Hello!

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Punta Chivato to Santa Rosalia

After several days at Punta Chivato, we picked up anchor and headed to Sweet Pea Cove, Isla San Marcos. This island plays host to a gypsum mining operation at the southern end, and just a few fish camps at the northern end. Sweet Pea Cove is just one of three anchorages at the northern end. The cliffs fall right into the Sea here, with just a few small rock beaches tucked in, and some sea caves in other places. A couple caves are big enough to enter by kayak or dinghy. The area surrounding the coast is littered with boulders of all sizes, from pumpkin to house sized, and so the snorkeling is very interesting. We really wished we had diving gear with us. We saw some of the biggest game fish here (and the biggest octopus) that we have seen snorkeling. But no luck with our spears. We haven't gotten the knack yet.

The beaches on Isla San Marcos are some of the more remote that we have seen and so there were all sorts of interesting finds on them. I found pieces of sea turtle shells bleached white in the sun, the vertebra of a sea lion (a dried flipper was nearby), and even the jawbone of a dolphin, judging by the size and teeth. Jack found one of the prettiest, biggest pieces of old blue sea glass that I have ever seen. We have collected beach glass from Vancouver Island and all over the Pacific Northwest, but it is pretty rare to find down here, for some reason.

Our next stop was a marina at Santa Rosalia. We have a few minor repairs to attend to and cleaning. We have been off a dock for about two months and it is time for laundry facilities for for our clothes, and a hose, copious amounts of water, and a brush for our boat. We are salt encrusted from bow to stern.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bahia Concepcion to Punta Chivato

Our second week in Conception Bay was spent mostly in the company of two other kid boats - Don Quixote and Windfall. Don Quixote is from Seattle, sailing in our sister ship, a 2001 Lagoon 380', hull #63 (we are # 65). They are a family of five - Dean and Toast and their three girls, Jamie, Mera and Aeron, ages 13 to 8ish. They have owned their boat about 4 years and circumnavigated Vancouver Island before heading to Mexico. Windfall is a couple (Meri and Jim) from Colorado with their two kids, Tim (13) and Caroline (9). Their story is similar to ours - little ocean sailing experience, but what the hey! Don't let that stop you! Don Quixote is going home for the summer, but Windfall will be floating around in the N. Sea with us.

We left Bahia Concepcion after two weeks enjoying the warmer water and sheltered harbors. Our next stop was Mulege, a fairly large town on the outskirts of the Bay. Unfortunately, there is really no safe place to anchor your boat there, so Ru and I stayed on board while Patrick and Jack ran into town on the dinghy to get some business done. Their first stop was to find Gary Bott, a buddy of Patrick's from Rinker, who is now retired and lives in Mulege part of the year. With Patrick's usual luck, they found him first thing. Patrick and Jack were so happy to see Gary and his wife Annie. They were very kind and Annie made homemade brownies for Jack, while Gary picked beautiful tomatoes from his garden for us. Gary loaned Patrick his van so Patrick could get groceries and dinghy gas. Boy were we running low on supplies! But our coffers are filled now. Patrick and Jack had a great visit with Gary and Annie and we all look forward to visiting them again.

With our business taken care of, we left Mulege that afternoon and set off for Pnnta Chivato, a nearby sportsman fishing enclave. Beautiful, expensive homes line the bay here, enjoying one of the most amazing beaches. I am not an expert but this is the best shell beach I have ever seen. Loads of beautiful shells, lots of different species, in great condition over a beach that stretches at least a mile.

We leave tomorrow, headed to Sweet Pea Cove on Isla San Marcos. We have to get into a good anchorage without high surrounding hills for our upcoming Amigo Net gig on Friday the 29th. It's best to be somewhere where your radio is not limited in power since the distances broadcast are from CA to people on their way to Hawaii and others way down south on their way to the Galapagos. After that, we hope to secure a berth at the marina in Santa Rosalia for a week for a break. It is very restful to be tied to a dock, with easy access to a town, laundry, Internet, restaurants, and other people. We will update the blog more there.

One of our next blogs will be a picture tour of our boat (as suggested by our cousin Michelle) and a run down of our systems (another question from Kirk in Toronto).


Take care everyone,

Laura

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Honeymoon Revisited

Today finds us anchored in front of our old honeymoon haunt, FKA George Ole's. Turns out it may have a new name, but one of the owners is the same from when we were here. It is great to sit at the same table, looking out at Just a Minute just 250 feet away.

We are really enjoying our time in Conception Bay. We are the only boat anchored this far into the Bay. All the other boats hang out closer to the entrance. There is a lot of life here. We have seen many pods of dolphins, hundreds of balls of bait fish breaking the surface, and even a whale shark. He was just a little guy - probably about 20 feet long. It is amazing to think of one being 60 feet long.

We will probably stay in Conception Bay for another week and then head on to Mulege, the closest town. We are running out of food and have to re-provision.

Conception Bay

There is a dearth of anchorages north from San Juanico, so our next leg was 45 nautical miles to the lip of Bahia Concepcion. Yeah! We are finally here! Conception Bay is very large (22 miles long by 5 miles wide), fairly shallow throughout, and surrounded by high hills. It is one of the hottest spots on the Sea since it is so protected. The water is noticeably warmer than San Juanico, only 45 miles away. The water temp is somewhere in the mid to high 80's, the air temp is 90 to 100. Conception Bay is a very popular camping and vacationing spot for Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans. There are numerous anchorages spread throughout the Bay.

Finally at Conception Bay, we spent a couple nights anchored at a beach that is right at the entrance, before heading into the Bay. Our first stop when we passed into the Bay was at a popular cove that has a restaurant on the beach. We parked our boat, dinghyed in for lunch and promptly left to find a more secluded anchorage. We still wanted a little solitude, but it was nice to let someone else cook for a change.

We found the perfect anchorage tucked into the lee of a small island here in Conception Bay called Isla Coyote. We spent three days there, doing what we love - snorkeling, fishing, swimming with Rudy and being together. We had the place to ourselves, our own little deserted island with a perfect little beach. The cove is perfect for one boat and the island is uninhabited.

On our second morning at Isla Coyote, a pod of dolphins came into the cove while we were all snorkeling. We were only about 30 feet from them while they were feeding, but we could only see them if our heads were out of the water - visibility wasn't that great and they didn't come close enough. but is was still very exciting. Bottlenose dolphins are typically 11 feet long, some as long as 13 feet - they look big in the water.

The next day, Jack and I saw our first sea horse poised in the sea weed. It was so amazing to see one. He stays very close to the same spot and we saw him again the next day. His is about 6 to 8 inches long, black with lighter spots. The snorkeling is excellent around this island and Jack and Patrick have been practicing their spearfishing. Jack had his first kill that morning.

Puerto Ballandra to San Juanico

Our first stint as net controller for the Amigo net went very well. I can't speak for Patrick, but I was pretty nervous, and I was just the one taking notes as the cruiser's checked in. Patrick was the voice for us. We will pick up Juniata's spot starting May 29th and cover for her until we go back to the States for a visit. Still no plans made, yet we are hammering out the details. Our plan so far is that all four of us will come home for about three weeks sometime in late July or August.

We loved our time in Ballandra and stayed many days. Our next jump was to Punta Mangles about 5 hours away. We weren't intending to stop there, but the wind was dead agaisnt us at around 15 knots and Jack and I weren't feeling well. It was a strange point, affording little protection from the wind direction, but sometimes it is just nice to be anchored, even in waves and wind. On a hill overlooking the point was an abandoned hotel complex, that had been started but never finished. It sort of reminded me of the setting of the horror movie "The Shining" for some strange reason. We only stayed one night.

We moved on to San Juanico the next day. This was Ralph and Arlene's favorite anchorage when they cruised through here 30 years ago. It is stunning, but our weather window did not hit it right. The wind poured straight into the bay both days we were there. San Juanico is a favorite cruiser's spot. The first night there were 15 boats anchored, but after a rolly night spent on the hook, every boat but Just a Minute was gone by 9 am the next morning. If it's rolly for a catamaran, it is generally miserable for a monohull. We woke up at 9 am to find the place empty and so we sensibly moved over to the only good spot in the enormous cove (it's about 2 miles across) for our second day. We tucked in right behind a rock outcropping, and the boat stopped pitching, but it was still too windy to enjoy kayaking or snorkeling, which is too bad since it is a stunning place.

San Juanico is famous for a "cruiser's shrine" where boats from years past all leave trash and graffiti behind commemorating their visit. They strew it all over one poor tree in the anchorage. Of course, we followed suit and Jack and Patrick spent hours carving our names into a large piece of driftwood (Jack) and a small sandstone rock (Patrick). Ralph and Arlene told us that the shrine was in operation when they were cruising, but the oldest date I saw was 1989.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beyond Escondido

May 5th

I've been writing and storing blog entries on my computer throughout the last two weeks, so I will upload them as I can. It might be a little confusing in past and present tenses, but just bear with it.

We finally left Puerto Escondido on May 4th. We left early in the morning, and tiptoed out of the bay. Loretofest was a lot of fun, but I was happy to be back on the Sea.

Our first stop was Puerto Ballandra on Isla Carmen. We had heard from Sunbaby on the Amigo net that this cove was the next stop on their way home. It was only 16 nautical miles away from us, so we hurried over to see them. We knew this would be our last chance to see them before they headed home.

Puerto Ballandra is an exceptional anchorage (well they all seem exceptional so far.) It is a very protected C-shaped cove with mostly sand bottom. Outside the cove, a large pod of dolphins greeted us and escorted us in. That night we got together with Sunbaby and had lots of laughs filling each other in on our activities. The following day we just rested up and then had dinner over at Sunbaby along with a Canadian couple (Jeff and Linda on Curare) who are Amigo Net controllers - the hosts who run the cruiser's radio forum.

The controllers are a revolving bunch of cruisers who volunteer to run the Net - they keep everyone organized, record the current locations of everyone for safety, and generally just keep it flowing smoothly. No one is allowed to broadcast on the radio until the controller has recognized them and called for their input. We were very interested to talk with Jeff and Linda since Patrick and I are signed up to do our first Amigo Net controller job on Friday May 7th. It is a great way to get involved, learn a lot, help out and meet people. Lots of people rely on the Amigo net for connecting with friends, weather info from Don in Oxnard, and camaraderie. It's a great forum and we are really excited to get involved. Our first time will be as a fill-in for a regular controller who can't do it that day (Marcia on Juniata). We will also be filling in for Marcia while she goes home this summer in June and July. After we get a little practice, we hope to pick up a permanent spot. Many people leave over the summer and there is lots of room to help.

Puerto Ballandra has so much life in it. Everyday so far, we have seen a large pod of dolphins at the entrance to the cove, playing and feeding. This morning, I woke up to the sounds of a few hunting in the cove around the boats. I enjoyed the show as they caused shoals of fish to leap from the water for their lives. A couple times, I saw a fish walking across the water, with only their tale touching as they frantically tried to get away. And then the lunge and splash, and the fish became breakfast. Later that same morning, we saw a large sea turtle swimming underwater as we drove our dinghy over to Sunbaby for the Last Goodbye. We are so sad to see Bill (Uncle Bill as Jack calls him) and Sue leave. They feel like family. But they are planning to be back again next season and we look forward to seeing them again.

Laura

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hotel California

We are starting to think that we are meant to stay here for a while. We have checked out, paid the bill, said good bye no less than three times, and yet we never leave. Our last stop yesterday, before we were going to leave Puerto Escondido was to the hot dog stand for lunch. We were standing in line when I noticed the server looked a lot like our good friend Arlene. Gee, isn't that funny? There's no way it could be her - they aren't in Mexico. Patrick has known Ralph since he was eleven and Ralph and Arlene helped us bring our boat down to La Paz from CA (Ralph is a delivery captain.) And then she turned around. We couldn't believe it! They are here to pick up a boat and take it back to CA. So we stayed again. Jack is off at a kid's party right now. We think we may leave tomorrow, but we will see what happens..

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Onward

We've been having a great time at Loretofest 2009 but we have decided to head out on our way north again. Still anxious to get to Conception Bay before it gets too hot to enjoy (the bay is mostly land locked so it's one of the hottest places in the Baja in the summer - better to get there early).
We will be out on the hook for the next couple weeks and will probably not have Internet service again for a few weeks. We'll post lots more pictures then. Hopefully by then this swine flu situation will be winding down.

Take care everyone,
Laura