La Paz, Moving Ashore

After a delightful several months back in Australia it was time, in early April, to return home to La Paz with many changes rapidly approaching.  Sonrisa was in good condition with our dear Friends Rennie and Denny aboard to welcome us back, quite a change from an empty yacht!

We had hoped to move into our leased house in downtown La Paz at the end of April, but we are in Mexico so that was dragged out to the first week of June while the house had some major renovations (and still is). We trotted off to get our Mexican residency cards, arrange for Mexican bank accounts, Hauled Sonrisa out for the first time in 3 years so a busy time to say the least.

After 3 weeks in the house we are finally settling in, Mel and the boys adapting much quicker than me.   After a relatively simple 10 years on Sonrisa, we are now truly back in the ‘system’.  While most couples at my age are probably contemplating retirement I seem to have it around the other way as we get Sonrisa ready for charters and Mel starts her Nutritional consulting (ww.sonrisalivingyachtcharters.com and fb; Nutrition is Mel).

As the days really start to heat up, having some space (and air con) is a treat.  We are just a couple of minutes from the Malecon, with a nice little pool and garden plus a fully self-contained ‘Casita’ for friends should any wish to visit.  The next year or two will give us an opportunity to see how we feel about possibly buying / building in La Paz – certainely a change from living on Sonrisa !

Tasmania and Travels

After 5 months in Australia it is finally time to return to La Paz and Sonrisa – lots of changes as we move ashore and get Sonrisa ready for charters.  A wonderful time in Tasmania and Victoria visiting friends and family.  Plenty achieved as the shed is now rented out and the farm looks a bit tidier. Mel has just one more unit to complete her Nutritional Medicine course as she has finished all her practical units in Melbourne. A great week at Namotu Island surfing with Ian, Lyn and Sophie Lyon.  We now have our Mexican Permanent Residency visas – the Mexican Embassy incredibly helpful, pity Australian immigration cannot be so helpful!

The boys completed several weeks of school at the Dunalley school, they were a bit sad to leave. The camping trip to Lime Bay with Kevin, our Californian friend a real treat, apart from some pretty usual Tasmanian weather. We finally decided to keep our Tasmania property, who knows when we might need a safe place to return to!

Tasmania

The wedding anniversary went as well as the previous, nearly, 20 years with lots of laughs, a few drinks and many memories to mull over, pity they come around so quickly.

Now a month in Tasmania, with the boys enjoying the return to the Dunalley Primary school, their friends next door, Ollie and Ella and life amongst the gum trees. We wonder off most afternoons for an hour walk along Marion Bay beach, hardly a soul in sight, the moods of the Tasman Sea still entice us to contemplate the ways of the crazy world. Initially our intentions were to put Lavanga on the market, but that is fading as the numerous bird’s chirp and sing their alluring songs, while the sublime scenery of green paddocks, ocean and trees draw us back – we will see!

Pete and Annie, Mels folks have settled in, with their caravan conveniently parked outside the shed. Evening meals and the morning ‘cuppa’ give us plenty of time to chat and catch up on several years of travels. Most of the inside of the shed is now tidy and all the accumulated junk removed.  Plenty of grass cutting around the shed and orchard will keep me busy over the summer months, also grubbing out the dead Apricot trees.

It has been good to catch up with my brother and Father after a long period, not much has changed there.  We are all looking forward to Paul’s (mels brother) visit just before Christmas – a great Ward reunion.

The weekend before Mel finishes the FINAL part of her Nutritional Medicine course in Melbourne we managed to slip down to Foster to visit the boys Ben parents Ian and Lynne Lyon and most of their family who were seeing Sam, their son, off as he heads to Canada and beyond – lots of laughs and great food !

Newton, Ben’s B’day, preparing for Tasmania

So Newton passed by with minimal effects to Sonrisa – electricity was out for a few hours with some 50 knots being recorded in the marina. A normal thunderstorm shuts down La Paz due to the poor drainage so it was a couple of days until the boys returned to school.  Plenty of trees down but otherwise La Paz came off lightly.

Ben’s 10th birthday was celebrated out at Espiritu Santo with just the family. A few friends came to the Costa Baja Beach Club, but with the  enforced restriction of only 4 guests we ended up on the beach – still a delightful afternoon.  It really is incredible that it was 10 years ago he crossed the Atlantic as a toddler, one really needs to enjoy these times, gone far too soon.

We now have a week in Puerto Vallarta (sin ninos) for our 14th wedding anniversary, another milestone I find hard to appreciate, again seems like last week Mel and I were working on Wild B in Italy.

Just before we head to Tasmania in November our dear friends from Seattle Rennie and Denny are coming to stay on Sonrisa – a great opportunity for us to repay their incredible hospitality.

Tasmania will be an interesting time as we sort out our lives, Mexican permanent residency and whether to sell the farm in Tasmania.  We are all looking forward to seeing Pete and Annie (Mel’s mum and step father) and I to seeing my father and brother after several years.

Vancouver, Colorado and back to La Paz

Vancouver really is one of the most picturesque cities around, with all the bicycling and walking paths we never had to resort to a car. The Canadian dollar being on par with the ozzie dollar made life that much more bearable and enjoyable.  So a big thanks to Gary and Jeanine for allowing us to stay for several days – a fantastic location.

Onto Edwards with our delightful friends Gareth and Lea, Stewie and Avi (the dogs). Being a non skier (well I can but choose not to) summer brought delightful walks and river rafting, our friends hospitality second to none – thanks G & L !!

Finally a night in Denver at the Crawford hotel and a sumptuous meal with our ever generous host Chad McWinney – the meal at Stoic and Genuine, as last time, unforgettable – thanks Chad!!

Back in La Paz, with a pretty warm September – as I am writing this Hurricane Newton is some 24 hours away so the decks on Sonrisa looking very clean.  Hopefully the 20 odd lines holding Sonrisa tight will be enough.

Summer Travels

With the temperature’s steadily rising in La Paz the old air con unit came out of storage and we started to really look forward to our 2 months in Seattle. We managed to get out to Espiritu Santo Island most weekends for cooler times and the busy school days.

A few days to prepare Sonrisa for cyclone season – a very bare yacht with all sails, halyards, covers off. We found a good home for Peluchie our family cat for the last 18 months, with 2 months away now and then the 5 month trip to Tasmania in November it was just too complicated to keep him on Sonrisa – a very sad day when he left.

Our first stop in Seattle was to Denny and Rennies, our cruising friends from Columbia several years ago – such a warm welcome.  As per last year we were able to use their house for the many deliveries of ‘stuff’ that is so hard to get in La Paz.  Ben set off on his big solo adventure to Palawopce Summer camp for 2 weeks with the daughters of our other Seattle ‘family’ Brent and Kristen. His first unaccompanied flight, we were so proud of him as he set off.  An interesting time for Huon also as this was the first instance when they have been separated – in the end the parents stressing more than the boys!

As we did last year, a magic several days down at Stretch Island in Southern Puget Sound, July 4th fireworks, kayaking, crabbing etc with Huon happily being a shadow to 3 older boys – now one of a pack taking on all the fashions and actions of the older boys.

Plenty of activities in Seattle over the next 6 weeks along with a pleasant offer to stay in their house in Vancouver from other cruising friends we met in Costa Rica in 2010, Gary and Jeanine from High 5 – they are taking their yacht down to La Paz, and Costa Baja Marina over the summer.

Finally we have 10 days in Colorado with Gareth and Leah – lots too enjoy.

Sweet Spring

Spring is really a delightful time around La Paz, days are sunny in the high 20’s, with usually a brisk afternoon northerly, nights cool enough for a doona, water still a little fresh but great for a dip.

Easter, as always a pleasant time up around Isla San Jose and San Everisto.  Just the odd other yacht floating around. Two weeks just getting back into the cruising mode as we are now tied to the marina most of the time.

Our dear friends Gareth and Leah, visited for a week’s test run at chartering Sonrisa.  Rather difficult to get them to make honest ‘comments’ on the suitability of Sonrisa for our planned charters next year, an ‘Ice Machine’ was high on the list.  The highlight was the diving with seals at Isla Los Islotes, where the seals where very happy to perform for the camera with an apple as a toy.  A really wonderful trip with excellent weather.

Last weekend we visited La Duna for an evening with several of our local Mexican families.  This rustic and very environmentally friendly resort provides a magic location just to chill and chat for the children and adults (that went very late into the evening).

Now several weeks of ‘normal’ living before we head up to Seattle for 6 weeks at the end of June.

La Paz and Caribbean

 

 

February was rather quite, school runs, Mel studying all rather domestic. I popped down to Barra Navidad, south of Puerto Vallarta to bring Princess 1 back to La Paz, as expected on the nose most of the way so, double the time taken to get down there, some 3 days for some 350 miles much of the time at around 7 knots. A few days later to Cabo San Lucas so she could be hauled out for her yearly maintenance.
We had a magnificent week with our dear friends from Monaco, Poala, Antoine and Daniel their 6 year old son. Some fun day trips driving near La Paz and 4 days at our beach Bonanza, hopefully saw them ‘chill’ from hectic work load. Our new old two car family made arrangements easy. Mel was also busy for a few days helping arrange provisions for a couple of large yachts, something we might consider more of later on.
Finally we actually had some of that thing called work. Princess Two in the Caribbean was within days without a crew – Mel biting the bullet, agreed to come along for 4 weeks to cook. Leaving the boys for such a time was a very big decision, but with our delightful La Paz friends and children Igor and Daniella we could feel they were in very safe hands.
Princess Two was in St Thomas the US Virgin Islands, the first demonstration trip was cancelled and the second charter with guest from Mexico city is best not talked about we did our best in trying conditions with untrained crew – the fact that the two Mexican crew were left tips and the 3 Anglo Saxons were not says it all – funny to experience a little discrimination on our side, makes one respect what other non-white Anglo Saxon cultures have to deal with. Our taxi driver, Sobers, providing me with several hours of laughs as we went shopping for parts and food.
With 4 crew for the 900 mile trip from St Thomas to the Bahamas a couple of long nights, made longer by the 10 minute departure in the Turks and Caicos of the rather useless South African stewardess.
Now in Hurricane Hole Marina for the last day of a very quick two day hand over to the 4 new crew. Cipriano, our hard working and delightful Mexican mariner will stay until the boat heads to Florida in April. Nassau interesting to say the least – so typically the wealthy and pretentious cruise liners, Atlantis resort where WiFi at $25 /day $40 for a few cartons of milk and a packet of cereals and on the other side of the bridge poverty to the extreme.
Looking forward to being back on Sonrisa with the boys and Peluchie for the normal Easter cruise.

Christmas and San Diego

As with last year we headed out to Playa Bonanza for a family week over Christmas. Clear sunny, blue skies, a magic empty beach and just a few other yachts around made for a delightful and relaxing time.
We flew up to San Diego before New Year to stay with our friends in San Diego. Trips to see the de commissioned aircraft carrier Midway and a trip to the expansive San Diego Zoo were the touristy highlights. Our Friends Alex and Dariella sold us their old Mitsubishi Montero, which will deal with the Mexican roads and crazy traffic much better than the aging Subaru.
By train we headed north for a few days to Santa Barbara to see our old friends Kevin and Carolyn – what a magic house they have near the beach, with many Asian touches from their house in Bali. We all had fun in this tranquil town, Mel particularly enjoying the shopping!
After getting the Montero serviced we cruised down to La Paz via Mexico Highway 1 (in sections worse than our country road to Bream Creek in Tasmania) very dangerous and really a poor excuse for a highway. Three nights along the way in San Quintin, San Ignacio and Loreto were magic, each hotel having plenty of character and hospitality.
The boys finally got back to school a week late but the travels more than made up for it, though they did seem to spend most of their time watching videos or on the Kindle.

Huon’s Birthday

A rather quiet few months during autumn, such a quick change from the hot summer. Daylight saving has finished, so dark mornings are over and the evenings are considerably longer, delightful to lie back on a cool evening with a good book.
Huon had a major 6th birthday party at the Costa Baja beach club with some 50 adults and children enjoying a typical Mexican ‘cumpleanos’ with piñata designed as a dinosaur. I, unfortunately, was doing something rather strange – working. Through friends I now spend a few weeks each few months as a ‘relief’ skipper on Princess 1 – a 98 foot motor boat owned by several Mexican families. Thankfully only a few short trips involved as I would not last any longer!
The boys continue to progress well at school, their Spanish well ahead of mine. In days past Mel and I could secretly chat in Spanish, now the reverse is happening, with local Mexican / La Paz slang thrown in.
For Christmas we will head out to anchor for a week, very quiet and relaxing away from the, already, overwhelming commercial shit. Our 6 monthly visa run will be up to San Diego to stay with good friends and hopefully buy a larger, newer car. After this we plan to spend a week, driving back to La Paz taking in the length of Baja California, generally looking forward to the wine country up North.