Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

La Paz - 06

January 19, 2015
by Natalie

Living Life in La Paz

Our time in La Paz has been pretty uninspiring…I guess that’s why it’s taken me so long to write anything about it! Life here wasn’t much different than life in San Diego: boat projects, grocery shopping, a few hangouts with friends. The difference was that instead of being at a dock we were in a very crazy anchorage where boats swing wherever they want to, we get to shore with wet butts from the dinghy ride, and we have to walk everywhere instead of driving.

La Paz is a great town with a huge cruiser community. We usually started our day by riding the dinghy into Marina de La Paz where we could use the dinghy dock for a small fee. Then we’d head over to the cruisers club where they had a coffee hour. There is a great little playground there that Sully would play at while we drank coffee and visited with friends and other cruisers. Then we’d walk to whatever errand we were running that day – the grocery store, public market or hardware store. Or we would just go to the big park on the malecon and let Sully play some more. I’ll just let pictures tell the story this time…

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We are finally getting ready to leave La Paz after spending two and a half weeks here. It’s been fun, but we are excited to head up to Isla Espiritu Santo for swimming, snorkeling and hiking in crystal clear water surrounded by beautiful scenery.

The fridge compressor is run off a belt from the engine

January 9, 2015
by Nate

Technautics Engine Driven Fridge Recharge

On Astraea our Fridge uses two different ways to make the icebox cold. We have two refrigeration compressors, one run off 115VAC shore power (or our Honda 2000 generator when we’re away from the dock), the other loop runs off the engine. The two compressors pressurize refrigerant to make holding plates in our icebox cold. Each compressor’s loop is separate so that if one side breaks or leaks we can use the other to keep our food cold.

After fixing broken refrigeration lines and sealing leaks I didn’t properly secure the holding plates in the refrigeration box. Some refrigerant leaked out of both loops and decreased the efficiency of our fridge. Natalie helped me secure the cold plates with wooden blocks and I tightened all the connections.

I was out of refrigerant and ended up taking an afternoon to find more in La Paz where we’re anchored. It took trips to a half dozen different hardware and auto parts stores before I found what I needed. The threads on a giant bottle of refrigerant at El Arco (a hardware store) were smaller than the standard American style refrigerant bottle I was used to and there was no adapter, so be careful if you end up looking for refrigerant in Mexico because that bottle did not fit the gage set.

Three very different cans of refrigerant, but they're all 134Ae kind we need

Three very different cans of refrigerant, but they’re all 134Ae kind we need

Our thermometer in the ice box used to read the air temperature of the box, but that made it difficult when charging to know when the cold plates were getting cold quickly and the refrigerant charge was correct. I relocated thermostat thermometer behind our smaller cold plate and held in place with foam to read the temperature directly off the cold plate.

The fridge compressor is run off a belt from the engine

The fridge compressor is run off a belt from the engine

Then I recharged the engine driven loop using our refrigerant gage set using notes from our boat’s manuals.

Normal pressure for suction is 15 psig at start (warm box); -5 to -10 at end of cycle (cold box)

Normal pressure for discharge is 135 to 140 psig. Higher at beginning of cycle than at end of cycle (cold box). Higher pressure is probably normal but ok to 150 psig. High pressure is caused by lack of water flow through condenser or air in the system. End of cycle (cold box) pressure should be 100 to 120 psig.

When plate is coldest (8 degrees F on thermostat) pressure is 3 on low side, 96 high side with moderate stream of bubbles in sight glass.

January 4, 2015
by Nate

Our Cruising Mottos

“Invest in experiences, not things”

This was our family motto before we even decided to go cruising. It really fits in with the cruising lifestyle because we don’t have the space for all the extra stuff.  With our mobile, floating home, we’re able to travel longer and do and see things we wouldn’t have been able to if we kept a house or an apartment full of stuff.

That was our initial motto, then we bought Astraea and found out that the liveaboard and cruising lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as it’s portrayed in the magazines. It takes lots of elbow grease or lots of money to keep a sailing yacht in pristine condition. That recently retired cruising couple in the boat ads – salt and pepper hair, holding hands on the bow of their beautiful, sparkly yacht must have millions in the bank and a full crew running the boat, because there’s not a drop of sweat, no ill fitting boat project clothes or grease stains on their shirts. Oh, and to complete the picture of this idyllic cruising couple, the jib is rolled up and the sail covers are on while underway because they motor everywhere. This leads to our next motto:

“Cruising boat, at least she floats”

This is what we say when we’re frustrated with Astraea. It’s been a lot of hard work to maintain the boat. Months of work went in to removing the teak decks, laying nonskid and painting topsides. We lived for two and a half years without the decorative ceiling headliner to conceal all the hardware mounted through the deck and cabin top. Astraea looks beautiful from the shore, but when you get up close you can see she’s aging. There’s always a list of things that are broken, dirty or need perfecting. We’re currently anchored in La Paz visiting with cruising friends old and new. La Paz is the perfect place to get replacement parts, consult with fellow cruisers and get expert technicians out to repair the boat’s critical systems. Here’s a list of things that have broken since we began our cruise about a month ago:

  • Engine control panel gages, tachometer and hour meter read incorrectly (yeah, I shorted something terrible out while replacing the preheat solenoid before we left San Diego). The engine still runs and over temp/low oil pressure alarms work so we decided to leave without replacing it.
  • Masthead anchor and navigation light bracket sheared. Light removed and requires remounting
  • Engine glow plugs do not glow. Engine is hard to start – takes 3 tries of 20 seconds cranking to start
  • Engine driven fridge compressor leaked all refrigerant and makes a terrible sound when running
  • Boom vang and boom cleats ripped out. Holes require plugs and repainting
  • Main mast paint worn from halyard slap at reef points
  • Mizzen halyard getting chafed by something near the masthead
  • Various gel coat chips
  • Engine oil needs changed
  • Propeller cone and bolt fell off some time before we hit Turtle Bay
  • Galley oven wood handle broke, but still works
  • Watermaker purity is at 550, not below 500. Still safe to drink, but not perfect. Need to replace the membranes if the purity goes above 750.
  • Macerator was broke, but I replaced it and then it clogged and cleared the clog and now it’s better. Fingers crossed it’s better forever because I hate being covered in turdwater splashes (I need a poop suit)
  • Main mast halyards need to be re routed. After 3 years I finally figured out the right way to route them, but the rig works well for now.
  • All the wood needs another coat of varnish.
  • Sully’s hatch and the companionway leaks
  • We need a companionway hood or dodger if we ever go upwind or sail in the rain
  • 6HP Johnson outboard does not pump cooling water
  • Bottom needs to be cleaned

I’m sure there’s a bunch of little stuff about the boat that is broken I’m forgetting, but you get the idea.

Which leads me to our last cruising motto:

“If it’s not broke, it’s not Astraea”

Don’t think this post is a big downer, it’s just the reality of cruising on a limited budget. We’re taking our time in La Paz addressing the major comfort and safety items before we head out to the nearby islands to complete the projects (every cruiser’s motto – “Cruising: fixing you boat in exotic locations”) and have fun snorkeling, hiking and exploring.

Some of the best times Natalie, Sully and I have had as a family have been Aboard Astraea and we’re looking forward to many more!

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January 3, 2015
by Natalie

Christmas in Cabo!

We dropped anchor in Cabo San Lucas at 2 o’clock in the morning on Sunday December 21st. Anchoring in the middle of the night is never the plan, especially since it meant missing out on seeing the iconic Arch at “land’s end”, but the alternative of bobbing around waiting until sunrise was not worth considering. We planned on catching a peak of the famous landmark on our way out.

Two days before, we left Bahia Santa Maria in the afternoon with the conservative estimate of a 48 hour sail south to Cabo. The wind was just too favorable though, and the trip actually took just 36 hours! There was one point that we were screaming along at over 6 knots with just a reefed mainsail up. Our friends on S/V Kialoa were making over 6 knots with no real sails up, just the dodger that was acting as a sail in the downwind breeze. Once we realized we were making great time and wouldn’t be arriving after sunrise like planned, we messaged our friend on S/V Coconuts, Eric and Jaime, who had sailed into Cabo just a month before. Eric assured us that Cabo never sleeps, so the anchorage is bright enough that we’d have no trouble dropping the hook sans daylight.

After half a night’s sleep, we awoke to the sound of music and pangas zooming by Astraea. We hadn’t even had our coffee yet and the bay was already alive with activity. We knew then that we had made it back to civalization after spending two weeks in the deserted Pacific Baja coast between Ensenada and Cabo. After our coffee, we got ready to check out the town where most cruisers plan to exit ASAP.

Before we had the dinghy off the bow and ready to go we overheard Cindy from S/V Namaste on the radio planning a rendezvous on Lover’s Beach with the rest of boats we’d been sailing south with. We decided the town could wait, so with swimsuits on and a picnic packed we headed to the beach, excited to get off the boat for the first time since leaving Turtle Bay five days earlier.

We landed the dinghy on Lover’s Beach with the help of guys hanging out on the beach for just that purpose…expecting tips of course. Thinking we were just going snorkeling and swimming, we didn’t bring any money. We should have known – it’s Cabo! A couple of our friends had cash with them so they tipped the guys for us all. Then we unloaded Sully’s toys and spent the afternoon chatting about the trip to Cabo and snorkeling (I saw Angelfish!) with our friends. It was a great relaxing way to unwind after the trip down the coast.

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That evening we said goodbye to our friends Neil and Jessie from S/V The Red Thread. They were headed out at midnight to cross the Sea of Cortez towards Mazatlan to meet family for Christmas. Hope to see you guys again someday!

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Over the next two days we got a Mexican SIM card for our cell phone so we could have internet, ate delicious tacos, searched for Santa Claus and took the boat out a few miles to make water.

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With a two year old in tow, we find it difficult to do more than one thing a day. Our friends all left Cabo by the 23rd, but we felt we hadn’t even seen anything yet! We decided that we would stay for Christmas. While exploring town, we were stopped and offered the use of a resort’s facilities for three days, a buffet breakfast, and a gift certificate for a restaurant in town. We were kind of sceptical at first, but they lured us in with “Free! Free! Free!”

So on Christmas Eve, we woke up early and headed to Villa del Palmar for breakfast. I’ve been to a couple timeshare sales pitches with my parents, so I kind of knew what to expect. Nate and I probably should have spent some time the night before discussing it, because he was completely in the dark about the whole thing. The guy that signed us up for it said we needed to be staying in a hotel to take part in the deal so we told them we were staying at Cass Dorada – the hotel we were anchored in front of!

At breakfast, we sat with our guide who showed us all around the resort and asked a lot of questions about our previous vacations and our current one. It was a little awkward as we stepped around the fact that we lived on a boat and weren’t actually staying in the hotel we claimed. He was amazed that we got a room at Casa Dorada at Christmas, and asked how much we were paying. Ummm….”Not sure, it was a gift from my parents.” “Wow! They are VERY generous!” Later during the hard sell Nate kept talking and asking questions. When the guy walked away for a moment I glared at Nate and told him to keep his mouth shut so we could go to the pool! He’s a talker and didn’t get the game yet. The only thing you need to say at one of these things is, “No!”

After the final hard sell, we went to go check out our new purchase! Haha, just kidding. We’ve been saving for this trip for years, and we’re not about to blow it on a one week vacation. We spent the rest of the day splashing in the kiddie pool with Sully, finally finding Santa and having dinner for free downtown. Not a bad deal!

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That evening we came back to the boat rolling around like crazy from the swell coming in the bay. A mug flew off the counter and broke while we were gone it was so bad! The constant wakes from jet skis and pangas didn’t help. I’m embarrassed to say that I got seasick at anchor on Christmas Eve :-(

Luckily, I felt better in the morning. Good thing, because it was Christmas! We tried really hard this month to get Sully excited for the holiday. He watched all the Christmas movies, listened to the music and knew all about presents from Santa. He woke up really excited and it made us so happy to see the joy on his face.

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After all the presents were opened and Sully had his fill of his new toys, we made our way back to the resort for more pool time.

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The day after Christmas, Gary and Karina from S/V Sea Rover II stopped by on their way into town. They were on their way to pick up some provisions before leaving Cabo that evening. I asked why they were leaving so soon since they had just arrived the day before. Apparently, shortly after they arrived, a jet ski zoomed by their boat and shot a huge wave of water right through an open hatch. They spent the rest of their Christmas cleaning up after their boat that had been flooded with water. I guess I would have wanted to get the heck out of Cabo if that had happened to us!

They were also getting out to avoid being stuck there for another week due to a Norther, strong winds coming from the North in the Sea of Cortez, that was set to arrive the next morning. Since north is the direction we need to go to get to La Paz, traveling when there’s a Norther can be very unpleasant due to strong winds and large choppy waves that form from the wind. We felt kind of silly because we hadn’t even looked at the weather since our arrival in Cabo. We looked around and wondered if leaving was a good idea for us, too.

We decided to continue on with our plans for the day. We lugged a big bag of laundry to the resort and spent a few hours at the pool. I couldn’t get the thought of being stuck in Cabo for another week out of my head. It was fun, but I was ready for a lot more chill and a little less crazy. I told Nate my thoughts and we agreed to leave that evening and head to Los Frailes with S/V Sea Rover II and S/V Bella Vita.

We took the bus to Wal-Mart to pick up some fresh food, then went back to the boat to start securing for sea. We worked nonstop for four hours getting the boat ready, and Nate even went up the mast to try to secure our masthead light that had fallen off on the way to Cabo. By the time we pulled up the anchor at 8pm, we were exhausted. Luckily, it was just a short 55 mile trip to our next stop, Los Frailes.

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December 30, 2014
by Natalie

A Bumpy Sail to Bahia Santa Maria

After one night anchored in Abreojos, we continued south towards Bahia Santa Maria on the morning of December 17th. We considered staying to take a tour of Laguna San Ignacio, a protected whale refuge that’s off limits to non officials vessels. During the whale season in winter, you can take a guided panga trip into the lagoon to observe the whales. But Christmas was soon approaching and we wanted to get somewhere to stay and relax for a while.

We dropped anchor in Bahia Santa Maria on December 18th at 4pm. We had a rough ride overnight in very bumpy seas. In the morning, I started to feel a little queasy. My scopalamine patch had been on for three nights, so it’s seasick fighting effectiveness was starting to wear off. I was in the bathroom digging around in the closet looking for dramamine when a big roller hit. Because I wasn’t holding on I flew backwards over six feet and slammed into the oven in the galley. I didn’t notice the damage until later (since I got so frustrated with the motion of the boat and jumped right into bed), but my collision with the stove cracked the wooden handle! I never checked, but I’m sure I had a nasty bruise on my back.

While digging around in the head closet looking for my dramamine after my injury and outburst, Nate noticed a slimy, sticky mess. A bottle of shampoo had tipped over and the lid loosened due to the motion of the boat and rattle of the engine. The liquid leaked through three levels of shelving. Once we were anchored, we spent our afternoon cleaning up that mess. Seems like there’s always something stupid that happens on passage.

The clean-up wasn’t what kept us from heading to shore though. It was another high surf beach, so we were stuck onboard for the evening. We thought Sully would get antsy being stuck on the boat, but he is such a little home body. He’s perfectly content watching movies and playing with his toys. And eating cereal :-)

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Sully's new favorite breakfast. "Milk cereal!" he says when he wakes up (and a few other times during the day)

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Such a boy

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Selfies on the foredeck

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Nate's workout - hauling up the anchor

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Leaving Bahia Santa Maria. To Cabo!

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Cruise ship sighting. We soon found out where all these were coming from...Cabo!

Next stop, Cabo San Lucas!

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December 30, 2014
by Natalie

A Bloody Sail to Abreojos

We decided to split up the 225 mile run to Bahia Santa Maria with a quick stop in Punta Abreojos, 90 miles south of Turtle Bay. We departed with the rest of the pack on the afternoon of Monday December 15th.

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S/V The Red Thread had to boogy straight down to Cabo and then across the Sea of Cortez to meet family for Christmas.

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Picking out the good stuff!

A few hours into the trip, Nate decided to test out the fishing gear that came with Astraea. At about 5pm I noticed the line go taut. “Nate! We caught something!” He ran up from down below and started pulling in the line. He could tell it was a big one, and once it got close we could see the shimmering silver skin. I guessed it was a Tuna based on pictures I’ve seen.

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With too much gear in the way on the port side, Nate pulled the fish around to starboard while I got the gaffe hook ready for him. He pierced the fish through the mouth and yanked it up over the lifelines and into the cockpit. Blood went everywhere! I quickly moved cushions out of the way and started clearing out the cockpit getting ready for a big mess, when I heard spraying sound and a slap. I looked about 100 feet off our port bow and saw a whale slapping its fin on the water. A giant tuna and a whale all while the sun was going down!

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Huge fish or deceptive photo taking skills? You be the judge.

I got a book out that described how to bleed, gut and filet our catch, and gave Nate step by step instructions. We also called Neil from S/V The Red Thread on the radio to get some pointers. They’ve been fishing their way down the coast from Seattle so they are now semi-pros!

First, Nate bled the fish out for 10 minutes and got blood all over the side decks. Then the sun set as Nate was out in the cockpit in his underwear with a dull knife (should have gotten a filet knife before we left!), hacking away at a fish and getting blood all over himself and the boat. He cut the guts and head off and threw them overboard. Last he cut off 4 large tuna fillets and passed them down for me to cook for dinner while he rinsed the boat off with seawater and took a seawater shower with freshwater rinse.

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We killed and bled the fish on the starboard side of the boat and got blood everywhere.

When the massacre gutting and fileting was finished, I pan seared the meat with lime, salt and pepper and made some rice on the side. The seas we pretty rolly, so this was a big ordeal in the galley! Everything turned out delicious and we enjoyed our first catch from the sea.

We arrived in Abreojos around noon the next day. We dropped the anchor right outside town even though the rest of our group was further inside the point. We thought we’d go into town to explore, but quickly realized the surf was going to prohibit that. A surf landing on the beach with a two year old is not something we are ready for. We picked up a WiFi signal for a little bit and then decided to move to where everyone else was anchored thinking we might be able to get ashore there.

Once we re-anchored on the other side, Gary from S/V Sea Rover II stopped by. He told us about the surf landing he braved to take his dog ashore, and suggested we stay aboard unless we wanted to get wet. He was in his underpants so we took his word for it!

It was a pretty crappy evening aboard Astraea as Nate worked to find out what was wrong with our macerator. We weren’t able to empty our holding tank that holds all our toilet water. After almost a week in Turtle Bay the tank was nearly full. There ended up being a sediment clog in the inch and a half hose from the holding tank to the macerator. After lots of stinky troubleshooting, Nate was able to pump seawater through the line to break up the clog, and later we were able to empty the tank!

As our friends Glen and Sally say, “Another shitty day in paradise!” Literally! This cruising stuff is not for wimps and it’s definitely not always sunshine and rainbows, but so far, it’s worth it!

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December 22, 2014
by Natalie

Ensenada to Turtle Bay

We got underway from Ensenada’s Cruiseport Marina on Sunday December 7th. We motored out across Bahia Todos Santos and set sail headed south towards Turtle Bay.

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This was the longest passage we’ve ever made – about 300 miles. We originally planned to stop at anchorages along the way, but we needed to arrive in Turtle Bay (a well protected anchorage) by Wednesday to beat some nasty weather coming down the coast. Our course took us an average of 30 miles offshore.

Everything went pretty well. Sully spent three days in his pajamas watching movies, while we took care of everything that was falling apart around us. Well, not everything. We had a few problems, but nothing major.  We had issues getting the sails up and down, and some blocks and cleats popped out of the mast and boom – stuff we could easily fix once we made it to Turtle Bay. For night watches I took a little nap from 8 to 10ish and then was on watch until 2 or 3am. Nate finished off the night watch until I woke up after sunrise.

It was great to sight land again and come close to Cedros Island while the sun was setting on our last night at sea. We don’t want to plan our passages to enter foreign harbors at night, but we knew the entrance to Turtle Bay is well charted and marked. Luckily, we had the light of a 3/4 moon to help. We radioed ahead and hailed S/V Namaste. They gave us pointers on making the entrance – head in towards the fishing boats at anchor with their running lights on, then to turn left towards the 2nd red lit radio tower. We anchored in about 20 feet of water and put out lots of rode, 150 feet, because the bay anchorage is so large. We dug the anchor in deep and settled in for a good night’s rest after about 57 hours at sea.

On Wednesday the 10th we motored the dinghy to the beach and set out into town looking for the clinic. I had had a cough for over two weeks, and three days at sea only made it worse. I wanted to get checked out by a doctor before continuing down the isolated coast of Baja. Good thing we went to the clinic, because the doctor said it would have only gotten worse. She said my lungs were swollen and irritated like an asthmatics…how she got that from just listening to them, I don’t know.

We were having trouble communicating, so the doctor went outside and came back with her English speaking husband who brings her lunch everyday. He said that I would need to get a shot in my butt and have a nebulizer treatment. I must have looked terrified, because he assured me it was safe. I had no idea what medicine I was getting, but with the understanding it wasn’t an antibiotic (I’m allergic to cephalexin), I agreed to the treatment. When it was over I asked how much I owed. The doctor waved her hand and said nothing. Shocked, I turned to her husband to make sure I understood correctly. He said that she doesn’t charge Americans and that I was lucky another doctor wasn’t there. Others charge a lot thinking all Americans have lots of money.

We though it was strange that Sully and I never go to the doctor for anything other than routine appointments, but in our first week in Mexico we both have to go!

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That evening, S/V The Red Thread invited all the cruisers in our little flotilla over for a potluck on their boat. They supplied the main dish – a huge amount of fresh tuna that they caught on their sail south. It was a fun evening relaxing and talking to everyone else about their sail from Ensenada. It felt good to have the longest passage behind us.

The next four days were spent going to shore each day looking for internet while exploring the town, filling up a couple diesel jugs at the gas station, and getting a few projects done on the boat.

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Sully’s favorite part of the day is bedtime. He asks to have his teeth brushed because afterwards he gets to pick out a new car from his stocking advent calendar. He brings his new treasure to bed with him along with the all the previous ones.

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Sully has started singing. We’ve been playing a lot of Christmas movies while we’re sailing and he sings, “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells!” He started out singing “Jingle Balls”. He also sings along with Olaf in Frozen – “In summerrrrrr!”

Five days was long enough in Turtle Bay. Next up, Punta Abreojos, Bahia Santa Maria, and Cabo San Lucas!

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December 13, 2014
by Natalie

We made it to Mexico!

We got underway from Southwestern Yacht Club on the afternoon of  December 4th, headed for Ensenada Mexico. We sailed in company with a bunch of other boats including The Red Thread, Namaste and Sea Rover II. After sailing a few hours and motoring through most of the night we arrived at 8 a.m.

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Sully is all ready to set sail for Mexico! We departed during his nap time.

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Decked out in our chilly weather sailing clothes and safety harnesses. We look like we robbed a Navy surplus and made a run for the border.

We’re cruising now and need to slow down. Upon our arrival at Cruiseport Marina we were told to go to the office at 0900 to start the process of checking in. At 0900 Nate went up to the office all ready to check in and was told, “Una hora” – come back in an hour. After another “una hora” and some “venti minutos”, we got all the papers necessary and completed the check-in process.

Once we were legal, we left the marina to walk and explore the town. Ensenada reminded Nate of liberty calls in Thailand, South Korea and the Phillipines. The streets with uneven sidewalks, beggar children, wild traffic and the tourist districts. We walked away from the marina and cruise ship terminal to explore the town.

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The tourist district had red sidewalks. It was busy because the was a cruise ship that pulled in to port shortly after us.

After we left the red sidewalk tourist area, we started walking deeper into town to find a grocery store. We walked by a funky looking alley full of food stalls. It looked so interesting that we decided to stop for a snack. It immediately reminded us of the food truck scene in Portland with many different food styles to choose from – gourmet burgers, Asian noodles, smoothies, French cuisine, and even a stall that did gastronomy (uses chemistry with cooking). We are a little embarrassed to say that our first meal in Mexico was not Mexican food. It was Poutine! We couldn’t pass up the fresh cut fries, gravy, and cheese. Traditional poutine uses squeeky cheese curds, but we are in Mexico so they used a similar style cheese instead. It was delicious!

We chatted with the owner of Munchister for a little bit and he told us about these new “patios” that are popping up around town. This one is unique because of how it was built. A Home Depot store went out of business and they used all the reclaimed goods to build the entire thing. The result was artsy, young and hip – definitely not what we were expectiong to find on our first day in Mexico. We realized that Mexico has a lot more that tacos and tequila!

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El Patio de Don Chalio

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Sully was very interested in the artwork that used old screws and bolts

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He wasn't very interested in eating, so he played with his cars instead

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Lots of condiments for the Poutine including ranch with added jalepenos, Shiracha, and our favorite - nacho cheese sauce with chipotle

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Glad we found this little place. We almost went back again!

On Saturday we got off the boat in the morning with plans to go to the playground. Unfortunately, it was on the side of the malecon (sea side boardwalk) that was closed for construction, so we just walked around town instead. We walked through the fish market and got bombarded by waitresses running out of the restaraunts across the alley begging us to try the “best fish tacos”. There were about six different restaurants all next door to each other and right across from the fish market. At least you know it’s fresh!

We got to the malecon and Sully was instantly attracted to all the little tourist stalls. They had a ton of toys on display, but he liked looking at the handmade wooden trucks and tractors. We told him he had enough of those at home and didn’t need anymore. He seemed happy just to look anyway.

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He already has a school bus with a surfboard on top from Coronado

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After dragging Sully away from the trucks, we set out to find a specific street food stall famous for ceviche and tostadas. Paco, the maker of our Poutine the previous day told us about the food scene in Ensenada and said we had to try La Guerrerense.

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We ordered a sea urchin and fish tostada to share. This dish won first place in the LA food stand competition.

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If Anthony Bourdain ate there it has to be good!

That evening, we set out with the other cruisers from our group to have dinner and plan our departure from Ensenada. We all met on the malecon in front of Baja Naval Marina downtown. Our large group was standing around chatting and Sully was having a blast playing with two older kids (ages 10 and 12) from another cruising boat. All of a sudden, Sully was screaming and crying. Someone scooped him up and brought him to me with a big bloody gash on his forehead. Apparently he fell and bonked his noggin so hard it split open. Jessie and Neil from S/V The Red Thread raced us down to their boat because they had a huge medial kit on board. Cindie, a nurse from S/V Namaste, took a look at the cut and cleaned it up. We asked if she thought he needed stitches or if a steristrip would do. She said we could go either way, but we decided to head to urgent care – we were leaving the next morning on a three day passage to Turtle Bay, and wanted to get it checked out and cleaned out really well, so we didn’t have to worry about infection.

Nate called out on the VHF for any cruisers that could tell us the best place to take him. Almost immediately, a man named Stosh was on the radio saying he’d pick us up and take us to urgent care so we wouldn’t have to find a cab or walk there. He told us to wait by the entrance of Baja Naval and look out for a blue Volvo with a surfboard on top. Stosh and his girlfriend , Annie, showed up shortly and shuttled us to the clinic. They were nice enough to wait while Sully got checked out so they could take us back to the marina, too.

We quickly saw an English speaking doctor who patched up Sully’s forehead (no stitches necessary!). We paid about $60 US and were on our way.
Sully was in good spirits. He was more upset that he didn’t get to play with the other kids more than the cut on his forehead!

Annie and Stosh thought it would be a good idea to stop for ice cream on the way back to the boat. We were very lucky that such nice people were willing to help us. It’s great to know that there is a network of helpful cruisers out there.

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Forgot all about it with the help of ice cream!

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Playing happily the morning after

Ensenada was a great place to start our Mexican travels. It’s Mexico, but still close enough to the US that we didn’t feel overwhelmed by a huge difference in culture. Since it’s a cruise ship port, the city caters a lot towards tourists. We are excited to head south to experience rural Baja Mexico in Turtle Bay.

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December 2, 2014
by Nate

12 days cruising. Preparing to leave San Diego Bay

We’ve been cruising for 12 days now and are still stuck in San Diego Bay.

Bye bye South San Diego Bay!

Bye-bye South San Diego Bay!

We left Chula Vista after two nights and headed to Glorietta Bay for a planned two night stay at anchor. It was an easy trip and anchorage in a familiar location. We met up with Neil and Jessi from S/V Red Thread for happy hour. We found their blog about a year ago when they were gearing up to go cruising and it was cool to have them aboard to talk about cruising plans and preparations.

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November 26, 2014
by Nate

Finally Cruising!

It was awesome to get back to the boat and settled back in. Thanks a bunch to our boat neighbors Jan and Chuck for picking us up at the airport. We’re lucky to have great friends in San Diego.

After quickly unpacking our stuff we spent a night aboard at Fiddlers Cove Marina and cruised over to Pier 32 on November 21. We met up with Natalie’s Dad and his wife Pam for the weekend. They made the trip out from Arizona to visit and help us with final provisioning.

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Friday night Sully went to Alyse’s 4th birthday party

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