Friday, January 30, 2009

La Cruz!

We headed towards La Cruz the following morning. The wind was behind us, but it took a while to catch up. It was quite a slow day, but we really can't complain since it was sunny, hot and we were surrounded by whales. We saw so many whales that at one time I said, "Wow, I haven't seen a whale in ten minutes," David found one not 30 seconds later. The coolest part of all the whales around was that we could hear them talking or singing through the hull of the boat. Super cool.

We made it to La Cruz, anchored and tossed the kayaks into the water. We paddled in to check in with the Port Captain, but he was closed by 2:30. Not bad hours for a job, 8am-2:30pm. A little later we checked out the happinings of the town to find it rather dead. We were walking up to Los Amigo's taco stand when we saw two of our friends sitting at a table. We were stoked to see Eric of Nanu and Glenn of La Sirena. We had thought that Eric left already so it was a good surprise to see him. We were joined by a guy named Peter after Glenn left and the party got rolling. I think we were up until 2:30am catching up on past happenings.

The following day we got word from Wayne and Carol (Capricorn Cat) that our friend Merry might come around. It seemed that the ol' friends were reassembling! We passed the word to Eric and rested up. Later we were told that Merry had to work and we wouldn't be seeing her that night. We were bummed, but decided to go on to Philo's bar and enjoy the night. After getting warmed up on Nanu we went to Philo's and a little bit later Merry comes walking in followed by our friend Mike. She said the owners of Besame let her take the rest of the night off so she took Chrisitan's jeep and came here! Wayne and Carol showed up with some friends soon after. The music got played and David drooled and happily danced with Merry just like old times. What a cool surprise to see so many of our friends gathered in one place. We love this town.

Chillin' in Chacala

Chacala was beautiful as always. The houses are so festive and colorful and can easily be seen from a distance. We walked through the town in about five minutes which should tell you how small it is. Roosters roam in the yards as panganeros maintain their outboard motors. The sun is warm and the beers cold. It is hard to imagine how things could be better. We kayaked to the beach and dined at Las Brisas one night. We found out that our little kayaks could punch through some little breaking waves. We also found out that when David gets sideways to the waves that he will capsize. It is all in good fun and we did manage to get to the boat safely and soaked. We joked that our yaks converted to personal pools quite fast.

After about four days we lifted anchor and got moving in the direction of Punta Mita. While out sailing we saw a humpback breaching and flipper slapping. It was truely amazing to see especially when it breached about a hundred yards from our bow. YIKES! We made sure to knock on the hull to let the whale know of our whereabouts as we sailed by. A little later we got the spinnaker up and were visited by some dolphins. We made Punta Mita by sunset, dropped the hook and relaxed. Another beautiful day in paradise.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My obsession with Tropicbirds pays off!

David puts up with my crazy persistence of things well. While I would go in search of birds to photograph, he would work on the boat or accompany me if I asked.

My favorite bird finding that didn't involve rescuing, was finding the the tropicbirds nesting spot. It took about an hour for the birds to land once i found their favored area. I suppose it took a while to adjust to my presence. The tropicbirds nest on the cliff faces so they are hard to get to, but with enough patience and a little rock climbing I found them! I made sure not to scare the nesting tropicbird away, but they are so pretty to look at that it was difficult to walk away. Especially after waiting for so long to find where they land and nest.

Something interesting is that even though they look like terns they are actually related to pelicans and cormorants. I learn all kinds of weird things reading books!

Daily fun at Isabela

Our time at Isla Isabela was busy. Between frigate rescues and boat chores we kayaked daily, around the whole island (about five miles) once. The hiking was gorgeous. We made it up to the lighthouse and hiked the ridges back down. Though the weather was a little overcast for my liking, but it was still beautiful.

While hiking back behind playa Tiburon we found a sight we hadn't before frigate birds! The white fuzzy little birds are too cute. Each time we had been to the island before we had been too early or too late to see the nestlings, but this time we were right on!

From one ridge we were able to see some beautiful colored rock and cliff faces. The reds, blacks from old volcanic activity and white from guano all blended together so beautifully.

As usual the bird life is amazingly beautiful from the seagulls to the tropicbirds. The iguanas seemed quite relaxed and all seemed to be shedding into new skins. As for the waters...well, I did capsize my kayak at one point and it was quite warm. I think the water temperature hit 76 or 78 while we were there. My only worry in the water was that we had seen a couple Man-O-War jellyfish, which according to one book we have don't exist in these waters, and the last thing I wanted was to ruin the trip with a horrible sting.

Such a cool place.

How we rescued Fredrick, Xena and Leyla from horrible fates at Isabela

We awoke early in the morning to a humid and overcast day. It was in the 80's with 75% humidity by 8:30am. We decided to go get some exercise in the kayaks. We set out to go around the huge rocks that were in close proximity to the boat. David was watching as a new boat came into the anchorage and they were fiddling around with their anchor. I moved around the rock a bit more and saw some bird flailing in the water. It was a frigate. Frigate birds can't swim. Apparently he didn't get the memo. I hailed David and we went to the bird's aid. We got the bird between our kayaks and tried to get him to climb aboard. He was too weak and too heavy with water. I grabbed his wing and pulled him onto my bow. He lost his balance when a swell went through and I pulled him back on. I now had a new hood ornament. Since he was going to hang out with us for a while we decided to name him. Funny enough we blurted out names and they were the same, sort of. I said Fredrick and David said Freddy. Freddy chilled out on the bow as we paddled around. Half an hour later we were trying to think of what to do with him. We decided to take him to the beach and put him in a tree so he could dry out. Our beach landings were staggered so if it was rough David could come wade out and get Freddy, keep him as dry as possible. The landings went fine, but when David tried to grab Freddy he took a flying leap back into the water. David went and got Freddy and carried him ashore. We picked out a good tree and David put Freddy on a branch. Hours later he was still there making sure his feathers would be extra crispy for future flights. Hopefully Freddy will grow up to be a big and strong frigate bird someday.

A couple days later we saw another Frigate in the water. This one was getting blown towards a reef with breaking waves. So into action we went and retrieved the bird. We named her Xena. She was shivering and didn't have much energy. We took her back to the boat to let her dry off. After an hour she thought she was dry enough and tried to fly off the boat ending up back in the water. This time we hosed her off with fresh water, to rinse off the heavy salt, and kept her in the cockpit where she was less likely to fly away. She dried off for a while before deciding she should go for another swim. We knew she was still to heavy to make it anywhere but back into the water. We bundled her up in a towel and put her in a kayak and took her to the beach. Once ashore David put her in a tree away from the water.

The last and final bird we assisted was Leyla. She was the largest of the birds we had rescued. She calmly sat on the bow for the beach landing. I took her to a tree and set her down. A day later she was there , but a booby had taken over her spot sending her to a lower branch. I shoo'd the booby away and replaced her on the higher branch so she could easily fly away when she wanted. She did. All three of our birds successfully flew off again...not into the water! Yay for happy endings!

Oh and Paul thank you for the kayak surfing lesson in Chacala. I retained your teachings and was successful every time! Thanks again!


We have discovered the nastiest cheese EVER!!! As we were getting ready to grate cheese onto a pizza I got a whiff of something rank. I sniffed the cheese and I swear it smelled like goat manure. I made David smell it and he too had a lip curling response. Feeling brave, we both tried a slice. It tasted fine. We decided to use it on the pizza hoping the stank would get cooked out of it. Nope. As we dined on our steaming hot pizza we both had to smell the stank. It was like a goat with a digestive tract problem laid a steamy poo on the pizza in the form of melty cheese. Good visual, no? I am not sure why we both thought goat since it was actually from cow's milk. I guess it just seemed right at the time. Never, and I mean NEVER will we buy queso Adobera again. Never.

Close contact with the Gigantic kind

WARNING! If you are easily offended with profanities be forewarned that I am a bad, bad person for saying and writing such words. Do not attempt this at home, we are trained professionals. Read at your own risk!

Sailing along with the wind at our backs, David and I were discussing the population of whales now compared to a hundred years ago or pre-whaling days. I was bummed that we hadn't seen any whales during our crossing so far. Just as we finished that conversation we spotted a few humpbacks fifty yards off our starboard bow. I like it when that kind of stuff happens.
The following day we were nearing Isla Isabela and saw a pod of 12-16 Humpbacks, presumably the same pod that we had seen our last time we visited Isabela. The whales were traveling fast perhaps on a mission for food, but this particular pod usually seems to be in a hurry. Maybe too much coffee. David suggested we dropped the jib so we could maneuver easier if we neared the whales. We dropped the jib and began to gather it onto the foredeck when the whales were right beside us. I am not exagerating when I say RIGHT BESIDE US. In fact they were so beside us that one had to go under us to avoid collision. My legs turned to rubber and my fingers clumsily fumbled with the sail tie as I blurted out, "Jesus-fucking-christ! Babe turn the boat!" I looked down into the water and saw a flipper and made out every single knob on the whales flipper as it proceeded to swim ahead of us. There were at least six gigantic humpbacks that were within spitting distance...and I can't spit far, though I wouldn't want to spit on them anyhow. Whatever. I can't begin to explain the horror and euphoria of having those huge beasts in such a close proximity. David kept his cool and I almost peed my pants. I was sure that we were going to be hit by a careless fluke or bulky body that didn't see us until it was too late, we held on tight. The whales promptly made their way away as quickly as they showed up. The upside of sailing silently and not motoring is that the whales dont seem to mind the closeness. The downside of sailing silently along is that if the whales aren't paying attention (its not like they have many enemies from above or need to look before they surface) a little bump on the rudder or keel or anywhere else on the boat can mean real trouble for us on the fragile boat.

The outside temperature is 84 as is inside the boat. The water is now 76. We look at all the birds flying around, the fish in the water and the humpbacks that are on patrol. The pod of whales returned within our sights and keep rounding the island. The fish must be plentiful to support so many birds and whales. The island is not as green as it was a month ago, but I take that to be a good sign that it has been hot around these parts. David is attempting to work with the auto pilot(s). Of the two auto pilots we have neither wants to steer the damn boat on the correct course. The tropic birds are out chattering, it must be 3:30 in the afternoon. We could set the time by those dependable feathered friends. The chef is going to make a pizza for tonights dining experience.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leaving La Paz for warmer climates

We want to leave La Paz before this black hole sucks us in for good. We have many friends here and have found many good places to eat. The bird life is amazing. We are sad to depart from here as we are very comfortable here. So we are going to uptie ourselves from the dock before we become permanent residents...we have decided to leave La Paz today. We have no functioning motor, but no worries. We are a sailboat, so we will sail. We may stop off at Isla Isabela before Chacala. From there we will probably go to Banderas Bay to do the real engine maintenance. Hopefully it will be a nice journey with lots of sunshine. We are stocked with books, movies, beer, food and plenty of love so we are ready. Next time we blog we hope to be a few shades darker and in a warmer climate.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Engine troubles in La Paz Pt. 2

Yesterday David managed to get the engine unbolted and ready for lift off. We rigged the preventer on the boom and lifted the motor out into the cockpit for an easier place for disassembly. My sweet David has been working, hunched over the engine for days only to realize he lacks certain tools. So today it was an interesting day trying to find all the parts we (David) need to toy with the engine. We went to about five or six auto stores finding a little of what we need in each store. It is not so easy trying to convey what we need in our broken spanish to their broken english. Thankfully we only have a few more things to get...until David finds more. The problem looks like more than just one thing though.

As bad as having a pooped engine is we are still making the best of the situation. We are not necessarily the marina type of people, but it does have its perks. We sure dont miss the cold and bumpy dinghy rides back to the boat at night. We have found some new restaurants and friends to enjoy them with. Showers in the morning with warm water! While David tends to the motor, now in the cockpit, I make cookies or walk the docks in search of my feathered friends. If I the birds aren't around I can usually chat with the neighbors. We stay busy.

Engine troubles in La Paz Pt. 1

We had to say goodbye to Chloe as she flew off from Cabo. Two three hour bus rides later that day we were back in our little boat and it was all business. Engine troubles. David is the master of all trades, but without the proper tools he is just sad. After a whole day of pulling apart then reassembling the engine the prognosis was a rod bearing problem. First he thought (and hoped) it just to be a stuck valve, but that hope was dashed quickly when he found other symptoms.

Lacking a metric socket set we set off the following day for Walmart. Yes there are many other places we could have gone, but I was in need of some DVDs. We got all the things we needed for the moment and went back to the boat. Another day of fiddling leads to the realization that the hub of the prop shaft wont budge therefore nothin' doin' until that gets removed. Eventually we got to a marina, Don Jose, and went in search of more tools. We found one at an Auto Zone today and so far so good. As I was sipping tequila and chatting with our dockmates, David popped the hub off. Hours later David is hunched over the small engine disassembling hoses and other various parts of so we can take it out and flip it over. Sound like a lot of work? It is. I am tired just writing about it. I should probably stop writing and start helping...well, it seems I can't help much so I guess I will just get him some engine disassembling fluid (beer).

Celebrating New Years Island Style

Bahia San Gabriel was our last adventure while Chloe visited us. We dropped the hook and enjoyed the gorgeous blue waters. We decided to go snorkeling knowing that San Gabriel has a lot of coral to check out. As soon as we anchored the dinghy and took to the water we swam into a school of 20 or more king angel fish. It was as beautiful as ever even though the aguamalas (small jellyfish) tagged each of us. Chloe and David took the kayaks out and explored for a while and then I did the same when one freed up. There was plenty of life to satisfy my standards. There were fish that would dart around the kayaks. Manta rays glided through the water effortlessly while the sting rays were nestled or resting on top of the sand. Egrets danced in the shallows grabbing fish that venture too close to danger. An osprey caught a fish and sat on a cactus calling to another osprey.These all all things that I love to see. All this nature keeps me happy.

The following day I looked in our cruising guide and saw there was a trail to the other side of the island. It was said the trail was only .25 of a mile. Heck we were all up for a trek like that. Okay...that was a misprint in the book. The "trail" was actually 2.5 miles to the next beach. We turned back at about 1.5 miles dreaming about cold water, ice and cerveza. Along the hike we did see some jack rabbits, goats, little birds and plenty of insects. As we neared the dinghy we found out the tide had ebbed...a lot. That left our dinghy high and dry about 100 yards from the water. The three of us must have looked pathetic trying to move the dink because a kayak outfit, that just arrived, sent two big and strong dudes to lend a hand.

Chloe and David took the dink out for driving lessons later on. Chloe enjoyed it until some dolphins came around the dink and played making her worry that she would chop them up. David took the helm and all mammals survived unscathed.