Easter and Cerritos Beach

On the final day of Easter 2018, anchored off our favorite beach at Playa Bonanza, one again has a moment to look back over the past 3 months.

A busy time as Sonrisa Living Yacht Charters has had several ‘bursts’ of activity, with a few back to back charters, a couple of very relaxing 2 / 3 day outings and several day trips.  Interestingly all have come from Airbnb and Mel’s local flyers at Doce Cuarenta coffee shop, rather than any dedicated yachting sites. Life continues pleasantly at Casa Tia, Carnival in February, as expected, was a very noisy affair, in fact so noisy we had to move to Sonrisa for several days.  The actual carnival technically only lasting a few days ran onto two weeks of rides and concerts – perhaps plenty of fun for those interested in such frivolity, for us basically a pain in the ar…. With roads blocked off and piles of trash all around. The work on the Malecon continues in typical Mexican fashion – still that’s why we live here.

Recently a trip to Cabo for a few nights with Bill and Kim our Texan friends, and Scott and Yulia who joined us from Los Angles – lots of laughs and some interestingly deep conversations. Grant, Jenny and their son Alexander visited from Canada, for a windy cruise to Partida, again lots of laughs all round.

This year Ben will change school from Montessori Licea to Institute de Valle for grade 7 – a small (60 student) middle school that is supposedly bi-lingual.  The boys have been progressing well at school, though English has suffered somewhat, as to be expected when Ben has a better grasp of the language than the English teacher. It will be interesting to see how Huon deals without Ben at school as they have been together since day 1.

The days starting to warm up, unfortunately the water temperature does not follow quite so rapidly. These warmer days have set us thinking about the dreaded summer months of July, August and September when we normally try to be somewhere else.  This year thoughts have centred around buying a cheap motorhome in Phoenix or Seattle.  It looks as if Phoenix will be a better option as the desert dryness keeps the vans in better condition than rainy Washington State. Buying in Phoenix means we would enjoy a protracted cruise up the West coast of the USA, dropping into several friends we have made over the years.  Mike and Dede our delightful cruising buddies (and surrogate grand parents) from Joss are kindly helping us out in Phoenix to find a suitable one.  Once up in Washington State we will definitely visit Rennie and Dennie down at Stretch Island which we visited in 2015 and 2016.  The highlight will be reconnecting with Rennies mum, Nina and her magic blackberry jam that the boys so enjoy picking for.

A couple of our charter guests have provided some interesting fun and additional income. Our Mexican friends from Cab have bought a similar Lagoon 440 in San Diego which they asked me to help with – unfortunately the selling broker and his recommended surveyor have, as far as I am concerned, been criminally negligent in their description of the catamaran. Apart from obviously been in some serious contact with a jetty the two main engines and generator were so bad that they will have to be replaced, totally irrepairable.  A sad discover for a couple of very pleasant, and unfortunately naive and trusting first time yacht buyers.

Another couple was so intrigued with Sonrisa and our past cruising lifestyle that they have embarked on a yachting lifestyle, hoping to start a family and head out from the rat race. They kindly asked me to assist in this adventure which has already been quite rewarding for all of us. I can’t say I feel like I

 

have any special skills when it comes to sailing and cruising it is humbling to be told ‘When the student is ready the maestro will appear’ ! If they knew how many ‘accidents’ I had been involved in perhaps they would not be so positive.

We even managed a weekend south at Cerritos at our wonderful little hotel ‘Holas de Cerritos’ which we have not visited for a few years.  This area is developing rapidly with numerous new constructions, restaurants and associated social centres.  Not much had changed at the hotel, where our hosts kindly remember us.  The surf and the beach as appealing as ever – we will need to make the odd hour and a half drive more often.

Cool Winter Cruising

Looking back I see several months have past since the last update – such is life when cruising becomes second to domestic life ashore, school activities and the odd charter. No question time passes rapidly as one ages, the boys sprouting at an incredible rate, though at times the intelligent quota seems to be left behind.

It is now 6 months since we moved ashore to Casa Tia in the centre of downtown La Paz – a great location if only the mosquito’s would make outside living reasonable (for Mel especially).  So far so good as the anticipated high noise levels have been very subdued, and the proximity to shops etc very convenient. 10 minutes to the boy’s school and a similar time to Sonrisa makes for easy commutes.

A visit to La Duna eco  hotel with family friends, boys birthdays all passed quickly. We manage to get out every few weeks if only to Espiritu Santo.  After Christmas we enjoyed a two-week cruise back to Isla San Francisco and San Everisto – as we have invariably found winds were very light so plenty of motoring.

Spending time on Sonrisa is now a real treat as we have moved ashore and the thrill of leaving the dock to wander around is something special rather than the usual routine.

Hot Summer Holidays

With school holidays starting at the end of July we headed North some 120 miles to our favourite cruising grounds around Loreto.  For 5 weeks we hardly saw another yacht and enjoyed returning into the cruising mode.  The boys with their new spear fishing equipment spent plenty of time perfecting the art of hunting for dinner – they had two options – to feed us or get ‘cat fish’ to feed our hungry kittens Ghost and Dusty. Ben, in particular, doing well catching snapper and grouper our preferred dinner. WE had only one day with a bit of breeze and a few drops on the deck – truly magic cruising

For the first time while cruising I managed to spear a Mai Mai or Dolphin fish.  The boys were cleaning the days catch off the back of Sonrisa while I was swimming around the aft and along comes a nice sized Mai Mai, Ben grabbed the spear gun and I made a lucky shot.  After bringing the fish onboard after a bit of a struggle as I had no flippers I realised not really a good idea as they are rather powerful and could easily taken off with the spear gun (and me!)

Nothing had changed over the years, we visited some new anchorages and plenty of old ones.  Initially we had been dreading the heat at around the mid 30’s C day and night, but as we were on a short cruise it seemed quite bearable.

We returned to La Paz in early September just in time to prepare for cyclone Lydia, which brought lots of rain, but thankfully little wind.  Sonrisa was fine, however our house Casa Tia had some problems with a wall falling and plenty of leaks.

Now we continue removing junk from Sonrisa to prepare her for (hopefully) some charters starting in October

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.