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October 2004

photos at bottom of page (text that refers to a photo is followed by O)

The first of October we woke up to a very sick dog.  We thought he was dying.  Nancy was pretty broken up and feeling terrible that we had not taken him to a vet sooner.  Hopper had totally lost his vision and was bleeding from his nose and mouth. It seemed that he had dropped ten pounds overnight.  He was suddenly emaciated looking.  It seemed to have happened so suddenly, although looking back, we see that he was probably sick for awhile, we just did not realize how sick he was.  Nancy was frantic, looking up whatever we could about the disease that the other cruiser had told us about a few days before.  We did find some info on board, but found that neither we nor Encanto had any of that class of medication on board.  There is no town near by and we were on the backside of nowhere anyway.  We prepared to leave Pulpito and head to the nearest city which was a couple of sailing days away.  We planned to leave early the next morning so that we would arrive before dark the following day.  It was kind of heartbreaking to think about leaving, as we were finally at the spot that we had been heading for all summer, and we were finally going to have some time to hang out, but now we were going to have to head out quickly and probably not return.  We prepared to leave and were swapping everything back that Encanto had of ours or we had of theirs, since if we left, we might not see them again for a long time, if at all.  We were still searching for the right class of drug to give to Hopper.  We called Ventana on the radio before they left the area, and they just happened to have an extra bottle of the very medicine that we needed and in the exact dose also.  We started treating Hopper right away, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.  We talked to a couple of animal folks on the net that night and decided that we were now giving him what the vet would give him and that we would just wait it out and see if we could pull him through.  Hopper was to be on this medication for thirty days, if he lasted that long.  The next morning he did seem a bit more chipper, although still very sick and quite blind.  Mike again had a successful hunting day and we ate well from the galley of the deep.  We were waiting for word back from a vet in the states about Hopper, but about this time our on board email decided to once again not work.  This was so frustrating during this critical time.  We took him to the beach for some short beach walks, just to keep his spirits up.  We were worried about him being in  the sun with his eyes being very swollen and dilated, so we kept the walks short and tried to go when the beach was shady.  He was doing remarkably well for a newly blind and quite sick doggy.  We decided that since Hopper appeared to be a bit stabilized that we would head north to the next anchorage. 

Pulpito, where we were, had many of those pesky bugs and we were getting very bitten up.  So, while we really loved Pulpito which had the best fish hunting yet, we headed north to Puerto Refugio on the northern end of Angel de la Guarda.  On the way up, we had some engine trouble, but Mike was able to rig up a temporary fix while we are at sea.  Mike is always working on the boat and Nancy is always doing school or cooking.  Of course we get our snorkels and hikes in, but living on a boat is really much more work than anyone can imagine.  It is more than a full time job!  We spent the next few days exploring Refugio, fishing, schooling, resting and having a nice time.  Encanto and Desiderata were the only boats in the area.  Kind of nice.  Mike and Nancy were out to do some scuba diving as they had heard that this area was great.  The tides and currents were once again a big consideration.  There are many small islands in this area and we hiked and snorkeled or scuba dove quite a bit.  This was what we had been looking forward to all summer, although it was now October!  It was some of the best snorkeling that we had seen.  We were also still on Hopper watch and very concerned about him and if we were doing the right thing by not getting him to a vet.  One morning we woke up to find a panga,  a small open fishing boat, retrieving and killing turtles that they had stashed in the caves that were in the bay that we were in.  Nancy and Mike watched in horror as many turtles were slaughtered.  We video tapped the whole thing, but then did not know who to give it to or if it would make any difference at all anyway.  Especially since we have kids on board, we did not want to do anything to endanger ourselves and our boat.  So, we still have the video and did not tell anyone except other cruisers.  It was a horrible sight.  On one of the near by islands, there was a sea lion colony O.  We went back with Encanto and spent a lot of time taking pictures and hanging out with these fun animals.  The juveniles were very playful and would come in groups around the dingy and even around us when we were sitting in the water or swimming O.  They were pretty funny!  We had dinner almost every night with Encanto.  Usually yummy stuff that Mike and John had gathered from the sea. 

The bugs were also getting to us at this anchorage, so we decided to head out to another.  The conditions prevented us from going where we intended, but we went to another anchorage a bit further that we had been to before.  Hopper seems to have a bit more energy and we have gotten word from a vet in California to start him on another medication.  We did have this on board, so we started him right away with high hopes for his eyesight.  We once again met up with Ventana and had Chris over for dinner, his girlfriend was back in the states.  He delivered some more medication to us for Hopper.  Were we ever grateful.  It was getting close to the time that some friends of ours were going to be visiting another boat that is here.  We were looking forward to seeing friends from home.  We moved back into the village of BLA area to meet up and also re-supply, as we had been out for a couple of weeks.  While we were in town, the vet tech that had looked at Hopper a couple of weeks earlier, came by and checked him out and was pleased with his improvement.   We had been hearing reports of whale sharks in the area, and that has been one of Nancy's life dreams, to swim with whale sharks, so we moved on down to the area that they had been the south end of the bay.  We got up bright and early and found some whale sharks.  We spent all morning having these very large fish to ourselves.  It was so cool.  They are so gentle, graceful and large, quite large!  They did not seem to be bothered at all by our presence, and continued on with their feeding behavior even with us right next to or in front of them.  It was something to see these huge mouths wide open coming towards you.  We all got in the water for this incredible experience.  Nancy wanted more, but we also wanted to meet back up with our visiting friends.  So off we went to hook up with them in another anchorage.  We got to visit and do some more diving with them.  Also had a fun potluck on another boat, this time a large power boat.  We took our friends around to a scenic lagoon that you could dingy across and then walk across a sandspit and go snorkel on the the other side of the island.  We had been there before and it was empty.  This time there were a bunch of tents and kayaks and people.  We started chatting with the folks and it turned out that it was a family that kayak camps the islands in this area every year.  There were three generations of them there!  They felt that they had brought too much food with them and wanted us to take some, so we did.  Wow, what a treasure trove they had!  Yummy gourmet cheeses, stuffed olive leaves, a big bar of chocolate, all kinds of treats that you can not find down here.  We were in heaven.  After a snorkel, we went back to the boats and divided up the booty. 

We moved the boat again to go back to the whale shark area in South BLA.     The air and water are cooling down and most of the boats have started south. We spent an incredible three days swimming with whale sharks O! They would swim right around where our boat was anchored and we would jump in the water and swim along side of them. One day, there were three right next to each other swimming right under the boat. We were supposed to be doing chores, Nancy was doing laundry on deck, but the temptation just proved to be too much, and soon we had all jumped in right off the boat and were swimming next to these beautiful creatures. Nancy finally got her life's dream in a big way, one day she must have spent 3 hours in the water enjoying these very large creatures! The first day we tried to hang on to a fin (which we had heard a lot of people did) and get a ride but later found that if we just swam next to them they would circle around and check us out. Their markings are just beautiful, lots of orderly spots and stripes. We were swimming about one foot away from them and they are fine with it, doesn't seem to bother them at all, they just keep those giant mouths open while they filter feed. You can literally see right down their throats. The bio-luminescence has been extraordinary which is why the whale sharks are here feeding (all of the plankton light up at night). At night there are huge patches in the water of glowing areas that kind of move and morph around. Sort of like nebulas. We spend time each night watching the water in the dark with this eerie glow down below and the wavelets brightly lit on the surface. You have never seen anything like it, we never have anyway!   We had a fun wine and cheese party on the beach with Encanto after a day of whale shark observations O.  We had to share some of that yummy cheese.  These beaches are some of the best we have found, so of course we had to have some more beach time O.  We also looked at a dive compressor that some folks in the area had for sale, but decided that it was not the one for us.  Hopefully the right one will turn up.  We would certainly be diving more if we could fill our own tanks. 

It is time to head south to get to warmer weather. Now we know what migrating birds feel like. We are now hurrying to get south to get the work done in La Paz that we need to have done.  It seems that we are always hurrying off somewhere.  Our first day out, we finally caught our first Mahi Mahi O.  We have been waiting almost a year for this!  What fun.  It was almost four feet long, beautiful and delicious.  We tried to pull into the anchorage that we had planned on, but before we even pulled in the bugs descended in force.  We quickly changed course but then we did not get into the next anchorage until after dark, which is always very nerve wracking.  We had been to this anchorage before, so at least we were a little familiar with it.  We of course had Mahi for dinner, ceviche and cooked.   We left early the next day for an overnighter.  It was a nice passage and we were treated to a beautiful sunrise.  We pulled into Conception Bay (below Mulege) on our way down the Baja coast.  We love it here and went back to an anchorage that we had stayed in before.  The winds came up, so we moved anchorages and explored several hot springs in the area.  The best one was in the least scenic spot, but had the best set up and water temperature.  We spent several days here, catching up on school and projects.  We also did another dive and some snorkels.  The water is so much cooler now, even with wetsuits, it is cool.  Between the cool weather and the passing days, it was time for us to head south.  We stopped at a couple of anchorages on the trip south, got a few last snorkels in, explored a couple of spots that we had missed on the way up and went back to some favorite spots.  We stopped back in at Loreto to shop and while there, the winds came up.  We made it out to the boat, but were all drenched.  We actually did it in two trips, Nancy and the groceries, then the kids.  There was that much water coming into the dingy.  As soon as we got everybody back on board, we took off to find a sheltered anchorage. 

We were planning on going farther south, but ended up in the closest anchorage with protection.  The strong northerly that began while we were shopping in Loreto, kept us holed up in Ballandra (Isla Carmen) for about 4 days. It was fun, even though we were stuck.  Several of our favorite boats were in the same spot, so it was a lot of fun.  The conditions were pretty rough, very windy and rolly, but we were safe.  There was not much sleeping for a couple of nights.  There were huge swells wrapping 180 degrees around into the anchorage.  During this time, Halloweeen was also upon us.  There was to be a Halloween costume  party on Encanto O.  Judy and Nancy made candy and also had some store bought.  There was a potluck dinner with the Halloween theme food items.  Even the adults had to dress up.  It was amazing what the different boats could dig out of the bilge for costumes.  Very creative.  There was bobbing for apples, and lots of other games and diversions for the kids.  We think it was one of our all time favorite Halloweens, even though we did not exactly get to go trick or treating!  The winds and rain lasted several days, so we ended up staying there a lot longer than we had ever planned.



Please click to enlarge!

  An inquisitive group of juvenile sea lions

  A nursing youngster

  A handsome bull, king of the hill

  Another view of this grand fellow

  Some juveniles were swimming right up to Nancy as she sat in the water

  The majestic and rugged scenery in the background and a rock island that we dove in the foreground

  A hike over the island at Refugio.  Desiderata and Encanto in the background

  Walking across one island with a view of two other islands

  Dana, staying cool and shady on yet another island

  The kids cruisin'

  The wine and cheese beach party

  Mike spotting whale sharks

  Everyone getting in the water to swim with the whale sharks, they were really that close to the boat

  The Whale Shark montage, check out the ones with Nancy and Fletcher each swimming with one!

  Fletcher, airborne

  Hanging out at the Jacuzzi again

  Dana scurfing

  Finally caught a Mahi Mahi

  Halloween on Encanto

  The costumes of the youngsters of the crowd

  Dana and Sami bobbing for apples, great entertainment for the rest of us!

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