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May began with a big birthday O. Dana was queen for the day, all day long. It started with a fancy pancake breakfast in bed O, per Dana's request. We then went to another marina and picked up the other kids that we had invited along for her birthday horse back ride on the beach O. We had a lot of fun on the beach and Dana could not believe that our time was up. We walked to another beach and had a picnic lunch on a rocky point with great tidepools O. The next hour was spent eating lunch, splashing around and eating cotton candy from the beach vendors. After we brought the kids back to the boats, we only had a couple of hours for Nancy and Fletcher to decorate the cake and all of us to get ready for dinner. This day was just a whirlwind of activity! Dana opened some family presents O before we dressed for her dinner pizza party. The other boat families met us at our marina and we proceeded to the restaurant with cake in hand. Now this in itself was a feat. You just try to fit a cake carrier on a boat. Of course we did not bring any such thing, but like most things in this lifestyle, one improvises. Nancy used a bin and turned it upside down, with the cake on the top of the bin and then the bin put on top. Of course this was all done without Dana being able to see it and had to be transported cloaked in secrecy. We had a fun and yummy pizza dinner O, parents at one end, kids at the other. Then we did the candle lighting, singing and cake eating O. The other kids had brought some great presents for Dana O, what fun! She really had a special day.
The next week was spent trying to finish all of things that we had come to Mazatlan to do. We were waiting for the canvas worker to come finish our dodger and sun shade, we were waiting for our FM3 visas to come through (these are an immigration thing that you must do if you wish to stay in Mexico for longer than 6 months, quite a process to get!), we were waiting to have lycra suits made for snorkeling in the sea (so the jelly fish do not sting you), Nancy was making a divider for the kids room so that they would have their own rooms, and Mike was waiting for all of this and for Mothers Day to pass so that we could leave! The kids were so excited to have their own rooms, it was really fun to see, it made a huge difference and it looks great. They have privacy curtains at the entrance now so that they can totally close themselves in and they often do go to their rooms and "shut the door". This was Nancy's first Mothers Day, so she did not want to be at sea. We went to a nice Sunday brunch and spent the rest of the day racing around trying to get provisioned and ready to leave for the Sea the next day. Nancy just wanted to go home and take a nap after brunch, but that was not to be, it was rush, rush, rush. We had so much to do and were not sure when we would be near a town again. The canvas was being installed when we returned to the boat, we stowed our provisions and packed up the boat for a morning departure. The next morning was a very low tide, and we had to delay our departure a couple of hours to wait for the tide to rise as the entrance to this small harbor area is very narrow and not too deep. It is actually a pretty tricky spot. The week before, boats were delayed for a couple of days as the harbor was closed due to big waves closing out across the entrance! We would go everyday and look at the waves and report back to the boats that were wanting to leave. It is kind of a Z shaped entrance, so you cannot see the entrance either coming or going until you are in the midst of it. Anyway, we were lucky to get out with only a couple of hour delay. Mike was chomping at the bit and Nancy was a bit nervous as there were still waves and the tide was still fairly low. We made it no problem and began our northbound crossing of the Sea.
After being in the marina for a month, none of us had sea legs anymore and we were tripping all over the boat. We looked like a bunch of drunken sailors, pretty funny. Nancy and Dana both got the underway sleeping sickness and spent much of the crossing sleeping. While underway, it is eat, sleep, do your watch, eat ,sleep, watch, eat, sleep, watch.... We saw many dolphins during the crossing, which is always fun. On the afternoon of the third day, we pulled into the anchorage at Isla Partida O, just north of Espirto Santo off of La Paz. These are beautiful islands with deep coves full of turquoise water and white sand crescent beaches O. All of the islands in the Sea are a nature reserve, so they are fairly clean and well cared for. No animals are allowed on these islands, so it was very hard on Hopper to see us go off on kayaks and hikes and for him to have to stay on the boat! He did not understand. We did see other dog boats that were taking their dogs into the beach, but we were wanting to obey the rules (especially because of Nancy's work out at the Channel Islands, where no animals are allowed). As we pulled into the anchorage, we noticed that the temperature of our engine was going up, our raw water pump had exploded, so it was a good thing that we found a nice anchorage right away, since we could no longer use our engine. Mike went down and pulled it out to look at it, but this meant that we had a hole in the boat that sea water was pouring in. We got that plugged up and began to look at the pump (this pumps sea water from outside the boat through the engine to keep it cool). It was a mess and not repairable. We just figured that we would stay in that anchorage until the food ran out and then we would figure out a way to get into La Paz. We spent the next week enjoying the island and taking the dingy around to different small islands and bays. We snorkeled every day and went for hikes up the canyons O. One day we went to Los Islotes O, which is a series of large rocks off the north end of the island. There is a colony of sea lions there and it is one of a the great dive sites in the area. It is a bit nerve racking at first, having these large marine mammals swim right up to you, we were worried that the kids might be scared. We all had a blast watching them swim with us and after the first minute of trepidation we all really enjoyed it. Dana has had a major breakthrough on the snorkeling, she is diving down, going through deep water and is really gaining some confidence. This is a huge change from when we first got to Mexico. We also let the kids get a taste of SCUBA diving. We picked up a hooka rig and can have a tank in the dingy and then dive to about 25' off a hose. The kids only went down about 5', but it was fun to be able to introduce them to this. Fletcher already knows what he wants for his 10th birthday... SCUBA certification (10 is the youngest that you can get certified to dive).
Our routine is still to do school for some hours early in the day and then try to go do an activity. It is always a conflict, since it is nice to get started early on activities, but it just does not work to do school later in the day. For now, school comes first. It really helped everyone's attitude about this to be around other boat families and see that they did school everyday until about 3pm. It made our schedule seem not so bad and made Nancy's job a bit easier! Mike has been determined to catch some fish, so everyday he takes off with either Nancy or Fletcher to try to find some edible fish. So far no luck and he is very frustrated. We are planning on supplementing our diet quite a bit with fish this summer, so our luck better change soon! While the boys are gone, Dana and Nancy have some girl time, painting, doing nails, just hanging out.
When it was time to leave for La Paz, Mike rigged up a bilge pump to fill in for the raw water pump. This would work in a pinch for short time periods, but not for long. We motored out of the cove and then tried to pick up some wind. We had some luck with wind on and off over the next few hours. Mike had also rigged up a bridle for the dingy so that we could side tie it to the big boat and use that as propulsion to get us in. We did not want to use this too much, as we only had a small amount of gas left for the dingy since we did so much exploring on the islands. So we tried to sail as much as possible throughout the day, but we definitely wanted to get into La Paz by that night. La Paz has a long sort of tricky entrance that it is very tough to just sail into. We dropped the dingy down while we were underway and pulled it up alongside and tied it up and turned the engine on O. Mike spent the next couple of hours jumping from boat to dingy and dingy to boat. It was quite an operation. Other boats going in to La Paz would stop to see if we needed help, but we were doing fine, even with our handicap and unconventional method of propulsion. We finally made it in about 6pm. What a relief. It had been a long exhausting day. We spent the first day in La Paz walking and exploring and making inquiries into getting parts. We stopped at the polka dot tree ice cream shop O. Very yummy flavors, not just your average ice cream. The next day we got serious about getting some stuff done. Mike and Nancy needed to get their last in a series of immunizations, so we went from clinic to clinic trying to find the immunizations. We got our Hep A at one clinic and on the other side of town we found our Hep B. Nancy also got her annual female tests done. That was another adventure in finding what you need while not speaking very good Spanish! We also ordered the parts that we needed for the engine. In mainland Mexico, it is a real problem to get parts ordered and down here. They often end up in Mexico City or Guadalajara and you never do get them. In Baja it is much better and it only took 3 days to get our parts down here! What a joy. It is getting quite hot down here, so one afternoon we jumped in the dingy and went across to El Mogote, a sand bar across from town. You do not swim in town, so we were hoping to get in the water over there, but we just took Hopper for a long beach walk, something that he had not done in a long, long time! Boy, was he happy, he just ran and ran and swam too. He was so sore that night, we had to give him some aspirin. We are also of course taking care of all of the normal daily stuff like, laundry, shopping and always school. Mike and Nancy were also busy doing more projects on the boat, we got quite a bit checked off our list which seems to grow much faster than you can ever check things off. This sailing life is much, much busier that one would imagine! The schooling is quite time consuming and frustrating and the patience is wearing thin. All of the boat moms are feeling the same way, so it is not just Nancy, what a relief. She was beginning to feel like quite the ogre. Anyway, we are trying to finish out the years schooling before our family visitors get here the first week of June. The kids understand that this means that they will have a longer break and are pretty motivated to get through it all. One thing that is interesting on the boat, is that you do not have the regular enforcement or discipline tools. You cannot say that they cannot play after school, and you cannot not include them when something fun is going on, since we all go almost everywhere together. So, doing dishes for a period of time has turned into our punishment. Dana does dishes alot! While in La Paz we also had all of the dive equipment that we have picked up serviced, and added to the collection so that we now have 2 complete sets for SCUBA. Our next plan is to head north to meet family in the Conception Bay area.
Please click to enlarge!
The birthday girl wakes up
Birthday breakfast in bed
Opening some of the presents, there were more to come
The birthday group at the stable waiting for our horses
Dana on her mount of the day, Winnie
Mounting up and getting ready for our beach ride
Nancy and Dana trotting through the surf
Nancy and Sunny
The birthday ride group shot
After the ride, we had a picnic and tidepooling on the beach
And then there was the birthday pizza dinner party
The homemade cake was brought to the restaurant
And more presents...
Finally, we met another boy the exact same age as Fletcher, yea!
A cliff diver off of Mazatlan
Desiderata anchored out at Isla Partida, off of La Paz
Another beautiful cove and valley at the island
One of our many island explorations
Getting ready to go diving at Los Islotes
The sea lions were everywhere and would swim right up to you
Coming in to La Paz using the side-tied dingy as our engine
The famous polka dot ice cream shop in La Paz
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