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.

Ben’s Birthday

As we head into October, the high humidity and heat are slowly dissipating, thankfully. Still no cyclones, even with the high water temperatures, perhaps we will be lucky this year.
The last Friday of each month is a ‘teachers education day’, which means a day off for the boys – nothing like a long weekend to finish the month. This year Ben’s birthday was on the last Saturday so we had a delightful 3 days with Lindsay, Hanna and Sophie to enjoy the festivities. We motored Sonrisa the 3 odd hours to our favourite Playa Bonanza on the SE of Espiritu Santo – not another yacht to be seen.
Kale, Mel’s organic farmer friend from Pescadero, near Todos Santos had been inviting us, for some time, to come and stay at his sister’s holiday house down past Cerritos. We finally managed this during the middle of September. A delightful 3 houses on the beach front, a bit of a ‘Faulty Towers’ place with plenty of minor problems. While off the grid they have a good solar set up with 3 backup generators – all of which do not work.
The trip from La Paz was delayed by an hour as it was raining, and continued to do so for the whole weekend – really very different to the normal long hours of sunshine. The road to Cerritos passes several dry rio’s which after just a bit of rain, easily flood – one would have thought that knowing this either a bridge or proper drainage would be constructed, not in Mexico. A different mentality to say the least.
Kale had asked me if I could look at the generators, not easy to do without any suitable tools at the house, so it looks like a few visits during the week to see what the problems are, along with light fixing, general tidying up, etc.
This coming weekend is Ben’s party which we will hold at the Beach Club – no room on Sonrisa for 30 plus people !

Loreto Summer Holidays

After the delightful 3 weeks in Seattle and a few days provisioning in La paz we headed off to our favorite anchorages around Loreto. As we left Costa Baja marina the clothes came off – much to everyone’s pleasure and relief. The long and very hot, humid days and nights continuously in the high 30’s really drained us – surely it wasn’t like this the previous years ?
While the heat of summer makes it a bit unpleasant, the warm water and absence of other yachts was suitable compensation. Our long time friends on Joss joined us at Isla Coronados for a few social days. A couple of visits to anchorage Candeleros with its new hotel meant air conditioned breakfast’s and some wifi.
Melissa kept up with the home schooling. At least here we could control ‘electronics’ time and keep them focused on the magic, real wonders that constantly surrounded us – on the beach and in the ocean.
On our final night at Isla San Francisco, some 40 miles from La Paz we encountered the, now apparently normal, spying and disrespectful motor yachts. Not only do they anchor close, upon observing that we are all nude, come out with binoculars but also a drone that they flew just above our cockpit – camera and all ! These were American charterers, and when I kayaked over to voice my displeasure (and the obvious displeasure of the Mexican crew) they seemed to think it a perfectly normal thing to do.
No wonder we keep away from society and all the crap that goes with it – there is now so little respect for other people and their individuality (little wonder as bankers, politicians, the clergy and fanatical religious groups etc have removed all ‘faith’ in their honesty along with blatant greed)
The boys start at a new Montessori school, as they have birthdays soon, in new classes. They start school at 0700 and finish at 1530, which gives us a bit more time – for Mel to continue her studies and me to get on with plenty of boat chores.

Seattle Visit

Against all expectations the weather was delightfully warm and clear – as we were to hear on several occasions this was not typical dreary and overcast Seattle during July.
Our anticipation of seeing the Dennehy family after 8 years was brought to life when we saw Rennie at the airport on arriving in Seattle. Dennis looked just as he was in the Caribbean along with Michaela, Liam and Ethan having grown considerably. July 4th, Independence Day was spent at Stretch Island in South Puget Sound – such an extensive cruising ground made us think of Tasmania but a thousand times larger. Rennie’s family showed us wonderful hospitality along with some excellent evening conversations.
Visits to see Phil and Nancy, Brent and Kristen and other friends allowed us to get into the green, vibrant pine covered countryside, what a change from the dry cactus terrain in Baja California South.
Apart from having my email address of some 15 years being rather brutally terminated it was a wonderful holiday for all – hopefully we will return for a longer stay next year

Hot Days and Nights

 

 

The long hot summer has set in early with daily temps around 40 Deg C – so we finally bit the bullet and installed 2 small window air con units, again the design of Sonrisa with her two vertical forward hatches into the salon made it a very simple affair and easy to move when we want to head out.
A surprise birthday trip to Denver for 3 days to see our NZ friends went far too quickly, a chance meeting with the owner of the Union Hotel, Chad, had us kindly provided with a suite in the renovated Union Hotel. Excellent food, a very tidy and relaxed city centre made it all comfortable and enjoyable The last days of the boys school quickly approaches as we get ready for our 3 week ‘Visa’ run to Seattle.
An interesting 8 hour drive to Mulege to pick up 5 new batteries and two new fridges gave us a different view of the Sea of Cortez. After the rain from a recent cyclone all was very green and vibrant. Garth, a friend of Joss had brought the stuff down from Tucson and then carried them across from San Carlos (in a small panga). Surprisingly it all fitted in the back of our trusty Subaru – an extra 400 kilos didn’t seem to affect the old girl.
In Seattle we have 4 groups of friends to catch up with, plus as this is our first visit to the city, we are all looking forward to a new experience. Once back in mid July we are off cruising for a few weeks before the boys start in a new school.
Mel has finished another exam so some time to relax and enjoy the summer holidays.

Summer coming to La Paz

As the days get steadily warmer and longer we happily settle into the school routine, though with so many school holidays we rarely have a full 5 day week. Our wonderful little hotel in Cerritos at some $40 Australian a day means at least a couple of trips there each month.
We have found some more land to the North of Todos Santos that, while being more remote – 20 minutes from Todos, than that at Pescadero, is considerably cheaper and offers much larger blocks, even waterfront ones now become an option. Now we have to decide if this is where we might like to live one day!!
Last weekend, after finding out about another school day off, within in an hour of boy’s finishing school we headed out to Espiritu Santo Island for the weekend. Playa Bonanza, just some 3 hours from the marina is our favourite anchorage, uncrowded, and delightful long walking beach. General opinion is we should do this much more often.
Boy’s school is progressing well, Ben giving a 10 minute presentation in Spanish about Chihuahua, a northern state in Mexico – we were extremely proud of his effort. We find his homework a great way for us to also improve our Spanish.
With, apparently a strong El Nino year, which means increased possibility of cyclones moving North along the Baja peninsula, we have been taking off all sails, rigging etc (not a problem as we rarely sail anywhere these days!). Also, now looking at a small air con unit to make the hot July to October months a bit more bearable on Sonrisa – talk about dock bound!!!

Easter in the Sea of Cortez

We all looked forward to our two week cruise over Easter, just some 50 miles North of La Paz. Isla San Francisco, one of our favourite anchorages was far too busy with motor boats and the associated jet ski’s, water skiing and lack of respect for other yachts in the anchorage so we moved a few more hours North to Isla San Jose.
Secluded and deserted beaches was just what we ordered. Water was rather brisk but good for a quick plunge. An evening at San Everisto meant a meal ashore, much better than the previous restaurant. We donated some clothes and toys to the local school which works well for us opening up some storage space.
The boys happy to be back at school (along with us!). Now looking forward to our week away at the end of April – sin ninos, with thanks to the boys (surrogate) grandmother Dede from Joss. Plans for a trip to Seattle in July during the boy’s school holidays to renew Visas makes for some interesting discussion and chances to catch up with old cruising friends.

February in La Paz

 

After the busy January travelling we all settled back into some sort of routine through February. The dreaded Mexican flu slowly went through the family, something we will have to get used to with the boys in school.
The highlight of the month was Sam Lyons visit for a week. The last weekend spent on the Pacific Coast at Cerritos – all very relaxing and enjoyable.
Nick was a bit worse for wear after a morning’s operation on his shoulder to remove some bone spurs and torn tendons – after 3 weeks all seems to healing well.