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, June 24, 2010

Dog Blog ---- The Rudy Files ---- Views from Under the Table

Master Evinrude
Ship's Dog
S/V Just a Minute


I am Rudy and I am Canine. I will try to use simple words so our human friends can follow along.

I like to hang out under the galley table. It is where everything important happens on our Vessel. Located right in the heart of the ship with good access to table scraps and the occasional spilled plate. It is Command Central.

Dad (aka Patrick or Alpha) and I took Mom and the little guy (Laura and Jack) to La Paz yesterday so they could go back North for a visit. With Mom away I decided to step up and take care of the Blog. Dad's ok and all but the Blog might prove a bit too much for him. I mean shoot after two years I am still trying to train him to walk on the shady side of the street! The trip went well. I let Dad ride up front because it seems to keep him occupied. We made our usual stop in Ciudad Constitucion where Dad seems to be quite friendly with the guys with guns. On our first trip the nice man pointed out that there was something wrong with the car but for $20.00 he could fix it. Thank goodness he stopped us otherwise how would we have known something was wrong? Yesterday Dad was standing with three humans with guns at the trunk of the car. They seem to be having trouble communicating. Dogs are so superior, just a quick couple sniffs in the right spot and everyone is on the same page.

I digress.

Anyway, after about ten minutes Dad announced that his Dog was hot and needed to get out of the Car. I thought, Great! I will greet these humans properly and get to the bottom of the problem. Heh heh. Well apparently the Humans with guns decided they didn't want to meet me. They promptly returned all dads paperwork and left. Dad hopped in and we sped off again. I didn't even get to get out.

I understand Mom left me here to look after Dad and the Boat. I think things are going pretty good now but holy smokes he gave me a scare last week. I woke up one morning and Dad had lost all his fur! Uck! he looked worse than a Chihuahua! I told him to eat some grass and he seems to be doing much better now. I will check back in from time to time or if I smell anything interesting. In the meantime don't eat anything I wouldn't eat.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Luck of the Irish, Baja Style

Jack and I went into the FerreMar store in Loreto and they had a decent assortment of small cables, too small for us. They told us to try another place down the dirt road, past the cow on the right, just before the river. So we did..

We followed the directions and found a semi-trailer with an old Mercury sign hanging on it, all locked up. I went around the back, through the goats, chickens and dogs and found a very nice lady doing her laundry. Have you ever noticed how some Mexicans don't speak English a lot worse than others? Sometimes they mean it, and sometimes they are just being modest. Well, we spent the next half hour convincing her to let us into the trailer. Finally in, it was very hot inside the trailer but Jack and I found piles of cables to dig through. All too small. After another half hour, I was ready to give up when a Mexican man came in and started talking to the lady as if we were not there. He started digging through the cables as well. It was all very strange. He finally looked at me, and in perfect English said, "How long is it?". I said 28 ft. He replied, "Oh, I have one of those."

He then marched past me, out the door. We followed him around back, past the goats and chickens and into a Mercury engine graveyard and then into a large shop with brand-new, shrink-wrapped Mercury 200 outboards lying on pallets and lots of other boat stuff. He reached up on the wall and took down one gray cable and handed it to me. Volvo Penta 28' was stamped on the side of it. Used, but for 200 pesos I couldn't pass it up!


Candeleros Chico

When last we left off, we had one-half a working helm control and were searching for the replacement cable in Loreto. Patrick and Jack were gone for hours, leaving me on the boat updating the blog. When they returned, it was evident that Patrick is still One Lucky Son of a Gun. In true Just a Minute style, Patrick and Jack not only had exactily the part they needed, but they had found it in a used parts store for $20.00 US. The next closest replacement part he had found in Escondido was not quite the right length and would have cost $150.00 US. We left Loreto with our find and headed back to Ballandra for the repair job. In just a few hours, the cable was replaced and working perfectly and we were off the next day bound for Candeleros Chico, a pretty little anchorage we had read about in our guide book, but never visited.

Candeleros Chico is just one of those places. The scenery is stunning, the anchorage deserted and intimate enough that only one or two boats can fit. In all directions, fantastic kayaking and hiking can be found. It would have been over the top if the water had been in better condition. Boats up and down the Sea are reporting unusually green, murky, cold water on the Radio Nets. I took Rudy swimming one day despite the water color and regretted it since my eyes started stinging when the water got into them. I am not sure what is causing the condition, but we are expecting it to clear someday soon. In the meantime, there is still plenty to enjoy.

Jack and I have our tickets bought for a visit home. Our flight leaves next week. We have been away from Washington for one year now and are both anxious to be home for a visit. Patrick will be staying in the Loreto area hanging out with Rudy and enjoying having his boat all to himself.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Patrick's New Look

Who knows what triggered it... the engine breakdown, stress over Rudy's illness, too much sun? Whatever, Patrick took a long-held goal of shaving off his hair and made it real. It's taking some getting used to (on my part) but Patrick is loving it, and it is growing on me - so to speak.Meanwhile we have spent a lovely three days NOT worrying about the engine break, and have spent it anchored in Ballandra on Isla Carmen swimming, making new friends and fishing. Today finds us back off of Loreto where there are stores that might stock the parts we need and internet access.

Rudy is much, much better. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and positive thoughts. Rudy only suffered the seizures for two days and then nothing since. He is also much peppier, waggier, and more like his old goofball self. He's even been swimming again. We are so thankful to have our dog on the road to health. He will be taking several medications for the next month to counteract the infection, and he has a special new diet (which he loves) that
includes lots of carrots, spinach, watermelon, apples, and other fresh fruits and vegetables. He also has a new, extremely expensive, extremely hard to find in Mexico, specialty dry dog food. It looks like he will make a full recovery!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's Nice to Have Friends!

Wow, we have had so many offers of help from friends all over the place. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone. We are really touched by the offers of help that have come to us from friends in California, Mazatlan, La Paz, and even New Zealand.

We are sure it will be an easy fix, whenever Patrick gets around to it. In the meantime we have Jack set up in the engine compartment with ear plugs. Patrick has always wanted to say things like "Full Ahead, Make it so!" Who needs a helm control when you have an engine jockey?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Bad Day

Patrick and Rudy returned from La Paz on Wednesday, loaded down with medicine for Rudy and tons of food for us. While in La Paz, Patrick had gone on an epic provisioning run since the prices are so much cheaper there. Our first day together was a great reunion. It was so wonderful to have the two of them back on JaM. Rudy was still subdued, but you could tell that he was happy to be home.

Thursday (yesterday) was looking like it should be a wonderful day. It was beautiful and sunny like it usually is. Our only chores to complete were putting away the food and fueling the boat, and then we were heading out into the islands for a little quality time. As we were working through the chores, Rudy had a seizure. Anaplasma has varying degrees of severity, and Rudy has the worst kind, with brain involvement. He quickly came out of his seizure, after stumbling around the cabin for a bit. Then he had another one while lying down. Seizures are always a startling event to witness, though the patient is not in pain. It's very upsetting to watch since there is nothing you can do to help. So that event took a lot of fun out of day quickly. We knew that Rudy had a severe case of Anaplasma, but now we know it is the worst kind.

But we decided to push on, and get out into the islands. Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante is stunning and just 3 miles away from Puerto Escondido and so we decided to head there. There were several boats already anchored there, so we headed to a tiny little cove at the south end that was open. The cove had a beautiful little stretch of white sand that was surrounded by rock cliffs. There was just enough room for us to anchor in 20 feet. The wind was coming down the cliffs and pushing our boat around, so it was going to be a tricky hook drop, but nothing we hadn't done before.

Then, as we were getting ready to drop the anchor, disaster struck. Patrick was at the helm, positioning our boat in the tiny cove. Suddenly the boat was not under his control. And it was moving quickly toward a rock cliff in 14 feet of water. Patrick put the boat into reverse, but we continued forward at a fast pace. Patrick at first thought that the wind had caught us, and the boat was just taking a little while to respond to the engines. Then he realized that the port engine was stuck in forward and had not shifted to reverse. He floored the starboard engine in reverse and JaM quickly pivoted on the spot and was heading back out into the open water. Nothing like a few seconds of terror and confusion to get your heart going. Floating safely out in the open water, Patrick got into the port engine compartment and found that the throttle cable and shift cables had severed, leaving our port engine useless.

Since a catamaran is basically a big floating square, it needs two engines to maneuver. One engine on one side can push the boat forward, but it cannot maneuver enough to safely navigate tight areas, or counteract strong currents or winds. We knew we couldn't set the anchor is such a tiny little cove with one engine, so we turned around and headed back to Escondido. Even getting the boat up to the mooring ball in the 10 knots of wind was tricky, but with all of us working together, we got JaM re-attached to a mooring ball. Here we sit, back at square one, searching the Internet for info about replacing cables and hoping we don't need to make another trip to La Paz for parts.

All in all, a pretty bad day. Even in paradise.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Rudy Update

It turns out to have been a very good decision to seek medical help for Rudy in La Paz. The laboratory testing of his blood revealed that he has a tick-borne illness called Anaplasma which can be very serious. It would not have gotten better on the medicine course that our Loreto vet had prescribed. Further testing shows that Rudy also has a liver problem in association with his illness. The veterinarian in La Paz is very hopeful for Rudy's recovery since he is a young, strong dog. Rudy is still very sick right now but is possible that he can make a full recovery.

There are ticks all over the Baja and mainland Mexico and despite being on medicine to discourage ticks, we have found several crawling on him over our last two years, and have pulled a few off of him that had been feeding. Those buggers can be very, very tiny and they like to hide in hard-to-find places (between the toes and deep in the ears.) Ticks carry several different diseases. They transmit their diseases when they start feeding, just like when mosquitoes transmit malaria and Dengue. All pet owners (and people) need to be very aware of the danger of ticks in Mexico and keep a vigilant eye out for them. Rudy has come home with ticks on him after walking through towns or walking out in the wilderness, so it is a problem everywhere.

Rudy is not out of the woods yet, but we are very hopeful for a good outcome. Keep those positive thoughts coming!