Category Archives: Cruising the South Pacific

“Lagoon” is one of my favorite words now. We just arrived in the Tuamotus yesterday and I still can’t believe this is real. The lagoon water is clear, warm and calm. It’s protected on all sides by coral. It reminds me of a placid Idaho lake, where waves don’t get very large. This lagoon is about 8 miles wide.

After a five day passage we dropped our anchor with great relief. Almost immediately we jumped in with snorkels to see the coral under Magic, and were ecstatic to see 100 foot visibility and one small shark which soon darted off into the darkness. Unicorn Fish, which are light blue with a little horn, greeted us in a large school under the boat.

Now this is what we crossed the Pacific for, and the water here is the nicest I’ve ever seen. The coral is healthy and we found a good spot to snorkel and dive just a one minute dinghy ride from where Magic is anchored. We also have a good internet connection here. This place has it all!

Sharks are everywhere! They have been small, cute and indifferent. They came by at the beginning of our dive today, then acted like we didn’t exist the rest of the time.

UPDATE! Just as I was writing this blog post on the trampoline of the boat a shark swam by just 20 feet in front of us. Brian spotted it cruising along the surface.

Anyway, yeah, sharks are everywhere. I’m glad I like these sharks. They are fascinating and haven’t been aggressive at all. They do their thing, I do mine. Right, sharks?

I’m back on night watch. This time we are sailing 500 miles southwest to the largest group of atolls in the world, the Tuamotus. Brian just went to sleep but tonight I have a companion. A medium sized seabird, a Booby, chose to spend the night on Magic.

The Booby settled onto our solar panel late afternoon yesterday and hasn’t moved since. It wobbled around for awhile, getting its sea legs, and now it’s roosting in a light rain. It’s head is tucked against its wing. I can see it from where I sit and it definitely makes my night watch more fun. I hope it stays with us throughout the five day passage.

The Marquesas were great and we spent much more time there than we planned. It’s not the best destination for diving because the water is often murky. We still ended up exploring Nuku Hiva for three weeks. The friendly attitude of the locals, the fascinating fruit and the manta rays were incredible highlights. The lesson of the Marquesas was to keep an open mind about each new landfall.

Now we’re headed to the Tuamotus, with white sand, palm trees and very clear water for diving. This sounds like paradise. I can’t wait to be anchored in a turquoise lagoon surrounded by fish and coral.

But first night watch, with my Booby companion. Just a couple more nights at sea.

It was a great Pacific crossing, our longest passage ever. We were at sea for 21 days and when we made landfall at Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia we were thirsty for land, food, and other people. We dropped our anchor in the busy bay and felt victorious. We had crossed the largest ocean in the world together.

We relaxed in the cockpit, awestruck by our new surroundings and spent from the passage. About an hour later two really nice men in a dingy slowly motored over to Magic. I was excited to have visitors in this new place.

They offered us a large bag of Marlin they caught and froze solid. We still had plenty of the 35 pound tuna we caught the other day, but we accepted the Marlin gratefully knowing we’d appreciate it once our tuna was gone.

We prepared our dinghy and went to land. We began exploring and soon realized around 10% of the trees around town were fruit bearing. The delicious, grapefruit-like pamplemousse grows everywhere, and the scientific name is citrus maxima for good reason. These gorgeous green globes are huge, and can grow as large as a cantaloupe.

They are sweeter than a grapefruit and a whole lot more work to dissect, too. You must commit to a pamplemousse. It takes around 15 minutes to peel an average sized pamplemousse. I know because I enjoy making Thai pamplemousse salad with peanuts, onions, coconut, lime juice, garlic, chiles, brown sugar, and fish sauce. This salad is a strange combination which will confuse and delight your taste buds. The fruit is also fantastic on its own.

We continued to try other fascinating fruits which became available at the market, and thanks to a recommendation from our friends on a boat named Pino we stumbled on to the Sugar Apple. It is my favorite fruit here.

Sugar apples look like purple pine cones, but I bought four of them anyway because of the way Recka’s eyes glowed when she told me about them. These had to be good.

We went to Daniel’s Bay for a couple days, taking the sugar apples with us. We grabbed the softest one and enjoyed it our first night there, sitting on top of the boat in a beautiful anchorage with green walls and waterfalls around us.

We started on the fruit. We peeled its soft, leathery skin off in little pieces. It put up no fight. This was a task easily accomplished without fingernails. Inside we found a soft, creamy, pink substance. It was similar to an overripe avocado in texture, with a sweet, earthy, and loamy flavor. The creamy substance lines the leathery skin, and at the core of the sugar apple are large brown seeds enveloped in a delicious white pulp. We devoured it.

The sugar apple is a succulent little bomb of enjoyment, and when it gets very ripe it even starts to take on hints of cherry and become more complex. I wish I could have one every day and take them with me everywhere I go. I’ve never seen them anywhere else, though. I will have to enjoy them as often as possible in the South Pacific.

I thought mangoes would be easy to pick here, but it took time to find any that we could harvest. The mango trees around town which are not on private land are harvested heavily. We persisted, though, and one day with the help of a rental car we found all the mangoes we could possibly handle! Picking mangoes is a sticky experience. The stem of the mango begins oozing sticky white liquid as soon as the fruit is removed from the tree. We drove all over the island taking in fantastic vistas and enjoying the mango and banana trees by the side of the road.

We had a great time seeing the entire island and picking fruit. The driving is adventurous, though. At one point the road is extremely steep and curvy, and for about 1/8 of a mile it has only one lane. There are no pullouts. You’re supposed to honk loudly to declare your right of way before driving up or down the one way section.

We’ve also tried different types of bananas here, both at the market and from the wild, and these are the best bananas we’ve ever eaten. They are rich and make American bananas seem airy by comparison. They are sweet and don’t ripen as quickly as the ones back home, either.

In addition, the stores have a good selection of other foods like cheese, bread and Asian foods. There’s a café where we can get a good meal for about $10. We’ve been impressed. Rumor has it the South Pacific is a remote and difficult place to find food, but that is certainly not the case on Nuku Hiva!

Our 39 foot long catamaran looked pretty small floating at the base of the 2300 foot high walls in Daniel’s Bay. The walls were wavy with green and black horizontal bands, dotted with white birds drifting on air currents. We were entering the bay from the ocean, and it kept its secrets hidden. We could see only a green corner straight ahead and big walls all around us. The place where we would anchor our boat wasn’t visible yet in the right lobe of the heart shaped bay. As more of the bay came into view we were delighted to see a small, wild beach full of palm trees and crashing waves. Thousand foot high waterfalls punctuated the dark folds in the cliffs far beyond the beach. They looked like tiny white ribbons. It was a scene out of a tropical fairytale.

The other lobe of the bay was calm and surrounded by rolling green hills and small, pointy peaks. This would be a good place to anchor and there were already two more small boats here. We made sure we had a good view of the waterfalls and then dropped our hook in the most beautiful place we’ve ever taken Magic. We moved to the trampoline to properly appreciate the scene, with wine and sugar apples in hand.

The next day we would hike to the base of Vaipo Falls, a 1300 foot tall waterfall. We got up early and went to the wavy lobe of the bay to begin our hike. Even on the beach we found hints of the abundance of fruit here. A half dozen rotting, yellow pamplemousse were nestled in the tan sand along with coconuts in varying stages of decay.

We wandered through a small village of about a dozen people. Horses, dogs, pigs and chickens darted in and out of the lush forest. It looked like a peaceful life and the people living there were very friendly. They spoke a tiny bit of English and I spoke a tiny bit of French. Their English was better. We chatted for a few minutes.

We continued down the road and found clusters of trees laden with pamplemousse, lime, papaya, banana and mango. We paid our $10 entrance fee to Paul, a friendly man who lives at the end of the road and watches over the trail. He offered to give us fruit when we returned.

We enjoyed a powdery blue sky as we left the village behind. It was a nice break from all the rain in the Marquesas. There’s a reason everything is so green here.

The trail was wide and grassy at first, and it took us through an open valley of palm and fruit trees. The valley became deeper, and then we were in a dark jungle splashing through puddles and mud. The trail was hard to find at times. Luckily we were wearing sturdy sandals which could accommodate this wet jungle hike and we enjoyed the terrain immensely.

The trail was littered with fruit. Sometimes we would find a mango and look all over for the tree it came from, only to find that the mango trees were very tall along the path. I bent down to pick up one mango which was perfectly ripe, soft and bright yellow, but my heart sank as I turned it over and found a gash teeming with tiny ants. I examined it. Wanted it. We hadn’t found a mango in edible condition yet. I carefully peeled away the skin from the ant-free half and quickly snuck a bite before the insects claimed it. The juicy, slimy flesh was sweet and delightful, the most delicious mango I had ever tasted. I regretted having to leave the rest behind but felt highly motivated to find more mangos.

We got our first glimpse of Vaipo Falls after about a mile. Our spirits soared and we started hiking faster.

It was still over an hour to the falls, and when we reached the deep gorge near the waterfall the sky began to darken. A storm was building. We hiked up the river to reach the base of the falls, sometimes crossing it to find the trail on the other side.

“Look, there’s a snake!” I squealed as a fat, brown, serpentine creature squirmed down a small rapid in the swift flow of the river.

I waited at the side of the river and watched it pass a few feet away from me, but this wasn’t a snake. It had gills and looked like an eel. Who knows what it was doing here, or how many other little critters we were hiking with in the murky river.

We reached a pool near the base of the falls but before we could see the waterfall we had some obstacles to overcome. We swam across a brown pool, probably full of eels, and then scrambled past a short jumble of rocks.

After the rocks came the most exhilarating part. A deep plunge pool with rounded walls guarded the base of the falls, and had a strong, pushy downstream current. We swam against the current in the turbulent pool with curtains of mist filling the air. I swam with my face toward the mist at first, but soon a heavy wave of water droplets hit my face and partially filled my mouth. I began gasping, choking, and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought back to the times I’ve rappelled waterfalls and turned around so my back was to the mist. Now I could swim against it, no problem. I made my way across the pool and reached the base of the falls.

It seemed to be the base of a lower cascade, where the falls broke up into big curtains of mist instead of a huge, thundering firehose that must be hitting further upstream. I floated, gazed around in wonder for a couple seconds, and then got the heck out of there. Floating at the base of the falls meant lingering under an overhanging, crumbling wall with a risk of rock fall.

Soaked and smiling, we returned to our packs and prepared to hike back. It was right at that moment the rain began suddenly and it felt warm and heavy. We were already wet from the swim so it didn’t matter. We walked through the jungle, dripping, united with all the plants around us, also dripping.

It was sunny on the way in and now this felt like a whole new hike. Instead of sweating and guzzling water in the steamy jungle we enjoyed warm rain which kept us at the perfect temperature. We saw spires shrouded in mist. The waterfalls were gone, hidden behind curtains of white clouds.

We hiked back to the village and did not see Paul or the fruit he offered to leave for us. We didn’t care. We were tired, wet and satisfied. It had been a great day. The best part was enjoying the trail in complete solitude after we left the village. It was just us and the eels out there.

As we left the beach to go back to Magic, Paul ran after us to let us know he’d have a big bunch of bananas for us in a couple hours. We thanked him, and planned to return and enjoy some surfing after the sun dipped down below the tall walls of the gorge.

Later on we surfed small waves in brown water thick with runoff. Paul returned as promised with a beautiful 20 pound bunch of bananas. Brian balanced the bunch on his paddleboard and stoically headed into the surf zone while I watched with bated breath. Our precious bananas made the passage through the breaking waves and were safely deposited in our anchored dinghy. Soon they would be hanging in Magic’s cockpit, a yellow pop of color to remind us of our time at Daniel’s Bay and of Paul’s generosity. We snacked on them for a week and were able to eat or give away almost all of them, no small feat.

This was our first hike in the South Pacific, and we were surprised by the solitude and beauty. We love it here.

I’ve enjoyed the doldrums more than I thought I would. The storms and clouds are breathtaking. Sunsets and sunrises are exciting mixes of colors, textures and dark angry clouds. The boat is clean, which I like. It gets a daily dousing of warm, tropical rain from storms that roll through. The wind has decreased and we aren’t getting tossed around in the northern tradewinds anymore. We’re motoring a lot. The ocean waves lap gently around Magic instead of crashing into us.

It’s been raining a lot. When the skies open up all the hatches have to close, leading to a condition we’ve been calling jungle boat. It’s moist and steamy, hot and humid. The lack of air flow causes the humidity to rise. Jungle boat can drive you mad, especially when you’re trying to sleep. The cure is simple and effective: a complete cold dousing of hair and body with the outside water hose. There is something about dripping with cold water and allowing the tradewinds to whisper gently over you which calms that jungle boat feeling.

We crossed the equator and are in the South Pacific now. We’ve been dancing in and out of the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) as we make our way south. We heard intimidating accounts of the ITCZ and the violent thunderstorms it can produce, but when we got there we were surprised to find pleasant, calm conditions.

We get a lot of small rainstorms, called squalls. We avoid them if they are large, but mostly they just dump rain and the wind increases a little. We monitor our radar and when we see big green globs moving slowly across the screen we know a squall is coming.

We reef the sails to reduce their size and power. We close the hatches and hide in our delightful jungle boat enclosure as the sky gets dark and rain hammers the boat.

Overall, we enjoy the squalls and haven’t found them to be scary or intense. The top wind speed we’ve seen is about 25 knots, but squalls are capable of producing hurricane force wind. Conditions vary widely in the ITCZ, and I would say we are doing all right.

Except for that jungle boat thing. That is not all right. I relish each degree we gain south of the equator, moving ever closer to cooler and more tolerable temperatures.

When something breaks on a cruising sailboat, it’s usually at night, in the rain, when the boat is sloshing around in frisky swells. At least that’s what happened last night, around 1 AM, when I was on watch.

I am on night watch each night from midnight to 5 AM, checking for boats and storms, and adjusting sails. But mostly I nap or sit in the salon playing Sudoku or watching Gossip Girl. I set a timer and check on the boat every 30 minutes, which is all that is needed.

I was concentrating on a hard game of Sudoku when I heard our free flying headsail suddenly erupt with loud, flapping, unhappy sounds. As I headed outside to take a look, Brian bolted out of bed on his own, his ears attuned to the sail and its sounds of distress. Our warm, sleepy bodies were hit with a wall of rain as we stepped outside into the dark.

It was a warm tropical rain so we didn’t even bother with rain gear. Brian went forward and tried hauling the sail in using the lines attached to it, but it was powered up and hard to control. So he went up to the bow and grabbed the huge white sail with his hands as I illuminated him with a spotlight. He pulled it piece by piece around the forestay, and then piled it into a bundle at his feet, taking its power away. Then I yanked it into the cockpit and secured it with a line. Problem solved.

How did this happen? We had a pole, visible in the first photo, which propped the sail out next to the boat. This aluminum pole snapped in half. Things like this happen when you sail your boat across an ocean. Weak links are revealed. We don’t feel this will impact us too much, since we’re nearing the end of the downwind tradewinds portion of our trip and this pole is for downwind sailing.

I didn’t get much sleep after that. Wow, am I sleepy today.

The seas have calmed considerably today. I’m sitting in my favorite spot on the boat, where I spend several hours each day. I sit nestled against four velvet pillows at our U shaped salon table. My view is of my feet stretched out in front of me on dusty blue upholstery, then beyond that my herb garden hovers in the center, unmoving, set against a tilting, frothing ocean.

I love this view. Even when seas built to alarming heights over the last couple days, there was a quiet joy and wonder in watching as they snuck up behind Magic, rose quickly, and then splashed and thudded upon impact.

Watching the waves gave me an illusion of control over them. When a steep wave crashed into Magic with a loud noise, at least I could see it coming. I knew what caused that thunderous sound. Plus these were the biggest seas either of us had ever seen and I just couldn’t look away. They were the brightest, most beautiful shade of blue I’d ever seen. They were positively mesmerizing.

The gift on the other side of uncomfortably large seas is a deep conviction, a knowledge so solid it could never be felt by reading, or by an old salt’s advice, is that this is what your boat can do. This is what you can do. You did it successfully and you can do it again. And honestly, our boat was never anywhere near her limits. She can weather so much more. I know we can, too.

Our boat is even more today a thing of admiration, beauty, and comfort than before. She protected us. She rode the waves and performed beautifully. Our expectations are reset regarding the size of seas we think will present a challenge for our boat. Those 6 foot waves which seemed large and lumpy a few days ago don’t even register now. They are just a part of the ocean. In this way, the trip has become more relaxing. Our comfort limits have had to expand early and now everything else seems easier.

It’s been great reading the conditions reports from other small boats sailing nearby. We get these reports from a great free website called Farkwar. Here are some reports from the last 48 hours:

“It’s always interesting (a nice word for scary) to look off the side of the boat and see a big wall of water next to you.”

“In the afternoon we had some of the biggest waves we have seen at around 12 feet.”

“The big seas remind us of stormy days off the coast of Washington and Oregon.”

“It is a one hand for you, one hand for the boat kind of day.”

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Conditions were mellow during the first few days of our trip, but now we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean riding 12 foot waves. They rise up behind Magic with white foam frothing on their surfaces. The blue peaks hit the bottom of the boat with a large thud, and then a short thundering noise travels down both beams of our catamaran. Finally Magic falls into the trough between waves only to begin rising once again.

This began last night when winds built to 25+ knots sustained. We’re sailing downwind and are in the beginning of the trade winds portion of our trip across the Pacific Ocean, where the winds blow gently from behind and take you straight to the Marquesas. It’s referred to as the “Coconut Milk Run”.

This isn’t really so gentle, and this sea state isn’t going away anytime soon. We have seen consistent 25+ knot wind and there is more in the forecast.

How to cope? Take plenty of video and photos, and appreciate the mountainous waves. Marvel at the way our boat rides them so smoothly. Then when it all gets to be too much, close the curtains for a while and watch the Simpsons.

After some incredibly memorable last minute-ing, our engines were finally purring instead of clattering. Our big trip is going to happen. We’re going to sail 3000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. For a couple weeks we weren’t sure if it would work out. Our engines were giving us last minute trouble. As my friend Leanne says, you can only push a boat so far. Brian worked feverishly on our two diesel engines with the help of our skilled mechanic, Colin.

We had a time constraint to work around for this trip, which takes anywhere from 15 to 30 days. I need to get to an internet café in the Marquesas by April 14, which is the day one of my big programming processes runs at the University. Yes, my employer approved a month off from work for this trip, but requested that I “return” in time to support this important process. I won’t go into boring programming details, because this is a blog about vans and dreams, but suffice to say I need to be available for this.

At one point, desperate for the right parts and unable to get them in Mexico, Brian flew from La Paz to San Diego to get new shafts for Magic’s sail drives, then flew back to La Paz the next day. We hauled out the boat on a crane twice to work on Magic’s sail drives. But in the final hour, the most maddening job ended up being the injectors.

The injector system was like a house of cards, and every time one piece of it was touched something else would break. The most annoying part was a tiny, wiggly fuel supply hose. Each time it got tightened down too much, or its delicate feelings disrespected in any way (maybe someone looked at it cross-eyed?) it would sprout a new leak and Colin would whisk it away to his own personal Neverland to soothe it with more soldering. Each time it left the boat for another trip to his shop we grew more frustrated. By the fourth time this happened we were about to lose our minds.

Finally the delicate part returned and was installed successfully. We departed full of excitement, but with a sobering fact hanging in the air: we hadn’t tested all these changes to our engines yet. Our last minute-ing may have put our trip at risk. If we found more problems while motoring from La Paz to Cabo it could be too late to fix them. Our mechanic, a good guy with a big heart, reassured us he would drive to Cabo to help with more repairs if needed. He had become invested in our trip and wanted to make those engines work for us.

Luckily we motored all the way to Cabo and enjoyed great engine performance the entire time. Whales jumped near Magic and we were so pleased about our engines. With everything going so well, we knew we were headed off into the big blue Pacific. This is our someday.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Every diver knows it’s important to keep a log of all scuba dives! My early logs are on paper, but here are some of my most recent dives since 2014 in Mexico and the South Pacific.

7/4/2018, 2:00 PM, Fakarava South Pass, 75 feet, 42 minutes
We planned to dive at the apron, but when the outboard motor had issues on the way to the dive we decided it would be safer to flood in on the incoming current of the pass instead of going outside the atoll. The current was light and sharkies were few. I got two excellent videos of a large titan triggerfish feeding on coral. What a great scene to shoot in low current! These fishes are active subjects, who break off big pieces of coral looking for food. An entourage of smaller fishes surround the large Triggerfish, hoping for a scrap as he roots around in the reef.

7/5/2018, 2:30 PM, Fakarava Apron, 80 feet, 49 minutes
We went diving at the dream site, and instead of finding the normal sand hallway we kept swimming far past it, and eventualy ended up on a coral plain at around 65 feet. It wasn’t the prettiest place, but then we saw a huge turtle feeding on green moss on the sea floor. We approached within five feet. The turtle continued eating and never showed signs of fleeing. What a beautiful and trusting creature! It was a memorable encounter, and I got an excellent short video of the turtle feeding.

7/6/2018 – 8:00 AM, Fakarava Apron, 75 feet, 52 minutes
Flooded into the pass from the outer wall. I especially love the long, white sand section leading into the pass. Sometimes I could see the sand fluttering around in the strong current, and it’s easy to imagine how this area is scoured with the strong incoming floods. Excellent video of schooling sharks and coral at the beginning of the dive. It’s always very sharky at the start.

7/6/2018 – 5:30 PM Fakarava South Pass, 45 feet, 32 minutes – First night dive with sharks! We stayed near the starting buoy so we could dive with the sharks outside of the current. It was extremely exciting. I wrote a blog post all about it.

7/7/2018 – 10 AM Fakarava Apron, 82 feet, 42 minutes – Flooded into the pass from the outer wall. Brian had the camera and got an excellent video of me petting a shark! I met a divemaster who enjoys petting sharks sometimes and showed me a video of a shark tolerating it. But this shark did not seem to like it and swam away after I gently caressed its tail. It felt great to swim without my camera, and simply be a diver instead of a videographer today. I enjoyed the life around me instead of shooting a lot of videos like I usually do. We saw a giant manta ray flying at the edge of visibility in the south pass. What an incredible sight! A divemaster told me they are never seen at Fakarava’s south pass, only at the north pass. I think this was a very unusual sighting and it was super exciting to see it cruising down the pass.

7/8/2018 – 10 AM Fakarava Apron, 89 feet, 42 minutes – Best wide angle video yet of the shark aggregation in the pass. Conditions were clear and beautiful, and I have truly lost my fear of these peaceful sharks. I swam a few feet away from them, surrounded on all sides by Gray Reef Sharks, as long as I am. They allowed me to join them and get close up videos of at least 200 swimming into the current all around me. Wow! I also got a nice wide angle video of an eagle ray, but I feel the other lens (medium, or lemmy lens) captures the beauty of the eagle rays better. When showing the vast number of sharks in the pass, the wide angle lens is best! Soooo many sharks today!

7/9 – 10:30 AM Fakarava Apron, 72 feet, 49 minutes – Brian had the camera today, and we drifted on a strong current over the apron and into the pass. We drifted through the entire pass. A great dive. The first time for me to try swimming for a wide angle video in the shark aggregation while Brian films me with the GH5. Trying to be graceful and swim smoothly through hundreds of sharks, without my camera between myself and them, my face just a few feet from thiers. Some of them flee from me as I approach them, none respond with any aggression. A nice video of me close to the sharks will be a great addition to my documentary. I want to show how the sharks respond to me as I swim near them.

7/10/2018 – Fakarava South Pass 11:30 AM 75 feet, 32 minutes – Brian had the camera and shot videos of me swimming with the sharks, this time with a wide angle lens. I love these animals! This is a tough shot to get, and we still may need to try again to get everything just right. The best is when Brian is in front of me, with sharks between us, and I swim toward him.

7/10/2018 – Fakarava South Pass 12:15 PM 45 feet, 39 minutes – Shallow second dive, since the current was so strong our prior dive was a little short. Brian had the camera with the wide angle lens and shot videos of eagle rays, sharks, and me swimming with the shark aggregation. Saw a huge school of Fusiler filling the entire pass! Beautiful sight!

7/11/2018 – Diving under boat – 9:00 AM, 40 feet, 12 minutes – I grabbed my tank and set up my gear to jump in and try to locate a part for the outboard motor Brian lost over board a few minutes before. I searched around until my tank dropped to 300 psi, a new record for me, then headed slowly for the surface and the boat. I always surface with 500 psi or more, but wanted to keep searching and knew it was a shallow dive.

7/11/2018 – Diving under boat – 1:00 PM, 40 feet, 49 minutes – It was a stressful day of working on the outboard, so we went diving under the boat instead of diving in the south Pass. There were hundreds of fish and several sharks. It was a great scene, and a nice change to do a dive without current where we just swam around taking photos of critters. A highlight was a gigantic Crown of Thorns starfish, at least 3 feet wide, perched right under Magic. We both got great photos of it!

7/12/2018 – Fakarava South Pass 40th Birthday Dive! 90 feet, 40 minutes – Brian used the medium lens to get our best yet video of me diving with the sharks in a bikini. The ultimate highlight is a memorable and beautiful 9 second segment of me enveloped by 50 sharks as they swirl peacefully around me and I swim at the camera. Success!

7/13/2018, 11:30 AM, Fakarava South Pass, 89 feet, 32 minutes
We plan to leave Fakarava tomorrow and head to a nearby atoll, Faiite, for a couple days. Today we focused on enjoying the dive and not getting videos of me swimming with the sharks. It is definitely a different experience when you’re focused on getting a certain shot with animals who flee and generally don’t take direction all that well. 🙂 We got great media yesterday and today was a time to relax and celebrate the beauty of the pass. It was a wonderful dive with schools of Fusiler again, and some interesting Silvertip Sharks in the mix.

7/13/2018 – Fakarava South Pass 12:15 PM 45 feet, 39 minutes
A shallow second dive, since we had only used up half our tanks on the first. We have found the Eagle Rays usually spend time at the shallower depths of the pass, and by doing a second, shallower dive with them we can maximize our time with them. And we did see them today! The highlight of the dive were three juvenile Eagle Rays and two adults! The juveniles were very friendly and I swam right alongside them, getting amazing videos of them. They appeared to be swimming the gravel of the sea floor, searching for things to eat.

7/15/2018, 1:30 PM, Faaite Apron, 60 feet, 52 minutes
Beautiful coral and fish, no sharkies! Brian was using the camera, got a fun video of me swimming with marauding parrotfish, tangs, and other critters.

7/18 – Fakarava South Pass, 2 PM, 82 feet, 49 minutes
Light flood in the pass and lower visibility than normal. Excellent titan triggerfish video! Saw several titan triggerfishes excavating in the pass.

7/19/2018, 3:15 PM, Lagoon dive near Magic, 45 feet, 50 minutes
The pass was ebbing so we found an interesting place in the lagoon and dropped in to see what we would find. We saw many friendly fish on this dive and a couple sharkies. I got a cute video of some eye stripe surgeonfish following Brian around and trying to eat or play in his bubbles. It’s interesting that some fish seem to love bubbles and perhaps enjoy the feeling of the bubbles tickling them as they swim through them. It was fun being followed around by an entourage of dinner plate-sized fish, as we provided all the bubbles they could handle.

7/21/2018 – Fakarava South Pass, 6:30 AM, 85 feet, 40 minutes
The pass was flooding lightly, a beautiful dive with the creatures beginning to act differrently in the daylight. Eagle rays were majestic, and I got a video of them swimming with light beams coming in behind them. Awesome! I love diving the pass at different times of the day. It is a dynamic place.

7/21/2018, 5:30 PM, Fakarava South Pass, 48 feet, 45 minutes
My second time night diving with the sharks in Fakarava’s South Pass. Instead of staying in the eddy near the start of the dive we ventured out into the current and drifted along with the sharkies. I felt a lot more comfortable with them this time, and we drifted along at a shallow depth with them feeding all around us. It was a bit difficult staying away from Brian and it seemed the current was often pushing me right into him. Also this was only my third night dive ever, so I am not used to this. But we did well and I only ended up kicking him once. I felt bad, but he later insisted it’s common for this to happen during a night dive, especially one with current. By getting so comfortable with diving in general and with the support of my wonderful dive partner and husband, I was able to push the envelope and do this really intense videography dive. I got fantastic media for the documentary. Seeing so many sharks darting around in the dark was a crazy scene and it sticks in my memory. One of my best dives ever.

7/22/2018 – Fakarava South Pass 8:00 AM 85 feet, 32 minutes – A great dive with sharkies. I love them so, Brian is getting a little bored with them.

7/22/2018 – Fakarava South Pass 8:45 PM 45 feet, 39 minutes – A shallow second dive with a new tank. We brought all three tanks with us in the dinghy.

Need to add some dives here, logged on paper and not written up digitally yet…

7/26/2018 – Fakarava Apron – 9:30 AM, 90 feet, 30 minutes – We’ve seen baby gray sharks schooling at 80-90 feet the last couple days at the apron, but they are usually far away and hard to film. I have become obsessed with getting footage of them in a way that shows how tiny they are. They are like one-foot long copies of the adults. They are especially adorable when they are in a big school together, and today they were more precious than ever. I wanted a video of me swimming with them so Brian had the camera during this dive and didn’t get much footage of me with my baby sharkies. The current pushed us away from them and they started to flee, so we cut the dive short and went back to see them again. I am obsessed with these baby sharks. There were 20-30 of them schooling together today against a backdrop of magnificent coral at 90 feet. It was an amazing scene.

7/26/2018 – Fakarava Apron – 10:15 AM, 1 foot, 2 minutes – We were both in the water and ready to descend to see the baby sharks again when a large, bold Dusky shark started following us around at the surface. We drifted a short distance on the current, the dusky persisted and followed us, doing close passes. We aborted the dive. The Dusky was not acting particularly aggressive, but it was showing a heightened interest in us and was uncomfortably large.

7/27/2018 – Fakarava Apron and South Pass 9:45 AM, 80 feet, 45 minutes – A strong current pulled us all the way from the outer wall through the entire South Pass, an absolutely perfect journey through so many beautiful areas. A fantastic dive with great visibility! Very few Grouper are in the pass for the full moon spawning event. But the sharks were beautiful and I made it through the entire 45 minute dive using the 80 (smaller) tank. My air consumption is getting more efficient. I feel so relaxed diving these days. Plus the current carried me along on this dive and I didn’t even have to swim much.

7/27/2018 – Fakarava Apron and South Pass 10:45 AM, 80 feet, 35 minutes – Our last dive was so fantastic we went back and repeated it. We started at the apron again, being careful this time to not spend much time at depth because we absorbed a lot of nitrogen on the previous dive and had only taken a 15 minute surface interval. I kept a close eye on my computer to be sure I was not nearing deco. A strong current pulled us all the way from the outer wall through the South Pass. Another fantastic dive in Fakarava! We’ve been here for a month and I’ve grown immensely as a diver and videographer by spending a lot of time with the captivating and chill creatures of Fakarava. It’s been great to do the same dives over and over, because usually we are always exploring new spots and there are many things to pay attention to when diving somewhere new. Diving the same old reliable places has allowed me to focus on videography and expanding my dive skills.

IMG_2189 (Large)Dive Sept 23, 2014 10:15 pm
Max depth – 35 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 40 minutes
Location – Rock off east end of Lalo cove, San Carlos
Critters – Fish, stingrays.
I haven’t been diving in over 10 years! Now that we have a compressor on-board, we’re looking forward to a lot of diving this winter all over the sea. It felt great to get underwater again, and Brian is an amazing dive buddy. I wondered if I would remember what to do, it’s been so long. I’ve always loved diving and I remember how great it felt to join the underwater world for a brief time. As soon as I was in the water, it all came back to me and felt natural. It also brought back many happy memories of previous dives.

IMG_2283 (Large)Dive Sept 25, 2014 4:45 pm
Max depth – 45 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Rock off east end of Lalo cove, San Carlos
Critters – Many eels (at least 6), stingrays.
We have been referring to this dive as the “eel garden” because there were so many eels of different species, sizes and colors. The first and smallest eel we saw was the size of a sharpie marker. The various eels progressed in size all the way up to a fat, green moray eel which was several feet long.

IMG_2346 (Large)Dive Sept 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Max depth – 50 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 1 hour 5 minutes
Location – Rock outcropping near Marina Real, San Carlos
Critters – Free swimming Jewel Moray Eel, many other eels in burrows, stingrays, octopus.
The free swimming eel exhibited some interesting behavior as it lazily made its way along the rocky bottom; it did not appear to be hunting. The octopus was nestled in a crack in the rock at around 15 feet so we did our 3 minute decompression stop while taking turns gently petting its tentacles. As we touched it, it gently petted us back, perhaps feeling us just as we were feeling it.

IMG_2362 (Large)Dive Sept 27, 2014 2:30 pm
Max depth – 35 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 65 minutes
Location – Rock outcropping near Marina Real, San Carlos
Critters – Many schools of fish, many stingrays, two eels in burrows.
This site had surge and many fish swimming in large schools. I began to notice some ear discomfort during this dive, and the next day began to have some mild pain and tenderness when I pressed on my outer ear. This is probably “swimmer’s ear” from what I’ve read. It is caused by the ear remaining warm and wet for too long, allowing bacteria to grow. I’m treating it with a solution of half white vinegar, half water, and will lay off diving until it improves. Hopefully soon!

IMG_2425 (Large)Dive Oct 1, 2014 10:30 am
Max depth – 50 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, including two large puffer fishes. One puffer was chasing the other, perhaps trying to convince it to mate.
My self-diagnosed swimmer’s ear is better after treating it with vinegar and water, and I was excited to go diving again. This dive had the best visibility so far in the sea – about 60 feet! Wonderful! We surfaced halfway through the dive to check my regulator. It would occasionally make a gentle groaning sound when I inhaled, although it delivered air normally. It’s never done that before so we tried to reproduce the groaning sound with no luck. We practiced sharing air and then continued the dive without hearing the noise again.

IMG_2456 (Large)Dive Oct 2, 2014 9:15 am
Max depth – 45 feet
Water temp – 86 degrees
Dive time – 75 minutes
Location – Southeast side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – Five plump Green Moray Eels, one free swimming between rocks! We also saw the first Nudibranch of the season, a very small, neon colored beauty hidden in a sea of coral and rock. A purple octopus retreated to its lair quickly after being spotted. On the rocky bottom sat a red and black sea star feasting on a huge, dead lobster. We saw hundreds of fish, too. It was a long, mellow, shallow dive with many fun critters.

IMG_2553 (Large)Dive Oct 4, 2014 9:15 am
Max depth – 48 feet
Water temp – 84 degrees
Dive time – 65 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw dozens of stingrays swimming around a large sandy area. I saw one flutter up out of the sand right next to me. We also saw a couple lobster, one eel, and hundreds of fish. There was a bit of surge and current at this site.

IMG_2027 (Large)Dive Oct 20, 2014 9:30 am
Max depth – 48 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 65 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, one Jewel Moray Eel and one lobster. The lobster and the eel were both skittish and retreated to their caverns when we peered at them. Brian spent some time hovering around a very docile Scorpionfish. This particular fish tolerated us for several minutes as we enjoyed its grizzled appearance and Brian took a dozen photos of it. The water temperature dropped noticeably after two weeks away from the sea. It went from 84 to 78, and we could really feel the difference. Bikini diving season is coming to an end and soon we’ll be wearing neoprene. Algae seems to have bloomed recently in the sea, reducing our visibility to about 25 feet.

IMG_0109 (Large)Dive Oct 21, 2014 9:30 am
Max depth – 48 feet
Water temp – 71 degrees
Dive time – 42 minutes
Location – Small, isolated rock outcropping near Isla Venados, Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, one Moray Eel and one huge hermit crab, with a shell about six inches long and a cute, captivating face with tiny, buggy eyes. The coral was the best we’ve seen in the sea this season, probably due to the strong currents at this site. When we were behind the rock the current was strong but manageable. However, once I rounded the corner and left the protection of the rock I had to find something to cling to so I wouldn’t be carried away! I felt like a rock climber as my fingers searched for a tiny hold to latch onto. I’ve only done one other dive in such strong currents. It was in New Zealand on a guided drift dive at the Poor Knights Islands. After we returned to the anchor line we decided to surface with over 1000 psi remaining in our tanks because the current at this site was much stronger than expected. We felt we handled the current safely with Brian using a line and reel to ensure we didn’t drift too far, but we also don’t want to push the envelope too much with strong currents and diving from an unmanned boat.

IMG_0181 (Large)Dive Oct 21, 2014 12:30 am
Max depth – 36 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 61 minutes
Location – Southwest side of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We saw hundreds of fish, two Moray Eels and a beautiful black flatworm with yellow and white spots. There was some mild current but it was nothing like our earlier site. It was a mellow dive as we meandered along on gentle currents and enjoyed many interesting sea critters.

IMG_0190 (Large)Dive Oct 22, 2014 12:30 am
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 69 minutes
Location – West of Lalo Cove near red striped rock wall, San Carlos
Critters – Just a few minutes into the dive we spotted a beautiful, three foot long Snake Eel slithering across the rocky bottom. Its skin was orange, brown and cream. This was our first time seeing a Snake Eel in the sea. We also saw many fish and at least twenty stingrays. At one point, we were in a formation much like a hallway with rock walls on either side and a sandy bottom. The stingrays loved this hallway and they were fluttering all over the place. At one point I was swimming a couple feet up from the sandy bottom and four fluttered out of the sand right beneath me. Great dive.

IMG_0237 (Large)Dive Oct 24, 2014 2:30 pm
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – Near the southern tip of Isla Venados near Bahia Algodones, San Carlos
Critters – We were swimming back to the anchor line looking into rocky crevices when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw two tiny eyes peering over the top of a rock. It was a small octopus, exactly the color of the rock! This intelligent animal watched me closely, then watched as Sue and Brian also approached. The octopus remained tolerant of the three of us staring at it from close range, but the moment I touched one of its tentacles it retreated to its lair and placed a shell at the entrance to block us from entering. It was a memorable encounter with a sentient and watchful sea creature. We also saw many eels and fish. This was my first time diving with my mother in law, Sue. The photo is of she and I.

IMG_0348 (Large)Dive Oct 26, 2014 10:30 am
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – One moray eel, a few sea lions, and some Trigger Fish showing interesting behavior. There were many horizontal cracks in the rock and coral, and when we approached the trigger fish for a better view they would turn on their sides and shimmy into a crack, wedging themselves in tightly. The visibility was spectacular – about 80 feet. It’s the best we’ve seen in the Sea of Cortez this season. Wonderful dive.

IMG_0380 (Large)Dive Oct 26, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – Two moray eels, many sea lions, one tiny lobster and an octopus! Sue found the octopus right at the end of the dive. Brian and Sue attempted to hold the octopus but it was not in a friendly mood, and inked them before it darted away to find peace and solitude. This dive was late in the day so there was not much light in the water, however visibility was great and it was an enjoyable dive with much to see. I got chilled on this dive for the first time this season. I think it’s time to begin wearing some neoprene.

Dive Oct 27, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 46 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 28 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – One moray eel, many sea lions and fish. Tim saw a gigantic lobster. About 15 minutes into the dive I found myself feeling increasingly uneasy about the darkness of this late afternoon dive, poor visibility (only about 30 feet today) and sea lions. Brian, Tim and Sue had all experienced aggressive sea lion behavior at other sites on San Pedro Island, so I would watch the behavior of the sea lions closely while diving with them. The water was dark and large sea lions would appear suddenly out of the darkness, swoop quickly through the water near me, and I didn’t like that one bit. After a few minutes of feeling uneasy, I decided I wasn’t enjoying this dive at all and didn’t want to continue. I wrote this on my tablet and showed it to Brian and Tim, who already knew I was a bit uneasy about the sea lions and their aggressive behavior: “I don’t like this. It’s dark and vis is poor.” I gave the hand signal to turn around and we swam back to the anchor. We began our ascent and stopped at 15 feet depth for a 4 minute safety stop. During this safety stop a medium sized sea lion charged us repeatedly, and once it came at us with its mouth open wide, showing its yellow, jagged teeth. I huddled against Brian with my limbs tucked in, not moving. Tim fended off the charging sea lion with his large dive light, being careful to never turn his back on the animal. We completed the safety stop and I was glad to ascend. This was not my favorite dive but it was a valuable opportunity for learning to deal with discomfort underwater, staying calm, and remembering the importance of the safety stop when I really would have just preferred to surface and get away from the charging sea lion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADive Oct 28, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 36 feet
Water temp – 77 degrees
Dive time – 48 minutes
Location – San Pedro Island near San Carlos
Critters – Many non-aggressive sea lions and fish. Once again visibility was poor, so we decided to stay at shallower depths so there would be more light and the sea lions would be easier to see. This worked well for me and I felt comfortable diving with them in these conditions. They were in a very playful mood and exhibited no aggressive behavior today. I relaxed, enjoyed their underwater acrobatics, and shot many photos of them. At least a dozen sea lions swirled around us and they seemed genuinely pleased to share their underwater world with us! When they are being nice, there is nothing better than diving with them and seeing them up close. Sea Lions are the only animals I have ever been in the water with that seem genuinely interested in interacting with divers and also the only animals who seem curious about the stream of bubbles flowing out of a scuba regulator. I’m so glad my last dive with them on a high note, instead of leaving San Pedro with memories of that sea lion charging in dark water.

Dive Oct 30, 2014 3:30 pm
Max depth – 47 feet
Water temp – 75 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Red striped wall near Lalo Cove, San Carlos
Critters – Stinging jellyfish, sting rays. We cut our dive short after Brian got stung several times by a jellyfish. When we ascended, there were tentacles strung out along the anchor line, too. Gross! There are a lot of jelly fish and visibility is poor (30 feet). We’re done diving here.

IMG_0387 (Large)November 8 1:00 PM
Max depth – 52 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 63 minutes
Location – Rocky point of the bay at Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – A lot of Sargeant Majors, Cortez Angelfish, Parrotfish, and many other busy reef fish. We crossed the sea and found much better diving conditions on the other side! We named this dive The Aquarium for all the fish and the great visibility here (60 feet).

Max depth – 38 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 68 minutes
Location – Island near Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – Many eels and fish on a shallow reef. In the photo at left are two eels with homes right above and below each other on this busy reef! We saw plenty of colorful fish including sergeant majors, leopard grouper, parrotfish and coronet fish. We took the dinghy about a mile from Magic to explore a small island and found great visibility there.

Max depth – 59 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 64 minutes
Location – The Aquarium near Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – We love seeing Nudibranchs on our dives. Our favorite critter this time was a dark blue nudibranch with prominent, feathery gills and antennae and bright yellow spots. A school of Golden Trevallys swam right by us early in the dive, and must have been two feet long. The combined mass of them was easily 15 feet wide. They were briefly interested in us.

IMG_0437 (Large)November 10 6:15 PM
Max depth – 25 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 43 minutes
Location – The Aquarium near Puerto Ballandra, Loreto area
Critters – We saw many creatures that are never around during our daytime dives, like dozens of four-foot-long sea cucumbers, sea hares, sea cucumbers, and big sleeping fish. 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 here 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.

IMG_0449 (Large)November 12 10:15 AM
Max depth – 59 feet
Water temp – 79 degrees
Dive time – 64 minutes
Location – Candaleros Islands, Loreto area
Critters – Colorful gorgonians (coral) in red, purple, blue, white, and orange. Many eels and fish. I was stung by a jellyfish late in the dive on the arm. The pain was pretty intense, but the beauty of the dive made up for it. I need to wear my protective skin for all dives now, apparently.

IMG_0487 (Large)November 13 10:15 AM
Max depth – 50 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 57 minutes
Location – Candaleros Islands, Loreto area
Critters – We enjoyed many colorful Gorgonians again, and spent quite a bit of time taking photos of them. This is the best coral we’ve seen anywhere in the sea! We also found many small fish hidden among the large corals.

Max depth – 54 feet
Water temp – 79 degrees
Dive time – 55 minutes
Location – Isla Los Islotes, La Paz area
Critters – Los Islotes always has many fish, but the side of the island we chose seemed to have fewer fish than usual. We saw a couple sea lions during the dive, but they were not interested in us. As we ascended at the end of the dive, we saw a couple sea lions chewing playfully on the anchor and anchor line as if it were a chew toy we brought just for them.

IMG_0611 (Large)November 15, 2014 1:15 PM
Max depth – 52 feet
Water temp – 79 degrees
Dive time – 109 minutes
Location – Rock near Ensanade Grande, La Paz area
Critters – Brian pointed out a Snowflake Eel toward the end of the dive, which I had never seen before. It was beautiful with yellow and gray markings. Brian saw a sea lion, but I was watching fish intently and missed it. That was ok with me.
IMG_0635 (Large)This dive featured a scattering of small coral heads around the area where we did our safety stop, and as we peered into these coral heads we saw an amazing number of small critters using them for shelter. Many colorful crabs and small fish entertained us for quite a while, and Brian took many macro photos as we explored the coral heads at a depth of about 20 feet. That is the reason this dive was 109 minutes long. It is probably our longest dive to date!

November 17, 2014 9:35 AM
Max depth – 26 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 63 minutes
Location – San Gabriel, La Paz area
Critters – Schools of fish, many Moray Eels and one small ray. This is one of our favorite snorkeling spots near La Paz and there are always many busy fish swarming the coral reef. The orange coral heads are large and flat on top, offering a perfect opportunity to peer into the coral and see the small creatures who call it home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANovember 18, 2014 9:04 AM
Max depth – 33 feet
Water temp – 78 degrees
Dive time – 66 minutes
Location – San Gabriel, La Paz area
Critters – Plenty of fish here, as always. We also saw several Moray Eels and some larger fish. We went out to the point at San Gabriel, but it never truly dropped off and we remained at around 30 feet. Although this site is best done as a snorkel, we knew it would be awhile before our next dive since we’re headed to the US for the holidays. We enjoyed the fish, coral and plenty of light in the water.

IMG_0820 (Large)March 2, 2015 9:46 AM
Max depth – 54 feet
Water temp – 72 degrees
Dive time – 51 minutes
Location – Marietas Islands, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – At the beginning of the dive Brian found a Zebra Moray Eel, which was very exciting. I had never seen one before. We enjoyed it for awhile, and then moved on and I spotted yet another Zebra Moray! What luck! We also saw schools of fish and at the very end of the dive Brian spotted a flounder camouflaged in the sand. Its small eyes were poking up from the sand, and that gave it away. This was our first flounder encounter in the Sea of Cortez. This fish begins life with one eye on each side of its body, and as it matures both eyes move to one side, allowing it to lay flat in the sand with both eyes watching for prey.

IMG_0957 (Large)April 1, 2015 7:52 AM
Max depth – 54 feet
Water temp – 72 degrees
Dive time – 66 minutes
Location – Mona rock outcroppings at Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – We saw many large fish, including a school of shiny, silver jacks. They always caught our eye and never allowed us to get close for photos. We saw a wonderful ruffled nudibranch with neon blue antennae. We also saw many small fish and enjoyed good visibility for Pacific Mexico (30-40 feet).

IMG_0949 (Large)April 1, 2015 12:20 PM
Max depth – 42 feet
Water temp – 72 degrees
Dive time – 18 minutes
Location – Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – We went diving right under the boat. I was trying out Brian’s dive gear, and found it did not fit well so this was a short dive. I currently use a bulky women’s jacket-style BCD which I bought over ten years ago. It is still in good shape, but is larger than it needs to be and has a “cummerbund” that often shifts around and comes loose. I wanted to try Brian’s backplate style BCD. I found I really liked the way it floated, and it makes it easier to float horizontally. However, the un-padded straps cut into my shoulders and began chafing my skin a few minutes into the dive. I would like to get a backplate style BCD, but one that is cut specifically for women and has a bit of padding so it’s comfortable against my skin. There is nothing better than a bikini dive in warm water and I want the BCD to be comfortable without a shirt under it.

IMG_1098 (Large)April 1, 2015 1:08 PM
Max depth – 17 feet
Water temp – 75 degrees
Dive time – 29 minutes
Location – Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – We saw many fish and a surprising number of lobsters. Most lobsters were small, some were medium sized. They seemed to like being in a group. A wall with many rock ledges gave them many places to hide. We also saw moray eels under these rocky ledges. We had already used a portion of the air in our tanks on the previous dive, so we used our remaining air on this short and shallow dive.

IMG_1057 (Large)April 2, 2015 8:40 AM
Max depth – 49 feet
Water temp – 75 degrees
Dive time – 61 minutes
Location – Punta Bobos, Isla Isabel, Puerto Vallarta area
Critters – This was our last dive at Isla Isabel and I spotted my favorite eel hiding under a rock! A Zebra Moray is always an exciting find. We also saw many fish and green moray eels, and the caves and arches underwater were fun to explore.

IMG_1179-1 (Large)April 19, 2015 12:06 PM
Max depth – 45 feet
Water temp – 73 degrees
Dive time – 58 minutes
Location – Isla San Francisco
Critters – We were surrounded by huge schools of fish for most of this dive. We also had great visibility of about 50 feet. This was one of our best dives in the sea so far. A large turtle even cruised by, about 30 feet away from us. It was exciting but we didn’t get a close look at it. Many of the fish swam near us, curious and photogenic.

IMG_1027 (Large)April 20, 2015 11:37 AM
Max depth – 52 feet
Water temp – 73 degrees
Dive time – 50 minutes
Location – Isla San Francisco
Critters – Fish, eels, plenty of current. I had a funny encounter with a large eel. I was clinging to a rocky outcropping to avoid being swept away by the current, when around the corner comes this huge eel. He’s swimming really fast right toward me, flying on the current. Then he spots me. He was about 5 feet away. He froze and then began swimming backward, in reverse, eyeing me. If an eel could show emotion, I could see a surprised look on his face as he slowly backed away from that very strange creature emitting bubbles!

IMG_1282-1 (Large)April 22, 2015 7:59 AM
Max depth – 40 feet
Water temp – 69 degrees
Dive time – 53 minutes
Location – San Marte
Critters – We took the dinghy about a mile from Magic and anchored next to rock. The bottom was large, course boulders and coral. This dive was really nice. We didn’t move around all that much but there was a lot of macro life. We saw two nudibranchs, one pictured and one with black skin and tiny multicolored dots. They are such fascinating macro creatures. A large Moray Eel lived in a nice crevice surrounded by different colors of coral. I posed for some photos next to this giant, and made sure I kept a safe distance from his special crevice. This was a very colorful area.

IMG_1363-1 (Large)April 24, 2015 10:43 AM
Max depth – 63 feet
Water temp – 70 degrees
Dive time – 52 minutes
Location – Rock near the north tip of Danzante. We snorkeled and saw a wall dropping off steeply and decided to dive there.
Critters – Golden Grouper, fish, great macro wall with many things to see. We found a thermocline at around 55 feet, and I got very cold when I dropped below 55 feet to see a small cave filled with colorful coral and fish. I didn’t respect the cold, and continued with my core temperature very low. While trying to get into position for a photo at the end of the dive, I flailed my arms and cut my fingers on some coral. Usually I move very gently and carefully underwater, and suspect my coordination suffered as I got colder and colder, resulting in my less-than-graceful movements.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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