Tag Archives: cruising world

Costa Rica Rainforest zip line tours and more

We started Costa Rica off strong first with heavy winds pushing us out of our first anchorage and then with a zip line canopy tour with Vista Los Sueños Canopy tour company.

January 3rd, after our 19 day passage we thought we would have a great nights rest anchored in Punta Leona, Costa Rica. We thought wrong. Upon going to bed we had light onshore winds, most likely Papagoyo related, but not strong enough to be a concern. By midnight, they got stronger, then by 2 am we were sitting a lee shore with wind blowing 20 with gusts of about 25. No fun! We were about to pull up anchor and head south around the corner when we realized the windless wasn’t working! It was dark, windy, we were tired, there was no way we were going to pull are anchor up by hand. (I’m sure we could have if we had to.) We were solid in our holding, so we opted to sleep in the dodger and take watches until the morning. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep well at all. First thing in the morning light, the wind had calmed a bit, we pulled up the anchor and sailed out and down to the next anchorage, Herradura.

Although sleep deprived, we were so excited to get our legs on land. Shortly after dropping the hook, we rowed into shore, where we tied our dinghy up on the beach and walked into town. We spent the entire day walking around, just getting a feel for Costa Rica. The Spanish is different, faster with different words. Most people speak English here though. Figuring out the money was a challenge too. The Colones is 560 per the US dollar. After having the Mexican Pesos figured out, now we had to adjust to Colones. We quickly discovered that Costa Rica has about the same prices for everything as the US and double the prices for anything related to marina fees and boat related costs. We will not be staying in any marinas here if we can help it. One thing we loved and worth the money here, was the fried plantains. We had “nachos” with friend green plantain instead of chips as part of our first Costa Rican meal. Yum!

During our 5+ miles walk about, we stumbled upon a Canopy Zip Line tour company called Vista Los Sueños Rainforest Tours. We decided to splurge this one time and schedule a 10 platform zip line experience for the next day. Everyone was so excited! First thing the next morning, we rowed to shore and made our way up town to Vista Los Sueños for our 10 am tour. We were the first of our tour group to arrive, so we given bracelets stating we were #1, which meant that we got to go first! The staff at Los Sueños were super nice. They are all bilingual and well trained. After a safety intro, we took a tractor ride up the rainforest’s hill to platform 1 of 10. After another quick instructional talk it was time to start. I went first, followed by Ellamae, then Taj (yes, Taj went all by himself!), followed by Nina, then Christian.

The tour itself was about 2 hours. We all had a blast! At the completion, they give you a nice cup of seasonal fruit.

Afterward, we got a shuttle ride into Jaco, the tourist surf town nearby. We were in search of coffee and wifi, but instead found an acai bowl/yoga studio place called B-Fresh that offered amazing smoothies, acai bowls, panini sandwiches, kombucha on tap, and cold brew coffee for the after fruit sugar crash. It felt like we were in California again, in a good way. The prices were expensive as far as our cruising status was concerned, but still a little cheaper than California.

Before heading back to the boat we tried our first Costa Rican “Soda” place for dinner. A Soda is basically a cheaper typical food restaurant. Sometimes more like fast food, and not quite as expensive as a tourist oriented restaurant. It was good, but it was not the Mexican food we had been spoiled with for the last 2 years.

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Mexico to Costa Rica, our 1650 mile upwind passage completed!

Our first big passage: over 1,500 miles and over 2 weeks from Barra de Navidad to Costa Rica!
Preface: you may be wondering why we’ve been “in the dark” as far as posting passage updates. Before we knew that we were going to do this passage, we thought we’d be hopping down the coast of Mexico, thereby we thought we would have internet/3G access. With this mindset and always with our cruising budget mindset, we decided to lower our IridiumGo plan to the basic level for the month of December. Having already committed to that plan when we decided to do the passage, it would have cost us an extra $125 on top of the $50 we already paid for the month. So, sorry we opted out of unlimited texts and data until Jan 1st, which is why you are seeing this post now. Another add on; the photo posting ability is limited from our IridiumGo, so I will complete the post and add photos when we get wifi on shore. Thanks for patiently waiting for our updates! We are looking forward to reading your comments and responses when we get wifi. 🇲🇽⛵️✔️
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night watch, which starts at 11pm and goes to 3 am, I find myself ready to start writing. I start my watch with little breath of wind realizing that I’m beginning to recognize the stars that join me during these quiet hours to myself. Just after 11pm I see Leo rising from the eastern horizon, Orion is almost straight above our mast, and Taurus is just a little north. The Milky Way, almost running North to South. One hour later, the “pot” of the Big Dipper starts to make its appearance in the eastern horizon. The nights have been clear, and the stars brilliantly lit. The moon is new, making the stars more visible.
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four hours of watch. Solitude, reflection, reading, a little #shipshape exercise, and now writing.
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hifted from null to on the nose at about 5-8 kts, is forcing us to head east toward shore. For the most part, we’ve been having more southerlies than anticipated, however they have been light and more from the southeast, therefore taking us smoothly south as we hoped for. We set our course for aiming to be 300 miles offshore from the Tehuanapecs. We were pushed out a bit further over the last few days, so the this little bit of easterly heading was ok.
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day four we had gone nearly 400 miles. Not the fastest four days, but we expected this much from the forecast we downloaded before we left. We’ve had many hours of sailing an average of 6kts with the wind behind us, and then again in front of us and hours of bobbing around with not a breathe of wind in sight.
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red out of Barra de Navidad and actually kept the motor on despite decent winds. Our batteries were running low after many days of overcast weather. We also needed to make water after leaving the Laguna de Barra de Navidad. So we needed that power and Shawnigan’s motor needed to be ran anyway. After four hours of motor sailing and heading offshore and south, the iron sail was turned off and not used again for many days.
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he first day. A little nausea among us ladies aboard, but nothing severe. My time below was limited, and not as much schooling was done as we hoped for. By day 2 we were well on our way to regaining our sea legs.
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at this point Taj came down with a fever. It started low and didn’t seem like anything to be worried about, he usually gets a mild fever with his growth spurts. But as the day progressed so did his fever. His energy was zapped, he wouldn’t eat or drink and slept all day. By 2pm his fever reached 104.9! Parent panic started to kick in. We carry a bunch of first aid medication aboard. We already had started our “natural remedy” regimen, but it was clearly time for Advil. Within 45 min his fever started to decline and by 4pm it broke as he sweated it out profusely. We were, at this stage, on the fence about whether to head straight into Manzanillo, about 100 miles away at that point, or to continue on. It was extremely hard to make that choice. Deep down I felt like he would be fine, as long as we kept on our regimen. I had to resort to rectal doses, for he lost his desire for anything “tasting gross”. For the next 24 hours he was up and down in temperature, but never above 103, and his energy was up and down as well. He slowly had more desire to drink liquids and more desire for food. By the next afternoon, he was back to normal temp, back to reading with the girls, playing music and eating normal. Phew!!! We have no idea what the cause was, he had diarrhea, but nothing else.
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ed pretty flat for the next few days. School was becoming easy to do underway and cooking meals down below were no longer an issue for me. Everybody seemed to be getting I a groove by day 3.
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ful day, but not much in the way of forward movement. We lost our wind by 11:00 am, but just had enough to maintain our course at an average of 2 kts. Mid afternoon we took a dip in the deep blue. We tied ourselves off and towed behind. The girls were in, playing for almost an hour!

Day 6, I start my 11pm night watch ending the day with streaks of shooting stars jetting through the water. Like comets flying through space, we had dolphins surrounding us. Unable to distinguish exact features, but able to see every move by the bioluminescence trailing behind them on every turn. They jetted forward, backward, sideways, in the air, and return again forward. Moments like these are so magical and a perfect way to end day 6. Reflecting on our day, we only did 57 miles from the last sunset to today’s sunset. Early this morning our wind completely died. 7 am we turned on the iron sails. Based on the forecast from the Amigo net and our downloaded grib from PredictWind, if we didn’t get a little bit further south before the Tehuanapec winds picked up, we would float here for a while and then get hit hard. We made the call to motor for 3 hours, our batteries needed a boost anyway. A bonus about motoring, the dolphins come to play!
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h the motoring helped us really. I guess the 15 extra miles it brought us could make a big difference later. We’ll see. Needless to say, we did a lot of drifting today. Boatschool, lots of reading, playing musical instruments, playing games, making food, pretty much sums up the day. We did see a Marlin swim by us at one point as well as sea turtles and more dolphins.

Day 7, we’ve completed 457 miles by the time sunset arrived. The last two days has not taken us far. Today especially was grueling. We ended up motoring for 5 hours to boost our speed and boost our batteries. Although we had decent wind 5-8kts on a close reach, we were only going 1-2 kts at best. We were fighting a 1.5 – 2 kt current. We needed more wind and it wasn’t there. We kept full sail up and trudged forward, most of the time. There was a lull between 8pm and 12 am where we might have sailed forward but actually moved backward. Ugh! Our estimated 2 week passage is looking more like 3 weeks. We are hoping for the Tehuanapec winds to help move us through this counter current until we can head in toward Costa Rica. Spirits remain high aboard Shawnigan . Ellamae stated today that she enjoys long passages ! Yay! I am enjoying this as well, but there is something frustrating about knowing the wind could be moving us at 4 a 5 kts and all we are seeing is 2-3.5 at best. Oh well, we sail on.
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, we complete a full week of sailing our passage. We’ve covered 555 miles with a remaining of about 800 miles. Still fighting a current, but less push to the north and more just west. We finally have enough wind to push us along at 5 kts under full jib and single reefed main. We are likely to have at least another week if not more of sailing, making our way to Northern Costa Rica. We’ll see where the wind takes us.

Day 8, was one of our best sailing days yet. We finally got wind to push, or rather pull us along at an average of 5 – 6 kts. Although on the nose, we were able to gain some distance on a close hull with wind out of the southeast. We were still fighting a bit of NW current, so we were pushed a bit more due south then we’d hoped for. We made it almost to the midway point and out as we saw fit for the Tehuanapec zone. The further south we got, however, we noticed that push out was less and less. We were able to start heading a bit more toward Costa Rica. Unfortunately the wind didn’t hold up however. Around 5pm it just stopped and we went back to drifting, waiting for wind. Maybe we weren’t in the Tehuanpecs yet…
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it begins. We officially sailed into the zone of the Tehuanapec winds. From early morning on, the winds slowly progressed over the day, on our nose out of the Southeast. Most of our sail so far has been upwind, surprisingly. Now, we had upwind at higher speeds a current to fight and swell picking up. I quickly lost my ability to do much of anything down below, and I definitely wasn’t doing any reading or writing. It was a good thing it was Saturday and we were off of boatschool. Assuming we would get days like this, I had pre-prepared food that would require much on my end to serve up. By 4pm we double reefed the main and furled in the jib to about 100%. By 5pm we furled in the jib completely and raised our storm jib staysail. The winds had reached a steady 30 with gusts in the mid 30’s. The swell had picked up to about 4-6 ft at 6 sec intervals. Our bow was plunging straight into the swell, dropping our speed to a 2-3kt average. Thankfully the higher wind speeds only lasted about an hour, then we were back to furled in jib. During Nina’s watch (8p-11p) the wind backed off a bit. When I came on at 11p I was able to unfurl the jib more and start pointing Shawnigan more Easterly. We were almost to our “halfway” point at about 700 miles and we’re finally starting to head back toward shore. After midnight, Santa managed to find us! I somehow pulled it together enough to maintain my sea sickness to prepare for Christmas while the rest of the crew slept. I had to make frequent trips to the back deck to breathe fresh air, but it worked.
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mas time! It was everybody aboard’s first Christmas out at sea. Santa received our tracking information from our IridiumGo and PredictWind tracker. The wind was still blowing 15-20 with the swell slowly getting bigger, but now a little more on our beam. The kids were excited, they had no problems staying down below to open presents and go through their stockings. It was a great day! We all started to acclimate to the new sea state that blew persistently between 20-28 as the day progressed. We maintained our double reefed main and adjusted the furl on the jib accordingly. I managed to put together a nice Christmas dinner. I had defrosted Mahi Mahi (thanks SV Scuba Ninja for the fish!) and planned on making a cranberry crisp, so I was determined to make that happen. I felt less woozy, but was aware of my limits. Dinner was prepared in segments with a lot of outside on deck time in between for fresh air. I did it though! Mahi Mahi, browned butter “Herbs de Provence” and garlic mashed potatoes, stewed carrots, and cranberry crisp for dessert. Our Christmas Day ended well. We all turned in at 8pm, Nina took her watch from 8-11p.
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heading up as high as we can. Sea state is quite lumpy. Swell 4 -5 feet at 6 seconds. Maintained double reef main and furled in or out the jib as needed. I could hardly keep the nausea subsided. Everyone else was pretty good. The girls somehow managed to do school. Made more easterly in our course.
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e down and took a meclizine for sea sickness just so I could actually go down below and cook for a bit and help out with school. Days like today we end up doing more oral education than written. We ended up back under staysail for a few hours when the wind, still on our nose was blowing low 30’s. Unfortunately our heading is further south than we’d hope for. The wind direction is just not in our favor this voyage. The swell today from the Papagayos was 4-6 feet at more like 4 seconds. Glad I took the pill. At midnight we reached 1010 miles.
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approaching 2 weeks of being out on our passage that we thought was about 1,400 miles and roughly 14 days. At the beginning of my 11p -3 am watch I do the calculations and see that we are at 1,100 miles completed. In theory we should have 300 miles left to go, but the winds have lead us so that we are still over 450 miles due west of Costa Rica. We basically have been pointed as high up into the wind as possible since day 4. “Little Red”, our hydrovane, has kept us on that course with precision. Mother Nature, the wind direction, is wanting us to stay offshore a bit longer than we thought she would. Today we ate our last apple and only have two pears and a watermelon for fresh fruit. We do have a few freezer bags of frozen fruit, but I must admit, we should have grabbed that extra bag of apples. For veggies as well, we are on our last few days of fresh vegetables. Again, I did prep some frozen veggies that we’ll tap into shortly. This is a good practice run for provisioning for crossing the Pacific! Oh and I’m over my sea sickness. Never did I throw up, but getting flush and slight nausea is no fun. I’m back to going down below to cook and back to reading and writing. Notice how the daily log is getting longer 🙂 .
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of relief finally came. The sea state began to calm, even as we continued to head as high up into the wind as possible. We continued south southeast until about 11 am, when we reached latitude 7.46N, which was pretty much exactly what the weather grib showed as the southern edge of the Papagayos. When we reached lat/long of 7.4453N, 90.5598W, the wind started to allow us to veer more east and even a little east northeast by 7pm and we were finally back under full sail. Yay, we were finally heading in toward Costa Rica! By 11pm we were heading northeast and back up toward where we wanted to land in Costa Rica, about 350 miles away.

Day 15, we are officially 2 weeks out into our passage and as of 11pm over 1,300 miles tracked. After a full 16 hours under full sail, we spent most of the day back under double reefed main and various furled in jib amounts. With sustained winds in the 20’s and gusts in the high 20’s, we got little reprieve today. Still heading up wind as high as possible we are just barely able to make an easterly heading. We will make Costa Rica in the next few days, but at the point we are unsure where. Today seemed to be a little of a tipping point for us. Although not terribly uncomfortable, we are tired of this constant upwind track. The Sea state is calmer than it had been, but it feels like we are literally sailing “barefoot, uphill both ways in the snow”. It’s actually not that bad, but we are definitely feeling fatigued from the day in day out activity. Sleep deprivation never helps and although are watches are manageable it adds up after a few days. Nina taking watch from 8pm – 11 pm has been an awesome add on to our sailing dynamic. Having Taj’s almost constant demand for attention, on the other hand, has been a challenge. With some moments of solitary play, the rest of the day is filled with “tell me a story” or “can you play with me?”, or “read me a story”, These are all precious moments that we will cherish, but we would be lying if we said it was easy. School has been great. I’m impressed that the girls have been able to do so much under these sailing conditions. We decided to wait to have Christmas/Winter break for when we make landfall. It only makes sense to do school while we’re just sitting around all day sailing, that way when we do get to shore, we can hit the ground running and exploring.
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day to end the year on. After bashing upwind for the last 10 days, today, although still on a close reach, was a bit of a break. We were under full sail for the majority of the day. We put away the staysail, which is set up with a pelican hook, took down the running backs, and cleaned up around the boat. We had been heeled over on our starboard side for so long that everything on the boat had shifted a bit, and gooseneck barnacles were growing on our hull paint! Today almost felt as if we were at anchor compared to the last 10 days. What a relief! To celebrate the end of the year, Christian and I made some bulletproof coffee at 4pm. That was our “champagne” toast for the new year. We had a lovely butternut squash with a cilantro cashew “cream” sauce I made, and a purple cabbage slaw for dinner. We watched the sunset behind our stern as we headed east at about 3 – 4 kts with about 5 kts of wind, still on a close reach. At the strike of midnight we reached 1,400 miles exactly! What a great mile marker for a Happy New Year! We have about 200 miles to go and now we find ourselves becalmed. The night feels magical. The full moon is straight above our mast shining so brilliant that it almost looks like dawn has arrived already. If you could see Orion, his right arm, raised so nobly in the air, would appear to be holding the moon in his hand. Hopefully this break in wind is just a wind shift that will have us going in the direction we would like to go in, but down wind for once. So now that it’s midnight and it’s officially January 1st. I will post this to our blog using our IridiumGo. Again, I will add to it with more daily logs and pictures once we get wifi, but for now, here you have a glimpse into our passage thus far…. Happy 2018!
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a fantastic New Year.

-Shawnigan Crew

Addendum : Day 17, January 1st, 2018. We are closing in on Costa Rica. With a 80 mile day, we drifted quite a bit of it, motored for 4 hours of it, and sailed upwind at 2-4 kts for the rest of it. The last few days have been quite overcast, nice on the temperature not so nice for the battery bank, so motoring was well used. We charged batteries, kindles, toothbrushes, used the blender etc. We are all excited at the prospect of seeing land tomorrow. Although it’s highly likely that we won’t come into anchor until Wednesday, depending on our wind. We won’t be making landfall as far north as we’d hope for, but we are managing to head up fairly high.

Day 18, with less than 150 miles to go, our spirits were a bit higher today. We started the day with light winds on a close hull to many hours of no wind and drifting. We downloaded a weather grib and saw that we were basically in the center of a dead zone and we were getting pushed backward a bit with a current. We decided to turn over the engine and motor for 5 hours to get ourselves in a better position for wind. Sure enough, we did and we slowly sailed at 2-3kts with wind finally aft of our beam. Could it be that we finish our 1600+ mile southbound upwind passage with the wind behind us?! I started my 11pm watch with my usual #shipshape routine. About 30 minutes of yoga/core exercises to help wake me up and get my energy up. I’ve managed to do something every night for the whole passage. I needed something to keep from muscle atrophy 🙂 . At midnight we reached 1570 miles! If we manage to keep this wind and direction for the next 50 miles we should make Punta Leona anchorage by nightfall on our 19th day.

Day 19, upon daylight we were just west of Gulfo de Nicoya, Costa Rica. The sweet smell of earth was abundant and the land was so green. The wind was light, but enough to sail, the only problem was that in each tack we took it would turn us 180 degrees heading parallel with the coastline. There was also a current keeping us out at sea. We were 6.5 miles from the closest point of land and 33 miles from the anchorage we wanted to go to. After 5 hours of trying to tack back and forth and make and not make any headway, we turned on the engine and motored 6 hours into our first anchorage in Costa Rica, Punta Leona. We arrived at 5pm in our 19th day of our 1650 miles passage, over 1300 miles of which was tight on the nose, upwind sailing. We were all relieved to reach land. Costa Rica is so lush. The kids immediately grabbed a paddle board and Taj grabbed his kayak and went to shore.IMG_2044The Ship wreck from 2015 off of Barra de Navidad.IMG_2056

a little hitchhikerHomemade Mayo with left-over Mahi Mahi made into a salad cabbage wrap.Another few hitchhikers!Day 19, we see land!!!Punta Leona, Costa Rica.

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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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.