We awoke in the morning after rolling around in the swell most of the night. While we love the beauty of Los Gatos, we just haven’t found a night there where we’ve not had an uncomfortable roll. The wind had shifted from the prior evening, and we were closer to the rocks that morning than I personally felt comfortable with. Already awake after a restless sleep, and with the proximity of the rocks, we just decided to weigh anchor and leave at that time. SV Mapache and SV Catspaw decided to follow suit, and we convoyed out of the anchorage, straight into about 15 knots of wind. Excited for the opportunity to sail, we all pulled our sails up and quickly started moving north along the coastline…right until the wind completely died. Noting what felt like a wind line in the distance (where the water looked darker due to wind over its surface, instead of the lighter colours flat-calm water where we were. We were rewarded by a katabatic wind, flowing from west to east from the land, and we shot off like a bullet. Before long we saw some gusts over 27 knots per hour, and Stu was able to try his hand at reefing the mainsail in stronger wind. Sadly, the excitement didn’t last, and before long we were becalmed again, bobbing along. Stu took advantage and launched the drone and was able to get some fun views of the three boats moving along in tandem.
We only had 18 nautical miles to go to get to Agua Verde, so we all had fun with our respective boats, goading each other on over the radio, and enjoying the opportunity to sail when we could.
Back in Agua Verde, we dropped our anchor in the northern ‘lobe’ of the anchorage, nearly on top of where we had previously anchored. As there were several boats around us, Mapache and Catspaw anchored further over in front of the main beach. We all dinghied ashore for dinner at the tiny palapa restaurant on the beach.
Truthfully, there’s nothing much better than home-cooked Mexican food, while sipping a Mexican beer while wriggling one’s toes in the sand. The girls entertained everyone as they played with the proprietor’s granddaughter, and we all enjoyed watching the sunset continually change the colour of the sky.
Being able to show our new friends the girls’ favourite ‘swimming beach’ was a highlight, as were hikes to a nearby arroyo and Stu free-diving for an urchin I spotted from the paddle board.
Agua Verde has definitely been a favourite anchorage of ours, now having spent fourteen days total there over the last couple months. It is really interesting to see an anchorage over a stretch of time, as it can change so much from day to day and evening to evening. I suspect we’ll be back.
Ugh, once again I’ve been failing at regularly updating the blog, and really there is not much excuse, save for the fact the more ‘behind’ I feel in posting, the more I avoid dealing with it.
I’ve written a few posts along the way, and have held back on posting them because I hadn’t posted about the places prior to those ones, and didn’t want to get ‘out of order’, but I’m going to try to get over my OCD-like tendencies, and just post what I have so far, and then do some catch-up posts.
We’ve also filmed a tour of the boat that we’ve been trying to finish editing, and we’ve been procrastinating on that as well!
So, please excuse the fact we’ll be a bit out of order, as we catch up on the time spent since Puerto Escondido!
I just had a peek, and the last time I wrote a blog post was 30 days ago. I can definitely use the excuse that we’ve spent the better part of that away from cell service and offline, or in range of inadequate cell service; however, that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, and certainly wouldn’t have prevented me from writing (just from posting). More accurately, I’ve just been settling into a different lifestyle and enjoying creating a new rhythm to life away from the computer screen. If I’m being honest, I’ve also read eight books in just over a month which, as Stu says, ‘is probably seven more than you read all of last year, not counting work stuff.’ In fact, the title of this blog post I took from the book I just finished reading: The Mapmaker’s Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder and Survival in The Amazon by Robert Whitaker, as that was how they described the travel tales of one of the expeditioners. It is such a delight to be able to read what I want (albeit with constant interruption – don’t forget I have a two year old and three year old still), and Stu and I have an evening routine after the girls go to bed that involves an episode of the The West Wing, which we started from scratch. Add to that the fact that simple tasks such as cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and laundry take longer than they do at home, and somehow, along the way, 26 days have passed in a blur!
But, I know there are at least two or three of our huge following (lol) who might enjoy an update, and a bit of a description of what life at anchor has looked like, so I’ll try to paint a bit of a picture.
We last left off in Santa Rosalia, where we spent a lovely couple of days on the dock there at another Fonatur marina. We had the fortune of being docked right next to SV Totem, the folks we’d been working with since late last year, as they offer coaching services to cruisers on all sorts of topics from weather routing and boat maintenance to buying a boat remotely. It was such a treat to get to spend time with them in person, and to share a couple tasty meals together in the comfort of our cockpit. One of the various reasons we were drawn to the idea of a catamaran was because of the size of the cockpit, which allows us to spend most of our time outside, but under shade or wind cover…and in today’s COVID-conscious age, it also allows us to comfortably distance while also being social.
I described Santa Rosalia in a little detail in an earlier Instagram post, but was a special little place to visit, with its clapboard timber sided buildings and French colonial feel. It also had the best ice cream we’ve found to date at Splash. We managed to try the strawberry (twice, Ellie’s favourite is ‘pink’ ice cream), pineapple, caramel, and chocolate chip mint. While in Santa Rosalia, we waited out another Norther (the strong wind systems that come from the North this time of year), did some more provisioning (grocery shopping), wandered the town, Stu did some work on the starboard engine’s alternator, we had Jamie from Totem inspect our sails and rigging, and rested up after the two days of passaging from Puerto Penasco. We also had a lovely hike up one side of the hillside that encompasses the old part of town to the cemetery and cenataph at the top. A pathway winds its way in between homes to the top of the hill, and on the other side there is a pilgrimage-esque pathway heading down, lined by white painted rocks. The view from the top was lovely, and Stu was able to get some good drone footage.
From Santa Rosalia, we headed south 27 miles to a place called Punta Chivato, which had the most amazing beachcombing. The beach was made entirely of shells that washed up on the shore. Metres of them, and of all shapes and sizes. We spent hours wandering with the girls, showing each other our newfound treasures, and picking up one shell after another. We also wandered through an abandoned resort on the point, which we understand was owned by an Italian businessman who had used it for some monetary cleansing activities. It had gorgeous stonework and woodwork throughout, and was quite sad to see sitting there left to ruin. We waited out our first solid Norther ‘on the hook’ (at anchor) at Chivato, and when that passed, tried to use the trailing winds to sail 23 nautical miles further south into Bahia Concepcion.
Our journey to Playa Santispac in Concepcion started out exciting with both sails up and running downwind at about 8.5 knots in 14 knots of wind. For those who’ve sailed monohulls, you’ll know how exciting it felt to have this kind of efficiency in that strength of wind. Sadly, that lasted about 45 minutes before the wind died and we once again found ourselves motoring so we’d get into the anchorage before dark. We arrived at Playa Santispac, a lovely beach popular with RVers with enough time to hit the beach for a while before the sun set. The following days were very calm, so we enjoyed paddling around the bay on the paddle boards, looking for fish and stingrays. Santispac is very shallow, reaching quite a way out before the seafloor finally drops to the 20 foot depth we were anchored in. What that means in this part of the world is an abundance of bullseye and round stingrays, which are about the size of a dinner plate. Fascinating to watch, but don’t be fooled by their small size as we know from a first hand account from Totem that they pack a whallop of a sting. The good news is that they appeared easily startled by the paddle boards, and when walking in the shallows, shuffling one’s feet seemed enough to shew them away.
We enjoyed a visit from Tony and Lynn from SV Mamala, a lovely, quirky couple from Portland (keep Portland weird!). Tony has built two different tenders/dinghies for their 65 foot MacGregor which are entirely powered by solar. He’s built big enough solar rigs on each that they could perpetually power his electric outboard engines (as long as there is daylight). Tony also played professionally in two different bands in his life, and we spent a delightful evening with them in the cockpit while he played his mandolin and sang for us. I loved that the first question he asked when approaching us the day before was whether either of us played any musical instruments. Tony and Lynn were anchored in the next cove over, at Posada Concepcion, a private waterfront community we had the pleasure of wandering through one day. Imagine your perfect idea of a small seafront Mexican home, with streets of white sand running between, perched at the edge of tourquoise waters and you’re halfway there. Add to it a temperamental landlady, who recently shut off the community’s main generator after being ratted out and shut down by local authorities for undertaking certain things without permits, together with a bunch of gossip, and you’re getting closer!
The girls are definitely at their best on the days they get to hit the beach, explore and have some space to roam. For this, and RV families with young kids, Playa Santispac was a really lovely place to spend our first week at anchor. We even managed to wrangle some rides from new friends from the OX Family (check out their YouTube channel!) into nearby Mulege for extra food, some time on Wifi (for Stu) and a visit to a local taco truck. The beach campground permitted us to drop of a bag of garbage…or at least it felt that way when we snuck it into a garbage can after the sun went down :), and the beachside restaurant served a knock-out margarita. We decided to stay in Santispac until the packages we had been waiting to arrive back in Santa Rosalia had shown up, and then made our way the 50 miles back to pick them up. We managed to work through some kinks around the boat while we were anchored, including a faulty wind generator that we took down, took apart and remounted in 20 knot winds…which thankfully is working well again. We also felt it was a good time to get back to the dock to tackle a few boat projects that needed some attention including a broken head (toilet) and an issue with our water maker. Stu sorted out the head, but alas the watermaker is proving to be more of an issue, and we’re currently considering whether now’s the time to get a new one. More on what that involves later.
After a few quick days in Santa Rosalia again, another lovely couple meals with our friends on Totem, and some more ice cream we scooted back south to a place called Punta Pulpito, which is where we spent the two nights in the shadow of an incredible land mass, while the winds blew 35-45 knots around us (for those not in the know, that’s 65-80 km per hour). Pulpito is a fascinating landmark, with a huge bulbous point of land at one end of a crescent of cliffs, with an incredible deep black vein of obsidian running through it. Sadly, the weather was such the entire time we were there that we didn’t get to shore this time, but we did manage a quick toodle in the dinghy out around the point and through a beautiful arch/sea cave. I hope we’ll get back there in calmer winds so we can get ashore and explore a bit more. We were welcomed to the little anchorage by another pod of dolphins, which sound like a steam engine train as they puff out their blowholes one after another as they rise and dive through the water. We spent the two days reading, watching movies, baking and watching loads of pelicans sweep up through the air and then nosedive into the water seeking out their supper.
Thereafter we decided to make the hop another 8 miles south to a place called Caleta San Juanico, and I’m so glad we did, as we were able to take advantage of the 11-15 knots of wind to sail a bit. We only had our foresail out (the smaller one at the front of the boat), but still managed 6 knots of speed while swells from the days’ prior winds allowed us to surf the boat a bit along the way. We anchored between two amazing pinnacles of rock in gorgeous turquoise waters. I am going to write a separate post on San Juanico all to it’s own, as we enjoyed an awesome week there!
We are in the Loreto area now, and appear to have some cell coverage for a bit, so will try to get some additional tales up soon! Unfortunately, they are currently appearing photo-less as the coverage isn’t permitting me to upload photos…but one can’t complain when doing this from Mexico 🙂
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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we’re away from cell service, you can text us at +881652431419. Otherwise, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger always work well!
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!
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.
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 email@example.com or go directly through the Iridium at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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!
Ok, I admit, it is a little dramatic of a title. But, truthfully, we’ve experienced our share of nightmares over here on our (not yet floating) vessel. Nothing to be concerned about, but likely an adjustment to the shift away from the old, the shedding of the prior, and our transition toward the new. What I’ve been experiencing occur both daytime and nighttime, when all of a sudden I find myself in a cold sweat, palms sweaty, anxiety at an all-time high. I check my iPhone, and then I realize…I no longer have access to my work email. In fact, I’m no longer ‘working’ at all. At least, as a lawyer, that is. No, now I’m working full time as a mother, wife, chef, housekeeper, master organizer, unsuccessful Spanish learner, anxious sailor and, of course, blogger.
But, the nocturnal nightmares of panic which oft visited me in my professional life seem to have followed me into this unprofessional one. In fact, all my dreams have been quite weird since we arrived. Is that a product of the salty air? The physical exhaustion stemming from hopping around the boat and chasing two small humans? The salsa, hot sauce and spicy food I can’t get enough of? Or, am I just sweating out fifteen years of adrenaline, built up over the duration of my legal career?
I was texting today with a dear friend from my old firm (hi, Cass!), and we were talking about how strange the legal world can be, where we tend to exist in a heightened state of adrenaline at most times, and even when we feel stressed or overwhelmed, we tend to thrive best when things are most intense. Many of us are certain we do (or, in my case, did) our best work when the stakes are high and we’re under some form of pressure. To make matters worse, if we aren’t stressing about the work we’re actually doing, we go into overdrive worrying about where our next client or file will come from.
I remember someone telling me one day, likely when I was in law school, that practicing law was like writing a university final exam every single day. Turns out, they were pretty spot-on about that. So, I have no doubt it is going to take some time for me to let go of the adrenaline kick of every email notification, or the intoxicating (and not in the way a good gin and tonic on the deck is) draw to check emails at all hours. I had told some people that I felt like it would take some time to ‘sweat out’ my prior law life, and I suspect I’m just at the beginning. So don’t mind me over here as momentary panic crosses floods my body and all the blood drains from my face. I just am having one of those moments where I feel as though I’ve just happened to ‘forget’ to go to work for a few weeks!
The other person in our little Skookum V crew who has been experiencing some night terrors is our eldest, Ellie. A few nights in a row now we’ve either found her on ‘our’ side of the boat, or talking to herself (loudly) in bed, but completely sound asleep. I haven’t yet researched whether this is common at all for kids between 3 and 4, or whether it is common with kids who’ve experienced a lot of upheaval in their lives, but she’s clearly working something out in her sleep. I expect once we’re on the water, and start creating some form of rhythm to our lives, she will settle a bit, and the sleepwalking/talking may subside.
So, no, living aboard our (soon to be) floating home is not a nightmare, not in the least. But, it appears one can’t just up and leave a career like that one without some lasting symptoms. Nothing a cerveza and some tacos can’t mend though, am I right?
For those keeping track, we hope to ‘splash’ on Monday, three weeks to the day we arrived here. We’ll plan to spend a few days at a dock in the harbour, making sure our systems work in the water, doing a few practice day sails, and awaiting a solid weather ‘window’ that will permit us to make the 160 nautical mile journey to our first anchorage safe and soundly.