Archive for February, 2010

Blog Maintenance

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Our friends at Blogger recently lost their good nature and hosed up our website. We’re working on it but you may not have all the groovy functions you’ve come to expect for a while.


Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Move over Buenos Aires, step aside New Orleans, the La Paz Carnival celebration is in full swing! The 1.5 mile malecon street along the seafront is packed with dangerous looking mechanical rides, vendors covering all fried food groups, wrestling masks, tropical drinks, and 10ft high ramparts of stacked blankets (blankets? no idea why so many blankets). 

We focused on the mini-equestrian industry. We learned that “pony” in Spanish is: “poni.”

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We had the option to see some even more phenomenal animals: a 5-legged pit bull, a two headed calf, a kangaroo dog, a hairless dog, and some type of unusual chickens.

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Then there was Mary Poppins holding Wendy, who at only 40-cm tall, is the smallest girl in the world  – although the fine print suggested it was only an optical illusion.

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Though we could have seen all these wonders for less than $1 per person, we passed and headed straight for the bandstand where we heard some top shelf Ranchero and Salsa and saw some brilliant hula and Mexican Classical Dancing (Bailar Classica).

We met our new friend Ysidro after about 5 seconds of watching the band.

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He was a man with a mysterious past and two kids in Indianapolis. Ysidro had a variety of skills including recreational hard drug acquisition and salsa dancing.

Ysidro schooled S in salsa, then K & S blew everyone’s socks off with a little bump and grind and some spicy polka moves they picked up in Erie’s Lower East Side.

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We practiced our Spanish and collected the following intelligence from Ysidro:

1) Mexican wives are expensive and they talk too much

2) American wives don’t speak Spanish and like to dance

3) “Bailar classica is no ‘effing good for me”

Ysidro was finally driven off by the high brow classical dancing to find another Ranchero band but not before giving us three tiny coffee mugs that could have been part of Wendy’s stoneware.

We feel like we have finally participated in the Mexico of the Mexicans.

24°09.00′N 110°19.52′W 14-Feb-10 16:00 PST

The Flying Manta Rays of Isla Partida

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

We typically get wet to see our friends in the deep, but a fast inflatable can get you a dry look at the Flying Manta Rays of Isla Partida.


These rays fly out of the water to a height of about 6 feet.


At maximum altitude they spin, cartwheel, and flip.


Sometimes they land like airplanes…

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sometimes they land upside down.


  Sometimes they jump with their buddies (Popcorn Rays!).

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They jump periodically throughout the day but they save the serious jumping for sunset and cloudy days.  K thinks they don’t jump when its sunny, its bad for their shiny complexions and their Ray Bans fall off.

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They look absolutely joyous and like most fun things, only the young ones do it.


24°32.60′N 110°24.70′W   6-Feb-10 03:43 UTC

Caleta Partida

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

We escaped La Paz again to squeeze in a few more days in the islands before our upcoming family visits in the States.

Khamseen shared the anchorage at Caleta Partida with 14 other boats.  Seven of them were Moorings charter boats (including Firecat) in a flotilla organized, we heard, by Cruising World magazine.  The anchor lights of the fleet anchored behind us looked a bit like a small city.

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S got a case of fish fever, triggered by the capture of a small tuna by our friends John (of Coral Rose) and Pat (of Gitana) the day before.  We hadn’t had tuna in months, and S’s mouth started to water. 


Schools of small tuna were causing boils of bait fish all over Caleta Partida, so we set off in the dinghy armed with our newly repaired dumpster casting rod and reel. 


We anchored off the rocks on the south side of the bay where the action was hot.  Unfortunately nobody was interested in our lures – that is, until K brought out the Buzz Bomb.  Unlike the little lead-head hook (yellow with a painted on eye), the neon orange spoon, or the glittery yellow sparkle beetle that we tried, the buzz bomb is a no-frills piece of diamond-shaped metal, but it had what it took.  K caught a Little Tunny (no fooling, we didn’t make that up, it’s in a book) within minutes. 

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Then while trolling, S caught another type of tuna (Our crummy fish book has failed us on this one – A?) on the same lure.  

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The buzz bomb now ranks as our inshore equivalent of the candy cane lure.

These fish are gorgeous.  Up close and personal with our recently dispatched specimens, we gained a deeper appreciation for their beauty and elegant design.  First, they feel different than the other fish we’ve been catching.  Rather than limp, slimey, and scaley, the torpedo-like tunas felt compact, firm and smooth, their silvery iridescent skin almost soft.  Plus, we realized that they have (what we call) fin compartments – for extra zippiness!  Note the depression behind the pectoral (side) fin – it lets the fin fold totally flush against the body.  The dorsal fin also folds totally flush against the back.

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Alas, we couldn’t admire them forever, so we got to work disassembling them. 


Full of joie de vivre, S gave in to her well-developed soft spot for pelicans and shared a bit of our good fortune.

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The gulls were totally outraged at this blatant favoritism.

24°31.99′N 110°22.62′W   6-Feb-10 03:43 UTC

The Floating Bluebottles of Isla Partida

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

We recently learned that these Portuguese Men of War are called “Bluebottles” in Australia. It makes more sense, it was never clear what made them Portuguese, and it turns out they are less like men of war and more like beautiful, scary friends. LittleCamera 098



Many have asked, does a deadly jellyfish have any hope of friendship?

We have learned that you can make a career of stinging your neighbors with long tentacles that each hold thousands of venomous nematocysts, and still have a pretty big social circle.

This is good news for the intimidating and dangerous characters among us: There is indeed someone for everyone.



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The story becomes clear from below, this Bluebottle drifts with a posse of about half a dozen small, bizarre fish of at least three different flavors.

We wonder if they ever get stung. Based on experience in past relationships, we think probably yes, and that it makes them very careful.

Their intrapersonal skills must be very well developed with a large capacity for acceptance and compromise as they spend their lives with the constant threat of death by neurotoxin and no vote in the itinerary.






Fated to live between the devil and the deep blue sea, they spend their days keeping bug-eyed watch among the deadly tentacles…

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and do their best to be inconspicuous. Two species sport tentacly camouflage and a third uses the old transparent invisibility trick.

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24°32.60′N 110°23.70′W   6-Feb-10 03:43 UTC

The Middle Sea

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The middle part of the Sea of Cortez is a place of high mountains, colorful geology and dramatic weather.

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We saw banded purple mountains on an early morning run along the coast north of Los Gatos.

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And pointy hills among them

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This coast is full of pocket coves and one rare uncharted palm grove which we named “Palm City” in honor of the palms.


Further south we fell in with a pod of 30 pilot whales.

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These whales hold a flow of laminar water across their face like a veil as the come up to breathe. Its hard to tell where the water stops and the whale starts.

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We anchored behind an uncharted spit on Isla San Jose and named it Cowry Spit in honor of the cowry shells we found there in abundance and their spit, a rare homeopathic ingredient and the origin of the ancient saying, “Rare as cowry spit”. It was also a place were the beach vultures roamed, too full of fish carrion to fly.

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We looked out from the Middle Sea Drizzle Belt to the sunny north beyond a broken lighthouse.


The white speck across the channel is the sailboat Tao sailing out of the cleft-ridden Nopolo canyon in a blustery north wind.  We soon followed.


There were hills of every color in the midday sun …

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on both sides of the channel.


We crossed into the Southern Sea and made landfall among the chocolate bands of Isla Partida…

049 where we took up our old moray-ridden anchorage

061 and watched the sun set on this voyage to the Middle Sea.

25°01.78′N 110°42.39′W 18-Jan-10 14:00 MST