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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more useful links click here or see our blog menu for boatschooling links.