Sunday, November 29, 2009


Capaz sailing under spinaker

Totem sailing away from Los Muertos

Ensenada de los Muertos, BCS, Mexico
November 29, 2009

Boys sorting through shells and rocks

Agave cactus spiked bloom - looks like a sapling in the middle of the desert

PJ and Behan on their big desert hike to the other anchorage from Bonanza

We got in a good sail today! I can't even tell you how long it has been since we have had a good sail (I am thinking coming into Cabo San Lucas!!!). We have been making tracks or hanging out in beautiful anchorages alot lately and that doesn't match up with sailing conditions.
Today, we awoke to the night's winds still blowing. We pulled our anchor, hoisted our sails and off we went on a nice reach. As we approached the Canal Cerralvo, we figured the wind would die and we would have to motor the remainder of the way to Ensenada de los Muertos. The wind gods smiled on us and the morning only lightened a bit (a little motor sailing kept us moving) and then, the breeze picked up from behind us allowing us to sail all the way around Punta Perico. How nice it was!
We have also broken our streak of being skunked in the fishing department. We did only thing left to do! We hoist a glass of rum to Poseidon this morning. We feel as though we may be on parole because the only fish we caught was a Skip Jack which we think we might try making into fish jerky with our solar oven. There was momentary excitement when a marlin leaped 5 or 6 times just to windward of our handlines. Evidently, he wasn't hungry.
It is pretty windy here (we are anchored just behind a low spot of land), but the water is pretty flat. There used to be free internet here, but we may have to go into the beach bar and buy a beer and some nachos.
An interesting note: there is a push to change the name of this bay to Bahia de los Suenos which translates to Bay of Dreams. This would be promoted by the golf course owners and the developers selling the pieces of property where mega estates are being built. It is rumored the original name, Ensenada de los Muertos or Cove of the Dead, actually came from silver mining days and "the dead" refer to the logs somehow used in the mining process that I guess ended up in the bay. Cruiser are definitely still attached to the old name, it would be interesting to see what the place is called in 5 or 10 years.

Train that runs along the bottom of the mezzanine at the Bay of Dreams Resort

PJ internetting at the Bay of Dreams Resort

Big Sandcastle building project at Los Muertos

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

Isla San Francisco, BCS, Mexico
November 26, 2009

Isla San Francisco Anchorage

Eastern Baja California coastline from Isla San Francisco

I could get all philosophical here and wax nostalgic for the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but suffice to say that sitting on our aft deck with our old friends the Giffords and a new friend, singlehander Jesse watching the sun go down after a fabulous turkey dinner, my crew and I have quite a lot for which we are thankful. I must say we miss our family and the traditions that we hold dear this time of year, but this really wasn't a bad substitute. I am guess that the weather on the beach here on Isla San Francisco was just a touch warmer than the Thanksgiving weather that we usually have at Long Beach, at least requiring quite a few less layers of clothing.
We were going to try to have an all solar cooked feast, but a thin cloud cover for a good part of the morning foiled those plans. We did cook the turkey breasts part way in the solar oven and just finished them off in the oven on the boat. We cheated with powdered garlic mashed potatoes, gravy from a packet and stove top stuffing, but the waldorf salad, the pumpkin pie and the candied yams (which I believe involved rum) were fit for any land lubber's holiday table.
The turkey breasts were an adventure in themselves. Last week, I went looking at the Gringo style supermarket for the ultimate Thanksgiving cheater, Butterball turkey breasts. After years of never having enough white meat, my mom decided to try one of these prepared turkey products. We aren't sure what chemicals the good folks at Butterball inject into these chunks of meat, nor do we necessarily WANT to know - but they are really GOOD! The "Fiesta de Pavo" as the meat department senora called it in La Paz is not a huge deal here in Mexico, though someone seems to have realized that a significant number of Gringos will be asking for turkeys in mid to late November. Anyway, no Butterball frozen turkey breast were not available, however I spotted turkey drumsticks and chicken breasts. So without having to point to my own breast (I used the word on the chicken breast package: "pechuga"), I was able to procure 4 nice frozen pechugas de pavos!!! Only having ever cooked a turkey once in my life (for my preschool class about 10 years ago and it involved a brown paper bag), I winged it today with pretty darn good results. The men (my father and brother) in my family cook the turkeys.
We had quite a spread of food in the cockpit where everyone loaded up their plates. The adults retired to the aft deck where Brad had our camp chairs set up and had rigged a nice table using a milk crate, the storm covers for our windows, the cooler, and a couple old cushions. The kids ate down at the salon table. As we finished our feast the sun set on the mountains of the southern Baja to our west. We enjoyed coffee and dessert by candlelight in the cockpit. Then evening was capped off with cards for the adults and a movie for the kids. All in all, a great Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my boys!

PJ and Behan atop a ridge on Isla San Francisco

Kids climbing up a ridge

Monopoly in the forepeak while dinner was being finished

Brad carves the pechugas de pavos

The "kid table"

Thanksgiving Dinner on the aft deck of Capaz

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hasta La Vista La Paz

Caleta Partida, BCS, Mexico
November 21, 2009

Ensenada Grande, just north of Caleta Partida
As with other cities that we have stopped in, La Paz was a mix of comfortable, known things and a hectic, frenetic list of chores to be completed! We did a pretty good job of getting the laundry and provisioning were pretty well completed. We have not had any major repairs that needed to be finished. We got me over the hill with a great birthday party on the beach.
We spent four nights on the dock at Marina de La Paz and three nights in the Mogote anchorage. The Giffords on Totem spent the entire week in the anchorage with daily trips to their shore base, Capaz. Through Behan's connections, we procured rides to order swim skins (full body bath suits) for the kids and a humongous provisioning run that should get us across the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Vallarta with a little exploring before Thanksgiving.
Today, we headed out after breakfast with the intention of fueling up as we left the harbor. There was a huge yacht that pulled in just ahead of us that we had to wait to fuel up for over an hour. Then, we finally got our fuel and were able to head north. Everyone else, Totem, Delos and Bella Marina, were anchored in Caleta Partida before we arrived. It is just as beautiful as it was last week, though a little cooler. The Norther that blew down early last week, seems to have started the much talked about (North of the border) cooling of the Sea of Cortez. However, during the days we are still seeing daytime temps in the mid to upper 80's, but now the nights are great for sleeping with lows in the low 60's.
We have procured some frozen turkey breasts (the senora at the supermarket asked me about when the "fiesta de pavo" or turkey festival was happening) and will figure out where we will celebrate Thanksgiving next Thursday. If the weather holds we would like to do a little exploring in the islands. After Thanksgiving we will watching for a weather window during which to cross the Sea to the Mainland.
We got our fuel today, so we will make a decision about where to go next tomorrow . . . . or the next day!

Pelican sitting on a rock in Ensenada Grande

Bryce shows off his fish drawings

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Over the Hill

La Paz, BCS, Mexico
November 17, 2009
My big huge birthday card
You may have thought the whole reunion entry was sappy and sentimental, but I am thinking that it will look downright dry compared to my fortieth birthday party. Ever since I realized that my fortieth birthday was going to occur during our adventure, I have taken great solace that I would be able to attack the milestone 1. on a beach, 2. in Mexcio and 3. with a margarita in my hand. There were a couple of other factors that recently made my confidence in being able to survive turning 40 soar. A few weeks ago, it became apparent that not only would I be helping Behan usher in her next decade in December but she was committed to being there for mine. Also, some people have friends who would walk to the ends of the earth for them; I have one who would fly there and she did! Being a pilot, Tiff was able to fly into La Paz to hold my hand as I went over the hill. Then, there were the boats that made the 16th in La Paz a part of their schedules so that they could join us.

Brad organized a beach party on the Mogote which is a peninsula that is across the harbor from the city of La Paz. Mogote means antler and since a good proportion of peninsula is made up of mangroves so that it has lots of pointy little pieces of land, the name fits. Anyway, the bay side has a very nice beach that was sheltered from the Norther that had been blowing since the previous morning. There was a little overcast that cleared the second that I sat in my princess chair (did I mention that I was wearing a tiarra). We used the dinghy as a table to set up our potluck (imagine our big window covers set across the open part of the boat making the table top). There was even a cake with a lego sailboat set on turquoise sea of icing. After the sun went down, a bonfire was lit and we enjoyed the rest of a very pleasant evening on the beach. What a great way to usher in my next decade!
Our potluck "table" with the anchorage and La Paz
Birthday breakfast thousands of miles from Seattle and I still managesd to have it with a couple of girlfriends!
The previous day's birthday girl, Octavia, the birthday girl, and the next one with a big birthday!

Austin working on S'mores

What birthday party is complete without a posse of kids. Here's mine!

SYC Members in La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reuinion Rendez-Vous

Caleta Partida, BCS, Mexico
November 14, 2009

Caleta Partida

After 15 years in the making, the Baker family and the Gifford family have redndez-vous'd on their boats in Mexico. We have been saying, "Tahiti 2010!" for so many years that it hasn't really sunk in that we are now cruising together. We spent two beautiful days (and windy nights) in Caleta Partida which is an anchorage between two islands (Isla Partida and Isla Espirtu Santos) that make up a National Park just north of La Paz.
Shortly after arriving and just beyond the hugs and greetings, we all went for a snorkel. Austin has seen the light, and after the outgoing snorkel with Brad in deeper water, he snorkeled back in fairly shallow water with me and saw "about 10 times as many fish". It was the cutest thing ever to have him go from just wanting to get back to the dinghies to chasing fish and stopping and hovering above rocks excitedly pointing at his "finds". It is really exciting to watch him become a stronger and stronger swimmer everyday.
Totem and Capaz were joined by Blackdragon in the early evening. The hills looked very inviting, so we planned a hike for the morning before it got too hot. The wind from the Corumel (the local unpredictable wind), were still pretty strong which we looked forward to keeping us cool as we explored. However, they made our beach landing a challenge. We didn't realize that we could have gone around and landed in the lagoon, but the ranger (a couple of fisherman that he recruited) took pity on the ladies and their dinghy and carried the 30 yards over to calm of the lagoon. The going was pretty tough, steep and no real trail, so we didn't get very far but did get a great view of the bay, the lagoon and the shallow bite on the other side of it. After an entire year and then some of looking out for rattlesnakes, Behan saw her first one. I saw it too and I am hoping that means I won't "get" to see any more while we are here in Mexico.
There was a big group dinner on Capaz last night, followed by at least one of the kids not making it back his boat (Niall slept over). We are currently following Totem into La Paz where we will be doing some serious provisioning to get us through to Thanksgiving and our trip across the Sea of Cortez to Banderas Bay where we will be staying through the holidays.

The Giffords wouldn't even let us put our engine on our dinghy, instead they gave us a quick tow to the the snorkeling spot

Austin jumping off the cabin top

The only rattlesnake I hope to see here in Mexico

Capaz at anchor at sunrise

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Night Class

Tropic of Cancer
Los Frailes, BCS, Mexico
November 10, 2009

Los Frailles

We sit here on the Tropic of Cancer close to the largest coral reef in North America called Pulmo Reef. The vast variety of marine life is quite amazing. Last night another cruiser mentioned that if we turned on our deck lights (lights that shine down from the spreaders - think porch light), where it shines on the water, it would attract shrimp to the surface. As the shrimp were attracted to the surface the smaller fish that eat them would come too. Then the bigger fish that eat the smaller fish would follow. And so it happened between 7:30 and 10:00 last night we had three boys who got quite a biology lesson off the swim step of Capaz. When what we believe to have been Machete fish showed up their eyes flashed bright orange in the beam of our spotlight. Eventually, the fishing poles came out and after trying several methods, a fly used on regular line pole (we only have flies, no fly-fishing pole) got a couple of these guys onto the back deck for further inspection before they were through back.
This morning was another marine biology lesson commenced with 3 families of boys heading out toward the point here at Los Frailes (the coral reef and preserve are quite a ways around the corner from our anchorage). Everyone snorkeled for a good hour and we saw so many kinds of fish that it was incredible. The area was very rocky with several different kinds of coral growing on giant boulders. The 6 boys, ranging in age from 7 to 11 were so excited is was contagious. Even in this fairly remote area, a dive boat (panga) joined us for a few minutes before it moved its customer around the corner to the coral reef.
We visited the beach after anchoring yesterday afternoon and got to see the tracks of where a turtle was trying to find just the right place to make a nest. She dug several holes and ended up returning to the water without laying eggs. There is obliviously some sort of conservation going on here as there is another actual nest close by that has been marked and netting put over the eggs to keep out rats or lizards or what not.

Turtle's nest search path

I am pretty sure that the boys are learning a thing or two about what lives in the parts of the Big Blue that covers over 3/4 of our planet!

Bryce and a machete fish - can they fight!!!

Boys and Scupper on the beach

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Adios Cabo San Lucas

Motoring off of San Carlos, BCS, Mexico
November 9, 2009

We have left Cabo San Lucas. Being in port in a big city is both good and bad. There are things that can only be done then, so they all get squished into the limited time that you have in the particular place. It makes for a frenetic, exhausting existence that we are glad to leave behind when it is time to depart. However, part of the generally good feeling the accompanies departure from port probably comes from the laundry being caught up, the freezer being restocked, fresh fruits and vegetables abounding, pictures having been uploaded to the blog and emails having been read, responded to and sent.
Cabo San Lucas was particularly hectic as it was our check in port for Mexico, there were several Baja Ha Ha events and best of all good friends from Seattle arrived to their condo on the beach the same day we arrived in the harbor. We pretty anchored a two minute dinghy ride off of their place and spent some very relaxing time with them as they decompressed under the palapa.
The anchorage was OK on the whole, but from about noon to about 5:00, the jet-skiers were liable to drive one crazy. In the evenings, we were far enough from the main harbor and the beach front bars to not be bothered by them in the least.
An interesting note, two blocks from the condo was a "big box" store called City Club. It is a carbon copy of Costco. The cashiers and supervisors even wear red vests. Electronics are a little more expensive, non-perishables about the same and fruits and veggies pretty dang cheap.
We are now en route to a very exciting event. We are just days from our rendez-vous with Totem. We have talking with them on the radio and when we cannot connect via that mode, we have daily email chats with them. Fifteen years ago, we started talking about this cruising thing with them. Brad and I were already married; so it is now a marriage, 5 children between us, purchases of 3 boats between us, a post graduate degree, several jobs and two start-up businesses that bring us to the point where we are making the dreams of twenty-something selves come true.
That's some pretty heady stuff which is good because it makes my fortieth birthday milestone a little easier to swallow. Also, helping me over this hump will be friends joining us from Seattle. One friend is flying in from Seattle and hopefully our friends in Cabo will be able to drive over to La Paz.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico
November 5, 2009
7:00am PST

The Cape

We are currently rounding the cape of Cabo San Lucas. Once around, I guess we are officially in the Sea of Cortez! The sunrise on the Cape was gorgeous as was the sail from Bahia Santa Maria. We were able to sail most of the way in fabulous 12-17 knot winds from the North with pretty flat seas. The water temperature is currently up to 82*.
I am glad the day has started out so beautifully because ahead of me lies checking into Mexico and getting our visas, provisioning as we are pretty low on fresh fruits and veggies and possibly tackling the laundry. I am looking forward to our friends from Seattle are arriving in Cabo today! I think I might just put my feet up and enjoy this little lull between our finish and actually getting into the harbor.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bahia Santa Maria

Approaching Bahia Santa Maria at sunset

Bahia Santa Maria, BCS, Mexico
November 3, 2009

Wow! What a place this is! We arrived to the finish of this leg just before sunset. The bay was another hour or so away which meant that we entered in last light and proceeded to the anchorage in the dark. Luckily, there was another boat just ahead of us and four other Ha-Ha boats already anchored to give us clue as to the where to go. All that said, I still do not like anchoring in the dark.
Yesterday, there was alot of cleaning going on aboard CAPAZ, mostly because everyone went in for a beach day. Bryce has become very adept at taking the kayak in and out through some surf. We have all learned the string ray shuffle. The kids found great shells. There has also been alot of jumping off the pilothouse as the water temperature has reached 80*.
The hills (small mountains really) that protect this bay are tinged with green and everything is bloom because the Hurricane Jimena (sp?) that hit here in September parked and rained on this part of Baja that is normally very arid. The main bay just inland of us (Bahia Magdalena), really took the brunt of the storm - we heard they lost their clinic, their pharmacy and many businesses.
There is a lagoon and mangroves at the top of the bay. I did a little exploring by kayak this morning. At low tide a great sand bar dries between the lagoon and the anchorage (that was the site of the beach day, yesterday). The currents were a little weird go in, but there were all sorts of interesting fish and some different kinds of shore birds. I would have followed one of the sloughs, but I was all by myself (except for the guy doing yoga in the dunes) and I couldn't knock the feeling that it all really reminded me of the Florida Everglades where there are no kayaks for good reason and couldn't remember if there are crocs on Baja or if it just the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez. Needless to say, I headed back out to the anchorage.
Today there was an organized fish fry ashore. Everything has to be brought in by truck from quite a ways away. Then, there was the band, they were so great - really tight. We talked to one of the guys and they play this one gig a year for the Baja Ha Ha every year, otherwise they play with other bands usually. They played great classic rock dance music. There is sand, so of course there were sandcastles. The kids also rode their boogie boards in the outflow of the lagoon.
Anyway, tomorrow is an early start, 6:00 am Ha Ha time (we haven't switched to standard time or switched time zones, yet). We should reach Cabo sometime Thursday morning.

Bahia Santa Maria Anchorage

This very fast little crab decided that the best place to hide from Brad who had just released him onto the beach was under the blanket on which my butt was comfortably resting!

Pilothouses work well for water entries!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fleeceless Night

Well, folks, for the first time since leaving Seattle, I had my first night watch that did not require fleece. That's not to say that we have not had warm nights; they just don't seem to coincide with being underway. We should reach our next Baja Ha Ha anchorage before sundown this evening at Bahia Santa Maria, just on the outside of Magdalena Bay.
We had a great sail for part of the afternoon and part of the evening. Around 9:00pm the wind died and the iron sail has been propelling us southward since. Despite the engine, it was a beautiful clear night with a full moon and lots of stars. We are all pretty much up and enjoyed this morning's beautiful sunrise and we celebrated the mellow seas with pancakes and bacon.

This Mahi-mahi was let go
It did not "get away"

Bryce caught his first mahi-mahi (also called dorado or dolphin fish depending on where you are), but the beautiful creature was a small one so we threw it back. He also caught two more skip jacks and bird. The bird picked up the lure once, then came back and when it tried again got caught on the hook. Now we know where the term, "bird brain" comes from. Brad carefully removed the hook and off flew the bird into the Big Blue.

Another episode of Gilligan's Island

We work our crew hard!

Brad's new favorite quote on cruising:
"This so does not suck!"