2008 May 9
Los Frailes, Cabo Pulmo Marine Park
Today was the day. We are so excited to report that we are \”living our dream\”. Many of you have written us: \”Congratulations on living your dream.\” To me, before today it felt more that I was in pursuit of, en route to but had not quite yet found my dream. Today the dream came to life. WE WENT SCUBA DIVING & SAW LOTS OF WONDERFUL THINGS!!!
Yes I like sailing. Yes we have a very nice Beach House. Yes it is fun to take your whole house with you to another country. Be able to explore all day and come back to sleep in your own bed. The jungle cruises have been exciting. Hiking with nesting birds very special. Learning about the local culture & history fascinating. Participating in a dinghy raft-up potluck memorable.
But 99% of my motivation to pursue this water-based lifestyle is that I love scuba diving. It is my passion. Every time I swim in a pool, I imagine myself surrounded by tropical fish. Every time I practice ujiyi breathing (one type of yoga breathing) I hear the same sound as when I breathe through my regulator underwater. Every time I see a bird soaring I know that sensation: weightless in water, free to move in all directions.
Scott & I used to take these amazing live-aboard dive trips to exotic diving locations. We have been to Cozumel, British Virgin Islands, Solomon Islands, Palau, Yap and the Red Sea. We maximized each 10 day trip by diving 4-5 times a day. It was thriling, yet exhausting. For those of you who have seen Scott\’s pre-digital underwater slides, you know what an artist he is. We have a \”point & shoot\” team approach. I point & he shoots. Works great. He might sit in one spot focused on one creature for
an hour & I swim circles around him. I do not have the patience or multi-tasking skills to be an underwater photographer myself, but I love to let him \”do his art\”.
Each of these trips cost thousands of dollars. We always left wishing we could stay longer. How great would it be to be able to sit for a month in one spot & just dive 2 or 3 times a day & feel relaxed & have the benefit of time? So we did the only sensible thing: bought this boat in order to travel to the world\’s best diving.
Every time we snorkeled previously in Mexico we could barely see our fins. This has been the main factor that has kept us from pulling out the dive gear before now. In the worst places, only inches of visibility. Awful, green or brown murky pea soup. Only at Isla Isabella could we begin to see that there were indeed tropical fish in Mexican waters. This gave us hope. We were thrilled that today we could see through the water about 20-40 feet. Divers call this visibility.
The temperature was 75 degrees on the first very shallow dive (8-10 feet). 73 degrees for the second dive, down to 40 feet. On the first dive I was completely comfortable for 45 mins in my 5 mm thick neoprene wetsuit. On the second dive I started to feel cool at 20 mins, but was fine to continue another 15 mins. The air temperature is 89 degrees, so I got warm really quickly once out of the water. Spending time in water below body temperature is a great way to keep cool. Nothing like a little therapeutic
hypothermia. We look forward to spending several hours a day in the water all summer here in the Sea of Cortez to help us manage the heat.
We always wear our shark shields when we get in the water. For detailed info on this gizmo see the really neat video at http://www.sharkshield.com In brief, it is an antenna that we strap around our ankle that repels sharks. You can rest assured that we have no intention of being part of the food chain. In return, we do not each much fish. Scott does not care for it, so except for the occasional camarones (shrimp) we are nearly anti-fishetarians.
We dove at Catalina & the other Channel Islands in the past several years, but we had not been warm water diving since January 2000. I remember this specifically because we went to Maui for my 40th birthday. The diving here reminded us quite a bit of diving in Hawaii. Hard coral on top of rocks form the reef, which is 4 miles long by a quarter of a mile wide.
For the second dive we tied our line to a friendly local dive charter boat & got some good information about this area. Diego brought 2 divers from San Diego on the 1 hour panga ride from the beach town Buena Vista, north of here. Simon from England, works as divemaster, although Diego is also a divemaster, as well as an avid fisherman. This reef is a protected marine park, so no fishing or anchoring on the reef. But there is plenty of sport fishing (especially marlin) just outside the protected
area. There were about 6 other panga dive boats out today over a large area. Our catamaran is anchored well away from the reef. We dove from our dinghy closer to the reef, careful to set our anchor where we could clearly see sand on the bottom and not harm any coral.
Diving is such an experiential activity that trying to describe what we see feels terribly inadequate. But since many of you will never blow bubbles beneath the surface of the ocean and want to know why we love it so much, I will do my best to share the magic with you & pique your imagination. All are familiar friends. Here is a list of the various sizes, shapes & colors of marine life we saw today:
Parrot fish: 2 feet long, bird-like beak, various shades of green & aqua (largest we have ever seen).
Wrasse: face green & pink stripes, body blue & green striped (swims like its trying to constantly stay afloat).
Tangs: yellow, blue
Butterfly fish: silver, white, black stripes
Trigger fish: dusky blue
Damsel fish: dark blue
Banded (or arc-eye) Hawk fish: 2-3 inches long, red & white plaid body
Cow fish: 1-2 inches long, rectangular body, brown with white spots
Barred spiny puffer fish: brown & yellow
Nudibranchs: 1 inch, black with orange fringe
Green moray eels: 5-6 feet long, 6 inches in diameter (saw 8 of them).
Fiddler ray: buries in the sand, body 15 inches round with 1 ft tail. Light & dark patchy pattern
Banded guitar fish: 4 ft long, brown, green & beige
*You\’ve got to love the scientific name of this guitar fish – Zapteryx exasperata*
And many, many more that we have not identified yet.
Scott\’s underwater photos will do more justice to these beautiful creatures. Since we are just getting our onboard protocols going, today he did not take the camera. We are hoping this is just the kick off to a whole summer of fabulous diving & amazing photos in the Sea of Cortez.
We will stay here at least one more day in this incredibly calm and beautiful place. Soon we head for La Paz.
Scott and Cindy