Monthly Archives: November 2014
According to local lore, the coming of the yellow butterflies signals the end of hurricane season. This hurricane season had been the biggest on record for major hurricanes in the Pacific. Brian and I were out on a boat during the most active months, which meant we were especially vulnerable.
Hurricane season was a difficult time for us. We had big plans for our honeymoon and rushed down to Mexico only to realize it wasn’t safe to go out to sea. We were truly homeless, having left our van (Vanifest) behind in Alaska at the end of the summer. We were committed to living on the boat.
Unable to move around the sea, we nervously settled into the San Carlos area. Hurricane Odile, the biggest to ever make landfall on the Baja peninsula, had just devastated Cabo San Lucas. The journalism images of the destroyed Cabo airport, demolished boats and desperate people lingered in our minds, making it hard to feel good about being on the boat during this record-setting season.
Whether hurricanes were nearby or not, the summer monsoon weather was unstable. We were hit with a dramatic and unexpected storm while anchored near shore. A couple times we rode the overnight bus back to the US because major hurricanes were nearby. The worst part of it was I was becoming less enthusiastic about sailing because the boat felt like a threatening place, not a happy place.
The boat was our home and we kept returning to it after the hurricanes passed. We eventually had a great time in San Carlos. We found good places to scuba dive and kite board. We had to dig deep to find fun sometimes. I have never tried jogging but we started going to shore to jog because that was one of the only ways to exercise. We ended up loving it. We would explore the beautiful back roads near a small Mexican fishing village named La Manga.
When the hurricane season seemed to be slowing down, we crossed the sea and headed south. Apparently our timing was right. We found clouds of yellow butterflies on the other side of the sea. They filled the skies near Loreto as we lingered a couple days for some great diving in the Candeleros Islands where we found walls of colorful coral. Hundreds of butterflies would flutter by the large bay where we anchored near the Candeleros, but they never landed.
We left the bay to begin our 22 hour passage to Los Islotes, and once we were out at sea they would often land on the boat to rest. They were so docile and cooperative that soon it became the day of a thousand butterfly pictures.
The poor creatures seemed exhausted and would remain wherever they landed on the boat. We felt sorry for them, but also took the opportunity to get some close-up photos of them. One little butterfly rode around on my shirt for an hour before I gently placed it back in the cockpit.
It was one of those perfect days out on the ocean, too. The sky was cloudless and light blue. The water was lightly wavy and we alternated between pure sailing and sailing with the help of the engine throughout the day. In addition to the perfect weather, we were surrounded by yellow butterflies all day long and happy that the stress and danger of hurricane season was over.
Yesterday was my first time scuba diving at night! We saw many creatures that are never around during our daytime dives, like dozens of four-foot-long sea cucumbers. These snake-like creatures have white, feathered tentacles sprouting from their alien faces which they use to feel around on the rocks for food. These creepy tentacles would quickly retract when we shined our lights on them. Their long, segmented bodies slowly pulsated like a centipede as they squirmed around on the rocks.
It was about 7 PM, and we had just finished a dinner of fish tacos. The fish was speared by Brian just hours earlier and I baked it with a thick covering of pineapple salsa. After dinner we took the dinghy to our dive site we nicknamed “The Aquarium” because of all the fish we’ve seen there. From the small pool of light cast by our flashlight, we could see the silky surface of the water as the dinghy glided along, and nothing else. We arrived at the jagged point of the bay, scanned the irregular, rocky shore with our lights, and dropped our small dinghy anchor.
During the day at The Aquarium thousands of fish busily worked a small reef and the water was clear and deep blue. We could see all the way to the rippled, diffused light at the surface from 40 feet below. Tonight the ocean was black and mysterious.
We descended and as soon as we reached the bottom we began seeing bizarre things, like sea hares. Sea hares are waddling, blob-like invertebrates with a sexy secret life. After the dive we found all sort of videos online about their hermaphroditic orgies! Apparently adult sea hares can mate as a male or female or both, and often have mass orgies in which sea hares form long conga-line-like chains of individuals fertilizing and being fertilized. Wow. Unfortunately, the sea hares were not exhibiting any sensual behavior during our dive.
We shined our lights all around and found great visibility in all directions, about 50 feet. Conditions were perfect. We continued to explore. We saw many sleeping fish hovering motionlessly in the water with their eyes wide open. It was fun to get a closer look at several huge fish which would normally never let me get near them while they are awake. The parrot fish pictured at right was really cute, suspended in a little cave with a toothy grin on his face! The fish sleep with their eyes open and are so entranced that we could swim right up and touch them.
Last but not least, toward the end of the dive we found a tiny cave with three creatures inside: a large lobster, a baby lobster and a moray eel. What would cause these creatures to want to spend time together, share a cave? I guess none of them would want to eat the other. Maybe that is a good enough reason?