Tag Archives: shawnigan

Sick and stuck in La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta)

Sick and stuck in La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta) 1/21/2017

Ok, I say this with as much light hearted attitude as possible. Life tends to always throw curve balls whether you’re working the daily grind or sailing the world having a good time. Our’s in this case is being faced with Christian’s sickness and having to choose the best, safest option for him and our family. 

Christian originally started feeling sick late October when he returned  back to the States from a quick trip working on the boat in San Carlos, Mexico. At the time it just seemed like a normal sickness since everyone else around us was sick too. He recovered from the initial part, at least we thought he had, and went on his way back to the boat in San Carlos, Mexico with Nina and Taj early November. His energy was starting to get lower and his stomach frequently upset. Mid-November, they set sail to cross the Sea of Cortez and made their way south, down the Baja side. In the meantime I was up working in The States only having occasional text messages on his health report. Once it was clear that this “thing” wasn’t going away on its own, I told him to go to the doctor and take a poo (stool) sample with him to test for parasites. 

He wasn’t near a doctor at the time, so he took this medicine that we keep on board called “Vermox“, which is normally a quick and easy fix for “non bloody travelers diarrhea” AKA “la tourista”.  That didn’t work either. In the meantime he was still sailing down to La Paz, thankfully buddy boating with our friends aboard S/V Kenta Anae. They helped ease the parenting load off of Christian and helped with meals along the way. 

As soon as he got to La Paz, after talking to other sailors who are practicing doctors from various locations, they decided that he probably got Giardia from the U.S. It made sense to us, because he had been drinking out of this spring and did so after a huge rain. So, he went to the farmacia in La Paz and got himself Flagyl for that, no prescription needed. Still no poo sample given to a doctor at this point (sense a little frustration from me?). 

This is when I went down to La Paz to visit at the beginning of December. He was still on flagyl and seemed to be doing ok, if not a little better. We sailed, hiked a bit, ate out , and even surfed once. Nothing was screaming “get this guy to the doctor” yet.  Then Nina and I left and Christian’s father, Gene Lauducci, hopped onboard to cross the Sea of Cortez with him. 

With Christian, his dad Gene, and Taj aboard S/V Shawnigan they sailed away and across. Doing ok, but progressively getting weaker they made it across and to La Cruz anchorage. I only found out after the fact,  when we made phone contact, how much he struggled with his energy and urged him to go to a doctor. He did finally! And the doctor in La Cruz wanted to just send him home on a 7 day course of Cipro without checking blood or poop. Christian had to ask for these. The labs were done, but limited (no blood culture and no stool culture). He did however order a specific test for Salmonella called the Widal Reaction Test. It showed that he had low-moderate levels of Salmonella of three different types. One of which was typhi (aka Typhoid Fever). 

Phew, we thought we were on the right track now, but 2 days into it, the day Nina and I flew back in to Mexico, he started having negative and rare side effects from the Cipro and had to stop them immediately. I have never seen Christian like this. I have to admit it was a little scary.  

The very next day we found a new doctor, after having a hard time contacting the previous one and not completely trusting him either. This new doctor took his own labs and agreed that it looked like Salmonella, and did a quick abdominal ultrasound mainly to look at the gallbladder, since it likes to harbor there long term. Based on the labs and apparently enlarged gallbladder, he said it seemed that Christian has had this for more than 2 years, not a recent infection. He started him on 5 days on IV Gentamicin and 10 days of oral Bactrim. After the 2nd day of treatment, Christian initially felt better but his energy was off and on and by the end of treatment and 4 days later he felt just as sick again. 

He went back for a follow up and to ask for cultures. For some reason these doctors down here just don’t want to do cultures! He did do follow up Salmonella labs and found the level of one actually got higher! He suggested to Christian, without re-ultrasounding his gallbladder, that if he just wanted to get the Salmonella out of his system now and quickly he should just have him remove his Gallbladder. Can you believe it?! From one course of treatment to “let’s remove your Gallbladder” ?!?! Needless to say, we went and got a second, I guess this was actually a third, opinion. 

We were referred to this doctor husband and wife team in Punta Mita through ours friends Richard and Doña on Profligate. They first used the collection of labs we’d already gotten and looked at the latest and started treatment based on that, but they interpreted it as normal values of Salmonella and raised values of Rikettsia.  We asked for cultures again but they said he needed to get started on some treatment right away before waiting to see results.  So again, Christian got three days of IM shots of a Cephalosporin and was asked to come back in a week for follow up labs and this time stool (poo) cultures using a really good reliable lab that the hospitals use. He was also sent to an ultrasound specialist for a full abdominal ultrasound. It was a good thing we did all of this. The ultrasound (which only cost us $20 USD) showed that his gallbladder was fine! And the 3 days of shots did not make Christian feel better. We were shocked when the lab results came back as still having Salmonella Typhoid, not Rikettsia, AND his stool culture came back as having multi antibiotic resistant E. Coli and no Salmonella (meaning the Salmonella is still in his blood, but he can’t spread it). Again, they did not do a blood culture because they don’t normally do them in Mexico and didn’t have the proper lab bottles for them in stock. URG! We found out the doctors around here hardly ever do them because it’s “expensive” and usually they don’t need to. To us, it’s worth it and in all my nurse training you get a blood culture first thing. Lesson learned, demand one in the very beginning, even if you come off as a crazy paranoid American.  

So here we are currently finishing up the 1 of only 3 antibiotics that the E. Coli is susceptible to and hopefully the Salmonella as well. We go in on Monday to have both stool AND blood cultures drawn and Salmonella levels of course with a complete Blood Count as well. Christian has had a low white count through this whole thing. The labs should take five days for results to come through, which get emailed to us (pretty cool). We still have no idea where and when he got this nasty stuff. 

We are keeping our fingers crossed. Christian is feeling better. The last three days he’s had a lot more energy. So far though, the one thing that all the doctors had in common was that they all said this Salmonella and now E. Coli might take up to a year to fully clear. So it looks like we are stuck here for in the Puerto Vallarta area for a bit. 

Saying “stuck” really isn’t the correct word, since we are choosing to stay here until Christian is healthy, but at the same time it’s hard not to think about where we could be or want to be sailing now and in the near future. So for now, we are trying to stay positive and we’re ok with being here, because we are still here in Mexico and with the whole family together on the boat. Meeting lots of great people and other sailing families. 
We are hoping to at least get healthy enough to cruise Mexico again and the Sea of Cortez again. We don’t want to push our luck in going too far off the beaten path. Safety and fun is better than an adventure unsafe and possibly life threatening. 

I’ll try to update on the latest results next weekend. Hopefully Christian will be so healthy we’re out having fun! 


At least there are tons of cruising kids here to keep our kids entertained! 

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7 weeks of separation

We are making our way back to the boat, well at least 3 of the 5 of us are.  After just over 4 months of being back in the US, leaving our boat in Mexico, its time to start heading back to our cruising life.

This morning, November 4th, we all woke up at 4:30 AM. Christian and the 3 kids left in a rental car to drive to Phoenix before making their way to the boat and I went to work. Once Christian gets to Phoenix, Ellamae (the middle boat kid) will fly to Florida to spend some time with her Papa Jason. Christian will be taking Nina and Taj back to the boat via the Tufesa Bus that runs from Phoenix to Guaymas, Mexico.After a 12 hour over night bus ride, its a quick taxi ride to the boat in San Carlos.  I will be staying in San Francisco for another 7 weeks to finish up my contract. It’s been a bit of an emotional day for me, to say the least.

The kids are super excited to get back to boat life and meet up with all their boat friends that they have met, and hopefully meet that many new ones that are sailing down to Mexico this season. Christian is super exited to get back on the water, fill the sails with wind, and do some free diving/ spear fishing. I am excited that as well. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All the hard work will pay off. I’m most looking forward to being back in the warm air, swimming/surfing in warm water and being back in the cruising mode with my family.  I also am looking forward to meeting the new cruising families that make it to Mexico this year.

I will be flying down once during the 7 weeks to visit in La Paz. I will be bringing Nina back with me to San Francisco for a few weeks for her to spend her 14th birthday with friends and family up here. I look forward to that time with her and know that it will help me with my “homesick” feelings.  Thankfully I will be heading to the boat just before Christmas to get some quality holiday family time.

We had a great last week together!

Halloween 2016

Why Mantus Anchors are amazing

We are very proud to be ambassadors for Mantus Anchors. As long as we put the proper scope out, our anchor grabs so fast and holds strong. That is why we call it our sleeping pill. We are posting this video because is gives a good demonstration of that. We have a lot of experience with others and so far our Mantus is “THE ONE”!

 

 

Our “Sailing Out The Gate Video” leaving San Francisco 08/20/2015

Year ago, August 20, 2015 we left San Francisco to head to Mexico via our Steven’s 40 sailboat. I added this video to the last post a little late, so I’m posting it again by itself because I feel like it deserves its own post.  Our family of 5 plus Nina’s best friend Ava and Ellamae’s biological father,  Jason joined us for the first leg from Horseshoe Cove San Francisco to Halfmoon Bay, California.

Refill the kitty in 3 months!

After 10 months of sailing around, it was time to refill the cruising kitty. We spent over our $12,000/year budget in unexpected, yet typical, repairs and replacements. Since we were so close to the US and easy  access to work, we decided to take the hottest time in Mexico (July, August, September) off of the boat and head to The States to refill our hungry cruising kitty.

If you haven’t read the “about me” part of our blog, then you may need to be informed of my profession. I’m a Registered Nurse, specifically a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. If you’re saying to yourself “what’s that?”, I take care of premature and very sick babies. I’ve been doing this for over 12 years now and I still haven’t lost my passion for it. In fact, it was actually hard to put in my notice at UCSF 11 months ago so that we could sail away.

In mid May, of this year,when I was able to check my email from La Paz, I found out that my old Unit at UCSF was hiring Travel Nurses for June 28 start date. I checked in with the management team and they said that they would love to have me return for a 13 week assignment! It was too good to be true! June 28 was a little sooner than we wanted, and 13 weeks was a little longer then we wanted, but really, its perfect.

We made it to San Carlos, Mexico, by June 14th with plenty time to put away the boat in Marina Real for a 3 months detour to the US. It took about 3 full days to complete the check list of things to do. This included, but not limited to:

  • pickling the water maker
  • fresh water flush through the engine
  • taking down the sails and stowing them down below
  • Putting up the sun shades
  • Cleaning and leaving the heads (toilets) filled with fresh water and vinegar
  • fresh water washing as much salt waterlogged gear as we could
  • laundry and getting rid of clothes
  • eating and cleaning out the perishable food (we did leave cans of tomato sauce, so hopefully we don’t arrive back to the boat with exploded cans of tomato everywhere. Apparently this happens when it gets too hot.)
  • Placing Bay Leaves in almost all of our bulk food containers. Apparently the Bay Leaf helps keep the Weevils at bay (no pun intended). Thanks Deb on SV Coastal Drifter for that tip.
  • Packing clothes (REAL shoes, socks, pants AND A BELT, sweaters, and WORK CLOTHES!) , oops I forgot a beanie!
  • And a couple more odds and ends stuff.

Our pile of stuff to bring back to the US was huge. Mostly because we had to pack for 3 months of on the road adventures. I say “we” but I really mean Christian and the kids. My list of things to bring was small: work clothes, 2 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, and one “nice outfit”, flip flops and my work shoes. Oh and my awesome Brompton folding bike, that we store in our aft shower, for my San Francisco commuting, yay!

Our 10 hour bus ride on the Tufesa bus line ended up being more like 11 hours, but it still wasn’t bad. Reclining seats, AC, 2 bathrooms, 1 check point and 1 border check, and 5 movies  later(3 of them, very inappropriate for kids), we made it to Phoenix, AZ for a nominal $80 fee.


After a few days at Christian’s sister’s house in Phoenix, I flew off to start my 3 months of work, leaving behind the family to road trip their way around The States visiting friends and family.

“Was it hard to leave?”, you ask.

EXTREMELY !!!  After being so close with each other the last 10 months I’m finding myself really missing their company. But I also know it’s only a short time in the grand sceme of things and totally worth it !

So now I’m here in San Francisco. Christian is on super land nomad dad duty. Boat school is out for summer break and we’ll be doing this up through late September. After all is said and done, we should have overfilled (wishful thinking) our cruising kitty with enough $$$ to get us to New Zealand by our (Northern hemisphere) fall 2017. But you know how cruising works… “We’ll see as we go”!


Yummy grub next to (Cerca de) the bus station in Guaymas. Missing me some good Mexican food !
Christian visits the Grand Canyon while I meet Travel Nurses


Then use my trusty Brompton Folding bike to get to work. Here my “brommie” is sitting pretty on the Bay Area CalTrain. 

Isla Danzante to Bahia Concepción

June 1 -13, 2016

From Candaleros, we sailed to Danzante Island, to a cove called Honeymoon Cove. The anchorage is steep, the depth is about 30 feet up to 20 feet off the shore, and quickly drops to 50 feet and deeper. It’s a beautiful cove, but hard to safely fit more than a few boats in there. Honeymoon Cove on Isla Danzante: we anchored a little too close to Cielo Grande at one point. “Excuse me sir, will you pass the Grey Poupon?” So, we re-anchored.

Puerto Escondido: the girls finally slept on deck, pool time at Fonatur and Tripui, coffee delivery via Ethan on S/V Coastal Drifter.

Loreto: mission, Papa Jason and Ellamae in a panga with Coastal Drifter in the background, Nina doing her first Net Controller for the Amigo Net, and monkey boy Taj helping with cookies.


Isla Coronado: impromptu “cookie and cocktails” potluck on the beach with other cruisers, a good few hour hike up the volcano with Coastal Drifter crew.


La Ramada/San Juanico hike: Coastal Drifter flying “the kite”, our additions to the cruiser’s shrine in San Juanico, Cielo Grande and Shawnigan (Coastal Drifter not visible) sitting pretty in La Ramada. Some amazing Apache Tears too! See Nina’s post.


Bahia Concepción : Playa Stanispac Ice Cream truck, Taj can now climb to the highest ratline.
June 13: we left at 1100 from Playa Stanispac to cross over the Sea of Cortez to San Carlos.

Espiritu Santo to Candaleros 

Off the grid and enjoying the cruiser’s life. 

We left La Paz under sail May 16th and had, yet another, beautiful downwind run to Isla Espiritu Santo. We anchored in Caleta Partida with SV Tango, SV Shadowfax, and SV Nimue (see previous post). The westerlies left little to be desired for staying there longer than one night. Hopefully we get better weather on our way back down in the fall.


(Above: our Mantus anchor sitting pretty)

We wanted to stop at Los Islotes to dive with the Sea Lions, but again, the wind was in the wrong direction for that. So we shot for Isla San Francisco. We were able to tuck in on the south west anchorage for enough protection from the south westerly winds. With a few other boats there, we were exposed a bit to the swell that rapped in, so our first night was a little rolly, but not bad. We met up with Bob and Kali on SV Airie. We originally met Bob in Barra, then again in La Cruz with his daughter Kali.  We hiked with them and did some spear fishing. The water was still cold, 68 F, but we caught some trigger fish for some yummy Ceviche. We stayed in Isla San Francisco for two nights before sailing off the hook toward San Everisto. 



San Everisto was magical. We hiked over to the salt ponds to the north and the next day, we hiked up the arroyo to the south. We found tons of geode rocks and beautiful pieces of Quartz along the way. We were out hiking for five hours exploring, it was so much fun! We ate dinner at the famous Lupe Sierra’s and Maggie Mae’s restarante. Our good sailing buddy On SV Mango Mango had told us to go there. Lupe and his son remembered Mango Mango well, maybe that accounts for the special treatment? We later found out that they are always that awesome to everyone! The restaurant is decorated with all the shells other cruisers paint during their visit. It was fun for the girls to see all the other kid boats that had stopped in San Everisto. The food was good, the most expensive meal yet, but the atmosphere and the company was worth it. Nina painted a rock with our boat name and two sticks, one looking like a Coral Snake, and the other, a Great Snowy Egret. 



After a few nights there, we continued north to Los Gatos. Another amazing place surrounded by beautiful red sandstone. We put in a few more hikes and more spear fishing adventures. We are loving having more fish in our diet again. Christian speared a couple nice size Grouper to last us a few days. We also enjoyed fresh scallops! 


Next, we stopped at San Marte.  We only stayed here for a night. Snorkeling at the point was fun. Taj is really getting comfortable in the water.

Agua Verde captured us and thankfully slowed us down a bit. Our friends on SV Cielo Grande were not far behind us and trying to catch up. We hadn’t seen them since La Cruz, so we wanted to wait for them. Agua Verde ended being the perfect spot for that. The first day we had a quick snorkel, a nap and a trip to the east side of “town”. We didn’t see much of the town that day. The next day we took a few hour hike past the cemetery to the Cave Paintings.






On our way back, just as we crested the last hill, we saw our friends on Cielo Grande sailing in! Yay, a kid boat! The kids were so excited, as were we, to have our friends back with us. 


The next day we did some spear fishing and snorkeling, and our friends on SV Alert arrived. Another kid boat. Then, we got a tour of the town by a cruiser that basically spends most of their time in Agua Verde. We discovered the larger tienda, the local spring water hose, the police and jail (with not a soul around it), and Ramona, the lady who makes goat cheese and milk. I got a pint of fresh goat milk for 10 pesos (that’s less than $ 0.60 USD) and a kilo of cheese for 60 pesos. Amazing! The kids got to play with the goats and see pigs and such. 

(Above: Taj loves the fresh, still warm, goat milk, from Ramona)


(Above: 1 kilo of goat cheese = 60 pesos)

The next day we stalked up on as much fruit and vegetables the tienda had to offer. We were enjoying our time there, but needed to make our way north the next day. We treated ourselves to a dinner out at the only restaurant open on the beach. Actually I had to walk to the tienda to ask if they could let the restaurant owners know that we would like to eat there. I guess my broken Spanish worked enough. They showed up at 6 to open up and served 11 of us crazy cruisers. All that was on the menu was fish tacos or quesadillas. It was delicious! 
The sail up to Candaleros was slow and beautiful. Cielo Grande not far from us, we both sailed the 18 ish miles which took us 8.5 hours. We sailed off the hook, sailed with the asymmetrical, drifted a bit and sailed again. We finally started the engine just before 6pm for 30 minutes to get us through the point and the island and into the anchorage before dark. We were greeted by many boats that we’ve met along the way. The best part is that Taj was on the deck, naked, shouting out to everyone, “Kini Popo!”, “Hotel California!” and many more.  

In Bahia Candaleros we spent time at the beach in front of the resort. I used the internet to get some online tests done for work this summer, while the kids played.  We did find time for more snorkeling and found it quite amazing! Christian and I had Dolphins swimming right under us! And schools of rays! The water seems to be warming up a little too. We are looking forward to warmer water again. 


Taj and Josie admiring Christian’s catch of the day