Tasmania Christmas 2019

2019 was a great year for travelling, living in La Paz, BCS, sailing the magic Sea of Cortez and finally in December having a delightful trip back to Tasmania, Australia.  Time to visit our dear friends and family, walk, every morning on the secluded Marion Bay beach, tidy up the shed’s accommodation after some 13 years, clean up around the shed (fires throughout Australia kept us on our toes), visit my aging Father, John, and just generally spend time in this delightful neighborhood.

After some 18 years of owning the farm, we are now tentatively thinking about building a house on our dream spot. To make it as environmentally friendly as possible, have a design that stimulates the senses, that will provide a long term lifestyle suitable for the brisk Tasmanian climate and basically be solar and wind powered will take some thought and research – hopefully a enjoyable and rewarding experience !

Copper Canyon, Creel, Batopilas

After several years procrastinating about a visit to the Mexican Grand Canyon “Copper Canyon” we finally managed to arrange a week in the area in mid August 2019. The trip did not start well with the Calafia flight from La Paz (40 minutes) being delayed from 0830 to 1830 so we lost a whole day at El Fuerte, a delighful very old original Spanish town some 1.5 hours East of Las Mochilas.

An early start the next day got us on ‘El Chepe” the only remaining train line in Mexico.  While the train itself (the regular tourist one not the premium one) was a bit rocky and rolly, with broken windows, the scenery was spectacular.  Staff (in period uniforms) were great.

We finally got off at Urique, high in the canyon. Views from the Mirador hotel were spectacular, pity the hotel was such a rip of with shitty accommodation. Onto Creel with a fantastic driver Ramon, full of helpful information and side trips, Cusarare waterfalls a cool spot. A fun night in Creel exploring all the tourist shops and then the following day a 5 hour drive to the old silver mining town of Batopilas.

First night was a torrential downpour – I did a poor job of picking the hotel as it was a few clicks out of town along the river, beautiful old buildings and views – nothing else, particularly when the electricity went off. Everyone very helpful when Mel went down with guardia for a day – I tool the boys on a mule ride. Magic small family restaurant made chicken soup for Mel while we stuffed ourselves with fresh trout and other goodies.

A rather long drive back to Creel, along the same road – we will have to return for a few days riding and trekking – Huon, late in the evening also had a bad case of vomiting – not much sleep that night! For 3 hours in the morning Mel and Ben went horseriding.  Finally a comfortable bus ride to Cuachtemoc, relaxing hotel and flight back to La Paz after 7 delightful days – highly recommend the trip


Summer Cruising North

The long summer school vacations now control our cruising schedule – basically July and August are available. With a trip to Copper Canyon on the Mexican mainland planned for early August we headed North in early July.

We visited most of our usual haunts, not much changes in the Sea. Fewer yachts than we remember, and not quite as hot. We enjoyed the company of Dede, our cruising companion from “Joss” for a week. The boys have become proficient spear fishers, which meant a regular supply of fish.

Light winds meant very little sailing, no changes there. Otherwise a very relaxing and enjoyable time on “Sonrisa”.

Easter 2019 to Loreto

Easter is the busiest holiday period in Mexico so a good time to get out of town – quite a while since we had a cruise away past Isla San Jose.  A bouncy first night all the way to Loreto was the only hiccup, after that plain sailing to all of our usual haunts – still a delightful cruising area.

Lyons visit Christmas 2018

A really magic visit from the boys ‘Ben’s’ parents topped off an excellent year.  Ian, Lynne, Sophie, Sam and Kate came from all over the world to make an extra special Christmas. A few days at a comfortable AirBNB at Pescadero on the Pacific coast followed by a few days on Sonrisa out at Espiritu Santo.  Many laughs, excellent meals, wonderful conversation every day kept everyone happy and relaxed – thank you ‘The Lyons’ !!

Ecuador August 2018

After Seattle we headed down to Ecuador for several weeks of wandering around.  We stayed with friends at the Cotopaxi national Park where we all enjoyed some wonderful walking and horse riding. A week at a eco resort in the Amazon basin was educational and fun. Every day was full of excursions and lessons about the wildlife, night walks, fishing for Piranha, visit to a local village and talk by the local shaman made for a memorable time.  We borrowed a car for a week and drove around most of the country, Banos, Cuenca, and along the Pacific coast were fascinating along with magic mountain views along some incredible roads.

Astoria Oregon – July 2018

A delightful few days in Astoria with Jasmin, who we met several years earlier in La Paz while she was cruising around.  The Columbia river provided plenty of interest along with the maritime museum in Astoria and the history, which was all around.

Seattle July 2018

Long summer holidays provided time to visit old friends in Seattle Rennie and Dennie, from where we had our usual time at Stretch Island – glorious as usual.

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.