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