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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.

How She Moms – creating routine on a boat.

A fantastic website and a childhood friend, Whitney Archibald (Singley), features a post about how, as a boat mom, I create routine in our family. See the post here!


Whitney hosts a large variety of useful parenting tips.

Follow “How She Moms”:

Blog: https://www.howshemoms.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/howshemoms

Thank you Whitney for all of your great work and sharing your knowledge and love of parenting.


Kauehi, Tuamotus – French Polynesia

Tuamotus: Kauehi 1st of 3 Atolls visited May 31 – June 6th, 2018

As we left Nuku Hiva, not even an hour out, we caught a huge Wahoo! We hand reeled it all of the way into the stern and it shook itself loose.

Our passage from the Marquesas to the Tuomotus took 5 days. We probably could have done it in 4 days if we had left earlier in the morning, but we didn’t. After the first night it was clear that if we kept up the good speeds we would arrive to Kauehi South Pass entrance way to early in the morning. We didn’t want to be anywhere too close to that atoll in the dark, so we actually had to slow ourselves down at one point to make sure we didn’t arrive to early in the morning.

Kauehi was out first atoll we’ve ever been to. We were told by many people that it was one of the best In the Tuamotus. Our friends on SV Summer and SV Dol Selene were there already, waiting for our arrival. We ended up timing it just right . We arrived at the pass entrance at 11am. It was low tide and turning , but current hadn’t switched yet. We were still able to sail in without any Hic-ups. We were prepared for the worst. I was on the bow looking for coral heads and the girls were up in the ratlines doing the same. We had about 3 kts current against us, but the water was flat and we were able to move through just fine under sail.

One of the draws to Kauehi, is its relatively easy pass entrance and a well charted zone to navigate in and through to both the south east anchorage and the village. When sailing through Atolls, you have to plan your timing through the passes, for the current can be very strong and standing waves can occur. You also have to watch out extremely carefully for coral heads. Some are charted in up to date navigation plotters, but not all. As we sailed through the pass we were surprised how clear the water was and how a coral head 20 feet down looked like it was 10 feet down. We were going to have to get use to that!

We sailed all the way into the south east anchorage and onto the hook successfully avoiding all coral heads. That was exiting! We were happy to make landfall, greeted by our neighbors, and go for our first crystal clear Tuamotus Atoll plunge.

Kauehi turned out to be one of our favorite places so far. Clear, warm water to snorkel in, easy to hop on our SUPs and go for a good paddle, our first close encounters with larger black tip reef sharks, good cruising friends and beach bar-b-ques. A few more of the boats we knew arrived with kids (SV La Cigale and SV Counting Stars), so our kids were extremely happy about that too!

Over a period of about 5 days, we made daily trips to the bommies (coral heads) to snorkel, morning SUP and swim exercise, morning boat schooling and boat to boat social hours. What more could you ask for?!

SV Counting Stars in the Sunrise. The boys heading off to freedive some Bommies (coral heads).Leo and Christian played while Laurel and Josie played. Adult play dates!Ellamae paddles the Xterraboard over to other kid boats many play dates over on La Cigale. Bonfires, hermit crab collecting and releasing, and potlucks on the beach .sourdough loafs and sourdough pancakes!

and many amazing sunsets 🌅.

Next stop, Fakarava Atoll!

Marquesas, French Polynesia 🇵🇫

Marquesas, French Polynesia – May 9th – May 25th, 2018

We arrived to the island of Hiva Oa at 02:30 am on May 9th, 2018. The kids were asleep. Christian and I had both been awake since 10pm after a 2 hour nap to charge us through making landfall. Once the anchor was down, we slept…but not soundly. Partly because we were excited to arrive and get to shore and partly because the anchorage was so rolly it felt like we were still underway. And after 21 days of being underway, our bodies were in a routine of waking up so often with all of the little noises and odd movements.

We woke a few hours later with the excitement of seeing the landscape, seeing our friends on other boats, making our way to land to start the check-in process, and buying fresh baguettes and brie. Apparently that’s what everyone does… baguettes and brie are the hot commodity in French Polynesia.

We were greeted by our friends Marc and Doreen on SV Imani. Marc and Doreen are our neighbors and good friends in our home port of Sausalito, Ca. They crossed from San Francisco to the Marquesas this last December, 2017. We were sooooo excited to see them. They brought us a welcome gift of fresh Pomplemouse (local grapefruit) and chocolate chip banana bread. After rationing out the last of our fresh fruit from the crossing, fresh pomplemouse tasted so good.

Raising the French Polynesian flag 🇵🇫 and the quarantine flagMarc and Doreen on SV Imani

The check-in process was pretty easy. We used “Tahiti Crew” for hire, to help speed the process and get the bond exemption that’s offered for the latitude38 sponsored “pacific puddle jumpers”. Sandra, the agent in Hiva Oa, picked us up in her car, drove us to town and facilitated the check-in process at the Gendarmarie (police station). It was official, from May 9th, we had 90 days to explore all we could of French Polynesia.

After that, we roamed on foot exploring the land, picking mangos that had just fallen from trees and taking in all that was there, the smell, sight, feel. We didn’t get baguettes that first day. Apparently it’s common for them to run out by noon. We did get our baguettes and brie eventually though.

Shopping for groceries was fun. Most stores were closed for “siesta” (I’m too use to Latin America to call it otherwise) at 11:30 – 2 pm, so provisioning had to be planned around that. The prices weren’t as bad as we expected. We had heard terrible warnings on price tags, but honestly I think we weren’t that shell shocked coming from Panama. Some items were outstanding and some were cheap. The “red tagged” items marked those that were government subsidized, so those were affordable. As long as you took your time to shop around, good food wasn’t terribly priced. We do recommend finding a local family to buy fruit from. Buying direct from farmers usually brings the price down. Eggs were pretty plentiful on Hiva Oa, coming from a local farmer. They run about $5/dozen, but they are farm fresh and tasty. Eggs in Nuka Hiva are much harder to get. They came from Hiva Oa and needed to be reserved a few days in advanced. The supply ship came in while we were there. They brought in more fresh produce and other imports. Moral of the story, buy government subsidized food and from the local farmers to keep your “kitty” from breaking.

Laundry in Hiva Oa can be found and paid for full service, but we used the washing station near the dinghy dock in Atuona, Hiva Oa. See video below for a time lapsed laundry washing demo!

The anchorage at Hiva Oa was very rolly and not suitable for swimming (murky and sharky). We were ready to leave as soon as possible to explore.

Next, we sailed to Tahuata, a little island just about 10 miles southwest of Hiva Oa. Most of our kid boat friends had already left for there and we were ready to join them. Tahuata was so lovely. We anchored on nice sandy bottom that was visible from the surface and amongst 15 other boats. It was a packed bay, but happily so, as 7 other kid boats joined in on the fun. It was so nice to be able to swim and to have the kids paddle from boat to boat. This is the type of freedom we enjoy as cruisers. There is something so nice about being able to swim off your boat, paddle board to the next cove for exercise, letting the kids roam from boat to boat or to shore to play. We even celebrated a few kid boat’s birthdays there. Oh and my 37th as well. Tahuata was one of our favorite places in the Marquesas by far.

From Tahuata, we sailed up to Nuku Hiva. That is where we finally met up with our friends Leo and Laurel on SV Summer out of San Francisco as well. Laurel and I use to work together at UCSF and long before that, she was boat neighbors with Christian. They crossed the Pacific in their 28 ft monohull from La Cruz, Mexico. It was so nice to meet up with them and have them show us the ropes of Nuku Hiva. They also took us up to the Marquesan ritual sight (Marae) known as Tohua Koueva. This was one of the places where the local Marquesans would hold their rituals and work as a community. It had an eerie feeling about it, but also a strong feeling of sacredness.

In the middle of our stay at Nuku Hiva, Christian got a small wound on his toe that quickly became infected and not so small. The treatment took about two weeks for it to heal enough to leave the Marquesas. In the meantime, we went to Anse Hakatea, aka “Daniel’s Bay” hikes around and back to Nuku Hiva. We explored the town a little bit, but mostly socialized with other cruisers at the “snack”, small restaurant, that was at the dinghy dock area. That’s basically where everyone conglomerates to try their luck at wifi connection. Wifi in the Marquesas is very hard to come by, so when the cruisers find it, even if it’s slow, that tends to be where they all meet up. While we were just “sitting” in another murky water, shark zone, we decided to get a marquesan tattoo.

We found Teiki HUUKENA , the local Patutiki (Marquesan style of tattoo) to do our tattoos. He thoroughly and passionately studied not only the Marquesan Patutiki, but also all of the other Polynesian styles of tattoo. He even created his own book with as many of the symbols and their meanings as he could fit in. We studied the book and the symbols and made an appointment for our Tattoos. A few days later I went in and had my whole spine done by Teiki’s cousin Teikivahiani PUHETINI. He arrived with full face tattoo, no English, ready to place his art and the Marquesan culture in ink on my back. I book marked a few symbols in the book that had meaning to me and he composed the design. After 2 hours of drawing it out and 2.5 hours to tattooing, it was done. A few days later, Christian got his arm tattooed. During his session, Teiki himself added a few more symbols to the lower section of my back. These two do amazing work! Video to come soon.

All said and done, we didn’t explore as much as we’d hoped for in the Marquesas, but we enjoyed what we saw and the people we were with and introduced to. Maybe next time around we’ll get the long stay visa, more than 90 days.

Next stop in the French Polynesia chain of islands, the Tuamotus. We had friends awaiting for us…

bye bye Marquesas, for now…

More pictures from the Marquesas:

recyclables, batteries, tins, garbage…

our Navionics chart

Shawnigan has officially crossed the Pacific Ocean!

We’ve completed 3 weeks of our crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas!!!
*again, posting from sat phone equals no photos. I will try to add some when/if we find wifi on the islands that supports uploading images.

May 8 – May 9th, 2018:

Day 21+++: Wow what an exciting day! With just over 100 miles left, all aboard are anxious to get to land. It’s so close, but so far! We watch are speed, at 6 kts we’ll get there by dark morning tomorrow (May 9th), if we maintain 7 kt average we’ll arrive before midnight. Dark is not ideal, but the anchorage is pretty straight forward and open.
As we think about our arrival, we long for a full night’s sleep on “flat seas” . Any anchorage (well almost) is less rolly than out here crossing the Pacific for 3 weeks.

The passage has been A LOT quicker and “easier” than we all expected. Yes, we all agree on this. I think most of that has to do with us already having done the 19 day passage, 1/2 the distance and upwind, from Mexico to Costa Rica. The days went by quickly, routine with watches, sleep, school, meals all fell right into place. I know that not everyone keeps a “schedule” on their crossings, but for us, it seems to work well. It gives the kids something stable everyday in a situation that is “unstable”. We can now say, after a few longer crossings under our belt, day 2 is the hardest, after that routine sets in.

The kids did 6 days a week of school. Sundays we took off and called it “Sunday Fun Day”. I cooked all meals except Christian’s and Taj’s first breakfast. Yes, first breakfast… they both eat oatmeal every morning and then when the girls eat (9-9:30) they eat another breakfast of usually eggs, pancakes, or cereal and yogurt. Lunch is pretty much always at 12:30. Snack sometime between lunch and dinner. Usually frozen fruit juice, apple and peanut butter, or pop-corn. Dinner is between 5:30 and 6pm. I try to switch cuisine ethnicities every night (Asian, then Mexican, Italian etc.) This gives me something to focus on everyday. Oh and I made bread almost every other day. That helped with lunches when left overs weren’t enough for us all.

We provisioned in Panama City and the did a fresh produce and restock what we used in Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Thankfully, Santa Cruz had an amazing farmers market with tons of produce that lasted really well. Today, for fresh produce, we still have a dozen green apples, a bell pepper, eggplant, carrots, cucumber, one tomato, purple onion, a purple and a huge green cabbage, potatoes (sweet and regular), winter squash and butternut squash. We have a few more frozen veggies and Fruit that we’ll save for another time. After yesterday’s fish catch, we now have extra fish in the freezer along with frozen beef from local organic cows in the Galapagos!

Other daily activities included trolling with two hand lines, drawing, writing, knitting, origami, card games, story telling, listening to kids music, some audio books, and lots of reading (Both Christian and I read 6 books, Nina read 6 + some re-reads, Ellamae has also read 6, plus all of the books we read to Taj)! Taj like to take videos of himself and play them back over and over, that’s pretty entertaining. He also, finally, got really into legos. So between books, legos, magnet toys, and some other random toys and games, Taj had a more tame passage than the previous ones. He still had some good moments of torturing the girls and a few screaming fits. But really, what can you expect when you take a active boy and keep him stuck on a boat for 22 days?

Our watches were regular as well. Nina took 8p-11p, I slept from 7:30 p-11p and took watch from 11p – 3am, then slept again from 3a – 7 ish. Christian slept in the cockpit the entire passage to be help for Nina or myself durning his sleeping times. He slept 8p-3a and then napped at 1p-2p. For time changes, we had 3, we changed during the day as to not disrupt our watch schedule. Every 1,000 miles we fell back an hour except for the last one (the 3,000), which required a 1.5 hour fall back. For some reason, the Marquesas are on a 1/2 time difference. Example: when we left its was 10:30 am Galapagos time (16:30 UTC). Now at 16:30 UTC the time in the Marquesas would be 07:00.

At 22:00 we reached the south east end of Hiva Oa. We still had 20 miles to go (~5 hours by the time our anchor is down), but the excitement in the air was strong. The waning crescent moon had not risen yet, but a slight shadow of landmass was discernible on the horizon. “Land Ho” I wanted to shout out, but the rest of the boat was sleeping expect for Christian. We sat silently, taking in our last night of the passage across the Pacific Ocean. We were both awake and Nina got off early, as we new we’d be anchored and back to bed soon enough.

At 0120, on May 9th, we started our engine to head into the anchorage. The smell coming from the island was so sweet. The aroma of citrus, damp earth and flowers filled the air.

At 09/05/2018 12:00 (UTC) our position was 09°48.24’S -139°01.92’W
Day 21 + 19.5 hours , our Pacific Ocean crossing from The Galapagos Islands to Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia completed with anchor down at 02:30 our time. 3 weeks! Another great day sailing. Wind speeds up, 18 kts – 24 and Boat speeds up to 7 kt average, allowing us to make it in less than 22 full days.

Total miles: 3140 miles
Miles over last 19.5 hrs: 125 miles
Miles to go to Hiva Oa: 0 nm
Arrival to Hiva Oa: May 9th @ 02:30 (21 days and 19.5 hours).

Total engine hours: 7 . (3 the first day, 2 the second, 1 the day before arriving to check the engine, not for propelling, and 1 hour coming into port to anchor.)

Generator: we ran the generator, Honda 2,000, twice to recharge the batteries and make water. With afternoon clouds and wind from behind, we didn’t quite bring in enough solar and wind generator power.

(Christian, Josie, Nina, Ellamae and Taj)

last 3rd of our South Pacific Crossing! Minus our last day.

Yay, Shawnigan is on her last 3rd of our South Pacific Crossing! A little recap:

We departed from the Galápagos Islands on Tuesday the 17th of April at 10:30 local time (16:30 UTC). We left with 4 other kids boats that same day, and another 2 left 2 days prior and 1 left 1 day prior. That’s 7 kid boats in all! Another boat named Dol’Selene that’s in our fleet left with us as well. We call them the “big kids” , so if you count them, there was 8 “kids boat” that left within 2 days of each other to cross the big Pacific Ocean.

It’s been fantastic having a group “along” with us. I say that with parentheses because we are all spread out now with over 300 miles between some of us. We’ve been in contact with each other 2 if not 3 times a day. Always good to know where your buddies are and what the conditions are nearby. We’ve been holding up the rear, not because we sail the slowest, but because we only motored for a total of 5 hours the first few days of leaving the Galapagos. No complaints here, though. We took the relative path of least resistance and have had good wind and good sea states starting from day 3 onward. You can see our track here: http://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Shawnigan

My apologies for the “bland” posts lately. The crossing has been great. It’s pretty much the same day in and day out. Wake up, drink coffee, make breakfast, start school, read, make bread (every other day), or prep for lunch, make lunch, read, more school, entertain Taj, afternoon nap (Christian), afternoon snack, make dinner, eat dinner, play games, read text family, I go to sleep at 7:30pm, Nina’s watch starts at 8pm – 11pm. My watch 11pm to 3 am. I do a little 30-40 min exercise routine at the beginning, then I read or write. Christian’s watch starts at 3 am to whenever I wake up (around 7:30am) then the day repeats itself. Did I mention reading?! Lots of reading going on. It’s great!

So here again back to the “daily log” style. We have approximately 1 week left.

Day 15: May 1st – May 2nd, 2018 – not too much excitement aboard Shawnigan today. Everyone a little more tired with the time change. Not seeing much out here, no boats, no dolphins, less fish , a few birds. I did forget to mention, however, that we saw a Oceanic White Tip shark swim by our boat a few days ago. Good thing we weren’t swimming! Just before 5pm we hit our “less than 1,000 nm to go” mark!

At 02/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 08°17.32’S -123°46.12’W

Day 15 completed at 0830 our time. Slower day, wind dropped to about 8kts over night . Comfortable sea state. Wing on wing.

Total miles: 2206 total

Miles over last 24h: 140 miles even lower, but should pick up the next 24h.

Day 16: May 2nd -3rd , we had dolphins visit us! Normally we’re not as excited to see dolphins, only because we’ve been spoiled and see them quite often. But on this crossing we haven’t seen much of anything. So today when we had dolphins visit, all of us stopped whatever we were doing and went straight to the front of the boat to watch. The dolphins seemed as excited to see us as we were to see them. The rest of the day was mellow. Light winds, causing us to slow down a bit, but comfortable seas.

At 03/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 08°30.32’S -125°58.12’W

Day 16 completed at 0830 our time. Another Slower day, wind dropped to about 8kts over night . Comfortable sea state. Still sailing Wing on wing. Otherwise, living “Groundhog Day” over and over only with less and less produce everyday and slightly different meals. All is well. Dinner last night was Mexican veggie stuffed potatoes.

Total miles: 2342 miles

Miles over last 24h: 136 miles (even lower)

Day 17: May 3 – May 4th. pretty uneventful day again. A few more dolphins a few more waves. Made veggie Pad Thai for dinner, always a hit.

At 04/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 08°50.32’S -128°26.12’W

Day 17 completed at 0830 our time. Just gybed I a starboard tack wing on wing to keep us from heading too far south. Wind just switched to a more ENE direction. Interesting trade winds this year.

Total miles: 2493 miles

Miles over last 24h: 151 miles (phew a little better!)

Miles to go: ~635nm

Day 18: May 4th – May 5th. Well, light winds, slow tracks, just sitting relaxing, waiting. Doing a lot of reading, writing, knitting, lego-ing. Veggie fried rice for dinner.

At 05/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 08°48.58’S -130°26.57’W

Day 18 completed at 0830 our time. Just gybed back to starboard tack wing on wing with Asymmetrical up. Wind just switched back to more straight E direction.

Total miles: 2615 miles

Miles over last 24h: 122 miles (ouch!)

Miles to go to Hiva Oa: 515 nm .

Day 19: May 5th -6th. Another slow day. Hoisted the Asymmetrical. Wing on wing back on port tack. At 12:15 we have less than 500 miles to go! It’s crazy to think that our passage from Mexico to Costa Rica took 19 days +many hours to go 1600 miles, and on the passage we’ve gone over 2,700 miles in the same amount of time. This is now officially our longest time out at sea. cinco de mayo dinner of Tamales, rice and beans and Mexican Slaw.

At 06/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 09°0.8’S -132°22.22’W

Day 19 completed at 0830 our time. Had Asymmetrical up all day until midnight when a tiny rain cloud and wind came. (Can’t quite call it a squall). Switched back to genoa wing on wing causing speed to drop .5 – 1 kt.

Total miles: 2733 miles

Miles over last 24h: 118 miles (even more ouch!)

Miles to go to Hiva Oa: 400 nm

Day 20: May 6-7th. Well we are officially out at sea longer than we’ve ever been before (not counting Christian’s experience as a child). Sunday fun day was pretty mellow. The 15 kt of breeze the grib was calling for never came. Wind was 8-10 kts most of the day.. by nightfall, however it had switched out of the south southeast picked up to about 10-14kts. We dropped the A sail with an impending squall, which happened to just nearly miss us, gybed the jib and started heading back on the Rhumb line with better average speed.

At 07/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 09°21.18’S -134°31.51’W

Day 20: completed at 0830 our time. Had a good day sailing yesterday. Wind switched out of SSE in the late afternoon. Slowly switched back toward ESE by this morning. Had some rain and skirted some squalls last night.

Total miles: 2862 miles

Miles over last 24h: 129 miles (even more ouch!)

Miles to go to Hiva Oa: 270 nm

Day 21: May 7-8th, 2018:

At 08/05/2018 16:30 (UTC) our position was 09°37.4’S -137°3.34’W

Day 21: completed at 07:00 our time (changed to Marquesas time during the day). 3 weeks! Another great day sailing. Wind speeds up, 12-18 kts. Boat speeds up 6-7 kts. Caught 2 fish at once with our 2 lines, one Yellowfin Tuna and one Mahi Mahi . Finally keepers on the hand lines. Almost 3,000 miles without any keepable fish on the lines. If we hadn’t speared the one Tuna last week, these would have been the only ones the whole trip. Had sushi for dinner. We had more rain overnight along with slightly increased wind speeds. Kept the jib slightly furled.

Total miles: 3015 miles

Miles over last 24h: 153 miles (yay, back up)

Miles to go to Hiva Oa: 118 nm

ETA to Hiva Oa: early morning May 9th.

So 3,015 miles in 3 weeks isn’t too shabby. We have one more day left, just over 100 miles until we reach Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.

I decided to save our last day for its own post.

Again, sorry for the lack of photos. The Iridium phone and email only permits small images. Will add them later.