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A Christmas Tradition
12/26/2010, San Blas

For the last 20+ years, Ian and I have spent Christmas with a wonderful group of people in Vancouver. We have for all of these years maintained certain Christmas traditions that brought much hiliarity and fun to Christmas day. One of these traditions is making a Christmas hat. This is usually done with the bits and pieces left over after everyone has wripped into their presents. So in the spirit of it all, Ian and I decided to carry on this tradition here in Mexico. You can see the results for yourself in the photo. Although we couldn't be with our friends this year, we were there in spirit and we did send them the photo.
It was a very different Christmas for us being here with out our family and friends. On Christmas Eve, we decided to go into town and see how the Mexicans were celebrating. The streets were full of people but that's not unusual as they often are, but there were lots of family gatherings going on and parties. As we got to the town square, there were lots of people there, the stalls were open for last minute gifts and people were just out and enjoying the evening. We walked down to a restaurant that had live music going on. We were the only gringos in the place it was full of Mexican families enjoying a nice Christmas eve dinner and entertainment. The music was beautiful Mexican folks songs that the audience seemed to be very familiar with as many of them broke into song.
As we left the restaurant, we heard the church bells ringing. It was 10pm and there was a service about to begin. We were looking into the church and listening to the beautiful singing as the priest came by and invited us in. We sat at the back of the church for about a half hour of the service and it was quite nice.
Christmas day was very quiet there were no fisherman going up and down the esturary, the town was very quiet as well. We spent a nice morning reading and making our hats, and then we cooked a chicken curry to take to the pot luck over at the marina. We met some very nice people at the pot luck and will no doubt run into some of them again along the way.
All in all is was a pleasant experience and now we have New Years festivities to look forward to.

12/26/2010 | camelia and Bob
Love the hats and great tradition to carry on. Bob says Ellen's hat matches your dress quite good. Ian that sun beam on your tummy, makes you look quite round ??? lol Can't wait to see what the New Year brings you both. Cheers!
12/26/2010 | Linda
Hmm... The Sultan of Fishing (Ian) is now performing well so that the High Style Parisian Wife (Ellen) can halve what they spend in the fish market. It has been a very good year to watch Kasasa and the the magic persists. Love xxoo
12/27/2010 | Ron Howell
Merry Christmas Ian & Ellen, although a little late, looks like your having lots of fun, play safe and have a great new year, hope to see you somewhere, out on the sea...
Finally a fish!

We finally caught a fish! It was on the trip from Isla Isabella. We actually caught 3 fish that day but only kept the Dorado. The first 2 were Crevalle Jacks which are not a nice fish for eating. The Dorado was small but was very delicious. Actually when Ian caught it, he pointed out to me that it's mate was swimming along side the boat. I was depressed for about an hour afterwards. I wish he hadn't pointed that out to me. But it didn't stop me from eating and enjoying the fish. The photo was taken after the fish had lost all of it's beautiful green and yellow colours which happens when they die (that's depressing too).
We are still in San Blas and quite enjoying this small Mexican town. Yesterday we went on a Jungle Tour (see photos in the photo gallery). There were so many birds flying and turtles and crocs it was really great. The trip included a stop at a fresh water spring that you could swim in. The trip back, our guide sped through the water which was both frightening and exhilarating. Frightening because the river is about 12 feet wide and full of twists and turns and with the mangrove trees you can't see very far. There are other tour boats coming and going so you just have to hope that they are able to stop in time which they always seem to be able to do. Maybe they have supersonic hearing and can hear the boat coming towards them!?!
Today we went into to town for breakfast and to provision. Shopping in small towns is an experience as you always need to visit at least 4 different stores to get everything you need. First we went to one store that had good bacon. Then to another which only sold Banana bread, then to the market for veggies and fruit which meant going to 3 stalls to get what we wanted. Then to the hardware store. All in all, it takes about 3 hours to get 40 bucks worth of groceries but it is all a part of the experience. I enjoyed it much more that I ever did going to Safeway.
Tomorrow I think will be a beach day and there is a rumor of a Cruisers Christmas Potluck at the marina on Christmas day. So that is looking like the plan for now we will see how we feel in the morning...
Merry Christmas to everyone!

12/24/2010 | Rick and Deena
Merry Christmas! Congratulations on the fish and being in warm beautiful waters. We are in Boston to see family and it is cold! Great to read of your adventures!
12/24/2010 | François Gamache
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année à vous deux.
It's nice to see you enjoying your dream. Keep going.
Amitiés sincères
12/24/2010 | Ken & Carole (NautiMoments)
Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year. It is great to read about your adventures. We are taking pointers from you for out departure next August. Our boat is on the hard getting things installed (expensive things). Even though we do not comment often we look at your blog every day to see what you are doing and enjoy it immensely. If you are still in Mexico next year maybe we will meet up.
All the best of the season to everyone. Health and happiness for the new year.
12/25/2010 | Diana Vetter
Merry Christmas Ian and Ellen!!
12/25/2010 | Pamela and Pat
Merry Christmas to you both! We're so enjoying reading all your stories and loved all the photos from the jungle trip. Hope you'll have a good Christmas - we'll drink a dop to your good health. Much love from your Bro and Sis down under xx
12/25/2010 | Debbie & Bob
Wishing you both a very merry Xmas and also here's wishing for a wonderful New Year, how great that you are both living the dream. Much love from us.
12/25/2010 | Kelly & Carol
Feliz Navidad - enjoying reading about where we hope to sail as well. Intrepid splashed on Thursday and we'll be in Guaymas another week getting ready to head south. Hope to catch you somewhere again. Happy new year!
12/26/2010 | pat and les
BEAUTIFUL!!!! (Fish that is....oh, and yes, you too, Ian) Wish we were there to enjoy the fish.
Isla Isabella

What an amazing place Isla Isabella is. You walk on the island and there are birds everywhere! Thousands in the trees and in the sky. And the Booby birds are on the ground as that's where they nest. The Frigate birds are in the trees or flying. If a Frigate bird lands on the ground it will die as they are not able to launch themselves from the ground they have to be on a perch or a trees or off the ground on something. When you walk around the island you see quite a few dead ones on the ground as they were unable to fly and there fore starved to death. We went for a hike with a guide while we were there. It was great because he spoke fairly good english and was really good at explaining the island to us. At one point we saw a Frigate on the ground and him an Ian were able to pick it up and launch it into the air. You do have to be carfull of the 6 inch beak!
We also loved the snorkling there. Fantastic! So many kinds of fish and in vast quantities. There were some small jelly fish though that managed to sting me in about 4 places. I'll need to find a licra suit I think for snorkling.
We were in the south anchorage with 3 other boats. Each evening we were there we all got together on one boat or another and had an evening happy hour. It was great fun.
We are now in San Blas we just arrived in town this morning so I'm getting my internet fix. We will stay a few days and then who knows where our next stop will be. We are living it day by day...
Merry Christmas to all of you and our thoughts are with you for a great Christmas season and happy New Year.

12/21/2010 | Angela
Hi Ellen and Ian!! Glad to see your trip is going well. I'm so jealous. Of course, working here at the Now is pretty damn amazing too. chuckle chuckle. Enjoy the Holidays! And Ellen, get Ian to pee on those jelly fish stings! Miss you! Big hugs!
12/21/2010 | pat and les
shorts and tee shirts?? we are jealous! how is it we joined you for the "cold" part of the trip???? Glad you are having fun. Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. We are so happy that you are living your dream! Love ya!
12/22/2010 | Dad & Kathy
Hi Ellen & Ian. Merry Christmas to you both.
So glad that you are enjoying yourselves. See
you in Feb. Can't wait! Love ya!
12/22/2010 | Anne and Dick

So glad you are enjoying the best this year! Maybe next year there will be better!!

The Best Merry Christmas and an eventful New Year anywhere in the world!

Sorry we are in the cold but will be down soon.

Anne and Dick
"Full & By"
12/22/2010 | Jenn
So happy to read about all your fabulous adventures. Have a wonderful Christmas! Hugs. J
12/22/2010 | Camelia and Bob
Merry Christmas you two. So happy you are enjoying your daily adventure. Hope to see you there next year if you are still in Mexico.
wow, talking about living the dream .
enjoy . merry christmas and happy new year to both of you.
12/23/2010 | Terri-Lee
Hi Ellen and Ian,
Merry Christmas!! I guess there's not much chance of snow where you are! Here either, rain... rain... rain. But we are just finishing up at the paper and looking forward to a few days off. Miss you! Those birds sound really interesting! At least you saved one!! lol Look forward to hearing about more of your travels. Take care.
Hanging out in Mazatlan
12/15/2010, Mazatlan

That's service for you. Ian is getting a haircut and a neck massage by this fellow who comes down to the docks every couple of day. All for the price of about $5 bucks.
We have been here for going on 5 days now. The time is just flying by. We went into Marina Mazatlan for 2 nights after our first night out at anchor. We had some boat chores to do and it is so much easier when you are tied to a dock with shore power. We had a small window in the V berth to re-bed as it leaked during the gale. The other thing we did, that made me quite anxious while doing it, was to replace the lip seals on the shaft. They are the things that keep the sea water out of the boat while allowing the shaft to exit the boat and turn the propeller. Ours were about 6 years old and had started to leak. We had enquired into having the boat lifted out of the water for the day, but the price was $400 bucks!!! So Ian convinced me he could do it while in the water. What this meant was water would be coming into the boat while he did the job. First he showed me how much would come in by loosening the seal. The bilge pump was keeping up no problem.
So while Ian worked away doing this job and the bilge pump kept pumping along, I sat in the cockpit and tried not to fret. I did however have the handle in the manual bilge pump ready to go if need be. It took about 45 minutes to complete the job and we now have a non leaking seal and 400 bucks in our pockets! It sure is nice having Ian able to do what ever needs doing on the boat. And nerves of steel too. Me it just made me feel paniky to see all that sea water coming in. The bright side is the bilge has been flushed really clean!
Today we took a bus to Wal-Mart to look for some things we need. We didn't find any of the things we were looking for. From there we headed to the Central Market which is like Granville Island but way bigger and way more people and way noiser and way cheaper too. We went up to the 2nd floor and had a great brunch for 7 bucks total and that included two big glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice.
We are presently anchored out in the old harbour just off of the Waste Water Treatment Plant which you can smell when the wind blows from a certain direction. Ian says it's the smell of money! (For those of you who don't know Ian, he spent the last 12 years of his working life working at the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Vancouver)
We will hang out here for a few more days. We want ot go to Isla Isabella but we need really calm weather while we are there because the anchorage is not really that well protected and there are lots of rocks. The attraction to this island is the birds and the iguana's. It's supposed to be the Galopago's of Mexico. We will let you know.

12/15/2010 | John Gallant
Ellen Ian looks like barnacle Bill the sailer good timing for a cleanup
12/15/2010 | Camelia and Bob
Bob says that Ian must feel right at home being near the treatment plant. lol Just can't get the old job out of his system.
12/18/2010 | Linda
Thank you for expanding "Trip down the Baja Coast" Photo Album. It's hard to say which one I like the best because they are all keepers.

I wish my hair would grow as fast as Ian's. Wow, Ian what is your secret?

I hope the magic of Christmas is catching up to you. Love
12/20/2010 | Carole
I think that would have made me a bit nervous also......
01/01/2011 | martin mc cormick
Ian@ Ellen,Happy New Year.Enjoy the good life!Great pictures.
Kasasa 0 - Fish 2
12/12/2010, Mazatlan

Well you won't believe this (it's a fish tale) but as I was uploading the previous blog via the ham radio, Ian called me up because he had a fish on! So I put the boat in nuetral and he was trying to reel in and couldn't stop the line from playing out. Believe it or not it was a honking huge Marlin which is one of those fish with a sword at the end of it's nose. I ran down to grab the camera and just as I came up I just had time to catch a glimpse of the fish as his head and fins came out of the water and he shook his head from side to side and that was it he broke the line. We are happy he did because what would we do with a fish that big and with that sword off his nose I wouldn't want him on board anyhow.
So no sooner had we gotten under way again and Ian says oh oh and the engine slows down. He had spotted too late a long line Mexican fishing line and we got it caught in our prop. Lucky for us it was really smooth seas and not much swell so Ian got ready to jump overboard to cut it off of the prop. As he was getting himself ready, 2 whales happen to swim by behind the boat! Haven't seen a whale in ages and as soon as he needs to get in the water there are 2 of them. But they weren't too interested in us and kept on going by.
Before Ian got in the water, I made him tie a rope around his waist because if the boat drifted away and we still had the rope in the prop, I wouldn't be able to get him. Anyhow, it all worked out and within a half hour we were on our way again.
As we got to about 15 miles out, we were trying to call some friends on their boat that is here in Mazatlan. Well they didn't answer but Dinis from Vida Nova did. They were anchored just outside the entrance to the marinas in front of a small island so we decided to join them there. We had a nice dinner on board their boat and got to catch up with each others travels since we last saw them in San Diego in the summer.
This morning we upped anchor and came into the Marina Mazatlan where we will stay for 2 nights and then go to a place we can anchor for a few days. We managed to get a visit in with Ann and Dick from Full & By before they leave tonight to fly home to Vancouver for Christmas. We went for lunch with them, Will and Marilyn from Shamen 1, Lynne and Debbie from Dolphin Tales, Kelly and Carol from Intrepid 2 so it was a real Bluewater Cruising Association BURP (which is what we call informal get togethers from this sailing group).
So never a dull moment (except all the ones we don't talk about) on the good ship Kasasa

12/12/2010 | Linda
Maybe Ellen should do the fishing for a bit eh.
12/12/2010 | pat and les
Glad you finally hooked that marlin we talked about on the way down but can't believe it happened without me!!! wish we were there for the excitement! You seem to have adventures wherever you go (fishing line in the prop)....never a dull moment. We got to tell our Mexican sailing stories last night with our racing group at a Christmas dinner.....they were all impressed! Keep having fun.
12/13/2010 | John Gallant
Cant wait to hear your next fish story
12/20/2010 | Carole Downes
Love the picture!
Calm Passage
12/10/2010, Enroute to Mazatlan

We left San Jose del Cabo yesterday morning and set sail for the mainland Mexico. The closest point is Mazatlan at 180 miles. Our original plan was to leave from San Jose del Cabo marina and go to Los Frailes. We did try that one day and got to within 8 miles and had to turn back as the winds and the waves were just too much. We were reefed to the 2nd reef in the main and had the staysail out and we couldn't punch through the waves unless we took a big tack out and back in which would have meant hours and hours of uncomfortable sailing to do 8 miles. So we decided since we have no fixed schedule, we would turn back and try it another day. The next day the winds were forcast to be similar in the Sea of Cortez so we decided to stay one more day at the marina and when the conditions are good, head directly across to the mainland. We had a great day of sailing yesterday as the winds were in the 12-15 knot range with some chop and whitecaps but nothing uncomfortable. We zoomed along reaching speeds of up to 7 knots and the boat was riding along quite comfortably. Around sunset, the winds died down to about 6 - 8 knots and we needed to motorsail to keep up our speed of 5 knots which we need in order to arrive during daylight hours at Mazatlan. As it is, it's now 1pm and we still have about 20 miles to go so that is another 4 hours. We will arrive just before sunset. This morning there was hardly a breath of wind for a couple of hours and now it has switched around to the south and is only blowing maybe 5 knots so once again we are motor sailing. At least it also gives us a good charge on the battery bank as well as we were able to fill our water tanks by making water. It is such an amazing thing to see this little machine and it pumps out fresh water from salt water after filtering it through a tube called a membrane. I don't know who invents these things but thankfully someone does. We will probably stay in a marina here for a few days as there are not that many places to anchor. We don't know how long we will stay but I don't think for more than 3 or 4 days and then on to Isla Isabella. It's a tiny island which is a bird sanctuary. You can walk the island among the booby birds and the frigate birds and their chicks. And from there we are just making our way south to Puerto Vallarta with whatever stops we feel like making along the way. It's looking like we might be in PV for Christmas which is a weird thought because it's so hot here that I can't even bring myself to think about it. So no shopping or hoopala for us this year. Ian is still trying to catch a fish and so far nothing. We can actually look down from the side of the boat and see fish swimming along in the shadow of the boat but they don't seem at all interested in his lures. Guess there is always the fish market in Mazatlan...

12/11/2010 | Frank & Louise Delia
We are facinated to read your blogs daily, what a wonderful excursion you are on, so much to see & do, tell Ian to spit on the lure & maby he will catch fish. Friends Frank & Louise
12/11/2010 | camelia and Bob
Hi guys. Ellen you are just too funny. Bob and I love the way you express your self about things. It brings a smile to our face and make me miss you even more. Maybe Bob will have to show Ian how to fish next year when we come down! lol
12/12/2010 | Vince C
Ian, when you get a chance, can you e-mail me. I need to tell you something about a friend of ours at work but I do not want to put it on the blog. Thanks.
12/12/2010 | Gary and Maureen
Living vicariously through your blog. The chilly seas are calm in Comox today. On your trip south from Mazatlan, look for Rincon Guabitos, Los Ayala, Sayalita. Great little spots. May the wind be up your rear. G&M P.S. maybe see you P.V. or south after
New Years

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