Tuesday, August 31, 2010
We feel that the worst of the hurricane has moved past us and we can safely begin our journey up to Ensenada doing the "Baja Bash". Our estimated time of arrival is the 13th of September as that is when the owner is planning on meeting us there for the haul out. Then we will States bound thereafter. For now, this is hasta lluego amigos as we'll be out of touch until Ensenada!!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I’m happy to report that it was an uneventful journey for us which means things went very smoothly. We were at sea for 26 days and have finally landed in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While I imagined I would have lots to write about on this journey, it has been pretty simple. We watched lots of DVDs, read tons of books, and slept whenever we could. Since there were three of us, the watch schedule was quite decent. Each person took a 4 hour watch every 12 hours. I was doing the 4:30 to 8:30 watches both morning and night, which I quite enjoyed because I got to see the sun rise and set every day.
We fished plenty and were lucky to catch many Mahi, Tuna, and one Wahoo. Having fish every night for dinner is something I never tire of; I’ve learned so many different ways to cook it on this journey.
At times I found the passage to be quite boring and slow. On a sailboat, there is the constant concern about sails, which usually means there is more to do. While I was craving excitement at times, it was also nice to relax on watches and not worry about going on deck for a sail change when the weather turned sour. I did find, however, that some of the drawbacks to a power boat stem from the engine. The constant drone of the engine can become irritating. I quite enjoy the hearing the hull of a sailboat slash through the waves without the mechanical hum which is something we didn’t experience on this vessel. Additionally, the engine creates an immense amount of heat that radiates into the cabin where we sleep. Sleeping in 100+ degree heat is never pleasant. Finally, the motion on this boat is not what I expected in the least. There are no stabilizers so we were frequently rocked back and forth in a rather violent manner that had us all white knuckled to the hand holds and praying our stomachs wouldn’t reveal their contents. We all experienced a twinge of sea sickness on this vessel, but fortunately, no one got to the point of vomiting, so all was well.
All in all, the journey was quite pleasant. We encountered a few squalls, but nothing of concern, which was a blessing. Being tropical storm season, our biggest concern was the weather, and we fortunately got lucky enough to follow one of the quickest courses possible without getting slammed by adverse weather.
Once we made a bit of headway into our journey and realized how the weather was holding out for us, we decided to try and aim for an atoll called Clipperton Island which was a good stopping off point en route to Mexico. After 18 days at sea, we arrived to Clipperton an hour too late. The sun had disappeared into the black clouds above and we couldn’t safely anchor with the darkness setting in and the poor visibility due to the cloudy weather. We drifted offshore throughout the night until daylight broke and we were able to see what we were doing. With reefs surrounding the island and virtually no protection from weather, even being in the lee of the island was a bit rough. To top it off, numerous stories of shipwrecks lost on the reef upped our cautionary measures and when we were able to see the evidence of the boats stranded on the beach, we knew not to mess around.
We were fortunate not to be one of those boats that Clipperton got the best of and we quite enjoyed the little reprieve once we safely set anchor. It was nice to turn off the engine and hear the waves crashing into the beach. It was our first sighting of land in 18 days and, furthermore, there was a large tuna fishing boat floating around a bit more offshore that made radio contact with us. There is other life out there! It was a delight to hear other voices after the weeks of solitude we had been experiencing aboard Antipodes. Its amazing how even in the company of three people, we spent most of our time not talking to each other and ducking out into the private little spaces we could find on board.
After the anchor was safely set, the boys both crashed out as they weren’t used to the early mornings like I was given the hours of the watch schedule. Furthermore, we decided to change the time to Pacific time so jumping three hours ahead didn’t help the body clocks. They spent the majority of the day sleeping while I cleaned up the boat and admired the little bird friend hanging out on the deck of the boat . It was nice to be in calmer seas so I could have a chance to tidy up and cook without being thrown around the boat. I made all sorts of goodies with the dwindling food supplies we had including cookies and fresh bread to name a few. When the boys finally woke up, they seemed quite surprised at my Suzie homemaker antics and were pleased as I greeted them with a delicious lunch. Feeling revived after a good snooze and feeding, we put the dinghy in the water and prepared to make a landing.
“LAND HO!” we exclaimed as Mike sped up the dinghy while aiming straight for the beach. We hoped to ride in on the surf in what seemed to be the calmest part along the shore. Stumbling out of the dinghy with waves crashing over us, we tried to heave her up onto the beach while screaming as the pieces of sharp coral cut into our feet. Just as we were about to make another heaving motion, a huge wave crashed into the dinghy filling her up . I panicked as I thought of my camera in the bow hoping that the double zip lock bags I stowed it in were staying dry. Mike decided to take the dinghy back out to sea and drain her and try the landing all over again. I didn’t want to have any part of it and I started to slowly meander up the beach as I watched Andy and Mike turn the dinghy around and try to push her over the breakers. Just when everything appeared to be going well, a huge wave lifted the dinghy into the air and made it perpendicular to the ground, just short of completely flipping her over. I hid my eyes and grimaced as I heard Mike cursing and running up the beach so as not to get trapped by the dinghy if she did in fact flip. He was lucky, the dinghy did not flip and he was able to hop in and get her safely offshore. His next landing attempt was much more successful and we were able to get the dinghy safely secured on the sand.
We gingerly walked up the slope of the beach between the rusted ship parts that were jutting out from the sand. As we eagerly approached the peak and were able to see the island, we were greeted by thousands of birds and heaps of rubbish, a lot of which was from the ship wrecks, but also much was from the crap people throw into the sea. I was in disbelief as I looked at all the plastic and glass that littered the pristine white beaches of the atoll. While awestruck by the beauty of the island, I was horrified at the pollution.
We spent the next few hours roaming around the island partly searching for treasure amongst all the flotsam and dodging the squawking birds who were protecting their incubating eggs. Tufts of palm trees poked out in random spots and a flowery green shrub surrounded the neon lime colored water of the lagoon. Although once inhabited, Clipperton has spent most of its years quite desolate. The people that did once live here established a small community, but the rough weather conditions made long term survival here impossible and they eventually were rescued after living on the island for a year. Evidence of their shacks as well as a generator were still in tact, but that was about all that remained of their existence here.
The highest point of the atoll was a giant 98ft rock that was riddled with caves. In our opinion, this looked to be the safest spot when the weather would get hairy. The island was exquisite and it was fun to play explorer and think about what life must have been like for the people that once lived here.
Back on the boat, further excitement teemed below the hull of Antipodes. Flashing bodies gleamed on the surface and we knew that the fish were abundant here. Andy had already caught a skipjack on the first night while drifting offshore, and leaving her hanging in the water invited a few visitors. White tip sharks devoured the body while it was still attached to the fishing rod. They looked like little puppies playing with a toy as they violently sunk their teeth into the body and voraciously shook their heads trying to free the fish from the lure. We eventually helped them out and watched them happily feast as the skipjack sunk.
Later that evening, the water surrounding the boat was filled with giant big eye tuna, which excited Mike to no end. He heard the fish splashing and quickly threw out a line in hopes to land a big one. He, in fact, did land one immediately, brought the fish aboard and instantly put on a new lure and cast it back into the sea with hopes of catching more. The fish were biting that night! The second he would throw a line in, he would get a bite. He couldn’t contain his excitement and woke up Andy to join in the fun. They spent a couple hours throwing in lines and fighting the large tuna. They lost a lot of lures, but in the end, we had three giant big eye tunas about 30lbs a piece. Mike was desperate for a night of fishing like this and he stayed up until midnight casting lines happy as could be. What a treat to have fresh tuna Sashimi!
The next day involved a bit more exploring and relaxing. Not feeling the best, I opted out of the snorkeling that day and let the boys go wild. Still feeling captivated by the deserted island, I decided to put on the film Castaway that evening just as the boys got back to the boat. Andy had caught two lobsters earlier while snorkeling, so we feasted on the delectable creatures of the sea while watching Tom Hanks lose his mind talking to a volleyball. Given the circumstances of our location, I had a new found respect for the movie and admired his willingness to survive. I was happy that we had shelter in the comfort of Antipodes.
Two and a half days of rest, relaxation, and exploration were just the what we needed to carry on with the next leg of our journey. The weather was still holding out for us so we opted to head straight to the Socorro islands which were 250nm off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Eager for more adventure snorkeling and island exploration, the 3 1/2 day journey was a breeze and we pulled into Isla Socorro just as the sun was rising. We were, however, greeted with bad news. The island was a naval base and not exactly keen on having us as visitors. They immediately called us as soon as they saw our ship and wanted to know our business. They said we could stay for one night on anchor, but before we could do so they had to inspect the vessel. Looking at the prison-like facilities and no sign of a town to get supplies, we decided to forego the hassles of a naval inspection and carry on straight to Cabo San Lucas.
It was a disappointment to miss out on the islands as they looked beautiful as we cruised by. But just as soon as we made our decision to carry on, we got news that a hurricane was brewing south of us and it would be best for us to get to Cabo and get the boat secure. The timing could not have been better and we made it just before the storm struck. In the end it all worked out for the best. We had been feeling pressure from Andy to hurry up and make landfall on the mainland so he could fly back home to Canada. While he claims he had to make an immediate return to work, we knew he was quite worn out from the journey and in need of a vacation with his wife before heading off back to work. We couldn’t blame him there. It had been a long passage.
Now Mike and I are in Cabo and saddling up for our next adventure, “The Baja Bash” up the coast to Ensenada. We are planning on taking it slow and trying to enjoy the trip up as we can’t arrive until after the 13th and know that when this journey ends we have a bunch of headaches awaiting us in Napa, CA with our boat Isabella. I’ve made it through my first long offshore passage and I’m so happy I had the experience. While slow and dull at times, I am still in awe of the great ocean and eager to get more sea time under my belt. But for now, I’m craving guacamole and cerveza and am off to enjoy the sweet little treasures of Mexico.