Working, Kiteboarding, Christmas

When we got back to La Paz we had a distinct list of items we wanted to complete: change the engine oil, replace transmission hose, fix windlass electrical problem and change the generator oil. While Tim was working on these items I would catch up on graphics projects for my clients and we would be super productive before we headed right back out to the islands.

Tim promptly changed the oil in the engine (turns out you had to warm up the oil before you pump it out of the dip stick tube), and I completed some Christmas graphics just in time for the holidays. Feeling good about our accomplishments, we dropped everything and went to La Ventana for kiteboarding lessons! We had a couple of friends who were down there already, and Tim had been talking about trying it out since we bought the boat. La Ventana is a huge kiteboarding and wind surfing beach. We thought we would give it a try to see how it goes. I, Tim and our friend David made the 45 min trip south of La Paz.

When we arrived there was no wind and a very quite, quaint little town. We decided to camp in our car at this cool spot on the beach with our friends who were already there. Next day, wind, and lots of it. Our first day of lessons was in 20 to 27 knots (1 knot is slightly more than a mph) of wind, and the beach and water were cluttered with kites.

As it turns out kiteboarding is way more involved than any of us were expecting. You don’t just casually give it a try. It would certainly take 2-3 days of lessons to get anywhere safely with those kites. We were all really impressed with the Elevation Kiteboarding school at Baja Joes. The instructors were some of the friendliest people we have met yet. We lucked out because we happened upon a girls camp that started exactly when we arrived, so they decided to let me join even if it was for one or two days. It was wise because women and men learn differently and would have different comfort levels with this sport. My instructor so thoroughly explained everything before we tried it and made us feel safe. You start by flying a little trainer kite, then a little bigger kite then the huge powerful ones everyone else is using. I could not believe how much power is behind those things. That is why safety is so important.

By the end of the first day we were body dragging with our instructor through the water with the kite. I had never drank so much sea. I couldn’t believe I was even doing it. Day two, we used the kite to drag ourselves down the beach by ourselves with a radio helmet for helpful tips and corrections from the instructors.

Then, they add the board. That was a whole other element to consider, and a whole other way to eat sea water. It was a really tough day, but so fun. I was able to get up on the board for about 10 seconds… which I saw as an achievement. We wanted to go for one more day, but we couldn’t afford it. It was cheaper than learning in the states, but certainly not a part of our budget. Merry Christmas, lets give each other kiteboarding lessons!

Now we are back and helping a friend with his dog until tomorrow. That gives us a deadline to finish our projects and get back out to the islands for a wonderfully private Christmas. Who else is snorkeling on Christmas day? It has been kind of hard to get into the Christmas spirit here. It is still pretty warm and we miss our families a lot. We are doing what we think will make a special holiday for us, but it is tough not being near the ones we love. We got a tiny tree and we are going to cover it in sea shells and lights. We have been collecting shells and will decorate it soon. I can just imagine all the holiday cheer at home.

Tim with the practice kite

Kites everywhere!

Me with the practice kite.

Me and my instructor launching for body dragging.

Our view from the campground.



The Islands

To get ourselves out of our little funk of thinking “What did we do?” we headed out to the nearby islands to regroup and do what we came to do. We wanted to remind ourselves why we were here instead of getting trapped in the daily grind in La Paz.

We got a bit of a late start heading out of the bay, but we were determined to go. We motored out of the long channel that leads into La Paz Bay and we hoisted the sails. We sailed for about one hour in very light winds before we realized we wouldn’t make it to the anchorage before dark if we didn’t motor. We started the “iron sail” and did some motor sailing with our head sail out for a little extra speed all the way into Bahia San Gabriel. This was kind of wide open to one side with a big white sand beach and an old pearl fishery I was exited to see. When we arrived it was perfectly still and we anchored just in time to see the sun set. We watched the starts over calm water before we tucked in very early.

What do you know, but the wind shifts from the north to the southwest blasting us into a lee shore all night long. A lee shore is when your boat is being blown to land instead of sea… not good. The anchorage was wide open to these “nighttime corumels,” as they call them, and wind and waves had us up all night long. I slept in the dinette so I could see better and get away from some of the movement. We were making sure we didn’t drag anchor all night. I actually had a dream that we did drag and we ended up right on top of a friend’s boat holding off the damage with my feet. Then I woke up and found we had drug and it looked like we were in Puerto Escondido and once again I was holding the boat off a wall of  mud and muck with my hands and feet. Then I woke up again and found we were exactly in the same spot we had anchored. Yup, I had a dream within a dream – Inception style.

Anyway, by the time the sun came up we were so ready to get out of there, we didn’t explore at all and high tailed it toward Caleta Partida, a well protected anchorage just north of the island we were on. I forgot to mention that our refrigerator stopped working while we were anchored, and we were pretty bummed. Turns out it was just a fuse, and we had it onboard. We finally fixed something! We thought it would be nice, since the waves calmed down on our way, to stop at a small cove just before we reached Partida. We wanted to have lunch and walk around a bit before we anchored for the night. We had a lovely and relaxing afternoon and really started to feel better about being out there. We met a couple who were kayaking around the islands and camping on the beach – wow, they are adventurous.

So we decided to head over to Partida and have plenty of time to anchor before dark. We got into positions – Tim at the helm and me ready to push the anchor windlass button that brings up the 44 lb. anchor and 100+ feet of chain – and nothing. Nothing happened. It is broken. We fumble around for a little bit trying to find the problem or a reasonable solution. We switch places and Tim has to muscle it all up.

We make it to Partida ready for a calm few nights. It was rather crowded so we had to anchor a couple of times to feel like we were in a good spot. This would normally not be a big deal, but with a broken windlass it made for an exhausting evening for Tim. We were happy to be settled for a while.

We finally got to have an enjoyable and relaxing time out at the islands. We explored around the outskirts in our dinghy and ran into some friends. We joined them for snorkeling and spear fishing and were happy to be doing what we thought we would be doing every day. Hayden speared a decent size fish and he and Irene came over to eat it. That’s what it is all about. We also got to hike to the top of the ridge, find the nearby sea caves and sleep soundly. Caleta Partida was good to us.

We knew a Northerly was about to blow through the area real hard, so we did a little exploring to find a nice calm spot (and to check out the nearby blue footed booby colony). We ended up tucking into a really small cove called Cordoncito next to our new friends on Matilda. The winds were very strong and we had some sleepless nights, but generally it was not too bad. We still got to explore, hike and snorkel in the daytime, so we were happy. I even got a day alone doing yoga on the beach – pure bliss. Tim, Hayden and Irene did some spear fishing, and Hayden shot something every day. One day gave us a little fish to practice gutting and cooking it. The funny part is that he was still alive and we had no idea how to kill him. Tim tried beating it, and nothing. It was kinda sad, but he ended up gutting and filleting it, and we had fish tacos.

We spend our last night there having delicious fish tacos on Matilda prepared perfectly by Hayden and Irene. As the weather subsided we headed back into La Paz to get some work done.

On the way out there.

Lunch stop and hike

Hiking El Mesteño

Spear fishing the reef in Caleta Partida.

Top of the ridge at Caleta Partida. Our boat is in the middle.


They are heading out to spear some fish


So how do you eat this thing?


See our boats in El Cordoncito


Back to the dinghy

Well, the Sunsets are Nice

I’m catching up a bit because I had no internet access for nine days. This is from Nov. 30, 2011.

So far, we are really enjoying the beautiful orange sunsets lined with palm trees on the horizon… and that’s about it.

We have been working non-stop on this boat and feeling like we are getting nowhere. As soon as we finish a project, something else breaks or pops up. It’s not all sunsets and margaritas. In fact, we are having trouble finding a good margarita at all. I’m starting to think margaritas were invented by a Mexican in Texas.

I was laughing to my sister about how it seems that living on a boat might be really good preparation for motherhood: If you hear a strange noise, you have to check it out no matter what you are doing day or night. It also requires constant attention to detail and all the patience you can muster.

There are so many aspects that have been challenging – we have moved where we don’t know the language, where to buy parts or get service or how to fix what’s broken. It also seems like if a projects seems easy and everyone says it’s a breeze, for some reason it won’t be. Oil change – no big deal, right? One week later and we still have no clue and are tired of getting covered in oil. It has been hard to stay positive about everything and enjoy our surroundings. We both have had days where we just wish we were back home. The trick there is that one of us freaks out while the other stays calm and holds on to the idea of adventure, and then we trade. This is fun, right? I guess we have to remember that we decided to take on an enormous learning curve that will hopefully start to round off soon.

We finally drew a line in the sand and decided no matter what the projects on our list are, we were going to head out to the nearby islands and try to enjoy ourselves. So we are headed out today to find the reason we left everything comfortable and easy to challenge ourselves and move out here.