countdown to freedom

01 March 2010 | Chacala
13 February 2010 | San Blas
02 February 2010 | Isla Isabela
27 January 2010 | Stone Island, Mazatlan
03 January 2010 | Mazatlan/ the main land
17 December 2009 | Espiritu Santu and La Paz
06 December 2009 | lovely La Paz
27 November 2009 | Lovely La Paz
18 November 2009 | Bahia Los Muertos
09 November 2009 | Cabo San Lucas
25 October 2009 | Catalina
17 October 2009 | Newport Beach, So. CAL
04 October 2009 | Sunny Santa Barbara
26 September 2009 | San Francisco
02 September 2009 | 1 inch closer
18 August 2009 | up the river : destination milltown
07 August 2009 | Still in Newport
29 July 2009 | Newport,Or

Squall,typhoon or waterspout? I called it "hell"

01 March 2010 | La Cruz,MX
slightly windblown
It started out like any other day. It was so calm outside actually, that me and the girls decided to soap up and go for a swim. The day was a little gray so we decided we would take it easy, do some schooling and maybe take the laundry up to the Lavanderia. We were anchored just outside the La Cruz harbor about 40 min (by car) north of Puerto Vallarta. We actually talked about leaving the following day and heading south.
The day had passed and the girls were tucked in for the night. Elias and I were watching Terminator 4, with some very loud special effects. We were not too alarmed when we saw lightning because there had been lightning for the past 4 nights.
I peeked out the window, "hey baby you should check outside here, it's getting pretty rolly."
He looked too and asked me to pause our show. He got up went across the salon and up the companionway. I heard quick footsteps up to the bow and the sound of our windless (he was letting out more anchor line) I got up from the couch and by the time I went into the cockpit, the boat began to heel over so far I felt like were at sea. Thunder and lightning was immediately on top of us and the wind went from about 5 knots to 75 knots in a matter of seconds. Elias came back into the cockpit, "Baby fire up the engine NOW!"
"Elias what's going on?"
"I think we might be in a hurricane!" he was out of the cockpit again...
At this time I could barely see out of our cockpit window because it was raining so hard, but I could see we were moving. Our anchor was dragging, despite our efforts to let out more rode. Other boats were also dragging. Since we have to warm up our glow plugs for 30-50 seconds before the engine will start I just stared helplessly out the window watching in horror as we blew past other bows and sterns. It was the longest 30 seconds of my life. I would later find out we were experiencing a severe freak squall and the winds reported were 100 MPH. I knew if I didn't warm the glow plugs our engine would not start and we would be done for. So, I counted to 30 slowly.
Elias was scrambling all over the place, doing everything he could to prevent damage to our boat and to try to secure the items we had stowed on deck.
"Sarah, whats happening!?" Kimberly was awake only moments after the blowing began.
"We are in a squall,honey" I could tell she was very alarmed.
"What should I do?!!!" She was starting to breathe heavy.
"Calm down. Go get your sister and get into your life vests and go into the cock pit,ok?"
As if she had woken up from a trance, she said "ok" and she was instantly calm.
We were all in the cockpit now and we were hurling towards the beach. Elias had the engine maxed out and was attempting to steer, but the winds were just too strong. The next thing we felt was a thud. We were aground. The boat heeled over hard and I had the girls in my arms just trying to stay on the high side of the boat. I could hear everything we owned crashing around inside. I was so sad. Elias looked at me and said, "We might lose her, baby..."
He then called in a mayday.
We thought if we did have to abandon ship, which we were not going to do unless we were up to our waists in water, at least people could come over to the beach to assist via land. About 10-15 minutes had passed. Boo was puking and Kimberly was trying not to. We were all soaked to the bone, just heeled over and wondering what would become of us, when all of a sudden, a wave came crashing up to the side of our boat.
We were free.
Elias had turned the engine off so we wouldn't suck sand into the impellor, so he immediately started it back up and he threw Stepping Stone into gear at full rpm's. We were making headway!!! Away from the beach! We were cheering and running below to check and see if we were taking on any water. We weren't. I could not believe it. Elias told me to drive away from the other boats, as far as humanly possibly, while he tried to rig up our spare anchor. It wasn't until that moment I realized we had lost ours and all the 200ft of chain that went with it. There were 2 huge shrimp boats on the very outside of the anchorage and Elias told me to head straight for them. I asked him if he had hit his head too hard during the grounding. He pointed out to me, that those big boats also had really big lights. He wanted to use them to pull out spare chain and rig up the other anchor. I guess that is why he is Captain. I must've driven 60 circles around those guys. It was so funny at one point because ALL the guys on the shrimp boats were out on deck with their arms crossed just watching us. They were obviously not experiencing the same difficulties we were. 
Finally, Elias rigged up the anchor, we set it but the storm was still in effect. The wind had died down to 40 knots (still a lot) and we were rolling all over the place as we were trying to pick up some of the boat. We had talked to our friends from S/V Tynamara, they had also lost their anchor and now they would head into the marina. We asked them to give us a report when they got there. They came back saying we should definitely come in and settle on the dock for the remainder of the night.
The squall kicked up @ around 10:30 pm and was slowly dying down at 2 am. It was a very long night.
We did go into the marina, where things were relatively calm and we tried to put some things in order before going to bed around 3:30 am. Needless to say, we slept in and the following day took photos and assessed the situation.
We reported everything to our insurance company, including the loss of our dinghy, with engine, our surf boards, our wind generator...the list goes on and on.
We arranged to be hauled out in La Cruz and to get everything fixed. In the meantime, we stayed on a friends boat and went to work on copious amounts of paperwork for the insurance companies.
Boo and I were interviewed by Latitude 38 (you can find a full article online; 'Freak weather plagues sailors and sunbirds' ) and the whole family was photographed and interviewed by Cruising World. The 'storm tactics' issue will be in print this fall. I'll let you know. I never thought my 15 minutes of fame would be as, "the boat that ran aground-and then got off again." But, heh, could be worse.
The lessons learned and the way my family pulled together in this time of crisis, was a very priceless experience. Not to mention, while I was here in La Cruz I was offered a three-month job on a super yacht. So you see, some things are meant to be.....even though they are disguised as tropical typhoons


01 March 2010 | Chacala
Under the weather
"Baby, are you awake?" I whisper to the Captain.
"Errr-what? Are we dragging?" he grumbles back.
"No, baby I'm not feeling well, I was just throwing up and I have a huge bite on my butt!" I say, sounding miserable and desperate.
"O, that's no bueno, I'm sorry baby" ....honk-shoo (snoring) and the extent of Elias' Spanish speaking abilities.
I continue to be sick throughout the night, until the wee hours of the morning. I finally manage to get to sleep on the couch out here in the main salon.
Elias wakes up, stretches, announces how well he slept and asks me why on earth I'm sleeping on the couch. He also asks me why I have a huge "red lump" on my bum.
Mr. Observant
After the jungle-cruise in San Blas we pulled up anchor and came to a quaint little anchorage in Chacala.
It turns out we brought a venomous spider along for the ride. We are still not sure what kind he was, however we did find a hairy arachnid leg that he left behind, near my behind, and it didn't come from a friendly, lovable insect.
I was very sick for the rest of the day and didn't really feel 100% until well into the next day. The girls brought me breakfast in bed and the laptop for watching movies. Elias came to lay with me (all day) and claimed to be there for "moral support." We ended up watching the movie he wanted, he ate all my chips and I'm pretty sure when I dozed off he drank all my O.J.
Mr. Sensitivity.
I, unfortunately missed out on touring Chacala, which was like an adorable little retirement village but the girls got to hang out all day and boogie board. We also met a very cool family there from the S/V WIZ. They have a son a wee bit younger than Boo and they were actually invited to a B-day party for another 5 year old there on the island! It was a lovely time......for my family  Tomorrow we are heading out to Punta De Mita which will hopefully be surf heaven_/)__

Welcome to the jungle

13 February 2010 | San Blas
jungle fever
"I'd like to take that guys radio and shove it right up his a--!"
"Elias!! Inappropriate!
He would be referring to a man named Norm, who is a radio-nutter, living in San Blas.
We just finished our visit there and had an almost flawless time. There is this crazed man who "will take donations" to bring you in across the breakwater here in San Blas. It can be a bit hairy if you don't time it right. Our friend happened to be there and got on the radio to help us come over and give us some general information on the town. Later, a radio broadcast from the nutter came through the airwaves calling our friend a backstabber and many other unpleasant things.
I guess the story is, this guy moved here long ago, and actually makes a living snaring innocent cruisers into his donation trap. He is also very longwinded...and as the locals say "infermo en la cabeza" which directly translates to "sick in the head."
We never really talked to the guy, but the cappy wanted to do some unpleasant things with his radio.
It turns out, the townspeople are trying to get him outta there, and aside from him, the visit we had was amazing. I am mostly talking about the jungle cruise we took and visiting the old church ruins there. We also made it to a big festival to see some traditional dancing and costumes. Boo was entranced and of course Kimberly took some fabulous pictures. Many of which I am posting now. If you ever get a chance to come to San Blas...make it happen. Just don't talk to a guy named a matter of fact don't even say his name...they might kick you out! 

Hikin to the boobies

02 February 2010 | Isla Isabela
visibility 30 ft
"Let's go see some boobies!" The Captain announced.
"Ugh....Dad that's so gross.." Kimberly's reaction to many things, actually. We are pulling into Isla Isabella. One of the most beautiful stops so far. Isla Isabella is a National Park and a bird sanctuary. It also has a snorkeling visibility of about 30 feet. It's absolutely beautiful .
It turns out, the bird to see while you are there, are the blue-footed boobies. At the very top of the hike, the boobies are busy nesting. There are about 9000+ birds in trees, nesting aground and flying all around. (It sounds impossible but it is actually a factoid written inside the info booth) At times a bit eerie. We saw about 30-40 boobies nesting. They look like they are just lying around on the ground resting...but upon closer inspection they have a few little eggs under their bums. Elias, who is good at rubbing things the wrong way, got a couple feathers ruffled up enough for us to get a good glimpse. Similar to many females we know, these did not care for Elias being that close to their bums...or their unborn children.
Isla Isabella is also covered in iguanas. A child's very own wildlife safari. Naturally, Elias was ecstatic. For the girls (that is, of course, what he claimed) he ended up catching one really big iguana and a few smaller different types of lizards. Iguanas are pretty cute. They are full of personality and have a very lazy, carefree mood. When they have to, they can shake a tail...which is also pretty cute. We have some awesome pictures in our gallery of the hike.
After we came down from the hike, we got to hang with a few of the local fisherman under their shady little "break hut." I got to practice my Spanish with a few questions about their work and the area. Elias asked them if they ate the iguanas.
We decided it was time to head back to the boat. Kimberly and her boyfriend, Zack decided to swim back as the rest of the gang jumped in the dinghy. It was just about then that we spotted a humpback whale breaching. Kimberly caught a few good pictures before she headed back. She is quite the photographer. Please look for them in the gallery as well.
Tomorrow we are headed to San Blas....onto our next adventure....Until then _/)_


27 January 2010 | Stone Island, Mazatlan
Surfs up!
"Im gonna go touch that ass!" The Captain announces, as he heads across the beach.I looked up in a bit of shock.."What did he just say?" I asked our friend Jerry,who was sitting across from me. He shrugged. I half expected to see Elias heading towards some hot little senorita across the way. Thankfully, that was not the case. We are in Mazatlan still, but have moved around this spit of land, to a place called Stone Island.
I love it over here. I'm learning to surf, swimming alot and spear fishing. The air is so fresh and the beach is covered in quaint little beer stands and taco shops. Right off our bow, there is a fabulous little pizza joint called Benji's. One of the people that runs it is a young American surfer type, who gave up the rat race and lives here full-time. He is starting a family, with his lovely wife, and their shrimp pizza should win some kind of food contest.This very pizza is cooking in the oven as we sit relaxing in the sun, wondering what Elias is up to now.
It turns out, Benji is the ass in question. The donkey that lives out back. Elias, has this amazing relationship with animals. Especially pig-headed jack-ass's. Go figure. I just felt relieved that, Benji was the "ass" he wanted to touch.
Elias pets Benji, all of a sudden Benji is running down the beach.
Great. Wild ass. With my boyfriend in hot pursuit. At first I thought, perhaps Elias felt that the ass needed liberating. Actually, Benji was never tied up. I guess sometimes when Benji feels "frivolous"he visits his good friend around the bend. SHE happens to be a horse.
SO..Elias chases the ass...who is chasing ass...AND we follow for pictures, naturally.
In the gallery you will find a series of pictures that covered what happens next...PS Kimberly took these amazing and hilarious photos.
Until next time 

Waterballoon fight at 8 knots!

03 January 2010 | Mazatlan/ the main land
Even Warmer!
"Sarah where have you been? We are under attack!!!" Elias shouts from the cockpit
"Yeah, Sarah we are at war!" Kimberly shouts!
I look blankly up the companionway...taking out my headphones and pausing my ipod...."Uh...what?"
Turns out we were not at war with a bunch of one eyed pirates...but instead..a few of our friends aboard S/V Tynamara.
Their family had thought up the idea of surprising us with a spontaneous attack...while underway,with full sails,at eight knots...! It was awesome...little did they know; we too have water balloons we put up a good fight, but in the end we were out numbered. They have two strapping teenage boys and a dad who has a pretty good arm. :) At that time we were crossing the Sea of Cortez to the mainland of Mexico. The wind was we ended up blowin into Mazatlan about 8 hours ahead of schedule. So, here we are in Mazatlan...its awesome. About 90 degrees outside and I'm currently eating a plate of nachos, having an ice cold Pacifico, watching my family bask in th sun and play in the pool....I'm going to jump in I'll talk to you guys soon! xoxo S
Vessel Name: stepping stone
Vessel Make/Model: Mapleleaf, 42 ft.
Hailing Port: Newport, Oregon
Crew: Cptn Elias;1st Mate, Sarah; 2nd Mate,Kimberly and Swabbie Boo
We are a family of four, living on board our beautiful 42' Mapleleaf in Newport, Or. We are currently cold. Ha Ha. [...]
stepping stone's Photos - First leg (Main)
Photos 1 to 26 of 26
nothing like the hilly San Fran
first pint on land! Cheers Will!
my sister of the sea...on land :)
Crazy cool gypsy houseboat park in Sausolito
...the park had a sign that said enter at your own risk...the electrical engineering was definitely the work of a one-eyed sailor
..tied a good way.
Ahhh almost fully visible
Sausolito...a quaint little place...Will says almost looks like a little Greece.
the companionway is a very stable hideout underway
This isn
just dropped an oil filter off to a friend while sailing! It required a little engineering and several ziplocs.
Elias enjoying the view
The Lost Coast...Mendecino Canyon
different angle
I hope photography scouts are viewing this stuff
Our big,tough capt
My little swabby..hard at work
We will certainly miss our family :)
Cutest railmeat you ever saw xoxo
faces we like to make at the Captain.....when he turns around
Who says fixing stuff ALL the time 
Sometimes Boo has to take over (Anyone who has taken a drive with Elias knows what I
Eventhough there is a lot to always gotta do a little fishin
Ahhhh...a beautiful day up river....
(a lovely veiw from the Sugar Shack)
This is what I look like after I
from the beginning of the day, when we decided to bathe...til the end of the day, after the freak squall
No Photos
Created 1 March 2010
birdies and leapin lizards!
29 Photos
Created 2 February 2010
Jungle Expedition San Blas(south of Mazatlan) we went on an awesome jungle tour..crikey! We started out in a panga going into the mangroves,then visited a croc farm, and a freshwater lagoon for swimming. Some of the wildlife, including some crocs,were in the wild. It was an amazing day for all of us.
15 Photos
Created 28 January 2010
A series of great pictures, proudly showing all the things Elias has been catching.
52 Photos
Created 27 January 2010
you'll see
8 Photos
Created 27 January 2010
since we use two memory cards sometimes our updates are sporatic
24 Photos
Created 19 December 2009
Some lovely pics of Espiritu Santu and lots of the girls and La PAz...which is beautiful this time of year
60 Photos
Created 19 December 2009
a few pictures of the anchorage and the kiddies
38 Photos
Created 18 November 2009
highlights of The Channel Islands as well as pics from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas
54 Photos
Created 9 November 2009
A few pic's of a lovely day...with family
19 Photos
Created 4 October 2009
a few starter photos
3 Photos
Created 7 August 2009

Countdown to Freedom

Who: Cptn Elias;1st Mate, Sarah; 2nd Mate,Kimberly and Swabbie Boo
Port: Newport, Oregon