First Mexican Anchorage and Seal Watching

Islas Cedros to Isla Natividad to Bahia Tortugas, Mexico              3-28-15 Saturday afternoon, a week and a day before Easter

Kandu anchored in the clear waters of Northeastern Cedros Island.
Kandu anchored in the clear waters of Northeastern Cedros Island.

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.

Northern point of Cedros anchorage.
Northern point of Cedros anchorage.

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.

Molting seal pups on Cedros
Molting seal pups on Cedros
Three "Drowning" Ladies
Three “Drowning” Ladies
This could get ugly....
This could get ugly….

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.

Bryce ready for some snorkeling action
Bryce ready for some snorkeling action
Trent's in!
Trent’s in!
So is Dad...
So is Dad…

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

6 thoughts on “First Mexican Anchorage and Seal Watching”

  1. Thanks for sharing Leslie! Nice accounting/journaling of your time. Water is beautiful and so clear! Thanks again :-))

    1. None of this is life-threatening, but represent a significant inconvenience. Frustratingly I had gone to great length to prevent these situations, having had professionals rebuild and install the components. Ultimately, the errors were mine, born of ignorance. The repairs have been emotionally and financially draining. Most of all, it has turned what could have been a family adventure in Mexico into an extension of getting the boat ready for the trip. Hopefully we won’t experience much more of these types of issues for awhile, and the “cruising” part of the adventure can begin. We’re getting a taste of it in Mexico, which is appreciated. The good thing about leaving Mexico, is that we won’t have access to parts for many months. We can only work with what we have on board, living with what ever inconvenience may arise, hopefully not many and nothing significant. Thanks for you comment– Eric

  2. Love following you and your amazing adventures- a little birdie said Galapagos are next! You will love them- hopefully the boys can swim with the sea turtles- Good job all! Keep us updated! So impressed and the boys writing abilities! Another arrow in their quiver!
    Love ,Judi

  3. Hey Eric and Leslie. I am just now getting caught up with your adventure. So cool. I will keep watching. Great seeing you guys.

    1. Hello Michael – Nice to hear from you. Thanks for finding us. Arrived in the Galapagos on May 18th and were quarantined on the boat until 3:30 pm clearance the next day after we were boarded by four inspectors and customs agents plus our agent. It was a little nerve-wracking to go through after 18 days at sea. We certainly didn’t want to be turned away…Fortunately, the inspectors didn’t require a recent fumigation, nor did they fuss about having a professional clean the bottom of our boat. Eric had cleaned it while sailing in the doldrums, but you just never know how perfect they require. It would have taken an entire day to motor out 40 miles and back plus $200! Ugh! Anyway – today we are planning our excursions after having addressed some more boat repair issues…problems with our alternator. All is looking good now – now we can go explore! Hope you’re well. It’s great that you’re tuning in! Best to you, Leslie & Eric

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