Tag Archives: sailing

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.

Southbound from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.