Boat sitting – and overland travel in Nicaragua

Text by Chris Colajezzi – Photos by Adam Jahnke

As introduction:  Aldebaran is moored in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua during our off-season (mid Nov to mid March ’16), as Capt K and Sabby work in California and recuperate from ear surgery. Chris spent almost two months in Nica, boat-sitting Aldebaran, along with Bob (Capt K’s dad) who is still on his marathon tour of duty.  Adam met them for three weeks and the duo traveled around. Chris is a guitarist and lifeguard from LA County and Adam is a photographer, drummer, and cyclist. Here’s an interview of their experience, and a collection of photos (more available on Adam’s portfolio)…

How Aldebaran was on front cover of a magazine in 1979

Magazine articleTo subscribe to this blog by email, click here.  In a scraggly photocopy in a binder with the boat’s documentation, I saw an article from the previous owner, Bob McMahan, about flying the spinnaker on a trimaran.

“Wow.” I thought, “He was really into it!” I searched for Bob, to no avail.

 

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Fast forward to our Santa Barbara Yacht Club talk, early this January.

Guess who shows up at the talk?  Bob and wife Jackie, the previous owners of Aldebaran, who had received the notice from the club, and recognized the ship in the photos: “that’s our old boat!”

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New Video Episode about Scorpion Bay – from Boat breakdowns to Perfect Waves

Finally!  Our all-new Video Series!   Thanks to support from our new Patrons we’re able to tell the full Green Coconut Run story.

This Episode is about our misadventures leaving Turtle Bay, glorious sailing conditions down Baja Peninsula, our first major engine breakdown, and then sweet redemption discovered at Scorpion Bay, in the form of loooooong waves!

Enjoy the new Episode  here.

Our motto -- Eating well, no matter what the tribulations at sea

Our motto — Eating well, no matter what the tribulations at sea

ps. A note about prior videos: Our new episodes will be 10 minutes, which allows us to share the full story of our trip. Our previous videos (2-3 min) were experimental.  From now on we’ll produce only full episodes on Patreon; and short 15 sec Instagram teasers.  Many thanks!

5 more days for Early Seabird discounts

Green Coconut Run: 1 down, 2 more seasons to go!

This year ’16– Costa Rica to Galapagos. Next & Final Year ’17– French Polynesia.  

Yeehaa!!

We’ve got core crew almost lined up for both years!!!  Wondering who…?  Let’s just say the food is going to be gooood.  Soon to announce 🙂

So.. Are you keen to come aboard the Green Coconut Run — epic island destinations in our comfy boat — sometime during these next two seasons?

Now’s the best time to sign up, even if you’re not sure when/where, you can lock in discount rates by January 31, 2016Check out rates and Crew List in our Co-op page (password).

By doing so it helps us plan our Budget and cover our big infrastructure costs for the boat.

Maps and rough schedule for the upcoming two seasons are below…

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Season 2 satellite image

 

Season 2 // 2016    

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

  • January-February – Aldebaran moored in Nicaragua
  • late March – Nicaragua
  • April – Costa Rica
  • May/June – Panama
  • July – Isla Cocos & Galapagos Islands
  • August – Galapagos to Mainland Ecuador
  • September to November – Aldebaran moored in Ecuador mainland
  • late December – Galapagos Islands

Zoom in… check out the interactive map.

Want more specific dates, who’s coming aboard? Check the Crew List in our co-op page.

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Season 3 // 2017

SOUTH PACIFIC, FRENCH POLYNESIA

  • January/February – Galapagos Islands
  • late March/April – Marquesas
  • May – Tuamotos
  • June/July/August – Tahiti and leewards isles
  • September – Tuamotos
  • October – Marquesas
  • early November – tentatively sailing back to Hawaii

Zoom in… check out the interactive map.

Want more specific dates, who’s coming aboard? Check the Crew List in our co-op page.

Newsletters for December, January

So, you’re…

  • Wondering when the boat is heading out again?
  • Who were the MVPs of the California – Costa Rica season of Green Coconut Run?
  • What’s the Jan 31, Early Seabird deadline all about?

Well shucks, maybe you missed our monthly newsletters!   Subscribe  here.

December 2015 Newsletter

Including: The Panama & Galapagos Schedule — the crew that went the extra mile — our 100 Lights campaign.  

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January 2016 Newsletter

Including: Sabrina’s ear surgery — upcoming presentations — Jan 31 deadline for Early Seabirds

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And just like that… microbeads are banned!

R.I.P., nasty little microbeads. We thought the battle to destroy you might get arduous. But hurray!  President Obama just banned you. ‘Tis great news to start 2016!

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We just talked about them in our last post about microplastics, where we clarified the role of micro-beads and plastics that breaks down in the ocean.  (During the Green Coconut Run, we’ve been gathering samples of micro-plastics for ASC, short for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation)

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Sabrina collecting micro-plastic samples in Baja’s Bahia Magdalena for ASC, April 2015. Green Coconut Run. 

An estimated 8 trillions micro-beads enter U.S. waterways every day says Environmental Science & Technology.

“We’re facing a plastic crisis and don’t even know it,” says Stephanie Green, a co-author of the study.Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.25.07 PM

Microbeads became a big deal when people saw their effect on the Great Lakes. Consumers didn’t even know that plastic was being used in our cosmetics and health care products – microbeads were surreptitiously used as exfoliants.

After application on our bodies, the microbeads get washed down the drain, and may ultimately be eaten by fish. A UC Davis study found that 1/4 of fish found in California markets had ingested plastic.

Still a bit fuzzy on how it works?  Here’s a great video about the life cycle of micro beads:

Hurray for science leading to decisions that keep our waterways clean!  All the more reason for Green Coconut Run and ocean enthusiasts to collaborate with ASC, and crowdsource information that scientists can use.

Want to support our voyages and videos ?  Become a Patron of Green Coconut Run!

Labor of Love – crew that went above and beyond

To follow this blog by email, click here.  So, you think sailing is just a vacation?  It IS tremendous fun, but the truth is that we do tons of work on this boat – constantly.  Luckily we have incredible crew to help. Below are snippets of the stories that we’ll share during our video episodes (help out by going to Patreon and throwing a buck into the pot).

michael and ryanMichael (Electric Car consultant) and Ryan (Conservation Planner), returned home after six months of unstoppable stoke & determination to make the trip work out for everybody. They are phenomenal humans and shipmates. From furiously fast 24hr turnarounds in ports, to installing fans underway, these crew were… well, let’s just say I couldn’t have created better crew mates even if I had the power of creation.

Sabrina marina puestaSabrina (Registered Nurse) is the captain’s sweetheart. She persevered through 4 months of living in a construction site – the Ventura boatyard – and then worked double time throughout the voyage to keep the ship’s sanity in check. Her delight in life complements her hard work ethic, and creates a space aboard the boat that everyone is happy to call Home.

Engineer Dan spent 1.5 months on Aldebaran in three countries. He brought us the power of the Sabbath with his weekly challah bread and unabashed kindness. He also helped us fix our broken rudder (bah, minor), spent hours designing our lightning protection scheme, and did some serious stoke harvesting in El Salvador’s right hand pointbreaks.

 

 

 

 

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Architect Alex spent two weeks in Costa Rica and kept a perma-smile on our faces with his robust laughter (you know if you’ve heard it). He used his famous tiny home skills to build our  bimini PVC support, and among other things, serviced the seized fishing reels. Total legend.

bret, jess, erikaSignmaker Bret, along with sweetheart Jessica, and our dear friend Erika,  carried the load for two weeks when the captain was on his own. Besides scoring the best (empty) waves of their lives, and in Jessica’s case, relaxing like a superstar, they pretty much ran the ship. Bret is his own form of superstar with an uncanny ability to fix anything in front of him.

dave rachel in cockpit backlitOceanographer Dave, the captain’s first sailing mentor back in 2004 (!)  pulled out all the stops for a month of work and play. The visit by ladyfriend and fellow biologist Rachel gave him a break from his nearly compulsive ability to repair all things that stumped the captain. He managed to fix the pesky outboard carburetor, installed the diesel engine’s thermostat (long-time coming), and discovered the exhaust leak.  He did too many things to mention, all essential in preparation for leaving the ship for several months moored in Nicaragua.

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Spearfishermen Brian and Eric, 10 days aboard in the Sea of Cortez, played a key role during one of our first crisis – a leaking diesel line which flooded the bilge. Panic! These guys kept their cool and were invaluable in the repairs. During that same time, Eric got clearance from his eye doctor to dive again, another successful “repair”!  Check out their blog post for more.

matt lighthouse happy place

Matt took a break from his masters in foreign policy to be the ship’s carpenter. With custom woodwork, he doubled the square footage of useable storage on the boat, and installed the impossible cams to secure our hatches. He joined us for a week in northern Baja and took a 3am bus back to San Diego for 10 hours.  Badass.

Hidden dangers of sailing (and how antibiotics in livestock make it way worse)

Believe it or not, ‘bacteria’ were the most challenging part of our voyage to sailing to Central America.

With antibiotics being our first line of defense, we learned the hard way about its limitations; and how industrial livestock, of all things (!) are affecting our body’s ability to fight these infections.

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Sabrina at the doctor’s office in Mexico, the start of her ear saga.

“Wait, weren’t you scared of pirates and storms?”

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Be SURE to watch this! about Micro-plastics.

I’m a bit ashamed. I was doing something without realizing its full magnitude, so I’ll share my mistake.

The short of it:  Despite the fact I was helping collect samples for research in the ocean, I was woefully unaware of what micro-plastics actually are. We all need to watch this video of Nat Geo Explorer, Gregg Treinish, informing us about the quickly developing micro-plastics situation. And be SURE not to purchase anything with “micro-beads”, as I explain below.

(Direct link to the video, in case doesn’t load above.)

The long of it: during the first season of Green Coconut Run, in partnership with ASC (AdventureScience.org), we’ve been collecting samples for micro-plastics. ASC is crowd-sourcing the data so that scientists can study this emerging problem quickly and affordably; our role is to encourage other cruising sailors to participate.

After 25+ samples along 4 countries in Central America, our voyage was even written up in Nat Geo. But my understanding of what I was collecting was seriously flawed!  In my blog post I said micro-plastics were “miniature pieces of plastic… after decades of breakdown” in the ocean.  I was WRONG!

 

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A few water samples taken in Mexico for ASC’s data on micro-plastics, during Green Coconut Run’s first season

I finally watched Gregg’s video today (after getting back to the US last week, I’m catching up on all the Youtube and high-bandwidth internet I missed the last year of travel!).

I learned that many of our face washes, fleece jackets, and synthetic miracle clothes have plastic “micro-beads”.  Even toothpaste, yes toothpaste! After spreading them in our mouths, bodies, and laundry machines, the micro-plastics flow down the water pipes of our houses, and if untreated, go directly into the ocean.

These aren’t degraded micro bits of the plastic bags and toys that are clogging the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is horrendous in itself.  These are micro-beads,  already pre-fabricated in their terrible, tiny size, entering the food chain through fish we consume, and whose effects on our bodies and the ecosystems are still unknown.

Now I know better. Please put “micro-beads” in your DO NOT BUY list.

And sailors out there: join ASC’s global campaign to help scientists understand the extent and effects of micro-plastics. Participate in “crowd-sourcing adventure science” !

Email us or  info@adventureandscience.org for more information.

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Captain K taking a water sample in Cabo San Lucas, month 1 of the voyage. Now he knows that micro-plastics come from synthetic clothes and body products with “micro-beads”. Don’t buy them!

Want an instant great feeling? Support us with Patreon!

Hurray !!  We’re launching our Patreon campaign today, Thanksgiving Day 2015. There is so much we are grateful for !

What is Patreon, you ask?  It’s like Kickstarter for ongoing projects. It’s a way for us to have recurring income from our videos, and keep our boat afloat.

Check out our Patreon page, you can make a pledge of any amount. For $5/video and up, you’ll also get special rewards.

We DEEPLY appreciate your support !!!

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Hang on– you’re not sure if it’s worth your hard-earned money?  Check out the top 10 reasons why Green Coconut Run is the best thing since sliced bread (for uh… ocean adventurers).

Top 10 reasons for supporting us

(Direct link to video in case it doesn’t load above)

Your contribution will really help us to make a regular video series, with our goal being 1 video episode per month.

Don’t worry — you can cap your max monthly donation, in case we go on a movie making spree. We’ve made a mix of videos this last year, but the new video episodes will be more consistent, longer, and in-depth. They’ll still be available freely online for others to enjoy, thanks to your support!

We look forward to sharing more of the magic of our unique Community Sailing adventure with you !!

Video Episode #7: Introducing the Voyage

Finally!  We describe in stylish video how the Green Coconut Run began.  I am so proud we can all be a part of this amazing group adventure:

The inspiration from California’s Channel Islands.  The start of the Sailing Cooperative. The route we are taking along Central America and the South Seas.  The non-profits with whom we’re partnering – sampling for micro plastics and distributing mini solar lights. And our passions: the wilderness surf, diving, and nature connection.

Alongside this intro video we are announcing big news:  we’re launching our Patreon site to create recurring income for our videos!  Check out this blog post for more details and please contribute $1 or more!

ENJOY!  THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of this adventure.

(Direct link for the video in case it doesn’t load above)

Video: Rainy Day Dreamin’ (and why we didn’t leave Costa Rica)

Feeling cooped up by your work cubicle, house chores, or a sailboat cockpit with 5 sweaty guys during tropical downpour? Breath deeply.

Patience and perseverance reward all with ultimate joy. Whether it be in the form of perfect waves or perfect … fill in the blank…  it is out there, waiting for sacrifices to tip the scales. Keep on the good struggle cause the blessings are just around the corner!


(Direct link for the video in case it doesn’t load above)

8 months of sailing and searching for waves in Central America during the rainy season were rewarded with special moments. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow included this spot, which was one of the benefits of postponing the Panama leg to Season 2. The main reason for not heading further south was the lightning and rougher seas infamous during Sept & Oct. In contrast, this area was uncanny calm — can you believe that water visibility? Those fish schools were 1.5 miles away on an offshore pinnacle.

“Don’t change a winning game” they say. We followed that advice and stuck around here for over two months.

 

Video Episode #6: Chamela Day Spa

Where the love of hair-dressing meets the love of the sea !!  This is probably the FINEST DAY SPA ever realized aboard a sailboat (er… and goofiest). Anyone who saw the condition of the salty sailors, after two months on the ship, would agree it was a much-needed day of manicuring.

We are blessed it was run by extraordinary visiting crew Pierre (Sabrina’s brother, reknown actor) and Lianna (famous hair dresser).

Side note: thanks to everyone who came to the slideshow last Sunday night in Santa Barbara. It was really special to share our Season 1 joys and challenges with such a wonderful crowd of friends. We will upload the highlights video when we have a chance!

Direct link to the video (if it doesn’t load above).

These 30 crew made our Season 1 happen!

The magic of the Green Coconut Run lies in our visiting crew. Although we only have 4-6 crew aboard at any on time, we had almost 30 people joining for different legs of the journey. The new Crew Bio page give you an idea of who they are.

CALIFORNIA TO MEXICO

CREW #1-6 (above).  Annie the videographer came for 5 days to San Diego.  Matt the racing sailor rode 10 days down Baja.  Eric and Brian the spearfishermen did 11 days across the Sea of Cortez. Pierre and Lianna the teacher-restauranteurs did 10 days from Puerto Vallarta to Zihuatanejo.

“Don’t keep a schedule!” advised cruising sailors. Oh well.  This was a community sailing expedition — the first of its kind, that we know of — and we had to make a schedule so visiting crew could book airplane tickets, organize their vacation time, and make travel plans. For the core crew running the boat, we couldn’t treat it purely like a vacation; we had to get places. But the question remained: “Would our schedule work? What if people fly down to meet the boat but we’re not there??”

SOUTHERN MEXICO

CREW #7-13 (above).  In the Bahias de Huatulco, state of Oaxaca: The Hope family of teacher-someliers with their three year old girl joined 5 days. Deena the tech marketer and Cristina the research doctor sailed 4 days, along with Sam the social worker. Local singer-songwriter Angelica joined us for a week of preparation and passage-making from Huatulco to Puerto Chiapas across the infamous Gulf of Tehuantepec.

It’s a cruise, right? What if we found a great spot and wanted to stay for awhile? Too bad!! We gotta keep moving, we have crew to pick up down the line. The trip was crowd-funded so there was an obligation to fulfill. But even if we were self-funded, would we have changed it?  Not much. The advantages of having friends and crew come visit, bringing their fresh energy and enthusiasm to the boat, far outweighed the disadvantages of keeping a schedule (not to mention the necessary toils of hosting people in a tiny space).  Sharing the experiences with people first hand was a great gift  that we wouldn’t have traded for greater freedom.

EL SALVADOR TO NICARAGUA

CREW #14-17 (above).  Dan the water resource engineer joined us for 1 month in El Salvador… then extended 2 more weeks into Nicaragua. Ryan’s brother Brad jumped onboard for a week, landing in San Juan del Sur. Klaus the foot surgeon and Jay the real estate manager both flew in from SF for the 10 day cruise to Costa Rica.

Our first BIG change in the trip’s schedule was our decision to stay in Costa Rica and not carry on to Panama — primarily due to our growing intimacy with squalls and lightning, which build in strength as one heads south. By July, we informed our visiting crew of that possibility. By August, we had landed in Playas de Coco and decided to stay in that region through the end of October, when the rains pick up. Did such uncertainty bother folks?  Our protocol was to have crew book tickets only a month before their trip, so it worked out. Everyone coming was aware this isn’t a cruise ship — this is an adventure, maleable, ever-evolving, yet with enough planning to fit into the modern schedule.

SANTA ROSA NATIONAL PARK, COSTA RICA

CREW #18-26 (above). Picking up in Playas de Coco, Costa Rica: Ashley Curtis the middle school teacher visited us for 3 days of volcano hikes and 4 days of boating. Alex Wyndham, tiny home architect and designer, spent two weeks in some of the most perfect surfing conditions we’ve seen. Our family friend Stu, a Californian who lives near San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica) brought his son, grandson, and friend for a four day cruise with incredible weather. Erika, our youth wilderness educator, Bret, a sign-shop owner and master of all trades, and Jessica, green home builder in San Luis Obispo, all joined us in October for another 10 day+ round in the extraordinary Santa Rosa National Park.

How did we fix the boat underway, with so many visitors?  As everyone knows, boats are constant maintenance. Every other day something broke. To add to this, there were new installations needed: fans to deal with heat, USB charge ports to accommodate the crew’s cameras, new lights to read in the bunks. Special mention must go to the “Core Crew members” who were onboard for long periods of time and worked hard to keep the boat in operation. Without their remarkable positive attitude, unshakeable work ethic, and boundless energy, this first season wouldn’t have run like it did — creating a dream while we lived it.

CORE CREW MEMBERS

CREW #27-30 (above). Ryan was our head yogurt-maker, video editor, and soul surfer; he put in a few months of hard labor at the boatyard. Michael was our head chef, fisherman, and project motivator; he encouraged myriad people to believe in the voyage. Both Ryan and Michael spent 6 months on Aldebaran, from Santa Barbara to Costa Rica. After they left, Dave Clark stepped in for a month to help prep the boat for the “off-season” — trying to leave the boat ship-shape for our boat sitters. His lady Rachel joined us for 10 days during our transit back to Nicaragua’s San Juan del Sur, with excellent SCUBA diving along the way.

Check out the Crew Bio page for more details!

Billy Sparrow and Tranquility

Receiving

Receiving “Tranquility” in Costa Rica, courtesy of one of our crew-couriers

Let me introduce this book with a recollection. It was my first trip, my first sailboat, year ’04. We barely crawled into SB harbor after a troubled passage from Long Beach with a smoking gas engine, ripping sails, and dry-heaving crew. I called a guy who had fixed my van “bro-style” a few year before – I knew he was a boat mechanic – and begged for his help.

That’s how I met “Billy Sparrow”.

With a knowing eye Billy glanced at the sorry state of my vessel, a 29ft Columbia, which I had bought sight unseen with zero boating experience, under the foolhardy impression one could just sail her north around Point Conception to Morro Bay. Most professional mechanics would walk away at this point with a sad dismissal.

Billy helped us get the boat in shape to get to Morro Bay in one piece

Billy helped us get the boat in shape to get to Morro Bay in one piece

Luckily, I had a beautiful Amazonian-brunette crew lady aboard with me, and she walked out the companionway extending her powerful feminine physique. This caught the eye of the irrepressible Billy, and kept him around long enough to hear my story, and share a bit of his.

Perhaps due to a mix of compassion and passion, he yielded. “Bro, I’m going to help you. This reminds me of myself. My maiden cruise was also trial by fire. Literally dude- my wooden boat caught on fire, I ran aground three horrible times, got taken out by waves, everything that could go wrong went wrong. You’re doing it man. We’ll get you to Morro Bay.”

Ahhh.. the alure of the sea

Ahhh.. the alure of the sea

Eleven years later, I get a copy of his book in the mail, relating the details of his maiden cruise.

As an adventure tale of youthful reckless-ness, there is none better, set amid the scenic and wild waters of the Pacific Northwest. As a story of overcoming hardship, perseverance, and accepting the power of things beyond our control, it has universal value and literary power. It is a transformative tale for everyone to read; to vicariously experience the wisdom of seeing ‘the struggle as the blessing’; and ultimately, to go for it.

Want to check it out?  Order Tranquility: A Memoir of an American Sailor by Billy Sparrow directly through their publisher, Inland Waters Press, and enjoy!

Underwater treasures for Sabby

The captain’s sweetheart and Aldebaran’s dive master, Sabrina, had to leave early due to an ear injury and returned home to California. We are sending her healing thoughts!!

The crew made her two short diving videos so she could live vicariously as we explore underwater treasures and share the stoke from afar.

Diving Roca Niegra — A volcano spat out this big rock, which lies 1 mile offshore in 80 feet depth. Dizzying numbers of fish congregate around the transparent blue waters. Our free dives are around 20-40 feet.  Location: Santa Rosa National Park, northern Costa Rica

Video: Diving Murcielago Islands.  A geographic phenomenon, the protected “Isla Murcielago” (“Bat Islands”) stick out like fingers from the mainland.  We took a quick dive to cool off and find some coral and eels. Our free dives are around 15-25 feet. Location: Santa Rosa National Park, northern Costa Rica.

Pirate for a week

By Guest Crew: Angelica Almazan

(Voyage Leg: From Huatulco, Oaxaca to Marina Chiapas.) 

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Land Ho!

Since the first time I saw the Aldebaran, I knew that I had to travel on it; no matter how, no matter where, but I felt first sight love for that little sailboat.

The crew sailing south along the coast. I couldn't wait to join this family and sail with them!

The crew sailing south along the coast. I couldn’t wait to join this family and sail with them!

The crew were four of the most beautiful and interesting people I’ve ever met. Captain Kristian Beadle arrived in Mazunte with his girlfriend and first mate Sabrina Littee and their friends and skippers Ryan Smith and Michael Chiacos, after traveling for two months from California to Oaxaca, as part of The Green Coconut Run, a journey through the Pacific Ocean to visit protected marine areas, dive, surf and do environmental research.

The Salty Crew of Aldebaran (left to right: Sabrina, Ryan, Michael, myself, and Kristian. Our friend Dania is front and center, hanging out with us all.

The Salty Crew of Aldebaran (left to right: Sabrina, Ryan, Michael, myself, and Kristian). Our friend Dania is front and center, hanging out with us as well. You can also just barely see Kristian’s sister in back of Ryan.

They anchored off Playa Rinconcito. “How do you get to shore in the morning?” I asked them. Ryan explained laughing, “we swim with our fins and hide them under a palapa on the beach. Kristian and Sabrina paddle the big blue board in together.” After visiting the town and the people, at night they swam back to sleep in their 42 ft trimaran with everything necessary to sleep in it: dormitories, a kitchen with propane stove, bathroom, water desalinization system and solar panels to provide electric energy.

Some people take buses to work, or drive cars....these guys paddle their surfboards with dry bags to get to shore and back.

Some people take buses to work, or drive cars….these guys paddle boards with dry bags to get to shore.

I met this group of modern pirates thanks to my neighbor and good Brazilian friend Samara, Kristian’s sister. “My birthday party will be on the boat!” she told me. I was very excited, since I was looking forward to a chance to go aboard. That birthday trip from Mazunte to Puerto Ángel intrigued me as I learned how life is on the boat, seeing the variety of surf boards on deck, along with the pictures of diving and fishing sessions, all convinced me that I wanted to be part of that fascinating adventure.

My dear friend Samara, with her brother Captain Kristian.

My dear friend and neighbor Samara, with her brother Captain Kristian, celebrate her birthday on the boat!

“Where is your next destination?” I asked them. I was disappointed to hear it was El Salvador, because unfortunately I didn’t have a passport. “But you don’t need a passport to go to Puerto Chiapas” said Kristian “we need to stop there before leaving Mexico. Would you like to join us?”

That was the invitation I was hoping for. It would be a relatively short trip, from Huatulco in Oaxaca to the border with Guatemala, 250 miles, but they would take a week to get there. They needed to wait for a good weather window to cross the Gulf of Tehuantepec, and would spend those few days exploring the beaches of the National Park Bahias de Huatulco, and working on the boat. The crew agreed that I could travel with them if I paid for my meals and helped with the work.

My floating home for a week

My floating home for a week

Michael jokingly warned me, “Doing a crossing isn’t as easy and fun as parties on the boat – this is supposed to be one of the roughest passages in Mexico. But it’ll probably be amazing as well.” I assumed I’d get seasick at some point going through turbulence along the Gulf of Tehuantepec, but I didn’t hesitate for one second on my intention to go on that trip.

It was a great boat party for Samara's birthday!

It was a great boat party we had celebrating Samara’s birthday!

Blissful freedom. Ryan leaps into the ocean to play.

Blissful freedom. Ryan leaps into the ocean to play.

A few days later, I met the boat and crew at Marina Chahue, joining one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life.

Our first mission was to catch fish for dinner before we went into the natural protected area. We anchored a few miles away from Chahue Beach and while Ryan and Michael dived armed with their harpoons (spearguns), I did some snorkeling, watching in awe schools of surgeon fish and other species of all sizes and colors. The guys came back with yummy ones, and explained patiently which species was each one and how they caught them, and they showed me how to scale and fillet them.

Does it get any better than this!?

Does it get any better than this!?

We went to Tangolunda Bay, next to the Club Med and other luxury resorts. It wasn’t the greatest since the lights from the hotels didn’t let us see too many stars, and we could hear the music from the clubs until late night, with an entertainer shouting “Tequila! Tequila! Margarita!” to tell the guests which dance step they had to follow.

But, the crew needed to use their phone internet and work on the boat, so that is why we went there. “This is cruising, Angelica!” smiled Sabrina. “Working on your boat in exotic places.”

Before we jumped into action, they had a meeting to distribute the chores, and I was surprised by the capacity of organization of these people. Every decision is taken democratically, the obligations are taken equitably and each one is responsible to finish their mission on schedule. Some of my chores were to grease the wood on deck, to take out some nets and – my favorite one- to get underwater to clean the bottom of the boat to take away the mud and seashells. I felt like a real pirate working hard while watching the beautiful sunset.

All smiles here, getting ready to clean the bottom of Aldebaran

All smiles here, getting ready to clean the bottom of Aldebaran

Sabrina and Kristian inspect the nice clean hulls of our beautiful ship

Sabrina and Kristian inspect the nice clean hulls of our beautiful ship – two thumbs up!!

Another thing that caught my attention was the order needed to live on a boat. Since there is not too much space, everything needs to have its place, and everyone needs to know where to put things at all time. They pointed out that I was new and wasn’t familiar with the strict order, but Sabrina explained that every time someone leaves stuff out of their place, they had to pay a fine of pushups or sit-ups, and I testified that not even the captain was excused to escape that rule.

“That’s why the crew is so fit,” said Michael. And the truth is that life on the boat is very physically challenging: the water pumping system is made out of pedals and levers, so you have to exercise even when flushing the toilet or washing the dishes!

The Aldebaran has salt water and fresh water faucets, same as a complex desalination and purification system to get drinking water, which Sabrina was kind enough to show and explain to me. All the crew was always happy to answer every question that I had, and explain all the details I needed to know about the life on the boat.

Work hard to play harder!

Work hard to play harder! Welcome to paradise… says Captain Kristian

It's amazing to find such stunning bays all to ourselves!

It’s amazing to find such stunning bays all to ourselves!

Done with internet for now, we decided to go to a more quiet and lonely place, so we anchored at Playa El Organo in the national park. It was a lonely and gorgeous beach, and when we arrived we saw a fox resting on the shore. The reef is beautiful there, and I loved to snorkel there and watch a spotted ray, along with several species of fish and coral.

A beautiful spotted eagle ray glided by us!

A beautiful spotted eagle ray glided by

This was a neat coral crevace with tons of fish around

This was a neat coral crevace with tons of fish around

That night I slept on the net. I can’t describe the incredible feeling of sleeping under the stars, with the water underneath me, and waking up with the sunrise on my face. Absolute happiness is to wake up and jump right from your bed to the sea for a morning swim, and be called for breakfast with the call of the conch.

Food was absolutely fabulous every time. From the fancy dinners consisting of fish in a ginger and garlic sauce, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, to the Baja style fish tacos, going through the eggs on toasts for breakfast, the kimchi salad, and every one of the healthy and delicious snacks I tried that week.

I was welcomed in like family. Here we are at Organico, so happy to be together in such a beautiful bay

I was welcomed in like family. Here we are at Playa el Organo, so happy to be together in this beautiful bay!

The next days we lived an ecstasy of virgin bays in the middle of forest and cliffs that can only be reached on a boat. In Chachacual I saw a lot of butterflies, as I’ve never seen before in a beach, and Riscalillo had hermit crabs with shells of all sizes and designs. For the first time in my life I did some Stand Up Paddling and we made a concert on the boat, when the guys took out all their music instruments and we sang along Gracias a la vida with a guitar, maracas and a ukulele.

Gracias a la vida.

Gracias a la vida: “Thanks to life, for you have given me so much…”

After going to Huatulco city to buy final groceries for the next months, on June 28th we launched at 3 am and started the 48 hour sail trip to Puerto Madero in Chiapas. The first stop we did was in Punta San Diego for Michael and Ryan to do some surfing, and I had the chance to behold the amazing spectacle of seeing them “flying” on the waves.

Michael flying in the surf

Michael flying in the surf. I hope to one day be as graceful as them when I surf!

When underway again, the fishing pole caught something. “I hope it is a Mahi mahi!” exclaimed Michael, as he jumped to deck. Indeed, they captured a big beautiful dorado, which amazed me with its colors and big head. That day was very prolific for fishing: aside from the Mahi mahi, we caught an Agujon (needlefish) more than 4 feet long and even I had the chance to reel in a fish for the first time — I ended up taking out of the ocean a giant almost 5 ft barracuda!

The mahi mahi fish are so beautifully colored with bright yellows and greens. And boy are they Delicious!

The mahi mahi fish are so beautifully colored with bright yellows and greens. And boy are they Delicious! Sabrina lifts this guy out of the ocean on the deck where the crew helps to control the fish.

This is a great Pacific Needlefish. They are also really tasty, but some people get turned off by the green flesh. We didn't mind at all.

This is a great Pacific Needlefish. They are also really tasty, but some people get turned off by the green flesh. We didn’t mind at all.

This was my first time reeling in a fish - and I landed a massive barracuda just as the sun was setting! It was so exciting! Sabrina helped me hold it up for the photo to remember the moment forever!!

This was my first time reeling in a fish – and I landed a massive barracuda just as the sun was setting! It was so exciting! Sabrina helped me hold it up for the photo to remember the moment forever!!

After dinner they distributed the shifts for steering through the night. I offered to keep Sabrina company during her shift, and it was a magical night, watching the sails glowing with the moon light and chatting with a beautiful mermaid, and she told me a little about her life and travels, her career as a nurse and how she met her great love, captain Kristian.

Sabrina and Kristian are so happy together!

What a happy couple!

Next day we saw beaches with huge sand dunes, and we stopped near Chipehua to surf. This time I had the chance to go with the guys using a body board and feel the adrenaline of catching some waves. I also had the honor of learning to drive the boat and to follow the compass to keep the course. Even when I made the boat spin 360 degrees, no one got upset and kindly taught me the right way to steer. Before I noticed I was driving, happy and relaxed, as if I had been doing that for years.

It was an interesting coastline we sailed past! Ryan shows off the great view from the bow.

It was an interesting coastline we sailed past! Ryan shows off the beautiful sand dunes from the bow.

That evening we saw several turtles mating in the sea, and the sunset gave me the spectacle that I was longing the most to see: a group of dolphins followed our boat for miles, while I watched them from the bow.

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This beautiful sunset lit up the sky.

At twilight, we started to see a lot of dark clouds coming our way: lightning shone on the ocean and a strong wind started to blow, splashing the inside of the cabin with a powerful breeze. Even though the boat started to shake violently, the crew remained calm. Kristian put the sails away, Michael grilled barracuda steaks, Sabrina made mashed potatoes and Ryan washed the dishes. We had dinner warm in our rain coats and tried not to touch the metal parts from the cabin. After a while the storm stopped and the sea calmed, even the full moon peeked through the clouds for moments.

It was a wild storm, and I felt more and more like a real pirate!

It was a wild storm, with rough seas and lots of rain….It made me feel more and more like a real pirate!

I woke up early next morning to take my shift to steer, and I drove by myself for more than two hours while the crew slept. These were sublime moments, listening to music, observing the seagulls fly with only seas all around.

Couple hours later we arrived in Puerto Chiapas and anchored at the Marina, where the crew registered with the guards and asked for information about the papers needed to get out of Mexico. Watching small rays swimming next to the boat, I had my last fish tacos on the Aldebaran, and then I had to say goodbye to my dear friends and take my bus to Tapachula.

I can say that my week on the Aldebaran was one of the happiest times of my life; I learned a lot about the ocean, life and about myself. Living on a sailboat is a dream that many people have and I am glad that I had the opportunity to live it, and to see that it takes a lot of organization, work and optimism.

I will never forget this dream....

I will never forget this dream….

I can testify that when chasing a common dream, a group of people can live together 24/7 and get along. It isn’t easy to have a functional and organized society, even when it’s a very small one and this trip gave me a lot of clues of what is needed to reach that goal. Everybody was always positive and kind to each other, acting like brothers, putting the welfare of the group first, never letting the fun aside.

Those moments will be saved in my memory forever. I hope someday I will have the chance to sail on new seas with these amazing people again. I was a pirate for a week, but I will be a mermaid for the rest of my life.

"I was a pirate for a week, but I will be a mermaid for the rest of my life"

“I was a pirate for a week, but I will be a mermaid for the rest of my life.”

Dodging Hurricanes, part 2: Lightning, Blanca, and Carlos

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Like a sitting duck

A false sense of security overcame us after Hurricane Andres passed to the north.

Untroubled clouds puffed in the horizon. Light offshore wind groomed the powerful rivermouth waves. After surfing all morning, sore and sunburnt, we lounged under the village palapas and sipped coconut water.  Then in the afternoon, grey dark masses built over the distant landscape.

chacahua burraca bar

All seemed well during the mid-day break at “La Burraca Bar”

As we prepared our fish dinner aboard Aldebaran, stir frying vegetables and sauteeing the fish in soy-ginger sauce, a quiet expectation grew, like a mirror to the potential energy of the atmosphere.

The flat wetlands of Lagunas de Chacahua span towards the Cordillera Occidental, which is the dividing range between the coast and the higher valleys of Oaxaca City. The mountains brewed up the clouds seemingly from nowhere, and lightning began shooting down.

chacahua sat image

Satellite image of the massive Lagunas de Chacahua wetland region.

Bolts zig zagged the sky in the evening after glow. They blasted down to the earth several miles inland. We counted the time between lightning and thunder: 20 seconds.  That means they were 4 miles away.

Lightning_Formation

How lightning is formed. If you hear thunder 5 seconds after lightning, it is 1 mile away. Source: Unknown.

The Mexican Bureau of Meterology had forecast : “alta actividad electrica”. As it turns out, Hurricane Andres was spitting out tropical disturbances which didn’t show up in wind maps. We may have dodged its track, but Andres was getting the last laugh.

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The Acapulco marina gave us this forecast on May 27. We decided to keep heading south, overnighting to Chacahua.

Lightning was getting closer. We counted 10 seconds until we heard thunder — meaning it was now only 2 miles away. The dark village on shore flashes in strobe-like silhouettes. Anchored with our 45 foot mast sticking out of the ocean like a lightning rod, pathetically vulnerable, we watch and wait.

Boooomm!!   4 seconds away, means lightning is less than 1 mile away. Bolts pierce the sky, horizontally, vertically. I shut off the boat’s electrical system. Who knows if that actually helps but I’ve heard it’s worth a try. Our multi-colored solar-battery Lucy lights keep us company in the stifling, dead calm heat.

“Holy smokes,” someone says. Half second. Lightning is very close. No touching metal parts I remind everyone. The distant waves blaze in brightness with the flashes. The air is breathless, charged.

Craaaack!!!  It is right over us. The bolt reverberates like a cosmic door slamming directly above, blinding brightness. Out here on the ocean, exposed and unable to respond, we feel as out of control as we ever have on the ocean. There’s simply nothing to do.

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Lightning brings out momentary boldness — then everyone hunkers down in the cabin scared as heck when it gets too close!

It continues for the longest time, blasting all around us. A general feeling of impotence pervades; which breeds calmness. Eventually we go to sleep despite the muggy heat and adrenaline.

At 3am, I felt rain drops on my face. “Hum, that’s odd,” I wonder. “I thought the hatch was closed.” The loud fans we recently installed drown out any sounds. The boat, I notice, is pitching and swaying more than usual.

I open the hatch and a gust of wind stings my face with raindrops. “Geezz…!” is all I can say. I put on foul weather gear, the adrenaline building. Sabrina stirs in bed, asks, ” whats going on?” I respond, “Squall…”

The rain saturates the pitch black, the wind howls and shakes the rigging. Our trimaran is exceptionally stable but even she is getting tossed around as the wind blows onshore 30knots, with building fetch. The nighttime red lights from my headlamp gives the storm an eerie feel.

I sweep the cockpit clean and put away the dishes. If we need the move, the less stuff than can fall and break, the better. On our chart plotter, I record a waypoint- it tells me exactly how far the boat has moved, to indicate whether the anchor might be dragging.

I consider: if the anchor does drag, the next step will be to turn on the engine, motor at a 45degree angle to our chain, and drop the second anchor, a 35lb delta, which is ready to deploy at the bow roller. If it’s still dragging, we can put the motor into forward gear to help keep us in position.

It holds firm. Our over-size 66lb bruce anchor and 200ft of chain, considered too heavy by multi-hull sailors, seems pretty adequate right now… we want it all.The rain belts down hard with stinging wind, but by 5:30am, with breaking tinges of sunrise grey, the wind backs down, and turns glassy by 8am.

chacahua lineup sab watching ry

Sabrina watches from the breakwater – she wanted no part of the “Bucking Bronco”!

What else were we to do?  We went surfing. With stiff offshore wind, which cleaned up the waves remarkably well, we went back out as if nothing had happened. Trading waves, steering around huge backwashes of the “Bucking Bronco”, as we nicknamed the wave, we blew the pent-up energy from the intense night with our aquatic exercise.

What’s happening out there, I wondered. The next weather check, as we were motoring overnight to Mazunte and picked up cel signal, was both uplifting and demoralizing.

Blanca swell and track

Uplifting.. because on the heels of Andres, another storm was building (to-be Hurricane Blanca), which was going to miss us completely because we had made the push to go south. Relief!

Demoralizing… because on the heels of Blanca was a third depression  (to-be Hurricane Carlos) was moving north straight towards Huatulco, our destination.  Bummer.

Carlos heat image schedule

Category 1 Hurricane Carlos skirting the coast of Mexico. The tropical depression originated off the coast of El Salvador and tracked north towards Huatulco before veering north west beginning of June. Source: Weather Nation.

Carlos was extremely slow moving, and we spent a few days anchored in glassy calm of Mazunte before hunkering down in Huatulco for the storm. Two days before landfall, the storm veered north-west, out towards open ocean, as most storms do in this part of the coast. Buckets of rain came down for five days, but since we were on the periphery of the storm’s path, there was minimal wind.

Carlos prediction landfall

So much for the dry season!  This El Niño wet season had just begun with a serious bang. We had simultaneously weathered our first lightning storm and squall. It motivated us to study the statistics and protection systems for lightning; which ultimately persuaded us to change our plans further south.

Given Huatulco’s clear historical record and tucked-in marina, we felt very safe. We spent 3 weeks in cozy Marina Chahue and nearby eastern points, hosting our co-op members like the Hope Family with 3 year old Tessa, the San Francisco duo of Deena and Cristina, and Seattle-lites Dan and Sam. By the end of June, we were eyeing the weather to make our transit across the infamous Gulf of Tehuantepec, enroute to Chiapas.

Video Shorts #3, 4: Magic Log & Huatulco Seascapes

Moving at the pace of a leisurely beach cruiser (6-10 mph), the sailboat allows us to take in the subtleties of the landscape and seize the rare glimpses of nature otherwise inaccessible with other forms of travel. These two shorts provide a window into an underwater heaven that keeps surprising the Aldebaran crew — they are under 1min teasers for the in depth videos we hope to make during the off-season.

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Video Shorts: Magic Log (1min)… an oasis in the ocean desert. By Ryan Smith

We expected an uneventful 2 day transit, this time in the hot, calm waters 30 miles off the Michoacan coast. It was 5000 feet deep, with nothing as far as the eye could see. Luckily, Michael was keenly watching the surface of the ocean, and suddenly shouted “Floating Log! Look, there’s turtles! Let’s check it out!” A veteran Mahi Mahi hunter from his days on the Big Island (a story he’s want to recount to any virgin ears) he religiously scans the water for debris which can harbor fish. Before Captain could even halt the engine Michael had jumped in the water with mask and snorkle. He couldn’t believe what he saw!  Underwater was an explosion of life, organized around this random floating log. Like giddy school children, we spent the afternoon tethered to what we termed the “Magic Log”, a wonderland rife with turtles, small sharks, countless juvenile Mahi Mahis and fish swarming around this lone structure in the ocean desert. This is just a tiny snippet of one of the most incredible underwater experiences of our lives.

Short: Magic Log

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Video Short: Huatulco Seascapes (26 seconds)… the details of underwater life. By Ryan Smith

The southern state of Oaxaca is one of the most charming, diverse and beautiful regions of Mexico. From the culturally rich city of Oaxaca whose markets burst with color; the magnificent ancient ruins of Monte Alban; to the stunning coastline and national park of Huatulco; this region holds innumerable gems to explore. We quickly fell in love with the beautiful bays of Huatulco, spending weeks sailing, diving and imbibing in this tropical splendor. The time-lapse macro imagery of Huatulco Seascapes captures some of the wonders that we came across. We’ve learned that to look closely is to be surprised and amazed!

Short: Huatulco Seascapes

Video short #2: Flying Spinner Dolphins

We thought it was going to be a boring day! We were crossing the Sea of Cortez, a two night passage; with ocean on all sides we came across a massive pod of spinner dolphins riding our bow and flying into wild aerials. The crew included Eric Lohela and Brian Rossini who joined us to dive the Cortez leg

These dolphins would even impress famed snowboarder Shaun White, known for his dizzying spins.

Jaws agape, we watched the most virtuosic acrobatics we’ve seen outside the Cirque du Soleil. To capture the majesty of the dolphins underwater, Ryan dangled himself from the bow crossbars (note the blown out starboard net– it had torn the night before sailing with the Corumel south winds out of Isla Espiritu Santo). 

Even mundane days can throw something splendid at you — what delights can we find by going outside and watching the world unfold?

Short: Flying Spinner Dolphins

Dodging Hurricanes, part 1: Zihuatanejo, Andres

US history and 2015 storms

We broke two important rules of cruising… at the same time.

Rule number one: “don’t cruise during the rainy season”.

Hurricanes, rain deluges, floating logs, and intense lightning are some of the hazards that keep nearly all cruising sailboats in port during the wet season. We headed south from Santa Barbara on March 26, and hurricane season runs mid-May to mid-November.

Rule number two: “don’t keep a schedule”.

Weather trumps all in sailing. If the winds are bad, wait. If the winds are good, go. Having a schedule can prevent sailors from following that time-honored wisdom. Furthermore, that’s why it’s called cruising… sailors don’t want a schedule during their vacation.

But this really isn’t exactly a vacation…

The Green Coconut Run was crowd-funded by almost 40 friends and fellow ocean lovers, banking time on coming aboard; people back home needed a schedule, and we would do our best to make it happen.

What is the “conventional” way to cruise?  The majority of sailors on cruising boats are either retired in their 60s, or are young with small boats. Neither of those models would give us what we wanted – a boat capable of taking us to remote dive sites and surf breaks throughout the whole Pacific, while we were still young with minimal money in the bank!

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To pull off a scheduled approach on the edge of hurricane season (that timeline being unfortunately the same as prime surf season) required both bravado and naivety – both qualities that the “surfer-sailor” has in abundant supply.

Logic helps us feel better about our decisions. We analyzed historical storm statistics and determined that most near-shore hurricanes occurred in August-October. If we arrived in Huatulco, which is far south-east of most storms, by early June, we should be fine, right?

That simplistic assumption was now being questioned as Aldebaran’s crew sat in a sweaty taco shop in Zihuatanejo looking at the computer models for the 5 day weather forecast. With great apprehension, we saw the animation on PassageWeather.com of satellite images showing the swirls of a tropical depression forming offshore, with potential to turn into a nasty storm.

5 day forecast with ports

This is the 5 day wind forecast that we saw while at the sweaty taco shop in Zihuatanejo.

That disturbance would become Cat 4 Hurricane Andres, only the 6th hurricane to form in mid-May on record. Strong south-east winds were forecast in 2-3 days to plague the coastline… even if the hurricane stayed offshore.

Was there enough time to get south, away from the mayhem before the beast found its strength?  It would theoretically go away from the coast, as most storms do in the Eastern Pacific.

zihuat fisherman friend

Michael (front) and fisherman friend in Zihuat, who insisted that there would be no storm, “it hasn’t even rained yet this year!” We went with NOAA’s opinion on the matter.

We calculated our transit times from Zihuatanejo to Huatulco, in southern Mexico. If we hustled, we would get far enough south (and east, because that is how the coastline bends) to avoid the storm’s effects. If we stayed, we might actually be in a worse position in a week. “Let’s go for it!” we decided.

In a show of cosmic support – as if to encourage our choice to push south – just 30min after we left Zihuatanejo, we had our greatest animal encounter yet. We hooked a fish… a BIG fish. The kind of fish that people spend years searching for on charter sport boats.

Serendipitously, it was exactly the two month celebration of the Green Coconut Run; it was May 26.

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He was little too big for our bellies. Time for catch and release!

A flash of blue shone as he crested the waves: “oh my God it’s a Marlin!” With disbelief, over the course of an hour, we pulled in a majestic Blue Marlin close to 8ft long (from eye to base of tail), possibly as much as 300 lbs.  We must have snagged him in some sensitive area, otherwise he would have broken our 30 pound test line in a flash. Michael described our small battle with the marlin in his blog post about fishing in Mainland Mexico.

After coming alongside the boat three times, the blue marlin took one last look at us, and with a slight wave of his noble bill, plunged back into the depths and finally broke our line. Even if we had the skill, here was an animal that we didn’t want to conquer; its power was in its living.

Dumbfounded, we laughed that such novice fishers like us lucked into such an encounter. We were ecstatic!  The powerful omen gave us confidence to sail through the night, ahead of the building tropical depression.

chacahua sunrise closeup

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning

The next morning in Acapulco, the sky showed signs of the developing low pressure system. Ominous winds were freshening when we stopped to re-fuel. We reviewed the Mexican government’s meteorological report: it painted a glum picture, with heavy lightning and strong SE winds in the forecast. The tropical storm was very far offshore, but it could turn towards the coast at anytime.

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The Acapulco Skyline. Just looking at it costs $$$. Everything was expensive including the uncomfortably warm swimming pool. Storm or not, after a few hours we were back on the move! 

There would be no harbor protection for 250 nautical miles… which equates to 2 nights underway. A lot could happen in that time frame. Yet, our intuition was that Huatulco would be safer, if we made it there.

Who could we ask for an opinion? Sailors were mostly parked for the season. Fishermen live day by day. Port authorities recited the official report. Our research and weather forecasts were as good as anything, I figured.

 “Keep going!” we decided.

After motoring through the night in lumpy seas and variable winds, we arrived in the state of Oaxaca. Our gamble paid off — conditions were improving the further east we went. Using our cel phone internet, the weather update showed that Tropical Storm Andres was beginning to whip 25 knot south east winds around Acalpuco, and the storm center was now past us to the north.

chacahua wave

Both the lighthouse and the wave are attractive navigational aids for Aldebaran. 

What a relief!  Were we in the clear?

We celebrated with a stop at the gorgeous Lagunas de Chacahua. We surfed the “bucking bronco” at the rivermouth, which was crazy with its backwash but mighty fun. The estuary is beautiful, and we enjoyed drinking coconuts from the beach vendors with no tourists around.

That decision to stay wasn’t without its repercussions, though!  It gave us our first real scare of the trip, as relayed in the next part of this story.

chacahua aldebran

The “bucking bronco” was challenging to surf because of intense backwash, which was probably why nobody else was there. Ah.. and the lightning storm in the forecast, that’s right, I forgot about that!

Video Short #1: “Dreams of Cortez”

Our video “shorts” are about delightful little moments that we come across during our sailing trip. Consider them teasers for our longer episodes (due in the next few months!)

Enjoy these nuggets of beauty. Get inspired to go outside, jump in the water, watch the sunset — you never know when you’ll find something remarkable.

Video short: “Dreams of Cortez” (56 seconds) … where sea lions dance and play with bubbles. By Ryan Smith. 

Dreams of Cortez pulls from two great SCUBA dives in the Sea of Cortez. Fifty miles offshore from La Paz sits the exposed rock reef – Arricefe de foca (seal reef).  Playful seals beckoned us to this rock spit, a spot that had claimed at least one ship still visible 80’ down in the gin clear water. We were amazed at the magnificent features and acrobatic creatures! (err.. including ourselves?)

Another 50 miles to the north, on the tip of the phenomenal Isla Espiritu Santu (Island of the Holy Ghost), the granite cathedral spires of the Islotes rise out of the Cortez. This surreal backdrop makes for a wild dive that is once again guarded by curious seals. These gentle beasts took a particular liking to Michael, sipping air bubbles from his regulator as he sat in wonder on the sea floor.

National Geographic shares the Green Coconut Run story

We’re popping the corks!  It’s not everyday our adventure-loving voyage gets covered on Nat Geo. You wondering how it came about?

It began with Green Coco joining forces with a non-profit called ASC (Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation) to sample micro-plastics along our route. 

Featured in Nat Geo for video pic_cropped

This basically means we collect sea water from different locations, so scientists can analyze how much micro-plastic is in the water column. These are miniature pieces of plastic (originally from bottles, toys, or whatever) that pervade the ocean after decades of breakdown. Scientists are now trying to understand their wide-ranging impact.

Green Coco is visiting remote locations that are challenging for scientists to gather data from; so this was a great opportunity for us to assist in this new field of science.

Tessa ASC

At 3 years of age, our youngest crew member Tessa used floating toys in her quest to contribute to science! Check out other fun moments in our Instagram feed.

Here’s the interesting parallel: whereas Green Coco is a unique crowd-funded adventure, ASC has a unique crowd-sourced model for helping scientists. By having adventurers in far-flung destinations gather data, everyone (including the Aldebaran crew) gets to lend a hand in scientific understanding.

Read the full story in the Nat Geo “Voices” link!

 

eric lohela asc

Crew mate Eric shows the water sampling technique taken at the “Islotes” — a rocky outcropping and SCUBA site just north of Isla Espiritu Santo. Check out Eric & Brian’s post about their remarkable Sea of Cortez voyage leg.

 

En Español: Crowd-funding Reservas Marinas

Green Coconut Run goes biligual!

We’re excited to share a spanish translation of our popular post, “Crowd-funding Marine Reserves”… A small snippet follows below; the full text is in our new “Blog en Español” page.

Cuatro Flechas se dio a la tarea de recaudar fondos. Ríe al recordar su primer experimento en crowd-funding: “Alguien había conseguido un millón de dólares en Kickstarter para hacer una hielera; así que supuse que podíamos conseguir el dinero para nuestra pequeña reserva. No existía la categoría “ambiental” en Kickstarter, así que etiqueté a nuestro proyecto como “mariscos” ¡y alcanzamos nuestra meta en cuatro semanas!”

Este acto inocente – de conectar nuestro amor por comer mariscos con la protección del océano – fue un golpe imprevisto de ingenio. Ahí estaba el eslabón perdido que nos ayudó a definir nuestro propio viaje.  leer mas

This translation is courtesy of Angelica Almazan – a teacher from Michoacan, Mexico – who we met in Mazunte, Oaxaca. She joined us aboard Aldebaran for a week during our passage across the infamous Tehuantepec Gulf. Read about her experiences aboard and how she became a Pirate for a week!