Isla San Benedicto – Days 13-15…..

Dear F&F,
December 29, 30, 31 2008

We awoke to see the 2nd dive boat anchored. It must have come in during the night, so both commercial boats are here diving this morning. We went by each in our dinghy to be friendly. Jeronimo on \”Solmar V\” does above water photography & is really interested in seeing some of Scott\’s manta photos. He has a dream of publishing a photography book some day. We invited Jeronimo onboard our boat, but he was busy working. Perhaps another time.

The manta Scott has named \”Buttercup\” was there to greet us right away on the morning dive. Scott is in heaven at how this manta poses for the camera. A wildlife photographers dream come true! \”Freckles\” came in for a cameo. The other highlight was a huge school of shiny silver foot long jacks. The school was 25 feet high & about 20 feet wide. I swam into their midst which is always fun.

Scott was bummed to see all his photos from yesterday afternoon were a bit \”soft\”, he forgot to use an \”extension ring\” on the wide angle dome. Fortunately, it\’s still pretty good. He is reviewing the morning results & pleased that he corrected the problem. Out of 65 shots, he is happy with at least half. That is pretty good odds. He is getting fast at the editing. Many are \”web ready\” when we next get to high enough speed internet location.

I squeeze in emails whenever I get a minute & try to send them during daylight since that is the only time we can connect for free via ham radio. Scott has been letting me connect again in the evening via the satellite phone since he likes to upload weather information to see how the forecast is. The lumpy seas should be decreasing in the next couple of days. Last night I was awake from 2:45 to 4:00 am. I stayed in bed even though I was pretty hungry. I think we are burning a lot of calories. It is impossible to get an accurate weight on the scale with the boat bouncing around. Scott is somewhere between 224 & 214 lbs (we are hoping on the lighter end). Usually when we are off the dock he loses a pound a week. Breakfast is usually at 7:30 am, lunch 11:30-noon, I am often hungry for dinner by 4:30 pm, so will at least snack if not just eat dinner that early.

December 30, 2008 – Day 14

This morning we saw \”Buttercup\”, but she really kept her distance. We can\’t help but imagine that the reef being overrun yesterday with 40 divers (between the 2 commercial boats) sort of bothers them. We didn\’t swim after her. We just floated in our usual area & she circled us but did not come close as she did before. \”Freckles\” made another cameo appearance. We saw 1 white tip reef shark. Scott got some good photos of my lobsters. They are so cute!

I was chilly from the moment I entered the water today. The water is the same 80 degrees it has been all along, but I think over time with this much submersion, our core temperature drops just a bit. I indulged in a longer hot shower, made hot tea, hot soup for lunch & used my geeky looking beanies for the 2nd dive. I\’d been trying to be more fashionable for Scott\’s photos with my neoprene headband, but looking nerdy is better than being cold.

In the afternoon we took Chuck for his turn on scuba. We had seen lots of mantas swimming on the surface so we were excited. The visibility was very murky & there was practically no current. There is more action when the current is flowing. It was one of the most uneventful dives we\’ve had here yet. We swam out to the place we\’d seen hammerheads before, but if they were there, we certainly couldn\’t see them in the murky blue. So we swam back to our 25 foot mound & just hung around waiting for one of our friendly mantas to appear. Chuck did just fine on scuba & we all had plenty of air to be patient. Sure enough one manta swam over our reef, but didn\’t stick around long at all. It was not \”Buttercup\”. After 50 minutes total dive time we went up. Chuck was very gracious, thanking us for the opportunity. We felt bad he didn\’t get to touch one like Linda did.

The afternoon chore was changing the scuba compressor oil. We use a block & tackle to hoist the 120 lb unit out of its locker in the cockpit (under the bench closest to our sliding door). We support it on the table with the drain plug perched out in space. Scott removes the nut with a 17 mm ratcheting wrench, replace the plug, put new oil, checked the level. Also cleaned air intake filter & did a general check up. When diving, this is one of our most critical pieces of equipment so we make sure to take good care of it. So far it has performed like a champ.

I make sure to put drying drops in my ears every day or so. I have a tendency to get more clogged (not wax, just water) than Scott & that makes my hearing worse & is annoying. Sometimes I use the hydrogen peroxide, but mostly the \”swimmers ear\” drops work fine. The main ingredient is alcohol.

We had chicken tacos for dinner. I had defrosted the corn tortillas & pre-cooked chicken at lunch so it was just shred cheese, chop lettuce, opened a can of salsa, put out the sour cream & voila. Creates a lot of dishes to wash but is an overall easy & satisfying dinner.

The Sirius reception out here has been sketchy so we don\’t get to listen to it much. We love music so I am working on making playlists. Skye used our credit card & bought 5 CDs worth of mp3 songs that we requested from the Sirius Spa & Coffee House stations. By just going through our ITunes master music library & going down my request list I am able to sort out the playlists that I want. The Spa music can really put us in a relaxed & calm mood.

December 31, 2008 – Day 15

More fun dives with \”Buttercup\”. She was back to \”her old self\” & very friendly, especially swimming circles around Scott.

Chuck & Linda came to our boat for New Years Eve. Linda brought a delicious tortilla soup, I made a green salad & tapioca. I was happily surprised that the romaine lettuce, jicama, cucumber, bell peppers & avocado have held up so well. I\’ve lost some tomatoes. I buy the roma type as green as I can, but need to perfect my technique of trying to ripen them in stages. I made a playlist including \”A Linda Song\” (Barry Manilow), \”Chuck E\’s in Love\” (Rickie Lee Jones), and \”Buttercup\” in honor of our most friendly manta who we have nicknamed. Linda made tinfoil manta awards. Scott\’s badge was \”Manta Man\”, mine \”Manta Mermaid\” & Chuck \”Manta Snorkeler\”. It was very sweet & a good time was had by all.

Scott & Cindy