San Benedicto – Days 4,5,6…..

Dear F&F,
December 20-22, 2008

I have to limit my computer time because I can very suddenly get a headache & nauseous if the weather gets a bit bumpy here at the anchorage. I thought I\’d be over that by now, but the motion sickness still jumps up & bites me sometimes. Almost every other activity (cooking, cleaning, filling tanks, rinsing gear, loading dinghy etc) I am fine with – just reading & writing are a problem.
The ham email connections are not possible early morning or evening. So we are trying to make sure to connect between the morning & midday dives.

We got scolded by the sailmail administrators for using too many minutes. Fortunately we have the Iridium satellite phone. The pre-paid minutes cost about $1.50 each but it only takes about 2-3 minutes to send & receive several emails. The ham radio connections are often very slow out here as we are behind a 1200 foot volcano cone. Sometimes it takes us 10-15 minutes to get in 1 email. Frustrating, but the price of being off the grid and out here on the wild side. We have had a series emails with our CPA working on end of the year stuff. We hope next year will be simpler & we can anticipate things better.

We have continued to enjoy diving, seeing mantas on most of our dives. We haven\’t had as close an encounter as that first Manta Magic but it is still lovely to be here. Often in the early mornings there are mantas feeding at the surface very near our boat. We have gone in on scuba with then, but they seem busy & not that interested in us at that time of day.

The Clarion angelfish is native to this archipelago. About 6-12 inches long, it is mostly orange with some green on its face.

We\’ve seen wahoo swimming near the surface. They are nearly 2 feet long, shiny silver & known to be delicious raw with wasabi. We have heard you can ask for permission to fish for your own use, but since this is a marine preserve, we are not fishing. Just taking photos & admiring all the critters we see.

We see a lot of green moray eels swimming out in the open here. In the Sea of Cortez they were mostly tucked in a rocky corner. Maybe they know it\’s a marine preserve here and feel safe to swim openly. Also seen but less common, are the black with white striped zebra eels. Both types have these funny \”nose horns\” that give their faces a comic \”Puff the Magic Dragon\” look.

We always enjoy seeing octopi & had a nice time with one large one fairly out in the open. They will explore your bare finger with the suction cups on their many legs. They are not interested if we have gloves on, so we remove them. Sometimes they tug on your finger pretty strong, wanting to bring a potential tasty morsel near their beak. I get a bit timid then & let Scott play. We would never eat an octopus, they are thought to be as smart as dogs.

We had two dives with parading hammerheads at \”The Canyon\” area. There were at least 30 to 50 sharks swimming at 100 feet deep. We have been wearing our shark shields but not turning them on. We have not really had a \”live test\” of the units. But today when one hammerhead seemed to be swimming closer & closer to Scott\’s video camera I turned mine on & swam near to protect Scott in case the shark got a little too interested. Fortunately we got some great footage with no danger at all. It is very exciting to swim with sharks in the wild.
Scott & Terry Kennedy have nightly chat dates on the ham radio. Terry is so jazzed that we are here & trying to give us all kinds of detailed information on where to go. One spot of water looks kind of the same as another from the surface. We are enjoying doing our own exploring & have found one particular \”cleaner station\” that is a pinnacle 25 feet underwater at its top and about 60 feet at its base.

The only repair we\’ve needed to do so far is on our main watermaker. One part started to leak. Fortunately we had a spare & Scott installed it with minor assistance from me fetching tools. It is not a 100% success yet because our output is lower than it should be. He called the company via the satellite phone & got some suggestions on how to troubleshoot it. I hope we get it fixed soon because I need to do some laundry & would love to change our sheets & towels. We use a lot of fresh water rinsing off after every dive. We don\’t like feeling all salty or sitting on the interior furniture with salty bodies. We also rinse all our dive gear every day because the salt water is so corrosive.

Another couple, Chuck and Linda on s/v \”Jacaranda\” are drifting along on their way towards here. They don\’t carry much fuel so are trying to sail & not motor & they are not having enough wind. The commercial dive boats won\’t be back until Dec 27. I really treasure the peace & quiet, both above & below water. But it will be fun to have company.

Scott & Cindy