Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Goodbye Ensenada, Hello Canada!

June 3rd ( I think). The past few days have been a blur. That’s an interesting and even foreign thought!! I haven’t thought that for a long long time – about a year or so. The past year has not been a blur, but as we get closer to living in the ‘rat race’ again, time seems to be speeding up a bit. We had thought we would depart here by the weekend. Now it is Wednesday, and we are finally leaving tomorrow, and flying to Canada. We have prepared Kenta Anae for our time away from her. Merle has washed down the decks, stowed the gear in appropriate places, removed sails and canvass and she is ready for a hurricane essentially. Except that they don’t get those here. Our fridge is empty, the laundry is clean, and the boys have packed toys and clothes, and are really excited about flying in an airplane – a big one!! It’s good we will be able to fly at least one leg in the day light so they can see what it looks like up there. Thanks, Love Song. We’d never be going home this way if it wasn’t for you!! We are very grateful! I found, as I was packing, that I am taking way less stuff home than I brought. And I notice that I am less concerned about it than I used to be. Just throw in what you think you’ll need, and what you love, and the universe will take care of the rest.

I never did write about what it’s like to cook in the galley when you are at sea. When the boat is healed over, and I am cooking, I stand on the cupboard wall. Sounds crazy, but its true. Chopping stuff is funny because after you cut something, it wants to slide right off the cutting board (because the cutting board and the rest of the boat are at about 30 degrees off horizontal). So you have to chop stuff so it slides against the cupboards rather than off the counter and onto the cabin sole (floor). Getting the chopped food into the pot or pan is also a good challenge (much like pouring a liquid, see below), but once in the pot, as long as the stove is gimbled, that’s the safest spot for it, as it is level with gravity. So I can cook soup no problem, but pouring the soup – well that’s a completely different story! Pouring liquids is like being on another planet. As you pour, the liquid does not go where it looks like it should go based on previous experience. Rather, it goes down with gravity which is not straight down, but on that 30 degree off-kilter slope that doesn’t match the way the counter sits, and if you actually do hit the catching container (which you have to hold with your other hand or it will slide off the counter), the liquid often zig-zags its way down, depending on the movement of the boat. If I am lucky, the funnel will catch my eye before I begin pouring, and using it increases my chances of hitting the container by about 300%. If not, the sink is the drip tray. I always think how good I will be at pouring when we get back to land and how I’d love a photo of that process because it must look just hillarious! Don’t have one yet. I will put it on next year’s list of things to do while sailing.

I found Shandro and Matero’s wish list two days ago of the things they wanted to do while sailing. All four of us stopped what we were doing and read them – and smiled at each one – until we made our way to the bottom and discovered that we did every single thing on the long lost list. That was a very satisfying few minutes that we all shared. This is the list:

Things to do while we are sailing
1. Go swimming (at night too).
2. Take pictures of fish and go snorkeling.
3. Find an island while sailing.
4. Find treasure.
5. Find a good beach.
6. Find a coconut palm tree.
7. Make music.
8. See a shooting star.
9. Throw anchor into ocean.
10. Sail at night.
11. See flying fish.
12. Taste new fruits and new weird things to eat.
13. Play lots and lots of games.

Goodbye Marina Coral and Ensenada. Goodbye friends. We have truly loved your company and are grateful for the ways you have shaped our lives.

And Canada, we are looking forward to being there again, mostly to see our family (yes, Chilko!) and friends we have so missed while we have been gone. I get a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about it. See you soon!

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1st - the boat threw up!

June 1st. The boat looks like it threw up, and I have no mind to do anything about it tonight! I have just returned from a lesson on the unconscious mind, provided by Mark Bagnall on sv Horizon, just across the water from us here in Marina Coral. He is Victor and Andre’s neighbor, and working on much the same things as we are – manifesting, improvement of self, reaching for a higher consciousness, so the sharing has been fun. Tonight we did a ‘float’ along my timeline, to discover my first experience of anger, and hopefully dispel the anger in my life by acknowledging that. The first time I experienced anger was the day I was born and the doctor slapped me on the bum and I was mad at him. And the lesson was about forgiveness. I can forgive him now (as I could have then, but I chose anger instead), and get the lesson without the anger. I could see other anger events along the timeline, and they all blew out their anger out the side door as I watched. I wonder how this will affect my life now and in the future!! How exciting!! I want to do the releases for sadness, fear and guilt now. Mark says we should do all 4. Also learned a little how to talk to the unconscious mind, and how to ask it questions and receive answers. Could be amazing for teaching my kids, or for releasing bad habits, or for creating good habits, or for changing my perspective on something!! Excellent!! Will try it now before I sleep and see how I do.

I went to the gym this morning. Every time I go, I think of you Trina. It’s very cool how people come to mind with different activities. I don’t know if I will ever go to a gym in this lifetime again without thinking of you. Isn’t that so neat? I love it. Anyway, you’d love this gym. It is surrounded by glass that looks out onto the courtyard with pools and grass and a few patios. It’s beautiful to go there and be in nature while you are at the gym. I can’t believe we are here at this spa-resort hotel. It’s just way over the top. But it’s totally competitive price-wise right now, so here we are!

Yes, the boat. We have everything scattered everywhere. It’s hard to live in here right now. There is no food in the fridge (hooray! No waste!), stuff to take back to Canada is strewn about, the bags for the stuff are outside (Merle bought them today – and he got some nice ones for cheap!!), the clean clothes are in bags on the settees, the electronic devices are covering the chart desk about 8 inches deep all over it. Every surface has something on it. What a mess!! But slowly it’s coming together. The shrouds are clean, we’ve been through the big storage lockers to figure out what stays and what goes. Merle wants to move the boat and clean it tomorrow. I want to pack and finish with food storage and fridge cleaning and toilet cleaning. Hope we can get it all done tomorrow. Might be a very long day. Or might stretch into Wednesday. Guess we will see. Flights are available both Wed and Thurs, so we have some give. Now I have to sleep. I was going to try to burn some music tonight, but am too sleepy. Good night!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30 - Happy early birthday, Dayton!

Friday, May 30th. Happy early birthday, Dayton! Hope that you have a great day tomorrow!!

Today we pulled down our genoa (the front sail) and dumped our holding tanks. (Sails have to come down in case there is a storm with high winds while we are away. The sails are the first things to unravel and rip apart in high winds.) As we left the marina and headed out to sea again, Merle and I looked at each other, and he said to me, ‘I love it out here!!’ ‘Me too!!’ Imagine how much we will love it in November, when we haven’t been on the sea for so long! It’s been less than 3 weeks!! Then I went to the dentist for my final appointment. He did an excellent job, at a fraction of the Canadian cost. I am very happy with my tooth!! The only thing that could make it better in the future would be if I could grow a whole new permanent tooth myself, which I believe is possible. I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Perhaps some part of me doesn’t believe it’s possible yet. I’m working on it.

I have been inhaling Ensenada the last few days. I am going to miss this place! I love the people here, where we are. We attract great teachers. Lucky for us, the lessons are relatively gentle – mostly internal. Victor and Andre (moored here) are the sweetest ever, and they are a few steps ahead of me in the higher consciousness department, so I get to enjoy some of the reading materials they have that helped them get where they are now. Mark (also moored here) is a very humerous and delightful British fellow who is hungry for new information to help him advance. ‘Give me the juice’ he says. David Hawkins is a very interesting author, who has written many books on this subject. He experienced ‘enlightenment’ many years ago, but stayed on earth to teach about it. His writing is extremely interesting. I am ready and indeed eager to hear some of it. But some of it makes me itchy because he challenges my current beliefs – which are holding me here in this mindset – and in order to release these beliefs and shed some baggage requires some stretching, to say the least. Excellent!! Might as well stretch. What else are we here to do, besides enjoying this big old earth and all of her beings great and small? Like the movie ‘One’ says: The meaning of life is to live!

Walking up to the hotel and back today with Shandro and Matero was a joy. Matero rides his bike wearing his own helmet, and using Shandro’s helmet for a ‘baby carrier’ for his monkey. Shandro is very patient with his little brother. My children are here to teach me, and I hope I am open to all of their lessons. I hope I can be a good mom and ‘get it’. We did play at the playground this afternoon for a while. Shandro said, ‘You’re going to play with us, Mom?? Really?? You’re finally getting it!!’ The ‘bum bumper’ slide was the worst – as the bumps are in all the wrong places. But we had to do each thing once, so we did it, follow the leader style. The curly tube slide was the best. At the end, Matero pushed Monkey on the swing for a while and Shandro ran around in the sand chasing a football and helped a little slightly unstable toddler slide down the little slide. On the way back, Shandro and Matero both picked flowers and tucked them into the baby carrier with Monkey. By the time they finished, you could hardly see Monkey in there! Then they decided that it made Monkey super happy, not because of the flowers themselves (the ‘stuff’ as Shandro calls it), but because of all the love that accompanied each little flower gift. That was pretty amazing, for a 4 and 6 year old. Kids are really very astute. They ‘get it’ right away. If it wasn’t for us adults teaching them to ignore all that they already intuitively know, they would grow up to be loving and wise and happy spirits. I have to work on that.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28th

Wednesday, May 28th. Today, Merle went to San Diego with Shona to do some of the errands we needed to have done. And I did an Ortho-Bionomy session for her husband Mark. Hope he feels better soon! Merle's back is feeling better he says.

Monday, May 25, 2009

D(entist) Day

May 25th. Today was dentist day, and there will be at least one more. I have had a crown loose for about a year, and have tried to heal my tooth under it metaphysically, but no go (although the dentist seemed amazed that it was in such good condition given the circumstances, so maybe all the positive thinking was not lost). All I can say is that I’m glad I enjoyed last night’s dinner so much!! Over and out.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24th - Happy Birthday to me!

May 24th, 2009. Happy birthday to me! Shandro drew me a picture of a birthday cake – chocolate with purple flowers on it. It was perfect! The boys and I made a cake in the afternoon while Merle was away helping Dennis, and we ate it for dinner around 6pm because I didn’t feel like cooking and nobody else did either! What a great excuse to eat cake! Then we met Greg and Wendy on sv Jalapeno and they asked us to join them for a late dinner. And the universe helped us make it so, as Mark on sv Horizon came over and sat with the boys (who were asleep) while Merle and I went for dinner with them. A spontaneous and delightful gift! I felt so very lucky!! We ate at the restaurant up here at Hotel Coral. It was really good – and a treat to eat something nice in the peaceful surroundings there with good ‘grown-up’ conversation. We shared some wine with our new friends, and the food was excellent. Merle had steamed mussels in broth to start, then bacon-wrapped shrimp. I had a chicken chick pea soup that came with a side of minced avocado, cilantro, lime and onion, and then a plate of steak and shrimp with julienned zucchini and carrots. And it turned out to be their treat! That was a great surprise for my birthday! And after our meal and conversation, Merle and I returned to our boat and chatted with Mark until 4am, continuing the David Hawkins ‘higher consciousness’ conversation we had going from our potluck. It was absolutely the perfect birthday!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 23th - Hawkins Ho!

May 23rd. Tonight we celebrated my birthday (which is tomorrow). Victor and Andre and Mark joined us (and we missed you, Bill!). It was awesome! Mark brought beautiful Mediterranean bread with a flavored oil for dipping which we ate with some crackers and roasted garlic from our kitchen. Victor and Andre brought a divine red rice salad. And I roasted beef and potatoes and made gravy. It was a full fat dinner. For dessert, because Bill didn’t join us, we had the beautiful watermelon sorbet and strawberry ice cream that the boys made yesterday. That was an excellent way to top off dinner! Then while Shandro and Matero watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that Victor and Andre brought for them, the hot topic of discussion was about enlightenment or increasing our vibration, or expanding our conscious awareness, and how to apply some of the great tools we have to lead us closer to that goal. It was a good conversation, and I will synthesize what was said in a later entry. The books accompanying the conversation were written by David Hawkins, an enlightened man who has created a consciousness scale from 0 to 1000. The content herein is very thought provoking but also very settling in a way, and has been the topic of many conversations since our arrival here in Ensenada over a week ago.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15th - Happy Birthday Anaka!

May 15th, 2009. Happy Birthday Anaka!! Your first birthday!! Hope that you had a great day today. So sorry that we missed it, but we will see your cute little self very soon. Today the boys found three million baby oysters at an oyster farm. It is at the end of the dock here. The fellow who cares for them showed them to us. Each baby oyster is about as big as the eraser on the end of a pencil. He rinses them and checks them every day. He also showed us the net containers that make up the farm. Each of the 8 containers are about 3 feet long, wide and deep – and have about 4 inches of these babies in the bottom. Once they get to a certain stage, they move them from here to a big oyster farm, and they are sold from there. Shandro wanted one for a pet! But in the end, we thought that he would be happier with all his cousins in the marine environment than alone in a little jar of saltwater on our counter, so we left him there. Pretty cool – never saw an oyster farm before!

We have just settled into the marina here and have begun the boat cleaning. Once that is on the way, we will drag our belongings out of the lockers and look at them and decide ‘should it stay or should it go now …’ That will be a job worth doing, because then we will have quite a bit more locker space, I suspect. Yippee!! But one step at a time, for now. The days include working out, hot showers, and some fun kid time – playground or pool or biking or some combination thereof. Haven’t tried the pool tables yet. Still have a few things to squeeze in before we head north. And we are still eating the groceries meant for our journey north, so that’s been good on the wallet.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wed, May 13 - We've Finally Arrived

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009. Long lost friends ho!! We snuck up on Andre and Victor this morning on Easy Breeze to say hello. That was a great hello – for all of us! If we had heard the net, we would have checked in, but we didn’t hear it. And we also saw Frank and Cynthia (s.v. Makani) before they head north in their now completed boat! There are lots of other people to see, and we will get there, one by one.

And there’s more! Apparently Merle has been manifesting for staying at Marina Coral for several weeks now, but I had no druthers about where to keep our boat until this morning. We did our sleuthing for prices and facilities, and ended up here at Marina Coral. It’s fabulous here! Not only can we leave the boat here for several months, plugged in and guarded, but while we are here, we get full use of the facility which includes three swimming pools, hot tub, Jacuzzis, saunas, steam rooms, a gym, games room with pool, foosball, and ping pong, playground, internet, fuel discounts, electricity, running drinkable water, keyed gated entry and security round the clock, free parking, restaurant and bar, hot showers with luxurious towels, and complete spa. And there is a hotel for any guests who’d like to join us here. It’s a great spot. After we moored our boat, we went up to the hotel and as the kids swam and we lounged by the pool this evening, we cautiously made sure they were safe, and we said (again - the other time being at the beautiful Bahia San Fransisco in November, just before Matero fell down the companionway and bumped his head) to ourselves – we have finally arrived! Now, we finally feel like we are on a holiday. That’s funny. Even with all this ‘stuff’, the best parts are the playing with our kids, and that we have good friends right across the dock from us. How are we going to leave this? Might be home later than we thought!

So here we are, safe and sound in Ensenada, with the Baja ‘Bash’ behind us. Amazing. It’s still crazy to think we are here. I am thrilled beyond expression that the trip went so well. It is truly a miracle to me – to us – that we should have experienced that journey in the way we did. I am sure there are other people who have had those conditions coming up the coast. We just never hooked up with anyone who told us a story like that. If we had, maybe we wouldn’t have believed them! Maybe we had to experience it for ourselves to know it could be true. Merle was talking to a delivery captain today who has done more than 30 trips up the coast. He said that he has never strung together a week of good weather like that before, and he doesn’t think it’s that common. Maybe it’s more of a miracle that even I know.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11th - We can see Ensenada!

Monday, May 11th, 2009. Wow!! We are here!! What an amazing trip! The Baha Bash is over and we are in Bahia Todos Santos, about 5 miles from Ensenada which is just across the bay. We came straight here after anchoring overnight in Colnett. And Behan, your voice was like music on the SSB today. You couldn’t hear us, but we could hear you, and it was the wonderful sound of ‘welcome home’. Man we miss you guys!

Well, our journey was amazing weather-wise. After the first day of oh-my-gosh-winds that turned us back, it has been extremely easy. Winds have been very light to dead calm, except for a few hours near Bahia Asuncion. That’s a miracle right there! And the water has been rolly or flat calm – so calm it is glassy. A second miracle. There has been very little other weather except a bit of fog. Amazing actually. We have had great plans to stop along the way to rest – anchor here or there for a few days and play with the boys while we waited for weather. But it seems like every time we got anchored, the weather looked promising, so we’d depart again early the next morning, and rather than heading to the next port down the line, we just stayed at sea heading north. When Merle asked me if we should anchor or sail, I seemed to be saying sail. And when I asked him, he said the same thing. It has helped us get this far this fast. We left last Monday, so it took us only 8 days to get here. From our research, we figured 10 days to 3 weeks, depending on the weather. We both feel like motoring is cheating, but in retrospect, our goal was to get to Ensenada, so we needed to employ whatever it took to get here, and it seems like motoring has been the best way. When the only choices are wind on the nose or no wind, the second option is far more conducive to a quick trip. So, thank goodness for diesel fuel! And many, many times every day, I have been saying thanks to God, and to Perkins our engine, Pete our autopilot and Kenta Anae of course, and to the sky and the water, and to Merle who has been not only very patient with me in my tired hours, but kind and sweet in lots of ways. We often looked across the dodger at each other and marveled, either out loud or silently, at our incredibly good luck with the weather window we chose. Thank you, and a thousand thank yous.

I am just so grateful things went so well. It’s unbelievable. If we just came and didn’t hear all the stories, we’d never know it could be so horrible! Now we are going to anchor here for tonight and tomorrow night to rest (that sounds funny, but it is true!) and clean up a bit, and do some of that playing with the boys that we promised ourselves during this journey. Tomorrow is a lego day! It is only a short distance now to Ensenada – about 1 hour. We can all taste it, and it tastes good. We have been talking about what we will do when we get there, and it’s really simple things like have a long hot shower, play in a playground, hug some good friends we left behind, and send out a ‘we’re great’ message. When your life is simple, it’s the simple things that become the most important.

Merle says:
The equipment on this voyage has been good and solid – that makes things infinitely easier. She’s a strong boat and good for us – she sails well. (Tatwari is playing in the background. Merle is standing in front of me on the deck. The sky and the water are the same color of grey. It’s very slightly different where they meet. The sky is overcast, and the water is flat without waves. It is reflecting the sky. Occasionally we see the odd bit of bull kelp – big fat floating kelp that is tough enough to stop a prop or hang up a rudder. Or a pelican. Merle is never still very long. He likes to tweak and adjust and fix. He is tightening the lifelines right now as we motor along, talking to me as I type.) Biggest lessons? Paradise is where you make it. It doesn’t have to be in the tropics, hot. It can be wherever you are. But it’s way easier when you are wearing surf shorts all the time! * It’s also not only about what we sought but about what (who) found us. * It’s been a big adventure getting competent with the boat and sailing. It has been a big step. Being able to sail allows you to travel now. New Zealand is not out of the question any more. I’d never fly my family there, but I’d sail there tomorrow. Funny, hey? * We take ourselves with us wherever we go. That’s one of the biggest lessons. That’s good and bad. * Only once you get used to your cart – if you get your cart down slow enough, can you work on other things in your life. But if the cart is too heavy, you have to focus on hauling the cart around. * If you want something, you just have to do whatever it takes to get there. You just have to start, put one foot in front of the other. It’s not rocket science. * Is sailing our style? * It’s true that it’s better to be scared to death than bored to death. Sometimes it’s hard to see though. * We are only now getting to be able to sleep in the anchorage. It takes a bit of getting used to this floating life. * Really what I want is to understand that I am in control of my life. Paying taxes and voting in elections doesn’t seem free enough to me. I can’t just watch the news and vote – it drives me nuts. We just get programmed to do what everyone else is doing. If you get to the point where you are coffin dodging with a big pile of money somewhere, what was the point? Bankruptcy of the purse or bankruptcy of the soul. That’s really a poignantly true statement. * For someone who has been to the sea and seen all of the serendipity that arises on the ocean, it’s incredible. You just can’t make it up. There is no way that I could have guessed at the luck and the things we have enjoyed, when we began this trip. There are lots of messages about how to live that manifesting sort of life, but we just don’t listen. If we ignore the rules and make our own by listening, there is serendipity out there to be had. Somehow we manifested this calm water and no wind and amazing journey north this far. It has been fast and easy, with very little weather to deal with except in a progressive moving-forward way. * When your life is on the line, quality breakage is perfectly acceptable. Cost of fuel is inconsequential. * Simple rules like ‘just go’. You don’t need all the things they say in the books. You need simple and manageable, then just go – and you’re going! And the universe truly will help you along the way. It’s interesting to think that the whole government-moderated-society is still going on out there. Hearing the Coast Guard on the radio today asking about a radio transmission was proof of that other-world. I still like the mountains back home though; I definitely didn’t fall out of love with them. To get this many days of reasonable weather on the Baja is a miracle – definitely special circumstances. This is not regular spring weather here. Regular weather is Baja bashing with 20 to 25 knot winds on the nose, and swell that goes with it. Not flat calm and 0 to 5 knots. At least not for a week plus. This is excellent timing. Amazing. Maybe it’s a sign that we are getting better at listening. We made some good decisions. I am actually looking forward to going back to Puerto Vallarta and helping Tom there. He has a pacemaker you know. He is relying on an electronic device to make his heart pump, while he works on electricity. Now THAT’s a high risk job!! I’m looking forward to Canadian beer. Tall timber Ale – that’ll be so sweet!! And I want to go to teapot!! In Ensenada – sleep for a day. Have a shower. Maybe we should have 1 o’clock lunch, then when lunch is over, play. Celebrate every day a little bit. Have a party for a week!!

Shandro says:
I like sailing. I like fishing. In Ensenada, I am looking forward to buying the things on my list and seeing Laur (from Elan) again. I want a big shower. I want to go to the park, get spray string and bubble pop and party snaps. (That’s a pretty manageable list there Shandro.) And I’m looking forward to getting a boy game (game boy) when we get to Canada. Anaka will be funny. I want fish tacos when we get back. I’m looking forward to more lego and my racetrack. I want to go skating on real ice!!

Matero says:
I like sailing too. I like saying ‘land ho’. Catching fish is fun and eating them is good, but I don’t like the killing part. Anchoring is good. I’m looking forward to a hamburgesa con queso in Ensenada. I want to play with my little town. And see my friends. And play in the snow. And make snow angels!! And I am going to give Chilko the biggest hug in the world. And Auntie Amy. Maybe Morgan and Wyatt could meet us in Ensenada?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day - 100 miles to Ensenada

Sunday, May 10th, 2009. This is Mother’s Day. Breakfast in bed was very cool - on a sailboat, especially coconut cream pie with a big fat heart on top. And some great drawings from my boys. Matero drew this cool spiral with our sailboat driving into it. We sailed in there to be safe and happy, he said. Matero loves spirals – they pour out of him in his drawings and it always surprises me because I work with spirals but don’t talk about them. Then they just show up in his art. And Shandro drew a beautiful cupid heart with an arrow through it, and he also gave me a word search that he made up himself. Very clever for a 6 year old! Excellent! We are still at sea, somewhere south of San Quintin. Merle has been sailing since this morning at 7am, because I did the night watch until we passed Sacramento reef. The sea was glassy when I went to bed around 8am, and there was no wind. It was beautiful. But when I woke up to this lovely breakfast (aka lunch) in bed, Kenta Anae was healed over a little, and Merle had her up to about 7 knots using the wind and Perkins. I see the log book actually says, ‘Ahhhh, Perkins!!’ and later, ‘Overcast, seas flat, no wind, PERFECT!’ Merle says we have only about 100 miles to go, so we will anchor in Colnett tonight, and do two short legs over the next two days. Yesterday, while we floated on the calm water, still, Shandro put on his swim goggles and Merle held him over the side to check the prop for bull kelp and any other yuckyness. He did a great job – and was so brave!! A baby sea lion showed up just after that and played at the stern for about an hour while we cheered.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Turtle Bay - 289 Miles to Ensenada

Friday, May 8th, 2009. Thank goodness for the log book (where we keep hourly details of our journey) or I wouldn’t know what day it is! Apparently we have already traveled 397 miles – Turtle Bay is half way!! Now we have only 289 miles to go. That’s amazing already! And thank goodness Merle did the night watch last night, because now we are anchored in Turtle Bay, and it’s only noon!! We came through some fog in the last 3 days, we had lunch with whales off the starboard rail (literally 20 feet from the boat) yesterday, and Merle steered us through some wind and swell last night just off Asconcion. (Usually I do the night watch, but Merle did it last night.) Our only goal here is to buy fuel for the next leg. In one of our guidebooks, it says that fueling here is precarious business, as you have to pull up to the dock stern first, throw out a bow anchor, and hope that it is set well enough and holds you away from the dock far enough that the swell doesn’t cause your stern to smash against the dock during the refueling process. Yikes!! You can imagine Merle’s sheer delight when Annabel Fuel came by to sell us fuel from his portable fuel troller while we are at anchor out in the bay. Now, Kenta Anae is being refueled right here, without moving anywhere near a dock. Merle is absolutely beaming with joy, that getting fuel here should be so easy!!

And I am grateful for another night’s rest. It’s not that sailing is really tiring. In fact, especially at night, it is incredibly beautiful when it is as calm as it has been. It’s just something about the watches. For 2 people to share the watches, it means a few shifts. We have chosen 2 six-hour shifts each, so Merle drives from 4am to 10am or so, and theoretically I take over and drive till 4pm, and then he watches till 10pm and I do the graveyard shift. But in reality, we share the driving between 10am and 10pm, as I cook during my theoretical shift, but drive for part of his so he can sleep a bit. Anyway, with a 3rd person, the watch responsibilities are far less taxing, and we each get more sleep, making such a system more sustainable. So I am very grateful for anchoring here, just so we can each have a really restful sleep.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bahia Santa Maria - 514 Miles to Ensenada

Tuesday, May 5th. We motored over flat calm seas and out of the fog today, arriving safe and sound in Bahia Santa Maria. We’ve gone 172 miles already! Now we all get to sleep all night!! No-one has to be on watch for the next few hours! We celebrated success for the first leg of our journey tonight with a big fat cheers. And the kids got a little treat for the 24th parallel crossing, which they loved. Sleep is going to taste so delicious, I can’t write anymore, even tho it is only 4 in the afternoon!! Goodnight!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday, May 4th - 686 Miles to Ensenada

Monday, May 4th, 2009. Well, we left this morning. We have 686 miles to go, like the crow flies. There was no wind coming around the point today, so we carried on. We just passed our first parallel – 23 degrees latitude. We celebrated with presents for everybody. (We have to cross 9 latitude lines, so I got treats for each crossing. Hopefully it will keep the kids interested in our progress, and help Shandro learn to map our latitude and longitude on a little chart I made for him.)

We are heading north, whatever may come to pass. I didn’t want to write this before we left so no one would worry about us, but the sail to Ensenada sounds difficult for the crew, and hard on the boat. Some people say it can age the boat terribly with the wear and tear it will take beating up the coast. Way offshore, the winds are unpredictable this time of year, with possible gales and spring storms. But staying close to shore is a dangerous business too, as the rocks and shelves can creep up pretty fast on a lee shore (wind coming onto the shore from the sea) if something happens to disable the boat in any way; the wind pushes boats ashore and the consequences of that are never good. And it’s always a lee shore except at night if you’re lucky. Either way, the waves (both wind waves and swell) are coming from the north-west at this time of year, so we could be smashing into them the whole way, and that is what is so hard on the boat – hull, rigging, mast, and any parts that will be rubbed or shaken with the vibration of the boat. And the people often fair far worse than the boat – poor decisions made lacking sleep or sanity with disasterous outcomes. I have been interviewing people to see what it is like. Some say ‘don’t do it, we’ve heard it’s bad’ or ‘I’ve done it and I’ll never do it again’ or ‘Do it in late June or early July but definitely not now.’ One person said ‘ya you can do it, just take your time’, but he has never sailed it either. We were at a concert the other night and Pat Henry (famous author of a book about her circumnavigation) said that she has never done the Baha Bash, but friends of hers had a terrible time about halfway up, at Cedros Island. And many people know someone who has wrecked a boat there – sunk or otherwise disabled. Lots of fear stories. Merle says we should only talk to people with over 100,000 nautical miles under their belts. Seems like they are few and far between. The baha is pretty remote, often with only anchorages - no food, no groceries, no fuel, no water, few people. And the 'bash' is rough sailing into the weather and into the swell, and hopefully not into the rocks. Most people dread it. Some people buy boats in California and Mexico just so they don't have to do the bash north. Some people sell their boats down here so they don't have to sail them north. We are somewhere between brave and crazy to sail north!

We did talk to Ishi of course, and they have done this trip 9 times, offshore each time. That’s what got us hooked on the offshore route. And then we both decided to go up the coast after our False start at Cabo Falso (aptly named) Saturday. I guess we will see what will come of it. Merle mentioned his thoughts about that wind, which turned out to be my thoughts too: maybe that high wind was just for us? Maybe we needed to be told in no uncertain terms to go inshore rather than the offshore clipper route? Anyway, we both changed our minds as a result of that day, and hopefully it is for the best. It could be stressful, although we have been manifesting for a safe and joyful journey. I don’t know if it can be joyful, but if anything is possible, we might as well ask for joy! Hope the manifesting works…

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happy (early?) Mother's Day

Sunday, May 3rd. Is today Mother's Day? Or am I a week early? We are still in Cabo San Lucas anchored here. I don’t know when we are leaving - maybe tomorrow. But of course I said that yesterday! The water here is clear and beautiful and the days are hot. The beaches are packed with people during the day, and at night the music from the bars floats out over the water. Last night, there was a lady singing some jazz, and she had an amazing voice. It’s like having front row seats! There are tons of things to do here if you need – seadoo rentals, parasailing, kayaking, swimming, banana rides (a blow-up banana thing that’s pulled by a boat), horseback riding, submarine rides, glass bottomed boats, snorkeling, ferry rides and floating bars, and of course the town stuff. It’s all tourists and business is booming.

Matero makes us laugh. We were talking about our favorite parts of dinner a few days ago, and we had sun dried tomatoes on our pizza that he loved. He said that he loved the ‘sun tanned tomatoes.’ We don’t know if he said it by accident or on purpose, but it made us all laugh. And Merle has this ring on his phone that is a song. It goes ‘wasted away again in Margaritaville’ but Matero sings ‘racing a whale again to Margarita’s grill’. He’s a pretty funny kid. I love being a mom.

And Shandro is so grateful about lots of things, and loves and feels so much. He is a tender and fragile soul - he understands so much by intuition and feelings in the air. He loves to make things for us that we like. What amazing children I have. Being a mom is like giving yourself a gift.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

God said not today!

Saturday, May 2nd. Wow – What an interesting morning! We got up just before 4am and did the last few things before pulling the anchor and heading out in the dark at 4:30. Once we got beyond the bay, the wind picked up. I mean it really picked up. We were running with only a reefed main, and of that only one small corner of it was catching wind, and the wind was so strong we were steering almost directly into it and going over 7 knots. The waves were between 4 and 6 feet so not very big, but there were whitecaps and cresting waves because of the wind. The wind was stronger than either Merle or I had ever experienced. It blew water at us like horizontal rain, and over our boat like a little submarine. Thank goodness Kenta Anae sheds water so well! Both Merle and I were drenched after only about ½ hour of sailing, and we were in full weather gear, thank goodness! The wind was 35 knots gusting to ? So using good judgment, we turned back. On the way back into the bay, the wind was chasing us, and we were averaging 8.5 knots and up to 8.9 knots with only part of the reefed main catching the wind. That’s fast. Unbelievable with only such a small bit of cloth catching the wind! I was pretty excited but Merle becalmed me by saying that I can steer a spinnaker so I can do this. It’s really different, but at the time it made me feel in control and able to deal with the weather, which was exactly what I needed. It took us 3.5 hours to do the round trip, arriving back at anchor after 8am, totally frapped but excited at the same time. I don’t know if I could do that for 6 hours. Especially by myself, while Merle slept. It was pretty intense – I was very completely present and living in the moment! I am sure God’s angels were looking after us out there.

And boy did we enjoy breakfast in a calm anchorage!! It was so peaceful, and I was so grateful to be there instead of in the windy tempest from which we came!

When we looked at the weather information for the area we had just sailed, it said 5 to 8 knots of wind, seas 2 to 3 feet. We couldn’t believe what we were reading. And more than one weather source said the same things! We did not find a single weather source that depicted what we experienced. Perhaps it was just typical cape weather. But how 5 knots becomes a raging 35 is beyond me!

I am about to check the weather again to see what I can see. We may try again tomorrow morning, or we may wait until Monday. Looks like high winds till Thursday on the north end of the Baja, so waiting one more day would be fine on this end, since we will probably have to wait somewhere. Might as well be an amazing beach where the kids can play.

One thing the small tour today did for us was to remind us that resting is important. We both came back full of adrenalin but exhausted. And since we don’t have an extra crew member, we may go the shore route so we can anchor and rest every few days, instead of the offshore route where we have to be on call all the time. (If the wind is normal 10 to 15 knots, offshore would be easy as sailing in that wind is easy, even restful. But if we had to sail through a gale, resting becomes paramount.) There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but resting seemed pretty important this morning. The shore route means motoring likely rather than sailing, as the direction is upwind all the way. Anyway, we will still check in daily on the Amigo net so that someone is keeping track of us.

If you don’t hear from me again, it means we departed Sunday morning. If you do, we didn’t! Gotta love those plans written in the sand at low tide … But thank goodness we have the patience and guts to tell our determined egos to stand aside while we go with the flow of the weather. It is good for us, to remember to listen. This is one of the lessons we are here to remember! Thanks, God, for the lessons and being able to tell about them after the lesson part is over!

Love you all!!

Allison and the crew

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ensenada bound!!

Well, we are provisioned up, fuelled up, oil is changed, cabin is stowed, canvas is off and kids are asleep. All we have to do is start the engine (or not, depending on the wind), and pull up the anchor to depart. We are leaving tomorrow morning - Saturday, May 2nd - around 4am on our journey. That should get us around Cabo Falso while the wind is still relatively calm there. We shall put up the sails on a starboard tack (wind coming over the starboard side) and sail out and away from the land. We will check in with our location, weather, vitals on the amigo net (upper side band, at 8122 kHz or 8116 kHz, at 14:00 zulu time which is 8:00am Cabo San Lucas time) every day we are at sea. This journey could be as short as 10 days or as long as 3 weeks. It will depend on the wind and on how far out we go. Three hundred miles out will make a shorter trip than 600 miles if the wind is in our favor. Our shifts will be 6 hour shifts and we will see how that goes. We have enough fuel to motor for about 72 hours or so, if we have to. We did not take on crew so it is our tight little family, Kenta Anae and God on this voyage.


Free Range Chicken and Sea Lise departed this morning so they are ahead of us by a few hours.

Bless you all and keep you safe until we get there. If you think of us between now and the middle of May, just send us a pinch of love. That will see us through! We are praying for good weather and great fishing!

We love you.

Love Merle, Allison, Shandro and Matero on sv Kenta Anae

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Christmas in April

April 28th. We are in Cabo San Lucas right now, floating anchored on the big beach here. I am sitting on deck watching a cruise ship come in at the moment actually. We will be here for a few days before heading north on our journey back to Ensenada where we will leave the boat. We have to wait for the appropriate weather window for departure. Right now the Pacific High is somewhere near Vancouver, and the winds on the Baja are strong. So we will wait. Merle said this is the first time in his life that he has ever waited for weather to do what he wants to do. So I said just change what you want to do! Just want to be here swimming in this clean clear water holidaying in Cabo for a week, and you'll still be the Merle that we know and love. He laughed. So once we do finally depart (and I will update the website that day), it will be anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks to sail up, depending on the wind and the weather and the challenges along the way. I will provision for a month, just to be safe. And we have grains and legumes onboard to last us well into next year if necessary.

Anyway, after we get to Ensenada, we will prepare the boat for sitting for a while, and we will fly out of San Diego to Canada. Our time in Canada is undetermined at this point, but we will be there for the whole summer for sure, departing no earlier than November I suspect, and perhaps as late as 2010. We have commitments in BC between August 14th and 24th or so, but other than that we will probably spend much of our time in Alberta as Merle will be working there. The kids and I might go to BC early or stay later, depending on vehicles and money and stuff like that.

The water here in Cabo is amazing. The clearest and most beautiful we have seen since Isla San Fransisco in November. We all swam to shore yesterday from the boat, and played at the beach for the day. It was warm and sandy and fun! We buried each other in the sand and then busted out, had running and jumping contests and played tag. And we swam and played in the gentle surf. The boys have been enjoying the boogie boards no end! Farther down, the beach is littered with vacationing people and salesmen with various wares from silver jewelry and wooden carvings to cooked food and timeshares. When we answer them in Spanish, if they venture near, they either leave us quietly or strike up a conversation asking us about living on a boat. Anyway, we had an awesome family day on the beach.

Today we went to town to check out the grocery situation and a few other details we need to address before our departure. Looks like the wind might be in our favor by Friday.

Wow!! Christmas in April! Merle picked up two packages today that have been following us around for a while. The cards said Happy Hallowe’en and Happy Thanksgiving, but I am sure it is Christmas! Thanks, Dad! The radio book will be great for me, and the boys loved the cards and the pesos you sent. Shandro can read all of the cards that you wrote. He laughed about the cat bringing the mouse to the door to bring it inside, and you saying – no way, eat your dessert outside! Anyway, they were both thrilled to bits with the pesos. They danced around for a long time before they finally fell into bed. And I am looking at the bountiful package here and wondering what kind of gift I can bring you to say thank you. Really, it would be a plane ticket, and I am sure that is in our future, just not sure when. Anyway, thank you so much. I am glad to have received it before I see you again. (Barely, but true!) Merry Christmas!
These pictures are for you Granddad and Grandma. The boys drew them this morning to say thank you for the great surprises! Shandro's is of a yellowfin tuna, and Matero drew our sailboat with some rough water underneath it (on the left) and a spiderweb thingamajig on the right. And he signed his name by himself.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

River Crocodrilo Tour

April 23rd. What a cool river tour! We were the first ones up the river in the morning, and we saw crocodiles and tons of birds. Also fish, insects including termites at work and huge bumblebees. At the crocodile farm, we also saw deer and worthogs or wild boars. The boys watched intently and it was probably the 4 quietest waking hours they have had since they were born! Today we depart for the south tip of the Baja.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 22nd. Happy Birthday, Casey!! Shandro got you a little birthday present today! We will see you soon!! Today we went into San Blas to make arrangements for the river tour tomorrow morning early. Hopefully we will be able to get into shore okay, as we just learned that there is supposed to be a big south swell coming into the bay tonight, making the beach a great place to surf, but a difficult place to land a dinghy with only oars. I have packed the bug dope (very rarely needed at all over the past year – really only in this place), sunscreen and camera for our 4 hour tour. Should see some crazy wildlife on the river! Asta manyana!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arrive in San Blas

April 21st. We sailed today all day. It was awesome! And late in the afternoon, the wind died so we started Perkins, and Pete (our faithful autopilot) drove us to San Blas. Shandro did his first watch this evening. He was so excited. He walked around the boat and checked lines and fittings for rattles or signs of wear, checked blocks and deck hardware for cracks and breaks, he secured any rattles he found and made sure we stayed on course, checked the mainsail to be sure that it was well set and not luffing, called out our lat and long, speed, course etc. for our log book entry and plotting our course, and in general just felt very grown up and pleased with himself. It was great to see him so proud of his important position as crew. He has other important jobs too like helping with the spinnaker (actually an asymmetrical sail), fondly known as the kite, and dealing with the fishing gear, and checking in on the radio. He’s a great help. And Matero helps too in his own special way, with the removal and replacing of the canvas before and after we sail, the undoing or doing up of cleats at the appropriate moments, the fetching of winch handles, and of course watching and learning from his older brother. There is sometimes complaining, but once the job is done, he is always very pleased with himself. We arrived in San Blas just after midnight and were grateful for having been here before as it made the night navigation easier. The previous anchor coordinates and track into the bay helped us in the dark.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yelapa, MX

April 20th – Happy Birthday Auntie Helen!! Last evening, we talked to Teri and Gary on Ishi. They have done the Baha Bash 9 times already. Except they do the clipper route – offshore all the way – rather than the bash up the coast. It’s way smarter to do it that way. Boats are meant to be in the water, not on the water-land interface. Anyway, both Merle and I are quite hopeful after speaking with them. They said that the strongest winds they see are around 15 knots. Mind you they go in May, and we will preceed them by one month. But still, they are not afraid at all – just go. That was really inspiring. They are one of a handful of people who have said with enthusiasm that we can do it. Most of the others are quite afraid of that little piece of the ocean. I guess we shall see what to believe when we get there! We are leaning hard to the Ensenada return on the clipper (offshore) route.

We departed La Cruz today to begin our adventure north to Williams Lake. We are fuelled up, full of water, provisioned, and happily sitting in the Yelapa bay on a mooring ball after finally visiting this little hippi town south of Puerto Vallarta. We went for a short hike up to a waterfall, which was really pretty – a narrow cobblestone path overhung with tall trees (mahogany and rosewood, and palms and other tropicals) beside a quiet stream. Boy it would be interesting to see this place in the rainy season! The path would be flooded and the creek would be a bouldery river of eddies and crazy lines! The boys loved the hike, and the scrambling over the rocks, and climbing the hill. They discovered some new insects in the water, some cool secret paths, and a sidewalk bridge over the creek. After the walk, we all enjoyed some tacos at a great taco shop, and an exquisite frozen sweet and tangy avocado pie that was amazing. And the boys saw their first little piglet, and a boy with a rooster on his shoulders. Of course, the panga ride to and from the beach was great fun too, with the boys holding onto the painter (the rope in front) and standing up on the bow like crazy waterskiiers. Matero kept asking us if we could go back to the waterfall. We said, yes, when we return to Yelapa again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12th, Easter Sunday, 2009. Happy Easter!! We heard from the McAssey clan today. Florence had Shane’s family, Ryan’s family, Everett, and a few other folks there for dinner today, so she called us on the cell so we could talk to her and to the others. Isn’t that so sweet? I miss Florence. She is very kind and always thinking of others. We still can’t call out, so I haven’t talked to my family today. We sent love and prayers at breakfast tho. We had easter breakfast of pancakes with strawberries and cream. It was good. No easter eggs to hide tho. Just another day for the boys. No traditions in this house, that’s for sure! Merle is not big on that stuff – that’s my thing. But I didn’t try to source egg dye nor chocolate easter eggs in Mexico. More luck with fireworks and coconut candy!

Above is our view of the PV lighthouse, and below is the view from the lighthouse. (Kenta Anae is in this photo. Can you find her?) We spent the warmest Easter ever here in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. We are moored in the marina here amongst little pangas and colossal megayachts. Tom is letting us stay in his slip in Marina Vallarta for a few days. He said we can stay forever. He's funny and very sweet. We had Salmon for dinner tonight, a tribute to British Columbia and all of the things we appreciate more now that we have been away. Take care. Love and blessings to all of you!

We will be here while Merle does some work on the boom and I do some provisioning. We sailed here today and Merle took the boom off when we got here. Now the boom is ready to go to the shop. Last night, before we left La Cruz, Merle said that maybe we should take the boat to Loreto and leave it there in the Sea of Cortez instead of making the voyage on the outside to Ensenada. That would be great with me. I will do some more research and try to talk to people with lots of nautical miles under their belts about the Baha Bash. Bash up the Pacific or hide in the Sea of Cortez? The long and short is, our plans are in the air again. No surprise there! (We do write them in the sand at low tide …) Provisioning will be fun, not knowing how long we will be at sea. I guess I will just buy stuff with a long shelf life that will last … !

Puerto Vallarta is nice on the water, but very commercial. I much prefer La Cruz to this place. Tho walking down the malacon here is its own funny adventure. When we are approached by the Mexican salesmen who ask us how long we are here visiting, and if we’d like a tour/adventure/activity, we answer, in Spanish, that we are living here aboard our own boat. They smile and grant us a certain respect, like equals almost. Maybe not quite, but it is a step up from being a tourist. Then they start asking curiously about living aboard and sailing around here. Today we climbed the lighthouse and looked out. It is a great view from there. You can even see our boat amongst the rest – everything from fishing pangas to mega yachts, and everything in between. We fit right in! There is a crocodile who lives here in the marina. He occasionally eats people, but other than that, we’ve heard that he is just your average marina pet. So the boys have been instructed to stay off the open ends of the docks, and if they see El Cocodrilo, they can watch him as long as he is visible and far away. The minute he disappears under the water, vamenos! Get the heck out of there! That adds to the excitement of walking down the dock! We didn’t plug in tonight, as the voltage was 135 volts at the plug. Not sure what that will do to our 120 volt electronics onboard. Don’t have a ‘firewall’ for that yet. It is low on the list, but apparently pretty important. Sounds like electricity from Mexico south can be pretty surgey, and the computer is our only connection out. Good that Merle checked.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April 11. Last night I was enjoying the sound of the water crashing on the beach and the cool wind pouring through the boat at La Cruz. It felt great. Although I woke frequently, the rolling of the boat is still a welcome reminder that Gaia is alive and well around us. I soaked it all up, knowing that we would be here in Vallarta today.

The boys went out for tacos last night for dinner, (the ‘Last Supper’ in La Cruz). This is a photo of our favorite taco place, tables on the street - where else but Mexico!? While they were gone, I had a luxurious evening at the computer (actually visiting, as it turned out, but luxurious nonetheless) and they brought me a great big glass of horchada – a lovely light sweet rice drink that is made here, often flavored with cinnamon and always served icey cold. It cost Merle 80 pesos – around $8 CDN – for all of it. And Kathy bought a dozen eggs in the Marquaises yesterday for $6 CDN. Everything in perspective in these 2 different worlds.

When Merle was describing what it felt like to be down here to some folks yesterday, he said that retirement as we know it is a farce. And that we can ‘retire’ as well, money or not. Retiring doesn’t mean having money to do what you want. It means having the time and being without a schedule. The means will come, if we have the determination to make it happen. I think he’s right. Why wait for that little nest egg at the end if you can have it all now? Why put yourself through the hustle and bustle of daily life in the big city, paying closer attention to your schedule than to yourself or those around you? What’s the point? God is inside. Peace is inside. If that was first, and the other stuff was second, what a different world it would be.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 7th, 2009. Well, we made it – one year ho! Exactly one year ago today, we boarded our boat for the first time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Finally online again!!!!

This day I began a new website. I am so stoked to be able to journal online again. Seems like this will be easier; I can simply email an entry to the journal (with our new email account). And post-entries seem to be pretty easy. Have entered back to November so far. And adding photos is a snap. Now all I need to do is let people know. And that might not be an easy task as I have been unable to download my address book (so I can use a new email host), nor send out emails except in rare instances. Very frustrating. Once I get this out to you, you can get an email from this website every time we update it, which is a great way for us to say hello!! Meanwhile, I will keep trying on the email front. We love you a bunch!! Allison, Merle, Shandro and Matero

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Letter from Love Song

March 31, 2009. Part of another letter from Kathy & Allen:We had lunch with the locals and it was $4,000 francs, nearly $50 USD! (It's about 85f./$1.00US, so it's a lot more zeros than with pesos!) We withdrew $ at the cash machine and the bills were so huge Allen was wondering what kind of wallets they need to hold such big bills! We got 3 oranges, a grapefruit, cucumber, 2 ice creams, dz. eggs, and a couple beers for nearly $50.00 too! We did manage to learn a few Marquesan words for hello and goodbye, and we were terribly embarrassed that we hardly knew a stitch of French and realized how spoiled we were in Mexico. Today we went to the beach where the river runs into the ocean and we hung with all these little Marquesan children and learned a lot from them, the must've thought we were hilarious with our mixed up Sprench. No kidding, the women mostly wear floral sarongs and a flower behind their ears, for real!

Bandaras Bay Regatta

Allison says:
We just finished the Bandaras Bay Regatta on Saturday. That is a big sailboat race in Puerto Vallarta. They put us in the class against professional racing boats (because our boat is a ‘racing’ type, even tho the crew members are not 'professional racing types'). Anyway, that made me a bit nervous – my ego worried that we wouldn’t be able to win. Merle and I talked about the spiritual significance of that a bit. We decided that we weren’t supposed to get the ‘ego boost’ from winning, and that the spiritual lesson had to be down some other path, so we were open to finding it. And once my ego calmed down a bit and I realized it was okay if we just did our best, I felt better.

We took on 3 crew members (not including the 5 children aboard) – Jan from sv Cappricio, and Behan and Jamie from sv Totem. Merle, Jan and Jamie spent 2 days prepping the boat – greasing and lubing and adjusting and re-fitting what was necessary, and cleaning and otherwise preparing what was ok. Then we taped the number 17 to our bow, and we raced.

Jan did the mainsail and sheet. He knows a lot about sailing, but is also open to learning new things, which was perfect for his position. We used the mainsail in ways I had never thought of before. He is quite feisty, and has a great positive outlook; a real asset to our motley crew. Behan )pronounced Bee-Ann) baked the most glorious bread and provided decadent lunches every day, as well as being the fordeck crew who ensured smooth tacks and jibes by preventing tangles. She also looked out and called wind changes, proximity to other boats, sighted the marks and gave us great encouragement. And she was the one who gently reminded us to hang off the upside rail (rail bunnies, or rail meat) when we weren't doing anything else. Merle and Jamie ran the aft deck – genoa and asymmetrical sheets and halyards. Merle is very strong, and was great at hoisting and trimming the sails, and at rigging the asymmetrical so that it could be opened easily, dowsed quickly, and even jibed! He also helped me by calling out the speed and bearing, and he makes a very sexy spinnaker pole! Besides sharing duties of the aft deck including winching like a (happy) madman, Jamie was our tactician. He has done a bit of racing, so it made sense for him to call the shots – when to jibe, when to tack, when to let off the mainsail or point higher or lower, when to furl the genoa or dowse the asymmetrical. And all the time watching the other boats and their wind to see what was happening on the course and planning ahead in the best interest of Kenta Anae. Our ears were all tuned in to his words; his positive comments and praise buoyed up the moral of the group, while his calm style and demeanor also transferred into us as we did our respective jobs. And I was the helmsman (helmswoman?) so I steered the boat, and watched only the telltails on the sails and direction; as a result I didn't see out much which is pretty funny for the guy steering the rig! So it was great afterwards to see the race pictures! I also contributed cold drinks to Behan’s amazing lunches. And I did the Kenta Anae pre-race invocation and prayer and the post-race thank you. We made a terrific crew.

I was amazed at the positive attitude of our crew. What a pleasure to sail with this group of people! Even through the tight spots, we were calm and happy. I was the most nervous of all I think, and grateful that it all worked out okay. And we gained great strides over the course of 3 days, both working with each other, and sailing our vessel the best way we knew how. By the third day, we all knew our jobs and could do them well. And we loved each other way more by the end. I would sail with my crew again in a heartbeat. They were awesome.

The first race was Thursday, March 19. Fast, good start, tight sailing with the other boats in extremely close proximity. We came in 4th on the short course, losing 3rd to our closest opponent, Lussino, number 18, a Mexican racing boat. Friday was the long course. Another good start, and then hope for the best with our short (read: slower) hull. An American warship in the bay was our only obstacle besides sailboats. A great day of racing ending with an awesome challenge for the finish line – us with asymmetrical flying between 8 and 9 knots, and Lussino with genoa up ahead of us but at only about 6 knots. We caught up to them fast, and charged across the finish line – only four close seconds after Lussino; a very close race. We ended up with 6th place that day. (We did not know at the time, but our loss to him by 4 seconds made the difference between placing and not placing overall. Who would have thought?) Saturday was the last race, another short race. We thought we had a great start, but it turned out we were over the line. They called us on it and we had to go back and cross the line again – losing both time and distance to the other boats. As we re-started, our tactician kept us on a port tack (wind coming over the port side of the boat, leaned over on our starboard side) rather than following the ‘bad air’ of all of the boats ahead of us on the starboard tack. As we sailed, the wind changed in our favour, and we ended up in a great position, finishing 3rd, and well before our closest opposition. Overall, they gave us 4th place in the racing class! We think that is remarkable considering the training that some of the sailboats undertake for this race. But even better than that was the attitude of our crew, and how good we felt after each race, no matter how we did. We drank beer on the way home, and toasted the crew and Kenta Anae, all with big smiles on. I think it’s the happiest I have ever been when I 'lost'! And in that way, we won! Big time! And recognizing that we did our best and knowing that we could be happy with that was remarkable. That was one of the most important spiritual lessons of the race. Race results and some great photos by Strange Bird are on http://www.banderasbayregatta.com/.

Merle says:
Oh that stupid ham exam was in the way of my preparation. So after I got the 500 questions of nerd-dom downloaded out of the brain, I could focus on what was really important – racing. So luckily (since I am on ‘holidays’) I could go from one job to another and worked for 48 hours on race preparation. So we got some gas out and some brushes and inhaled fumes for the first day, eight winches rebuilt and buttery smooth. And then on the second day we ripped off the dodger, reduced some friction, oh and removed the weight, that’s right too – pulled a bit out of the ends. Luckily the rule book said to remove the anchor – so we removed all the anchors except one (don’t want anyone to hit the back anchor!) Then we practiced for half an hour while there was a introductory parade, showed up at the line green as grass with a good tactician. Something about the usual caribou attitude – pin it till you hit something. And within 15 seconds of the start, we just about hit something - the biggest fastest J-boat race boat in the class. They had starboard tack rights and luckily they had some discretion other wise we’d have had to start a second time or get a hole in our side. The next two hours we learned how much we didn’t know and the intensity levels and learning curves were suitably steep. Tacking your house without losing any speed, and jibing your spinnaker around marks with 18 knots of wind left us with a fairly humble experience. We dualled with the other slow boat in the class for most of the race. And karmically finished fourth, one spot behind the boat who did not t-bone us at the start. Corrected time is a beautiful thing (when you have the highest handicap!) We found that after race 1 we understood that we could hang in there with the racers so we looked forward to race 2 which would show our boat slowness even more as a long waterline has the leading advantage. Day 2 was more relaxed, open starts, longer sessions between frantic boat handling maneouvers, and smoother more experienced crew so we sailed a smooth race and thought we had a good finish in the bag but the waterline monsters sailed faster than us and we ended up with 6th. Little did we know as we were overtaking our nemesis from Mexico (Lussino #18) with our spinnaker flying, in an effort not to lose control of the spinnaker at 9 knots, we gave him some wind, and we finished a mere 4 seconds after him at the finish line, after 23 miles, nose to nose. It was exciting indeed to be hunting down our archrival and have the race course 100 meters too short to beat him. That difference in placement allowed the Mexicans to finish third overall. Day 3 saw us anticipating great boat handling requirements as the triangle windward leeward course demanded accurate sail handling. We wind tested at the start and lined up in our (now) usual ultra aggressive fashion. While trimming Kenta Anae in for max speed at the start and getting starboard tacked by the competitive boats running with us at the line we inched across, not just a little, but the whole frigging boat. Tactician yelling go higher, bowman yelling go lower, helmswoman caught in the middle, we heard the horn. Everyone started, then one boat had to come back. Kenta Anae. It’s like starting a mountain bike race, and with the first 5 cranks of the pedals your front wheel falls off. It’s a bit of a letdown after all the energy you put into a good start.
The penalty for crossing the line early - starting too fast - is to return and cross over the start line again. So the simplest fastest maneouver was to jibe return, cross the line, and head out in the exact opposite direction as everyone else in the field, tacking towards the windward mark. Since we had been doing some manifesting for good wind for just us, now would be an excellent time, and we got it! Clean air and good wind angles had us sailing towards the first turn muy rapido compared to our competitors. Twenty minutes in, we were back up to 3rd and had gotten over our emotional start trauma and pressed on to the finish. With the underdog start, Now the crew with the most to lose became the crew with the most to win. And with everyone focused on making the best of what we had left, we sailed admirably. Tactician Jamie reveled in the ‘lift’ and our lucky break. Helmswoman Allison watched the telltales and spoke to no one. Her only instructions were to sail fast. Mainsheet Jan trimmed the main traveler not for luffing (?) but to help us balance the helm so the rudder could remain straight, and we could go faster. Bowman Merle switched from the a-symetric port to starboard tacks and repacked the tack and clew while hanging onto the boat at 15 to 20 degrees, Kenta Anae’s bow spreading salt water on the decks. Foredeckwoman Behan kept track of everyone else on the course including sail angels (angles?) and wind changes. At the windward mark 1 there were only 2 boats ahead of us over the whole field. Spinnakers were setting and genoas were dowsing. We were becoming a well oiled machine. We flew the asymmetric around the second mark with the intention to jibe it. We had been thinking about this mammoth maneouver for the whole regatta and it still eluded us as to how we could make it happen smoothly. The wind blew, we talked it through. It had been our Achilles heel in race 1 and it would determine how well we did in the last race. At mark 2, helmswoman A carried the boat around the mark, helping the main to blanket the asymettrical and people raced around and winches squealed and everyone waited in anticipation for that thing to reinflate without a twist. It hovered, closed, pulsed, fondled the headstay and by gosh it inflated! The boat surged forward back up to speed on the opposite point of sail. We were doing 8.5 knots. With that maneouver in the bag we were all sure that we could sail and raced merrily along beside half million dollar catamarans from the B class. Only 2 legs left to go. For me the next part of the race was pretty busy and I didn’t get to see out much. It’s a short trip across the course under full spinnaker and good wind. We pulled sails down and put them up and rounded the mark and trimmed, adjusted, and beat to the weather mark. The one good thing about that leg was that we could see the Mexicans far behind us for a change. We beat back to the weather mark for the fourth leg, the wind was stronger the lean angles were greater. Five kids in the boat played down below, sliding from one side of the cabin to the other while we tried to keep the tack angles crisp and winched like demons. We rounded mark 1 for the final leeward leg, a 180 degree turn. We tacked, jibed, dowsed genoa and hoisted the spinnaker all at the same time. Everyone was busy. In the maylay, we lost the sock hoisting rope, dangling 20 feet to the side of the boat and 20 feet off the water from the masthead. There was no way to get it back so the sock hoisted itself, and the spinnaker filled like we had been practicing for years. Sail angels indeed. With that little maneouver underway we were headed for the finish line. Our tactician reminded us we would dowse after the finish line and not a moment before. So that dangling sock halyard, now 45 feet in the air, was going to have to wait. About this time the kids came out to see what we were doing. It was the same as always, other boats around, no one could tell how we were placing, so they went below for more interesting games. Kenta Anae was reaching 9 knots under spinnaker. Everyone was pretty excited knowing we had a good race going and only a little while longer to see how it all turned out. Our helmswoman A, now feeling that she was adept with her craft was putting on sunscreen with one hand, adjusting the chart plotter with her other hand and steering with her forarms. Captain Merle at that point was quick to point out that we were still racing. The spinnakers in the distance were very colorful. We had held onto fourth place as the long waterline boats ripped the downward legs fast. We blew by the committee boat concerned with only one thing – how to dowse the spinnaker without the sock, without running over it, without losing any fingers, and without going aground on the beach towards which we were headed full speed. We talked it over before the finish line, so now was the time to see if it would happen. Jan released the mainsail to blanket the whole operation. We sailed dead downwind to get the most hiding room for dowsing the spinnaker. Fordeck lady B released the tack, mainsheet trimmer J ran the asymmetric sheets, tactician J and bowman M pulled like hell. Fordeck lady B let the cleat go and the previously flaked tack rope zipped out of the blocks so fast that we were glad she didn’t lose a finger, as her body flew forward and landed at the mast. She was quick to recover, and continued to use her body to keep the dowsed portion of the asymmetric under control on deck. Ten seconds later, the head of the sail hit the deck, we opened the hatch and threw the whole soggy mess onto the bed below!! Complete success!! With all the death defying stuff out of the way, we congratulated ourselves on a good race. Matero asked if it was time to drink beer – cheers – and to eat, and sure enough, it was time! We all answered an enthusiastic 'yes'! And as in the previous days, we motored our way home, and fed our bodies and our spirits with ice cold ballenas (beers the size of whales), homemade bread and handmade sandwiches that were the envy of the fleet; the love smooshed out and dripped down your hands! It was a challenge to keep the beer in the glass and the sandwiches off our shirts. We congratulated everyone. White guys were high fiving left and right. At this point, just like the other two days, we had no idea how we finished. And it diddn’t matter. We had just raced our best race in our (very) short racing careers. And all the beurocracy about who won and who lost was immaterial. We got her back to the slip, converted ourselves into concert goers, went out for tacos on the street and live music to celebrate. It was the best music we have found in La Cruz since we have been here – played tableside while we processed endorphins and anticipated the final results. The bean counters awarded us 3rd in the last race for 4th overall, one place behind the Mexican race boat, Lussino that we dualled all weekend. This euphoria lasted several days. We learned more about sailing in 3 days of racing than we had in 5 months of cruising. That was more valuable to us than any hardware at the podium. And now we are more competent cruisers because of it. Our trusty yacht basked in the event without any breakage, took back the anchors, and became a cruising boat and our home once again. We owe a huge thank you to the crew who joined us. Without their help, we would have definitely been outraced. They brought not only valuable lessons to the table, but also the ability to experience the euphoria of success all around. M (One more thing - Merle did pass his ham exams, so he is officially a ham radio operator now!!)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Interview with Shandro, age 6.5 years


How do you like living on a sailboat?
Shandro: It’s way cool. Slow for a car, but fast for a house! I like jumping off the boat on my boogie board and going for a ride on the water. I like when I get onto my boogie board and dad pulls me with the motor on the dinghy. My favorite parts of sailing … I like when we are going really fast and the big waves are on the deck.

What are the parts of our journey that you liked the best so far?
Shandro: I liked watching that truck when it drove off the cliff. (We don’t remember this part.) I liked the ferry rides near Seattle. And I liked driving through the rain and watching the water taxies from our boat, driving by the police docks (in San Diego, CA). I liked going the special pirate ship park (in Ventura, CA). I liked when Josey and Lulu took me for a ride on their boat and took me to see dolphins and we went to the ice cream shop. And I liked in Ensenada when I was on the boat while the boat lift was moving us and we were driving out into the water. That was fun!

What is your favorite part of being in Mexico?
Shandro: I like it because it is always hot and the water is warm and there’s wavey sunny beaches. And also I like going down onto the rocks and catching crabs. I like the birds, especially the blue footed boobies.

Have you had any magical experiences so far?

Shandro: Rain while we drove. It made a nice smell. I liked going to Laure’s party where there were hamburgers and stuff. I miss Laure.

Have you met any children on this journey?
Shandro: Jose and Lulu, Suzie and Sean, Morgan and Wyatt on Love Song. And Totem kids – Marin, Chibhan and Niall. There were no kids at first, then there were lots. Now we are back to none again. That’s pretty much it.

What parts of Mexican culture seem different from ours?
Shandro: Mexican culture has palm trees and coconut palm trees. And it has cactuses. And really high hills with lots of sand and cool spiders. The people here have a different language.

What parts of the Mexican culture seem similar to ours?
Shandro: None.

How do you communicate with the Spanish speaking people?
Shandro: I use muy poquito de mis primeras cien palabras de espangol. (A little bit of my first 100 words of Spanish. Author's note: Shandro uses Spanish more than any of us, and is constantly picking up new words.) Sometimes I use English words and sometimes I use Spanish words when I talk.

Do you have any messages for people?
Shandro: I liked playing video games with Colton before we left. I miss Laure and I liked catching crabs with her. Send a message to Ty and Taylor – Hi! Have fun riding in the snow in the purple slide park! Playschool – hi! It’s nice and sunny down here you should probably be down here with me it’s probably pretty cold up there. It’s winter down here too but guess what – winter there is pretty cold with snow. The winter down here is sunny and hot! And there is no snow in this winter down here and everything is warm in this winter and you can take your shirts off in this kind of winter. I miss my Chilko dog. Please send a message to her.

Do you have any fish stories?
Shandro: One fish story. I like when dad was pulling in the big big big pacific jack craval. And I liked when we were going through the kelp and we saw a big fish behind and it was a dorado. And I liked watching the shark eating our skipjack tuna. What the - dang shark! I like angel fish and Moorish idols. I like Sierra, Durado and Codfish and sole to eat. I like the raw fish when it has soy sauce on it, especially the sierra and dorado.

That’s it! I’m done interviewing. I’m going to have a tostada.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Interview with Matero, 4 years old

What do you like best about sailing?
Matero: Um, I like sliding when we sail. We get the lifejackets under our bums and we let go and we slide down the slanted floor. Driving cars down the steep floor is also pretty fun.

Do you have any fish stories?
Matero: I don’t like when there’s a bzzzzzzzzzzzz of the line going out. I like seeing the fish alive. I think it’s sad when dad kills the fish. If we were fish, and if the fish was a person, and that person caught dad and killed him, that wouldn’t be very nice. I like to eat fish cooked, not raw too much.

Do you like some of the new foods here in Mexico?
Matero: Yes. This place has oranges that grow here and Williams Lake doesn’t have that. Remember I had tacos on the street where they serve horchada? Horchada is made out of rice, rice milk and sugar. I like it so much. We eat on the street here, not the sidewalks. (It is true – vendors set up tables right on the street at night.)

What else do you like about Mexico?
Matero: Dolphins and the whales. I like when the dolphins are playful. They (hand gestures) ‘shoooooptooo’ jump out of the water. I like when the whales swim close to our boat and then they blow their air out ‘pshfffffffff’ like that.

Do you miss anything about Canada?
Matero: I miss Chilko our big alive dog. And I miss my town that has car garages in it. The toy one.

Do you have any messages to tell people?
Matero: I have a message to give to my dragon back in Canada. Don’t ever put eggshells in the toilet and flush them down without asking. Or toilet paper.
Baby Anaka – I like to pick her up. And Amy and Shane too. And Grandad. Is Grandma McAssey in Canada too? Is she coming to see us again soon?

That's it. Matero's back to the lego. He's great, and a happy little boy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tonight we went out with Totem, Desiderata, and Oso Blanco for tacos in La Cruz. It was a big group with lots of kids. Good company and good food. Might be the last dinner we have with totem before they head out ... ?

Letter from Love Song – they arrived in the Marquaise Islands today. A great inspiration to us. Perhaps we will do this journey next year.Kathy says, ‘Thank God and His Angels, we made it! Morgan and I spotted land at 1350 today and danced a jig in the cockpit! We turned the motor on at 0730 and 12 hours later we dropped the hook in Atuona, Hiva Oa, in the dark! We are at 09* 48'.236 S and 139* 01'.928 W and there are 5 other boats anchored and a ship on the wharf. I can't even begin to describe the smells that hit us like a train when we turned and dropped the main, at first it was like overwhelming heavy floral and black dirt, then smoke from a fire, and more heavy fruit and floral scent.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Michael and Chilko!! We miss you both, and hope to see you again soon. Hope that you both had great days. Can't get out on the email right now. Maybe we will try to call from our computer instead on skype. Email right now is impossible. Hope to remedy that soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Tuesday, March 17th. Well, we've never had a St. Patty's day like this before!! We cleaned the bottom of the boat yesterday, baked up a batch of cookies for our friends Scott, Mary, Tim and Fin on Whisper (who are Marquaises bound), and now we are in a slip at Marina Riveria Nayarit – La Cruz Marina. It is luxurious to be in a slip in some ways. The boys have more freedom here than they do at anchor. They can come and go as they please. And we took the slip next to Totem, so all of the children have been soaking each other up. They play lego and ride bikes and scooters and catch crabs. It’s a great life for kids here on the dock. It’s nice to be plugged in because we don’t have to worry about charging, nor about using battery power. I can use the blender and the sewing machine here. (And mending is on the agenda first thing tomorrow.) There is fresh water here for washing dishes and clothes and the boat and the myriad of other things we use water for. And what a good sleep we get when the boat is steady and still. Like a rock.
(I have to say that anchoring out has its perks too. I have been enjoying them lately, knowing that we would be in the marina for a week or so now. The sound of the surf at night has been wonderful. And there is no better view of the stars than to be away from all of the overhead lights (except the tiny mast lights) in the dark of the anchorage. Peace and quiet out here is wonderful; anyone anchored nearby, even if speaking loudly, cannot be heard unless it is perfectly still without a breath of wind – both rarities here. And of course, the movement is a constant reminder of our beautiful alive Mother Earth surrounding us.)We are preparing for racing. Today was boat prep. Merle, Jamie and Jan worked hard all day. Tomorrow will be the same, with showers at the end!! Yay!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15th, 2009. Eric Whitehead says ...ok, Milla Fay Whitehead was born today at 12:31 pm, at home to Eric and Michele. (They managed to make it to the bed from the bathroom, just in time!) She came in fast, 1hr from 1st contraction to baby in hand...midwife barely made it, Eric thought he was gonna do the delivery for a while...and almost did. 8 pounds, and lookin for a nipple.
Ma, Pa and babe are all well and are getting to know each other and trying to catch some ZZZ’s.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12th. Happy Birthday, Ken!! Hope I get to email this today! Not so sure I want to leave my boat at the moment …

Today it is blowing about 20 knots. There were three boats that dragged anchor in the anchorage today. Luckily our anchor holds fast (and we test it every time by motoring full throttle in reverse when we set it.) Merle went out there helping save them. It was great for the kids to see their dad being a real live hero. Matero said to me, ‘Mom – if I am ever in trouble will dad come and save me too?’ And I was glad to be able to say, ‘Yes – he will come and save you every time, no matter what.’ We are surrounded by such amazing people, and we used to be too busy to notice. But we are waking up and noticing now, and it is really heartwarming how many good people there are out there.

It is a sunny warm day here in Puerto Vallarta. The full moon the last few nights has been spectacular, and with the moisture in the air, there was a rainbow ring around it on Saturday. It was beautiful. Now it is very hot during the day ashore, but on the boat it is very nice. The evenings have been windy and we leave the hatches open and the windows, and the wind blows through and keeps us nice and cool for sleeping. The boys have been doing school, and Shandro tried out a local school here for a few days and loved it. Now I am looking into registering them for a little while for their Spanish. It would be 3 hours a day for a few days a week. There is some paperwork that has to be done before they will be legal, but we will get there.

I have been doing a little bit of healing trading here, and that has been very nice for a change. I love that time. And the full moon just makes it even more special. I am always so grateful when I can help someone.

Boats are departing here for the South Pacific – French Polynesia and the Marquaise Islands and Fiji and Tahiti. They leave about one boat every 2 days. Love Song left last Saturday, so they have been gone almost a week. This is the time of year for that – as the trade winds that flow in that direction are just developing now. They will be blowing steadily by the end of March.

We talk to the “Puddle Jumpers” every day at 9:00AM Puerto Vallarta Time (Saskatchewan time I think) on the SSB at frequency 8.188 Upper Side Band (USB). Anyway, we have crystal clear radio contact with them and it makes us feel like they are right next to us. If you have a ham radio or an SSB, we’d love to hear from you! Merle is taking the second ham radio exam this Sunday. He did the technical already and he will do the general exam next, so he is studying for it. We’d love to talk to you! We could just set up a time to check every day and then we could talk to you! That would be very cool. Try these frequencies in the next few days and see if you can hear anything. Some of the boat names who will be talking are Bravado, Love Song, Lucy, Apple, Kenta Anae (us), Light Heart, Corinthia, Me Longa, HipNautical. They give their location, wind speed and direction, wave height and frequency, miles covered in the last 24 hours, barometric pressure, and general conversation to keep in touch. It is great for them as they keep track of each other for the 20 to 30 day crossing. Very cool. If we go across, we will be part of a similar group too.

Tonight is a pot luck for anyone racing in the sailboat race this weekend, or in the Bandaras Bay Regatta next week. We will race in the Regatta. The potluck starts at 6pm and there are people there between the ages of 1 year and 98 years or so. The boys love it because they get to play. And we get to meet some of the sailors here. The Regatta is next week. We will be taking another couple with us – maybe even 4 or 5 extra people. (People are asking us if they can race with us now, because we have won all of the races we have entered, so we are the boat to beat. That in itself is pretty funny, considering we have only been sailing for such a short time.) We will let you know how it goes. Ryan and Corie-Ann thought they might come down at the end of March, but I don’t think they will be here for the Regatta. We will try to get some photos of OUR boat sailing. (It’s way easier to get photos of other people’s boats, but a bit tougher to get a photo of the boat you are on …)

The outboard motor on our dinghy gave up a few days ago. One of the cylinders caved, so it lost compression. Fixing it will cost within $50 of replacing it – about $2500 US. So our current focus is earning enough pesos (around 36,000!) so we can get a new motor to get to and from the beach without rowing. (Rowing is fine here near the marina. But in big swell, landing on a beach with oars can be difficult without flipping the dinghy as you have to match the speed of the waves to ride one in. And if you are not successful at that, you flip the dinghy, and that is not fun.) So that is our focus at the moment.

I will go now and make some food for tonight. I am typing this email before I go to shore online, and I should be able to just cut and paste into an email. Then perhaps I won’t lose the connection before I send the email.

We think of you all very often, and would love it if you were here. But even talking on the radio would be great! Or you could call our cell phone, evening-ish.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 5th, 2009. My friend Rea says, ‘Santiago James Santos Fraser, born to Rea and Rogelio. He was born at home on March 5th at 10:52 am (Spanish time). Everyone is just fine and getting to know each other. They don't know that much about Yago yet. He is a noisy sleeper, which isn't a great trait in a husband, but is fabulous in a newborn with nervous parents. In this short time he has learned how to breathe, eat, and charm the pants off his parents.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mexican Cell Phone

March 3rd ish. An email that never went through … Hope you are awesome! We are good here. As synchronicity goes, we have changed our plans a bit. We will still come home to Canada this summer, but we will be in Puerto Vallarta a bit longer than we initially thought. Weather is better for heading north later in the spring than it is now – May or June. And Merle is helping some of the people who are here get ready to head south. So we will be in Puerto Vallarta for a while – not sure how long – time will tell – but long enough to get a phone …

Merle got our cell phone hooked up yesterday to a Mexican cell service, so you can call us now! I won't publish the number here, but we can email it to you. Haven’t got all of the bugs worked out of the phone yet – a new card in it means that everything is in Spanish, so we have to figure that out to program it. But it does work just fine as far as ringing and answering and speaking to the person on the other end! We’d love to hear from you – any time! I don't think we can dial out of Mexico tho - so we are only on the receiving end at the moment.

The boys are great. We have been anchored out in the harbor at La Cruz for the last while. The wind is ferocious at over 20 knots in the afternoons, but our anchor holds fast and we are grateful. Yesterday, a little boat was dragging through the anchorage. The owners were gone. So, three very kind men took their dinghies and went aboard and let out some more anchor chain to help her stay put. I was so grateful watching them. It warmed my heart and made me feel so lucky to be surrounded by people like that who watch out for us all the time.

One of the amazing things about the community here is the local net. It is a communication on the radio at 8:30 every morning. And it is all helpful and positive. So if someone needs something or help, they ask. And if someone has something to give away or is good at something, they offer. And there is trading and synchronicity and gratitude galore. It is really remarkable what can happen with a community when the communication is positive all the time. It flourishes. It makes us all feel great because we can help people and they can in turn pass it on. It is excellent. It is rewarding. We are so grateful to be a part of it. They are starting a kids net on Monday, and grown-ups are allowed to listen, but they are not allowed to talk. That will be fun!