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, July 29, 2012

The Road Trip So Far

Loaded and ready to go from our casita in La Paz.  Even though we were lucky enough to ship hundreds of pounds of stuff home with 3rd Day, we were still a little over loaded.

Just before the start.

Our first night was spent in Santa Rosalia at this lovely hotel.  Here is a our balcony view that looks out over the harbor and towards Isla San Marcos.  It was a lovely clean room with saltillo tiles and some of the healthiest cockroaches I've ever seen! 

This is Rudy's fifth road trip from the Baja to the  States (or back) and he is a pro at it by now.

Guerro Negro flats outside of town., heading out to the dunes and Scammon's Lagoon that is famous for the grey whales birthing place.

We felt it was safe for Jack to get some more driving practice in since it was flat enough, had no obstructions and no traffic for miles.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sold and the Sushi Celebration

The final step of selling our boat was a quick trip down to American Consulate in San Jose del Cabo so we could sign the sale papers in front of a notary public. Then we dropped the notarized paperwork off at the UPS store for overnight delivery to the marine documentation company we were working with in the States. And with that, we were done. Once the paperwork reached their office, the funds transferred into our bank account. It couldn't have been easier.

To celebrate, we went to an amazing restaurant here in La Paz - Jiro Sushi. You don't think of EXCELLENT sushi when you think of Mexico, but it does exist here in La Paz. Jiro Sushi was started by a Mexican man who studied in Japan for seven years and then worked there to spend about twenty years total in Japan. Within the last few years he returned to La Paz and started Jiro Sushi. His sushi is amazing. The Sea of Cortez is so abundant in excellent sea food that he has no problem getting the best quality ingredients.   Outside the door was the day's latest delivery of a couple huge yellowtail, just dropped off by the fisherman.

Jiro Sushi is on M. Abasolo across from the Chedraui in the Banamex complex.  It is well worth a visit.  Our lunch included their delicious home brewed iced tea, four different rolls (the Norma roll is to die for) and a plate of shrimp rice all for about $40.00 USD.  It's very expensive for lunch by Mexican standards, but by American standards where a lunch at McDonald's for a family is about $30, it's a steal.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surfin' Safari

The street in front of our apartment.  The owner loves gardening and so she has filled the sidewalk and the inside courtyard with flowering plants.  It's lovely.
While our boat sale is pending final paperwork, we are living "La Vida Landlubber".  We've rented a sweet, little, one bedroom casita (little house) for $300/month USD in La Paz.  It's clean, shiny and new, with Internet, air conditioning, covered secure parking, and a lovely little garden/courtyard with outside seating.  It's cheaper than having a boat in a slip!  Two nights ago we hosted the good crew of 3rd Day at our place for a "Last night together in Mexico" delivery pizza feed at our place.  That's when you know you are a landlubber - you order in and they can find you!  Yesterday 3rd Day pulled chalks and headed out of La Paz on their way up the coast to America.  It's pretty cool that we started together and ended together.  3rd Day is one of the first cruisers we met in La Paz in Oct 2008 when we were both squeaky clean and wet behind the ears. Now nearly four years later we are both heading to the States.  It may have a lot to do with the fact that we each have a nearly-fifteen year old ready for a little more room and freedom from parents.

Anyway, our last weeks in Mexico are a celebration and so we've come out to Cerritos 1 1/2 hours south of La Paz for some surfing fun.  We brought along our new paddle board and Jack is using it quite effectively as a surfboard.  That kid amazes me!
Loading the car for our surfin' safari.  Here our car sits in the inside courtyard at our place, behind the iron gates shown above.  Nothing says you used to have money like wood 2x4's strapped to the roof of a Volvo!

Jack crashing through the waves to get past the breakers.

The waves were short spaced and worked up because of Hurricane Fabio which is just off the coast, but Jack made it work.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Cruising - It's Not Just the Tide

In the beginning of our cruise, we were overwhelmed with the positives.  The weight of the world had slid from our shoulders and every day we would marvel at our good luck.  All of the usual stresses that the average American relates to were suddenly gone.   Patrick and Jack saw  the biggest changes. Jack was no longer moved to tears almost five days a week by the frustration a dyslexic faces at school.   For Patrick the change was remarkable - suddenly no Blackberry glued to his hand morning and night, seven days a week filled with work calls. Today's technology means you are ALWAYS at work. The biggest change for me was losing the hassle of Jack's school and all the hours it took getting him there on time, dressed, with homework in hand and  a lunch. (If you have a kid who hates the school experience, you know what I mean!)   Let alone all the time spent on extra school activities like sports groups, field trips, helping in the classroom, and fund raisers. Suddenly all those hundreds of hours were free since the demands of homeschooling were negligible in return. 

Other things that caused stress that I hadn't even noticed were gone, too.  Suddenly I didn't have a huge house to clean, maintain and improve - no huge kitchen with tons of appliances to keep clean, no huge closets waiting for "fashionable" clothes, no daily pile of laundry since we all changed clothes several times every day, no house-cleaner to hire, no enormous fridge and freezer to be filled with food from Costco trips, no servicing the car, no shopping for stuff to fill all that space.  Let me repeat that - NO SHOPPING for clothes, furniture, linens, towels, home theatres, decorating doo-dads, the latest "must-have" item, electronics, toys for the Jack, computers - you name it.  We didn't need it anymore, didn't want it, and didn't have room for it anyway.

No TV sucking up dozens of hours of "down time",  no newspapers, and very infrequent internet made a big change, too.  Suddenly, without all that awful "news" of  break-ins, violence, murder and rape constantly bombarding us, we lost  that underlying sense of fear and distrust that haunts so many people.  And more importantly, without all that non-stop marketing ramming down our throats, two big changes happened.  First, since we were no longer stressed out and unhappy, we didn't need to buy ourselves some new advertised "treat" because we "deserved it".  Second, we didn't need to impress anyone, any more.  Sadly, I didn't even realize that we had gotten into the trap of competing with the Jones's.  We had to leave the trap, to see we were in it.  We were giddy like school girls.

Suddenly our life was filled with something we had kept at bay - nature.  The American life does a lot to keep nature from interfering with our lives - air conditioning, lights, heat, snug homes and buildings,  and cars all insulate us.  You rarely have to even get wet if it's raining.  Living on the boat, we became attuned to nature and it was a gift.  We rose with the sun, and went to bed with it, too.  If it was cold we put on clothes, if it was hot we went swimming.  If it rained we got wet.  We paid attention to the wind patterns and clouds, analyzed wave/swell directions, and knew the changes of the moon and the tides.  We floated on a tiny oasis in the middle of the vast sea and we marveled at the life around us.  We caught our own food, went on long hikes, snorkeled for hours every day, slept outside under the stars.  We lived in nature, hour after hour, year after year.  It is an amazing experience to be so connected.

I don't think we can ever be the same, and we are grateful for it. Our cruise solidified our family into a very tight knit unit. It gave our son a wonderful education in the world, opportunites for great responsibility and the idea that dreams are goals that can be achieved with work. It taught all of us that "things" aren't important. We learned how to repurpose, recycle, make-do or go without on a whole new level. Jack was allowed to grow up and become his own person without the pressures of a relentless peer group forcing him to "fit in".  For Patrick and I, it gave us time to discover ourselves, and strengthen our marriage. Every minute of every day we worked side by side on our common goals whether it was anchoring, sailing, provisioning, repairing items, trouble shooting, cooking, or parenting. It was a very fun marriage-encounter weekend that lasted four years. Patrick is my best friend, and this experience cemented the bond, permanently.  Another amazing lesson we've learned is to just let things happen and stop worrying about future events.  Never having a schedule and being ruled by weather and breakdowns has completely taken away the feeling that we have control over our lives.  We don't - so stop worrying and planning.  (This lesson would be impossible to live in society, but  is still a valuable thing I will try to remember.)

So what could possibly be the down-side of cruising?  The negative of cruising is that it is a very indulgent lifestyle.   It's self-absorbed and based on pleasure.  Get up when you want.  Go where you want.  See who you want.   Move over there.  Move over here.   Have a potluck.   Meet some people, make some friends.  Go sightseeing.  Have cocktails.   Swimming?   Read a book?   Fishing?  Hiking?  Whatever feels good, dear.  You rarely have appointments to keep, or obligations to fulfill.  It's very social, very fun, and with few worries other than keeping your boat working, your crew fed, and the homeschooling accomplished.   It's bliss.

What's the negative, you ask again?   Honestly, it can be kind of boring.  Oh, you're busy all day long out cruising.  Your day is filled to the brim with mundane tasks, homeschooling and pleasure.  It's just not very challenging mentally, anymore.  After several years of this life, we've figured out most of the conundrums and challenges and the newness of life on a boat has worn off.  It's boring because it's so perfect, so free of stress, so effortless.  It's the boredom of ennui - a feeling of listlessness and general dissatisfaction resulting from lack of activity or excitement.  It's a feeling that only a very privileged person (read spoiled) could feel.   We still enjoy finding new anchorages, meeting new people, seeing new sights, but.... (I cringe to say it), "The thrill is gone, for now."

Even if we had won the Lotto and money was no object, our time cruising would be ending for now.  I think the biggest challenge we'll face as we move back onto land will be to keep what we've learned about living a simple, non-materialistic life, and take it back into America with us.  We'll feel bombarded and overwhelmed at first, of that I am sure.   However, I have a feeling we won't be feeling bored for quite some time. 

And after we've lived on land, restocked our money pile, gotten Jack started on his own road, then.....you better believe we'll be back out cruising again.  We love boating, we love the water, we love cruising.  Where?  Who knows.  Mexico is always going to be a love of ours, but we'd love to cruise in the Inland Passage  of Alaska/Canada, or maybe the Mediterranean, too.  It's all good and it's a big ocean. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together

Jack, Patrick, and Rick from s/v Hotel California enjoying the fire pit at the new resort in Bahia Candeleros.
I've found myself humming the theme from The Carol Burnett Show quite often lately.  Every week in my childhood home, my family would gather around and watch Carol Burnett and her friends.  After a hilarious show with lots of laughs she would always end the show with the same song.  Remember?  "I'm so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh and sing a song.  Seems we just get started and before you know it... comes the time we have to say, "So long.""  Then she'd tug her ear.  That ending is etched in my memory - along with her Tarzan yell.

Party on JaM.  With 18 guests,, there were hardly enough cleats for the dinghies.  In attendance were the crews of Eagle, Kasasa, Hotel California, Interabang, Eyoni, Third Day and ourselves..

These last weeks have been a lot like that for us.  We've been hanging out with old friends, having hilarious fun and then the  day comes and we look at each other and have to say "So Long."  They are heading north and we are heading south.  Then we run into more friends and start the process again.  Each meeting is so fun, and then each parting gets incrementally harder.  One thing is for sure, we have lots of friends out here.  Really good friends.  The kind of friends you always dreamed of having.  I am so glad we had this time together.

Walking, talking and beach-combing with Lori from s/v Third Day near Bahia Agua Verde.  Picture by Nancy
Puka Shell Party on Isla Montserrat with the crews of Hotel California, Eyoni, Brandywine and JaM.  This was the best beach party I've ever been to.  Just sitting on a beautiful beach, sharing appetizers, drinks, conversation and everyone sifting  through the sand, intently looking for pukas.  Picture by Nancy on Eyoni
There's always time to sing and do the dance moves to "Let's Do the Time Warp Again" (remember The Rocky Horror Picture Show?) with Nancy from Eyoni - even when you are standing on a rock in the water and if you really did the pelvic thrust you might possibly  knock yourself off your perch!  At Candeleros, picture by Nancy 
Patrick and Ethan on Eyoni, sharing a little manly talk over the windlass gypsy.  There aren't words to describe Ethan and we all three love and admire him greatly.  Nancy's picture again.
WWF Smack Down Water Fight on Eyoni.  Only the moms stayed dry.  We were too busy laughing and saying, "Oh Watch Out!  Be Careful!  Oh No!"  And Again - that girl loves her camera
Jack and Ethan being men.  Belly rubbing.  Not sure why, just nod and smile, folks.  On a hike at Candeleros to check out some caves and middens they spied on the hills.  Nancy, again.

Nancy and I, at the end of the night
We were lucky enough to run into Jesse from Frances Lee in Loreto.  Jesse's boat is in Guaymas, and he's living in the States right now,  but he came down by car to Loreto and we happened to meet.  He's always a hoot and we were so happy to see him.