Tag Archives: cruising kids

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.

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San Antonio, Mulege, Punta Chivato

Still catching up on posts from June, 2017, when we were still making our way north, in the Sea of Cortez.  

⛵️⛵️⛵️Now, three boats deep, Easy, Kenta Anae and Shawnigan left from La Ramada around lunch time and sailed the not quite 10 miles to San Antonio. We were excited to go check out this a huge obsidian vein there.  26.521937, -111.450718 .

The south end of the point was too exposed to the prevailing wind, so we went around to the north side and set anchor at San Antonio (proper) 26.533917, -111.477790. We all met ashore, soon after anchoring, to get a hike in before evening set. Another perfect geology lesson for boat-school life.  Getting to the road was an adventure. We bushwhacked our way until we finally found the road/trail. Not so fun with all of the prickly brush and cactus to avoid.  Before climbing the peak, we first hit up the obsidian vein. Black, grainy and shiny at the same time, the vein looked like a petrified waterfall and surrounding us, looked like petrified water droplets that had misted to the ground at our feet.Taj, Matero, Shandro, Nina and Ellamae.

After a few minutes of exploring the obsidian vein, we made the trek up the steep hill to the top point. Taj hiked the whole way! I think he wanted to impress the Kenta Anae boys, or maybe he was just distracted. The view was fantastic, as always in the Sea of Cortez. We took time to soak it all in.(I could resist groping this tree’s butt) 😬

The way back to the boat was more straightforward. We just followed the road that led to the beach, then walked the beach up to our dinghies.  As we sat, before heading back to the boat, S/V Dad’s Dream (from Isla Corondo) showed up and anchored out beyond us.

Not long after we got back to the boat and had dinner, the southerly swell started to wrap around and make its way into the anchorage. We had our flopper stopper out, as did Easy, but there was no comfort being found at this spot. We called Easy, Kenta Anae and Dad’s Dream and announced that we were pulling up anchor and heading up around the corner to San Nicolas, 26.868896, -111.848712. The stay there was just for an overnight before heading up and around to Bahia Conception. All four us us made the move to San Nicolas just after sunset, but before dark. The anchorage was much more comfortable than San Antonio and we were that much closer to our next stop, 26.870196, -111.846589 , about 30 miles away for another brief overnight sleep. The three of us sailed up together. Dad’s Dream stayed behind. The sail up and around was beautiful and uneventful. Kenta Anae kicked our butts (they are fast! There, I said it out loud, Merle!).

The next morning we motored an hour over to Mulege 26.906125, -111.954573 to go to shore and re-provision.  We anchored in about 15 feet of water on a “roadside” anchorage. Our time was limited, as we knew that the regular wind would be picking up around noon. We found a few tiendas (small grocery store) to stock up at, a park to play in, and an ice cream shop to treat the kids with. Ice Cream is ok at 10 in the morning when you’ve walked 2 miles to get to town, it’s hot, and the last time you had it was in La Paz, right?!

We made it back to the boats just before noon and sure enough, the wind was starting to pick up. We were able to sail off the hook and head due north toward Punta Chivato 27.066717, -111.962607 . Once anchored in front of the lovely Punta Chivato, I had time to swim and the kids, relax, before heading into shore to explore. As Kenta Anae was anchoring they saw a whale shark, but we were not able to see it. I was hoping when I was swimming that I would see it, but all I saw was barely my fingertips 2.5 feet in front of me. The visibility was terrible and the water was not that warm. Warmer than Isla Coronado and La Ramada, but still pretty chilly.

On shore, we all took a stroll down the main road toward and abandoned building we saw on the beach. We were intending to go explore “shell beach” (literally and beach completely covered in shells), but we got distracted by the vacant dilapidated building. We found out that it was once a hotel, but somehow lost ownership and has been destroyed by storms. The kids spent an hour just wandering around it, making up scary stories about it. FUN! I wish I took more pictures of it, and the ones that I did were lost when I tried to back them up to “the cloud”. So, I apologize for the lack of photos for this section.View from the building!

After exploring that area, we ran into a part-time resident that suggested a restaurant named Doña Julia’s. We weren’t expecting to eat out, but she told us that the price ends up being $2.50 a head. Not sure whether to believe her or not and if it was true, was that a good sign or not, but we thought we’d give it a go. It was a GREAT choice. Basically we ate in this families enclosed porch. Julia gave us two options for food, fresh fish of the day or enchiladas. We made our choices and she brought it all out, family style, along with refried beans and salad. We asked what the fish was and she said it was “strong fish” or “Toro”. Guessing that was not the Toro which is Tuna and some kind of Jack instead , which we normally don’t like, we were amazed at how well it tasted. And sure enough, it was $2.50 a person!

One more reason to LOVE Mexico!Plate full of enchiladas!

Next up: Isla San Marcos (one of our favorites! ) and Santa Rosalia. Stay tuned.

Northbound from Loreto: Isla Coronado (June 5th-6th)

Northbound from Loreto: Isla Coronado (June 5th-6th) still catching up on posts.

Isla Coronado is an uninhabited island about 8 miles northeast of Loreto. It’s one of the more commonly visited tourist sites for a quick island snorkel, swim with sea lions, picnic on the beach, or a hike up the 948 foot extinct volcano. We made this stop last year, climbing to the top, swimming and having impromptu cookie potluck on the beach with other cruisers. This year, we were hoping for another swim, this time with sea lions and possibly hiking to the top again.

From Loreto, we waited for the wind to pick up enough to sail off the hook. At about noon, on the 5th, we were able to sail off. Mike on S/V Easy continued to buddy boat with us. A few hour sail in mostly and no more than 20 feet of water, we turned over the engine for just enough power to get us in the protective cove and set our anchor @ 26.108002, -111.284458. When we arrived, we hopped in the water to clean the bottom of our boat and to check that our anchor set well. The water was green and chilly. Visibility was less than 10 feet, if even that. Dinner approached quickly and the day had passed.

On the 6th, our one full day there, was determined by the water quality. To swim with the sea lions or hike to the top of the volcano? We were guessing that swimming with the sea lions was not going to happen with the poor water quality and sure enough, when we woke up, not much had changed.  After visiting our anchorage neighbors on S/V Tigress II and convincing them to hike with us, we heading to shore and set out for our hike. Mike joined us as well.S/v Tigress II

Although not a far hike, the terrain makes it a more difficult one. The path is clear for the first 1/2 mile or so, then it turns into lava fields of small rocks with cairns marking the way. The last 1/4 mile the path takes you up a steep sandy slog up the mountainside. Taj got a free ride on Christian’s shoulders for the rocky part, but he climbed the steep slog to the top by himself. Ellamae managed to keep up with me the whole way, and Nina stayed back with Christian and Taj, but had no problem making it to the top. Looking down at the anchorage from the top of the Volcano.

Mike Jacoby taking in the view.

The whole clan resting, eating and re-hydrating at the top.

Going down the slog made it all worth it! It was like feet skiing, but on sand. The kids loved it. OH, and there are 16 different reptiles on the island, so keep your eyes peeled!

The reward waiting for us when we returned to our dinghies on the beach was a dip in that cold water. Nothing felt more satisfying after that strenuous hike on a hot day over that hot dry rocky terrain.

There were a few other boats in the anchorage, so we decided to organize another potluck on the beach. This time with real food instead of cookies. We had a turn out of 5 different boats for dinner that night. We even lucked out, one of the boats had kids! Roll call: S/V Shawnigan, S/V Easy, S/V Dad’s Dream, S/V Tigress II, S/V ____? (Sorry, I forgot the boat name! If you’re reading this , comment with your boat name 🙂 )

Isla Coronado is one of our many favorite anchorages in Mexico. To visit here from land based travels, click here!

Next northbound stop: 26.277602, -111.394997

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8 weeks in La Cruz video

I finally uploaded our video of our time spent in La Cruz December 17, 2016 to February 17 (ish), 2017.

Enjoy! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and “like” our videos!

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.