Isla Socorro – Day 7……

Dear F&F,
January 20, 2009

Scott listened to Chuck who was the Net Controller on the Amigo net this morning as I made breakfast. Eggs again – YUM!!! Today\’s version: scrambled with turkey chorizo on corn tortillas with a bit of cheese. And on mine the last slice of avocado. Sigh. A delicious but sad moment.

We saw Mama & Baby whale not too far out so were eager to gear up & go out their direction for a dive. We easily found the 6 foot pinnacle again thanks to the handy GPS. Chuck & Linda tied up to our anchored dinghy to snorkel. But it was really more of a dive site. The top of the pinnacle is a fairly small area & not that much life. The rock broadens out deeper & we enjoyed exploring around it. We saw the largest lobster to date. Since it was out in the open, I posed next to it for the video so you can get an idea of the size. One octopus was seen tucked in amongst a crevice of urchins. The largest animal of interest was a stingray down in the sand at 90 feet. We dropped down to get a closer look & it swam right over Scott\’s shark shield giving itself a bit of a zap. Stingrays (versus Manta Rays) have vestigial Ampulles of Lorenzini which is the part of the anatomy on sharks that gets affected by the electrical pulse emitted by our shields. We always turned them off when playing with the Manta Rays. The shock they get does not harm them, not even a shark. They just don\’t like it. Kind of like a high pitched noise to a dog. We swam shallower once Scott got good footage of the stingray. No belly rubs for him! Very pretty site & we spent nearly an hour there. Chuck & Linda had moved off to snorkel near the shore, which was better for them.

After my shower I started lunch. Just as Scott got out of the shower the bilge pump alarm on that side went off. Thank God he installed those alarms. It tells us with a loud audio signal not only that we have a problem, but by LED alarm light, shows the area on the boat with the problem. We had a lot of water in the starboard (right side) central bilge. Not normal – means something is leaking or not draining right. Upon investigation, it was the shower sump. You may not recall, but we had to switch to our back up shower drain about a month ago. And now the back up died. The only spare we have is installed on the port side, which drains the small sink where I usually wash my hands before handling my contacts.

Our work was cut out for us for the next 3 1/2 hrs. I ran tool shuttle as Scott once again bravely contorted himself into impossible positions. And again he was cursing the installers (this time the builder in France) for not leaving a service loop of electrical wire. Each job takes so much longer when he has to re-do the wiring. First, take out the broken unit on the starboard side. Clean yuck (envision what your shower pipes might look like 3 feet down�). Scavenge any still working parts for spares. Go to the port side, take out the working unit & bring across for installation on starboard. Clean & dry that empty box so it won\’t leave a stinky mess. Put blue tape on my sink as a reminder that it is out of commission. I can deal with my contacts in the galley or our main bathroom. He re-routed the wires to get them mostly out of the bilge which is a wet area. He still put shrink-tube to help with waterproofing. Heat gun needed. Long extension cord for heat gun to reach working area. Invertor on for heat gun use. So many steps & details. I know I am repeating myself, but I really think it was so helpful that he is a dentist & can do these annoyingly tedious jobs.
***See below for hilarious response to this report from my friend Linda van Zeyl***

Meanwhile I am standing by my man. I am tired, but this horrid job would be made excruciating if he did not have me to dump the bucket, turn on the invertor, hold the hot heat gun between use, shine the flashlight into the dark bilge, place a pad under his bony knees, etc etc. We are a real team & since he bears the brunt of the \”blue jobs\” I do my best to not let him down in the Vanna White department. To help me rise to the occasion, I swirl some instant espresso in a short glass of milk & gulp it down. I needed IV caffeine to keep me going.

I mop up after he finished & put away most of the tools. As I was tossing overboard the last bucket of bilge water I saw my big bilge sponge go flying into the ocean! UGH!!! I was in my swimsuit & did not hesitate but jumped in to rescue it. Thankfully the ladder was down so I could climb out. I laughed hard at myself. I have really become a boater now – jumping in the ocean to rescue our bilge sponge! Yes, I have a bunch more, but our mindset is to use everything until it becomes unusable. No room for waste out here. I take a shower & we congratulate ourselves on yet another in-field boat repair. Chuck has an expression that you get a \”green flag\” when a fix goes well. We are collecting a few too many green flags! We wish stuff would just work. But since it is a boat & we know that is an unrealistic fantasy, thank goodness I have such a handy repairman on board.

We still had to empty the dinghy of dive gear & rinse & hang it all. We had Mama & Baby whale not too far out to entertain us. Baby jumped a few times. There seems to be another adult whale with them tonight, maybe a male. We did hear likely whale noises underwater. Not the song type, but the drum banging type.

Tonight\’s dinner, bowtie pasta with meat sauce. The Solmar V boat came & went. Panga driver, Jeronimo, if he is onboard this trip, did not call us on the radio & we were too busy & where they anchored for their dives was too far out to go out & talk to them. Good thing we were able to give Nautilus Explorer our trash the other day.

We are down to our last 4 liters of milk. It did not occur to me to have Scott ask for that when he got the eggs from Nautilus Explorer. I have used up the 2 tubs of powdered I had. Will keep LOTS MORE (of everything) onboard next time.

We hope to get another day of diving at Punta Tosca tomorrow then may move up the island a bit the next day to an anchorage called Cabo Henslow. A couple of days there then we are thinking of sailing back to San Benedicto again before our permit ends & we have to head to Z-town.

*** Use it in a sentence today! Feel free to use it as a swear word! Many will not know what it is, some will not realize the \”zest\” of the phrase, and those that do understand, will appreciate its color!

Gee! You two will soon be called \’bilge rats\’ for all your bailing and sloshing amidst the stink and grime! Here I Give You the Impressive, the Indefectible! TEAM STOLNITZ!! Watch their Fearless Descent into the Bilges! To Clean! To Repair! To Bail! As for me, a one way ticket home please! Well, it is good to know that you married such a great
handyman. No shrinking violet he!***

Scott & Cindy (with some poetic license from Linda van Zeyl (insert happy face here!)