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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

and waiting......

My mom and dad left yesterday morning and we missed them as soon as they left. Our week together was very special and I have a whole new respect for my dad. Jack, Dad and I spent hours at the pool trying dives from different heights and all trying to learn how to do a forward flip. We were acting like we were all eleven. At one point Dad figured he could do a forward flip from the top of the waterfall - about nine feet up. The sound of the impact when his back flop hit the water was like a sonic boom. Thankfully he wasn't hurt. Dad, Jack and I laughed and laughed afterwards. I will never forget how game my dad is at the age of 75 and I hope the genes came through to me.

We are still waiting to hear anything from Yanmar about the faulty sail drives that they sold to us. And we have not received new ones. The serial numbers of the two drives are very close to each other and there may have been a bad batch that was put up for sale. By any account, it is very odd that two drive shafts from a reputable company would both have the same manufacturing defect.

In the meantime, we continue to check things off our to-do list. We now have dinghy chaps custom made for our dinghy. They will help Rudy have traction getting in and out of the dinghy and protect the rubber from sun damage.

Also, our dinghy engine has not been running properly. The poor thing only had FIVE hours on it in the last seven years. Patrick figured that there was some gunk in the carburetor. He talked with a mechanic here, but it was going to cost a lot of money to have him fix. Jack and Patrick took the carburetor out and brought it on board to work on. After some consultation with our friend Colin, and after skyping our friend Mack who has outboard mechanic training, Patrick and Jack pulled the whole thing apart. They not only got it all put back together, but it's now working great!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Life at El Cid

Life at Marina El Cid is a lot of fun. This marina is very small, with only about 100 boats, and most of them are local charter fishing boats. There are maybe only 20 - 30 full time cruising boats at this marina. Meanwhile, the hotel/timeshare units number in the hundreds with lots of American tourists here to vacation in the sun for a week or two. As cruisers, we stand out. And since we have a dog and a kid, we REALLY stand out. It seems like we can't take Rudy for a walk, or go to the pool without meeting someone new. It's very fun.

One of our favorite couples we've met was Luke and Tara from Montana, on their honeymoon. They first spied us when we were walking our dog. Over the last few days they have taken Rudy out walking, Luke taught Jack how to boogie board, they have come with us to the beach to swim Rudy and play in the surf, and have come to socialize with my parents and our cruiser friends. We have had a great time with them and were sad to see them go home today.

Mom and Dad are getting a taste of our new life and I'm pretty sure they see the beauty of it. We spend hours at the pool, or hanging out on the boat, on the beach, etc. Last night we had an impromptu social session with Colin and Sharon (cruiser friends) and Luke. Tomorrow we plan to go out sailing on the Mazatlan bay. So we are keeping busy while we wait for the boat parts. We haven't heard anything yet from the boat yard, so we are thinking it will be at least another week. There are tougher things to bear.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stuck in Mazatlan

Sometimes it seems like we are only on a tour of boat yards and marinas. Not the cruising adventure we were thinking of. But, boy! have we had some exciting times lately. As you remember, we had to come to Mazatlan in order to have our boat hauled. No one on the Baja peninsula had a boat lift big enough to pull our 22 foot wide boat out to do the sail drive work. On Tuesday we went to a boat yard here and found out that our boat was about 6 to 8 inches too wide to fit inside the concrete enclosure of their 50 ton boat lift. Of course we only found that out by scraping our stanchions (metal railing) along the concrete as they were attempting to lift the boat. They tried a couple different scenarios, but it was all the same. It didn't fit. So they pulled out the belt and let us back away with concrete dust and chips littering our decks. No harm, no foul though, just a mess.

Thankfully Mazatlan is a huge town with a BIG commercial fishing fleet so there was another larger lift (150 ton) deeper into the maze that they call a harbor. We got an appointment to be lifted out the following morning which was Wednesday. Words can't do justice to the overwhelming rust streaked fleet of derelict fishing trawlers we travelled through, looking for the lift. The boats were stacked ten deep for a mile. We just wound our way through them looking for the blue of a travel lift. The harbor was full of trash and oil but the boatyard was even dirtier. When we found the lift, there were trawlers parked in front of it, blocking the entrance, and there was no company sign to let us know if we were in the right place. It was very confusing. But it turns out we were at the right place. Our boat fit in the lift enclosure and we were hauled out.

The boatyard was a dusty, barren stretch of land in the middle of a dusty, trash filled landscape. There was one building, one shack, about 20 dogs, 10 workers, and about 10 commercial fishermen with nothing better to do that watch the spectacle. So it was a circus. Our big concern was to find out whether the sail drive would be under warranty or if they determined that we had done something to ruin it (like run into fishing line.) We were grateful when the mechanic said that the sail drive was faulty. However, it wasn't just a bad seal like we all thought. The shaft of the drive was scored which caused the seal to fail. The mechanic decided to look at the other sail drive and he found that the other sail drive shaft was also scored and that seal was going to be failing any minute. Of course they do not have two new sail drives in inventory and so they are on order now. Our choice was simple. Either stay on the hard at that godforsaken boatyard, or put the motors back together good enough for us to motor back to Marina El Cid and hang out until the new sail drives arrive. It was a very easy decision.

So we are back at Marina El Cid. My parents who were vacationing in Puerto Valarta took a bus up and joined us here today. We are all very excited to have Grammy and Grandpa visit us here. We will be at Marina El Cid for another week or two while we wait for the sail drive parts to arrive. When our parts arrive, we will return to the boat yard and have another set of sail drives installed. After that, no plans yet.

Laura. Patrick, Jack and Rudy

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Land of Maz

Well, we've obviously made it here. We had an amazing trip. We left La Paz around 3 pm on Thursday and arrived in the El Cid marina in Mazatlan at 10:30 am on Saturday - about 46 hours. We were slower than normal since we only had one engine, but we averaged about 5.5 knots over the 235 nautical miles.
The crossing went very well. The winds stayed light to moderate (5 to 10 knots most of the time with gusts up to 16 knots at times) which made for very comfortable sailing. We mostly just put our jib up, but also our main for a spell or two. There was not enough wind to only use sails, so we always kept our working engine on to keep the speed up. The winds stayed mostly to our stern and so we really did have fair winds and following seas for most of the trip.
On a crossing like this, someone is always at the helm "on watch" 24 hours a day until the destination is reached. We all took turns on watch and it went very smoothly. The boat is generally steered by an autopilot, but someone has to be there to turn the boat if it is on a collision course with something. The person on watch is mostly watching for other traffic (big ships and working boats don't alter course for us little guys) but we watch also for fishing gear like nets, lines, and pots and maybe a sleeping whale. You don't want a net wrapped around your propeller. And I have personally met a man whose boat sunk when he hit a whale! At night, you don't have much hope of spotting anything that doesn't have a light on it, but on our trip we happened to be sailing into the moon and our path was lit up for us like a spotlight. It made it a lot nicer and very beautiful.
We saw fantastic wildlife on our trip. We caught two dorados. Some Orcas came at our boat on a collision course and then swam under it and up the other side. They were about 100 feet off our bow when they submerged. One night, some bottle nose dolphins came and played in our bow wake. Dolphins always seem to approach the boat right at the helm and look at you for a little while before they continue up to the bow to play. It's almost like they are asking for permission! Jack and Patrick laid out on the nets and talked to them as they played. Near Mazatlan we saw two humpback whales. We also were followed by small sharks after we cleaned the dorado.
On Tuesday our boat is pulled from the water and we find out what repairs are needed. From that point, we can make more decisions. In the meantime, we are enjoying El Cid and all of the amenities it offers - a fantastic sugar sand beach, three pools (one with waterfalls, slides, cliffs to jump from, a cave system, and hot tubs), a rotating happy hour going from pool to pool, large iguanas roaming the beautiful grounds and lots of friendly people. One couple we met in La Paz is also here with us, Colin and Sharon on Mama Bird. So all in all, no complaints here!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

To Mazatlan

Good Morning!
Today is a fine and beautiful day which is perfect! We are casting off our lines and leaving La Paz today, almost one month and one week after we had originally planned. But we are ready now. I am feeling good, the boat now has operating solar panels and a platform, the wind storm has abated, and Rudy has vomited up the entire tamale with corn husk that he stole about two days ago. Our hearts our filled with joy
Sergio and his gang did a fabulous job custom building and installing a stainless steel arch over the stern of our boat. It provides multiple uses - solar panel platform, kayak storage, and dinghy engine support. We are really happy with it.
So keep us in our thoughts, we are about to become sailors instead of barnacles.
Laura, Patrick, Jack and Rudy

Friday, January 9, 2009

Why Go to Sea World?

Why go to Sea World when you can get splashed by dolphins while sitting on the bow of a boat? Yesterday, Dad, Ken and Boomer and I went out fishing on Ken's boat. We went 12 miles out to catch the good fish. It would be the best day in Washington, but an average day here. It was warm and sunny. We fished for a couple hours but didn't catch anything. On our way back , we saw dolphins. We saw them way far off. I watched for a little while, but then got bored. I tried calling them to come over. Then we saw them coming towards us. They came and played in the bow wake. I stood on the bow. They were about two feet away from me. We got blown on by them when they came up to breathe. They were a lot bigger than Flipper. They played for about 15 minutes, but it seemed like 3 seconds.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas and Everything Else

It's hard to even know where to begin...... So I'll start at the beginning and do a quick recap. Jack and I had an epic 16 hour journey to get to Everett on Christmas Eve. First we had a three and a half hour bus ride which started out an hour late. Then we had a four hour plane ride that started out four hours late. Which resulted in our plane landing in Seattle at 2 minutes to midnight. There were people on our plane who had been trying to reach Seattle for four days, so I can't really complain about four hours. Thankfully the Homeland Security people stayed late to clear us through customs because our Captain had told us that if we landed after midnight, we were going to be sitting on the plane on the tarmac until they came back to work the next day (something about them having families and wanting to be home with loved ones on Christmas eve....) I can't tell you how good it was to be reunited with Patrick in the airport.
On Christmas Day, the three of us travelled to Lopez Island to be with my mom and dad. Then we turned around and came back to Everett on the 26th. The 27th was Grandma's funeral and it was a very beautiful service, as pretty much everyone reading this blog will know. There were so many people there, despite the weather! It is really a comfort to family to see how many people were touched by Grandma's life.
On the 28th we had a marathon shopping spree to replenish all the things that we had used or needed on the boat which we couldn't find in Mexico. So when we packed to catch our plane on the 29th, we had seven bags of luggage stuffed full.
On the 29th, we were supposed to be catching a flight out of Seattle at 9 am in the morning. Instead we were at the Everett Walk-In Clinic, so that I could get a doctor's ok before flying. I woke up the morning of the 29th very ill and did not feel safe getting on a plane without consulting a doctor. The doctor was very kind, took some samples and told me that I would survive until I could see a doctor in Mexico (I wasn't sure I would). So we re-booked the tickets for the 30th and got up the following morning and started out all over again. It was an epic 17 1/2 hour journey back. We arrived safely back on our boat at 11:20 at night. Our guard dog was hiding under the table, looking very worried when we opened the door, but when he saw us, he went spastic. We had to stay up petting him for about an hour. He is such a baby!
Things shut down here on the 31st, so we planned to find a doctor on the 2nd and I just laid low. Then New Year's Day I got a very serious sounding phone call from the Everett Clinic telling me the results of the testing they did. I somehow had managed to catch a very nasty abdominal bacterial infection (not likely caught in Mexico). Which explains why I look like I am 6 months pregnant! I am now on medication to kill it. Unfortunately, I am still pretty sick, but looking forward to feeling better soon.
This down-time on the boat has it's advantages since we are taking the time to have a stainless steel platform made for two solar panels. When it's finished we will be a very self-sufficient boat since we have a desalinization water-maker that can pump out 20 gallons of fresh water per hour, and solar power. After that we just need to add a farm on the roof for fresh fruits and vegetables and we will be set (kidding).
When the solar platform is done in a week and weather pending, WE LEAVE FOR MAZATLAN!!!!!! Pardon my shouting but I am happy to be leaving this dock. Love the place, love the people, but two months is long enough to enjoy it.
But, as faithful readers, you probably have started to notice that things don't always seem to go the way we plan (for better or worse). So I don't want to tempt the Fates and lay out any more plans than that.
Take Care and Happy New Year!