Islas Cedros to Isla Natividad to Bahia Tortugas, Mexico 3-28-15 Saturday afternoon, a week and a day before Easter
I’m having a delightfully calm afternoon and evening/overnighter at the northeastern tip of Islas Cedros, a larger island in the region. The southern part of the island is busy with industry: grinding fish into fertilizer and bagging it (smells are evidently overpowering), and processing sea salt. It is also know as a smuggler’s destination – a stop-off for boats heading north from mainland Mexico to ports further north.
To avoid problems ranging from theft to being boarded by island police, we anchor on the opposite side of the island, in the more protected of the two northeastern anchorages, just south of a very small fish camp. It is an idyllically calm spot, having just cruised 48-hours straight for the first time, and getting rolled about by muddled seas like a cat in a clothes dryer. The anchorage is a known seal rookery – perhaps why no other boats are here. The noises emanating from hundreds of seals, ranging from large, female elephant seals to smaller sea lions are downright spooky. They sound human: coughing, childlike screams, cat cries, and usual barks. I find so much enjoyment watching and staring at them through binoculars. I witness a mother sea lion swimming up to shore, barking a few commands. Her baby, covered in molting fuzz, hurtles toward her. They play in the water then together hobble up shore. Lifting her back fin, the little tyke nurses while she watches on, guarding against potentially invading males. She is definitely a young beauty, often chased.
The large female elephant seals slumber the entire afternoon, sandwiched tight against each other. I watch four in particular. Occasionally one opens her eyes to check us out or opens her mouth to yawn, showing her gaping red maw. As the tide rises, the frequent lapping seaboard douses their faces, pointing toward the water’s edge. For over an hour these huge monoliths continue to lie in the same positions, moving their noses out of the water to breath…very entertaining to watch. Eventually one of them decides she’s had enough of being slowly suffocated. She wiggles free from the other behemoths. The remaining three indicate their displeasure by barking and gaping their mouths threateningly. Eventually another starts to move as well. The two seem close friends. Once they finally waddle their way to shallow waters, they play and kiss and nuzzle each other for another hour before eventually lumbering off into deeper waters and disappear.
Immediately after anchoring, chores are completed. Then Bryce dons his wetsuit, demanding to enjoy the water. I am nervous for him, going in the water alone with so many large seals nearby. Eric digs out his spring wetsuit, fins, and snorkel, and despite the chill, slips his way, ever so slowly, into the clear, but still cold water. Trent is right behind. The open sore on my knee forbids me from joining them. The three of them head out to get a closer look at the seals, their own little school. All goes well. The seals keep their distance. Dad exits the water, but Bryce and Trent continue to play in the water for another couple hours. Some toddler seals come over to play with them. Dad even sets-up the rope swing for the boys. Having enough of the swing, Bryce and Trent then capture their follies on their waterproof GoPro video cameras. As evening approaches, I allow myself to enjoy a glass of wine and provide Eric a Guinness that I chilled especially for today with grilled bacon-wrapped Mexican hotdogs and sliced cucumbers. It is a well deserved relaxing and overall lovely day, not to mention the benefits of a full night’s sleep at this wonderfully calm anchorage.
Leslie Dennis Rigney