Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

Over two dozen cream puff shells cooling

July 5, 2015
by Nate

Bunny Ears, Cream Puffs, and Birthday Cake in Loganville

Our next part of the journey brought us back to my parent’s house in Loganville, PA. Sully got a late Easter present from my mom, a chocolate bunny with huge ears.

Sully started eating his Easter bunny from Nana by biting in to the huge ears

Sully started eating his Easter bunny from Nana by biting into the huge ears

We spent June 19 at my Grandma, Beulah Ness’s, house making Cream Puffs for the Loganville Volunteer Firefighters at Station 63. Her cream puffs are famous in Loganville. When she makes them in November for Christmas in Loganville she gets hundreds of preorders and extras are for sale at our church, Emanuel UMC. The cream puffs aren’t really filled with a whipped creamy topping like the name implies. They’re filled with a dense delicious egg custard in a large puffy shell. We spent the day in Grandma’s kitchen baking shells, cutting holes for the filling and mixing up custard. The next day Grandma was up early to fill the shells with custard and I delivered the tasty treats to the fire hall. Some of the guys were already out working the BBQ and grabbed their cream puffs before they made it in the fire hall. They’re a hot commodity in Loganville!

Measuring flour to make the cream puff shells

Measuring flour to make the cream puff shells

Over two dozen cream puff shells cooling

Over two dozen cream puff shells cooling

Natalie mixing up the custard

Natalie mixing up the custard

Sully taste testing the final product. Delicious!

Sully taste testing the final product. Delicious!

Getting some time behind the wheel with Nana out on Park Street

Getting some time behind the wheel with Nana out on Park Street

We celebrated Sully's birthday again, but this time with ice cream cake.

We celebrated Sully’s birthday again, but this time with ice cream cake.

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

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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.

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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

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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. Continue Reading →

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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

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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. Continue Reading →

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

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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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