Sunrise in the Baja

Getting ready for anything... is a sort of anti-Zen proposition.
You are forced to imagine so many realities, that the one you actually exist in ( or do you?), is sometimes neglected.

Especially, when you are preparing to cross an ocean.

You try and remain present...
but preparing for a future, so vast, so unpredictable... requires an almost ecstatic commune with the fates.

Sometimes, I feel I am throwing the I-Ching.
"Will we encounter winds over 50 knots?"
"Did I stow enough paper towels?"
"Will tossing the iPad in the dutch oven protect it if we are struck by lightening?"
"Should I make three casseroles ahead of time, or five?"

My boat responds with stoic resolution.
Her voice is heavy with fiberglass and resin.
She is tolerant and generous.
"Do whatever you feel prepared" she says.
Then she groans,
and makes more room for us.
Ten more cans of tuna...
one last bag of ice, 
eight final sticks of butter...
just in case.

Jon does not appear to be casting coins to my oracle.
He has a sort of methodical, artisanal approach.
It is puttering and peering, mumbling at the engine, climbing the mast, flexing the rig...
He spreads out his tools  for a 1/4 mile on the dock,
hoses and clamps and bits of line and rope.
New machines are invented everyday, they materialize on our decks.

Jon's "to-do" list is long and mysterious.
I don't know what half the stuff on it even means.
"Don't you F-ing fall overboard..." I say to him.
This is is my mantra.
He nods and shakes his head.

We climb into our bunk at night and cling to each other in the darkness, 
We are thinking about all our friends from home and the other boats we know that are already out there, right now,

This is how every day ends.

When I wake up in the morning, I will look over at him and he will be staring at the ceiling.
I can't imagine how much is going through his head these days.
"Hey, excited?" I will ask,
and he will look at me and smile.

In three days time, we should be ready to go.

As long as there is the wind.
And then,  if the fates will have us...
we will be back in the Zen.

My boys

mom canning more peppers!

Kai finds a moment to contemplate the whole deal

The bounty of Flora farms
Heavenly greens

 Nyon pulls out from the dock next to us...Next stop Marquesas!

Jon breaks down the compressor for below deck stowage

Rivets us some new mast steps...So we can spot our entrances into the atolls!

Evening stretch

OUT through the IN door

I'm not sure there are a ton of places you can cruise for a year,  then literally go, "out the way you came in".

There are only so many anchorages one can stop in on the way to, or from, Cabo.
So we are retracing those first, few, baby steps that we made (exactly one year ago) as we nosed our way into the Sea of Cortes for the first time.

It is surreal. 

The kids keep saying how it all looks so different but it's not the places that have changed-it's us.

The kids and I went to shore in Los Muertos for one last hop around on the sand dunes. On the dingy back out to the boat, we passed over beautiful coral and saw two sea turtles and a giant sea lion dozing near our boat. We were supposed to get an early start for Los Frailles but we realized this might be our last chance to swim in the Sea of Cortes. 
The Pacific is just around the corner.
We are heading West now, too. 
Haven't done THAT in awhile. 

It was awesome to free-dive as a family again. 
It's such a pleasure to watch Kai and Hunter swim. How graceful they are underwater.  Each has their own style. Kai is sleek and streamlined, like a seal and Hunter wiggles and twists, her long hair streaming out behind her. The coral heads were about twenty feet down and everyone swam down to the bottom and hung out looking at all the juvenile angel fish hiding in the coral. We tried to take pictures down there, well see if they come out okay-That is something I think Scuba will be WAY better for!

Hunter didn't even have a weight belt on AND she was wearing her wetsuit. I don't know how she does it but she's part fish, obviously.

People always warn me to be careful when free diving with the kids, because it;s easy to get shallow water blackout if you push yourself too far-but the thing is, we never push. The kids never push. They just spend a lot of time in the water and are very relaxed. I think spending as much time as we have around air breathing aquatic life helps, too. There;s a definite pace to doing these things and I notice when we haven't been diving for awhile, no one goes as deep or stays down as long because it takes awhile for your body to remember how to be calm. How to do the slow, slow, thing.

We headed to Frailles and were surrounded by whales-this continued on the next day also, as we made our slow(  and no wind) way towards San Jose Del Cabo.
Whales were  everywhere, lolling about on the glassy surface. I had a ton to do below decks but I didn't get a thing done,  because every five minutes we saw another group of three or six or ten whales.-Mother's and calves or young males slapping their tails. I  stood on deck all day with binoculars, grinning from ear to ear.

We had the fishing line in for a hundred miles without a single bite ( not counting Bonita) until JUST before we pulled into SDC...then BAM!
The line went ZING and Kai woke up from a six hour nap and was on deck in a hot second, hand on the reel...
"Hey, we got a shark! " he yelled.
It was a young Mako-not too big, but big enough that we realized we had no protocol for releasing him. 
We didn't want to cut the line and leave him hooked. Both for his sake and ours-hooks aren't cheap and it was a good one-but he sure had a LOT of teeth.
We tried to loop a line over his tail and get him up that way, but very quickly it became obvious what  bad idea that could be. He was strong and we don't really know how to manage a shark on deck, we just read that they did it  that way on Kontiki -but those guys were nuts!

Jon did some sort of magic move with a gaff hook while leaning over the deck and we got the hook out and our little guy swam off unharmed-it might seem strange to be so protective of a shark but they are so valuable to the ocean's balance and he was so beautiful and quite trusting, and  even patient seeming, as  we lamely tried to get the hook out of his mouth. 

I'm sure he would have taken off a toe or a finger in a heartbeat if he was on deck, but alongside the boat,he was kind of puppy-like.

Anyway, I'm hoping the positive shark Karma holds us in good stead with the sharks of the South Pacific-which we hear are EVERYWHERE.

Jon might have to hang up that speargun of his for a little while...

Approaching Los Frailles...
mixed emotions

Goodbye Sea of Cortes- WE LOVE YOU!

Getting Gone

This past month was a blur.

Just getting ready for this adventure, has been an adventure in itself.

Imagine, shopping for your family of four...for the next eight months...
and doing it in a foreign country, in another language, where you don't have a car and you are traveling on buses and taxis or by foot, or on a rented bicycle.
Then, loading it all into a dingy, schlepping it out to your boat, through chop and current, and stuffing it all in a stowage space that's about the size of a school locker.

But this is the deal.

It's the price you pay, for getting to duff-off and cruise the South Pacific, living out your fantasies, like a a character from a romantic, swashbuckling novel.

Like all really, big, adventures-packing is part of the fun.

It gets you in the mood, gets your synapsis firing.
You know, it's coming soon and once it's's on.
There's no turning back.
So you get on your game face, pull up those big-girl panties and make some lists, damnitt!

Restocking will be out of the question until Tahiti ( 3 months away) anyway, and even then, it's supposed to be insanely expensive. 

Where we hope to go, there won't be any running out and getting that little thing you need from the grocery store, pharmacy, CVS,  gas station, marine supply, home-depot....
There are no doctors or clinics, no engine repair guys, electricians, plumbers, babysitters, teachers, no internet, WIFI, Google, no people to ask for directions, no take-out, no garbage man, recycling depot, library, psychiatrist, spa,  Nordstroms, Target, or Mac store...

Every day, Jon and I make our respective lists and dash around town-usually we split the kids up, too.
Kai goes with whoever needs the most help carrying heavy stuff...
and Hunter goes with whoever needs to talk a nice Mexican official/fiberglass expert/marine supply clerk/  or anybody we need to do something we can't...into doing it faster and for less money then he usually does it for.

Each day you check things off your lists:
sometimes, they are cryptic;
'Find the guy, who can find the guy, who knows where I can get this piece, of that thing welded, to this other thing..."
(this would be how I write it down-not Jon-he uses actual nouns when he talks about our boat parts).

Some lists, are intense and even attempting to procure them, will fill you with dread;
"Get the kids their Hep boosters and while you're there, get the doctor to give us two vials of that injectable adrenaline stuff, in the (unlikely) event that someone gets stung by something so poisonous, that their heart stops..."

Others fill you with joyful possibility;
2 new bikinis 
35 bottles of sunscreen.

There are the 60 trips (in a taxi or on the public buses) back and forth to the markets and marine stores and then collapsing, into bed, after a 16 hour day and lying awake all night remembering the hundred things you almost forgot,

Meanwhile, as fast as Jon could stock up on spare parts, things on Pura Vida would break down- but she is a boat after, all. 
this is also, just how it goes.

This week, it was the raw water pump-replaced with our spare-leaving us...with no spare.
and the fresh water hose to the engine...
and the bad-boy antenna...
and the foot pump on the fresh water tanks...
Then Jon climbed up and down the fifty foot mast, about thirty times, fiddling with our ancient anchor light and soldering up a new lower-amp bulb.

Once we had jammed as much into our holds as we could, we took off to the islands, to meet up with Manta one last time before leaving the Sea of Cortes.
Terry and Dawn were there when Hunter made her first open water dive, and as proud as we all were of her, I think Kai was the most  proud of all.
I wish I had a camera that day, to catch the shot of Hunter turning to Kai twenty feet down, with a big grin on her face. 
Kai reached out his hand and took hers and together they swam off after a parrot fish...
Jon and I and Terry and Dawn trailed behind them with big grins on our faces.

We celebrated an early birthday for Kai, Dawn baked a cake. They gave Kai the biggest knife any 11 year old ever got.
I keep hiding it.  He keeps finding it- and sticking it back in its sheath and wearing it on his belt.
The thing is so huge, it keeps pulling down his pants.

There were lots of laughs.
Terry and Dawn gave us a million spare parts and tips and advice but sadly, the day came where we had to say "See you soon!" to our dear friends... 

We were on our way.

As I write this we are, indeed, on our way... 
to Los Frailles.

The same bay, where I wrote "Oysters A  La Hombres" a year ago. Imagine, how different that whole scenario would be to me now. For one thing, I know more than six words of Spanish and I could probably teach those fellows a thing or two about finding sea food here in the Sea of Cortes.

I realize, now, just how little we knew about what we were getting in to, when we took off to come down here...
What the hell were we thinking?

Probably, the same exact same thing we're thinking right now.

" Let's go, already!".

What a bad idea!

Buds 4-ever

My soul sister

Captain ponytail

Isla San fransisco

See you soon, buddies!

A swanky neighbor at the fuel dock. She's called Venus and I guess she was Steve Job's boat. I bet he's relieved he doesn't have to polish all that stainless anymore!

racing around La Paz

The lovely Jasmine and Shannon-who sold their boat AND got a new one the trade!

What a difference a year makes!

I'm posting this from Los Muertos...

Sitting at the bar in the amazing hotel, the one with the toy trains upstairs and the crazy slide in the pool.

We were here, almost exactly a year ago.

What a difference a year makes.

We landed our dingy on the beach, this afternoon and stood on the soft, warm sand looking out at Pura Vida as she bobbed on her anchor. 

Seeing her, from a distance, changes your perspective...
It's a little like watching your kids grow up.

We are so closely involved with every minute detail of their well-being, every stage of their development...

We spend our  time ( because we love them so) focusing on what "needs" to be done, what can be "improved",

So they will be "happy" "well adjusted", "prepared" to meet this crazy adventure of life head-on. 

Some of us will also wonder, when they will EVER start cleaning up after themselves, stop picking their nose...or punching each other...or leaving the lights on...

Of course, we also already know every freckle on their flawless skin, strand of sun-kissed hair, perfect nail on a pink, chubby finger...
Who could ever take those things for granted?

But, once in awhile, if you are divinely lucky, like on a perfect, spring afternoon, you will see them for what they are.

And what they were born to be-even without your constant intervention.

You will stand on a beach and be gob-smacked by the sheer awesomeness of their design.

They will be  just sitting there quietly or laughing together or talking about things you had no idea they knew about already...

And you will trust, that whoever designed them-knew what they were doing.

And whatever they are destined for-is already in their bones.

Hunter makes some bubbles!

Cheeky Hunter tries to steal Kai's breakfast b-day thunder!

The shirt says it all...
St. Patrick's day nutcase.

armed and dangerous-to seagulls only.


I am not crafty.
I wear a few "hats" ( flighty actress, salty sailor) but none that I personally have sewn or knit or crocheted.
I am not AT ALL inclined when it comes to matters of glue or string or twine or things that require instructions...
I once made Jon a sweater-very early on in our marriage-that was so terribly misshapen and deformed, it could have fit Quasimodo better than it fit poor, loving, Jon-who wore it, out of duty, even though it was nearly as heavy as the sheep it came from and looked like it was knit with tree branches rather than knitting needles.
-that sweater met it's end when our 135 pound Bullmastiff  tried to mate with it as it lay in an ungainly heap on our bedroom floor.

Since we have been in La Paz, I have undertaken the somewhat "crafty" venture of home-canning.
I did not anticipate that it would be a craft-type event-or i would have thought twice before getting involved.
But I did not think. I forged ahead...without so much as a quick glance at the internet.
I ran out and bought a pressure cooker, here in La Paz.
I assumed that making jars of food would be more of a "cooking"  kind of groove.
I bought lots of lovely berries for jam and peppers for pickling and meats and chickens for hot packing...

Then, I went back to our rented hotel room (the one with two hot burners and lots of fresh water and a nice big table for chopping and jarring)
where my mother and children waited for me. 
I had imagined we would laugh and talk, while chopping veggies, and something wonderful would simmer away on the stove and all the while, row after row of neat little glass jars would appear, filled with goodies for us to dine on while thousands of miles off shore.

That's what i THOUGHT would happen.
The reality...was a little less sublime.

It involved doubt and vexation and a sleepless night of worry.

First of all, canning is NOT exactly cooking. 
It's more like science class-where everything has to be sterile and perfect and there's all kids of timing and numbers and pressures involved.
Okay. I can do sterile. I laid out clean towels and boiled everything.

But the real rub started with buying a pressure cooker in a foreign country.
It means, you have to be able to READ DIRECTIONS in another language.
Something I am pretty hopeless with in even in my native tongue.
And then there's the finicky business about EXACT recipes.
Which I did not have, because the recipes I had on the boat, all told me to refer my pressure CANNER for appropriate cooking times.

So,  I turned to the internet...
where I was indoctrinated into the culture of FEAR that lurks around every corner on a google search.
It began with just how TERRIFIED I should be of canning.
How I was flirting with imminent doom and the possibility that while feeding my family a pickled green bean,  
I might actually kill them.


It haunted me.
Every website I went to-incidentally, a HUGE number of people who write about home canning also seem to think that the world is gonna end and Jesus will come in a big, shiny Cadillac- warned of death and more death and lawsuits.  Even the FDA has rewritten the same old canning that grandma used to do...into something you need a PHD for.

I looked at my new Mexican pressure cooker with dread and deep distrust.
It was impossible to decipher the instructions, they were in Spanish-and METRIC-to boot.
Poor, old, ignorant, American me.

What to do?

I turned to my fellow cruisers for help.

"The internet says I can't use a PRESSURE COOKER it has to be a PRESSURE CANNER!" I cried  over the VHF.
"BAH!" said the Fleet.
"We've been canning for years, in our pressure cookers!"

Okay. This was good news.

"Will we die if I get the times wrong?" 
"No" said the fleet. 
"...just cook the shit out of it again when you reheat it".

Okay. I can do that, too. 

Thank god for my fearless fellow sailors.
Botulism? They laugh. Ha! You should see what we're sailing across!

So...Then it turned back into" cooking" and gradually it made a little more sense and so I chopped and heated and filled sterilized jars until the wee hours every morning while Jon took on equally life-dependent projects of making our boat ready to cross a very large ocean.

And here we are, two weeks into La Paz...

The kids got certified for their PADI tickets.
Kai rocked his open water and Hunter got her "bubbler" cause she's not old enough to get certified in open water-but she got to use her little yellow 40 lbs tank in the pool.

Pura Vida is back in the water, with a brand spankin' new bottom job and some spiffy new, red, self-ablating paint on her hull.
Jon has checked off the last thing (on the one-hundred-thing long) list of items that needed to be fixed or replaced or refurbished while we are here. 
He also invented ( with the help of a fellow cruiser) a nifty new hydro-generator for us-out of an old prop and some rope and a long pice of stainless steel tubing, wired into an old solar charge controller...

And I have restocked every single usable space on this boat with a six month supply ( for four people) of food, paper products, toiletries, medical supplies, schooling, art and music supplies and a few new bathing suits for everyone...
Oh yeah, and about a hundred "cans" of jams, jellies, fruits, chutneys, pickles, meats and poultry...

Look who's crafty, now, huh?
Grinding out blisters...
New bottom paint!


We miss you Nana

Boat chores
Hard working lad...