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.