Touch of grey

The water clears.
The visibility is great.
Jon makes Kai a target for speargun practice.
They spend an hour hitting bull-eyes and then, distracted by the fishiness beneath them, go in search of the real thing.
Kai's practice pays off and he nabs a beautiful grouper-big enough for dinner for the four if us.
Later, I  will saute it in Mirin and Soy sauce, drizzle it with wasabi butter and serve it over sushi rice,peppered with thin slices of pickled ginger, steamed soy beans and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.
Yum. Yum. Yum.
Hunter and I snorkeled around looking for sea horses and were discovered by a very large female Dorado.
It was at least four feet long and silver and yellow. The big fish must have been slumming it in the shallows when she spotted Hunter and swam back in a tight circle to have a look at the strange little blue and black fish with the long blonde hair. Hunter screamed through her snorkel-understandably, its a pretty awesome experience when the fish checking you out is the same size as you are.
I swam up behind Hunter and put my arms around her. The Dorado saw me and figured out pretty quick that Mama was NOT something she wanted to tangle with but she gave us another quick pass before taking off. Hunter and I looked at each other under water with wide eyes. That was the biggest fish either of us had ever seen underwater-and man, was she pretty.
Kai saw her too and talked for at least two hours about how he wished he had taken a shot at her but she was just so impressive that he forgot to cock his gun.
Dorado is insanely good eating and a fish that big would have been an awfully impressive feat for a ten year old- but I was glad he got to just marvel at her this time.
Kai does a lot of careful considering before shooting. He doesn't shoot juveniles or anything we can't eat. He spends his nights lying in his bunk and pouring over fish books learning their mating habits and favorite prey so he can imitate noises to lure them closer to him while he hides on the bottom behind a rock. No one who has spent any time with Kai underwater can deny what a thing he is to watch down there. It's absolutely beautiful.
He has taken me by the hand and led me down deeper than I usually can dive, to find lobsters and sea horses and many many octopus that I would never have seen otherwise. He looks for signs of their dwellings, little piles of empty clams outside of a rocky overhang, tiny , camouflaged, bubble-eyes peering from between swaying fan corals...
Discovering things with your children is a constant treasure hunt-and the prizes are everywhere.
Eyoni has been hugely influential to us in teaching us how to LOOK-these people are like advanced archeologists and naturalists-to spend a day with them is to discover bones and teeth and tiny critters and tarantulas and arrow heads and to learn about a thousand things beneath your toes or your flippers that you might have missed if you didn't have an eye trained to look for them.  What a gift it has been to become friends with them.
The coolness of Eyoni

Ready for the hunt


Off to town

On the Malacon

Boys at the dock

Dorado fosherman
Tourist with prize from a Marlin
Finding a spot with internet!

sailor grrrl

running the Volcano
Tarantula-actual size!

Oh, Hunter....


I was paddling the other day when a commotion in the water caught my eye.
Three large dark shapes were hurtling towards me.
I knew right away they were large males dolphin-scouts from a pod swimming somewhere near by and they were running reconnaissance on me. We have seen them do this many times from the bow of our boat. The big males come to check you out, then bolt back to the pod and give the "all clear". Seconds later the pod will rush in for a gleeful free ride on the bow wave-then after a few minutes another signal is given and they all disappear as quickly as they came.
I had not yet experienced this from the board.
My board is about eight feet long and those males were MUCH bigger, maybe, twelve feet. They rushed around and rolled under me. I could see their huge, muscular bodies perfectly outlined against the white sand bottom. I was in about 25 feet of water, paddling against a pretty good wind and current, so my maneuverability was limited. I held myself in position as they rushed in and out at me several times-sometimes coming within inches of my board. I made some really good eye contact with the biggest male-hoping to impress him with my groovy humanness-as ridiculous as I must have looked in a yellow bikini, big hat and sun glasses, with a vintage Versace scarfe tied around my hips-Hey, you can take the girl out of Hollywood... but a little Hollywood is gonna stick to the girl.
I guess they decided I was something not to be feared-or missed-and they disappeared. I sat down on my board and drummed on the fiberglass with my fingertips, hoping to attract the youngsters if they came.
Come they did.
Jumping and leaping and twirling like a show at Sea World.  In smallish groups of five and six, sometimes ten and twelve animals at a time. I saw many more of the larger pod further out in the bay-it was kind of a "super--group" hundreds of animals hunting and playing as they rolled through the shallow stretch of cove, gobbling all the Green Jacks and baitfish they could swallow. The dolphins that came to see me were all with very very young individuals, some perhaps not more than a few weeks old-I even saw a set of twins. I guess in all my small-silly-yellow-bikininess I was deemed suitable for 'Nursery" play while the adults hunted. 
I spent forty minutes, all alone, in the company of baby dolphins and their baby-sitters.
They swam under my board clicking and squeaking, rolling over on their backs and peering at me with warm black eyes. I reached to touch them. I put my hand in the water but they always stayed just a hands width away-you could tell the little one's wanted to get closer. They would swim so my fingers would almost brush their tiny backs but then a larger, baby sitter-type would swim between us and warn them off. Sometimes the larger juveniles would jump out of the water just in front of my board and spin and flip. I thought they might hit the board but they never did. It was so amazing and went on for so long that I finally paddled back to Pura Vida-about a half mile away-to yell at Jon.
"Hey!" I had to yell really loud in the wind.
Jon came on deck, he had been cleaning a fish in the galley.
"Holy crap!" he pointed, "There's dolphins behind you!"
"Get the camera!" I laughed, as a big one leaped out right next to me.
By that time, most of them had already taken off, done with me and already back to the pod but we did manage to get a few shots.

Making new friends

Coming to play!

Just hang in' with the pod
Bye buddies!

The Scarfe clan was sitting in the lee of an extinct volcano, the other afternoon,  watching a moray eel prowling the sandy shallows under Pura Vida, when something absolutely bizarre happened...
The phone rang.
It was Jon's agents from Los Angeles with an offer-to play a preacher/werewolf on an episode of GRIMM and could he get to Portland ASAP?
Isn't life strange sometimes?


Decisions needed to be made...and quickly.
The deal had to close in an hour.

We radioed Eyoni, who were anchored off a nearby beach and piled in the dingy to discuss it over cocktails and appy's.
There was a lot to think about.

We thanked our lucky stars (and Jon's excellent reps back in Hollywood ) that there was a chance to act and make some money and all of this was procured while we drifted around the Sea watching stingrays do backflips.
Given our current logistics, this would take some doing.
We were a half a day sail from the nearest town with an airport and the airport is only open two days a week.
More urgently though, we live on a boat and you don't just turn a key and walk away from a boat. Especially in Mexico durning Hurricane season.
Jon would have to scramble to do what he could and would have to leave here before us-there were no more seats available until a week later.

Awesome Eyoni offered to babysit me in Escondido for the final final on the boat stowage.

Skipper Ethan and his beautiful and bad ass Nancy are excellent sailors and know the ropes down here-stowing your boat to leave on a mooring when Hurricane season is in full swing is no joke...
This being our first venture, I was nervous about doing it without my captain aboard. There are still. after all these months, some blue jobs that still remain more than a little mysterious to me. Having Ethan do the final dingy stow-especially as our engine hoist is broken and Kai and I together don't  even come close to Jon's upper body strength when it comes to getting it aboard- Ethan would run all the engine and generator stowage checks with me and make sure all my knots would hold if it blew 150 miles an hour in our absence. Jon, being Jon, would make lists and lists and do everything as tickity-poo as it could possibly be done in the forty-eight hours before he left.
This meant finding a good mooring and diving it to make sure it was secure, pulling off all our sails and canvass, making all the endless lists of spare parts and replacement parts that will be needed when we rejoin the boat. Meanwhile I would defrost and clean out all our stores-amazingly, our provisioning was down to the very last shreds of what I had planned for our journey-I was quite pleased about that! I would finally get to remove all the very un-needed extras, blankets and winter wear that we still had aboard-remember it was Feburary when we left!

Jon texted his agents from Eyoni that, amazingly, all could be done and the deal was closed.
We tied one on with Eyoni and celebrated the total amazingness of a universe that ends our five month adventure with a TV job.

We dingyed back to Pura Vida, who lay anchored in the dark night, at the far end of the cove. 
A lightning show from a Chubasco set fire to the horizon behind the outline of the volcano.
The sky was full of stars.
Our wake glowed brilliant green in the phosphorescence around us.
Manta rays glided beside us, glowing like pale green phantoms in the water.

In two days Jon would be back on set.
They will cut his long, blond hair.
And shave his beard.

We will take down our sails, 
and get on a plane 
and it will take us two hours to travel the same ground it took five months to cover and a year and a half to prepare for.
And we will go back home,
and pack up our house.

But the Sea of Cortez lives inside us now.
And wherever we go, we will wake to her stillness
and be humbled by her beauty.
Her deserts have set our hearts on fire,
and our children have grown strong beneath her mountains, 
and we have whispered poems beneath her stars...

And Pura Vida will be waiting....

For us to return.

We love you Pura Vida

Daddy and his girl

Sails off!

The crew preps to leave her
Saying goodbyes

Our Captain leaves us

Bimbo and Fud

I love writing about food because I love reading about food. 

Back in the glory days of Gourmet Magazine, they would write these incredible travel articles illuminating exotic destinations and cultures and indigenous recipes.
I would wait for the new issue every month and pour over the beautiful photographs, dreaming about all the places I wanted to see and all the flavors I wanted to try.
Really, for me, it does't get any better than this, traveling with my family, with my own little kitchen, exploring and tasting all the fabulousness there is in this world. 
Food is a universal IN...Food and Children. 
Go anywhere, and ask people about their kids -they light up.  
Ask them how they prepare, for their own family, that spiny lobster that they just caught, or what they make out of those unusual-looking cactus leaves at the market...and you end up making a friend.
People love their food. They love it if your interested. Imagine how it would feel if some exotic foreigner, in a turban, asked you where the best spot for milk shakes was in LA? Wouldn't you be stoked to tell them?
You would. They might ask you why everyone was lined up at Pinks and you would explain Chili Dogs to them and then you could ask where they were from and what the turban was all about, because now you're talking...
And you would smile at each other when you parted and there would be Peace on Earth.
Maybe not right away-but eventually. 
Eventually, it would happen. I think so.
Cooking aboard Pura Vida, with limited space and temperamental refridgeration, I am often faced with new challenges. 
My quest is to find a way to make everyday both exciting and yummy-if I can.  
It is how i approach this life. 
"Today we will find something and we will cook it with indigenous flavors and we might have to grow some sprouts in a jar in order to have something fresh-but we will make that fun, dammit!".
We share what we create with others. 
We bake cookies for Panga fisherman, we invite the rest of the anchorage for a pot luck and make Thai food out of local ingredients-and a few tidbits smuggled from the Thai market back in LA.
Here in the Sea, I'm often in short supply of just about everything-except maybe salt.
Simply scratching my t-shirt over a flat surface will produce great piles of the stuff. 
Other than that, though, we are usually temporarily out of something major. Eggs or butter, meat or chicken, fresh fruit and veg are rare and coveted treasures.  If one is lucky enough to find a pueblo, on market day, the freshest and juiciest things will only last about three days on a boat, especially in this heat-no matter how carefully or ingeniously you stow them. 
You just have to eat four avocados in one day but you will be glad you did, because you might not see them again for three weeks.
Reconstruction is a major skill in boat cooking. 
What is Risotto Milanese one day, becomes transformed the next day into Panko-encrusted risotto fritters with a fresh Salsa verde. 
Creativity is vital. 
There are currently eight thousand ways to make cabbage interesting. 
I am working on making that nine thousand, by the end of the summer.
Making it exciting and yummy and local, does not mean it always has to be grand or complicated or gourmet.
It's hard to beat a Bimbo PBJ - especially with a cup of strong, freshly ground, Mexican coffee.
Bimbo is the local brand of bread here. 
Occasionally, we splurge at a tienda and buy a loaf. We do this, despite the fact that we know store bought (as opposed to homemade which does not get refrigerated) bread takes up much of our tiny fridge's usable space. 
By "fridge" I mean, a forty-inch by twenty six-inch box, recessed into a waist high counter, which can only be accessed from a small ten-inch hole at the top. 
There is no light but there is a cold plate on one side that (supposedly) keeps this whole thing cool but alternately freezes everything over like it's Antartica in winter or thaws it to a Bayou-like swampiness. Anything that happens to touch the cold plate will instantly die of freezer burn. I'm actually not complaining. I am blessed in these matters. Most boats have much much less.  Many have NO fridge and still make AWESOME meals every day. 
Anyway, back to the Bimbo PBJ...
Bimbo- very white, sort of thick, soft and  sweet-not at all good for you but absolutely yummy.  Bimbo. What a good name for a bread.
Peanut butter and strawberry Jam.
If, for some reason, you don't eat white starches like half the people I know, you will never be quite as happy as you could be with some Bimbo in your life.
There is the always popular, post-snorkle snack, FUD.
This is a Mexican brand of bologna. It is found anywhere you can buy beer and tortillas. In most of the places we have ventured on this odyssey, those are the ONLY things you can buy. I admit to being mighty suspicious of FUD at first. I was not previously hip with processed meat slices...
Until one day, after a three hour snorkel, when the children and I were collectively low-blood sugar crashing. 
I was thinking CARBOHYDRATES and FAST as I climbed, shaking, up the swim ladder. 
It was then, I remembered, the FUD. 
I had bought it weeks before and had forgotten about it. I suppose I dismissed it as something Jon might attempt  on a late night fridge raid but he hadn't touched it either. Yet, there it was, waiting patiently, unassuming and never- ever deteriorating, no mater how hot or cold it gets in the back of my fridge. 
I pulled it out, smelled it... and decided if Mexicans like it, I like it.
Before I even peeled off my wet suit, I had warmed several fresh tortillas over the open flame of the gas burner, tossed a little REAL Hellman's on it ( LIGHT does NOT taste the same-stop lying to yourself.) then added fresh sliced cucumber, tomatoes and a few pickled jalepenos. 
It was modest, I admit, but the result was nothing short of unbelievable.
I take no credit, that belongs entirely to the alchemy of delight that is smushed ham and salt and fat wrapped in a pliable dough cocoon. 
The kids ate theirs while guzzling (sorta) cold ice teas and Jon and I shared a ( cold-ish) Cervesa and it was better than anything you can imagine.
Because it was yummy and it was new and the day was really fun and we were all together.
Whenever people ask me what ingredients I can't live without, as corny as it is, I always say;
Family and friends.
With those four things, whatever you pull together will be great but add a dash of Adventure... and suddenly you're really cooking.
Home is where the hot sauce is

Kai-speared fresh grouper cakes with spicy jalepeno and cucumber relish served with homegrown lentil and cabbage salad in a warm bacon and apple vinaigrette.

Renaissance man

That last entry was Kai's own words, copied by me, from an entry in his journal.
I would also like to add, that later that day, he drove our dingy over to our friends boat where he baked and braided Chala bread with the first mate and then learned how to tie shackle pulls from the skipper-he made three perfect ones.
The day before that, he made his dad a necklace out of a Sea lion tusk. He dug out the knot book and figured out how to adjust a complicated whipping pattern to secure the unusual shape.
-I had tried (in vain) to do the same exact thing, a few days before, for a gift for Jon and only succeeded in frustrating myself and wasting about two feet of twine. 
Jon and I were busy (napping) and Kai walked in and laid the beautiful, perfect, complicated, carefully made necklace on our bed.
"Here you go, daddy. I made Mommy's father's day present for you." he said, in his funny, sweet voice and wandered out leaving us shaking our heads in wonder.

A post by Kai


So there I was, thirty yards off the boulder strewn outcropping that makes up the point of Ramada. I take ten long slow breaths then with a final intake I fill my lungs with air and dive.
I dive down twenty feet. The usually warm water is chilling at this depth. I plant my knees firmly on the ledge. I lay and wait for something to swim by but nothing does so with a last effort i dig deep for my last reserves of air and venture down further. Seconds later, I see a Giant Hogfish swim by. Taking the gun, I brace myself to shoot but just then, another, even bigger Hogfish comes out of a crack. I take aim and fire...a perfect shot, right in the gills!
I swim happily back to the surface. Later on, my mom cooks it in a delicious curry. That day was one of the happiest days in my life. It was the day i shot my first fish.
A day to remember

The big Easy

Our beloved house is sold and we will need to go home to move everything out and prepare for a new phase of life.

What exactly that will be, is hard to imagine right now.
It feels a little intimidating, letting go of that security...Kind of like having your engine konk out on you - scary, but if you're lucky enough to be on a sailboat, you should manage alright... just put up the sails and wait and see where the wind and current takes you and deal with whatever issues there are as you can. 

As it stands, this new development rearranged our cruising plans. Rather than head North, to Bahia de Los Angeles ( destination, de rigueur, for the hardcore summer cruisers of the Sea of Cortez) we opted to stay in the vicinity of Escondido. 

In a few weeks, we will leave the boat in safe harbor, fly home to sort things out and figure the rest out on the fly, I assume.

The idea of Home hovers like an oasis in everyone's mind.
I can't wait to see my mom and my girlfriends. The kids miss grandparents and friends, Jon looks forward to meeting his first niece - on the way this August! 
We all miss showers and fresh spinach and In-and-Out burgers and everyone cannot wait to see flowers and trees and green grass. 
At the same time, the Sea has permeated us with it's dreaminess. It will be hard to leave the stillness and the sunsets, waking up to the piercing cry of Ospreys, the sleepy sea turtles bumping the boat or a clumsy juvenile pelican waddling along with you on your morning beach walk.

We exist between two worlds now. We miss our family and friends so much. We fret about work and money and what we will do about them in the future...but being here and doing this, has been so unbelievable, it's worth all the sacrifices and minor hardships - the constant vigilance to avoid death and bodily harm. Making your own water and power everyday or you're hooped, (as in dying, literally, of thirst) fixing everything that breaks when you have no idea what you're doing, being engineer, mechanic, doctor, therapist, and plumber on a daily basis, having to look-out every step that you, or your children take, for stingrays and rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas. There is the battle that is homeschool (some days), the endless rice and beans, the wet suit rashes, swimmer's ear and jellyfish stings, the salt-stiff clothes and never enough water to wash your towels properly. Some days, I get through by fantasizing about the air-conditioned sanctuary of Nordstroms and racks of clean, pretty clothes, I don't even want to buy or wear them, just touch and smell. I dream about a marble bathroom with an attendant handing me a clean hand towel, or eating lunch in a restaurant with fresh white linens, and a waiter serving me something I didn't watch gorking through it's  final death spasms as my husband stabs it in the eye with an ice-pick. This isn't most days though, and it usually only happens when I'm forced to bake bread, (in the 100 degree sweat-lodge, that is our boat) because we have run out of tortillas while Jon mucks out a blocked head-hose (a wretched, suffering business but the alternative is unspeakable) and there's nothing fresh left in the dank and dark recesses of the luke-warm coffin that we call a fridge...But these things are minor and pale, compared to the greater glory of adventure and self-sufficiency and the joy of allowing your children to be free and roam wild, to play on the beach naked and swim before breakfast everyday. 

A few years back, I was lamenting to Jon that I lost God. Not like, in a grand, soul-suffering way but as in...I don't believe in Santa Claus anymore. I had read too many books, gotten too hip to the game, wised up to the racket and I just couldn't believe in that hooey anymore..
As a result, I felt a little more alone for it all. I left the Garden and something died in me- a little of the magic was gone. Once you eat the apple you're out. Gone baby, gone. 
One of the great gifts of being out here in all this beauty, is that there IS a back door to Eden and I snuck back in. I don't have to believe the hype anymore but now-a-days, I wake up every morning in Gods arms. 
And she doesn't care if I'm good or bad or naked or wearing a sequined mini-dress.

We set out for Isla Coronados to reconnect with Eyoni and Ethan, Nancy and Zada. 
There are two other kid boats around right now, each with two children younger than Hunter and everyone seemed to end up in Isla C. this time. The other boats have small boys and Eyoni and Pura Vida make a good fit with our girls, so the beach was full of the sounds of little brown children playing in the water and the bay was buzzing with dingys zooming back and forth. We spent a day hiking the volcano and fishing.  The water visibility was poor and we were itchy to see clear water again, so we decided to buddy boat with Eyoni  up to Jaunico. We hung back for a day, as Pura Vida was low on supplies and detoured to the Sunday farmers market in Loreto. This was our first experience with doing this sort of thing while cruising. There is no real anchorage in Loreto, it's open roadstead but there is good holding so  it is possible to throw down your hook and make a mad dash for town and back again before the wind comes up. We left at dawn when the wind was calmest and anchored off the pier and raced in the "dink" ( dingy) over to the Panga( mexican fishing boat) dock with our lists and our empty grocery bags and the few items of trash we had accumulated. Trash flow is surprisingly low these days- but it takes some forethought. Even after weeks out, we usually only have one or two small bags. Every purchase you make on this cruise, you have to figure out what kind of trash it will eventually produce and how you will deal with it. Green waste is easy. We dingy that to deep water and feed the turtles but every bit of cardboard or paper, every bottle of tequila or hotsauce,  every can, or jar, every piece of tin foil, tape, candy wrapper, potato chip bag, every rubber band... is trash that you will carry for weeks.  In other words- you better really want that sucker. Some of the islands around here are National park, so you can't burn the cardboard or paper in a bonfire, either. We try not to buy anything that makes bulky trash in the first place. We bring our own containers to the tiendas and fill them with beans and rice, we strip the cereal boxes of the cardboard before we leave the beach so we don't  have it on board (this  trick also keeps the roaches off the boat - bugs love to lie hidden in cardboard-and many of the small pueblos we visit don't get a lot of business, so, those boxes of detergent on the shelf have been roach motels for years. I'm all for living close to nature but I refuse to play hostess to critters on a boat) everything is thoroughly inspected and considered before being allowed aboard.  
This is probably the best lesson on recycling you can ever teach a kid. It's an amazing pain in the ass, humping your nasty trash around for a month. Blue boxes and recycle bins back home are awesome but the problem is still, that one  makes epic amounts of trash when it just gets carted away and you don't have to look at it anymore. When all your waste is double bagged and stored in your shower for a month-because you can't make enough water for an actual shower anyway, or generate enough solar power to run the water heater and have your fridge still work- you (and your children) start to REALLY understand the concepts of REDUCE, RE-USE, RE-CYCLE.
I admit to feeling  oh-so smug when we show up at the dock, a family of four, with only a small bag of trash after three weeks on the hook.
Jon met a guy, awhile back who had CARRIED every single piece of trash he made for a YEAR in his back pack. Admirable, but...yuck.

We were told the Sunday farmers market in Loreto was "down in the arroyo". We had no idea where that was  and supposed we would just wander until we found it. 
We scrambled out of our dingy and some local kids on the dock helped to tie us up and took our trash from our hands.  We felt guilty for bringing our lock with us. These beautiful, brown-eyed children, playing in the water and smiling and helping us carry our stuff out of the boat hardly seemed like the shady characters everyone is told abound in Mexico, when you read the newspapers up North. We know that some places there is a problem with dingy theft, so that's why we bring the lock - hey, you don't leave your bike unlocked in Venice beach either...but the kids told us not to worry about locking, they would watch it for us. We gave them a few pesos and practiced our Spanish with them and all the kids and the fisherman on the dock were, like everyone we have met down here, absolutely lovely. The further up you go in the Baja - away from Cabo - the more entranced by the people you become. The are predominately sweet and shy and "traditional". Women are incredibly modest. You see families at the beach on Sundays and the women all swim in their jeans. Even when it;s like a million degrees out. They proabably can't afford bathing suits anyway but you rarely see ANYONE over the age of six, in shorts here. 

We met another cruiser coming in on his dingy at the same time, he and his wife and FIVE children had sailed the world many years ago and after wonderful experiences and thousands of sea-miles, they finally ran out of funds. They returned to Alberta and worked to refill the coffers for fifteen years and the kids went on to college and now he and the wife had retired (again) and were out here doing it once more. He was wonderful and he knew exactly where the market was so we had an excellent guide on the mile or so walk to the arroyo. 

The market is the weekly gig for all the farmers in the area and after church in the morning, everyone shops and eats and gossips, before heading off to the beach with their families  to eat and siesta and swim. Sunday is all about family and God in Mexico and everyone is happy and relaxed. The display was the best we've seen yet . While I loaded as much fruit and veg as we could carry, the kids managed to find some great cheap used shoes-they both have grown so much in the past four months that there's went in our "gently used" bag that we keep for trading or giving to the local panga fisherman. 

We lugged everything we could carry back  to the boat and raised the hook just as the wind came up.
Mostly, it's pretty calm in the Sea but for the next week things would be different.
There were quite a few systems converging and the Sea was kicking up pretty good as we sailed for Jaunico-we had great wind-but my job (below decks )of storing  all our goodies from Loreto was fairly challenging. Lovely, huge, Mexican  oranges launched themselves like grenades every time we hit a wave and eggs ( they don't come in cartons down here) are always a challenge until you get them stowed properly, especially when your pitching and rolling around. It was like a Cirque De Soliel show, with me juggling and balancing and dancing across the salon, trying to keep it all safe and get it all tucked away before anything got ruined.

It was blowing pretty good when we got to Jaunico and the bay was rolling with surge. Time to head back to the old" Ramada Inn" that we had visited with Mom and Cynthia. We came around the bend and there she was. La Ramada, safe and calm in the howling Southerly, just as she had been the last time we were here.
When we arrived there was already one other boat and Eyoni was just ahead of us, putting down her anchor. Eyoni has a centerboard, so she has, like, a three foot draft and can tuck up close to the beach. We got settled and thought we would spend a day or two before the weather cleared and we could sail back for Jaunico.

We spent ELEVEN days in Ramada!

The weather was rough for the Sea and Ramada was the place to be - we had one night where THIRTEEN boats tucked into the tiny cove. Lots of folks were heading North to Bay of Conception for the Fourth of July and Ramada was the only safe anchorage in the conditions. We all squeezed in and everyone kept a close eye on the storm cells building to the East. In the summer months, the Sea of Cortez gets hit with Chubascos. These are fronts that come down with a vengeance, from the Sierra Madres in the East and race out across the Sea of Cortez. They can blow like hell, (fifty knots) and are accompanied by terrific lighting-always terrifying to a sailor- and they happen, somewhere, pretty much every night. You just have to look East at night and you can see an awesome storm on the horizon. There is no way to exactly predict where they will land, so most people just tie down everything at night, secure your dink to the deck, take down your extra shade canvass and hope your anchorage isn't too crowded if one hits you. The big fear is being in an anchorage where there is an open fetch in the direction of the storm. Where the seas have a chance to build over miles and miles of open ocean and come straight in at your anchorage you can end up bouncing around on ten foot swells on your hook. Luckily, not many people have been through that but most everyone here has had an experience or two with a Chubasco hitting them smack on the head, so we prepare the boat every night and listen to the 'Chewy report" on the VHF for warnings of where anything particularly nasty might come from.

One morning, in Ramada, a single-hander had limped into the anchorage with a shredded spinnaker hanging from his masthead. The place was packed with boats and only Jon recognized the red sails of the big ketch and hailed the skipper on the radio. He was fine, just caught a bad break and his sail had wrapped in a big gust and shredded on the forestay. It's tricky to get those things down though and as he motored in and dropped his anchor all the skippers in the cove hung over their rails, watching through binoculars.  Skippers just LOVE a little drama in the anchorage - as long as it's on someone else's boat. The chance to go and advise and hum and haw and pull your beard and generally just shoot the shit with some unlucky bastard who's worse off than you, is irresistible. As soon as the poor man's anchor was set, every captain in the cove jumped in his Dink and zoomed over to see what they could do. It's a male version of the Welcome Wagon - only they bring beer instead of muffins.

The guy happened to have travelled the world. Forty countries in fifteen years and learned many secret magics from the Sadus in India and he possessed now a  great power over fire.  As a way of thanking all the Hands that helped him get his tattered sail down, he gave everyone a show on the beach that night. He made silly balloons for the kids and when the sun set the fire show began. He juggled it and danced with it (much as I did with oranges and eggs) and swallowed it. I learned later that night that swallowing fire is not at all good for you. As we were anchored right next to him, I spent the better part of the night listening to him coughing up his lungs. 

The good hearted Nancy from Eyoni rallied Hunter and Zada the next morning to dingy around the anchorage with a hat to raise some tips for the lonely sailor. They managed as much as fifty dollars out of everyone and somehow creative Nancy stuffed all the pesos into a ballon that she blew up and the girls presented it to him.
He was an interesting cat.
I didn't have the heart to tell the kind and good Nancy or our sweet little girls, that I was pretty sure the dude had more Moolah than any of us and hardly needed our charity.  Jon had been aboard his boat a few times and discovered that he had re-powered/re-fitted it out to the highest degree.
Another (lucrative) secret learned from the Indian Sadus, I suppose.

We had a grand time with Eyoni in Ramada. Nancy and I did leg lunges on the sand and gossiped and laughed while the girls played barbies in the water. Kai went spearfishing with his dad and Ethan, we all made many pot-lucks and when we couldn't catch or spear anything, we were lucky to have Ethan providing us with grouper and snapper and yellowtail galore. Kai got super excellent at diving for clams and he would just jump overboard and come up with a bag full of the most delicious clams you have ever eaten. I got into coming up with new recipes and we had curry and sugar fried grouper, fresh fish tacos with toasted sunflower seeds and homemade tomatillo salsa, Pasta vongole made with the el chocolate clams and chipoltle cream sauce. There was a Sri Lankan phase (inspired by the wonderful book - REEF - given to me by Aunt Marion) fish curries in coconut sauce, spiced with thinly sliced Jalepenos and served on fragrant rice seasoned with cinnamon and tumeric.
There was even a spicy sausage paella made with fresh clams and seafood made authentic by my awesome new Paella pan (given to me by Ceebs before we left) and precious saffron threads I (luckily) happened upon in a market back in La Paz.

Outside the tiny gastronomic haven of Ramda, the wind blew and the sea roiled and far across the ocean, giant anvil thunderheads glowered in hellish flashes of orange and red but we were happy and safe...and well fed. One does poke one's head through the hatch a few times a night though, just to make sure nothing wicked our way comes. Jon says I'm like like a meerkat popping out of her hole a hundred times a night, ready to alert the family if sudden an immediate death is approaching-but other than that, it's pretty chill. 

Ok. So, I take a lot of pictures but my new friend Nancy takes great, great photographs and she was kind enough to share hers with me so I could share them with you. 

Mucho love love love to all from all of us.


Iris Murdoch's Mexican vacation

I catch Nancy bustin' a chuckle

At anchor in Coranado

Ho hum another yellowtail sashimi dinner-caught an hour before.

dressed for town

off to market

Farmers market

Beautiful hippy and her to die for beadwork

Captain happy

I catch Miss Nancy at one of her many talents

My boys gearing up

 sunrise aboard Pura Vida

Portend of a good day

Hunter's wake up face

sleeping in the hammock

A girl without freckles is like a night without stars

Hunter naps-and impersonates her nana!

How you most often see Miss Nancy-gathering treasure

Skippers Ethan and Jon talk shop

The tattered sailor

cruisers potluck as we wait out the weather

Kids gavin a ball

grown ups havin' a ball- who put tequila in the Jello?

Miss Nancy at it agian


The girls hijack an innocent cruiser on his dingy

Mommy and Hunter Jade in tortilla mode-again!

Galley mates forever

Our baby Giraffe

Salsa verde

Eyoni and Pura vida potluck-not bad for four weeks with no stores in sight!

Fourth of July cake

The kids wake up to Mothra

Just me and the fisherman in the morning

Sunrise Loreto style

Hunter chats with Nana- finally!

A special message for my mom
And here are but a sample of Miss Nancy's awesome shots...

stealing a shower at the resort we snuck onto

Groceries in a pueblo

Worship at the alter of chilled

Super grody dessicated Tarantula Nancy made me pick up.

down is easier than up!



yoga married

Jon made me post this one

Kai steals the show with his folding chair performance art-he became a shelled creature returning to the sea.

Kai proudly displays his first Bermuda sling