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.