Sunday, November 23, 2014

Update from Isla San Francisco!

Sorry for the delay in blogging, we are obviously getting more comfortable in our cruising mode and are out adventuring. I think the last time we posted was in La Paz, and we have had some great experiences since then! I actually had to look at my watch today to see what day of the week and month it is- and now I am hoping the Niners win, although I have no idea who is playing or what else is happening. We are currently at Isla San Francisco- which seems appropriate, and enjoying a nice morning. Its quite a spectacular little island with a crescent shaped bay and beach-if you get a chance, please find it on Google earth satellite images and you will see what I mean.

I am typing from Heather and I's cabin, listening to the hum (din) of the watermaker making 33 gallons of fresh water an hour, and proctoring my wonderful Lexi's geography exam. She is busily writing away and seems pretty focused- which is fun to see. Heather, I and the kids are still adjusting to the homeschooling thing, and are figuring out our roles, and our pace. It causes the most contention on the boat, but it also has some awesome moments when you see your children really "get" something. Lexi and I had a great discussion about free enterprise the other day, and developing nations, and industrialization. We talked about Mexico's natural resources, and what existed on the Baja peninsula, and what it would be like to be on the only Tortilla maker or Egg supplier to all of La Paz (good), and what it would be like to open a snowboard shop (bad).

Tristan is hammering away on the US Constitution and its Amendments, and Alina and Amaia are actively nature journaling- which is a nice combination of art, research and writing. Heather has spent a lot of daily time with the two young girls, but we've realized the older two really need more help, and Mykaela alertly pointed this out and offered to take on a greater role with Amaia and Alina. We don't homeschool every day, but are trying to find the right balance of progress to be made, and adventures to be had.

We left the "bussle" of La Paz to get out and explore and adventure amongst the National Park Islands just 25 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of La Paz. "Bussle" is a funny term, as La Paz is a very true Mexican town with no real tourist trappings like Cabo San Lucas and is a great insight in to the Mexican culture. We stayed there about a week and got caught up on some boat repair (windlass motor rebuilt), laundry, provisioning and Internet time. We spent the first part of the week at anchor, dinghying in daily, and then three days at Marina Cortez- and at that point things felt a little crowded and we were looking forward to doing more exploring. It was liberating to head out the channel and raise our sails and turn the motors off- we even caught 3 fish in the span of an hour but sadly they were all skipjacks- a taste we havent fully acquired yet.

Even though its the "Season", these islands have been pretty deserted and we have found spectacular anchorages we have either had to ourselves or shared with few. We cant wait to post some of the pictures, so you can see what we mean. We've been able to see a new beach each day and have had some awesome nature experiences. I'll let the kids provide more detail, but the night time marine life is spectacular- especially with the two underwater lights that prior owners installed. One evening we turned the lights on and saw krill start to accumulate around the lights and within a half hour we were treated to a spectacular ballet as three Devil Rays swooped and looped between the two catamaran hulls, gorging themselves on dinner. It was quite an amazing sight we enjoyed for an hour, and some of the underwater footage we were able to capture is quite Nature documentary worthy. After turning the lights off, we were lucky to see our first phosphorence, or bio luminesence- eirie neon glowing in the water that Heather says is worms secreting some thing that glows- its very "Avatar" like and quite amazing.

Our Nature week continued yesterday, as we made it up to Los Islotes- which are two stark, bird poop covered rocks that are home to a California Sea Lion colony. We have been here in the past with our prior boat, but it still is magical to get everyone in the water and swimming amongst these creatures that are happy to come right up to you, and in Tristan's case, touch you with their fin, or playfully nibble on your flipper. They are incredibly graceful and playful (except for the large protective males) and Alina and Amaia had their first experiences seeing these "underwater dogs" up close. I have also been starting to use our scuba equipment, diving a wreck earlier in the week, and was able to get Mykaela, Tristan and Alexia breathing off my secondary (octupus) regulator and starting to experience the underwater world in a different way.

Continuing a good day yesterday, the NorthEasterly winds of 14-16 knots allowed us a straight shot sail to our current location. The boat was flying under full sails and we averaged 8.5-9 knots on a wet ride up to Isla San Francisco. We even sailed in to the middle of a pod of about 50 dolphins that were able to keep pace with us for a bit. The only downside of the wet ride is that we've discovered more of the above waterline leaks from hatches and had to dry out some mattresses and sheets when we got here. Our list of fix it item continues but wont slow down our fun too much.

We only had time to visit the beach and get one shell-collecting walk before another beautiful sunset, leftover dinner, and Mykaela's spectacular Snickerdoodle cookies. We are trying to motivate through enough school today to get back in the water, the beach, and scale some of the hills here for more spectacular views. As I was typing this blog we were also just visited by two boys, Ben (8) and Huen (4), who came by on a small paddleboard from their catamaran to visit us and say hello before their parents came over in kayaks. They are from Tasmania (not Australia) and have actually been out cruising for 7+ years! We will spend more time with them later, but we've already learned that they love the Sea of Cortez so much (after cruising all over) and are heading back to La Paz to enroll their kids in a year of Montessori school! We've heard similar comments from many worldly cruisers and I worry that we dont know how lucky we are given that we are experiencing it so early in our big adventure!

We will be up in the Sea for the next three-ish weeks before we will head back down to La Paz, re-provision, and then make the trip across the Sea to the mainland and to Puerto Vallarta where we are excited to spend Christmas and have our first visitors from home. The next few weeks will be pretty remote, though we might find some internet access in Loreto in a 4-5 days. We will try and do better on our blog entries and sailmail emails. I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your adventures! CHRIS

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