Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

Starboard side with an electric awning

June 26, 2015
by Nate

Astraea: Mobile

We started thinking it would be cool to travel in an RV or camper when we were bouncing down the coast of Baja. It sure would have been simpler to pull over somewhere and stop for the night instead of staying up on rotating watch shifts to keep Astraea sailing to our next port. Well, when we were in Florida, we had the time and a great internet connection for surfing the web. I found a cool looking tiny Toyota Winnebago RV on ebay in my hometown of York, PA. The bidding went higher than we were willing to pay on an unseen RV, so we searched more locally.

Coincidentally there was an RV show and sale in Tampa the weekend after and we looked at all the shiny new campers and motorhomes to get a feel for what new amenities were offered. After the show we searched Craigslist for local motorhomes for sale. Our ideal RV is small and economical. What really caught our eye was something built on a fuel efficient Toyota chassis that gets a few more miles per gallon than the larger motorhomes.

We found a 1989 Winnebago Warrior built on a Toyota truck chassis in Indian Rocks Beach, about 45 minutes from where we were staying at Natalie’s Mom’s in Tampa. We made a multipurpose trip out to go the beach and check out the RV. We checked it out and all the appliances worked, and it was clean and well cared for. We took it for a test drive and it drove well, too. When we went to negotiate and reached an agreeable price, I went back down to get some cash as a down payment and park the RV where we found it. When I went to start the camper it idled very rough and kept stalling out. Natalie got the camper parked where we found it and I told the seller we’d have to think about it, and that I wanted the RV engine checked out by a professional. We were really bummed after everything else went so well.

Luckily,  the owner took the camper to a local mechanic who checked out the engine and found some problems with the air intake and performed a compression check on the engine. The compression was good on all cylinders, around 120 psi. After hearing that the engine was OK we decided to make another trip to the beach to check it out again with the intent to buy the camper.

Say Hello to Astraea Mobile!

View from the front

View from the front

Port side (Should I be using boat terms to describe this?)

Port side (Should I be using boat terms to describe this?)

The rear end. There's a box on the back for extra storage

The rear end. There’s a box on the back for extra storage

Starboard side with an electric awning

Starboard side with an electric awning

Inside accommodations include a dinette table that converts to a bed, 4 burner stove, double sink, electric or propane fridge, shower, toilet, lots of storage lockers and a bed above the cab.

Inside accommodations include a dinette table that converts to a bed, 4 burner stove, double sink, electric or propane fridge, shower, toilet, lots of storage lockers and a bed above the cab.

The view forward of the upper bunk and into the cab

The view forward of the upper bunk and into the cab

We hit the road north to Natalie’s sister’s house on June 10th to help with their annual chicken butchering. Usually we can do the drive from Florida to Maryland in one day with one car alternating drivers, but because we still had our Nissan Sentra we left 3 days early in case there were any mechanical problems. The drive was really long and we made it without any mechanical breakdowns. Our plan was to drive as far as we were comfortable each day and then “camp” overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots where RVs can stay overnight for free.

Our second day of driving was Sully’s 3rd birthday. Since we already celebrated once with his Grammy and Great Grandma we didn’t feel bad about being on the road. We did stop at play places for him to get out of the RV to run and play.

We went to Chuck E Cheese's again because it was Sully's birthday and he had so much fun the first time we went.

We went to Chuck E Cheese’s again because it was Sully’s birthday and he had so much fun the first time we went.

Natalie remembered enjoying this ride from when she was a kid, but it was slow and lame.

Natalie remembered enjoying this ride from when she was a kid, but it was slow and lame.

Happy 3rd Birthday Sully!

Happy 3rd Birthday Sully!

We rolled in to Nicole and Karl’s hitting all the overgrown branches on our way up the driveway. It was good to be done driving and to get to visit with family. Since it was chicken butchering weekend lots of family came to visit. Aunt Tracy flew up from Georgia, my sister, Lizze drove in from Pittsburgh and my Mom, Mary, came down. Mom and Lizze stayed in the camper. We killed and gutted a lot of chickens and our hands were too messy to take photos.

The cousins had fun playing. Too bad whenever the camera was around they look so serious.

The cousins had fun playing. Too bad whenever the camera was around they look so serious.

Natalie was excited to see baby Vera. Vera, was smiling a lot when we were there, just not for the picture.

Natalie was excited to see baby Vera. Vera, was smiling a lot when we were there, just not for the picture.

We had a bag of balloons in the camper from Sully's birthday in Tampa. Why not make it rain balloons in the great room for the kiddos?

We had a bag of balloons in the camper from Sully’s birthday in Tampa. Why not make it rain balloons in the great room for the kiddos?

We rode the farm truck down the lane to the Frogeye Blueberry Farm to pick some berries

We rode the farm truck down the lane to the Frogeye Blueberry Farm to pick some berries

The kids weren't very interested in picking berries but had fun tasting

The kids weren’t very interested in picking berries but had fun tasting

So happy to meet Buzz Lightyear

June 25, 2015
by Natalie

Tampa and Disney World

On May 24th, after the big wedding weekend, we headed south to Florida to visit my Mom and Grandma in Tampa.

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At the Florida Welcome Center

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Quality pool time with Grammy. Sully called this his “tug boat” and he pulled us all around the pool.

When my Mom asked what Sully wanted for his birthday I immediately thought of a trip to Disney World. Invest in Experiences, not things. Plus, I hadn’t been to Disney in over 15 years and I really wanted to take Sully!

Disney Magic!

Disney Magic!

Highlights from our trip:

Sully getting to meet Mickey, Woody and Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear. He was so excited waiting in line to see Buzz. He said he wanted to “push his button”, and when he let him, Buzz pretended to turn off! The Festival of Fantasy Parade was a lot of fun to watch. Sully had a big smile on his face when all the floats went by, but his favorite was Captain Hook. This trip was for Sully’s birthday so we focused on him having a good time. We went on most of the rides that he could go on, but didn’t waste hours waiting in line for the “thrill” rides. We can go again in a couple years and he can go on Space Mountain with us!

 

Thanks for the trip to Disney, Grammy! We had so much fun! I made Sully a Picture Book for his birthday with all the pictures from our trip to Disney. Check it out here: Shutterfly Disney Picture Book


 

We dug out some of my old toys, and he found fun stuff at my Grandma’s house, too.


 

On a rainy day we met my Grandma at the bowling alley where she bowls three days a week in a league, and then went to Chuck E. Cheese. Sully got bored with bumper bowling, but not with those bumper cars!


 

Nate and I celebrated nine years of marriage on June 5th

Nate and I celebrated nine years of marriage on June 5th

We went out to a Japanese steakhouse and saw the movie Spy

We went out to a Japanese steakhouse and saw the movie Spy

Happy 3rd Birthday, Sully!!!

We had a little early birthday party for Sully and had a crazy blue cake! Happy 3rd Birthday, Sully!!!

Not quite a Smurf

Not quite a Smurf

Blue icing makes your tongue blue

Blue icing makes your tongue blue

With my Grandma, Eunice, after church

With my Grandma, Eunice, after church

Sully and his Mimi-Mama

Sully and his Mimi-Mama

Fun in the sun at Indian Rocks Beach

Fun in the sun at Indian Rocks Beach

Stay tuned for Nate’s post about our new adventure…Astraea: Mobile.

The whole Ferring clan

June 17, 2015
by Nate

Arizona to Maryland and a Wedding in South Carolina

We enjoyed spreading out at Natalie’s Dad’s house in Cornville, Arizona. It was nice to sleep in a king sized bed and have a nice long shower to wash away our long bus ride. We took time to visit the nearby community park in Cottonwood and go to the neighborhood pool.

Sully had fun splashing in the shallow end of the pool, sticking his feet in the hot tub and playing squirt gun to water the plants.

Sully had fun splashing in the shallow end of the pool, sticking his feet in the hot tub and playing squirt gun to water the plants.

Sully had fun at the Cottonwood Community Park swinging high for the first time.

At the Cottonwood Community Park swinging high for the first time.

Grandpa Ted and Sully playing trains. It was almost Sully's birthday so Sully got some new portable toy trains.

Grandpa Ted and Sully opening a present. It was almost Sully’s birthday so Sully got some new portable toy trains.

Part of the reason we’re off the boat was to avoid hurricane season, visit family and friends and go to the east coast to Natalie’s cousin Tina’s wedding. We booked our plane tickets one way so we could have an open ended trip. We planned to fly out of Phoenix on the morning of May 16 (My mom’s birthday, Happy Birthday Mom!) Our plan was interrupted shortly after we left the house when the check tire pressure light came on in the car. There was a fast hiss coming from the rear right tire, we picked up a screw or nail somewhere on the road and had to put on the spare. Luckily, Ted’s brother in law, JB was nearby and brought another car for us to get to the airport. If we drove with the spare on we’d have definitely missed our flight because of the long distance to the airport and being forced to stay under 55 mph.

All the luggage unloaded and ready to hit the road.

All the luggage unloaded and ready to hit the road.

We made it to the airport an hour before our flight was scheduled to depart and tried to do the curbside checkin thinking it would be faster. Long story short, we missed our flight and had to be rebooked. I later found out that since I’m a United Airway credit card holder we could have gone to the quick check in counter and probably made our flight. Crap! Well, next time we’ll head straight to the express line.

We were late, but it felt great to get to Nicole and Karl’s house in Knoxville, MD (Natalie’s sister’s house) where we stayed and Sully got to play with his cousin Elena.

Sully and Elena loved driving the car and tricycle on the porch, they even raced!

Sully and Elena loved driving the car and tricycle on the porch. They even raced!

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Too much fun at the lake

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Sharing snacks and watching cartoons

We also got to meet our newest niece, Vera. Such a cute little baby girl.

We also got to meet our newest niece, Vera. Such a cute little baby girl.

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Chompin’ on Grandpa

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We stayed there until May 21 when we started the long drive down to Columbia, SC for Tina’s wedding. Luckily the drive was uneventful. We had our old car back (thanks for taking care of the old car for us while we were gone Mom and Dad!) and made the trip without incident.

Playing trains in the car on the road! Sully enjoyed the ride.

Playing trains in the car on the road! Sully enjoyed the ride.

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Football at the family picnic

Hogging the ball

Hogging the ball

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Yummy BBQ at a local park

Natalie, Neal and Nicole with baby Elena. Thanks to Neal for lots of the family photos on wedding weekend!

Natalie, Neal and Nicole with baby Elena. Thanks to Neal for lots of the family photos on wedding weekend!

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Grandpa Ted and Vera at the zoo

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Visiting the Columbia Zoo. Elena and Sully were well behaved riding together in the double stroller and snacking on slushies and popcorn

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Sully wanted to ride the carousel and loved the ride

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Natalie, Sully’s Great Grandma Joan Ferring and Grandpa Ted relaxing at the zoo

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Playing milk the cow at the zoo’s farm

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Grandma Pam helping Elena feed the goats

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The crew of Astraea cleans up nicely!

The crew of Astraea cleans up nicely!

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With Sully’s Aunt Nicole, Uncle Karl and cousins Elena and Vera

The whole Ferring clan

The whole Ferring clan

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Cousin Tina and Uncle Todd. Sully said she was a princess!

Congrats to Tina and Jake on their marriage! Thanks for giving us a great reason to come back to the States!

The rows of boats and goats... err sheep

June 8, 2015
by Nate

Hauling out in Guaymas

San Carlos was fun, but now it was time to get to work. On Saturday, May 2, we hauled the anchor up one last time and motorsailed to Guaymas.

Rounding the point on our way in to Guaymas

Rounding the point on our way in to Guaymas

We made slower progress to the marina in Guaymas than I anticipated and arrived 15 minutes before their scheduled closing time. Even though I spoke to someone in the office the day before who assured me they would be open until “Tres por la tarde” (3 in the afternoon), the door was shut and locked. We weren’t able to check in or get keys, but that wasn’t a big deal because the gate didn’t work. Or the lights in the bathrooms. Or the power to our slip at the dock. Or the grody swimming pool filter. On Friday the lady in the office also told us that they were closed Sundays.

To my surprise someone was in the office on Sunday (you just never know in Mexico). We checked in and paid 250 pesos for a non working gate key card. The only good part about the marina was it’s price. Dirt cheap, pay in Pesos, dirt cheap. Each day was under $20 for our 41′ boat.

We spent our time there getting Astraea ready to go over to the boatyard. There was lots of cleaning and scrubbing, but also a little hanging out with friends. Prism came in to the dock with us and we spent quality time drinking homemade hibiscus flower tea brew, box wine and ginger beer and eating tacos together.

Lots of other sites describe what to do to store your boat on the hard in Mexico, so I’m not going to get in to the nitty gritty, but wanted to share some of our specifics.

The nitty gritty lists. Some of the highlights include emptying the holding tank, eating all our perishable food and storing food in buckets

The nitty gritty lists. Some of the highlights include emptying the holding tank, eating all our perishable food and storing food in buckets

When storing your boat unattended you want to remove everything possible from on deck so it doesn’t get stolen. We chose to haul out at Gabriel’s yard and he has paid security that check in at stations around the boatyard all night long. Even though there’s security, an ounce of prevention (as we learned in Mazatlan) is worth a pound of cure. To store our anchor and keep pests out we disconnected the anchor, stored it below, tied a length of line to the end of the chain and dropped all the chain in to the chain locker, then put a nerf ball in the hole. The nerf ball expands to fill the hole and keep out water, pests and dirt.

Cleaning up in Guaymas

Cleaning up in Guaymas

The bow with a 35 and 45 pound CQR anchors. We use the 45 pounder daily and have the 35 as a ready spare.

The bow with a 35 and 45 pound CQR anchors. We use the 45 pounder daily and have the 35 as a ready spare.

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning

Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning

The bow before putting stuff away

The bow before putting stuff away

The dryer at the marina wasn't working when Natalie did laundry, so our boat turned into a big drying rack!

The dryer at the marina wasn’t working when Natalie did laundry, so our boat turned into a big drying rack!

All that laundry made it so much easier to do all the projects we were working on…NOT!

The pilot boat was berthed next to us. The captain came aboard in the middle of the night and fired up the very noisy engine to transport a pilot out to a ship entering port.

The pilot boat was berthed next to us. The captain came aboard in the middle of the night and fired up the very noisy engine to transport a pilot out to a ship entering port.

Inspecting and fresh water rinsed the chain

Inspecting and fresh water rinsed the chain

45lb CQR anchor removed.

45lb CQR anchor removed.

I tied a line to the cleat and the last link of chain

I tied a line to the cleat and the last link of chain

Put the chain in the locker

Put the chain in the locker

Stuffed a nerf ball in the hole to keep the creepy crawlies and water out

Stuffed a nerf ball in the hole to keep the creepy crawlies and water out

Simpson Lawrence 555 manual anchor windlass

Simpson Lawrence 555 manual anchor windlass

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The dinghy and kayak before they got cleaned up, the dinghy's inflatable tube removed so the sun doesn't melt it. We stowed both on the bow under a tarp.

The dinghy and kayak before they got cleaned up, the dinghy’s inflatable tube removed so the sun doesn’t melt it. We stowed both on the bow under a tarp.

Natalie cleaning off our bimini

Natalie cleaning off our bimini

Just chilling on the dock

Just chilling on the dock

Mizzen gooseneck

Mizzen gooseneck

The mizzen sheet setup

The mizzen sheet setup

The outhaul on the mizzen

The outhaul on the mizzen

We spent Cinco de Mayo in Guaymas. The Navy decorated their ship with colorful up and over flags. We celebrated with Prism by eating tacos. Mexicans don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo. They were all eating hot dogs.

We spent Cinco de Mayo in Guaymas. The Navy decorated their ship with colorful up and over flags. We celebrated with Prism by eating tacos. Mexicans don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. They were all eating hot dogs.

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Mainsheet setup, just so I don’t forget how it all went together

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The gazebo in the town square

Sully stirring up the pigeons on his motorcycle

Sully stirring up the pigeons on his motorcycle

The traditional town square outside the church

The traditional town square outside the church

Riding the sweet bus to our dental appointment

Riding Pancho’s sweet bus to our dental appointment

It's tough being almost 3 and traveling. We're glad this kid can sleep almost anywhere, including the dentist's office.

It’s tough being almost 3 and traveling. We’re glad this kid can sleep almost anywhere, including the dentist’s office.

There's always time for cowboy sully to ride

There’s always time for cowboy sully to ride

Some of the fishing fleet at Guaymas. Shrimping is supposedly big business here.

Some of the fishing fleet at Guaymas. Shrimping is supposedly big business here.

The lighthouse at Marina fonatur in Guaymas

The lighthouse at Marina fonatur in Guaymas

Astraea's last underway for the spring cruising season

Astraea’s last underway for the spring cruising season

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On our way to the yard

On our way to the yard

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The travelift approached. I had to remove the forestay so we could fit in and get lifted

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Slings in place and I gave the OK to lift

Lifting

Lifting

Whew! Out of the water and we didn't run aground

Whew! Out of the water and we didn’t run aground

On the way to the yard

On the way to the yard

Sully got to see Astraea below the waterline for the first time. We're potty training so his potty came off the boat just in case he had to go while Astraea was in the slings.

Sully got to see Astraea below the waterline for the first time. We’re potty training so his potty came off the boat just in case he had to go while Astraea was in the slings.

Lots of growth. 3 years in the water and 6 months of warm water cruising have our ablative bottom paint nearly spent

Lots of growth. 3 years in the water without fresh paint followed by 6 months of warm water cruising have our ablative bottom paint nearly spent

View of the transom, ready to set down

View of the transom, ready to set down

Astraea on the way to her resting spot

Astraea on the way to her resting spot

We checked out the sheep pen while Astraea slowly made her way through the yard

We checked out the sheep pen while Astraea slowly made her way through the yard

Sheep hang out in the boat yard

Sheep hang out in the boat yard

In the slings about the be put on the blocks. Robert scraped off the barnacles before the jack stands went on.

In the slings about the be put on the blocks. Robert scraped off the barnacles before the jack stands went on.

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Crud around the old rudder post zincs

Crud around the old rudder post zincs

Our prop has feathered wingtips to reduce cavitation

Our prop has feathered wingtips to reduce cavitation

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The old zinc is still in place so a new one doesn’t get stolen

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Astraea, sitting high and dry on blocks and stands in the yard

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Sheep grazing in the boatyard. This is Mexico.

Just sitting on stands

Just sitting on stands

Astraea's dirty bottom

Astraea’s dirty bottom

The rows of boats and goats... err sheep

The rows of boats and goats… err sheep

Sully and Tessa had a blast playing in the church courtyard

Sully and Tessa had a blast playing in the church courtyard

Tessa from S/V Bliss. They showed up at the marina right before we headed to the yard, so we went into town the next day so the kids could play.

Tessa from S/V Bliss. They showed up at the marina right before we headed to the yard, so we went into town the next day so the kids could play.

Jumping

Jumping. They had lots of fun after not seeing each other since La Cruz.

Running

Hanging with our friends from S/V Bliss, Tod, Tessa, Jolanda, Natalie, Sully and Nate

Hanging with our friends from S/V Bliss, Tod, Tessa, Jolanda, Natalie, Sully and Nate

The neighbors

The neighbors

Sails all removed and you can see Prism next to us

Sails all removed and you can see Prism next to us

The main salon

The main salon with quarter berth and master berth cushions. We moved them due to possible leaks and to store other stuff in those areas. Sully’s new favorite activity was jumping over EVERYTHING!

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It was difficult to keep Sully entertained during the two days we were working on the hard.

We went to Burger King to play and get an ice cream snack. A girl's princess birthday party included swatting at a piñata. There's a special pole outside the BK for just such an occasion

We went to Burger King to play and get an ice cream snack. A girl’s princess birthday party included swatting at a piñata. There’s a special pole outside the BK for just such an occasion.

Sully's house

Sully’s house

The master stateroom with our mattress removed and filled up with stuff

The master stateroom with our mattress removed and filled up with stuff

On our way out of Guaymas at the bus station Sully fell asleep so he crashed on our luggage while we waited to board our bus

On our way out of Guaymas at the bus station Sully fell asleep so he crashed on our luggage while we waited to board our bus

On Saturday, May 9th, after two and a half days of working to get the boat ready at the yard, we hauled three duffel bags, three back packs and a small box to the bus station to catch our bus to Phoenix at 11:30pm. We decided to take the Executive bus since there were fewer stops and that meant it was a shorter ride. I was impressed with the comfort on the Tufesa bus. The seats were large, comfy and reclined. When we boarded we also got a snack pack with some chips, a sandwich and drink.

Halfway through the night the bus came to a military checkpoint where we had to disembark the bus. Sully slept through the stop while we waited outside and military personnel searched the bus. We were in the middle of the desert and it was very cold. After the inspection was complete we boarded the bus and continued the ride north to the border. We arrived at the U.S. Border after sunrise, went through customs and finally arrived at the bus station in Phoenix where Natalie’s Dad, Ted, greeted us. We went back to his house near Sedona for about a week before flying east to go to a family wedding. More on that later…

We were sad to put a close to our cruising season, but excited to head back to the States and visit with family and friends. If you made it to the bottom of the post, then you must be a dedicated Aboard Astraea follower! Our future plans are to travel America in a small RV. If you’re available for a visit and wouldn’t mind a tiny RV in your driveway or outside your house, let us know – we’d love to visit!

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June 3, 2015
by Nate

Our Last Sunset at Sea to San Carlos

We had our last sunset at sea as we crossed over to San Carlos. The winds that were predicted didn’t fill our sails very well and we spent another day and night motorsailing.

Sunsets at sea are some of the most amazing you can witness. This was our last one for a long time.

Sunsets at sea are some of the most amazing you can witness. This was our last one for a long time.

We crossed the Sea again so we could store Astraea in a secure yard for hurricane season while we went home to visit friends and family. While traveling in Mexico we only have 6 month tourist visas. It made sense for us to get out of Mexico a little early in May prior to our visas expiring so we could go to a family wedding to visit with family. Since it is hurricane season in Mexico from June until November we decided to stay stress free and travel the United States and visit family and friends during this time.

The first thing we did when we got to San Carlos was take the bus into Guaymas to go to Walmart. We needed to get a potty seat for Sully since we’d be taking a 12 hour bus ride to the United States and we needed to start practicing with it. To keep having success with potty training we wanted Sully to have a familiar place to use the toilet while we’re traveling. When we made it ashore we were pleasantly surprised to know that for $10 deposit and $2 a day we could get a key at the marina for the bathrooms and showers and use the dinghy dock. One of the other perks was that we could use the nearby hotel pool!

We anchored in the bay at San Carlos under Mount Tikitaki

We anchored in the bay at San Carlos under Mount Tetakawi

I was surprised at how gringo San Carlos was. Cars and trucks with American and Canadian plates equaled the number of Mexican vehicles. One of the stop signs even had two signs hanging one English over Spanish, STOP and ALTO!

San Carlos was our last port to just play, so we made the most of it by visiting the hotel pool. We had been having outboard issues, so I sent Natalie and Sully to the pool while I sat at the dinghy dock and tore apart our dinghy outboard’s carburetor. I was engrossed in my work when I saw another dinghy pull up and didn’t recognize Margie and Chuck from S/V Dreamcatcher. We first met them while cruising up in Sidney, Canada while on a two week cruise aboard our first boat, Airborne. It was great to catch up with them again and get some carb pointers from Chuck. The job was easy and the outboard ran better than when I started!

The view over the marina

The view over the marina

At the hotel pool

The pool has a large shallow area perfect for little kids

The pool has a large shallow area perfect for little kids

Sully spent most of his time at the pool jumping back and forth from the shallow area on to the steps

Sully spent most of his time at the pool jumping back and forth from the shallow area on to the steps

The large shallow area, perfect for little kid runnings and splashing

The large shallow area, perfect for little kid runnings and splashing

He's getting much more confident around the water

He’s getting much more confident around the water

He even puts his face in and blows bubbles on his own. Way to go, Sully!

He even puts his face in and blows bubbles on his own. Way to go, Sully!

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Sunset from the hotel pool deck

We were going to start doing a few projects to get ready for the haul out while in San Carlos, but I’m glad we just relaxed and enjoyed the pool and scenery. The next week in Guaymas was very busy. We found out  getting a boat ready to sit on the hard dirt for hurricane season is a lot of work!

 

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May 29, 2015
by Nate

Punta Mangles and Caleta San Juanico

After enjoying two nights at Los Coronados we decided to continue north. We wanted to head to San Juanico, but the headwind was too strong, so we diverted to Punta Mangles for one night. We went ashore and checked out the unfinished abandoned luxury homes by shore. Luckily the homes nearest the water were never completed because the line of driftwood went all the way up to the front of the buildings. The beach at Mangles is rocky and the cliffs are sedimentary rocks full of shells. We forgot our camera for the shore excursion, so we didn’t get any pictures.

The next day we got underway early and made it to San Juanico. On our way in we saw our friends on S/V Prism. We last saw them back in January in Puerto Ballandra, and one of the island anchorages near La Paz. We anchored near them between the two large pinnacle rocks in the bay, a spot that was vacated by another boat that morning. We had a good afternoon catching up on their travels for the past few months in the Sea of Cortez.

We had 10 extra gallons of gas on the boat I wanted to sell before we hauled out, so I rode the dinghy around the anchorage to see if anyone would like to buy it. Unfortunately, all our anchorage neighbors were planning to cross the Sea to haul out in San Carlos or Guaymas, so they didn’t need more gas. When I was near S/V Kia Ora I turned the outboard off to talk, but then it wouldn’t start again when I tried to leave. The afternoon wind was strong and started blowing me across the bay and away from Astraea. We had our nice rowing oars stolen in Mazatlan and the paddles we were using in the dinghy were terrible for rowing alone so I couldn’t paddle. Luckily I was able to catch a tow home to Astraea from Kia Ora’s captain, where his rescue efforts were rewarded with an ice cold beer.

We spent the evening playing games aboard S/V Prism. Sully wouldn’t use the potty, so I had to dinghy him back home so he could use his little potty aboard Astraea. Let’s just say people know you’re a kid boat and doing potty training when there are 10 pairs of toddler shorts and underpants hanging on the lifelines.

The next morning we found out lots of boats were crossing the sea because the winds were light and favorable to head to San Carlos and Guaymas. We headed ashore to explore and stretch our legs before the overnight crossing, knowing this awesome anchorage will still be here when we return in the fall.

S/V Prism on the move

S/V Prism on the move

May 26, 2015
by Nate

Isla Coronados

Our next stop after Honeymoon Cove was Isla Coronados, about another 20 miles away. Again we motorsailed between ports passing the town of Loreto to the west. We initially intended to anchor on the south side of the island, but decided to divert once we made it to our intended anchorage . Natalie and I decided to anchor on the western side because there was a hiking trail to a scenic overlook of the island and the wind was different than predicted.

Here comes the story of how we almost ran aground and sunk our home. I’m not proud to tell it because our problem was completely avoidable. I scoped out the chartlet in the Sea of Cortez Bansmer/Breeding guide book and it showed recommended waypoints and a route to follow to get to the nice anchorage on the west side of Isla Coronados. After looking at our chart plotter and the book I saw that if we followed the southern coastline of the island out and then turned northeast that we’d be able to safely navigate around the southwest side of the island and into our next anchorage.

So here we are at anchor, in the middle of the island according to our chartplotter. Can you see why I wasn't trusting the chartplotter's position display (but should have been using my waypoints instead).

So here we are at anchor, in the middle of the island according to our chartplotter. Can you see why I wasn’t trusting the chartplotter’s position display (but should have been using my waypoints instead).

One note on the electronic charts our plotter uses for Mexico. The vast majority of the country is covered by large overview charts, not precise harbor charts like we’re used to navigating with in the United States. Some of the land points are off by miles. In our case I saw that we had passed by the southwestern tip of Isla Coronados and decided to head north between it and another island to the west. Looking at our chartlet it showed the end of the island had navigable water, 12 ft deep at a minimum. I made a mental note to keep an eye on the depth sounder, that if we saw the sounder go below 6 feet (we have a 6 foot offset for the keel to show us the navigable water below) that we’d stop and reevaluate. Well, Natalie came up to the cockpit from cooking down below right when the depth went from 12 ft to zero in about 30 seconds. I threw the helm over hard to port and threw the transmission in to reverse. Natalie peered over the side and could see the rocks crystal clear below us. For a few terrifying seconds we continued forward slowly until the depth increased. I stopped navigating by line of sight, zoomed out on our chartplotter and saw the waypoints and lined up between them to safely navigate through the known channel.

The hardest part about nearly running aground was the realization that because of a navigational error on my part we were almost out of our home of three years and almost all our stuff. The loss would have been devastating to have to return home and start over.

We were very lucky that the keel didn’t hit the bottom or a rock in front of us.

We motored in and anchored in the somewhat rolly northwest swell. After we anchored we got off the boat and motored over to say hello to our neighbor boats, something we have decided to do in each new anchorage we visit. If only we’d have done that in Mazatlan we’d have already known our neighboring cruisers instead of meeting because we had stuff stolen. It’s the best way to learn more about the port and the people in the area and make new friends, too.

The next day we went ashore and Sully had a blast playing on the beach. I got out to do some snorkeling around the underwater reef on the island. The reef was easily accessible and pangas lined the beach with tourists who came for a day trip to the islands. Other folks camped out on the other side of the rock outcropping.

There's a definite lack of accurate detail for our electronic charts. Yup, the chart shows we're anchored pretty far inshore.

It really felt like cruising being able to check out all the underwater life

It really felt like cruising being able to check out all the underwater life

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A Mexican panga that brings tourists out to the island

A Mexican panga that brings tourists out to the island

Isla Coronados is a must visit stop in the Sea of Cortez or if you fly in to Loreto!

It's not all sunshine and beaches! Sully likes to play dress up on the boat too.

It’s not all sunshine and beaches! Sully likes to play dress up on the boat too.

May 14, 2015
by Nate

Honeymoon Cove

After a one night stay at Puerto Escondido we made a quick motor out of the harbor to Honeymoon Cove. There were already some boats anchored in the cove, so we tucked into another cove south of Honeymoon for the night.

Sully liked walking on the smooth rocks that lined the beach and peering in to the tide pools. I hopped in the water to unfoul a fishing line that was wrapped around our rudder skeg and was stung a few times by tiny jellyfish.

A starfish or Estrella del Mar in Spanish

A starfish or Estrella del Mar in Spanish

Like a Jimmy Buffet song, Sully's a "Tidal pool explorer from the days of his misspent youth"

Like a Jimmy Buffet song, Sully’s a “Tidal pool explorer from the days of his misspent youth”

A picturesque anchorage all to ourselves

A picturesque anchorage all to ourselves

A new favorite activity for Sully is sword fighting with sticks

A new favorite activity for Sully is sword fighting with sticks

The little climber at it again

The little climber at it again

We found lots of agave plants with the long flowering stem still standing. It reminded me of my Grandma and Grandpa Ness when their agave bloomed and all the attention it brought to Park Street in Loganville.

We found lots of agave plants with the long flowering stem still standing. It reminded me of my Grandma and Grandpa Ness when their agave bloomed and all the attention it brought to Park Street in Loganville.

Sully and I tried fishing but our trip ended up being more of a motorboat ride than about catching fish

Sully and I tried fishing but our trip ended up being more of a motorboat ride than about catching fish

Swabby Sully

We found this rock in the center of the picture had most of the bottom supporting it eroded away by the sea

We found this rock in the center of the picture had most of the bottom supporting it eroded away by the sea

May 14, 2015
by Natalie

Agua Verde and Puerto Escondido

After two fun days exploring the beaches and red rocks of Puerto Los Gatos, we hauled the anchor up and headed north towards Bahia Agua Verde on April 21st. Nate decided to try out our drifter again (we hadn’t used it since our trip down Baja towards Cabo). This time instead of dropping the jib from the roller furler and attaching the drifter through the track, he flew it loose luffed (the front of the sail is not connected) and it was much easier to work with.

We threw up the drifter and it increased our speed motorsailing by about a knot and a half. We tried flying it loose leech and it worked well but didn't give us optimal performance.

With the drifter up it increased our speed motorsailing by about a knot and a half. The sail shape wasn’t great but it was easy!

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