A bay near the town of El Choyudo was our intended anchorage for the third night, but the wind and waves did not cooperate. The bay was totally exposed and impossible to anchor in. After our diesel fuel success at El Choyudo, we were feeling confident and decided to keep going north to Isla Tiburon, the easternmost of the Midriff Islands. This would be my first overnight sail and Katie’s first overnight in many years. We’re pretty certain this was Wylie’s first as well.


The sun set and we had a bright quarter moon in a clear sky. We could steer by the north star and the moon gave us good light for the first half of the night. The seas were still large, but the breeze was nice, a westerly 10-15 knots that let us sail close hauled and keep a good course.


They are strange waters though. There lies a massive shoal for many miles offshore. We sailed for hours and hours in the dark, five miles from land and the depth never got below forty feet, and at one point we were 19 feet above the seafloor, while lights on land were but tiny dots on the horizon. We saw sharks, big seas and high winds this past week, but nothing struck fear in us like watching the depth sounder rapidly rise below our keel.

We read that Isla Tiburon is a sacred place where the Seri Indians believe their dead go to roam. If you visit you are supposed to go with a Seri guide, and dogs are not allowed. When day broke, and we were both still feeling good, we decided to sail on past Isla Tiburon. We were sad to miss it, but maybe another day. The next anchorage to shoot for was Isla San Esteban.

The morning light was upon us and as we neared San Esteban a whale surfaced on our stern quarter, about 50 yards away. A half hour later, I saw a black fin break the surface, and then the body of a five foot hammerhead shark. It swam towards us slowly, stopped when it was 30 feet away, rolled on its side a bit to get a better view of us, then turned and swam away. Within minutes, a sea lion rose a few hundred yards away, and we watched him as he rose and dove, all the whiling swimming towards us. When he got 20 feet off our bow, he rose and stayed up, stared at us, and then dove and swam away. A half hour later, a huge pod of dolphins swam across our bow and under the boat, putting on quite a show.

Perhaps these were all hallucinations, brought about by lack of sleep and cold beer deficiency, but they were magnificent none the less.

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