We work as ecotourism guides (as well as biologist and boat captain) often on the BC Coast, but also as far ranging as the Arctic and Antarctic. We have an insatiable curiousity for the planet; all its hidden gems and what makes them tick. That and our love of sailing is what inspired us to sail around the Pacific in Narama, our tough and pretty little sailboat.
Whilst Heidi is hard at work watching the real thing in frigid waters of the Southern Ocean, Stephen has found a local museum full of whale curios and who were only too happy to let me play with skeletons that still needed cleaning. See http://museodelaballena.blogspot.com/ . I also continue with boat projects that we started before Heidi took off. Varnishing, polishing, sewing(kayak cover and spinnaker), engine maintenance, resealing toe rails, making rat lines, strops to lift dinghy, painting………. And so it goes on. Carnival has just ended what a spectacle it was and the dozens of competing musicians have abated and sleep returned. At least until fish knocking the hull in the wee hours of a morning to get at the growing wildlife forced me into action and take the boat out to a nice secluded bay to destroy this thriving under water ecosystem, emerging from the water covered in what I am sure was now pissed off tiny crustaceans. Had fun taking the whale museum folks for trip out into La Paz Bay, we were fortunate to find 5 humpbacks and had a sail, something a little different for them. And finally the boat is slowly sinking again under the weight of victuals that are slowly accrued by back pack on each outing ashore. The guys in the hardware store are starting to make fun of me as I empty there shelves of “Alcohol Industrial” for use in our stove. I real don’t think they believe me. As I write another 25kn northerly is howling through the anchorage. They seem to come through a couple of days of each week and make for some damp rowing conditions in wind against tide.
Looking back through my journal of the last two months I feel incredibly fortunate. For the friends that joined us, for the wildlife we’ve encountered and for the friends that we’ve made along the way. Even with all this richness I am drawn to the far south. And so I’m leaving Stephen in charge of Narama while I fly to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego to board a ship and sail to Antarctica. I’ll be working as a wildlife guide, giving lectures on seabird ecology and spending every moment I can on deck, looking at the all rich wildlife and ice-filled scenery! Stephen will be enjoying the warmth and hospitality of Mexico and sharing it with his parents who are coming to visit. I’ll join them all again in a few weeks, but first to the penguins and ice!
With just the two of us onboard we had to get the routine down. One would steer alongside (about 20m away) a whale shark, the other would be waiting with mask and fins then leap off the side of the boat and start swimming. The sunlight dappling on the light-coloured spots on the dark body had a mesmerizing effect. Or perhaps it was the sheer size! The largest we estimated to be 6-8m (easy comparison since it was over half a boat length). The crescent-shaped tail looked underwater to be over a meter tall. The first time you swim toward one of these beautiful giants your heart seems to skip a beat and you have to consciously remind yourself that they only eat plankton and small fish. Then you have to concentrate on swimming and you realize this fish seems to be travelling fast without actively moving its body. There’s a lot of other small fish and Remora along for the ride. To see this animal in its element was an experience of a lifetime!