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Checking out of Mexico for our longest passage yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please feel free to comment or contact us with questions.

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

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

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Southbound from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are thankful for many things: here are some pictures from 2 years ago!

Pictures from 11/18-20/2015 Sailing down the Pacific side of Baja!

 

left: The “Crazy Canadians” (Pete and Andrew) right: Casey on Chae Mi

Pete and Casey

Casey on Chae Mi

Emma kayaking a mile back to retrieve her plug that the lobster trap tried to take.

Pictures from 11/20 (ish) in  Asuncion

  


tres amigos (Andrew, Casey, and Pete)


street fair for Mexican Independence day

Pictures from 11/22-24 in Hipólito


    

Pictures from Abreojos

The “Slime” rep , Joe, teaching local kids to slime their bikes.

Magdalena Bay


 



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.