We couldn’t wait to get back to anchor in the beautiful islands of Loreto National Park to enjoy the water and hopefully a bit of offshore breeze in the summer heat. Having exhausted (no pun intended) present engine projects, we headed out to nearby Bahia Marquer, on Isla del Carmen. Our only prior experience at this anchorage was last year when we were swarmed with bees in the cockpit and below decks within 20 minutes of anchoring. This resulted in us moving to a more suitable anchorage, but longing to return in better conditions. This season, we heard of many cruisers’ recent stays there and since we’ve grown quite tolerant of bees as a natural part of the experience, we figured we’d give it a shot.
This large anchorage was just what we longed for: beautiful clear warm water, plenty of swing room, and good snorkeling nearby. The white cliffs on shore made for spectacular sunsets and I never grew tired of watching the brilliant blue moon rise over head (just ask my family who had to endure the daunting play by play each evening). We enjoyed numerous swims around the boat (cruiser air conditioning), paddling over the hugest school of fish I’ve ever seen and snorkeling with unique eels. It’s good to be at anchor again!
We weathered the bees, knowing their typical patterns consist of a morning and evening search for water around the boat. We’ve heard all sorts of advice: Give them a water dish on the bow and let them swarm there, don’t give them water, kill the scouts or they’ll bring the rest of the troops etc. We really make an effort to coexist and aside from Quincy, we don’t intentionally kill them (I don’t think she technically intends to kill them, but few of them survive the slimy snap of her jowls when they get too close). Afterall, we’re in their neighborhood and when we’re the only source of fresh water – expect them to show up. When they get stuck below long enough, we kindly redirect them outside again. I prefer our designated “bee cup” and paper to perform this task while the kids just shuttle them out gently on their hands – much braver than I! We enjoyed our time here, but eventually, they claimed victory, taking over our galley and the salon at first light. So we bid adieu to Marquer, shutting out the swarm as we departed at sunrise.
Now, we’ve had whales around us while underway before, but we’ve never had one…follow us. After departing Marquer in search of an anchorage with less buzzing, I asked Chad about a large oblong disturbance on the water’s surface, just to our stern. Within seconds of asking, a whale (ballena in Spanish) surfaced nearby, thus confirming my suspicions. Cool, no problems, we’re motoring and she’s behind us. She’ll hear our motor and swim the other direction as they all do. This one surprised us though as she resurfaced numerous more times, progressively getting closer to us. Why was she swimming with us and not away? We waited for her to surface again hoping she’d fall behind, but we were shocked when she surfaced just to the side of our bow, giving it enough of a nudge to push us completely off course! Quincy, as usual, was beside herself running the length of the deck in amazement (Ummm….that’s a REALLY large dolphin!), and we were left wondering what to anticipate next. She continued to follow us on all sides of the boat, returning to our bow a few more times as we motored on a steady course. We held our breath every time she submerged, cautiously looking in all directions for her next surfacing, and hoping it wouldn’t coincide with a thud and an unintended course change. Eventually I saw her surface far behind us and we continued to putter along in the opposite direction towards our anchorage. That’s it. Excitement’s over. Never a dull moment at sea.
The whole experience was breathtaking. She was a beautiful, sleek baleen whale with no dorsal scarring, maybe 25-30 feet long. We have a debate on what type of whale she was, but regardless, she certainly got our attention! We’re used to seeing them surface, maybe even breach*, and then head away from us, but this one stayed with us as we’ve only seen dolphins do. If I was in wildlife photographer mode with the boat at anchor, I would’ve had incredible photos because she was so close. Instead, I was in “brace for impact” mode, trying to keep all crew inboard and maintain safe navigation. At the end of the day, I think it was a very curious juvenile whale with no aggressive intent. I’m sorry if we disturbed her slumber by motoring by.
And so it goes. The Baja summer reminds us that if we choose to reside down here, we also choose to coexist with the long term residents amidst the sometimes stifling heat. We sweat it out, jumping in the water as often as possible and hoping for a breeze to cool us down. In return, we have breathtaking scenery and some incredible encounters with the wildlife around us. At the end of it all, I will tell you we have no regrets.
Yep, another great true story about life “out here” by the HelmsMistress. No way to mitigate the bees so we just deal with them….the whale encounter scared the crap out of me at the time but now it’s really magical after both the HelmsMistress and I have had time to process. Yeah I tried to get this story out this morning but we’re too busy adventuring…so you get a great story and photos tonight.