Welcome to our mid-life crisis! These are the chronicles of Laura and Patrick, their young son Jack, and their goofball Labrador Retriever named Evinrude (Rudy), as they travelled the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico in their catamaran. We went cruising in search of a change of pace, a closer knit family, and peace of mind. We found all three and more. The fun all started in October, 2008 and nearly four years later the Mexican adventure came to an end August 3rd, 2012. With our mid-life crisis cured in Mexico, we are excited to start a new adventure - life back in America.

Patrick has since joined the Sales Team of Marine Servicenter as a boat broker. Whether you are looking to make your dream of sailing away come true, or ready to sell your boat he can help. He can be reached at http://marinesc.com/about/crew/patrick-harrigan

Candeleros Chico

Candeleros Chico
Just another beautiful day at anchor on the Baja. 2010

Dolphins at play in the bow wake 2011

Dolphins at play in the bow wake  2011

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dolphins and Whales and Shallow water, Oh My

Hello Everyone!
I just cannot believe all that has happened since I last wrote you. We left San Blas around 5:30 am on March 27th, since we had a long way to go. At one point on the way, we had to alter our course about 10 degrees so we could avoid a couple humpbacks that were having a grand time hurling themselves out of the water and splashing by slapping their flukes. We watched them for about 15 minutes, before our boat noise became enough to disturb them.

Our ultimate destination was Mazatlan, but there was this neat looking inlet about halfway up that we wanted to go look at. There is a little town there called Teacapan. Unfortunately neither of the cruiser guide books we had even mentioned it, so we didn’t have anything to go on except Google Earth images and the stories of one cruiser. The bay had a big fan-like approach, a very small bottleneck and then a very large bay, and even from space, you could see large breakers around the opening indicating very shallow water. There were no channel markers. But hey, isn’t that what’s so great about cats? They only draw 3 ½ feet.

So it’s 5:00 pm, the sun is setting, the wind is 10 to 15 knots, pretty good swell crashing through and we are looking at solid breakers in front of us. We start nosing in and get to 8 feet depth when suddenly the water explodes at our boat on the land side. Bottle nose dolphins! Jumping out of the water, five feet from the boat, some sort of hitting it. Were they warning us? Jack had already gone to his room saying to Patrick , “I am going to huddle up in to a ball on my bed.” And he left to do it! Just minutes earlier he had said to Patrick, "I wish I was your wife so I could yell at you!" Things were dicey looking. but the dolphins were my last straw. I was just saying to turn around when a fisher panga was nearing us and Patrick flagged it down. Patrick asked them if we could get in the bay, and then if they could show us the way. They said yes to both and promptly led us back out and around about ¼ mile to the real entrance. When we were safely in the harbor past the bottleneck, they pulled alongside and we gave them gifts of a couple Cemex T shirts and 300 pesos (about 20 bucks.) Judging from the look on their faces, we gave them a little too much of a tip, but Hey! We were happy with them!

We talked to a man in Teacapan who told us that about 2 cruiser boats show up in this harbor every year The town is very small, with loads of small fisher pangas and traditional fishing boats with paddles for the boatmen. We were a major curiosity in the town. In the morning, some fishermen called out to us (while we were sleeping) and they were heading off the work! Many drove very close to our boat to get a good look. The town is on an estuary and used to be very full of large fish and shrimp, but is a little fished out now. However, it is still a major source of seafood for surrounding towns. The estuary is very large and shallow. We anchored in about 9 feet, right on the town’s edge.

The next day we went wandering around town and lazing about. Then just at sunset, Jack and I were sitting together in the master bedroom, just hanging out and chatting. We became aware that we were hearing a high pitched squeal. It took me a moment and then I realized, “Those are dolphins we are hearing.” Jack didn’t believe me at first, but the noises continued. He ran out to the deck to try to catch sight of them, and found the whole pod circling our boat! Maybe twenty or thirty in the pod. I ran and got my camera but just seconds after starting the video the battery died. Isn’t that classic? But it let me just enjoy the show. They stayed for about 45 minutes, circling the boat, calling, and circling some more. When we were standing on deck, the dolphins started sending sonar clicks at the boat. When the sonar hit the boat it sounded like crackling and popping electricity and we could feel the vibrations through our feet. We could see them through the water, turning on their side to get a better look at the boat. They were just like the villagers, very interested in us and our boat! They were smaller than other dolphins we have seen, very dark with lighter colored bellies. We think they were Spinner dolphins. It was so amazing. They showed up when Patrick was gone to the store on the dinghy, but he returned shortly into their visit. The escorted him in to the boat and then played around his dinghy while he sat in it. There was at least one baby who was about 2 to 3 feet long. So cute!

If getting in to the estuary had been tense, getting out was a real nail biter. There was a new moon that was making extreme tides and when we woke up the next morning, we had never seen the tide that low. The trip to Mazatlan was going to be about 10 hours and we were hoping to make it to anchor by dark so we wanted to get going as soon as possible. By 8:30 the tide had risen 1 foot and water was rushing in, so we decided to make a break for it. Our draft is 3.5 and at one point, the depth meter read 3.6. I was sounding like the announcer from Wimbledon, calmly reading out the numbers - 4.2, 3.9. 3.6 - right behind Patrick. It was driving him nuts because he could read the numbers for himself, but it was better than me screaming. However, in the end, and with a little pointing from the panga fishermen, we were headed in the right direction and out the channel.

Almost as soon as we were out of the estuary we were treated to quite a performance by a little baby humpback and his mommy. He was practicing his breaching and he was good at it. He was about 12 feet long, and a perfect miniature humpback whale. It is so funny to see a tiny version. He would hurl himself almost completely out of the water and then slam down next to him mom. She would come up and breathe and then he would do it again. He lept about 15 or twenty times while we watched. They came very close to the boat, maybe within 300 feet.

On our trip back to Mazatlan we picked up a hitchhiker. A boobie landed on our solar panel while we were underway. He was very funny to watch while he learned how to cope with the motion of the boat through the waves, but once he was comfortable, he started preening and eventually settled down for a nice nap. He stayed with us for about four hours before he flew off, refreshed. We made it to Mazatlan just after twilight and anchored next to Sunbaby at Stone Island, just outside the Mazatlan harbor. It was so calm and such beautiful weather we stayed the next day at Stone Island before heading in to Marina El Cid yesterday. It was great to be back. As we were moving in to the channel some of the dock workers were calling out greetings and welcoming us back. As we were moving through to the fuel dock, we spotted Mama Bird at dock.

Last night, we threw a Marina Palmira get together with Sunbaby and Mama Bird. It was really fun to get together five months later after our first meeting. We were all so fresh and shiny new when we met, and now we all had some stories to tell. Everyone is doing great, having fun and making plans to head into the Sea. Can't wait.



  1. We love the new look and life sounds pretty exciting! N & P

  2. Hi!
    I have your email address on the computer on the boat in La Paz and we are still in the US. We are hoping to catch up with you this summer. Is there anything you need from here? Mac and Cheese maybe? Anything else? You can get ahold of us at thirdday.com It is good to see that you are having fun. We are home(boat)sick and are looking forward to being back on the water just after Easter. Great pictures!

    s/v Third Day