Archive for the 'Mexico' Category

Stupid Friendly Little Birdies

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Bird. Gulf of Mexico

We mentioned that shortly after anchoring in Alacran, we were visited by a scruffy but adorable little birdie who, after maybe thirty seconds of initial hesitation, entered our cabin and totally made himself (herself?) at home in our boat. Strangely, he was not worried about us at all, even when we moved around, and a couple of times he landed on our arms or knees. He explored the entire interior of the boat and settled into a lap pattern: cockpit to sink/galley area, where we had a squeezed lime sitting on the counter, pick at the lime (working on the scurvy), hop around and then make the short flight to the settee table, give Joshua the eye and then hop across the table flying up to the aft window shelf/ledge, start at the basket of shells/beach debris looking for insects, move onto the plastic lid I made a water dish out of and splash water all over the cabin, move on to the basket with pens and miscellaneous crap and look for bugs, tuck into the far corner hidey hole for maybe two seconds before emerging and making way back to cockpit, spend some time in cockpit and then enter forward cabin, do some stuff (we weren’t in there) and return to aft cabin around three minutes later to repeat the entire process over and over again. He never even pooped on our stuff either, or at least we never found it. Not yet.

Bird. Gulf of Mexico

Bird. Gulf of Mexico

Bird. Gulf of Mexico

About a day after we left Alacran, we were visited by another small bird; this time a swallow. It was a beautiful bird with iridescent blue/purple head feathers, long clean and smooth wing and tail feathers, a rust-colored throat fringed with a bit of black, and a pale gold breast. He landed on our boat and sat for a bit on the foredeck, then moved closer, closer (trying to get out of the wind), and finally perched on the edge of the cockpit before falling asleep. While asleep, we had total immunity and could move freely within inches of him; when awake, we were more careful because sudden movement of massive bodies freaked him out a little. He slept on and off for hours and nearing dark, crawled into the cockpit cubby to sleep. All night long we wondered if he was still inside the cubby because we never saw him fly away but in the morning, he was gone. (This one was a pooper though and our sail bag, which was stuffed in the cockpit locker, suffered.)

swallow. Gulf of Mexico

We saw a number of migrating swallows, among other birds like egrets, “songbirdies,” etc., all flapping madly for the southern US coast. Nobody else stopped to rest though.

All this friendly bird action reminded us of a photo we took in 2002 of what happens to little birdies who lose their inhibition. This is a street-snack stand that would appear in the evenings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

deep fried song birds. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

[Click the image to see the full photo.]

Gulf of Mexico

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

fishing nets. Isla Mujeres, Mexico

[Isla Mujeres, Mexico]

We’re about 100 nautical miles east of Port Isabel. 26 degrees 05 minutes North, 95 degrees 21 minutes West. Our rudder bracket failed again this morning so we have it lashed on and are making way under much reduced sail. Waves are 4-6 ft but we’ve slowed enough to not be surfing. Our goal was Port Aransas but we’ve altered course to Mansfield Cut which is 30 miles closer. From there we will proceed up the intercoastal in protected waters. We haven’t run the motor since arriving in Isla Mujeres so we still have full fuel tanks. Mansfield Cut is within motoring range and if worse comes to worse we can motor in steering with the outboard.

Stencil Cow

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Cow Stencil Graffiti. Isla Mujeres, Mexico

[Isla Mujeres, Mexico]

In general, central america is poor in graffiti. We usually only see a few lame tags here and there. We were surprised to find some stencils to add to our collection in Isla Mujeres.

Arrecife Alacran

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Winds were variable in both speed and direction for our trip to Arrecife Alacran. It took us so long to pick our way out of Isla Holbox (murky water and SHALLOW), we didn’t think we would make it to the reef before late afternoon when the sun angle would be unfavorable for picking through coral heads but the way in to Alacran turned out to be a piece of cake. There are many lighthouses on many of the keys and quite a sizeable naval installation (they never came out to visit us though and we couldn’t hail them on the radio). Lighted green and red buoys mark the main channel into the southern anchorage of the reef but there is sandy shoaling off the southwest edge, off Isla Pajaros, and we just anchored there rather than go inside. The water is clear and the place looks cool.

Shortly after we got settled, a tiny bird settled on our rudder outside our settee window. We took pictures and got on with our lives but then he moved to the edge of the open window and looked like he might actually come inside. I nudged a tupperware lid with some water near him; he seemed mostly unconcerned by the presence of the large mammals. Then he hopped inside and explored the window shelf area. After about ten minutes of initial shyness, he was hopping and flying all over the inside of the boat, exploring many of the cubby holes, landing on rims of dishes in the galley, Joshua’s arm, my book, etc. We had a field day taking pictures of the little guy; I’ll post some when we get where there is internet. Every time he took a sip of water, he would shudder and fling it all over the cabin. He explored the cockpit and cubbies there and then moved on into the foreward cabin for a while, then came back for a few more laps of the aft cabin. After a few hours, around sunset, he took off.

We would like to hang out a day here at the reef and do some exploring but we just checked the NOAA weather and there’s something brewing over Texas later this week with winds increasing; therefore, we will pull anchor and leave as soon as we get coffee made.

Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Church. Isla Mujeres Mexico

[Church virgin in the zocalo, Isla Mujeres.]

We spent only one day in Isla Contoy, mostly because with the new improved natural park restrictions one can only walk in a circle around oneself at a diameter of approximately 30 feet—that and the water was too murky to snorkel due to an algae bloom of a most vivid green —then we moved on to Isla Holbox. The island is pronounced like ‘ol-BOSCH;’ the “ol” part like “this ol’ dog” and the bosch really hard on the ‘sch’ part. We’ve been enjoying ourselves listening to the dudes on the radio trying to contact the Capitania del Puerto de OlboSCHHHH (he never answers).

The Boat Life has been pretty low key lately. We have continued to read an astounding number of books lately, but have slowed these last couple of days due to the fact that we’ve read nearly every book on board above ground, so to say, and would have to delve deep into the stuffy depths of our aft storage area to dig out new and unread fodder. New Unread Fodder includes: “Madame Bovary,” “Gravity’s Rainbow” (I have read this already, technically, yet it always counts among the unread), “The Origins of Postmodernism,” that Star Wars novel that someone gave us, “Caesar”—some historical fiction given to us by somebodyorother, oh there are others but you can only imagine. I’m likely to pull out the Madame Bovary next. I’ve been rereading Zorro in Spanish (by Isabel Allende, all good solid swashbuckling fun, I say). I like Isabel Allende in Spanish because I hardly have to look up words ever. Words I don’t know I guess at or just skip over yet I feel like I have pretty good comprehension. Foreign books are too hard to read if you have to look up every tenth word. Zorro is fast-paced and there are lots of heaving breasts and slashing sabers.

Isla Holbox has internet, which is a grand thing, and we were able to check our meager weather sources (NOAA and “buoyweather,” which pretty much sucks most of the time). There are northers coming all the time it seems for the “off season” as they say. So, not much that we can do except hang out here until our hair turns gray or else just pull anchor and head north across 700 miles of Gulf sea.

The plan this day is to head for Arrecife Alacran, north of here by around 150 miles or so, anchor for the night, do some snorkeling if it’s clear, then head on when we get a weather window (when-EV). Mileage should be around 550 or something like this and we should have at least a three or four day weather forecast so that if we hit anything unexpected (a norther—and probably more or less expected at that), we can alter course to the west and aim for Port Isabel, where the intercoastal waterway starts. We still have some minutes on our sat phone so if we can hold still enough out there in the gulf to get a signal, we can post our position and get some email. I’m a little nervous since this will be the largest crossing I’ve ever done but Joshua has done it a bunch of times. It doesn’t help that in all the times he’s crossed he’s never made it without a (harmless) “SCREAMING norther” coming through.

As a matter of fact, one just went by just now. A little one, but very squally. Heavy cloud cover, 20 knots wind max but only lasting a few hours. Then hardly nothing. I wonder if that’s all there is? I was hoping for a nice clean week-long window on that weather so we could head for Alacran but then just have such great sailing that we’d divert and go straight for Texas (and make it in record time, etc. blahblah) but now I’m thinking I’d feel much better if we went the short step before the big one and stopped at Alacran. Make cooked food. Maybe we can build a house. Compose epic novels. Raise a family.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell