Isla Socorro – Day 3…..

Dear F&F,
January 16, 2009

This is our 30th day in the Archipelago Islas Revillagigedo (Karen, you are adorable! No this is not an expression, but the name of the island group.) We are only visiting 2 of the 4.

It was nice to wake up in this very sweet anchorage. Great to see green hills. After putting the maximum air fill in 2 scuba tanks we zoom off in the dinghy in search of some of Terry\’s recommended sites. He made a typo on one of the coordinates that we\’d really hope to go to, showing it as 30 miles away, which is a mistake. Just last night on the radio he told us that it was only 250 yards; a very short ride from this anchorage. Oh well. Will try to clarify at next radio date. We have a hand-drawn map that Chuck & Linda had downloaded off the internet of the dive area called Punta Tosca. The commercial dive boats also said they go there. We scout for nearly an hour. About halfway from where the big boats anchor to the dive site. We see dolphins & 1 manta ray on the surface. They go deep when we try to slowly approach. Terry had told us the manta rays didn\’t seem as approachable here as in San Benedicto, but our hearts still flutter when we see one.

We decided to anchor the dinghy in 30 feet of water between the 2 rocky reefs that comprise Tosca. This area is referred to as Turtle Cove. One of the big attractions for divers at Socorro is sharks. We have our shark shields on & will leave them turned on. When we swim down to check our anchor we are surrounded by hundreds of colorful fish. Mostly pale yellow ones with 6 black stripes called Convict Tangs. Right away we saw an octopus out in the open. They usually like to hide in the rocks, especially in the daytime. It actually swam towards Scott\’s video camera, so we have some good footage. Also saw several lobsters out & about. Reminds me I have some meat in the fridge that Linda gave me – will make a good lunch. I am such a hypocrite. I wouldn\’t want to kill one myself, but will happily eat a lobster that someone else has killed. This philosophy caused me to be vegetarian from age 10-20. Now I admit my conflict & am happily omnivorous. Well, certain things I still would not eat. Like an octopus (They\’re too much like shy, playful puppies). But I digress�

The visibility was at least 50 feet in the shallow areas. We swim outside one of the reef points along a vertical wall & are looking out into the deep. This is potential shark territory. None seen today. We swam against a pretty strong current. Sometimes I had to pull myself along the wall hand over hand. On the return, we enjoyed drifting with the current – free ride! We returned to the shallower reef area and came upon a sandy cut. Five white tip sharks (4-5 1/2 feet long) swam all around & then zoom – were gone. Scott signaled me to turn off the shark shield. These kind of shark are hamsters, so no worries. We are not positive that they felt the impact of our shields but they may have. That is the first \”in field\” reaction we have been close enough to witness. And it was a maybe. They could have just been fraidy cats & got used to us later. Because we did see them again & Scott got some good video. Cool.

On the dinghy ride back we sighted a breeching whale in the distance. Later at sunset a couple more on the surface not too far, spouting & swimming. Very cool.

I cracked the lobster legs Linda shared with me (no claws like Maine lobsters). Chopped up the meat, mixed with mayo & minced onion; ate with wheat crackers. Yum! Scott declined this delicacy (more for me!) so I made him a turkey sandwich.

We had considered an afternoon dive, but I felt very low energy. We rested a bit after lunch then Scott took advantage of the time to install the propeller pitch locking rings. So even if (God forbid) we catch something else on the props in the future, it won\’t change the adjustment. He also did some other under boat maintenance. I stayed topside to fetch him the tools & parts he needed. I am so grateful that he does all the \”blue jobs\” with grace. He in turn is very appreciative of my assistance & encouragement. I made popcorn in the pressure cooker for the first time as a late afternoon snack. 1/3 cup oil, 1/2 cup popcorn bring unit to pressure, cook 1 minute. Release pressure, open lid, sprinkle with salt – Perfecto! I have only 4 bags of microwave type left & enough of the regular popcorn for 3 or 4 more batches, so that\’s a happy discovery. Another reason for this happy experiment is it reduces our trash. We don\’t throw anything over the side close to the island, so we have to stow all our refuse till we can give it to another boat or get to deep water. Plastic NEVER goes over the side.

We enjoyed a glass of wine with the sunset & are counting are blessings. This past month has been what we had in mind all along. Actually with the manta interaction, San Benedicto exceeded our wildest dreams of diving nirvana. Socorro is lovely & we have more places to go looking for sharks. Not just the white tip \”hamsters\”. Galapagos (average length 7-12 feet), Dusky (7-10 ft) & Silver Tip (5-10 ft) and Silky (4-7 ft) sharks are known to be here. They all have more girth & can really get your heart racing. They are not aggressive, just impressive to look at & we hope to have the opportunity to see & film them. We will keep are shields on around them & I am looking forward to more confirmation by field testing that these bullwhip looking things we swim with actually work. There are hammerheads here at Socorro too, it is always difficult to get close to them.

We are hoping to cross paths with the commercial dive boat Solmar V or Nautilus Explorer to get more information on the dive sites here. The paper chart we have on these islands is drawn from information collected in 1874. Our boat navigation chart is way off. It shows us anchored on land half the time. So few people come here, that there just hasn\’t been time & money put into updates. We are kicking ourselves for not doing more research on Google Earth when we had internet access. We\’ve looked at some of the satellite photos that Chuck downloaded & they give accurate GPS & views. We have made a note that we need to start making files of the Google Earth info for all the places we plan to go in the future. Since the advent of GPS (Global Position Systems), the charts have YET to catch up to their real positions. Often they are up to a few miles off. A bit disconcerting, but we have learned to adapt.

I am hoping to feel full of vim & vigor tomorrow. Although I certainly get plenty of rest, I do not always get that much good sleep. I keep telling myself I am not starving, but my awareness of our diminishing provisions is on my mind a lot. Telling you about my lobster dinner & lunch probably does not elicit any pity whatsoever! I have decided to take a full multivitamin instead of my usual half, just to cover the gaps. I\’ve also started adding a tablespoon or so of olive oil to whatever I can just to increase my caloric intake. Scott meanwhile is hoping to continue to shed pounds while we are out here having a more physical life style than in the marina or adjacent to land based food stores.

I\’m afraid we are getting a bit too brown. We may return to land life looking weathered but I will not regret having traded my fair skin for these outdoor adventures. Looking forward to tomorrow & embracing all the possibilities the new day will bring.

Scott & Cindy