(the abbreviated versions of what was up)
Update (as of 6-1-09) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
May started out with diving, for Dana's birthday activity, out at an island bird sanctuary. It was great to be out cruising again. We spent the rest of the month in Mazatlan with the boat hauled out of the water getting a bunch of "business as usual" boat work done. Being in the boat yard is hard work, hard living, and quite stressful. We did manage to have some fun times in Mazatlan, although we were starting to go a bit batty after over three weeks in the boat yard. It sure will be nice to be out sailing again!
Update (as of 5-1-09) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
April was so much fun with lots of visitors and exploring our surroundings. We also took care of day to day business, as well as looking into getting settled into the area later in the year. Mike's sister and her family came for a visit and we took them sailing around the bay and showed them around. Then some other boaters came for a quick visit. We were applying for our longer term visas, trying to get lots of school done, and take care of some other business that was still on the burner. We were so busy that the month just flew by. We are feeling a bit pressured, as we are about six weeks behind where we had wanted to be by now. Oh well, maybe next month we will "catch up' (yea, right).
Update (as of 4-1-09) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Well, you always think that things can't get any busier, and then they do. We were still catching up from February and then the kids left for almost two weeks in March. We spent the month in Banderas Bay, which may turn out to be our home for the next few years. We checked out schools, housing, jobs, and different neighborhoods. We sailed in a big annual race while the kids were gone, and then spent the last week of the month catching up from the kids being gone. We went into a marina for the first time in four years and cleaned the boat inside and out. Lots of work, but it looks so much better. Soon, we will head north for some more cruising to the north. We plan to go as far north as Conception Bay off of the Baja coast.
Update (as of 3-1-09) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
February is always a busy month for us, with two birthdays and Valentines day all in a row. The first two weeks of the month found Mike and the kids on their own, while Nancy was in the states helping out with her folks. They explored some spots near Barra de Navidad and held down the fort in the area of school. Half way through the month, Mom returned and got busy trying to catch up from being gone for three weeks. We quickly took off and explored the coast on the way up to Banderas Bay.
Update (as of 2-1-09) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
January was spent exploring the central coast of Mexico. After we unexpectedly acquired a kitten, (that we had no intention of doing so soon after our beloved Sia had died), we found some beautiful bays on our way north and met some great people. Nancy flew back to the states to help with her dad who had been in the hospital for three months. While there, she also spent a few days in California to work on some business there. Mike and the kids spent time in Barra and Tenacatita while she was gone.
Update (as of 1-1-09) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Half of December was spent at sea as we crossed from the Galapagos in the southern hemisphere up to Mexico in the northern hemisphere. This was our longest passage as a family and our farthest from shore. The passage was uneventful (except that our cat of 13 years died along the way) and we were happy to sight land. We spent the rest of December in Zihuatanejo for Christmas and New Years revisiting favorite spots and meeting new cruisers that had come down since we were last in Mexico. We loved being back in the land of delicious Mexican food and being anchored where we could swim every day.
Update (as of 12-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
October was spent getting ready to leave Ecuador for the trip to the Galapagos, while November was full of lots of adventures in the Galapagos. Tying up all of the loose ends before heading to sea for a week took more time than you would care to know about. We had a great passage out to the islands and reached them in five days. Nancy's brother and nephew visited us and stayed on board in the Galapagos, and we had fun exploring and seeing all of the critters there. We enjoyed a nice thanksgiving on Santa Cruz Island before leaving for our longest trip yet straight up to Mexico.
Update (as of 10-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Visiting, visiting, and more visiting kept us busy for the first two weeks of September in the U.S. The kids flew to Arizona to visit family there, while Mike and Nancy tried to tie up all the loose ends for the next year. There were still parts to buy, provisions to procure, and business to take care of. It was frantic until the end. After a very long trip, we arrived back at the boat at 2:00am. Boy were the pets happy to see us! After getting the boat clean and organized, we started the new school year. Hopefully, this year will go smoothly and easily. Mike was busy getting the boat mechanically ready for sea again after an eight month hiatus. Nancy was busy provisioning for several weeks at sea and getting the inside of the boat ready. You just cannot imagine how much work there is always to do on a boat!
Update (as of 9-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
For the first two weeks of August, we were busily preparing for our trip to the states and finishing up the school year. Before we left, we had a fun beach day in Ecuador to celebrate the end of sixth grade. The trip up to the U.S. was long and hard, and we were very happy to arrive and get some rest. We had a full week of activities in Southern California with all of Mike's family before heading up to Lake Tahoe to collect a years worth of mail and do our taxes. We got to visit almost all of our friends up at Tahoe and were successful in taking care of everything that needed taking care of.
Update (as of 8-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Half of July was normal, hang on the boat, do school etc... and the other half was an inland trip to the Andes and Amazon regions of Ecuador. Ecuador is beautiful and full of lots of adventure and ecotourism activities. From intense backpacker hikes up snowy mountains/volcanoes, to class IV river trips, to the cosmopolitan cities. It is fairly easy to get around on buses and people are very friendly. It is a beautiful and inexpensive country and we would highly recommend it to anyone, but you must like buses! We are now getting ready for a month long trip up to the states to take care of mail, taxes, next years school supplies, etc... as well as some visits with friends and family.
Update (as of 7-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Upon our return from Peru, after spending a full day cleaning the boat, we settled into a fairly normal life pattern for the month of June. We did school, including oral presentations of the kids term papers; the kids volunteered at a local school teaching English; we had a nice Father's Day and Anniversary celebration; and in general, had a nice, "normal" month. We are planning our trip back to the states for August/September time frames and are also looking at doing a short inland trip in Ecuador.
Update (as of 6-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
We had an incredible five weeks in Peru full of lots of adventures! What an amazing country. We hit all of the main attractions (Lima, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Andean Condors...). We had an e-ticket border crossing into Bolivia, saw amazing sites and views, the Ice Princess (a frozen mummy), inquisition museum, catacombs full of bones, cathedrals, monasteries, museums... Speaking of Ice Princess, we were all pretty cold most of the time. Almost everywhere we were was at very high altitudes and really, really cold. For much of the trip, we had all of the clothes that we brought on our bodies! Now we will be settling back on the boat to life as usual for us. After doing the next five week segment of school, we may take off and do a short trip to see some sites in Ecuador.
Update (as of 5-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
We are checked into Ecuador and loving living here. This is a beautiful, lovely country with wonderful people and great food and prices. We are settling into our new home anchorage and preparing to do a major inland trip to Peru where the expected highlights of the trip will be visiting Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. We anticipate traveling for about five weeks in Peru before we return to the boat for another twenty lessons of school before we take off for some more explorations of Ecuador itself.
Update (as of 4-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
We spent a fun last week in Costa Rica stocking up on supplies, taking care of whatever business that we could and catching some great waves before heading to the islands of Western Panama. We had a great couple of weeks exploring islands in Panama and diving before deciding that it was time to head south to Ecuador. We had a wonderful seven day crossing across a piece of the Pacific and had a fun celebration when we crossed the Equator. We arrived in Ecuador and had a pretty shallow sand bar to cross to enter the bay where the boat will be for the next six months. It is the first time that any of us have been to the continent of South America, so we are pretty excited to be here!
Update (as of 3-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
After almost 3 months, we are getting ready to check out of Costa Rica. We are next bound for about a month in Panama before we cross a bunch of water to get to Ecuador. The last month in Costa Rica was very nice. We were going at a more relaxed pace. We spent many nights in beautiful anchorages where we were the only boat. We saw lots of flora and fauna, did some great hikes and snorkels, and got some surfing in too. Two birthdays and Valentines Day were celebrated in the Gulf of Nicoya.
Update (as of 2-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Our plans for February are a bit behind what we thought! We are still in the Gulf of Nicoya, we ended up staying in Ballena Bay for a couple of weeks instead of a couple of days. We are trying to catch up on school, which is proving very challenging. We have decided not to do the planned inland travel in Costa Rica, but will do cool stuff when we get to Panama and Ecuador. We are loving Costa Rica and feel very comfortable here. For February, we plan on getting into Puntarenas to pick up some parts for the boat and re-provision before heading further south. Maybe, hopefully, we will get to Manuel Antonio Park by the boys birthdays over Valentines week! Then we will head to southern Costa Rica for the remainder of the month, before we leave for Panama on March 8.
Update (as of 1-1-08) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
January is being spent on the Nicoya Peninsula, exploring cool coastal towns and preparing to do an inland trip in Costa Rica. After spending a week in Tamarindo, we plan on heading around Cabo Blanco and into Gulf of Nicoya to explore the islands and anchorages there. By the end of January we hope to be heading to acclaimed Manuel Antonio Park to anchor, hike, and dive for a couple of days. We will see how our timing works.
Update (as of 11-30-07) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
November found us finally out of El Salvador and into Nicaragua. It was lots and lots of work getting the boat ready for sea again. Our first step out into the open ocean found us with a couple of unforeseeable equipment failures... like the chain plate snapped during the night and we could not sail... at the same time that the engine was having an issue, so we could not motor. Quite the predicament! All went well with repairs and we are back into the cruising lifestyle. We are currently in San Juan del Sur, in the south of Nicaragua. It is a cute quiet little town that we plan to make base camp for the next couple of weeks as we do some inland travel to Granada and to the volcanic islands in Lake Nicaragua. By December we should be in Northern Costa Rica.
June '05-September '07, SAILING INTERRUPTED
After much thought and consideration, the crew of Desiderata decided that it would be a good thing to take a break from sailing for awhile. Mike and Nancy picked the north shore of Lake Tahoe as the place to settle. For two years we fully enjoyed the mountains and all that they have to offer. We enjoyed skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, camping, backpacking, mountain biking and living in such a clean and pristine environment with great people.
Update (as of 5-31-05) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
May was full, full, full! We had a Guatemalan fiesta at Lake Atitlan for Dana's birthday, completed our trip to Guatemala, returned to El Salvador and lots of stormy weather. We participated in some local celebrations like a wedding and mothers day. A hurricane threatened to pass right over us and we had visitors from the states. We are working hard to get the school year finished up and we try to go for a beach walk or pool swim everyday. Nancy will soon begin preparations for her trip up to the states.
Update (as of 4-30-05) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Guatemala here we come is the topic of this month, sit back, grab a cup of coffee and read all about it. We had an incredible month traveling in and enjoying much of Guatemala. So many different experiences, colonial cities, Spanish classes in two different locations, jungle treks and lake swims. The local Mayan culture is alive and well and is a feast for the eyes in the small towns and highland villages. We spent lots of time with Mayans in a couple of different spots and have a lot of respect for their lives, experiences and knowledge. We left the boat and animals in El Salvador under the care of several folks. We will probably spend the next few months in El Salvador, and Nancy is planning a trip up to the states to take care of business and school needs.
Update (as of 3-31-05) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Well, if you thought we were busy in February, wait until you hear about March! We began the month with the grandmas still with us. We had a fun full day outing up to the mountains for a visit to a coffee plantation and waterfall. We next sailed up to another anchorage and had a fun day and night before saying goodbye to our last visitor. We spent a couple of days getting caught up on life before we took off for a week long trip to Oaxaca City. This is a beautiful old colonial city with a very European feel. We went to several archeological sights and had a great time exploring the city. As soon as we returned to the boat we began to prepare for our journey across the Gulf of Tehuantepec and our entrance over a nasty sand bar crossing into our next anchorage in El Salvador, This had us all quite nervous. It is a long and potentially perilous stretch of ocean. Our crossing was as smooth as could be and after spending one night waiting for high tide, we made it into the anchorage without any problem at all. What a paradise we entered! Bahia del Sol is a beautiful and quite extensive lagoon. The day after we arrived, we went with some other cruisers for a three dingy caravan tour of one part of the lagoon and to check out another beach. We also had a fun lunch with a local family that has a stick restaurant of sorts set up over the estuary. The rest of the month we spent adjusting to our new life in El Salvador. We just may end up being here longer than we expected!
Update (as of 3-1-05) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
February was a very full and fun month. We headed south from Zihuatanejo into parts that we had never been before and are wrapping up our Mexico experience and are getting ready for Central America. We visited several pristine anchorages that boats rarely visit and took our time heading southeast down the coast. We had three birthdays on board, Fletcher, Mike and the kids grandmother, Carole. We had a visit from two grandmas while we were in Huatulco and so had a couple of action packed weeks. We stayed in a Marina for the first time since May '04 (other than the boat yard in La Paz) and did lots of boat cleaning and boat maintenance getting ready for our crossing of the notorious Tehuantepec, a fairly narrow part of Mexico between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific where the winds reach gale force regularly and the waves can grow to large proportions quite quickly. After recurring fevers and general malaise, Mike and Nancy realized that they had been sick with more than just the flu since the beginning of the year and finally got to a doctor and are on the mend after a couple of courses of antibiotics.
December '04-January '05
Update (as of 2-1-05) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
December and January flew by! December found us finishing up all of the projects in La Paz so that we could head back to mainland Mexico. We had a good crossing from Baja across the Sea of Cortez. Our first landfall was Punta de Mita, on the north side of Banderas Bay near Puerto Vallarta, where we spent about a week, visiting some friends and surfing as well as celebrating Nancy's birthday. We had to hot foot it out of there to get to the spot that the kids were flying out of to go to Grandma's for Christmas. We spent several days preparing Christmas gifts and preparing for their departure. We were anchored in a large lagoon next to a small town, Barra de Navidad. This is just north of Manzanillo. There were several other kid boats in Barra, so it was sad that the kids had to leave just then, but off they went on their first plane flight by themselves! They had a great time spending Christmas in the states with their family. We stayed on the boat in Barra and took care of some projects and just had some quiet time. We ran into some friends of Nancy's from Santa Barbara that happened to be staying in Barra for a week, so we had fun hanging out with them, even went out to dinner and dancing!
New Year's Day found us at the airport waiting for the kids return. It was so fun to have them back! We spent the rest of that day unpacking and doing Christmas on the boat. Boy did they (and we) get some great gifts! We spent the next week stowing all of the new stuff and getting ready to leave Barra heading further south. We all had colds and Nancy got a flu on top of that. We took off, but then stopped at some anchorages along the way to give everyone a chance to recover. It was such a nice feeling to arrive in Zihuatenajo again. It is so great to be somewhere that you have been before, you know where the stores and laundry are and where to go to get things done and who to ask We spent the rest of January in Zihua. There was another kid boat there that we had met in Barra and we spent everyday at the beach with them and shared many dinners and kid sleep overs. It was very nice. We were also trying to complete some year end paperwork and finalize some items. Lots of work mixed with lots of fun. From here we will be headed south to Huatulco for a few weeks before we head off to Central America where we are planning on anchoring in El Salvador and doing some extented inland trips to Guatamala.
Update (as of 11-30-04) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
Well, it has been a long time, we were out of internet hook up range to update the website. So that explains the gap in time. We covered a lot of territory, finished up our California trip, got back to Baja, installed many new parts and systems on the boat and took off for our summer cruising grounds. We went as far north in the Sea of Cortez as Puerto Refugio on Isla Angel de la Guarda. We got to do several scuba dives, lots of spear-fishing, lots of fish eating and just general upkeep of life. We survived and got through unharmed a very intense local storm and a hurricane. The kids are growing and thriving, and school is back in full swing. Boy are we ready for Christmas break already. School is intense. We almost lost our dog, Hopper to a tick born disease. He was very sick and blind for the past few months. He is now healthy and has regained partial sight. We had a great summer in the Sea of Cortez. While it was a wonderful time, it did not quite meet our expectations, so we do not feel too bad to not be thinking about another season up here. Most of November was spent in the boatyard in La Paz. We had equipment repaired, took care of a large surprise repair and generally got the boat in order for the coming year of cruising. We are looking forward to a few days in Punta de Mita for some surfing as soon as we cross back over to the mainland. The crossing will take three or four days and may be pretty rough as there have been big winds for a week and that usually means big waves too! After that we will be heading to the Barra de Navidad area, just north of Manzanillo on the mainland Mexico coast, where the kids will fly out for Christmas with their Oma in Arizona.
Update (as of 7-31-04) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
July was spent on the east coast of Baja between Loreto and Puerto Escondido. We were mostly dealing with the refrigerator issue and getting ready for our trip to the states. We continued to go back and forth between the islands (mostly Isla Danzante) and Escondido. We also spent some time in Juncalito, a gringo palapa community just north of Escondido. We had a great Independence day there. We also explored some other nearby coastal areas that were no more than a couple of hours sail away (remember that ice issue?) We snorkel every other day or so, that is our main form of exercise and it is getting so hot, you need to get in the water. We always wear t-shirts and lots of sunscreen. We actually spend very little time in the sun, it is just too hot! We also experienced our first Chubasco (local, intense, big wind event)! Nancy was staying on shore with the animals when this happened, but Mike and Fletcher pulled the boat through the night. We have been doing summer school, reviewing some of the stuff from last year in the form of fun workbooks. The kids are enjoying it and it keeps them busy while Mike and Nancy work on other things. Finally, just before we were to leave for the states, a fellow showed up that knew about refrigeration and he fixed the fridge the last day before we left! What a relief to know that when we returned we would be able to store food. We had a long bus ride back to the states, about 24 hours total. We arrived exhausted and with a huge list of things to research, do and get. We hit the ground running and our first stop was West Marine for a cart full of supplies. We spent time with friends and family as we worked our way up the state. We went as far north as Sacramento before reversing and visiting more people and places on the way back south.
Update (as of 6-30-04) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
The beginning of June found us heading up the coast quickly to join up with some family driving down to Conception Bay just south of Mulege. We had a nice journey north visiting some islands and some spots on the Baja. We would sail during the day and then tuck into an anchorage for the evening and maybe a quick exploration either in the water or on the land. Snorkeling usually won out! While the family was here, there was lots of beach time and exploring a couple of new spots in Conception Bay. School was out for the week, but it took a few more days (post visit) for us to finish up the semester and have a big celebration dinner. We next headed back south to explore some other islands that we had not had a chance to see. We visited Isla Coronado to catch up with another kid boat that we know. While there, our fridge broke! Huge bummer. We headed into Loreto to see what could be done. We had some local fellows work on it, but no luck. After a week of waiting and playing the hurry up and wait game, we ended up ordering a new compressor and evaporation unit from the states and are waiting for it to arrive. Because of this lack of refrigeration, our explorations are limited to a day away from a store with ice. We stayed in a couple of anchorages at Isla Carmen and Isla Danzante, a day or two at a time and then back for more ice. In over 90 degree weather, ice melts so quickly! We either go into Loreto or Puerto Escondido. We are also beginning the planning for our trip to the states at the end of July, lots of logistics and lists of what we need to do while there and what we need to get as far as boat equipment and school supplies.
Update (as of 5-28-04) Please see the months full page for details and photos. Note: we will try to update our website once a month, so keep checking!
May was pretty eventful, we shall see what June will hold! We started the month with Dana's birthday in Mazatlan, what a fun filled and social day we had! After finishing our projects in Mazatlan, we had a nice crossing of the Sea over to the islands off of La Paz. We spent one week anchored out at Isla Partida before heading in to La Paz to restock food stores and make an engine repair (after ordering and waiting for parts to come in). The island was great, lots of snorkeling and beach hikes. We got to snorkel with sea lions at Los Islotes which was great, the kids loved it and so did we. We took care of all kinds of things in La Paz, immunizations, health exams, fixing things on our list. Got lots done and also working on finishing out the school year with the kids. We all can not wait to have a couple of weeks break from the school routine. All of the boat moms feel the same, we are about at our wits end. Of course after a couple of weeks off when we will have family visiting, it is on to summer school to study Mexican culture, creative writing and science projects. We will also be reviewing all of the subjects from the school year. We will be heading north, farther into the Sea as the summer progresses. In August we are planning a trip to California for family and to take care of some business/life stuff. Nancy is busy making appointments and trying to schedule everything that we need to do there and make sure that it all gets done. We will probably take the bus up to California through Baja.
We are currently in Mazatlan, about half way through all of the work that we want to get done here. Today is Dana's Birthday, so all sorts of festivities are planned that you can read about next month. Once we leave Mazatlan, we will be heading up into the Sea of Cortez for the summer. No exact plans as far as destinations, except that we will be in the southern part of the Sea for the early summer and heading north for mid summer and the fall. We will be putting the boat into a marina in San Carlos area for a couple of weeks in August while we go up to the states for a quick visit and to take care of some business. After November, when hurricane season is officially over, we will head south again. Currently the plan is to spend next winter in Central America. That is one of the things about this lifestyle, your plans can change frequently and frequently do! Flexibility is a must, as we are all still learning. We are currently contemplating going east instead of west next year. So, instead of going to the South Pacific, we may go through the canal and go up the east coast of Central America and Mexico and then continue on around the east coast of the US to instill American history in the kids and visit family along the way. Who knows, we will just have to see which way the wind blows us!
Well, we have completed the passages to our southern most destination for the year and are now preparing to begin the northward journey to stay out of the way of hurricanes for the summer. After a great time in Zihuatanejo including a very fun week with the Grandmas, we are leaving Zihuatanejo headed north for San Blas and Isla Isabella for some nature watching. There are supposed to be some great birds in both places. After this we will head to Mazatlan to get some boat work taken care of and to provision. When we leave there we will be headed up into the Sea of Cortez for the summer.
Greetings! We just completed a great sail down the coast from Banderas Bay where we spent January and February. It was our best sailing yet. It was smooth enough to actually do stuff along the way rather than just hold on and get by! We stopped in a couple of anchorages on the way down, and did two overnight segments to get down here. We are currently in Zihuatanejo, which is near Ixtapa. It is a beautiful bay with several beaches. The town is more of a small city, with lots of stores, art booths, a museum and tons of restaurants. It is very quaint, with many pedestrian avenues lined with potted plants. The weather is currently about 90 degrees in the daytime with 85% humidity. The water is 80 degrees. This is a big jump in temperature for us as in Banderas Bay the temperatures were unseasonably low this year. Luckily, in the evenings it cools down quite a bit so we still sleep with blankets. The kids are having a great time swimming everyday. School is getting easier to handle, we just had our best week ever. I spoke to another cruising mom and she said that it took her about a year to really get it down. That made me feel a lot better. Actually, everything is starting to smooth out. We are getting shopping down too. It is sort of complicated, as we need to all go and take a combination of taxi and bus rides. Then the kids sort of hang out while I shop and try to figure stuff out. Of course we cannot get some things that we are used to using, so I have to take time to look around for replacements or figure something else out. They are getting more patient with me and adjusted to this process and I am getting more used to the products, so it does not take as long as the first couple of times. We will be in this area through the month of March. Both of the kids Grandmothers are coming for a week. Everyone is very excited to have visitors from home.
We are currently in Banderas Bay, anchored out at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. La Cruz is a cute little town with cobblestone streets, a nice town square and a growing community. There are quite a few Americans and Europeans living here full or part time. Puerto Vallarta is also located in this bay, about 30 minutes away by bus. It is beautiful here, the bay is about the same size as Monterey Bay, and it is full of marine life. Lots of rays, humpback whales and schools of fish. And then there are the birds... both Blue and Brown Footed Boobies (one ran right into our dingy one day), Heermann's Gulls, Pelicans and Frigates to name a few. Mike always tends to anchor on the outside of an anchorage, and one benefit of this is that we have had several humpbacks come pretty close to the boat. One morning the kids and I went out kayaking before school and were hanging very close (but not too close) to three humpbacks; a mama, a very active baby and an escort. The baby was discovering how to use his appendages and was delighted to put on quite the show for us. Lots and lots of tail slaps and a couple of pec slaps. Pretty fun for the kids, and me too!
We are adjusting to life aboard, catching up on the schooling that we missed doing during the rough passage down to Mexico, projects around the boat (things that broke en route as well as some that we planned to do down here), and just general life. I have been hand washing all of the clothes, towels and settee covers, and just this takes quite a bit of time. Fortunately, the kids think that it is kind of fun to do the wash! They get to put bathing suits on, get wet, and afterwards we usually all end up jumping in the water.
Right now we are experiencing some very strange weather for this area for this time of year. It has been blowing about 25-30 knots (with gusts reported up to 55!), lots of thunder and lightening and plenty of rain. It is scheduled to continue for a few more days too. At times, the swells are good size also. Not the most comfortable place to hang out, but when it is like that, we can't leave the boat. Not to worry though, we have plenty to keep us busy. The kids did some art this morning, then watched a video. We had lunch and then did some school after that. When we finished, the weather had calmed down a bit and Fletcher went for a solo kayak. The kids have been gaining independence, this week they took Hopper to shore for some beach time by themselves. They are both getting into snorkeling, Fletcher is even diving down to look at stuff.
To get off of the boat, we have a dingy with a 15hp outboard which can move us around at a good clip. It has been great to get us to shore and also to explore other areas not too far away, but too far to walk. We have "discovered" a small sand and rock beach about 10 minutes away that we call "our beach". The kids love it and Hopper does too. There are two points that are good snorkeling right there. Mike and I saw the most amazing hot pink fan coral there. Lots of small blue and yellow fish of different species and the kids love to see the puffers. We have seen a couple of eels too.
When we do leave the boat, we can do some shopping in the town of La Cruz, which is very small. We usually take the bus into Puerto Vallarta (PV). The buses run quite regularly and are pretty cheap. They pick you up and drop you off almost anywhere you want along the way. The other day they dropped us right on the freeway, and we had to cross to the other side to catch the next bus. Now that is something that you would never do in the states. The "town" days are usually pretty long and tiring, but there are some larger grocery stores there. One day we spent just walking all around PV. This week we got off the bus and got on another one and went into Nuevo Vallarta. Lots of very large and expensive resorts. There is a marina there that when you stay, you get to use the resort facilities. We may do that at some point, it is not too expensive, but we are trying to conserve money as much as we can.
The past couple of days we have seen some great music and had a lot of fun hanging out in the town of La Cruz and also Bucerias. There is a restaurant/bar/B & B that is run by another cruiser. He has everything that cruisers need like hot showers, internet access, great food, a pool table (Fletcher is getting quite good!), and he is an amazing musician. There is music there many evenings. On Saturday night a couple of bands came and joined his band including some professional musicians from England. What a hoot. We are usually in bed by 9pm, but we stayed out until about midnight. Dana was dancing up a storm, Fletcher was fascinated by the spoon player, we all had a great time. The music was kind of bluegrass, country, down home, good time music. Lots of laughing and good songs. The very next afternoon in the neighboring town of Bucerias was a band called Bubba and the Bottom Feeders. Same type of music, including a fellow who played washboard/ percussion/cymbal. Again the kids were blown away. The fellow who played the spoons the night before was there, so I told him how much the kids were fascinated by the spoons and asked if at a break he might come over and teach them a little bit. Wow, was he good! He came over within seconds of the band stopping all ready with three sets of spoons. He worked with the kids for quite a while and was a great teacher. He is from Nova Scotia and learned to play spoons when he was a child and has been doing it professionally ever since!
There are many side trips and cool things to do in this area. Right now there are several on our list that we would like to do in the next couple of weeks. You would think that living on a boat and not having regular jobs that we would have all sorts of free time... ha, it still seems that we are often rushing around just trying to take care of daily stuff. Don't get me wrong, we are also having plenty of fun. Anyway, some of our interests in this area follow. We want to go to a small town called Yelapa that you can anchor out of. This town is only accessible by water and has some beautiful hikes. There are also a couple of small towns a short bus ride away that we want to check out to get some more local flavor and culture. There are three in particular that we are looking at, Jarretaderez, Pitillal, and Sayulita. We also want to go to Mismaloya where "Night of the Iguana" was filmed. There are some offshore rocky islands there that are great snorkeling and (surprise, surprise) iguanas too! They are also an underwater nature reserve. There are some islands at the mouth of the bay that are another nature reserve, the Tres Marietas. There are some limited anchorages at these islands, so I hope that we can stay out there for a few days and really check them out. These islands are known for their abundance of birds and animals, including great underwater stuff too. Of course on the way to see all of this we hope to see many more whales! We also want to spend a bit more time at Punta de Mita where we had Christmas. This is at the mouth of the bay near the islands. This is a great spot to work on surfing and is another good anchorage.
Our current plan is to stay in the Banderas Bay area through Mike and Fletcher's birthdays in mid-February (and hopefully we will have done all of the side trips above). We will then head down to Ixtapa/Zihuantanejo for about a month to explore that area. After that we will spend a couple of months working our way back up the coast to be in the Sea of Cortez before the start of hurricane season in June.