Category Archives: Boat Fitness

TAHITI!!!

What a strange feeling…. after so many months of small populated towns, if any at all, small grocery stores that had just enough supplies to restock a few select fresh fruit (mainly grapefruit, imported apples, and bananas), and quiet surroundings with only nature to be heard, we made landfall in the busiest, most populated island in French Polynesia, Tahiti, June 24th, 2018.

Our overnight passage from Toau was pretty much seamless after our exciting 3 am departure was out of the way. 36 hours and a Wahoo later we found ourselves just reaching the north end of the island of Tahiti. We made way for Venus Point, the same anchorage Capt. Cook landed in on the Bounty to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun on June 3, 1769. That was 249 years ago! This very protected, easy navigable, black sand bay, eased our entry into “city life” for just one night.  The black sand was something we, on Shawnigan, had not experienced yet. When we dropped the hook, we assumed the water was dirty and that we would not be able to see the bottom.  As soon as the anchor was down we hopped on paddle boards and toured around.  It didn’t take long to realize that we could actually see the bottom from the surface. At 20 feet down, our silver anchor glistened half dug into the black sand.

We made Shushi with the Wahoo we caught!

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The next morning we made way for the anchorage just north of Marina Taina,  which is just south of Papeete, Tahiti’s largest city and the Capital of French Polynesia. On our way in through he pass, we motored by a popular surf spot, no not Teahupoo, but lovely to see. I think its safe to say that we all felt shell shocked. So much to see, the surfers were beautiful, the landscape was beautiful, the people on outriggers givin’her were beautiful, the water was beautiful, the list could go on.  Shortly after, as we made our way up the channel, our friend named Gilles, whom we met a few years back in Sausalito as he and his family sailed through on SV Coccinelle, came to greet us on his dinghy.  He hopped aboard, tied his dinghy to Shawnigan and lead the way to the anchorage.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0713.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0714.IMG_3069IMG_3071IMG_3075IMG_3086IMG_3105IMG_3101IMG_3107IMG_3108IMG_3110IMG_3098

Gilles and Christian getting caught up on 4 years of not seeing each other.

The anchorage was tight, but we found a spot. It was exciting to see so many boats anchored and moored in a few mile radius.  The kids were especially excited, because big city means more kid boats coming together in one location, therefore new kids to meet and make connections with. A few other things to be excited about: BIG grocery stores and free wifi access from the town hall, family visiting, and a tour of the island via rental car. Yay!

Every morning the outriggers were out practicing.img_0646img_0722img_0834img_0835

Play time with cousin Lola.

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Ellamae and Apolline

Family shot with Lola in front of Tahiti waterfall.

Moon setting

Ages 17 – 5 years old.

Ellamae’s send-off crew (Boat kids from La Cigale, Raftkin, and our Shawnigan crew).

That’s Nina, doing some kind of funky pose.

Taj is in awe with the size of the waterfall.

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Taj, very much his dad’s son…

We finally met S/V Bonaire!

Nina and Taj coming into shore in the dinghy to pick me up.

Taj (at 5 years old) being towed behind a dinghy on a hydrofoil. Thanks Jeremy with starboardSupNZ !

Kid boat meet up at the park near the marina in Pape’ete. Kids from S/V Today, S/V Coastal Drifter, S/V La Cigale,  us (S/V Shawnigan), S/Y Panacea and S/V ManuiaBus ride back from town with S/Y Panacea crew.

S/V Alondra kids, S/V Bajka Kids, and Taj at the office in Marina Taina.

Playing with the “BajkaBoys”Ship Shape time…while the laundry dries. 

 

 

 Taj posing with his signed Frankie Hill skateboard that was given to him.

Our farewell as we departed Tahiti from our Starboard SUP New Zealand friend Victoria.

 

 

 

 

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a French couple that we met in Mexico 2.5 years ago

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Taj picking up trash along the way to see the sunken plane.

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Taj diving down to get a closer look at the plane.

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Nina getting down and close…

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IMG_3101coming up next…. Mo’orea

 

 

 

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Toau

Video of us leaving Fakarava out of the North Pass:

Video of SV La Cigale as we’re both heading out of North Fakarava pass.

Toau, Tuamotus, French Polynesia:

June 18-23, 2018

Making our way about the Tuamotus with the prevailing winds, next stop after Fakarava, Toau.

atoll. Wait a minute, prevailing winds?! We left at 7 am in order to arrive at Toau’s east pass around 11am. That way we can see clearly into the water, looking for coral heads and shallow areas as well as timing the tide/current into the pass. All looked good from where we were “sitting”. As we left Fakarava, the winds switched out of the north, exactly where we wanting to sail to. To add more excitement into the mix, the current was heading out at Fakarava North pass. Let’s put two and two together: incoming wind (out of the north) + outgoing current = standing waves . Yay a circus ride!!! Apparently you can skirt the edges of the pass and bypass this “mess” but we decided to go straight on through, along with our friends on La Cigale. Don’t miss the video clip below!

Once out the pass we battled the headwind. We almost gave up entirely and turned back in when we would tack one way to head northwest and get pushed southwest, then tack to head northeast and head due east. It was painful. We decided to keep with our easterly direction and turn on the iron sail (aka engine) to aid us to arrive at the the east pass of Toau by 11am. La Cigale also used this method.

Toau’s pass was cakewalk compared to Fakarava north. Many people speak of horrendous passages through it, but we had it blissful. It is still nerve racking when you can clearly see the bottom 7-8 meters (25 ft) below you, and you can see almost every detail of the coral carpet. Not sure one can ever be at compete ease with that.

Once through Toau’s east pass, we headed south, along the eastern edge. We settled in the Southeast corner (ish), a relatively sandy bottom area. As a general rule of thumb, the southeast anchorages of most of the atolls in the Tuamotus, you’ll find more sandy holdings. This is due to the wind direction, blowing sand over and it settling within the atoll. There were some coral heads, but they were easy to spot and plenty of room to navigate around to find a good anchoring area. Here, with La Cigale, and 2 other boats in the distance, there was plenty of room. And it was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful!

Pizza making over on La Cigale.Spa day on La Cigale Barber Shop Shawnigan , cutting Xavier’s hair off the starboard hull. Coffee time on Shawnigan

After a few days inside the atoll, it was time to make our way back out and north to Toau’s false pass on the north end called Anse Amyot. It’s a false pass due to its pass like appearance, but no complete pass through. You enter as if heading through a pass and grab a mooring or anchor in the middle. Again the east pass was manageable when we heading out, with an incoming current of about 2 kts. We sailed on up to Anse Amyot and motored up to a Mooring, next to our friends on SV Summer. The “lagoon” , as many people call it, was beautiful, but windy. This is normally a very picturesque anchorage with brilliant colors popping out of the water, but the wind waves made the water surface difficult to see much color. That is until you jumped in. Despite the wind, we were determined to snorkel. It was beautiful!!! We’ve heard many stories of the fantastic diving here. The days we were there were not those days, but non-the-less still very amazing. Watch our video here or click it below:

Our 90 day visa in French Polynesia was already halfway through.

We could have spent at least another month in the Tuamotus exploring underwater and on land. But alas, it was time to head to Tahiti. The clock was ticking. Family was coming to visit us in Tahiti, Ellamae (our 10 year old) needed to fly back to the U.S for her time with her biological father, and we still had the Society Island group the explore. We did the math with distance to Tahiti and average boat speed (5kts). Tahiti was a very long overnight sail from Toau.

The benefit to Toau’s false pass is that one can leave “through” it at night. We estimated our passage from Toau to Tahiti to take about 36 hours, which meant a 3 am departure time was needed in order to arrive before dark the next day. We had tracked our way into the mooring the other day and paid close attention to all the details of markers and reef locations so that our departure would be “easy”.

At 3 am our internal alarm went off. Shawnigan, pointing to the southeast, was bobbing up and down on the mooring ball as the wind persistently blew 15 kts. Perfect wind conditions to sail off the mooring, but not the perfect anchorage. We made it out fine, but I wouldn’t say it was without standing on the edge of my seat. It was windy, there was a small current, it was dark. We had tied an extra line to the mooring we were on, not trusting what was there. We knew we would have to leave it when we placed it. It seemed pitch black with our navigation system lit up, hindering my night vision. We had our tracks in through the pass saved and ready to follow out. As the engined warmed up, we reviewed our exit plan.

Timing our boat’s dance with the wind, we motored off the mooring in the correct direction, away from the reef 20 meters to our starboard. Behind the helm, my job was to quickly throttle up our RPMs as soon as we released from the mooring ball. We had our lines set up with two loops to either side of our bow. Christian released the first one, checked to make sure I was ready, and with a torch shining on himself he released Shawnigan from the mooring and hand motioned me to motor out. The wind was strong enough to require 1800 RPMs for ample steerage off the mooring to turn off the wind, past the other boats and out through the pass. At the helm, I focused heavily on our Navionics chart, attempting to follow our track out exactly as we came in. I will say, it’s a lot harder to do when you can’t visually see where you’re heading and only looking at a screen and compass. Christian was on the bow with a bright light shining, keeping an eye out for the surrounding reefs. Heart pumping, I was relieved when we made it out of the pass and clear of any reef danger. As we veered off the wind, toward Tahiti, we unfurled the Jib and turned off the engine. Ah, peace. All that was, was the sound of the wind, the slapping of the water from behind and the stars in the sky. Off the coast a few miles, we were in the clear of any obstacles and could relax.

Toau, thank you for your beauty. We hope to visit again? Maybe in less windy conditions next time.

SV Summer (Shannon 28) with Leo and Laurel aboard.

do you see the fish?

SV Tusi 2

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Christian checking on the mooring ball in Anse Amyot

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Our time in Panama

Our time in Panama City was a whirlwind of a month. The first week zoomed by with 3 days of checking into the country and getting to know the city layout. The rest feels like a blur, a bit of a twilight zone feeling. To give you a taste for what it was, I have added mostly pictures. Cost of living there is not cheap. Food is comparable to American prices and not quite like Mexican food. There is a mix of Caribbean, Creole, Mexican, Colombia and Peruvian influence, but mostly its rice and beans with a meat plate.

Panama is a melting pot for different cultures in addition to the many Natives that have inhabited these lands long before. As it was started as an early settlement from the age of explorers, and later a hub for “shipping advancement”, the addition of Spaniards, people of European Jewish descent and hired Chinese for building the Panama Canal, created a large multicultural country. The people are overall very friendly, especially for a big city. It is more like Mexico, where people say “hola” or “buenas” when you walk by.

We ended up measuring our time there by the number of “cruisers pizza nights”. Every Wednesday a local pizza place near the popular anchorages and marinas offers 20% of pizza for the cruisers. Our first pizza night was a few days after arriving. What a great way to meet up with other sailors. 5 pizza nights later we were finally leaving Panama City. Not complaining one bit though. We had a great time meeting sailors from all over the world, attending the Puddle Jump Party (x2), reuniting with cruising families that we had met in the past, and getting our fill of the big city life. Panama felt a lot safer than people have made it out to be, granted we weren’t staying in Colón. There are places to avoid, but overall, we felt comfortable exploring the beautiful country.

Here are some picture of our time there:

bus rides and cruiser’s pizza nights

dinghy didficulties…provisioning fun!

Boat teens!

Shipshape!!!

out of town surf trip…

good times…

Taj getting a pediatric dental cleaning..$40

Please leave a comment for us to look forward to reading when we get wifi again in French Polynesia!

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.

Mazatlan: round dos

First, our sail from Isla Isabela to Mazatlan: May 5th-6th, 2017.
We sailed off the hook from the east anchorage on Isla Isabel and headed 330 * North toward Mazatlan. With about 90 miles to travel we planned an overnight passage. We drifted the first 3 hours. Then the wind barely filled in, but enough to commit to sailing on. Early afternoon, the wind picked up to a more steady 4-8 knots out of the NW. We saw tons of sea turtles. By nightfall we’d barely gone 25 miles, but the wind kept up. Over the night there were a few drifting moments, but for the most part we had enough wind to cover 40 miles. The wind slowly switched out of the west and even the south for a little bit. We saw more sea turtles the next day, probably a total count of over 40. On the way in to Mazatlan we were cruising with winds up to 12-15 over our port beam. We dropped the hook on the East Side of Deer Island @ 1600 on May 6th. 2314.238 N , -10627.679 WSV Easy off of Isla Venados (Deer Island)

The next morning we timed our entry to the mouth of the harbor to arrive at 07:30 am for a good reason.  The SW swell was rolling in at 3 feet, 0800 was high tide and the bar at the entrance to marina Mazatlan and El Cid is shallow enough to break all the way across, so we needed that peak incoming high tide. We motored close to the entrance and timed our entry between the sets. SV Easy waited just behind us.  We made it through without any problems, but if we had not been careful we could of had breaking waves! 

We came into Marina Mazatlan and we’re immediately greeted by the dock guards, who lead us to a slip. We had been to Marina Mazatlan before and liked it, but man does it burn through the pocket book fast! We’re not use to this daily fee. The funny thing about Marina Mazatlan is that it’s cheaper to pay for 8 days than it is to pay for 4 to 7. We had a few things we wanted to do on the boat while docked, we would be there a few days anyway, to pick up Ellamae from her stay with her Papa, so we paid for 8. OUCH, but we made every bit of it count.  Taj found his new #1 seat on our Mantus Anchor.

Both times that we’ve been to Mazatlan, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This time was a little different than our last visit here around the same time of year last year. We only went to the “old-town” in the city once. We went bowling twice, swimming with our friends at El Cid Marina once, we met up with some very long ago family friends that live in Mazatlan, and spent the rest of the time on boat-schooling and boat projects. Catch and release cat fishing.Taj’s new friend at the tienda (snack shop) at the head of the dock.

The trip to the city was more to stretch our legs and get outside. We ended up walking at least 6 miles along the malecón and through town. Nina and Taj skateboarded, which made the trip a little more tolerable. Everyone was a little sore the next day. It felt great! 

Bowling was fun. Not affordable by any means ($20-30 per family for an hour), but fun nonetheless. The bowling alley is in the Liverpool mall, which is walking distance from the marina. The first time, SV Raireva took us. The second time we went with SV Easy and the family on SV Riki Tiki Tavi. What a blast!

Swimming at the El Cid was fun, but the water was not very warm and the place is a wind tunnel. Oh and they don’t let kids under 12 in the hot tub, boo 😒. Our time spent there was short. 

I mentioned meeting with family friends from long ago. The Lonsdale’s, were friends with my parents when they lived near Mammoth Mountain. This was before and maybe a little after I was born; wait for it ….. 36 years ago.  They are also world travelers and have done quite a bit of relief work all over the world. They ended up moving to Mazatlan over 8 years ago and starting up 2 Looney Bean coffee shops; one in Downtown Mazatlan and the other one in Cerritos, a town on the very north end of Mazatlan.  Looney Bean originally came out of Mammoth Mountain, so when we saw it in Mazatlan, we were super excited. They roast their own coffee down here and it is sourced responsibly. They even donate 10% of the whole bean coffee sales to families in need in local areas. Before we led the coffee shop, we left our boat card with our number and email and sure enough, a few days later, Heidi, the owner called me. She was so excited, as was I, to make the contact after so many years had passed. Long story short, they invited us for dinner and we had a great time with very good people reminiscing and talking about traveling life. We are hoping to stop by on our way back south to spend more time with them, including surfing the local spots together! In front of the Cerritos Looney Bean with one of Heidi and Tom’s daughters. Ellamae and I Sporting the Looney Bean shirts.Heidi zipped off on her scooter. Love this lady! Tom and Heidi with myself. Can’t wait to see them again next fall!

Fondue dinner on SV Easy.

  My dock yoga shipshape time on the dock. Getting “grounded” after so much water time.