Friday, February 14, 2014

The Libertatia Voyaing Collective Seeks New Members

Greetings from sunny Berkeley, California where the Libertatia is currently docked, awaiting her next voyage. Our apologies for falling out of touch for some time, but we are all well and engaged in our own personal pursuits, mostly on land. Since returning from Mexico in the late fall of 2012, the Libertatia has been at home here in her slip and aside from somewhat regular sails on the bay and the occasional peak out the golden gate, the boat has been relatively dormant, lived on and looked after, but dormant.

We have reached an interesting point in the story of our collective, as the boat rests in the harbor, our energy for the Libertatia as collective members is somewhat dispersed. Not only are we all exploring and developing our lives in other directions but we are also all feeling somewhat burnt out when it comes to the Libertatia, and understandibly so: we've spent cumulatively more than a year restoring and maintaining the boat, we've lived together aboard for nearly three years, and we've sailed over 10,000 miles! At this point, we could get rid of the Libertatia but we don't want to do that for a number of reasons. First of all, we all have a vested interest in the boat, collective mission, and continuation of the project. It's a beautiful thing and we do not want to see it fade! Secondly, although our current interest has waned, all of us feel excited by the idea of ocean voyages aboard the Libertatia in the future. Lastly, we view this entire project, the boat and everything that has come with it, as a gift and we want to proceed in that same spirit of giving. We do not want to sell the boat for a couple thousand bucks but rather share it with others who hold the same values of inspiration, passion for exploration and adventure, and positivity. That's where you come in.

For all of the reasons listed above, we are actively seeking new collective members to breathe new life into the Libertatia, and her collective, and voyage again. When it comes to exactly what this looks like, we are open. All we are interested in is teaming up with like-minded people to share what we have created and carry on with our mission; exploring, inspiring, and sharing as we go.

The type of people we are seeking may also vary greatly. Sailing experience and knowledge, as well as general familiarity with boats, are a plus but not entirely necessary, as we know from experience. Hopefully, new members will be somewhat mechanically capable but willingness to try is even more important. Above all else we are looking for people who are ready to communicate and work well with others, willing to work hard and remain positive in tough situations (of all kinds), willing to learn and share freely, capable of being flexible in response to the changing demands of life aboard, and ready to make friends and have fun. Sailing and living aboard, as well as taking care of the boat, also does cost some money so we are hoping that new members will be able to contribute their fair share of the cost of running the boat. Although, boats generally are expensive, our expenses on the Libertatia have been very manageable spread out over the collective group.

Life as a collective member and sailor aboard the Libertatia has many faces but those involved can expect to live and work very closely with several others and carry their respective weight in being responsible for the boat. Sometimes we are at the dock and the Libertatia's needs, aside from routine maintenance, are relatively low. Other times however, sailors each carry a lot of responsibility, such as standing watch in trying conditions, working very hard to make timely repairs, and being ready to jump out of bed into the cold, dark, and wet to assist other crew members. In the end, life aboard the Libertatia is an adventure: with the beauty come huge challenges of all kinds, risks, and danger.

We could say a lot more here in this post about our organization and our story thus far but we invite you explore our website and contact us with any questions if you want to hear more. Times aboard may be hard and the sacrifices may be many but sailing aboard the Libertatia is one of the most wonderfully romantic things one can do in this life on earth. At least that is how we feel. May the winds that brought this message to you bring you back to us. Write us an email! Best wishes and until soon.


The Libertatia Voyaging Collective

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cabo San Lucas- tourists, jet skis and pirates.

sunny side up

We made excellent time reaching Cabo San Lucas, covering 450 miles in 4 days. While under sail we made an exciting entrance to a popular tourist beach, where we were able to anchor very close to shore due to calm conditions. With Cabo's reputation of churning tourists in and spitting them out without so much as a peso of dignity left, we braced ourselves for the worst. In truth, we met many friendly locals, whose welcoming smiles and helpful hints stood in contrast to Cabo's touristy facade. A special cheers to the pirates aboard the Sunderland who highlighted our time in Cabo. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cabo Fever!

Check out more photos of Cabo here!

Turtle Bay - Should we stay or should we go???

Fastest cab in the Bay!
   The sail from Isla Cedros to Turtle Bay took us south past the mid-way point of the Baja peninsula. As we turned east around a mountainous headland with a fine breeze behind us, it was surprising to hear the sound of huge breakers hitting the rocks miles away from the Libertatia's position. The moon and sun both happened to be out during the day, and Lowell successfully took sextant sights of these two bodies to arrive at a final plotted position about 4 nautical miles from our actual GPS position at the time. What fun! 

Which one's the sun?
   Upon entering the protection of Turtle Bay around sunrise, we were greeted by El Capitan Gordo, the good natured, high spirited, diesel-hustling dock manager of this bustling desert outpost. We anchored, then invited Capitan Gordo to the Libertatia for coffee and pancakes. He filled us in on all the local happenings
including where to eat, and taught us some local slang. My favorite phrase translates as, "Go bite a goat," which is a common greeting among fishermen.
We all enjoyed making new friends, such as Antonio, who fed us grandmother-made menudo, and told us stories of old Turtle Bay. Things here have expanded from the original small fishing village to a thriving town full of expensive cars, due to the lobster industry. Despite the presence of wealth, we found that the residents of Turtle Bay have a strong spirit of resourcefulness and gratitude for everything they have, as well as being remarkably open to travelers. We were fortunate to attend a quinciniera, or 15th birthday, culturally a milestone for young women. It seemed that the entire town was in attendance, and we all danced to the great music of a live Mexican rock band until the early hours. With the party going strong, we danced our last dance at an hour near daybreak, before calling it a night and walking home with the music fading away behind us.
   After a few days of fun, we carefully considered whether we should sail to Cabo San Lucas during what was officially hurricane season, or call Turtle Bay home for the next several months. Due to low atmospheric moisture off the coast of Central America, as well as the below average sea temperatures off Cabo San Lucas, we concluded that our voyage would be just as safe in the middle of July as it would have been earlier in the season.
Our early morning departure was noted by a honk of the trumpet. Some fishermen in a panga waved heartily as our sails pulled us away.

...And then the waters parted.
Check out more photos of Turtle Bay here!

Isla Cedros - ROCKIN' OUT!!!!!

Vincent, the amateur geologist!
   Our next jump took us two hundred miles south to the mountainous desert island of Cedros, which is famous for its prodigious lobster fishery. Conditions around the island are known to be fluky and sometimes very windy, and indeed we enjoyed a burst of thermal wind streaming off the island itself as we came under its lee. This strong breeze eventually died down, but a delicious shore breeze filled in as the sun sank behind Cedros' 5,000 ft peaks. Thick clouds, which only minutes before had been held back by the sun, began to pour over the top of the island, and we all sat amazed at the stark beauty of the island as the Libertatia charged along at 6 knots.

   Cedros is home to the fabled Las Palmas anchorage, where two lone palm trees mark the site of a desert spring that comes out of the mountains. Las Palmas is said to have been a popular watering hole for passing Spanish ships during the first European explorations of the Pacific coast. This legendary spot not only afforded us delicious spring water and epic mountain hiking, but gave us our first experience with the often poorly charted areas of  Latin America, which we had been warned of by other cruisers. Even with GPS and good charts, making landfall at night in a new place is a challenging game.

Libertatia- Sailing where no boat has sailed before!!!

   We tacked toward the island and sounded around a spot which showed 10 ft depth on the NOAA chart, but we got nothing on a cast of the lead-line. Finally we made it to what seemed like the anchorage after dark, but we couldn't be sure. The hand-held GPS, Chartplotter and paper charts all showed us to be anchored inside a tiny cove 88 ft from shore, but to the eye it seemed like we were about 500 ft from shore just to the south of the small cove. We knew it would be interesting to see what was really going on in the daylight.
   At sunrise it was apparent that we were in fact about a mile south of Las Palmas, so we raised anchor and ghosted along towards our destination. A check of the GPS, which showed us to be sailing along high and dry on land, really highlighted the inaccuracies that one faces when navigating in foreign lands.
   Finally anchored safely at Las Palmas, the crew went ashore to explore the majestic, desolate island.

Running out of water on the way to the top was worth it!

San Quintin- don't try this one at home!!!

   Along Baja's Highway 1 lies San Quintin, a small way-post type town. Glancing at a chart, its large protected harbor seems like a cruiser's dream; a long channel leading to a protected bay near town. We were looking for such a harbor to replenish our food supplies and to enjoy a change of pace from the "open roadstead" anchorages we had been visiting so far. Lured by a fellow cruiser's promises of an easy approach through the long, shallow channel leading to San Quintin, we made sail from Isla San Martin with high hopes.
However, heavy shoaling in the estuary and an unusual huge south swell made the approach to the channel impossible. We elected to find the next most hospitable anchorage, which was off the beach near a hotel some ways out of town.

the crew swim to shore

   We needed groceries. Anchored about 1/4 mile from the open beach, it was hard to tell from the boat how big or small the surf was breaking on shore. From the sound of loud crashing waves, we decided the dinghy was not an option. Emmett, in full gear, with dry bag, set out for the beach to test the waters. We all held our breaths as we watched Emmett rise and fall in the waves almost breaking near shore. A few moments later Emmett called on the handheld VHF to say, "Go for it!!!" Excited by the prospect of fresh fruit and pastries in the town, Vincent, Brooke, and Crystal donned wetsuits and jumped in. After successfully filling the dry bags with exciting new entree options, the crew split into two groups; one to make phone calls home, and one to return the groceries.

Emmett and Brooke prepare to swim in the cold ocean

   On our way back, we (Vincent and Crystal) met a fisherman who picked us up in a truck and gave us a lift back to the beach. We filled him in on why we were dripping wet, dressed in wetsuits and walking through a dusty town with sugar smeared on our faces. Our description in Spanish must have sounded something like, "We swim. For food. Sailors, yes. We like fish, too!" After our interesting description of what we were doing, the fisherman shook his head and warned us of the rip current, as well as the increasing size of the waves as night falls. He suggested that we make the long swim home in the morning. The sun had set, but in the darkening twilight we swam out into the breakers of the cold Pacific ocean. During this time Emmett and Brooke had safely reached the boat, radioing that they had made it. After a few attempts, we returned to the beach in complete darkness, feeling a bit defeated and unsure of what to do next.
   By the mysterious ways of this world, the fisherman had been watching us, and as we walked down the beach weighing our options, our paths once again crossed.With few words exchanged, we were in his truck on the way to his cozy self-built home where his immediate and extended family lived. We thanked him profusely for opening up his home to us, and he responded by telling us an amazing story: He explained that once, while crossing the border to the United States, an American had saved his life in the desert when he had run out of water several days before. This man took him in, hydrated him, fed him and gave him money to get to his destination. He said that after that experience, he vowed to help anyone in a compromised situation...with a special soft spot for Americans.
   Our hearts were deeply touched, and our minds at ease among our new friends. And fast friends we became, staying up until the wee hours looking at family photos and reminiscing with little notice of our language barrier. When the dishes were done and we were outfitted with new, dry pajamas, we quickly fell asleep. We woke rejuvenated, ready to attempt our swim again.
   It still seemed a bit too rough to swim through the large shark-infested ;) breakers, so the group elected to try another method of reaching the boat. We knew the town had a large fishing fleet, so we decided to try hiring a boat from the town of San Quintin all the way through the channel and estuary area back to the boat. Hitchhiking towards town on this rural stretch of highway, one of the vehicles that passed was a BerryMex agricultural worker transport bus. We flagged the bus down, but unfortunately, the driver informed us that it was only for BerryMex workers. It was a unique experience to be standing where the food that we so effortlessly enjoy from the common American grocery store is actually produced. In a twist of fate, the driver turned around and invited us onto his empty. With the jams pumped up high, we raced into San Quintin, listening to America's finest dance remix modern pop!
   He dropped us off on a dusty corner and pointed in the direction we should start walking. We hitchhiked until arriving at the Old Mill, a popular tourist hang-out and hotel. It being 5 o'clock in the afternoon, the fishermen and their pangas (motor skiffs) were done for the day. We were told that no one would take us all the way. Not only was the boat about 20 miles away, it required careful navigation through the drifting sand bars of the circuitous, narrow channel. Finally we found a panga operator who agreed to take us not only back to our boat, but on what became a memorable white-knuckle ride. The panga was a high-speed wave jumping machine, and the operator was highly attuned to the patterns of the breaking waves that we faced outside the channel. It was thrilling and a bit terrifying, but we safely arrived back to Liberatia with lots of groceries and memories. We thanked the panga driver and paid him for his gracious favor.

Happily ever after.

Isla San Martin- Volcano in the Sea

   With our swarm of flies in tow, we made an easy passage to Isla San Martin, a striking volcanic cone 20 miles from the town of San Quintin. The small group of fishermen who live much of their lives on this island seemed to be happy living in tune with nature as people of the sea. These people fish through all the seasons of the year, catching lobster and halibut, diving for seaweed, and harvesting shellfish. From their simple huts and piles of seaweed on the beach, you wouldn't know that these fishermen are some of the highest wage-earners in Baja.

   We befriended Chui, who showed us some of the highlights of the island and shared dinner with us on board the Libertatia. Chui gave us some of the island's sea snails, or caracoles, which he had dove for. They were delicious! Chui also showed us a spectacular cave on the island. Watching him turn the cactus and lava landscape into a clear path on our way to the cave made clear his understanding of the island after a lifetime of working there.

Sea Bat!!!!!!!

   After a quick first visit, the crew returned the next evening for an enthralling walk through the various channels of the lava cave. With headlamps and ropes, we walked, crawled and climbed in amazement at the foreign world hidden under our feet. We were amazed at the complete darkness and convoluted holes, caverns, and inner topography of the cave. We discovered spiders, found roots descending who knows how many feet into the cave. Exploring this alien environment, I discovered that the earth is indeed full of mysteries and amazing phenomena which I had never seen before, much like sailing into the ocean for the first time. We marked the occasion of this special team excursion by creating a guestbook at the very end of the cave. For any cruisers or adventurers who make their way to the cave on Isla San Martin, be sure to sign it!

Sailing itself, as well as our time in the rich islands of Baja, was replete with the many faces of nature.

Check out more photos of Isla San Martin here!

The Journey South and The Attack of the Seagulls

They may seem harmless....

   Our first stop out of the city of Ensenada was a small, rocky islet standing alone in the cold, foggy waters of northern Baja called Isla Todos Santos. Upon arriving to the island, we found that the cozy anchorage described in our ancient copy of Charlie's Charts had since been filled with tuna pens. These are open-ocean corrals where fishermen grow tuna that have been caught in the wild to be fattened under their supervision. This tuna-filled cove offering the only true anchorage on an otherwise rugged, inhospitable islet, we drifted a mile or so north towards a small, protected bight between the north and south islets. The cry of thousands of seagulls on shore, leopard seals swimming among kelp beds, as well as a swarm of flies descending upon the boat, gave us a sense of the ruggedness and wildness of the isolated islets as we dropped anchor.

swatting flies provided hours of entertainment!

   Both north and south Todos Santos were dominated by seagull rookeries; Walking along the shore towards the light house, I was repeatedly dive-bombed by adult seagulls protecting their young nested among the cactus and shrubs. This gave a strong sense of the wildness of the place, and made it clear that the isolated mid-ocean rock really belonged to the seagulls.

   We met the second-generation lighthouse keeper, who lives there alone two weeks at a time throughout the year. He toured me around the lighthouses and showed me his home, a former Navy barracks. The surf break off Todos Santos is also a world-famous big wave surfing ground, "Killers." It seemed like surfers occasionally stay in the barracks during the winter, and for anyone interested in visiting, the lighthouse keeper really likes soda, American beer, and meat!!

the lighthouse keeper of Todos Santos

Check out more photos of Isla Todos Santos here!