Aboard Astraea

Invest in experiences, not things

June 13, 2016
by Nate

Astraea’s Last Race

It was bittersweet to get a full crew together and race Astraea in a Saturday Veleros de Baja sailboat race. We invited our friends from S/V Namaste, S/V Sea Rover II and S/V Greybeard to hang out and crew for the race.

Underway from the marina and up the channel

Underway from the marina and up the channel

We started the race with a mimosa toast to Astraea’s final race under our ownership.

The good crew, Bill from S/V Greybeard, John, Journey and Cindy from S/V Namaste

The good crew, Bill from S/V Greybeard, John, Journey and Cindy from S/V Namaste

The sea was calm with no wind or waves and Sully wanted out of the cockpit so we put on the tether and harness for some play time on the foredeck

The sea was calm with no wind or waves and Sully wanted out of the cockpit so we put on the tether and harness for some play time on the foredeck

The race start was delayed by 15 minutes because of the calm conditions

The race start was delayed by 15 minutes because of the calm conditions

Soon enough the wind filled in enough to start the race. Gary from S/V Sea Rover II convinced me to fly the drifter so we put it up and were ahead of one other boat in the fleet!

Soon enough the wind filled in enough to start the race. Gary from S/V Sea Rover II convinced me to fly the drifter so we put it up and were ahead of one other boat in the fleet!

Slowly racing down the bay with Karina, Natalie, John and Bill in the cockpit

Slowly racing down the bay with Karina, Natalie, John and Bill in the cockpit

I passed the wheel off to John and enjoyed the slow sail with Natalie and Gary

I passed the wheel off to John and enjoyed the slow sail (and an ice cold Tecate) with Natalie and Gary

After the race I emailed a report to Latitude 38 and they posted about the sail in their magazine and online:

When do cruisers become racers? Whenever two or more of them want to! On Saturday, some habitués of Club Cruceros de La Paz enjoyed a great race after a 15-minute delay for light wind. “Then there was enough wind to fill a spinnaker so the race started,” reports Nate Kraft of the Cheoy Lee 41Astraea. “The Baja ferry came through the middle of the fleet interrupting the wind and downwind courses. As we were coming past the port at Pichilingue the wind quickly picked up. As we entered the channel there was a near pile-up of boats outside the Pemex wharf. The Catalina 42Dad’s Dreams was on a port tack avoiding the shoal while the Cheoy Lee 41 Astraea came trucking down the channel. While passing Marina PalmiraAstraea caught up to the Ron Holland 43 Azure-Te’ and stole their wind, butAzure-Te’ pulled ahead to finish one minute sooner.”

The full writeup is available on Latitude 38’s February 17, 2016 ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Truckin' down the channel towards La Paz.

Truckin’ down the channel towards La Paz.

Sully's buddy and babysitter Journey showed him some pictures she took during the race

Sully’s buddy and babysitter Journey showed him some pictures she took during the race

A blissful moment keeping Astraea in the groove

A blissful moment keeping Astraea in the groove

Getting close

Getting close

Natalie and I were happy to be out for one last sail with friends aboard

Natalie and I were happy to be out for one last sail with friends aboard

Wing and wing with Gary out by the main mast

Wing and wing with Gary out by the main mast

IMG_3237

Getting passed

The race wore Sully out so he took a nap in his berth while we put the boat away.

The race wore Sully out so he took a nap in his berth while we put the boat away

After the race we headed over to La Costa Restaurant for the post race party. It was great to get together with friends we met a year and a thousand sea miles ago back in San Diego for a final sail together Aboard Astraea.

 

May 9, 2016
by Natalie

Carnaval

With the decision made to leave the boat for sale in La Paz, we sailed back into La Paz and got a slip at Marina Cortez. We had lots of work to do, and wanted the ease of living at the dock while we did it all. Plus, there was a giant Norther in the forecast and we didn’t want to be stuck in the anchorage unable to enjoy the events of Carnaval that was starting on February 4th.

Sully trying not to get blown off the dock. The wind was really blowing! Marina Cortez is not as well protected as Marina de La Paz so we were bouncing around a lot and had to put chafe gear on our lines, but being at the dock was wonderful!

Sully trying not to get blown off the dock. The wind was really blowing! Marina Cortez is not as well protected as Marina de La Paz so we were bouncing around a lot and had to put chafe gear on our lines, but being at the dock was wonderful!

Our first order of business was to take pictures of the boat for the listing. We spent a long day moving everything from the front of the boat to the back of the boat to clean, stage and take pictures. The next day we did the back of the boat. We also started listing a ton of our stuff for sale on the morning radio net and on the bulletin board at Club Cruceros, so throughout the day we had lots of people stopping by to buy our stuff. We ended up making over $5,000 on random things that didn’t need to be sold with the boat like our kayak, five boxes of wine that had summered over on the boat in Guaymas (Nate had been drinking it, but I thought it tasted terrible! He let the buyers have a taste before they took it away. Cruisers aren’t that picky about their wine, because they paid $10 a box!), a pair of binoculars that came with the boat that I found out originally go for $400(!), and our life raft that we had re-certified before leaving in 2014.

We also worked on cleaning up the outside of Astraea. We cleaned and polished the stainless for the first time ever! Worst boat owners ever, here. I guess it was never that important to us, or just on the bottom of the never ending list of boat projects. She ended up looking so pretty we wished we would have done it sooner!

We kept busy working during the day, but Sully needed some fun and time off the boat. We were lucky that Rosie from s/v Puddle Pirate was around. She took Sully out and ran the Malecon while he rode his motorcycle, took him to the playground and out for ice cream. He was so exhaused when he got home that he fell asleep and we couldn’t get him to wake up until 8pm! But that’s normal playtime for Mexican kids, so we didn’t feel bad staying out until almost midnight on the first night of Carnaval riding rides and seeing all there was to see.

Sully's first ride was the tanks!

Sully’s first ride was the tanks!

Then we found the bounce houses and he was occupied for an hour.

Then we found the bounce houses and he was occupied for an hour.

Luckily they were right by the stage, so while Sully played we could watch the performances and drink lots of Tecates!

Luckily they were right by the stage, so while Sully played we could watch the performances and drink lots of Tecate beer!

You know the Music Express? We decided it would be fun to go on with Sully. I was thinking it would be fun with all three of us and him sitting on the inside getting squished against us. But because of some ticket confusion, it ended up just being Sully and I. It was fun for a few minutes, but it just got faster and faster and Sully was screaming, "Stop it Mommy!!", and it was getting harder to hold on to Sully and keep myself from flying out! Finally, the ride started to slow down and I thought it was over...but it wasn't. It stopped and the went backwards! All the hot dogs, churros and beer in my stomach was not setting well with the spinning movement so I just clung to Sully and the bar and closed my eyes as Sully screamed. Whoops! We stuck to the kiddie rides after that!

You know the Music Express? We decided it would be a fun ride to go on with Sully sitting on the inside getting squished against us. But because of some ticket confusion, it ended up just being Sully and I. It was fun for a few minutes, but it just got faster and faster and Sully was screaming, “Stop it Mommy!!”, and it was getting harder to hold on to Sully and keep myself from flying out! Finally, the ride started to slow down and I thought it was over…but it wasn’t. It stopped and the went backwards! All the hot dogs, churros and beer in my stomach was not setting well with the spinning movement so I just clung to Sully and the bar and closed my eyes while Sully screamed. Whoops! We stuck to the kiddie rides after that!

After being terrified with Mommy, Nate took Sully on the bumper cars and had a blast! When he got off he said, "Daddy rides are better."

After being terrified with Mommy, Nate took Sully on the bumper cars and had a blast! When he got off he said, “Daddy rides are better.”

These boats were great and Sully went on them every night

These boats were great and Sully went on them every night

Lots of games lined the street. Who wouldn't want to win a stuffed cigarette?!

Lots of games lined the street. Who wouldn’t want to win a stuffed cigarette?!

Would have been fun, but we never went on the swings.

Would have been fun, but we never went on the swings.

Sully looked a little nervous about his ride on the caterpillar roller coaster, but he ended up having fun.

Sully looked a little nervous about his ride on the caterpillar roller coaster, but he ended up having fun.

The theme for Carnaval La Paz was”Las Muses de Alegria” or “The Muses of Joy”. The last three nights brought out the biggest crowds because of the parades. We watched the first parade on Sunday from the balcony of Harker Boards Pizza with David and the crew of s/v Nomi. It was also the night of the Super Bowl so there was a lot of entertainment. The next two nights we watched from street level, so we got a closer look at the floats and costumes. The parade is the same for three nights, but each time we noticed different things. Our favorite float was a truck platform with little kids drumming along to AC/DC’s hit “Highway to Hell”.

Sully got a little bored, so he bounced in the quadruple trampoline while we watched the parade.

Sully got a little bored watching the same parade three times, so he bounced in the quadruple trampoline while we watched from close by.

IMG_2939 IMG_2937 IMG_2934 IMG_2932 IMG_2946 IMG_3096

We were glad that we got to experience Carnaval in La Paz. It was a nice way to unwind after long days of working on the boat. We lived off of Mexican street hot dogs (bacon wrapped hot dog in a soft steamed bun with chili sauce, onions, tomatoes, mayo, ketchup and mustard – so good!) and churros (some filled with chocolate, caramel or sweetened condensed milk) and lots of Tecate beer for six nights and had a blast watching Sully ride all the kiddie rides. Plus, when else would he get to float around a pool in a giant ball and ride a mechanical bull?!

Climb in...

Climb in…

Fill it up with a leaf blower...

Fill it up with a leaf blower…

Roll around like a hamster.

Roll around like a hamster.

IMG_3007 IMG_3138

IMG_2615

April 15, 2016
by Natalie

Get Out of Town

By the third week in January, we were BORED! We’d been in La Paz since the beginning of December when my mom came to visit. All the big projects (sealing the toe rail and the v-berth hatch, rotten mizzen spreader replaced) we needed to get done before bashing north to San Diego were complete, but we were starting to feel like that might not be the best option. We loved living on the boat in San Diego, but we didn’t want to live there forever because it’s too far from family and way too expensive. If we did move back there for Nate’s job, we would need to live on the boat, and truthfully, after four years of living on Astraea (especially the time away from the dock while cruising), we are ready to spread out a little bit and have a few comforts that come from living in a house.  We realized that going back to San Diego felt like we were spinning our wheels and just putting off the inevitable of moving to the east coast to be near family.

We didn’t know what to do, but we needed to get away from town to clear our heads and think about what we wanted. So on January 23rd, we hauled the anchor up and and went out to the explore other nearby anchorages north of La Paz. We wanted to go to the islands (Espiritu Santo and Partida), but we wanted internet available for Nate to hear about job options, as he’d already started applying to jobs on the east coast just in case. We pulled into the anchorage at Bahia Falsa, false bay. We launched the dinghy and went ashore to play at Playa Tesoro, treasure beach, which got the name after buried treasure was discovered in 1965. This beach is great for families – shallow water, fresh seafood and cold drinks, and palapa umbrellas for shade. There’s also kids toys and the waitress brings her son to work everyday so Sully had an instant buddy.

Nate had to move the dinghy because the water got so shallow

Nate had to move the dinghy because the water got so shallow

Sully and his buddy, Alex, had motorcycle races along the wooden boardwalk

Sully and his buddy, Alex, had motorcycle races along the wooden boardwalk

Sully and Alex sharing toys

Sully and Alex sharing toys

IMG_2497

We were really close to Costa Baja, so David picked us up for a pool day

We were really close to Costa Baja, so David picked us up for a pool day

Playa Tesoro sunset

Playa Tesoro sunset

After a few days in Bahia Falsa, we headed north to Playa Pichulingue, which is just north of the Baja Ferry terminal and port of La Paz. We went ashore one day to walk and explore and then got stuck on the boat for a few days due to strong winds.

"There she blows!" Sully and Nate spotted whales and watched the show from the bow

“There she blows!” Sully and Nate spotted whales and watched the show from the bow

Cool dude in his shades letting us know which way to go

Cool dude in his shades letting us know which way to go on our explorations

Making a playground out of anything

Making a playground out of anything

IMG_2554

Driving us home

Driving us home

Hipster?

Hipster?

Car wash in the cockpit

Car wash in the cockpit

Once the winds died down, we moved further north to the most popular beach and anchorage near La Paz, Playa Balandra.

Sully rode the boom all the way into the anchorage

Sully rode the boom all the way into the anchorage

I paddled into shore on the kayak past "El Hongo"

I paddled into shore on the kayak past “El Hongo”

All the tourists come to see this rock called "El Hongo" or mushroom rock. Astraea's in the background.

All the tourists come to see this rock called “El Hongo” or mushroom rock. Astraea was in the background of everyone’s pictures this day.

We climbed up the giant sand dunes for a better view. Our pictures don't do it justice. You can walk across to the other side it's so shallow.

We climbed up the giant sand dunes for a better view of the bay and Astraea. Our pictures don’t do it justice. You can walk across to the other side it’s so shallow.

Sailing off anchor

Sailing off anchor

Balandra is completely open to the west, so staying overnight means a rolly and uncomfortable night. After a fun day at the beach, we sailed off our anchor (feeling pretty slick with all the tourists watching), and moved to the more protected Caleta Lobos for the night. The next day we went back to Bahia Falsa so Sully could hang out with Alex from the restaurant and David could pick us up for Nate to work.

Checking out a deserted restaurant on another beach in Bahia Falsa

Checking out a deserted restaurant on another beach in Bahia Falsa

Sully didn't want to go in the water until he saw these boys playing on this kayak. Then he stripped down to his undies and jumped on. After the boys played, their dad offered to give Sully a ride all the way back to Astraea.

Sully didn’t want to go in the water until he saw these boys playing on this kayak. Then he stripped down to his undies and jumped on. After the boys played, their dad offered to give Sully a ride all the way back to Astraea.

Back at Astraea Sully donned his shorts and swimmies and swam while the big kids jumped off the boat.

Back at Astraea, Sully donned his shorts and swimmies and swam, while the big kids jumped off the boat.

IMG_2712

During our time away from the city, we had a lot of time to think about what we wanted to do. Getting stuck in anchorages due to high winds had become our life this season and we were sick of it. We weren’t “living the dream” anymore. Spending days on end on a 41 foot boat with a three year old isn’t paradise – even if you’re in “paradise”.  We stayed in Baja thinking we’d be bashing the boat back up to San Diego for the Navy job, but after months of waiting, we still hadn’t heard any news about it. Finally, on February 1st while we were poolside with David at Costa Baja, Nate got the call about the San Diego job. It was too late though, as we had already decided to leave the boat for sale in La Paz and move to Maryland. With plane reservations to leave La Paz on February 23rd, we sailed down the channel into La Paz and into a slip at Marina Cortez, where we’d start getting Astraea ready to sell.

Just in time for Carnaval!

IMG_2725

March 17, 2016
by Natalie

What are we doing?!

Back in October when we were getting ready to head back to the boat, Nate got the word that his old job (this time as a civilian) was available. With the cruising kitty running a little low, he put in his application and we assumed that our cruising adventure was soon coming to an end. The plan was to get the boat back in the water and make our way back to San Diego by the New Year. Fortunately for us, Nate was one of the qualified applicants for the job, but his old boss wanted a bigger pool of applicants to choose from. This gave us more time. More time to cruise and enjoy Mexico, and also more time to consider all of our options. Before the job was reposted, we thought of a ton of different ways we could keep cruising. Not forever – we just really wanted to finish off this season.

Our first idea had Nate going to school online. With the G.I.Bill he would get a monthly stipend for taking classes online. The plan was to head down to La Cruz and hunker down for a few months with a good internet connection so Nate could take a few online classes. But by the time we thought of this plan it was too late to start right away, and we would need the money coming in ASAP if we were going to head to La Cruz. Plus, Nate didn’t want to take online classes. He got his first degree online, and it wasn’t fun. He’d rather use the G.I.Bill to do something he’s really interested in and attend classes at a brick and mortar college.

In January, Nate started doing some boat work for our friends David and Kinyon. He was good at it and he enjoyed it, so we thought about sailing down to La Cruz to start a boat work business with our friend Nate. But that required a long term commitment, and we didn’t want to live on a boat in Mexico forever. Our options were limited, and in the middle of January, we still had no idea what we were doing or where we were going, so we just kept hanging out and having fun in La Paz.

It was nice staying in La Paz. We had a great network of cruising friends there and many had kids!

Sully and Rumi hanging out with the Golden Pirate

Sully and Rumi hanging out with the Golden Pirate

Sully and Rumi on the playhouse

Sully and Rumi on the playhouse at Club Cruceros

In the house

We said goodbye to our friends Megan and Jonah from s/v Orion. We spent a lot of time with these guys in the fall and for holidays, so we were very sad to see them leave.

Laser dance party

Laser dance party send off!

Megan and Jonah cruising up to Astraea

Megan and Jonah cruising up to Astraea

They took us wake boarding on Christmas

They took us wake boarding on Christmas

Megan getting up on the board

Megan getting up on the board

Headed back to the boat at anchor after a day spent in town

Headed back to the boat at anchor after a day spent in town

At the end of January, our plan was to bash back to San Diego. We pulled into a marina for a few days to seal the toe-rail, and Sully and Nate fixed the leaks in Sully’s hatch.

Painting his hatch with water

Sully had fun helping Nate “varnish” his hatch with a cup of water

Daddy boat projects

We'll miss the sunsets

We’ll miss the sunsets

Watching the kites fly

February 1, 2016
by Nate

Trip to La Ventana

We’d been hanging out with David and Kinyon from S/V Sheldon 2 since they arrived in La Paz. They really liked the area, so they decided to have a home base ashore in La Ventana and invited us out to check it out for the day.

We loaded up in their car and drove about an hour from La Paz farther down the Baja coast.

The long, straight road to La Ventana

The long, straight road to La Ventana

La Ventana is a popular spot for kite surfing and windsurfing. The consistent north winds that blow from November to April make it a perfect spot for windsports. People come from all over the world to race along the water and fly through the air.

Watching the kites fly

Watching the kites fly

We pulled in to the downtown kite surfing community center. There’s a bar and restaurant that serves great pizza and margaritas so we stayed for a few and watched the kite surfers zoom along the surface of the sea. More adventurous kite surfers were riding boards with hydrofoils that rose above the water’s surface. We saw some kite surfers fly 10-20 feet through the air (some performing spins and tricks) and land back on the water’s surface.

Inside the cool restaurant/bar/hangout at La Ventana

Inside the cool restaurant/bar/community center at La Ventana

Margaritas with a beautiful view

Margaritas with a beautiful view

IMG_2282

Hanging out on the upper deck waiting for some pizza

Hanging out on the upper deck waiting for some pizza

Sully and Kinyon hanging out watching the kite surfing

Sully and Kinyon watching the kite surfing

After our pizza break we had to stop and wait for some unique traffic to cross the road.

Hey buddy, on your way to the OXXO grab some steak

Hey buddy, on your way to the OXXO grab some steak…

and bring it back please. You know I like it fresh.

…you know I like it fresh.

It was an awesome day trip away from the boat and gave us another look at rural Mexico outside the normal cruising destinations. They didn’t have keys to their new house yet, but what we saw of the outside looked pretty cool and we’re excited to get the grand tour soon!

IMG_2051

January 27, 2016
by Nate

New Years in La Paz

A few days after Christmas my friend Clint, from San Diego, came roadtripping down through Baja with his son and they stopped by La Paz to see us. We offered them bunk space on our boat for the night but during our wanderings downtown Clint found a hotel he had to stay at.

At the freaky funky Hotel Yeneka in La Paz

At the freaky funky Hotel Yeneka in La Paz

IMG_2024

More toilet plants, like my Grandma Ness has but much wilder

Toilet plants, like my Grandma Ness has but much wilder.

Toilet plants at the hotel

More toilet plants at the hotel

An old car with a mummified monkey

An old car with a mummified monkey

For about $35 they stayed at a very memorable hotel. Bargains are all over Mexico! Our wanderings took us down to the malecón and back to the boat.

Sully and the Old Man and the Sea statue

Sully and the Old Man and the Sea statue.

Clint's dog Noe and the statue

Clint’s very good dog, Noe, and the Old Man and the Sea statue.

Sundowner beers Aboard Astraea

Sundowner beers Aboard Astraea. Clint’s getting his boat ready to cruise south next fall.

The beautiful sunset. This is the kind of stuff cruising memories are made of.

The beautiful sunset. This is the kind of stuff cruising memories are made of.

We were anchored outside Costa Baja where we visited with our new friends, David and Kinyon from S/V Sheldon 2. We were introduced by our friend Jill from back in San Diego since we’re all Navy Yacht Club San Diego members. It was great to hang out at the pool and help them with boat projects.

Dinghy driving in to Costa Baja

Dinghy driving in to Costa Baja

Sully playing in the pool at Costa Baja

Sully playing in the pool at Costa Baja

Sully sauntering down the dock at Costa Baja

Sully sauntering down the dock at Costa Baja

Astraea at anchor near Costa Baja

Astraea at anchor near Costa Baja

We rode the shuttle bus from Costa Baja downtown to celebrate Liam from Riki Tiki Tavi’s 10th birthday party with the twins from Yare and Rumi and Martin from Ballena.

Sully's turn to take a swing at the piñata at Liam's birthday party

Sully’s turn to take a swing at the piñata at Liam’s birthday party

Scrambling for candy

Scrambling for candy

Rumi and Sully enjoying cake and icecream at the birthday party

Rumi and Sully enjoying cake and ice cream at the birthday party

The Madero Market mural

The Madero Market mural

We spent a quiet New Year’s Eve Aboard Astraea enjoying our final sunset of 2015 in the cockpit as a family.

Our last sunset of 2015 Aboard Astraea

Our last sunset of 2015 Aboard Astraea

The next day we went ashore to Tallares Navales Bercovich, the boatyard next to Costa Baja. Ashore we checked on S/V Coconutz for Eric and Jaime. Coconutz told me she was tired of being dirty and wanted to be back in the water cruising with her friends. Eric and Jaime plan to sail Coconutz up the Sea of Cortez to Puerto Peñasco in June.

Coconutz and Sully's new favorite car

Coconutz and Sully’s new favorite car

Beach treasure

Beach treasure

IMG_2243

Playing on the beach near Costa Baja

Sully's pirate ship

Sully’s pirate ship and Astraea anchored in the background

Astraea at anchor at sunset near Costa Baja

Astraea at anchor at sunset near Costa Baja

Sully riding on the bow of the dinghy

Sully riding on the bow of the dinghy

Happy New Year from the crew of Astraea!

Ready for Santa to come!

January 16, 2016
by Natalie

Christmas in La Paz

After my mom left on December 16th, our schedule was wide open. There were some kid boats in La Paz so the first thing we did was get together for a walk on the Malécon. Sully had tons of fun playing with Jayden and Dillon from s/v Sangvind, Martin and Rumi from s/v Ballena, and Liam and Neli from s/v Riki Tiki Tavi. We’d never seen this many boat kids in La Paz!

The most boat kids I've ever seen in La Paz

IMG_1550

IMG_1536

IMG_1540

Then it was time to get ready for Christmas! Sully only had one thing on his Christmas list – “a rescue helicopter with a hook and a door and a little boat”. If anyone asked him what he wanted for Christmas, that’s what he said. He first saw it at Walmart in Guaymas back in October, and he didn’t stop talking about it. One day he was staring off into space so I asked what he was thinking about. He replied, “Oh Mommy, I’m just thinking about a rescue helicopter with a hook and a door and a little boat. He was like the Ralphie and the BB gun from The Christmas Story! Luckily “Santa” didn’t have any trouble finding one in La Paz.

Sully wrote a letter and mailed it to Santa

Sully wrote a letter and mailed it to Santa.

He put it in the mailbox at Club Cruceros. Someone who collected the mail was nice enough to write a note back to Sully letting him know that Santa had received his letter and that Santa knew he was on his boat in La Paz.

He put it in the mailbox at Club Cruceros. Someone who collected the mail was nice enough to write a note back to Sully as Santa letting him know that Santa had received his letter, and that Santa knew he was on his boat in La Paz.

Time for Christmas cutout cookies!

Time for Christmas cutout cookies!

Sully liked helping with the sprinkles.

Sully liked helping with the sprinkles.

We didn't find the real deal this year, but Sully was happy to see this blowup Santa.

We didn’t find the real deal this year, but Sully was happy to see this blowup Santa.

Ready for Santa to come!

Ready for Santa to come!

Fun with sparklers at the Christmas Eve potluck.

Fun with sparklers at the Christmas Eve potluck.

Santa found Astraea!

Santa found Astraea! We told Sully that Santa’s magic sleigh turned the water around Astraea to ice so he could land his sleigh right next to us.

The rescue helicopter

The rescue helicopter

"I really wanted this!!"

“I really wanted this!!”

We got him a LeapFrog tablet. We like the parental controls - otherwise this is what he would look like all day!

We got him a LeapFrog tablet. We like the parental controls – otherwise this is what he would look like all day!

Lego Maniacs!

Lego Maniacs!

Sweet dreams of saving the world with Buzz in the rescue helicopter

Sweet dreams of saving the world with Buzz in the rescue helicopter.

Riding out to see the whale sharks

January 10, 2016
by Nate

MeMe visits Baja

We were underway on December 3rd headed south for La Paz. We needed to be in Cabo by the 8th to pick up Vicky, (aka Sully’s MeMe) at the airport. Along the way we anchored in Los Gatos and Bahía San Gabriel, places we visited last season. On December 5th we were underway at 0900 heading into La Paz. We anchored outside Marina De La Paz and visited with our friends on Namaste and Worth Waiting 4.

On December 6th we navigated down the long channel from La Paz’s central anchorage to Marina Fidepaz, the Fonatur marina. Once past the anchored boats, we saw S/V Georgia aground on a sand bar during a quickly falling tide. They were navigating using their electronic charts that showed enough depth, but the sand bar had shifted. We tried to push and pull their boat off the bar but were unsuccessful and they resigned to waiting for a rising tide early the next morning.

We docked at Marina Fidepaz, but since it was Sunday couldn’t take a slip with power and water. We took the bus downtown went to the playground on the malécon. We noticed that the main road was closed off and then all of a sudden people started clapping and cheering. There was a bicycle race! We got the camera out just in time to catch hundreds of bicycles speeding by.

Hundreds of cyclists racing down the street

Hundreds of cyclists racing down the street

We walked down the malecón and found the race starting line and a band.

The bandstand for the race

The bandstand for the race

Sully thought the music was too loud

Sully thought the music was too loud

The next day we picked up a rental car and went on a mission to find a part we needed for the refrigerator. We spent an entire afternoon trying to track down a thermal expansion valve for our Technautics fridge. If we were in America it would have been easy to order one online and have it arrive in two days. Since we’re in Mexico it took an entire afternoon following leads from any store or service in town with refrigeration in the title. Without a car to traverse the city it would have taken a week of walking. I finally found a new Danfoss T2 thermal expansion valve, installed it, evacuated the system, recharged and the fridge got colder faster than it ever had before!

Once the fridge was cold we went out shopping for groceries and made final preparations for MeMe’s arrival.

Sully listening in

Sully listening in

We left early on the 8th for the drive to the airport in Cabo. We arrived early and went out looking for somewhere Sully could play. We didn’t find a playground and ended up going to the Soriana supermarket for snacks. Inside we found the deal of the year.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer for only 38 Pesos a six pack! That's about $2.50 US. Most beer in Mexico is much more expensive.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer for only 38 Pesos a six pack! That’s about $2.50 US. Most beer in Mexico is much more expensive.

With our trunk full of beer and some snacks we went back to the airport to pick up Vicky.

Our first order of business in Mexico was lunch. Last year we found our favorite taco place in Cabo. It’s called Tacos Guss. They have delicious tacos al pastor and all the toppings you can stuff on.

IMG_1342

Salut! Welcome to Mexico

IMG_1338

Our next stop was a hotel we booked for the night. We dropped off our stuff from the rental car and walked down to the marina area where we hired a panga to take us out to Lover’s beach to do some swimming and see Los Arcos, the famous arch.

Panga riding out to the arch

Panga riding out to the arch

Sully and MeMe are ready for fun

Sully and MeMe are ready for fun

At the arch

At the arch

Seals sunning on the rocky ledge

Seals sunning on the rocky ledge

We spent the afternoon sunning on the beach, swimming and playing in the sand. The water was beautiful and crystal clear. As the sun was getting ready to set our panga returned. Usually at the beach there are guys helping tourists on and off the boats, but we were leaving after they left. Our panga returned and the surf was bouncing the boat on the beach. After helping Natalie and Vicky clamber on the boat I passed them our stuff and Sully. On the ride back our boat had a glass bottom and we went by Pelican Rock where thousands of fish were swimming in schools. It was an excellent end to our time on the beach and a great start of vacation.

IMG_1379

That night we went out for dinner at The Crazy Lobster.

The next morning we packed the car up and headed to see the Hotel California in Todos Santos. We had to get the rental car back that afternoon by 1pm so our stop was short and didn’t get to see much of the town.

Natalie and Vicky at the Hotel California. We didn't check in so we got to leave quickly.

Natalie and Vicky at the Hotel California. We didn’t check in so we got to leave quickly.

We drove back to Astraea in the marina, dropped off our luggage and returned the rental car downtown. After strolling the malecón we rode a collectivo bus back to the marina to get Astraea underway. We navigated the narrow channel and picked out a spot to anchor for the night. Natalie made arrangements for us to swim with the whale sharks the next day.

After a quick breakfast, we dinghy’d ashore with our swim stuff and walked down the malecón to meet our boat and captain. We rode out quickly on a powerful little fishing boat to find some whale sharks.

Riding out to see the whale sharks

Riding out to see the whale sharks

I was the first one in the water

I was the first one in the water

Whale sharks are filter feeders and like murky water full of plankton

Whale sharks are filter feeders and like murky water full of plankton

Natalie swimming after a whale shark

Natalie swimming after a whale shark

Natalie and Vicky with a huge whale shark

Natalie and Vicky with a huge whale shark

Sully watched from on the boat and then said he wanted to swim too!

Sully watched from on the boat and then said he wanted to swim too!

Sully and I swam near the path of a whale shark

Sully and I swam near the path of two whale sharks

The gentle, quickly moving giant swam past. It was our National Geographic moment.

The gentle, quickly moving giant swam past. It was our National Geographic moment.

Natalie, me and Sully swimming with a whale shark

Natalie, me and Sully swimming with a whale shark

Whale sharks are filter feeders. So long as we stayed three feet away from the body and six feet from the tail we were safe.

Whale sharks are filter feeders. So long as we stayed three feet away from the body and six feet from the tail we were safe.

Like the fish under the whale sharks I got a confused little fish friend

Like the fish under the whale sharks, I got a confused little fish friend

Sully riding back enjoying the fast panga

Sully riding back enjoying the fast panga

IMG_1482

After our National Geographic experience, we met up with Sylvia and the boys from s/v Sangvind. Sully was so excited to see Jayden and Dillon again.

Boys and video games

Boys and video games

Jayden came over to play in the afternoon. Two boys sure know how to make a mess, but also have fun!

Jayden came over to play in the afternoon. Two boys sure know how to make a mess, but also have fun!

After three busy days it was time to get away! The next day we left La Paz and headed north to the islands. We stopped in a small cove on Isla Espiritu Santo called Ensenada de La Ballena. We had lunch and then enjoyed a quick swim before Nate saw a few tiny jelly fish.

DSCN3966

We made it to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida late in the afternoon and Vicky broke out the fishing pole. She wanted to catch dinner, but was unsuccessful.

IMG_1508

Her first catch was a puffer fish. Not a keeper. It went right back in the sea.

Astraea at anchor in Ensenada Grande

Astraea at anchor in Ensenada Grande

Fish bones

Fish bones

Vicky and I took a dinghy fishing expedition and caught a trigger fish. I filleted the fish and Natalie made it in to tasty ceviche.

Vicky and I took a dinghy fishing expedition and caught a trigger fish. I filleted the fish and Natalie made it in to tasty ceviche.

The anchorage was really rolly when the winds shifted from the north to the west-northwest. We spent our time moving the boat around and exploring ashore to get away from the rolling. In the afternoon the wind shifted to the south so we went back to our original anchorage.

We scrambled up the steep slope to the lower fisherman's cross in Ensenada Grande

We scrambled up the steep slope to the lower fisherman’s cross in Ensenada Grande

Sully spotted Astraea

Sully spotted Astraea

Vicky at the top of the fisherman's cross

Vicky at the top of the fisherman’s cross

At the top with Astraea anchored behind us

At the top with Astraea anchored behind us

Playing on the beach at sunset

Playing on the beach at sunset

On December 14th we hauled the anchor up and cruised down to Bahía San Gabriel. We anchored out away from the long sand shallows and got in the dinghy to explore.

We cruised by the southern portion of the bay where hundreds of frigate birds were resting on a rock jetty

We cruised by the southern portion of the bay where hundreds of frigate birds were resting on a rock jetty

DSCN4045

They were everywhere

They were everywhere

We motored up to the shallows as close as possible, but were still really far from the shore. I hopped out to pull the dinghy and Sully wanted to help! He’s much more comfortable and adventurous around the water lately.

Hopping out in to the waist deep (on Sully) water

Hopping out in to the waist deep (on Sully) water

Shuffling and pulling the dinghy. You have to shuffle in the shallow water to frighten stingrays away so you don't get stung.

Shuffling and pulling the dinghy. You have to shuffle in the shallow water to frighten stingrays away so you don’t get stung.

Beachcombing

Beachcombing

Sully and his MeMe enjoying the warm shallow water

Sully and his MeMe enjoying the warm shallow water

The next day was December 15th and we cruised back in to the anchorage in La Paz. We rented a car for the trip back to the airport the next day. The road to the airport in Cabo is twisty windy and you have to be careful not to hit any cows or goats that graze along the way.

Mooove out of the way cows!

Mooove out of the way cows!

We were so happy to have Sully’s MeMe Aboard Astraea and were sad to send her back home, but we’ll always remember swimming with whale sharks and fun times in the islands.

Version 2

January 1, 2016
by Natalie

Giving Thanks in Puerto Escondido

After swimming and lunch in Puerto Ballandra on November 25th, we got a call on the radio from our friends Megan and Jonah on s/v Orion. We hadn’t seen them since leaving San Carlos together on November 8th. They were going to celebrate Thanksgiving on their boat in Puerto Escondido and invited us to join them. We were done with Ballandra so we upped anchor and sailed very slowly south 16 miles to Puerto Escondido.

The winds were pretty light, 10 knots and falling. When we were making less than 3 knots it was time to turn the engine on and motor the last hour in to Puerto Escondido. Right as the sun was setting we caught a fish, a sixteen inch bonito. We pulled in through the narrow entrance of Puerto Escondido and anchored in the large inner bay for the night.

Bonito caught on a pink lure

Bonito caught on a pink lure

We decided to take a trip to Loreto, the town 15 miles north of Escondido. Since hitchiking worked well in Santispac we decided to try it again, but we got lucky and another cruiser with a car was driving in to town for breakfast so we hopped in and rode to town with him. Loreto was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula, but now it’s a tourist resort, catering mostly to U.S. travelers

The start of "El Camino Real", the historic road that follows north along the route of Spanish missions

The start of “El Camino Real”, the historic road that follows north through California along the route of Spanish missions

IMG_1068

Mission of Our Lady

Mission of Our Lady

IMG_1056

IMG_1062

Sully needed to play and I needed some alone time, so the boys went to a playground and I got a pedicure. It was wonderful! Afterwards, we met up and had pizza for lunch.

Sully got a new shirt after having an accident at the playground

Sully got a new shirt after having an accident at the playground

Riding in boats on trailers through town

Riding in boats on trailers through town

IMG_1083

IMG_1066 IMG_1067

Thanksgiving dinner aboard Orion was delicious. We brought stuffing and corn casserole, and instead of turkey (because those don’t fit very well in boat ovens), Megan and Jonah made a roast chicken stuffed with herbs and onions, and Nia from s/v Azul brought the mashed potatoes.

IMG_1094

IMG_1097

Sully wanted candles on Megan’s Thanksgiving spice cake

A few days later we all got together again for “Clam Fest” or as we later named it, “Clam Stock”. Megan, Jonah and Nia went free diving for Chocolaté Clams and they found so many we had clams three ways. Nia made clam chowder, Jonah put some on the grill with minced garlic, and I steamed some in butter, garlic and white wine.

IMG_5839

Four dozen Chocolatés and those white ones were the size of Jonah’s hand!

IMG_5841

After Thanksgiving and Clam Stock, we all needed some exercise, so we hiked into Steinbeck Canyon across the highway from Puerto Escondido. The photos don’t do this place justice – the rocks looked like speckled pastel easter eggs and there were small waterfalls cascading into freshwater pools. Sully hiked and climbed the whole thing!

IMG_8632

Photo by Jonah of S/V Orion

IMG_8606

The hiking gang. Back row: Nea, Megan, Jonah. Front row: Mike, Sully, Natalie and Nate. Photo by Jonah from S/V Orion

IMG_1145 IMG_1143 IMG_1148 IMG_1178 IMG_1165 IMG_1162 IMG_1161

We were anchored in Puerto Escondido for over a week. Between late season hurricane Sandra and the intense Northers that kept blowing down the sea, we felt a little stuck. We finally got out of there on Thursday December 3rd when the winds calmed down a little. We wanted to be in La Paz by Sunday the 6th so we’d have a few days to get things done before my mom arrived in Cabo on the 8th. Unfortunately, this meant that we wouldn’t be able to stop and enjoy the beautiful anchorages along the way. We spent our first night in Los Gatos and on Friday the 4th we sailed all day and pulled into Bahia San Gabriel on Isla Espiritu Santo after dark.

Shortly after leaving Los Gatos I was sitting in the back of the cockpit when all of a sudden one of the fishing lines tightened and snapped. Then a five foot marlin started jumping out of the water and flailing around for five minutes. It put on quite a show, but I felt bad that it had our big cedar plug hooked in it’s mouth. Later in the afternoon we finally saw whale fins slapping at the surface. It took a year of cruising, but we finally saw more that a few spouts!

The dirt road leading away from San Juanico to the ranch

December 19, 2015
by Nate

Southbound to Puerto Escondido

November 20, the day after my birthday, dawned and we were underway for Punta Pulpito. As we left Bahía Concepcíon, we cruised with a pod of dolphins and passed a whale shark.

IMG_0968 IMG_0966IMG_0973

After a one night stop at Punta Pulpito we continued down to San Juanico.

Hanging out on the bow with Sully in our harnesses

Hanging out on the bow with Sully in our harnesses

Heading back to the cockpit, one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat

Heading back to the cockpit, one hand for yourself and one hand for the boat

IMG_1018

After a good downwind sail we anchored in San Juanico.

We took a walk down the dirt road leading out of town with Cliff and MaryAnne from S/V Carola to a nearby ranch. The last time Carola was in San Juanico they had friends take them to visit the ranch so they took us.

The dirt road leading away from San Juanico to the ranch

The dirt road leading away from San Juanico to the ranch

We arrived just as the family that lives on the ranch was finishing breakfast. We introduced ourselves and they offered us some homemade tortillas and two kinds of goat cheese. Then we were given a tour of the gardens.

IMG_0995

Fresh picked radishes

Fresh picked radishes

The gardens are built out of cinder blocks. Tomatoes grow on rebar and twine supports

The gardens are built out of cinder blocks. Tomatoes grow on rebar and twine supports

The chicken coop with a palapa (thatch) roof

The chicken coop with a palapa (thatch) roof

Lots of goats

Lots of goats

The rancher gave us some fresh goat cheese, radishes, cilantro and chile peppers. I cleaned up the radishes and Natalie used a spicy chile peppers and cilantro in soup.

The weather was still good for sailing south so we got underway on the 23rd bound for Puerto Ballandra, a well protected anchorage on Isla Carmen. We spent one night in the calm harbor and explored the rocky beach the next day.IMG_1012 IMG_1009 IMG_1016 IMG_1014

There was no wind and the sun was shining hot, so we all went for a swim to cool off. Natalie and I scrubbed the bottom of the boat and did some laps around her as well. After lunch we decided to head 16 miles south to Puerto Escondido.