Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Wrap up

I'm back on Altair after christmas break in California, and I am going to test out my internet connection that my phone (new plan) provides with a blog post.  But also, I'd like to look back at 2016.  For me, the year started in Bandaras Bay, where it was rainy and I awoke to the sound of popping fireworks in the night.  I got up and looked at the celebrations for a few minutes before going back to bed.  The surf was great for the rest of the winter, but in January I broke my left lower rib and found that surfing was quite painful, with it crunching around.  I surfed Ticla for the first time and I'd like to go back, it is a nice place in mainland mexico.  I took Altair up to San Carlos, Sonora, for the first time to store her there, and it was a nice experience, except that the heat is too much for many things on the boat, like the dinghy.
My friend Wes and I drove back from Mexico to the USA and I went to work on the Wilderness Explorer, and had quite possibly the best season I've ever had up in Alaska.  I worked with a great group of people, on a boat that I like a lot, and doing a route that was fantastic. We saw amazing things, like Orca killing a Dall's porpoise, whales breaching nonstop for a whole day, and wolves.  I did a unbelievable trip with my friend Danny aboard a small sportfishing boat and we heard wolves howl and saw a moose extremely close, and played with porcupines.  (That is a trip I want to repeat)  The last week of the season was quite possibly the best, with a great bear viewing opportunity and the most Orca I have seen in one time ever, and Northern Lights.
After the Alaska Season I spent a few weeks relaxing in Bellingham and then drove back down to Mexico with my friend Lucy.  We had a great time exploring and surfing and getting back to Los Angeles, where I spent a nice christmas with my siblings and their families, and some good surfing.  And now I am back home, awaiting the New Year to come again.  Here are some pictures from bird watching with my brother in the LA area.
 A Merlin up close in Santa Barbara
 Monarch Butterflies in the trees in Pismo Beach

 A hummingbird in San Diego

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Driving back

I'm back in the USA now, and it feels strange to be here, and cold.  I'm in Pismo Beach.  I drove back up from La Paz (where Altair is now) and let me tell you a little about it.  First off, there is this beautiful oasis in the hills near La Paz where a river flows out, and a hot spring comes up out of the ground.  At this place there is fresh water and a flowing stream, with waterfalls.  Also, it turns out, snakes!  One of them got a small fish in this photo.  A small fish, but still quite big for the snake.  Also at this location was a walking stick.  I've never seen one of these before and this one was awesome.  I got some video of it walking that I will put into something later on, but it walks like an alien.
There were a few brightly colored birds flying around, and I got a snapshot of this Vermillion Flycatcher.  Such a bright color!
Halfway up from La Paz is a nice little place called Santa Rosalillita, where we saw a coyote on the beach at sunset and tried to surf the insanely small break.  It works, but only just barely.
A little further north there is a little place with stones just like Joshua Tree, where the full moon rose overhead and made for a nice bright night.  We had a little fire and made popcorn over it.

These rocks reminded me of the surfing waves I needed to get back to.
And there was a tree that I've never seen before there.  Its30 ft tall sometimes, so hardly something to be missed, but strange shaped, like something out of Dr. Suess.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Fall in the Sea of Cortez

 I've been using my phone for internet and email here in Mexico, and it is a blessing and a curse.  Since I pay per megabyte, I use it mostly for email and then I can't seem to type very well, so I am terse in my emails.  (sorry about that).  An unintended consequence is that I don't go find wifi and lug my laptop around as much, so I am not doing as many blog postings lately.  Again, sorry for that.  So here is a summary about my last couple months of adventures.  First off, I got Altair back in the water!  The place I had it stored did a great job but I was ready to get floating, and I never felt very comfortable in San Carlos.  I didn't paint the bottom of the boat this year because I figured I would be scrubbing it anyways, so why put paint in the ocean?
After two days of working on some things, changing the oil, throwing away things I didn't need, I was ready to go!  I hopped onboard as the boat went in the water and then went down below to check everything was ok, and discovered it was leaking!  Then I turned on the engine and discovered the thru-hull was corroded closed, so I didn't have cooling water!  Despite all these things, and the wind climbing to the 20s, I plumbed the cooling water to a bucket and filled it with water and drove out to the anchorage to work on the things.  The thru-hull was fairly easy, I replaced the valve, and the leak went away on its own later on, so I was all right.  But for a moment there, I felt pretty low about how my wonderful boat wasn't any good anymore.  After a few days of getting the sails ready, I set off across the Sea of Cortez into the teeth of a modest 18 knot wind from the north.  I am constantly surprised at how the slightest winds here make such awful waves!  It took me overnight and a day to get across to Loreto, and I went for a swim in crystal clear 84 degree water when I got there.  Very nice.  But the water was cooling down rapidly, and becoming less clear, so I hurried south.
I stopped at a few islands I had previously never been to, including Isla Carmen, and I found very neat places to anchor and swim and spearfish.
 Also there were awesome cacti and some cool sunsets to whitness.  This one is from Agua Verde.
 This is from Puerto Los Gatos, where you can find Geodes!  This reef has a few stuck in the rocks.
 The end of the summer means that the rains of summer are drying up, and this is what happens to the clay and mud in the river beds, they turn to corn chips!
 I am back in the Choya part of the world, so here is a piece of choya wood.
 And this picture is from Punta Evaristo.  I took a shot similar to this years ago with my dad, so i wanted to try and replicate it.  One of my favorite places, and the fishing was very good.
 I went for a hike up from Evaristo and found a river valley with some blooming flowers and a monarch.
 From Evaristo it is a short hop over to Isla San Francisco, where there is this perfectly round bay.  When we got there it was packed with boats and jet skis and people, but we hung out just the same.  Here is a hike up the ridge...
 Where you can get a view like this.
 On the way down there was a rattlesnake hidden in the sand.  I got a picture before it could rattle and bite me.  I think it was pretty cold because it didn't move at all.