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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Pics from the last few weeks

"I'm Living the Dukes of Hazard!"

this was Jack's war cry after his driving lessons in Escondido. Do you remember how excited you were to learn to drive? With that attitude, you can see why I was screaming in the back while he was driving. He actually wanted to do donuts in the parking lot! And there is just something so very wrong about putting volvo station wagons and the Dukes of Hazard together.

Rudy and Laura

Jack and Zada

We believe they are the only two kids in the N. Sea of C this year.

The Cruiser's Shrine at San Juanico -

it was fun to walk around and read the names of friends from years past.

This was Jack's offering from two years ago. It's hard to read in the sunlight,
but it says SV JAM Jack and Rudy. Patrick and I are only the hired help.

Proof that Jack had a happy childhood - see the smile?

Walking San Juanico's beach with Eyoni

Bad Camera Karma (what did I do to deserve this?) plagues us, leaving us with over $500 USD of two broken cameras, neither of which is over a year old. Oh, how painful. Thankfully we ran into Eyoni and Nancy shared some pics, as mentioned above. Since these will be the last pictures you all will see from us before we return from the States, I thought I would post a few more.

Once we finish our chores and leave Santa Rosalia in a couple days, you will probably not be hearing much from us for about a month. There is very little internet available north from here, and our sail mail is not working so we can't post through our SSB radio.



Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Time for the Great Annual Sweat-Off in Santa Rosalia

We got into the Santa Rosalia marina yesterday afternoon and within seconds of tying the lines, we all sprang into action. Jack and I had already pulled the window unit air-conditioner out from storage under my bed and I began installing it in the front hatch. Meanwhile, Patrick and Jack pulled out the giant green tarp (20'x40') that we tent over our cabin roof for shade and got the power lines layed out. We had shade and a functioning air-conditioner in about 20 minutes. Every year we get faster on our times.

Santa Rosalia is (as I have mentioned numerous times in the past on this blog) the virtual epicenter of hellish heat. I don't think there is anywhere in the Baja hotter. The walls of the harbor concentrate the heat and block any refreshing breeze. Santa Rosalia is the last good provisioning center on the Baja side before you venture off into the wilderness of the upper Sea of C, so every year you have to come here for the last good (read cheaper and more abundant) shop. Santa Rosalia is the sole reason we have an air-conditioner on board. We bought the unit after our first experience in Santa Rosalia two years ago. We basically store it all year round and only pull it out for our time here (although this year it certainly came in handy when we were on the hard in La Paz!).

We will be in Santa Rosalia for a few days while Patrick takes the bus back down to Escondido and brings the car up to here. We'll provision and then point the boat north on our way to Puerto Penasco.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busted! Illegal Immigrants in Mexico - Learn from our Mistake

It's true. America is up in arms about the illegal Mexicans flooding our lands, but there is a very large group of illegal American (and Canadian) immigrants in Mexico, and we were some of them! And we just got caught.

It's a hot topic for the cruisers infiltrating Mexico. Every person entering Mexico receives a visa for 180 days, but then you have to leave the country and come back in again to get another 180 day visa. Some visitors here opt to get an FM3 instead which takes more paperwork, time and money but it grants the bearer 1 year in Mexico before needing to be renewed. Sometimes, people let their 180 day visas lapse before they leave the country for a trip home.

For the last three years, we have been very careful to stay legal, and even paid about $700 USD for our FM3's in La Cruz since we knew we would not be going home for a long time. Our FM3's were timed to run out in February 2011 which was perfect when we were planning to be leaving for Hawaii around then. And then our plans changed. We never went back to La Cruz so we couldn't renew and we did not want to pay hundreds of dollars to go through the process again, in another town.

We knew Jack was going to be left high and dry before we were all able to get home again in August this year. I went home in December and got a 180 day visa which took me to June17th 2011. Patrick went to the States in November 2010 and May 2011, so he was good until November 2011, but Jack was completely illegal since his FM3 ran out in February 2011. We were not happy that Jack was illegal, but we figured our odds were good for not getting caught, and we knew Jack was going home in the summer on our car trip.

And then we went to Puerto Escondido on the Baja Peninsula. It's a lovely port with a large group of nice, year-round, cruising people. You would think there wouldn't be a problem, but things are a little stirred up in Escondido right now. I don't know the ins and outs of the problem, but the gist is that the management of the marina is up in arms about a situation with one cruiser and it has blown up to involve Mexican government officials. The back lash of that was that a panga full of Mexican immigration officers, marina officials, and other Mexican government employees took a tour of the anchorage and stopped at just three boats asking for immigration paperwork. And we were one of those lucky boats. It's absolutely unheard of to have immigration officials roaming anchorages in pangas, so we were truly in the wrong place at the wrong time. And we were caught, dead to rights.

Patrick was not on board, so I was left to deal with them. I handed them our passports and the 180 day visas that we had. They were mad that mine was running out in five days and that Jack didn't have one. Then they asked about our past paperwork and I told them we had expired FM3's. They asked for those and got even angrier. Evidently FM3's do not "just expire" like driver's licenses or US passports. They are supposed to be surrendered and cancelled. And if you do not comply with that, there are big fines. Evidently it is a serious offense. The main person talking, looked at me and said, "You have an appointment with me tomorrow at 10 a.m. at my office. There will be many fines to pay." I was sick.

So the next morning, we all three got scrubbed up, shiny and clean in our best clothing (that's not saying much, but we looked fairly respectable!). We got to our appointment early and promptly at 10 a.m. we were ushered back to meet with the official. And then we had the typical Mexican experience. The offical was warm, friendly and gracious. She explained our mistake about not cancelling and surrendering the FM3's and asked us about our travels and whether we liked Mexico. Then she said she wasn't going to fine us for not taking care of our FM3's. And then she asked us when we were planning to leave Mexico. We said we were planning to go home at the beginning of August and she cheerfully told us she would give extensions to Jack and me so we would be legal until then. And she wasn't going to charge us for those either!

Patrick and I basically sat there with out mouths open, just nodding and saying "Gracias". We were very lucky. You may not be as lucky. Learn from our mistake. If you do have an FM3 just be aware that you have to surrender it and have it cancelled when you are done using it. They do not simply expire. And try to stay legal. Go home on time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A New Type of Cruising

We're happy to report that our boat is working perfectly now! Our stay in La Paz was long but well worth it now that all the work is done. We were thrilled that our new paint job has gained us about two knots of speed (which goes to show how bad it was.) Our sail drives are purring along and appear to be working well. Our wax job was quickly lost under a thick coat of salt spray, but that's to be expected.

Our biggest bit of news is the change that having a car brings to the cruising life. It's just a big paperweight that you have to take care of but, when you have a car in a city it suddenly makes the provisioning difficulties disappear. No more one mile tromps through city streets in the pounding sunshine to the grocery store and then the cab ride back. No more struggling to get to three different stores in one day using public transportation. Got a hankering for that taco stand across town? No problem now. Just hop in the air-conditioned spendor and settle down into the leather seats. Oh the luxury! Having a car is definitely a luxury that you don't appreciate until you have lived without one. It's so ingrained in most Americans' lives that I don't think people can even imagine life without one.

We left the car behind in La Paz while we traveled up to Puerto Escondido by boat. Once here, Patrick and Jack took the bus to La Paz, picked up the car and drove it up to Escondido. We will leave it here when we travel north to Santa Rosalia, and then perform the same procedure to get it to Santa Rosalia. We will continue to play hop-scotch with the car and the boat and move on up north. The plan is that eventually we will leave the boat for a month or two this summer and take the car up through the States on a car trip. Grand Canyon, here we come!