Friday, October 31, 2014

Sitting by the dock of the bay.... :@)

We are sitting here in a bar with WIFI>>... How cool is that.  Overlooking our boats about a mile inland.  The weather is fantastic, dolphins and seals swimming under the boat, the kids homeschooling is working itself out and finally felt productive today... Then the alarm goes off.  Just kidding it feels like a dream but it isn't.  Everything is fantastic right now.  Kids are working out exchange rates while they go to the bar to buy mommy a Pacifico!  We just finished a baseball game with all the Baja Ha Ha'ers and now the kids are running around with some local kids and having a good time.  Alina has discovered that she loves the game and decided that she really is a homebody and stayed on home plate until someone escorted her off of it.  Kaela is sitting outside checking all her emails and sending out some new ones and all is good.  The town and all the people are extremely welcoming to all of us here in the Rally.  The kids are getting an appreciation for Lafayette and the lifestyle there but are also realizing they love the experience of seeing how other people live and the smiles they get from all the kids we are passing by thru town.  Amaia of course is loving all the stray dogs... gotta work on that girl.

I want to thank Oma for her endless support and towel waving on the sidelines... so awesome and Auntie Piper's Surprise visit and of course the special time we had with Kava and Ariel.  Thank you so much for the time you spent with us.  I can't tell you how much that meant to all of us... especially me... I think I drowned all of us with the tears that I shed then and now just thinking about it.  Love you guys from the bottom of my heart and I miss everyone we left behind.  You really do feel very isolated out here and we are now reaching out to the families that we find along the way.  Really meeting some fantastic people that are so family oriented, so far we feel like celebrities when we walk somewhere... all we here is FAMILY CIRCUS.... Oh so fun.  Love it.

I am updating with some pictures today to catch you up on all that is going on.  It has really been spectacular and we are having a blast... the kids are already showing some independence... tristan is filleting fish and making brownies... alina and amaia are taking charge of their schooling and surfing and alexia is getting up before 8... ON HER OWN... miracles do happen :@)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Double Strike!

1952 Hours Tuesday October 28th

Good Evening from Family Circus! We are currently 50 nautical miles off the Mexico Baja Peninsula coast, headed to Bahia Tortuga, or Turtle Bay. To be specific for grandpa Carl, we are at Latitude 28 degrees, 59.8 mins North, and Longitude 115 degrees 58.5 mins West. We are currently running under one engine as the wind has died down and we are making about 8 knots down these swell waves towards our destination. The sun has gone down, a quarter moon is up and Tristan is manning the watch for now.

We've generally had a relatively uneventful trip since leaving San Diego yesterday at 11am under much fanfare. The waves are coming at us from the side and quarter which isnt the worst, but isnt the smoothest either, so we've had several crewmembers wrestling with a bit of sea sickness. We're gaining in experience and know that it can be much worse, so we're rolling along quite well. The seasickness also gets easier on Day 2 as you really do get your "sea legs" over time.

Our San Diego exit was quite an experience as the Baja HaHa rally that we are a part of is 130+ boats strong, and they organized a parade in the morning where San Diego, Coast Guard and Mexican dignitaries, and TV cameras came out on an official parade start boat, and we cruised through between it and two San Diego fire boats that were shooting water in the air. Its quite a rush to be milling around with 130 other boats who are all getting ready for a great adventure. For quite a few, its something they've done before, but for many, including us - its a great moment, as its the realization of something you've thought about or read about for some time (like 20+ years). We had decked out Family Circus in some code flags and our Family Circus flag and seemed to draw a bit more attention than others as the kids were bouncing around on deck and we were dressed in our clown and mermaid costumes.

A special bittersweet moment occured for us as my mom, our Oma, was standing on the sea wall, frantically waving to us. She has been a huge supporter of me and this trip, as well as our family in these last few months of prep. We made a detour to get close to see her and say our final goodbyes before we joined the rest of the boats outside the Bay. We were finally off, but its always a little tough to get going when you have your friends and family behind. We hope to see many of you along the way, and will be back soon!

The wind has been a bummer as it has been absent most of the trip- though the sun has been out in the day. Enough wind finally filled in this afternoon and around 3pm we could pull out our gennaker and shut down the engine. It was a great feeling to be rid of the engine sound and to feel the tug of the wind. While shortlived, it was some fabulous sailing that we had been dreaming about for a while.

We sailed happily along when another awesome moment occured: Double Strike! I looked out behind the boat and could have sworn I saw fish jumping! immediately BOTH our fishing rods started wirring! if I hadnt broken the other reel 2 hours earlier I bet we would have had three fish on. I immediately ran to the pole on the port side that definitely had a fish on it and started reeling. Unfortunately, the breeze had built a bit and we were flying along at 7.5 knots. I called to Lexi and Heather to head up 40 degrees in to the wind to start slowing the boat down, as Tristan ran to the other pole, Kaela grabbed her camera and the little girls started running about.

"We got another fish!" yelled Tristan from the starboard end of the boat and he started trying to work the reel that somehow had gotten stuck. I was reeling like crazy and occasionally saw this sparkling yellow/green and blue Mahi Mahi (Dorado or Dolfin fish)leap out of the water. It was clear that we weren't going to get it in at this speed and I was extra concerned as I had heard a story this morning from one of the other boats that had lost a tuna right as they were about to get it in the boat. I asked Heather to turn on the engines, as one of the prior owners of the boat had suggested, and once started we put them both in reverse to try and slow our progress.

With the boat slowed, and the fish having being dragged for a while, I was able to quickly get it to the stern, and we gaffed and hauled in our largest fish to date- a 9lb Dorado that was 38 inched tip to tail, or 29 inches to the tail. Its colors were so startling and vivid- we were all quite amazed. We didnt have a lot of time to spare though, as we were still dragging another potential meal(s) on the other line!

For those that dont know-we're pretty damn new at this fishing thing - so the fact that the reel had jammed up already didnt come to a complete surprise to me. (I was thinking of Uncle Josh, and a bunch of my coworkers who fish at that time!)I had put some gloves on to help grab the first fish and started pulling the line in hand over hand. As the fish got closer two things became evident: It was more beautiful than the first fish and it was much bigger! Luckily we were able to get it close enough to gaff successfully and get it up on the deck. I have also improved on my ability to end the fish's life and soon we were dragging it behind the boat with a line. We are very thankful that the boat has a deck wash pump that lets us attach a hose to it and either pull fresh or salt water in to the line-it certainly helps with the mess. The kids were fascinated by the fishes colors, fins and tail and watched the filleting carefully. Our new fish record came in at 15lbs and 43 inches tip to tail, or 34 inches to the tail. The photos will have to wait until we get good internet access but hopefully the update is useful as well. We already had a chicken dinner cooking, so the fish will wait until tomorrow - though I will try my hand at sushi right after this blog post.

We still have a lot to learn in catching and filleting fish- but like this whole trip, we're gaining in experience. I certainly know better fishing and filleting questions to ask.

All in all, a great start, and we'll be thankful to get to the beach tomorrow night and have a day off to relax, and homeschool (boo)

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your own adventures! CHRIS

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Heading to Mexico today!

The day is finally here...we are heading to Mexico.  Under a time crunch to get the boat ready for our start line Rally.  We will be leaving the San Diego Bay today at 11 with 170 other boats in the Baja Ha Ha Rally.  Our journey these next 2 days are will be a forecasted smooth sail... too light of winds (only 5 - 10knts) and 2 foot swells.  All down winds... Spinnaker flying the whole way.  HOPEFULY... We will make 2 stops on our way to Cabo San Lucas.  We should be there on 11/6 or 11/7.  We will be stopping in Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria.

I just wanted to send a quick note that we will be out of reach for a few weeks but will be updating via the Single Side Band Radio.  Hope all is well with everyone and thank you so much for all the emails and good wishes.  I can't tell you how much fun it is to get your notes of encouragement for us and the kids.

Love to all.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just an update... and some pictures

Hello Everyone,

We had a great time in Catalina... everyone is in good spirits playing around on the beach, snorkeling, spear fishing and eating at the restaurants in Avalon.  We are finding that the boat is extremely comfortable and we all have our place to escape to.  We all loved seeing the dolphins and the seals along our way to the islands.  We are really looking forward to Mexico and seeing more of this..

We have been having a fantastic time in San Diego.  We arrived on Friday morning 10/17.  We needed to be here on Friday because Mykaela had a plane ticket home to go spend time with her friends before we leave for Mexico.  We left at 9pm on Thursday and had motored all night from Catalina Island to San Diego.  It was an extremely calm night with ZERO wind and calm seas.  I took the first watch and kept an eye on our radar and stayed out of the way of all the cruise ships that are in the shipping channel between the mainland and the island.  It took us about 9 hours to pull into San Diego harbor.  We ended up finding our way thru a million crab pots and kelp beds entering the harbor and at one point having to back the boat up because we were so wrapped with kelp.   On our way into the harbor Chris was driving and a submarine came up in front of him from down below.  It is really neat to see one of these massive things come out of the water and then have all the people standing up on top of it.  I wondered... What kind of shoes are they wearing to not slip off the boat?  I need some of those!

We were anchored from Friday till monday in La Playa.  This is off of point loma and was a fantastic spot.  Amaia and Alina could venture to the beach by themselves with the paddle boards or we could go and drop them off to play for awhile.  It is also very close to all the Marinas and all the supply stores for us to restock our boat.  We had rented a car and were able to make the basic runs to do laundry, costco, groceries (which ended up being a Ben and Jerry's run for Tristan at night) and of course West Marine.  Amaia is getting really good at paddle boarding and she is now able to pull alina behind her to get them to shore and play on the beach.  Then we raise a flag on the boat and she brings her back... Its MAGIC!

We celebrated Alina's 6th Birthday with a dinner out at Corvette Diner.  This is a real fun restaurant where the waitresses dance and make hair do's for the kids with straws and of course the balloon animals.  Not to mention they sang happy birthday to her and gave her a HUGE Cotton Candy cake that was literally the same size as her.  I think her eyes popped out of her head, she ate a little and then Amaia finished it off.

On Monday we were able to move to the Harbor Island Police dock where we are currently staying and getting all the maintenance done on the boat along with some of our to do list.  We had the engine guy come out on Monday and he ended up replacing a good portion of our clutch in our port engine.  We had a hard time going in reverse... it occasionally just wouldn't do it.  We also had refrigeration guy come out and fix our freezer so I can tell that I have one more costco run to do... and then Chris installed our Silent Wind Turbine to charge our batteries.  It feels great to start with everything functioning again.

Today is Thursday and we really tried to get everything done before all of our company came tomorrow.  We are so excited to see Kava and Ariel, Oma and Chris' brother Andreas and girlfriend Heidi.  We are planning on going to the zoo for Alina's Birthday..  We have been waiting for everyone to get here to go.