Goodbye, Baja- hello, mainland Mexico!

Here’s a little catch-up on the path of Totem. I had fun queuing up pictures and notes to post automatically while we’ve been away from the internet for the last couple of weeks (thank you, Blogger). We’re happy to be mostly staying in one place for the next month.

Making the jump from Baja over to the mainland felt like a bigger transition this year, because we know we’re not going to reverse it in a few months. It was great to do it in the company of our friends on Capaz. Our two boats are surprisingly well matched in terms of speed: we wondered if their longer ketch would pull away from Totem in some of the spectacular reaching conditions we’ve had, but we have generally stayed evenly paced. I can tell that PJ and I will have to use some kind of electronic restraint to prevent Brad and Jamie from match racing each other to Hiva Oa next spring.

Always within about a five mile range of each other, we could share everything from bored check-ins in the wee hours on watch to comparing notes on the lights of distant fishing boats, and their cross track to our bearing. It also made for some lovely photo opportunities.

Capaz underway
Capaz flying their spinnaker

It was almost two days- 42 two hours, actually- to our first destination, Isla Isabella. We had a great experience with a bedraggled frigate bird on our first trip here last fall. The island is a major breeding area for great frigates and blue footed boobies. We have to pass the Galapagos on our journey next year, but we’re pretty sure this a good taste of the close-ups with wildlife that would offer.

poor man's Galapagos?
Boobie parent and chick, generally unphased by our presence

We didn’t have very good luck fishing on our way across. The children decided we should have a fishing derby, with prizes for first, biggest (by length), and most fish caught. I believe the instigator was Bryce from Capaz. As it turns out, their smallish fish (I think it was a skipjack) was the only one caught between our boats, giving them a dubious trifecta. This luck has since changed, thankfully! Clearly there are plenty of huge fish around: on Isabella we met some very happy Mexican charter fisherman with their haul. Here they are holding a portion of the catch- I wish I had gotten a better shot of the guy in the purple lifejacket trying to get Jamie to take that big fish he’s holding up.

a good day
Some very happy fishermen

From Isla Isabella we went to San Blas. This town seems to get overlooked a bit, or passed over because of the reputation for bugginess. There are definitely bugs (Niall counted 32 no-see-um bites on the back of ONE calf), but it’s hardly insurmountable… we just have to remember the screens and the lotion. It has become a very special place for us in great part because of Norm and Jan Goldie. Originally from New York & New Jersey, this couple has made San Blas their home for the last 44 years. They do a great deal to help both visitors and the local community. We happily passed along bags of outgrown clothing and children’s toys for their distributions to the needy. We’re seriously considering coming back to San Blas in March for final provisioning and zarpe (exit papers), and making it our departure point from Mexico to French Polynesia. It’s entirely Norm and Jan’s fault…I can’t imagine leaving without seeing them again.

One of the must-do activities in San Blas is to hire a panga to go up the estuary to a freshwater spring. The pangueros are well versed in the local fauna. It was a downpour, so we didn’t see quite as many birds as we did in April, but there were plenty of other spectacular sightings… like this guy. OK, maybe I would be alright with a little less spectacular! This croc was about a dozen feet away from our panga…. watching… waiting… at least as far as I could tell.

about a dozen feet away...
No fences here, folks.

Included in the panga services is a stop at the fresh water spring, styled as an ol’ swimming hole. Last spring, it was full of swimmers, paddling and splashing and generally having a very good time. A chainlink fence separates the swimming area from the open waters where primordial guys like the one above lurk about (along with turtles and tilapia, in clear blue water). What did we see on our trip, but a croc surfacing INSIDE the swimming area. Yikes!

One of the occasional realities of life on the boat, and being without transportation in some out of the way corners, is that we get from Point A to Point B whatever way we can. Hitchiking is the norm in many places, because people do not have cars and there is not much in the way of regular public transportation. You walk down the road, hope for the best, and often- as in this picture below- end up sharing the back of a truck with a handful of people.

responsible parents...
Withhold a little judgment here, ye with the minivans and 5-point car seats.

I’m a little wary of the reactions to this, having been in the camp of people who would not put our car in gear until every little person had their car seat buckled and snugged up. Ruminating on other thoughts around this, but not for a minute regretting our choices.

We’re in Banderas Bay now. For folks who follow our SPOT positions, you probably noticed they’re not working anymore. We really loved SPOT, but it does not have much coverage in the South Pacific. Our annual subscription recently came up, and we couldn’t justify it for just a few more months in Mexico. We’ll continue to post our position through the radio on Winlink, which has the added benefit of a longer history view of position reports than we got from SPOT.

4 Responses

  1. Behan and family,

    Not sure if you have any idea who I am – Jenny Tollefson from your college class-

    I came across the article about you in the CC magazine. I rarely find much that grabs me there – but your article was captivating. I just spent the last 1/2 hour perusing your old blog posts and getting a rough feel for what you have taken on. It sounds amazing. I have two young children and think a lot about what kind of table I am setting for their lives…life is so short and you are taking it by storm. Your story is inspiring! I’m glad I stumbled across it.

    And, I grew up on Bainbridge so that part of your story is interesting too.

    Best wishes to you all,


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