Category Archives: Boatschooling

Up, up, and away!

After our crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz, our time spent in La Paz was relatively short. It was time to start making our way up, up, and away from the hurricanes before the hurricane season (June – November).  We'd planned on staying there as long as it took for me to do all of the online and other required work for my next travel nursing assignment during the summer. A few days of wifi at the Big Sur coffee shop was all I really needed and a day to re-provision. We got a little waylaid with celebrating Mike's (SV Easy) Birthday and meeting a new kid boat called SV Secret Water. There were a few other boats we wanted to visit with too (SV Tribe, Waponi Woo, Orion, Bertie, Adventurer, just to name a few).  Oh the sailing social  life and how it ALWAYS makes you change your "plans".Taj fearlessly jumping off the piling.

"new kids on the dock" Umbrella movement in La Paz.

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By our 5th day in La Paz we felt the itch to continue on, but the pull to stay. I think this will be a common feeling as we continue to sail the world and meet amazing people in amazing places. Alas, we chose to leave with a "see ya later" instead of a "good-bye".

The first week of making our way north, up the Sea of Cortez was faster than our journey up last season. Now that I had work lined up with pre-work classes and assessments schedule in San Diego for June 23, we had somewhat of a time schedule. Mike on SV Easy continued to buddy boat with us. He had already been up to Puerto Enscondido as well, so he was onboard with shorter stops up to that point. Our stops were indeed brief, depending on the wind and water conditions. If there were anchorages or animals we hadn't seen, we'd take some time exploring, but otherwise we didn't lag too much until we got up to Bahia de Conception.

First stop, Isla Espirito Santo/Isla Partida. We sailed all but an hour of our 10 hour day to Bahia Ensenada Grande. We got out the hammock  for a swing and dip in the water while we were becalmed, waiting for wind.

 S/V Easy

The anchorage at Ensenada Grande was spectacular! There we five boats after Easy and Shawnigan had anchored. The Mobula Rays, jumping everywhere, sounded like we were in the midst of a pirate ship battle field. The slaps and splashes from their jumping dance of courtship, feeding, or communication surrounded and echoed off the steep burnt red sandstone and sedimentary cliffs of the anchorage. This was the moment that  we felt the magic of the Sea of Cortez return.

After a relaxing morning aboard, with an abbreviated boat-school day, we took a fieldtrip to hike across the island to the other side. Along the way we explored the many different geological features the island had to offer. Various igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary formations all in one place! It was perfect timing for Ellamae's science block of her curriculum.

Two nights at Ensenada Grande and we were off to Isla San Francisquito, but first a quick swim with the sea lions at Los Islotes before the wind picked up.

We anchored in the southwest side of the island in 58 feet of water with just enough scope for a few ohour "lunch stop". SV Easy anchored just behind us. We new our window for swimming would be narrow before the wind picked up, so we made sure to be ready to play and ready to leave. The visibility was not the greatest and the sea lions were not in their most playful state, but we did get to swim and play around with them for a while. The kids had a blast! To watch their excitement and comfortable interaction with the sea lions was priceless. As we predicted, the wind filled in after 1.5 hours of being there. We quickly rowed back to the  boat and sailed off to Isla San Francisco (Francisquito).Screenshot (3)Screenshot (4)Me, Josie, bliss.Screenshot (7)Taj and the 3 Sea Lions.Screenshot (9)Nina looking down at me with camera in hand and the Sea Lion.Screenshot (11)Screenshot (12)Ellamae (9) about 8 feet down, looking for sea lions to swim with, relaxed and in her element.

Isla San Francisco was just as pristine as it was the previous year. The white sandy beach surrounded by crystal clear azure water makes this anchorage most picturesque. We stayed two nights here in order to hike to the top of the hill and to spear fish.  Taj caught some fish himself, just off the boat with a fishing pole. Mostly catch and release puffer fish, but he did manage to catch a trigger fish. Yummy GrouperMike, paddling to shore.Isla San Francisquito

Nina And Ellamae beat us to the top.

  Mike looking ahead at the steep incline toward to top. Christian with Taj on his shoulders not far behind.

From Isla San Francisco we sailed straight to Punta San Telmo (2519.866 N, -11057.684 W) . The anchorage more of your "roadside anchorage", but it did offer enough protection from the south south westerly winds.  Mike did an awesome job setting his anchor under sail for the first time. This wasn't the only "first time" among us, we finally busted out the flopper stopper for the first time. We were getting quite of a wrap around swell from the south. Mike already had his flopper stopper out within an hour of anchoring. He was rocking notably much less than we were. I somehow finally convinced Christian to set up the Magma flopper stopper. It came with our boat when we bought it in 2012, but we had never used it. As we sat anchored much more comfortably, we both laughed and agreed that we shouldn't have waited so long.  We hiked on shore a bit and settled in for a nice evening in an empty anchorage.  Not too long after a lovely sunrise, we set sail for Bahia San Marte. S/V Easy sailing off the hook!

Bahia San Marte was pretty sweet. We sailed off and back on the hook, as did Mike.  The cliffs that surrounded us were majestic. The cliffs looked rock climbable (hint to anyone looking for new amazing places to climb). Mike took his paddle board and we rowed the dinghy over to them to check out a cave that was highly recommended in the Shawn and Heather Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser's Guidebook.  It was pretty cool. This was just the beginning of Baja's cave exploring for the crew aboard SV Shawnigan.              Mike making is way back from the very back of the cave.

The next day we sailed off and back on the hook again to Agua Verde. One of our favorite places so far, in large part due to the quaint village where you can restock on some provisions as well as purchase fresh goat milk (seasonal) and goat cheese directly out of the farmer's house. The local tienda, or little store, offers fresh fruit and veggies and other essentials. They rearranged it since the last time we were there to hold more products. Everyone in the village was very welcoming. Side note, there are petroglyphs in the area that was visited last year, but we didn't this time around. See our post from last year for details here.  As per usual with our anchorage visits, we swam around to cool down and discover the underwater ecosystem around us. We found a little underwater cave/arch with sea fans and beautiful light. Nina and I dove through first and with time, Ellamae dove through her first underwater tunnel! The same day, Taj dove down to 10 feet! Our kids are turning in to fish!Shopping at the local tienda in Agua Verde.

Hammock life

 

 

Screenshot (16)Taj on his 10 foot dive.Screenshot (19)Relaxing in the cockpit after a swim.Screenshot (18)Taj on his kayak in Agua Verde.

Isla Monserrate was calling our name. We hadn't been there before, the wind at the time wasn't unfavorable, so why not? The sail there was great. We were in the swing of anchoring under sail, so we did it whenever we could. Mike was getting in the groove of it as well. We settled into the anchorage in time for lunch. Christian was having a bout of low energy, crummy feeling from his Lyme disease, so I took Ellamae and Taj to shore to explore along with Mike while Nina stayed onboard with Christian.  The wind picked up more than we were hoping for that evening. It was offshore, but it put a damper on exploring the underwater realm.Screenshot (20)Our 2 boats, Easy and Shawnigan, sitting pretty in the deserted anchorage.

Thankfully the next morning, Christian woke up feeling better. We set for a 10 mile sail for Bahia Candeleros. Another great day of sailing off and back on to the hook. We found ourselves anchoring in Candeleros with only a few with other boats, one of which was our friend John on SV Summer. Candeleros is known for its beachfront resort with day passes and wifi access. Word on the street says that they have gotten progressively uptight about letting cruisers come in and use the facilities. We chose to bypass these amenities this year. Truth be told, even if we wanted to partake in the resort luxuries, the wind was howling out of the west and straight into the anchorage. Needless to say, we were not leaving the boat for any reason, except to swim when there was not any wind during the early daytime hours.  In the morning, we did snorkel. The water was quite chilly, about 68F. The visibility was about 20 feet, so not optimal either, but we still enjoyed swimming with a huge group of the fasinating Mobula rays. 2 nights in Candeleros was enough for us this time around. Next stop… Loreto!Overnight anchorages overview map: From top left to right: Ensenada Grande, Isla San Francisco. Bottom row left to right: Punta San Telmo, San Marte, Monserrate (picture above), then Candeleros.

More Photos:Screenshot (13)Ellamae and Taj up close and personal.Screenshot (15)Hawlkfish

 

 

 

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Loreto: an Eco Tourism Mecca

There is so much to see in Loreto ! Where to begin?!

Loreto is a small town with about 15,000 people, 2/3 rds the way down Baja on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) side. As the starting point for the California Mission movement, the town offers a lot of rich history and sightseeing opportunities. In the last 15 years+, Loreto has become a mecca for its Eco-Tourism.  The Sea of Cortez and the desert of Baja can be described as a melting pot of marine life and a rich desert ecosystem.  There are flora and fauna here that can not be found in many other places. The eco-tourism offers ways to see these spectacular sights with minimal to no impact on their ecosystem. As a family living on a sailboat, we are able to have our own eco-tours on the ocean, but finding land based activities are more of a challenge.  Thanks to our friend, Sara, who helps operate Loreto Sea and Land Tours, we were able to explore a snippet of Loreto’s land based ecosystem and other tourist sites.

Loreto was the first Spanish Colonial settlement of “New Spain” on the Baja. The Jesuit missionaries built the first of the California Missions there, Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho,  in 1697. Loreto offered a fresh spring as a perfect resource for the missionaries to build and provide food to offer for the local Cochimi tribe and offer Christianity in return. This was a peaceful movement at the time. In 1769, the quest to explore the northern areas and establish missions along the way started.  As time passed the territories of missions fell in control of the Franciscans and then later, the Dominican order and divided into two regions, Baja California and Alta California. Alta California became the California we know today in the United States. I could go on and on about Loreto’s history, but I wont. If you are feeling the need for more of Loreto’s history click here.

June 4th, 2017:

After exploring the town of Loreto, we ventured up into the mountains, named Sierra de la Giganta, to explore the desert and visit San Javier, the second of the California missions. On the way up we stopped to hike to a very old and lonely fig tree growing up a rocky hillside. Of course everybody had the urge to climb it!

Further up the road we pulled over to get a view of the original “El Camino Real”! We had no idea that the “El Camino Real” in California had originated in Loreto. We saw the first road that brought the missionaries from Loreto up to San Javier and eventually up through modern-day California as the path of the California Missions!

Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo was founded just 2 years later, in 1699, but took many more years to build. It was fully functioning by 1758. Water was more abundant here than in Loreto and the location was better protected from hurricanes. It was for these reasons that San Javier became the primary mission. The Cochimi tribe was drawn to the church and Christianity for the food and kindness they provided. The mission was successful with its community and agriculture for many years. Unfortunately, European diseases from the Spaniards spread among the tribe, eventually leading to the decimation of the Cochimi. Their culture and language became extinct by the 20th Century.

If you find yourself in Loreto either by boat or land and wanting to see sea life, land life, and culture, we highly suggest using Loreto Land and Sea tours. Not just because they are friends of ours, because they offer a plethora of different ways to explore the area and ways for the sailing community to explore inland history and culture: scuba diving, snorkeling with seals, fishing, hikes and many more options for adventures. Finding someone who can share so much local knowledge is a prized opportunity for our family as well as for many other cruisers.  We get to check off History of California Missions from Ellamae’s  4th grade boat-school curriculum, one year in advance!San Javier Mission (Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo)Mike, aboard S/V Easy joined us along the tour. Taj can’t resist the temptation to climb another tree.

Isla Isabel (Isabela)

Sail to Isla Isabel: left San Blas at 0515. Buddy boating with Mike in SV Easy. Ellamae was in Florida with Papa. We motored 1.5 hours out then sailed with offshore winds until about 1030, we got to fly the kite. Then we drifted for a bit. Around 11:30 the wind switched to NW. The typical close reach toward Isla Isabel. We sailed until 5:30. Then motored 2 hours to the island to get there before sunset. We ended up anchoring at the east anchorage of Isla Isabela. It was flat, beautiful and calm. Anchored in 27 feet on sandy bottom, near Las Monas pinnacles.  Our anchorage position was 21 60.891N , 105 52.715W . 

Sv Easy (Ingrid 38) underway.

We got to snorkel a lot, Taj kayaked, and Christian got to surf 4 times! The south swell was coming up and hitting the south east point just perfect. He had to dodge a few rocks, but had a blast!  

We swam and kayaked to shore to explore the island. As we brought the dinghy to shore the bird conservation group out of Mexico City greeted us and gave us a run down of how to help protect the nesting birds on the island. They were very welcoming. Las Monas pinnacles and Shawnigan and Easy anchored next to them.Rebecca, who is spending her post doctorate helping to conserve the island’s birds, teaching us a few things. Above: the camp of the students that spend 2 weeks stretches on the island helping to protect the birds.

It was awesome to see all the nesting Blue and Yellow Footed Boobies as well as the Frigates. There were so many of them protecting their eggs, as well as juveniles and newborn babies. There were also iguanas roaming around everywhere. All the wildlife here is magical, they let you get so close!  There’s a baby under there!There are eggs under this Booby.

 Yellow Footed Booby guarding a nearby nest. The male and female take turns with this role.

There is no wonder why Isla Isabel(a) has been quoted as “Mexico’s Galapagos”! The island was declared as a national park in 1980 and has been preserved as such ever since, protecting its flora and fauna. 

I would have to say that Isla Isabela is one of our top places we’ve sailed to so far. This was actually our fourth time there, but our first time exploring on the island this time of year. I’m so happy we got to experience the nesting birds In the dry season. Baby Frigatebird in its nest.

Albino FrigatebirdI love this picture; Albino Frigate in the foreground, the fishing village and Las Monas in the the background. Mike From SV Easy photo bombing the Blue Footed Booby picture .  Mike on SV Easy sailing off the hook toward Mazatlan. 

Chacala to San Blas

Well, we did it… we actually came in to a Marina and paid for a slip. We hadn’t paid for slip or moorage since we left San Carlos 5.5 months ago! All of the anchorages we’ve stayed at have been free. At only $10 night with access to water, pool, showers, internet, and most importantly LESS NO-SEE-UMS AND MOSQUITOES we decided to go for it. Mike Jacoby on SV Easy came along with us as well. We love buddy boating with him.

  1. Mike on SV Easy and the kids ate the obligatory Pan de Banana (Banana bread). And of course we did the La Tovara Crocodile tour and fresh water park. We highly recomend taking the tour from just east of the river bridge heading out of San Blas vs the one from the official Tovara tour site (the one closer to Matanchén). The tour is longer through the mangroves, the captain of the panga will speak english and you get to see more wildlife. Plus I like supporting a smaller family business.

There is a bird in there. Kudos for any comments identifying it. Owl or hawk? What type?the fence that keeps the Crocodiles out of the fresh water pool. Rafael, our awesome guide!


San Blas is worth the stop. Despite all of the bugs, which it in notoriously for, we enjoyed our visit. There is a lot of history is this town to explore, which we did on our last visit here last year. The town square is lively in the evenings. We happened to stumble upon “Dia de Los Niños” this year. They celebrated Friday and Saturday with song and dance in the square. The local ballet company performed with dances from the adults and the kids. The next night they had tons of vendors out around the square and a parade with decorative floats. 

As mentioned before, San Blas is notorious for its mosquitos and no-see-ums (called jejenes here in Mexico). Last year we anchored in Matanchen and they were much worse. We had the no-see-um netting up and even gave into the not so natural bug spray and we were still eaten alive! This year, at the dock, it wasn’t nearly as bad and the natural bug repellent seemed to work.  Later, we found out that the marina sprays the property, especially around the boats that are hauled out. For this, we were glad our visit was short. Coconut oil with citronella, clove, and grapefruit essential oils. Start with 10 drops of citronella, 5 of clove and 5 of grapefruit. Double it depending on how much coconut oil you use. Doubles as sunscreen and even extra sunscreen if you add zinc powder. 
Next up: Isla Isabel

Earth day in Mexico, a nearly forgotten post.

I forgot to post about Earth Day in La Cruz! 
This will be a short one, as it it mostly pictures. 
Catrina, the La Cruz Kids Club director and activity director for Marina La Cruz, set up a beach clean up in the morning on Earth Day. We made it to shore by 10 am that day in order to participate. There were a few other kid boats participating (SV Pickles, Riki Tiki Tavi, Ceilydh) and few non-kid boats. We found 14 large trash bags worth of trash within a 1/2 mile from the harbor.


Afterward a few boats participated in the “Drag Net” Rally. SVs Ceilydh took a bunch of kids on their catamaran, Riki Tiki Tavi took a few extra kids and myself as crew, Mike and Catrina took their little 24 ft boat and Scuba Ninja had a few on as crew. The idea was to sail out in Banderas Bay and pick up trash floating in the water as we sailed by. As one can imagine, pickup trash under sail ads quite the challenge to the task. Plus the wind had picked up to 15-20 knots, which made for spotting the trash, quite difficult. Although we weren’t very successful in collecting trash, it was nice to go out for just a few hours and sail. Christian was out of town, so crewing on a different boat and with Sara as a female captain on Riki Tiki Tavi was a really awesome experience for me. Thanks Sara and Pete! Scuba Ninja Sailing like a boss!

Just a quick reminder; we saw most of the ocean trash in the Marina. If you’re out there in a slip, Earth Day can be everyday, please pick out the trash in the water. Every little bit helps.

We also had a “farewell” party on SV Ceilydh for their last day on their boat. They finished there circumnavigation with their daughter, Maia, and are now returning to land lubbing life for the time being. You can look at their blog here. And just in case you are in the market for a circumnavigation ready boat, their boat is for sale

La Cruz to Barra de Navidad and back, the trilogy. Back to adventures! Part 3 of 3

If you missed part 1 click here.

If you missed part 2 click here.

Now for Part 3. Back to adventures!!!

With a few days back together as a family and a few days before we started to head north again, we decided to fit in a Colima Volcano tour. Christian had energy for an adventure!!! Our good friend Edgard, whom we met in Barra last year, offered to be our tour guide. He leads tours for his business there, so it was only fitting to hire him.
March 21st, 2017: The day started early. Unfortunately Nina was sick, so she stayed in Barra under our friend’s supervision. Edgard picked us up at 8:30 am from the Hotel Sands (his family’s business), which is where we normally tie up our dinghy when we go to town anyway. The drive to the town of Colima was about 2 hours. We drove to a quaint town called Comala, then up another hour(ish) toward the 12,533 ft Volcán de Colima.  If you have more than a day, we recommend staying a night or two at El Litchi Hostal Colima and hiking its neighbor, Nevado de Colima (14,015ft), to get more of an adventure out of it. We didn’t and wished we had. 

We stopped for produce along the way and found our way to the first of many Coffee plantations/cafes. I indulged in coffee for the first time in 10 days! Watch out here I come!!!! Christian stayed strong and refrained.  An americano was $20 pesos. 1 dollar coffee! How could you pass that up? 

Further up the road we stopped at Laguna la Maria. We’d planned on going for a swim, but after seeing the silty brown color we were hesitant. Then a local came up to us to tell us why no one was swimming. Apparently a “devil lady”, Maria, haunted the lake. The myth is that many years ago, Maria asked her parents to go out with her friends. When her parents said no, she snuck out and drowned there and was never found. Ever since, people who swim have been known to disappear as well. Pretty creepy story. Supposably divers have gone down without finding the bottom. Some theories are of tunnels that have a vacuum effect. We may never know… Needless to say, we didn’t go swimming.

Taj with his Teeny Tiny Optics.

We drove further up the road to place called Laguna Verde. It was basically the end of the road for us. To mark the finally spot, another coffee plantation! Yay, a double dose day! The volcano was in the distance, but still magnificent. The cloud cover started to form by the time we got there, though we could still appreciate most of it’s magnitude.  

We had a pretty quick turn around, as we were doing all of this in one day. We stopped in Comala again on our way back down to eat a late lunch and buy a couple souvenirs. What a great day. If you’re down near Barra de Navidad or Melaque (San Patricio), give Edgard an email (ramseszava@hotmail.com) and tell him we sent you!🌋
A few days later we started making our way north again to La Cruz. We love Barra de Navidad. Our 3.5 weeks there flew by, but it was time to get moving again. First stopping at “Secret Cove” , then Tenacatita again, and lastly Bahia Chamela again before rounding Cabo Corrientes to Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area).

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We went to Secret Cove with our boat friends on Scavenger and Luna Azul. Christian and the men from the two other boats got some surf in. I was happy just to be out anchored somewhere new. Last year there was a 8-10 ft crocodile who was sighted many times there without any incident of hurting people. No one reported seeing him this year, so we swam. Taj jumped off the bow polepit for the first time! Ellamae helped scrub the waterline on the boat. We spent time picking urchin out of Scotty’s foot. Tip: hot vinegar soak alternating with dripping melting beeswax on each spine. It’s a good thing we have a lot of beeswax on our boat. This has come in handy a few times already.
Tenacatita, always guarantees a good time. We did the mangrove tour again. This time with people from SV Easy, SV Cat2fold,SV Luna Azul, SV Scavenger, and SV Wings! Gathered Coconuts to drink while we played on the beach. Nina had a boat friend sleepover, we went spear fishing, and did yoga in the beach. Sv Empyrean and Mango Mango arrived for the party too!
The sail up to Chamela was nice. A sail off the hook and back on the hook day (meaning sailing off the anchor without starting the engine and then setting the anchor using only sail power). Love those no engine days. We did see some gusts of wind in the low 20’s, but our boat handled it well. We arrived before dark. Buddy Boating up the coast with us was Empyrean, Cat2fold, Mango Mango. Mango Mango kept heading north to round Cabo Corrientes while the rest of us spent a few days having fun in Bahia Chamela. We went to the bat cave again thanks to Cat2fold shuttling us on his boat. Some more swimming of course. And finally, we got to go see Brian and Cat2fold sing and play guitar at Scuba Jazz Cafe. He plays there regularly during the season on Friday nights. Scuba Jazz is a must if you’re cruising through Punta Perula.
Next was our epic sail up the coast around Cabo Corrientes to La Cruz. It could have only been more perfect if it was blowing a southerly.
Once back in La Cruz, we had a few items on our list to check off before finally heading back North, into the Sea of Cortez: Go see the Lyme doctor, get braces put on Nina, stock up at Costco and surf. The Lyme disease doctor in PV is amazing!!!! If you know anyone with Lyme, send them to Puerto Vallarta! He supported Christian’s naturopathic treatment options, and will help with more medical treatment if and when we want to seek it. He spent over an hour discussing Christian’s lab results. Nina had her braces placed, painlessly in the sense of ease in getting X-rays and appointments, but not so painlessly for her. See her post about it here. We love how affordable dental care is in Mexico.

Of course we went surfing and a lot more this time around. Christian had more energy and we had to get as much in as possible before heading up into the Sea of Cortez, where there is no surf to be had. It’s been a huge relief to have Christian’s energy coming back.

The Shawnigan Plan update:

We originally “planned” to keep heading south this year, with hopes to make it as far as Ecuador. With Christian’s illnesses, we decided that sticking around Mexico was a safer plan. So instead of South, the new plan is sail back North and into the Sea of Cortez again, but this time going further north into Bahia de Los Angeles (Bay of LA) and then up to Puerto Peñasco (rocky point). Then, come fall, we’ll make our way south.backstay hand stands #shipshapethe SV Pickles kids! And Riki Tiki Tavi kids

La Cruz to Barra de Navidad and back, the trilogy. Part 1 of 3. 

After our 2 months in La Cruz (Dec 17-Feb 20) working with Christian’s various illnesses, we did one last lab test for him and left to head toward Barra de Navidad. Christian was finally feeling well enough to depart the Puerto Vallarta area and venture down the coast of Mexico to places that we sailed to last year. We felt safe leaving the populated area knowing that if Christian began to feel really sick again, it was an easy bus ride back to Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo. The sail was familiar and included only one overnight. We felt confident that Christian’s energy would hold strong for the sail. We needed to get our sailing fix!

Although Christian was diagnosed and treated for Salmonella Typhoid, Rickettsia,  and antibiotic resistant E-Coli, he was still feeling ill. We weren’t sure whether it was just because his body had been through so much in the last 4 months or if we were missing something. In our “guts” we felt like we were missing something. The day we left to start sailing toward Barra de Navidad, February 20th, Christian went to have his blood drawn to test for Lyme Disease at the Lyme Disease specialist in Puerto Vallarta. A week prior, we went to see the Lyme Disease specialist ($30 for an hour consult!)  as something to rule out. We were skeptical that he had it, but we were on the “leave no stone unturned” path. The lab results would not return for a few weeks, we would be getting them sent by email, so sailing south while we waited made sense. Yes, Mexican doctors will send you results via email, they’ll even text you on their personal cell phones! The test for Lyme and other tick borne parasites was $250. This apparently is a universal fee throughout labs in the US and Mexico because the test is quite extensive and 95% accurate. We were lucky to be able to have it drawn in Puerto Vallarta and sent to Mexico City for testing.

Meanwhile, we remained hopeful that health was ensuing after so much time. We set sail as soon as Christian retuned from his lab draw appointment. The overnight sail from La Cruz to Bahia Chamela usually takes around 20 hours with good wind the whole way, so leaving in the afternoon was perfect to get us there first thing in the morning. The sail was great! For a few hours that night with downwind speeds reached ~30-35 knots, we had a double reefed main and furled jib to 70%.  The bioluminescence was brilliant.  Dolphins swimming and playing around the boat, hearing their breaths and seeing floresence glow as they move through the water. We arrived in the anchorage off of Punta Pérula in Bahia Chamela at 0400. It only took us 16 hours! 

Bahia Chamela was such a nice breath of fresh air after being confined to Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area) for over 2 months. We handled the overnight well, but it had been a while since we had done it together. We were not in a groove and both of us didn’t sleep much. The next day (our first day in Chamela Bay) was exhausting and homeschooling was a challenge. Note to self, do not attempt to homeschool after a sleepless passage! After a nap, we pulled up anchor and went to the furthest anchorage south in Bahia Chamela to try to catch some surf. S/V Cat2fold and S/V Full Monty joined us as well. We caught some waves and potlucked on Shawnigan. The next day we went to a bat cave before heading to another anchorage nearby.  There was a bit of wind and the water was pretty stirred up. The snorkeling we were hoping for was not happening.

S/V Full Monty 

Brian from SV Cat2fold.

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After 2 nights in Bahia Chamela, we set sail for Bahia Tenacatita. A nice day trip, downwind. No complaints from the Shawnigan crew. We stayed at “La Vena” anchorage, although most cruisers call it Tenacatita. We spent many days here last year. We did the mangrove dinghy adventure again with a S/V Full Monty, Mango, and Sea Glass. No crocodile sightings this time around, but it was fun none the less.  We enjoyed the company of SV Empyrean again as well as SV Mango Mango. We even managed to organize a dinghy raft up potluck.SV Full Monty and SV Mango weaving through the mangroves. 

A few days of playing and sailing , the action started to take its toll on Christian. He was being really careful with his diet, not eating sugar, dairy, and not drinking alcohol, but his fatigue and reoccurring symptoms were surfacing again. The sail down from Tenacatita to Barra de Navidad was thankfully painless and did not require a lot of energy. Along the way, we remembered about a friend of ours who recently went to a holistic center in the mountains near Barra de Navidad. He had been pretty sick with a lot of vague symptoms and came back healed! With going through all of the western medical treatment for Christian and having him still struggling, we decided to have him go the natural route while I stayed with the kids in Barra. As soon as we anchored, he called the center and planned to be there within 2 days for a 10 day treatment. (The experience at Centro Naturista DAR could be its own post, so I’ll save the details for part 2.) 

Shawnigan was safely anchored in the Barra Lagoon while Christian was away. I had many fellow boat neighbors to help us if we needed it.  There were a few other kids boats as well for most of that time to help keep the kids company. 

I feel like I’m repeating myself a little from our last year’s experience in Barra. We did a lot of the same things, but with different sailors. We did our schooling, which was usually done by lunchtime. After that, we’d go swim with our boat friends that were in the Marina at the Grand Bay resort. The kids always have a good time there, because the pool area is huge and the slides at the pool are fun.  Sometimes we’d go to town for “El Reconcito” for Papas Rellena ( stuffed potato) or get Rosa’s 10 peso Tamales for dinner. Rosa selling her Tamales. She remembered Taj from last year. 

We met up with some of the local friends that we made last year and went to the beach with them and had sunset potlucks. We did some hiking and kayaking and bird watching too. Sunset dinner potluck at our friend’s beach house. 

Don’s service with a smile, pouring rounds of tequila shots is what he does best 🙂


Ellamae doing school 

Spoonbills and Ibis

Taj and Zoey playing onboard Empyrean.

Taj looking up the birds in the bird guide. 

SV Carumba boys with Ellamae and Nina.

Hike up to “shipwreck lookout” looking down on the ship that crashed during 2015’s Hurricane Patricia.

Sunrise reading.

Hike with SV Empyrean to the secret beach.


2.5 weeks and no test results yet for the Lyme disease. We waited it out in Barra longer. Meanwhile treatment for Christian at the Centro Naturista seemed to be working well. It was time for him to come back to the boat. On Christian’s 10th day at the Centro Naturista, the kids and I took a bus ride up to the mountains to the town of El Grullo to see the center, have lunch with him and pick him up. It was a super windy road as we all got car sick. No one threw up, but we were sure close. The bus takes you to Autlán, which is where the singer, Carlos Santana, is from. From there we took a taxi to El Grullo. Dinghy to the Hotel Sands with the Grand Bay resort in the background.

Taj at the coffee shop across from the bus station in Melaque (San Patricio). 

Sunrise in Barra de Navidad.

Full Monty departs heading toward Panama 🇵🇦. Happy for them, but sad to part ways.
That’s is it for part 1 of a 3 part post.