Skip to main content

The Nature of Mexico

Our cruise through Mexico was a magnificent discovery of sight, sound, and senses. We expected to see a few whales basking in the sun and to have dolphins once again play in our bow waves. What we had not anticipated was that wonderful feeling when you are so overwhelmed by the intensity of nature that your skin becomes gooseflesh and cold shivers run down your spine, despite the 80 degree
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Our cruise through Mexico was a magnificent discovery of sight, sound, and senses. We expected to see a few whales basking in the sun and to have dolphins once again play in our bow waves. What we had not anticipated was that wonderful feeling when you are so overwhelmed by the intensity of nature that your skin becomes gooseflesh and cold shivers run down your spine, despite the 80 degree temperatures.
We sailed out under the Golden Gate Bridge and headed south after a three-year break from cruising. During those three years we had sold our beloved 34-foot fiberglass sloop, Vemvaan, and built a 47-foot Ted Brewer–designed aluminum cutter, which we named Precious Mettle. Our daughters, Susan (13) and Mary (11), each now had their own separate cabins, and we had lots of room on board for entertaining friends, so were keen to get going and enjoy the boat that Robin and I had spent many long hours building.

We had sailed over 90,000 miles, through many oceans, and yet somehow had never visited Mexico. It's exciting to “break new ground”. In the few short months we spent in Mexico we explored many aspects of the county. We loved their attitude toward our use of Spanish—a lovely romantic language, which flowed off their tongues like music. They were overjoyed when we practiced our halting Spanish with them, and we carried our little phrase book with us. Because everyone was so helpful, we were soon able to have short conversations with the locals in the markets and on the beaches.

Having read about the frigate birds that nest on Isla Isabella, we were keen to pay it a visit. Arriving at dawn on any island is a wonderful experience, but our arrival at Isabella was magical. As we came close the grey cloud hovering above the island transformed into thousands of major frigate birds. The anchorage was small and compact, with room for no more than a couple of boats to swing around. Ashore was a seasonal fish camp, at which some shark fishermen were ensconced. We were also very lucky to meet an interesting man who was employed by the University of Mexico to study the habits of the frigates. He told us that the adults fed the baby birds for a total of 14 months, the first 5 months of which they stayed in the nests.

There being no specific breeding period we saw the whole spectrum all at the one time—birds mating, sitting on eggs, babies confined to their nests, and those just learning to fly. When the male birds are mating, they puff their red chests out to amazing proportions. I was surprised that it didn’t affect their balance! The trees were filled to capacity with these red-breasted birds, nests holding fluffy babies, and always hundreds hovering around circling above. This filled us with awe at the magnitude of nature.

Wanting to give something back to the island, we climbed up to the lighthouse, where we cleaned off some guano, hoping to make the light a bit more visible than the feeble three miles we had been afforded on arrival. The area around the lighthouse was most definitely booby territory, the frigate birds staying further down, and we saw both the yellow and blue footed varieties, but only one fluffy baby. They seemed quite content to sit and watch us with their beady eyes, as we wandered around.

Back at the beach we discovered some excellent snorkeling spots and spent most afternoons enjoying magnificent sunsets interspersed with spouts from playful whales. It was during one of these peaceful moments when we heard something splash into the water beside us. “That looks like a masthead light fitting …” Robin commented as he stepped into the dinghy to retrieve it. “Our masthead light fitting!” he concluded as he stepped back onboard. Frigates are heavy birds and as one had settled on top of the mast, the fitting had collapsed. We got it repaired and were reluctantly ready to depart from this island haven.

Related

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster-EP-2048

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more