Archive for November 16th, 2009

Cruising Yin and Yang

Monday, November 16th, 2009

We’ve discovered there’s a definite dichotomy to our cruising life, and lately we’d been feeling a bit heavy on the “ordeal” side.

Life is good when we’re at anchor, filled with simple pleasures: a full night’s sleep in a horizontal bed, coffee in the morning, reading, swimming, going ashore, etc. But our overnight passages have definitely become the yin to the anchorage yang. We’ve had some great sailing and witnessed some spectacular beauty at sea for sure, but our recent passages have been something of a grind. It’s probably because they’re too short – usually just a couple days – not long enough for S’s stomach to adjust to the constant motion, and we suspect, for us to become exhausted enough that we can sleep heavily on our off-watches through all the noises and motion. On our last passage, 50 hours from Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria, we had fluky winds, pesky squalls, and the ever-present northwesterly swells to carefully present our backside to (or else roll obnoxiously). At the end of it we were sleep deprived, queasy (S), rather low on humor, and quite ready for some R&R.

Thankfully, we have little doubt of our anchor set here in Bahia Santa Maria. When we arrived Saturday morning the 18-knot winds blew the boat sideways downwind as K deployed the anchor and chain, but we felt the anchor bite hard as it whipped the bow around to face it. We slept soundly well into the afternoon.

Yesterday we set out to increase the fun quotient of our trip, and it was a resounding success. This bay is beautiful. The blue water is warm, and there’s a spectacular sandy beach that extends for miles. We collected pretty shells and went body surfing and snorkeling. We were also pleased to find we could successfully land and re-launch our dinghy through the surf – an important but intimidating cruising skill to learn. Today we started getting ready for the next leg, the 345 miles to La Paz, down around the corner in the Sea of Cortez. We scrubbed the flora and fauna off the boat’s bottom, to the delight of the local population of juvenile jacks, and switched out our big genoa for the lighter version – a former Halberg-Rassey headsail K salvaged from the Shilshole dumpster giveaway pile last year and recut to fit Khamseen. It ain’t pretty but we have high hopes for its billowy power. We’re refreshed, S is armed with a full pack of Stugeron, and we’re eager to go again.

24°45.89’N 112°15.67’W 16-Nov-09 23:15 UTC

Big Birds

Monday, November 16th, 2009

This post is dedicated to our friends at Pelican Packaging Inc.001

Everyone loves a pelican, in most places they are the comical residents of the local pier looking for easy chow.

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The pelicans of Baja are more serious, they are an organized fish killing army of thousands, annihilating schools of bait fish with disturbing efficiency.

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We watched as The Six Pelicans of the Apocalypse gathered a pterodactyl legion of menhaden death.

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A horde of pelicans and cormorants smelled the blood and gathered from miles around, covering the surface of the bay with waves of low level birds.

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Soon, thousands of circling birds plunged into an area the size of a swimming pool as the bait school made its way past the point and into the bay (probably a mistake on their part).

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These birds were operating under VFR with no flight traffic control authority and yet we documented no midair collisions.

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The fisherman’s coop also mobilized to cash in on the bait bonanza.

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Two skiffs put out a small purse seine.

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Then they noticed a lot of pelicans.

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AGHHHHHHH!! It’s a pelican nightmare!

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By the time they got to the end of the net they had one fish box of bait left and were floating in a sea of bloated, burping birds.

27°41.00’N 114°52.70’W 15-Nov-09 20:00 PST