Archive for October, 2009

War Dolphins

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

We were visited by the Navy war-dolphins today and reminded that life is stranger than fiction.


These dolphins ride around in big rigid hull inflatables with special dolphin mattresses that fold up into a pup tent.



They get shoved off tail first…


Various tools/weapons(?) fit on the dolphin’s schnozz.


This poor shmoe with a helmet and neck brace jumps in the murky water…


and gets tagged by the dolphin. We’re not sure what happens in real life to this swimmer. Boom? You’re it? Beaked in the ribs?



Then the muzzled dolphin hops back in the boat. I’m all for the muzzling after I got tasted by a dolphin that I never saw on a zero vis dive and it scarred the doody out me.


Finally they all head back to the secret dolphin cave along with one of the many war-dolphin loving seagulls in the area, who frankly, have done nothing for the security of our nations floating assets.

32°43.50′N 117°11.00′W 27-Oct-09 13:25 PDT

San Diego

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Many of you may have wondered, “Why were you so nervous about getting to San Diego too early and having to hobo around the bay, one cable length ahead of the iron fisted mooring enforcement officers?” With the clarity of hindsight we have no good answer. We have had a thoroughly un-eventful and even delightful experience here with none of the expected and falsely advertised transient-vessel asspain.

In fact we’ve been here so long it feels like we’ve never been anywhere else. This is stressful only because the length of our stay suggests that we’ve arrived at the end destination… a very sad showing for two months travelling and eight lost paychecks when we could have been here in 3 hours for $500 on Alaska Airlines.

While it is important to understand and communicate with the ants in your pants who bark for onward progress (barking pants ants!?) one should not lose site of the value of the journey; a key goal of this whole experiment.

Here are the highlights of San Diego from various backwater anchorages…

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We landed in Mission Bay and slept like baby otters in the extremely calm dredged ponds of this manufactured coastal geology. It was unusual place like much of populated California. People were shooting movies in the shallows with a mechanical shark head, and night-kayaking by the hundreds in a long serpentine line of follow the leader, singing “Happy Birthday.” A tern colony flourished in the midst of this weirdness and we heard them (TernCalls.WAV) in the shallows all night.

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Who needs SeaWorld when you can watch the Navy war-dolphins for free? These war-dolphins and war-seals were having a great time and clearly enjoy their unique roles in the animal kingdom. Although to be honest the seal just got in his dog-crate while the dolphins did summersaults and hummed the national anthem.

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Just when you think you’ve forgotten about work the WHOI R/V Atlantis pops up (again) on the next dock with scaffolding all over the A-frame. Luckily for us, Dutch the port engineer was also in town to lock up our boat when we went to Pennsylvania for a week and left it all open. We’ve made him the honorary Port Engineer for Bint al Khamseen, a good man to have around when the yard starts flinging change orders at us.


We finally landed in the venerable A-9 anchorage with great views of downtown and all the fixed and rotor wing aircraft watching you could stand.

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Everyone in San Diego lives close to the airport but I think we live closer.

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You have to be a barnacle to live closer to the USCG Station.


The waterfront has a very unique mix of military, cruise ship and yacht traffic. Who knew that you could see trees through an aircraft carrier? And who knew that eventually a plastic production sailboat would evolve appendages that would allow it to rest on land and someday perhaps crawl into the uplands and find a niche among the other woodland creatures. If I was this little proto-landboat I would try to crawl up in that aircraft carrier hole and make a nest.


But even these diverting oddities can only hold our attention so long. We begin to look for other pastimes such as flying wee-small kites that we’ve somehow smuggled onboard.

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Our friends in the annual Baja Ha Ha sail migration all left this morning. We are glad to be behind them but not by much. We’ve laid in 20 lbs of bread flour and two cases of fire sale lemon soda. We have our fishing licenses and some really big jars of peanut butter. Our pockets are bulging with pesos and our insurance states that hurricanes officially end on 1 November. Its nearly time to go south.

32°43.57′N 117°11.06′W 26-Oct-09 21:01 PDT

Catalina Wildlife

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Catalina Island is full of bizarre wildlife. We were focused on the non-human variety.

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This watch dog was suspicious (like us) of the Two Harbors weekend crowd.

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It was quieter underwater but the characters were equally weird.

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Garibaldi fish were everywhere, some had to be chased, some posed for pictures and some insisted on filling every frame.

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The little ones are covered in blue spots.

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The littler they are the bluer they come.

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The caves were full of lobsters. We were snorkeling in a no-take area for invertebrates.

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The sandy bottom behind the boat was a nursery ground for baby rays, skates and guitarfish.

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The kelpy areas were full of greenling.

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We looked for the famous Catalina buffalo with Zak and Kim but all we saw was a great view of Two Harbors.

33°27.60′N 118°31.10′W 4-Oct-09 12:30 PDT