16 February 2012 | San Francisco Bay / Tahoe City
While this was something we had wanted to do for a long time, check off our "bucket list" if you will, we won't be doing it again. Sure, we'll cruise to Southern California and the islands there, maybe to Ensenada, but we probably won't take the boat that far away from home again. We'll still fly to somewhere, rent a boat and cruise there. But it is a long way home and not really our thing. I am a home body and enjoy my daily walks or skis or biking. Don't get me wrong, going from one beautiful desert anchorage to another and walking on the beach or into town was pretty great.....but you sit a lot along the way.
Advice? If you go, plan to be gone for the entire Mexico cruising season. From Cabo, go directly to Mazatlan and south as far as time allows, then head back into the Sea of Cortez when the weather is warm. It was an early winter and the weather cooled way sooner than it usually does, making snorkeling and shorts/t-shirt sailing not real comfortable. Return to the states in the spring, before hurricane season.
Close up shop.....I mean, everything! We had too many responsibilities that were supposed to continue along as they always had, but as he has a way of doing, Murphy showed up and our tenants moved out, our heater broke and we suddenly had stress in our life again. Stress has no business on a cruise. The happiest cruisers were the ones who had sold their homes and put treasures in storage, with plans to buy a new home when they return. Some cruisers had children living in their houses and paying their bills, taking care of business. I downsized my client load prior to this trip, and the remaining clients responsibilities were no problem at all. But I did have to return to do year-end filings for them rather than stay with the boat and bash north. Sabbatical would be better if at all possible....
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Good: What an adventure! Since we had been harbor hopping up from San Diego in 2008 when we bought the boat, we had an inkling of what fun that would be again. We loved pulling into a marina, meeting new people and catching up with old friends and family who lived nearby. We didn't get much of a chance to just hang out in the places we liked, since we were on a schedule to meet up with the Baja HaHa people. During the Baja HaHa, and at the marinas, we met some of the nicest people who are still cruising in Mexico and beyond, and we still follow their blogs and keep touch via email with some of them. We saw some amazing things! Hundreds of dolphins, leaping rays, breeching whales, huge Tuna, fabulous sunsets and clouds formations, moonlit remote coves on remote islands, and of course Mexican traditions and daily life.
The Bad: While no one really likes to talk about it in the cruising books, we saw some horrible living conditions endured by the Mexican people. There are people eeking out an existence in the sagebrush desert, living in plywood homes with no power etc. You see them along the highways sprouting up in a "cleared" patch of desert, in the outskirts of towns (or sometimes in what used to be the outskirts and now would be a barrio neighborhood), and along the shorelines. Some places have their own schools, some are close to the public bus route, all have churches and some even have a satellite dish or two. And then there are the "fish camps" where the men, and sometimes families stay while pulling in the fish to sell at market. These are even more primitive "lean to" housing, and all have churches and some have satellite dishes. In the cruise books, these are all called "the color of Mexico" "Quaint" "Historic". I guess you can put a good spin on anything. For sure, they are all making the best of their circumstance and birthright and I'm sure they are as happy in their families and faith as we are in this country. For me, it was difficult to process the "circumstance". What they don't tell you in the cruise books is that the cruise ship areas and the high-rise hotel areas are clean and sanitized for the tourists who bring in the pesos, the rest is not. Because the towns just evolved, there is not really a "business district" and someone's home might be right next to an auto-repair-junk-yard business. Not the "Quaint" I had in mind.....
The Ugly: There wasn't really any ugly, (it just sounded good in the title..) except for when we had to pull up the anchor in 4 ft waves at 9 pm and travel all night through wind and waves with no sleep or shower for 24+ hours.....now that was ugly! Probably that section from Pt Conception to Pt Arguello would also qualify as ugly....but I wasn't there. Whew!
Things to we couldn't live without:
Soda Stream soda drink maker.
We didn't have one, but the beer machine is also recommended.
Bread machine with all of your bread mixes. You can't get mixes elsewhere.
Your absolute favorites treats...our Canadian friends yearned for Smarties, only available in Canada or specialty stores catering to them, so guess what every Canadian visitor brought them?
Large bottle/box of detergent for clothes washing.
Full Enclosure for cockpit...oh yes, you nay-sayers! Best investment!
Wifi extender so you don't have to go to the office or cantina.
Spares - we took them all, didn't use a one, but slept better for it!
Holiday cards - buy your birthday cards at home and mail early. You can't find cards and the mail is slow...usually hand carried to the states by someone who is flying out and drops them in a mailbox.
Holiday treats make you happy! - lights, cookies, little tree-like thing to decorate.. Halloween candy to spread the joy to city kids and panga drivers.
Don't Bring:Movie and Music DVDs - download them to an external drive. Saves a lot of space!
A bunch of jerry cans unless you know you'll be out of range - we picked up $5 fuel cans at Home Depot in La Paz that worked just fine for the Bash and saved $35/can. We had a couple of good ones loaned to us, that served us well on the way down, but we didn't need them any other time, were able to pick up the cheapies at the last minute at Home Depot, and didn't travel around with cans lashed to our deck.
Too many clothes/ towels/ sheets/rags....there are lavanderias everywhere! We especially liked the kind that pick up, fold and deliver!
Responsibilities.....leave them at home and you'll have a delightful adventure!