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

Rosie the Hunter

17 March 2015 | Bahia Falso, just north of La Paz
We're enjoying this little anchorage -- and Rosie is too. She can't get over the birds that sit just out of reach. I know she wouldn't know what to do if she got close to one. She's better off chasing flies.

Rosie the Sailor Cat

02 November 2012
legally in rabies free Hawaii
We were so happy to have a decent passage this time after our last couple bumpy rides -- not just for us, but for Rosie, too. After all, she didn't sign up for ocean crossings -- she just got thrown into them. I'm sure that as grateful as she is that we rescued her from the streets of Santa Rosalia, that on that Tuamotu Bash she was longing for her old spot under the taco stand on HiWay 1.

With the calmer seas she quickly adapted to life on the high seas and enjoyed sitting in the cockpit watching birds or scanning the deck for her favorite flying fish. Unfortunately she was only rewarded with fresh fish about 4 out of the20 days we were out to sea.

The big event came with our entry into Honolulu, because we not only had to clear customs, but Rosie had to complete the process of being allowed to stay on our boat in rabies free Hawaii. We began the long process back in La Paz last January because if you want to avoid a 30 day quarantine ashore, you have to do lots of paperwork and have a special blood test done -- a minimum of 4 months before your arrival.

Then you must keep them apprised of your arrival date so they can meet you at your boat when customs comes down and take the pet out to the airport for final clearance. We also needed to arrange for a vet to go to the airport to issue a health certificate. Normally if you were flying in that would just be done before you left, but they have to be made within 5 days of arrival, and we didn't encounter any vets on the way.

Well it all sounded very neat and simple -- and would have been had we not gotten in on a Sunday. But, we did, so we called customs and we called the rabies free clinic and they were all supposed to come down about noon. The big problem was finding a vet, but we had gotten an email from the rabies free clinic that said if we came in after hours Rosie could stay on the boat and they would come down the next day -- so that would have made it easy to get hold of one of their vets for Monday.

They decided since we got in early Sunday it wasn't after hours and she would take Rosie to the airport and she would just have to stay there over night if I couldn't get a vet that day. Well, that didn't sit very well with us and we went round and round with the agent who actually was trying to be very accommodating even though she was locked into government zombie worker mode where she couldn't do anything differently than what she was told. She did help us find a vet that could get out there that day after the first one I found wouldn't be able to get there in time (whole nother story -- she was really flakey..)

So she got Rosie to the airport and the vet did the health certificate and we were to go out and pick Rosie up as soon as customs came by -- she'd left a paper for him to sign. When it got to be 1:00 and they hadn't shown up I called again and they wouldn't be coming till morning -- but we were free to leave the boat. So yes, the next problem with the rabies free agent was that the paper hadn't been signed. She really couldn't release Rosie without the paperwork.

Now that really didn't make any since because the customs guy wouldn't have even seen the cat -- it was purely paperwork for the file. She decided we could take Rosie as long as we promised to bring the paper back out to the airport the next day. We promised and home we went with Rosie.

When we made our plans they told us Honolulu was the only place to clear in, but we learned on the way up to Hawaii that if you clear into Hilo they have a vet that just comes down to the boat and takes care of the whole process. So during this whole ordeal we asked questions -- why can they do it that way in Hilo -- "because we don't have an office there", could we have had the vet come to the boat to do the health certificate? "no, they have to come to our office" but no reason given. What do you do with the animal at the office? "We scan the chip to make sure its the right animal" Couldn't your agent bring a scanner to the boat and eliminate the transporting to and from the airport? "hadn't ever thought of that, but they don't always have enough working scanners to take them out of the office." Government zombie answers every time.

So we got through the process on Sunday, with an additional bus trip back to the airport on Monday to take them the precious paper (that the customs guy had no idea what it was for and called them to find out what he was supposed to do with it). Total cost for the vet, taxi and bus $300. So if you ever sail to Hawaii with a pet on board -- clear in in Hilo!

Next I'll tell you about customs and agriculture -- another reason to clear in in Hilo.......

Rosie is a happy cat

10 October 2012 | somewhere in south of the equator
Shortly after I wrote that there were no flying fish for Rosie, a huge one landed on deck! It was the biggest flying fish I've ever seen -- it would have been a meal for a person and way too much for Rosie. So Terry went on deck to get it for her and took a knife to trim it down to a manageable size and Rosie got the treat she'd been waiting for.

3rd morning and still no flying fish on deck!

10 October 2012 | somewhere in south of the equator
And boy is Rosie disappointed. Every morning she scans the decks and gets so excited when Terry walks the decks for his morning check -- because that's the time he'd always bring a fish back to her. It's the one reward she gets for being stuck on a rocking boat and now she doesn't even have that -- not fair! What she doesn't know is that it's because the seas are pretty mild that the fish aren't landing on deck so often -- so it's kind of a trade off -- less rocking less fish.

So we had a good night last night -- sailed along 5 plus knots with Rick, the trusty windvane doing all the steering, as he has the whole trip. We're getting good rest and our bodies are adapting to the constant movement and we're able to eat well with all the passage foods I was able to make ahead of time.

Rosie might not be getting her special passage treats (the flying fish) but we've been enjoying crispy beef burritos, spaghetti and Terry's favorite: Passage Burgers. Those are the hamburgers I make by wrapping a cooked pattie and a slice of cheese in some bread dough and baking it. I wrap them in foil so that when we want to eat, I just warm it in the oven and voila, a no mess, easy to eat hamburger. Served with a little dipping sauce it's a tasty meal. I also wrapped a couple of chicken breasts in dough this time, but we haven't tried those yet -- sounds like a good lunch for today.

Sail on sail on sailor.....

1st Night at Sea

16 January 2012 | Somewhere south of Cabo
Rosie and the squid
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.

That Darn Cat!

09 January 2012 | La Paz, BCS Mexico
Rosie when she found out she couldn't eat for 12 hours
When Terry first picked Rosie up from under the truck by the Taco stand in Santa Rosalia and asked "can I keep her?" I warned him that it would change our cruising life and make travel (especially off the boat) much more difficult. But I'm really as much of a softie and animal lover as he is, so Rosie joined the Cetus Crew and we've enjoyed every minute of having her with us.

But, it does complicate matters. Not so much really traveling around here in Mexico, but there's a lot more to think about when we travel elsewhere with her -- like when we travel to and from the US.

And now, with our travel plans taking us maybe up to Hawaii and then hopefully on to Australia it has really complicated matters. Both of those islands are rabies free and along with a few others (Japan and New Zealand for example) they want to stay that way, so they have very strict entry requirement for pets.

It used to be that for Hawaii the only choice was a 120 day quarantine at a veterinary facility. I'd heard things were better now and through research of Hawaii's agricultural website and a few calls to them to clarify how it works with a pet on a private boat I've learned a lot in the past week and think I'll be able to do all the necessary paperwork so that Rosie will be able to stay on the boat with us when we go to Hawaii.

She already had the required microchip (used in this case to make sure it's the right animal) and she's had her rabies shots. But what she needs is to have an FAVN blood test to prove she doesn't carry rabies. It would be very simple to do this in the States, but I, unfortunately, did not get it done when we were up there this summer ;-( I had looked into it a little thinking I would need it for Australia, but at the time I thought I read it was only good for 120 days -- which wouldn't have done us any good because we wouldn't be in Australia that soon. But what I've learned since is that it has to be done at least 120 days before entering the country in question -- but it is actually good for 36 months. Sure wish I would have known that last summer!

So, it can be done here in Mexico, but it is a bit more complicated because the only lab that does this test is at the University of Kansas. And to get the serum to Kansas quickly from Mexico is a bit more complicated because it has to go through customs. Luckily the Kansas State University website has detailed instructions and even the necessary custom forms to attach -- and helpful friendly people answering the phone to answer all my questions.

I've done the paperwork and gotten to DHL to get that all set up, talked to the vet (we even used him when we had our previous cat Cali down here in La Paz 11 or so years ago), secured ice packs and we were all set to go in this morning, do the blood draw, package the sample and ship it off. But...... the vet decided that the amount of blood he'd have to draw to get the required serum would be too difficult on an un-sedated cat. And, he couldn't sedate the cats (our friend Vicky is going through the same process and we took them in together) because they'd both eaten this morning -- and they can't sedate them unless they've been fasting for 12 hours.

Tomorrow we'll try try again and if all goes well and we get the serum on it's way, we will be on our way on Wednesday!

In the meantime we've got some football to watch and dinner to eat at the local Sport's Bar: Tailhunter's. So thanks to Rosie we get to enjoy yet another day in La Paz -- so we're not really complaining!

Rosie's Big Day

12 September 2010
We've been back in the States for a little over a month now and we've all adapted to the pace of life and have enjoyed visiting family and friends. We have stayed busy with work and preparing the book for publication among other little projcets. We will be here another month, and we're really looking forward to getting back home to Cetus and the beautiful Sea of Cortez.

Today we celebrated a major milestone and presented Rosie with her graduation certificate from Kitty Whiz University -- that's the name of the company that makes the "transfer system" which is the plastic ring for the toilet that gradually changes from a toilet top litter box to just using the regular seat on the toilet. While she's used nothing but a toilet since before we left Santa Rosalia, we've kept the last ring on the toilet for some time now, but finally, yesterday, we removed it and now she is totally toilet trained! Way to go Rosie!

On the Road with Rosie

06 August 2010 | buses, planes and hurricanes
We had a very successful, though long, trip back to the States yesterday.

Rosie did well traveling in her little red carrier that I put together for her. When there were no cat carriers to be found in Santa Rosalia I took a small carry on bag we had and added screens for ventilation and viewing underneath the side flaps and on the top. We'd had a soft carrier for our cat Cali that traveled with us, and this turned out pretty close to what that was like.

She slept the whole 3 hours on the bus -- the only time she'd meow in protest was when we'd have to walk a ways either to the bus station or to the hotel in Loreto (which was right across the street from the bus station!) and we were all thrilled to have a whole day to rest up and relax in an air conditioned hotel room before resuming our travels on Thursday.

After a little tantrum (she must have overheard what a long day it was going to be!) when we first put her in her carrier, she once again was a great little traveler , sleeping most all the time on the plane and even laying calmly people watching from her open carrier on our 3 1/2 hour layover in LA. 12 hours after leaving the hotel in Loreto, we were finally in a new hotel in Tacoma -- we were all very happy to have that behind us!

Now today, as we're getting all settled in, we see that there is another tropical depression building down off the Southern coast of Mexico! Hopefully this one will keep heading west and fizzle out soon, staying far, far away from Cetus waiting for us in Santa Rosalia.

HURRICANE UPDATE: Check out the Hurricane Update link to the right to track this latest tropical disturbance we will be watching closely. Just upgraded to a Tropical Storm, it is the 5th of the season and is now named: Estelle.

Toilet Training Kitty

19 July 2010
As I've mentioned before, we are in the process of toilet training our new ship's cat Rosie.

Now I don't mean training her to use a litter box -- she had that down from the day we picked her up. Which, is a surprise because you wonder why street cats take to litter boxes right away -- and even more puzzling is that they are picky about their litter, just like the spoiled pets in the United States that learn from television ads (yes, they're watching ) that there's a million different kinds of litter to chose from and if they are finicky enough they can get their people buying several different kinds until they find one that they really like. Who knew a street cat would already be fussy? But she was. The first night we brought her home we were scrambling to get things all set on the boat for her, because when we set out to dinner that night we didn't plan on bringing home a new pet. Luckily, we had some kitty food on board from when we were helping a mother cat take care of her brood in a storage shed at the marina in La Paz. As for litter, we happened to have a multi-purpose tub that was just right for a littler box so we filled it with some sand thinking that should work just fine -- but we were wrong. Little Rosie was happy as a clam that first night on the boat, but she wouldn't use the littler box. She didn't go anywhere else, either, she just didn't go. So just like when you bring a new baby home, we didn't get much sleep that first night keeping an eye on her.

The next morning we walked down to the local vet and purchased some kitty litter. As soon as we mixed a bit of that litter in with the sand, Rosie took to it and did her business! With the first important hurtle of box training taken care of, the slow the process of toilet training began.

We've actually toilet trained a cat before,very successfully. For those of you that have read Terry's book, Adventures Aboard Rick's Place, you know Rick has a toilet trained cat aboard his boat. That cat, like all of the character's in the book is a composite, with a name taken from one source and characteristics from others. In the book, Jack is the toilet trained cat, but in reality it was our cat Cali that we moved aboard our boat Cetus with when she was a very young kitten, and we'd toilet trained her just before that move.

The first step in the process is to put the cat's litter box in the bathroom, so they get used to going into that room. Next you start slowly raising the height of the litter box, so they get used to having to jump up to use it. Then, when that all seems to be going well with no stress on the cat (and if you try to move too quickly they will be stressed and start holding it in and showing their displeasure) you actually turn the toilet into the litter box.

When we trained Cali, I used a plastic mold specially made for a toilet seat and sold in pet stores under the name of Kitty Whiz, and we've taken that idea and adapted some plastic lids we had on board to accomplish the same thing aboard Cetus. So Rosie has been using the head turned litter box for several weeks now and we've actually proceeded on to the next phase (remember you must go slowly...) cutting holes in the center of the litter box exposing the toilet below. You start with a very small hole -- about 2 inches in diameter. Then you very gradually enlarge the hole (waiting a few days to a week between changes). This makes the cat move from the center of their "box" until they are actually just perching on the toilet seat and voila the toilet is no longer a litter box but they use it just the same.

This whole process works best if you have more than one toilet, so the cat can be trained on one while the rest of the family has easy use of the other, but alas, aboard Cetus we have just one head. But we started the process at the marina where we had use of shore facilities and it really isn't too much trouble to lift the tray off the toilet if we need to use it. It's a small sacrifice for what we know to be a great reward to have a toilet trained cat with no litter box needed aboard a small boat.

Rosie Update

17 July 2010 | Rosie's first home
The picture is of the truck where Rosie used to hang out before Terry rescued her from the mean streets of Santa Rosalia.

She was a tiny little thing, but was actually older than she appeared due to the lack of proper nutrition. She looked to us to be about 6 - 9 weeks old, but the vet guessed closer to 3 months. Apparently the only thing growing at the proper rate where her ears!

When we took her in to the vet for her 2nd appointment a few days ago, she'd doubled her weight going from 2 lbs to 4 in a mere 17 days. And it looks like she's already grown since then!

She's a good cat. All the boats we run into that have rescued animals aboard find they make the very best pets -- they seem to remember what it was like living on the streets and know that they won the lottery when they got picked up and taken care of.

She's content and healthy and we're in the process of toilet training -- which is going well and I'll tell you all about that in my next blog. Right now we're getting ready to cast off the dock lines and head out to the islands to enjoy the cruising life once again!

Meet Rosie

21 June 2010
Our New Ship's Cat
We rescued this little sweetheart from the streets of Santa Rosalia, so named her Rosie.

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 [...]
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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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Our trip to the old mining town was a real delight
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Cetus in the South Pacific
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