So, what did we mean by ‘getting ready to go’?

So, what did we mean by ‘getting ready to go’?

As I sit here in the sunshine, having enjoyed my second round of quesadillas for lunch after a morning of beachcombing and exploring, I figured I should probably catch up on what possibly could have taken a month in terms of ‘getting ready’ once we arrived at the boat:

I love lists, so here is a rather comprehensive list of what was involved:

  1. Getting to know the boat
  • Open every locker and storage space. Boats frequently make clever use of space throughout but that also means things get tucked away in nooks and crannies, and until we pulled everything out we had no idea what we had, what we didn’t, and what we needed
  • Inventory everything on the boat and make a list of what we need. Sort said list into ‘must haves’, ‘nice to haves’, and ‘things we dream of one day having’. More on what fits into those categories later!
  • Unpack our clothes, tools and supplies. This part wouldn’t really take long, as we really didn’t bring that much, but it did require finding a home for everything we’d already pulled out, together with our things, so there’s been a lot of ‘Jenga’ being played the last four weeks
  • Figure out if the heads (a word used simultaneously for both the toilet itself and the bathroom) are working. Our two toilets work on the basis of sea-water being drawn in, and then the waste either being pumped out of the boat or into a holding tank. However, as we started ‘on the hard’, it meant there was no seawater nearby for our boat to take in to run the heads, nor anywhere to discharge the holding tanks. As such, we had to be mindful how we used the heads, and we had to arrange for a truck to come pump out the holding tanks. Now that we’ve ‘splashed’ and are in the water, we’re able to confirm that the proper uptake of water is happening (though, everything is still being kept in a holding tank for now…more on that in a future post)
  • Figure out if the hot water heaters work. We have two hot water heaters, one on each side of the catamaran. They are either heated by the two respective engines, or by supplying electricity through a secondary shore-power connection. The issue that we faced in the boat yard was that our system is 2 paralleled 30amp circuits, but we only had one 15amp extension cord supplying the power. This means the electrical circuits are split in half for the items that draw big power like the water heater or the battery charger, and since we didn’t have a second extension cord available, we couldn’t power the water heater while we were on the hard and also charging our batteries. Basically, what would happen if we did is that we’d overdraw the electricity and effectively trip the breaker on the boat yard circuit. Once we were at the dock, the shore power provided by the marina was a 30amp circuit, so we were able to test out the water heaters one at a time (we do have a splitter to accommodate a 50amp circuit, which would allow us to run both sides at the same time, but the marina didn’t have that capacity available), and it resulted in lovely hot showers for all!
  • Test our water capacity. We have two 100-gallon fresh water tanks, and the only way to really determine our consumption, and thus our need, is to use the water. Let’s take a pause here, to put things in perspective:
    • In North America, most of our toilets use between 2-7 gallons per flush.
    • On average, North Americans use 20 gallons of water for a 20 minute shower, and 4-6 gallons per dishwasher cycle (and hand-washing, more like 8-20 gallons).
    • Add to that coffee, cooking, drinking water, washing hands and brushing teeth, and you can see how quickly we can run through water if we’re not careful. (Oh, and stopping the girls from turning the taps on and off, since they can actually reach them in the heads.)
  • Test the engines. We have two 30 horsepower Yanmar engines which power the boat. The first time we inspected the engines there was some coolant pooling below one of them. Our engines are cooled by sucking seawater into a heat exchanger that transfers the heat of the engine into the sea water and then spits it back out into the ocean. You’ll notice if you’ve ever looked at a sailboat with its engine(s) running that there is water spitting out the side of the boat. Now, the interesting thing in testing one’s engines while ‘on the hard’ is that there is no seawater when sitting in the boatyard, so it requires inserting a hose into the raw water strainer. Needless to say, replicating this while the boat is out of the water requires some finesse. Thankfully, all seemed well, and the engines appeared ready for the water.
  • Test the watermaker. As one can see from above, we don’t have endless water on board, so thankfully Skookum V came outfitted with a Spectra watermaker, albeit one with a relatively low output (8 gallons an hour, which requires running the motors and/or the generator on board). As we weren’t in the cleanest of harbours when we were in Puerto Penasco, we didn’t test this out until we arrived in Santa Rosalia. Thankfully, it seems to be running well, despite a small leak we’re in the process of sorting out, and we’re able to (slowly) produce water to meet our needs. The water is clear and tasty, but we still have to be mindful, as it took us 5 hours of running both engines to generate enough water to make about 40 gallons.
  • Make sure the solar panels and wind generator are working. Since we’re likely to be spending the vast majority of our time not connected to shore power (as no one runs an extension cord from the land to a boat sitting on an anchor), we have to find ways of generating power each day. We can generate electricity by running the engines, which in turn charges our batteries, but we also have less impactful ways of harnessing the elements:
    • We have three NB Solar panels on board, which are about 185 watts each; and
    • an Eclectic Energy D400 wind generator that is mounted off the back transom of the boat, and allows us to capture energy from the wind.

As we have just spent our first night at anchor, we are only just starting to test this system. In the five hours we had between arriving yesterday and bedtime we used 30 amp hours, and by morning we were down about 67 amp hours. Now, since the sun has come up and is hitting the solar panels, and the wind generator is spinning with the small amount of breeze we have today, we’ve generated about 25 amp hours to put back into the system. We’ve basically determined that we’ll likely be net down about 20 to 30 amp hours a day keeping up with our energy needs…lights, fridge, freezer, starter batteries for the engines, electric flushes for the heads and charging any devices (phones, ipads, laptops, navigational electronics etc). Now, the amount of amp hours you can run through depends on the size and capacity of the battery bank. Our battery bank is made up of 3 220 amp hour AGM batteries. As it isn’t advisable to run these below 50% of their capacity, that means we have about 330 amp hours to use before we are running them lower than we want. So, at 10-20 amp hours a day beyond the capability of our solar panels and wind generator, that means we need to be either running our engines (not advisable, as it is bad for them to run simply for the purpose of charging batteries) or our onboard generator eventually to charge them. But, let me tell you, it isn’t fun to sit with a running generator for long periods of time, nor is it polite to fellow inhabitants of the anchorage…so instead of waiting 10 days and then running the engines/generator for a day or two straight, it likely makes sense for us to run the generator for a little while each day to keep up with our needs. It all definitely leads to Stu and I watching girls like hawks, as they’re still grasping the concept that we can’t just leave lights on all the time, no matter how fun it is to turn them on and off.

  • Make sure Fridge and freezer are working. Well, this can only be done by using it and seeing whether everything stays cool enough, too cold or generally melts. It’s taken some tinkering, but I think we have the system relatively well dialed for our current temperatures. Keep in mind, the hotter it is outside and in the water, the harder the fridge and freezer have to work to stay cool. Also, we aren’t talking about your run of the mill fridge from home. Think more the size of that bar fridge your parents bought you in university.

2. Prepare the boat

  • Install the safety netting. You’ve likely caught glimpses in our photos of the netting we have on the sides of the boat. Those that visited our home in Whistler may actually recall that our three-storey-high deck also had this same netting to deal with the non-conforming railing (and having small humans). We toyed with whether we’d actually put this up or not, because ultimately, you don’t want that weather-worn, sun-damaged, poorly installed netting to be the thing preventing a man over board (or MOB as us cool cats call it). Rather, you want everyone on board (including the kids) to be properly trained to be properly life-jacketed or harnessed at all required times, and to navigate movement on the board in a way that should minimize a tumble to the water. But, as the prior owner had a crew member with a dog and already had the netting stowed away inside AND as I hope the netting will help prevent the tumble of favourite toys, stuffies or electronics off the boat, I thought it couldn’t hurt to install the less-than-aesthetically pleasing netting. I hadn’t accounted for the fact it would take three false starts and two days to get it sorted out and tied on. Extra thanks to our pal Nathan on SV Allegra for gifting us with four packages of Para cord for actually attaching the netting to the lifelines.
  • Install and test the Iridium Go. Per an earlier post, we are able to stay connected to the world via a satellite connection when we’re out of cell phone range. The system we elected to go with is the Iridium Go through PredictWind. But, it wasn’t just a ‘plug and play’ type affair. Rather, the antennae for the system had to be installed on top of our bimini (the roof that covers us when we’re in the cockpit), and then wired into the boat properly to meet with the receiver placed inside. But, since Stu is an electronics wiz, he had this sorted in no time (like, half a day).
  • Inflate and clean the dinghy. For cruisers, the dinghy is like our car. It is how we get off the boat and get to shore, and how we travel shorter distances. Stu didn’t have the opportunity to look at it much when he came down in October, so we were a little nervous whether the one on board would actually keep afloat. Thankfully, she holds air (at least for a few days at a time), and the (rather insanely heavy) 20 hp Tohatsu outboard seems to work (after a little servicing and cleaning of the carborator).
  • Test the outboard motor. Many thanks to our friend Colin from SV Angela Lee for his Calgary-farmer-strength in helping Stu heave the outboard onto the dock so Stu could service it and make it run. She’s a beast, but she’ll do for now.
  • Pump out the holding tanks. See above part relating to the heads. Getting the truck to us for pumping out the holding tanks was more difficult than one would think, as we missed it two days in a row before we managed to flag it down in the yard!
  • Troubleshoot excess friction on headsail furler. When Stu was in Penasco in October for the survey of the boat he noted that the headsail (the sail at the front of the boat) was hard to pull out and put away, and there appeared to be an excess of friction in trying to do so. We’ve been working on this since, and had our friends on SV Alegria and SV Totem pitch in, but so far we’ve not determined the cause, save for a slightly too-large furling line and some excess friction at the drum at the top, with a cause still-to-be-determined. Thankfully, it still unfurls and sails…not that we’ve had enough wind to sail yet!
  • Install jacklines. I will write a separate post dedicated to safety on the boat, and how we manage it, but one of the items common to most sailboats when they go on passages, especially if they do overnights, are jacklines. These are lines that run from the front to the back of the boat, unhindered by anything else, where we can clip a tether to. The other end of the tether is attached to our lifejackets (and in the case of the girls, we also have climbing harnesses we use from time to time).
  • Set up Rasberry Pi. I will let Stu explain this, as I’m still wrapping my head around it J, so his post is to come.
  • Obtain Mexican liability insurance. Those from home in British Columbia are used to our VERY expensive vehicle insurance. Well, boat insurance is worse. And has way too many exceptions and rules. But, in addition to the insurance we have paid through the nose for, Mexico requires its own separate Mexican liability policy for pleasure craft as well. Thankfully, this only runs about $300-350 a year, so it won’t break the bank, but we did still need to get it organized and sorted.

3. Provision the boat

  • Groceries: There are loads of books, articles and blog posts about what is needed for groceries on a boat. But, of course, it all entirely depends on where you are, what you eat, where you’re going and far you plan to be away from the next grocery store. Also, you have to be able to store said food somewhere on board, in a way that it lasts, doesn’t invite bugs or rodents (weevils, anyone?!), and that is relatively accessible (if it is packed under four bins, then you’ll never go for it. Between Stu and I, I think we did about 6-8 major trips to three main stores: Bodega (a cheap version of Walmart), Sam’s Club (like Costco) and Ley (run of the mill grocery store). Some of those trips were done with the help of boat yard friends or their cars, and some were done using taxis to transport us back to the boatyard. I’m happy to write more about this in a separate post if anyone is interested, but suffice to say, we have many staples, and we’re working out how to ration and deal with our fresh food stores. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, the girls are eating at least twice what they did at home – all that fresh air! Since this is our first time out at anchor, without a grocery store in sight, we’re getting our first chance to see how our planning has panned out.
  • Supplies: Cooking, cleaning, laundry….basically think of many of the things you use on a day to day basis, and we had to get it or augment it. But, the nice thing is, since we’re living in a MUCH smaller space, with way less storage, and way less ‘complicated’ lives, we also don’t need as much (one of the main reasons we’re doing this, and something I’ll get into later)
  • Diesel: While there is a fuel dock in Penasco, we’d been told the quality of the diesel was less than excellent, so thankfully our friend Colin was able to hook us up with a borrowed car to fill portable tanks to bring back to the boat. It isn’t uncommon for many cruisers to have to spend days lugging tanks to random places, filling them and then lugging them back to their dinghies and out to their boats, so we’re very thankful we have not had to do that yet. $1.43 per litre
  • Propane: Huge thank you to our friends Mike and Katie of SV Alegria for the use of their car and directions from Dave and Marla of SV Cavu as to where we could fill our propane tanks. $0.91 per litre
  • Water: When we were on the hard in Astilleros Cabrales, we were able to call for a potable water truck to come to us to fill our water tanks, which is what we relied on until we got our water maker up and running in Santa Rosalia. $14.66 for about 100 gallons.
  • Orders from Amazon and West Marine. One of the reasons folks really like the boatyard at Cabrales (aside from the incomparable owner Salvadore Cabrales III and his oh-so-fashionable Father), is the fact it is so close to the border with Arizona. For American cruisers this means easy access to Phoenix and Tuscon and all the shopping one could want, American Amazon, and cheap shipping to a gas station just across the border. For us Canadians who cannot cross the land border, it’s a bit less ideal; however, cruisers tend to be amazing and generous people, and we were able to have things shipped to the gas station in Lukeville, Arizona, which were picked up for us by friends! So, we were able to sort out a few things that we couldn’t source in Mexico or hadn’t brought with us such as some tools, specific boat equipment and parts for our Raspberry Pi. I realize now I should have taken the opportunity to order some of the foodstuffs we use lots of but are difficult to get here in the Baja (nutritional yeast and cashews, anyone?).
  • Update safety equipment. One of the things we needed to order from across the Border was a new battery for our EPIRB, which is an emergency position indicating radio beacon, which we would use to transmit an emergency signal in the event of an emergency (like the boat sinking). We had other items we needed as well, but those will have to be dealt with at a later time, as it turns out one can’t ship flares across the Border.
  • Laundry and showers. Remember what I said above about water? Well, I didn’t even mention laundry. No, we do not have a washing machine on board (or a dishwasher, for that matter). So, we either rely on laundrettes, laundromats or washing facilities in marinas. We were able to get a couple loads done at a local laundrette (where they washed and dried and folded for us) at the start of our time in the boat yard, which was needed to deal with all the linens on board…and a toilet training two year old. Once we moved over to the marina it had ‘free’ laundry (ie. Paid for in our very, very inexpensive fees to the marina), so we did as much as we could before leaving the dock. Eventually the day will come where we use a bucket, suds and a toilet plunger…but I’m waiting as long as possible before starting that routine.

4. ‘Splash’ the boat. This is where the amazing travel lift in the Cabrales boat yard picks up the boat, moves to the launching bay and slowly lowers it into the water; however, this couldn’t be done at just any time. The tides go up and down quite significantly in Penasco, and at the lowest tide there is no water in the launching bay, so we had to wait for a high enough tide to accommodate the draft (how deep the bottom part of our boat goes under the water) plus some extra for ‘cushion’. Our draft is about 3 foot 6 inches, which is quite shallow as far as boats go (common for a catamaran), but we still had to wait for the right day. Then a Norther blew through and we decided we didn’t want to launch the boat with 30 knots of wind blowing us straight back into the boat yard.

5. Test sail/anchor. We had a lovely day on the water with our friends from SV Alegria and SV Angela Lee. There was absolutely no wind, but we threw the sails up anyway, to be sure everything was working. We also dropped the anchor and sat just off the beach enjoying a happy hour to celebrate it all. Check.

6. Watch for a weather window. See previous post on this one.

7. Get our Tourist Visa. As Canadians, we can be in Mexico for 180 consecutive days on a tourist visa. The border crossing we came through on our way down from Arizona is in a zone where they don’t really fuss about visas, or checking passports or much of anything (save for not allowing Canadians to travel back the other way, as experienced by Stu in October). What this meant is we did not have a stamp on our passports, nor the required tourist visas, so we knew we’d need to travel back up to the border (a couple hours round-trip drive) to get them before departing Pensasco. Thankfully, this gave us an extra month, meaning we have until July to figure out how to extend those visas for longer.

8. ‘Check out’ with Port Captain. Most ‘official’ ports around the world have a Port Captain. And, if not a Port Captain, they have some sort of official with whom cruisers will ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ when they come and go from a harbour. In some places it is a matter of courtesy, and in others a formal requirement. In Penasco it involved going to their office, conveniently located close to both the boat yard and marina, bringing all our boat paperwork, passports and visas (including evidence of our boat registration and insurance), having them review it, take copies, stamp it and give their blessing for our departure. Keep in mind, the day you want to depart (ie. Weather window) doesn’t always line up with the hours and days the Port Captain’s office is open – we were lucky this time!

I’m sure I’ve missed things in here, but as this is (once again) getting quite long, I’ll leave it for now.

A reminder as well, if anyone would like to reach us you can email us at, and when we’re away from cell service, you can text us at +881652431419. Otherwise, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger always work well!

Maiden Voyage Vlog

Maiden Voyage Vlog

Y’all saw the highlight of our first passage (ie. dolphins!), but here’s the vlog on the rest of the journey:

Two (nights) are better than one!

Two (nights) are better than one!

Bear with me, this is a long one…

Skookum V has been docked at Marina Fonatur in Santa Rosalia for just over 24 hours. Naps have been had, tacos have been eaten and we’ve had a small explore of the town. Now we’re sitting on the boat while the girls colour and Stu works, trying to eat three avocados worth of guacamole at 10:30am because the avos were about to go bad. So, I figured I’d use this time to describe our true ‘Maiden Voyage’.

Story time looks a little different while ‘under way’!

First, I’ll explain a little about this ‘weather window’ we’d been keeping an eye out for before leaving Puerto Penasco. To give some context, PP (as I’ll call Puerto Penasco, because I’m cool like that) sits at the very northern end of the Sea of Cortez, which is 700 miles long, and weather impacts its waterways from a variety of sources. Systems blow in from the Pacific and cross over the Baja Peninsula, which can whip through low points in the land, and often accelerate as they pass through the gaps between mountains. Katabatic winds also result from high density air from a higher elevation flowing down via gravity (to the sea). At night the land cools faster than the ocean, which causes the dying of the daytime sea breeze, and then the air pressure over the sea (lower than over land, because the sea temperature is warmer than the land) causes winds to flow out to sea. Differences between the land temperature and the ocean temperature can also result in different weather patterns. In addition, winds known as ‘Northers’ flow from the lands to the north and funnel down the Sea of Cortez, often at pretty high speeds. This, combined with the depth of the Sea (relatively shallow) creates waves that are short and steep, which when sailing into can be very, very uncomfortable.

Not typical for this part of the Sea of Cortez.

The other relevant factor is that there are almost no safe places (in terms of protected anchorages) to stop along the Baja Peninsula between PP and our first intended destination, Bahia de los Angeles. Knowing our first journey would be the 140 nautical miles from PP to Bay of LA, we didn’t want to be caught in one of these Northers, and unduly stress ourselves, the kids or the boat before we’d really had a chance to know how well she sailed. At the recommendation of our coaches from SV Totem, we were waiting for a weather forecast that showed a large enough window in the weather without a Norther and with minimal wind. Ideally, despite being on a sailboat, we wanted to motor our first passage and get that first bit south nice and safely.

Throughout the first few weeks of outfitting the boat we watched the weather, and basically, we only saw one opportunity to make the ‘jump’; however, we weren’t quite ready to go at that point. We had system after system of high winds pass through in the week after we splashed the boat, so we sat at the marina once again watching the weather and awaiting our chance. Keep in mind, while weather forecasting is a science, it is also about predicting forces of nature, which are known to change without warning – a healthy dose of being prepared for the unknown is definitely required.

So, when our weather window presented itself, it was ultimately time to go. Preparing ourselves and the boat at this point included the following:

  1. Making sure we had enough diesel (the fuel for the engines);
  2. Making sure we had enough propane (the fuel we cook with);
  3. Making sure we had enough water (we haven’t used our Spectra watermaker yet, as the waters in PP were just a bit yucky!)
  4. Final provisioning (making sure we have our fresh produce, our dry goods, our preferred snacks and, of course, enough beer)
  5. Putting things away on the boat that could fall over, break, get in our way etc… (though admittedly, this isn’t as critical on the catamaran, which doesn’t heel over the way a monohull does)
  6. Setting ourselves up to deal with potential sea sickness. I had actually been experiencing a little while at the dock, so we wanted to be sure neither Stu nor I had to do more than necessary inside the boat, where it can get worse. I cooked up some vegan Mac and Cheese, and had it ready to heat; cut up veggies and fruits for snacking; made sure we had a basket of snack-worthy nuts, chips, cookies, granola bars and chocolate to dip into; made sure the girls pajamas and bed were set up and easy to access; pulled out our warmer clothes and jackets to access as night set in etc.
  7. Deal with downloads and other necessities while we had cell service – favourite tv shows and movies for the girls, playlists from Spotify, podcasts to listen to, books from Audible, last-minute weather forecasts, mail forwarding to our satellite system, updates to family and friends

When we awoke on Tuesday morning, our planned day of departure, we realized we had one very important last-minute task to do. Not knowing when we might next come across a product of the same quality, we scurried off to @cafepuertoviejo and bought ourselves some more of their gorgeous ground coffee…phew!

We had a delightful send off as our new friends, Colin and Angela, from the sailing vessel AngelaLee, lead us out of PP in their dinghy around 2:30 in the afternoon and waved as we dialed ourselves into our charted waypoint. We had timed our departure with the intention of arriving at a channel between the Baja Peninsula and an island the following morning in daylight, based on our expected travel speed of 6-7 nautical miles per hour.

The afternoon and evening passed quickly. We bundled ourselves as nighttime arrived and the temperatures dropped further. Our Mac and Cheese was devoured quickly with a side of steamed broccoli, and then it was time for stories and bedtime for the girls. I did the latter as quickly as I could, as we had a little wave action and I was starting to feel nauseous while down below in their cabin. The good news is that the best cure for nausea (aside from getting off the boat, which wasn’t an option) is to be at the helm (steering wheel) watching the horizon. On that basis, and the fact Stu sleeps much easier than I do, we agreed I would take the first watch.

Dinner in the cockpit. Who knew bringing the car seats would be a genius move?

Stu settled onto the settee (couch/bench thing) in the cockpit, snuggled up with warm blankets and a pillow, and I took my place at the helm, scanning 360 degrees regularly and keeping an eye out for other vessels. The moon was obscured by clouds at that point, so it was nearly completely pitch black, save for the glow from our steaming light (a single white light on the mast) and navigations lights (a red and green light at the bow (front) of the boat, and white lights off the stern (back of the boat)), the lights of one fishing boat on the horizon and the insanely fluorescent turquoise streaks in the water caused by phosphorescence. It is near impossible to get photos of these, but here is your wiki link: Phosphorescence

We hadn’t planned a set schedule for taking watch at the helm, as we wanted to see how we both felt throughout the night. In the end it worked quite well that Stu went to sleep first, from 8-11pm, and then I slept from 11pm to 1am, and then Stu slept from 1am to 3am, and I slept from 3am to 5:10am. When I awoke, I looked out and saw the start of the most incredible sunrise:

That sky!

Then, the kids awoke just as we were nearing Bahia de los Angeles. We checked the most recent weather forecast, which had been released at midnight, and all looked calm for at least another 24 hours. In a passing comment to Stu I said, ‘It’s been so nice, and the weather looks so good, we should just keep going.”…which of course, with Stu, is interpreted as permission, not suggestion J. Within about 30 minutes we’d talked it over, messaged Totem over satellite to have them double check the forecast, and made the decision we were going to head further south…another 120 nautical miles, and another overnight passage. Here were the main factors in that decision:

  1. The weather window was looking to be much longer than originally forecast, and no real wind was anticipated until Thursday afternoon (and at that time it was Wednesday morning).
  2. We knew we would be facing another overnight passage when we decided to leave Bahia de los Angeles anyway, so might as well get it done now.
  3. It was unknown when we might find another window to make that hop south.
  4. A big wind was anticipated for Friday (over 30 knots), and we’d be more comfortable with the boat tied to a dock behind a breakwater than sitting at anchor (and hoping the anchor was staying put).
  5. We anticipate we will be spending quite a bit more time in Bahia de los Angeles when we head north later in the year.
  6. We had been quite cold while in PP, and the further south we head, the warmer we’ll be.
  7. Santa Rosalia is an excellent launching point for a whole bunch of awesome anchorages, whereas there was only one decent anchorage between Bahia de los Angeles and Santa Rosalia.
  8. We were feeling good, had each had a decent amount of sleep the night before, and were ready to take on another overnight.
  9. The kids were super happy and chill, and enjoying the trip.
  10. We had an engine light come on not long out of PP, which Stu suspected was an issue with the alternator, and it would be easier to diagnose and possibly deal with in Santa Rosalia where there was access to stores, wifi (for research), and a dock.
  11. Totem just so happened to be at the dock in Santa Rosalia, and this would be a chance to see them in-person, and catch up on all the myriad of questions we always seem to have (and possibly get help with that alternator issue).
  12. As my sister so eloquently put it, we just never really start small…so why not double our intended mileage and time on passage the very first time we’re out?

So, the decision was made, and as everyone saw by the video in the last post, we were so incredibly rewarded for doing so. I don’t think Stu or I have ever experienced anything quite as magical as that ‘super pod’ of dolphins (which may or may not be evident by Stu screaming ‘we love you guys’ to the dolphins over and over). We also had two separate whale shows (what my family has always called a whale siting) throughout the day, which we believe were likely fin whales – HUGE whales).

The rest of the passage was incredibly smooth. Dead calm waters, save for a touch of wind around midnight. Not quite enough to sail, but enough to allow us to motor sail (we put the sails up and used one of the motors at a lower rpm, and still made decent time). We saw one boat in about 15 hours, and otherwise had the entire second half of the passage to ourselves. And then we were greeted by another gorgeous sunrise as we approached Santa Rosalia. Turns out the alternator issue is just a broken wire at the back of the alternator, so should be an easy fix (as if I understand what any of that means…I have so much to still learn!)

I’m going to sign off this one for now, as it has become quite long (and I’m sure most of you have fallen asleep by now), but I promise we will get to that boat tour soon, as well as to answer the questions people have been sending us.

Enjoying this gorgeous little Mexican town!
“Well, not like you guys ever start small!”

“Well, not like you guys ever start small!”

The title of this post is the response my sister sent over satellite messages when we informed her that instead of anchoring in Bahia de los Angeles, as originally planned, we were going to continue another 120-ish miles south to a port called Santa Rosalia…meaning another 18-20 hours at sea.

So, here we now sit tied to the dock in Santa Rosalia, 257 nautical miles south of where we started, having completed our first overnight passage. Make that two overnights! Stu and I are understandably tired, so this is going to be a short post just to say we are not in our intended destination, but we have solid cell service here so we will update again once we’ve had a chance to nap. I will explain why we jumped further south, and the decision-making process to do so, as well as describe what it was like to be sitting at the helm, plunging through the darkness at 7 nautical miles per hour while everyone slept, watching the bioluminescent phosphorescence alongside the boat.

In the meantime, have a peek at the amazing welcoming party we had for our first passage. One of the most amazing things we’ve ever seen:

Hasta Luego,

Erin, Stu, Ellie and Lily

I just called…to say…i love you…

I just called…to say…i love you…

I have been trying to write two different posts this week, one catching up on all the things we’ve done in the last month (we arrived four weeks ago today!), and another on our ‘day to day’ existence on the boat, and realities of living in 500 square feet that float on the water. But as we prep to leave tomorrow for our first passage, I’m too tired to finish either of them.


So, here are the important details, and I’ll finish those posts in the next while (possibly tomorrow before we go). Short story is that our weather ‘window’ to make our first passage south has opened, and we anticipate throwing off the bowlines early-afternoon tomorrow!

Part of the reason we’ve been waiting to leave. We’re the green dot. The colours show wind speed (as you can see toward the bottom), and the red shows winds over 25-30 knots an hour – not exactly what we want for our first overnight passage on this boat with two small kids.

We will be heading about 160 miles south of here to Bahia de los Angeles (which is the first place that provides us much protection from winds coming from the North (which are the prevailing winds at this time of year)). We anticipate it will take us 18-24 hours to get there. From there we expect to continue making our way south, though we’re not entirely sure of the pace. We also haven’t determined just how far south yet, but it is possible we’ll eventually head toward Bahia de Banderas (the bay where Puerto Vallarta is located), weather-depending, with the plan to start heading back north as we head into summer. We have work we want to do on the boat by next fall, so we expect we’ll likely come back here to Puerto Penasco to do that.

Photo courtesy of my sister’s Google Map search so you can see where we’re headed. We’re near the top in ‘Puerto Penasco’, and we’re headed toward the red point to start.

Once we’re a few miles away from Puerto Penasco, we will no longer have cellular service (I know, whaaaa?!). There is no cell service in ‘Bay of LA’ (as the cool kids call it), and we’re not sure how long we’ll be anchored there, so it is safe to say it may be another week or so before we are back in cellular or wifi range. That being said, we are now set up with a satellite system known as Iridium Go on the boat, which we’re using in connection with our trusted weather and marine forecaster, Predict Wind. We can send and receive calls, text messages and emails with the Iridium, as well as access very, very, very slow internet for the bare necessities (ie. weather forecasting). We also have emergency/SOS alerting and there is a tracker so people can see where we are!

So, if you’d like to reach us any time we’re away from cell service, you can still email us at or go directly through the Iridium at, or you can text us at +881652431419. We are on an ‘unlimited data’ plan this month, so while we won’t be able to see photos or download attachments, we’re always happy to hear from our friends and family, so please don’t hesitate to send us a message!

We are still trying to figure out how to embed the satellite tracking into our blog, but in the meantime, you can go here to see where we’re at:

Let’s hope we have a more successful exit from the harbour than these guys! And yes, that’s what the exit looks like at low tide.

Thank you to everyone who has messaged and commented in the various social media formats to-date. We so appreciate the support and encouragement from afar.