What's in her name?

What's in her name (Salish Aire)?

from her new home the Salish Sea

Aire as in a melody of song.

Salish + Aire = The melody of the Salish Sea.

Salish Sea:
In the late 1700's Captain George Vancouver wandered around the waters of what are now known as British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. He did the usual 1700's explorer thing and put names he chose on everything he saw. The names stuck and are recognized and used to this day.

New lines were added to Captain Vancouver's charts in 1872 (after a near war with Great Britain over a pig) which made waters on one side of the line Canadian and those on the other side of the line American.

It wasn't until 1988 (officiated in 2009) that someone finally realized that fish and various critters, (to say nothing of the water itself) were never involved in the boundary treaties and really ignored them completely. (This is best illustrated by the problems that Homeland Security has with Canadian Canada Geese and American Canadian Geese - it seems they refuse to carry passports and have been known to poop on the head of any border patrol person who tries to challenge their right to cross the border when and where they choose!) In reality the waters from Olympia to the well up the East side of Vancouver Island are pretty much one ecosystem.

The Coast Salish are the indigenous peoples who live in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state along the Salish Sea and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. The Salish Sea is named in honor of the earliest recorded peoples who plied her waters and learned to live in harmony with her.

Monday, September 2, 2019


After I posted the notes about returning to the Sea of Cortez I realized that I had forgotten to write up our experience resetting our "new" Max-Prop underwater. I had hoped to have lots of photos but since ideally we would have had 3 people on the project with a 4th taking photos but with only 2 of us our hands were quite full.

As a reminder in his book that started it all Voyaging Under Power Robert Beebe recommended that long range cruising power boats should have some way of getting home should their main engine fail.  In Salish Aire's case we have a second very small "wing" engine for emergency use.  The engine has its own transmission, prop shaft, and propeller.  The original propeller was a Martec brand 2 blade folding propeller that causes minimal drag when it is folded underway but is very weak when backing up. 

Martec propeller folded

Martec Propeller open

Max-Props use a gear system so that they have the same torque in reverse as in forward and feather when they are not in use.  When we found a used one at a swap event we decided to give it a try.  After some rehab work we ended up with a $2000 prop for about $700.  I had planned to dive the boat and install the prop until I realized installing it is a VERY complicated process with 24 possible different settings each involving lining up different gears marked by dots and letters. We also found that even with the settings color coded we still found assembly on dry land to be challenging just because everything must be aimed and then slipped together all at once.

Max-Prop (feathered for minimal drag)

After getting a recommendation from a Max-Prop dealer for a setting to try first we decided to take advantage of our planned haul-out in Puerto Penasco to install the "new" prop.  We were able to install it after several tries and hoped it worked as the installation involved cutting off about 5/8 inch of our propeller shaft which may make it difficult to impossible if we ever need to go back to the original MarTec propeller.

A Max-Prop disassembled - this is what we had to work on underwater
 (the only parts that stayed put were numbers 1-5 on the diagram).

Once underway we finally had a chance to try the new installation and it was a dismal failure.  The engine didn't like the load and put out ugly unburned black diesel, the boat barely moved with the propeller producing lots of tiny bubbles and little thrust.  An email back to the dealer and we had an updated recommendation for how to set the blades. The problem was our emergency engine was not available for emergencies and we don't plan to haul-out for at least another year.

I figured we had about a 20% chance of being able to reset the propeller in ideal conditions in the water so we decided to give it a try. We waited for low tide in an anchorage with very clear water, very little wave action and a smooth sand bottom where we might be able to retrieve a dropped part or tool.  We had heard of divers using an umbrella under a work area to catch dropped tools and parts but didn't want to sacrifice an umbrella with metal parts if we didn't need to so we came up with the idea of using Clarice's swim seat as a catch basket.  As best we could we anchored the swim seat with dive weights so that the mesh seat was under the work area but in reality it needed to be held in place so it wouldn't move too much. This meant that I did the primary disassembly/re-assembly while Clarice had one hand on our catch basket, her knee on the rudder skeg to steady herself, and one hand to help me keep the propeller parts from falling all over.

I was able to get the propeller disassembled but when I tried to look for the tiny dots and numbers I needed to line up I just couldn't see well enough through my prescription dive mask without a close-up lens (it was also difficult to clear the grease enough to get a good look at the gears). I finally decided to take the propeller onto the boat which meant lifting it into the boat gate from the dive ladder (its fairly heavy and was in parts at this point ready to go six different directions if dropped) and removing my dive gear all while Clarice stayed under the boat keeping track of the catch basket and tools.

On deck I carefully wiped the numbers and dots clean and soon realized that we had misaligned one gear when we installed the propeller out of the water!  In any case I carefully color coded everything with metal marking paint after checking and rechecking the manual for the correct (hopefully) new settings.  I dropped the propeller back to the bottom in a bucket, re-donned my dive gear and got back to a very tired Clarice to try to do the hard part of the whole job.

Using the color coding we were able to get everything lined up and the screws in place and ready for the final assembly item of inserting 6 very tiny cotter pins with very tired and shriveled  fingers.  When they were in place we greased the propeller collected our tools and headed back to the surface after about 2 hours underwater.

The only "selfie" we could take with our hands full as I am doing the very
 last action (inserting grease into the gearbox) before picking up and heading to the surface

So does it work??? YES!  So far our experiments have supported that the prop does what we wanted and will work much better than the original.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Back in the Sea of Cortez

If you care to read more about our rescue adventure near Valdez Alaska the story was just published in the September/October 2019 edition of Ocean Navigator magazine: Valdez rescue story in Ocean Navigator magazine

August 7, 2019

After our very enjoyable trip across Canada and then back across the USA we flew back to Phoenix and then the shuttle Clarice had scheduled took us and a whole lot of baggage back to Puerto Penasco.  We had carried 1 bag (+ 1 dog counts as a carry-on) + 2 backpacks on the plane, we had 1 free bag each (=2) + we paid for 1 extra bag (which weighed in at 47 lbs) (total luggage via the plane 6 items + Jarvis).  We had pre-shipped 1 – 72 lb box via UPS and ordered 3 gallons of diesel treatment delivered to the hotel. The fun part was that we knew that we would be required to vacate the shuttle at the border and carry everything into Mexican territory so we spent the evening at the hotel reshuffling everything into 2 wheeled carry-on sized bags (the heavy stuff), 4 duffels, 2 grocery bags, and one box (and of course Jarvis on his leash).  After checking 2 of the duffels (and apparently deciding we wear a lot of cloths) and Jarvis’ international health certificate (value of the piece of paper alone $99 USD (total vet bill including blood tests, heart-worm prevention meds, and 3 year rabies booster (the 3 year shot is not offered in Mexico) $500 USD)), and having Clarice run across the street to pay our 6 month’s visitor’s visa fees we were allowed to move into Mexico proper and reload into the shuttle. From there it was a non-eventful ride back to the boat.

Jarvis waiting for the veterinarian to return 

Waiting for our shuttle to Mexico

Knowing that it would be very hot on our return and recognizing that we can’t use the boat’s air conditioning units when it is out of the water (they transfer the heat to seawater) we had planned to use one day to get Salish Aire ready to “splash” and launch the following day.  It soon became clear that this schedule was pushing the limits a bit as the boat was covered with dirt, we needed to get the refrigerator and freezer cooled down and filled with groceries and we had some final work to do on the bottom AND we found a through-hull valve that wasn’t seated well.  (For non-boaters a “through-hull” is anything that requires a hole in the boat typically below the waterline so they are always of concern if they aren’t clearly seated well.) In this case it was a valve that had previously been used by the toilet system but wasn’t any longer so I decided to re-purpose it for the shower drain. While in the States I had picked up a final bronze plumbing fitting and figured it would take about 15 minutes to install (Clarice joked that 15 minutes in “normal time” equals several hours in “boat time” – she was right.) As I tightened the new part it seemed like the valve moved so I had Clarice watch from outside of the boat and she reported it was gapping from the hull a tiny bit.  In order to reseat the valve we had to remove it completely and clean all of the old sealant.  Apparently when it was originally installed it was about 1/16 in from tight but the sealant didn’t allow for any leaks.  The creatures of the sea did clog up the threads that should have been used and required that we install it twice (once to discover it wouldn’t tighten correctly and the second time after we had cleaned the hardened sea gunk from the threads).  It was also interesting to find that after 20 some years the paint on the inside of the hull under the sealant had never cured.  In any case after lots of 3M 5200 sealant “jumping” onto my clothes, and lots of “gnashing of teeth” (but no “tearing of garments”) we got it in place and once in the water it didn’t leak.

Back to the problem of the very hot boat out of the water.  After one night of not being able to sleep and recognizing that we would need a couple more nights I talked to the yard owner about renting a window A/C unit.  He normally had some but they were all in use instead he offered to take me to the store to buy a small unit and buy it back from me at a discount if that is what we wanted to do (instead another boater outbid him and ended up with the unit.)  We managed to jury-rig it so it blew cool air in through the hatch over our bed and provided a place to retreat to during the day and allowed us to get some sound sleep.  With some good rest we were able to get our projects done and be ready to launch on high tide Monday August  5th at 5 PM.  We moved across the harbor and after checking the weather forecast we prepared for a 3 AM departure on our way to Puerto Refugio 100 miles south.

Based on the weather forecast we expected some wind from the south with a maximum of 15 – 20 knots.  We started out in 13 knots which surprised me a bit as it is usually calm in the early hours.  From the 13 knots the wind continued to increase until we were bashing into 25 – 30 knot winds and waves up to about 10 ft  for the next 16 hours.  The best description I can give is imagine being in a significant earthquake for 16 hours.  We broke dishes (that flew out of locked cabinets), Jarvis ducked just in time to miss getting hit by a 60 pound life raft jumping off its shelf, we had salt crystals ½ way up our engine stack above our heads.  I needed to use meclizine to stave off sea-sickness but, despite it label stating it is “non-drowsy”, I felt drowsy all day (thank goodness Clarice seems to be “immune” to the effects of motion sickness).   We tried to keep doors open and finally resorted to operating the generator so we could cool the pilot house with air-conditioning (unlike the Pacific Northwest where winds are cold, the air temperature was still in the 90s).  We did talk with other boaters on the Chubasco Ham Radio Net at 7:30 AM and were told that the National Weather Service totally missed the winds we were facing and for that matter they were very localized exactly where we were!  In summary; it was a miserable day, we dropped anchor after dark (luckily we had been in the anchorage before so an exact route to follow was saved on our electronic charts – we don’t normally enter Mexican anchorages at night as the charts can be up to 1/8th mile off), picked up the worst of the glass, I had a tortilla with peanut butter, Jarvis ate and drank a bit, and we headed for bed with a nice breeze blowing through our bedroom hatch.

The same storm that had shaken us up had broken a chain plate
holding a side stay for the mast on this north bound boat. Then when he went to start his engine
he discovered the fuel dock had filled his tank with gasoline rather than
diesel.  We were able to help out by selling him 20 gallons of diesel
from our tanks (its nice having a 1000 gallon capacity).

So after a good night’s sleep we awoke this morning to a really lovely anchorage area with no other boats about.  The breezes that do come from the south are blocked by Guardian Angel Island from creating any real waves and help cool us off some.  The water is clear and warm enough that even I (and seemingly Jarvis when we put him in) enjoy it.  Clarice and I worked through the day on boat projects and about the time we had ridiculous amounts of sweat streaming off us we would jump in next to the boat or go snorkeling. Our expectation is that we will stay here and explore for a few days before moving on.  More to follow I’m sure.

Our entry for the 2020 Nordhavn calendar from Puerto Refugio

Puerto Refugio

Jarvis was excited to find a big field to run in on our early morning run before it was too hot.

Jarvis was excited to find a big field to run in on our early morning run before it was too hot.

Puerto Refugio

Puerto Refugio

Puerto Refugio

Puerto Refugio

Puerto Refugio

Vela (Sail) rock is easily mistaken for a boat under sail from a distance thanks to "paint" from the birds

These silly birds like to circle the boat (driving Jarvis nuts) and
then they land in the rigging and argue over who gets the best spot.
The other day two of them were trying like crazy to catch my fishing lure
zipping along at 7 knots.

Another amazing sunrise

The dog and the radio:

We have been trying to figure out what it is with Jarvis and the High Frequency  (HF) SSB/Ham radio.  When we first started using it he never seemed to take notice then he got to where he was pretty upset by it.  He shakes and climbs in my lap and just acts completely out of sorts.  We asked if anyone else had a dog with the same issues and no one did but the best suggestion seemed to be that he is responding to the modem making noise at very high frequencies of hearing.  With that in mind we try to connect when we are using the modem and then turn off the sound but he still is out-of-sorts.  Someone suggested it was a conditioned response so with a month away from the boat it would seem that he might have forgotten to worry.  Initially that seemed to be the case but today he came back from a beach outing with Clarice and I had the modem /radio combination going but the sound off and he quickly got back to his scared behavior.  I’m really coming to believe that he is sensitive to the Radio Frequency (RF) in which case a Faraday cage might be the answer (our engine room with its stainless fire screen should work but Jarvis really doesn’t like being in there).  Maybe a bit of metal around his dog house, aluminum foil hat,  who knows??? So far locking him in the bedroom seems to help some (it is the furthest point from the transmitting antenna). In any case RF is a real issue with boat HF radios that make LED light twinkle, pumps come on spontaneously, and other weird stuff – maybe including freaking out my poor little dog who will never be able to understand.

UPDATE:  While we were up north we took delivery of a top quality coax cable to replace the last vestige of the original HF radio that came with the boat.  The original cable was very heavy duty but when it was removed we could see outward signs of insulation cracking and heat damage from being in the false stack.  WOW – what a difference after a bit of a false start (the factory connector had an intermittent failure but we had also ordered extra connectors and a crimp tool for them)!  We used to have a record of a send rate on the modem we use for Sailmail email service of about 250 bytes/min whereas today (with poor ionosphere conditions) we hit 850 bytes/min and our receive record went from about 3500 bytes / min to 13000 bytes/min (which reminds me of our excitement the first time our new 5600 baud dial-up modem brought us data after using the 1200 baud system).  There are also signs that we have less RF leakage into the cabin including Jarvis is less bothered.  He has also learned to head to the V-berth when the radio comes on or we are trying to see if covering him with a metallic shield helps (it seems to).

Trying a makeshift Faraday cage

Heat, Hot, Really Hot!:

Clarice and I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where it gets into the 90’s Fahrenheit for a few days of the year and all of the locals think the world is coming to an end and high humidity simply doesn’t happen when there are high temperatures (now you know why we put up with gray skies for weeks on end in the winter).   So here we are in Mexico where it has seldom been below 90 since we arrived and the humidity running 40 – 50 % (which doesn’t seem like much when comparted to the rain forest environment we lived in in 2004 and I’ll return to next month (poor judgement???)) but it is enough to make it so sweating (or panting in Jarvis’ case) are ineffective ways to cool off.  The sweat doesn’t seem to evaporate but rather just pools around where we are standing or soaks another set of clothes so they look like we wore them in a shower.  So how are we coping – overall not well the truth be known.  At this moment we are anchored in a lovely cove surrounded by interesting hills and lots of little rock islands.  We should be spending our days in the kayaks or hiking and exploring.  We do swim, frequently, but it’s more to cool off than anything else.  We’ve even taken to putting Jarvis in the water in his life vest – he seems to enjoy being cooled off and scoots around amazingly fast with his four little paws doing the dog paddle but he continues to not be a fan of the water.

So what do we do….. We drink LOTS and LOTS of fluids. A quick aside: before we left for the States we were drinking lots of fluids and my weight dropped 10# and my blood pressure was dropping and I thought it was all great. Until I nearly passed out with the blood pressure appropriate for a 16 year old female.  So on Norm and Tom Tech Talk (as our frequent radio conversations about all things medical and all things mechanical have come to be known by our fellow boaters) I brought this issue up with my friend Tom the Physicians’ Assistant who pondered it a bit then asked if I was on a low sodium diet.  Since Clarice has a family history of hypertension she has never added salt to her cooking or at the table so by default I am on a low salt diet.  Tom’s advice was to eat salt so Clarice and I chugged down a pint of electrolyte solution bottled by and sold next to the Coca Cola and drunk frequently by the locals.  Now we know why as we both quickly regained a lot of energy and felt better overall.  So back to the lots and lots of fluids we drink now: Every evening I fill our many Soda Stream liter sized bottles with water and a pinch of salt and put them in the refrigerator for the next day.  During the day we drink them straight or with flavoring with or without CO2 injected by the Soda Stream thingy.  We keep fans blowing on us continually, we wear as little clothing as we can and not stick to the furniture, we stay in the shade of the boat, we jump into the water and hang around the shady side of the boat, and if all else fails we start the generator and run the air conditioners.  For sleep we open the hatches over our bed and hope for a breeze while running a fan aimed at us all night long.

The Soda Stream deserves an honorable mention.  Like most boaters we abhor waste in general and so to avoid carrying cans of soda pop many of us have Soda Stream devices on board to carbonate water we are already carrying and then we add powdered flavoring. The problem is that Soda Stream uses proprietary CO2 cartridges and refills are not available in Baja.  To address this problem we bought a fill device off Amazon and a 5# CO2 bottle (which we carried in our luggage with the valve removed and a sign on the outside of the luggage to ease any concerned TSA agent looking at it on x-ray (they still opened the luggage just to be sure)).  The next problem was filling the bottle with CO2 locally.  In the USA there are a number of places that will do this ranging from welding gas suppliers to soda pop distributers but none of those places that I checked in La Paz filled their own bottles (they sent them away to Tijuana).  Finally a very kind man made a couple of phone calls for me when I explained I was running all over town on my bicycle.  He provided me with the name of a company and we confirmed that it showed up on Google maps.  I had no idea what the company did and when Google maps led me down a dusty back alley I wondered what was going on until I saw a fire extinguisher company.  They took one look at the bottle and indicated it would be ready after lunch (they even provided a label for the bottle so now it says it is a fire extinguisher).   Word has quickly spread through the cruiser community that we can fill Soda Stream cylinders and we have discovered we have a highly desirable trade item (our other trade item is fresh water which usually can be traded for fresh fish at outlying fish camps). 

August 19, 2019

Hurricane country:

Our insurance (like most other policies for this part of the world) has a lot to say about hurricanes.  In fact the reason we are staying north of 23 degrees N latitude until November 1st at the earliest is that our insurance company requires that we stay out of the worst of the hurricane zone if we want to be covered. 
So what do we know about eastern Pacific hurricanes:  They are spawned as tropical lows about 10 degrees north (the equator is considered to be out of the hurricane zone) and tend to move west and northwest as a rule.  Once they get west and north a bit the Coriolis Effect kicks in and they may start to rotate (there is no Coriolis Effect at the equator and thus no rotating storms  - yes this was news to me but there are some interesting YouTube videos explaining it).  All is well as long as the trade winds keep them on their “normal” track which is aimed right at Hawaii (although the cooler water usually tames them before they get there).  BUT especially later in the season they do “funny things” and sometimes head straight up the Sea of Cortez or make a “J” back towards the Pacific shore of South Mexico or the Baja Peninsula.  If they head toward Baja everyone hopes the mountains along the spine of the peninsula will take some of the energy out of the storms but looking at some of the damage we have seen they can, and do, wreak havoc periodically along the Sea of Cortez shore of Baja. Since we are in hurricane season at the present time we try to keep an eye on anything suspicious so we can make preparations if we need to which brings us to last evening.

We get our weather reports several ways when we are away from a good internet source. We have an InReach satellite messenger which helps a bit but doesn’t provide marine specific reports for this area. At least once a day we download forecast files from our Sailmail account via the HF radio.  These reports are automated and come in both narrative and graphic (GRIB) formats.  Finally we regularly participate in the 07:30 AM Chubasco ham radio net which always includes weather information.  Last evening I pulled the graphic GRIB files for a larger area than usual and noticed a tight spinning mass of ugly air south of Baja.  When I paged forward the ugly mass moved up the outside of Baja with its high winds and rain and then crossed a low spot in the peninsula eventually landing directly overhead.  I asked about this on the Chubasco net this morning and apparently they weren’t looking forward to the weekend and the storm is only showing up in some models at this time.  If it comes it sounds like Saturday and Sunday could be VERY wet and VERY windy.  As we expect to be in Santa Rosalia with our own internet access this evening we will be able to access the NOAA National Hurricane Center web page and will see what develops.  In the meantime we are making plans of where to hunker down (after discussing options on the Chubasco net we believe the south end of(Bahia Concepcion ) Coyote Bay offers us the best protection without crossing to the mainland side of the Sea) and how to best protect the boat and ourselves.  More to follow………

Back to the heat:

We had a heart to heart talk the other day and I (not so much Clarice) am coming to believe that heading south to Panama may not happen.  If we head that way then we are “stuck” in the tropics for a number of months more and I’m not sure I’m up to it.  We have always said that some of the world’s premier cruising grounds are in the Salish Sea and on north to Alaska so we are likely to head back north.  Our current conundrum is that we are required to stay north of Cabo up until our insurance window opens on November 1st and unless the weather from mid-California north decides to vary considerably from its historical past we may not be able to find a window of opportunity for safe travel until spring. 

August 28, 2019

Since the last note we spent a week on the dock in Santa Rosalia where they had 50 Amp electric power available which meant (Oh GLORIOUS Day!) that we could run all 3 air conditioners continuously!  Which was a good thing as the temperature hit 108 F at one point!  There was also a small but appreciated roof top pool where we could hang out and just soak in the “cool” water while Jarvis enjoyed the shade cover and the breeze off the water.  We did have one nighttime rain, wind and lightning storm that woke up the several boats on the dock waiting out tropical storm Ivo which was travelling up the other side of the peninsula.  The squall lasted about 2 hours and then nothing so we decided it was more likely a “Chubasco” event rather than being related to Ivo. A Chubasco wind is where rising warm air over the Gulf pulls cooler Pacific air over low spots in the mountains and creates some memorable but short lived squallS.  We boats waited and talked with each other and we watched the townsfolk fill their cars with gas and appreciated the offer of an upstairs room in the marina to take refuge in if needed and then pretty much nothing but some light rain happened.  (No complaints from us!)

Santa Rosalia Road Runner 
Old mine shafts are a common sight in Santa Rosalia

We continue to make our way back towards La Paz with the plan of arriving there within the next few days.  On one hand the water is very clear and we had the best dive since arriving in Mexico yesterday and on the other hand getting back on a dock where we can plug the air conditioner in sounds great.  We were anchored in front of a huge new resort the last two nights and joined another couple out of Washington for dinner ashore where we had some of the best meals we’ve had in Mexico.  Last evening we went to bed under a cloudless sky on a mirror smooth bay and poo-pooed the forecast of possible thunder storms.  Perhaps we should have figured something was up when Jarvis met us as we returned from the restaurant with a wail of despair which was really unusual behavior for him – he is always eager to greet us but doesn’t sound upset that he was alone on the boat.  When we don’t have air conditioning we tend to sleep with our heads at the foot of the bed so that our upper bodies are directly under the main overhead hatch for the wonderful moments when wind funnels down and it also puts us closer to the 12 V fan that we run all night long.  About 1 AM I was dreaming about getting splashed with water when I realized that I really was getting dripped on from rain coming through the open hatch.  I woke Clarice up and the two of us ran around and closed up the boat except for the salon door and windows which are under cover just as the humidity was climbing to the level “miserable beyond miserable”.  All around us there was lightning but it must have  been pretty distant as we didn’t hear much thunder.  We did have light rain later in the morning and the swell created by the storm rocked the boat as we hadn’t put our Flopper Stopper out [Def: A Flopper Stopper is a metal device about 4 ft X 2 ft with a hinge in the middle that is hung into the water in our case from our paravane poles.  The goal is to keep the boat at anchor from reaching its natural rocking frequency (as happened last night).  It does this by closing like a clam as that side of the boat dips and then snapping open and “lifting” a very heavy load of water when that side rises.  The device is very helpful but they are seldom seen in the PNW where anchorages tend to be very protected.]  Needless to say neither we nor the other boat anchored near us slept well last night so today we did a short 3 hour run to the anchorage off Agua Verde Village.

Flopper Stopper under water

Swimming, snorkeling, and diving:

While I was visiting the manager’s office in Puerto Penasco I noticed an updated version of the paddlewheel  speedometer / thermometer that came with our boat sitting on a shelf.  I was able to purchase it for a fair price and have since installed it.  Our older paddlewheel worked and reliably told us our speed through the water (to compare with our speed over ground from the GPS so we can judge currents) but the thermometer never worked.  We now can read the sea temperature and it has been running from 84 – 90 degrees F .  In any case jumping in the water is the fastest way we have found to cool off and frequently in the afternoon we can be found bobbing next to the boat sometimes with Jarvis joining us.  The good news is that after having the water be filled with plankton on our trip north it is now very clear and snorkeling and diving are becoming fun again.  Yesterday when we dove we both wore our thinnest wet suits even though we likely would have been warm enough without them but it seemed a good thing in retrospect as we both felt something sting the bare skin around our lips as we surfaced (we didn’t see any jellyfish or other known troublesome creatures but the other boaters in the anchorage reported that there is a near invisible creature with a long tentacle that will sting).  We recovered quickly but were glad that we didn’t have more skin exposed.  In any case the dive far surpassed any previous dives with hundreds of fish, 3 eels, corals, and a hundred feet of visibility.  Snorkeling today we circled a rock  and were reminded that we are in a fish sanctuary as the fish are much larger as a group and lots of them.  Near the end of our swim I spotted a large turtle about 2 feet under me completely focused on eating something under a rock.  Clarice and I watched him for a long time and then he suddenly paid attention to us and actually had an “Oh my gosh!” expression as he swam off faster than I’ve ever seen a turtle swim before.

We managed to rendezvous with friends headed north in the LA Bay area for several days.  A highlight was when a whale shark about 30 ft long decided to visit the anchorage.  Pretty much everyone got into the water with him which didn't seem to stress him in the least.  At one point he swam so close to me that I couldn't get him into a single frame of the camera and then he whacked me with his massive tail as he left.  Other events we enjoyed were a potluck on the boat with A/C (ours), working to get Jarvis more accustomed to the water (often its the only way we can help him cool off) and floating in a local tidal stream from an estuary.

Adults got the main floor for the potluck

Kids got the pilot house for the potluck

Jarvis isn't excited about being in the water but he swims well and it really helps cool him off

The Hegewald girls were visiting our boat when the whale shark came into
the anchorage.  We went in his general direction in the dinghy when he decided to
swim within a foot of our bow. 

Whale shark next to the dinghy

Oh gee! Its swimming straight towards me!

And past me about 2 ft away!

And its really BIG!

Is there an end to it?

That tail is really big and hard when it whacks you!

Starfish near the shore
A turtle nest protected from birds and other predators in Candalaria Bay
September 1, 2019 Back in La Paz

We arrived back in La Paz last night and quickly plugged in the boat and turned on the air conditioning.  The evening temperature was pleasant as there had been some rain (with lightning) that had cooled the air off a bit so Jarvis and I took a walk down the Malecon (seawall).  We had a pleasant surprise in that several projects had been completed since we left including a new park centered around the local artists sales store.  The park includes a spray park and a skate park.  When we were here before we could see that they were trying to save some palm trees that had been planted before the ground was lowered for the park by putting raised planters around them.  We can now see that the raised planters are very much part of the skate park design.  A bit further on our walk we noticed that the children’s play area now includes an ADA section with wheelchair accessible swings and merry-go-round.  Finally there were lots and lots of people enjoying the relatively cool evening (it was only 90 F ) although we have noticed that there are very few gringos in town for the summer.

A new water park and skateboard park have appeared in La Paz since we were last here

This is the second accessible children's play area we have seen - it is new since we left town in April

A new water park and skateboard park have appeared in La Paz since we were last here

We look forward to being connected with the world (we’ve already had long phone conversations with friends and family we have missed) and being able to pick up parts and supplies from the relatively well stocked stores in this the capital city of Baja Sur. 

A final note – as the folks up north are watching hurricane Dorian approaches the SE USA coast we are also keeping an eye on tropical storm Juliette that is about 400 miles SW of us and expected to reach hurricane strength tomorrow.   So far we don’t expect to feel anything from it but it is thunderstorm time of year in this part of Mexico so that will be a new experience as well.