Friday, December 31, 2010

Mazatlan


I made it to Mazatlan last night. All safe and sound. I got in in the evening, so it was three days, and two nights of travel time. It was really peaceful, actually. The weather was gentle, despite being against me the whole time, and there were some nice tropicbirds that followed me around a little bit. Sunsets and sunrises were, of course, wonderful. I took this picture that is a long exposure with me trying to hold the camera still against the boat while it rocks a lot. The light is from my LED nightlights that ward away unwanted boats, and is pretty bright. This shot was about 45 seconds.

I wrote this while underway:

So I've been by myself before, but somehow, I've never felt quite like this. Its 1 in the morning and I am about 60 miles off the coast of Mazatlan, and it is the second night alone at sea for me. Being on the water alone is not a problem, but something special happens during the night at sea; a transformation takes place.

Before this trip, I had been dreading the prospect of going to sea alone for an extended passage. I'd been working my way up to this, but still, it seemed like a steep wall looming ahead. Anchoring at night of course is the easiest option, so you don't have to keep watch, and you just float away hoping that nobody is stupid enough to run into you during the night, and that your anchor will hold. The next step is to sail through the night with another person, and take watches. Try to sleep while hoping that you don't run into anything dangerous, since you can't see. But to go alone, and then have to figure out how to keep watch (which you can't), that is a trick. You have to trust the ocean to behave while you sleep, and then check on things as often as you can. The past day was my first attempt at that, and I'm feeling ok.

The hardest part is to get enough sleep. I've been hearing about people doing 4 hours on and 30 minutes off. I can't do that. So I've been sleeping about 1 hour at a time, then checking things, and taking another nap. Sometimes the naps are shorter than an hour, and I will get up and stay up for about 8 or 10 hours in a row during the day. So I sleep all the time. It makes the days pass quickly, and since there isn't much to do out here anyways, it is a good thing.

I left Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday the 28th at about 7 am, and drove on eastwards, thinking that I would get to a nice little anchorage that everyone leaves from to do the crossing, but the weather was not helpful, so after a short break in San Jose Del Cabo (where I filled my fuel tank), I decided to stop following the coast and head to sea. It was about 3 pm when I really made the call, and the wind was right on my nose, so I had to aim quite a bit southbound (instead of my desired due east course). After a while I had shifted on to my target, and I managed to sail for 30 hours, up until now. There was a current in the beginning that was against me, and then just in the last 10 hours, I had a good 2 knot current with me (going east) which I don't understand. Since I have only 60 miles to go, and the wind is dead, I am motoring in the hopes of getting in tomorrow during the middle of the day. I really don't mind spending more nights at sea, but there is not use sitting around with this short of a trip left, and I have plenty of fuel.

So I am finally facing my fear of truly single handing, that is, to be alone at sea during the night. And it is not bad at all. In fact, I kind of like it. The night part isn't particularly bad, but the day part is actually quite nice. I wish I was catching more fish, and that I had more books to read, and I will probably write a lot, to give myself something to do, but it is peaceful out here.


As a side note (this is not written at sea, but in the internet cafe in Mazatlan), I am pleased with my Standard Horizon Matrix 2100 AIS radio, which did a good job of telling me that there were cruise boats and container ships trolling around in th waters near me. They passed without trouble.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Towards Mazatlan


I am going to leave Cabo San Lucas tomorrow and head Eastwards, across the mouth of the Sea of Cortez, and on into Mainland Mexico. Christmas was wonderful here, almost like having family here, but I must go onwards.
I'm not sure where I will be for New Years eve, and most likely I will be alone, since I haven't been meeting lots of people, or very easily. Land travelers, which are my age, do not come to sea easily, so there isn't a easy way to meet people.
And I am afraid. Especially after having so much of a connection with people here for so long (5 days), and I am reluctant to leave. But leave I must. The show must go on.
Anyways, I am afraid of being alone. It is a fear that I haven't felt in a while, since when you are alone, you don't feel afraid of it. Like being afraid of life. But taking the plunge into the cold waters of being by myself is difficult, especially if I am warm and dry in the sunshine of the company of the Serbian and Croatians here.
I am also afraid of being alone on New Years. I can't recall if I have ever had a New Years' Kiss. And stupid as I am, I want one. In High School, there was never a chance. In College, I think I had one once with Aleksandra, in 2002-2003 New Years, but I am not quite sure. I don't remember the kiss at any rate.
And since then, Every time that the clock ticks over, I am alone.
It is a moment just like any other, where the clock makes a small click and then the numbers change, but they should be just the same, except for some reason this is a special moment, and I want it to be right.
Tomorrow, when I sail out into the blue, I will feel right with the world again, but in the party town of Cabo San Lucas, where everyone is dancing and looking fabulous, but jealously stealing glances around to see who is looking at them and who is not, I am infected with the desire to HAVE someone. That unhealthy possession feeling.
More healthy is to want to share with people, but this town is so commercial, it makes me feel like I need ownership over things.
Anyways, I am going to Mazatlan, where I might find myself in a similar kind of town, but hopefully I will get to surf and have a nice time in the waves (since here there are none).
The trip will take a few days, so hopefully I'll get in in three days. I'll be sailing through a night alone, and I'm a little nervous about that, but I think I should be fine. I actually like sailing at night, and the only thing is taking short naps through the night and the day, to keep myself alert.
I will try to post something after I get to shore there, to make sure everyone knows I am all right, but don't start to worry until after New Years, because things take time.
Oh, if you are really worried, you can look at the weather on this website.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Sea

I didn't see very much of it, but there is a feeling I had, now almost lost, but still lingering as a memory, like a dream upon awakening. The Pacific has her own flavor, her texture, that sometimes is so powerful I must run, but hides something intoxicating in her blue depths. The Sea of Cortez does not have this same feeling, but a new one, not feminine, and not quite blue.

Countless small invertebrates swarm at the surface as I drive through the waters. Life is plentiful, and not hidden, but a darkness hides in the deep. A shadow, it seems that begins with the plunge, and smothers me with hungry life as I descend. And it is dark, indeed. The water is not as clear as the dazzling offshore blue of the Pacific, but has a sort of biological smog to it.

When I left the Sea, I had forgotten what it was like to taste the Pacific air, but that is different as well. As I came to the southern point of Baja California, I could feel the air thicken, as the humidity climbed. In the Sea of Cortez the air is very dry. Desert plants dominate the landscape, seemingly sucking the moisture from the wind. Every morning my tongue would be stuck to my mouthtop.

The sun is also different. This is more an effect of my position on the globe, but it strikes with more force now that I have crossed the Tropic of Cancer. I have yet to be directly under the sun, but at the closest I have been, in Costa Rica, the solar furnace seemed so close that when direct light would hit me, I would jump as if the hot hand of God had touched me, and run for the shelter of the pagan palm trees.

There are Coconut Palm trees in the Sea, but they are few; only existing where planted, and they do not produce very tasty coconuts. My journey onward will hopefully include more and tastier coconuts. I didn't eat anything from on shore during this trip, and mostly because the plants of the desert are ill suited for donating any part of their flesh for consumption. They desist, in fact, any attempts to cull their pieces, with violence. Even brushing past them is enough to bring an onslaught of warfare, and it is best to stay out of their reach. I think you can eat Prickly Pears, but I didn't see to many of them, and I wonder if you can eat Saguaros, but I don't know anything about them. There is not much animal life to speak of on the land, in stark contrast to the water.

Still, the stay in the darkend squirming waters was very pleasant. I would like to go back and spend more time there, and see some things again. It is a good place to spend a lot of time.

But, I fear, it is also a place you must leave, because time travels swiftly there, and for one to live their life in the sea, that life would seem short in retrospect. I spent almost two months, but I feel like a week has passed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back to Cabo

I'm in Cabo San Lucas again. I had forgotten how awful the water outside the town is, because it is riffled by thousands of small boats, all driving at the maximum wake making speeds. So there is a GodAwful chop that rocks the boat here.
I'll be here for Christmas, then go across to Mazatlan and continue my trip south through Mainland Mexico. I'm not sure how long I'll be in Mexico, but since my visa expires in April, I will be leaving before then. I may try to push and get to Costa Rica in March, but I am not sure.
I'm going to miss everyone over Christmas, but I've met some friends who invited me to come down and spend Christmas with them, so I'm not alone.






Sunday, December 19, 2010

More pictures from the trip north






Its hard to get all the pictures to load at once...
and while these were loading, I took apart my camera and did a post-mortem dissection of the innards. A lightning bolt must have come down and zapped its way into the brain of the beast, because during the inspection of the heart, it began to quietly beat again. I am now in possesion of a frankenkamera.
I think it will only take pictures of dead things, but it is dark now, so I can't try it out until morning. If it doth live, then it seems the planets (and moon) and stars (well, the sun) have alligned.
Oh, eclipse tomorrow night, by the way....

Mako Shark

So I was minding my own business and trolling a line, and then I saw a little fin hanging off my line!
And it was a short finned Mako shark! Here is a video of when I brought it alongside. I got my lure from its jaws, and hooked my gaff in the mouth to hold it, and then let it go. I didn't pull any teeth, which I am now thinking that I should have done. It was a beautiful fish, and had wonderful coloration, and nice smooth skin. Also it had a bunch of parasites all over its skin.

video

Sea of Cortez

I'm back in La Paz, after a very brief, and not too extensive tour of the lower Sea of Cortez. I'm going to Cabo San Lucas for Christmas, then crossing over to the mainland of Mexico, and continuing south thereafter. There will probably be some changes in my blogging, since I have managed to break my camera, so it no longer takes pictures. I'm looking into trying to fix it, but not too hopeful. I still have the small video camera, and I'll probably get a point and shoot or something, but they don't do the same justice as the SLR. I've also not been getting internet as often as I thought I might, and that is a pity, since I like getting online and posting pictures and stories of where I've been. I think the mainland might have more access.
The year is wrapping up, and it has been a good one for me. I've met a lot of really nice people, and been to a lot of great places. Yesterday I was "racing" another sailboat (they were going in to La Paz as well) and when they passed me in the channel, I saw they were from Bellingham. It made me really miss my home, and I've been having dreams about the house I was born in. I think I'll be back sometime.
Since it is near Christmas, I'm going to be missing my family, in fact I am already missing them, I hope they are all having a great time in California.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bahia Auga Verde

Its been a long time since the last post, and I am sorry for that. There is no intertet out in the wild... Until now! I am at this remote beach with nothing around, except a nice little tripod with a satellite dish on top, and a battery hanging underneath with civilization streaming from it wirelessly! There is a boat here, Wahkuna, who are very generous and let me get on their network.

Since leaving La Paz, I spent a few days on Esperitu Santu Island, where I met up with this fast (they said it could do 30 knots) boat which had a bunch of french people on board. They had a young crewmember who came from San Francisco, and he took me out spearfishing. I borrowed a gun from them, and shot a six person Grouper, (a leopard grouper) which fed all six of us. The biggest fish I've got so far.
After Esperitu Santu, I headed north towards Isla San Francisco, and caught my first Mahi Mahi (or Dorado, or Dolphin fish) I didn't keep it, or get any pictures, so it could be imagined....
Eventually I made it to Punta Evaristo, which is a beautiful little spot, and I spent a few days diving there, and shot a skipjack tuna, and saw a Mahi Mahi in the water. I'm working on my spearguns a lot, but don't have enough power still... (Scottie! I need more Power)
Anyways, I then headed up to Puerto Los Gatos, and found some Geodes, and then made it to Bahia Auga Verde, where the water is green and barracuda roam freely.
My camera has died again, so I think I need to get another one, and that will present plenty of difficulty. I also think I need another speargun, but I might be able to make my own trigger, and then make the whole new gun. I have a pretty nice little design that I think will be rugged and strong enough for a lot of power.
Yesterday I went down to 54 ft and stayed there a while, and my max breath is 2:08, according to my video camera. I think I can go deeper and stay longer, but I don't have recordings of it, so they don't count. Yesterday I dove with this couple who were using scuba, so I was going down to them and playing around, then returning to the top. They stayed about 50 ft down and I made about 8 trips to them. I am very comfortable at 40 ft, and I think I can managed 70 or more if I were to really try.
I have more pictures, but I can't post them all, so it will be another week or two before they come up.
But life is good.