Never enough enough

"one more time!" "five more minutes!" "throw me again!" We have this joke, that for our kids, whenever it's fun or yummy, it's "never enough enough. It's usually a parents job to temper the impulses of their offspring's growing neurotransmitters... "no doughnuts before dinner" "finish your homework first" " I'm not going swimming right now". "it's time for bed" It's how we teach them responsibility and how we keep them from becoming cracked-out, overtired sugar-zombies...but sometimes, for me anyway, "no" is just reflexive, over-tired parenting. It's easier not to clean up the mess again, It's late, i'm tired, it's time for "me" now and throwing you in the waer again will probably tear what's left of my ruined rotator cuff, so...."no". Here's what I've learned from my kids since taking off and becoming a practicing hedonist myself; If you eat the doughnut before dinner- you don't have to make dinner. You can have apples and peanut butter with the doughnuts and there's no dishes to wash after. Then, fine, leave the homework and we'll go swimming instead and while we're playing in the water, we'll burn up all that sugar and my shoulder loosens up so, yeah, I'll throw you off the boat again. By the time we dry off, we're hungry again, so i'll make cheese sandwiches while you finish that homework and then yeah, forget about bedtime, we'll just stay out here and look at the stars but then the kids fall asleep in their bunks while putting on their pj's, so Jon and I have the rest of the night(and the stars) to ourselves and we'll talk about grown-up, important stuff... like how we should have bought more wine before we left La Paz because, well, it's never enough enough.


Two weeks flew by...
There was mucho trabajo aboard Pura Vida while she lay up at Costa Baja...
While I was waiting for the bus into to town, setting off on my first solo adventure- investigating the mercados- I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride with Captain Dan from Solance-a mega yacht at the dock here. Captain Dan was retired Navy, then he ran a lobster boat off of Newport R.I.( my hometown) before moving on to running pleasure boats in warmer climates. He's been in La Paz for about twenty years, spoke excellent Spanish and was a perfect guide to my first foray into town-he chauffered me around to the good stores and when I told him what we needed done on the boat, he introduced me to the best canvass guy in La Paz. Our job was relatively small and we sure didn't have the money that the big yachts spend on their stuff but because of Captain Dan's introduction, we managed to get the best guy in town for a good price and he made us some new shade covers, bug screens and dingy chaps. We also had the stainless work done at the same time and the guy who did that was excellent too- He was the foreman in charge of building the famous "bean" in Millenium Park in Chicago! This was especially cool for us, because when we were in Chicago a few years ago (Jon was shooting a pilot there) the kids and I had a great time taking goofy pictures under the sculpture. Small world.
We had a rental car for a few days, so mom and I and Hunter drove around filling grocery lists and restocking, while Kai and Jon worked on the boat, changing oil and doing engine tune-ups on Perkie and the outboard and installing two new solar panels. It was a busy week but everything got accomplished.
One day, while Jon and I were driving around looking for some impossible to find engine part, we got lost and ended up in a decidedly "gringo-free" section of La Paz. The roads aren't paved as soon as you're off the main drag and the vibe is 100% authentic Mexican; skinny dogs sleep in the middle of the street and barefoot children wander between crumbling cinderblock houses painted in vibrant colors and overgrown with glorious sprays of bougainvillea. I was self-concious as we drove through the rundown streets in our hideous shiny blue rental car, ipad in my lap, following a GPS, that doesn't work in Mexico anyway, looking for an address that doesn't exist- and of course there are no street names or house numbers. I started tweeking a little, getting nervous and Jon was shaking his head, reminding me that these are just people, living their lives here and as I looked out the window at smiling women carrying their laughing babies and dudes cleaning their tools or working on a broken-down truck, I realized how cut off we are from what most of the world is really like. At that moment we came over a hill and below us you could see that this neighborhood encircled  another, smaller, walled neighborhood. About 1000 tiny shacks were crammed together behind a white-washed wall, there were no roads in there. The houses were all brightly painted and it looked very clean from where we were. We have seen photos of the favalas in Brazil or India and this looked just like that- we figured this must be a slum. I would have loved to take a photo of it because with all the colors and the backdrop of the red dusty hills, it was actually really beautiful but of course I was too embarrassed to hold up my riduculously expensive ipad (my camera was just stolen) and snap a photo. I felt, at the time, like this would be rude and exploitative. I was the same way in Tibet, with the people there. I never wanted to take pictures of the pilgrims because they live always under the scrutiny of the oppressive Chinese government. 
I wanted to seperate myself from those that take advantage of them. 
This is impossible though, really. 
Despite the fact that I wear my white, western, raging-arm-chair-liberal beliefs on my sleeve, I am still guilty. I tour these countries to see the landscapes and the lives of the people who live in them and I want to do it with respect but I  do it while staying in my hotel with the clean bathroom or my fancy boat in the harbor, I am in effect, not much better than the oppressor.  I feel compassion for the situation but I will never be anything more than a tourist. This is the conflict I feel as I hold my camera, wishing I could record what I am seeing but the awareness of what I am and what I have prevents me from taking the picture. Just six blocks away from the beach club of Costa baja-you are forced to confront the bigger reality and your place in it.
The next day, Jon was talking to someone, asking them about the area we had seen in that neighborhood. We wanted to know what people call that part of the city. The local word for "favala". 
"what do you call that, here?"we asked.
The person was confused. 
Maybe it was the translation. "You know..." we tried to find the words in Spanish.
"the place where all the houses are next to each other, the place behind the wall?"
The person nodded and shrugged his shoulders.
"is just La Paz" he said.
Pulpo gathering-they ran away when we tried to take their picture.

La Paz

We had a great time in Ballandra but decided it was time to move on to La Paz.
My mom was coming to visit in a couple of days and we wanted to get our bearings before she arrived. My mother is an 'adventure-chic"kind of traveler, always managing to find something unique and gorgeous at a good price wherever she goes. She had found a house in town with a garden and a pool for a week, after which she would join us onboard for a few days of cruising. Everyone was super-excited to see her and I was looking forward to a "house-break' with Nana-and proper beds and showers!
We are accustomed to living on a boat and don't really feel "deprived" of any comforts from home- Kai doesn't mind never showering, other than to rinse off the salt- but I'll admit to enjoying a little luxury now and then- you know, flush-toilets and all. Old princesses, like me, never really change-even once  they have given up their claw-foot tubs and learned to shave their legs on deck with coconut-oil and a bowl of water.
I told my mom to bring my favorite face cream and eye-brow tint and looked forward to pampering myself by the pool before setting out to take care of "pink jobs"- my end of readying the boat for the next month of cruising. Pink Jobs are Suki jobs, like anything to do with food, cooking, storing, stocking, wardrobe, decorating or style and anything requiring tact or grace. Blue Jobs are Jon jobs. These include anything to do with money, taxes, engines, computers, things that are gross or heavy and anything that comes with instructions. We share children and cleaning equally.
While I navigate the markets of La Paz, seeking out new things to cook up in the galley,  Jon will wrestle new valves into the kid's clogged toilets. I don't know... it works for us.
Anyway, we have a HUGE to-do list in La Paz and some upgrades to our cruising lifestyle. The list isn't cheap but the additions should make things more affordable in the long run. Our plans include;
Two new solar panels-summer months in the Sea will mean running our fridge more. Since it's ALWAYS sunny, the addition of two new panels will add enough power to our batteries to cover this-and we won't have to use the generator, other than for AC-power tools, watching  DVD's. etc.
We have been advised by many cruisers to add extra shade panels to our bimini-this entails hiring someone to make them as I can't sew a patch on jeans never-mind whip up complicated upholstery patterns. Being a tribe of blond and freckled people, we need our shade, especially in the Hades inferno of summer here-so we will take this on with professional help. While they're at it, we will have them make "chaps" for our dingy tubes-everything here melts in the sun and our dingy is one thing we don't want exploding from heat failure- and that actually happened to the last one we had!
We have to weld some new stantions on for the solar panels, so we're gonna add a fish-cleaning table to the rail-no more fish-guts in the galley!
And last but not least, if we can find or trade for a used stand-up paddle board, we will add that to our wish-list.
We have been warned by prudent cruisers, many times, to stay OUT OF MARINAS. They will blow your budget faster than you can say "maxed-out" on your plastic. This time we couldn't avoid it, what with all the work we needed to do-and the outboard overhaul involved needing a stable platform, so we're gonna have to bite the bullet this time.
There was a cruising festival in La Paz, the marinas in town were full, so we opted to stay out at Costa Baja. Oh my lordy, it was worth it! It was only 29 bucks a night and had a beach club and two beautiful pools and a gym and amazing showers and laundry service and the best margaritas in the world. As soon as we arrived at the dock an adorable seven-year old girl went bouncing by with her towel on the way to the pool. She and her three sisters and her mom and dad and Uncle Ronnie were staying on a very large, very fancy power boat across the dock. They run a successful trucking company and all live in Venice Beach and spend a week in La Paz every month. They have been coming here for years to fish and dive. They were totally generous and hilarious and laid back people. We came in looking as crusty and salty as you can imagine and they were on this big fancy boat but they adopted us right away.  While we cleaned our boat, they took Hunter for lunch at the pool and  when we were finished, they piled us in their van and had their boat guy drive us all to their favorite carne asada joint and then they treated us all to dinner and  ice-cream later at the best home-made ice-cream place. They were a blast. They had to leave the next day to go back home but we hope to run into them again this summer somewhere up the coast.
We washed ourselves and had our laundry done and got the boat looking presentable again and then mom arrived. We opted to rent a car for a few days so Hunter and I drove to the airport to pick her up.
What a reunion with Nana! The next few days were bliss and the house was gorgeous. La Paz is an amazing community and not at all dependent on the Gringo's to survive-so it has a real local flavor to it. It's kind of like Venice beach a hundred years ago-only there's cars and wi-fi. The only bummer was...
My camera got nicked. I hear this is REALLY unusual in La Paz as the crime rate is really low but I was a dummy and left it sitting out or something. I want to think it was my own stupid mistake and maybe I had like temporary amnesia and left it somewhere but in any case-it was gone. This REALLY sucked.  I've had it for eight years and we certainly can't afford another one-what with all the other stuff right now- but I can't do this trip without a camera. I was able to replace it and with a newer model, EOS REBEL T2i and it was the same price as in the US. There was only ONE available in La Paz but I got it.  Bear with me as I get used to all the new bells and whistles and hopefully the pics will be even better now.
We have now spent so much money in the last week between the new stuff and my losing stuff that we have made a commitment to staying out for a month when we leave. That means anchoring out as we make our way up through the islands. If we don't have any medical or mechanical issues, we should be able to do this. When was the last time you went a MONTH without spending any money? I don't think I ever have. Not since my adult life began. This has been a big goal of ours on this trip.

We will fish and gather-we dug up some beautiful white clams in Ballandra and I cooked them up and they were delicious!
We will swim and read and play drums and guitar and look at the stars.
We will write poetry and paddle-board and spear-fish.
We will make water from the ocean and gather energy from the sun.
We will yawn and stretch and count our freckles.

People back home keep saying,
"Yeah, that all sounds great but when does reality set in?"
"when are you coming back?"

I don't really know what to say to this yet.  I kind of feel like we haven't even started this adventure.  We're still trapped in that material world of "needing" things we don't have. Fish tables and paddle boards and camera's. We still want to "accomplish" things because we are taught to believe that  is the definition of a worthy life.

Until we get way out there, where the whale-sharks swim below our boat, when we haven't seen our wallets in a month, when I have caught and killed and cleaned all the animal I have eaten in a week, when half a day goes by with no one saying a word...
Maybe then I'll have an answer for them.

Every night out here,  I look up at more stars than I have ever seen, it is so totally astounding it makes your brain feel likes it's carbonated... and I feel I am nothing to the universe.

Maybe that is reality setting in.

new friends in La Paz

Bikini girls at the beach club

beach club at Costa Baja
Wecome to La Paz

mom-photo by Hunter
Sweetface Kai

nana love

Nanas house

we find a used paddle board!
Daddy's girl


 Coromuels it was! It huffed and it puffed and the wind blew like heck from the South and we bounced around like crazy on our anchor. Our ground tackle is good and the holding was divine so we weren't worried-just uncomfortable. Who wants to bounce around? Time to move. Plus my mom is due to visit us in La Paz in a few days and we wanted to head in that direction anyway. That morning, we managed to download a few emails and got the sad news that my Uncle Alec, my mom's brother had passed. As we weighed anchor I said a prayer and dropped some shells overboard for him. He loved to sail so it made me happy to think of him out here. It also made me think about my dad, too and how short these lives of ours really are. I'm so glad we are out here taking this time with eachother. I will never, never regret this-no matter how brutalized our credit cards are by the time we get home.
BALLANDRA was just a short spit for us, compared to our usual passages of no less than ten hours this was a mere 16 miles. Jon had a tip that we could cut between the reef in the middle and the sand bar on the point- it was supposedly safer than the course on the cruising guide, "local knowlege", as it's called.  It was nerve-wracking but he was a cool cat and guided us safely through and as soon as we passed the trickiest bit...BAM!
The line went out. We jumped to action.
"please, please, no more Bonita!" chanted Kai.
Jon reeled and we leaned over the rail with keen eyes...
"Sierra!" Kai chirped. There was a mere flash of silver back and beautiful golden spots.
How in the heck he knew what it was in that fleeting instant, I will never know...
But he was right.
And Sierra (Spanish Mackeral) are delicious! 

all about the focus
tying lures
I know you're  down there fish!

At last....LUNCH!
Four acted in harmony as One and we landed it, slashed it's gills, roped it by the tail, dragged it overboard to bleed it and I then scooped it from the sea and wisked it to the galley and it was filleted in minutes. A  moment later there was another even bigger one on the line.
We made short work of that one too, a much larger, Sierra.
I butchered it and threw it on ice in the fridge and then ran up to take the helm while Jon readied the anchor.

"Is that another Gulfstar?" I asked Jon as we entered the anchorage.
" looks like it..." well, of COURSE we anchored next to them!

Ten minutes later we were swinging on our hook and I was happily tossing those fish in the pan.

Over lunch, as we munched on rice and this most delectable white fish, perpared with nothing more than a pat of butter and some chopped fresh jalapenos- we surveyed the Gulfstar next to us.
There was a very tan KID reading on it's deck.
"look at that, Hunter..." daddy said.
We waved, they waved.
Ten minutes later two little girls were swimming over to our boat.
Rose and Gabby came to play.
They live with their parents on their Gulfstar ketch, PUDDLE PIRATE.
We swam to the reef with them and snorkled in underwater caves. They were raised on boats and were absolute fish, like our kids, it was a blast.
Afterward, we had drinks on our boat with their wonderful parents- Mom and dad fostered no less than FIFTY children in their home over the years before moving full time on board with their lovely girls. The whole family was inspirationally kind, funny and sweet-absolutely wonderful people.
Fast friends were made and there was potluck on their boat followed by a kid-sleepover on our boat and even though the Corumels' chased us to Ballandra and the night was hideously sleepless and bumpy the sounds of giggles coming from the v-berth made it a hoot. Kai was a champ and tolerated the girl-vibe with a grin. There was much singing to Adele and dancing to Gaga and despite a long night, the wind calmed enough by breakfast for pumpkin pancakes and the last of the sausages from Flora farms.
We were moving on the next day but we all agreed to catch up again in La PAz.

As we cast off our anchor the next morning a voice came over the VHF.
"Pura Vida, Pura Vida , Puddle Pirate"
It was little Rosie.
"Pick it up, Hunter" Dadddy said.
"you know how it goes"
"Rodger that, Puddle Pirate, this is Pura vida" said Hunter, to the radio mic in her hand.
"Go 19, Pura Vida"
" switching to 19" said Hunter and flipped the channel.
The girls chatted and said goodbyr for the eight-millionth time.
"You have a good trip, Pura vida, Puddle Pirate back to 22"
"Pura Vida back to 22" Hunter hung up the mic .
How cool is that?

Puddle Pirate

pumkin pancakes on Pura VIda

The beautiful and camera shy Rosie
Happy Gabby
goofin' in Ballandra

dancin' girls


Who doesn't want to go somewhere called Bonanza?
We certainly did, so we set out the next morning on an early start. Bonanza is on Isla Espiritu Santo, our first Island since leaving Catalina (and we are partial to islands-love you Bowen!). We were excited to get a taste of the first of the MANY islands we intend to explore while here in the "sea". This was a notoriously pesky channel to navigate-complete with strong currents and headwinds and square waves and the occasional unmarked sand bar. One of the tricks we have learned here is to row over to any salty boats anchored nearby with our cruising guide and get the "old timers" to mark our charts with their favorite passages, anchorages and tips. This also included tips on fishing, best spots for tacos, the local Lavenderia's  name, etc. Balandra came highly recommended and we had heard tales of clear waters and fine sands and good fishing. On the way, we dropped our "cedar plug" in the water and towed it behind the boat. It was a rough passage, dead on the wind but we caught plenty of fish- just none we wanted to eat. We were getting our technique down though,  as soon as we heard the "Zinggggggg" of the line, we sprang to battle stations;
"Mama take the wheel"
" Hunter grab the sea bucket and the gutting knife"
"Kai, gaff hook and net!"
"It's gonna be a monster!"
We were as focused as any crew longlining on the "Deadliest Catch".
Jon manned that pole like the Old Man from the Sea and fought the fish to the boat-only to discover yet another beautiful Bonita on the end. Pretty, sure, but not as tasty as what we were hoping for. Since we are not exactly starving for food we thanked the fish and let him go with as little injury as possible, then tossed in the lure again- with fresh hopes.
Our hopes were dashed again in terms of dinner but we had a lot of fun.
The anchorage of Bonanza came into view. A huge wind-swept bay of pure white sand and crystal water, surrounded by sand dunes and flanked by cactus and red mesas-like bluffs. What a sight.
Sailors take your pick, anchor anywhere along the beach the chart said-the holding's good everywhere.
Right on, on that, brah.
We noticed two or three boats tucked up under the far point and figured that was the spot to be.
Anchoring in these parts is a breeze..the only thing to put you on notice is the notorious "Coromuel" winds of La Paz. If the breeze is consistent form the NW it's not an issue but if it gets REALLY calm and beautifully flat...You can expect a strong blow during the night. It's cool air from the Pacific Ocean flowing across the low land of the Baja towards the warmer waters here in the Sea of Cortez and it can get "breezy".  Coromuel winds at anchor don't have to be dangerous but when your anchorage is exposed to them( and many of them here are) it can be uncomfortable and a night spent listening for a dragging anchor is never a party.
We found a spot near-ish the other boats and settled in for a few days of splendor.
Mornings  were spent snorkeling a coral reef on the point, afternoon it was hikes through the desert, building sand castels, collecting the dried and poky skeltetons of dead Puffer fish and pretending they were dragons come to slay the army of barbies guarding the gates of the castle. There were family skinny dips at sunset in the clear water and endless, endless shell collecting and well, plenty of just...gazing at it all. Hunter and I rowed around after a huge Yellowfin Tuna in the tide-line, we could see him clear as day below our rubber boat and he seemed to know we didn't have any fishing gear so he let us oogle his yellow finned splenodor for awhile. I bet if he knew how many delectable ways I can cook him he wouldn't have been so blase.
The next morning we checked in with SSB. We heard a familiar voice.
"this is Jacaranda, we're at anchor in Bona...ZZ...crackle..zap...crackle...ZZZ"
Then he was gone.
"that was the dude!" I was jumping up and down.
Jacaranda is legendary ( to us) because he was our first contact with another boat when we were just Newbies and  cold and alone and forty miles offshore (and 800 miles North). Jacaranda was the voice of experience, he let us know the weather would be warm and the water clear and there would be good people and boats full of Kids and all kinds of groovieness once we rounded the "bend"- Something that seemed very, very far away to us on that dark and windy night but he sure cheered us up and gave the burst of confidence we needed.
"Did he say....Bonanza? Is he HERE?"
The idea thrilled us.
We ran outside with our binoculars to scout the names of the boats in the bay.
Alas, the wind had died and we were all lying akimbo on our anchors and we couldn't make out anybody's boat name.
We decided to hurry though breakfast and then dingy around for a look.
We didn't have to wait.
We heard the buzz of an outboard motor followed by a knock on our hull.
It was Chuck, from Jacaranda.
"You made it!" he grinned at us from his dingy. He had just caught a pile of fish.
That afternoon Chuck and his lovely and talented wife hosted us aboard Jacaranda. I brought them an offering of four freshly made thin crust pizzas (I am bragging-I have mastered the dough, dammit and it is thin and golden and crunchy and chewy and it was a minor triumph of Nicoise with camelized onions and a Caprese and a Salami with smoked gouda and hot garlic/chili and last but not least, a barbeque chicken with bacon and sharp cheddar). Chuck marked tips on our cruising charts and gave the boys some insight into his  clearly vast and superior fishing skills while his very, very cool wife showed Hunter and I the incredible neckelaces she makes from pearls and shells and beads-they sell for thousands of dollars at the MOMA in NY. These two have cruised the sea for the past few years, Chuck has sailed the world forever and they will leave Cortez in a few months  to join their friends, who live on their barge on a river in France.
What a bunch of bores, hey?
We went back to our boat and marveled about how cool they were and how much of everything they know and how totally nothing we know and we laughed because it doesn't matter...we will learn, eventually.
It reminds me of when Jon and I first fell in love. We had known eachother for, like, five days.
" I completely love you"
" Me too and I don't know your middle name"
" I don't know where you grew up."
"Not knowing something isn't a problem, really. It takes care of itself eventually, right?".
" I guess." said Jon.
He had that "look" in his eye.
"So, you wanna marry me?"
"Of course".
Finding joy is easy. Don't over-think it.

let love be

Los Muertos

Muertos was hopping when we got there. There were only a few boats but the beach was absolutely jammed with tents and Mexican music was bumping from speakers everywhere- Semana Santa was in full swing. Was it really Easter already? We couldn't believe it. We had only left a couple days after Valentines day...Almost eight weeks ago! Wow, time flies when your having a ball. I'm beginning to understand how Cruiser's can casually say they've been sailing the Sea of Cortez for the past FIVE YEARS...
Anyway...The water was gorgeous so we had a swim. We had set our sights on catching some dinner on the cruise up but we were luckless once again, so a rummage through the freezer managed to produce ground Buffalo I had brought from San Diego. Buffalo Chili; black beans and five chili's-Anaheim, Chipotle, Serrano, Jalepeno and New Mexico with shredded cabbage ( our staple vegetable- it lasts forever) and homemade corn tortillas. Oh, how we suffer...
Water carries sound like you can't believe- we lay at anchor but got to party until the wee hours with all the mexican families on shore. Tuba is a big instrument in the Mexican music scene and it carries particularly well over the waves. This is one of the things you notice here, people love to have a REALLY good time. There were massive numbers of families camped on the beach. The smell of carne asada, cooked over  campfire-barbecues wafted over us. How can you not love this place?
The next morning we beached the dingy at  the swanky hotel at the end of the beach. We wanted to bum onto their internet, so we ordered a couple of drinks and some snacks, while the kids had a play in their awesome pool- A three level number complete with epic waterslide. We had such a nice day and the menu prices were reasonable, so we stayed for dinner. Plus there was an amazing train set that took up the whole floor upstairs and vintage video games-Jon totally rocked Atari-and since several other Mexican families were there on vacation, our kids played with their kids while we sipped Margaritas in uninterrupted adult- heaven. As the full moon rose over a flat sea, we motored the dingy back to Pura Vida and sat around in a blissed-out dream state- listening to the happy thumping of Tuba music...
A good pool

A great slide
Train set around the whole balcony!
Moonrise over Los Muertos

A sad sight

It was hard to leave Frailles, we were having so much fun-but our next anchorage was around the bend and properly in the Sea of Cortez-so we readied to weigh anchor. Frailles was full of boats -eight at anchor when we left! All of them from Mazatlan and looking to rest up before the jump across the Pacific to the Marquesas. The SSB nets were full of cruisers checking in as they headed out across the big puddle. The moon was nearly full and the weather was fantastic- we thought about our friends from Beau Soleile and hoped they were were having fair winds on their journey.
We said goodbye to the Fur seals one last time.  One of them was not as playful as the others and we noticed his neck was badly infected by fishing twine that had become so entangled it cut deeply into his flesh. He had a large wound and was clearly dying- his eyes were flat and dull and he swam lethargically around in circles, unable to climb the rock and join his family. We could only hope there was a shark lurking nearby, ready to put him out of his misery. It was a good reminder to always be careful not to lose any line if you can help it. It will disintegrate in five weeks from the sun but lasts forever underwater and causes so much damage to the sea life. We hoped he would't suffer too much longer, poor guy.
Try not to lose your lines!

rocks at the point

mutinous crew

Los frailles

We motored into the beautiful white sand arch of Los Frailles by late afternoon. This was the most "off-the-grid" we have managed to get so far. There was no cell service and no 3-g. There were other boats and a small hotel on one end of the island but the bay has a desolate and windswept feel. The water was aquamarine and the coast dropped steeply into the sea in a tumble of boulders at the end of a bluff. We dropped the hook and it set immediately-oh, the happy happy joy of anchoring in sand.
The wind was picking up a bit from the South-not what we were expecting from our forecast and the anchorage had a bit of wind and small swell to the lee shore. We sat on deck, checking out the scenery for awhile and pondering our set. The sun would go down soon and we didn't want to be forced to move by a bullying South wind and swell. There used to be a good southerly holding spot around the point in the charts but we had heard that it was no longer useable as it is now protected marine park. Well done. It should be off-limits. The largest coral reef, Acreiffe Pulmo, in the entire Gulf of California, lies just North of Los Frailles, and it's a no-go. Our concerns were soon squelched as a dingy from the salty sailboat close to us stopped by on their way home from the beach.
"don't worry, this slop will tone down and the wind will come around in an hour...
where are you from?".
We chatted for awhile with yet another couple of veteran cruisers, Brown as berries and fit as fiddles, they too were headed "across the pond" and to the Marquesas...7th time across the Pacific!!!
They had built their boat themselves.
While we were anchored there Los Frailles filled up with no less than SEVEN boats, most were finishing up the cruising season in mainland Mexico and had made the crossing from Mazatlan to Los Frailles, before umping off and for further South....French Polynesia.
 All of them had done it before, most MANY times.
I met the wives, first mate's all, and got tips on what to shop for in Mexican markets and how to stow produce and how to avoid pickpockets and what schools close to the cruising grounds badly needed supplies and I watched Jon's face as he listened to the other Captains' tales of engines and spare parts, variations on theory of fiberglass strength and where a good hurricane hole was and how to rig a temporary fix out of a plastic bottle if your fuel pump goes south.
I have been married to Jon for fourteen years. I know when something holds his interest...
I watched as he nodded and grinned and listened to these tan, bright-eyed Professors of Everything, with their bare-feet and calloused hands...and I KNOW....They have him.
THIS has him.
That night, as we lay in our bunk with the warm, chaparral scented desert breezes wafting  through our open hatch and a nearly full moon shining down on us, I turned to look at Jon as he read next to me.
I can see he;s reading the book Mike from Beau Soeliel gave to us, the one he wrote about sailing around the world while raising their wonderful son, Falcon.
Jon is very tan now and his hair and beard are totally blond. He looks like a Norweigan prince. He looks wild and amazing and totally switched on, like he could be wrestling sharks or fighting Marlin's with a ten pound filament.
"whatcha reading about?" I ask.
Jon turns to me, with a look I have seen before...
I saw it when he asked me to marry him.
I saw it when my water broke ( both times).
I saw it when we bought our first house.
I saw it when he said we should buy a boat.
"Chagos" he said....and smiled.

The next morning, it was flat clam and perfect. Something we will apparently have to get used to here in the Sea. Oh poor us.
We spent the next few days reading and fishing and baking-something that DOES NOT come naturally for me but I am determined to overcome my actress-induced fear of flour and become a wizard with it.
We took the dingy around the point and had a close encounter with some fur seals, we followed a shy sea turtle and chased a couple of giant parrot fish. Kai and Jon hiked the bluffs and Hunter and I built a babrbie-opolis in the sand, in the architectural style of ancient rome -complete with a miniature colosseum where Kai's Hulk toy would do battle with Barbi-zon's. We learned about aqueducts, as we supplied our citizens with running water for their "hair-saloons"...always popular in ancient Rome.
The water was warm and we swam and swam. In the evening we watched literally HUNDREDS of baby manta rays leap and frolic in the water. It amounted to what pretty much looked like an epic Manta-frat-party-belly-flop contest. Whole pods of them would LEAP out of the water and flap their wings like crazy and SPLAT down on the water or backflip or frontflip. Maybe it was to slough off microorganisms. Maybe it was to practice mating rituals. Maybe it was the full moon. Maybe it was just fun.
We did things too. Things resembling work. There were school pages and Spanish ( which is more like fun) and things to fix and things to stow and bake and clean and make water and power and make sure we didn't sink.
And there is always boat-gym. Where Jon must hoist the dingy up and down and the engine by hand-when we lost our generator, we also lost our dingy engine hoist- now it is Big Daddy and it's not so easy on a moving sea!
One afternoon, the wind and current had picked up considerably so we had opted NOT to beach and play and explore but to attend to more important matters onboard.
Mommy and Daddy were NAPPING.
We were awakened to screams.
Hunter and Kai had been playing some version of sibling torture on the afterdeck. We were ignoring it-a learned skill -when clearly things had bumped up a notch in the fear department. Hunter was hollering and crying and her voice sounded strangely distant. Kai was shrieking something about "ROW! HUNTER! ROW!"
"I got it" I said and climbed out of bed.
I came on deck to find Kai on the swim stairs with a pale face and a haunted look.
"I untied her...BY ACCIDENT!" he yelped. " She's going out to SEA!"
Hunter, in the dingy was actually shooting away from our boat and directly out to sea. She was already a good 500 feet from the boat and moving-down current at an amazing speed.
"Go get her" I said.
"I CAN'T!" tears were actually streaming down his face.
I could see why. The chop was considerable and the wind no less so and to catch Hunter, at this point, you would have to be FAST. Then you would have to get in the dingy and either start the engine or row back against the elements-which, at this point, were plenty for a grown-up and WAY too much for Kai, never- mind Hunter.
This was clearly no time for lectures, I dove in and swam for Hunter, before she became the first 7 year old to solo the gulf of California in a 10 foot dingy.
When all were safe and sound aboard again, there was much shivering and wailing and atoning for fraternal sins and all in all an excellent lesson was learned with no harm done to person or property.
"Well, jump in and swim for her next time" I said.
"I will" Kai agreed.
This is why one can loaf around in the Sea of Cortez without feeling like a total deadbeat.
Death lurks around every corner. It may be 86 degrees and no wind but you still have to watch your shit or you are screwed if you goof around mindlessly.
Like when we left the water hose stay on and it leaked all forty gallons of our hard earned water-maker water out and we awoke to bone dry tanks.
It's a learning curve...for all of us.
I'm just glad I'm a fast swimmer.

Kai climbs over Los Frailles
Fur Sea Lion colony

serious crew

Sea of Cortez

Fruit tarts

The Captain cuts loose

Can you see the sea turtle?

A ray tries to fly

Around the bend

So, around the bend, it was flat seas and not a whisper of breeze.
We called Old Perkie into action and were grateful, once again, for the Iron Wind.
-I would like to take a moment to pay homage here...
To the patron saint of diesel engines ( I think that constituency belongs to St. Jude,  faithful guardian of sailor's... and the mentally insane).
"thank you, oh thank you, for every time we fire her up, successfully.
We rejoice in an instant rumble and a steady RPM.
Sorry. I have to give in to these intuitions, sailors are superstitious.
It was SPECTACULAR weather.
Clear as a bell and dead calm. Perfect for whale-watching...and boy, oh boy did we get a show.
I think I mentioned, in another post, that we have been fortunate to see whales on almost every leg of our journey. Let me rephrase...We have been BLESSED.
This particular passage, brought the most amazing viewing so far, we saw at least 20 humpbacks. These, we guessed, were males, mostly, because there was a great deal of tail-fluke slapping and breaching.
Incidentally, the "guessing" thing has become sort of art-form and a large part of our lives these days. When you no longer have internet, or 3G, you can't run to Wikipedia, every ten seconds, like it's your virtual Mommy, so you do a lot of guessing.
We like to call it...WONDERING.
"I wonder if that's a male..."
"I wonder, is that what they do when they're feeling aggressive?"
"I wonder if our SSB actually does work, or are we just idiots and can't tune it yet..."
"I wonder what's around the next point..."
We pool our knowledge of basic facts and then do our best to amalgamate it into some semblance of an answer and then, we simply sit back and watch in...WONDER.
As it turns out, not knowing everything about everything does not actually lessen the experience. In fact, it does the opposite. Hours spent on the foredeck, witnessing whales busy breaching and blowing and doing headstands with their tales floating above a flat and windless sea...who knows what they are really up to. Who cares?  I mean, what are WE doing out here? Two actors, with nothing but a great boat and a couple of great kids and a few plastic credit cards doing, floating around in the gulf of California? I challenge science to explain it.

It's fun. That's pretty much all there is to it.

Looks like a male to me