» Archive for December, 2006

Boat names are funny things…

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 by Jeanna

They are so personal, and boaters work so hard to find a way to identify themselves through the one or two words they put on the side of their boat. I like the name Page One – the owners are avid readers, and love the feeling of adventure they get when they open up a new book and start to read. No Regrets were the last words the boat owner heard from the parched lips of his dying father. I like the nod given to our Latin American neighbors through the names Perfecto, Mucho Gusto, and Adios Pantalones. We saw a nice looking fishing boat named Fortuna – is it named for the Latin word for fortune, or does it really mean FOR TUNA? Anticipation needs to meet with Relief; Freezing Rain needs to hook up with Overheated. Perhaps Bad Kitty might have something in common with Nasty Habit. We have had total strangers call us on the radio to tell us they really like the name of our boat. We haven’t seen another one named Ruby Slippers. We’ve named our dinghy Toto.

Every morning at 8:00 there is a cruiser’s net on the VHF radio. There is a moderator, who announces the different topics of the half-hour program: weather, sightings (cleverly called Bay Watch), comings and goings, swaps and trades, etc. The cruisers will come in when they are interested in a particular topic and give information or announce upcoming events, etc. Cruisers seem to live for this net; it is their lifeline to other people who are doing what they are doing. I get the sneaking suspicion that a lot of these people landed in La Paz, or wherever, and haven’t left in 5 or 6 years. Their only connection to the world of sailing is their morning dose of the net. When someone does something particularly noteworthy, or has a birthday, the moderator will say, “Let’s give some clicks to so-and-so for his good deed.” Everyone listening will click their hand microphones for a minute or so in applause for the amazing feat that was reported. Kind of silly, huh?

We had a nice few days in the islands off of La Paz – there are several good anchorages and some great snorkel spots. We went with two other boats that we have become good friends with – there are 8 kids between the ages of 9 and 15. We anchored close to each other, and had dinner together every night – mostly on our boat. It’s amazing that we can comfortably feed 14 people on this boat. Molly and Jessie are learning about “compressed” friendships – you meet someone, become fast, close friends, play hard, then you have to leave them after a couple of weeks, with promises to stay in touch forever. It was difficult for them to leave the gang from Pythagoras and Hakuna Matata. We hope to see them again on some semi-deserted island in the South Pacific.

The control box went kaput on our auto pilot, so we spent 60 hours crossing the Sea of Cortez steering by hand. I felt like Joshua Slocum, or maybe Columbus. It was kind of fun to steer by the stars. I would position the handle of the big dipper right in the middle of the V made from the flagpole and the backstay, and that kept a perfect course through my watches. Jim caught a 4-foot Dorado and Molly and Jessie pulled in a Sierra Mackerel. Jim also caught about a one-hundred pound striped Marlin on a regular fishing pole, but that fish jumped up in the air, looked at our little boat and flimsy pole, shook his head and flipped the hook right out of his mouth. He was not going to put up with the likes of us.

We are in warm, sunny Puerto Vallarta. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of my sister Jami and her family, who will be here through December 26. I’m equally excited to spend a little time in the condo they have rented, that I’m sure has large amounts of hot water, a big fridge, a pool, and a washer and dryer! We plan to go for a couple of day sails to some nearby islands for some Christmas snorkeling.

There is a huge, very fancy hotel here, with a Mayan/jungle theme. They have a small zoo right out front, with two very large tigers, some monkeys and birds. We were very sad about the tigers; although their small cages were clean, they looked very sad and bored. We asked the harbormaster at the marina about them and he said, “Tigers won’t mate if they are unhappy, and there have been 36 tigers born in captivity here at this hotel.” We felt a lot better about the whole situation.

We are still having challenges with our e-mail. I have discovered that a whole bunch of e-mails that I thought I had sent did not actually go. So, if you have e-mailed and feel ignored, please know that we are working on the problem.

Some new pictures in the Media Gallery -Merry Christmas to all of you! I’m sorry about the terrible weather in the northwest, and promise to take a dip in the 90 degree water here in your honor…

Molly’s Journal (Nov. 17 – Dec. 19)

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 by Molly

We are having loads of fun in La Paz! We found our friends from Pythagoras, Darby and Daniel (they are 10 and 11, if I didn’t already tell you that), again, and we met four other kids from the sailboat Hakuna Matata: John (15), Alan (13), Louise (10), and Robin (9). For most of our stay here, we have been swimming at the hotel pool with all of our friends, but we have gone out for a day sail to go snorkeling by Isla Espiritu Santo, where we saw weird spiny sea stars, big schools of little needlefish, and a huge green moray eel! We also went to Puerto Pichilingue for a few days to see our Uncle Roy, who is the skipper of the Lady J, a 185 foot motor yacht. When we came into the bay, we had seen little manta rays that were only about a foot wide swimming at the surface. Coming back from snorkeling near the shore, we found them gliding around beside the Lady J, and Jessie and I splashed out of the dinghy to swim with them. We tried to follow the rays around, but they were too fast for us, so we stayed in one place and waited for them to come near. The baby manta rays were really fun to watch, because they swam around by flapping their wings through the water. Uncle Roy had been watching from the Lady J, and he said that, when we were following the rays, they had come around behind us and swam about 6 feet away from us, turning when we did so that they kept out of sight. I guess they were curious, too!

We stayed in La Paz for about two and a half weeks, occasionally inviting the occupants of Hakuna Matata and Pythagoras over for dinner. Jessie and I spent every day with our friends, and there was a little church in town that we all went to on the Sundays that we were there. Pythagoras joined us when we went to feed the poor children of La Paz with the church, and we had a good time. We served the kids pancakes and hot cocoa, and Dawn, who is Danielle and Darby’s mom, talked to the kids in Spanish and video-taped them.

We had a great time in La Paz, but, all too soon, we decided that we had to leave. Before we left all of our friends, we went to the islands for a few days with Pythagoras and Hakuna Matata. First, we went to Puerto Ballena, the bay on Isla Espiritu Santo that we had visited before. There, we went snorkeling by a rock wall and saw hundreds of colorful fish. The coolest fish I saw there was an absolutely enormous puffer fish that was hiding in a crevice. He must have been at least three feet long, and his eyes were as big as a giraffe’s! Later, our anchorage started to get uncomfortable because of the high winds, so we decided to move on. We agreed that Caleta Partida looked like a good spot to anchor in, so all three boats made the short trip over.

We anchored in the middle of the bay, and Hakuna Matata and Pythagoras dropped anchor farther in. It seems like they chose a better spot than us, because we dragged anchor in the night. The next morning, we re-anchored over by them. After school, Jessie and I jumped off the boat and swam to Pythagoras. I had fun diving to the bottom and looking at all the puffer fish. While we were playing by the boat with our friends, someone called out that there was a sea lion! We all rushed over, and there was a young sea lion, streaking around near the bottom. It was really cool to watch, and we all started to dive down after it. When we swam down near it, it would come up to investigate us, twisting and spinning through the water. It came so close that you could almost touch it, and John actually did, once. Alan found out that it really liked to play around. If you came up to it and spun around or did a flip, it would copy you!! Soon after, the sea lion left, and we got out of the water and had lunch. We went to the beach and looked for shells, and Darby, Jessie, and I were all doing cartwheels and handstands. After that, we decided to look for the sea lion again, and found it! We swam around with it for a long time, and I found out about more of its games. It liked to swim all the way to the bottom and find a puffer fish, and then swim around it in tight circles until it swelled up like a balloon. Once, it tried this with a big Bullseye puffer, and that fish got really mad. It didn’t even swell up, and as the sea lion went by, the puffer tried to bite it! After watching this for a while, I decided to try it (but not with the Bullseye puffer). After finding a small puffer, I swam down to the bottom and came towards it. As I came closer, it puffed up and sped away, and it looked pretty funny. As I was coming up for air, I looked behind me, and there was the seal! It had been swimming right behind me, but it streaked away as soon as I saw it!

The next day, we headed to Ensenada Grande. We went snorkeling there, and we saw another moray eel that was even bigger than the last one!!! At first I thought it was a fish’s tail sticking out from under a small head of coral, but when I went down to take a closer look, I saw the huge eel’s head, with its mouth wide open! It freaked me out at first, but the eel was really cool.

The next day, we left the islands at about 6:00 in the morning and headed for Puerto Vallarta. We were in the ocean for three days, and we saw 8 turtles, just swimming along on the surface! We also caught a 49-inch Dorado, and while Dad was reeling it in, there was a group of dolphins swimming alongside the fish, looking like they were going to take a bite out of it. We got it on board okay, but the next day, we hooked into something gigantic! It fought for about 45 minutes, and it finally snapped the line. We got a look at it, though, because it still had the hook in its mouth, and it was leaping out of the water trying to shake it loose. The fish was a huge striped marlin! The funny thing was that, before we knew what type of fish it was, I said, “I bet it’s a marlin or something!”

We are now in Puerto Vallarta and we’ve found a slip. Our Aunt Jamie and Uncle Bill and our cousins are coming on the 20th and staying for Christmas, and I’m really excited. There is a small zoo near the hotel, and we saw two tigers, parrots that say ‘hola’, and a cute baby monkey and its parents. We also got to pet a baby mountain lion! It was really soft, and it was only two weeks old!

We’ve been having a lot of fun, and I can hardly believe that there’s only about one week until Christmas. Feliz Navidad!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29th, 2006 by Jeanna

Well, almost. I am excited to see what 2007 will bring – to us while cruising, to our families and friends, to Marine Servicenter, and to the world. I guess what it will bring to the Pacfic Northwest will be snow and bad weather. Brrrr- sounds awful cold up there.

We had a terrific Christmas – it was so fun to get to play with my sister Jami and her family, and show them a bit of our new life. We went sailing and snorkeling and saw whales and dolphins. We sailed to a small town named Yelapa, and hiked up to a waterfall. We alo did a zip line tour through a jungle just north of Puerto Vallarta. It took about an hour in a bumpy truck to get there, then we went on about 10 zip lines through the forest and had to repel back down to solid ground. It took no skill whatsoever, but I felt a bit like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible when he drops down into the building on all those wires. I think I am actually taller than Tom Cruise, but that is neither here nor there…. It was all very fun and exhausting, then we had another bumpy ride back home. My stomach muscles were sore the next day!

We are leaving Puerto Vallarta tomorrw to head south toward Costa Rica. We will stop at several small towns and anchorages on the way, but we should be in South America in about 2 weeks. Now, THAT really seems like another country to me! Mexico is so Americanized; in fact, most things here are copied from America. It is hard to find authentic food, music or crafts. I am looking forward to leaving the “big cities” and exploring more remote parts of the world.

Molly and Jessie are creating a power point presentation about Costa Rica. I guess their audience will be their parents. They have been working hard at downloading information and studying a guide book about the country. They are getting some help from our friend, Jim McLachlin, who is crewing with us for this leg of our trip. He’s a great guy and is fitting in very well. He even does the dishes…

Thanks to all of you who sent Christmas Greetings to us. We miss you all and think of you often! It’s Jessie’s turn to put her journal on the web – look for it soon! Happy New Year! Jeanna ( SEE CHRISTMAS PICTURES IN MEDIA GALLERY)