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, March 26, 2009

42 years old and loving life!

My mid-life crisis has turned into a mid life joyfest. Nothing fancy, nothing ostentatious, just happiness and contentment. I celebrated yesterday by cleaning the boat top to bottom - I love order and cleanliness. Did five loads of laundry. Then baked myself a cherry pie from scratch. Had Bill and Sue from Sunbaby over to enjoy the pie and help us celebrate. They brought a lovely bottle of wine for a present and I insisted on opening it up for birthday toastings. It went very well with the pie, surprisingly enough! After that we all went off to a great local store for some clothes shopping and on to a fantastic dinner in a restaurant. Every birthday wish I could have has been answered. Every cruiser I meet says the same thing - "I am soooo lucky!" I think we all feel that way.

This morning when we woke up, Sunbaby had already left the dock, headed to Isla Isabel. Tomorrow we leave, headed north. Our eventual destination is Mazatlan, but first we are going to do a little exploring. There is a village north of here that is not mentioned in the cruiser's guide books, but it looks like it should have a good harbor for us to anchor in. Since we only draw 3 1/2 feet, we have a few more options than many other boats. We will stop on our way tomorrow to check it out and maybe stay for a night or two. After that, we head to Mazatlan to provision before going north. Mazatlan is the last large city we will visit in quite a while, so we will be stocking up on all those canned goods and products that Americans are familiar with, but Mexicans don't really use. You can have a lot of trouble finding them in the smaller towns, if you can find them at all.

Talk to you again from Marina El Cid, Mazatlan,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jungle Tour in San Blas

We extended our time at Chacala a little longer than intended. That is the great part about not having anywhere to be for the next three to four years. The weather was fantastic, the beach clean, the surf good and the water warm. We were anchored about three hundred yards from the beach and every day we swam to the beach. We spent hours swimming, learning how to kayak in the surf, and boogie boarding. Every night we fell exhausted into bed. On our fourth day, we heard our old friends Sunbaby announce on the SSB Amigo net that they were traveling to Chacala that day. We had been planning to pull anchor, but quickly decided to stay. We hadn't seen them since December in La Paz. Their future plans were much like ours, - next day, San Blas and in a week or so, Mazatlan.

The following day, we both pulled anchor and moved to the brand new marina at San Blas. Now a quick note to the other cruisers who read this blog, San Blas marina is NICE. The cleanest, most upscale marina I have ever been in, anywhere. Marble counters in the shower/bathrooms! And Raul is just great. And right now there are just four cruiser boats in it! Do not believe the hype that is circulating in the cruiser's group. The channel is a piece of cake, just hug the red markers. We went in at low tide and the lowest reading we had was about 9 feet. There are not swarms of bugs as many think. For an hour at sunset and an hour of early dawn, there are a few no-see-ums, so close your hatches then. Otherwise there are no bugs to speak of. The marina is within walking distance to the town plaza. San Blas is a wonderful small Mexican town. Wonderful shops, great local crafts for sale at amazing prices, wonderful historical buildings, and a beautiful town plaza. San Blas has a lot to offer.

Today, Sunbaby's Bill and Sue and the Just a Minute crew took a guided jungle cruise on a panga out into the mangrove forest. We had been told to start out early and it was great advice. We were the first ones up the channel in the early morning calm and it was breathtaking. Once again, I was having a Marlin Perkins moment. We saw hundreds of birds - blue herons, green herons, broadbilled herons, a flamingo, white egrets, a type of cormorant, a black hawk, an eagle, and lots of jungle birds that I have no idea what they were. The air was alive with calls. We also saw various size crocs sunning, turtles, lots of fish in the crystal clear water, beautiful blooming lilies at the water's edge and bromelia hanging in the branches, and hanging termite colonies under the canopy of trees that reached across the channel from side to side. It was a very wonderful experience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Isla Isabel

Isla Isabel was everything we had been hoping to find in Mexico. It is a small island, 42 nautical miles (about 50 land miles) from the mainland of Mexico. There is a small fishing village with about 20 cabins located on one bay, but otherwise uninhabited. The lower part of the island is covered in dense 6 - 10 foot tall trees, and the high ground is just rocks and grasses. The trees are covered in nesting frigate birds. The high rocky ground is strewn with nesting blue footed boobies. The noise of the calling birds is constant. Thousands of birds are circling overhead. When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, I watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins religiously. I loved seeing all the amazing places they went. And there I was, right in the middle of a Wild Kingdom episode. Honestly, I can’t describe the scene well enough to do it justice. Just picture me, Patrick and Jack walking alongside Marlin and you’ve got the idea.

We anchored off the island in 22’ deep water. We were nestled in beside the Monas and the island, right on the edge of a large breaking surf. Some ocean swells came through the anchorage, but the wind was mostly cut by the island. We happened on great weather for our three days, so we were mostly comfortable parked out in the ocean. Humpback whales love the island too and we often saw them (sometimes up close, sometimes far away). Patrick and Jack heard them singing one day when they were snorkeling. Another day we got to see a couple whales hurling themselves out of the water. It is a joyful sight.

Isla Isabel is an old volcano and the topography is very interesting. On the beach we anchored near, you could see where the old lava flow had hit the water. There were caves and bridges and lumps made up of the lava flow. The old flow created an interesting beach above water and a lot of interesting places underwater where the fish could hide. At least once every day we snorkeled in the rocks surrounding the little bay we were in. We saw amazing tropical fish and corals. At first we were interested in catching a langosta (lobster) but soon we stopped even trying to hunt and spent the whole time just looking at the fish and discovering the little caves and rock walls that surrounded the bay.

After three fantastic days, we decided to head for the mainland. Our weather window had been great, but we didn’t want to risk getting stuck out there in bad weather. It would not be very pleasant and it’s a long way to shelter. Jack and I are still struggling with occasional sea sickness. Neither one of us wants to push our luck. The medicine takes care of it, but then you sleep the rest of the day. Our motor in to the mainland (no breeze for the sails) was eventful with more whale sightings - humpbacks and another type I wasn’t sure which kind. We caught a few more fish trolling along, but no keepers.

We are now anchored at Chacala, a small bay just north of Puerto Vallarta. There are six boats anchored here with us. The bay is lined with palapa restaurants and is a quiet vacation place for Mexicans and tourists. It is very nice. We will stay here for a few days and then head north to San Blas which has a very protected harbor. We hear on the SSB that there will be a gale starting around Sunday out north of Hawaii that will cause high winds along the Mexican coast.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We're leaving the Dock!

Just a quick FYI. We are headed to Isla Isabel and will be out of internet contact for several days. Esteban, the security manager here (and also avid fisherman) tells us that there is a huge school of sailfish and marlin nine miles out traveling north on the surface, and we are hoping to see them up close and personal! Only Jack is interested in catching - and releasing- a marlin, we are hoping for a tuna or dorado, but we will catch, filet and release one of those. So we'll write again later when we have internet service in San Blas.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Finally Fixed!

We just got back into internet access last night. We were out of access since Sunday afternoon. We were at Malvina's Boatyard - the newest spa destination. It's close to the city dump, the city sewage treatment center, and several fish processing ships. Yummm.. You can taste the air. Meanwhile, if the wind is in the right direction, the fine, oily dust (also with a healthy sampling of paint particulates, and who knows how many toxic metals from all the sandblasting) wafts over you in clouds. It was lovely. At one point two nights ago, Patrick and I both woke up because the stench was so bad. We ended up staying on the boat with Rudy since a hotel room would be just one more expense in this expensive town. It was bad, but I still think we made the right decision. It would have been a little easier if we hadn't run out of water!

It sounds horrible I know, but it was really kind of funny. It makes me laugh thinking about it. When we got back last night, Patrick immediately took Rudy to the beach (poor dog was on the boat the whole time - no way to get him off when it's 15 feet in the air.) I immediately got out a heavy duty cleaner, bucket, hose, and a truck brush and went to work getting most of the dust washed off the boat. The water ran brown down the sides. Yuck. Even so, our boat is still a little dingy looking. It might require a hands-and-knees type of scrubbing.

So that is the latest. Finally, four months after we broke down, we are whole again. I don't quite believe it. We are going to stay here at El Cid for probably another five days while we try to clean the boat (the inside got very dusty too), do our laundry, provision foods, and in all ways prep for the next leg of our journey. There is an island south of here called Isla Isabel which is supposed to be like the Mexican Galapagos and we are going to go check that out.