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.

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!