Friday, January 28, 2011

just something pleasing to the eye and the spirit (not my photo)

Had a great visit from my friends Susanna, Carrie, Laura, Nantzy…and a new friend, Addison. The day after their arrival was an excellent Whale Search day so on the morning of the 18th we got into Vicente’s panga and started for the WZ. Within ½ hour we received a call from one of Vicente’s friends that there was a Humpback near Punta Pescadero.

It didn’t take long for us to see the blow and we were off. By the time we had gotten in good position for a photo it was almost 10:00 and the day was warming up. The water was also very calm and there were very, very few Aqua Malas (Portuguese Man “O” Wars) around so as I was taking a last photo I turned to my friends and told them that after the next picture I was going in for a whale swim and anyone wanting to join me needed to suit up.

After my last shot I turned to get on my own suit and there was Laura Hamburg all set to go in… suit, mask and snorkel. What I didn’t know was that Laura had never snorkeled in her life nor even worn a wetsuit. I was very impressed and not just a bit trepidatious at taking a “first timer” with absolutely no experience into the water to meet a 30-40 ton mobile critter coming her way. Nevertheless she was determined and after all she is a grown woman so the decision was hers. I asked her if she knew how to bail out of a skiff with mask etc and of course she hadn’t so I explained the procedure to her. Someone remarked that it might be easier to put the ladder out but Laura refused that, said she wanted to do it “right”…I loved that.

Vicente got us into position (difficult because this whale was changing direction after each breath set) and we bailed out. I asked Laura to meet me as soon as she came up and we would see how things looked. She had a little trouble with her mask but with the whale in sight nearby she took off with me in an attempt to close in. The whale however dove again before we could reach it and the water was not clear enough to see more than 20-30 feet so no underwater viewing. We were close to the whale topside (maybe 60-70 feet) but not near enough for me. Laura was ready to go again with great enthusiasm so Vicente put us in position and this time we were dropped directly in front of the whale and within maybe 50 feet of it before it dove. Still couldn’t see it around us but Vicente said that we were real close with the whale underneath us somewhere. Oh, by the way this whale was a “singer” and that was a special experience for everyone because he could be heard distinctly. He then moved on somewhere else and Laura and I reveled in the wonderful feeling of having been that close to a creature so large and so intelligent. For those of you who know Laura have her tell her side of the story, I’m sure it will be a treat. I should be receiving some photos of all this soon and will post immediately, both here and my next post.

I did get a fairly good photo but definitely not a world class ID (but a good “comparison” shot though).

This is HB# 2 11, I’m calling it “Laura’s Whale”

This is his right side and you can see the damaged dorsal fin, probably from earlier combat. As a “singer” he was calling in another male.

We also saw Turtles, Mobulas, a Marlin and a herd of Dolphin…great day! I was treated the night before to entertaining everyone for dinner at my trailer and enjoying the wit, humor and intelligence of the group. I swear I haven’t laughed so hard in years…it was shear delight.

In a recent post I mentioned how and old motorcycle injury has kept me from attempting kite surfing down here. This is a picture of the amateur class moto-cross race I was in while a graduate student at The Univ. of Arizona in which I layed my bike down in a turn and wrenched my left knee; put a big dent with that knee into the gas tank. This was 1967 or 68 I think so I was about 26-27 (before I developed an eco-conscience).

I just finished reading a book given to me by Gwen Riddell called, “Born to Run”. Fascinating, and though it is about running, it is about so much more…and not the Lance Armstrong type stuff. It is about The Tarahumara people of Mexico and what their kind of “running” means to us all. I myself am not a runner but I was deeply affected.

Another book I recently finished is “The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail”. This is a scholar’s approach to this ancient legend and if it does not connect some dots for you I would be surprised.

Speaking of “legends” there is a myth I would like to clear up. I do this because as the myth is perpetuated more of our Whales will die, as well as a great many other Sea Creatures. The myth is that there is not enough food in the world to feed the continuingly growing human population. DON’T GET ME WRONG (misquote me!), over population is a huge problem, if not the greatest we face as a planet, but the myth that there is not enough food for our billions is a lie. What we have is a HUNGER PROBLEM not a FOOD PROBLEM. There is plenty of food, more than enough, which is not the issue, the issue is that food production has become a mega business controlled by a very, very few and their ONLY interest in producing food is making a PROFIT. In setting up agriculture as a business they have made it continuingly more difficult for the masses to purchase it. In another words you can’t grow your own, you have to BUY it and they control all the pricing. The food is there it is a matter of DISTRIBUTING it. Based on Capitalism food has become something that a great, great many people simply can’t afford.

The perpetuation of THE MYTH allows them to increase the length of their longlines and drift nets, double the boat traffic every 20 years and trawl the bottom of The Oceans keeping 10% of the catch and discarding (now dead) 90% as “By Catch”. All of these techniques are to increase the food for the “masses”….bullshit. It is to increase profits. In the meantime, boat strikes and entanglements already scar 50% of our North Pacific Humpback population. This will not only continue but also increase as long as The Myth holds people in fear.

Fishing of all kinds takes place in pretty much the same areas that the World’s Whales migrate (which they MUST do) so THERE WILL BE MORE STRIKES AND ENTANGLEMENTS. During the 7 years now that I have studied our local Humpback population I have come across one still swimming entanglement, two dead Humpbacks from entanglement on our beaches and have been asked to assist in two more entanglements south of my grid.

I will continue to monitor this population of whales and do all I can to discourage the continuation of “The Myth”. The Great Mystery has brought me here to live in this most beautiful place and has given me the chance to pay back a certain Humpback Whale that saved my life off Bodega Head in 1971.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How can I not start this blog without the most exciting news? I ID’d my first whale of this 2011 season on the 10th. Here he is….”El Primero” and adopted by my good friend Jorge Sievers in Colorado.

"El Primero", first Humpback ID of 2011 Season

I believe “he” is a 2-3 year old male due to various combat scars on his dorsal fin. Had it not been for Marilyn Pomeroy’s suggestion we go out (very short wind window last week) and Alan Pomeroy’s “spotting”, Vicente and I would have missed him. He was real close but a short way behind us and his blow was not heard by any of us. We followed him for about an hour until I got this shot and then Alan asked, “now can we go in”? (he loves to swim with them as much as I do). Unfortunately we missed our chance because by the time we were geared up he went down and we lost him. I’m going out again Tuesday or Wednesday, as the winds are dying a bit.

The winds have been real good for the world class “Lord of the Wind” kite/wind surfing competition in Los Barriles right now. I went to watch the Masters Free Style event and got some photos but the wind wore me out before I could enjoy the after competition nightlife. After dinner tonight I may just drive back in and check out the scene. Some friends are in town and I may see them. They are coming out here to El Cardonal Monday to go with me on my search Tuesday. The more eyes the better!

A couple of posts back I mentioned an old friend, Frank Denney, who I buddied with as a kid and later off and on as a fellow traveler on this trip called “Life”. While rereading a book from the past I found this picture stuck in the pages. That’s me on the left and Frank on the right sitting on the deck of a place I built in Potter Valley, CA, must have been around 1975. I was in a REAL low place in my spirit at that time and Frank helped me out of it. Muchas gracias, amigo.

Me & my buddy Frank Denney, 1974

On a bit lighter level, this is what can happen driving in an arroyo around here. This is not my vehicle but one of a friend. Finally took another friend, Jose Martin and his backhoe, to get the SUV off the rock. One of the things about it all was that there was not even a grimace on anyone’s face the whole time. John Hensley was there too and it was just 4 friends solving a problem while still enjoying the beauty of Baja.

I don’t have a picture of the next event but Alan and I went out to his mooring buoy the other day to retrieve his anchor. He was going to tank dive down to it (it was stuck) while I watched from above to help lift, clear etc. All went well and I mentioned to Alan on the way in (each in our kayaks plus an extra kayak for the anchor, buoy and 100’ of rope) that we pulled that off like old pros. Alan laughed and said we weren’t through the surf yet and on the beach.

Well, I went in first, beached and waded out as he came in to stabilize the second kayak so it wouldn’t broadside in the surf (it was roped to the stern of his kayak). All looked good, Alan went in fine but I couldn’t steady the second kayak because a bit of a roller was coming in just then so I shoved the second kayak so it would ride as straight as possible and not mess up Alan as he was pulling out (remember he is still roped to the second kayak). Bad decision,

I shoved the kayak right into Alan as he was getting out and suddenly both kayaks are askew, Alan is trying to control them and I am in the surf unable to do a goddamn thing. Alan goes over on his back and does a graceful backward somersault and I stumble out of the surf like a shipwrecked sailor. We really must have looked like The Keystone Cops and no one appreciated it more than ourselves. For about an hour after we would break out laughing just thinking about how we looked after all that “professional” appearance out at the mooring.

This last picture is of my daughter Kersti and her husband Bill Evans. I put it in just because I think they look so good.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If you missed the kayak rescue story, go back one post.

Winter north winds are starting to blow, so very few chances to either kayak or swim. Luckily I have a bunch of real good friends that keep bringing me books, DVDs and movie downloads so I am not at a loss for entertainment. I miss the exercise but the work in the garden makes up for some of that and I can always walk my beautiful beach.

Here’s a picture of a very friendly and fearless Sea Turtle that let us visit with it a few days back, we saw three that day which is always nice.

Not so nice is a dead Humpback that washed ashore north of us wrapped up in a gill net day before yesterday. We tried to find it so I could get some shots and maybe some ID from the gill net but as hard as we searched we couldn’t find the whale. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem as the myth of “not enough food for the planets people” is perpetuated by the food industry. There is way more than enough food to feed everyone, it’s simply distributed according to profit, therefore the majority of the worlds people simply can’t afford it. As long as THE MYTH prevails, there will be more gill nets, more entanglements etc.

This is a whale similariy entangled in a gill net and dead that washed ashore during the 2009 season.

I have posted pictures of some of my really good friends off and on and the recent HS reunion has inspired me to show you some of my very dearest men friends. Alan Pomeroy and George (Jorge) Sievers (Mexico buds) I have posted before and in my last post I had my old buddy Frank Denney on the blog…..well here’s another.

This is John Erving who I started school with in the 4th grade. We went to different high schools and Universities but always stayed in touch and still see each other now and again. He was a real fine athlete, as were all my friends, and we shared some “high” adventure, ie: sailing a small “El Toro” boat on Clear Lake once in a BIG wind. John skippered and I kept some of the younger guys comforted. We climbed Mt. Konocti together and raced jeeps. This picture was taken recently when he realized one of the items on his “Bucket List”, a ride in an open cockpit biplane.

Had some great news from my boy Zack regarding some Native American energy.

In July of 2010, the Feather Dancers of the Tribes joined Friends of the Eel River (FOER) at a swimming hole in the Hearst area, a few miles downstream of the PG&E Potter Valley diversion (PVP) to the Russian River. The dance was to call in the waters to aid the salmon in their migration. The waters came!

Not my pic

For 6 years I crossed The Border on Dec. 31st so I could spend New Years Eve at Hussong’s Bar in Ensenada, Mexico. It is my favorite bar in The World and if it weren’t so far away I would still be going there. Can’t be there but I still put out my new Earth and Mexico flags each January first to replace the previous years wind blown ones (you should see them after a Hurican). This year was not so bad.

Before pic

After pic

Saw some blows from my bodega roof yesterday, really got my juices flowing. Arranged with Vicente to go out after the 15th (depending on winds) and see what we can find. The seasons first ID is always kinda special. May have some spotting help from my dear friends Susanna Pepperwood and Carrie Hamburg.