Enjoying Puerto Escondido
26 October 2011 | Puerto Escondido
After getting Cetus in the water on October 21st we were anxious to get out to the nearby islands and enjoy all the Sea of Cortez has to offer. But we're in the midst of changing our visa status and we have to wait till this Friday to pick up our paperwork, so we are "stuck in Puerto Escondido" a bit longer than we'd originally planned.
It's not a bad place to be stuck. The huge protected anchorage is back dropped by the majestic Giganta mountains that glow red in the early morning sunrise and the ragged peaks make for spectacular sunsets. We've been lucky to have nice cooling breezes to keep us comfortable as we acclimate to the hot Baja climate and just a short dinghy ride away we found some good snorkeling.
We've also made good use of our time here by installing the new wind generator we brought down with us. We were going to save that project for the dock in La Paz, but since we had the time Terry launched into it and is just putting the finishing touches on the wiring today. Our old wind generator was still working great, but it was very loud. Technology has changed over the last 15 years and we're hoping that this new one will provide the same power with a lot less noise.
And Street Cat Rosie is right at home too, back to enjoying her evenings out on deck watching birds from her perch on the dodger.
Feliz Ano Nuevo!
31 December 2010
toasting the last sunset of 2010
As the sun sets on 2010 we reflect on the wonderful year and look forward to the adventures the New Year will bring.
We wish you all health and happiness in 2011!
02 November 2010 | Punta Chivato, Sea of Cortez
It's always exciting to have company come visit when you're out cruising and we're especially excited because it's our daughter, Carly! We were planning on having her visit us in the Galapagos next spring, but she's starting a new job at the end of this month and won't have vacation time then, so she's going to come and visit us in Loreto the middle of this month before the new job starts. Hurray!
There's no place like home.....
26 October 2010 | at the dock in Santa Rosalia
lots to unpack
Ahhhhh... nothing feels better than to finally sleep in your own comfortable bed after being away for a long vacation. That's how we felt when we flew back home to Cetus on Sunday. I know a lot of people think this life is a vacation, but since we've lived aboard Cetus for so many years it isn't just a boat to us -- it feels as much like a home as anyplace we've ever lived, just like their houses feel to them.
After a long 15 hour day of traveling we got our 3 fifty lb. bags (plus 3 carry-ons) and Rosie down to the boat. We splurged on the 3 hour trek from Loreto to Santa Rosalia and hired a van instead of taking the iffy bus ride. The bus would have been cheaper, but our flight from LA got in 2 hours late and we didn't know how late the next bus would be running so we treated ourselves -- and Rosie -- to a nice end to the trip. It was a big plus to have our bags dropped directly at the marina, as well, instead of having to schlep them the block and a half from the bus station.
We slept like rocks and enjoyed not having to set an alarm to wake up. The next day the work began putting everything back together and finding homes for all the new things we brought down with us. But it was enjoyable work and we smiled while we plugged away at everything, just happy to be home again.
11 August 2010 | Tigard, Oregon
Returning to life in the fast lane is everything we remembered: exhausting!
Sure, I was just up here a month ago -- and I was exhausted everyday of that trip! And it's not a physical exhaustion -- we actually get more exercise out cruising than we have so far up here -- it's mental exhaustion from all the over stimulation. There's lots of people, things move fast and stores are too full of stuff.
Years ago when we returned from our first South Pacific adventure I was hit like a brick when we came home. I walked into a grocery store to buy a few things, but when I looked at the wall of different cans of chili to chose from I became overwhelmed and left without buying anything. When you're used to little choice the over the top variety of everything we have to chose from looks absolutely ridiculous.
So we were prepared -- we knew things would seem a bit much and our ventures out to grocery stores were very trying, but we survived. The biggest problem was I bought so much stuff -- having all that beautiful fresh produce available and having a refrigerator to put it in was like being in heaven!
Driving at 60 miles an hour instead of the 6 that Cetus travels is already feeling normal again and I've finally quit trying to find the foot pump for the water in the sink (we have pressure water on Cetus, but out at anchor we use the foot pump to help conserve the precious fresh water).
So we are adapting and within a week we'll probably be totally acclimated to the fast pace of life here in the Real World.
Reflections on our first year of cruising....
31 May 2010 | Bahia San Francisquito
One year ago today we left our homeport of Gig Harbor with plans to sail to Mexico, the Galapagos and beyond. When asked how long we'd be gone our only answer was "as long as we're still enjoying it".
Well, it's been a year and we are very much still enjoying it -- in fact I think it's been even better than either of us expected and we can't believe it's already been a whole year. We spent the day talking about this first year of cruising asking ourselves what worked, what didn't, what we've learned and what we'd add or do differently and here's some of the things we came up with.
We do, of course, miss our daughter and other family and friends, but being able to communicate so well, thanks to the ATT's Viva Mexico cell plan combined with Mexico's extensive cell towers, makes it seem like we're not so far away. Until our recent venture to the Northern Sea, we hadn't been without cell service for more than a couple days at a time. And internet service is so much better than last time we were cruising in Mexico with WiFi widely available. And, at times like this, when we are away from cell towers and internet access, we have our ham radio based email through Winlink. The other piece of equipment that we think is just great is our trusty little SPOT that transmits our position at the touch of a button (well, actually two buttons) through a satellite so family and friends can keep track of where we are on a google map!
We've been very fortunate to have few problems with equipment. The only real breakdown we've had was when our old autopilot motor gave out on our way down the California coast. The permanent magnet inside of it had broken -- probably due to age -- but Terry was able to epoxy it back together and it worked the rest of the way to San Diego where we bought a new motor for it, keeping the repaired one for a spare. The only other part that actually broke was two days ago when a plastic oarlock on our dinghy cracked in half as we were rowing back from shore.
For the most part we've been thrilled with how well things have been working. Our dinghy, a West Marine 310 Hypalon RIB, has proven to be the best dinghy we've ever had (well, except for the broken oarlock...). It's large tubes and deep V hull keep us dry and combined with our 15 hp Mercury we are able to get up on a plane with ease and get where ever we want to go at a good speed. When we first started cruising we had a small 3 hp outboard and learned that since your dinghy is basically your car it's pretty important to have something powerful not only to expand your explorations, but as a safety feature as well.
The wind generator and the larger solar panels with the Blue Sky solar controller have kept our batteries charged allowing us to always make ice in the refrigerator and watch movies every night without worry of running out of power. Rebuilding the refrigerator before we left made a big difference in it's efficiency and is a big part of why we have plenty of power.
Navigating with the chartplotters has been a great improvement. We happen to have two since the Raymarine radar we installed also has chartplotter capabilities and we loved having the chart overlay on the radar as we were sailing down the coast. That feature hasn't been as useful in Mexico as the electronic charts are sometimes way off from reality -- it's amusing to see us anchor way inland or cut through the middle of an island as we travel through the Sea. The tracking feature on both the Garmin and Raymarine plotters is a real nice feature allowing you to feel confident going through a tight area of reefs or shallows since you can tell at a glance that you passed that way before without problem and it would be a life saver if you had to leave an anchorage in the dark.
We've also improved our anchoring security with the Sentenel Terry built before we left. It's an additional weight that runs down the anchor chain which keeps the chain closer to the sea floor should strong winds cause us to pull back on it. Installing a repeater for the wind instrument in our berth has given us the ability to see what the wind is doing if we sense a change in the night, with out having to get out of bed. We also have a GPS in the berth and when we anchor we set a waypoint for where it goes down, so a glance at that lets us know we're not dragging. All those things combined have made anchoring very comfortable even in the strongest of winds.
As far as what we'd add or do differently, there are a few things. We've been fascinated the the birds and wildlife, marine life, geology and plant life here in the Sea of Cortez and wish we had more books to learn about it all. We also wish we could discipline ourselves to learn more Spanish and hopefully we'll do all that before we leave Mexico nest spring. And we have yet to put the inflatable kayaks stored in our V berth to good use, but hope to use them this summer up in the Bay of LA.
Now we're about to embark upon a new chapter in our cruising life: spending the hot summer months in the Sea of Cortez. It will be a totally new challenging experience as the temperatures rise on land and sea and we learn to cook and exercise and stay comfortable in the extreme conditions.
So now we start Year 2!
What do you do all day?
21 May 2010 | Puerto Don Juan, Bay of Los Angeles
A day in the life of the Cetus Crew
One of the questions we get the most from people trying to understand this crazy cruising lifestyle is "What do you do all day?" because most people can't imagine living in such a small space in the first place and really can't imagine what you can find to do day after day.
The answer is different depending on where you are -- whether you're at a dock, out on a long passage or just out in a remote anchorage as we are right now. But to give you an idea, I'll recap a typical day for us here in Puerto Don Juan. Right now we're the only boat in the anchorage -- there was another couple here the other day, but they left and moved in to the anchorage off the village. If there were other boats here with us, it would change the daily events, since there would be visiting and small get togethers with the other cruisers.
We generally get up around 7 am and spend the next couple hours eating breakfast (usually toast or cereal, except Sundays when we'll have a special breakfast of pancakes or eggs or French toast) while listening to the morning nets on the SSB. These nets are cruisers that check in on a certain frequency each day to share information, connect up with each other and, the most important part to us, get weather information. In addition to listening to the morning nets for the weather reports, I will send for a weather report through winlink (my on board ham radio email -- that I'm posting this blog through). I'll also send out (and hopefully receive!) email at that time, too.
After all the morning business is through, about 9 am, we'll get in the dinghy and head to shore. Armed with a small backpack with water and camera we'll set out on a hike through the hills and valleys exploring the dessert and combing the beaches. We're always amazed at all the interesting things we see and the beautiful vistas we discover. We usually get back to the boat between 11:30 and 12:00 so it's time for lunch.
We read while we eat (sandwiches or cheese and crackers, maybe veggies with dip) and then work on little projects (like organizing pictures on the computer, writing this blog, cleaning or repairing something -- there's always more things I'd like to do than I have time for). We might take a little siesta if we're tired from the hike and then by 3:00 we're ready to go swimming. The water's a nice temperature here in Puerto Don Juan so we can stay in quite a while -- it's very refreshing. The last couple days we've combined our swim with a little work: mowing the lawn. Simply taking a brush to the sides of the hull to wipe away and growth that's starting to accumulate.
After showering and getting things hung out to dry, we'll often relax in the cockpit reading and watching the constant wildlife displays -- or work on a project . The next thing you know it's time to start making dinner! While we eat dinner we'll watch a little TV (DVD's of TV shows -- lately we're watching a few seasons of 2 1/2 Men that another cruising couple loaned us). Then as Terry cleans up the dinner dishes I'll check and send out email, then it's back to the cockpit to enjoy the view, read some more and finally watch the sunset.
After sunset we'll watch some more TV -- usually a movie -- and before we know it it's time for bed and we're asking ourselves "Where does the time go? "
New Photos in the Gallery
23 March 2010
I was able to add a few new albums to our photo gallery today.
We're moving on today, so no more internet service, which means no more pictures for a while.
Last Hike up the Mountain
03 March 2010 | Marina Palmira, La Paz
Today was the last of our daily hikes up to the Fisherman's Cross on the big hill behind Marina Palmira, as we plan to leave the slip tomorrow morning for a 3 month trek up into the Sea of Cortez.
As always, leaving here is bittersweet with a mix of excitement at what this adventure has in store and sadness at leaving new found friends and the comforts of life in La Paz. But we are ready to go!
It still remains to be seen if we'll be able to escape without one or two new passengers on board.... a couple weeks ago we discovered a batch of kittens in an empty storage room in the marina. We've enjoyed watching them playing and growing -- the mother cat taking very good care of them. We've been feeding them daily to help her along. The only reason Terry hasn't brought a couple of the little cuties on board yet, is because the storage room has a locked door -- there's about a 4 inch gap at the bottom that they go in and out and that we slide the food and water in. A big screened window on the side of the building gives us our view point.
02 March 2010
Here's a peek in the window at the kitties.....
26 February 2010 | Marina Palmira, La Paz
We were happy to have a visit with some good friends from Gig Harbor yesterday, when Dale & Diana took the time from their fabulous Cabo vacation and drove up to La Paz to see us! We also enjoyed meeting the friends they were traveling with, Jim & Phyllis, who are also from Gig Harbor.
After a short visit aboard Cetus, we went up to the marina's Panga Restaurant where they treated us to a nice lunch before they had to hit the road. One thing about driving between Cabo and La Paz is that you don't want to be traveling after dark -- because of the cows that cross the road!
Boat Show, Parties and Appointments, Oh My!
07 February 2010 | Gig Harbor, Washington
We flew up to the Northwest on January 25th and have hardly had time to catch our breath since we arrived!
We had great fun doing the Boat Show on the weekends -- Terry was doing book signings in the West Marine booth and we sold lots of books and met a lot of interesting people -- and also ran into lots of old friends!
We spent as much time as possible with our daughter, Carly, and, among other things, enjoyed going to see the movie Avatar with her.
We're lucky to have some great friends that opened up their homes to us and gave us a place to stay whether we were in Seattle for the show or in Gig Harbor for our annual Dr. appointments and fantastic dinner parties. We felt a bit like wandering gypsies as we'd figure out day by day where we would need to be and packing our bags and moving around.
We were happy to go to Gig Harbor Yacht Club's annual Crab Feed last Friday night after a long day at the Boat Show. It gave us a chance to catch up with a lot of good friends -- including Dave Calhoun who provided the musical entertainment for the evening.
We also squeezed in a few good long walks in Gig Harbor just like old times. This morning was a real treat doing our long walk up the hills and then ending up at the Tides Tavern for breakfast, and catching up with our favorite waitresses there: Olivia and Mary. Ah, good times!
The pace of life, traffic and rain have us feeling anxious to get back home to Cetus in La Paz. It was a whirlwind of a "working vacation" and we didn't have near enough time to see all of our friends and family. We have plans to be up this way again in June and hope to have a little more time for visiting than we had this time.
16 January 2010
I added a few pics to our photo gallery today -- click on the link to the right to see pictures from La Paz, San Evaristo and Isla San Fransico.
Reflections on sailing
14 January 2010 | the Sea of Cortez
We were able to set the spinnaker for a bit on our sail back to La Paz.
Winds were light and the seas were smooth, but we enjoyed about an hour of silently slipping through the water with the big sail pulling us along.
Off on vacation
08 January 2010 | Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida
We left the marina this morning for a little vacation.
Today we traveled up to Ensenada Granda to meet up with our friends on Galatea. We plan to be out a week to 10 days and hope to make it as far north as Agua Verde before heading back to La Paz.
The weather is great!
Check out the January issue of 48 North to see Terry's latest article -- though they put my name on the byline by mistake -- I really didn't work in construction for the past 30 years!
07 January 2010 | Bahia San Gabriel, Espirtu Santo
We did a short overnight trip up to Bahia San Gabriel when friends Paul and Sarah stopped by on their vacation to Baja California Sur.
We had great weather for walking the white sand beach and some swimming -- just not enough wind for sailing.
Now we'll head out again tomorrow for a longer trip. We'll be gone a week to 10 days and head further north to explore some new territory.
Going to Espirtu Santo and Isla Pardita is about the equivalent of going to Blake Island from Gig Harbor -- this next trip will be more like going to the San Juans!
Feliz Ano Nuevo!
01 January 2010 | La Paz, Mexico
Happy New Year Everyone!
We wish you all health and happiness in 2010!
Terry & Heidi
Photo Gallery Updates!
27 December 2009
For the 1st time in MONTHS I've had a good enough internet connection and some free time so I could upload some pictures to our Photo Gallery!
24 December 2009 | the Sea of Cortez
Terry & Heidi
We send warm wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health and happiness!
We have arrived!
28 November 2009 | Caleta Lobos
We've put 2,300 miles under Cetus's keel since leaving Gig Harbor at the end of May.
The first two months were a relaxing vacation in the beautiful San Juan islands and then we began the long trek south.
We had many enjoyable stops along the way, including two extended stops (3 weeks in San Francisco Bay and a month in San Diego), but for the most part we've been in traveling mode the whole time.
That all ended yesterday when we dropped the anchor in the lovely, cozy anchorage of Caleta Lobos, a few short miles north of La Paz. We could see the anchor as it sank into the sand beneath the boat and it wasn't long before we were swimming in the clear, warm water.
It was then that it hit us: we had finally arrived at our destination, we were actually in the Sea of Cortez! We are done traveling because we were where we wanted to be. No more long passages for a while, we would be gunk holing around the Sea of Cortez much like we did in the San Juans, only here there are cactus instead of Evergreens and Magnolias and water that we can swim in! There are many more anchorages just as enchanting as this one (though right now it's hard to imagine anything could rival the beauty of this place) and we have the whole next year to explore.
In a couple days we will head in to "the city" of La Paz where we'll spend some time at Marina Palmira while we have family and friends that will be visiting the area. We'll have WiFi while there and I'll once again be able to post pictures to add to these blog posts.