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The Two Captains


Volume 74
9 July, 2002
Yellowstone Beach, Isla Monserrat

Isla Monserrat is about nine miles east of the Baja peninsula. It wasn't really our objective that day when we left Aqua Verde. We started by poking four or five miles up the coast looking for one of those "quasi secret" anchorages we'd been told about that was said to have a hot spring in which you could soak while your fishing line trails over into cool water! Our info was good, we did actually locate this tiny cove, but it proved to be open to the southeasterly wind and swell and we decided prudence called for giving it a miss this time. In the distance we could just make out the hazy outline of Isla Monserrat. Like the hot spring, it appears in one guide book and not the other, as if the authors couldn't be troubled to figure out where to insert an offshore island into their sequence of pages!

Monserrat's southern coves are popular, we're told, with the Agua Verde fisherman who go out there at night hunting lobsters, but at this time of year only the northern bay -- Yellowstone Beach -- would be a good anchorage for a cruising boat. So we pointed our bow at the north end and sailed there leisurely under genoa only. It was a nice day.

And Yellowstone Beach (25*42.54'N; 111* 02.85'W) was a nice anchorage. There were only two boats there when we arrived, one being friends who had left Agua Verde (without consultation!) and sailed up the other side. The bay is long, with a hill to the east providing protection, and a long white beach punctuated several times by bright yellow cliffs of sandstone. Behind the sandstone cliffs are deep gorges and canyons, some the size of quarries, up which we hiked one morning. The terrain always seems so so lifeless from the water, yet up close the plants are many, buds on a few already bursting thanks to dew. Perhaps even more striking than the yellow cliffs, was the view to the northwest, where several tall craggy islands overlap in the mists with the Sierra Gigantica behind them. Although the anchorage was nothing like Mountain Point in the BVI , the view was as close to that layering as we have seen in many moons (see the home page sunset view). Unfortunately it has been a bit hazy, and the second night, when we hoped to get a photo of it, the islands had disappeared entirely in the blur.

But Isla Monserrat will be best remembered for our first substantial in water time (not counting the bath water of L'Amortajada Lagoon)! Don actually was the first in the water, when John and Janet of Bambolera, a young couple with whom we've crossed paths now several times, seduced him into an nighttime excursion to hunt lobster. I couldn't go (oh, gee) as I was net control that evening for the nighttime "Southbound" cruisers radio net. I didn't miss anything, as there were no lobsters. Don returned chilled but much less depressed than you would think. For one thing he had an excuse for no catch (there being none), and for another, he had been given a huge slab of dorado by a large power boat he'd stopped to chat with earlier in the afternoon, so he'd already done the provider 'ting! But a day or so later, we dug out the 5mm cold water wet suits, booties, hoods and the whole works and ventured out to check out the other point. What a surprise! In the shallows, at least, the visibility was very clear, and we found ourselves in an, to us, exotic terrain of waving plants! It is some kind of kelp, as it is floated by tiny bladders, but it is golden and small scale to what we've seen in photos and documentaries of California kelp. On the rocks amongst all this was a dense accumulation of corals, sponges, starfish, urchins, blennies, and, yes, several rock lobsters so small that we couldn't bear to take them, etc. all of delicate colors in the afternoon lights. The fact that I was about mid-way through a rereading of John Steinbeck's invertebrate collecting tour "Log from the Sea of Cortez" (a trip made in 1940), really fired my attention to these tiny critters. Unfortunately, like the plants, I don't have the proper Identification books. Only fish...of which there was a fair assortment, and the getting-greater white hunter got us two for dinner.

Monserrat and the islands in its view -- The Candeleros, Danzante, and Carmen --promise a great cruising ground. This is the cruising ground easily in reach of the of the Loreto area. There are many lovely anchorages shown here, and many dives so hopefully the water will cooperate by warming up and clearing up this next month. Otherwise we will be very busy in October when we pass back through.

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