2017-02-18~19 Isla Clarion By Sea

Approach to Roca Partida - n/aBefore we said goodbye to Isla Socorro, we drove the boat north along the island’s eastern flank, and visited a different beach, called Playa Blanca, a little south from where we visited yesterday. The winds had picked up this day and promised to provide some of the roughest seas of the trips so far. We anchored off shore, and sent four passengers at a time ashore on the skiff until all who were going ashore, reached the beach. Normally we’d send six passengers ashore on the skiffs, but the rough waters dictated that carrying fewer passengers per trip was a prudent strategy. Given the conditions, and the weight of my gear, I opted to stay onboard while the rest of our party enjoyed two hours on the beach.

The drive to Clarion was a full 24 hour run. Masked, Brown and Red-Footed Boobys Roca Partidafollowed us until we achieved some distance from Isla Socorro. At about 5-6 hours out we passed Roca Partida, a split rock island. Many birds nest on this small, rocky volcanic island only 115 high and 300 feet long at the waterline. It is the tip of an ancient volcano that has its origins in the spreading seafloor some 10,000 feet below. Tanya Atwater, our onboard geologist and pioneer in the field of plate tectonics, explained to us that the cause of this seafloor spreading is in part due to the movement of the San Andreas Fault system.

When the day ended, we still had many miles to meet Isla Clarion. The rough seas had made capturing sharp, clear, well framed images a challenge all day. This crossing was brutal. I did not sleep. The boat pitched and rolled all night and I was up and down trying unsuccessfully to find comfort.

When we finally arrived at Clarion, the military had heard from their associates at Socorro that we were coming, but protocol required a certain set of procedures before we could land. I hadn’t slept a wink on the passage over the sea. My head and equilibrium were out of sorts, so I decided it would be best to stay onboard rather than risk the wet water landing with my heavy camera gear. I stayed aboard those few hours and tried to catch up with my journal. The days had been so full of late, I’d not been able to keep it current. Tomorrow I would chase birds and other creatures on the island.

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