Saturday, January 29, 2011

A trip with my Father

So I haven't updated in a couple of weeks, and I am sorry about that, but my father flew in two weeks ago and we immediately went out to the remote parts of the globe in pursuit of fish. Those slippery little buggers are elusive at best, and we were in hot pursuit.
So we went out to Punta Mita (where I went surfing!) and then out to Isla Isabella, where the birds are, and then to San Blas and Chacala, and then slowly back to Punta Mita and now back at Puerto Vallerta.
We caught a few fishes as we went along, but it was the birds that caught our attention the most out on Isabella, of course. They own the island.
Another look at the Frigatebirds was nice for me, as well as the Blue footed Boobies. When we made it to San Blas, I caught three more mystery fishes from there, the pompano/mackerel kind of things. I think they are a kind of Pompano more so than ever, now. And they live in sandy/muddy bottoms about 35 ft deep, very flat, near fresh water. From there we made the short hop to Chacala and spent a few days walking around there, playing in the waves and on the beach. The water was not very clear, however, and the fish were not cooperative (or suicidal).
Then we went to this place I can never remember the name of, and camped out next to this little island just out of town, and the water was Super clear, the best I have seen in a long time. I was overjoyed. There was a single large white cow on the island, housed in the ruins of a restaurant, so maybe it was the meek inheriting... I think a big storm came through a while ago and ruined a lot of these places, so they have yet to recover. After that we went back to Punta Mita and I surfed again, this time with bigger waves and a lower tide, so I was dodging around among the rocks. I didn't fear the rocks as much when I started surfing as I do now. I think it is a leftover from the wreck in Alaska that I had 18 months ago, so I am really hesitant to get near the rocks. But here, eventually (as the tide went down) there was no choice, and on my last wave of the day (and the biggest) I caught this nice head high right that put me driving along right between a couple of these big car sized boulders. The wave gets funny at that point, so I didn't stay with it after, but it was my best ride from this trip.
Then we crossed Bandaras Bay, and went to Yalapa, a small town that is only reachable by boat. It is full of expensive peoples, however, so not the most attractive of all places. But, it does have some nice waterfalls, and river valleys, so I may return on my way out. It is a really rough anchorage, and the beach is super steep. For example, about 200 ft out is about 200 ft deep.
We spent two days there, and explored the waterfalls, but then yesterday we came back to La Cruz, which is the place to anchor near Puerto Vallerta.
We had one final mission, which was to find some tropical hardwoods. In Yalapa we found a carver who was working with a very hard wood, called Rosewood. We tried to get a block to bring home for my dad to carve, but it was proving to be very expensive. So we broke off negotiations after a short stint, and left the area. However, we thought we might be able to track down some kinds of wood in PV, we had a mission. In broken spanish, we asked around and spent the whole day looking around to find this wood place, until we had a final success! Now we have a 70 lb piece of wood that we have to carry around, and somehow get to the airport to be shipped back. I also got some Mahogany that I can now make a second handle for my dodger.
So that's the trip so far. Dad's here for another day and a half, so we'll try to find something to do today, then go to the airport tomorrow. I'm very pleased with my progress of spanish, I was able to hold a bit of a conversation with this guy on the bus, and asking directions was pretty easy.
When we were in Yalapa, up the river, I saw some Black Stilts, which I think are very beautiful. I first saw them in the Monterey Bay area, in Moss Landing, and thought wonderful things of them, despite the man with only one shoe and a cloud of alcohol roaming around him yelling out foul language to me and my comrades in the Odious Whaler. Ahh, the memories a bird can bring.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bahia Banderas

Following a conversation with my dearest Father, I learned this morning that I am expecting company on Sunday! My dad is coming down to visit, in Puerto Vallerta. So instead of the super liesurely route I was taking, today I booked across the water and am now in Bahia Banderas. The bay of Flags. Within this bay lies Puerto Vallerta, and the upheavals of tourism speckle the hills and beaches all around for miles. The airport is the center of it all, bringing in the blood. Housing developments, private communities, and security guards menace the jungle, trying to keep it away from the golf courses and brickwork.
I arrived at night, and have just put down the anchor to find that I have internet on the boat! This is the one joy I find in all this "progress", that sometimes someone forgets to put a lock on their internet.
Before I left San Blas (a wonderful town, by the way) I saw a One Horse Power outboard engine, as pictured above. You will note the One Horse, powering the boat. It wasn't enough to get the boat up on a plane, but that was probably because there were two people on board and they were driving the boat backwards, for some reason.
The water down here has not been very clear. I was just about to go diving this morning when I checked my email and realized I needed to get a move on, but the water at Chacala (where I was this morning) was only about 15 ft visibility at best. So not much for spearing fish around here I guess. Hopefully it will get better as I go further south. There have been some waves, however, but I haven't managed to get my boards out and surf. There is this nasty NW chop/swell, its about 8-12 seconds apart, and its maybe 3 ft tall, but its surfable, if I could find the right point. Maybe tomorrow morning. I'm about 13 miles away from Puerto Vallerta, so I can get there tomorrow night and everything will be fine to get my dad on sunday.

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Pictures from Isla Isabella

So I am still in San Blas, and I guess I'll be here for a few more days. I had to come into the river entrance, so I am up a creek, you could say. On the way in I came when the tide was low and still going out, so the worst possible time. I bumped the bottom on the way, but a wave picked me up and helped me across the bar, so I am safe. And now that I am safe, it is not so easy to just leave again. I've been wandering around, but there are a fair amount of bugs here, so its not so fun just to walk through the forest getting eaten alive. I've been trying to work on a project, but the one that I can think of (making another spear shaft for the new speargun) is not possible here, since they don't have any straight metal rods.
I'm sitting in the central square, where I can get internet, so I figured I'd post some more pictures from the trip to the islands.
Unlike a lot of the other towns I've been in, there are almost no American tourists here. maybe 20 out of a town of 10,000. Or maybe it is the wrong season.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Isla Isabela

I am in San Blas now, which is a small town (with good surfing supposedly) south of Mazatlan and north of Puerto Vallerta. I arrived yesterday from Isla Isabella, which is a beautiful little island out in the middle of the pacific, filled with birds and fish.

I wrote this out at the island:

I'm at Isla Isabella, where prehistoric creatures creep, flap, and squeal throughout. First, one must beach their craft on a volcanic rocks, surrounded by pounding surf and treacherous waves, and then, into the forest... It consists of mostly a small species of tree, I am not sure the type, but it grows no more than 20 ft high, and is relatively free of underbrush. The trees are filled, and I mean overflowing with, frigatebirds. They screech, flap noisily, and ghost overhead, their long black wings beating like Pteradactyls, soaring over the treetops, and sometimes taking their wings beneath the branches. They can't land too well, so they tend to just flop into a tree somewhere, holding their wings out to keep them from falling through the branches. Some of them have big red pouches, that they fill up with air to attract mates, while others are white headed juveniles. Large iguanas watch quietly as I pass by their relm, unperturbed. As I get to the beach on the far side of the island, I am suddenly walking amongst Blue footed Boobies, which are nesting on the ground. They hiss and clack their bills at me, but will not move from their nest. It is just a small dimple in the ground, with two or maybe three eggs sitting in it. Their beautiful blue feet waddle all over the eggs, but apparently the eggs have tough enough shellls to hold the weight. The beach is jagged rocks, black debris from the volcano that formed this island.

I caught a Almico Jack, or Pacific Amberjack, or Pargo, which is a great tasting fish, almost identical to a Yellowtail, I think. This fish, at first sight, was not too big for me to handle, and since I now have a nice big speargun, I took a shot at it. I got it in the head (where I was aiming) but a little lower than I would have liked, and I am now thinking that I should hit the fish in the body, because I think I've bent my spear. It held stiffly from the head, but I pulled on it to bring the fish to the surface, and that made it bend a little. Anyways, immediately after the shot, the fish was stunned, and I should have gotten my hands in its gills then, but I didn't. So I tried pulling it up a little, but it awoke, and then took off for the bottom, pulling me down with it. It was a strong fish, so I let it go (I have made a float line, attached to the gun) and paid out the line until I got to the surface. Then I began to reel it back in. When I got the fish close, I grabbed it by the gills, but suddenly I realized that this fish was HUGE. It was much bigger than I had first thought, and nearly as wide as my torso. By far the biggest fish I have caught.

I managed to bring it over to a nearby boat, which I had met the people aboard the day before, and then they helped me get it on board, and to eat it.

After two days of visiting Isabella and hiking around with a mexican family (The Montoyas), I feel adopted. It takes so little time to get adopted here and there, and it feels nice. They have me over for dinner (or a late snack) just before they are going to set out northbound to Mazatlan. So it is 10 when I come over to visit, and their boat is rocking and has a fair amount of starboard list to it, making the table drunkenly sway and drop the wine glasses and Tequila on the floor. I sway delightfully on my tall stool, hoping not to pick up the feet too high and tumble into the table. They are speaking in Spanish, quickly, but clearly (amazingly) and I can understand a lot of what is going on, though sometimes they translate for me. They come from Mexico City, and their English is perfect, and their Spanish is enunciated and clear. I am not used to this, but rather the mumble slurs of the fishermen that I meet most of the time. It is beautiful.

They leave at midnight, and the next morning, I am prepared to leave, but a southeast wind holds me back, so I move to the other anchorage and go diving again. The visibility is better, and there is a sandy bottom, but not so clear as I could hope for. I see huge Pacific Jack Trevally, which I don't know if they taste good or not, and two Wahoo. I try to shoot the Wahoo, but my spear lanyard is too short, so I miss. They are the first Wahoo I have ever seen, and they look quite tasty. Hopefully I will see some more. There are tons of fish in the water, and large ones too. Finally I am so pestered by some large Almico Jacks (the Amberjack) that I go to the surface and yell out to the other boats that have arrived if they want some fish. They do. So I shoot another amberjack. This one, I get the spear all the way through, so no bending spearshaft, and it is almost the same size as the one from the day before. I sigh and wonder why these fish turn out to be bigger than I first thought.

I bring one fillet to a catamaran, whom I've seen before in Mazatlan, and the other one (the bigger fillet) to another boat with three people on board. It is too much fish. The Catamaran invites me for dinner, and we eat half of the fillet (three people) and are stuffed.

I have too powerful of a speargun, and the fish here are too big.

On the way in to San Blas, I caught this fish on, and I can't identify it. If you can tell me what it is, please do.