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, 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.


  1. Wonderfully written, Laura. He will be missed.

  2. This is really lovely, Laura... we too are so grateful for the help we received from his forecasts from 2008 to 2010. Do you know if there's a memorial where we can share our gratitude?

  3. Hi Behan and Diane,
    Thanks for your kind words - it's easy to write when you have strong feelings about something.
    Behan, that is an excellent question, but I don't have the answer. I have googled about his death and found nothing yet. If I hear of something, I'll mention it in the blog.

  4. So sad! After hearing so many wonderful stories about Don through the years, we were really excited to finally be in the position to use his knowledge and expertise. He will obviously be missed by those cruisers who knew him...as well as the ones who hadn't had the pleasure yet. Thanks for writing this Laura.

  5. If the measure of a person is how many people will miss him when he's gone, then Don Anderson lived a very good life.

  6. A beautiful tribute! A celebration of Don's life will be held Friday, April 27th at 11 AM at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Ventura, CA. As well as being a great friend to cruisers, Don was a stalwart churchman who rendered countless hours of generous and energetic service to Saint Paul's and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. His "brothers" there will be preparing a tri-tip barbecue in his honor that will immediately follow the service.

  7. We so wish we could be there with you to celebrate Don's life. He truly was a remarkable man and we are grateful for knowing him.

  8. Dear Laura,
    This is a beautiful tribute. Don Anderson was my dad. It brings tears to my eyes to hear these stories of how much he meant to so many people. Thanks to Bill Knutson for sharing the information regarding the funeral services. I would also add that Ventura Yacht Club will be hosting a ceremony for the scattering of my father's ashes at sea. Boats will be departing the VYC docks at 9am on Sunday, April 29.
    David Anderson

  9. David,
    I am so glad this post brought comfort to you. Your dad really was a special man and both Patrick and I loved being net controllers on the Southbound and Amigo nets, just so we would get a chance to talk with him. We will miss him greatly. I so wish that Just a Minute could take part in the ceremony on the 29th. It sounds lovely.
    Thank you so much for writing.

  10. I was just thinking about heading back out and wanted to see if Don was still doing the weather - I'm very sorry to find that he's moved on. He helped me immeasurably going solo across a good portion of the Pacific and all but solo to Alaska - as for chortling about bad weather, it's true as we got clobbered as Don excitedly said we would south of Kodiak. Safe on land again I wanted to do something for him and his response was that if I just had to do something, to make a donation to his church. What an exceptional person he was. I know if I do set out again, I'll never hang over the SSB watching the clock in the same way again.

    1. Thank you for sharing your memories. He really was a remarkable person, and a lot of fun to listen to. I spent many hours myself watching the clock to make sure I didn't miss his weather.
      Hope you have an excellent new adventure. I'll be going out again someday in the next couple years, once business is taken care of on land. Oh the fun!
      Fair winds,