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.

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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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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

Not Exactly Sailing

Well we are working our way slowly but surely down the Baja. We have had ZERO wind, so we are motoring the whole way. This is much less fun than actually sailing, but it is real world. Gary said we will spend like 50% of the time motoring and 50% sailing. We have learned a lot of other things about life aboard, though. Really, the sailing part is the easy part. It is re-learning how to use the bathroom, how to cook, how to monitor your engine, etc. There is SO much to learn.

We are also learning how to explore these anchorages we are stopping at. Those are really the best part. When we arrive we anchor, which has been a real pain so far. It shouldn’t be, but our anchor chain is very rusty and the locker seems too small for the chain, so it has proved a bit challenging. We have plans to change it so that it will be more efficient. Right now we would have a very hard time anchoring without Gary onboard, but unfortunately we can’t keep him.

 

In our "new car" aka the dinghy

 

The anchorages have been pretty amazing. We just tuck in somewhere you wouldn’t even know existed, and go exploring. The water has been clear down a good 30 – 40 feet. We did a bit of snorkeling in San Everisto and Calita Partida on a little island across from La Paz. We decided to swim across to the shore today… turned out to be a little longer than re really wanted to swim back. We made it all the way to shore and walked about a mile around the anchorage just looking at crabs and birds and all the critters that the ocean has to offer. It was really nice to get a little alone time with Tim, too. We have been so busy learning and soaking up all the things Gary has to tell us, we really haven’t just enjoyed each other too much. Until today, which was very nice.

 

Exploring Calida Partida

 

We finally got so thirsty we decided to turn around because we knew we still had quite a swim ahead of us. We walked all the way back to our point of entry and began walking into the water. Right as we got to where we had to start swimming I noticed a young guy in his nice motor dinghy heading our direction. I was secretly hoping he was coming to get us so I didn’t have to swim all that way again, only this time against the wind. Low and behold, he did! He was heading to us thinking we wouldn’t want to swim that, and he was so right. Raul was a crewmember on the boat next store and we were so grateful for him sweeping in to get us. He dropped us off and said he would be right back with some more fish. Turns out he had caught a bunch of fish he had cooked and they had to much, so he brought over three delicious grilled fish and a wonderful prepared salad. It was one of those perfectly timed gifts of a dinghy ride and dinner. Two things we needed right then. Thank you Raul.

Tomorrow we will arrive in La Paz. That means the real work begins: paperwork for our vessel, connect online and pay some bills, get back to work designing and, of course, all the repairs on the boat. Looks like we will be camping in La Paz a little while until we can get our act together.

Almost

Wow, leaving is actually upon us now, and I could not have anticipated these feelings. I am overwhelmed in all forms: physically with packing and moving, mentally with all our tasks to accomplish and emotionally with the thought of telling all the people I love and this place goodbye.

I do ok with the day-to-day activities and chores. As long as I can check it off my list I don’t seem to have a problem with it. Visas- check, storage unit- check, garage sale- check, packing the house- check. All the while these items I’m checking off are propelling me toward leaving. When I stop and think about being gone or telling any particular person goodbye for a while, tears well up in my eyes. Then to keep myself together I go back to my checklist. Today I realized, “oh my, what we are doing is a little crazy… Hum.” oh well we have come this far, might as well keep going.

We are heading to dinner with Tim’s parent’s house to celebrate his brother’s birthday. It’s nice to take a break and enjoy company, just like it was on Saturday night with our dear friends.

Wish me luck tomorrow!

Last Week Here

As I drive around the metroplex running familiar errands in these familiar places I can’t help but feel nostalgic about it all. This could be the last time I run to the Dillard’s at the Parks Mall for a little cocktail dress. Something I have done well over 100 times in my life but somehow today, on this Tuesday before I leave the country for an undetermined amount of time, it makes me want to cry a little.

I know I will be back here, if not to live, to visit, but I know even more that I have a drive to see and do things that are new. Particularly for traveling places I haven’t been before. I wonder what gives me this drive? Who gets this drive and why do others not have it? I am driven to go out of this country and see how other people live. I have had this drive for some time. I studied Spanish in Spain and I think it might have sealed the deal then. It might be like tattoos… Once you get a taste of travel there is no going back and you will forever be looking for something else to tattoo on yourself. Before you know it you have an armsleeve of passport stamps, and where did all the time go? What makes this life desirable to some and scary to others? I feel a deep burning in my gut that says if I don’t go now, I will forever lose this dream. Despite my sadness for leave my friends and family and all that is familiar to me – even the Parks Mall – this seeking will not go away. Maybe it will one day, but then I hope to show my children the world. A perspective on life that I am just barely beginning to taste. I’m certain these next few years will carve out mine and Tim’s views and beliefs about the world we are shown. Everything we know about our world now is about to change. We are on the cusp of something very exciting and nerve wracking.

Here we go.