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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.
Turtles Turtles Everywhere
03/29/2012, Out on the deep blue sea

Lots of turtle sightings yesterday as we motored along the smooth seas -- they are always such a funny sight as they look like someone just through them in the water and they're flailing about trying to stay afloat -- very awkward looking swimmers that's for sure!

But the funniest sight we've seen was actually a week ago as we approached Huatulco in the early morning over glassy seas. We kept seeing birds that looked like they were standing on water! I thought it might be an optical illusion at first, but on closer inspection they were standing on the backs of turtles! What a sight -- wished I'd gotten a picture.

Our first night at sea went smoothly, though we did have to motor all night. We need to keep our speed up for the first few hundred miles till we pass through the area that can be affected by the Tehuantepec winds and seas should something crop up. There's nothing in the forecast, but its not something you want to take a chance with so we're motoring on over smooth seas and light breezes.

1 day down, 9 to go!

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We're off!

Left Marina Chahua in Huatulco at 1030 this morning for our long awaited trip to the Galapagps! We had our last visit from Mexican authorities at shortly after 6 am this morning to put the final stamp on our paperwork.

It's a little over 1000 miles so we're hoping for about a 10 day passage - and it's gotten off to a good start with light winds and smooth seas. Perfect conditions for getting acclimated to life at sea.

We've already had dolphin playing off the bow leading us on our way. Unfortunately I won't be able to post any pictures to the blog until we make landfall and find WiFi again, but I will be able to do these posts through the HAM radio.

So Cetus and Inspiration at Sea are going to the Galapagos!

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It's Leave Eve!
all checked out and ready to go

We spent the morning going to the Port Captain's office and Immigration to properly check out of Mexico so we can be on our way tomorrow morning.

Doing the proper paperwork to get your official papers - or zarpe - is a nessecity because you can't clear into another country without clearance papers from your last port.

In Mexico they like their paperwork and we went back and forth between the two offices this morning getting a signature here and a stamp there until the process was done about 2 hours later. Most of the time was spent waiting, but it wasn't too bad. The Port Captain's was a small standing closet sized space with a window to the air conditioned room, but Immigration had a couch and air conditioning so we got to cool off when we got back there. They were all friendly and nice so it was a good experience - we've seen much worse!

After what we thought was the final stamp we were told that the Immigration officer would be coming to our boat at the marina at 5 pm for the final clearance. Two nice young guys showed up shortly after 5 and stamped our passports and gave us yet another official paper. Rumor has it Customs will also be visiting our boat in the morning for their final release -- possibly as early as 5 or 6 am!

Our plans are to have a nice breakfast about 8 am at a nearby hotel with Vicky and her crew on Inspiration at Sea then we'll all head out sometime before noon tomorrow.

Can't believe we're finally heading to the Galapagos!!

Blog Posts: Behind the Scenes
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03/28/2012 | Dave C.
Sail fast and be safe!
03/28/2012 | Monica Stoner
woohoo! Send our goodbyes to Vicki and crew as well. We'll look forward to your passage notes and seeing you again!
More Photos
Zihuatanejo to Acapulco and Huatulco

I've uploaded some of our recent pics to a new album in our gallery called Zihuatanejo to Acapulco and Huatulco. Enjoy!

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Marina Chahue

Here's the cute little marina we're at preparing for our crossing to the Galapagos.

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I seem to have an English speaking computer now, so I was able to install the drivers to connect the cables from the ham radio to the computer!

That means I'll be able to send for weather, email and do remote blog posts while at sea! Infact, this post is being remotely posted through the ham radio as my first test of the system. If this works we'll be good to go.

Our planned departure date is Wed. March 28th and so far the weather forecast looks good for us.

Galapagos here we come!

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Slowly making progress

This computer dilema has been a series of dead ends and catch 22s but we are making progress ever so slowly......

The first problem I tackeled was to get Windows speaking English because my Spanish is good for shopping, dining and that sort of thing, but not for computer lingo. I have picked up a few things in the last couple days, but not enough to really understand all the messages its giving me.

I learned that the language cannot be changed in Windows 7 Basic, which is what was installed on this computer. I would have to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate to do that, but at first I was told they couldn't do that digitally and I would have to purchase the disks. Well, there isn't exactly a store to do that here and who knows how long getting something sent here would take so I decided I would try to muddle through with the Spanish and get the Winlink Airmail program up and running with the computer so we would have our onboard weather and email and I could worry about the upgrade later.

Well...... the next thing I learned is the Airmail program isn't written for Windows 7 ........ my old computer ran Windows XP. So with a little more research I learned that you can run programs that aren't set up for Windows 7 ....... if you have the Windows 7 Ultimate!

Back to square 1. I'm frustrated trying to contact Microsoft for help because they only have 800 numbers which I can't call from Mexico and all the online contacts I try to make tell me they can't help me because I have a Mexican IP address and they only help people in the States. I even tried the Mexican Microsoft website, but my Spanish wasn't good enough to navigate through it.

I finally contacted my brother in law, Doug, who saved the day! He called Microsoft and convinced them to call me! I was able to purchase the download and thought I was all set, until it wouldn't accept the Upgrade Key they sent me. Unable to call the tech support 800 number, I again called Doug who convinced them they could call me too..... they were very reluctant.... so they called and remotely hooked up to my computer found the glitch and got it downloaded. Hurray!

We're not done yet .... the language program change still has to download, but we're getting there.......

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03/24/2012 | Jack
Remember when you had to use Hf to get weather, and maybe make a phone patch...ahh the good old days...Keep plugging...
Almost connected again!

The hard drive on our on board computer crashed March 17th the day before we left Zihuatanejo! Yikes!

So today I went to CostCo in Acapulco and I picked up a new computer but it is a spanish computer so I am struggling through, but hope to be back on line soon.

The most important part of the onboard computer is for use with our ham radio for email at sea and getting weather reports underway, so once we reach Huatulco we will get everything all set to go for our trip to the Galapagos!

We left Acapulco for the 2 day trip to Huatulco today at noon right after I got back from CostCo.

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03/21/2012 | Bill Hudson/Zephyr
Can't you change the language the computer uses over to english? I though that could be done in Windows.
03/24/2012 | Terry & Heidi Kotas
Yes, you can change the language in Windows but only if you have Windows Ultimate and this came with Windows 7 Basic Who knew So far Ive upgraded to the Ultimate and they are working on loading the English package now....
03/24/2012 | Terry & Heidi Kotas
Yes, you can change the language in Windows but only if you have Windows Ultimate and this came with Windows 7 Basic Who knew So far Ive upgraded to the Ultimate and they are working on loading the English package now....
New Albums in our Gallery
take a look at our latest pics!

Having some time on my hands and a good internet connection, I decided to upload the pictures we've been taking the past couple months (yes, we left La Paz over 2 months ago!).

I've added albums for Carly & Ryan's Visit, Assorted pics from Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa and one of my favorites: The Cocodrilario at Playa Linda (near Ixtapa). That crocodile sanctuary was like looking at a hidden picture page in a Highlights magazine! At first glance you would just see jungle and swamp, but then all of a sudden you'd see iguanas, birds, turtles, and of course, crocodiles!

To take a look just click the little photo gallery link under our picture to the right.

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Hotel California
"You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!

Terry woke up feeling great this morning -- well, at least way better than anytime in the past few days. Temperature was down to almost normal and no headache.

So we went in to the Port Captain's off office to check out -- on mainland Mexico you need to get a paper from the port captain that you're leaving because they want to see it when you arrive at the next port. We wanted to check out today (Friday) so we'd be all set to go this weekend.

Shortly after we got back to the boat he started feeling bad again and his temp shot up, so we decided to go in to the Dr. that we'd gotten a reference for in town. It was a short visit because it was an easy diagnosis -- he's got an intestinal bug that his body is fighting causing the fever and headache. We didn't suspect that because he didn't seem to be having any of the usual GI problems (like diarrhea ;( ) But the doctor -- who speaks excellent English -- felt his abdomen and didn't have any doubt that it was a result of some bad water or unclean vegetables.

We don't really know where or when he picked it up but the prescription should take care of it within a couple days -- we hope.

So we've checked out of Zihuatanejo, but don't know yet when we'll be able to leave.......

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Delayed Departure
cruisers must be flexible

Planned departures are always very fluid -- you can never say we'll leave on such and such day and really hope to leave that day. It's usually just the first day you think you'll be ready to leave and the actual day can be a few days to a week later..... or even a year as was the case with our original plans to leave for the Galapagos.

Our departure day from Zihuatanejo was planned for sometime this week -- we thought Tuesday through Thursday. Well, it's Thursday and we're still here! We're provisioned and the boat's ready to go, but this time the Captain isn't quite ready. He's still recuperating from some kind of flu bug he picked up last weekend and we're waiting for him to be 100% before we set off. Much easier to get the rest and fluids he needs here at anchor than out at sea. He's on the mend and his temperature is dropping so now our "hope to leave by" date is sometime this weekend.

Blog Posts: Behind the Scenes
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03/16/2012 | monica and Scott
You guys are missed in La Paz. We hope Terry gets better soon so you can take off at 100% and have a great passage. We'll be following you from here.
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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The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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