'The Birds' might come to mind.
We arrived at Isla Isabel when there was only one other boat in the anchorage, and found a good spot to drop the hook in the area known to be a favorable anchoring ground. Our boat is at the left in this photo. This bay is known to be riddled with large rocks which can snag an anchor, so we attached a second line with a float to our anchor, to enable rescue operations if the anchor were to get stuck.
After several days of exploration, we decided to depart Isla Isabel in the afternoon, so that we would have plenty of daylight to troubleshoot problems with a stuck anchor. We were so pleased when we were able to lift the anchor without difficulty. But in the midst of our enthusiasm, we forgot the second line attached to the anchor, and - for the first time in eight years of sailing - managed to wrap that second line around the propeller. We quickly dropped anchor again, noting that we were just far enough off the breaking waves and rocks off our stern.
We were incredible lucky that the captain of a boat recently anchored nearly, had been snorkeling and saw our problem. He came over immediately, and proceeded to cut the offending rope off of our propeller shaft, far more quickly than we would have been able.
So we were able to leave Isla Isabel in the late afternoon light, feeling doubly blessed that we had been able to visit the island, and also able to get away from it safely!