CETUS TALES

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.

09 March 2017 | Marina Palmira, La Paz, BCS, Mexico
21 February 2017 | Marina Palmira, La Paz
18 February 2017 | Dock 3 Marina Palmira La Paz
15 December 2016 | Dock 3, Marina Palmira, La Paz, BCS, Mexico
24 November 2016 | Punta Salinas, Isla San Jose
20 November 2016 | somewhere inthe Sea of Cortez
11 November 2016 | South Anchorage Isla Coronado
11 November 2016 | South Anchorage Isla Coronado
19 October 2016 | Isla Coronados
05 October 2016 | Marina Puerto Escondido
24 September 2016 | Tigard Oregon
12 September 2016 | Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
25 August 2016 | Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
07 August 2016 | Puerto Escondido
31 July 2016 | Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
28 July 2016 | Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
15 July 2016 | In the Sea of Cortez
11 July 2016 | Marquar anchorage on Isla Carmen
28 June 2016 | Puerto Escondido

Ta Da!

30 August 2013 | Emery Cove Yacht Harbor, Emeryville, CA
it's a perfect fit
When we needed to recover our old dodger in 2004 we shopped around and got several quotes and in the end we went with Jason Iverson because he wan't just going to put a new cover on -- he wanted to do a new, sturdier frame. We were so impressed with the dodger he built for us that time, we were thrilled to learn that he had now expanded his business to work outside of Washington and he'd be able to re-cover our dodger for us here in San Francisco Bay!

So after 9 years, 20,000 plus miles, crashing waves and tropical sun it was time to replace the fabric even though we were still getting compliments on what a nice dodger we had.

Well, Iverson's Design once again surpassed our expectations and when Jason and Mike installed our brand new dodger yesterday we couldn't have been happier! He was able to adjust our old frame to fit his new iTop design that allows the window panels to zip away from the top cover -- a great innovative design allowing for easy stowage if you leave your boat somewhere and need to remove the dodger, easy repairs if something happens to a window, and more ventilation options depending on your climate situation.

So Cetus is all dressed up again -- and looking better than ever in her classy new Iverson's Design iTop!

The Emperor's New Clothes

28 August 2013
she looks kinda naked.....
Tomorrow Iverson's Design will install our new dodger on Cetus -- it's a bit of a different design than the one they put on in 2004 and the old one doesn't fit quite right on the newly positioned frame, so we just took it off.

We've been telling everyone here on the dock that this is our new dodger -- and we love the great visibility through the HUGE windows.

I don't think we've fooled anyone yet.

But we are VERY excited to see the real dodger tomorrow!

Now she gets some new clothes!

26 August 2013 | Emery Cove Yacht Harbor, Emeryville, CA
new fender covers...
Fender covers keep the fenders from making black streaks on the hull and also cuts out the squeaky noises that can happen when the fenders rub against the hull of the boat. And they also hide the ugly fenders that always seem to get dingy and stained.

You can buy fender covers for $19 - $25 each at most marine stores, but we've found out that you get a better product at a much better price if you make your own. I made Cetus's new fender covers out of 2 bath towels -- 1 towel covers two fenders -- so I was able to cover all 4 for only $14! And we find the terry cloth is a much better material to have next to the hull than the nylon that most covers are made from -- and they last much longer.

The covers I made yesterday replaced the ones I made in La Paz in 2009 -- and they lasted until we took th0se off in Hawaii in 2013 when they were looking pretty tattered.

So now Cetus has some new clothes to go along with her new facelift (the painting) and her new jewlery (the blocks) -- once she gets her new dodger installed (more new clothes) she'll be the belle of the ball.

New Jewelry for Cetus

23 August 2013 | Emery Cove Yacht Harbor, Emeryville, CA
a nice little improvement
I've always considered blocks like boat jewelry because they are always so pretty and shiny -- so I was happy to see Cetus get some new adornments when we added a Garhauer E-Z Glide Adjustable Car System the other day.

It's not just for looks, however. We think this will be a big help in making it easier to adjust our Genoa (front sail) along the tracks on the side of the boat. To maximize sail performance, the blocks on the track need to be adjusted forward or back depending on the angle of the wind and to do that we had to manually lift a pin and then slide the car holding the block to the proper position. Not really a hard task -- unless you're out at sea heeled over in large waves. Then you really don't want to leave the cockpit to go out and do a small adjustment.

With this system, we can pull on a line from the cockpit and adjust the position of the block, which will make it much easier and much safer than it was -- thus we will fine tune the position more often resulting in better sail performance. We're excited to get out on the water and try it out!

Still sanding after all these days.....

03 December 2012 | Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
Well, I actually don't sand all day everyday, but I am still hard at work on the project of redoing all the exterior teak on Cetus.

To protect my sanity, I do sections of the boat at a time, so I may sand for a couple days and then I have a couple days where I apply Cetol to the freshly sanded surfaces, then on to a new area of the boat.

It can be a very tedious job, but at the end of the day it is always very rewarding as I see the teak looking good again. There's nothing like the honey blonde color of freshly sanded teak and I wish there was a way to keep it just like that, but there's not. Teak can be delt with in many ways : you can let it go gray, you can varnish, you can oil, or you can use something like Cetol, which is a bit of a compromise to varnishing. It gives a nice protective coating, and while it is not as beautiful as varnished teak, it is much simpler upkeep.

We first discovered Cetol over 20 years ago (after reading about it in Practical Sailor) and used it on the small amount of teak on our first cruising boat, Cassiopeia. Then it was sold in paint stores as a treatment for outdoor wood, but it's come a long way since then and now is marketed for marine use (at marine prices unfortunately) and comes in a few shades and now even a gloss finish you can apply to give it more of a varnished look.

The last time we redid the teak we went with several coats of the Natural Teak with a few coats of the gloss over that. We really liked the look, but we've found that the intermediate touch ups weren't as easy with the hard gloss layers on it, and that's why we're taking it all down to bare wood again. I'm not using the gloss this time, just the natural teak.

The Haul Out

08 November 2010 | Puerto Escondido
We motored the 18 miles from Isla Coronados yesterday and were able to pull in to the small dock at the Singular Marina here in Puerto Escondido for our haul out this morning at 10:30.

We plan to just be out of the water for a few days if all goes smoothly. Terry has to replace a couple things that can only be done when out of the water and we need to put a couple fresh coats of bottom paint on -- all just routine maintenance.

So this morning is busy getting everything ready: digging out all the painting supplies and anything else we need. And, at least for me, a lot of nervous energy because I never like seeing the boat going out of the water on the travel lifts -- it's just not natural to see your home flying through the air.

Putting the Boat Away

31 July 2010
When we got the call to go back to the Real World for a couple months, we made a Pro and Con list to help us make the decision and one of the top things on the Con list was having to store or "put away" the boat.

Most people would think that doesn't sound like a very hard task -- people do it all the time -- just lock her up and go. But it's a whole different thing leaving a cruising boat in a foreign country for a lengthy time. Earlier this year, when other cruising friends were taking their boats to dry storage to leave them for six months, we were happy it wasn't us -- we've been there and know what a task it is since we've left boats in Fiji, Tahiti and Mexico while we went back to the States during cyclone season.

The length of time you'll be gone combined with the weather and temperature where you'll be leaving the boat are factors you take into consideration when preparing the boat.

You have to go through all your provisions and decide what's safe to keep on board and what should be given away. Almost always refrigeration will be turned off, so of course no fresh foods would be left on board. Dry foods have to be evaluated, too, because they can attract rats and bugs and in extremely hot areas even canned foods aren't real safe to leave on board.

Also, a thorough cleaning is advised -- again for the rodents and bugs and also so you can come back to a fresh smelling boat and not a moldy Petri dish. We made that mistake once -- not for lack of cleaning, but simply because we closed the boat up too tight in a hot, humid climate. There's a fine balance between closing things up tight to keep unwanted pests out, but allowing some air circulation.

Then the big work is taking apart things on the outside of the boat. If you're leaving a boat in a cyclone zone you need to strip down everything you can. Sails come off and are folded and stored below. Cushions, life rings and instruments are taken down and stowed away. You want to remove anything that can be blown away -- or taken away.

As I said earlier, the time you'll be gone and where you're leaving the boat are both factors in how much you have to do, so this is actually the easiest boat stow that we've had to do.

This is the first time we've ever left a boat for any length of time in the water, and as with everything there are pros and cons to it. On the plus side, the temperatures will stay cooler on the boat since it is surrounded by water, so a little less worry about what we can leave aboard. In a real hot environment, such as across the Sea in Guaymas/San Carlos where they store hundreds of boats each summer, temperatures on board get so extreme they recommend leaving a bucket of water inside the boat to add moisture to the air -- and we've heard tales of the buckets melting!

The downside to being in the water is it's a little more worry -- what if a thru hull fitting fails and the boat starts taking on water: sinking :( That would ruin your whole day. but we're comfortable with the staff here at the marina and know they will keep a good eye on things and for a small fee we will have them wash the boat and dive on it regularly to keep it clean from bottom to top and ensure that the zincs are good and still doing their job. (for you landlubbers, the "zincs" are sacrificial pieces of metal that will dissolve if there is electrolysis in the water -- if they dissolve the other metals -- such as the boat's prop -- will be safe)

Also, we're only leaving the Cetus for 2 or 3 months, not the usual full 6 months of cyclone season, which makes it easier for us because it just feels like with the shorter time there's less that could go wrong. And we aren't in a heavily hit area for hurricanes. Sure, they did just have one pass near here last year, but that was a rare event so we're hoping the odds are with us. It's reassuring that the boats that were here during last years event were just fine and the marina staff did everything to insure there were no problems.

So we are in the midst of all the preparations for leaving the boat and the last few days have been very busy indeed. We will travel to Loreto (by bus) on Tuesday and spend a couple nights at a hotel there before our flight out on Thursday. We thought it would be nice to break up the two travel days (3 hour bus ride and long plane flight) both for us and for Rosie, who has never traveled like this before.

Once Cetus is all closed up and "put away", Terry's next dilemma is how to squeeze his daily siestas into a work day.

So what's all that stuff?

10 July 2010
Rosie and her new fan
I flew home with one bag to check and one carry on -- and both of those were lightly packed. In fact, inside the duffel that I checked I had two more duffel bags in anticipation of all the "stuff" I would be bringing back down to Mexico.

Other cruisers understand what a trip to the States means as far as picking up lots of items that are either not readily found in Mexico or if it's here its at an exorbitant price. So for the last few months before this trip north we've been making lists and ordering things that I could bring back down with me.

So what is all that "stuff", you ask? It's a real hodge podge of mostly small items ranging from food and clothing to boat parts, painting and craft supplies.

Much of it was "stuff" we already owned and I just had to get from our storage locker. That included some insulation material "Refectix" that we used in our refrigerator rebuild and we think may be nice for window coverings when it gets hotter down here, some painting supplies (pans, rollers, tape, masks and gloves) for when we do the bottom painting next October. Some small portable speakers for our portable DVD player, some craft supplies for beading and water colors, a couple kitchen items (my good bread knife and a cheese slicer). I also picked up a few things I'd left for safe keeping at my friend Liz's house: a folder of Jimmy Buffett CD's and several copies of Terry's book Rick's Place.

Then there were the things I'd ordered from West Marine. A long list with more bottom painting supplies (we'd picked up the bottom paint on our trip to San Diego last month), other small maintenance items like a head (toilet) rebuild kit, sandpaper, some stainless steel bolts, bioside for the water maker and a spare prop for the ourboard to name a few. We also picked up a few new items: a new battery monitor, another portable fan (the one Rosie is using in the picture ;-), a WiFi antenna to have greater reach when we are in a marina, a case of deck caulking that Terry wanted to repair our teak decks as needed, new shorts for Terry and a second water float for relaxing in the Sea -- we bought the 1st one in San Diego to try it out in the pool here at the marina -- looked like a perfect way to cool down on a hot day so now we each have one.

I also had ordered some new tank tops from Lands End and a case of Soda Mixes from Soda Stream (we picked up the CO2 cartridges in San Diego last month). I also tracked down a new electronic fly swatter since one of ours that we'd purchased in French Polynesia broke when it hit the stairs instead of a fly a few months ago. I also bought a new cordless hair cutter as ours is starting to have a problem holding a good charge.

Then there was some other "fun stuff". Some great gifts from our daughter Carly: a French Coffee press for me and a DVD set of the first two seasons of Seinfeld for Terry and a cute set of salt and pepper shakers adorned with starfish that she bought for us at a Tiffany Glass factory on her trip to Europe last month. Terry's favorite treat was the chocolate Easter Bunny that Carly sent down with me. And my friend Liz also added to the happy treats list with some great dried fruit. I also purchased several reduced price DVD's to add to our collection (we tend to watch a lot of DVD's since we don't have TV to entertain us).

I saved my CostCo run for last so I'd have an idea of how much room I'd have, and unfortunately it wasn't much so I only purchased a handful of items on my long "wish list". I had to settle for the vitamins and bags of walnuts, dried blueberries and bacon bits.

So there was even more "stuff" than I've mentioned here, but that will give you an idea of the odd assortment that I had packaged in my 3 heavy bags and why I was glad to not have to try to explain it all to the customs guys when I flew in.

I've been home for one full day and have just about found homes for everything I brought down. Though we're anxious to get back out to the anchorages, we'll stay here at the dock for another week to keep an eye on our friends boat (they are back in the States, as well) and to hopefully complete the toilet training process for Rosie -- more on that in another blog.

Head's Up

07 June 2010
Oh the joys of cruising.......
One of the favorite pastimes of boater's everywhere is rebuilding the head (or toilet for you landlubbers). It's one of those necessary evils that needs to be done periodically, whether as routine maintenance or in an emergency such as a big plug up or mechanical failure.

We chose to do ours before it reaches critical mass and took the opportunity to take care of it while we were here at the dock in Santa Rosalia so we had abundant water available for clean-up and the use of the on shore restrooms while ours was tied up.

Now you land based people probably can't even conceive of dismantling your toilet -- especially right in the middle of your main living space -- as we did. Often this would be a job you'd take outside and do on the dock, but with the increasing heat it's hard to spend that much time in the blazing sun, so we did it inside the cool confines (thanks to Windy) of Cetus.

The project ended up taking all day -- we worked on it from 9 - 4. It's mostly a matter of disassembling the parts then replacing them with new parts from a previously purchased rebuild kit. But taking it all apart can be tedious, as can putting it back together. You don't want to find parts left over when it's all done!

The other thing that made it more time consuming than expected was the unusual amount of salt crystals built up inside the hoses and fittings. We clean the system regularly with Muratic acid and that usually keeps the build up to a minimum, but one thing we've noticed here in the Sea of Cortez is that it is an extremely salty body of water. A short passage with some waves splashing leaves a thick coat of salt on all the outdoor surfaces and swimming you bob high in the water. Well, that extra salt content added to the crystal growth and I had fun chipping it all away -- much like cleaning teeth back in my dentistry days ;-)

Once the job was done and the head put back where it belongs, we took nice long hot (well, lukewarm) showers here at the marina and went across the street for dinner at Danny's Taco's.

Just another day in paradise.....

Safety First

09 April 2009
Inspecting and updating all the safety equipment on a boat should be done on a regular basis, but is vital before setting off on a long journey.

Like every other aspect of voyage planning, you need to be totally self sufficient. Just as there will be no West Marines right down the street, there often won't be doctors or Coast Guard to help if you need it.

So in updating our safety features we purchased a new ACR iPro EPIRB. Should we have an emergency out at sea, it will transmit our position via Satellite giving our GPS position. We still have our older EPIRB on board -- it's about 10 years old and not as sophisticated, but if the boat is sinking I want as many signals going out for help as possible.

We also had our life raft inspected and repacked. Should the worst happen and Cetus goes down, we'll need a place to wait for help. They pack it with flares, emergency rations, water and other items for survival at sea. In addition to those supplies we have an overboard bag -- or ditch bag -- packed and ready to go at the bottom of the stairs that we'd hope to get into the liferaft with us. It has addition survival supplies including a hand operated water maker to turn all that salt water to drinking water, sunscreen, books on liferaft survival, fishing line and hooks and even a deck of cards!

Flares have been updated, and as with the EPIRB we'll keep the old ones on board because they will still work even when passed their expiration date. And in a true emergency you want as many flares as possible to make sure you're spotted.

Fire extinguishers must be up to date -- and we have at least one in ever room on the boat. Another thing that if you have an emergency, you just can't have too many of.

We are in the process of replenishing our medical kit right now. Many of the products in it are still just fine -- all of the bandages, slings and such really don't go out of date. But medications and ointments do and need to be replenished. We've been working with our Dr. who is writing us prescriptions so we will have medications such as antibiotics that we can take should we need to battle an illness or infection far from a pharmacy.

We have also replaced our jacklines on the boat. Those are sturdy straps that run the length of the boat that we attach our safety harnesses to so we'll stay attached to the boat should we fall over. And we are getting new Mustang inflatable life vests to round out our safety equipment.

One aspect of safety that was pointed out at a Women in Boating seminar that I recently attended, is to be in the best shape you can before setting out. Many injuries, such as back strain, can be avoided if you are physically fit. In addition to our daily walks up grueling Stinson Hill, I'm going to the gym and doing weights to build my upper body strength.

You can't spend too much time or too much money on safety -- it's not an area to try to save money by making due with old or outdated equipment or supplies. It's like insurance -- something you have to pay a lot for but hope you never have to use.

Be safe out there!

Countdown!

06 April 2009 | Gig Harbor, WA
A friend of ours said we should start doing daily blogs on our preparations now that departure date is nearing, so here it is Dave!

Back in August of 2007 we made a list of everything we knew we needed to either do to the boat or buy for the boat before setting sail. Then we took that list and prioritized it and scheduled everything month by month and have since been checking things off one by one.

April's list included getting a new dinghy. We chose West Marine's RIB 310. It's a rigid bottom (fiberglass) inflatable dinghy made of Hypalon like our old Avon that we had for about 15 years. Hypalon boats cost a bit more than PVC, but they hold up better in tropical climates, and since that's where we're headed that's what we needed. A dinghy is an important part of cruising boat -- it's basically your car since it is how you get anyplace off your boat. So we picked up our "new car" last Thursday and we took it out for a spin this lovely spring weekend! Couldn't be more delighted! It's basically the same style as our old dinghy, but the tubes are larger and the V of the hull is deeper so it is much roomier inside and is able to effortlessly get up on a plane to travel across the water smoothly.

The other project on the calendar for April is to change over from "live aboard at the marina" mode to "cruising mode". This means going through every cupboard, closet, nook and cranny on the boat to reorganize and get rid of anything that won't be useful to us away from the dock, thus making room for things we will need. Off goes the microwave and other 120 V appliances since we won't be able to plug them in when we no longer have shore power. And back to the boat comes extra sails and other equipment that we don't need here on a daily basis, but will need as we are off sailing the deep blue seas.

We've also begun provisioning, but the bulk of that will be done in May. That involves not only stocking up on food, but spare parts as well. We've purchased plenty of spare zincs, filters, cleaners, etc. so we will have what we need when we're off in remote areas without a West Marine down the street.

We've set May 31st as the day we'll leave Gig Harbor -- first stop: Blake Island. Then we will spend June and July traveling through the San Juans and Gulf Islands -- maybe getting as far north as Desolation Sound. We plan to be in Neah Bay by the 1st of August, waiting for a good weather window to start our trip down the coast.
The countdown has begun!

What's New

20 March 2009 | Gig Harbor, WA
1st Day of Spring!
On this site:
we've added the Google mapping that we will be able to update as we travel! Just click on the position map to the right and you'll be able to see where we are -- and if you then click on the position on the map it will take you to the blog post associated with that position. We'll start using that daily once we leave the dock on May 31st.

On Cetus:
the big project has been building a new refrigerator! We started out just planning on changing out the machinery (an Adler Barbour Super Cold Machine), but thought it prudent to check out the insulation of the built in box -- since refrigeration is the biggest energy user on the boat, you want it to be as efficient as possible. What we found prompted us to tear out the existing box and insulation and rebuild the whole thing. It's been a time consuming project first in the removal, then in building up the layers of insulation and new fiberglass walls, but it's going well and we are nearly done with the project and should be able to be back making ice cubes in just a few days!

Other news:
Terry will be doing book signings at the Oakland Strictly Sail Boat Show at Jack London Square! He'll be in the West Marine Booth from 12 - 2 on April 16, 17 and 18.
He also recently had an article picked up by Blue Water Sailing! It's about our adventure of installing the new engine in Cetus while in Tahiti. Publication date TBA.

The Spot Messenger

05 January 2009 | Satellite Personal Tracker
We've just purchased and activated our SPOT messenger and we're very excited about it!
It's not only another safety feature to get help in an emergency, but it's also a way to keep in touch. It utilizes GPS and satellites so it works where cell phones don't.
It has one feature that we can send out a message to say "we're OK" or "all's well" and when our contacts recieve it they can click on a link to a Google Map to see just where we are.
There is also a tracking feature that will update our position as often as we want so it will display our route.
All this information can also be viewed by anyone that accesses our Shared Page -- which can be opened by clicking on the link to the right that says "Where in the world are we?"
Check out the new Spot Messenger Click here: SPOT Messenger

Getting Ready to Go

26 August 2008 | Gig Harbor, WA
As the summer flies by we are busy planning and preparing for our upcoming cruise, in addition to helping the publisher with the final details on "Rick's Place".
Cetus has recieved a new coat of paint topsides, a new radar unit, new Bottom Siders (closed cell cushions for the cockpit) and one of our favorites, an AIS unit. We'll write a separate blog to talk about that one, as a lot of people don't know what it is.
We're also making lists of things that need to be done as well as a few more items we need buy.
This winter we will be going through the boat from bow to stern to inventory and record what is where, and then we'll begin to provision.
It's all so exciting, but since we've done it all before it's much easier this time!

Cetus: The Constellation

14 February 2008 | Gig Harbor, WA
I've just updated our profile to the right to give a little information about us and our sailing experiences and how Cetus got her name.
Vessel Name: Cetus
Vessel Make/Model: Fantasia 35
Hailing Port: Gig Harbor, WA
Crew: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
About:
TERRY & HEIDI got into sailing together 30+ years ago when they purchased their very first sailboat, a 7 foot long "Sunflower" that they played with and learned enough about sailing to get them hooked. [...]
Extra:
CETUS is the constellation of the whale. When we were purchasing this boat, we knew we wanted to change the name because the owners had had some trouble with customs in Fiji due to another boat by the same name (then Illusion) having done something illigal and the boat name was "flagged" in [...]
Cetus's Photos - Main
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Removing the teak deck, fiberglassing, sanding, painting then putting on the Kiwi Grip
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25 days at sea
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Troncones, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo
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travels between Santa Rosalia and La Paz in October and November 2011
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Sailing around Santorini on a crewed catamaran
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Photos from our trip to the islands in February 2011
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Our trip to the old mining town was a real delight
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30 Photos
Created 31 May 2009
Packing food and supplies for our 3rd Blue Water cruise
11 Photos
Created 30 May 2009
Bon Voyage and Retirement Celebration at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club May 9, 2009
93 Photos
Created 13 May 2009
Photos showing the tearing out of the old refrigerator and building a new one.
36 Photos
Created 10 April 2009
A collection of pics from our time sailing through these beautiful atolls
18 Photos
Created 8 October 2008
Our first trip to the San Juans in 10 years!
12 Photos
Created 8 October 2008
A few shots of our first cruising boat Cassiopeia in the South Pacific 1992 - 1994
7 Photos
Created 26 August 2008
Cetus in the South Pacific
12 Photos
Created 26 August 2008
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