Category Archives: boatschooling

homeschooling while cruising

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.

Crossing the Sea of Cortez: from Mazatlan to La Paz 

We left Marina Mazatlan May 14th around 7:30 am, timed with the tides again. The swell was down, unlike coming in, the timing this time around was not as crucial. We had a minimum 2 day if not possibly 4-5 day crossing ahead of us, so an early departure was not necessary for the purpose of timing our arrival. Mike on SV Easy departed just before us to buddy boat across. We planned on communicating via predetermined SSB frequencies once our VHF was out or range.

The first day out was pretty mellow. We were forced by the wind to make a more north, northwesterly point of sail, which was fine. We motored for about an hour, just enough to get out past Isla Pajaro and catch a zephyr of wind. It was Mother’s Day, the sun shown brilliant, and dolphins came to swim off of our stern. Christian tried to join them in the water by tying himself off with a rope and filming with the goPro. We are pretty convinced that dolphins can hear our heartbeat, because as soon as he got in the water they swam away. When he just had the goPro in, they stuck around. Me with my Happy Mother’s Day smile after the dolphins visited.

The next day, was my birthday. I turned 36 and it was my first birthday celebrated out at sea. The day started out calm. I had planned to talk with my travel nurse recruiter via Satellite phone to try to pin down a travel job for the summer. We had already been conversing but nothing was final. I knew I needed to get something pinned down, but we were ready to set sail, so IridiumGo to the rescue! I had my nursing recruiter call me via satellite phone to secure a job while in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. I was shocked at how well the reception was. The call was dropped a few times, but we were able to get what needed to be done done and secured a job at Kaiser San Francisco for me in the summer! That was a pretty good birthday gift. This is where we were mid day on my birthday.

The kids loving Birthday cake in the middle of the crossing.

Later on that afternoon, the wind picked up to the mid 20’s and by evening was in the high 20’s with gusts of low 30’s on a close reach (upwind). We were double reefed with our Mainsail and furled in jib to about 90% for most of the night and the next day. Despite that our boat was handeling it well, and the hydrovane kept us steering perfectly, I got a little sea sick. The kids did too, but thankfully, no one reached the point of vomiting. They still were able to eat my birthday cake. Although I was able to maintain good spirits I was rendered almost completely useless. I can’t go down below to cook at all, let alone help the kids with anything. Tacking, trimming sails, steering is fine though and is actually helpful, so I don’t mind being “on watch” when I get sea sick. By nightfall I was feeling fine as long as I stayed focused and outside. I did end up taking a Bonine to help me keep from throwing up and fall asleep during my limited time off watch.     Love this “tilt boat’n” action! Water spilling over the rail, SV Shawnigan holding strong and steady.

The kids just relaxed or slept in off under the comfort of our dodger or they clipped their harnesses on and went outside for fresh air. No boatschooling was happening this crossing. So far no one on our boat has gotten so sea sick to the point of throwing up since we left in August 2015. I’ll take it as a sign that we’re getting the hang of it. All clipped in on the aft deck, singing songs into the wind to pass the time. Ellamae lounging in the dodger.

By the end of the third day the wind had us going north again, north of Muertos off of Isla Ceralvo. We tacked up before being able to tack back towards La Paz. We made it up until the channel below Isla Espiritu Santo before turning on the engine for that last hour. We made to Anchorage just north of La Paz, called Caleta Lobos, just after dark. Fortunately we’ve anchored here many times before, so coming in at dark was not ideal, but ok. The anchorage was flat and we slept so well!

More pictures:

 Taj fell asleep, clipped in to the back stay! Then again in the dodger…Nina perched up in a hammock on our first day out, while it was calm.

Mike on SV Easy at Caleta Lobos (just north of La Paz).
Stay tuned for our adventures in La Paz and up the Sea of Cortez via the east coast of Baja.

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. 

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).

⛵️🏄🏿
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

Experiencing Mexican culture – and more. 8 weeks in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle 

If we are going to be “stuck ” here, we might as well make the best of it! This year here in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle we have put ourselves out there more than our last visits to experience more culture and participate in more activities around the area. Here are a few examples:

Christmas for the Orphanage: every Christmas season at Marina La Cruz people donate gifts for the local kids in the orphanage. Just after the New Year, the orphans are brought to the marina to participate in activities and have gift bags handed out to them. The bags themselves were made by various other sailors and with help from PV Sailing. Cookies were baked by fellow sailors, and gifts were bought and wrapped specially for each kid at the orphanage. The La Cruz Cruising Kids Club set up stations for various activities, such as face painting, makeup, perfume making, friendship bracelet making, and a table full of “archeology kits”.  What a joy to see all the happy faces of these beautiful children. Most only spoke Spanish, so it was a great experience for our kids as well. Thanks Catrina at Marina La Cruz for organizing this!

Green Race: the first annual 3k and 10k run to support planting native trees and other “green” ways of living in Mexico. There is quite a bit of trash, but I’m impressed with how much recycling is happening in La Cruz and the State of Nayarit. San Pancho is especially promoting “green” living. There is still a lot of plastic use and styrofoam, but the effort is here. Bring your own shopping bags and don’t forget to say “sin popete”, this means no straw. One of the biggest polluters are plastic straws. There are reusable straws out there. We have a few we that we carry with us for when we order Cocos Frios or Jugos and Liquados.
Wall of plastic bottles at San Pancho’s recycling center.

Blessing of the fishing fleet in Bucerias: The fishermen decorate the pangas (boats) and travel from the La Cruz marina to Bucerias, to be blessed by the priest. Supposedly the boats form a sign of the cross as they motor over to Bucerias, but that was hard to see from land. They bring with them, fresh caught fish, fruit, bread, and even tequila to be blessed as well. Once they land by beaching the pangas at full speed, they bring theses items to the church for their blessing. At the church there is native dancing in traditional Mayan dress and song along with Mass. Later in the day, we saw little ladies in fancy dress riding horses side saddle and riders that have their horses dance to live music. This tradition is done annually to bless the fishermen and their boats for safety for the upcoming year.

For lunch, a meal of mixed meat and vegetables and a whole table full of toppings to make your own tacos 🌮 .Burning frankincense

Fairs and Carnivals: we missed the rodeo, but did get to go to the fair in Puerto Vallarta. You know you’re in Mexico when your kid is too short for a ride, so you just carry them on and hold them in your lap or right next to you. And when you pay $8/person for unlimited rides. That was a late night for us. 

Day trips outside of La Cruz to Yelapa(video), San Pancho, Valle Dorado, down town Puerto Vallarta, Turtle Release(video), local(ish) surf spots, 6 birthdays, talent shows, sailing presentations, etc. We have not ventured inland yet. San Pancho with SV EmpyreanOur friend’s gourmet raw Chocolate Shop in San Pancho “Mexicolate”. A must for opening your heart. If sweetened at all, they use honey and rarely raw cane sugar.

Another orphanage visit to the Marina for some poolside play time with the cruising kids.

Templo de Guadalupe in PV
Talent show at Marina La Cruz

Birthday 🎉 parties!

We aren’t sure what’s next on the agenda. We are waiting for Christian to regain strength and stamina from being sick for so long. He just had 2 wisdom teeth pulled, one that was infected, so hopefully that’s it for him! We are hoping to sail south to Barra de Navidad soon before making our way back up in to the Sea Of Cortez again. Yes, another change in plans. We were going to go south toward Ecuador, but health is first in our plans this year. We will be happy just to sail out of Banderas Bay soon. In the meantime, we’ll keep seeking out cultural experiences around La Cruz, hopefully not just the ones to doctor’s appointments. 

La Cruz Kids Club community service at the orphanage. Kids from the sailboats Ceilydh, Nomi, Pickles, Shawnigan, Velella, and Zimovia.

A beautiful family on one of our bus rides. 

La Cruz Kids Club burgee.

La Cruz poolside deli hangout; cruising kids unite! Sailboat kids from August Dream II, Full Monty, Kenta Anae, Luminesce, Princess Ericka, Raireva, Riki Tiki Tavi, and  Shawnigan.

Boatschooling on SV Shawnigan – if only I knew then what I know now…

What a difference a year makes. I clearly remember the stress and overwhelming feelings we had six months or maybe even a year before we started homeschooling our children in January 2015. We had questions like “what are the legalities of homeschooling?” “What “program” do we choose”? “Do we even have an option of a program to choose?” “How are we, not being trained professionals in child education, going to be able to teach our children by ourselves?” “What if we miss something?” “How will our children get socialization?” “Will they have issues getting in to college?” I think these are all pretty normal thoughts of aspiring homeschooler educators. The truth is, if you are having these thoughts, that in itself means that you are going to do just fine. As long as you LOVE and CARE for your child’s education, the homeschooling will come together! 

I will start with the legality part first. Every state has different requirements. Google “(your state) and homeschool requirements (or laws)”. If you are traveling and don’t have a permanent address or are looking for a permanent address you may want to research which state’s requirements fit your family’s needs best and then apply for an address in that state.  Most states have you fill out an Affidavit, stating that you have some sort of education going on in some form. Again, every state is different and I’m referring to the United States. I am unsure about other countries and what they require.

Ok, now that the legal part is over, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. There are many styles of homeschooling to choose from:

Very structured programs, such as Calvert and Online Classes. With Calvert you buy a curriculum and it comes with a bunch of books, assignments and deadlines to fax or mail the completed work and exams by. This may work for you if you like to be told exactly what to do and when it’s due by. The people I’ve interviewed that do this have children who prefer to sit in front of books and work through them. One thing to consider is that Calvert can be expensive, especially on a cruising budget. You need online access or at least fax and mailing options in order to send and receive the school work. There are also online courses to enroll in, like college online classes, but you need internet access, and many require exact times to attend class. 

Private School/Charter School associated programs have a curriculum for you to follow and people to check in with as a resource. Each may have their own requirements as for how much work to turn in and how often to check in. So again, depending on the requirements of that particular program, access to online, email, costs, etc., this option may be a good fit. 

DIY (do it yourself) type, where you basically create your own curriculum and get your own supplies and report to yourselves. This may be a very liberating option for the eager, self driven parent/educator. 

Unschooling is a newer way and good option for parents who are very creative. The parent creates learning experiences based on the child’s natural passions and interests. To really do it correctly, for lack of a better word, the parent takes careful attention to their child’s interest and makes a fun way of expanding their knowledge based on that.  This way of teaching feels a lot less or possibly nothing like “school” which is why it’s called “unschooling”.  For those unsure about this as an actual way of schooling, I suggest looking it up further. Just to be clear, unschooling is not letting your child sit at home to play video games all day because that’s what their passion is.  If done diligently,  or perhaps eloquently is a better word, it can be a very effective way of education. 

The combo teaching style. A little bit of everything or bits and pieces from a few might work for your family. This is similar to DIY, but you have more options added to it. I call this the “Happy Medium” schooling. 

And last, but certainly not least is World Schooling. I’m not quite sure where to fit this one in, because I believe it’s more of a process/addition to schooling rather than a specific style. I’m guessing it might fit best under unschooling , DIY and combo. With world schooling you use the world to teach. Learning through experiencing culture, geography, history, science, arts, economics etc. can be very effective and enjoyable. The world has a lot to offer for education. As a family traveling all over this may be a great option. 

Choosing which style of schooling to follow can feel overwhelming. Before choosing a style, know that as a parent and teacher you know your child best. Try a program that you think fits their personality. If you have multiple kids with multiple learning styles you may want to do different styles with each one. The key part is loving and really getting to know your child. The rest will fall in to place. I highly suggest this book called, The Heart Of Learning, by Lawrence Williams, EdD. It is from the Oak Meadow Waldorf curriculum, but it speaks to everyone and education style. I just read it this last summer and I wish I had read it before my kids were born! 

Also, know that you can always start a program and decide that it’s not a good fit and try a different method anytime. That’s one of the best parts about homeschooling.  Each of your children can get focused, individualized education with you as their educator. And they can feel loved and supported through the process and all the challenges. 

What we do for homeschooling on our boat, S/V Shawnigan, has transformed a bit over the last two years. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. What I mean by this, is that the longer we have worked with our children in the school setting, the more we learned about their learning styles and what works for them. Christian and I work together as a team. I do the planning and we both implement. We can do this since we are sailing and neither of us are working at the moment. 

When we started in January 2015, we started out using a more DIY style of schooling with a Waldorf curriculum to guide us. We had been enrolled in a Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf inspired school prior to homeschooling, so this seemed to be the right way to go. We found that the DIY was too hard to do while sailing with limited access to resources and books. It took a lot of preparation and we can only hold so many books aboard our 40 foot boat. As a family of 5, the youngest as a toddler, and sailing off the shores of California and Mexico, I will admit, we struggled with it. The good thing is that our kids are strong and resilient. They still learned what they needed and gained a lot of new knowledge we didn’t expect them to learn, even if it wasn’t the best style for our family. Key point here: don’t be afraid to choose a “wrong” style, children are usually more flexible than us adults are. They will be fine!

Starting this new school year (September 2017) we found a Waldorf inspired Charter School, The Wise-Academy, from our hometown to work with. We love the structure and material it provides. They use the Oak Meadow Waldorf curriculum and supplies. We were in the US visiting and working during this last summer, so we were able to sign up for it and get all the supplies and support we needed to start. We make contact with a support teacher via email or Skype as needed and required. We can even contact and send a few copies of our completed work with our IridiumGo Satphone email. We also use the World Schooling aspect to education. This is a no brainer for us, as we are sailing the world with our kids. Unschooling is a constant… life always offers educational experiences, so why hold back if your child is interested. 

As for socialization, there are many resources out there in the world now to organize homeschool kids getting together with other homeschool kids. Extracurricular activities are an option as well. As a sailing family you might have more concerns about this subject. Our kids meet up with other sailing kids quite frequently! There are a lot of families out in the world sailing and boatschooling. Sometimes there are older kids, sometimes younger, and sometimes only adults. There are a lot of benefits to having a wide range of ages that they might be limited to at times. Our 14 year old can play with 3-6 year olds, 6-11 year olds just fine, then hop in a normal adult conversation if that’s what’s available. The cruising kid community is great in that aspect, it makes these kids very diverse in their social skills. 

Finally, LOVE LOVE and LOVE your child. They will get the most out of all of this when you show love and support. Make learning enjoyable. Make them want to learn because they actually enjoy the process of learning. As they get older teach them how to teach themselves, it will take them a lot further in life. Most homeschooled kids are very successful, because they were taught to take initiative and know how to teach themselves. Colleges are starting to realize this in homeschooled scholars and are actually more inclined to accept their enrollment over the average “straight out of high school” applicants.  

We are so happy that we are boatschooling our kids. At times it is a challenge, and we aren’t perfect, but we work through it together and lovingly. We feel so much more connected to our kids and have seen wonderful results thus far. We highly suggest taking the responsibility of your children’s education, it’s worth every minute. 

~Josie Lauducci RN-NIC (and homeschool parent/educator 😃)

The local La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) orphanage came to socialize with the sailing kids at Marina La Cruz.

Our kids love to read. We choose not to have a TV, so we sit around reading or playing games at night. A good group of sailing boatschooling kids that organized an afternoon of various “tag” games.

An example of Ellamae’s 3rd grade science assignment. Making a wind index.

An example of Nina’s 8th grade English assignments. 

Local Mexican Tribal Culture, blessing the fishing fleets for the year. 

The La Cruz Cruising Kids Club learning how to run a restaurant at the local Jardin del Pulpo (Octopus’Garden)

Very highly recommended book to read before homeschooling or even before parenting 😉!

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