Tag Archives: #teenytinyoptics

#SurfPanama #SailPanama

We enjoyed 13 days of sailing through Panama’s remote Northwest coastline. Upon the end of the second week we sailed into a populated anchorage called Ensenada Venao, known for its protection, waiting to round the point into the Gulf of Panama. Also known as Playa Venao, its in the list of places in Panama for surfing. We went there for all of the above, but especially for the surf. We had a VERY long day sailing the 70 miles from Isla Cebaco to Ensenada Venao (aka Playa Venao or Ensenada Benao). We were able to sail for the first 2.5 hours until we started sailing as high into the wind as possible, with wind speeds fluctuating anywhere from 10kts to 30kts. To top it off, we had a current pushing is back. We were in a very frustrating situation. We needed to have our sails set for 25-30 kt winds for the times when the wind would blow that hard. As soon as the wind dropped to 10 kts we lost all speed (which was only 2-3 kts at best) and we would lose steering from all of the wind chop and current. After a few on and offs with the engine, we made the decision to motor-sail, bashing up into the wind and current. Our goal became “let’s just try to get there before dark”. We ended up motorisailing for over 13 hours. This was a first for us and was a hard choice to make. We basically motored more hours in one day than we had over the last 3 months. The good part of this sail was that we caught a large female Mahi Mahi!

Overall, the day felt like one of those times where you wonder if you did something to bring on bad luck. We were getting so much water over the bow, we discovered new leaks seeping into the V-berth. We lost one of our SUP paddles. A wind gust came on so strong along with bashing into waves that the paddle popped out of its tied up place and sank faster than you could say “we lost a paddle”. Another one fell off too! Of course there’s more to that story. I was down below, cooking, and Christian says nonchalantly, “well we get to do a man over board!” My heart jumped through the ceiling. Then he revised it to “sorry, Ellamae’s paddle fell overboard.” Heart rate went back to normal, mostly. It was great practice that’s for sure and I’m sure glad it wasn’t one of us in the water waiting for us to retrieve them. The good news is that we were successful at retrieving one of the lost paddles! As bad luck normally happens, things happen in threes… Davy Jones wasn’t through with us. As soon as we anchored a gale force gust came up and blew Ellamae’s boogie board right out of its tucked away spot and sent it skipping and flipping across the water and out to sea. The boogie board was in poor condition, so our disappointment in having it blow away was stemmed from feeling terrible about adding to the litter out at sea more than losing the board itself. (Sorry no photos of all the shenanigans, we were too preoccupied).

We arrive at Ensenada Venao at 7:20pm, just before dark. I’d been down below making “sushi” out our Mahi Mahi. I put “ ” marks around sushi, because we cooked the Dorado first, having never heard of it being used raw. A feast was ready to eat as soon as we anchored and relaxed. Based on the guide we had, we did not expect a beach full of hotels and restaurants that lit up the sky come nightfall. I guess we were officially out of remoteness. It brought a bit of excitement aboard. We hadn’t really conversed with many people and we were getting pretty low on our fresh fruits and veggies. The thought of surfing, conversation, people watching, and potentially having wifi was uplifting.

We spent the next four days surfing first thing after coffee. I’d go first, then we’d swap kid duty and Christian would go. I’m still learning, so an hour in the morning worked me. Christian could easily have surfed all day long. We managed to get the kids in through the surf and onto shore to play in the waves and socialize as well. Nina was very happy to meet some other teenage girls that were on vacation from Alaska. She even ended up having a sleepover with them. Lucky girl got a freshwater shower and a memory foam mattress in an air conditioned room!

The offshore winds were pretty strong for the first 3 days, but the weather was overall amazing. The sun is definitely more intense down here closer to the equator. The swell was on the rise starting on the day we arrived. Day 3 was getting so big, that after getting pounded on my surf session I decided it would probably be best to stay aboard with the kids for the day. The wind was blowing too hard to paddle to where the waves were smallest. The next day was just as big, but we needed to get our feet on ground. The wind had finally let up, so Taj, Nina and I hopped on the inflatable SUP, stopped over at the sailboat (S/V Jabiroo II) that came in during the night to say hello, then made our way to the more protected landing further down the beach. I was a bit of a paddle, but we were glad we did it. We explored only the few blocks of the vacation village that was there. We found a cute coffee house and ice cream shop. A produce truck happened to be driving through, so we bought a few affordable greens and plantains. The one and only mini-mart there was overpriced and had a very limited selection of food. We bought one dozen eggs for $4 (doubled that of Mexico prices.

On our way back out to the boat we stopped by S/V Jabiroo II again to chat. They had us aboard and we talked boats. We established that we had actually met them before, up in the San Francisco Bay Area while we were visiting last year and they were making their way south from Canada. It was great to see other cruisers and chat. They had tried rounding the corner to head into Panama City, but got pushed back by the wind and current. Their plans were to leave early in the morning with the ebb tide. Originally we were going to get one last surf in, but looking at the tides and weather, we jumped onboard with their plan. Nina putting away the inflatable xterraboard.

4am the next morning (Sunday) we left by motor alongside with S/V Jabiroo II. It felt great to have other people to commiserate with. We haven’t seen too many other boats down here. I’m guessing the strong winds and currents detours people from making this a regular route, unless of course the intent is to pass through the Panama Canal and head east. We’re glad we took this route though. Seeing Costa Rica and Northwest Panama has been awesome!

I made another S/V Luna Sea recipe. French Bread!

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3 weeks of sailing heaven!

A 3 week intermission from refilling the kitty was all it took to feel like I was back in sailing heaven again. I decided to extend my travel nurse contract in San Francisco for one more month under the stipulation that I get 3 weeks off to go back to my family and sail with them down the Sea of Cortez. It was just what we all needed; to be back together in warm weather, warm clear water and good family sailing time.

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Free diving mamma.

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Nina’s triumphant pose as she completes a 40 foot deep fin-less dive.

I met up with the family in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. I got there by driving 11 hours in a rental car to Phoenix and then taking an 11 hour Tufesa Bus ride across the border from Phoenix to San Carlos all in a matter of 30 hours. Upon arriving to Mexico, my spirit was lifted. I was so excited to spend this time with my family after 3.5 months of working in San Francisco and only seeing them a handful of days during that time. It was time to get some family lovin’.img_7613

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Free-Diving Daddy

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Ellamae’s touch down at 20 feet.

After a few days in San Carlos, we were stocked up and ready to head out.  The weather window looked great for heading across the Sea of Cortez, so we opted to leave while we could get good wind.  On Sunday, Oct 15th, after our morning in the anchorage and grocery re-load, we sailed off the hook and out of the anchorage. We quickly realized that sailing under jib alone was going to work just fine.  We set our course  on a nice downwind reach toward Isla Carmen, just off of Loreto on the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez. See our short post of pictures and videos here. 2 hours into our sail we hooked 2 Dorado (Mahi Mahi),one male and one female!

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Male Dorado, 2 hours south of San Carlos, Mexico.

The rest of the sail was relatively peaceful, with winds up to 30 kts and a furled jib. The wind maintained strength overnight and had us make landfall by 8 am the next morning. We dropped the anchor under sail at Perico anchorage on the east side of the area known as Bahia Salinas on Isla Carmen. With a few hours of rest after not sleeping so well over the night, we found energy in just having the excitement of being out on a deserted island with no one else around. We had the anchorage to ourselves and we were all together as one family unit!

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A little home-school art.

Screenshot (105)After a few days at Perico, we decided to head a few miles north to an anchorage called Painted Cliffs. Again, we had the anchorage to ourselves. Christian and I started to get in a morning routine of waking up at 4:30 am, drinking our bulletproof coffee and conversed under the stars and into the sunrise. I would then go for a 40-50 minute swim and Christian would go for a 5-10 mile stand-up paddle board excursion. The kids would wake up, start school and by lunch time we were all ready for a free-diving / fishing break.  Painted Cliffs had this amazing ledge to dive on. The visibility  was about 55 feet and the water was 84 F, even at 65 feet deep! After spearing a decent size grouper, we played around with going deep. Nina made it to 59 feet! I was surprised at how much easier it was for me to make it down to the bottom (65 feet) and stay down there for a little bit.  I thought for sure that it would take me a while to re-acclimate to diving since I had been on land for so long. I guess there’s muscle memory for that sport too. Having the water temp so warm and the visibility so clear, made a huge difference as well.

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Isla Carmen

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Nina’s fantastic effort at SUP handstand.

The weather forecast wasn’t looking so good for wind taking us anywhere, so we decided to head for the more southern anchorage on Isla Carmen known as Punta Colorado.  The view from there was stunning.

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Punta Colorado, Isla Carmen. East of Loreto, Baja California, Mexico.

The next day, after our morning routine, we were able to sail off the hook and head toward Isla Monserrate. Another sail onto the hook, and a swim in the water. Unfortunately, one hour after we fell asleep, we woke to our swim step clanking around. Christian went on deck to take a look and noticed the wind had switched onshore and was blowing 15 kts and quickly picking up speed to 20. It was pitch black and we had to get out of there fast. If you’re reading this and wondering what the heck I’m talking about… it’s not safe to be anchored on a lee-shore. Meaning, that you don’t want to be anchored where the wind is blowing toward shore, due to the chance of dragging anchor and having your boat end up crashed on the reef or on shore. There were submerged rocks and reefs on the chart that we had to make sure we stayed clear of.  Instead of sailing off the hook this time, we could not take any chances at being blown toward shore or the reef,  we used our engine to help motor us into the wind while Christian brought up the anchor.   With our RPM well above 2,300, we were able to make a clear path just out enough past the rocks to unfurl the jib and turned the engine off.  We made a quick 7 mile reach to Agua Verde, a familiar anchorage to come in to at O-Dark-30. All of this while the kids slept peacefully. We woke up to the familiar, lovely bay of Agua Verde having the northwestern anchorage to ourselves and our kids asking how we got there.

Agua Verde always holds a special place in our memories. There is just something about it we can’t quite describe. We’ve blogged about it before (here and here again), so I won’t go into it too much more. About mid-day another boat came into anchor by the name of Katie Gat.  Here are a few photos from the one full day that we spent there:

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S/V Shawnigan and S/V Katie Gat in Agua Verde, Baja California.

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Hydration station: Christian packs his Camelback everywhere, so we don’t risk getting dehydrated in the hot desert Baja environment.

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The local tienda (market) in Agua Verde.

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This is how we pack out our groceries in Agua Verde.

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Eating bags of frozen “agua de piña” we bought in Agua Verde for 10 pesos per bag. (That’s about $0.50 for a huge bag of frozen real fruit juice.)

From Agua Verde we had a nice sail off the hook, a down wind sail out of the bay, and the wind so nicely cocked around to keep us on a down wind run heading south to San Everisto.  We ended up staying one and a half days there, swimming, schooling, and stand-up paddle boarding. We were hoping to do a little more fresh produce shopping, but the tienda that was normally open was closed. We were guessing that we were a little early in the season for regular hours.

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Taj loves his magnet toys.

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Pizza making aboard S/V Shawnigan #tinymess

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Taj is mommy’s helper in the kitchen. We made gluten free bagels out of Pamela’s gluten free baking mix.

Next stop, Isla San Jose.  Another lovely, mostly beam reach, sail eastward across the channel to the old salt mine area on Isla San Jose. Again, we sailed onto the hook with the anchorage to ourselves. Shortly after dropping the anchor, we paddle boarded to shore for a walk along the shallow salt ponds and along the beach to the lighthouses and back. The walk ended up being 3 hours long!IMG_1857

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Terra the xterraboard with S/V Shawnigan anchored out of of Isla San Jose salt mine with the Sierra Gigante mountain range in the background.

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Above two groups of photos taken by Nina for her photography elective.

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Holding hands and sportin’ the gear on our salt mine walkabout. Photo by: Nina Lauducci

The next morning we sailed just south and dropped the hook for a short stop at the mangroves. We were apprehensive to stay longer with rumors of the no-see-ums being really bad. Our stop including a dingy tour of the mangrove. What a blast! We all jumped in and got a tow behind the dinghy.

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Isla San Jose Mangrove Dingy Tow

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Dinghy Tow

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Nina and Ellamae @ Isla San Jose Mangrove

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Taj steering the dinghy for a family mangrove tour at Isla San Jose.

Once done with our tour of the mangrove, we sailed around the east side of Isla San Francisco (a first for us) and passed it on by (another first). Alas, our time was starting to become limited, I had to get to La Paz to fly out by October 31st and the weather was predicting a drop off of wind. As many of you know, we like to sail as much as possible and avoid using the engine,  so we used to wind that we had that day, waved to Isla San Francisco and went straight to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida.

As predicted, the wind was null the next day, so we were excited to take the opportunity to go dive with the Sea Lions at Los Islotes! When we woke, we were double excited, because our friend and fellow kid boat Waponi Woo showed up in the middle of the night and anchored next to us! We had basically been alone for almost 2 whole weeks, except for the one boat in Agua Verde. We were jazzed to see friends and even more jazzed to see a kid boat!

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Waponi Woo at Ensenada Grande

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As soon as everyone was awake, we motored our boats over to Los Islotes. We anchored in 58 feet of water where the Shaun and Heater guide shows to anchor. Waponi Woo anchored just west of us.  There was hardly a breath of wind and the water visibility was about 55 feet! We had the most amazing time swimming with the sea lions.

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Ryan from Waponi Woo
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Christian down at 25 feet.

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After an amazing morning with the Sea Lions we ventured back to Ensenada Grande for the night. Then next day we sailed to Caleta Lobos for one last relaxing anchorage to ourselves before heading into La Paz. We had 13 full days of no cell or wifi service. It was GREAT!!!

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Christian checking in on the Amigo Net.

The kids were happy to arrive to La Paz for a little kid boat action with S/V Secret Water.

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After a few days there, it was time to fly out for Ellamae and I. Ellamae was flying out to spend time with her Papa and I needed to go back to work in San Francisco for the month of November.  We took the Volaris flight from La Paz to Tijuana, then hopped across the border into San Diego. From there we parted ways at the airport. Next time we will all be together will be in the Puerto Vallarta area on December 1st.  Christian is single-handing it, with some help from Nina, until that time. Super dad!

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Looking down on Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida. One the very left you can just barely see Los Islotes (where we swam with the sea lions).

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Navionics working on the plane.

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

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)

 

We’re Famous! Well…

We’re famous! Well almost, Latitude 38 did an article on us for this (September) month’s magazine! Go pick a hard copy up at any Chanderly store or any other place that carries Latitude 38. We are in the “sightings” section (page 70,71 on Lectroniclatitude)! Thanks to Andy for the great write up and use of pictures! Love that picture of Taj with his TTO sunglasses!