About Us

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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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Guaymas to San Felipe

East Bay, Isla Coronado

We spent a few days anchored in front of Guaymas so we could finish re-rigging and bring on stores for a few weeks of cruising. We were then joined by dear friend Marie and headed out to an anchorage outside of the harbor for our first refreshing swim. Delightful! Arranging for someone to join us so soon after we returned to Narama ourselves was perfect. It meant that we had to get things ready fast, no time to fool around in a dusty boat yard for long.

Marie has been a great sailing companion. She agrees with our philosophy of heading off in any direction in order to fulfill our curiosity, especially when it comes to wildlife. We’ve had fun snorkeling and trying to ID every fish, birding and whale watching. We managed to show off by catching a dorado on the first day of sailing north from Guaymas, then a Jurel or Yellowtail as we approached the north end of Angel de la Gardia last week. We’ve had a few fabulous days of whale watching in the deeper waters: vocalizing Pilot Whales, spy-hopping Sperm Whales and lot’s of bow riding dolphins.  

 Sailing across the sea last week towards San Fransisquito was vigorous, with about 15 knots on a close reach. It was the first time that we’ve had someone else onboard during an overnight passage. It meant that one of us had to sleep on the floor as the forepeak isn’t conducive to sleep in those conditions! We had a few days of gunkholing in Bay of LA where we swam with Whale Sharks and found thousands of Humbolt Squid washed up on beaches and mangroves of a small island. We arrived in the small harbor of San Felipe yesterday morning in some of the worst seas that we’ve had in the Sea of Cortez. The sea is very shallow up here and so with 25+ knots the seas were breaking on us occasionally. We had set out from Gonzaga Bay the morning before, motoring in flat calm seas. Flat calm is what we wanted as we were heading north towards the Vaquita Refuge. During the night we had a light breeze for hours to sail along at about 2 knots, then it built to make any chance of finding one of these small, shy porpoises impossible. So here we sit waiting for calm conditions to return so we can continue our search.

Washed up Humbolt Squid

Guaymas to San Felipe Species List

Turkey Vulture
Peregrine Falcon
Yellow-footed Gull
Heerman’s Gull
Laughing Gull
Western Gull
Elegant Tern
Common Tern
Double-crested Cormorant
Brown Booby
Blue-footed Booby
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Red-billed Tropicbird
Black Storm-Petrel
Black-vented Shearwater
Great Blue Hero
Black-crowned Night Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Brewer’s Blackbird
Wilson’s Plover
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Western Scrub-Jay
Gila Woodpecker
Northern Mockingbird
Great Horned Owl
Northern Flicker (yellow shafted)
Long-beaked Common Dolphins
Fox (Kit?)
Bottlenose Dolphins
Short-finned Pilot Whales
Sperm Whale
Sooty Shearwater
Belted Kingfisher
Black Phoebe
Say’s Phoebe
Vesper Sparrow
Common Raven
Northern Shoveller
Reddish Egret
Wilson’s Warbler
Red-necked Phalarope
Sabine’s Gull
American White Pelican
Brydes’ Whale (probable)
Eared Grebe
Common Loon
House Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Long-billed Curlew
Parasitic Jeager
Western Grebe
Violet-green swallow

Spy-hopping Sperm Whale

Magnificent Frigatebird

Bottlenose Dolphins

Brown Pelican

Yellow-footed Gulls

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer Heat

 What did we learn from leaving a boat baking in 40̊ plus temperatures?  In short - it gets hot; “dammed hot”, hot enough to fry a 12V battery by drying it out (we left one solar panel on each battery which was too much even though I overfilled them); to turn sun drenched plastics brown even though they were stored inside; to crack melamine and wood due to expansion contraction differences(we left 3 large buckets of bleached water  in the boat and they were all dry); to fade uncovered teak remarkably compared to covered teak and rubber bands to disintegrate. While living aboard in the yard the 35 plus temperatures inside the boat in the evenings as the heat radiated upward from the hull was a little “uncomfortable”.  The weevils however seemed to thrive on the heat munching through our bulk chick peas and pinto beans. We had eaten most of the rest of the food and left no tins aboard.  Otherwise the boat was as we left her, just with a few extra layers of dust.  The water pressure in the yard being non existent, we left the big clean up until our one day in a marina and used some of the precious town water to give her a proper rinsing.  The dusty yard and helpful crew at Marina Seca Guaymas were great and we’d go back.  The water truck comes around regularly as do other bootlegging services.  It was a 5 peso ride into town on a regular collectivo (the local public transport) and a good variety of supplies and services at hand except alcohol for our stove……we might be breaking out the camping stove shortly. The only warnings for the marina are depth. We draw 6’8” and touched on a 0.6m tide and 0.9m tide on the way out so we now sport some nice scratches in the new antifoul.  You may want to ask or find some carpet or plastic to protect the hull from the slings, they have not quite got that figured out yet. So we also have a few topside scratches which they did offer to polish.  Otherwise it is a place to easily come and go from with some liveaboards who can take the summer heat

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Summer Refilling Cruising Kitty

Where to begin…  back in Canada the economic times showed and with a fully planned season before we left Narama, we landed with no confirmed work having used frequent flyer points to return.  We were very fortunate however, and have chased our tail far and wide to fill a most extraordinary summer.  Some wonderful friends on a farm in Saanich helped us kick the summer off and we returned the favour by helping out with the animals and planting a garden while Val recovered from shoulder surgery.  A contract for Stephen on Maple Leaf running a few trips to Alaska and back materialized, while Heidi completed a solo hike on Northern Vancouver Island for the Breeding Bird Atlas.  A week of family wedding celebrations cut the summer in half, but that was in Australia.  Back on Achiever we went searching for fin whales and eel grass on two separate research contracts both centered on the proposed tanker traffic route into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. A couple of guest charters through that area produced some wonderful animal encounters (a cougar and very friendly humpback).   A few days with family in Northern Ontario as fall colours started was a welcome break before Stephen headed for Newfoundland to do a circumnavigation trip with Adventure Canada, while Heidi headed back to the farm to milk goats and collect benthic samples (pulling up grabs of mud from the bottom of the sea).  Well that’s a quick update and we will write soon about what we have learned about leaving a boat baking in the Mexican sun. We have been extremely fortunate over summer and wish all the best for the newly wed and newly bred that are close to us.

Photos: Grizzly on the shores of SE Alaska; Stephen sailing onboard Maple Leaf; Acheiver; Heidi getting close to a Humpback whale; Pumpkin harvest on the farm; Heidi mothering fresh ducklings