Friday, November 28, 2014

Stopping for a day at Villa Palmar Bahia Candeleros

I want to remind everyone,,,,, we keep getting asked if we are getting the responses to our blogs... PLEASE remember that if you hit reply from the email that you get through the subscription we DONOT get those emails.  Please make sure to send us an email through the blog, comment below the our post or send us an email through GMAIL....  We truly love getting all the emails!  We may not stop be able to respond right away if at all but we do read all the emails to the kids so they know that their friends are thinking of them and US too!  It really does make our day to hear from back home and those that are traveling along with us or are hoping to in the future.

It seems to have been forever since I have been able to blog.  We have been having a great time tootling our way up to Loreto.  We had a lay over in Isla San Francisco for about 4 days because of the northerlies (strong winds that blow in from the north).  When they say you want to hunker down you really do.  They create this chop water in the sea that is miserable to be in.  So we had a great time in this fabulous bay looking for hermit crabs and pooka shells.

We met a really nice family from Tasmania that have two kids the same age as Alina and Amaia.  Chris and I ventured over to their boat while all the kids (theirs and ours) stayed on our boat and had dinner and a movie while the adults had a gourmet dinner of shrimp curry, curry chicken, rice and a few bottles of wine.  Melissa (Dee Dee too, friend from another boat) is a fantastic cook.  It was so fun to learn

about all their travels.  They started their journey in France with a new boat and have been in the Sea of Cortez for a year and are planning on putting their 2 boys in montessori school in La Paz.  The boys were so cute and smart.  It was really fun talking with them and hearing the kids all play.  I love the accents they have.  Ben and Huen would take us for walks on the beach and show and name all the shells that they found.  The also new a lot about the salt ponds and how they are formed so they taught the girls as they walked through them.  They got along so well we had a sleep over on our boat one night and watched a movie..  In the morning they had fun with science and making sailboats for the hermit crabs... complete with escape hatches, cabinets, jacklines, railings, and everything that can make a hermit crab safe and to stay in the boat.  Amaia and Ben teamed up and then Alina and Huen... each one with their own design.  After we did some nature journaling in our books.. the girls draw pictures and then we research facts about the animals they see.  Amaia choose to write about how to make a hermit crab habitat.  Nature journaling has been a really great way to tie in their experiences and also learning about the animals.

We were able to leave Isla San Francisco yesterday with still a strong wind on the nose and a little bouncing in the waves but it was really nice to get on our way again.  It was Thanksgiving and the kids really wanted a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.  Chris and I had provisioned in La Paz and bought a small turkey that fit in our tiny oven.  This turkey was probably albs and fit in a cake pan.  It was really fun having it for dinner and just being able to cook it.  We had instant potatoes, canned yams, canned cranberry, canned corn and stove top stuffing... what more could you ask for.  It was really but we really miss family and friends during these times.  We anchored at Puerto Los Gatos for the night.  It was a fun anchorage with a bunch of climbing red rocks for the kids and a fun beach to walk along looking for shells.  We had a great time with climbing, the kids found a bunch of hermit crabs and had hermit crab races.  After we left we and came back to the boat... tristan looked back at the beach and there was a coyote walking along the beach and retracing everywhere we had been.  I have been so worried about the things in the water that it was a nice reminder that there is also wildlife on the beach.  

Tristan and Chris have been having a fun time fishing first thing in the morning... yesterday chris caught a sierra and today tristan caught a mahi mahi... it is always fun and exciting to bring in dinner first thing in the am.  Especially when they are good tasting fish.  They did loose a few.  Today we had a huge mahi mahi on the line.  Chris was bringing it in and it jumped out of the water and shook the hook.... UGGGHHHHH!  Would have been so fun to actually bring that one in.

We got an early start and headed up here to Bahia Calenderos.  This is a bay that has a five star resort with free wifi for the boaters.  It is an all inclusive resort so they don’t have passwords on anything.  It is still really hard to upload anything.  I have been trying since we arrived to upload pictures.  I had 6 uploaded in 5 hours and then lost them because I lost the wifi connection.  I am trying to upload again but it really is an exercise in patience.  So sometimes I will need to just upload some photos.  

Today we discovered that our freezer wasn’t working any longer.  Oh the joy of boating.  So Chris and I had 2 repairs on our priority list.  One was my toilet.  The girls had once again flushed a diaper wipe and it clogged the toilet and was breaking the macerator again.  The second was to get our freezer water intake to work before all of our food spoiled.  Since there is nothing around for literally miles except desert we really need to keep the food that we have in eating shape.  

We discovered that we had all these little crystalized barnicles, coral and little critters that had plugged up all of our water intakes under the boat and had climbed up into our hoses.  Oh lucky us Chris and I get to take screw drivers and wire brushes to try and get these little guys out of our intake valves.  I discovered today that the underwater world so far is not for me.  Chris thought it would be great to get out the scuba gear so that we could just stay under the boat and poke and prod these little creatures out.  Soooo I thought I was going to die.  I thought my lungs would collapse and I kept swallowing water.  UGH... I wanted to help so bad.  Chris has an ear infection so it was really uncomfortable for him to be down in the water.  I originally didn’t have enough weight so I kept floating up to the surface and was getting exhausted trying to dive down so much.  I sound like a sissy but with the little sting rays and puffer fish swimming below... I am hoping that I can get more comfortable with this over time.  Chris ended up getting out of the water and I had a few more to clear so Tristan came down and was keeping me company and helping to clean the boat.  Lexi was using the scrub brush to clean the sides... it was a family affair. 

Good news is that we think we fixed both and we should have a cold freezer tomorrow.  In the morning we will go buy a day pass for the family to spend a day at the resort and eat and drink all the food we can in the 8 hours we pay for.  It is kind of expensive but hopefully well worth a day of play in pool water and pool boys bringing us some pina coladas.  

It was really nice chatting with the family yesterday for Thanksgiving.  We needed to use the satallite phone so they were quick calls.  We are missing everyone at home and it was really nice to hear some voices.  It does get pretty quiet out here... It is very rare that you hear any other sounds than the lapping of waves and wind.  Occasionally a bird will fly by but they don’t make a sound.  I heard crickets last night and the sound was so comforting.  I just sat outside and listened to their songs.  When the moon set, it was so pitch black.  There were so many stars and they were so bright.  They seemed so close that I could reach up and grab them.  It really is amazing the night sky when you take away all external lights and the only light is coming from the stars.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and were able to spend time with loved ones.  We are completely thankful for everything we have, our health, our family, our friends and the time that we are spending together.  

Hugs and Hugs to everyone,


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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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where are my glasses?

I finally have my glasses with me to see what I have been typing... Wow!  No wonder Chris gives me a hard time about my posts.  Sorry for all the misspelled words and typo's... Most of the time I go to shore, I don't have my glasses and my vision is getting worse everyday.  Thank god Amaia knows how to read and helps me when she feels like it.

Just know that my blog entries are usually done while being interrupted a million times and without glasses.

I just felt I needed to disclose incase you are worried about the education the kids are getting from their teacher.  :@)  I am sure they will still turn out okay :@)


Friday, November 14, 2014

just uploading the other pictures... at a new location in the coffee shop

Okay.. I am at the coffee shop with my frappe and all the kids now.  I am just going to update a few more pictures... and try to upload a sample video of our sailing.

Oh and all the girls hair is getting shorter and shorter by the week :@)

A few pictures to express many words!

Heather in her element
Tristan sporting his brand new"foakley's"

Constant hunt for WiFi!

Gracias Manuel para reconstruido mi motor!

Are there fish in the Sea of Cortez?

I thought I would post this one minute video of the food chain in action.  It was taken the evening we anchored in Bahia De Los Muertos/Suenos and we shone a light out around the boat.  We saw a ton of fish eyes glowing as they reflected the light.

We switched on our underwater lights, and then watched nature in action!  there was a ton of krill/plankton type stuff that attracted lots of fish.  We thought there were 50-100 fish until we put our GoPro camera on a stick and lowered it in to the water....not a hundred, but several hundred!

Its another example of the life underwater that we get to enjoy every day.   The next morning we started sailing at 7am with coffee in our hands and dolphins jumping at the bows, and then after we anchored in the evening we saw small rays jumping completely out of the water and doing 360 flips!


Sitting on the boat procrastinating on homeschool...

Its another great morning... Mykaela, Tristan and Alexia went on shore to go to the local coffee shop to use the internet and get some homeschooling done... the Cookies and Cream Frappes are a double bonus for them.  Chris is out running errands and trying to find out where we can purchase skin suits for the kids to help protect them from the little annoying jellyfish stings...

I am suppose to be cleaning the boat and homeschooling the little girls.  I am going to call this silent reading time and they are reading while I am looking out over the bay of la paz and watching all the fish swim by under to boat.

A lot of times I write about what we are doing and the places we are going but what I haven't disclosed is the actual day to day life of being on the boat.  What I can say is this isn't really what I expected.  I have packed all my face creams, my fancy soaps and provisioning gadgets thinking that I will need to have all these things.  What I have come to realize is that a real shower would be a great christmas present and eggs that don't have mold growing on the shell.  Everything we have is constantly wet or damp.  It is always a mess in our boat with the colored pencils and art supplies all over the table and on the floor, charts and maps and books and radio equipment laying around.  We have antibiotics bag out for Chris's ear infection... and in just getting to these supplies I had to rip apart my bed and now my room is a disaster and still has stuff that I haven't stored away since San Diego.  You always think you will have all the time in the world to get these things accomplished.  You don't!  We get up at 6 and have a cup a coffee to start our day... then wake the kids up for their breakfast, which for the last two days has consisted of a bagel or left over dinner because we haven't had fresh fruit or veggies on the boat since Bahia Tortuga which has been at least 2 weeks.  Oma would be proud of us we are eating all the rests (left overs) that we have and then some.  The kids are starting to say that Dental Floss would be an amazing thing to have for christmas... I know I packed some but I can't find the dang stuff so we had to go buy it.

So after coffee we dive into school which is a bunch of kicking and groaning for then next 3 hours... and then by the end I am ready to jump in the water and have a time out in the dinghy.  Don't get me wrong it is really nice on the 3 out of 5 days that the kids race through their work but its those two that are really hard to get through.  So now we are at lunch time... and that of course is PB and J or left overs... or just cheese and crackers and some salami (if we get lunch at all) then it is beach time or dinghy to shore with laundry and trying to grab internet time.  By the time we get back we are exhausted... which is funny because we really haven't accomplished anything, and then we hit the sack... maybe a movie if we are lucky.

The days really do fly by with just the little things.  Think of yourself camping and how long it takes to prepare and clean up everything.  I am NOT complaining, don't get me wrong but it really is an adjustment that we have to make to become use to this life style.  I have to wipe the boat down often because of the mold that develops on the ceilings and walls, there is sand in every nook and cranny.  I tried making the kids rinse off with fresh water every time they came into the boat...not just for the sand but also because of the salt that ends up crystalizing on everything.  With so many of us I find myself saying to turn the water off and don't rinse because of our limited water supply.  It is always a trade off in everything we do.  What I have found is that the kids are definitely more conscious of resource they are using.  From the Amps it takes to charge their devices, to turning the lights out, to not standing in front of the fridge with the door open trying to decide what to eat, and turning off the water when they wash dishes and brush teeth.  Never mind washing your face every morning... which goes back to all my creams I packed.  You just end up smearing sun screen on it all over again and jumping in the water.... it is just a waist of time and cream... Good thing is we do get in the water every day... wash our hair with the salt water... Etc... I believe that by the time we get back home we will all be half mermaids.

The over night trips sailing have been quite the adjustment.  I do look forward to my shift.  Chris, kla and I have been taking 3 hours shifts.  It is not a set schedule but seems to go on who ever is more awake, or who ever can go to sleep the earliest starts the shift.  There have only been 2 sailing trips and both we have seen some high winds... but everything was a great experience and made us all more comfortable with the boat.  I believe you really have to go thru some of these times just to know that your boat was made to take the waves and wind and it knows what to do.  The other times have been sailing or primarily just motoring with the moon high in the sky, dolphins by our side and watching movies or modern family during our watches.

I am going to try to upload some more pictures but will have to do just a few at a time to make sure to get some in.  It really is incredibly beautiful in every bay or anchor stop we do.  Chris and I can't believe the sunsets that we are seeing and look forward to our little time out cocktail hour on the back of the cat watching the sun go down.  As of yet no green flash but we are still looking... that and submarine watches are our favorite time.

Hope all is well back home.  Again don't think I am complaining... Im not just trying to paint an accurate picture... of course now I can image that you are all picturing some old smelly seahags and hogs on the bay... its not like that but I thought that I was a simpleton before I left... I have found out that I wasn't and now am now much simpler and becoming more every day...

Okay... I have found that it is extremely difficult to up load photos so far.  It usually takes me about 3 hours to upload the photos for each blog.  I am going to try again later... this is the only one that I could get uploaded.  It is a funny fish tail.  Our fishing experience has been hit and miss literally... this time we actually caught the fish by the tail.. how funny is that.  Chris has had to go and restock our fishing levers because the fish have taken more of our tackle than we have brought fish on the boat... we will keep trying!

Have a great weekend everyone !!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Cabo and its So thrilling just to know we made it this far....

I just wanted to catch up.  We are sitting in Cabo... being barraged by beach sellers, eating french fries and playing in the waves.  We took all the kids snorkeling today and it was Alina's first time.  She couldn't get enough and really loved seeing all the fish.  It was fun seeing that she recognized a few of them, trumpet fish, parrot fish, puffer fish and sergeant majors.  Then of course the colorful ones.

Life on the boat is getting easier.  We are all acclimating and doing well.  Figuring out the boat systems and getting into routines.  The kids are finding their special spots to do the homeschooling... Alina's journaling is really coming together and I always get a kick out of her phonetic spelling.  It is like reading a secret language.

We are on the final day of the Baja Ha Ha rally and at the final beach party.  We will be leaving here either tomorrow or Monday.  We here there is a tropical depression heading towards PV and wanted to get farther north to be away from the swell confusion it creates.  It is about a 2 day sail up to La Paz but we will stop in a little town along the way for a surfing break.

Life is good.  I wake up most mornings and realize how lucky and fortunate we are to be doing this as a family.  It has been very rewarding so far and I can't really believe it was so easy to get here.  It really gives me a lot of confidence in the rest of our journey.

Yay! We are finally in LA PAZ!

Hello Everyone,

So it has been quite a trip down the coast.. We have had so much fun, enjoyed every sunset each night and even some moonsets which I have never seen.  One morning at 3:30 on one of our night sails, there was a moon set and the moon was so big on the horizon of the sky, it  brightest harvest moon orange glow... the image is burned in my mind hopefully forever.

I can't remember the last time I posted... it seems the days are blending together.  I can't believe we have been on the boat for now for 5 weeks.  It seems just like 2.  We have made quite the name for ourselves and it seems that we are recognized by a number of people when we come into town.  The family circus boat name is really coming in handy and everyone is getting a kick out of seeing us all in our dinghy coming into town with our huge bags of laundry and all the kids and their back packs. When we were in Cabo people would come up and introduce themselves and we would start but they would stop us and say we know who you are Family Circus right... I think it is a good thing :@)  They don't seem to run the other direction as soon as they know for sure....!

The Baja Ha Ha was such an amazing experience.  We have made so many friends in the fleet and we continually keep running into these people.  It is really wonderful,  Everyone has been so supportive and helpful with advice from homeschooling (from all the retired teachers in the fleet) to mechanical, to cooking, provisioning, weather, etc.... They always said that the sailing community is small and you really get to know each other... It is really true.

The kids are doing great with their homeschooling.  We are getting it done for the most part... some days we do extra for the days we have decided to just have a play day.  I am finding that I am liking the play days more than the school days.  Kudos to all the teachers out there!  I am having a hard time finding a place to teach the kids on the boat without the distraction of the other kids... it begins with just one giggle... and then UGH!  total chaos and the minute I turn my back and go refill my coffee... by the time I am back up in the salon to start teaching again they have scattered... it is like herding butterflies... They are all getting a ton of reading in and I am having a hard time keeping up with the books on the kindle... I guess that is one good problem to have.

The beaches down here are amazing and the sea life is everywhere.  Alina has really taken to snorkeling and often takes her mask and just chases the fish in the surf.    Yesterday at Bahia Pueblo she found 2 baby manta rays and a red puffer fish... All I hear is this screaming thru her snorkel and I have never seen her little feet kick so fast... Rancho swim team would have been proud.  Maybe that can be a new strategy :@)

We have so many toys for the kids to play with in the water.  Between the paddle boards, surf boards, boogie boards and Kayak the kids are constantly in the water.  Yesterday chris tied the kayak up to the dinghy and towed the kids behind it... they loved it.

I have been collecting sand from every beach we stop at.  It has been really fun for me.  I started this project for Amaia, thinking she could do it for science... and then Alina wanted to do it for awhile... now it is tristan who is helping me.  Maybe it will be the family science project.  The color changes from north coming down the coast of the samples that I have are really cool.  From Black to White sand. Anyway... Yes I am a little geeky at heart. Besides the science projects (dead puffer fish, dissecting fish, collecting sand and shells, cooking) other ways we find to entertain ourselves are reading, playing cards, playing name that tune from iTunes, Kaela trying to teach me to dance :@( she is still trying... or just plum hanging out.  The kids have really learned to entertain themselves via toys or electronics on passage... I think they all know all the seasons of modern family by heart now... Not something I am so proud of... :@)

We left Cabo on 11/9 I think.. we had a lot of fun.  Cabo was really loud with all the discos and music playing all night long from the hotels and bars along the beach.  It is really nice to get up to some peace and quiet.  You become sensitive to noise when all you hear for along time is the sound of your motor, the wind and the waves.  We stopped in Bahia Des Las Muertas for a night and the kids were able to play in the pool and order some real food and huge lemonades.  They were so excited.  It was quite the relaxing day for us.  Chris taught tristan how to play pool and in the top of the restaurant was the biggest model train set that I have ever seen.

All systems seem to be working so far.  I can't believe how often we have had to motor so far.  We are going straight into the wind so we can't put up any sails.  We will be in La Paz for a little while.  We are having our winch motor for our anchor system rebuilt.  When we were in Bahia Santa Maria it broke so we had to manually pull up the anchor chain by hand.  We put a call out to all the cruisers in the Baja Rally with us to see if anyone could help us fix it.  We had 3 people come over and Steve from SeaHorse was able to trouble shoot and fix the problem temporarily for us using tops of a plastic milk container.  Believe it or not his fix has lasted us this far.  Again the sailing community goes above and beyond to help each other and never expects anything in return.  Just amazing... Plus the level of out of the box thinking is mind blowing.  Such a good lesson for us all.

Amaia has been on a mission to collect every animal that floats or flies by.  She almost jumped overboard to save a little gecko that was floating by in the water still alive and then there are these HUGE grasshoppers that she keeps catching and keeping in the bug catcher that she got for her birthday from Auntie Morgan... Still debating as to whether I want these critters on my boat but she loves them.  We have gone thru Fred, Ted and Ned the grasshopper.

We will be here for the next few days because there are some northerly winds that are headed our way they say plus with all the laundry we have to do it will take the lady till tomorrow at least and then we need to provision and make some minor "To Do" repairs on the boat just to get it back into tip top shape.  We will shoot to leave La Paz on Monday or Tuesday next week to head north to the outer islands and an enjoy being on our own again.

Thank you to all who have commented, sent a note and/or just reading our blog.  It is really nice that you are out there and thinking of us.  We really do miss everyone at home and think of Lafayette often... I know this time will fly by so fast and so we are so enjoying every moment and trying to make the most of every day.

I am going to throw some pictures in here and see how many I can get to upload... bear with me.. I know there are a lot of close up shots... I love the pictures of the kids.  :@)
Love and Hugs to all!


Friday, November 7, 2014

A video about us!! Is it any good??

we haven't actually seen this video, but thought we would pass along the link:

It was done by a reporter for the San Diego Tribune.   

We are currently in Cabo San Lucas, anchored off the hotels in 83 degree water.  it is pretty busy here, but we're glad we had an uneventful passage down here- highlighted by Heather having Dolphins follow the boat in almost full moonlight last night!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

We're back in the ocean! All is well

Family Circus is rolling along in stark sunshine, nice long ocean swells are pushing us along, and we have four fishing lines out. The only thing missing is wind, but we're puttering along well under one engine, and are making water and have almost two full tanks of fresh water. The seas are mellow enough that the captain is allowing alcohol and our refrigeration is allowing cold beer! I thought I would try and catch you up on some of our past few days.

Its funny how far we have come in 11 days- we just caught a Dorado/Mahi Mahi but tossed it back because it was too small! (3-4 lbs) they are quite beautiful and we want to catch them or their relatives in the future when they are bigger. We hope we'll get something bigger in the next 30 hours on our current journey to Cabo San Lucas- but we do have 6-8 lbs of Skipjack Tuna and 4 lbs of MahiMahi in the coolbox. We have tried sashimi on both- but the skipjack tuna is definitely a bit more gamey and will take some creativity to cook properly.

On these mellow passages everyone in the family finds their own groove and the autopilot does its thing. Heather is sun tanning, and writing in her journal, Tristan is doing some schoolwork on the bow, Lexi is cooking and drawing, Mykaela is listening to music and Amaia and Alina are alternating between a movie, stuffed animals and making their plans for sleeping in the hammock we just rigged in the cockpit. We are about 20 miles offshore at 24 degrees 01 minute North Latitude and 111 degrees 33 mins West Longitude, and the remaining 120+ boats are spread around us- you quickly realize how big the ocean is- there is lots of room!

We are about 48 hours from this Baja HaHa Rally coming to an end- which is so hard to believe. Its been a great event to give us a firm date to get started and has built a great instant community of similar minded folks that we have started to connect with. The "kid" boats tend to find each other on the beaches pretty quickly, and now the kids are even calling each other on the VHF radio: "Kid boats; Kid Boats this is Porter on Pelagic, anyone who wants to talk please go to channel 78 Alpha, channel 78 Alpha" -- its quite amusing actually. Age doesn't seem to make a difference as 5 year olds are happy playing with 12 year olds, etc. The kid boats also extended to adults who are "kid-like" and like to chat with our kids- thankfully we are getting positive feedback from others on our kids so far :-)

The downside of an event like this is that you are torn between keeping up with the group and the events they organize and leaving amazing places that you wish to hang out longer in- which is the dilemma we faced last night as we made a decision on whether to leave Bahia Santa Maria. Its quite an epic location that is in the middle of nowhere with a tiny fishing "village" with 10-15 huts that house fisherman and their families. The beach was beautifully long and sandy and had a very wonderful beach surf break that all sat under a few majestic mountains that popped out of nowhere. The organizers put together a beach party that takes quite some orchestration, even though our schedule was thrown out of synch with the Tropical Depression Vance that we were waiting out in Bahia Tortugas. The Party involved a few tents on a bluff overlooking the beach, and then folks that they have been working with for the 20 years of this event brought in a ton of cold beer, and a Rock and Roll band (kids 15-20 playing music that was created before they were born!) that played all afternoon. Amplifiers were powered by gas and wind generators. The band and drinks had to come through a 6 hour journey that involved driving on a beach at low tide for 25 miles to make it to the narrow isthmuth of Bahia Santa Maria (its worth googling the satellite picture for those of you with fast internet access). Besides the music, food and booze they had beach games of sand bocce and volleyball (which we seem to be active in every time) and then we also spread out to do our own thing of shell collecting, tide pool exploring, boogie boarding and our first day of surfing! Its not a bad deal, and a big thanks to Uncle Andreas for connecting us with a custom painted "stick" and inspiring us to get surfing! That custom board got Tristan his first solo-caught wave! Bahia Santa Maria is a place that will need some more discovering on some future trip, and certainly made leaving this morning quite difficult- but we know there advantages to getting down the coast in good weather windows and finding some other cool anchorages all to ourselves.

Our trip to Bahia Santa Maria was quite fast under mostly good weather- we had plenty of wind coming from a good direction- we had some extra strong gusts in the night as well- but after our earlier excitement coming to San Diego from San Francisco- we felt quite comfortable. We caught a 5 lb. skipjack tuna in the first 10 minutes and landed two more before the trip was over, and threw one more back. (we also lost three lures to some sort of huge fish as they grabbed them so quickly and powerfully that we couldn't respond. The wind clocked back behind us so far that our gennaker sail made for sailing a longer course- and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to fly our colorful spinnaker. We had never flown it before, never on a catamaran, and never as a family but it all worked fabulously. Its a beautiful sail that helped us sail more downwind and we felt awesome gliding down the waves. The organizers' 65 foot catamaran came by us taking photos and video and giving us enthusiastic praise over the radio- we hope to get some of the those shots on to the website at some point. (we also have some cool video of our own) Unfortunately our fun ended as after about 5 hours the spinnaker tore along one entire seam and we had an "all hands on deck" as we scrambled to get the pieces down. We actually have a sewing machine aboard- but didnt think to bring spinnaker sail cloth tape with us- at this point we may have to wait for a few weeks to fix it, or tackle it with duct tape. We would have attemped a repair in Bahia Santa Maria, but as we anchored we ran in to a bigger issue.....

Click, Click, Click......that was the unhappy sound we heard as tried to lower our anchor as we had arrived. Our windlass couldn't lower the anchor as all it did was click- it had been an issue we had worked around by jiggling the unit- but nothing was working. We dropped the anchor OK, but then were asked to move it, and "we" had to lift the all chain rode and anchor by hand two times to finally get it settled for the night. A broken windlass is a pretty big deal, as we anchor almost everywhere we go and it can at times be a safety device as well. Heather and I started troubleshooting the issue after dinner with a flash light and voltmeter and isolated it to a bad solenoid or bad motor in the windlass. I have to pause here to say that electrical issues are probably my greatest weakness-I've worked on so many other issues but I try to avoid electrical, and this was definitely electrical. Every morning the rally fleet has a radio net, and we reported our issue and asked for help and immediately had two folks offering to help. One came with jumper cables and confirmed that the solenoid was fine and that the issue was with the motor. I started taking apart the windlass bolt by bolt when another gentleman called me from the water as he had swum over from his boat. He offered to help and come aboard. I had taken the motor out and opened the cavities to find two out of the four motor brushes were completely worn out (which explained the intermittent failure) Unfortunately the motor needed to be rebuilt, and brushes weren't going to found anywhere soon. My new best friend Steve from the sailing vessel Seahorse was a super positive Canadian tug captain who had maintained a tug fleet and done his own "wrenching". He also mentioned that he loved tinkering with things, sometimes rebuilding watches" and had "probably rebuilt 150 starters" in his lifetime. He suggested we shim the springs behind the brushes that push the brushes to the motor and asked if I had a milk carton or cardboard around- I found a recently discarded milk carton and while he held the housing, I slipped in a few custom pieces of milk carton plastic neatly in behind the brushes. The brushes stood proud, and I got some nail polish removed from Kaela to clean up a few things in the motor and put it back together. It actually reminded me of my dad, when I had first taken the generator out of my 1967 VW Bug and he explained how they work. (Dad- I'm sorry I didnt get it then- but I do now and I miss you!) Steve guaranteed a 95% result but I was more skeptical. Happily, when I switched the power back on, the windlass whirred to life- much more powerful than before. It was a great example of Cruising= Fixing things in Exotic Places, and also a great reminder of how great the people out here are! We really have to be as independent as possible, but we arent too proud to not ask for help and will always do likewise.

I realize this update has gotten quite long, but hopefully it gets those interested back up to speed. We should be in true Internet access in a day or so and hopefully can update you with some of our pictures, and maybe some video. We hope you are all doing really well and enjoying your own adventures every day! CHRIS

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Delayed in Bahia Tortuga...

I am here overlooking the bay of Tortuga at Maria's restaurant while Abuela Delores is doing our laundry and I am sitting here catching up on the internet and trying to update the blog.  It literally took me 2 and a half hours yesterday to load those photos and update the blog.  Believe me I am not complaining....

We have been delayed here in the bay trying to wait out the storm that has been brewing down below cabo.  They say it is making the swells and the winds up north very difficult and uncomfortable to sail in... so we are on hold here until tomorrow morning and then we will see if we get the okay to move out or stay another day... we could be here for another 3 days... Its really not so bad so we will just have to see.

We had the best time yesterday at the baja ha ha party on the beach and I will upload some pictures.  it is really amazing the community of people that we have met in the rally and in the local town.. the kids are having a blast playing with all the kids and they are slowing picking up the spanish or it is coming back to them from taking their spanish classes with Ms. Claudia at Arroz Con Leche in moraga.  It is really fun to see her playing with the kids.  Even Alina yesterday playing with a little girl throwing out Alto (for stop) and I hear her running away saying Rapido and Vamos.... I think to myself WHAT>>>>> so cute.

Tristan is really acclimating well with all the kids.  He has made a few friends within the fleet and also a couple kids from town.  Today he was translating for me and translating for me.. this boy tristans age came up to us on an ATV and wanted to ride the paddle board so tristan went out with him on our paddle boards and then when we got back he wanted to take tristan out on the ATV but we had run out of time and had to get back to the boat... so fun.  It is really fun to hear the kids talking on the VHF and calling each other to make playdates and exchange candy from tricker treating... somethings never change.  Now they are trying to organize sleepovers... REALLY>>>> ugh!  is all I say. :@)  Kaela has made a friend with Victor and Rajulio... It was really cute I over heard her that she brought a gift for Victor... some of her favorite fingernail polish.  They are sharing pictures of boyfriends and fashion advice... really sweet boy and very nice.  Victor and Rajulio are the sons of Maria who owns the restaurant that we have been hanging out in....

The kids had a great time trick or treating last night.  They all got dressed up and went in the dingy to trick or treat on the other boats.... The boats that had brought candy put on lights or strobes or decorated their boats.  The kids actually got burned out from going boat to boat. Then just like at home they came and sorted candy and put aside the parent tax candy and the candy for the candy fairy... but instead we brought the fairy candy into the village and Amaia gave it to all the kids on the beach.. It was so cute seeing her distributing candy and then telling some that they had already gotten some and for them to wait until all the kids got some.

Hope all is well at home and you ya'll are enjoying yourselves... remember to take the time to smell the roses... it truly is amazing to watch the kids grow and learn from what they are experiencing.  It is beyond our wildest dreams.