Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another trip out to the islands

I will be returning to the USA for Christmas, but only for a week, and then I'll leave the Sea of Cortez again. This visit I really noticed how cold it is when the northerlies blow. It is nothing to the cold of the north, and I am going to have to try and figure out how to get used to it up there again, but the warmth of the mainland is not present here.
La Paz stays the nice little town that I like, unlike most of the other cities in Mexico. Most of the cities in the world, in fact, make me weary and keep me wishing for the peace of the ocean.
Last winter the winds were not as strong, I feel, and the cold was not as biting, but this time I am weakened by my time in Puerto Vallarta in September. I have become accustomed to the warm, to the crazy hot of the tropical sun. So these winds get into my bones.
I took the above shot at Punta Evaristo, and I really like it. I like the place, I like the water there, the fish, and the desert. But I'll be heading towards the greener hillsides of the mainland soon.
Christmas first, then next year, I'll get moving again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In the sea with my dad

My dad and I went out on a trip together for two weeks, and we just got back. The trip was quite successful because we caught a lot of fish, and that is of course what my father wants to do whenever he is near the water.
Here is a shot of him with a nice little Dorado. They are called Dorado because they are golden, and the name Dorado means "Golden" Or at least that is what I heard. Sometimes my ears are full of prejudice and I can't hear so well. I want to catch a silver fish, and maybe a bronze too. And I'm always interested in stainless Steelhead, especially on the boat. Speaking of the boat, we battered and bashed our way around in big seas and heavy (relatively) weather and I broke some things on poor little Altair. I've devised a new roller furling mechanism, but I need to get the steel to make it with, it is just sheet metal about 3 inches wide and 7 ft long. Well, a few sections of it. LaFawnda suffered some damages too, and I am trying to pursuade her to come off strike and go back to work. I need her. Maybe I will even give her a raise and some pension benefits or something.
There are plenty of Cacti on the islands north of La Paz. The air is dry and exciting, like all desert air is, filled with wind and howls and sometimes dust and needles! A few big howling winds bore down on us during the trip, sometimes we hid from them and sometimes we proudly went out where nobody else would go and had a wild ride down the big waves that are produced by the winds down here. The waves get big really fast and the wind doesn't even blow that hard, but somehow it comes and hits the water with more force than the winds up in Washington. It is all part of the mystery of the desert and the reason that this is the Mar de Cortez, not just the gulf of california.
So. The trip began going north to Isla Esperitu Santu, which is the holy spirit island, named for the moaning and howling wind that blankets it all the time. We were Egyptians the first time we went and the ghost did not pass us over, but ravaged upon us in the night the wrath of god. Not quite the wrath of god, but maybe God before he had his coffee. The waves come from the direction you do not expect and make it so you cannot sleep. The people here call them Corumel winds.
After two near sleepless nights we sailed north with a stiff breeze to get to Isla San Francisco. There is a beautiful hook to hide from the north winds, but since the winds were coming from the southwest at that time, we tucked ourselves around the other side of the island and waited for abatement. Dad got some salt in the salt flats there. The sea comes in on a super high tide and fills up a basin, but not very often, and then the water dries up and the salt is there for the taking. We got about a liter, but it would be easy to get lots more. And it is beautiful clean and white.
The next morning we awoke at dawn and sailed through the day to get to Punta Evaristo, which is one of my favorite places. It is a beautiful little double cove with lots of protection from all sides, and the holy spirit doesn't often visit there in the night from the wrong direction to try and disturb our sleep. I like to dive in Evaristo, so I got out my mask and snorkel and did some hunting. And since I have a new spear to test out I shot some fishes. I out an extra band on my speargun, so now it is super powered, and the new spear is heavier and longer with a better tip, so I can go after fish that are way too big for me to handle now! But there weren't any around, so I had to settle with a fish that was just about right. Goldilocks by default.
The next day the winds had picked up again from the north, and since we were going north, that wasn't going to be so good. But there was a little protection from the winds near Isla San Jose, so if we only went the six miles north and stayed near the island we would be all right. So we left early in the morning to sail around in the channel and try to catch some fish, which we did! A big Dorado! We came right back to Evaristo and gave the pieces to other people (on other boats) and then ate a quarter of it ourselves, and then set off again for the next place six miles away. The next day the winds were resting, and we were forced to use the motor, and burn some "motion lotion".
And then we got to Bahia Agua Verde. The bay of green water. It was very green, and that's not easy. So green, in fact, that when I was diving I could see only a little ways, and I took a few shots into the murk to test the range and hit a big fish! But it got away, sadly. I am a murderer, of course, of fishes. Dad likes to torture them and make them late for whatever fish schedule they have, and a sore spot in their jaw, but I am the one that hides in dark alleys and stabs them through the gut with a spear and sometimes lets them stumble away into the gloom to die slowly. At least there weren't any Sea Lions around. Agua Verde was the furthest north we were planning on going, so when the wind picked up from the north it was to our delight.
We picked up the anchor after a few days and blasted our way through big seas (some waves I think may have been 10 ft high) and surfed up to 13.2 knots and made it back to Punta Evaristo again. This time in Evaristo we went for a hike up to an oasis up in the desert mountains, where water leaks from a cliff and big palm trees and bamboo grow. I took my camera, and sadly, lost the lens hood that I just got in China a few months ago. I had lost another one in Alaska a few years ago and was trying to find one for a long time, and then I find one and lose it again! The poor life of my camera! Speaking of cameras, my GoPro is working out great, and I like the pictures it takes. I will try and make a movie and post it in the future, but I don't have the software to edit movies that this one takes. The old one took non-HD avi files, and the new one isn't supported by windows movie maker, so I need to buy some program or something. Any help on that would be greatly appreciated....
So after Evaristo we made our way back to Espiritu Santu and became the persecuted jews with lambs blood on the doorstep and the winds passed us over in the night. I think it is the first night I have had a good nights sleep there. Then back to La Paz and here we are! Still both alive and my toe, which I was worried about having to chop off before, is still with me and healing. I am a little worried about it still because the bone or joint is hurting, but the antibiotics seemed to kill the infection on the surface. I'll wait a few more days and if the toe still refuses to heal, I will heel-toe it to the doctors again.
So here are a few more pictures from the trip. The Cacti are beautiful when they bloom and the thorns are cool too.





Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In La Paz

I made it back to La Paz again. I like this town, but it has changed a lot in the last year. The waterfront walkway (Malecon) has been spruced up a lot and they've added two docks to it. So there is less places to anchor, of course, and more places to pay. The trip here from Cabo was not as easy as I was hoping, since the wind came from a lot of directions that I didn't want it to. First it was from the north, and very strong, so I actually turned around and went back to wait it out. The next day I managed to make some distance, and I got to Bahia Los Freiles, which is a really pretty bay with a nice little hill that I climbed up. I also remember the cactus from last year, so I took another shot of it. Back in the land of the Cacti!
The water has been getting cooler quickly. In Cabo it was nice, but a wee bit cool, and now it is cold enough to want to have a wetsuit for a long stay in. Other things are changing too. I went surfing in Cabo and kicked a sea urchin when I didn't realize how shallow the water was, and all the little spines that stuck in my foot were so painful to get out I left some of them in. Over the last 8 days that mistake has been growing and last night it was starting to hurt. This morning I decided that I better do something about it or I will lost a toe or a foot or something, as the infection was climbing, so I went to the doctor here, for 40 pesos ($3.25) and was told that I have an infection. How enlightening. The doctor was very nice, despite how dirty I am, and the rust stains all over my hands (from the anchor chain) and nicely told me that I need to wash more often and then proscribed me some antibiotics. So now I'm on them. I hope the swelling goes fast and then it will be easier to walk soon. And I hope this doesn't disrupt the trip with dad. He comes in tomorrow night and we'll go out to the islands for two weeks. The doc said I could swim, but I should wash afterwards. So they don't have to amputate yet.
Actually its not bad at all, but it hurts, and since its on my big toe, walking hurts a bit. I hope I won't end up like this fish in the picture here, but its possible. I'm in the desert now. The vultures are circling.
On another note, I miss my NuCanoe a lot. I haven't got a name for this new kayak, but I think it is not up to the same quality standards of the old one. The leaks in the bottom are really awful, since I can't lift the boat out of the water when there is water in it, so I have to dump it out all the time. And its heavy. But it is fast for a quick paddle, and I can take two people pretty easy.
The real test comes when Dad gets here.







Sunday, November 6, 2011

Leaving Cabo

I'm heading north tomorrow. Cabo was surprisingly fun again. A lot of things are frustrating about this town, mostly that the internet is hard to get and the waves from all the boats are terrrible in the daytime, but there are people here, and I was starving for people when I got here. Now I am looking for solitude again.
The diving here is phenomenal, since it gets super deep very quickly out at the arch. And I just got my dive watch figured out, so now I can measure the depth. So I tried for the record. Records are made in Cabo anyways.
So I went down deep, and made it to 80 ft. I made 80 ft 3 times, and multiple dives to 60+, so I feel really good about my lungs now. But there is a wall at 80 here, it gets dark and cold and I kept on stopping, even though I didn't feel that bad. I want to make it to 100, but maybe I will have to wait a bit for that. And work on my lungs a bit more.
I also did a bit of surfing, and today I kicked some sea urchins and now I have a foot full of little poison splinters. Damn those little things, and damn the rocks. The wave I surfed is a really heavy wave, which is nothing like the soft and easy Punta Mita wave I had been surfing for the last month. This one is well overhead, maybe double if the wave is right, and a nice thick lip to curl over your quivering soul. I chickened out a bunch on it and then I got one good wave today, and it was nice to blast along with Poseidon chasing your heels.
I'll be out of touch for a few days, and then wind up in La Paz in a week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Across to Cabo!

I made it to Cabo San Lucas. What a trip...
First, I left in the pre-dawn hours to get out of Bandaras bay. The winds were very strong outflow, so I blasted out and into the open sea. Then I turned north and came to a nice calm spot, which wasn't good because then I didn't have any wind anymore. It slowly came back but from the NW, which is the direction I was trying to go, so that wasn't helping much, but I slowly made it to Isla Isabella. I spent one night at sea, and then anchored at Isabella for two nights, and then left again. I tucked into the cove and hid from the NW winds for the two nights on the island, but when I got out in the morning to head away, there wasn't any wind but lots of big waves. So I fought the waves for a day, hoping they would calm down. They didn't. Then the wind came back but very lightly, so I sailed and tried to fight my way to Cabo, but it was super slow going. So after 4 nights and 5 days of fighting, I finally made it here. What a wretched part of the ocean. I didn't catch any fish, but the water was very nice looking. I hooked something, and then it cut my line and I lost my lure. So sad.
But LaFawnda was wonderful. She doesn't like almost no wind at all and big waves, and has some trouble keeping the boat pointed high into the wind if it is light, but she doesn't need attention like the electronic one does.
I got some pictures from Isabella, of course there are lots of Frigatebirds, so they were flapping around in the trees and making a racket. Some of the boobies were nesting too, but not many, and there were no Tropicbirds or Heerman's gulls.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaving for Cabo!

I'm leaving tomorrow to head out to Baja. I should arrive in a week or so, I am hoping by November 2. I just got food and water and a new Ocean Kayak, the Malibu 2 version, which takes two people or maybe three. Or even possibly 4 or 5 if you try. It has some leaks in the bottom, so I will have to patch them up, but they don't leak that fast.
So if you don't hear from me for a while, don't worry too much.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hiking along the shore

I went hiking along the shoreline a little while ago with one of the families of the boats that are here. We went to the south side of the bay, where the fauna is more lush and green. Also there were lots of spiders, and these big octopods had some nasty looking fangs. They were as big as my hand. On the way back we went through Old Town in Puerto Vallarta, and I saw the La Fonda sign. Its not spelled just right, but I appreciated it. And so does LaFawnda, sitting on the back of the boat.
I haven't got a new kayak yet. I'll keep looking for a little while for mine, but with little hope. Then I'll have to buy another. Sheesh.
And after that I'll probably get cracking on actually going across the sea to Baja. Really. Honest. Dad might fly in then and I'll have to be there or else.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Need Nu Nucanoe

I lost my NuCanoe. Either it came unhooked, which I think unlikely, since I tied the knot myself and I am sure it was good, or some fingers untied the knot and let it loose for me. Now I need a new one.
Aside from that, I am doing fine. There isn't much swell, so the surfing isn't very good, but I went yesterday just before losing the canoe. I've been going sailing around the bay a lot, and that is nice. The wind comes up every day in the afternoon. Another boat took some pictures of Altair while we went sailing together.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Post Jova

Jova has passed, and I didn't even feel anything more than a whisper of wind. The rigging never shrieked with agony from the passing of a storm, the waves never broached the safe haven of the harbor walls. The weather wasn't any worse than I've seen on a normal thunderstorm, and actually it was much better. I could have been at anchor out in the bay and been just fine. But I wasn't. I went in to the marina and tied myself to the dock with the strong electrostatic force of rope and chain.

It was actually quite fun to tie the boat down with 12 lines and make them all in the strongest configuration possible. I got out things that I haven't used in the whole trip so far and gave them a job to do. All lines performed admirably. None were lost.

So the skies greyed over before the storm, and are still wet, but the sun has given notice of shine today. There is some blue that is growing. We got a sprinkling that reminded me of Bellingham, for most of Wednesday, and one rain that wasn't really even qualified as a tropical rain. No lightning, but some distant thunder, and the maximum winds were probably less than “Small Craft Advisory” winds. I think the maximum was about 25 miles per hour.

I was really surprised, but the mountains to the south of PV were the mighty wall that the storm broke upon, and I haven't seen (since I still haven't been able to get internet) but some people have told me that the storm split in two, and part of it just went up the coast, outside the bay. The other part headed inland from where I am. So it split and went around me. How nice. I'd like to hear reports about how the other places fared, since Melaque was near where it made landfall. I liked Melaque. I hope it isn't destroyed.

Ok, I wrote that when I didn't get internet, now I have it. The totals for wind speed were 28 knots and 5 inches of rain where I was. Not quite storm force...

No videos, sorry. The camera wasn't happy.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Pre-Jova

I write this post hoping that there will be another one in the future. There is a Hurricane out in the Pacific, to the south of me, named Jova. He (I believe it is a boy) is looking to be rather nasty, with winds now of 125 mph. He'll come ashore in Barra de Navidad (where I was last year) and probably do lots of damage to the town, and then go overland and come near Puerto Vallarta. And I will be waiting there. I've done a huge amount of lashing things together, and I still have more time tomorrow to do more. The mountains to the south of PV I am hoping will make the storm less severe, but I won't know until it comes. So wish me luck.
Because of the storm, there was some really big swell out at the point that I surf at, so yesterday I got the best surfing that I've had in a long time in. The waves were head high or overhead and loads of fun, though they don't break too fast because of the direction relative to the point. I was halfway in a small barrel of one of them once, which was nice. My feet were in the barrel. And the speed! I love going fast on a surfboard.
So, hopefully the internet will stay up after the storm and I'll write something about how it was. Maybe even a video. But the internet might go, because that happens, so don't worry too much if you don't hear from me immediately. That means you, mom.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Close encounters with animals

First of all, there is a tropical storm that is supposed to come very close to PV, and I am in the "cone of death" at present. My first interaction with severe tropical weather is coming up in a few days. I'm planning on heading into the marina to hide when it gets closer. The forecast puts it to come in tuesday night or wednesday now.
I've had a few very delightful sails around Bandaras Bay, and it is always nice to see the wildlife that comes around there. I made a little video of the things I've seen. A Brown Booby was trying to land on the boat and I stuck a camera in his face like the jerk I am. He hit the camera with his wing while he's flying. And a few days ago I caught a nice big Dorado, and here he is hanging behind the boat.

video

I've been working on projects, which is somewhat unusual for me in Mexico... As usually I just go from place to place and fish and surf. But now I am reluctant to make a big trip while the tropical weather is around, so I'll do my projects.
The first one, which isn't complete, is my Dodger. I made it a long time ago in two days, for about 60 bucks. Successive attempts to make a second one as a replacement have been tough, since I never get the sizes just right, and I'm always sewing somewhere other than the boat. So this time I am making it out of fiberglass. I already have put the top on, and am waiting to get another sheet of the glass to make the sides with. Its quite handsome, I think, and stronger than the cloth one was. When it is complete, I think I'll make a post just about it.
The second project I just made is a lightning rod. Lightning tends to strike the highest point, right, so I don't want my shiny metal mast to be the target, and I certainly don't want my radio antenna to get hit and then fry my radio. So I stuck a piece of wire on the top above everything. I frayed the ends of the wire (its actually a stainless cable, like what the rig is held up by) so there are a lot of small points, which will help to dissipate the charge and make the strike less likely, but then I ran the cable directly to the grounding in the water, so the lightning will go around all the sensitive electrical things and also around me. I hope it works, but lightning is a slippery fellow.
I then moved the radio antenna from the top of the mast to the back of the boat, and the cable was bad, so I had to make a new one. I used the connections from old cables I have found in different places. I think most of the connections are supposed to be used once and thrown out, but I figured a way to re-use them.
I've also re-done my storage in the boat. There is a lot of room now. I've hung my speargun from the ceiling, and have two hammock pouches that hold things on the starboard wall, so tons of things are stored out and away from where I used to just have headroom, but never used it.
It is fun to work on a project all day long and then to have something to show for it at the end of the day. Its much better than working on something I don't care about, though I've been thinking more and more about how in a year I'll probably have a normal job again.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A week of surfing

I spent the last week out at Punta Mita, surfing every day. The waves are very small, as they always seem to be. In fact they are so very small that you run out of wave sometimes. The wave just stops breaking. It sits down and cries from the loneliness of it all. Poor waves. I'll probably go back out there again for a day and then head on towards Baja in the next week, I think. Hurricane Hilary is now a tropical storm and is becoming nothing slowly, and it is not supposed to come anywhere close to land.
The surfing is fun, especially since I don't need to wear a suit, and I can stay in the water forever. The sun is my only enemy here. I am becoming rudolph again, a bit early for christmas, but my nose is shiny and red.
I went to the islands at the head of the bay today, on my way in. The water was nicely clear, but not crystal, and it was nice to dive without a suit on, though I don't have the right weights to make that work as well. I shot a little snapper.
Here are some pictures I've taken today, but I haven't had the camera out a lot, since its so humid.




video

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Puerto Vallarta again!

I wrote this yesterday:

Today I saw a frog being eaten by a snake. The snake was bright green and about 3 ft long, and I think it might have had fangs, but I can't be sure. The frog was crying for help, and I was wondering what was wrong, or if it was a bird, so I looked.
To look, I recall now, will change the outcome of the event, according to quantum mechanics. The Scnrodinger's cat problem! I looked, and the snake saw me and let go of the frog and slithered away. What have I done? The frog hopped down towards the sea, across scorching hot rocks, and it might have died, or might have lived, I do not know.

I came here to go surfing, which I've been doing, though the waves are very very small. The sets come through and are waist high, sometimes a little higher. The rocks underneath make me wish for a larger swell, breaking in deeper water.

The water is quite clear, even next to the break. The visibility is close to 30 ft, I think, and out to sea I expect it to be more than 50 ft. The waters all have this beautiful blue to them. And it is warm! I can stay in all day long if I want to. It is perhaps a few degrees too warm, since I am sweating when I surf, a little. I would like for a nice wind to cool me off.

I think its easier to surf in warm water. I don't just think it, I know. Everything is easier, the waves are not as scary, and you can stay in longer. Catching a wave is such a simple matter.
I am the only one out surfing, because it is so small. What a wonderful time, to be alone on an amazing point break that I can sail to and paddle to and never have to touch land! At the same time, it would be nice to have someone else around to talk to.

The journey here was nice. I finally got away from San Blas after paying more than I wanted to and put to sea right about noon on monday the 19th. I motored in order to make it to Jaltemba. I put out my fishing lines to see what was about and first caught a nice large Green Jack, which I threw back since they don't taste that good, and then a beautiful Sierra. I think there are two types, but my fish book only has one. I ate the Sierra, and brought in my lines, so I wouldn't have to kill any more fish just by catching them. I got to Jaltemba right at sunset, and there were clouds all over in the mountaintops, billowing up from the valleys. Deep Convection is the word. You can see the clouds exploding upward. There were some birds way way up there just flying for the fun of it, or caught in an updraft and sucked into the heavens, I don't know which.

Just after sunset the lightning that had begun flashing around the mountains started wandering down the hills and began attacking the lowlands. Lightning here sounds like an attack. The flash is blinding, or almost, because I saw a few and there were spots on my eyes for 10 minutes. But the thunder is an apocalypse. Everytime it explodes through my bones, I can hear the end of the world.

The storms came to the valleys and then, cackling to themselves in flashes and booms, they made for my boat. I was anchored near a small island, with about one mile of open water between me and the mainland coast, so the wind gathered strength and blew in big bad wolf style, trying to blow my little house of fiberglass down.

I am not a pig, but I was worried nonetheless. I had anchored, stupidly, right next to the island, and now I was being blow into it. I hoped my anchor would hold, and it did, but I had let out enough chain that I came within 20 ft of some rocks. Then the wind shifted, and all was well.

I woke up before dawn the next day to go to Punta Mita, and set off with a favorable wind, but then turned on the motor as the winds were inconsistent. I caught a nice sized skipjack tuna, but threw it back also, since they don't taste so good.

I can get internet here, so I checked the weather this morning, and there is a tropical storm to the south. It is expected to come north, then maybe turn and head towards land, hopefully to the north of me. I don't know what I'll do if its coming exactly, but I will probably head for Puerto Vallarta and try to tie up at a dock. It is supposed to become a hurricane soon, and have 100 mph winds by the time it is near.

I'll just have to watch and see what the storm does.

And now, since then, I've had a few more days surfing, and spent some more time diving. I need to work on my breathing abilities again. I've lost my long lungs.

I came in to La Cruz, a suburb of PV, in order to get better access to internet to watch Hilary. She is now a Major, a cat 3 storm, with winds about 115 mph. Not someone that I want to meet right now. So I am looking at what to do, and where to go. The marina here is my best bet, I think, though, if it came in as a category 3 storm I would suffer damages, I am sure. But she is forecast to go out to sea.

If you're interested, or worried, you can look at the national hurricane center website, here.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Back in the water!

Yesterday Altair was lifted off her summer legs and placed gently back into the water. It is strange, standing on a boat in the water, since I have not been in that position for a long time. A Mariner who has lost his sea legs! Today I plan on leaving the marina and testing myself against the sea again. I think I will head for Puerto Vallarta, so I can try out the surfing, and also since it is a closer trip than going anywhere else. The mosquitoes here are really bothering me, so I hope to escape them by going there.
Here are some pictures of the boat as she was yesterday. The first one is from the plane coming down, I thought the morning light was good with the olympic mountains in the background with a full moon overhead was nice. The low clouds remind me of the water.
So yesterday when they were using the crane, I got these pictures. I can't make things look good while she is out of the water, but at least you can see what she looks like again, with a blue bottom.
In order to save bottom paint, I thought I would paint LaFawnda's rudder red again. I like the contrast between the red and the blue.
LaFawnda is one of the things I need to get running again, so I will be using the electronic autopilot until then. (if you recall, LaFawnda is the wind vane, or a wind powered autopilot)
Today should be a good shakedown trip, to see what is working and what isn't. I don't want to go too far, or run into trouble, but I want to push her a little to find out the weaknesses.
Hopefully the next time I report I will be surfing!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Enlightening

I think today I came the closest I've ever come to being struck by lightning. I was the most scared, certainly. The morning dawned bright and humid, with some clouds, and I began to work on the boat. I was going to try to see if I could get put into the water, but today is the mexican independence day, so it wasn't going to happen. So I started working on the roller furling. There was a break up near the top, so I wanted to fix that, but its hard to work when little things are biting you all over. Such is life in San Blas, where the bugs reign. So I got bit a lot, and managed to get the pieces all ready, and I thought I had it all covered... And now its hot and sunny. When the sun comes out, it gets hot fast. So I took a small break and then started working on putting it on the forestay. This involves putting the sail on at the same time (yes its a bad design) and that means the sail will flap around all over the place if its windy. And yes, everytime that I've put it on, the wind picks up. Today was no exception, and I got it part way up, with lots of trouble and some help from one of the marina guys... A black cloud appeared on the horizon. Soon it was close, and raining, so I tied the sail up as best I could, and although I wasn't quite done, I thought it might hold against a breeze. The rain dumped down like only tropical weather can, and soon the breeze was more than just that! Lightning flashed all around and was deafening. It sounded like gods were hitting the ground with hammers, or playing baseball with dynamite. When a bolt hits close (like 1-3 seconds, or about 1/5-1/2 a mile) it shakes you, it moves your lungs. And its Damn scary! I'm up working on a thing with a long metal pole and metal strings that run straight to me! So I got down and waited for it to pass.
That storm passed, slowly, and I got up and tried to finish the job. This time, I managed to get the wire connected, so now the sail is at least supporting itself, but I didn't want to untie it and then try to roll it up, since I knew another bunch of wind was coming.
The world lit up white, and half a second later, the world shook and boomed with thunder. I scampered down into the boat, and waited for it to blow over. But this time, the storm didn't want to move. It stayed put over me and the wind blew HARD. The sail, of course, came undone, and I could feel the boat bucking a little. (Remember I am still on the hard, so if the stands come out, I fall over and that is REALLY BAD). So I braved the instant crispy death and went out to play in the ball game of the gods.
There were at least 10 that hit within a mile of me, and quite a few that were closer, some might have been 400 yards or less. I guess its hard to tell. I got the sail rolled up while the wind gusted away into the 30s or so, which isn't really all that much, but it is if you are on land....
Then I tied it down and sprinted back down, and went to join the marina guy under a metal roofed building. I could feel the adrenaline pumping, and it took me a while to stop shaking. I don't know what i would do if i got hit by lightning, but I imagine I'd be sore afterwards, supposing that I survived.
Then I waited for it all to end, and I didn't get much done today. I hope it isn't raining tomorrow, so I can get put back in the water. And I promise that I will post pictures sometime soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Return to Altair

I am back in San Blas, where resides my wonderful (and lonely) boat, Altair. She has missed me, I can tell. There are some signs of tears dripping into the bilge (since its full) and her nose is all clogged up from the joy of seeing me. Actually it is the head. But I will get to that.
I begin this epic saga at the end of the last. Coming back from the Enchantments, I was feeling great, though tired. I got to Seattle, posted the last post, and then had a nice evening with Danny before going to bed to wake up ass early the next morning. Danny was kind enough to drive me to the airport.
Things didn't all go as wrong as they could have, but they tried. First, my bag was too heavy, so I had to move things around to make it lighter. The plane took off and it was a beautiful sunrise, with Rainier blooming through the fog. I got a few shots of the west side (since I was not on the rainier side) and they might be coming later. Los Angeles was just waking up when we arrived, so I was happy to see that we were early. But then the plane that was in our gate was late, so we had to wait on the tarmac for a gate. I don't know how long we waited, but I was worried about my connection, but that worked out all right too. So I got to the gate and there was this long-haired guy with a goatee who looked nice, and I asked him if he was going to Mexico. He was! I found out that he lives to the north of PV, so I asked him if I could get a ride with him, and he said yes.
So after landing in Puerto Vallarta, I ran through customs and made it through unscathed, to catch up with Juan Diego (as he is called), and his uncle, who had brought his car to the airport. I put my bags in the back and got in with them, while Juan Diego and his uncle got into the front seats.
I was surprised when Juan put on his seatbelt, but he'd been living in the USA for a while, so maybe it was habit. Or maybe it was a signal that he was going to be driving extra fun today. We got started and they pulled out a joint and passed it between them, burrowing into the thick white smoke. I was a bit startled, but I just tried to breathe the fresh air out the window. Then we got to a store, where they got two bottles of beer, for the road. I've never actually seen someone drink while driving, but I guess its not that special. Anyways, they had the beer pretty visible, and the marijuana wasn't terribly hidden, so I was wondering what the penalties are down here, or if things like this weren't illegal. Then the two lanes became one, and there was a big truck ahead of us, so we hit the gas to try and make it.
All I can say is that we are lucky that the truck almost stopped, because the merge section was well over and the oncoming bus wasn't slowing down, and there wasn't room for the three of us. So I lived.
Then Juan was eager to run the corners as fast as he could, on a twisty road dotted with little crosses all over.
I was actually not very frightened of much of the driving, even the head on near miss. I guess I've gotten used to that kind of driving in China.
So they took me to Tepic, where I spent the night, and then took a bus to San Blas. The bus station attendant sold me a ticket to the wrong city, so I asked about it and then got the right one. You have to be careful with those people. I got the impression that she didn't like me, because of my skin and nationality, and that she led me astray on purpose. But I foiled her plan.
Anyways, I got to the boat, and discovered that the guy I worked with on making the contract for storage no longer works here. So that means that all the side deal, which was that I could get an extra month free, is not valid anymore. Which means that I have to pay for this month. And the rates are higher than before. 30 % higher, I think. The case of RedBull that I got in Los Angeles, and drank about 3 of them, well, it took a turn for the worse. I think water seeped into the package, eroded the aluminum cans, and they leaked energy all over the head. This energy soon turned into biology, and coated the toilet and floor. I knew I wasn't going to use them up. I should have given them away.
Its nearly clean, but it is a tricky area to work, since there are a lot of angles to clean off. And tonight the sun set nicely and the heat is still on, with a mist of humidity drifting down from heaven too. I am also being eaten by mosquitoes. If it were a bit cooler, I would be very happy. I haven't been in the water yet, so I am eager to get the boat in the water. Also I am paying, so I think I might even try to paint tomorrow. I just got bottom paint tonight, I hope it is good stuff.
Once I get the bottom painted, I think I'll hoof it pretty quick up to Baja, to try and find cooler air. And less mosquitoes.
Things are good, though. I had forgotten how good it feels to be on board.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Enchantment

I went hiking in "the Enchantments," which is a area of lakes up near a town called Leavenworth. My sister conceived it as a trail running weekend, where we would all do shorter runs (like 12 miles and 15 miles) to work up to the final 19 mile enchantments run. But the plan was thwarted from the beginning when the road we were going to take was not open. So we just did the final run first.
It didn't quite work out the first day, there was some communication trouble and we ended up not making it very far along the run, but the second day (sunday) we did it. Or I should say, Bryan, Monica and Abe did it, and Katrina and I just hiked it. But I think hiking is a better way to go through, since we made it in the day, and took lots of time around the lakes to see beautiful things.
I'd been to the lakes before, so I got to remember a lot of the things from the last trip, and it was neat to see them again.
I went swimming in a lot of the lakes, and they are very cold, something near freezing. There was an iceberg in one, but I didn't swim there.
This was the furthest hiking I had done in a day before, so I'm happy to report that 19 miles (or 20, I'm not sure still) is not impossible, and is actually pretty easy, if you go at a decent pace and go all day.
The first picture is Prussik Peak, seen from the upper Enchantments. I think its a cool looking peak, since its so sharp. We climbed up a gradual slope for most of the trip and then came down Asgaurd pass, which is mythologically steep. You look down it and wonder.... then you lean forward and wake up with a jolt and try not to fall.
Of course there are mountain goats wandering around the highlands, and the last time I was up there I got into a pushing war with one. It was coming across a stream and I wanted to cross also, and we met in the middle and I pushed on her head for a little bit and then admitted defeat. Goats can push hard. There were a ton of berries. Cherries, blue elderberries, currants, thimbleberries... All sorts. But no Bears (that we saw).
Just below Snow Lake there is a geyser that comes out of the mountain. It sounds like a jet, and as you come to it, you can see a little house next to it and a cave going in the rock. I'm not sure why its there, or when it was built, but a tube runs down a tunnel from the bottom of Snow Lake and then the water spits out the end, just out into the air. I tried throwing rocks into the flow and they went flying away somewhere, or were vaporized by the blast, I'm not sure which.
Here is a shot of the water blasting past a tree...

The trip was very beautiful, and my legs don't hurt too much, and I am very glad to be in Washington right now. And the full Moon is rising!
But I leave tomorrow for Mexico. I'll arrive in the afternoon and get hit by thunderstorms and hopefully survive the humidity (heat index was 127 today. That means it feels like its 127 degrees out!) and then I'll continue the journey I started a while ago.