6 nights at Isla Cavada, Islas Secas

After our 4th of July extravaganza at Isla Gamez, we upped anchor on July 5th and made our way to Isla Cavada in the Islas Secas group, just 22 nm south. RHAPSODY was the first boat of our group to go there and we chose the 3rd anchorage from the north, just off off the resort's six luxury tents. It was hard to find a good spot to drop the hook as we circled around using the depth sounder to determine depths. It would go from 70 feet (a little too deep to anchor) to 9 feet (too shallow) in the course of a few yards. Apparently the anchorage consists of shelves with some kind of underwater canyon in the middle. After trying several times to get the anchor to catch, we finally ended up in about 35' of water right in the middle of the cove.

In radio communication with KETCHING UP, WAHOO, and DELFIN SOLO as they made their approach to the island the next day, we told them of our anchoring plight so they decided to collectively set down in the 2nd anchorage from the north, which apparently had a more spacious, level bottom.

We spent 6 nights at Isla Cavada. After our busy time at Isla Ventana, it felt good to kick back for awhile, though we did manage to keep busy. Snorkeling several hours per day, over the first three days we managed to scrape clean the bottom of the boat. The boat had really not had a thorough cleaning since Puesta Del Sol, over 2 months earlier. There were thousands of dime-and-quarter-sized barnacles, but when I dove down to and under the keel the barnacles had grown to silver-dollar size and were quite tough to get off. It's also tough to do this with snorkel gear as you can only stay down a few seconds at a time. Thus it took us nearly three days to clean the bottom.

In addition to diving the bottom of the boat, we did several snorkels for fun to various places around the cove. The visibility ranged from fair to good, at times up to 20-30 feet, and we saw lots of fish and coral. See below for pictures. At low tide we noticed that the "shelves" surrounding the boat were mostly made of coral heads in a variety of colors. Perhaps the eeriest were the big, pink "brain corals".

Probably the most notable experience, at least for me, during the stay, was the fishing. Every night, there would be schools of fish biting and disturbing the water around the boat and around the cove. So on about the 3rd day I decided to go out in the dinghy and try to catch something. At first, using a small lure, all I got were a couple of puffer fish. Changing to a slightly larger lure, I landed a trigger fish and a needle fish, which I put into a bucket on the dinghy. I was trawling around with these rubber fish lures (about 3-6" in length) and kept getting hits. The only problem was that each time I'd get a hit, the fish would bite the lure in half, eating the tail of the lure, but not quite getting to the hook that was in the middle. So I decided to switch to a large silver "spoon" lure, because it has a big treble hook on the very back, and so I figured if a fish hit that, at least he'd take the hook and not ruin anymore of my lures.

So there I was, trolling around in the anchorage in the dinghy, and for fun I thought I'd kind of head over to where the other boats were anchored. As I pulled into the middle of the three boats I could tell that the folks on WAHOO, DELPHIN SOLO, and KETCHING UP were watching me with amusement. After all, we/they fish the wide open ocean for the big guys, so why bother catching little fish in an anchorage, from a dinghy, right?

Well, just about then, as everyone was watching, I got a massive hit. I could tell I had something big as about 100' of line just flew off the reel. Then, right there in front of god and everybody, a big old Dorado, on my line, jumped up majestically out of the water. I fought him for about 10 minutes, as he jumped a few times and everyone on all the boats got instantly excited. I called over to Mark on Wahoo saying that I did not have a gaff hook on the dinghy and that I would try to work the fish over to his boat to gaff it. Unfortunately, as I was working the fish, something happened and I lost him. I think perhaps the knot on the lure came untied or he bit thru the line because when I reeled it in, there was no lure left. I was very disappointed but still excited. I had only caught one Dorado previously and really have been wanting another. They are really good eating and our larder was a little low.

So I went back to RHAPSODY, got a gaff hook, and then kept on fishing for several more hours, hoping to hook another Dorado. KETCHING UP had invited us over to their boat for cocktails at 6:30 p.m., so around 6:00, I did a few last casts and was trolling my way back to the boat when I got another big hit. I was very excited when I saw the green shimmer of a large Dorado break the surface and the fish jumped out of the water fighting me. I was using a spinning reel and 20 lb test line so was quite afraid of losing it as I fought it for about 10 minutes. I was also afraid the fish would swim around the boat and the line would get caught on the outboard or prop or something. However, the good thing about fishing in the dinghy, is that, as opposed to fishing off RHAPSODY, as I reeled in the fish, the dinghy would move towards the fish, and as the fish pulled me around it actually made it easier to reel it in. Finally I brought the Dorado up to the dinghy and was able to set the gaff hook. Trailing the fish in the water, I took the dinghy back to RHAPSODY.

By now we were late for cocktail hour, so we called K.U. and told them that we were going to clean the fish and have a bite to eat before we came over. It took an hour or so to clean the big Dorado and get the 10lbs or so of good white meat into baggies in the freezer. Then after cleaning the deck and cockpit and ourselves, by the time we finally got to K.U. it was almost 8:00 p.m. No-one minded though and everyone was very interested in the fish, what kind of lure I was using and so on. We whiled away the evening in pleasant conversation.

The Dorado story goes on, as the next day Noel took the boys out fishing from their dinghy and they caught another large Dorado. Actually, Cooper, the youngest, caught it, and was so excited that he invited all the other boats over to K.U. for dinner. So that night we had a potluck centered around the Dorado. It was really good. Then, over the next few days, Noel and the boys caught THREE MORE Dorado! Wow. To top it off, as they were leaving Isla Cavada, Ashley hooked and brought in ANOTHER ONE! So during that week, everyone aboard K.U., all five of em, caught Dorados. Wow!

I tried fishing a few more times but did not have any more luck. I lost my only silver spoon and the Dorados did not seem to be hitting anything else I had in my kit. I also spent one day, my first ever, trying spear fishing, with Tahsin from DELFIN SOLO, first with a Hawaiian Sling, then with a small 3' spear gun. Didn't have any luck, but I did get close a few times, so I'll be trying that again!

Finally, after 6 days and nights at Isla Cavada, we decided to leave. All the boats split up going different places ... WAHOO to Isla Brincanco in the Coiba National Park, KETCHING UP to Isla Medidor, near the mainland, and DELFIN SOLO moved on to Bahia Honda. We pulled up our anchor and headed over to Ensenada Muertos, on the mainland.