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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.
Getting close!

The sun just set and the moon is rising and we're sailing along at a comfortable 4 knots over smooth seas. We should sight land tomorrow sometime as we pass the northern islands in the Galapagos and we should be anchored in the bay on San Cristobal (where we are required to check in), on Sunday. Since that is Easter we don't know how soon we'll actually get to check in because Easter Monday is also a big holiday in Central and South American countries as it is in Mexico. So we'll get there and see what happens! We're very excited!

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Sail on Sail on Sailor
04/06/2012, out on the Pacific

After we dried out from the rain we were becalmed in the doldrums for most of the morning yesterday -- bobbed around for hours waiting for the predicted light winds to come up.

We felt the first breath at about 1 o'clock and it gradually filled in and we got moving and have been sailing along comfortably ever since. Some of the nicest off shore sailing we've ever done and on a perfect point of sail to take us to the Galapagos! And with the big nearly full moon last night you could see for miles -- it was simply beautiful.

This morning I watched the moon set on the starboard side of the boat, then turned to see the sunrise off the port side. Magical.

We have less wind this morning but its far from becalmed and we're still moving toward our destination -- which is now only 189 miles away!

I can't believe we're almost to the Galapagos!

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04/08/2012 | Diana and Dale
Can't tell you how fun it is to follow your progress. Can't wait to see the pictures from this crossing. Galapagos...that is truly a "bucket list" item.
Drying out
04/05/2012, out on the Pacific

Well it rained and rained and rained yesterday so we had a pretty wet cockpit for our night watch, but today everythings hanging out on the rails to dry. And though it is still gray and Pacific Northwest looking these things will dry out -- not like back home.

After the rains quit we were sailing along quite comfortably when all of a sudden I saw a big cell coming our way -- it was big and dark but this one didn't pack any rain, but lots of wind. So we enjoyed a brisk sail until it blew itself out about an hour later. And on it goes.

Today, so far, is the flat calm of the doldrums but we're hoping the forecast is right and we'll get a bit of wind later to push us on to the Galapagos!

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04/04/2012, Squall Valley

With all our weather predictions we knew we'd be getting into a squally area soon, and just as predicted yesterday afternoon we started seeing squalls on the horizon and it's been like playing a video game on the radar trying to dodge the active cells. We had lightening in the distance most of the night and this morning we were greeted by gray sky and seas and cooler temps -- it looks just like we're in the Pacific Northwest!

This afternoon we were swallowed up by a big cell that dumped lots of rain on us, and I made the best of it by having a squall shower -- getting my daily shower in without using our fresh water supply! Cetus hasn't had this good of a wash down in 3 years.

We've been lucky with the squalls that have caught us -- they just had rain and no high winds -- or lightening. Squalls are like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get.

So we're sailing along enjoying the cooler temps and bit of wind after the last two hot windless days. That's the thing about ocean sailing -- everything around you is constantly changing.

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437 miles to go!
04/03/2012, out in the blue Pacific

The weather forecast looks like it will be another spinnaker day today! We had a great 12 hour run yesterday with a top speed of 7.2 -- but our moving average is still down to about 4.6 -- which is good enough for us because we always just hope for 100 miles a day.

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Hurray! It's Half Way Day
04/02/2012, somewhere out on the deep blue sea

On every long passage we celebrate small accomplishments and today is a good one -- we're half way to our destination: The Galapagos! When our daughter Carly was young and traveling with us we always made up special "Passage Calendars" that would extend for the duration of the trip and we'd mark it each day with something special that happened such as a whale sighting, catching a fish etc and we'd also mark down our guesses for everyone as to when we'd first see land or cross the equator -- all the milestones. It was fun for all of us and gave us a special memento of the trip when we were done.

This time, since we're traveling with another boat, we revived the tradition and both boats have calendars on board with our predictions and goals. Gives us all something to look forward to seeing who will get the most right -- because this time there's money on it! Terry won the Half Way Day but there's plenty of miles and categories to go.

A real highlight yesterday was running with the spinnakers up nearly all day! What a nice smooth ride. It was especially nice for Vicky on Inspiration at Sea since it was the first time she's flown it on an ocean passage!

We're currently motoring along waiting for the light winds to pick up so we can get the big colorful spinnaker out again today.

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04/02/2012 | Joan and Jack
Fond memories of the San Juans with you guys when you flew your beautiful spinnaker.
04/02/2012 | Debbie
What a great day for sailing, someday you will be force into taking me with you. Tell Terry now so he can prepare himself. Maybe Carly will come with us. Love and Miss you guys, Deb
Sailing, sailing...
04/01/2012, Out on the deep blue sea

What do you do when the winds are light to dead and you need to conserve your fuel? You fly the Spinnaker! Hurray!

Just had a helicopter circle over our boats -- what the heck is he doing way out here? We're 400 miles from the closest land. We figure he must be off a tuna boat scouting for fish.

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4th day at sea -- 723 miles to go
03/31/2012, On our way to the Galapagos

We've been blessed with smooth seas so far on this voyage, but unfortunately a lack of wind. But today shortly after dawn the 3 - 5 knots of wind we'd been having picked up to 8 - 11 and we're sailing again! With the forecast we've been seeing this may be the only good wind we get for a few more days, but we're enjoying it while it lasts.

I began checking into the Pacific Seafarer's Net 2 nights ago, and I believe they still post positions for all the boats checking in on a website -- Google Yotreps or Pacific Seafarer's and you can find a link to the page to view the boats out sailing in the Pacific.

We've been averaging around 111 miles per day -- we could motor faster but we are keeping the rpms down to conserve fuel as much as possible since it looks like we'll be doing a lot of motoring. So all's well on Cetus and we're looking forward to another 100+ miles under our keel by tomorrow morning.

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Eating well on S/V Cetus
03/29/2012, Out on the deep blue sea

Before we set out on any long passage I try to get a few meals prepared ahead of time so that in those first few days as you adjust to the motion of the boat you can have a nice hot meal just by throwing it in the oven for 15 or 20 minutes. Even with calm seas there's a lot of movement going on and it makes it hard to do a lot of food preparation. Easy favorites are egg burritos for breakfast, beef burritos for dinner or just chicken with rice and vegetables. Whatever I put together I wrap in foil in individual servings so all I have to do is turn on the oven and take them out of the fridge.

On this trip we had a special treat thanks to Tyson and CostCo -- chicken Cordon Blue. I bought a bag of the already cooked, stuffed and breaded chicken breasts and just wrapped them individually in foil just like my home prepared meals and there you go -- gourmet meals out at sea!

The other decadent treat I prepared for us was mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough before we left port. I put it in a zip lock in the fridge and whenever I have the oven on to cook something, I bake a few cookies as well. Nothing like a homemade Toll House cookie on a night watch!

Now that we're in our 3rd day at sea our bodies have adjusted to the motion of the boat and its easier to move around and do normal tasks like cooking, so I'll be making different meals every day. I do still have some of the quick handy meals ready in the freezer, though, in case we hit some days with rougher weather than we've experienced so far.

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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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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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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.
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!!

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