Sunday, December 28, 2008

The holiday whale and the raft-up

We left Partida in the morning and tootled along. We were happily surprised with David's sighting of a whale. Chloe and I clambered to the bow and watched as a fin whale swam along less than fifty yards from the boat. I think the spotting of amazing wildlife is becoming a new holiday tradition. Last year we saw Hubert the huge manta ray on x-mas and this year it was the fin whale. I like this lifestyle.

We pulled into the Magote by 2pm and got ourselves presentable before heading over to the raft-up. It was the same three boats as Turkey day, but there were more people this time. I counted 24 people, 3 ferrets and 2 dogs. We mingled, saw some friends from the Ha-Ha, Chloe and I played with the ferrets, we drank and we ate the delicious feast laid out before us. Turkey never tasted so good! With dinner in our bellies we left for a good nights sleep.

We did some provisioning the following day which worked out great since today the wind is blowing a steady 20 knots. The idea of being ashore sounds great, but none of us want to brave the "cold", bumpy and wet ride into the marina. So we are pretending it is a rainy day and taking the day off. With sloppy joes to look forward to for dinner it is still a great day in my book.

How I got out-smarted by Sea Turtles or Welcome to the Island Life

Here in Mexico all is good as usual. We have the daughter for a while which is great. We booked it from La Paz to the islands six hours away. We are currently at the island of Partida. Yesterday we stayed at Ensenada Grande. We love that place and it is usually a great place, but the wind kicked up last night and the waves got going. It wasn't so bad until the wind died and we turned sideways to the waves making for a restless nights sleep at best. The morning sun got us to get up and set a stern anchor to stop the rocking for a few solid hours of sleep.

As the day began to unfold we experienced the only reason I don't like Ensenada Grande...BEES! We had at least 50 bees visit us in an hour or so. Even the cat gave up trying to eat and kill the bees. That got us to lift anchor and head to Caleta Partida. It is tied with Ensenada Grande as to our favorite place for different reasons. The bird life is amazing at Partida, but the hiking isn't as easy or fun to me as it is in Ensenada Grande. We love them both anyhow.

Chloe and I kayaked around and saw manta rays, fish, terns, gulls, pelicans, ospreys and turtles! I got outsmarted by turtles...a sad realization. I was paddling around trying to get pictures of the turtle, but damn it was fast. It turned out to be two turtles and I bounced back and forth between them like the ball in Pong. Though at the time I was thinking more like "Whack-a-mole" 'cause every time I would go after one the other one would surface ten yards away. I would refocus, but it would dive away while the other surfaced and so on until I gave up. Jerks! Word must have traveled that we hit a turtle last year. Those turtle networks move fast you know.

For x-mas we are going to a boat raft-up potluck. It will be with our same turkey day friends maybe more. So 16 people, two dogs and three ferrets...not bad for diversity. I love the little weasels! We will leave x-mas day for the raft up 5 hours away. It will be a great time among the cruiser family.

The following morning started out sunny and warm. David suggested we go snorkeling. After checking the water temperature and seeing *gasp* 72 degree water. I grabbed my new suit and put on the long-legged farmer John suit. I decided to skip the top not wanting to over heat so I put on my rash guard top as a type of cover from the aguamalas. Chloe tried (unsuccessfully) to slip into my midgity summer suit, but surprise, it was too short. David decided to brave the cold and go just in his board shorts. We went to the North West side of Partida and got snorkeling. We saw tons of little bait fish that surrounded us wherever we swam. There were yellow-tailed surgeon fish, yellowtail, jack crevalles, king angelfish and many other tropical fish. While David and Chloe froze, I happily floated along in my warm suit. Thank you Janice.

The rest of the day was a lazy pace...we are on island time. I took a kayak to the Espiritu Santo side of Caleta Partida while Chloe vegged out on Anthony Bourdain and David cleaned the stainless. Of all the time we have anchored there and even gone ashore we have never gone ashore on that particular strip of land. Partly since it isn't as inviting as a white sand beach. It is all rocky shore and upon landing I saw way too many sea cockroaches for my comfort. Once back in the thick of things it was a very cool place to explore. I was greeted with the chirps and sightings of small birds fluttering around. There were lagoon like ponds that were muddy like, but even at high tide the water can't reach those spots. We guessed some springs must be back there. The muddy beds had tons of fiddler crabs inhabiting them so I would guess that they somehow get saltwater. A mystery for the time for my little brain. I saw the same little paw prints that we saw at Ensenada Grande too....hmmm.

Once back from my excursion, David got to making the bread dough for tomorrow's potluck. Once he was done I started to make the cookies. David and Chloe decided to go to the beach for some father-daughter time while I worked. Fun fun fun!

El terminal de auto bus and the safe arrival of Chloe!

David and I got moving around 7am like usual, but today was going to be a different day. The daughter is coming!!! David and I got dressed and coffeed up before huffing the 10 blocks to the bus station. Once at the station we bought our tickets and waited in a little glass box of a room that had two computers with internet even. How sophisticated. The bus showed up on time and we found our seats. This was a luxury bus! There was fold down leg rests , reclining seats and a tv that played movies the whole way. The ride took about three hours, but at least we were comfortable. Once at the airport we had to seek out terminal three. Now we wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more. The best part about the wait was this guys t-shirt. Paul we still love you, but I had to get this picture and I would expect the same from you. Two hours after the flight arrived we see Chloe smiling and making her way out to Mexico all on her own. Mission accomplished on both ends. This is the first time Chloe has flown by herself and she is already pro. Once all the hugs and chatter winded down we had to find the bus. It turns out that the station is actually in San Jose del Cabo even though we got dropped off at the airport. We hopped in a shuttle and got to the bus station, purchased tickets, found our seats and got moving back home to La Paz. We took the slower bus but the shorter route. It almost evened out, but the ride home was a bit longer. Though I don't think any of us minded since we got to see a few cute little towns along the way and they harbored places with funny names like "Do it center". We rested on the way to La Paz, but all I could think about was RANCHO VIEJO! As soon as the bus made it back to the malecon we got a cab to Rancho Viejo and stuffed our faces on account of us missing lunch...or that's my story at least. So all is good in the land (or water) of Eupsychia as usual.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Log from being asea

It has been fairly nice conditions. The wind is hesitant to keep it's speed and direction consistent, but that is just fine with us. The longer we are out and about the more chances we get to enjoy sailing and, of course, the wildlife. We got to see a truly spectacular sight at sunset one evening. I was on watch and David had just woke up from a nap. As I looked around I saw splashes on the horizon. David came out and observed for a minute until the curiosity got the best of us. He turned the boat and we were off to investigate. We got closer and saw it was a whole bunch of dolphins breaching, tail slapping, belly flopping and leaping with wriggling tails. It was amazing! There was every size of dolphins from calf to full sized adults. We got closer, but the dolphins moved away and continued their shenanigans. We turned to glimpse them once again and again they dispersed. All at once, dozens of dolphins took off porpoising in lines exactly in synchronization with each other. We couldn't really say anything to capture the moment on paper (or screen) but we were both wide eyed and had huge smiles plastered on our faces.

Lately we have both been feeling much better. Being ill really took it out of us as we are still grabbing up sleep whenever possible. Its silly, but we are excited to be back eating real food and enjoying our sundowners again. We had avoided alcohol since we were in no shape to process food, let alone booze. So...cheers!

We left Isabela Sunday afternoon and are still sailing as of Wednesday evening. It only took us three days on our last trip from La Paz direct to Punta Mita. we are already on day three and have another day to go, but really, whats the rush? We adjust to the watches and enjoy sailing and since Chloe isn't scheduled to be here until Sunday...tenemos tiempo. The leisurely life of cruising is a brilliant one.

We made it to Balandras last night and it was the rolliest and most uncomfortable night yet. We got motoring by 7am just so we could stop the rolling. We have finally touched down in La Paz as of this morning. With our boat chores done and cookies made we are gearing up for a reward of Rancho Viejo. Mmm. Maybe Pizza Son tomorrow. Yum.

Isla Isabela: Love, awe, sickness, tragedy and blue footed boobies

We departed Chacala around 6:30am Friday morning. After some minor difficulties of the groggy anchor wench (me) we got underway and enroute to Isabela. It was a nice journey to Isabela with meager winds, but the sunshine was much appreciated. We saw some big black dolphins that were at least 9 feet long and very robust. After snapping a few photos (that didn't seem to help much in the identification) we narrowed it down to either the Melon-headed Whale or Pygmy Killer Whale both of which are dolphins even though the word "whale" graces their names. All Blackfish are dolphins actually including Orcas and Pilot Whales. The use of the word "Whale" in their names indicates size rather than zoological affinity...or so I have read. Hey you just got your marine mammal lesson of the day! Some people pay good money for that *hint hint*. After all that excitement we noticed a dorado swimming around our boat. Normally we would try to catch said fish, but she was small and so neat to watch with her electric blue pectoral fins.

Isla Isabela, for those of you who have not heard or seen the beauty itself, let me try to explain. The trees are green speckled with black, white and red of the frigate birds. The fine white sand beach lined with nesting Boobies, hatchlings and even Marine Iguanas. The constant chatter of the birds soon become easily identifiable from frigates, boobies, gulls and the beautiful, but screechy, tropic birds. The water surrounding the island is aquamarine only changing color where the rocky or coral reefs inhabit the waters. The fish are so plentiful and colorful that it is truly amazing to watch just from the boat. At any given time of day I pop out of the companion way and am almost guaranteed to see at least one humpback. A place that even National Geographic thinks is worth seeing. My words still cant do it justice.

When we did arrive the sun was going down, a humpback was breaching in the distance and the birds were, as expected, everywhere. There were no other boats not even pangas. It was our island. We anchored off a shoal on the eastern part of the island. Earlier David had mentioned feeling a bit under the weather, but we figured it would pass after a nights sleep.

Morning came and mi pobrecito is doing worse than before. He is now running a fever (feeling cold in 85 degree weather) and has an upset tummy. I cleaned the boat and checked on my love every few minutes which I think annoyed him since he told me he needed sleep and I should go kayak. So I did. I paddled over to the closest beach for a nice and dry landing. I found my heaven on earth...again. There were hundreds maybe even thousands of birds on this sliver of a beach. My personal favorite is the display of the male blue footed booby. First he will fly to/saunter up to the female booby that tends to be bigger and have huge pupils I noticed, though otherwise identical. He will then make sure he has her attention by lifting one webbed blue foot and alternating to the other a few times. Once she is enrapt with him, he pulls out all the stops. He points his tail perpendicular to the sand, wings go out then face flat towards her and he squeals with booby joy. She then looks on as he repeats said courtship dance if she is interested. If she is not she saunters or flies away. Do not fret for the rejected boy booby, he goes up to the next female and repeats his courtship display endlessly until he his paired up to make an egg or three.

A boat had come in and anchored by us earlier and they were now coming ashore with their dinghy. We recognized the name "Calou" as a Ha-Ha boat, but we'd never met. There was two boys, two adult men and one woman. I spoke to the woman and she asked about overnight anchoring. I let her know we have anchored here many-a-time with no problems, but it can get rolly and be exposed. Our conversation was halted by one of her boys demanding she come check out the dead thing with hermit crabs all over it. Ah yes, the job of mom and dad.

I paddled back out to our boat and made sure my love was alright. Alright might not be the proper term, but he was still in one piece. After watching him sleep I decided another kayak exploration was in order. The last time we were at Isabela we were anchored at the southern shore by Bahia Tiburoneros. We had discovered the iguana house and more frigates than we knew what to do with. I decided to revisit those places, but damn I didn't know how far of a paddle it was! I paddled in and rested on the beach for a moment before stuffing my feet into shoes (blech) and heading into birdland. I was greeted by some iguanas that I think spit at me, though we quickly made amends and they posed for my camera. They seriously look like little dinosaurs!

I trotted on and made my way past the basketball/volleyball court and back to the hill that overlooks a large portion of the southern shores. I was quite happy with all of my pictures so I decided not to climb on up to the lighthouse that tops the ridge. That and it seemed dangerous doing it all on my lonesome with over three quarters of a mile to our boat and no people on the rest of the island (the other boat left soon after their beach visit and experienced quite a bit of anchor lifting difficulties). So I descended and made my way back to the beach. I decided to hike one more portion and was rewarded with the sight of a downy baby booby just getting some real feathers. I didn't want to bother the chick so I turned and made my way back to the beach. After a good bit of sweat and paddling I made it back home. Turns out that I paddled about 2 wonder I was pooped out. I made sure my love was not cooking his brain and thankfully the fever had gone down. I napped as did David for the remainder of the day. We went to official bed by 7pm that night.

Morning comes after a restless night. David was in and out of bed getting water and trying to feel better. I woke up sore from all the rocking the boat had been doing. David was standing in the companion way with the binoculars out. I stumbled out of the v-berth and mumbled a groggy good morning. "The dinghy is on the beach," was David's reply. Huh? Apparently all the wear and rocking broke the painter and the dinghy was on the beach. I figured I get to be macho woman and save the day. I hopped in my yak and landed ashore. The waves aren't big but they were forceful and coming fast with very little rest between constant sets. I landed fine and hauled the yak ashore and hauled ass to the dink. It was filled to the brim with water making it ridiculously heavy. I pulled out the paddles, seat, and spinnaker stays'l before trying to get a grip on the unwieldy bouncing boat. Two things realized: 1) I am not starting the motor and rescuing it easy-peasy as thought 2) I am not strong enough to do this on my own. Wow how is that for putting myself in check before coffee?! I did manage to get it ashore a bit with the aid of a few big waves. I got most of the water out by rocking the bow up and down, but a wave would come and fill it back up again. I looked at the drain hole thing, but I remembered hearing about a one way plug or something or other so I continued on my quest without giving it a second thought. There was no good place to anchor the boat so I tried to bury the anchor in the sand and cover it with logs. I knew it wouldn't last long. I hopped back in the kayak and paddled back to the boat. I relayed the circumstances and David asks,"Did you open the drain plug?" Gah!!! Frustrating to the effing maximum! He tried to calm me down with talk of breakfast and coffee. I told him the boat can go at any moment since it isn't really anchored. David remained calm and said he will go in with me and help. So he donned shoes over his scabby foot and got some shorts on and we got moving. The boat had refilled with water and was barely hanging on by the anchor that caught on a rocky part of the shore. We managed to get right back to where it was water wise and hey, that drain thing did work quite well. We were able to wade the dink out past the exposed rocks and breaking waves and I gave David a push and he rowed on his way. I made my way back to the kayaks, tied David's yak to my stern, waded out and paddled like the dickens. Success. We did it. Tragedy narrowly avoided. That seemed to take it out of us since the rest of the day we cat napped with occasional stirrings. A big thank you to Capricorn Cat for parting with the anchor that in turn helped save our dinghy. We put it to the test and boy did it ever pass with flying colors!

Later that afternoon I did leave the boat for one more paddle. I saw fins slicing through the water. First I thought rays, but that changed once I saw they were undulating sideways...SHARKS! There had to be at least 10 of them. So what do I do? I go take my INFLATABLE kayak out to the fins. I was curious and so were they. As soon as I neared the fins changed direction and headed towards me. I backed off but they still followed. With camera ready and adrenalin pumping I was ready to see some sharks! There were closer to 40 each two and a half feet long circling my kayak, but they weren't sharks. They were Jack Crevalles. I hate those damn deceitful jacks! Though I have to say I was slightly relieved...don't tell David though. He still thinks I was brave...dumb, but brave.

The night was calm and smooth...well, except I have taken David's sickness on and now we are both up twenty times a night doing things you don't need to know about. I assume our boat smelled as good as a dead whale. Speaking of whales, that was a great way to wake up on or last morning at Isabela. Though my brain felt shrunken and seemed to rattle in my skull I still got giddy at the sight of five humpbacks about 200 yards from the boat. I decided to paddle out closer. David declined saying that"Those are man-eating humpbacks." If that was the case I knew I'd be safe since I am all woman. The five humpbacks were moving quickly so I turned my focus to two that were closer, but they seemed too far away. Later as we were both on the boat, we saw the pod of seven or more passing by at a good clip about 50 yards from the boat. There were a few whales lingering so the total amount seen was about 11. What amazing place!

David is now feeling much better so we decided to visit the little beach. We kayaked in and walked around. David set a new standard for having our own island...naked hiking. It seems there would be a possibility of scratches and scuffs, but taken at a nice crusierly pace, everything works out just fine. We walked the beach and watched the boobies do their dance and the iguanas that were in "invisible mode" that swore we couldn't see them even though they were on white rock with orange bodies. I think it was too blissed out to care. The good life. We kayaked back after a while to escape the sun. We lazed around and discussed leaving at sunset. I wondered, "Why not now?" So we did. I wanted the chance to see wildlife in the daylight this trip.

Chacala and the feeling of empty nest syndrome

We all had a lazy morning but the idea of a hike burned in our minds. We managed to pull ourselves from comfort of the boat and make it ashore. Once ashore I got halted by some beach guys. One was Pablo and the other was Bobby from Watsonville. They had a bet on my age but I refused to divulge such information with out the proper I got a fatty Pacifico and spread the wealth among my comrades. Bobby wanted to go hike with us so we set off leaving David at the Las Brisas palapa since he had ripped the scab off of his slowly healing stingray boo boo. Merry had done the hike last year so she led the way followed by Ann, Laura, Paul, Bobby and myself. Our first obstacle was a chain-link fence. We'd heard the property along the road had been sold, but now we knew it was fenced off as well. As we went to double back a big shirtless Mexican dude appeared. I recognized him as one of Bobby's friend from the beach. His name was Guadalupe Lopez Lopez. He said there was another trail off to the right instead. We did find the other trail to a pond of water that we had to cross. I was perfectly fine where I was since we had stumbled upon butterfly heaven. There were bunches of the mariposas all over the place. We pushed on until the trail was a bit too overgrown and we had an uneasy feeling about the situation. We rounded up the troops before Ann and Laura hiked the countryside without us. Merry, Paul and I were ready to call it quits and do the "palapa" hike back to the beach. I knew Ann and Laura really wanted to continue hiking, but they settled on turning back so they could meet Guadalupe's god.

As our crew reassembled at Las Brisas we were joined by Guadalupe. We had a great night of chatting, massages from Ann, Coronas, margaritas, lots of pictures and even more bonding. Paul graciously treated us for dinner and Guadalupe as well. It was an evening to remember.

The following morning we all lazed about the boat under the hazy, thick tropical air. Eventually we all made it into town for a last beer together before saying our goodbyes. Having all four of our amazing friends all leave at once was like having empty nest for me, the non parent. I missed them as soon as they left. David and I made our way back to the boat and it seemed strangely clean and empty. We are already finding things reminding us of our temporary companions like Merry's spanish/english dictionary, wine opener and Paul's electric toothbrush charger. That is all the physical evidence of our boatmates that we have discovered so far...that and wine that will probably still be here waiting for their return.

It is not all sad though. David and I get to go to Isla Isabela and that is a great way to get back into the way of just us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Once we got to the tropical Chacala we all if we were tense! David took Ann into shore for internet time while he went to the Port Captain to check us all in. Paul and I blew up the kayaks with minor difficulties, but we got them launched and set off paddling. We had no real destination or idea of where to go until we saw a couple humpbacks. We made our way to the mouth of the anchorage and watched the flukes raise allowing the monstrously large whales to dive effortlessly. Though they were at least a half mile or more away, it was still amazing to see them from the kayaks.

Paul and I decided to surf our way in and do a beach landing. It was a pretty tame landing since we managed to hit a lull in the waves which was fine by us. We pulled our yaks up on the shore and went for a stroll. Ann came bounding out of Las Brisas to let us know that's where all her magic was happening on the computer. We agreed to meet back up on our way back down the beach. As Paul and I walked down the beach he saw someone jump off our boat and start swimming to shore. The timing was perfect as we made our way down the beach and met up with Laura swimming up to the beach. She looked like a mermaid walking out of the ocean. We all walked back to the Las Brisas together and joined Ann for a drink. One drink turned to three and soon Merry and David dinked in to join up with us.

Ann had brought her camera and we got snap happy amongst ourselves and a kind guy took some pictures of all of us together. Laura even showed her handstand abilities for the camera. Some ceviche, nachos, guac and chips were ordered and we munched until deciding to move the party back to the boat. Paul and I still had our kayaks and we decided to launch through the surf. I asked Paul "So what is the best way to launch from the beach?" and as he was answering me, "Well I would..." I coldly left him in my wake as I hopped in and got paddling. How rude of me, but We both had a successful launch. I did ask what he was going to tell me on how to launch before I so rudely left mid-answer and he filled me in. Not that either one of us are competitive, but we hauled ass back to Eupsychia. We were in a desperate race of each other (Paul won) and the dink. Not that it was a race, but we won. Once the rest of our boat family reassembled David made some burgers and we finished our dining experience. Not a bad day at all if you ask me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another beautiful day at sea with friends *sigh* its a tough life

We decided to skip out on surfing and all that Punta Mita plans. The new "plan" was to go to Jaltemba for the night. After playing on the internet blogging, facebooking and all that other stuff we finally got moving. With anchors aweigh we motored on due to the lack of wind. As we were at the mouth of Banderas bay we saw some spouts. We were able to catch glimpses of three humpback whales fluking and just meandering around. It was one of the first sighting since being on the mainland. We all watched and happily pointed as they spouted in new places. That was not a bad way to start a day.

It did got overcast which Paul seemed to think was a godsend. Silly pale white boys. We managed to get enough wind to hoist the mainsail but decided to wait on the jib which was fine since we had a few pantropical spotted dolphins riding our bow. Paul, Laura and I squealed and jostled for position on the bow to watch, clap, whistle, cheer them on and of course, to take pictures!!! One of the dolphins was very spotted and it did a fancy corkscrew as the grand finale before departing.

How do you make the wind die? Raise the sails. We did manage to get the jib up though the wind died soon after. So we got motoring and made it to Jaltemba by sunset. We dropped bow and stern anchors and got to the evening cocktails. Ann made a delicious vegetarian dinner and it was amazing! This coming from me, the meatasaurus, anti-veggie girl. Very impressive. Ann taught Laura and myself to play dominoes and I taught them to play Bananagrams. We soon worked out the sleeping arrangements and nestled in for the night. I love having a boat full of people more than I'd expected. Don't get me wrong I love just me and David, but its kind of like a college dorm room now with so many different personalities and views on life. It has been nothing but a blast and I suspect it will continue to be great.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pals and Potlucks

We all attended the Chili cook off on the sixth. After some "planning" of a potluck at Richard and Dona's we all decided to hop on our boats and go to Punta Mita and drop a hook. Ann, Paul, David and myself all went on Eupsychia while Laura and Merry joined Endless Summer with Steve and Wayne.

We all made some various yummy things to eat last night. We chatted with people and ate some damn good food. The view from the condo was spectacular, though I think we all favor the boat. We did go swimming in fresh water! That was a nice treat. We found out that Merry wears the same size bathing suit as me. To most people that doesn't matter, but that means that Cherie, Merry and myself "are the same size"! Ah yes good times.

I caught a baby gecko while in the process of changing clothes with Merry. No pants on, but I had a gecko! We let it go and got dressed proper before heading to the Blue Water Grill for a nightcap. Mark had closed up, but let us in for a free drink, some T-shirts and talk of surfing tomorrow (today).

We all headed back to our boat with our "crew" to sleep. It is a lot of fun having so many people on board even though it is a small boat. I think we are managing alright. Maui seems to love the extra people to pet her and feed her.

We are probably off to Chacala today after I finish this and the whole crew assembles. Good times in sunny Mexico.