photos at bottom of page (text that refers to a photo is followed by O)
On December 3, Mike's mom, sister and niece came down to see us off after a final lunch on land.
As we pulled out of Dana Point O the winds were light and there were long swells. We stopped at the site where Mike's father's (Bill) and first wife's (Linda) ashes were spread. We all said some words and shed a few tears as we pulled away to begin living out both their and our dream.
We were motoring most of the way as the winds stayed light. We were monitoring the radio and heard about a vessel in trouble. A little while later a large, well lit boat was quickly approaching us. It was a Navy hover craft checking to see if we were the boat in trouble. It was pretty cool having them bear down on us and to talk on the radio to them. We reached Mexican waters about 2am. Mike and I alternated on night watch. What ended up working out the best is when I would take 7 or 8-11pm, Mike would take 11-2 or 3, then I would take back over until breakfast. After breakfast, the kids would take over while we did maintenance, cooked or rested up for the night watch. It was very cold at night, we had to wear many layers including, long underwear, mufflers, hats and gloves. Our autopilot stopped working, so we hand steered the whole trip down. Poor Mike, on the way down, not only did the auto pilot go out, but the bilge pump and the forward head also needed rebuilding right away, and a seal on the water maker sprang a leak. Anytime that he should have been resting he ended up repairing and rebuilding stuff. Also, the fan belt broke twice, what are the chances?! Mike was sick of maintenance at this point and just wanted to sail. Our ham radio has not been connecting so we have not been able to do onboard e-mail. It took about 4 days to get to Turtle Bay, most of it ended up being pretty rough seas, so not real comfortable. O One high point was when Fletcher caught a bonita. O All kinds of excitement on deck as we brought it up. Fletcher was so excited as was the galley girl. That fish sure was good. the first night we had it grilled with lemon, the next day we had some of the leftovers as fresh tuna sandwiches, the kids had never had that before. That night, Nancy went all out and did blackened fish with hollandaise sauce. This was all while we were underway. We were eating quite well as you can see! When we finally arrived in Turtle bay, we were exhausted. Mike took the kids and Hopper for the first dingy ride in Mexican waters while Nancy rested and cleaned up the boat after the passage. O When they returned, we had our first lesson in doing laundry on board. O It felt good to be somewhere and get cleaned up!
The next day we wandered into the town of Turtle Bay to get our bearings, check out what supplies were available and just check things out. While we were waiting for lunch at a palapa on the beach, some local kids were playing on a skateboard and came over to see if Fletcher wanted to play with them. There was a big dirt hill in front of the restaurant, and off they all went taking turns riding down it. Lots of fun and fun to watch too. We spoke with many other boaters while in town, finding out what they knew and where they were going. After lunch we explored the beach on the south side of town. Not really warm enough for swimming yet, but nice to be on land for a bit.Turtle Bay is quite large, and the next day we took the dingy and went all around it to check out all of the sights. The only really nice place to pull up was the beach that we had been on the day before, so back we went. We went back into town to do some shopping and restock some of our fresh supplies. The following day we arranged to have our diesel filled by a panga that will come around and fill your tanks right there. The fuel was very, very clean. We went back to the beach where Mike was able to install the dingy wheels while Nancy and the kids played and hung out. When we got back to the boat, Nancy was sent to the back of the boat so that she would be out of the way while Mike and the kids baked her a birthday cake. We celebrated a day early so that we could leave Turtle Bay on the 11th, instead of waiting around just to celebrate on the right day. (We did not want to do it underway, and Nancy wanted lobster for her birthday!) We went into town to be shown to a woman's home who was to cook dinner for us. Another boating couple joined us and we had a very fun time. We all had lobster except for the kids. However, it ended up being more expensive than we had anticipated. It became sort of a joke later. We headed back to the boat early for birthday cake. O
December 11 we got up early to prep the boat for heading out to sea again. This time the destination was Bahia Santa Maria on the outside of Magdalena Bay. For this leg of the trip we have plenty of wind and good size following seas. After 2 hours, we had to reef the main and furl the head sail. We spent the next 20 hours sailing at 5-6 knots (which is good for this beamy liveaboard). The wind was 25-30 knots and the seas were 10-12 feet. It was very difficult sailing and not possible to do much of anything at all except hold on. The seas were all over the place and we got slammed pretty hard a couple of times. Cabinet doors were flying open and canned goods were flung out and then rolling all over the floor. It got a bit crazy at times. Not very much sleep was possible for Mike or Nancy, but the kids had no trouble at all. This was the first big weather that we had been in and the boat handled well with the following seas. The second day was the roughest and Nancy was not feeling very well. This was the first time that she did not cook, even Mike had a hard time. The boat is a huge mess, can't wait to get in and clean it up! The water temperature has been warming steadily as we head south, but the air is still pretty chilly. For our night watch we are still having to bundle up with lots of layers and even blankets wrapped around. O
We arrived at Bahia Santa Maria 2 days later on December 13, exhausted and happy to be in calmer waters. We went into the closest little beach which was quite nice. Hopper was so excited to get to land to relieve himself. We have a box set up for him on the "poop" deck, but he is not quite sure about going in it yet. The beach was quite nice and the weather and water were warm enough to go for a dip. Ah, did that feel good. The first morning we were there, some fisherman came around selling lobster for $2 each. We got four and had a nice BBQ lobster feast that night. O We spent 4 days in Santa Maria. We got Christmas decorations out, put lights and decorations up, loaded the CD player with all of our Christmas music and baked Christmas cookies. O It was very fun to get in the holiday spirit. We also explored the area quite a bit. There is no town here, but lots of nature. There is a mangrove swamp O area that we explored fully in the dingy, we could hike over the northern boundary mountain of the bay to see and hike down to the open ocean O, there was a huge sandbar to hang out on and play in the water on both sides of it. O We finally felt like we were in Mexico, the water and weather were much warmer. Mike and Fletcher continued trying to catch us some fish for dinner, but no success.
After 4 days relaxing and enjoying ourselves, we were ready to head back out to sea. On December 16 we pulled anchor and headed out. It was a beautiful afternoon and we were sailing wing and wing. Early the next morning we had to reduce sail. There were uncomfortable seas all day the next day, again getting slapped around quite a bit by the waves. We arrived at Cabo San Lucas just before dawn 2 days later. We circled around waiting for first light so we could see where we were to anchor. We quickly cleaned up and headed to town to check into the country. This was our first stop where there was an immigration office. We checked in and out at the same time. This saves time, as then you only have to visit the various offices once. However, when you do it this way, you can only be in that port for 48 hours. The different places that you have to go are spread all over town, so you are running around, back and forth trying to get everything done. It can be difficult and make for a long day, especially when you have two young children in tow. At one point we split up with Fletcher and Nancy going to one office on one end of town while Mike and Dana ran to the other end of town to do something else. We met back at the last agency to show them that we had done everything. In the end we finished the check in and out in 4 hours. This is really quick for this process so we were pleased. Mike and I then did some "Santa" shopping before returning to the boat. It was much warmer now, so we all jumped in the water and swam around.
The next day we did some laundry and cleaned up around the boat a bit. Just as we finished we saw a boat pull in that was the folks that we had dinner with for Nancy's birthday in Turtle Bay. The kids paddled over to their boat on the surfboard and Nancy swam over. Mike paddled a board over after us. It was fun to see them again. We went into town and had a roast chicken dinner at a local spot. Afterwards we went to Squid Row for our first Margarita. Dana made some friends and was out dancing and playing with her new friends. Fletcher suddenly realized that he did not have anything for his dad for Christmas, so Nancy and Fletcher did a quick run out to find the perfect present on the sly! On the way back to the boat we went to a supermarket to stock up. It was fun to see Cabo at night with all of the lights and Christmas theme decorations. The next morning we did a quick run in the dingy to Lovers Beach so that Hopper could go for a run before the next leg of our journey. Beautiful beach, but lots of flies.
We left Cabo O headed to Punta de Mita for Christmas. We then sailed off with nice winds towards mainland Mexico The wind died about midnight so we motored for the rest of the way. We did 128 miles the first day! This is great for us. That night, the fuel system was somehow sucking air, so Mike was up all night one of the nights bleeding the lines. He got no sleep at all. We saw lots of turtles along the way O, one even had a bird resting on his back. O As we entered Banderas Bay we saw lots of humpbacks and lots of pangas looking for whales. I had no idea that this area was such a great whale spot, so I was very excited. We raced to get into Punta de Mita by dark and just made it for a spectacular sunset O. Punta de Mita has grown quite a bit since Mike was last here. He was quite surprised. It is still a sleepy little town, but it does have an internet cafe, a butcher shop and several small corner stores.
Finally nice weather and somewhere that we can be for a bit. There are perfect waves here with a gentle beach. We walked around town and did some more last minute Christmas shopping. We took Fletcher in for his first surfing experience and he did great. O He not only stood up, but rode the first wave that he caught and many more after that. So far, Dana has been afraid of the water on this trip. We are hoping that she gets over this quickly. We are bathing off the side of the boat and need to jump in to rinse and she has been throwing fits every time we try to get her to bathe. Every day we see all of the pangas out following the whales. We have seen many whales in the distance, but wanted to see some a little closer. So, we took the dingy out to look. We went out and were just hanging out when we saw a piece of seaweed floating by, as it got right next to the boat we realized that there was a small orange seahorse attached. O None of us had ever seen a sea horse in the wild, it was very cool.
Quote of the day: Fletcher was reading a book out loud, "She threw up her arms..."
Both kids in unison, "eeww, gross!" (Mike and I were busy below, but overheard and were just cracking up).
Later that day Nancy spent time wrapping presents and getting everything ready for Christmas. We baked another batch of cookies so that Santa would have fresh ones. O We went out for Christmas Eve dinner to a beach side Palapa restaurant. O We had agreed that we would not get each other presents, but would go out for a nice dinner. We ordered a family size seafood platter and the kids had to try a little of everything on it, even the Pulpo (Octopus). It took them awhile to convince their forks to make it up to their mouths, but once in their mouth it seemed like they almost liked it (they won't admit it though). When we returned to the boat, they each picked one present to open for Christmas Eve. O Fletcher read "Sailors Night Before Christmas" O to us and Mike read "The Night Before Christmas". It was a very nice evening.
Christmas morning broke and boy were the kids excited. O Mike made a show of taking his time to make his coffee, prolonging the suspense of when the presents could be opened and the stockings that Santa had left could be explored. Finally the moment arrived. The kids thrilled that Santa found us. They were not at all sure if he could find us in Mexico and on a boat. They were very happy and excited by all of their great gifts that had been sent or delivered to us before we left. O We had Christmas dinner on the boat followed by fresh boat-made pumpkin pie.
We took a bus trip down to the town of Bucerias. This is a nice size town, not too big, not too small. O They have good produce in the shops and lots of fish. We wandered around admiring everything there, the cobblestone streets, the beach, the town square, the church and then headed back to Punta de Mita with some food supplies. We spent a couple more days in Punta de Mita, catching up, writing thank you's and relaxing a bit before we headed to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle on December 28 to really settle in to our new life. On the way to La Cruz we were looking forward to seeing more whales and to catching some fish....no luck on either front. We arrived in La Cruz pretty quickly and hung out the rest of Sunday before we checked in with the Port Captain first thing Monday morning. Every time that you get to an anchorage or harbor with a Port Captain you must both check in and out. This can be quite time consuming and troublesome for some, but it has not been a problem so far for us. When you first dingy in to La Cruz, you land in front of a place where Mike hung out when he was here almost 10 years ago. He had written his boat name on a brick there and it it was still there! O This was really fun for both him and the kids to see. We spent the day exploring La Cruz. There is a great cruisers hang out here called, Philos. This was opened by a cruiser and caters to cruisers needs. He has internet, showers, pool table, good food, a fun bar and great music. He is also a very nice person who does good things for the local community. We had our New Years Dinner there with plates of BBQ ribs. O When we got back to the boat, Mike was not feeling well. The day before Dana had been sick, Fletcher was on and off not feeling so well and then Nancy was down for a couple of days. We all had some sort of flu, We had gotten shots, but obviously not for the right bug. We found out the next week that it was going around. So we ended up laying pretty low for New Years Eve and starting off this year with a whimper instead of a bang. We did manage to wake up and see the fireworks off of Puerto Vallarta which is very close to here. Many of the resorts were shooting them off at once so it was quite the show, like seeing 10 shows at the same time. Mike, Fletcher and Nancy woke up to watch them, but like last year, no one could wake Dana and she slept right through it all.
Dana Point to Turtle Bay
Please click to enlarge!
Bahia Santa Maria
Cabo San Lucas
Punta De Mita
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle