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.

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

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stats and Facts from Our Adventure

Here's some stats and facts.  If you see a highlighted-underlined text, it's a link to that blog post story.
Number of nautical miles covered:  12,252 nautical miles since we left San Francisco, CA in Oct, 2008
Fastest speed seen motoring: 13.9 knots, surfing down a wave entering the Barra de Navidad entrance
Fastest speed under sail alone: 12 knots, sustained
Total number of anchorages stayed in: 144
Longest time spent in one place: 2 1/2 months at El Cid, Mazatlan when we were broken down, waiting for parts, Yanmar picked up the marina bill - thank you very much Total Yacht Works
Longest time period spent off the boat in four years:  1 month
Number of times we crossed the Sea of Cortez: 10 times
Number of hours put on engines: 1,819
Most Dangerous ExperienceThe Weather Bomb in La Cruz, February, 2010
Scariest ExperienceRunning from Hurricane Jimena with one engine not working.

Laura's Favorites:
Anchorage: Islotes in Animas Bay near Bahia de Los Angeles
Seafood to catch: Snorkeling for scallops
Experience: Being in a pod of 100+ sperm whales
Town to visit: Zihuatanejo
Beach combing find: Perfect Sea Lion Skull
Best Hiking Find:  Ancient stone hand-tool
Seafood Street Taco Stand: Tacos Estadio in La Paz
Meat Street Taco Stand: Don Julio in Manzanillo - the tongue taco is a life changing experience
Restaurant: El Montaleyo in Mazatlan - lamb tacos
Most amazing thing I saw: Blue whale
Thing I will miss the most: Dolphins playing in my bow wake

Patrick's Favorites:
Anchorage: Caleta Pulpito, backside of  Isla Angel de la Guarda
Seafood to catch: Spearfishing for anything
Experience: Flying the spinnaker
Town to visit: La Paz
Beach combing find: Huge turtle skull found in Conception Bay
Best Hiking find:  Fossilized Shark teeth and a primitive bone spear head
Seafood Street Taco Stand: Tacos Estadio in La Paz,
Meat Street Taco Stand - Rico's in Santa Rosalia - pastor taco
Restaurant:  Can't pick just one 
Most amazing thing I saw: Great White shark
Thing I will miss the most: Good tortillas and no alarm clock

Jack's Favorites:
Anchorage: Not telling, he doesn't want it ruined by the time he gets back
Seafood to catch:  Shooting Barred Pargo spear fishing
Experience:  Swimming with manta rays - pretty big ones
Town to visit:  La Paz
Beach combing find:  A total of 46 rapala fishing lures
Seafood Street Taco Stand: Tacos Estadio, La Paz
Meat Street Taco Stand: Taco Loco, Mazatlan  - arrachera tacos
Restaurant: Lupe's Paradise Resort, Santispac beach Conception Bay - chile rellenos
Most amazing thing I saw:  Bobcat scaling a 70 ft sheer cliff in less than 10 seconds
Thing I will miss the most: Everything - Mexico, living on a boat, snorkeling

Rudy's Favorites:  (Rudy is one of those dogs that speak in exclamations!)
Anchorage:  The Magote in La Paz - great beach!
Seafood to catch:  Blue crabs!
Experience:  Alone in the pontoon with the food bin - three different times!
Town to visit: Zihuatanejo - They loved me there!  They fed me crackers and I was the star of a street show!
Beach combing find:  A total of 1,462 dead fish, lots of crunchy bird carcasses, and a still-meaty dead whale!
Seafood Street Taco Stand: Love em all!
Meat Street Taco Stand: Even better!
Restaurant: Alone in the pontoon with the food bin!  Self-serve!
Most amazing thing I saw:  A swimming dog that kept following me around the boat!
Thing I will miss the most: Swimming every day and watching dolphins!

And the Least Favorites
Worst Injury/Illness:  Falling through the hatch during our race in LA Bay
Thing I won't miss at all:  Trying to keep everything clean and smelling good (including myself) with limited water, no constant running hot water, and no convenience machines that do that for you at home -dishwasher, dryer, washing machine....
Worst Injury/Illness:  Putting my head in a spinning metal wind generator
Thing I won't miss at all:  The sun
Worst/Illness/Injury: Dengue Fever
Thing I won't miss at all:  Wet dinghy rides
Worst Illness/Injury: Anaplasmosis infection from a tick!
Thing I won't miss at all: Hotpots - bacterial skin infections caused by my thick coat, humidity and heat!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Barnacles on My Toes

I've been having a recurring dream the last few weeks.  It wakes me up with a feeling of confused concern.  In my dream, I'm trying to dress for the day, but when I get to putting my socks on, I realize that there are barnacles growing on my toe nails.  Big healthy barnacles, with living creatures in them!  In my dream, I can't figure out what to do.  If I put my socks on, the socks will be torn to shreds.  Worse yet, the shoes I am going to put on are beautiful leather boots with heels.  If I put my boots on, then it will really hurt, my boots will get ruined and the barnacles will die.   I keep waking up confused and concerned.

Obviously the dream sums up my confused feelings about coming home.  After all, you only get barnacles if you spend a lot of time in salt water.  In Mexico, I never wore socks and hardly ever wore shoes unless I was going into town.  Now home in the chilly NW, I can't imagine going a whole day without putting shoes on (whole bunches of different shoes, not just flip flops!) multiple times as I go in and out, and wearing toasty, thick, wool socks constantly, thank you very much!    I have to put shoes on, but if I do, it means I'm not a cruiser anymore.  Is that so bad???   Truthfully  - no.

All three of us absolutely love being home after being gone for so long.  Many times in the last three months, we have spontaneously had conversations about how nice it is to be home.   We enjoy everything including frequent visits with family and friends, the supermarkets stuffed with excellent organic and ethnic foods, a warm house, the chilly rainy weather, the people we meet, the beautiful clean town we live in chock full of  dog parks, giant trees, a gorgeous library, festivals and kind neighbors.  Now back in cold weather, Rudy has been free of the endless health concerns of the last four years.  He can race around for hours in the dog park or out on wooded trails without getting too hot.  The new opportunities for Jack are boundless and he's energetically thrown himself into working, being with family, and new adventures.  Jack loves the NW forests and is gone for hours biking the trails.  It's just nice to be on land in a cool climate.  It's also a joy to snuggle up under a thick down comforter and listen to the wind howl outside the house late at night.  There's no fear of dragging, and no need to jump up to make sure everything is lashed down.  There's no battle with breakdowns or finding parts - order anything you need from Amazon and it comes right to your door!  It's also just nice to be back where I understand what everyone around me is saying.  Hot water, convenience machines, electricity, heat on a cold day, a real kitchen, a giant bath tub - there is a lot to enjoy about being home on land.

However, it's not all fun.  This is a time of major transition for us.  It's exciting, it's challenging and it's exhausting.  In the last three months, we've gotten a lot accomplished, but we still have so much to do.  We randomly chose a town to settle in that looked nice.  It took almost a month to find a suitable  home to rent.  Then we had to gather up our scattered belongings as best we could, including emptying our storage unit.  Then we had to start settling in to a new town.  It's not easy.  You don't know where the post office is, you don't know the best stores to visit, you don't even know when garbage day is.  You know no-one.  Add to that we also had to get Jack settled in school - the first real school he's been in for the last four years.  Now that is a task!  Not to mention getting phones, internet, insurance, power, heat, registered to vote, etc.  Thankfully we were able to come home still in control of our situation.  We have a cushion and did not need to start making money right away.  With all that accomplished we are now getting ready to work on the next phase - employment.  How that goes, we will find out in the coming months.  After employment comes finding a home to buy, getting involved in our community with volunteer work, picking up old hobbies, and finding new ones.

In the meantime, I still have barnacles on my toes, grown while I was in Mexico. So if we are all so happy to be home, why am I having disturbing dreams about giving up being a cruiser?  I think it's because I love the person I became after four years out cruising.  That's what the barnacles represent - growth.  Usually you aren't happy about barnacle growth on your boat, but in the case of my toes, I'm tickled.  I'm worried that now home in the Land of Bigger, Better, More I will forget the lessons I learned in Mexico about a simple Life of Less.  It's something that I will need to keep an eye on, but I think those barnacles are here to stay.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tha-tha-tha That's All, Folks!

Yesterday, we pulled into our old home town north of Seattle 2,448 miles from La Paz, completing the giant circle of our travels and bringing the end to our Mexican adventure.

Which makes this the last post -  nearly four years worth of experiences summed up in 246 posts from beginning to end.  Writing this blog has given me much joy.  I really appreciate all the people who took time out of their lives to read about ours.   We've had over 60,000 views from places including, but not limited to, Serbia, India, Russia, the Philippines, Japan, Ethiopia, France, South Africa, Brazil, Switzerland, and China!  Simply amazing.

For those of  you who helped get this dream afloat, a heartfelt thanks - namely Mark Schrader and Herb McCormick.  Both of you played major roles in starting this thing off right.  And Herb, your advice to buy a catamaran was invaluable!  I don't think we would have been able to sell a mono hull, in this market, for $10,000 less than what we paid for it, in three months.  Wow!  Not to mention, it's the only reason we stayed out for four years - we were very comfortable.

Our adventure couldn't have happened without a lot of help from our friends.  First, an enormous thank you to all the people who helped us troubleshoot breakdowns or improvements  - namely Dave on s/v Juniata, Total Yacht Works of Mazatlan - Rafa and Bob) and Rick of s/v Hotel California.   You Guys (and quite of few others) Rock.  God bless the cruiser mentality of happily lending a hand, without expecting anything in return.  It's getting harder to find it seems, but it is still there.

A huge thank you to our very patient and loving extended family  Our absence has meant all of our sibs have done extra duty.  An extra big kudos goes to my parents.  It would have been so much harder to do this without your help.  Mom and Dad acted as our mail drop, appointed banking representative, and yearly hotel, all while being deprived of access to their grandson.

A  heartfelt thank you to Ben for spending every Tuesday night for several years with Patrick's dad.
A very big thanks to Tom for taking excellent care of our rental/renters in our absence.

A big apology to every Mexican whom I made suffer through my horrendous "Spanish". It was too embarrassing.   I'll do better next time, I promise.

And last, an enormous hug to all the amazing cruisers out there that we have met and befriended along the way, some still cruising, and others now dirt dwellers like us.  You made our trip so special.  To name a few - Hotel California, Third Day, Juniata, Eyoni, Hotspur, Summerwings, Mamabird, Sunbaby, Jacaranda, Adios 3, Evergreen, Jake, Overheated, Masquerade, V'ger, Frances Lee,  Full Shell, Dealmaker....there's just too many to name.  We are so happy to have spent time with you.

For those of you now looking for new Sea of Cortez blogs to follow, check out a couple from this year's fresh crop of cruisers headed into the far north for their first hurricane season -  two we've enjoyed meeting are Trisha and Derek on  Interabang and Tom and Jeanne on Eagle.

As we head in to the arms of America to be lost in the anonymous shuffle, I have just one request.  Go have your own adventure, and I'll read about yours!  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Border Crossing Bust

Welcome Home!!!Our border crossing was from someplace close to hell, but not all the way there. (no one was arrested.).
Within seconds of pulling up to talk with the border agent, we were asked to pull over to the special inspection area.  We weren't worried, we weren't doing anything wrong.  We had already thrown out all of Rudy's dog food (we got in trouble for that last time), and the bag of almonds we were snacking on. Then the total car unload began  Let me repeat - Total Car Unload.  Did you see the picture of our car?  Every box, bag and storage container opened and gone through.  Engine combed through, car doors tapped and banged.  Things fine until.......the beach combing box is opened.  
Oh ma'am.  No..,...NO, NO, NO, NO and NO!
Hours later.....
Car considerably lighter. 
All bones (44 total) from any and every fish, land or sea mammal, including birds gone.  All feathers gone.  All soft coral gone,  All shells were about to go, but they relented.  I was given a pretty bad time about that, but he let me keep them. Star fish,,, ok.  Paper Nautilus...ok.  Sea urchin shell, ok.  Rocks...okay.  Some driftwood ok.  Absolutely no parts of cactus allowed (any wood with a weave).  Basically they had the right to take everything except the non-cactus wood and the rocks, but they were being nice and let me keep the shells.
The border agents were all very kind.  They crowded around to see all the cool things that they were taking away.  They very politely explained that by allowing animal parts/cactus wood parts in the country, we might be giving the Mexicans ideas that these things had value and then living specimens would be in danger of being harvested for profit.  I totally understand the reasoning - I just had no idea that these things would be illegal to find on a beach and keep.  I would never want to take part in anything that would cause the pointless destruction or harm to any living animal or plant, simply for a trophy.  I was wrong and so are a lot of other cruisers I know.  Consider yourself warned.
Possible fine to be determined later, when the boss gets there and catalogues my confiscated  loot.  Name, address, SS#, car registration,  passport number all written down and recorded.  I realized later that I got my SS # wrong since I haven't used it for so long!  OOps! probably gave them the SS number of some Guantanamo escapee.  Ouch.
Fingers crossed.

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.