A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about sunrise

Time Management and the Modern Explorer

Blue Whales, Sharks, Unapologetic Time Management "Problems"

sunny 85 °F

The boat slowed, and I knew we had spotted some sort of sea creatures, but I didn’t yet know what it was. I was in my head (bathroom), getting my day started. I knew that whatever it was, was probably going to be pretty cool. Therefore, I spit out my toothpaste, grabbed my fully charged camera battery and headed up to the bow. The guests had gathered, and I found a group of crew ready to go with their fancy cameras ready to shoot.

I learned we had stopped for a Blue whale. The blue whale is the largest animal on planet earth. This thought alone, gave me a small charge of endorphins coursing though my veins. I couldn’t believe I was going to be lucky enough to witness one at a reasonably close distance.

The sun was bright, and the day was hot (as it always is). There was a soft breath of hot breeze, and the seas were softly rising falling like the contented breathing of someone asleep. Red clouds of krill and invertebrates willowed around like smoke in the water. These smallest life forms come in a variety of shapes and designs, but ultimately most of them end up in the same place: digesting in a fish or mammals stomach. It’s amazing to me that these tiny creatures are the start of the ocean’s culinary chain. These tiny creatures are very important to the ocean’s ecosystem. Without them, none of the spectacular wildlife I’ve seen would be here, and it’s possible we wouldn’t be here either.

Blue whales feed on krill, and while growing can pack on 200 pounds a day. The length of a blue is 100 feet long. Look at the comparison to other animals to give it some perspective. We humans are but a mosquito to these giants. One of our wildlife naturalists on board told me that there are about 50 year round blue whales that live in the Gulf of California.
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We were very fortunate; this Blue whale wasn’t diving down for long periods. They typically dive for 10 minutes at a time; however, the one we were watching was only going below for half of that. It would surface, blow, swim at the surface for awhile, then arc it’s lengthy back and dive down deep once again. I was in the right place at the right time, and was able to capture its fluke, the tail of the blue as it dove down deep. Seeing the fluke on a blue I’m told is rare, so I feel fortunate to not only see it, but can take this memory with me.
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I witnessed my first shark here in Baja. I was snorkeling among the vibrant corral reefs on the Isla Manserate, looking at the beautiful varieties of fish swimming below. In front of me, a school of some of the larger fish suddenly shot past towards shallower water. I thought to myself, “Well, they don’t just bolt for no reason,” and I looked in the direction from which they came. I saw in the distance the sharply angled v-shape of the shark, a gray body and a lighter underbody. It was significantly larger than anything else under the water, and in two strokes of its tail was gone. Awesome! That was a rush. I don’t fear sharks, but I am aware of the fact that while I’m snorkeling, I’m nowhere near the top of the food chain and there are many creatures much larger than I am. I continued my snorkel occasionally glancing ahead to see if it would return. It never did, but I hope to see another shark soon.

Author’s Note: Before starting my contract on the ship, I watched a shark documentary called, “Shark Water.” One man wondered why people feared sharks so much and set about to find out why. What he found is that, as usual, humans don’t understand sharks. We stereotype them into a man eating monster. Not only that, but he exploited the ruthless and needless killing of the sharks for there tails. The shark tail is considered a delicacy in some countries, and will pay top dollar for shark fins to make shark fin soup. It was an eye opening documentary, which I found informative, entertaining, and visually amazing.
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Landing on the small beach on the island of Ispiritu Santo, the first thing I saw was a small shark head bobbing in the froth of the small waves. It was frowning. I guess if I was decapitated and had my head thrown into the sea, I would frown as well. What does this unfortunate shark tell us? Somebody is killing sharks, but to what end? As it happened, I was in a “protected” national park of Mexico, this isn’t reassuring.

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December 23rd, 2010
“This is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I’m sitting atop one of the high, rocky overlooks on the Isla Danzante. Turkey vultures are soaring overhead, gliding effortlessly on the wind, the far off “SMACK” of a breeching manta ray down in the bay makes me turn and pull out my binoculars to watch it for awhile. Who knew? I never knew that rays loved jumping out of the water, until I saw it with my own eyes. All around me are endless views of the beautiful desert meeting the sheer rock cliffs that drop down into the sea below. All around me are more islands, uninhabited, beautiful and wild. The hike was enjoyable, it’s easy to hike in sandals which is a definite bonus, the thought of hot hiking boots seems intolerable at this point. I’ve swam in the ocean every day this trip, mostly on deserted beaches well away from anyone. This is the life. I haven’t worn pants since December 5th. I work very hard (12 hours a day), but the rewards are this: access to the magnificent desert islands that make up Mexico’s national parks, which I can explore as I want. This job is more a working vacation than a regular job.”

~Journal entry from my hand written journal
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I’m having trouble finding time for anything else other than work and exploration. This blog is suffering because of it. I haven’t made time to try and keep up with my explorations. Every day I work 12 hours. That’s one part of my day, then I catch the zodiac ride to the beach and explore for 3 to 4 hours, after which I only have time to edit my pictures and go to bed to do it all over again. Every day I’m at a new beach that I haven’t seen, and I have my choice of either hiking, beach combing, snorkeling, kayaking, or lying still. To do justice to every exploration, will take time, so please bear with me. To be perfectly honest, I guess I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm seizing every opportunity I have to explore this area, and that after all, is my billing.

I live in a world of exploration and monontony. The endless repetition of a deckhand is completely offset by every day of amazing exploration, discovery and play. I am loving my life right now.

Today, on Boxing Day (for Canadians), I’ve finally made it back to La Paz, and I have some time to catch up with my writings, but words fail me. This region is a desert paradise. Here are some pictures that hopefully will give some insight into my desert world of discovery.
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Merry Christmas From The Dusty Vagabond!
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Posted by Rhombus 14:06 Archived in Mexico Tagged boats flowers whales deserts sunrise oceans baja sharks photography jobs Comments (2)

A Winter in Baja Begins

First Takes on Baja, Some Expectations, My First Swim In The Ocean

sunny 78 °F

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My first views of the Baja California peninsula was from about 14 miles out at sea. From there, it looked like a jagged, desert like environment, full of smallish coastal mountains leading down to the water. Along the shoreline, I could see occasional bands of sand with pale mounds piling into dunes. What dominated most of my views, was the extremely bright shimmer of the glaring sun. It was constant, overpowering golden-white, and impossible to ignore. I’m going to have to get used to being in the sun.
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I’m from the north, from a place where the sun rarely shines in the winter. A place where on the sunniest days in the winter, if you ran around outside naked all day, you still wouldn’t get your necessary dose of Vitamin D. In contrast, I think I’ll be getting all the Vitamin D I need, and way more, in a single morning here in Baja. I proved that today. I woke up at 7 am, and got dressed, opting for shorts and a tee shirt. By 4 pm, I was tan on all exposed flesh. I was a little bit sunburned on the back of my neck, where I didn’t apply sun block in time, but over all tanned. It was a record for me, a one-day suntan.

We are positioning from San Francisco, California to La Paz, Baja California in Mexico. It’s our fifth day of travel, and we expect to land in La Paz, sometime tomorrow evening. I’m very excited to get back to land again. Mostly, because it will be in a brand new environment, I’ve never seen before. Baja is where the desert meets the ocean, and several people have described it to me as “the most beautiful place, they’ve ever seen.” Time will tell, and I’ll make my own judgment on the matter.
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The trip so far has been very good; we were blessed with good weather, and calm seas. It’s been sunny every day, and quite balmy. High temperatures are in the upper seventies, and quite comfortable to work in shorts and sandals all day. We’ve been busy getting the final projects completed after the hectic shipyard session we recently completed in Alameda, Ca. It’s been a lot of hard work, and ten-hour days, but it’s enjoyable to work along side of like-minded people. On this boat, we are all travellers, and we enjoy comparing stories, and destinations. Most of us don’t have homes. Instead, we talk of where we store our stuff.
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One of the great benefits of this job is being able to drop whatever it is you are doing at any time and head out to the deck to watch wildlife as we pass it by. Every couple of hours, the call will come over the radio that dolphins, whales, or sunsets have been spotted. Everyone filters out to the decks to watch the beautiful sea creatures play around in the water. Today, about 12 of us, sat up in the sunshine watching dolphins jump through the deep blue water, while the majestic Frigate birds soared just overhead. Life is pretty damn good at times.

I’m excited about this journey for many reasons, but I’ll try to highlight a few:

The wildlife. I’m going to see a diverse amount of wildlife I’ve never seen before. Several different types of whales, some of which I might be fortunate enough to touch.I’m also looking forward to learning more about the varieties of birds, fish, and sea life that call this peninsula home.

I can’t wait to start exploring the cities and villages we’ll be stopping at. My Spanish is terrible. I plan to communicate by exaggerated animated gestures, and what little Spanish I know. What fun! Completely out of my element, and dropped into foreign territory. This is what I live for.

I’m from the Midwest. My superiors have told me that I will be expected to swim a lot. “If I have to…” This is cool by me, as I want to become a better swimmer, and I want to go snorkeling. Where I’m from, the lake is only warm enough to swim 2 months of the year, so I haven’t spent much time snorkeling.

I let out the big anchor for the first time tonight. We arrived at Bonanza Beach just after sunset, and a peanut gallery of crew showed up to document, and tease me while I went about learning the process of setting the hook. I did all right for the first time, and all went smoothly. The captain let us go swimming until dark, to let us blow off some steam, and relax and have fun after our long voyage from San Francisco.

We were like kids in school on the last day of class before Christmas break, buzzing and hyper waiting impatiently while the Bo’ sun and other deckhand got the swim ladder into position. Then we got the go ahead to jump in.

Picture the following scene: The sky is the dark indigo of early night. To the west, a first quarter waxing crescent moon is rising slowly above the distant black hills still visible behind the last glow of the sunset. Stars are starting to twinkle far above us. The wind is warm and blowing steadily across the upper deck of our ship. Our floodlights light up the aqua blue-green water, and 15 of us are ready to jump. We all go off in a line, like the penguins of Antarctica, jumping one after another of our “iceberg.” The difference is, everyone chooses his or her favorite thing to yell out, and launch style. Some choose a shriek, and a dive. Others do flips, and straight jumps. I do what I do best. I bellow out, “Viva Baja Mexico!“ and cannon ball from 15 feet off of the water. “KER-SPLASH” and I’m in the dark water of an ocean for the first time.

My first reaction is being aware of the dull underwater sounds of rushing bubbles. I taste the salt on my lips, and in my nasal cavity, and it’s not altogether pleasant, but I don’t care. These moments are what I live for. I surface, and make four more trips up the swim ladder to the upper deck, bantering away with my friends and fellow crewmembers. A strong ocean current rips by, and though I try to swim, it’s hard to make any headway. As I tire, we hang onto the ladder and enjoy the water. It’s not cold, not at all, at least by my standards. It was the equivalent of swimming in Lake Superior in July, and it was beautiful.

This was the first time I’ve ever swam in the ocean. For a first experience, I don’t think you can do much better than that.
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So begins my latest journey. I’ll be spending five more months in a warm desert marine environment working, playing, and living to the best of my ability. I can only take things one day at a time, and try to make the best of them. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m betting my odds are good for an enjoyable winter.

Posted by Rhombus 08:52 Archived in Mexico Tagged sky boats desert sunrise sunsets oceans life baja photography Comments (1)

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