Last Island Trip and Renaming our Boat

Cloudy sailing day

Sailing out to the islands on a cloudy day was nice.

After squashing what we thought were all of our obstacles to getting out to the islands near La Paz for a more relaxing “vacation” part of our trip, we set sail on a cloudy day. It was a nice sail slightly upwind, so we planned to sail out on one tack and motor back into anchor, as we were feeling lazy and didn’t want to sail upwind the whole way.

Sailing to the islands

Sails up and heading out to Isla Espiritu Santo.

After motoring for maybe 30 minutes, our engine began overheating and spewing coolant. We immediately killed the engine and began sailing toward the nearest anchorage, unsure what the issue was. We sailed upwind in light winds all the way to anchor in Bahia San Gabriel. The engine had finally cooled enough for Tim to get in and take a look. It turned out to be an easy fix of installing a new alternator belt, allowing us to motor up to a safer anchorage with more wind protection just before one of the more beautiful sunsets.

Fixing the engine

Our alternator belt broke and our engine overheated on our way to the islands. Tim had to dive into the cockpit locker to fix it.

Island sunset near La Paz

We arrived to anchor just before sunset at Isla Espiritu Santo.

Anchoring at sunset

It was a stunning sunset as we anchored for the night.

The next day offered winds from the west/southwest, allowing for us to have a wonderful sail up to one of my favorite islands — Isla San Francisco. This is one of the more picturesque places we have visited in the Sea of Cortez. The same night, our friends on s/v Calypso, Rick and Jasna, arrived just before sunset. We had planned to meet them there, but weren’t sure if the would make it. We enjoyed swimming, kayaking, spear fishing (Tim, Rick and Jasna) and hiking at the island for six days. Rick and Jasna had to deliver some school supplies to the small fishing village just to the north, San Evaristo, and we were looking to get away from the tons of mosquitos at Isla San Francisco, so we followed them upwind.

Sailing in Mexico

Our nice sail up to Isla San Francisco.

sunny sail

We were keeping the sun off our backs as we sailed north.

Swimming the the Sea

The water was crazy clear and the perfect temp for swimming.

Picture perfect Island

Swimming, fishing, kayaking and hiking at Isla San Francisco.

Fish for Dinner

Tim shot three trigger fish for dinner with Calypso.

Hiking Isla San Francisco

Beautiful Isla San Francisco from the hike along the ridge line.

Hiking is fun

Me and Tim hiking with Jasna along the Isla San Francisco ridge line.

Jasna Tuta hiking

Jasna gazing off into the Sea of Cortez on our hike at Isla San Francisco.

Isla San Francisco

The view from the top – Isla San Francisco.

Jasna and Rick on Calypso are expert sailors, I would say. Jasna used to teach sailing in Italy, and Rick took a Yatchmaster course in Austrailia. Knowing we could learn a thing or two from these pros, we set out to follow them on our next sail upwind to San Evaristo. This proved a bit unsuccessful as we tried to tack our way to the little fishing village, we got frustrated and decided to turn the motor on (cheaters, I know). Much to our dismay, the alternator belt was slipping and our engine was struggling with overheating again. Tim rigged up a temporary solution by tying a line to the alternator and putting upward pressure on it so we could motor sail our way in. We stayed for a couple nights in San Evaristo, restocking our chocolate stash and a few other fresh foods that were running low.

With north winds predicted for the next several days, we all decided it was a good time to head back to La Paz. We were a bit nervous, considering our motor troubles, but left early for what we thought would be a nice downwind sail. Unfortunately, just as we pulled out of the anchorage, our engine was overheating again and the belt had broken once more. Frustrated, we opened our jib only and headed downwind, thinking we could repair it along the 6 hour trip. The sea was pretty rough and choppy, and without our main sail up, we were rocking and rolling the entire trip. This didn’t give Tim a chance to crawl around the engine compartment and sort out our issue.

The wind was getting pretty strong as we and Calypso — both with only headsails out — headed down to Isla Partida. As we finally approached our intended anchorage, we attempted turning into the wind with hopes of getting close enough to safely to drop anchor. This was a big mistake. The wind had picked up over 20 knots and we didn’t have any power without our main sail up. So we raised the main with the boat pointing downwind — a little dangerous maneuver because the chances for a accidental jibe are high. That is exactly what happened. We accidentally jibed hard, popping the boom right off the mast.

I had already reached my maximum stress load and freaked out about 10 minutes before we lost the boom. So, I stayed strangely calm, sailing the boat into the mouth of a different, calmer  anchorage where Tim was able to replace the alternator belt before we got too close to land. This allowed us to motor (hobble) the rest of the way to anchor. After a day like that, there was no way we could come on the VHF radio and hail with the name “Luckiest.” We decided at that moment we must rename our boat. We called Calypso, who had already anchored in our intended spot. They came down right away to help us lick our wounds.  We were happy to have their help, and we all stayed a couple of days to relax.

The second night we had our renaming ceremony (sailor’s tradition) for our boat, asking Neptune to take care of her under the new name — Lucí.

Motoring back to La Paz

It was a calm, wind-free day as we motored back to La Paz after reattaching the boom and repairing the engine a final time.

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Life in a Boat Yard

One week into round two of our Baja adventure, and we are happy it hasn’t been all work.

We left our Denver home and dog with my aunt and drove out Tuesday, Oct. 15, as planned. We got an early start – about 5:30 a.m. – so we could make it to Newport Beach by the end of the day. We crossed through the Eisenhower tunnel as the first snow rolled into the Denver area, making our mountain driving a bit icy, but beautiful as daylight broke.

Colorado roads

Driving through the Rocky Mountains on our way to La Paz, Mexico.

I felt like we were driving through winter into fall as we drove down the Rockies’ western slope. It was really a beautiful scene, and a pretty drive all the way from I-70 to I-15. We drove through mountain and canyons the whole way, periodically stopping to enjoy the view in Utah and Arizona.

Fall and winter mountains

We drove from winter into fall. You can see the snow at the higher altitude fade away.

Utah mountains

We so enjoyed the drive through so many types of mountains from Colorado to California.

Utah Canyon

This beautiful Canyon in Utah made us stop to admire it.

We had to drive through the Las Vegas strip, even though it was the middle of the day because I had never seen it. This put us at our day one destination about 8 p.m. to visit with our (pretty-much professional) sailing friends, David and Katie, who we met at Thanksgiving in La Paz almost 2 years ago.

They are always so welcoming when we crash coming or going from Baja. We delayed our morning start just a bit so we could meet their one-year-old daughter, Emily, putting us on our way about 7:30 a.m.

We crossed the border in Tijuana with no issues and booked it for our typical mid-way stopping point in Guerro Negro.

The mountains in Baja were more beautiful than we remembered because they were so green. the Baja had been getting a lot a rain and very wet season, actually washing out a lot of roads on the only highway that runs the length of the peninsula.

Luckily, in Mexico, they will happily divert traffic off-road.

Sunset in Guerro Negro

We arrived in Guerro Negro just at sunset.

Guerro Negro Hotel

This is the hotel we like to stay at in Guerro Negro. It is on the edge of town, always clean and the people are nice.

Broken Baja Road

The roads washed out just 2 days before we drove through here. Baja has had a very rainy season.

Green Baja Mountains

We really enjoyed how green the mountains were because of all the rain on the lower Baja.

We arrived in La Paz around 6 p.m. Our boat broker, La Paz Yachts was our first stop because we needed to get the key to our boat being stored at a local boat yard – Bercovich. Our second stop was Bercovich to check on the condition on the boat, and our third was dinner with our dear friend, Jasna, from the boat Calypso.

The boat was not in bad shape. She was a little dusty and in need of batteries and bottom paint, but mostly just how we left her. We got to work pretty much right away.

Day 1) Wash down outside and clean inside thoroughly. Remove old batteries, buy new batteries – about $450usd

Day 2) Install new batteries, unpack bags and ready v-berth for sleeping

Day 3) Power wash the boat bottom (we were able to borrow one from our boat neighbor, Pete, who came down from San Francisco to work on his boat too.)

Day 4) Had the boat bottom inspected by a local boat surveyor, Cecil – who did our boat inspection before we bought 2 years ago. He was a boat builder most of his life and will be 89 soon. We bought one gallon of ablative anti-fouling paint nearby for about $180 usd and supplies for painting. We got advice to just do a light sanding on the existing paint, power wash again and paint. So we did.

Day 5) Find cayenne pepper and put inside paint – old sailor trick to keep barnacles away. Had paint shaken again to mix all biocide and cayenne pepper inside. Now, we paint the bottom.

We are hoping to get into the water in a couple of days, in which case we would head straight to the islands to finish up the work on the boat. The boat yard has not been as bad as I thought it would be. I just had to accept that I would be dirty, sweaty and eaten by mosquitos every day. But there is unlimited fresh water and electricity, and we have the best spot in the yard with an ocean sunset view.

La Paz Sunset with boat

We enjoyed the sunset walking the ocean boardwalk in La Paz.

In the boat yard

Our boat “on the hard” in the boat yard.

Dirty boat bottom

Our boat bottom before any cleaning.

Clean the boat

Tim power washing our boat bottom.

Painting boat bottom

TIm painting the boat bottom. We went with a darker blue, and I really like it.

 

 

 

 

Big News — Back to Mexico

Big news – we are heading back down to La Paz, Mexico!

We knew we needed to get back down and take care of our boat, but we were not sure about when we might be able to actually break away from the life we have been building in the Denver area. Money was also a big factor; as in, will we make enough in a short time to get our boat back in the water?

It turns out, Tim was able to work a hail storm in Greeley, CO, selling new roofs to replace damaged ones. For those of you who didn’t know, Tim grew up in the roofing industry repairing and selling roofs for his parent’s roofing company in DFW. This work has afforded us the possibility of getting back to our boat for some TLC.

Our lovely Cal 35 sailboat has been stored on-the-hard in a boat yard in La Paz for more than a year. We did the typical seasonal shut down checklist, per advice from our sailing friends. This included removing all sails, draining fluids from the engine, tying down everything and protecting what we could from the damaging sun and bugs. This took us about four days to really secure her to be stored. We are anticipated about two weeks to put her back together.

One reason we decided to go back now was to get our beautiful boat looking beautiful again. As I said in a previous post, we have decided to sell our boat. She has been on the market for a few months with a few showings under her belt. But when we left her, we hadn’t intended to put her up for sale, so we know she is not looking up to her potential. Hence, our trip down is two-fold: to have a last hoorah at the islands and to put a bit more work into The Luckiest to get her sale-ready.

We plan to probably pay someone to sand down the previous layers of paint and barnacles and applying a fresh coat of barnacle-resisant paint to her underside – the anti fouling process. This also increases sailing speed, which is important when every knot counts. We will clean her up and get her sails back on, etc. Her house batteries are also ready to be replaced, so we are adding that in, too. All this, we do in hopes of selling her as this years sailing season approaches.

It saddens me to think about selling her, because she is a perfect cruising boat. But the truth is, we have to find a better balance of a traditional American lifestyle and one of travelers. It is a very hard balance to strike, and we thought we could do it by living on our boat for six months and in our small townhome for six months (sailors call it “six on, six off”). This plan isn’t really working for us because we have to work more throughout the year than say a retired person to keep ourselves afloat. We have tried to keep a minimalist lifestyle in the states with a small monthly budget to keep ourselves free of as many strings as possible.

Because travel is a high priority for us, we still plan to set ourselves up for lots of it. More realistically than six months out of the year, we will have two to three months for travel yearly. This will take time and financial legwork, but we will get there. We love the sailing lifestyle and community – having made some dear friends in the Sea of Cortez. It’s likely that we will come back for more, just not on our own boat. Crewing on other’s boats is a big part of the sailing community, and we certainly would like to see more of the world via sailboat.

For those of you who are interested, or might know of someone in the market for a Cal 35 with added sugar scoop, please share this listing info and blog post.

Current Price: US$ 35,000

Yacht World Number: 2614835
Located in La Paz, BCS, Mexico
Year: 1974
Hull Material: Fiberglass
As stated in the brochure, the ingenious and unique touches that Bill Lapworth has designed into the Cal 35 set her apart from other world cruisers, coming close to a perfect cruising yacht. Whether you’re anchored off La Paz in the Sea of Cortez or running downhill across the Pacific to Tahiti, you’ll live in style and comfort aboard the Cal 35. The interior finish is as practical as it is luxurious, beautifully designed with rich Burmese teak. With a full 6 foot 6 inch head room and a 7 foot long double berth, this is a great boat for tall people! The raised dinette allows you to view the scenery while dining below. The long water line, sleek hull lines and large 546 square feet of sail area give her great speed. And she’s easy to handle. The big modern spade rudder offers greater maneuverability and easier wheel steering control. The comfortable cockpit has benches long enough for sleeping outside as well. All mechanical and electrical equipment is easy to get at. Making repair and engine maintenance a cinch on the Perkins diesel and its fuel supply give you an 800-mile cruising range on power alone at 7 1/2 knots. This is an excellent cruising yacht!

Cal 35 cruising boat under sail

Sailing from Isla Danzante to Puerto Ballendra at Isla Carmen. We sailed all the way there with fairly steady wind and good speed.

Cal 35 Salon

Our main living space with Galley to the right and dining area to the left.

Cal 35 V berth and head

A peek into the v berth and head.

Sailing sunsets in Sea of Cortez

The amazing sunset from the south beach at Agua Verde. We saw some of the greatest sunsets ever.

A view of our boat at the beginning of our long hike across Isla Carmen.

A view of our boat at the beginning of our long hike across Isla Carmen.

Grand Tetons

Variety is the spice of life, but sometimes you travel the same place twice.

My family loves Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Lake Lodge.  We visited there in 2007 and had our first encounters with elk, moose and bison, as well as drank in the lodge view daily with awe.  It is still just as majestic a view, even if we are much more familiar with wildlife now.  We had to visit one more time and really soak it all in.

Our trip was full of watching mountain sunsets, searching for wildlife, river rafting and hiking.

Dinner view

The view from dinner at the lodge.

Grand Teton Dusk

Dusk with the view of the Grand Teton Mountains from our lodge.

Radting Trip

Julie and Lydia rafting on the Snake River.

Bald Eagles

There were tons of Bald Eagles we saw rafting along the Snake River.

Snake River Rafting

Rafting down the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.

Rafting Group

Part of our group, Julie, Caleb, Lydia and Greg, rafting down the Snake River.

Snake River Rafting

Rafting on the Snake River.

Above the Snake River

After white water rafting, we climbed up to this view.

After Rafting

My sister and me after rafting. We were on the front of the raft, so we got soaked.

Yellowstone Pool

A beautiful steaming pool at Yellowstone National Park.

Grand Teton Sunset

Sunset view of the Grand Tetons from our lodge.

Mountain Sunset

Another view of the same sunset.

Lake Hike

Hiking near Jackson Lake with an amazing mountain view.

Ma and Lydia

Me and Lydia on a hike near Jackson Lake.

Niece and Nephew

My niece and nephew, Lydia and Caleb, enjoying the lily pad lake view.

Mountian

Mountain Majesty

Sitting on a Log

We stopped for a picnic, Caleb sat next to me.

Swan Lake

Picnic view of Swan Lake

Hiking

My mom and niece enjoying the hike.

Hiking Path

Beautiful hiking path.

Mountain Layers

The mountains changed on the drive home in Wyoming.

DIY Traveler

I’m not sure what is more difficult… becoming a sailor or re-entering American society.

The standards of Americans challenge us when we are in the States because we want to feel at home and have all the luxuries we were used to before we decided to travel. So, we have found ourselves at a crossroads between being travelers and just feeling homeless.

How should we continue to travel, yet also have a sense of home and relief from travel. I see travel as a completely different experience than vacationing. “Travel” usually means fewer showers, more street food, language barriers, new forms of transportation and being excited/scared often. Although worth every minute, it can become exhausting. Where do we put up our feet to take a break from this and feel comfortable again?

We are straddling two worlds right now. Do we go back to living comfortably and going on vacations, or do we have a crash pad to stay between countries? We have yet to determine its purpose, but we have bought a little townhome near Denver, Colorado we can call home for now.

Mexico is beckoning, as sailing season is upon us again. We both want so badly to go back to the S/V Luckiest and see the rest of the Sea of Cortez, but we are in the middle of renovations of our new home. We bought a fixer-upper built and decorated in 1974 — the same year as our Cal 35 sailboat. We have a ton of changes to make before we even move in, but we are both excited to see of what we are capable of in the rehab world. After we complete the reno, we will likely be rushing down to La Paz to get a couple of months of sailing in before the season ends. We hope to make it across the sea to the Gold Coast near Puerto Vallarta.

The idea is that we set up American-style lives for part of the year and spend three to six months of the year traveling in different countries. It seems good in theory, so stick around and I will let you know if it works. In the mean time, here are some before shots and renovation photos of our new place.

The before shot of our entry way.

The before shot of our entry way.

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Wallpaper from 1974 covers most of the home’s surfaces including the kitchen. Orange and green flowers and stripes have got to go.

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The flower powder room near the kitchen.

Old dirty staircase.

Old dirty staircase.

Tim is scraping the popcorn ceiling off. It was a huge mess, but we did it before we moved any furniture in.

Tim is scraping the popcorn ceiling off. It was a huge mess, but we did it before we moved any furniture in.

We pulled all the carpet up first.

We pulled all the carpet up first.

I am pulling the wallpaper off the pantry column in the kitchen, which will be an island.

I am pulling the wallpaper off the pantry column in the kitchen, which will be an island.

Tim begins to cut the pantry in half to make an island and a more open concept.

Tim begins to cut the pantry in half to make an island and a more open concept.

We stacked all of our bigger furniture in the living room while we still renovate. All the wallpaper is off, the ceilings are scraped and the shag carpet is gone.

We stacked all of our bigger furniture in the living room while we still renovate. All the wallpaper is off, the ceilings are scraped and the shag carpet is gone.

Catching Up

As you may have noticed, I have been lazy when it comes to blogging for the past few months. I apologize. I have found myself pretty easily distracted in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

When I last blogged we were just arriving in Shaver Lake, California to work for a friend we met in La Paz. Our main goal, however was to explore, of course. Every day we were not working – Tim at the lake dock and me at the restaurant – we were out hiking. The area surrounding Shaver Lake is beautiful! Stunning views, streams and giant sequoias in Mckinley Grove. We really enjoyed our time working and playing in the central california area. And, Tim finally got sick of his long locks and buzzed his hair off while we were in Shaver (ironic, eh?).

Tim said he could sit and contemplate these giants for hours.

Us enjoying Huntington Lake.

Overlooking the valley near Mushroom Rock in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The top of Black Point trailhead overlooking Huntington Lake, I think.

One of our favorite discoveries in the Shaver Lake area was the Dinkey Creek granite pools. Over centuries, the streams of snow runoff running through the heavily granite Sierra Nevada mountains carving out pools in the rock. The “Dinkey Pools” are one such series of pooling streams connected by waterfalls creating natural water slides. It took us some time to find the trailhead to hike back to the pools because it is not a marked trail, but it is a popular destination with the locals. After hiking about a mile, we found the pools and went swimming.

We found the Dinkey Pools… not sure if we should get in.

Tim climbing one of the waterfalls at Dinkey Pools.

The views were beautiful, and the water was cold!

Although we planned to spend most of the summer in Shaver Lake, I knew I would be spending July in Colorado waiting for my new niece to be born. I went to stay with my parents and sister for most of July in anticipation of Cora June Gregory, who arrived a week late on July 20, 2012. Tim flew out for the week we thought she would be born and got to meet her about an hour before he had to be back at the airport. She came just in the nick of time. While we were waiting for her, we did a lot of hiking in the area with my family in Evergreen, Colorado.

Tim and my niece hiking ahead in Colorado.

Me holding my new niece Cora.

A shot from Cora’s newborn photos. I couldn’t resist sharing.

After the excitement of welcoming our new niece, we headed back to California to pack up and prepare for our ’round the country visits with friends and family. We added a couple stops along the way so we went back down to Newport to visit David and Katie – some good friends we made while in Baja. Then we headed to Oregon to visit my long-time-friend Lauren who had recently taken a new job in Eugene. From there we went back over to Colorado, and Tim flew to Texas and back for his sister’s graduation from nursing school. When we left, we drove over to Ohio, Michigan and back down to Texas. Yup, I wasn’t kidding about our U.S. tour.

We went to the Orange County Fair in Newport, California. You must have a corn dog at the fair.

There was a surfing competition at Huntington Beach, so It was packed. Nothing like SoCal beaches.

We drove all the way from Newport to Eugene, Oregon, seeing most of California. We went through wine country and tons of golden rolling hills. Northern California and Oregon are so green, which was a nice change from the Baja desert. We explored the town of Eugene, the coast directly west, and the mountains to the east. We saw a lot in a weekend.

The coast was foggy and chilly, unlike the beaches we were used to. It was still very pretty.

Our feet went numb in the water for this picture!

Sunset on the historic bridge.

Sunset on the Oregon cost. We climbed sand dunes to get the view.

Tim at the base of the huge Proxy waterfall we hiked to in Oregon. It was so lush.

Me climbing up near the lower Proxy Falls.

Evergreen, Colorado was our next destination, but we knew we wanted to break it up into a two-day drive. We stopped in Salt Lake City and explored a little bit that evening and morning before heading along our way. Tim loved driving on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Stopping at the Salt Flats.

Sun setting over the mountains surrounding the Salt Flats.

The Great Salt Lake was huge and strangely calm. It was weird for us for to see such flat water.

We arrived in Colorado and stayed with my parents for most of August before going to Ohio and Michigan during Labor Day weekend to hang out with Tim’s extended family. They are some of the sweetest people ever. We had a lot of fun enjoying everyone’s company.

Tim’s grandparents are the most loving people. Grandpa Yoder turned 97 on Sept. 30.

Walking the pier over Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan is so cool. It is just like the ocean, only no salt!

After Michigan came Texas, we’ve come full circle 9k miles. It had been a while since I had been there. It was 108 degrees when we arrived, but thankfully a cool front came through the next day and evened out the temperature for the couple of weeks we were there catching up with everyone. I got to meet my cousin’s new baby girl and play game nights with Tim and his parents.

I have to say, we really enjoyed getting to visit all our friends and family around the country. But we did find ourselves exhausted from traveling about 5,600 miles and living out of a bag for three months. I miss the homeyness of our boat, and we find ourselves longing for our own stability. We have been traveling for a full year now, which I am surprised we made it as long as we have. We still plan to go to our boat again early next year and sail the sea for a few months. Stability with freedom to travel is our long-term goal.

California, Here we Come

It was hard to see the Luckiest getting hauled out of the water. It was clear she didn’t belong on land, so my nerves were on edge as they steadied her on the trailer.

We hauled out a little earlier than we expected, so we still had a lot of closing work to do while she was “on the hard,” as they call it. It was hot and tedious work to make sure all the bug access points were closed, pack everything and get it out, foil all exposed plastic and tie everything down. We spent two full days working on it with the company of our friends Drew and Miya on Tie Fighter. They hauled out about a month before and had been working on the hull of their trimaran. Props to them for the intense heat and hard work they endured for six weeks — we couldn’t even handle two days of it.

Leaving La Paz felt a little exciting and a little sad. We knew we had a fun new experience to look forward to working in Shaver Lake, California, but we also did not know when we would be back to our home on the sea.

Here she comes out of the water.

Luckiest getting put in her place for the summer.

Driving out the Baja peninsula was just as beautiful the second time. The land changes so much throughout to make some dramatic scenery. We stopped once half-way up in Guerro Negro and then again in Newport, California.

The Baja HaHa is a yearly “race” of about 200 sailboats that make their way from San Diego to Cabo San Lucus. Many also work their way up to La Paz for the winter. That is how we met many of the friends we made in La Paz, including David and Katie on Stargazer and Rochelle and Steve on August Pearl.

David and Katie graciously invited us to visit them on our way up to Shaver Lake to work for Steve. We were so excited to see them again and really enjoyed visiting, we actually stayed for two days in the Newport Beach area. They were great hosts and showed us around town and the area beaches. We got our first taste of what the sailing community is like in the U.S.

That was a strange thing to see for us. It is very coordinated and crowded. There were tons of boats in the Newport Harbor in slips, on moorings and coming and going. Not one was anchored, haha. We spend almost 7 months at anchor, so that is hard for us to imagine not being able to anchor. David took us on a harbor cruise in a cute little electric boat, which are popular there. Everything seemed foreign. It was really busy and lined with huge beautiful homes.

We had an awesome time with David and Katie though, window shopping and just catching up. They plan to visit Shaver Lake this summer.

Getting on the electric boat for our harbor cruise with David and Katie.

David on the harbor cruise.

Checking out Newport Beach.

Walking the Huntington Beach Promenade.

It took us just over five hours to drive from Newport to the Trading Post in Shaver Lake. We were greeted by Rochelle, Steve and his son Saylen sitting outside. It was weird to see Rochelle and Steve out of La Paz and in their own community, but it was cool. They invited us in to sit down for dinner for the first time in the Trading Post. I had lamb, Tim had a filet and it was as awesome as they had said it would be. We were “home” for the summer. I am so happy to be in the piney mountains for a while. We have so much hiking and exploring to do, and summer is just beginning here.

Tim was hired to rent out boats at Shaver Lake Watersports, and I was hired to waitress at the Trading Post and do some graphics for Blue Sky Cafe — which is Rochelle’s Cafe across the street. We moved into a little lower level apartment within walking distance of everything in town.

When we aren’t working we intend to be hiking, boating, laying by the lake and anything else this beautiful town presents.

Driving into the Sierra Nevada Foothills.

Arriving in Shaver.

That’s where Tim works.

The side yard at the Trading Post.

Rochelle’s delicious Blue Sky Cafe.

Hiking near Shaver Lake – Across the street from our place.

Tim Hiking near Shaver Lake.

The towering trees on our hike.

Tall trees make big pine cones.

Beautiful meadow.

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Finally Exploring the Sea

This is what we came here for. Island hopping from one beautiful anchorage to the next, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, combing the beaches and actually some sailing – we are finally doing what we thought we would be doing the whole time.

Now that we have a better grip on what we set out to do, what that requires in the long run and how to do what we enjoy while balancing our obligations to maintain our boat, we can enjoy this lifestyle a little more. It is so hard to see that when you are in the thick fog of learning something new and difficult. We knew we had a steep learning curve when we set out to live on our sailboat, but we couldn’t see the top of the curve until now. I’m not saying that we have learned everything we need to know or that we are now going to tackle an ocean crossing, but it is nice to know that we can at least handle ourselves cruising the Sea of Cortez. This entry covers a lot of info because it has been a while and we have seen a lot of new stuff while we were without internet.

We left the safe haven of La Paz on April 18 and stopped at only one familiar anchorage since then. On our first day we tried to unfurl our headsail, but it was caught and wouldn’t unroll. We had no idea why, but luckily, we left on the same day as our friend James on Pxis. We had been talking with him on the radio about our problem, and he offered to help. We stopped in a little anchorage where he rowed over to our boat and helped us tinker with our jib halyard (the rope or wire that holds up the front sail). He was awesome, identified the issue and had the tools and extra parts to fix it. That is what makes an amazing sailor and good cruising friend. There is no hesitation in helping your fellow cruisers. Thanks to James we were able to sail all the way to our next destination the next day – Isla San Francisco.

This was one of my favorite stops. It has a picturesque beach with great shells and an amazing hike taking you all along the ridgeline across the island. Tim and James did a lot of spear fishing at Isla San Francisco. James is a great hunter, and he was able to show Tim a lot of tips and tricks. Tim came home with a good size parrot fish – perfect for tacos. James gave us 1/8 of a huge pargo he shot, so between those two we had fish for days.

Hiking the ridge line at Isla San Fran

Me hiking the ridge with the 2 anchorages in the background.

The large bay at Isla San Francisco

Our next stop was just 2 miles north at Isla San Jose. This is a cool stop because there is a lagoon surrounded by mangroves that you can kayak or dingy through to the other side of the anchorage. However, no one warned us of how vicious the “no see ‘em” bugs are in the evening and night. We read about it later in our guidebook, but we stayed the night there, which we will never do again! We were eaten alive by these teeny-tiny-worse-than-mosquito bugs. Tim and I each had over 100 bites on our arms, legs and face. They itch worse than anything we have experienced, too. We would wake up in fits of scratching in the night for three nights. I couldn’t control myself and ended up scratching them off.

Kayaking through the mangroves at Isla San Jose

The beach was all river rocks and littered with starfish.

We ran away from that place in the morning, but I think we had bugs in our boat that we brought with us to San Everisto. I think we stopped here with Gary on our first trip down from Puerto Escondido when we first got the boat, but I can’t remember and it didn’t look familiar. I was not a huge fan of this spot. It had a little bity town and a hard-to-find store. We walked down the one road that took us over the hill to look at the salt ponds. It was pretty busy with fishing pangas (small Mexican boats), and we didn’t stay more than a night.

The small fishing village of San Everisto. There was a little store and tiny school with one dirt road cutting through the town.

Los Gatos, the anchorage just to the north, was much nicer. It has amazing red rock formations that were easy to hike around and explore. When we first arrived there a local fisherman who is well-known in the cruising community asked if we would like him to get us some lobster. Tim was excited to find them, too, and asked if Manuel would take him along. The guys went off lobster hunting and came back with a bundle. We traded a gallon of gasoline for five lobsters and Tim’s lobster hunting experience. I used the cooking books I borrowed from our cruising friend Brenda to figure out how to kill, clean and cook them. We ended up making a delicious lobster fettuccini alfredo for dinner.

Tim speared lobster with Manuel.

It got hot enough to swim in the late afternoon.

We made lobster fettucini alfredo with Tim and Manuel’s catch.

Hiking on the red rock formations at Gatos.

Red rocks at Gatos

Me and Tim hiking the red rock formations at Los Gatos. (Yes, Tim’s hair is getting very long.)

We headed to Agua Verde next, and stayed for a little while. We enjoyed how protected it was from the elements, and it was a larger anchorage with great water and a bit more to see. One hike went over a hill to a town cemetery, which was interesting to see. The town is cute and small, each yard lined with a homemade fence and their own version of landscaping. They had a great little store, too, where we bought some produce and popcorn, which I had missed up until then. Another hike on another day led us to the top of the outer-most point overlooking the sea and a large lone rock. On our last night in Agua Verde we went to the third beach to walk around and watch the sunset – which was stunning. There we met a group of guys who were on a spear fishing trip and had shot huge fish that week. They invited us for dinner and drinks at their camp.

A view from our hike of the north beach at Agua Verde.

Hiking Agua Verde

Enjoying the beach as we wait for the sunset.

The amazing sunset from the south beach at Agua Verde.

In the morning, we planned to head to Candeleros Chico – a little north facing anchorage midway to our next stop. Surprisingly, the wind picked up from the north that afternoon. We sailed upwind a bit, but decided not to stay in that spot and carry on to the next one where we might have more protection from the north wind. It was a longer day than expected and when we arrived in Honeymoon Cove, it was smaller than expected, and there was nowhere for us to anchor. I was really stressed out at this point. Tim did a great job worming us into a spot just south of there next to another boat. Tim actually got me to get in the water at this place. It was a small anchorage with reefs on both sides. I have not been real interested in snorkeling or getting in other than the occasional swim. I got all geared up in my wetsuit, fins, goggles and snorkel, and I took my sweet time easing into the water. I don’t really like the idea of ocean creatures that are all around me. We held hands and worked our way through one of the reefs. Not my finest hour. The next day we explored the beach a little bit. I forgot the camera, but we found a ton of shells, a dolphin that had been dead a while and a recently dead tarantula! That was enough for me to be ready to leave.

Me all geared up for snorkeling.

Tim taking a picture of me taking a picture of him under water.

Where we anchored south of Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante.

From there we hit up the two islands just north of Puerto Escondido – Isla Carmen and Isla Coronados. We had steady wind from the east all the way there, so we had an amazing day of sailing to Puerto Ballandra. We had a little difficulty anchoring here because there is a large underwater canyon that begins in the middle of the cove. Everyone has to anchor in a row to make sure they are on good holding ground. A nearly four-hour hike took us through the valley to overlook huge salt pond and another anchorage on the other side of the island. This was the longest hike we did. It was neat despite the insane amount of bugs in the beginning. They weren’t biters, just nat types. We also kayaked around the anchorage and explored the beach on the other side. We found a lot of cool shells and beautiful sea glass.

Sailing from Isla Danzante to Puerto Ballendra at Isla Carmen. We sailed all the way there with fairly steady wind and good speed.

A view of our boat at the beginning of our long hike across Isla Carmen.

I know we match, but the headbands really helped keep the sun and bugs off our heads while we hiked.

The huge salt pond view at the end of our journey.

I was very excited to go to Isla Coronados because there had been several whale sightings that week. I was on high alert the whole time we were there. This is a part of the Loreto National Parks system – as all of the islands are, but this was very well maintained and frequented by tourists from Loreto. We hiked around a little bit and enjoyed the white sand beaches and contrasting black volcanic rocks. This was a large anchorage with lots of boats in it when we arrived. Most, it seemed, were perched waiting for Loreto Fest in Puerto Escondido, just like us.

The well-defined hiking trail and our boat at Isla Coronados

The contrasting white sand beach and black lava rocks on the small beach at Isla Coronados.

The beach at Coronados had beautiful succulent plants covering the ground.

On our trek down from the islands we saw SO many dolphins (no whales though). Tim had the idea that they respond to happy people noises, so we began doing our best dolphin impressions. To our amazement, they can right over to the boat! We talked to them and heard them responding as they swam at the bow of our boat. It was one of the best experiences I have had out here. I was like a kid, just so amazed with nature. I posted a video of this on Facebook.

The dolphins swimming along with our boat.

We headed down to Loreto Fest, not really sure how we would anchor in Puerto Escondido because it was very crowded and moorings litter the bay. There is an area known as “the waiting room” outside the main heavily controlled bay. We did a lap in this very crowded spot and quickly realized there was no way to anchor there. We headed into the main bay to find plenty of room despite the hundred plus boats. Anchoring in there does require a daily fee, but I would rather be comfortable and safe and pay a little more.

Loreto Fest was a blast – I made a necklace, Tim took some fishing lessons, and best of all, we made new friends. We ended up scooting down to the anchorage just south of there and meeting up with our friends A.J. and Norma on No Problem and Chris and Anne Marie on Starship. They are also a young married couple who live aboard and are spending their first year in the Sea. We had a great time with them in Candeleros Bay anchored in front of a nice resort that shares its pool and bar with sailors. They showed us how to hunt for clams, so we cleaned them and cooked them on Starship. Tim had shot a Cabria, so we had them over for dinner. This was our last new stop and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Chris and Anne Marie from Starship at Loreto Fest.

The pool at he resort at Candeleros Bay.

We actually relaxed by the pool and felt like we on vacation for a couple of hours!

Tim finding clams in the sand.

Cooking and Eating clams. Anne Marie showed us how to clean them (dirty job) and Chris grilled them with a garlic, onion and butter sauce. Very delish!

Tim shot a Cabria (aka Grouper) for dinner.

When we left there, we just made nightly stops and kind of hurried back to La Paz, as time had crept up on us before we knew it. The last two hours of our trip back we finally saw what I had been looking for the whole trip — a whale! It was amazing to see something so huge. I didn’t get a good picture despite my incessant clicking, but it made an impression on us as we leave the sea for a while.

Now, we have to give notice to the boat yard that will haul us out, and we have a lot of work to do to shut her down. That brings us up to date. Today and tomorrow will be spent packing, cleaning and preparing to head back to the U.S. for a undetermined amount of time.

Farewell For Now

We had a very busy past couple weeks, getting out of the Marina and then participating in BayFest – an annual party the cruisers in La Paz put on – and now we are finally ready to go.

The stress was really building for us while we were in the marina and we really considered putting the boat on the hard and heading back to the states early. Then we backed off and realized we really just need to be having fun. So we decided that we would wrap up everything that completely had to happen and get out of the marina and then La Paz, but put no stipulations on ourselves. We are going to go as far north as we can or want to and then come back to La Paz to pull the boat out of the water.

During the BayFest we entered a raffle to get 50% off our haul out ($350 usd) and a new bottom painting at a boat yard here – and we won! We really are the Luckiest. To take advantage of that, we are coming back to La Paz in Mid-May and driving out the Baja to California.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this, but we made a friend and fellow cruiser here who owns a restaurant and small marina on Shaver Lake in California. He has offered us a couple of summer jobs from June through August. Tim will be working on the dock with boats and wake board lessons while I tough it out serving at the dinner house. Except for during the month of July, which I will be spending with my sister who is due to have her third baby on July 14. We are very close and I fully intend to be there before during and after her new baby arrives. We are excited to get up to the mountains and lake setting, and to make some money!

We have been spending a lot lately working on the boat and really readying ourselves to go. It will be nice (and necessary) to replenish the “cruising kitty” as they call it. I have no idea why. We have also been enjoying our friends more, especially at BayFest. We played in sand volleyball tournament, blindfolded dingy race (2nd place) and costume contest (also 2nd place). It was all really fun. We said goodbye on Sunday to some friends who are crossing the Pacific. We might meet up with them again on their side of the world.

As the cruising season begins to close everyone is talking about their summer plans and when they might come back next year. It is a joy to say we are not quite sure where w will be come September.

It’s just a quick update this time, and I will try to keep it up as we head north and internet will become harder to find.

Across the Map

Welp, we made it to Galveston from La Paz by car. We drove all the way up the Baja peninsula and across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas… not the preferred method of travel, but when Mexico tells you that you cannot import your car to the mainland, you kind of figure out a way around it.

We planned to take a ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan and drive a more direct route, but we hit a little snag. Mainland Mexico requires an import permit for a vehicle, but the Baja does not. We imported the car when we drove down through the country in October and were told we could export the car when we arrived in La Paz. That was not correct. We had to drive to the border to export the car, so we didn’t, and assumed we could re-import the car because the permit had expired. Well that was wrong and we had to change plans quick, so off we went to see the Baja.

It was such a beautiful drive. We saw the terrain change and different types of mountains. We drove along the coastline of the Baja on both sides. As we passed the Bay of Conception, Tim reminded me to look out for our friends Jasna and Rick on Calypso. Just as soon as he said that, we spotted them! We pulled off the road and wandered down to the beach to call for them. Tim yelled load out to their boat, they heard him and kayaked in to the beach. We visited with them for 30 mins or so before we headed on our way.

We made it to Guerrero Negro (about half way up the Baja) before dark. On day 2 we drove the Mexican wine country and then and incredible boulder mountain range on our way to the U.S. border crossing in Mexicali. We traveled about 12 hours each day. We landed for the night in Yuma, Arizona – where Tim was stationed as a Marine. We were able to spend the night on the base. Tim took me to his old shop where he built and repaired giant guns used on the Harrier. We took our time in the morning, and he took me on a tour of his old stomping grounds. We also went to the Arizona Territorial Prison which was along the Colorado River.

We then made our way to Fort Stockton, TX – about as far as we could get before we were exhausted. It was straight north of Big Bend National Park and we were wishing we could go explore it. Had we planned better we would have worked in time for that. Day Four of driving took us to San Antonio to see the Alamo and River Walk – two places I had never been even though I grew up in Dallas. I liked learning a bit more about our Texas history and was surprised how cool the River Walk was. We had dinner down there – finally finding a good frozen margarita. Then we headed to the outskirts of town to get a head start of driving for the next day.

Today, we made it! We were looking at the map and realized that we will have made it clear across the entire map by the time we get to Cozumel. It will be the most I have traveled in 10 days. We are both excited to get on the cruise ship and RELAX. It has been a long time since we have just kicked backed and didn’t worry about something. We will be traveling around Texas and Colorado when we get back from the cruise, but I think we will be going at a slower pace.

It feels a little weird being back in the states. Everything seems so expensive and moving at a faster pace. I have not been out of the country for longer than 2 months before now, and I guess we will have an adjustment period.

Sunrise the morning we left the boat.

Mountains near Mexicali

The Colorado River near Yuma

San Antonio River Walk