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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Everett Bound!

Well, it's amazing how things transpire. Jack and I were planning a quiet Christmas by ourselves in La Paz since there was no way we could leave Rudy in Mexico while we flew home for Grandma's funeral. And there was no way I was going to bring him with us after the adventure getting him here! But fate or providence or Grandma stepped in. Monday, when we came back from the pool, we were surprised to see Summerwings back in her slip across from us. Poor Kim's foot had become infected from the stingray sting and they had to return for medical care. When they offered to take care of Rudy so we could leave, we jumped on it. We are so happy that we are able to celebrate Grandma's life with all those who love her.
We have been having a heck of a time finding a spot on a plane, and making sure we could land at SeaTac, but it looks like we are set to go. We leave tomorrow on the 24th. I hear there is more snow expected tomorrow so keep us in your thoughts. Meanwhile I am digging out the few winter clothes we own. I think we are going to freeze.
Looking forward to seeing everyone,
Laura and Jack

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sad, Sad News

Patrick's mother died this morning in the hospital. Patrick is still in Everett at this time and will remain through the funeral which will be after Christmas.

Keep us in your thoughts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How to Win Friends.... and other stories

Well, Jack and I are now alone, but not lonely. Jack plays in the pool for hours every afternoon with a boy who is here from Seattle. They are getting to be good friends. Last night we enjoyed dinner on another friend's boat and every day we enjoy conversations with so many new people.

Tom flew home on Wednesday the 17th. Patrick should be arriving here on the 21st. We are soooo happy that Patrick will be home for Christmas. Despite the 80 degree weather and relentless sunshine (hee hee hee) we have tried to decorate for Christmas. We've strung lights, borrowed a tree and cut out paper snowflakes. It still doesn't seem like Christmas though. In all of the restaurants and grocery stores, Mexican voices are singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and other holiday classics. The first time I heard that tune, with Spanish words, I couldn't place it for a few minutes. I was walking through the Mexican Costco and just about lost it when I recognized it. You can run, but you can't hide from American commercialism.

Our friends Kim and Ken arrived unexpectedly back at Marina Palmira just a day after Patrick left. Kim had stepped on a stingray (you've got to shuffle those feet!) and wanted to be back to recuperate. Tom enjoyed them as much as we do. On his last night in town, Tom took Kim, Ken, Jack and I out for dinner. My nighttime vision is not very good and I panicked when I heard long nails scrabbling along the pavement. I looked down and saw a black furry little thing running towards me in the shadows. I screamed and grabbed Kim's hands. (If I could have jumped in to her arms I would have, but she is a lot taller than me!). Right about then the little dog's owner picked him up and walked away in a huff as I explained, "I thought it was a rat!" No new friends there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The first week of Tom's visit has gone by so quickly. The first few days Tom was here, we stayed at the dock, hanging out with friends and getting some projects done. We waved goodbye to Kim and Ken on Summerwings, but we hope to see them again maybe later this season, or next year. It was sad to see the first of our friends leave, to start their cruising fun.

We decided that it was time to head to Mazatlan. We had made plans to buddy boat with Bill and Sue on Sunbaby for the crossing. They were not ready to leave just yet, so we decided to hang out in the islands for a little while as we waited for them. We went to Ballandra Bay on Sunday. We spent a rolly night at anchorage and woke at 2 a.m. to find out that the wind had completely changed direction and was gusting to 20 knots. That's not really a problem except our anchor bridle had slipped and we were 30 feet closer to a big rock cliff than we ever wanted to be! And we were in 6 feet of water, which is not necessarily a bad thing in a catamaran. Thankfully the anchor never budged and we rode out the night easily. The next day we snorkeled and beach combed for hours (poor Patrick stayed on the boat since he can't swim until his finger is healed.)

Later on Monday, we moved anchor to a more sheltered harbor and spent another night on the hook. Unfortunately, we are still working out kinks in our systems, and we had problems with our propane. That, added to the fact that a large wind storm system was moving in to the area on Tuesday, helped us decide to head back to Marina Palmira instead of heading over to Mazatlan. It was a good thing we did since shortly after making it back to Palmira, we learned that Patrick's mother was in the hospital. We decided that Patrick should go home to tie up some loose ends and see his mom. His flight left Thursday afternoon. He will be gone about five days.

On his last night in town, we all went out to dinner at The Bismarck. It's a funky little restaurant which pays tribute to the German battleship which was sunk in the early 1900's (why it pays tribute, I don't know) Patrick and I had first eaten at the Bismarck fifteen years ago when we were here for our honeymoon. It was a hoot to be there again. Nothing had changed, not even the menus. One whole wall is covered with an underwater scene of the boat sinking to its death.

So poor Tom is stuck with me, Jack and Rudy tied to the dock at Marina Palmira while we watch the mass exodus of boaters. Now that the storm is over, the weathermen are calling for at least one week of beautiful sunny weather and light winds - perfect weather for crossing. Tomorrow morning Sunbaby heads off with a couple other boats. It will be sad to see them go. I am so glad that Tom will be here to keep me and Jack company while Patrick is in the States.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lots of stuff and Nothing

Well, it seems like lots of stuff has been happening, but we have nothing to report! We are in a holding pattern right now as things get sorted out.
We have a great group of friends on the dock and our time here has been a lot of fun and very social (sometimes exhausting!) There are two other catamarans close to us and we have all become good friends. However, we all didn't come down here to sit at the dock and it looks like this weekend, our friends are departing. Bill and Sue are heading to Puerto Vallarta and Kim and Ken are heading north into the Sea. It is going to be very strange without them.
Our sail drive issue has become a problem. After hours of phone calls and emails, Patrick has determined that the only Yanmar dealer with the capability to pull our catamaran out of the water to fix the sail drive is in Mazatlan, which is across the Sea of Cortez and south. It is a 30 hour crossing. We were not planning to cross to the mainland for many, many months, but all plans are carved in jello when you are sailing. We were hoping to have a nice slow introduction to sailing life but now we have a pretty big crossing in front of us, first thing out of the gate. Fortunately for us, it flows right into the next item which is.....
Today our friend Tom Flake arrives for a two week visit. We are all very excited to see him and Bill and Sue have planned a get-together tonight which will welcome him to boating life. He may never leave. So when we found out Tom was coming, we decided to Shanghai Tom and make him cross to Mazatlan with us so we have an extra hand on deck. It's good to have another adult to help take watches.
Patrick is recovering from his injury, but the medication is really affecting him. He has been sleeping about 16-18 hours per day. Needless to say, he has not been getting any projects done, to prepare the boat for cruising. We are hoping he is feeling well enough to Captain us across the Sea sometime early next week, weather permitting.
So all in all, things are great. How else could they be when we are living in Paradise? But life can never be completely trouble free, even here. We'll let you know more later.

Friday, November 28, 2008

La Hospitale

Another day, another adventure. We had a quiet day on the boat planned for this Black Friday, but it sort of turned into a Red Friday when Patrick gashed his finger open on a hose clamp while he was working on the bilge pump. After about 30 minutes, it was still bleeding. Patrick went to a retired fire chief/cruiser just to get his opinion while I was getting out all of the materials needed for an operation. I had the book open to the correct page, the water boiling in the kettle, the chainsaw was warming up. To Patrick's relief the man took one glance at it and told him to go to the hospital.

This was the time when it became very apparent that we soon need to buy a Spanish translator, or at least a translation book! Our first cab took us to a doorway that said "Entrada." It didn't look like a hospital, but that's where we thought we told him to take us. We were met at the door by three men who wouldn't even let us enter. They told us to go to the military hospital. Unfortunately the cab had already left. So we hailed another. The first place he took us DEFINITELY did not look like a hospital. The second place he took us had a gate, with an armed (machine gun) guard in camos. After a little more confusion and an escort to the correct door, we found the place where we needed to be. As far as emergency rooms go, it was the best we had ever been in. There was only one other patient, and Patrick was in and out in before the Novocaine in his finger took effect and it only cost $75.00. He had SEVEN stitches, more than he has ever had. Now we are home again and planning a quiet evening watching movies. Hopefully it turns out like we plan.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our first trip from the dock

Well, things never turn out the way you planned. Last I wrote we were headed to a group of islands three to four hours away. Our first trip from the dock was much shorter. We made it to the fuel dock before our departure. Our boat has two engines, one in each pontoon. Patrick checked the sail drive oil on our engines while we were tied to the fuel dock and discovered that one of the seals for the sail drives had failed and there was sea water mixed in the oil in one engine's sail drive. It looked like eggnog. And these are brand new drives installed in CA in October. So we came back to our slip to think about it. We decided not to go that day which was Friday.

Later that day we met an amazing Australian family who are tandem bicycling from CA to the tip of Chile! They are a couple and their two sons, ages 10 and 12. They plan to take about 3 years in the endeavor and they are doing it on a shoestring budget. So we ended up inviting them to the pool for a swim and then later that night we had about 14 people (kids and adults) over to the boat for an impromptu party. Jack had a great time with a posse of kids tearing up the marina on his scooter and bike and playing hide and seek in the dark. When we were telling our tale to the people on our boat, one of the woman who sails in a mono-hull said, "Well, we only have one engine, and we sail around." Well that put the matter in perspective. We checked with a couple diesel mechanics in the marina and they said the same thing. They would use both engines for maneuvering in the marina, and just cruise on one engine at sea. Just monitor it closely and change the oil a lot if we don't get it fixed right away. With that, we decided to leave first thing in the morning on Saturday, but on a shorter trip. We were anxious to get out on our own.

We chose to anchor at Ballandra Bay which is about 2 hours away. It was beautiful. The Sea of Cortez is full of life and even motoring along (no wind to sail in) we saw many schools of fish breaking the water's surface. The bay was large and surrounded by rock cliffs and with lots of shallow sandy areas. We set up the anchor and started the fun. The snorkeling was fantastic. The water was warm, clear and full of beautiful tropical fish. Jack had his spear ready but never saw a fish worth eating. He is very excited to hunt for fish. We swam, kayaked, fished, snorkeled and beach combed all day long and the next day too. On this trip, Rudy stayed on the boat. He is very chicken of changes and was afraid to come down the steps and jump on the dinghy, but in time he will learn. On Sunday, we stayed until noon and then pulled anchor to return to Marina Palmira, where we dock our boat.


Friday, November 21, 2008


Yesterday, we went to a beach with our friends Ken and Kim, who are two American cruisers. They have a dog named Dale. Rudy and Dale came along too. I swam with needle fish and a bunch of other fish. My dad saw a stingray and he said, "Jack, there is a stingray." I swam with the stingray. Finally I did something Steve Irwin couldn't do - swim with a stingray safely. It was a a small guy, about the size of a plate. We ran the dogs so hard that Rudy was barfing.


Today we are heading off to a island group that is about three to four hours away. It is a marine preserve. We will only be out of the marina for a couple days. We have a reservation for the Thanksgiving dinner for 200 that the cruiser's group is throwing on Thursday, so we will be back for that.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jack's Bath

Me and my Mexican buddy named Cisto spent several hours together yesterday. First we fished for two hours. I caught one fish. Then we decided to go kayaking. We were both dancing around in our kayaks near the boat. I was standing in my kayak when it slid away from me. I grabbed Just a Minute's railing and was hanging there. My dad thought I wasn't falling. So he leisurely set down what he was holding, and was just in time to see me fall in. Rudy came over to see what had happened. We had just had our boat waxed and it was really slick. He got out on a steep part and he slipped on the wax near the back steps. He fell in order like this down the steps - my back, my butt, my head, my back, my butt, my head, my back, my butt...kaboosh!!!! He hit the water and was fine, but was a little upset when everyone started yelling at him to swim to shore. He made it just fine. I paddled over to the rock he was standing on and I petted him. Today Cisto and I will stick to fishing.


A typical day

We are settling in nicely to our new life. It's not hard to do. Every day dawns beautiful and sunny. Our marina is a resort and since we are moored here we get to enjoy the facilities. which include a beautiful pool, free wi-fi, clean showers, laundry, 24 hour security guards, restaurants and bars. We are tied to the inside, right next to the ramp and so everyone walks by us to get out, and people on the sidewalk often stop to talk with us. Rudy is extremely popular with all the passerbys and everyone seems to know his name. His antics have been closely followed by our neighbors. The first time that he peed on the astro-turf mat we had provided for him was greeted by a cheer from all those nearby. His next performance brought even more acclaim. We were so proud.

Our day is simple. Every morning I get up, make coffee. Then I take Rudy out for a brushing. It looks like Christmas in July with mounds of white hair floating away on the water. By 8:00 am, the VHF is on channel 22 so we can listen to the cruisers net. This is a radio broadcast where all the cruisers in this marina exchange info, announce arrivals or departures, ask for assistance locating services, make announcements about charity work we can participate in, etc. It takes about an hour. The rest of the morning is filled with little chores, walks, fishing, maybe a little grocery shopping and homeschooling. By lunch, it is hot (89 ish usually) and so we head off to the pool or sometimes take Rudy to the nearby beach for a swim, or sometimes both! Evening rolls around and the choice is dinner at the restaurant or dinner in. Sometimes there is a little cocktail party at someone's boat, but mostly we have a quiet night at our boat. It's a tough life. The people around us are a hoot and we are really enjoying ourselves.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Finally here!

Well Jack, Rudy and I flew in on November 11th from Seattle on a straight shot to San Jose del Cabo. This is the only airport where you can fly live animals into the Baja. I was pretty nervous about how Rudy would do in transit. He was pretty excited in the Seattle airport despite the doggie downers that he was on. Of course, his is the biggest size crate that the airline allows without special permission. We had to walk him into the airport, dragging the crate and several large and heavy bags behind. But finally he was through the check in, after getting lots of love from all the Alaska Airline people. We said goodbye to my mom and dad who had driven us to the airport. They were such a big help all summer long all the way up to our departure. We truly would not be here today without their help! Thanks guys.

The flight was great. The shock of the heat at San Jose del Cabo nearly melted me on the spot. In the airport imagine my surprise when I see Rudy's crate, with him in it, riding on the baggage carousel with the other baggage. Someone helped me heft the crate off the carousel, and then I could let Rudy out. He was a little rambunctious after about 7 hours in the crate. But that worked out well. He helped pull me along, while I dragged the crate with three of our big bags stacked on top of it. Getting through customs was a bit of a circus, but it only took about 45 minutes. Rudy kept on trying to jump on the customs agent and airport officials, which wasn't helping. I kept looking for Patrick to come and help me. He wasn't anywhere. I was starting to get a little upset that he had forgotten that we were coming in! Everyone else off the plane had walked out the front doors of the airport and it was only me, Jack, Rudy and about 30 Mexican airport officials left in the airport. They were all looking at me and talking to each other in Spanish , which can really make a girl cranky when she's being dragged by a dog who has sat in poop while simultaneously trying to drag along 100 lbs of luggage and a giant crate (Jack was also carrying luggage. Thank God he was there to help!) Then Jack said, "I can see his shoes outside the door." Most of the glass door was blocked out by a large poster. I was so relieved. It turns out they wouldn't let Patrick enter the airport. He had to wait outside, anxiously watching the people file out.

But the fun wasn't over. Remember how we had to fly in to San Jose del Cabo, but our boat's in La Paz? We now had a three hour drive on a windy mountain road at night in a small rental car with black Velvet interior. Have you seen Rudy? The interior was white with dog hair by the end. But we made it. I was pretty zonked, as was Rudy and Jack. Rudy was so stressed about his adventure that he tried to fit as much of his 75 lb body as he could in my lap the whole way. Since then we haven't been doing much. I feel like I just tried to beat Micheal Phelps in the butterfly. I'll get my energy back soon. I am already feeling a lot better today. This place is amazing. Our marina is a resort. More about that tomorrow!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Patrick's input

We sent Laura off with a raucous evening at a jazz club in San Diego. Laura headed north and I continued on with our good friends Ralph, Arlene and Larry. Fair winds and following seas continued on and we threw out our fishing lines as soon as we were in Mexico. "Just a Minute" proved to be a great fishing boat and rewarded us with many fish, including a 52" dorado. After that fish we changed to catch and release only. We rounded the Cape at sunrise, and went on to San Jose del Cabo, only to find out that we had to clear in to the country in Cabo san Lucas, so we all took a taxi to Cabo to get visas. Ralph and Arlene left us in San Jose del Cabo on Nov 6th so they could get ready for their upcoming transit from France to California via the Canal. We were sad to see Ralph and Arlene go - they were a huge help to us and have become great friends of ours. We hope to sail with them again. The fair wind that had pushed us along became a 30 knot wind that we had to sail into. Waves crashed over the bow, but our boat handled it beautifully. Larry and I got to do our first anchoring in the dark after a rough day at sea. Interesting! By the third day we were doing some of our best sailings. Dolphins escorted us into La Paz on November 9th. The 10th was spent registering our boat and preparing for Jack, Rudy and Laura to join us. A very tired Larry decided he needed to get home and so Larry and Laura passed each other in the airport. Larry was a great addition to the crew and is welcome anytime. It had been nearly a month since our family had been together. I was so happy to see them come out the door of the airport. They made quite a spectacle dressed in PNW clothes being pulled by a Labrador and towing a large dog crate and several large bags of luggage.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nearing the Cape

I just heard from Patrick via cell phone. Our fast little boat is continuing to surprise us with its speed. Patrick reports they are nearing the cape of the Baja peninsula! Cabo tomorrow? They have passed numerous boats that are part of the Baja HaHa race, which started out further south and a little earlier than we did. As the name suggests, this is NOT a serious race. Most of the boats in the HaHa are mono-hulls which are generally slower than multi-hulls like our catamaran (which are lighter weight and have less keel). Multi-hulls also have a different action in waves - they bobble around less. Can you tell that I am already in love with my boat?

And now for the fishing report. Patrick says they have caught numerous dorado and tuna. One dorado measured 52"! As anyone who knows Patrick knows, he's having a great time. The water temperature is 85 degrees. The nighttime air temp is in the 80's. They continue to have following seas and fair winds and so they are having a great trip.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dolphin escort

We began our voyage to the Sea of Cortez on Saturday, October 25th, crossing under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at 3:05 pm headed to San Diego. The crew was Patrick, myself, and our hired Captain Ralph and his wife Arlene. Since we have never cruised in an ocean on a sailboat, we hired some knowledgeable hands to make sure we had a chance to learn the ropes. It was fantastic. Our little boat (a 2001 Lagoon 380 catamaran) is a fine and fast boat. We only sailed for a few hours the whole trip, and mostly ran our engines 24/7.

At midnight on the second day at sea, my watch was ending when a pod of dolphins visited our boat. The water was full of phosphorescence and the dolphins were outlined in glowing green, and their path behind them stayed illuminated for a few moments. About 20 of them began playing in the wake of our twin bows. I crawled out onto the nets that stretch in between the boat's pontoons and laid down. I was suspended just a feet or two directly above the dolphins while they played. All I could do was laugh since they were having soo much fun and were so joyful. One of them turned on his side and looked at me. When he jumped out of the water, he chittered at me, just like I was laughing at him. I could have touched them if I tried, but I didn't want to bother them. They played for about 15 minutes and then disappeared back into the ocean. I hope never to forget that moment.

Arriving in San Diego on October 29th, I departed the boat to return to Washington to our son Jack and Rudy (our dog). Patrick continues on in the boat with Ralph, Arlene, and a former co-worker of Patrick's who took my place. Currently they are off the coast of the Baja Peninsula, wearing shorts and T's and catching tuna. They hope to be arriving in Cabo on November 5th. Once they get to La Paz, Jack, Rudy and I will be flying down to join them, hopefully around the 10th or 11th of November. And then, I can relax.


The journey begins....


I've been promising for some time to get a blog together, and finally, here it is. It has been one crazy journey just to get to this point and now the fun begins! A quick recap for those who are joining the fun late - We decided in March, 2008 that our life could suit us a little better if we made some simple changes. April 29th, the "For Sale" sign was posted in front of our home. By July 22nd, the house was sold and in the possession of the new owner. In August we purchased our new boat "Just a Minute" in California. I began homeschooling Jack in September (we love it!). Patrick worked his last day at his job of 19 years on October 1st. We left for CA on October 7th to begin outfitting the boat for our cruising adventure. Our plan is simple. We are just going to float around the Sea of Cortez and hang out together. We hope to be doing this for at least a couple years. If we get bored with the Sea, we will move through the Panama Canal. Or not. We really don't know. But when we do, we'll tell you about it. It's been one hectic six months, but soon it will all come together.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,