Archive for the ‘The journey’ Category

BIRDS

fredag, augusti 10th, 2012

Text and photo by Ginni Callahan

 

When I was a kid, I broke my foot just before an elementary school class field trip. Instead of participating in the weekend’s activities, I was perched inside a window opposite a bird feeder, where a staff member occasionally came by to offer some informative morsel about the feathered activity I was seeing. I got to drive with the staff member on errands and watch a sparrow hawk hover over a meadow and dive for a mouse.

I was enthralled. However, being an active, busy person, I seldom slow down enough to enjoy birds like that.   On our crossing from Mexico to the South Pacific I had time. I took a great interest in birds again because looking for them gave me an excuse to stand in the cockpit and stare at the horizon for hours, which was a good antidote to seasickness. Then I realized that photos were great aids for identification. One could zoom in closer with the camera than with the eye. The photo would hold still long enough to study markings against the Seabirds book. The challenges of taking clear photos of a flying bird from a moving boat, with the dynamic background of the sea, kept me trying.

Our reference is Seabirds: an Identification Guide by Peter Harrison.

On anchor in the Marquesas I fell in love with the flocks of little white terns and their aerial maneuvers. Sun caught them dancing against a dark background of verdant hillside or grey full-bellied cloud. But I couldn’t get a satisfactory photo.

With the mission of capturing their carefree spirit in pixels, I went ashore with the camera on the atoll of Makemo. That started a tradition of wandering about on scraps of land in the South Pacific and photographing birds, and other things that caught my eye.

Below are some photos.  For stories about the experience, please visit my blog

http://kayaktravel.blogspot.com/

List of seabirds seen:

At sea:

White-tailed tropic bird Phaethon lepturus

Red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda

Masked booby Sula dactylatra

Wedge-tailed shearwater Puffinus pacificus

Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii

Madeiran storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea

Sooty tern Sterna fuscata

 

Tuamotu atolls:

White tern (Fairy tern) Gygis alba

Crested tern Sterna bergii

Grey-backed tern Sterna lunata

Great frigate Fregata minorj

Lesser frigate Fregata ariel

Red-footed booby Sula sula

Brown booby Sula leucogaster

Brown noddy Anous stolidus

Black noddy Anous t. minutus

 

 

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

måndag, juni 11th, 2012

We left La paz at the end of April. It was on a sunday and the customs were closed but we had to go because we had reached our deadline. Unfortnatly we had to stop in Cabo san lucas as well (the very southern end of  Baja California) to deal with the customs there before leaving Mexico. Cabo san lucas is a crazy tourist party town as I want to avoid if I can. Cruise ships, charterboats, pangas, jetskiis crowded all over in the bay which makes the anchorage terrible. We filled up diesel, bought the last food and supplies we needed and decleared out from Mexico. We left Cabo the same day as we arrived and headed out at sea. Finally were on the way for real.

First night was a little rough, struggeling on foredeck to tie things up for the long passage while the waves was growing steeper and bigger. Already tired before we left didn’t make it better and at this point we were both dealing with seasickness. The wind was almost on the nose and our beam reach took us more away from our course than we wanted. To tired to start tacking up against hard wind and breaking waves so we decided to ”hove to” (when you bottom reef the sails and put the fore sail across so the boat can not sail but still keep it up to the wind and make a calmer movement), a good decision as gave us some sleep. Next morning we could still see Cabo san lucas in a distance, we hoist the sails and continued sailing south west. The wind was good, around 15 knots from the north.

After a few days of sailing I heard the wiskerpole (the boom that keep the foresail out during downwind) was banging up on deck, it was broken in half. Because of Misty’s sometimes heavy rolling side to side when running downwind it makes it hard on the rig and sails. The boom might even have hit the water. After some searching of spare material I was lucky to find the dingy mast to fit perfect inside the broken wiskerpole and after some more work they were joined together and the rest of the hardware was mounted on to the dingy mast. As an extra back up I lashed a 1” steelpipe on to the wiskerpole to avoid the same thing to happend again. It seemed to work, but the pole was now a little more heavy.

The days at sea goes on without too much different. Suddently after so long time of work and preparing we got lots of sparetime left over. Daily rutines like checking the sails, windsteering, navigation, weather fax, cooking food and watching out for other ships makes the days goes fast. Of course lots of time for reading books as well so it’s never boring. The worst is definately when it’s no wind at all, especially with swell at the same time. Getting nowhere and with the sails flopping hard in the rig can drive you nuts.

Our planned route was pretty much just a straight line between Cabo san lucas and Nuku hiva in Marquesas Islands, though after 14 days when we reached the UTC zone (Doldrums) we started heading straight south to cross it as fast as possible. UTCZ is a long lowpressure belt along the equator, it’s often flat calm or very little wind from various directions. Off and on heavy squalls (rain) as use to bring some strong winds for a short time.We motored thru the most calm areas and after two and a half days we thankfully starting get some south easterly tradewinds. The next day we passed the equator. First week on the southern hemispere the sailing was superb, just like this typical ”tradewind sailing” as many cruisers dream about. Steady wind around 12-15 knots on a broadreach and long big waves as made the sailing smooth. I was starting wonder if this ever will come, after years of sailing my experience is that perfect wind and sea conditions do not last very long. This was almost to good to be true, we hardly touched the sails or the windsteering for days. The last days down to Marquesas the wind and sea was changin, first calm then strong wind as turned south so we had to go up windward. It took in total 25 days to reach Marquesas Islands.

The climate here is hot and sticky, common with short heavy showers which explain the green tropical enviroment. It’s a bit of a culture chock to come from the desert in Mexico to this djungle climate. We came in to Taiohae on Nuku Hiva which is the capital of Marquesas and the official port of entry to French polynesia. Here cruisers gather from all over the world after a long pacific crossing. Fun to see some boats as we know since before in Mexico.

Ginni flew out just a few days after we arrived, she was going for some kayak event up in the states. From here I will continue on my own to the Tuamotus, which is a group of 78 islands, mostly atolls. Ginni and I will meet up there in a few weeks.

PREPARING FOR THE SOUTH PACIFIC

söndag, april 22nd, 2012

 

Guaymas is behind us. Misty was launched in early March after another several months in Marina Guaymas. The major projects for this season were to rebuild the engine bed so that the propeller shaft could be lined up properly. Also some interior work such as new chart table and galley sofa/table to get more storage onboard. It was a big relief to set sail again and to see that the things on the boat seems to work fine.

We crossed the Sea of Cortez down to Puerto Escondido in Baja California, where we stayed for a while to continue with all the smaller projects and provisioning. It is a project just to find space and storage for 6 months of food onboard when the boat is already full of other stuff. As well have a system and be able to find it. Things can easy disappear on a boat.

At the moment we are in La Paz, the southern end of Baja California and working on the last things before the long sailing to French Polynesia. SSB radio, Pactor modem, AIS, VHF, GPS, EPIRB, Watermaker etc. All this tecnical things  have to work properly for better navigation, communication, weather information and safety. Rigging, hull and engine has been overhauled as well. The raw waterpump and the transmission had some issue and had to be taken apart.

By now we are almost out of money but ready to go cruising. The next stop from here will hopefully be Marquesas Islands, close to a 3000 nauticalmile crossing that approximately will take around 3-4 weeks if everything goes well.

Hasta luego Mexico!

Slow Boat Farm

onsdag, augusti 31st, 2011

 

The last two months I’ve spent up at Ginni’s farm in Washington State. The farm has 21 acre and it’s located on Puget Island in the Columbia River, just at the border to Oregon. Cathlamet is the nearest town and Astoria is a half hour drive away. The location is good, not too far from the Pacific coast in the west or to the mountains in the east. Though a big tsunami or earthquake could probably wash the whole Island away, which would be a bummer…

At the moment Ginni is leasing out 15 acres and a house to a family who have lots of animals, cows, horses, sheeps, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, you name it. It’s great to see all the animals around.

Ginni and I live in the ”milkroom”, a small house which is the perfect size for us. Beside the Milkroom, there is old barn which unfortunately is slowly fallen apart. In addition to that we have a big outdoor kitchen.

Here you are never unoccupied. Just to keep the grass down is lots of work. Ginni grows some vegetables and herbs, like garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, beets, broccoli, cilantro, beans, peas, onions, carrots  etc. Lots of weeds as well. At farmers market every Friday you can also buy all kinds of local grown food.

Ginni has owned this farm for 6 years, but has only been here during summertime. The property has water access, so she also operates a kayak symphosium on the farm during a couple of weeks every year (Loco roundup) and kayak nurds gather from all over the world.

The country life fits me good, I like open space and distance between people. I don’t mind working hard as long as I have the opportunity to leave once in a while. Travel and exploring is still the most important thing.

Change of scenery

fredag, juli 15th, 2011

In Port Canaveral, Florida I board ”Freedom of the seas”, one of the world largest cruiseship. This ship has a capacity for almost 6000 people and is like a floating city. It’s on the way to Caribbean. My visit was supposed to be a few weeks but turned out to be 2 month.

First week we visit Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Martin. Next week it is Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman and Cozumel. That how it goes week after week with always a final stop in Port Canaveral, Orlando. Though I didn’t came here to play tourist. Me and my partners are here to repair some leaking pipes.

In Caribbean the climate is hot and humid. Hilly and lush islands surrounded of turquoise colored water. Around the ports everything is built up for the tourists. Souvenier shops, restaurants, arranged diving trips, charter trips and jetskis. This might be paradise for some people but it don’t take long to see how artificial the whole thing around the tourism industry is.

After 2 month my mission is over. I’m glad to walk off the ship and head for other locations.

Back to Baja

onsdag, juni 1st, 2011

After returning to Loreto and wiping the dust off Ginni’s pickup truck we camp at Rattlesnake beach. The truck is our mobile home for now. Most of the RV’s and campers are gone for the season, only a few mexican fishermen are staying at the beach. It’s peaceful and quiet. Though the sheltered lagoon in Puerto Escondido is crowded with boats, the Loreto fest for cruisers is going on.

Spending the days with random activities, kayaking, hiking and also some work on Ginni’s kayakfleet. Ivette from Mexico and Ginni running their kayak company in Loreto. They have an office there and 17 kayaks which occasionally need some maintenance.

Just a week later an opportunity came up for me to join a cruiseship in Caribbean. I decide to go and Ginni offered to drive me down to La Paz to catch the flight onward. On the way down and despite a broken muffler we took some smaller desert roads  for the reason to go for a swim in the Pacific ocean.

We reach La paz just after dark and the next morning I take the flight to Florida.

 

Springtime in the boatyard

torsdag, maj 5th, 2011

All to the end of April I spend the time in the boatyard. Ginni also come over from Baja California to enjoy the boatwork.This year it was not so much major projects but lots of smaller things that take long time as well. Lots of time was also spend on grinding, sanding and painting.

At the end of the month we were finished with most of the things we wanted to get done with Misty before launch. Though I needed to adjust the engine so it accurately lines up with the propeller shaft. That’s very important to avoid damage to bearings and transmission.

After a proper check I realized that the engine is extremely out of position. So much that it must be lift out and the engine bed has to be changed. No wonder why the two last cutless bearings wore out in so short time…

I start to lift the engine with a come-along and I cut the aluminium oil pan under it in pieces just to get it out so I can reach the engine bed. I temporarily adjust the engine in right position with help of shim plates so I can figure a way to rebuild the engine bed. It will work but it will be another ”two weeks” project.

At this point we are tired of boatwork. We’ve been here longtime, the days are hot and in the night time the mosquitos are a pain. Ginni also only got a couple of weeks left of her vacation and we rather spend them doing something more fun than boatwork.

It’s time for a change and we decide to leave Misty and the boatyard for the summer and go back to Baja California.

Marina seca

tisdag, februari 22nd, 2011

Over a month have passed since i returned from Baja California to the boatyard in Guaymas. Lots of work have been done with Misty. Some new custom made things are: Anchorwinch mount, kayakracks, bench and wood on aftplatfrom, ladder, bomgallow etc. Beside that, some changings, maintenace and repairings. The biggest labor right now is to grind and epoxypaint the deck and it takes longer time than you can image.

Though I’m not the only one here that battle with boats. This yard is like a small community, all kind of people from all over the world. Different kind of boats and all with their own problems. Some people have been here for many years. The thing we all have in common is that one day hopefully launch the boat and set sail for new destinations. A classic comment in the yard is ”I only got two more weeks”…

The paradox is, what suppose to be your ticket to the freedom can easy be your anchor. But for me I rather see people live this alternative lifestyle and keep believe in their dream, instead of rot in front of a TV in a terraced house.

Not to forget many of the people in this yard are experienced sailors with lots of stories to tell.

New year in Baja California

lördag, januari 15th, 2011

Just before new year I went to visit my girlfriend Ginni Callahan in Baja California. I took a flight from Guaymas to Loreto. Ginni have her camp at Rattlesnake beach south of Puerto Escondido, which is about 25km south of Loreto.
For 14 years she’s been coaching kayaking and doing guided trips from this beach during the winter seasons. The remaining 6 month of the year she is doing the same thing up in Washington/Oregon or other places in the world.

For this season Ginni also brought down a kayak for me as will go with Misty further on. I will pick it up when I return to Loreto in March with my boat. Not that i’m a kayaknurd but it’s a great way to explore along a shoreline in shallow waters. Faster and more quiet than a rowing dingy.
Last year Ginni start using sail for her kayak and I now get a chance to try it as well. The sail it’s not big but it sure helps in windy conditions, especially downwind. I trying to convince her to get a real sailingcanoe instead but she disagree…
At new year eve we paddle out to Isla Danzante and camp for the night on the southeast end of the island. It’s pitch black at 7pm and i’m well asleep at midnight. Next morning it’s sunny but a little chilly. The northerly wind picks up fast and we having a rough paddle back against wind and waves.

A couple of days later we are a few people who doing the scenic hike up the canyon west of Rattlesnake beach. It been dry for a long period so it’s only water in the upper part of the canyon. Well up there after 2 hours hiking we jumping in to the pool of ice cold water. The hike down goes faster.
On my last day at the beach I helping Ginni to put her camp down. Next morning she’s leaving for Australia for 6 weeks. I’ll see her again in March.

Guaymas-Mexico

torsdag, december 23rd, 2010

A few days ago I arrived in Guaymas. I’m back at my boat in Marina seca.

Misty had been alone for several month during the HOT summer but seems to have survived  pretty good. No big damage though a thick layer of dust everywhere. The tarp I put up over the cockpit before leaving is hanging in pieces.

Many of the other boatbums in the yard is back as well. A few lives here year around but most people leave their boat during the brutal summer. Besides chance of hurricanes and heavy rains the temperature summertime can be more than +50 degrees Celsius (120 f). Now it’s a suitable temperature around +25 C daytime. Night time can be a little chilly.

It’s taking a couple of days just to settle in. Clean up, fill up water and food and talk to people. I allow myself to take it a little easy before starting up any of the boatproject for this season.

It’s good to be back home.