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, August 26, 2010

Bahia de Los Angeles

Well, I can sum up the last month pretty quickly - bees, breakdowns, no internet, whale sharks, fishing, and sweat. There you go, you haven't missed anything. For those of you interested in more details...

When last we left off, we were just leaving Santa Rosalia, over a hundred miles away. Our grand plans to hit the islands sort of fell to the wayside, partly because of the wind (not a good direction) and partly because the islands that did have good protection had lots of boats in them. So we stuck to the less traveled peninsula side and had several beautiful anchorages mostly to ourselves.

It's kind of strange to be back here in LA Bay area. It is not quite what I expected. Over the winter months we had run into so many new cruisers who told us they would be up here for the summer. I thought there were going to be 50 or more boats up here - but only a few of them showed up. Only one of the kid boats that said they would be here actually turned up, so Jack has had much less kid interaction than last year. So far, not even our old friends from last summer (Hotspur and Third Day) are up here. Jack has not been complaining though, since the snorkeling and spear fishing are as excellent as we remembered.

This cruising season has been remarkable for a few reasons - more bee swarms than last year, fewer hurricanes/tropical storms, and tons of breakdowns. It has seemed like one long episode of "McGyver" around JaM. So many important systems began breaking almost as soon as we reached LA Bay, which is just the backwater of all places to try to find replacements or goods. So Patrick has been fixing breakdowns with anything he can find. He used a cut-up plastic bottle to replace the lid of our dinghy gas can which blew off from the heat pressure, and miraculously he used hose clamps and tape to repair the two holes in the 1000 psi, stainless steel tube on our water maker which had burst, sending pressurized salt water streaming into the storage compartment under our bed, which is where we store 150 lbs of dog food and books. What a MESS! We have also had a water pump on one engine fail, and the sail drive on that side has salt water intrusion again, and the starter on the other engine is in the process of failing, and the refrigerator's water pump system began failing. I think that covers all of the major system failures we have suffered in the last two weeks, but you can understand if I forgot a few. I am starting to feel a little besieged.

Many of the anchorages on the Baja have very aggressive bees, searching for water sources. Due to the design of our boat, we are a prime target. Our fresh water sink is placed right near the door to the cockpit and so the bees easily scent and find the water on our boat. We have responded by fashioning a "Tent Mahal" by taking two queen-size bed nets and sewing them together to form a tent that encompasses the entire cockpit area, all 10 feet by 15 feet of it. It is pretty sweet, but it severely cuts down on the air flow. So our choice is no bees and no air, or bees and air. It's amazing how many times we opt for no air.

Speaking of air, the temperature has been hovering around 100 and the water is about 86. It is not so refreshing to jump in the water - oh how we long for the 54 degree water of home! Thankfully, the catamaran offers shade and a wind tunnel effect between her two hulls, so we have a little more relief than others. We three have spent many hours floating and lounging under JaM's hull, just trying to cool down. It seems much hotter than last year.

Provisioning in LA Bay is much harder than last year, and NO INTERNET is available from the boat. Both these details are severely affecting our enjoyment of LA Bay. Last year a fellow American would bring all the cruisers around in his truck to get all their diesel, food, laundry and such. This year, there is no free ride. It is sorely missed, and provisioning around here has taken on epic measure. You try hauling 20 gallons of diesel a half mile in 100 degree heat! Let alone provisioning beer and groceries. And very expensive. Yesterday we bought one roll of paper towels and one small can of meat for $8 US. Ouch!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pepe's Inferno

We have spent the last week in Santa Rosalia Harbor, tied to a dock. Barring the center of the Earth, it is one of the hottest places on this planet, I think. Yet, we survived smiling. How can this be so? After spending a few weeks here last year, we did something that proves how desperately our brains were baked. We bought an air conditioner - just a small, in-window unit. We couldn't find one here in Santa Rosalia, so we had one shipped to a friend. We had already left Santa Rosalia by the time we picked it up from our friend.

It has sat in its original box, unopened, unused, for one entire year. I can't tell you how many times I cursed the huge, heavy box that took up so much room under my bed. There was never a cause to use it in all of the places we have been in Mexico. And then we returned to Santa Rosalia. Within one hour of tying to the dock here, we had the box ripped open and the unit fitted into our salon cabin window. Ah, Heaven.

Santa Rosalia is so hot and humid that it is hard to even bring ourselves to leave the refrigerated confines of our boat. Yet every morning, we leave before 11 am to get ourselves to Pepe's Taco Stand for the BEST SHRIMP TACO IN THE WORLD. He opens at 7 am, and he closes when he runs out of food. Every day, he starts with a fresh pile of shrimp and fish, and every day he sells out around 1 pm. We don't want to risk getting there after closing, so we head in around 11.

So the days have passed, waiting for Rudy to get better - eating tacos, braving town for provisioning trips and the vet visits, and hanging out in the luxury of our air conditioned boat. It is hard to leave Santa Rosalia, but we plan to untie tonight and keep moving north. Our next anchorage is 80 miles away and so we will be leaving around 3 am to make it in sometime next afternoon. The wind has died now, so it will just be a motor boat ride.

Rudy has recovered well from his latest issue. He is still not a pretty sight and mothers in town drag their big-eyed children away from his pestilent looking hide, but I can't blame them. He really does look like Hell.

We rented a cab for one hour yesterday and had the driver take us all over town provisioning - the modelorama (beer store), two tiendas (food), three ferreterias (hardware stores), and the vet. It cost us $22 US for the cab, but it was the only civilized way we could get all that stuff back to the boat in the heat. By the time he was driving us to the marina, the back end of his car was riding very low from all the weight.

Now we are stocked and loaded, so we will be heading straight up into the islands of the Northern Sea of Cortez, bypassing the next town (LA Bay) which is about 124 miles away. We plan to hit a few islands in the next weeks including Isla Salispuedes (Leave If You Can Island), Isla Partida Norte (North Departure Island) and Isla Angel de la Guardia (Guardian Angel Island). When we finally run out of vegetables, beer and fuel (or some combination there of), we will head back into LA Bay to re-provision, so our next internet will not be for two weeks or so.