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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.

Featured post

ship shape # 7

Hi all my ship shapers,
We’ve been keeping up with our ship shape but not with posting about it. Urg. We’ve been in the Sea Of Cortez enjoying lots of free diving, snorkeling, fishing, and hiking. We have also enjoyed the lack of Internet.

Here’s a few pictures from our satphone (low quality) with a few exercises to do on the boat underway.

Exercise #1 pull ups from the back stay. Not only does this strengthen arms and shoulders, but also gives your hands a good workout.

Exercise #2 chin ups from the Rat lines

Exercise #3 Toes-to-nose using whatever place (back stay for Christian, the dodger for Taj, I like to use the Companion way)


Toes to nose and chin ups


Backstay pull-ups

Getting geared up for crossing the Pacific…

Christian took a trip down from San Francisco to the boat in Mexico this past week. The mission: to do some repairs on the boat from the hurricane and add some gear that we wanted before we cross The Pacific this coming season.  The damage that we thought was going to need a haul-out and a paint job, ended up being only minor “Do it Yourself” fixes!!!  So one major hurdle out of the way! The rest are add-ons since we were able to work and refill the cruising kitty.

We finally got our Hydrovane hooked up! Having a efficient self steering system was a must for us before making the crossing. We can’t wait to get some use out of it!

A new Standard Horizon VHF: that way we can talk from the cockpit with a strong signal. Before, our handheld wasn’t strong enough for some of the areas we were in, so we had to go down below to talk on the ship’s radio. 

Weather StationAcuRite 00589 Pro Color Weather Station with Wind Speed, Temperature and Humidity. Yay, accurate temperature, humidity, pressure readings. The wind speed is a bonus, but we’ve always preferred our own senses when monitoring the wind and our sails. Sometimes knowing the exact wind speed can freak you out instead of trusting your skills and your boat. 

A FREEZER!!! Engel MB40V-H 12/24V DC drop-in fridge-freezer – with attached compressor  We are soooooo excited to put this fridge/freezer in. Its one of those “we don’t need this, but we have the perfect place for it, the money, and the solar power to run it, so why not?”

Can’t wait to catch some fish and store extra in our freezer, prep meals before crossing to pull out underway, and freeze some vegetables for when we run out towards the end of the crossing. We might even make ice cream for the equator crossing! Luxury hahahaha!
Some other gear we stocked up on: 

Mantus head lamp and wet gear bag

Spear fishing equipment and trolling gear.

Replaced damage GoPro.

New external hard drives for saving photo and video memories. 

Boatschool supplies mostly from Oakmeadow Waldorf curriculum for the year.

Not all hurricanes are on the water…

I want to first state that our hearts goes out to all of the Hurricane Matthew victims. Hurricanes are so powerful and scary! Please, if you live near the area and you can help out by offering a bed/boat to sleep in, car to borrow, food etc, please reach out to those in need.

To escape the hurricane season on the Pacific side (June-November) and keep our boat in a safe place, we sailed S/V Shawnigan up the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos, June of 2016. Our boat insurance will cover us if we are out of hurricane zones (above latitude 27) so all was good on that end. In the beginning of September, 2016 Hurricane Newton stormed up the Pacific, up Baja and the Sea of Cortez and straight over us. Thankfully by the time it reached our boat the wind speed was closer to 60 knots, not 80 or more. Shawnigan was in the water at Marina Real and was relatively unscathed. She did get quite a few dings and gouges in the hull, which we will be repairing. Christian will be aboard in a few days to check for further damage, but overall we dodged that major hurricane bullet (knock on wood, as we still have a few weeks left of this hurricane season).

As we have been dodging the hurricane bullet, we recently experienced a different hurricane of our own. I say this metaphorically speaking. A friend once said to me, “some of the roughest storms we ever experience are not underway crossing oceans, but rather those on land and not of natural causes”. Boy, did he hit the nail on the head. We came face to face with “our hurricane” halfway into our 3 month visit back in the United States. Without going in to too much dramatic detail, lets just say we faced the storm that we thought was going to make us stop cruising for a while with strength, support, and perseverance. My poetic version of our personal hurricane: Our house was built with integrity. The roots of the trees around our house were strong and well grounded. Although shaken, uprooted and toppled over on to the house, the house held strong. With only a few dings and shingles to replace, our house held together and we were able to mend it and keep moving on healthy and strong.

Cruising around the world in a sailboat teaches you to “go with the flow”, go with the weather, and avoid storms. With the use of technology and learned skills, sailing safely and avoiding major storms is highly probable. Life, on the other hand, is unpredictable and perfect all at the same time. Although we were faced with emotional challenges, we feel like we’ve used our cruising motto “we’ll see” (as in; we’ll see where we go and when, because you never know) to help us through this one. And it all ends up the way it should. 

We are looking forward to returning to the boat in Mexico and continuing on our journey about the world.  Our plans have changed a bit, but again, we’ll see. I extended my travel nurse assignment at UCSF, so I will be staying in the San Francisco area until Christmas time. Christian is heading down to the boat this coming week to get the projects for repairs started. He will be taking Shawnigan down to Mazatlan, where she will be hauled out and painted. While the boat is getting worked on, Christian will return and we will continue homeschooling in the Bay Area. 

We are currently homeschooling with The Wise Academy just outside of Fairfax in West Marin. The Homeschool program uses the Oak Meadow Waldorf Curriculum. So far we love it! In addition, we have the girls in VILDA, which is this awesome outdoor education program. They love “dirt day” and have met so many other cool homeschool kids. We are fortunate to have found Wise Academy and Vilda. 

(Taj, Nina, and Ellamae enjoying their time on Terra Firma)

In November, everyone but myself will head back to the boat life. As Shawnigan makes her way back down the Sea of Cortez, I’ll continue to work up until Christmas time. I’ll then fly to reunite with he family and boat life. We think we’ll probably cruise between Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) and Barra de Navidad for a few months. And by Late February we’ll wait for our weather window to cross the Pacific.  Maybe this time next year… we will be in New Zealand by way across the Pacific, through French Polynesia, Cooks, Fiji… 

“We’ll See!”

Why Mantus Anchors are amazing

We are very proud to be ambassadors for Mantus Anchors. As long as we put the proper scope out, our anchor grabs so fast and holds strong. That is why we call it our sleeping pill. We are posting this video because is gives a good demonstration of that. We have a lot of experience with others and so far our Mantus is “THE ONE”!



One year ago… we sailed out “The Gate”

We can’t believe that a full year has past since we left San Francisco to start cruising on our sailboat! We’ve experienced so much and all of it so wonderful: The emotions of leaving, the adjustments of boatschool, the adjustments of a life less “connected” but more connected as a family, the growth of world knowledge, the change in marriage dynamic, parenting dynamic, and educator dynamic, adapting to Mexico’s culture and food, meeting new and wonderful sailors/cruisers, and so much more I’m probably leaving out.  All of these had their ups and downs, but all transformed into good experiences and contributed to our lives in such a positive way.

My friend Lara interviewed us for a radio and podcast she does out of Byron Bay, Australia. I feel like it summarizes some questions a lot of people wonder about when pondering what the life of a family of 5 sailing on a 40 foot boat is like.  I posted the link on our blog and Facebook when it aired live and only on Facebook  again when a link was available to the podcast version.

Here is the link to the podcast version below. It will take you to the 30 minute interview. Our 13 year old daughter,  Nina, is interviewed as well and adds a lot flavor to the interview.


Anchored off of Halfmoon Bay, California (August 21, 2015)

Becalmed off the coast of California (Oct 2015) with Christian’s father, Gene Lauducci, aboard.
Ellamae posing with her polarized #teenytinyoptics glasses

Nina and Taj posing with their polarized #teenytinyoptics glasses

On top of a mountain in Turtle Bay, Baja Mexico (Left to Right: our crew Emma Casey, Taj sleeping on my back, Josie, Christian, Nina, and Ellamae) November 2015

Taj swimming in Chamela, Mexico (January 2016)

Barra de Navidad, Mexico (February, 2016)

Baja, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Francisco (May, 2016)

S/V Shawnigan with a beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Gigante Mountain Range, Baja, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Francisco (May, 2016)

My beautiful kids back in the United States (July 2016) Ellamae (8), Nina (13) Taj (3)


Live on the Radio tonight!

We are going to be aired live on the radio tonight 8/7/16! 6pm Pacific Time (11am 8/8 Australia time). Christian, Nina and myself were interviewed by a lovely Aussie lady named Lara for the “Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond” show. She managed to fit all our q’s and a’s into a wonderful 30 minute interview! Check it out live tonight at 6pm! Click in the link below and then click listen now. Not living in Aus or pacific time zone? Find your time by using the world clock.

Click here at 6pm pacific time tonight 8/7/2016 Byron Bay Radio

Refill the kitty in 3 months!

After 10 months of sailing around, it was time to refill the cruising kitty. We spent over our $12,000/year budget in unexpected, yet typical, repairs and replacements. Since we were so close to the US and easy  access to work, we decided to take the hottest time in Mexico (July, August, September) off of the boat and head to The States to refill our hungry cruising kitty.

If you haven’t read the “about me” part of our blog, then you may need to be informed of my profession. I’m a Registered Nurse, specifically a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. If you’re saying to yourself “what’s that?”, I take care of premature and very sick babies. I’ve been doing this for over 12 years now and I still haven’t lost my passion for it. In fact, it was actually hard to put in my notice at UCSF 11 months ago so that we could sail away.

In mid May, of this year,when I was able to check my email from La Paz, I found out that my old Unit at UCSF was hiring Travel Nurses for June 28 start date. I checked in with the management team and they said that they would love to have me return for a 13 week assignment! It was too good to be true! June 28 was a little sooner than we wanted, and 13 weeks was a little longer then we wanted, but really, its perfect.

We made it to San Carlos, Mexico, by June 14th with plenty time to put away the boat in Marina Real for a 3 months detour to the US. It took about 3 full days to complete the check list of things to do. This included, but not limited to:

  • pickling the water maker
  • fresh water flush through the engine
  • taking down the sails and stowing them down below
  • Putting up the sun shades
  • Cleaning and leaving the heads (toilets) filled with fresh water and vinegar
  • fresh water washing as much salt waterlogged gear as we could
  • laundry and getting rid of clothes
  • eating and cleaning out the perishable food (we did leave cans of tomato sauce, so hopefully we don’t arrive back to the boat with exploded cans of tomato everywhere. Apparently this happens when it gets too hot.)
  • Placing Bay Leaves in almost all of our bulk food containers. Apparently the Bay Leaf helps keep the Weevils at bay (no pun intended). Thanks Deb on SV Coastal Drifter for that tip.
  • Packing clothes (REAL shoes, socks, pants AND A BELT, sweaters, and WORK CLOTHES!) , oops I forgot a beanie!
  • And a couple more odds and ends stuff.

Our pile of stuff to bring back to the US was huge. Mostly because we had to pack for 3 months of on the road adventures. I say “we” but I really mean Christian and the kids. My list of things to bring was small: work clothes, 2 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, and one “nice outfit”, flip flops and my work shoes. Oh and my awesome Brompton folding bike, that we store in our aft shower, for my San Francisco commuting, yay!

Our 10 hour bus ride on the Tufesa bus line ended up being more like 11 hours, but it still wasn’t bad. Reclining seats, AC, 2 bathrooms, 1 check point and 1 border check, and 5 movies  later(3 of them, very inappropriate for kids), we made it to Phoenix, AZ for a nominal $80 fee.

After a few days at Christian’s sister’s house in Phoenix, I flew off to start my 3 months of work, leaving behind the family to road trip their way around The States visiting friends and family.

“Was it hard to leave?”, you ask.

EXTREMELY !!!  After being so close with each other the last 10 months I’m finding myself really missing their company. But I also know it’s only a short time in the grand sceme of things and totally worth it !

So now I’m here in San Francisco. Christian is on super land nomad dad duty. Boat school is out for summer break and we’ll be doing this up through late September. After all is said and done, we should have overfilled (wishful thinking) our cruising kitty with enough $$$ to get us to New Zealand by our (Northern hemisphere) fall 2017. But you know how cruising works… “We’ll see as we go”!

Yummy grub next to (Cerca de) the bus station in Guaymas. Missing me some good Mexican food !
Christian visits the Grand Canyon while I meet Travel Nurses

Then use my trusty Brompton Folding bike to get to work. Here my “brommie” is sitting pretty on the Bay Area CalTrain.