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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Crazy Ivan

I wrote a month ago all about the "Final Leg" of our  3 1/2 year adventure.   I explained very rationally why it was time to go home  We were headed to La Paz like it was the barn at the end of a long day.  We have lots of reasons to go home - a growing teen and lessening money being two of the chief ones, but there are a few others.   I jokingly mentioned the possibility of pulling a Crazy Ivan and asked for any bettors.  I did.  You should have taken the bet.

I don't know how it all came about.  We pulled into La Paz as planned.  We tied to the dock and started polishing, waxing and cleaning.  Just a Minute is looking SO GOOD!.  And then we simply decided we weren't done with the Sea just yet.  Maybe it was the beautiful anchorage at Bonanza.  Maybe it was the dread of returning to "real" life.   Maybe it's the fact that we actually don't have a "real life" to return to.   Then it hit us.  We have the perfect boat, the perfect cruising location, the  perfect season, lots of time, no where to be,  (a little) money and no buyer in sight yet - WHAT were we thinking?  We just couldn't leave without one more quick tour into the Sea.

The boat is still for sale.  She's perfect, clean, shiny and ready to go.  But while we are waiting for the perfect buyer to take over the reins, we'll just keep making sure that Just a Minute is in perfect working order.  You know the saying, "Use it or lose it!"  We'll stay within Internet range and if anyone wants to come and see the boat we can be back in La Paz in just a few days.  In the mean time, the Sea is waiting. 

We are still house sitting for another two weeks and will keep working on JaM, polishing, cleaning, and waxing.  Once our house-sitting gig is done, we will load up and head out.  Oh! I can't wait.  I have a list of anchorages I want to hit.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A House Sitting Gig

The gorgeous entry
We had a major break of luck and got a house-sitting gig here in La Paz for a week or so.  It gives us a chance to work on the boat, but live somewhere else.  It's great to get a taste of what real square footage feels like again!  It's a lovely home with a modern kitchen, beautiful colors and art work on the walls, and a powerful showerhead!   And best of all for us, we have been reunited with our car here, so we are back living an almost-American existence in Mexico - house, car, dog, and kid.  No jobs still though, but hey - what's the rush?

I think the one enjoying it most is Rudy.  Not only does he get to pee on terra firma (instead of plastic astroturf) whenever he wants, but he has a real yard that he can roam at will and best of all, a playmate.  The house comes with a sweet little terrier/schnauzer mix (I think?) and they are becoming very good friends.
House Dog at last!
Rudy's playmate, Molly.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ah!!! the Baja

Your typical Mainland beach

It doesn't make much sense to me.  Why would someone prefer the mainland over the Baja?  Every year we head over to the mainland for winter and admittedly we have a great time enjoying lots of live music, great restaurants, large cities and surfing. And then every year we cross back from Mazatlan to La Paz and anchor at our first Baja stop called Bonanza on Isla Espiritu Santo and we think, "Why did we leave?"  Of course, in the meantime we had forgotten about the 50 degree air temps, the non-stop Norther wind storms and the freezing cold water temps we had left back in December! 

From March to November though, the Baja is king in my books.  The stunning natural beauty, unpopulated beaches, and the beautiful Sea so chockful of life make the Baja a magical place for me.  At Bonanza we swam in the crystal waters with visibility over 20 feet.  We had a wonderful dolphin show at our bows while underway, and we marvelled at the beauty.
But a picture is worth a thousand words.  So you decide.  Where would you rather be?

Bonanza's mile long, glistening white sand beach with not a soul on it, but lots of shells.  Jet skis not allowed!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Parting is such sweet sorrow....

We love Mazatlan, and El Cid Marina here in particular. It's been our home port since we were first broken down here in 2008 for 3 months. It's hard to say good-bye and know that we won't be bopping back next winter like we have for the last three years. The closer we get to leaving this, the harder it gets.

Looking across the entrance channel, north up the beach towards Cerritos. This is also part of El Cid and is where all the weddings take place. To get to that side, you just take the complimentary water taxi.

The El Cid Marina. There are only three main docks with room for about 100 boats. Many of the slips are taken by permanent residents or fishing boats, so there is limited room for cruisers who come and go.
The "Tarzan Pool" as we call it. This is our main hang out.
With a slip in the marina, you get access to all the amenities - hot tub, two pools, the beach club, towels, and even room service to the boat.
Patrick was the big winner one day at Bingo and won two of three games. For each game won, he got a T-shirt.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Tribute to Don Anderson

Those wishing to send condolences, or share a story about Don with his family can send an email to summerpassage@gmail.com

Don Anderson manning his radio

Just yesterday we received word that a good friend of ours had died. We had never met him in person, but both Patrick and I had spent hours listening and talking to him over the SSB radio. He shaped our cruise, told us where to go and when, allayed our fears of hurricanes and scared the beejeebies out of us once. It's with great sadness that I say that Don Anderson of Summer Passage passed away last week. For three years of our cruise, Don was our chief weatherman, our sage of sailing wisdom, our daily entertainment. Now, it truly feels like it's time to go home. How could we do a hurricane season in the far north Sea of C without Don Anderson?
I've mention Don throughout our time here. He was our preferred weatherman to listen to. He didn't worry about the weather in each and every anchorage. His specialty was giving the whole picture and explaining what was going on over the region. He loved the weather. When a big storm was brewing, he was sooo excited. You could hear it in his voice. The bigger the storm coming, the more excited he got.

When Jimena was bearing down on the Baja in 2008, Don was in heaven. It was shaping up to be the biggest hurricane to ever hit the Baja in history - a Category 5. Unfortunately for us, we were in it's path. Every day, he warned of its gathering strength and projected path. When a big one was coming, he was in his element. I remember with Jimena, he said one day, "You wouldn't catch me down there. That's how I lived to 75. It's not going to tear the skin off of rice pudding, folks. It's going to tear your clothes off!" He was chortling with glee. We of course were scared as hell and lit out for as far north as we could go. He was right - it came up the Sea to Santa Rosalie/Guaymas and we were right to get to safety up in Willard Bay.

Don told you about more than the weather, though. He was a very knowledgeable man about many things. He had sailed for years and years of his life and covered thousands of sea miles in his own boat, Summer Passage. He was a radio nut and very knowledgeable of radios. We learned so much from listening to him. Sometimes during his weather he would go off on a rant about different topics. Truly, he had a lot of info stuffed in his head. Sometimes he was not very polite when he would go off on a rant, but he was always entertaining (as long as you weren't the one he was going off on!) and educational.

Last summer when we were headed north for the hurricane season, I felt a lump in my breast, and another hurricane was forming up. We didn't know what to do. Turn around and head into a hurricane, or continue north and not get medical care for a couple months. We decided to listen to Don that night. He mentioned the hurricane that was brewing. We called in with a weather question and asked him to clarify if he thought it was going to be a threat to the far north. Don paused, looked at his data and said, "No, this one isn't a threat for you." That was all we needed, and we turned around and headed back to get medical treatment. He was right, the hurricane never even came close. He was that good. We always trusted his opinion of where the big ones would go, even days before they were formed up.

And now he is gone. Just Google his name and mention "Oxnard" (where he lived) and "weather" and you will get referred to page after page of cruiser's blogs who mention him. He was the weather man for hundreds and hundreds of people. He has touched the lives of many, many sailors. His radio rig was so powerful that he could reach out thousands of miles from Alaska to the South Pacific. and beyond. He donated thousands of hours of his time with weather watches and providing weather almost daily on three different radio nets that I know of. His dedication was amazing. I know there is a large group of fellow mourners. An era has ended here in the Pacific.

Fair winds Don, and following seas. Thanks for all your help.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hindsight is 20/20

This blog is for all you potential cruisers out there dreaming of starting your own adventures. I've been getting all reflective now that I see the end in sight. This blog is about all the things I wish I had done BEFORE leaving the States on our adventure.

Take an in-depth, detailed emergency medical course. The more detailed the better. We have been extremely fortunate in: A) not having a lot of injuries or serious illnesses, and B) being close enough to civilization to get help in time for the ones that have popped up. I would not count on having the same luck if I were you! I did not have a clue when we left just how isolated you could be out floating around on your boat in Mexico. Also, I did not realize the fact that not every town in Mexico has a doctor, a pharmacy or a clinic. And third, I did not realize how slow a sailboat travels. When there is a problem (like when Jack dislocated and broke his toe) it is a little too late to realize that you don't have a clue as to what to do and the book that tells you is back on the boat, plus you have to READ it first. It is ridiculous to think that in the middle of a true emergency you are going to be able to read a book, understand it and follow it's directions. Thankfully, Jack's toe wasn't a real medical emergency, but it still makes you feel helpless and stupid. Get educated!

Take some Spanish lessons. I thought that I would pick up Spanish as I went along. WRONG! I am not a quick learner with a foreign language and evidently there are lots of others like me. Just about every cruiser I have met down here who did not know how to speak Spanish before they left, still do not know how to speak Spanish now. The cruising lifestyle moves you from town to town, where you have the same conversations over and over with different people, but you never get a chance to form relationships with them. Therefore, I am really good at asking "Donde es .....?" and I am one hell of a good orderer in a restaurant. Those are about the only conversations I have. Unfortunately, I have missed out on a lot of meaningful conversations with some wonderful people. There have been many times where I would love to communicate with someone or understand some nuance of a situation that is completely beyond me with my limited Spanish. Sure, you can easily get by with mime, a smile and couple key phrases, but Mexico is filled with wonderful, kind people who are worth getting to know. Learn some Spanish and give yourself a chance to really experience Mexico. (And yes, I did take two years of Spanish in high school, but that was a long, long time ago.)

Take the ham radio test and get the General license at least. I've talked before about the SSB radio and how much I appreciate it. It is a wonderful tool for cruisers and provides many benefits. Not every SSB radio net requires a ham license to participate, but some of the best ones do. I managed to take my ham test while in Mexico, so you can get it done after you leave. However, that required being in a certain place at a certain time of year - something that is not always possible on a boat. If you are planning on being gone a long time and travelling in remote areas, I would strongly suggest you have an SSB radio and a ham license. Get your license now, while you have a car and can easily get yourself to a testing center.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nothing says "Easter" Like the Pacifico Dancing Girls

It's Semana Santa (Holy Week) and boy, does Mexico know how to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The entire country of Mexico seems to go crazy on this holiday. Every beach up and down the coast is lined with tents, picnicers, crowds of people, loud music, and dancing. Mazatlan is seemingly shut down to a stand still with incredibly bad traffic. Sirens are heard throughout the city. We've experienced Semana Santa now three times in three separate parts of Mexico, and it's pretty much the same where ever you are. It's nuts. Carnival and Christmas are dim celebrations compared to Semana Santa.

Here at El Cid, we are insulated from the madness of the city, but there's still a bit of party going on here. The resort is packed with probably 90% occupancy. The pools are loaded with kids. Every day live bands blast out music by the main pool. Today we caught the Pacifico Cerveza Dancing Girls and Guys. Jack was disappointed since he thought the girls were a little too modestly dressed in their sarongs. The Sol Cerveza Dancing Girls we saw in Barra two years ago were wearing string bikinis. Now they knew how to celebrate the Resurrction.

Rudy knows how to celebrate, too. He's not allowed on the beaches anymore this week. The first time Patrick threw the ball, Rudy ran straight to somebody's picnic basket and started chowing down before Patrick could get to him. Too embarrassing! Thankfully, they thought it was funny. The next day, when Patrick threw the ball, Rudy ran over to a fisherman and stole all of his bait. The fisherman also thought it was funny. I wouldn't be quite so kind if some bad dog spoiled my day on the beach. We aren't going to try again.

Today's live band and their own dancing girls.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Final Leg

We are on the final leg of a three and half year journey. Oh, what a time we've had! I've mentioned several times over the last few months that we were headed to La Paz by early April. The reason is to reach there before it gets too hot, so we can start prepping our beloved Just a Minute for sale. It is finally time to head back to the States, get jobs, and get Jack back on land with easy access to kids, libraries, school and a garage (the kid loves to tinker and putter). It's time to let Rudy hunt bunny rabbits and squirrels in a back yard, and actually pee on REAL grass. It's time to be close to family and friends. It is time to have hot running water with the twist of a faucet, outlets with plentiful power, a dishwasher, a washing machine and (pause for angelic choir) ...... a bathtub. And too, it is time to have a little space. The three of us have been living together (with a big dog) for 3 1/2 years in approximately 600 square feet, the area of some people's walk-in-closets. Yes, we had a big backyard, but that's still a LOT of together-time.
Today we pulled into Marina El Cid in Mazatlan, the one place in Mexico that we think of as our "home base." It didn't let us down. As we approached the marina, they were waiting for us and sent out a panga with the dock manager aboard. He gave us instructions for entering the dredged channel. Then as we pulled into the marina, various workers were calling out our names and greeting us. It was nice to be back and see everyone. We have a little work to do here, and then we will head to La Paz in about one week.
Just a Minute is in great shape so it shouldn't take long to polish her up, pull her out of the water in La Paz, list her in brokerage and wait. We will be posting information on Just a Minute later in the week for anyone who is interested. She's a great boat, ready to cruise and in a prime cruising location, so she has a lot to offer.
We still have a few more adventures left (and about 240 miles) before this journey ends and the next one begins. And who knows? I sometimes wonder if we really will be able to pull the plug, or if we'll imitate that ending on the movie "Captain Ron" where they approach the dock and then turn a "crazy Ivan" and head back out to sea. Stay tuned. Anyone taking bets?