Author Archives: A Family Afloat

About A Family Afloat

I'm a mother of 3 amazing kids (currently 15, 10, and 4) and a wife of an amazing husband. We are currently sailing our boat in Mexico with a sail plan of going around the world. In August, 2015 we cruised out "the Gate" of San Francisco and spent 2 months going down the coast of California and 2 years exploring Mexico. Our next intention is to cross the Pacific to French Polynesia around March, 2018, leaving from ???. Stay tuned....

Checking out of Mexico for our longest passage yet…

Well, we are leaving for what is everybody aboard, but Christian’s longest passage yet. ~1,400 miles, which should take us about 10 days to 2 full weeks or maybe a little more! We were going to leave today, but then realized that today is Friday. What’s so special about Friday, you ask ? There is a huge list of sailor’s superstitions and one of the big ones is that it’s bad luck to leave port on a Friday. Since this is our longest passage we decided not to risk it, so we’re waiting for tomorrow to leave from Barra de Navidad.

We need to get to Costa Rica by Jan 15th, so rather than rushing down the coast of Mexico and potentially getting stuck waiting for the Tehuanapecs (extremely strong winds off of southern Mexico and Guatemala) to calm down enough to motor on through, we are going to sail basically straight down and around the strong winds and hopefully be able to cut over to Nicaragua. ~ 1,200 to ~1,400 miles.The orange shows areas of stronger winds.Above shows potential gusts of wind, which extremely important to take into account when weather routing.

There is a chance, and a good one too, that the Papa Gallos (another localized area of strong winds and gusts) will be blowing off of Nicaragua, which would force us to sail straight to Costa Rica. Making it more of a solid 1,400 miles passage. We would end up missing Nicaragua all together, but I’m sure we will find fun in Costa Rica to occupy our time with.

With our last post, we had just arrived into Barra de Navidad from Tenacatita. After a few days in Barra de Navidad we took a bus down to Manzanillo to check out of Mexico, but the process was a little more involved than that. It was not as bad as some people had warned us about though, but it did take a full day. I decided to write about to help other people out that end up wanting to do the same.

We first went to the port captain in Barra de Navidad. He said he could check us out and give us our Zarpe (basically a permission slip to leave one country and enter another), but we needed to go to the immigration office in Melaque first. So the next day, we all hopped on a bus to Melaque only to discover that the immigrations there is not able to “stamp” us out. They pointed us in the direction of Manzanillo to do that. Since that day was basically over, we waited for the next day to take a bus down to Manzanillo.

The bus ride to Manzanillo was painless. $61 pesos/adult each way and about an hour and a half long ride straight to the bus terminal in Manzanillo. From there we took a $50 pesos taxi to the immigrations office that google maps found for us. After only 15 minutes of wait time, the lady called upon us and we discovered that we were at the wrong immigrations office. She didn’t speak any English, but was very helpful and showed us on my phone via google maps where to go.

Since we were all the way on the other side of the port and close to the Banjercito (Mexican Military bank), we decided to go surrender our T.I.P (temporary import permit) card. The system for that is all electronic, so that was one thing we wanted to make sure we did correctly before leaving the Mexico. We’ve heard stories of people who forgot to cancel their TIP and either let it expire, left and came back or sold their boat, and when the boat returned to Mexico they were fined somewhere up to $700! The total time for canceling the T.I.P took about 2 hours. The lady at the Banjercito only spoke Spanish and didn’t know what to do, but was super nice. Things to prepare for canceling your T.I.P in Manzanillo: make photocopy of Passport (s) to hand in, photocopy of documentation and crew list of last port of check-in, and you will need to either have a copy of or fill out a new list of electronic/big ticket items (make and model) that are on your boat with their serial numbers. There is a photocopy place around the corner if you do everything last minute like we do. *bonus about Banjercito location: there is a great roadside tacos de barbacoa stand on the corner!

From the Banjercito, we easily grabbed another $50 peso taxi to take us all the way back to the correct immigration office. Describing where to go to the taxi driver was somewhat of a challenge, so we showed him the location on my phone’s google maps and stated it was just beyond the Nissan import car lot. He dropped us off near the entrance, we walked through the gate and stated we were leaving the country (estamos saliendo del país) and walked right into a quiet and clean facility. They were super nice there, loved our kids, and the whole process took about 45 minutes. They took copies of passports, visas and FFN receipts, boat documentation, and crewlist. They typed out their own form, handed us a new completed, printed and official stamped form and said to take that form to the port captain to obtain the Zarpe. So now, back to Barra de Navidad. The bus station happened to be only a few blocks away, so it was a quick walk there.

We arrived back to Barra around 5:30pm in time for dinner. We would have to obtain the Zarpe the next day. So the following day, Christian went alone to check out and obtain the Zarpe from the Port Captain. The Port Captain gave him a paper with a bank # and stated he needed to first take a bus to Melaque and make a direct deposit into the Port Captain account. Once that was done, he brought the receipt back to the Port Captain, handed him the forms from the Manzanillo Immigration office and we got our “official stamp” for our Zarpe!

Phew! That was quite the process, but nothing compared to some of the horror stories that we’ve heard some people going through.

Please feel free to comment or contact us with questions.

Our next blog post will likely be from Nicaragua shortly after Christmas.

It’s a good thing Santa has GPS, because we have no idea where we will be on Christmas.

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Guest post: Josie, of Family Afloat, on their sailing adventures

Check out our Guest Post from CoachDaddyblog.wordpress.com ! He did a great job and has many other cool posts.

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I love to travel.

And by travel, I mean drive several times a week to Mooresville, N.C. Occasionally exotic locales, too, such as Fredericksburg, Va. The extent of my travel reaches the bounds of club soccer. And I’m okay with that.

If I get a dose of wanderlust, well, that’s what Instagram and Hawaii 5-0 reruns are for.

Or, I can visit the blog Family Afloat. That’s where Josie chronicles the adventures of a family living at sea. Great story, right? Well, only it’s nonfiction. These people really are sailing around the world.

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Southbound from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico.

Southbound from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico. (Dec 6th – 10th, 2017)

At the end of our four day surf binge in Banderas Bay, we took the good weather window out of La Cruz to make our way south. Our destination, Tenacatita, about 130 miles south, would take us about 24 hours with decent conditions.

December 6th, the day started with a warm welcome from Saint Nicholas. One present in the stocking , traditionally a boot left out for Saint Nicholas. We all got 1.5 – 2 mm tops for future surf and snorkeling sessions. As soon as the wind picked up around 10am , we finished prepping the boat and sailed out of the La Cruz anchorage by 10:30. First, we had a wind sail out, then switched to upwind for a few hours. By the time we were just northeast of Cabo Corrientes the wind was in our beam out of the north and slowly cocked behind us, giving us a nice push out of Banderas Bay and pushed us around the corner and south. We ended up wing on wing (main sheeted out to one side and Jib sheeted out with a whisker pole on the other side) around the point and up until about 12 midnight. The seas were pretty flat as the winds 10-15 most of the time. It was only from 10pm – 1 am that we had a reef in the main and the jib partially furled in. The wind slowly started dropping off around 2 am and switched to a broad reach. This made for a few comfortable hours to rest in between watches and the 15-20 minute naps for Christian who was on the 3am – 7 am watch.

Around 8am (1400 Zulu) , we were 5 miles west if Chamela, when Nina performed her Net Control commitment for the Amigo Net. Sea state was calm, wind was about 5 kts, which made for a relaxing morning coffee while we listened to the net. By 11am wind speeds picked up to about 10 kts and we were back to wing on wing , heading straight for Tenacatita. School underway was successful as it was the previous day as well. It seems like we’ve been able to get back in the grove of sailing a lot quicker these days , even after long periods of off season activities. I was happy to be able to go down below to cook and sleep without feeling the slightest bit of sea sickness.

We arrived into Tenacatita under jib alone by 2:30pm. To my surprise it was perfect timing for the daily Tenacatita group swim into shore and Bocci Ball on the beach. I swam as fast as I could to catch up and the rest of the family paddle boarded to shore.

The next few days were more of the same. School, swim, paddle board, boogie board, bocci ball , mangrove paddle, and meeting other cruisers.

below: Taj Kayaking to CarmanahTaj Surfing on his boogie board.paddling up the mangrove.

We even got to participate in the first dinghy raft up of the season! “The Mayor” of Tenacatita , Robert on S/V Harmony always does a great job at getting the cruisers together and making everyone feel welcome. We make the dinghy raft up into a potluck. Each boat brings a dish to share, we all bring our own plates and eating utensils, we pass the food around, eat, and introduce ourselves . The topic to add to our introduction was , “what inspired us to go cruising?”. I left that one to Christian, since we was the one who started sailing as a youngster with his dad. It was great way to learn a little bit about each cruiser. We had a total of 18 boats in the anchorage, not all were present that evening. (Adagio, Aldabra, Bula, Caper, Dos Gatos, Carmanah, Floating Stones, Haramara, Harmony, Hooligan, Kook, Shawnigan, Wind Rose, [and a few boats that In forgetting ] ). Thanks Robert and Virginia for facilitating keeping the Tenacatita community alive!

After a few enjoyable days in Tenacatita, we found ourselves heading to Barra de Navidad, for probably the last time for a long while. Nina will be turning 15 on the 12th and really wants to go out to a restaurant there called “El Riconcito”. We will also be prepping for our next big hop, sailing out of Mexico.

Back on the run, heading south of Mexico for fun!

Well, more like back on the slow sail (not a fast run). My 13 weeks for refilling the kitty turned into 19 and now we’re topped off. We’re hoping $20,000 will take us south from Mexico, into Central America and Westward. The idea is to cross the Pacific in March from Panama, spend our 3 month visa time in French Polynesia, make our way toward Fiji and then head down to New Zealand. Hopefully we’ll arrive in New Zealand November 2018 with just enough $ to find a place for S/V Shawnigan and our Family Afloat and to find myself a job in the NICU.

So now that you know “Plan A”, stay tuned as we make our way south from La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta). Ellamae and I returned to the boat and family on Friday. Saturday and Sunday we spent at the beach surfing and playing with friends. Today is a Boat-School day and Costco provisioning run. We hope to leave on Wednesday for Tenacatita, possibly stop in Barra de Navidad for Nina’s 15th Birthday, then Santiago. This will be our first time south of Barra (except for when Christian was a kid sailing with his father). We are looking forward to new anchorages and new towns to explore!