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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
Roll Call
Radio Nets to keep in touch

Once we start on our longer passages -- the first one being Hualtulco to the Galapagos -- we will also start checking in to SSB and Ham nets daily. It is a nice way to stay connected to our fellow travelers, get weather info and even let people back home know where you are.

We plan to participate in 2 formal nets on that passage. First will be the Pacific Seafarer's Net on 14300 LSB at 0330 UTC. That's one we've joined before while doing long passages and it's a great group of land based ham operators that run the net and even post your positions on the internet for anyone who wants to follow your progress.

The second one is the Pacific Puddle Jumper's Net on at 0200 UTC starting on SSB channel 8A but if there is a problem with propagation they will switch to 8B then 6A. This is a net set up for and run by participants in this years Pacific Puddle Jump Rally. We listened in last night and heard the few boats that have already started on their way to the Marquesas.

One safety feature of joining a net is that if you don't check in one day they get concerned and if you miss a second day they will initiate search and rescue procedures for you. That is great if you really are in dire straights, but it's also a bit worrisome if it's just a problem with your radio or electrical system -- which is much more likely to be the problem.

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03/15/2012 | Jack and Joan
We will be checking in to hear you guys along the way.
Pre Departure Checklist
done and done!
03/13/2012, Zihautanejo, Mexico

We have a big Pre Departure checklist that we go through before we set out -- especially on a long sail. It's a list that our good friend Jack Eddy found in a magazine one time before we left Gig Harbor and he got us a nice laminated copy so we can re-use it using dry erase markers to check off the lists.

It serves as a good reminder to inspect things that might get overlooked in all the excitement of departing, covering everything from sails to bilge pumps, fuel tanks and electronics -- all the boat systems. This is definitely on my "Things That Work" list.

So we're happily checking things off the list and looking forward to being on our way within a couple days.

Blog Posts: Things That Work...or don't
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03/14/2012 | S2
Looks like a nice checklist—is it available online or in a .doc file?
04/19/2012 | KJ
can you send me a copy of your checklist?
01/29/2013 | Curt
Can i get a copy?
Adios Marina Ixtapa
Getting Ready to Go!

Our time at the marina is coming to an end -- tomorrow we'll go back into the anchorage in Zihuatanejo where we'll spend a few days with final preparations for our trip south.

We plan to make a stop in an anchorage just south of Acapulco (so we can hit the nearby CostCo!) before we head on to Huatulco, Mexico. There we will wait for our friend Vicky on her "Inspiration at Sea" (she's waiting for crew to fly in here on the 17th) and also look for a good weather window to set off for the Galapagos! We hope to begin that leg anytime between the 23rd and the 28th of March.

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03/10/2012 | Jeanne Walker
Hola!! we were in caleta lobos last week when Vicky stopped in for the night. SV Estrellita "Jumped" out of La Paz on Monday, and last i heard they were 300+ miles out from cabo. We are sure excited to see some of your posts once you get to Galapagos Islands!! sail safe, and have a blast!!
We're off on Vacation!
02/29/2012, Marina Ixtapa, Mexico

We moved the boat from the anchorage at Zihuatanejo Bay a few days ago, so we could safely leave her here in the marina while we take a short 3 day off the boat vacation!

I know many of you think our life is a permanent vacation, but it really isn't. Just a different way of life. But when our kids, Carly and her husband Ryan. fly down today we'll meet up with them and our good friends Liz and Tom in one of our favorite vacation spots, Troncones! It's a 45 minute cab ride north of Zihua/Ixtapa. After their 3 days there we'll come back to Ixtapa with the kids, where they have reservations at a nearby hotel, and we'll be able to show them the sights around here.

We're excited for our short vacation, but most excited to see our friends and family one more time before we set sail for the Galapagos.

Blog Posts: Travels
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SAIL magazine "Things that work"
by, Terry Kotas

The March issue is already out, but if you can find a Jan. or Feb. edition of Sail Magazine you can check out 9 "Things That Work" -- inexpensive additions and upgrades we've done aboard Cetus and Terry submitted them as an article that they printed in two parts.


Blog Posts: Publications
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03/01/2012 | Becky Flannigan
good job Terry, we enjoy following other cruisers from home.
Sailfest Results
we helped the kids!

A lot of people have asked me "how did Sailfest turn out?" The following is an email from our faithful leader telling us exactly how much we raised for the children of Zihuatanejo:

Dear Volunteers,

The Sailfest 2012 results are attached. Hijole! You performed your usual miracles for the kids. I sincerely hope you had a lot of fun, along with all your hard work and dedication to this noble and compelling cause.

On behalf of Zihuatanejo's wonderful children, I'd like to express our heart-felt gratitude. You are turning dreams into reality.



(Note: The following release will appear, in some form, in several magazines and newspapers.)

In February, 38 sailboats cruised into beautiful Zihuatanejo bay to celebrate the Eleventh Annual Zihua Sailfest. They were enthusiastically welcomed by the local community, who have come to admire and respect the cruisers' heart-felt volunteerism. The Municipal Director of Education estimated that more than 2,000 disadvantaged children are attending school because of the cruisers' dedication to Zihua's bright-eyed young scholars.

Uncharacteristically overcast skies and occasional rain showers did not dampen the spirits of the cruisers and their 50+ local volunteer allies; all events were eagerly attended. More than 200 local businesses donated thousands of dollars in gifts and services for Sailfest auctions and raffles. 30 local and international musicians donated their talents to perform at three (two sold-out) benefit concerts. Several fine-dining restaurants competed in the Chili Cook-off. The cruisers welcomed 113 paying guests on board for the Sail parade. Saturday, the cruisers and local volunteers hosted 100+ school children at a beach party where fun, games and giggles ruled the day. All in all, quite a wonderful week to be in Zihuatanejo.

Zihua Sailfest 2012 raised $471,132 pesos in support of the cruisers' vision of providing an educational opportunity to each and every child in Zihuatanejo, regardless of income level or social status. The funds will be administered and distributed by Por Los Niños de Zihuatanejo, AC, Sailfest's Mexican charity. An advisory committee composed of bilingual Mexican educators, local international residents and cruisers is responsible for all funding decisions.

The funds from Zihua Sailfest 2011 ($477,039 pesos) provided the construction materials to build three, three-room, rural schools. The dedicated parents and the local community donated their labor to build these safe and welcoming learning environments for their deserving children. Sailfest 2011 awarded 16 English language scholarships, 5 high school scholarships and 6 university scholarships to high-achieving, low-income students. Sailfest, and our partners, donated approximately 850 reading books to the Municipal Library's "Rural Children's Reading program". The City of Zihuatanejo, Rotary International and Los Niños, Inc., inspired by the cruisers' success, also donated generously to Sailfest-supported projects.

Margaret Reid, our photographer, has posted her Sailfest 2012 photo albums with download permission at:

Blog Posts: Behind the Scenes
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The countdown has begun!

When we set out from Gig Harbor June 1st, 2009 the Galapagos Islands were the big goal. Now we are very excited to be getting close to departure day!

We hated leaving the beautiful Sea of Cortez and our good friends in La Paz behind, but we left knowing that once we are done with our long distance travels, we will return to the Sea aboard Cetus and enjoy it all again.

Everyone keeps asking us "after the Galapagos, what's next?" and we have to answer that we really don't know. For one thing we've learned in all our years of cruising is you just have to take it one port at a time. We have lots of ideas of places we'd like to see -- and we have two major choices in direction when we leave the Galapagos: Go west to the South Pacific or turn east toward Panama. There's pros and cons to both directions and we've decided we aren't even going to try to make that decision until we get to the Galapagos and enjoy those enchanted islands.

We will, however, be prepared for which ever way the wind takes us with charts and cruising guides for both options. So for now, we can just focus on the Galapagos trip and not muddle that planning up with questions about where to go after that. When its time to go, we'll know where we want to go.

Blog Posts: Travels
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Cruising the World: Sea of Cortez
a look at the wonderful Sea of Cortez

Our good friends Steve and Yolanda Essig, along with Allen R. Smith and Chuck Jonkey, came down to La Paz last year and filmed this great video while cruising up the Sea of Cortez aboard the Safari Quest. I just got a copy of it yesterday and it brought back fond memories of the beautiful Sea of Cortez -- a wonderful film whether you've been in the Sea or just dreaming of heading there.

Check it out at Dreamquest Productions!

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well we're sitting on the bow of the boat (to catch the breeze) and talking about when we'll go into the marina in Ixtapa and how we have to keep an eye on Rosie when we're there because they have crocodiles there. And what should appear at the side of our boat?

Yes, a crocodile!! Casually swimming between the boats..... WOW!

By the time I got the camera he was a ways away, but the lumps in the water that you see are his snout. Yikes!

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02/02/2012, Playa La Ropa, Zihuatanejo

We went for a walk along Playa La Ropa yesterday to check to see if they still had crocodiles down by The Mangelar Restaurant. Well we didn't get a glimpse of any crocodiles this time, but on the way there we passed one of the fenced off areas where they take the turtle eggs and were treated to seeing some fresh hatchlings.

In an attempt to protect the different species of turtles that come on to these beaches to lay their eggs, hotels will sponsor these hatching pens so that when the little turtles hatch and struggle to the surface of the sand, someone can be there to help them get safely to the sea. Normally the little turtles come up and go directly to the ocean, but many do not survive the trek down the beach due to all kinds of hazards like birds and dogs. But when they hatch in the controlled environment, they are collected and kept in water until nightfall when they can be released to the sea with much better chance of survival.

Yesterday we were lucky enough to be passing one of these pens when 4 little turtles crawled their way out! What a sight to see!

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02/02/2012 | Jeanne Walker
That is very cool!! we have had a really big turtle circle the boat a few times here in Ensenada De La Raza, but he is real camera shy. Every time i get the camera out, he dives and is gone.
02/02/2012 | Dave
Surprised we have not seen any posts about Zfest on the Yahoo southbound group
02/03/2012 | Dave C.
Betcha' Rosie would LOVE to play with these little guys! They probably wouldn't like it so much...
The holding pen
we want to swim!

Here's the collection of little guys swimming, swimming, swimming awaiting their release to the sea. In addition to protecting them from predators, holding them till later gives them a chance to get stronger which will help them stay alive longer once they're in the ocean.

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Zihua Sailfest 2012
February 7th - 12th

Sailfest in Zihuatanejo has always been a big draw to the city. Not only do cruisers come here to take part, but many tourists plan their vacations around the event to enjoy the fun. And all the fun is for a good cause as it supports Por Los Ninos which builds schools and classrooms, provides scholarships and school supplies and more for the children of Zihuatanejo.

Here's how it's described on the Por Los Ninos website:
"Zihua SailFest. SailFest is a six-day annual festival that combines fun and games, heart-felt volunteerism and an outpouring of international friendship. Although the tone of the event is light-hearted, the cruisers' goals are serious - to raise funds for the education of Zihuatanejo's poorest children. These caring members of the International sailing community have raised more than $3,000,000 pesos to help our deserving kids."

Some of the events we will have this year as in years past are a Chili Cook Off, Kids Day at the Beach, A Boat Parade and a Sailboat Race. There will be auctions and we'll sell t-shirts and visors. It promises to be a fun event and will once again raise lots of money for a very good cause.

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The Fleet in Zihautanejo

So far its a small group of cruising boats in the bay -- there are about 12 of us. The smaller boats in the distance are the local fishing boats.

With only a couple weeks till the big Sailfest event its surprising there aren't more boats in here. They usually draw at least 25 - 30 boats, with the largest group of over 100 boats in 2006!

We've heard more boats are on their way, so we should have a good turnout in the end. At the first planning meeting for Sailfest yesterday there were more land based volunteers than boaters and they seem to have things well in hand. We have offered to help out as it is a very worthy charity event raising funds for the children of Zihautanejo.

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Zihautanejo walking tour

We went into shore this morning for a short walk around town and a nice lunch and I've posted an album of the pictures we took as we walked around the waterfront area.

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A dream fullfilled
01/21/2012, Zihautanejo, Mexico

The first time we sailed to Mexico in 1999 we were looking forward to reaching Z-town -- we'd heard so much about it and it sounded like the ideal cruising destination. As things turned out on that cruise, we only made it as far south at Manzanillo, nearly 200 miles north of here, before it was time to turn north.

Since that time we've been to Zihautanejo several times -- but by airplane for vacations with family and friends and once on a cruise ship! We've stayed in hotels here, but more often traveled about an hour north of here to the beautiful beaches of Troncones.

So when we finally sailed into Zihautanejo on our own boat yesterday it was a dream fulfilled -- and since we have been here before it was a comfortable entry -- we already knew the lay of the land and what to expect as far as the anchorage.

We plan to be here about a month preparing for our journey to the Galapagos. I will fly back to Gig Harbor for 10 days in February and Carly and Ryan will be flying down here for a visit at the beginning of March and good friends will be in Troncones at the beginning of March and we hope to visit up there, too. So it will be a busy quick month!

I'm posting some pictures from our 5 day voyage from La Paz to Zihautanejo in the photo gallery to the right. Enjoy!

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Ships passing in the night.....
Ship Sandwich
01/19/2012, Off of Manzanillo

The picture above shows the display on our radar/chart plotter when we had ships coming at us from both directions -- we're the one in the middle with the circle around us (it's a two mile radius that easily shows us how far away things are)

Once we came south along the mainland coast we started seeing lots of cargo ships -- going both north and south. It's always a bit disconcerting to see the lights of a very big ship looking like its heading straight for you. A lot of that worry has been taken away now that in addition to radar which helps you spot the ships and gives you a good idea of where they're heading, we now have AIS that picks up a transmitted signal and gives us all the information we could possibly want : type of vessel and size, destination, heading, speed, time to closest contact and how close it will be. It also gives the vessels name and MMSI number so it is easier to make contact with the ship in question than in years past.

We have called on the VHF to two of the ships we've seen -- when they showed that they would pass relatively close to us -- just to check with them to make sure they were aware of us and what their intentions were (which side they'd pass us. So AIS is definitely on our list of "things that work" and we'd highly recommend it for any boat that will spend any time near shipping lanes (like the Straits of Juan de Fuca back home).

We're still seeing lots of ships today, but they're much less mysterious during daylight when you can actually see them.

We've had a mix of weather today -- the biggest surprise being the 20 knot winds on our nose along with a 3 - 4 foot swell to beat into. The forecast called for much lighter weather, but you get what you get. The biggest worry was that it would slow us down to much so we'd be out an extra day because we need to time things right so we reach Zihautanejo during daylight hours. Only time will tell, but right now we think it looks good to get in late tomorrow afternoon.

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We're a Rockin' and a Rollin'
01/18/2012, on the way to Zihautanejo

The wind and seas continued to build yesterday, as expected, so we haven't had to turn the engine back on in the past 24 hours! There is a 6 foot swell with some wind chop, winds gust between 18 and 28 and we're moving along under our storm main sail and a reefed Genoa.

We chose to use the storm sail over the reefed main in these conditions for two reasons: 1st, the wind is straight behind us and our storm sail isn't attached to the boom so there's no danger of accidental jibes and secondly it is less sail area than our reefed main so it doesn't block the wind from the Genoa. If the winds got nasty we would roll in the Genoa completely and put up our storm trysail -- that's a good combination on this boat if the winds are 35+.

We are doing a bit of rocking due to the sometimes confused swell, but all and all it isn't bad -- it's a good shake down cruise as we'd hoped.

I think Rosie is a little displeased with all the motion -- she chewed up the edges of a chart when we weren't looking -- I think she isn't getting enough play time right now.

If the forescast is correct we will have these same conditions this morning and then we should get far enough down the coast for things to settle down. Hang in there Rosie!

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Day 3 of our adventures at sea
01/17/2012, about 60 miles off of Bandaras Bay (Puerto Vallarta)

Last night was a nice smooth night, though winds were so light we used the engine to keep us on our way. That's a luxury we have on this passage because we know we can buy fuel in Zihautanejo. On a long ocean passage you must restrict your engine use so the fuel can stretch as far as possible.

This morning as the sun rose the winds began picking up and we've enjoyed a very nice sail all day with our trusty Monitor windvane doing all the steering. The winds and seas are predicted to pick up even more by tomorrow, but we've got a good sail configuration and expect it to be a good passage.

We've always said the first 3 days of any passage are the hardest as your mind and body have to adjust to all the constant movement, so if that holds true our last couple days should be quite nice.

Rosie is still doing great, but she seems a little more bothered by the movement today and has been sleeping even more than normal -- if that's possible!

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1st Night at Sea
Rosie and the squid
01/16/2012, Somewhere south of Cabo

This is the 1st night Terry and I have spent at Sea in a very long time -- since coming down the coast in 2009. But it was Rosie's 1st night at Sea -- EVER!

As always she handled it like a trooper -- though I know she was wondering why we didn't stop somewhere before nightfall and anchor and get back to life as usual. She slept most of the day, as she will when were out traveling over the water, then when it came time to start our watches she would sit out in the cockpit with the on watch person for a little bit, but when she'd see the off watch person lay down to sleep, she was happy to join them. Then, this morning, she found a couple small squid on the deck! You could just see the big grin on her face as she tried to take one down below -- but we convinced her they were to be enjoyed in the codkpit.

Luckily the seas smoothed out after a bit rolly start and she (and we!) were able to move around quite normally so she even managed to use the head when it came time.

We were able to sail most all day, but when night fell the winds died so we turned on the engine to keep us moving along. The forecast is for the winds and seas to build over the next 2 days, so we anticipate getting some good sailing in then.

So all and all it was a very good start to this 5 or 6 day passage -- despite the engine -- sort of easing into it and getting our minds and bodies used to this unusual way of life with some pretty easy weather.

Blog Posts: Street Cat Rosie
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01/16/2012 | Jeanne Walker
Glad everything got off to a nice smooth start!! happy sailing....
Hasta Luego Dock 3!
01/14/2012, Marina Palmira, La Paz, Mexico

I've always said the hardest part of cruising is saying goodbye to places you love and the friends you've made there. Dock 3 has been our home for the past 3 winters and we've enjoyed the company of a wonderful bunch of cruisers celebrating Christmas, New Years, watching football games, going out to eat, doing "walk abouts" in town, hiking the mountain, playing cards, having coffee and of course, our famous Dock 3 Dock parties.

They made our departure lots of fun with a great send off dock party with lots of gifts and then last night when we went out to dinner they filled our boat with lots of fun little surprises -- funny toys stuck into every nook and cranny -- bows and stars and a Canadian flag tied over our American flag!

So it was tempting to stay put and enjoy the comfortable life on Dock 3, but we managed to tear ourselves away and now we're spending a nice evening at a cozy little anchorage with plans to get up early and begin the 633 mile trek to Zihautanejo.

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01/15/2012 | Jeanne Walker
It was great to finally catch up to you two, here in sunny Mexico! sail safe, and be sure to post pictures!!

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The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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