Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boat Living - Part 1

We’ve been asked a bunch of questions about how things work and what we do with our time so I thought I would put the token blog entry out here (everyone has one) about how we live on a boat…keep in mind, we’ve only been out four months.  My answers are subject to change with time and experience.  I’m dividing it into a few entries so as not to overwhelm everyone at one time.  This first two entries will deal with the less technical questions.  The third entry will get into engines and watermakers and the like.

How do you spend all that free time?  Somehow it gets filled pretty easily.  When we’re not cooking, cleaning, washing, repairing things or making water, we’re snorkeling, exploring the beaches, fishing or diving.  If we’ve pulled in some place where there’s a store or a town, we always check that out.  Since we’re walking everywhere, that usually takes the whole day.  Everyone loves a good movie and I’ve read a lot more books than usual lately (that’s a good thing).  If we’re around other boats we socialize a good bit.  I manage to fit in a bit of "school" a few times a week.  We’ve also been known to waste away a good hour sitting on the front, drinking beer, looking through the binoculars, marveling at how boobie birds don't break their necks as they dive into the water for food.  You never know what you’re going to see.

Don’t you get tired of each other?  Well, sure.  But we have one thing going for us…we like each other J.   I’ve spent several years by myself (off and on) with Andy in the military so I’m sure there are a lot of people wondering how this was going to work out seeing as we've never "lived together" more than a few months at a time.  But no need to worry.  Andy has been very good at noticing when I’m about to crack and taking Jake snorkeling or whatever to give me some time alone.  I try to reciprocate as well.  If anything we have become much closer as a family.  For instance, I’m at my parents house in CA as I write this and I miss Andy after 3 days worse than I ever did when he was in the Navy.  And Jake is wanting to spend every waking minute with me while we’re here.

What do you do with your garbage?  We separate our cans/paper (bio-degradables)  from plastics.  When we’re out to sea, we dump our bio-degradables over the side and save our plastics for throwing away at port or for burning on the beach (which is the way the locals do it).  We’ve only had one trash “incident” and it was promptly taken care of by the captain.  I won’t go into it but I was extremely grossed out.  When we do get stinky trash or it’s just full and we’re nowhere where we can dispose of it, we use our large coolers up top as our trash cans.

How do you shower?  We don’t...much - always worried about saving water.  We have hot and cold water outside in the cockpit.  This one worried me at first, but now I chose it over many marina showers.  If we’re in a busy area, Andy and I just wear our bathing suits while we shower.  The location of the shower makes it where you have to sit down anyway, so most of the time, there’s nothing to see.  We had plans to put up a shower curtain on pvc pipe so there would be some privacy but so far we haven’t had the need.

Jake, waiting on clean clothes!
How do you do laundry?  Most people do laundry in a five gallon bucket with a plunger.  I happen to have a handy dandy Wonder Wash (see previous post) which still proves to be very useful.  Either way, washing by hand can get old real quick (especially in 95+ degree heat).  I try to wash while underway since there’s usually a breeze and everything will dry before we get to anchor and the bees will stay away a bit longer.   Towels are a pain to wash (beach towels are impossible) so I usually wait until we get to a dock with laundry facilities to do those.  They tend to be more expensive than in the states… at Puerto Escondido, I paid 33 pesos for one wash (no dry).  Roughly, $2.60.  So I’ve gotten better at doing laundry on the boat and not waiting until the dock.

If you have any questions you want included in future posts, things you're just dying to know, let me know.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

More whale shark pictures

Here are some additional pictures taken the following couple of days as we continually ran into the whale sharks (not literally).  And for anyone who's not familiar with whale sharks, they're very docile.  It's not the equivalent of letting my son swim with great whites...really, it's not.


Friday, August 20, 2010

August 18, 2010 - Whale Sharks

A lot of people ask me what we do out here, don’t we get bored, don’t we need more stimulation of the mind, etc.….here’s what we did this Wednesday morning before breakfast.

Jake swam with and touched (not read about) whale sharks today, before age 5, something that took my husband, an underwater photographer by profession, 40 years to experience.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I think that fits here…
(by the way, I have to start giving picture credits here.  Many of the topside photos were taken by our good friend Scott on Ulalena.  The underwater ones were of course taken by Andy.)

We have tons of pictures but this internet cafe is kicking my tail.  I'll load the rest in a week or so when I get back to mom's house. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 14, 2010 - Bahia de Los Angeles

We've made it to some sort of civilization again.  It's a small little town but has what we need as far as groceries and internet is concerned.  It's not the friendliest place but it's another adventure in and of itself.

We're going to leave tomorrow and head out to some more islands around here, coming back next week so Jake and I can take a quick trip back to California.

I apologize for the short post and lack of pictures but I haven't downloaded the latest here yet.  We just wanted everyone to know we were safe.
We saw a few sperm whales on our way to Bahia LA.  This one took a look at us and then took a big dive down showing us his fluke.  It was very cool.

August 9, 2010 - Isla Angel de la Guarda

We’ve had a lot of excitement over the last week.  We caught three dorado (one got away), we saved some lives, took a roundtrip to the mainland, saw pods of dophins and huge whales, sailed in 30 knot winds with water covering Jake while he slept (oops), got boarded by the Navy (again), and met back up with our friends on Eyoni.  Not bad for 5 days, huh?
I had a long post typed up about the saving lives part (literally four pages) but then everything else happened and I thought there just wasn’t enough space.  So here are the clift notes.
We stopped in several places on the eastern side of Isla Angel de la Guarda, all of them beautiful.  We also noticed lots and lots of Navy activity – helicopters, fast boats, etc.- as we moved around but assumed they had some sort of exercise going on (we’re still not clear on what they were/are doing).  Our first night on the northern side of the island, around sun down we had eight guys come out of the rocks swimming towards our boat looking for water and food.  I would like to make a long story short but maybe it’s better if I give you the three versions we think we got (remember our spanish isn't very good yet) and you chose one.  1)  They were fishing on the eastern side of the island and the winds tipped over their panga(s).  2) One guy had orders to go to the Navy and they were partying one last time by taking a fishing trip, winds blew the panga over.  3)  basically same story but the pangas sank and the Navy had something to do with it which is why they didn’t jump out when they saw the Navy.  Regardless of the real story, it was obvious they had been stranded for two days in over 100 degree heat with no shade, food or water.  After supplying them with food and water and making several attempts to contact someone via our SSB radio, we finally took one of them over to the mainland (80 mile round trip on a boat doing 5-6 knots per hour) where he was picked up by his very grateful father (and a case of beer for us).  They said they had arranged for another boat to go pick up the others.

My attempt at showing how dry this place is...

Our attempt to sail back through the night to Bahia Los Angelos was aborted due to 30 knot winds and a small waterboarding incident with Jake and an open hatch ( I swear it was totally unintentional). We ended back at our same anchorage to watch the others being picked up by a tiny fishing panga at 6:00 in the morning, a full day after we had left with their friend.  After another full day of more Navy activity and a close call with their boat as they drug their anchor within 15 yards of us, we decided to attempt Bahia LA again the next morning.  More 30 knot winds caused us to turn around again and we came back to the same spot.  We approached from a different direction this time and saw our friends Eyoni tucked into a cute little cove.  They were a sight for these sore eyes.  My stress level was approaching it’s maximum and it was nice to just sit and talk and have someone for Jake to play with.

The next morning we were greeted at (7:30) by eight or so masked Navy guys wanting to board our boat.  Normally the Navy is very friendly and the experience is fairly pleasant.  There was something different about this time.  Anyway, we showed them our documentation, answered their questions and let them do their little inspection.  (Eyoni’s story is probably better…they were greeted at 6:30 at low tide with guys having to walk to their boat because they couldn’t get their boat in the cove)
As we were waiting for Eyoni to come over later that day we saw a panga coming for us.  For a deserted island we sure were getting a lot of traffic here.  It turns out it was four fisherman, two of who we actually helped a few days earlier.  They were looking for FOUR MORE PEOPLE!  Will it ever end? 
So here we sit, with a close eye out for four more guys (I personally think there’s no way they could live in this heat this long without water or food and I cannot for the life of me figure out why the Navy hasn’t found them either), waiting for a weather window to get to civilization so I can call my family and make a plan to visit!!!  I told them we may just show up on their doorstep.  I didn’t really believe that might happen!
We still don’t know if all of our incidents this past week are related or if the guys we helped were even legitimate.  But we do know that they were in trouble and we think we did the right thing.  People may criticize us and call us irresponsible or crazy but in the end, what would you do?   Leave them there?  Give them some water and hope for the best?  I doubt it.
We’re looking forward to leaving here and finding some more beautiful, less active places to visit.

Lots of the places we go to have these tiny little churches where the fishermen have set up places to worship.  Nancy on Eyoni took these pictures when they hiked up to the one near our anchorage.

Added note:  The night after I wrote this we were sitting on Eyoni's boat finishing dinner when a huge spotlight was aimed towards our boats...it was the ARMY. They wanted to board us again.  After telling them we were boarded the day before, they were gracious enough to leave.  ugh.

August 1, 2010 - Amazing sites

One of the cool things about cruising is all of the amazing things you get to see.  Take this morning for instance.  We left Partida and headed towards Isla Angel de la Guarda.  On our way, we saw two huge pods of dolphins.  I’m talking hundreds.  A few of them came and played on the bow for a few minutes then dove down and joined the rest of the pod going wherever they were going.  Not ten minutes later, we saw a bunch of seals just swimming along, poking their heads up every now and then to see what we were doing. 

As if that weren’t enough, as we were turning the corner for the anchorage, we saw a HUGE whale and her calf.  Jake and I were on the bow and I saw a puff of water fly up in the air.  I hollered back to Andy “Whale!!!   I think!  Maybe?”
Then I turned around and there it was, big as a Mac truck with a second fin sticking up beside her, presumably her calf.  We’re not quite sure what kind of whale it was but it was grey with a dorsal fin and it was huge.
Right before we settled in to watch a movie Andy called me outside.  He had a flashlight looking into the water and there were thousands of little red worms swarming around.  Then occasionally, among the phosphorescence, you could see a humbolt squid swiftly swimming by.
Today, Andy swam with a turtle and I interrupted about 20 stingrays and 10 torpedo rays taking a nap.
It’s like we’re caught in a national geographic episode.  So cool.

July 30, 2010 - Isla Partida

After a beautiful few days in Animas Slot, we left and headed across the water to Isla Partida.  We pulled in thinking it would be a nice small island and we would have it all to ourselves.  We were pleasantly surprised when we pulled in and saw our friends on Eyoni.  They have a five year old girl named Zeda that Jake met in Santa Rosalia.  Andy and Ethan have gone spear fishing and Zeda and Jake have spent hours playing with stuff animals (they even traded for the night) while Nancy and I were able to chat and get a little girl time in.
Jake and Zada playing with all of the "stuffies"

The winds are still pretty high here which is nice since it keeps the temperature down.  I’m kind of bored today and can’t really find the right thing to satisfy me.  I tried swimming but it was pretty cold and the visibility stinks so you swim around wondering what’s behind you and underneath you (Andy says I’m feeling “sharky”).  I got in the dinghy and went really fast doing donuts in the cove.  That didn’t work but it did raise a few eyebrows.  We’re about to try the beach to see if that works.
I think I really just want to go to the mall.
Pretending to be elephants on the front of the boat.

July 26, 2010 - Passage to Bahia de San Francisquito

Sea Caves

Andy and I woke up at 2:30 am to start our passage to Bahia de San Francisquito.  It’s 84 miles from our spot at Isla San Marcos so we needed an early start if we were to get there by dark.  I took my seasick medicine the night before hoping all would be good.  It turned out to be a good thing since the second half of our ride was pretty rough.

I don’t know what it is about passages but I seem to get pretty cranky.  I know this about me so I tried really hard this time to be upbeat.  I get sleepy, then queasy, then a headache.  All of that proved true on this passage as well (even with the seasick medicine).   The highlight of the trip was when Andy caught a dorado.  It was a pretty good size and made for a great sushi dinner.  That’s my side of the story.  Andy says I was on watch and drug the fish for five miles…that it was so tired it finally gave up.  I know this not to be true as I just checked the lines about two minutes before he hollered “Fish on!”  But you can’t tell that to him…  all he saw was me on the front reading a book…I might as well have been painting my nails in his eyes (and next time, maybe I will). 

Anyway, we made it here safe and sound (through some very confused seas) and will have the second half of the fish tonight.

It’s pretty windy here which is a welcome change to the sweltering heat we’ve had the last few weeks.  We’re going to make way further north tomorrow to Animas Slot, about 15 miles south of Bahia Los Angeles.  We’re planning a quick trip to California from Bahia LA so we need to go ahead and get up there to work out the logistics.