Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving at Isla Isabela

Isla Isabela is a National Wildlife Preserve about 80 miles SSE of Mazatlán. When we set out for Isla Isabela at noon the day before Thanksgiving, we anticipated a quiet Thanksgiving feasting on mahi-mahi if John caught one on the way. Sure enough, soon after John threw out the line at the start of his 0600 watch, within sight of Isla Isabela, he landed a four-foot dorado. (We think that dorado, mahi-mahi, and dolphin fish are different names for the same fish. If we're wrong, maybe someone will correct us in the comments.)

While John was cleaning up after filleting the fish, I came up into the cockpit and noticed that we were closing the gap on another sailboat. As we neared the island, we saw several masts in the area where we planned to anchor. We were a little surprised because you have to go out of your way to get to the island, and we assumed that most cruisers would be partying in the marinas at Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. In fact, hundreds of boats probably were, but there were six boats, counting us, at Isla Isabela.

Anchoring was a little tricky due to wind, current, less than ideal bottom, and a person snorkeling. After a couple of attempts, we got the hook set to our satisfaction far enough from the other boats to allow plenty of swinging space and a little privacy for mermaid toilettes. John jumped off the stern and dove on the anchor, mostly just because the water was beautiful and warm, while Martha bathed and I cleaned up in the cabin. Finally, with the sail covered, the wind scoop rigged, the dinghy in the water, and everyone clean albeit a little salty, we were ready for a lazy day. Then the snorkeler appeared at the transom to invite us to Capricorn Cat, the big catamaran anchored nearby, for a potluck Thanksgiving celebration. They were inviting all of the boats anchored at the island. Of course we accepted, and John said he'd bring a green salad. (You should have seen her eyes light up at that.)

A 45-foot catamaran is a fine place for a party, and this was a great celebration. The snorkeler was Mary, mermaid and chef aboard Capricorn Cat, according to introductions by the owners, Wayne and Carol. Other boats participating in the festivities were La Sirena, a 42-foot schooner; Endless Summer, a 70-foot ferro-cement ketch; Snow Goose, a Cooper Maple Leaf 50; and Eupsychia, a Catalina 36 (I think). The people were as varied as the boats with ages ranging from 22 (Heather from Eupsychia) to almost 70 (Lynn from Snow Goose). Many of us are full-time cruisers, landless and carless. Four of the boats participated in the 2007 Baja Ha-Ha; seven of the people have called Oregon home (including mermaid Mary from Boring); San Francisco is the home port of three of the boats.

Traditional dishes included in the feast were mashed potatoes and yams. No turkey, but we had fresh shrimp, several kinds of fish, enchiladas, many appetizers (seafood and otherwise), and fresh homemade bread. I pigged out. Dessert was hot berry cobbler, brownies, and ice cream. Except for missing our families on this traditional family holiday, I can't imagine what could have made it a better Thanksgiving.


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