Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," and more recently, our Bigfoot29 powerboat, "Raven," from Port Townsend, Washington, USA. In 2009 we sailed north from Puget Sound up the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii.) In 2010 we went back to the west coast of Vancouver Island. In July 2011 we left the Northwest, sailed to Mexico, and in March 2012 we crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia, then on to the Cooks, Niue and Tonga. We spent several months in New Zealand, and in May 2013 loaded the boat (and ourselves) on a container ship for San Francisco. In June and July 2013 we sailed north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and in August we arrived home. In October 2016 Sockdolager found new owners, and we are now enjoying Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. In 2018 we cruised up to Glacier Bay, Alaska, and back. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

More tide-pooling, less car-pooling

Our neighbors in Port Townsend (Philip and Llory Morley) coined the title phrase of this post, and we love the philosophy.

We’re back in La Paz but headed out again shortly.  Karen discovered that her wallet was missing, and that she hadn’t realized it for two weeks.  Total loss was about $800 in illicit charges and cash, but the inconvenience of replacing drivers license, credit cards and other items was almost as bothersome.  However, that’s mostly done and we’re going sailing, north to the lovely islands again, to return in a couple of weeks for La Paz's Carnaval and our final re-provision before the Pacific crossing.  There’s still much to do, but most of it is fiddly little details. 

When an email like this one arrives, it refreshes one’s sense of what makes a good day versus a bad day:  “Later this week it is supposed to be -15ºC., and a wind chill that will take it to -27ºC.  But at least the sun is supposed to shine through the ice fog for 12 minutes each day, and if I could unthaw the lines from the dock, I would have real fast sailing in the 25 - 40 knot winds they predict.  There’s that frost bite warning bit that could get in the way, though.”  --from Marty and Mae of Wild Abandon in Prince Rupert, Canada.   Marty also bet us we couldn’t skate on any frozen lakes in Mexico.  Yup, you win that one too, dude. 

So to warm you up, here’s a photo tour of Espiritu Santo island and Isla Partida, some of the best cruising anchorages we’ve ever found.

C'mon, ride ashore with us to the beach!  

This is Bahia San Gabriel, on the southern tip of Espiritu Santo (see the map from two posts ago.)  The beach is spectacular, and the shallows go way, way out.  That's our dinghy at anchor in about a foot of water.

A half-gazillion desiccated puffer fish awaited us as we stepped ashore.  Either there was a die-off or this is where they get blown up onto the beach in storms.  

This one went out in punk style.  C'est magnifique, no?

We found all sorts of treasures, but this fish bone was Karen's favorite.  

A frigatebird rookery with at least 200 individuals is located on the east shore of the bay.  If you look closely, you can see some males with their red neck pouches puffed up.  Females have white breasts.  The rookery is about 200 yards long, in mangroves that front the bay.

It's hard to get close-ups of birds in flight with these little point 'n shoot cameras, but note how this frigate bird, a male, is the one carrying sticks back to the nest.  We didn't see any females doing this work.  Hmmm... 

Very graceful fliers, these birds.  They scoop up small fish (and can drink salt water on the fly) and they sometimes hover over other birds and rob them of their catches.  

A little further to the west are more mangroves, with watery tunnels!  Those protuberances all over the bank are mangrove roots--very tough to walk on.

Wading back to the dinghy, we found many delicate moon snail nests in the shallows.

You could wade for a mile if you want to.  

Our dinghy with its spiffy new chaps was far enough from the rookery to not disturb the birds, but near enough to see, hear and enjoy them.  

Further up the coast we found this turkey vulture perched on a rock.  It seems that different bird species have claimed their territories; frigate birds have Bahia San Gabriel, pelicans rule at Caleta Partida, and blue-footed boobies roost at Cuervitas bay.  You can anchor in each and be treated to different bird life.  Cool!  

Morning coffee and birding, what's not to like?

On to El Mezteno, the anchorage that reminded Jim of rafting on a river.  We had this bay and its very private beach all to ourselves for 4 days during a norther.  Evidently, it hasn't been discovered yet.  Shhhh...

It was one of our favorite anchorages in the islands.  

What began as a hike characterized in the cruising guide as a "stretch your legs" walk turned into 4 miles (round trip) of rock scrambling up a wash, where we gained probably 500' of altitude and followed trail markers like the cairn shown next to Karen, who, by the time this photo was taken, was pretty high on her own endorphins.  

Here's the view from about half a mile up the wash.  Sockdolager is just visible at the edge of the bay.

Made it back down with NOTHING broken or sprained, Woot!

Let's go dinghy exploring again...   Holy mackerel, look at these bizarre rock shapes!

Kind of like a chocolate cake right after you've frosted it before it's cooled off enough...

Or maybe praline candy.  These rocks looked good enough to eat.  But then again, one look at the snowpack on a glacier back in Alaska would send Karen off to an ice cream shop, so use your own judgement.

Nature's water slide.

There's an alien living in that cave up there.

And the rocks have eyes...

Okay, last one.  (Karen was a geology minor aeons ago.)  She likes this grinning rock shark, which, while not purple, is nonetheless pink.  (Cap'n B. Kelsey, take notice.)  

The vertical sandstone surfaces are wave-sculpted, while the horizontal ones are probably wind-eroded; maybe the sand grains get blown and arranged with some kind of interstitial glue made of salt and some calcareous material, that lets the lace "grow" much like wind-formed, horizontal stalactites.  Okay, that sounds crazy.  But that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Our friends Damon and Desiree on Gia, a big steel Colvin Gazelle junk-rigged schooner, sailed by one morning.  We sailed north, too.  

Ensenada Grande was the next harbor, and we liked the way the unusual rock-wave patterns complimented Gia at anchor.  

Craig McPheeters on Luckness was there, and then Buena Vista, with Don and Deb Robertson sailed in. When there are that many boats around, you know what that means.... party time aboard the old Sockdolager!  Buena Vista will be sailing to the South Pacific about the same time we are, and Luckness will be heading for Hawaii.

One afternoon, Jim announced, "I think I'll go catch a nice grouper," and he did.  Now if you've been following the descriptions of our fishing prowess, you know this is a giant leap forward.  Karen now expects to order her fish in advance.

A statue we'll call "Lady Guano."

Back in La Paz at our old slip on Dock 3, we were glad to see that the sunken ship shown in this photo (masts hanging over the channel providing a hazard to sailboats) was finally raised.  That's the good news.  

The bad news is that it's still hard aground.  

But the good news is that we're going sailing again tomorrow.  More tide-pooling ahead.

Quick update:  we just saw the most amazing show ever performed aboard a sailboat.  You may have heard of the very acrobatic Cirque de Soleil.  A French couple and their four active daughters are sailing around the world in a bright yellow boat named La Loupiote, and they travel to marinas and put on shows for everyone.  It's all donation only, and they do an astonishing job.  If you ever get the chance, don't miss it.


  1. Hola! Wow, a rock shark? You didn't see the Wicked Witch of the West or Winnie the Pooh, did you? That's what we saw on the Colorado near Moab. :-)

    Jim - nice Grouper!

    This area looks fantastic - I'm putting it on my list! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Karen, we saw La Loupiote and crew in Port Townsend a few months ago! I think we're the only people not heading south under sail. Fantastic shows, weren't they? Love the photos. Miss you both!