Tag Archives: stevens 40

Up, up, and away!

After our crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz, our time spent in La Paz was relatively short. It was time to start making our way up, up, and away from the hurricanes before the hurricane season (June – November).  We'd planned on staying there as long as it took for me to do all of the online and other required work for my next travel nursing assignment during the summer. A few days of wifi at the Big Sur coffee shop was all I really needed and a day to re-provision. We got a little waylaid with celebrating Mike's (SV Easy) Birthday and meeting a new kid boat called SV Secret Water. There were a few other boats we wanted to visit with too (SV Tribe, Waponi Woo, Orion, Bertie, Adventurer, just to name a few).  Oh the sailing social  life and how it ALWAYS makes you change your "plans".Taj fearlessly jumping off the piling.

"new kids on the dock" Umbrella movement in La Paz.

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By our 5th day in La Paz we felt the itch to continue on, but the pull to stay. I think this will be a common feeling as we continue to sail the world and meet amazing people in amazing places. Alas, we chose to leave with a "see ya later" instead of a "good-bye".

The first week of making our way north, up the Sea of Cortez was faster than our journey up last season. Now that I had work lined up with pre-work classes and assessments schedule in San Diego for June 23, we had somewhat of a time schedule. Mike on SV Easy continued to buddy boat with us. He had already been up to Puerto Enscondido as well, so he was onboard with shorter stops up to that point. Our stops were indeed brief, depending on the wind and water conditions. If there were anchorages or animals we hadn't seen, we'd take some time exploring, but otherwise we didn't lag too much until we got up to Bahia de Conception.

First stop, Isla Espirito Santo/Isla Partida. We sailed all but an hour of our 10 hour day to Bahia Ensenada Grande. We got out the hammock  for a swing and dip in the water while we were becalmed, waiting for wind.

 S/V Easy

The anchorage at Ensenada Grande was spectacular! There we five boats after Easy and Shawnigan had anchored. The Mobula Rays, jumping everywhere, sounded like we were in the midst of a pirate ship battle field. The slaps and splashes from their jumping dance of courtship, feeding, or communication surrounded and echoed off the steep burnt red sandstone and sedimentary cliffs of the anchorage. This was the moment that  we felt the magic of the Sea of Cortez return.

After a relaxing morning aboard, with an abbreviated boat-school day, we took a fieldtrip to hike across the island to the other side. Along the way we explored the many different geological features the island had to offer. Various igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary formations all in one place! It was perfect timing for Ellamae's science block of her curriculum.

Two nights at Ensenada Grande and we were off to Isla San Francisquito, but first a quick swim with the sea lions at Los Islotes before the wind picked up.

We anchored in the southwest side of the island in 58 feet of water with just enough scope for a few ohour "lunch stop". SV Easy anchored just behind us. We new our window for swimming would be narrow before the wind picked up, so we made sure to be ready to play and ready to leave. The visibility was not the greatest and the sea lions were not in their most playful state, but we did get to swim and play around with them for a while. The kids had a blast! To watch their excitement and comfortable interaction with the sea lions was priceless. As we predicted, the wind filled in after 1.5 hours of being there. We quickly rowed back to the  boat and sailed off to Isla San Francisco (Francisquito).Screenshot (3)Screenshot (4)Me, Josie, bliss.Screenshot (7)Taj and the 3 Sea Lions.Screenshot (9)Nina looking down at me with camera in hand and the Sea Lion.Screenshot (11)Screenshot (12)Ellamae (9) about 8 feet down, looking for sea lions to swim with, relaxed and in her element.

Isla San Francisco was just as pristine as it was the previous year. The white sandy beach surrounded by crystal clear azure water makes this anchorage most picturesque. We stayed two nights here in order to hike to the top of the hill and to spear fish.  Taj caught some fish himself, just off the boat with a fishing pole. Mostly catch and release puffer fish, but he did manage to catch a trigger fish. Yummy GrouperMike, paddling to shore.Isla San Francisquito

Nina And Ellamae beat us to the top.

  Mike looking ahead at the steep incline toward to top. Christian with Taj on his shoulders not far behind.

From Isla San Francisco we sailed straight to Punta San Telmo (2519.866 N, -11057.684 W) . The anchorage more of your "roadside anchorage", but it did offer enough protection from the south south westerly winds.  Mike did an awesome job setting his anchor under sail for the first time. This wasn't the only "first time" among us, we finally busted out the flopper stopper for the first time. We were getting quite of a wrap around swell from the south. Mike already had his flopper stopper out within an hour of anchoring. He was rocking notably much less than we were. I somehow finally convinced Christian to set up the Magma flopper stopper. It came with our boat when we bought it in 2012, but we had never used it. As we sat anchored much more comfortably, we both laughed and agreed that we shouldn't have waited so long.  We hiked on shore a bit and settled in for a nice evening in an empty anchorage.  Not too long after a lovely sunrise, we set sail for Bahia San Marte. S/V Easy sailing off the hook!

Bahia San Marte was pretty sweet. We sailed off and back on the hook, as did Mike.  The cliffs that surrounded us were majestic. The cliffs looked rock climbable (hint to anyone looking for new amazing places to climb). Mike took his paddle board and we rowed the dinghy over to them to check out a cave that was highly recommended in the Shawn and Heather Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser's Guidebook.  It was pretty cool. This was just the beginning of Baja's cave exploring for the crew aboard SV Shawnigan.              Mike making is way back from the very back of the cave.

The next day we sailed off and back on the hook again to Agua Verde. One of our favorite places so far, in large part due to the quaint village where you can restock on some provisions as well as purchase fresh goat milk (seasonal) and goat cheese directly out of the farmer's house. The local tienda, or little store, offers fresh fruit and veggies and other essentials. They rearranged it since the last time we were there to hold more products. Everyone in the village was very welcoming. Side note, there are petroglyphs in the area that was visited last year, but we didn't this time around. See our post from last year for details here.  As per usual with our anchorage visits, we swam around to cool down and discover the underwater ecosystem around us. We found a little underwater cave/arch with sea fans and beautiful light. Nina and I dove through first and with time, Ellamae dove through her first underwater tunnel! The same day, Taj dove down to 10 feet! Our kids are turning in to fish!Shopping at the local tienda in Agua Verde.

Hammock life

 

 

Screenshot (16)Taj on his 10 foot dive.Screenshot (19)Relaxing in the cockpit after a swim.Screenshot (18)Taj on his kayak in Agua Verde.

Isla Monserrate was calling our name. We hadn't been there before, the wind at the time wasn't unfavorable, so why not? The sail there was great. We were in the swing of anchoring under sail, so we did it whenever we could. Mike was getting in the groove of it as well. We settled into the anchorage in time for lunch. Christian was having a bout of low energy, crummy feeling from his Lyme disease, so I took Ellamae and Taj to shore to explore along with Mike while Nina stayed onboard with Christian.  The wind picked up more than we were hoping for that evening. It was offshore, but it put a damper on exploring the underwater realm.Screenshot (20)Our 2 boats, Easy and Shawnigan, sitting pretty in the deserted anchorage.

Thankfully the next morning, Christian woke up feeling better. We set for a 10 mile sail for Bahia Candeleros. Another great day of sailing off and back on to the hook. We found ourselves anchoring in Candeleros with only a few with other boats, one of which was our friend John on SV Summer. Candeleros is known for its beachfront resort with day passes and wifi access. Word on the street says that they have gotten progressively uptight about letting cruisers come in and use the facilities. We chose to bypass these amenities this year. Truth be told, even if we wanted to partake in the resort luxuries, the wind was howling out of the west and straight into the anchorage. Needless to say, we were not leaving the boat for any reason, except to swim when there was not any wind during the early daytime hours.  In the morning, we did snorkel. The water was quite chilly, about 68F. The visibility was about 20 feet, so not optimal either, but we still enjoyed swimming with a huge group of the fasinating Mobula rays. 2 nights in Candeleros was enough for us this time around. Next stop… Loreto!Overnight anchorages overview map: From top left to right: Ensenada Grande, Isla San Francisco. Bottom row left to right: Punta San Telmo, San Marte, Monserrate (picture above), then Candeleros.

More Photos:Screenshot (13)Ellamae and Taj up close and personal.Screenshot (15)Hawlkfish

 

 

 

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Loreto: an Eco Tourism Mecca

There is so much to see in Loreto ! Where to begin?!

Loreto is a small town with about 15,000 people, 2/3 rds the way down Baja on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) side. As the starting point for the California Mission movement, the town offers a lot of rich history and sightseeing opportunities. In the last 15 years+, Loreto has become a mecca for its Eco-Tourism.  The Sea of Cortez and the desert of Baja can be described as a melting pot of marine life and a rich desert ecosystem.  There are flora and fauna here that can not be found in many other places. The eco-tourism offers ways to see these spectacular sights with minimal to no impact on their ecosystem. As a family living on a sailboat, we are able to have our own eco-tours on the ocean, but finding land based activities are more of a challenge.  Thanks to our friend, Sara, who helps operate Loreto Sea and Land Tours, we were able to explore a snippet of Loreto’s land based ecosystem and other tourist sites.

Loreto was the first Spanish Colonial settlement of “New Spain” on the Baja. The Jesuit missionaries built the first of the California Missions there, Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho,  in 1697. Loreto offered a fresh spring as a perfect resource for the missionaries to build and provide food to offer for the local Cochimi tribe and offer Christianity in return. This was a peaceful movement at the time. In 1769, the quest to explore the northern areas and establish missions along the way started.  As time passed the territories of missions fell in control of the Franciscans and then later, the Dominican order and divided into two regions, Baja California and Alta California. Alta California became the California we know today in the United States. I could go on and on about Loreto’s history, but I wont. If you are feeling the need for more of Loreto’s history click here.

June 4th, 2017:

After exploring the town of Loreto, we ventured up into the mountains, named Sierra de la Giganta, to explore the desert and visit San Javier, the second of the California missions. On the way up we stopped to hike to a very old and lonely fig tree growing up a rocky hillside. Of course everybody had the urge to climb it!

Further up the road we pulled over to get a view of the original “El Camino Real”! We had no idea that the “El Camino Real” in California had originated in Loreto. We saw the first road that brought the missionaries from Loreto up to San Javier and eventually up through modern-day California as the path of the California Missions!

Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo was founded just 2 years later, in 1699, but took many more years to build. It was fully functioning by 1758. Water was more abundant here than in Loreto and the location was better protected from hurricanes. It was for these reasons that San Javier became the primary mission. The Cochimi tribe was drawn to the church and Christianity for the food and kindness they provided. The mission was successful with its community and agriculture for many years. Unfortunately, European diseases from the Spaniards spread among the tribe, eventually leading to the decimation of the Cochimi. Their culture and language became extinct by the 20th Century.

If you find yourself in Loreto either by boat or land and wanting to see sea life, land life, and culture, we highly suggest using Loreto Land and Sea tours. Not just because they are friends of ours, because they offer a plethora of different ways to explore the area and ways for the sailing community to explore inland history and culture: scuba diving, snorkeling with seals, fishing, hikes and many more options for adventures. Finding someone who can share so much local knowledge is a prized opportunity for our family as well as for many other cruisers.  We get to check off History of California Missions from Ellamae’s  4th grade boat-school curriculum, one year in advance!San Javier Mission (Mision San Francisco Javier de Vigge-Biaundo)Mike, aboard S/V Easy joined us along the tour. Taj can’t resist the temptation to climb another tree.

Another Great Radio Interview!!!

A big thanks to Mike McDowall with Boat Radio for the fantastic radio interview.

We were interviewed while we were in Barra de Navidad, Mexico last March of 2016.  Still pretty fresh in the cruising scene, it’s fun to reflect on our perspective at that time.

Listen Here: Boat Radio

or Here for Facebook users: Boat Radio on Facebook

 

img_4321our picture from over a year ago already seems so outdated, can’t wait to compare  5 years from now.

//embeds.audioboom.com/posts/5212942-the-life-aquatic-the-lauduccis-josie-christian-nina-ellamae-and-taj/embed/v4?eid=AQAAAOV7ElgOi08A

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”!

 

 

One year ago… we sailed out “The Gate”

We can’t believe that a full year has past since we left San Francisco to start cruising on our sailboat! We’ve experienced so much and all of it so wonderful: The emotions of leaving, the adjustments of boatschool, the adjustments of a life less “connected” but more connected as a family, the growth of world knowledge, the change in marriage dynamic, parenting dynamic, and educator dynamic, adapting to Mexico’s culture and food, meeting new and wonderful sailors/cruisers, and so much more I’m probably leaving out.  All of these had their ups and downs, but all transformed into good experiences and contributed to our lives in such a positive way.

My friend Lara interviewed us for a radio and podcast she does out of Byron Bay, Australia. I feel like it summarizes some questions a lot of people wonder about when pondering what the life of a family of 5 sailing on a 40 foot boat is like.  I posted the link on our blog and Facebook when it aired live and only on Facebook  again when a link was available to the podcast version.

Here is the link to the podcast version below. It will take you to the 30 minute interview. Our 13 year old daughter,  Nina, is interviewed as well and adds a lot flavor to the interview.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/pregnancybirthandbeyond/a-family-afloat

Anchored off of Halfmoon Bay, California (August 21, 2015)

Becalmed off the coast of California (Oct 2015) with Christian’s father, Gene Lauducci, aboard.
Ellamae posing with her polarized #teenytinyoptics glasses

Nina and Taj posing with their polarized #teenytinyoptics glasses

On top of a mountain in Turtle Bay, Baja Mexico (Left to Right: our crew Emma Casey, Taj sleeping on my back, Josie, Christian, Nina, and Ellamae) November 2015

Taj swimming in Chamela, Mexico (January 2016)

Barra de Navidad, Mexico (February, 2016)

Baja, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Francisco (May, 2016)

S/V Shawnigan with a beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Gigante Mountain Range, Baja, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Francisco (May, 2016)

My beautiful kids back in the United States (July 2016) Ellamae (8), Nina (13) Taj (3)

 

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. 

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