Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Allen's Visit to Starship in the Sea of Cortez

A special guest blog entry from Annette regarding her and Kevin's recent trip:

My wish to give our daughter a birthday gift ("barefoot sandals") outweighed my fear of sailing.
Chris and Anne-Marie choose a life I know nothing about except from what I see on TV. This is a perspective, which I know is wrong but is very difficult for me to battle. My Mom (who never went on a canoe trip) had the same problem when our family of 4 took off each summer into the Canadian wilderness canoeing.

Now I am here in the Sea of Cortez and all of my sense can experience life on water, earth and in the sea.
When we arrived in Loreto, I was struck by the athletic and healthy looking two bodies, which took our aged and tired bodies with so much warmth into their arms.
Starship had on board all of the supplies to make the most delicious meals, even champagne (given by their cruising friends from the sail vessel Grace, who knew we would arrive).
Chris and Anne-Marie supplemented all with fresh fish and clams, which made some of the most delicious meals I have ever tasted.

So much thought, work and love can be seen and experienced in every corner of Starship, from the small stuff like custom made tooth brush holders to all the electronics to make a sailing voyage safe - Not to forget Anne-Marie's well organized computer inventory list. Do not eat one nut without checking it off the list! ☺
The Sea of Cortez greeted us with whale sightings, schools of sea lions migrating, manta rays fighting and dolphins with babies following us on the bow. How can you have dry eyes when you look at these friends of the sea in their eyes? Last month I saw the 3D movie "Deep Sea" in the I-Max theater, which is a spectacular movie. Only after snorkeling with the many colourful and different fish, sea stars and ocean plants did I realize that the movie left me with a false sense of what is really under the surface of the ocean. I was left with a silent admiration of the sea and a feeling of guilt for not knowing more.

There are a millions things which our sailing kids shared with us like, 360 degree view of the stars in heaven, glowing zoo-plankton and fish at night, and inviting a whole school class of a remote village onto the boat and giving them skurfing rides to celebrate the end of their school year.
We even got a few graduates up on the board!
Note the free range goats crossing the beach!
For the last year, Chris and Anne-Marie have worked like maniacs to afford something that is given too little value in modern times - "the value of time and how to use it meaningful for oneself." Like my little 3D I-Max experience, you need to be here to fully understand and know what it's all about.

Chris and Anne-Marie you make me proud! I'm glad that my "sailing fear" slowly reduces - Thanks Chris and Anne-Marie!

Thanks my kids for allowing me to continue to be part of your life on a path totally unknown to me. I love you and may the force be with you and that Poseidon be good to you.

P.S. Chris and Anne-Marie, I wonder where your kids will travel…... maybe to the moon? :)

Loreto Area

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Secrets of the Chocolate Clams Revealed

Anne-Marie and I have heard about these mysterious “chocolate clams” which are supposed to be “everywhere” ever since we got to the Sea of Cortez. One day Anne-Marie and I managed to get a couple of local fishermen to teach us how to find these chocolate clams. Of course it is not permitted for foreigners to obtain chocolate clams, so we helped the fishermen, and then purchased the clams from them.

We started off snorkeling with the fisherman, and he would point out the chocolate clams, and draw a circle in the sand around it. Then we would dive down and dig furiously in the circle until we got to the chocolate clam.

The clams are only about 2 inches under the sand, in 6-8 feet of water. However at the time Anne-Marie was very new to free diving still and found it exhausting. Our Spanish-speaking fisherman guide did not realize this and kept pointing out clams for her to get one after the other. Eventually Anne-Marie swam over to me to ask me how to tell him she was tired.

Towards the end of our lesson we were able to spot the clam “eyes” by ourselves, which was very rewarding. Below is a picture of what the clam “eyes” look like when open, and after the clam has closed. The clams filter water for food, so the “eyes” are actually an intake and exhaust tube.

Clam "eyes" as seen from surface of water.
Hole left after the clam retreats into its shell.

Once you have your clams back to the boat, the real work begins! The clams need to be cleaned (at least for raw or lightly cooked dishes), which involved the following steps:

  1. Slice the clam in half carefully!
  2. Clean out the orange and brown colored guts of the clam
  3. Separate the clam meat from the shell
  4. Salt water rinse the remaining meat
Freshly sliced open clams. 
Clean out the pinkish, cream consistency stuff.
Cleaned and rinsed clams.
Some people advise leaving the clams in fresh water for a couple days to help clean out the salt/sand. We haven’t tried that though, and think it is probably more applicable if you intend to steam the clams or otherwise not perform the above cleaning routine.

The way we like to prepare the clams best is on the BBQ. Take the cleaned clams while still in their shell, and add a tablespoon of melted butter, sautéed onions, garlic and a touch of Parmesan cheese to each half shell. Then simply put the open shell on the BBQ and bring the butter to a boil for a few minutes. Once ready just spoon the contents of the shell into your mouth, or put it on a piece of toast. Anne-Marie had just made a fresh loaf of bread, which was perfect with the clams!

Bringing the butter to a boil on the BBQ.
The final product.
Lastly, it seems that the chocolate clams are not “everywhere”, but are mostly found along beaches with a sand bottom and a very gradual slope, such as Timbabiche, Candeleros, and Loreto.


Goodbye Hair

Well, I did it, I cut off my hair (or I guess technically Chris did it). My hair is a whopping ¼” long. I still find is somewhat shocking to see myself in the mirror, but the look is definitely growing on me. It’s perfect for the cruising lifestyle…keeps my head cool in the Mexican heat, is easy to maintain and is very aerodynamic (for skurfing)! I don’t think I’ll be going back to longer hair anytime soon, especially while we live on Starship.

Here are some pictures from the cutting off process:

Here's the final product:

Chris, thanks for your support and for actually cutting/shaving off my hair into the ocean.

Mom, thanks for documenting the event (and for bring me a much needed new swimsuit)!

Dad, thanks for telling me that it looked good the first time you saw the new doo.

More posts to come soon, including guest contributors!

Candeleros Chico

Thursday, May 3, 2012

La Paz to Loreto

Well…4 weeks later and we’ve made it to Puerto Escondido (Loreto)! We’ve been moving at a snail’s pace and enjoying every minute.

For the first week of our journey north, we sailed together with Drew and Shelly from the s/v “Born Free”. It was awesome to hang out with them so much and we definitely missed them when they returned to La Paz. We’d often get an early morning (8 – 9 am) hail on channel 16…”Starship Starship this is Born Free”. Chris and I would moan at each other because we were still in bed sore from yesterday’s excursions. Born Free would be hailing us to ask if we wanted to join in for the next adventure of the day.  We had so much fun and are lucky to find a young and active couple with which we share so many of the same interests….hiking, kitesurfing, snorkeling, fishing…

Here are some sweet pictures that Born Free took of Starship:

The boys would often go spearfishing (something that Drew taught Chris) and Shelly and I would go on hikes together. It was really nice to have some girl time and a break from Chris. I know Chris enjoyed the break from me too :) I think it’s somewhat unnatural for a couple to spend ALL their time together in an often very confined space…as Chris and I do now. And these sets of circumstances have led to more stupid arguments than we normally have….so the mini-breaks from each other  were a welcomed change and good for keeping the peace aboard Starship.

Here are some pictures from my hikes with Shelly:

Spearfisherman Chris:

Because we had so much fun the first time, we went and swam with the sea lions two more times. During our first sea lion swimming experience my feelings were about 10% excitement and 90% fear. By the end of our last trip they were 95% fun/excitement and 5% fear.

Compare this to the picture in the last post!

We said good-bye to Born Free at Isle San Jose. We had a great time together with lots of communal meals and can’t wait to meet up with them again (whenever/wherever that may be).

One of the most exciting parts of this leg of the journey has been all the wonderful and delicious seafood that we’ve been eating. Chris has become a spearfishing champ! It’s awesome to watch him emerge from the depths with a fish in tow.

When he isn’t successful, we’ve been buying fish, clams and lobster off of the local fisherman. It’s inexpensive and delicious. The seafood meals that we’ve had have been some of the best meals of my life (see below). Since Chris and I have not cooked a lot of seafood before, we often get instructions from the fisherman on how to prepare the catch. It involves a lot of broken Spanish and hand gestures. Luckily it’s worked out well so far.

Our days have been really active with a lot of hiking, snorkeling/spearfishing (for Chris) and just general exploring.

We're excited to just hang out in Puerto Escondido and give our bodies a bit of a break while we provision. All this cruising is exhaustingly wonderful!

Puerto Escondido