Thursday, March 31, 2016

San Carlos Arrival

It has been a while since I've had good internet, so sorry about the lack of postings, but I am arrived in San Carlos, Sonora, now, and have a few days until Altair goes up into the air and onto the hard-for summer camp!  Altair summer camp will probably be quite hot and sunny, and I will of course go to work during that time.
But let me tell you about the trip I had getting here, from Bandaras Bay.
The first leg of the trip was from Punta Mita to Isla Iabel.  I had arranged to work my way north with the boat Shamaness, and we left at Midnight to hopefully get in before dark the next day.  I hadn't really looked at the weather too much, and Shamaness is a bigger and heavier boat than Altair, with a much bigger motor, so it didn't work out too well.  The winds came up against me and the seas became choppy, and Altair was working very hard just to keep moving in right direction.  Shamaness got in before me, but I sailed and tacked and motored and swore at things until well after sunset and finally got into the island.  My morale was low because of an oil leak and a water leak and the floor of the boat was a nasty mess, and also because of the lack of sleep, but the next day on Isabel cured me right up.  This is the island that I love to go to because of all the birds and the clear water.  There weren't as many birds at this late time of the year, but the water was clear and full of beautiful fish, and there were still some birds.  

 I set off from Isabel the next day, bright and early in the morning, and with a promise to myself that I wouldn't try to match the speed of the mighty Shamaness.  It is just that in choppy seas, Shamaness can go to windward and through those seas much better than Altair can.  After a time, I saw a sail on the horizon to leeward and soon enough she was upon me.  We sailed close together for a time and then she passed me by, and I spent a night out in the nasty chop and arrived at Mazatlan the next day.  All this makes me wish I had a heavier boat and a bigger motor.
Mazatlan was a turning point in this trip, and I began to go West instead of North, to head over to La Paz and the Baja.  The weather also began to turn and I had a nice calm flat ocean to glide over on my crossing to La Paz.  It took me two nights and three days and I was there.  On my way in, I headed over to look for Whale Sharks, and there was one swimming by.  I got a picture, but sadly it is hard to see.
I spent a few days in La Paz in order to hang out with my friends aboard the Safari Endeavor, an Un-cruise boat that departs out of there in the winters.  Then I began to go North Again.
My first stop was Esperitu Santu island, where the rocks are carved out of a sandstone similar to the rocks of Chuckanut drive, and the waters are clear and blue.

There were dolphins playing with me,
And a few grebes as well.
The islands up here are like the islands in the San Juans, where the ocean meets rocks without a crashing breaking wave, just a calm cliff into liquid.  It is also similar to Joshua Tree National Park, and sometimes like the Channel Islands.  The moonrise over the tranquil bay shone brightly in the desert.
I stopped next at Isla San Francisco, where there is a nice round bay to anchor in, and salt flats in the middle of the island. I think during the summer there are low pressure systems (like hurricanes) that raise the sea level enough to come up over the sides of the island and fill up the middle with water.  That water then evaporates and leaves behind its sea salt.  I collected some to bring back.

Some succulents grow in this salty soil.
and a little higher, some very spiny trees explode right up out of the ground.
Here is an overview of the cove
and a vulture overhead.  This guy had a bare patch on his (or her) chest, which I thought rather unique.
From Isla San Francisco, I headed to San Evaristo.  This is one of my favorite places, but I didn't linger long.  Here is a view from the kite of the anchorage.

I left early the next morning, and saw a few Humpback Whales!  There weren't many in Bandaras Bay this last winter, so I was glad to see them now.  

I stopped shortly on an island I had never been before, Isla San Diego.  It is a small little thing, with no protected anchorage, but I went up for a walk and it was nice.
As I was climbing the ridge, a Red Tailed Hawk soared overhead, looking at me.  The first shot I like because it shows the bird well...
But the second shot is a rabbit's eye's view.
I also found a berry that I couldn't identify and hadn't seen before.
I then pushed onward to Bahia Agua Verde.  (the bay of the green water).  This is a place I have been before, but the furthest north in the Sea of Cortez that I had previously been.  I really like it here, and I spent a few days.  On a short hike up the ridge, I saw a fox!
There was a north wind blowing during the time I was there, so I sent up the kite to get a picture of the anchorage.  You can see Altair as the little white speck just up from the center of the picture.

The wind died down, and I headed north, to Loreto.  I spent the night anchored out from Loreto, then took off the next morning to cross the sea again and had an easy crossing with wind from behind all the way to San Carlos.  Here is a kite shot from the bay in san carlos.  I haul out on Saturday and Wes will pick me up and we'll start driving back to Seattle.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Northing in Altair

I'm going to be taking Altair north, starting very soon.  I will push the SPOT beacon while under way, so you can check on my progress.  The link should be on the side bar to the right.  I anticipate going to Isla Isabel again, to Mazatlan, and then to La Paz and some of the islands in the sea of cortez, and then Loreto and finally to San Carlos in Sonora.  There I will put Altair away for the summer.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A short day trip to an archaeological site

 We went to the Copalita river to view an archaeological site, where there happened to be a lot of birds too.  I got to see a few birds I've never seen before!  I don't know all their names, but I found this on; An Orange Breasted Bunting!

 And there was a peregrine falcon that was roaming around the beach.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

More about the turtles (and a video)

Here is a baby turtle video I made.  La liberation de tortugitas!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The coast of Oaxaca

 I've taken a short vacation down to see Lindsay, who was spending a month in Puerto Escondito, in Oaxaca, southern Mexico.  I flew in and then we have spent a few days traveleing around the area.  My first view of Escondito was not the best, I found it to be larger than I had first thought.  And quite hot.  The next day we went for a long walk down the beach, to a place called Barra de Navidad, where there is a river that flows down to the ocean.  We had to traverse a cliffy beach where the waves crashed up against the cliffs and threatened to soak us.  Afterwards we got to a long steep beach with lots of heavy waves and quite a few dead turtles.  We met a man on the beach who had a baby turtle and was releasing it, and who told us that a type of jellyfish was making the turtles die, and that we could come back that evening to see the release of a bunch of baby turtles.  Then we got to the estuary, where there were tons of birds.  We saw Snowy Plovers, Black Skimmers, a White Pelican, American Avocets, and the more commonly seen Black Necked Stilts.  Also we saw the Black Winged Whistling Duck.  It was really neat to sneak around in the reeds and water looking at all the species of birds.  We also found a dead snake, which was a Yellow Bellied Sea Snake, an uncommon sight in these waters.
On our way out we found a cute calf.  We returned later in the day to see the turtles, bringing a friend from the sanctuary, the place where Lindsay was doing the retreat.  There were tons and tons of turtles (micro turtles) and we got to see them learn how to move, a few climbed out of the shells, and then watch them all go out to sea.  Unfortunately, when arriving at the ocean, a bunch of terns were waiting for them and gobbled them up.  I was thinking about how the human interaction to help the babies out could have been different and let me describe my thoughts.  The eggs are protected from predators by the humans; they dig up the eggs right after they are layed, take them to a safe spot and rebury them, saving turtles.  The turtles naturally would come out of the eggs underground, then have to dig themselves to the surface, and some might not make it, so at this place the humans dig the babies up, resulting in more turtles living.  Then, the turtles would have to make a long trek across the sand to the beach, where many night herons and egrets and sea gulls would be patrolling, chomping them up.  We carried the turtles to the beach in a basket, saving turtles.
When we released them, we let them crawl down the beach to the breaking waves, where many probably drowned and many were probably less tired than before because of the less distance they had to go, so we probably saved turtles that way.  But still, tons of them were eaten while in the water by gulls and terns and pelicans, because they are conspicuous.  It is a difficult problem.  If they were to take the turtles and drop them in small bunches off of a boat driving along out at sea at night, I feel more of the turtles would be saved because there would be no concentration, and therefore harder for the birds to find them.  The flip side is that the turtles are given less tests, and so the genetic toughness is lowered.  But I think they are already doing that with all the assistance.  Turtles are a significant species here, so many people want to try to save them.  I also like them.