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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

South to Banderas Bay

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin bow riding Narama
We have entered the “Horse Latitudes” (the belt between the northwesterlies of higher latitudes and the NE trade winds).  It means very light diurnal land and sea breezes, but usually not enough to sail.  All this motoring in the last few days means that our fridge has never been so cold, or our batteries so strong.  One benefit of this becalmed period is that it’s easier to spot wildlife.  We’ve seen many humpbacks as we’ve come down the coast, some large groups of adults and a few mother/calf pairs.  Some calves are so young that they are still floppy and helpless.  We have also seen our first Spotted Dolphins – now it really feels like we’re in the tropics!

Yesterday we persevered and had the blooper up; it still took most of the day to sail 9 miles into La Cruz.

Thanks 'Sweet Destiny' for the photo!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

International Migratory Bird Festival (San Blas)

Juvenile Wood Stork

After nearly two weeks in San Blas it is time to sail onwards and start getting ready for our coming offshore passage. We’ll be sailing south stopping at a few places along the coast of Mexico before we fill Narama up with as much food and stores as we can fit!

San Blas International Migratory Bird Festival Website: http://avessanblas.uan.mx/programa.html

If anyone is planning a holiday in Mexico and is interested in birds we can’t recommend San Blas enough. It’s a groovy little town and during the festival there have been wonderful performances in the ‘zocalo’ or central square every night.

San Blas Bird Species List
Blue-footed Booby
Brown Booby
Brown Pelican
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Boat-billed Heron
White Ibis
White-faced Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Fulvous Whistling Duck
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Muscovy Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveller
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Snail Kite
Crane Hawk
Common Black Hawk
Great Black Hawk
Grey Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Laughing Falcon
American Kestrel
Rufous-bellied Chachalaca
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
American Oystercatcher
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Northern Jacana
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowicher
Laughing Gull
Heerman's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Elegant Tern
Black Skimmer
White-winged Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground Dove
Mexican Parrotlet
Squirrel Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Black Swift
Cinnamon Hummingbird
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
White-eared Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker
Pale-billed Woodpecker
Greenish Elaenia
White-throated Flycatcher
Vermillion Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird
Thick-billed Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Rose-throated Becard
Mangrove Swallow
N. Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Sinaloa Crow
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Northern Mockingbird
Mangrove Vireo
Bell's Vireo
Orange-crowned Warbler
Tropical Parula
Mangrove Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Grey-crowned Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Greyish Saltator
Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater
Savannah Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Orchard Oriole
Streak-backed Oriole
Yellow-winged Cacique
House Sparrow

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

San Blas, Nayarit

San Blas Estuary Anchorage
Arriving across the shallow bar with a moderate swell, our entrance was only made dramatic when our final approach coincided with a dozen bottlenose dolphins and a panga full of tourists, both circling us. What a vast difference from the desert of Baja; now we felt the heat and humidity and had a shoreline completely lined in palms. We anchored in the mangrove fringed estuary on the side of town and felt right at home once our anchor hit the muddy bottom. We had heard from several sources that this was a “birdy place” and were not disappointed. After a week of wandering various trails and side roads visiting disused shrimp ponds, the lighthouse, an old fort on the hill and a village surrounded by mango plantations, we saw lots of new and interesting species.

American Crocodile
We celebrated our 9th Wedding Anniversary by splurging on a panga ride for two. Instead of taking the usual trip to a natural spring and popular swimming hole, we had Chencho, our knowledgeable guide and driver take us up stream to an open wetland and bird sanctuary. Whistling ducks in the thousands and Wood Storks on the nest with their awkward-looking chicks were among the highlights, along with fat American Crocodiles sunning themselves on the bank.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Some lovely friends, Rafael and his mother Josefina, had us over for lunch of exquisite smoked Corvina and a Yellowtail stew. Just when we thought it was nearly time to leave San Blas with its bustling central square, Josefina told us we had to stay for the “International Migratory Bird Festival” here in town. So last night we took in the opening ceremonies (lots of speeches) which finished with a colourful folkdance performance.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Isla Isabel – A seabird watcher’s paradise!

Male Magnificent Frigatebird

It took us three days to sail from Caleta Lobos (near La Paz) to the anchorage at Isla Isabel. In the end we decided to heave-to for five hours so we would approach this poorly charted, rock strewn island in daylight (the chart marks the island nearly two miles away from its actual position). We had a boisterous sail in anything from 15 to 25 knots of breeze, but it was a broad reach the whole way, so we were comfortable and merrily ticking away the miles as we left the Baja behind us. That strong northerly breeze also meant that we didn’t have any southerly swell at the island.
For two days we wandered the trails among several thousand nesting Magnificent Frigatebirds. We listened to the sounds of their bills clapping around us constantly as the adults greeted and courted over nests with tiny chicks, a very pleasant chorus. There were plenty of lewd male throat sacks inflated and scarlet red, tiny new chicks being guarded as well as large nearly fledged juveniles still begging for food. The sounds, sights and smells were nearly overwhelming. There were also plenty of Blue-footed and Brown Booby’s on the grassy banks on every shore, with fluffy, bright white chicks being fed on the nest. We spoke to a grad student from the University of Mexico City who was studying the Blue-footed Booby’s and she kindly answered our plethora of questions. With her field assistants and the pangeros at the fishing camp, humans were definitely out-numbered by birds!

Juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds
We easily could have stayed longer as it was such a treat to be able to observe their behavior. The frigatebirds would gather grass for nesting material from the few open areas and this they would take on the wing, swooping down and snatching a few blades in their long bills. It seems that this grass was in high demand as it was mowed down in the few areas that we saw. At one of our all-time favourite picnic lunch spots we were sitting on slopping grass with boobies nesting a little way away on either side, the slope reaching down to a volcanic rocky shoreline. We laid down and watched frigatebirds and boobies glide over us only meters away from our heads. Every bird turned its head to examine who these intruders were lying on their island. When we looked out to sea we also saw humpbacks, both adults and calves breaching. It doesn’t get much better than this!
Brown Booby with its chick

We are now en route to San Blas while I write, motoring on smooth windless seas.

Who are you on MY island?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friends for the New Year

A psychologist turned carpenter and a doctorate student in need of a holiday aptly describes the last couple of friends that joined us to bring in the New Year. But does it really? The depth and “breadth” of their wit and humour (yes the English blood shows I think) defy the rougher outward persona they portray to perfection. Albeit some alcohol was involved that led to more one liners and unplanned antics than I can recall, but our sides are still recovering from laughter. We still consumed the chocolate cake I stepped in and I’m sorry Rob but those pictures of the chorizo sausage will stay under lock and key. This entertainment made up for the cooler temperatures and overcast skies we had while exploring the islands north of the La Paz. We still managed many snorkels, a swim with sea lions, some beach exploration and great sailing to and from the islands. On the wildlife side (and here I exclude Homo sapiens), the highlight was the Magnificent Frigatebirds in San Gabriel starting to court, the males red pouches puffed to impress and much bill clacking between what appeared to be courting couples.

Devil Ray

Back in La Paz we had a couple of nights in Marina Palmira and caused quite the stir hanging our laundry out to dry. It seems we may have started a movement which I hope takes hold to drive some sense into the north American psyche. On one hand we were congratulated for doing so by Antipodean and European boaters, whilst murmurs of discontent were heard through the grapevine by the odd North American.
We hope everyone had fun over the New Year, best wishes for 2011 and thanks to Rob and Caroline for all the laughs.
We are now gearing up to leave Baja for the mainland and are pleased we took the time to explore the Gulf of California.