S/V Shawnigan arrived into New Zealand late October 2018, 3 years and 2 months from leaving San Francisco. The passage from Tonga was fairly uneventful. Our friend Nic flew out from the United States and hopped aboard in Tonga to help while I (Josie) was away at work as a travel nurse in the United States. Ellamae was also away in the States to spend time with her Papa. The passage details have mostly been forgotten, as I was normally the one recording them in the log, and in my absence that seemed to fall off the daily routine. What I can report is that it took 8 days to sail 1189 miles from Nuku’alofa. The seas were relatively mellow compared to reports of how it can be, but with the swell and wind on the beam, it caused quite a bit (understatement) of water to splash up onto the deck and into the dodger. The wind seemed manageable, and 8 days for Shawnigan is quite good (6.2 knot average)!. Nic was amazing to have on board and I was at ease knowing he was with my husband and kids.
Nota Bene: some of the pictures I used are screen shots from Christian’s Facebook and Instagram pages as a way to capture his thoughts during the time, but also because those pictures were not saved anywhere else that I know of.
Not being aboard our boat and with my family as they arrived to New Zealand was surreal. I had been away for a few travel assignments, but never during a big crossing and one in which felt more monumental. New Zealand had been on the plans (loosely) as a place to sail to and work, place the kids in school, and live life situated in one place for a while. This was a big deal for our family. As Shawnigan made passage, I followed her tracks on our predictwind tracker and received the occasional satellite phone text from Christian with our iridiumGo. At 48 hours prior to arrival, Christian sent our required notice to NZ that we would be making port in Opua in approximately 2 days. I received notice as well. The excitement flooded my soul. Soon our new home would be New Zealand and my family would be “home safe”. When the text came through that they made landfall, I was just getting off a night shift and remember feeling extremely emotional. Tears of joy, a bit of sadness of missing out (admittedly I had FOMO), and a bit of uncertainty, “what will it be like for us there?” and “was this the right move?”.
Many photos came through from Christian as soon as he found wifi and bought a local phone sim card. Everything looked magical. The kids were so happy to make landfall, reportedly cold (relative to tropical zone), but happily chilled. The Customs process was fairly painless. They did have some black beans that needed to be tossed, but otherwise they ate what needed to get eaten and tossed what they knew wasn’t allowed before arrival. After a celebratory pizza dinner and restock on food, they explored and hiked and met new friends around Opua and Paihia.
A few days were spent in and around Opua. Many other cruisers had arrived or were arriving every day around that time so they stuck around to spend Halloween with the other boat kids. Afterwards, they quickly left the docks again to explore the islands and land around the Bay of Islands.
Over the course of 2 months, Christian made his way down the east coast of New Zealand as a solo captain. With multiple explorations along the way, visiting friends from the U.S. (Allison T.) and Lin Pardey (sailing icon), there was no shortage of fun. Arriving into Auckland was an exciting moment for the three onboard, “Big Lights, Big City”. It had been since Panama City that they had seen such a scene. Nina was aboard until Auckland, at which point she flew back to the states to visit family.
While in Auckland, Christian and Taj participated in the ” Auckland Rum Race” with Josh Tucker (Sailor and Sail maker who we met in Tonga with his family).
From Auckland on down to Wellington, Shawnigan was home to only Christian and Taj. The voyage was mostly day hops and manageable, and beautiful with plenty of exploring of various places off the Coromandel, Tauranga, Gisborne and Napier.
Once they got down to Napier however, Christian had to strategically plan his sail down and around and up from Wellington to Mana Marina. This stretch of coast is known for foul weather, gusty winds, rough waters, and potential fog. During his short stay at the ridiculously over-priced marina, he got wind of a potentially a no wind window (whoa, that’s a lot of “winds”). After a short nap, he left at midnight with Taj asleep down below. The window was a good one, but still gusty and foggy around the south point of the north island. He flew shortened sails with the engine running due to the extreme in wind changes. The wind died completely by the evening, and he motored overnight with only short bits of sleep. “Super dad and captain” about sums it up. Once around the point, the current sped Shawnigan up the coast to Mana as if she were on a conveyor belt! As they passed Wellington Bay, Orcas greeted their arrival. Shawnigan arrived safely to her new home at Mana Marina on January 1st, 2019. What a way to bring in the new year.
Taj and I being silly on a video call thousands of miles apart.
Ellamae and I on a video call while she was in Florida and I was in California.
Ellamae flew out to California for a visit while I was there.
Ellamae and I arrived by plane into Auckland on Jan 7th. We were picked up by the car dealership taxi that they hired. I had pre-arranged to go look at 2 specific imported Japanese used cars from Goldex Cars and they agreed to arrange a ride from the airport. After the long overnight flight to Auckland, I test drove a few cars, keep in mind that I also had to drive on the opposite side of the street, picked one out, paid for it and started the journey to Wellington.
We stopped at another sailing family’s house in Hamilton a few hours just south of Auckland. This lovely family offered to house Ellamae and I overnight and we had only met them online. New Zealand was proving to be very friendly! After a night’s rest, Ellamae and I drove the remaining way to Mana Marina, just north of Wellington. We almost got lost along the way. We quickly discovered that cell service was patchy in New Zealand when google maps stopped uploading directions. Oops, should have downloaded offline maps. We also discovered that NZ doesn’t do sushi or bubble tea very well, it makes up for it in beauty though.
It was hard to not want to stop at all the beautiful spots along the way, but we were anxious to get to our new home and be reunited with family. We briefly stopped at some hot-springs, called thermal pools here in New Zealand, and one more stop just off of New Zealand’s oldest National Park, the Tongariro crossing.
We were welcomed to our new home at Mana Marina with a lovely BBQ in the communal grass area with fellow live-aboards and marina manager. I finally got to meet the lovely Sara Dawn Johnson , author of a few books including co-author of Voyaging with Kids. Our new life in New Zealand started with a warm welcome of new friends and a summer in the southern hemisphere in January.
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. 🇲🇽⛵️✔️
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.
four hours of watch. Solitude, reflection, reading, a little #shipshape exercise, and now writing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
, 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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂 .
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.
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!
a fantastic New Year.
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.The Ship wreck from 2015 off of Barra de Navidad.
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.
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.
Free diving mamma.
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’.
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!
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!
A little home-school art.
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.
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.
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:
S/V Shawnigan and S/V Katie Gat in Agua Verde, Baja California.
Hydration station: Christian packs his Camelback everywhere, so we don’t risk getting dehydrated in the hot desert Baja environment.
The local tienda (market) in Agua Verde.
This is how we pack out our groceries in Agua Verde.
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.
Taj loves his magnet toys.
Pizza making aboard S/V Shawnigan #tinymess
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!
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.
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
salt flood walkers… we do not advise this 🙂
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Photo by: Nina Lauducci Isla San Jose old Salt Mine Rusted Truck
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Photo by: Nina Lauducci
Above two groups of photos taken by Nina for her photography elective.
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.
Isla San Jose Mangrove Dingy Tow
Nina and Ellamae @ Isla San Jose Mangrove
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!
Waponi Woo at Ensenada Grande
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.
Ryan from Waponi Woo
Christian down at 25 feet.
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!!!
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.
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!
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).