Green Flash and Unlit Pangas
12/29/2008, Passing Gulf of Fonseca (El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua meet here)
So we are proceeding along into lumpy seas. Over the last few days we have had 6-7 foot seas straight into us... with the wind also coming from that direction, we have been on the work (heading right into the wind as close as we can). I felt seasick for one of the few times over the last 6 months. Still not sure if it is seasickness, or something I ate that unsettled my stomach... we'll see.
So the previous sunset I witnessed a cool phenomenon called the Green Flash. At our last port, we met David sailing on Wasatch, and in his email he had mentioned seeing the "Green Flash" the night before. I've heard of it, and discussed it with Marko when he was aboard. Basically, the Green Flash is the last bit of light you see from the sun as it sets. I know i have some scientist's reading this blog (Hello Sis), so correct or add if you know more. I think the green light is one of the wavelengths you see after all the rest are gone, hence you see a flash of green right as the sun sets over the horizon. Cool thing was, as it was a little bit choppy, with the boat rising and falling, I actually saw the flash THREE times! But Kirsty was standing there and didn't see it at all!? So, in her eye, it's still a sea myth.
The other bit of the title are unlit pangas. Pangas are the local fishing craft. Small, narrow boats with a large outboard on the back. We have seen them out from shore up to 20 miles. BUT the worse time to not see them is at night. Most don't have navigation lights, and rarely are they lit at night. So here you are, bearing down on an unlit boat at 5 knots, not my idea of fun. So we have just finished dinner, Kirsty was downstairs, and I was on watch, but putting away the table. I hear shouts coming from the front of the boat (we are close- hauled and jamming along at 5+ knots)! I jump back to the wheel and click off the autopilot, in a split-second I scan in front of us and see NOTHING!!! The shouts are getting way close and frantic. On instint, I jerk the wheel over to the right for a few seconds, and then straighten up. As I am straightening the boat, I see a panga right off the port side. Close, so close I'm SURE we at least brushed his outboard (or missed it by maybe an inch! I hurl a few choice cure words at them, and then switch to Spanish giving dues to Jesus, and generally yelling at them for having no lights on.
"Luces, La Luces" i yell at them. "Lights, lights!!". We are fifty yards away when they find a torch and then a spotlight. I wonder if we caught them napping? fishing? etc?... being under sail, and just having a masthead light on, i'm sure we move thru the water pretty quietly. But if I would have not have moved the boat, or if I jerked us to the left, we would have cut them in two!
Needless to say, we LOVE UNLIT PANGAS!
jT and Kirsty (ARE WE THERE YET) Baxter
Sailfish, Bonito and other recent fishing stories
12/26/2008, Closing on the Mexican - Guatemala Border
So the fishing has gotten a little bit sparse, well, actually landing them on the boat.... over the last few weeks, we have hooked and lost a few big ones...
Our supply of lures is growing shorter, as we have lost three in as many weeks. Most are just big rises around where the lure is and BANG... the line pops as the line streaks off the reel and hits the end. We have even started using the hand line again, but with a length of bungee rope attached to act as a shock absorber as the fish strikes.
We had the lure out most of the day, as it goes with passage fishing. You tend to forget about it. We had one time that I was on deck, watching a movie (The Shield, season 1 - Thanks Marko!) and just behind me the entire spool of line came off the reel without me hearing a thing. Kirsty came up and asked where the fishing line was?? Turned out the guy at West Marine in San Diego didn't tie a knot worth a crap at the line end! Oh well, line and lure gone. That was way back on the trip from Baja back to the mainland, since then we bought a spool of line so i can replenish the reel as needed!
The best "It was THIS big" fish story to date was a few weeks ago. Joan was on board as our guest, so you don't just have to believe me or Kirsty on this one :) We had deployed a lure on the rod hours before, and forgot about it. Kirsty was helming and suddenly the rod jumped and threatened to go over-board! Kirsty grabbed it and starting setting the hook (we do have the end of the rod tied to a rope tail, just in case :). She handed the rod to me and got back to steering the boat. Joan came off the deck to grab a camera as our prey jumped out of the water!
It was a good sized Sail fish. The fish did quite a few tail walks and dances as i tried to reel him in a bit... .several times he ran the reel out of line and i'm stretched over the side with the pole in my hand, no line on the reel and the fish diving for it! (Yes my knot DID hold at the end of the line on the reel :) So we get the boat slowed down a tad and I start to fight the fish closer... he'd dove deep a few times and ran at the boat, so I've had a chance to reel in some line. Just as i'm getting him close he dives deep and shoots right under the boat! Ok, I'll admit I wasn't in the best of moods and had just a tad bit of WHITE LINE fever! Cursing enough to make Kirsty, Joan and any other sailors within earshot blush, I'm holding a limp line as he's wrapped it under the boat. Smart lil bastard! So i'm not going to take that, I run down and grab my snorkel, planning to jump in and free the line to continue the fight. Joan takes the pole as I lower the swim ladder off the stern. Just like that, the fish spooks and it's bye - bye line! I get in the water just in time to see the lure free floating a few feet in front of me. I grab the lure skirt (the hook is long gone with the Sail fish) and bring it up with me, still cursing the fish (I was a lil competitive in wanting to land that fish :)
In retrospect, getting into the water with a four foot Sailfish wasn't the brightest maneuver. They have a long spike that they will spear you or prey with, so probably lucky it took off. Worse case we had a nurse on board
jT, red glow of sunset on Xmas at sea
12/25/2008, Just South of the Gulf of Tehuantepec
To all a Merry Christmas!
Kirsty and I are enjoying a lazy day at sea. Well, if you consider double-reefed main and 28 knots of breeze a lazy day! But we made it thru the Gulf of Tehuantepec with no issues. This gulf is basically two low valleys that connect the Atlantic Ocean side (Gulf of Mexico) with the Pacific Ocean in a very narrow set of slots. This causes gale force winds to rip thru and can go out to sea up to 500 miles on the Pacific side. We saw two bursts of wind last night and then this morning of up to 28 knots, so pretty mellow when you can easily get 50-90 knots of breeze here! The wind did seem to correspond to the valleys, and then in between and now the wind is pretty non-existent!
So we are getting ready for Xmas dinner... Ham and all the fixings PLUS Kirsty's Xmas pudding with a tequila cream sauce! We have a spinnaker up, 2 knots of breeze and moving at 1.7 knots, so not too bad.... We will be thinking of you all and will be toasting YOU with our Xmas dinner!
cheers and love to all, peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind....
Love Jeff and Kirsty
Kirsty, Warm Days, Cold Nights
12/23/2008, Huatulco, Mexico
Well the time has come to say Adios to Mexico. After five months we are internationally checked out and leaving today. Mexico has been a wonderful place to spend the last five months, great food, people and lots of amazing things to see and do. I cant recommend Mexico enough to anyone thinking of visiting.
Our next destination is Costa Rica, a 750 mile sail., which we expect to take at least 7 days - we hope to arrive before New Years Eve. The first part of the journey is to cross the Gulf of Tehuantepec - a notorious stretch of water that regularly has gale force winds. Luckily the weather window looks good - enough breeze to move us through quickly, but not too much to be uncomfortable.
We will be spending XMAS at sea - hopefully XMAS dinner wont be at a 15 degree angle.
Merry Christmas to everyone out there, where ever you might be spending it.
Happy Birthday Ryan
12/18/2008, K&J in Acapulco, Mexico, Celebrating in Melbourne, Australia
Happy Birthday Ryan
Jeff and I wish we could be there with you to celebrate - we will have a mini celebration for you here in Acapulco.
Love Kirsty & Jeff
Mexican Scary Face
12/18/2008, Mexico City
A close up of some of the amazing stone carvings at the Pyramid site.