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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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Crossing the Sea of Cortez: from Mazatlan to La Paz 

We left Marina Mazatlan May 14th around 7:30 am, timed with the tides again. The swell was down, unlike coming in, the timing this time around was not as crucial. We had a minimum 2 day if not possibly 4-5 day crossing ahead of us, so an early departure was not necessary for the purpose of timing our arrival. Mike on SV Easy departed just before us to buddy boat across. We planned on communicating via predetermined SSB frequencies once our VHF was out or range.

The first day out was pretty mellow. We were forced by the wind to make a more north, northwesterly point of sail, which was fine. We motored for about an hour, just enough to get out past Isla Pajaro and catch a zephyr of wind. It was Mother’s Day, the sun shown brilliant, and dolphins came to swim off of our stern. Christian tried to join them in the water by tying himself off with a rope and filming with the goPro. We are pretty convinced that dolphins can hear our heartbeat, because as soon as he got in the water they swam away. When he just had the goPro in, they stuck around. Me with my Happy Mother’s Day smile after the dolphins visited.

The next day, was my birthday. I turned 36 and it was my first birthday celebrated out at sea. The day started out calm. I had planned to talk with my travel nurse recruiter via Satellite phone to try to pin down a travel job for the summer. We had already been conversing but nothing was final. I knew I needed to get something pinned down, but we were ready to set sail, so IridiumGo to the rescue! I had my nursing recruiter call me via satellite phone to secure a job while in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. I was shocked at how well the reception was. The call was dropped a few times, but we were able to get what needed to be done done and secured a job at Kaiser San Francisco for me in the summer! That was a pretty good birthday gift. This is where we were mid day on my birthday.

The kids loving Birthday cake in the middle of the crossing.

Later on that afternoon, the wind picked up to the mid 20’s and by evening was in the high 20’s with gusts of low 30’s on a close reach (upwind). We were double reefed with our Mainsail and furled in jib to about 90% for most of the night and the next day. Despite that our boat was handeling it well, and the hydrovane kept us steering perfectly, I got a little sea sick. The kids did too, but thankfully, no one reached the point of vomiting. They still were able to eat my birthday cake. Although I was able to maintain good spirits I was rendered almost completely useless. I can’t go down below to cook at all, let alone help the kids with anything. Tacking, trimming sails, steering is fine though and is actually helpful, so I don’t mind being “on watch” when I get sea sick. By nightfall I was feeling fine as long as I stayed focused and outside. I did end up taking a Bonine to help me keep from throwing up and fall asleep during my limited time off watch.     Love this “tilt boat’n” action! Water spilling over the rail, SV Shawnigan holding strong and steady.

The kids just relaxed or slept in off under the comfort of our dodger or they clipped their harnesses on and went outside for fresh air. No boatschooling was happening this crossing. So far no one on our boat has gotten so sea sick to the point of throwing up since we left in August 2015. I’ll take it as a sign that we’re getting the hang of it. All clipped in on the aft deck, singing songs into the wind to pass the time. Ellamae lounging in the dodger.

By the end of the third day the wind had us going north again, north of Muertos off of Isla Ceralvo. We tacked up before being able to tack back towards La Paz. We made it up until the channel below Isla Espiritu Santo before turning on the engine for that last hour. We made to Anchorage just north of La Paz, called Caleta Lobos, just after dark. Fortunately we’ve anchored here many times before, so coming in at dark was not ideal, but ok. The anchorage was flat and we slept so well!

More pictures:

 Taj fell asleep, clipped in to the back stay! Then again in the dodger…Nina perched up in a hammock on our first day out, while it was calm.

Mike on SV Easy at Caleta Lobos (just north of La Paz).
Stay tuned for our adventures in La Paz and up the Sea of Cortez via the east coast of Baja.

Isla Isabel (Isabela)

Sail to Isla Isabel: left San Blas at 0515. Buddy boating with Mike in SV Easy. Ellamae was in Florida with Papa. We motored 1.5 hours out then sailed with offshore winds until about 1030, we got to fly the kite. Then we drifted for a bit. Around 11:30 the wind switched to NW. The typical close reach toward Isla Isabel. We sailed until 5:30. Then motored 2 hours to the island to get there before sunset. We ended up anchoring at the east anchorage of Isla Isabela. It was flat, beautiful and calm. Anchored in 27 feet on sandy bottom, near Las Monas pinnacles.  Our anchorage position was 21 60.891N , 105 52.715W . 

Sv Easy (Ingrid 38) underway.

We got to snorkel a lot, Taj kayaked, and Christian got to surf 4 times! The south swell was coming up and hitting the south east point just perfect. He had to dodge a few rocks, but had a blast!  

We swam and kayaked to shore to explore the island. As we brought the dinghy to shore the bird conservation group out of Mexico City greeted us and gave us a run down of how to help protect the nesting birds on the island. They were very welcoming. Las Monas pinnacles and Shawnigan and Easy anchored next to them.Rebecca, who is spending her post doctorate helping to conserve the island’s birds, teaching us a few things. Above: the camp of the students that spend 2 weeks stretches on the island helping to protect the birds.

It was awesome to see all the nesting Blue and Yellow Footed Boobies as well as the Frigates. There were so many of them protecting their eggs, as well as juveniles and newborn babies. There were also iguanas roaming around everywhere. All the wildlife here is magical, they let you get so close!  There’s a baby under there!There are eggs under this Booby.

 Yellow Footed Booby guarding a nearby nest. The male and female take turns with this role.

There is no wonder why Isla Isabel(a) has been quoted as “Mexico’s Galapagos”! The island was declared as a national park in 1980 and has been preserved as such ever since, protecting its flora and fauna. 

I would have to say that Isla Isabela is one of our top places we’ve sailed to so far. This was actually our fourth time there, but our first time exploring on the island this time of year. I’m so happy we got to experience the nesting birds In the dry season. Baby Frigatebird in its nest.

Albino FrigatebirdI love this picture; Albino Frigate in the foreground, the fishing village and Las Monas in the the background. Mike From SV Easy photo bombing the Blue Footed Booby picture .  Mike on SV Easy sailing off the hook toward Mazatlan. 

La Cruz to Chacala

Now that I’m finally getting back on track with posting, we will be leaving cell and wifi reception. I will do my best to plan my posts out a bit. I’m still a few weeks behind, as e left La Cruz on April 24th, but it’s better than months behind.

We finally made it out of La Cruz and started making our way North. We first dropped Ellamae off at the airport in Puerto Vallarta to go spend time with her biological father, Jason. That same afternoon we sailed off the hook to Punta de Mita to get us further out of the Banderas Bay. First thing the next morning, after breakfast we set sail, actually motored for a few hours, around the point and headed North for a 30 mile day. Mike on SV Easy  was buddy boating with us. The wind didn’t pick up for about 3 hours, but the weather was beautiful. We saw tons of sea turtles and enjoyed a pleasant sail north.

We’d been to Chacala before and arrived in the mid afternoon. Just enough time to hit up the surf spot! Just what the doctor ordered.  That night we had Mike over for dinner and and a good nights sleep was had by all.

The next day included school, checking in with the port captain, more surfing, and beach time.

Then more surfing and a hike to the extinct volcano crater, and more beach time the next day. We met a fellow Nor Cal family and spent some time with them. The mother owns a house there and rents out bungalow through Airbnb

Chacala is beautiful and we wished we could have stayed longer. Hopefully on the way back down.

La Cruz to Barra de Navidad and back, the trilogy. Back to adventures! Part 3 of 3

If you missed part 1 click here.

If you missed part 2 click here.

Now for Part 3. Back to adventures!!!

With a few days back together as a family and a few days before we started to head north again, we decided to fit in a Colima Volcano tour. Christian had energy for an adventure!!! Our good friend Edgard, whom we met in Barra last year, offered to be our tour guide. He leads tours for his business there, so it was only fitting to hire him.
March 21st, 2017: The day started early. Unfortunately Nina was sick, so she stayed in Barra under our friend’s supervision. Edgard picked us up at 8:30 am from the Hotel Sands (his family’s business), which is where we normally tie up our dinghy when we go to town anyway. The drive to the town of Colima was about 2 hours. We drove to a quaint town called Comala, then up another hour(ish) toward the 12,533 ft Volcán de Colima.  If you have more than a day, we recommend staying a night or two at El Litchi Hostal Colima and hiking its neighbor, Nevado de Colima (14,015ft), to get more of an adventure out of it. We didn’t and wished we had. 

We stopped for produce along the way and found our way to the first of many Coffee plantations/cafes. I indulged in coffee for the first time in 10 days! Watch out here I come!!!! Christian stayed strong and refrained.  An americano was $20 pesos. 1 dollar coffee! How could you pass that up? 

Further up the road we stopped at Laguna la Maria. We’d planned on going for a swim, but after seeing the silty brown color we were hesitant. Then a local came up to us to tell us why no one was swimming. Apparently a “devil lady”, Maria, haunted the lake. The myth is that many years ago, Maria asked her parents to go out with her friends. When her parents said no, she snuck out and drowned there and was never found. Ever since, people who swim have been known to disappear as well. Pretty creepy story. Supposably divers have gone down without finding the bottom. Some theories are of tunnels that have a vacuum effect. We may never know… Needless to say, we didn’t go swimming.

Taj with his Teeny Tiny Optics.

We drove further up the road to place called Laguna Verde. It was basically the end of the road for us. To mark the finally spot, another coffee plantation! Yay, a double dose day! The volcano was in the distance, but still magnificent. The cloud cover started to form by the time we got there, though we could still appreciate most of it’s magnitude.  

We had a pretty quick turn around, as we were doing all of this in one day. We stopped in Comala again on our way back down to eat a late lunch and buy a couple souvenirs. What a great day. If you’re down near Barra de Navidad or Melaque (San Patricio), give Edgard an email (ramseszava@hotmail.com) and tell him we sent you!🌋
A few days later we started making our way north again to La Cruz. We love Barra de Navidad. Our 3.5 weeks there flew by, but it was time to get moving again. First stopping at “Secret Cove” , then Tenacatita again, and lastly Bahia Chamela again before rounding Cabo Corrientes to Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta area).

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We went to Secret Cove with our boat friends on Scavenger and Luna Azul. Christian and the men from the two other boats got some surf in. I was happy just to be out anchored somewhere new. Last year there was a 8-10 ft crocodile who was sighted many times there without any incident of hurting people. No one reported seeing him this year, so we swam. Taj jumped off the bow polepit for the first time! Ellamae helped scrub the waterline on the boat. We spent time picking urchin out of Scotty’s foot. Tip: hot vinegar soak alternating with dripping melting beeswax on each spine. It’s a good thing we have a lot of beeswax on our boat. This has come in handy a few times already.
Tenacatita, always guarantees a good time. We did the mangrove tour again. This time with people from SV Easy, SV Cat2fold,SV Luna Azul, SV Scavenger, and SV Wings! Gathered Coconuts to drink while we played on the beach. Nina had a boat friend sleepover, we went spear fishing, and did yoga in the beach. Sv Empyrean and Mango Mango arrived for the party too!
The sail up to Chamela was nice. A sail off the hook and back on the hook day (meaning sailing off the anchor without starting the engine and then setting the anchor using only sail power). Love those no engine days. We did see some gusts of wind in the low 20’s, but our boat handled it well. We arrived before dark. Buddy Boating up the coast with us was Empyrean, Cat2fold, Mango Mango. Mango Mango kept heading north to round Cabo Corrientes while the rest of us spent a few days having fun in Bahia Chamela. We went to the bat cave again thanks to Cat2fold shuttling us on his boat. Some more swimming of course. And finally, we got to go see Brian and Cat2fold sing and play guitar at Scuba Jazz Cafe. He plays there regularly during the season on Friday nights. Scuba Jazz is a must if you’re cruising through Punta Perula.
Next was our epic sail up the coast around Cabo Corrientes to La Cruz. It could have only been more perfect if it was blowing a southerly.
Once back in La Cruz, we had a few items on our list to check off before finally heading back North, into the Sea of Cortez: Go see the Lyme doctor, get braces put on Nina, stock up at Costco and surf. The Lyme disease doctor in PV is amazing!!!! If you know anyone with Lyme, send them to Puerto Vallarta! He supported Christian’s naturopathic treatment options, and will help with more medical treatment if and when we want to seek it. He spent over an hour discussing Christian’s lab results. Nina had her braces placed, painlessly in the sense of ease in getting X-rays and appointments, but not so painlessly for her. See her post about it here. We love how affordable dental care is in Mexico.

Of course we went surfing and a lot more this time around. Christian had more energy and we had to get as much in as possible before heading up into the Sea of Cortez, where there is no surf to be had. It’s been a huge relief to have Christian’s energy coming back.

The Shawnigan Plan update:

We originally “planned” to keep heading south this year, with hopes to make it as far as Ecuador. With Christian’s illnesses, we decided that sticking around Mexico was a safer plan. So instead of South, the new plan is sail back North and into the Sea of Cortez again, but this time going further north into Bahia de Los Angeles (Bay of LA) and then up to Puerto Peñasco (rocky point). Then, come fall, we’ll make our way south.backstay hand stands #shipshapethe SV Pickles kids! And Riki Tiki Tavi kids