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Our “Sailing Out The Gate Video” leaving San Francisco 08/20/2015

Year ago, August 20, 2015 we left San Francisco to head to Mexico via our Steven’s 40 sailboat. I added this video to the last post a little late, so I’m posting it again by itself because I feel like it deserves its own post.  Our family of 5 plus Nina’s best friend Ava and Ellamae’s biological father,  Jason joined us for the first leg from Horseshoe Cove San Francisco to Halfmoon Bay, California.

3 weeks of sailing heaven!

A 3 week intermission from refilling the kitty was all it took to feel like I was back in sailing heaven again. I decided to extend my travel nurse contract in San Francisco for one more month under the stipulation that I get 3 weeks off to go back to my family and sail with them down the Sea of Cortez. It was just what we all needed; to be back together in warm weather, warm clear water and good family sailing time.

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Free diving mamma.

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Nina’s triumphant pose as she completes a 40 foot deep fin-less dive.

I met up with the family in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. I got there by driving 11 hours in a rental car to Phoenix and then taking an 11 hour Tufesa Bus ride across the border from Phoenix to San Carlos all in a matter of 30 hours. Upon arriving to Mexico, my spirit was lifted. I was so excited to spend this time with my family after 3.5 months of working in San Francisco and only seeing them a handful of days during that time. It was time to get some family lovin’.img_7613

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Free-Diving Daddy

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Ellamae’s touch down at 20 feet.

After a few days in San Carlos, we were stocked up and ready to head out.  The weather window looked great for heading across the Sea of Cortez, so we opted to leave while we could get good wind.  On Sunday, Oct 15th, after our morning in the anchorage and grocery re-load, we sailed off the hook and out of the anchorage. We quickly realized that sailing under jib alone was going to work just fine.  We set our course  on a nice downwind reach toward Isla Carmen, just off of Loreto on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez. See our short post of pictures and videos here. 2 hours into our sail we hooked 2 Dorado (Mahi Mahi),one male and one female!

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Male Dorado, 2 hours south of San Carlos, Mexico.

The rest of the sail was relatively peaceful, with winds up to 30 kts and a furled jib. The wind maintained strength overnight and had us make landfall by 8 am the next morning. We dropped the anchor under sail at Perico anchorage on the east side of the area known as Bahia Salinas on Isla Carmen. With a few hours of rest after not sleeping so well over the night, we found energy in just having the excitement of being out on a deserted island with no one else around. We had the anchorage to ourselves and we were all together as one family unit!

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A little home-school art.

Screenshot (105)After a few days at Perico, we decided to head a few miles north to an anchorage called Painted Cliffs. Again, we had the anchorage to ourselves. Christian and I started to get in a morning routine of waking up at 4:30 am, drinking our bulletproof coffee and conversed under the stars and into the sunrise. I would then go for a 40-50 minute swim and Christian would go for a 5-10 mile stand-up paddle board excursion. The kids would wake up, start school and by lunch time we were all ready for a free-diving / fishing break.  Painted Cliffs had this amazing ledge to dive on. The visibility  was about 55 feet and the water was 84 F, even at 65 feet deep! After spearing a decent size grouper, we played around with going deep. Nina made it to 59 feet! I was surprised at how much easier it was for me to make it down to the bottom (65 feet) and stay down there for a little bit.  I thought for sure that it would take me a while to re-acclimate to diving since I had been on land for so long. I guess there’s muscle memory for that sport too. Having the water temp so warm and the visibility so clear, made a huge difference as well.

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Isla Carmen

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Nina’s fantastic effort at SUP handstand.

The weather forecast wasn’t looking so good for wind taking us anywhere, so we decided to head for the more southern anchorage on Isla Carmen known as Punta Colorado.  The view from there was stunning.

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Punta Colorado, Isla Carmen. East of Loreto, Baja California, Mexico.

The next day, after our morning routine, we were able to sail off the hook and head toward Isla Monserrate. Another sail onto the hook, and a swim in the water. Unfortunately, one hour after we fell asleep, we woke to our swim step clanking around. Christian went on deck to take a look and noticed the wind had switched onshore and was blowing 15 kts and quickly picking up speed to 20. It was pitch black and we had to get out of there fast. If you’re reading this and wondering what the heck I’m talking about… it’s not safe to be anchored on a lee-shore. Meaning, that you don’t want to be anchored where the wind is blowing toward shore, due to the chance of dragging anchor and having your boat end up crashed on the reef or on shore. There were submerged rocks and reefs on the chart that we had to make sure we stayed clear of.  Instead of sailing off the hook this time, we could not take any chances at being blown toward shore or the reef,  we used our engine to help motor us into the wind while Christian brought up the anchor.   With our RPM well above 2,300, we were able to make a clear path just out enough past the rocks to unfurl the jib and turned the engine off.  We made a quick 7 mile reach to Agua Verde, a familiar anchorage to come in to at O-Dark-30. All of this while the kids slept peacefully. We woke up to the familiar, lovely bay of Agua Verde having the northwestern anchorage to ourselves and our kids asking how we got there.

Agua Verde always holds a special place in our memories. There is just something about it we can’t quite describe. We’ve blogged about it before (here and here again), so I won’t go into it too much more. About mid-day another boat came into anchor by the name of Katie Gat.  Here are a few photos from the one full day that we spent there:

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S/V Shawnigan and S/V Katie Gat in Agua Verde, Baja California.

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Hydration station: Christian packs his Camelback everywhere, so we don’t risk getting dehydrated in the hot desert Baja environment.

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The local tienda (market) in Agua Verde.

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This is how we pack out our groceries in Agua Verde.

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Eating bags of frozen “agua de piña” we bought in Agua Verde for 10 pesos per bag. (That’s about $0.50 for a huge bag of frozen real fruit juice.)

From Agua Verde we had a nice sail off the hook, a down wind sail out of the bay, and the wind so nicely cocked around to keep us on a down wind run heading south to San Everisto.  We ended up staying one and a half days there, swimming, schooling, and stand-up paddle boarding. We were hoping to do a little more fresh produce shopping, but the tienda that was normally open was closed. We were guessing that we were a little early in the season for regular hours.

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Taj loves his magnet toys.

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Pizza making aboard S/V Shawnigan #tinymess

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Taj is mommy’s helper in the kitchen. We made gluten free bagels out of Pamela’s gluten free baking mix.

Next stop, Isla San Jose.  Another lovely, mostly beam reach, sail eastward across the channel to the old salt mine area on Isla San Jose. Again, we sailed onto the hook with the anchorage to ourselves. Shortly after dropping the anchor, we paddle boarded to shore for a walk along the shallow salt ponds and along the beach to the lighthouses and back. The walk ended up being 3 hours long!IMG_1857

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Terra the xterraboard with S/V Shawnigan anchored out of of Isla San Jose salt mine with the Sierra Gigante mountain range in the background.

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Above two groups of photos taken by Nina for her photography elective.

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Holding hands and sportin’ the gear on our salt mine walkabout. Photo by: Nina Lauducci

The next morning we sailed just south and dropped the hook for a short stop at the mangroves. We were apprehensive to stay longer with rumors of the no-see-ums being really bad. Our stop including a dingy tour of the mangrove. What a blast! We all jumped in and got a tow behind the dinghy.

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Isla San Jose Mangrove Dingy Tow

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Dinghy Tow

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Nina and Ellamae @ Isla San Jose Mangrove

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Taj steering the dinghy for a family mangrove tour at Isla San Jose.

Once done with our tour of the mangrove, we sailed around the east side of Isla San Francisco (a first for us) and passed it on by (another first). Alas, our time was starting to become limited, I had to get to La Paz to fly out by October 31st and the weather was predicting a drop off of wind. As many of you know, we like to sail as much as possible and avoid using the engine,  so we used to wind that we had that day, waved to Isla San Francisco and went straight to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida.

As predicted, the wind was null the next day, so we were excited to take the opportunity to go dive with the Sea Lions at Los Islotes! When we woke, we were double excited, because our friend and fellow kid boat Waponi Woo showed up in the middle of the night and anchored next to us! We had basically been alone for almost 2 whole weeks, except for the one boat in Agua Verde. We were jazzed to see friends and even more jazzed to see a kid boat!

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Waponi Woo at Ensenada Grande

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As soon as everyone was awake, we motored our boats over to Los Islotes. We anchored in 58 feet of water where the Shaun and Heater guide shows to anchor. Waponi Woo anchored just west of us.  There was hardly a breath of wind and the water visibility was about 55 feet! We had the most amazing time swimming with the sea lions.

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Ryan from Waponi Woo
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Christian down at 25 feet.

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After an amazing morning with the Sea Lions we ventured back to Ensenada Grande for the night. Then next day we sailed to Caleta Lobos for one last relaxing anchorage to ourselves before heading into La Paz. We had 13 full days of no cell or wifi service. It was GREAT!!!

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Christian checking in on the Amigo Net.

The kids were happy to arrive to La Paz for a little kid boat action with S/V Secret Water.

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After a few days there, it was time to fly out for Ellamae and I. Ellamae was flying out to spend time with her Papa and I needed to go back to work in San Francisco for the month of November.  We took the Volaris flight from La Paz to Tijuana, then hopped across the border into San Diego. From there we parted ways at the airport. Next time we will all be together will be in the Puerto Vallarta area on December 1st.  Christian is single-handing it, with some help from Nina, until that time. Super dad!

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Looking down on Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. One the very left you can just barely see Los Islotes (where we swam with the sea lions).

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Navionics working on the plane.

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Moving on from San Carlos Oct. 15th

We just left San Carlos to make our way toward La Paz. We were going to go to Copper Canyon, but after doing the math, we realized we rather spend that $1,100 toward something else in the future. So, we took the favorable wind conditions to go have island time together as a family. We’re currently underway, left San Carlos at 1pm. So far, a downwind sail under jib alone going 6.5 kts on average.

We’ll be out of cell zone for a little while. Will post more pictures later.

The girls working on Ellamae’s “Big Life Journal”.

Isla San Marcos and Santa Rosalia

As always, still delayed on the posts and still trying to catch up.

June 14 – 22nd, 2017

The last leg of our journey north in the Sea of Cortez as a family unit all together. I had to get to Santa Rosalia by the 21st of June in order to fly Ellamae over to spend time with her papa, Jason and to get myself to the states to start my 13 week Travel Nursing assignment in San Francisco. Time crunched are never fun when you are cruising. It never ceases to fail that you find something spectacular right when you have to leave. This proved to be the case with Isla San Marcos.

We left Punta Chivato under sail. All three of us, S/V Kenta Anae, S/V Easy, and S/V Shawnigan, sailed off the hook. What a beautiful sight.

The sail north was peaceful. We actually were experiencing a little northerly winds, which is less common this time of year. Regardless, the sail was comfortable and we made it to our first anchorage on San Marcos 27.236156, -112.105651 with only one cool event to post: Taj spotted a Hammerhead shark about 100 meters off our boat. Taj has proven to be quite the shark spotter.  We weren’t close enough to get an exact identity of the type, but we were excited to see our first hammerhead since we started cruising.

We spent the night there and the whole next day to swim and explore. The water was starting to get warmer and was a lot clearer!  We did some spear fishing and lounged around.  We had 7 days to kill and we finally felt like we could settle in a bit more and relax. While we were anchored there, a catamaran showed up with kids aboard! S/V Father’s Grace had two girls between Nina’s and Ellamae’s ages. Isla San Marcos just got even better!

Below: SV Easy And SV Kenta Anae. SV Kenta Anae boys with Taj.

The wind was forecasted to switch back out of the south again, so all four of us picked up anchor and motored north a mile around the point to Los Arcos (The Arches) on San Marcos 27.249928, -112.099544 . From left to right: Kenta Anae, Shawnigan, Easy, and Father’s Grace. ⛵️📷

We all found our sandy spots to drop the hook in. Thankfully the visibility was good enough to distinguish sand from rocky outcrops. The water was still chilly, but warmer than what we were experiencing the previous week.  The visibility was also so much better. It fluctuated with the tide change, but overall it was at least 20 feet at all times. Los Arcos is by far one of the funnest places we’ve spent as a family cruising. Granted, we finished up the year of boat-schooling, so we had more free time, but I still think we would have enjoyed the area just as much. Everyday we snorkeled, spear-fished, and jumped off the arches. There were under water caves to swim through and partially submerged caves to crawl and swim through that lead from one side to the complete opposite side of the mound. 30-35 foot arches to jump off into 12 feet of water.And beach BBQ & bonfires to be had. This was adventure paradise and we were there with nobody else but the four of our boatholds (my #boatlife word for household) !We were hooked on this place and did not want to leave.   S/V Kenta Anae was running out of water, but with our Sprectra Ventura 150 we had enough water to share. That bought us the first “extra” day there. We probably could have stayed another day past already staying another day, but alas, our last food provision was back  in Mulege and we were starting to run low on fresh produce. We needed to get to Santa Rosalia  to stock up and so that I could prep for heading back to the JOB.SV Father’s Grace heading into Santa Rosalia with Ellamae aboard.

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Santa Rosalia doesn’t offer a safe anchorage, so we went to the Fonatur 27.337100, -112.263242  to tie the boat up for a few days.   From the moment the boat hit the dock, the energy level went up.  We were back in civilization and the temperature went up exponentially. “Who turned on the heater?!” The kids wanted to see the city, eat ice cream, eat out, swim in the pool and hopefully meet new kids. The kids even had time to dye the hair of SV Father’s Grace’s dog!📷

I was under a time crunch to pack for The States. I also wanted to clean the boat and have it organized to make Christian’s single dad and captain experience a little more fluid. Christian was in charge of provisioning this time around since he was continuing on with Nina and Taj aboard to head up to Bahia de los Angeles and then up to Puerto Penasco.

With all of the hubbub and the heat, we still managed to enjoy Santa Rosalia.

The Aguila bus station , to catch the bus to Tijuana, is right next to the marina Fonatur. The cost was about $80 for me and $60 for Ellamae. We left on the evening of June 22nd for an overnight bus ride. I wouldn’t be seeing S/V Shawnigan or the rest of the family for at least a month and it would be longer for Ellamae.<<<<
the next day toward Bahia de Los Angles. Mike, on S/V Easy, buddy boating alongside…

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More pics from this time period:a little home-ec On our last day of boatschool before our summer break, we baked and had recitals. Then a lot more jumping!!! and swimming ….

Mr Horned Grebe below:Me, Josie, chasing the grebe.

Jumping ahead: recent photos in the Sea of Cortez.

Ok, I don’t normally go out of order , but I’m still behind and Christian just sent me too many cool photos to not post right away . So here they are: photos from Puerto Peñasco and along their way south way up in the top of the Sea of Cortez. I will be reunited with them in only a few days! The girls excited to get back to the boat to try out our new Independent Wolf Hammocks. Auntie Tara, professional photographer, managed to the get the kids (Nina 14, Taj 4 and Ellamae 9) together before heading back to the boat to take photos. Here, they posed in their Teeny Tiny Optics sunglasses.

Taj kayaking in the water in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point).The kids had fried ice cream the night before they set sail. A little treat before hot deserted seclusion for a few weeks. 

After over a month of being hauled out in Puerto Penasco,  S/V Shawnigan’s makeover was complete and ready to set sail to Bahia de Los Angeles.

There she is… S/V Shawnigan out Stevens 40 cutter rigged beauty. Taj representing his Keep it Wild tee, he’s ready to get back in the wild, that’s for sure!The red dot is Puerto Penasco. We finally figured out our PredictWind tracking system.

I’m guessing Christian had his earplugs in for this one! No time for boredom aboard Shawnigan.

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Monkey Girls.Taj testing the new hammock. Yes, this kid does relax sometimes!

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Isla Salsipuedes

Clams!!!Ellamae has been super into her modeling clay. Not just for boatschool.Our 4 year old, Taj, representing the xterra inflatable SUP!

isla Tiburonimg_7082Just off of San Carlos!

San Antonio, Mulege, Punta Chivato

Still catching up on posts from June, 2017, when we were still making our way north, in the Sea of Cortez.  

⛵️⛵️⛵️Now, three boats deep, Easy, Kenta Anae and Shawnigan left from La Ramada around lunch time and sailed the not quite 10 miles to San Antonio. We were excited to go check out this a huge obsidian vein there.  26.521937, -111.450718 .

The south end of the point was too exposed to the prevailing wind, so we went around to the north side and set anchor at San Antonio (proper) 26.533917, -111.477790. We all met ashore, soon after anchoring, to get a hike in before evening set. Another perfect geology lesson for boat-school life.  Getting to the road was an adventure. We bushwhacked our way until we finally found the road/trail. Not so fun with all of the prickly brush and cactus to avoid.  Before climbing the peak, we first hit up the obsidian vein. Black, grainy and shiny at the same time, the vein looked like a petrified waterfall and surrounding us, looked like petrified water droplets that had misted to the ground at our feet.Taj, Matero, Shandro, Nina and Ellamae.

After a few minutes of exploring the obsidian vein, we made the trek up the steep hill to the top point. Taj hiked the whole way! I think he wanted to impress the Kenta Anae boys, or maybe he was just distracted. The view was fantastic, as always in the Sea of Cortez. We took time to soak it all in.(I could resist groping this tree’s butt) 😬

The way back to the boat was more straightforward. We just followed the road that led to the beach, then walked the beach up to our dinghies.  As we sat, before heading back to the boat, S/V Dad’s Dream (from Isla Corondo) showed up and anchored out beyond us.

Not long after we got back to the boat and had dinner, the southerly swell started to wrap around and make its way into the anchorage. We had our flopper stopper out, as did Easy, but there was no comfort being found at this spot. We called Easy, Kenta Anae and Dad’s Dream and announced that we were pulling up anchor and heading up around the corner to San Nicolas, 26.868896, -111.848712. The stay there was just for an overnight before heading up and around to Bahia Conception. All four us us made the move to San Nicolas just after sunset, but before dark. The anchorage was much more comfortable than San Antonio and we were that much closer to our next stop, 26.870196, -111.846589 , about 30 miles away for another brief overnight sleep. The three of us sailed up together. Dad’s Dream stayed behind. The sail up and around was beautiful and uneventful. Kenta Anae kicked our butts (they are fast! There, I said it out loud, Merle!).

The next morning we motored an hour over to Mulege 26.906125, -111.954573 to go to shore and re-provision.  We anchored in about 15 feet of water on a “roadside” anchorage. Our time was limited, as we knew that the regular wind would be picking up around noon. We found a few tiendas (small grocery store) to stock up at, a park to play in, and an ice cream shop to treat the kids with. Ice Cream is ok at 10 in the morning when you’ve walked 2 miles to get to town, it’s hot, and the last time you had it was in La Paz, right?!

We made it back to the boats just before noon and sure enough, the wind was starting to pick up. We were able to sail off the hook and head due north toward Punta Chivato 27.066717, -111.962607 . Once anchored in front of the lovely Punta Chivato, I had time to swim and the kids, relax, before heading into shore to explore. As Kenta Anae was anchoring they saw a whale shark, but we were not able to see it. I was hoping when I was swimming that I would see it, but all I saw was barely my fingertips 2.5 feet in front of me. The visibility was terrible and the water was not that warm. Warmer than Isla Coronado and La Ramada, but still pretty chilly.

On shore, we all took a stroll down the main road toward and abandoned building we saw on the beach. We were intending to go explore “shell beach” (literally and beach completely covered in shells), but we got distracted by the vacant dilapidated building. We found out that it was once a hotel, but somehow lost ownership and has been destroyed by storms. The kids spent an hour just wandering around it, making up scary stories about it. FUN! I wish I took more pictures of it, and the ones that I did were lost when I tried to back them up to “the cloud”. So, I apologize for the lack of photos for this section.View from the building!

After exploring that area, we ran into a part-time resident that suggested a restaurant named Doña Julia’s. We weren’t expecting to eat out, but she told us that the price ends up being $2.50 a head. Not sure whether to believe her or not and if it was true, was that a good sign or not, but we thought we’d give it a go. It was a GREAT choice. Basically we ate in this families enclosed porch. Julia gave us two options for food, fresh fish of the day or enchiladas. We made our choices and she brought it all out, family style, along with refried beans and salad. We asked what the fish was and she said it was “strong fish” or “Toro”. Guessing that was not the Toro which is Tuna and some kind of Jack instead , which we normally don’t like, we were amazed at how well it tasted. And sure enough, it was $2.50 a person!

One more reason to LOVE Mexico!Plate full of enchiladas!

Next up: Isla San Marcos (one of our favorites! ) and Santa Rosalia. Stay tuned.