Monday, January 3, 2011

Dec 21 - Lunar eclipse

The full Moon is beautiful. Even if it's brightness washes out the stars. Nic and I watched the sunset to starboard and the Moon rise to port, while serenaded by Getz and Gilberto. Ridiculously romantic! Totality occurred around 1:30 a.m. while we sailed somewhere off Manzanillo. I'm reminded of how Columbus, sailing into the Caribbean, used his knowledge of an upcoming eclipse to trick natives into believing he had godly powers, capable of turning the Moon into the color of blood. I'm perfectly content to sit out this watch. Sula is sailing herself beautifully. I've made a little bed in the cockpit with a pillow and a blanket so I can lie back and watch the eclipse. Every quarter hour or so, I get up and scan ahead and astern to see if there are ships on the horizon. Manzanillo is a busy port, and more often than not, there are lights on the horizon which need to be monitored relative to our motion. We are 21.38 hours from our destination. Lots of shooting stars. The North star is low, around 15 degrees above the horizon, which makes everything out of whack for a star gazer from Canada. 2:03 a.m., and the Moon is still bathed in Earth's shadow. It's illumination has been reduced by more than a factor of a thousand, and the stars have returned to the sky. The Milky Way stretches above the horizon as a band, rather than an arc across the sky. I joke with Nic that sailing during the day is boring as there is nothing to look at. No stars to steer by.

Down and Back

We're back in Barra! We've been down to Zihuatenejo and back already! A long way. Its 200 miles from here to Zihua, and it took us 2.25 days straight motoring/sailing/motorsailing to get down there. We dropped anchor on winter solstice and my parents swam out to the boat at anchor just off Madera Beach where they were staying. That night Sara and I stayed ashore in a a nice room with a huge open wall looking out over the anchorage. We took amazing showers and drank cold juice from a fridge. Luxury! We slept like logs and woke up to the sun rising above the bay. It was a fast and relaxing 6 days in Zihua. Some days were spent doing nothing. Wonderful nothing. We went out to eat almost every night. And we all got sick! Except for Sara,.. and Avi. But it was even nice to get sick. And be forced to do even less than nothing. It was sad to head north again, to see family and Zihua fading astern, but we've got a schedule. Threatening Michoacan and Headwinds after lazy days in the sun.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Barra de Navidad

Dec (?) Nic and I are in Barra de Navidad. Cruiser Mecca. We're using the cheap internet at the Sands Hotel. The Happy Hour here is popular with the cruisers, probably because the drinks are super cheap, and that they have a great tie up for dinghies. There are about a dozen boats anchored in the cove behind the breakwater. Nic is blogging while I shop for carpets and pottery. Tomorrow, we continue south to meet up with Nic's parents in Zihuatanejo. It's 200 nm. A long voyage, but we're ready. A few more provisions to gather, and then we're off!

Dec 11th, 22:05

We're 4 miles off Cabo Corrientoes, the most SW point of the Bahia de Banderas. Nic has just gone below to nap, so I am standing watch. Alone. My first solo night watch! This is a totally new experience for me. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little spooked by the idea, but it does help that the seas are pretty calm. There's virtually no wind, so we're motor sailing with just the main. Also, the moon is out - a waxing crescent, which is enought to illuminate the ocean and outline the mountains to port. Nic harnessed me in to.. WHOA! Another one! Every once and a while, a HUGE glowing mass travels across the water. The phosphorescence revealing something's path. We've seen lots of dolphins zipping around the boat, but these lights are different - more diffuse, deeper (?) and generated by a much larger body in motion, seemingly larger than Sula. It's not hard to imagine these lights are created by whales as we've seen them so frequently. Whether it's a whale or a school of fish, it's difficult to tell. But it's really incredible to see all of this action around you in the middle of the ocean at night.

6:38 a.m. Nic came up around 1 a.m. and I fell into bed. Nic had a great watch. Lots of wind, some big waves, dolphins and shooting stars. When I went to bed, Orion was overhead, now he's setting to starbord.Sirus is 20 degrees above the horizon and Venus is brilliant off the port bow. For a while, it felled in for the moon, lighting up the sea. And now, the sky is just starting to brighten as the Sun approaches the horizon. 6:59 a.m. No more stars. Just Venus. The Sun is coming up ahead in the SE. I can see the horizon all around us now. Some nice rolling swell pushing us towards our destination. We just hit 7.3 kn! This has been one of the most exciting and beautiful experiences. I'm thinking a lot of my family and their off-shore adventures. Cedar in 20 ft swells off the Bahamas, steering through the waves while listening to the Chieftans, and Harmony, sailing to Costa Rica and then doing a trans-Atlantic.. I've waited a long time for this.

My first post!

Dec 6th, 10 p.m.
Nic has kindly allowed me add to his blog, which has been a wonderful way to keep friends and family up to speed on our progress. Forgive the leap back in time, but I'm entering some notes from my journal from our departure from PVR... Before the funeral, we did a two day trip to Yelapa, across the Bay of Banderas. The mountain hike and waterfall were wonderful. But the most incredible experience happened one night around 10 p.m. A pod of dolphins had corralled a school of fish in the cove where Sula was anchored. A display of 'phosphorescence fireworks' took place before our eyes as dolphins chased fish around Sula.. It was incredible! We could see the shapes of the dolphins illuminated by the phosphors. The speed with which they moved and that their prey responded with animated the black waters like cloud lightning across the sky. It was incredible! It's a great comfort to see such richness and diversity of wildlife. Almost every day sailing we've seen whales! Over breakfast at our anchorage in Yelapa, we saw half a dozen manna rays swimming by - their 'wing tips' appeared as a school of tiny dorsal fins. During our hike in the mountains, Nic spotted the most beautiful emerald parrots flying across the tree tops. And during our sail back to PVR, we were escorted by dolphins swimming at Sula's bow. I feel like nature is thriving, in spite of everything.