6 nm to Isla Mogo Mogo and Chapera

Finally rid of the nasty weather, we left Isla Ampon and made our way to Islas Mogo Mogo and Chapera. The sea was mostly calm as we motored out thru the reefs and turned north along the outside of the islands. There was a wind that we could have sailed on, but inasmuch as it was only a few miles, I decided that instead of putting the sails up, I would use the time to do a little fishing. So I rigged both poles up with diving green plastic lures and set them out the back of the boat.

As we passed a small islet off the northwest corner of Isla Ampon, we got a strike and reeled in a nice 10-12 lb Sierra. I hadn't caught a decent eating fish in several months, and hate to clean one fish at a time, so I turned the boat around and worked the waters for a second strike. We did a loose figure-eight and sure enough, as we crossed the place where we caught the first fish, we got a heavy strike from another fish. It felt like we had a small whale on the line as the pole bent over 90 degrees and I could barely set the drag to keep the fish without breaking the line. Thanks to my new harness, and with the new reel, I was able to work the fish back towards the boat, watching it jump out of the water several times.

Surprisingly, it wasn't a whale of a fish, but another, slightly larger, second Sierra. I guess these fish just give a really good fight. At 14 lbs or so, it felt like I was working a fish twice as big. We got him to the swim step, managed to get the gaff hook in him, and gave him the other half of the "fish beer" to stun and quiet him. It is worth noting that we looked the fish up in one of our reference books, and it said that one of the largest ever Sierra's caught was 2'8". The one we had was probably just a little bigger than that, perhaps three full feet, so we were pretty happy with the catch. After cleaning them later at anchor, we put a good 10-12 lbs of meat in the freezer.

After catching two fish, we brought in the lines and took the time to check out Mogo Mogo as we came upon it. As we passed the east side of the island, in one of the coves we could make out some small structures on the beach. Pulling a little closer, we could see that it looked like it might be a set for the "Survivor" T.V. Series. We had heard that the series was filmed here in the islands, particularly on Mogo Mogo, and so with more curiosity than surprise we turned RHAPSODY into the cove to try to get a slightly better view. There wasn't much to see but what looked like a series of small wooden structures, perhaps eight of them, 6' high, clustered together in the middle of the beach.

Not overly impressed, we continued on in RHAPSODY, up to the channel between Mogo Mogo and Chapera, where our cruising books said the best anchorages were. We motored slowly thru the channel, checking the swells and depths as we went. It was still early in the day, mid morning, so we took our time selecting a place to park. We got as far west in the channel as we felt was prudent (it shoals and is generally not a good passage for a boat) before turning and heading back out of the channel. We wanted to check out the north cove on Mogo Mogo, which although not shown in the cruising books as an anchorage, looked really protected and inviting as we had passed it and made our way into the channel.

As we started heading east, back out of the channel, suddenly, off to starboard, we saw two Humpback Whales slowly swimming by, perhaps 50-100 feet from the boat. Stunned, we tried grabbing cameras but got caught up in the "try to film the whale when it comes up every 2-3 minutes" routine. As you wait and get bored, the whale suddenly reappears and takes a breath, resubmerging before you can get the camera focused, zoomed, and snap a picture of them. So you end up with a bunch of shots of the water, but unfortunately, no whale pictures.

To be courteous, we slowed RHAPSODY down to idle speed and let the whales move out ahead of us. But in another irony, the whales seemed to slow down too, so they remained more or less off our starboard side for 10-15 minutes. We wanted to turn right, to the south, but that would have put us on a collision course with them, so we sped up a bit to get ahead of them. When it was safe, and by our best reckoning, they were a few hundred feet behind us, we finally turned right and crossed over into the cove on Mogo Mogo to check it out.

Moving very slowly, and watching the depth sounder and forward-looking sonar intently, we went into the cove a bit and tried to find a place to anchor. But where the water was deep enough, we were still exposed, and where the water appeared to be flat and calmly protected, RHAPSODY could not go because of insufficient depth. We did see some blue tents on the beach which looked to be more "Survivor" stuff, and there were pangas anchored off the beach, but still we couldn't get there. So, after about 30 minutes of trying to find a good place in the baylet, we decided to go back and anchor, more or less in the middle of the channel between Mogo Mogo and Chapera, pretty much where we had first seen the whales.

So it was back out around the reef and up the channel again. Finally, after being at the island for nearly an hour, we dropped the hook in 20' of water at mid-tide and settled in. The first thing I normally do upon anchoring is to update our log-book with passage notes and update the computer and systems before shutting them off. Soon, we had RHAPSODY shipshape for our visit to Mogo Mogo.

The first thing we did was clean the two Sierras which we had caught an hour or two earlier. Then, as it was still early in the day, we decided to go for a snorkel and exploration. I snorkeled off at the reef at the east end of Mogo Mogo for about 20 minutes. Then we took the dinghy across the channel to the big beach at Isla Chapera, which we walked up and down, looking at sea shells, admiring the view, and taking in the wildlife. We saw a few canaries in the trees, lots of crabs and crab tracks, and at one point came upon what looked like the tracks of a large cat or dog, not sure which, but there were three sets: Daddy, Mommy, and Baby tracks; so we moved away from that area cautiously looking for any more signs of the critters, but didn't see them. Back on the dinghy, we returned to RHAPSODY.

It was a great afternoon and evening. After snorkeling, we pretty much just enjoyed the beauty of the islands and the pretty day. We had a few cocktails as sunset approached. We had found some wild Mangos at Espiritu Santo that had by now ripened, and from them we made a very tasty Mango Salsa. We grilled up two large Sierra Fillets and served them with the Mango Salsa. It was heavenly, like the finest restaurant fare, but served in much more elegant surroundings. Mmmmm mmmm mmmm.