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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Well, now what?

Now that we have wrapped up most of the projects around the house, we are a little stir crazy while deciding what to do next. I have been working with local non-profits and networking organizations through my business: Blank Slate Graphics and Marketing.

I have discovered a huge passion for helping others and really put working with the Global Education Fund as a top priority for myself. I met several of the board members at a networking group a few weeks ago. The speaker at the event has several schools and organizations she has started in Bangalore, India, and receives funding from the Global Education Fund. She is one of the most accomplished individuals I have ever met. She is a core shaker. I felt completely moved by her story, and felt compelled to change my direction. I created a new blog to reflect these thoughts and changes as I move forward into the non-profit realm.

I have no idea what is next for me and Tim. Right now we are both working in the Denver area trying to make more than a few bucks to get back down to Mexico. We are thinking we will have a couple of months on the Luckiest and put her on the market to sell to someone else looking for an escape. It is a very tough decision, as we both are in love with our boat, but we feel a bit tied down to traveling to Mexico even if we want to go elsewhere. More to come on this as we prepare our lives to have comfortable established home and aboard lifestyles.

Dreaming of White Textured Walls

Renovation update: we have made and repaired many holes in drywall, removed every little scrap of remaining wallpaper, demolished the powder room, removed 2 layers of linoleum flooring, cut the pantry into a kitchen island and opened up the entryway coat closet to be a tiny mud room. It is almost time to put everything back together — the fun part.

We have primed every surface of the main and upper levels, so we can have a pro come texture all the walls and ceilings tomorrow. Once the texture is done, we prime again, paint and get carpet upstairs! We have been picking out paint colors, carpet and flooring for downstairs this week.

Here are some pics of our progress : )

Drywall repair is not too fun.

Drywall repair is not too fun.

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Raised the frame for the new mud room

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We scraped off two layers of linoleum flooring in the kitchen.

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What’s this? Someone used an old ping-pong table to make uneven subfloor repairs. Tim replace all the once-wet and ping-pong table subfloor.

The master bedroom wallpaper put up a fight coming off, so we had a lot of patching to do in this room.

The master bedroom wallpaper put up a fight coming off, so we had a lot of patching to do in this room.

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We sanded and primed the ENTIRE house for texture and then we get to prime it all again.

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The kitchen is beginning to take shape and all the walls and ceilings are white.

It snowed just in time for a white Christmas.

It snowed just in time for a white Christmas at my parent’s house.

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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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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.

Happy Anniversary, I think

One of the questions I get most often about life on a boat is, “How can you stand each other that often in such a small space?” The answer is, we don’t.

We get fed up with one another and argue over stupid things. We even storm off and go outside to the cockpit. I think this behavior, although not preferred, is common among the first year of marriage as you both find your places in the relationship and your roles as husband and wife. I also think that our situation of spending nearly 24-hours a day together and overcoming new and constant challenges compounds this process a little bit. I like to think we are learning so much about each other that we are like a couple who has been married more than one year… maybe three. We have amazing days often, but I wanted to point out that we are still learning so much about sailing, living aboard and each other, that we often find ourselves stressed.

It is hard to believe one year has gone by since our wedding, but then I sit back and look at all the things that we have done and what has changed since then, and I am amazed. It makes me think that Tim and I can accomplish anything we set out to do. We will be able to take on the whole world, and fully intend to. Not necessarily in our boat, but certainly in some fashion.

Right now we have found ourselves in Marina de La Paz working on what we thought would be a few quick projects before we headed north into the sea. We have made good progress over the last few days polishing the stainless steel, replacing a faulty fuel injector, repairing our dinghy outboard motor and giving everything a good wash down. We also discovered a leak in our starboard fresh water tank and bought a new dinghy. Trade the good with the bad.

We don’t know how much longer this will keep us here in La Paz, so I am beginning to wonder if we will ever go north this year. Perhaps traveling north will have to wait until next season. This is so common among sailors here. Many people come to La Paz with intentions to only stay one or two months and soon they have spent a year here.

I am not really complaining about being in La Paz; it is comfortable and easy and beautiful, but it was not the intention to move to La Paz. The weather has warmed up quite a bit here in the past couple weeks to hit 90. It is nice to wear vacation clothes, but it does get hot working on the boat in the marina. I have tried to set a deadline for leaving La Paz – April 8 – my birthday and Easter this year. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but a girl can dream.

In the mean time we have been really enjoying our friends here while we can. Our friends from Texas came to visit – Torie and Andrew. We took them to the islands and showed them everything we could. We had one pretty bad rolling night, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. We have been soaking up our La Paz friends, too. Everyone has their plans and deadlines to leave, but we all still find ourselves here in sunny La Paz.

For our first anniversary Tim and I celebrated by having a delicious breakfast out in town where we discovered the best jam ever. It is papaya and pineapple and we bought a large amount to-go. We had an argument in the afternoon over something silly and made up in the evening. We took our dessert wine from Napa Valley that we have been saving for more than a year to the beach and had a glass while we looked at the stars. It was perfect – not story book perfect, but real life perfect.

Jasna selling goods at the swap meet in La Paz. The boaters organize a swap meet once a month.

Torie and Andrew checking out the view from the bow.

Torie and Me doing a little sunbathing in Caleta Partida.

One of the best sunsets yet.

Out with Rick and Jasna.

We had an anniversary breakfast where we discover the best jam ever.

Tim opening our wine with the help of his trusty headlamp.

Delicious wine on the beach

Happy Anniversary ; )

Me polishing all the stainless steel.

 

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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We headed out to the islands for holiday celebrations on Dec. 22 just before a strong northerly blew through the La Paz area. We knew we wanted to spend our holidays at the islands and would not be able to get out there during the north winds, so we cut out early and had a lovely time. We stayed on the boat for two entire days until the winds subsided on Christmas day.

We decorated our tiny tree with glitter covered sea shells, made a Christmas feast and opened presents before a stroll along the white sand beach of Bahia San Gabriel. We did miss our families a lot, but luckily still had phone reception to give them a call.

We spent the last 10 days exploring the anchorages that we had not seen yet and found some new favorites. We tucked into Candleros Bay and found some incredible hiking up the center ridge-line and down into the valley. We stayed there for a few days and watched tourist camps come in and out. We moved up to Ensenada Grande – on the north side of Isla Partida. This is a busy anchorage with tourists, divers and fishermen. This is where Tim shot his very first fish with his spear gun. He hunted it along the rocks nearby and brought it home for dinner. It, unfortunately, was very boney and tough to fillet, but we tried.

One night we were catching up on Season 2 of Friends and heard a loud splash outside. Tim went to investigate and found sea lions feeding all around our boat! It was so neat because as they swam around, they stirred up the bioluminescent plankton and created glowing streams of water and splashes all around. We grabbed our bright spotlight, and when we saw a grouping of glowing movement we flashed the light in their direction. All the sea lions would look at us surprised and scatter. It was great fun, and we all played this little game for about an hour.

We scooted up to the very northern rocks that have a colony of sea lions called Los Islotes. This is a huge tourist hot spot, so pongas (little power boats) full of divers and snorkelers were surrounding the island. The water there is about 65-feet deep and very rocky bottom, so we opted not to anchor and just do a loop to take a look at the activity. We anchored in a very large anchorage called Cordonal. This spot was cool because it nearly cuts the northern island in half, so you can take a very easy stroll to the east side of the island, which we did. We were confronted with the vastness of the Sea of Cortez on that side. It made me wonder if we will ever be ready to cross it.

From this anchorage we heard our friends from Matilda on the radio, but we couldn’t see them. Turns out, they were in the same place – Cordoncito – that we had waited out the last northerly with them. This is a little cove just next door to where we were, so we moved over there to join Hayden and his friends aboard, Megan, Andy and Emily. Another boat and close friends of Hayden, Pyxis with James and Eva, was there. We three boats decided to stay here and have a little party to kick off the new year. It was perfect. Everyone brought over food including the fish Hayden had shot earlier that day, and I helped fillet. We had dinner and drinks and shot off expired flares at midnight!

We also drove around to the anchorage next door and had amazing views of the glowing bioluminescence. It is unlike anything I have seen before. Our dinghies had glowing, sparkling tails as we whizzed around in the dark. Just amazing.

We returned to La Paz yesterday with sails up all the way to tend to boat maintenance and await the arrival of Tim’s parents. We are so excited to share our discoveries with them!

Heading out to the islands.

We made shells into ornaments, and I wanted to cover them all in glitter.

Ta da! Our tree covered in homemade shell ornaments.

Tim is carving our Christmas ham. We had green bean casserole, cheddar potatoes, ham and a chocolate cake for dessert.

Christmas day walking on the beach. Yes, Tim's hair is getting long.

Hiking the ridge in Candleros bay.

Working our way through the rocky valley in Candleros.

We found these amazing red rock caves.

There is a well in Candleros that travelers can use for showers.

The view from our hike in Ensenada Grande.

Tim's first spear catch. It doesn't look like much, but he could feed us.

Me filleting Hayden's fish for New Year's Eve dinner.

New Year's party on the Luckiest.

One of the best sunsets yet.

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.