Monday, February 21, 2011

Architeuthis the Movie

We've taken a decent amount of video footage on the trip so far and, until I run out of hard drive space, we'll keep shooting more. This is our first attempt and editing our footage into something. I've found that it takes a long time to edit video on a laptop. I spent the better part of a whole day putting this together and it could certainly use some more editing but, for now, this will have to do. My plan from now on is just to store the video and then worry about editing once we get to New Zealand and I can get my hands on a faster computer. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the first ever S/V Architeuthis video:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Squib Had a Rough Night

My grandpa used to refer to squid as 'squib'. We were never able to determine if he thought the word was spelled with a 'b' at the end or if it was some sort of strange California central valley pronunciation deal but I eventually decided I liked the word squib. Since Architeuthis is named after the giant squid, we decided that Squib would be a good name for the little inflatable boat that we use to get to shore and back when Architeuthis is anchored. We've come to depend on squib quite a bit and we use her just about every day. When we're anchored out near the point (Punta Mita) Squib ferries us back and forth to the surf spots and he takes us shopping when we're anchored at La Cruz. Despite how useful he is, we tend to take Squib for granted.

We were anchored out at Punta Mita last weekend and after a fun afternoon of surfing with our new friend Cori (a recent UCSC graduate - go banana slugs!) we went over to her parents' boat Rutea to visit after dark. After about 2 and 1/2 hours of swapping life stories, drinking beer, and depleting their candy stocks, we mosied out onto the back deck to hop into squib and go home. Squib was not there! She had run off into the night and left us feeling like we had just lost our only child. Our hearts sank and our stomachs gurlged as we quickly came to grips with what this could mean for us. We all sprang into action, lowering Rutea's dingy into the water and fueling her up to start the initial reconnaissance mission under a moonless night sky. There was no real wind to speak of so we tried to remember which way it had been blowing when we arrived on the boat a few hours earlier. We searched in the direction we thought was most likely the path that squib had taken, but with no moon and a spotlight that lasted a whopping 3 or 4 minutes before it died, we were unable to see anything other than what was directly under our bow. We made increasingly bigger circles around Rutea for about and hour before we called it quits due to the extremely poor visibility. After Neal, Rutea's captain, dropped us off on Architeuthis, we flipped the radar on and saw a blip that we decided we had to check out. We pulled anchor and motored towards the blip. It promptly disappeared but we tried for a little while anyway out of shear desperation. After our fruitless search we finally re-anchored and tried to get some sleep.

At first light the next morning, Neal came over to take us out searching again. We followed the edge of the beach first because the wind had been blowing slightly onshore. The light was still dim since the sun hadn't yet made it above the horizon and we struggled to differentiate rocks from not rocks. Not seeing it, we headed offshore and covered a lot of ground for the next hour or so. We talked to a couple local fishermen and asked them to keep an eye out for us. We checked the beach again, this time yelling out to some gringos walking out to the point for a surf. We asked if they had seen any sign of a dingy on the beach. They hadn't but said they would keep an eye out. We thanked them and moved on. We took a break on Rutea and Ruthie, Neal's wife, made us some tea while Neal conducted drift experiments in his dingy. He and the cushion Ruthie threw moved about a meter during the the 20-30 minute break. Then we went out looking one last time. Neal stayed behind on Rutea, but was kind enough to let us use his super fast dingy to keep searching. We headed towards the point to check around the other side. We passed by some surfers in the water and what looked like an anchored dingy nearby. The dingy had not been there before and it looked like it had a white outboard cover, so we did not get close enough to investigate. We searched all over for another hour with near perfect conditions making it a perfect day for finding a stray dingy. If it was out there we should have seen it. We had gone pretty far and we were about to turn around and head back and Christine started crying. I stopped the dingy and we consoled each other for a few minutes. We had given up. We thought Squib was gone forever.

Back on Rutea, Ruthie fed us and Neal insisted that we borrow their two-man inflatable kayak until we replaced Squib. Neal and I were up on the fore-deck setting up the kayak and Christine was looking contemplatively out to sea. All of sudden she started shouting, "Is that a dingy towing a dingy? That's a dingy towing a dingy! That's a dingy towing a dingy!" We jumped back into Rutea's dingy and motored over to the dingy towing the dingy. It was Squib! We were elated and relieved beyond belief. The kid in the other dingy was Nick from the sailboat Scout. He informed us that Christian from the sailboat Altair had been one of the surfers we had yelled to on the beach and had found the dingy shortly after speaking with us. It had been upside-down in the shallow rocky area near-shore. Since we had secured the bitter end of Squib's anchor rhode, the anchor was holding it there and not letting it get pushed all the way up onto the beach. Christian somehow manage to right Squib in the shallow surgy waters and he pulled her out to deeper water using the anchor line. Then he tossed the anchor out further and further until squib was out of harm's way, and left her there while he went surfing. The dingy we had seen on our last search mission, anchored near the surf break, had been Squib! What had looked like a white engine cover had been Squib's internal gas tank which sits on top of the engine. The dark blue cover had come off of course! Christian had found it and put it back in the dingy, and the external gas tank that we just bought a few weeks ago managed to stay with the dingy as well. All that was missing were the oars, the bench seat, and the manual bilge pumps. We were so overjoyed and grateful that we told the definitely underage Nick that we owed him a beer or three. We promptly realized that his parents would probably not appreciate our encouragement of juvenile delinquency and switched our offer to root beer. He laughed and drove back to his boat while we inspected the damage to Squib.

The inflatable itself looked practically untouched. It showed no signs of leaking air and minimal scuff marks. The outboard had taken the brunt of the beating since the dingy had been upside-down the whole time it was in the shallow rocky area. The fuel pump was clearly broken and salt water had gotten into everything. I have revived other completely submerged outboards in the past though, so I was optimistic about bringing Squib's outboard back to life. We decided to take a quick walk along the beach to look for the missing items before I delved into fixing the outboard. As we neared the point, Christine spotted all of our missing stuff in a neat little pile under a tree. Nearby, a spear fisher was cleaning his gear and we quickly realized that he had found our things. We communicated with him as best we could since our spanish is still very bad, but he eventually understood the gist of what had happened and that the oars and dingy seat he had found were ours. We walked with him back to the dingy landing and gave him a little money in gratitude for finding our stuff for us. Along the way we made fast friends with him. Truz is a life-long Punta Mita resident who hunts the sea for a living. On that day he had a bag full of freshly caught octopus and I showed him my squid tattoo which he seemed to like a lot. He used to live further out on the point where the Four Seasons resort and golf course are now, but was one of the many residents who were forced off their land by the government. The money for the land went mostly into the hands of the Presidente, with a small amount being given to those who agreed to leave their land peacefully. Now he lives above the restaurant he sells his catch to on the beach at El Anclote.

With everything recovered, and now working (after a few days of parts shopping and engine fixing), we feel like the luckiest unlucky people ever! Best of all, we made some great new friends. The crew of Rutea feels almost like family to us now. Christian and Nick will always be welcome aboard Architeuthis and we hope to cross paths with them both again and again. Truz will never be forgotten either and we hope to get back out to Punta Mita one last time to thank him and maybe even learn some hunting tricks. We also learned some valuable lessons. We will never take Squib for granted again and we will always double check the cleat hitch! What exactly happened will always be a mystery, but we like to think that Squib just really wanted to go surfing... at night. Hopefully she got it out of her system.