Isla Isabela, the Galapagos of México!

We arrived on Tuesday, got ourselves situated and headed to a neighbors boat for happy hour. We met the owner, Scott, as we pulled into the anchorage. There is little sand and lots of rocks along the bottom making things tricky. Scott found us a sandy patch and guided us to drop the anchor, then he watched to make sure it set. If only every anchoring experience could go down like that! 😉 There were 4 boats in the small anchorage and we all piled onto Muskoka to chit chat. We didn’t stay too long and made our way back to our boat for dinner and an early bedtime.

The next morning we woke up early with a mission to get to shore before it got hot outside. We couldn’t wait to check out the island and all it had to offer. We pulled the dinghy on shore by 9am and started exploring. As you look up into the sky there are hundreds of birds circling in the air.As you look down the beach is covered in little coral pieces.As you look forward there are fishing shacks and nets along the shore. We made our way to a trail that lead to an abandoned research facility. It was huge and unfinished, which is a bummer! We saw plenty of iguanas along the path, lizards, and of course birds!This part of the Island is saturated with frigate birds and their nests. In the trees you’ll find females laying on their nests, juveniles hanging out in the branches and males with their throats puffed out for all to see that they are ready for love.   I was so surprised to see that the frigates are not territorial and did not seem to mind humans coming so close. We back tracked and headed to the fishing huts to find the start of the next trail. This one would lead us to Lago Crater. As we made our way up the path we found plenty of holes in the ground which belonged to crabs. I felt creeped out, Brad was fascinated! One was a little irked as it came out to say hello. It reminded me of the crabs you see in cartoons. He came out with arms spread wide and ready to pinch!The paths along the island are well maintained and marked which makes it easy to navigate. As you walk the path your ears are inundated with bird noises- it was pretty cool to stop and just listen. We went up a steep hill and came down the other side to the crater. It’s full of stagnant, rain water and from what we could tell, no wildlife present in the lake.We followed the path further and were halted to a stop when we both heard a whistling noise. Was a researcher trying to get our attention? Nope, it was a blue footed boobie talking. We kept going down the path that ended at the ocean cliff. There were boobies everywhere! They were so cute with their bright blue feet as they waddled around. We saw a couple of the mamas laying on their nests while most of them were in the thick of courting season. A pair will do a little dance and I suppose the rest is history if the partner likes the dance moves.  I spent way too much time geeking out with the camera and Brad caught some great footage with the iPhone. Perspective on anchor… The gorgeous cliff views…

We peeled ourselves away and walked back to the fishing huts and decided to do another path that leads to a lighthouse on top of the hill. The hike was very steep, but not too far so it was manageable. We enjoyed the burn going up because we had been restless on the passage coming down. We needed the exercise! As we climbed higher and higher the views got better and better. At the top there were more boobies. We walked around while taking in the amazing views below us and made our way back down. Brad found one last area to explore, this was my least favorite. It was low tide and a portion of rocks were exposed. As we climbed up the rocks and peered down, we saw tons of crabs scurrying away! They reminded me of spiders! The crabs were a shiny black and a few were red. I’ve never seen black crabs before.  Also located on this stretch of rocks are brown footed boobies. It was interesting that each bird was segregated to their own sections of the island.This was by far my favorite place of the trip making any uneasy parts of the passage completely worth it. It’s times like this that need to be savored because there will be other tough times coming up.

Words from the crew…Sydney’s Perspective.

You know what I’m tired of? This island! Did you know my humans told me I am not allowed on shore? Something about a nature preserve or some garbage like that. I’ve been pouting every chance I get. I especially get angry when my parents come back to the boat smelling like sand. They locked me on deck for hours while they explored the island. The boat was rocking like crazy in the anchorage and I feel abused. They told me I can go to land at the next place, they better not be lying! Puerto Vallarta or bust!

Leaving La Paz: The good, the bad, and the ugly!

I was going to write some long winded post about our passage and thought, nah, let’s not bore everyone! So instead I will give the good, the bad and the ugly about our 3 day, 2 night trip to Isla Isabela.

The good…

1. We got plenty of sailing in on this passage. We sailed 27 hours without the motor on, this was amazing! The boat handles so well and continues to amaze us with her speed under sail. Best of all, it’s so quiet!

2. The stars were visible the second night. I was able to count 13 shooting stars on my 12-3am shift. The moon was also a spectacular orange color as it rose up from the horizon.

3. Neither of us fell overboard- (more about this in the ugly section.). We decided to wear our PFDs and clip in when leaving the cockpit, no exceptions!

4. Along the way we saw a wall of dolphins to our starboard surfing the waves and heading straight towards us. This was the COOLEST dolphin siting to date!

5. Brad let out our fishing line and it was instantly struck by a dorado. He saw the whole thing go down as the dorado’s fin skimmed across the surface. Too bad it got away!

6. I saved a life- at least I hope I did! I was awake on my midnight watch when I heard a bunch of slapping noises. What the heck?! Then I smelled a fish. Upon further investigation I spotted the culprit. A flying fish landed in our boat and could not get out. I tried to grab him but he was so slimy and gross, and kept slipping out of my hand. So I told him to hang on little buddy, I’ll be right back. I grabbed a paper towel and tossed him back overboard. I hope he lived to see another day.

7. More dolphins! We had a group escort us just outside the island. They stayed at the bow for a few minutes and went off their own way. Dolphins never get boring, they are so awesome!

8. Bioluminescence was visible each night and was a great distraction from some large waves passing under the boat. Look at the pretty sparkles and ignore the rest. 😉

9. We got to our destination with plenty of daylight to spare and were met by friendly boaters willing to give us a hand in the challenging anchorage.

Ok enough gloating, let’s get to the bad.

1. We were grossly unprepared! The headsail lines were not run back to their appropriate winches. This meant going up and down each side of the deck in crappy conditions to set them up. Doh!

2. We chose not to raise the main in calm conditions, we thought we would do it when we got around the corner and into the channel. Big mistake!

3. Our dinghy wasn’t securely attached and was threatening to launch off the davits. We should have hauled it up on deck before we left. Tisk tisk!

4. Our boom vang broke and fell down. The day before this happened Brad and I both heard something fall from the mast, it was a nut, an important one albeit. We assumed it came from our radar mount but you know what they say about assuming! This was an exciting moment, luckily Brad rigged up a solution and all is well until we can get a new piece fabricated in Puerto Vallarta.

5. Our main halyard chafed even more due to us sailing with our main fully up and eased out. Looks like we need to have our new sail reshaped at the top to prevent this problem.

6. We caught a fish but he was too small so back in the water he went.

Now it’s time for the ugly.

1. I got so scared that I burst into tears. Has this ever happened to you before? Oh dear, how embarrassing! We were making our way into the San Lorenzo Channel and got our butts handed to us. All of the guidebooks tell you this is a sketchy place and it’s notorious for kicking booties. Here’s what happened. We were in 20-25 knots of wind, fair enough. The problem was we were taking huge waves on our port beam crossing to starboard and our boat was not prepared. These waves were so tall and angry looking due to the wind that they literally made me burst into tears.

2. Brad had to go on deck to raise the mainsail in the conditions noted above. Talk about taking the anxiety to a whole new level. Let me clarify, it was my anxiety, not his. I am so thankful he did not fall overboard!

3. Brad lost his breakfast while working in the above noted conditions. We are still finding specks of oatmeal on deck and on the lines. But imagine being on a nasty carnival ride and working on tying things with your hands. It’s bound to make anyone sick! He is my hero for getting all of the work done in such scary conditions.

4. We took on a huge wave on our port side that soaked Brad head to toe while on deck, and soaked our entire cockpit including me.

5. A squid found its way to our deck. Ewww! Brad found and disposed of him before I saw it.

6. Hygiene- this is also embarrassing to admit but hygiene goes out the window on passages. Luckily these have been short passages so far! Back in real life we were religious about showering daily, now it just seems like so much work! 😉

Well, there you have it. There’s the good, bad and ugly on our 3 day, 2 night passage to Isla Isabela. Not every day is easy and there are tough times along the way. But the overall result is amazing and so worth the hard times. I cannot wait to share the next post with you all. Until then, cheers!

La Paz so far…

We left Bahía de Los Muertos early in the morning and were escorted out with a dreamy sunrise. Could you ask for a better view while enjoying coffee? I think not! Brad and I visited La Paz not long ago while looking at a potential boat to purchase. We fell in love with the city and were very excited to have our own boat here. The passage from Muertos to La Paz took the better part of a day and we were able to sail for a few hours before surrendering to our motor. The scenery along the way is untouched, rolling hills that dip into the ocean. We rounded the corner between Isla Espiritu Santo and El Tecolote and made our way to the La Paz channel. We were nervous making the entrance because we have heard horror stories of boats running aground. As we made our way closer there were the trusty red and green channel markers showing us the way to go. As long as we kept the boat between the markers we would be fine. A couple of our friends were already anchored in La Paz and we were looking forward to reuniting with them. The odd thing about La Paz is that you can essentially anchor anywhere, as long as you aren’t in the channel. We chose a spot near our friends and quickly got down to the task of having dinner. We were starving! Sunset as we arrived…The following day we met up with our friends Jim and Steve and explored the city a bit more. Jim located the mother of all ice cream shops, and even Sydney gets to enjoy the tasty delights that they sell. We make a point to visit daily. It’s a decent walking distance from the dock so it kind of makes up for it. 😉 In other treat news, we were all spoiled when Jim came aboard and made us crepes, with all the fixings. Talk about amazing! The next morning Steve returned the favor with a delicious breakfast, with fruit and orange juice to boot! As our turn arrived we made pancakes, bacon and eggs.We spent a few days anchored in La Paz and decided to move to a new anchorage, one that we could enjoy a bit more. We wound up in Caleta Lobos. The first night there the winds were very strong, but the remaining nights were smooth as glass. Roca Lobos is just outside the anchorage and is phenomenal for snorkeling or diving. Boy were we impressed! The water was clear, there were plenty of fish to see and to top it off we had a sea lion join our party. She was very sweet, curious and playful. We swam with her for a few minutes and made our way back to the dinghy for a break. We were all in awe of her playfulness and agreed it was a wonderful experience.

Caleta Lobos was the prettiest anchorage we’ve been to so far. The water shifts from dark blue to a gorgeous light teal color as it shallows. You have to see it to believe it. For once Sydney seemed to be impressed! Or maybe she was just happy to get off the boat and run around. 😉 We stayed at Caleta Lobos for 3 nights and turned around back to La Paz. We were having a serious case of ice cream withdrawals….ok I’m lying, just a little bit though. We had plans to grab a slip and one happened to be available.

Sydney’s Perspective- La Paz la schmazzz the only good thing about it here is I get ice cream. Sometimes my humans take me to the beach but not as often as I’d like. They did take me to a cool beach, but made me suffer for a couple of hours while we traveled there. I guess this boating thing isn’t so bad as long as they keep giving me beach time and ice cream- in that order please!We hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and happy holidays ahead! Cheers!!!

Bahía de Los Muertos

Ahhh I know what you’re thinking…doesn’t Bahía de Los Muertos mean bay of the dead? Yes my friends, it sure does! We didn’t let the name scare us away. In fact we had a great and memorable time there.

Our first task as we arrived was to drop the hook, this went off without a hitch. The water was so clear I could see our anchor drop to the bottom, not too shabby! Our passage from Los Frailes to Muertos wasn’t very long but we were roasting hot. A swim was definitely in order!After the swim Brad was doing his best to cheer me up and suggested a nice dinner on shore. I’m not one to say no to food so we “dressed up” and headed to shore. There are two choices, a locals restaurant and the resort restaurant. Of course we chose the locals spot! We dinghy’d to shore and were greeted by a rally member named Steve. He gave us a hand with pulling the dinghy up the shore and he accepted our offer to join us for dinner. Turns out Steve has been single handing his 57 foot boat since Cabo. We got to chatting over dinner and really enjoyed getting to know him. It was a great distraction from the traumatic event of losing Zorra the day before. The next day we went back to the same restaurant for lunch time. We sat outside with Sydney and we met another single handed cruiser, Jim, from Silk Purse. He joined our table and it turns out he also knew Steve. As luck would have it we’ve all become great friends since meeting in Muertos.

We stayed in the anchorage for a few days and finally made a point to explore the resort side. I am so glad we did because it was absolutely gorgeous there. On shore the sand was super soft as it squished between our toes. Sydney also had a wonderful time at the resort beach swimming and digging on shore. What a life!

Resort side…Locals side…Our time was well spent in Muertos but at some point the anchorage went from a calm and pleasant place, to a rolly and frustrating place. If the boat is going to be rolly, I’d rather be on the move! Off to La Paz we went the following morning.

Sydney’s Perspective- I’m getting much better at knowing when the passage is over. Usually I can smell the land first, it makes me so excited! Then the humans scramble about the deck, drop that noisy chain in the water, then eventually lower my shore car. I make a point of being needy and ultra pathetic until they acknowledge that I must be taken to shore. It works every time!

Los Frailes

Los Frailes is a fairly protected anchorage and serves as a great resting point between Cabo and Muertos. Los Frailes holds a special place in our hearts as Zorra spent her last days there.As we pulled in we circled looking for a good place to drop the hook. There’s a submarine trench within the anchorage making things a bit tricky. Our guidebook suggested skipping the anchorage if there were more than 6 boats in it, there were close to 15 as we came in. We took our chances, anchored, and headed to shore with the girls. They deserved a break from the boat. Sydney fetched and dug to her hearts content while Zorra rested on shore. Her swollen belly made it hard for her to walk at this point.We heard there was a hiking trail up the mountain so one morning we decided to take a look. Unfortunately we didn’t locate the trail, but we still had a fun time tromping around. The scenery was gorgeous! We also had the chance to meet and chat with fellow cruisers about their upcoming plans. As it turns out, most of us are heading to the same places at the same time. After Zorra passed we felt it was time to leave Los Frailes and head to our next destination. Los Muertos. Leaving was difficult for many reasons but we know Zorra is in a beautiful resting place!

Cabo San Lucas

I must admit the blog has been out of control with these long posts. Let’s change it up and do a highlight reel instead!

Cabo San Lucas- the land of cruise ships, jet skis and party boats. We arrived and I was surprised to see that we would be anchoring along a beach in front of resorts. Cabo was nice, but it was such a stark change from the other anchorages we were at. Jessi (Jesper’s wife) joined us for a couple of days and it was awesome to have her aboard! We took the dinghy and explored Lover’s Cove.Finish Line Party at Squid Row- the people watching there was phenomenal! Awards Ceremony- the rally held an awards ceremony with gifts for each contestant. Fueling up- we were reluctant to fuel up because of the horror stories we had heard regarding price gouging. We were pleasantly surprised this was not the case!

Swimming conditions were great in Cabo- other than the fact you had to stay near the boat to avoid collisions with jet skiers. The water was warm and very clear!Farewell to Jessi and Jesper- I cried as we said goodbye to our friends, I wouldn’t consider this to be a highlight, but definitely notable! Brad and I would be on our own for awhile. Dun dun dunnnnnn! 😜

Leaving Cabo was certainly a highlight! We were looking forward to a change of scenery. We were headed to Los Frailes next!

Bahia Tortugas to Bahia Santa Maria- the whole shebang!

Things are a bit out of order on the blog, this is a couple of stops before we lost Zorra. We will try to get everything caught up once we have better internet. Turns out it’s not the easiest thing to get down here! Grab a blanket and pillow, here’s another long post. 😉

We left Turtle Bay slightly before the rest of the crew so we could hopefully arrive in Santa Maria before dark. We were on a downwind course so Jesper and Brad set the boat up wing on wing with our headsail attached to our spinnaker pole (this prevents the sail from collapsing inwards). Our headsail was set up on port while the main was eased out to starboard. This allows the wind to push us from behind quite nicely! There’s a saying about fair winds and following seas- this is where it applies.While under way we tried to fish as much as possible as it serves as a free, delicious protein. It wasn’t too long before a Catamaran named “Happy Together” was crossing behind us and coming awfully close to our trailing fishing line. We called them on the radio and asked them to hook us a cold one, they got the point and kept their distance from our line. Minutes later our reel started screaming. It was pure chaos while Brad ran to the reel, Jesper abandoned the dishes and I ran for the camera, but not before I saw the sailfish dancing on the water! Ooopsie daisy, we had a bundle of problems. Problem #1, we were wing on wing with the wind pushing us forward like a freight train. Mr. Fishy was running the opposite direction. Problem #2, despite Jesper’s best efforts to slow the boat down by putting it in full reverse, it was not enough. Problem #3, we had light tackle set up on our fishing rod so the line eventually snapped. Ok one more problem, what the heck would we do if we managed to catch the darn thing? It would be a miracle if no-one was hurt. Even though we didn’t land the sailfish, Happy Together saw the whole thing and called it over the radio. We had proof of our wild fish story! The excitement from our attempt was electric and had us all amped up and smiling for hours.

The day droned on with the wind and waves at our back and we were averaging about 5 knots and it was expected to pick up during the night. We were joined by a school of dolphins jumping, frolicking and having a great time as they passed us by. When night time arrived sleep was difficult to come by since the waves were pushing the boat side to side to side to side….sometimes the boat would rock as many as 7 times back and forth from one large passing wave. Luckily our bed is one that we cannot fall out of, but your body has a tough time resting while trying to stabilize constantly. I was pleasantly surprised to find Jesper wide awake when it was time for my watch. He joined me for the entire thing and I couldn’t have been happier for the company and the help!The next day I was not feeling so great, I don’t know if it was the sea state or the lack of sleep. Either way I managed to sneak in 3 naps and the 3rd did the trick. When I woke up Jesper told me to check out the bottle nosed dolphins that were at the bow. I had no Idea they were so large! They swam upside down at the bow and appeared to be checking us out pretty closely. It wasn’t long before they grew tired of us and swam away. I hope it wasn’t something I said. 😉We motored most of the day to help power through the sloppy sea state and low winds. Our reel zipped once again and this time it was a yellow fin tuna, our first of the trip. He was filleted and on our grill in record time. With each catch Zorra becomes very alert, sniffs the air and waits patiently for her scraps. The tuna was the best meal of the trip, joined by rice and veggies. Brad is the best chef!As night draped itself upon us we were blanketed in more stars than I’ve ever seen. It was as if a firework exploded all over the sky and dripped down to to the sea. Even the Milky Way was visible. It wasn’t long before we were ooooh’ing and awww’ing at the harvest moon emerging from the horizon. It was an orange orb slowly making its way up the sky. We were thankful for all it’s light to be shed because we would be anchoring in the dark after all.

Brad and I prepared the boat for anchor which included taking the sails down, lowering the spinnaker pole and securing it to the mast. Jesper steered as we accomplished each of those things. We made our way into Bahia Santa Maria anchorage around 11PM and put the hook down near some familiar boats. It was midnight before we had everything cleaned up and then it was off to bed!

I woke up to a beautiful sunrise out our starboard port light. The sun was out to get us like a laser beam of heat. Our agenda for the day included taking the girls to the beach, organizing and trying to trouble shoot our generator/water maker issues. As we took the pups to shore we encountered our first shore break in the dinghy. There’s a whole technique regarding beach landings in the dinghy and if you screw it up, you can get seriously hurt. Ding the panic bells in my head. Jesper guided us in no problem and we explored the shoreline. The beach was vast with miles of shoreline and behind are the mangroves. We headed towards the mangroves and our feet sank deep in the sand as we walked. Zorra kept up better than I expected and Sydney didn’t seem to mind sinking while she ran like a mad woman through the sand. Bahia Santa Maria is a large anchorage that is well protected and comfortable to be in. There are no stores, no services, only nature to explore.

After exploring the beach we went back to our dinghy and went for a swim. This is the first time I have seen stingrays on the trip. Brad stepped or kicked at least 2 of them and carefully shuffled his feet the rest of the day. It was time to head back to the boat and boy did we have an adventure ahead of us. Just as you have to be careful entering a beach with the dinghy, exiting is just as stressful. Every one was loaded up and we had timed everything perfectly. Sydney saw an approaching wave and ran to the back of the dinghy causing Brad to be distracted with her. There went our timing. We were head on with a 5ft crashing wave and all we could do is gun the engine, duck and hang on! Luckily Jesper was there because he caught Sydney and kept her in the boat. Each of us were soaked and the dinghy was full of water, but we were all there and no one was hurt. On our way to the boat we reflected on the incident and went over lessons learned. It would be my job to control the dogs and Brad’s job is to manage the dinghy and keep us safe.

The next morning I woke up to another stunning sunrise. It looked like a bucket of rainbow sherbet in the sky. Orange, pink, light blue and beautiful. Our plan for the morning was to take the pups and explore the mangroves. We cruised through the shore break and into the little estuary leading to the mangroves with no problems. We made sure we checked the tides before going so we wouldn’t get stranded back there. The mangroves contrasted with the blue sky and brown mountains in the distance. There were plenty of small fish, birds and local fishing shacks. It is crazy to think that people could live there, but they do live in a micro paradise! Once deep inside the estuary, we killed the engine and just sat there listening to the chirping birds, bird watched and eventually let Sydney go for a swim. We made our way back to the beach and I noticed Zorra wasn’t doing so well. She hung out in the shade of the dinghy and did not do any of her usual exploring. We made sure we gave her extra pets while she hung out.The beach party was scheduled for today and we were served up some amazing food! Fried fish tacos, rice, clam stew and some delicious sauce to go on top of the tacos. The chefs and the band drove 8-12 hours each way to put on the event for the rally. The price per person was $15 and worth every penny. After the party we relaxed on the boat and were highly entertained by the calls on the VHF Radio. There were 2 missing people- one guy was last seen with the female lead singer of the band- the other was a 16 year old girl last seen with a 19 year old boy. Hmmmmm. Both missing parties were eventually confirmed as found on the radio, whew! We didn’t stay up too late because the following day we were setting off for Cabo!

Words from the crew:

Sydney- I entered passage mode almost immediately after hearing that scary thing (engine) start. I heard the anchor pull up and knew I was going to be screwed out of another beach day. At least our passage was quicker than the last and I was on the beach lickety split! My human tried to feed me raw fish again and this time I politely accepted. It wasn’t so bad after all, plus I didn’t want to hear my little sister gloat any longer about eating all of it the last time! I’ve been perfecting my begging face and have managed to catch a few bites of a Costco muffin. The more pathetic I act, the more they fall for it. My humans are easily trained! Zorra Bear- I don’t mind the passages too much because I can rest and be near my parents at all times. Plus they keep catching those shiny, slippery things that taste oh so good! I can always tell when they get one because they are running all over the place. Then the smell of blood hits my nose and I lose all control! My nose goes straight up in the air and my parents think it is so funny. Luckily my Dad always takes good care of me and gives me scraps! Only this time he gave some to the big brown one too. I️ thought it was all for me but now she’s acting like she likes it! I’ll be sure to “accidentally” pee in her princess bed as a payback. Nobody messes with my food, nobody!

We’ve lost a crew member

I fell for the free puppy trick about 10 and a half years ago at the ripe age of 22. It was love at first sight as I picked her from the litter. She had beautiful markings and a sweet soul to match. It was a done deal.  I remember driving her from Oregon to Novato with specific instructions from my Dad to keep her in the back seat and in a kennel so I would not be distracted. About 6 miles later, I pulled over, set her and her blanket on my passenger seat. We’ve been rebels together ever since.

Over the years she was with me during the most challenging times, and also the greatest. Meeting Brad was the greatest gift for her and I.  I know in my heart he extended her life by years. He introduced her to the beach, gave her a sister and always bought her Zorra sized treats. He was a sucker for her even during her crafty crapper days. For the record, Zorra has been expunged from pooping in the house. It never happened. 😉

Zorra had been in the fight of her life with congestive heart failure and it finally took her from us. The day of her passing I frantically called her veterinarian along with UC Davis Cardiology. The advice given was to bump up her meds but it was likely too late. Prior to our trip we took her to UC Davis for a tune up and wanted to get her on the best medication plan possible based on her current condition. The hard fact to accept is that her condition was severe, and had been for at least 5 months. Once diagnosed at severe, you’re lucky to have them for another 3 months. In typical fashion our girl kept fighting for her next meal. We did everything we could to make her comfortable and were both with her as she passed. I refused to believe she had left us and could not stop petting her.  I just wanted one last glimpse of eye contact, one last lick on the face, one last wag of the tail. One last…

We had previously talked about a burial at sea plan and that is what we did. My Mom made us two beautiful dog blankets to take with us on the trip. Zorra loved laying on them as they were soft and extra padded. It seemed right to wrap her up in one of those blankets for the burial. I was completely beside myself but Brad stepped up and wrapped our baby up one last time. It was beautiful and she was wrapped in a blanket of pure love.

I am SO glad we made the choice to take her with us. We were able to spend the last few weeks with her practically at arms reach at all times. She enjoyed swimming with us (us holding her tightly to our chests as we swam), watching the boats and jets skis pass us in the anchorage, she loved being on deck when we caught fish, and with each passing day her tail would wag a little more as she explored the boat. Living on the boat with her was a pleasure. I will miss her little face creeping in all the port lights.  I will miss the thump of her wagging tail whenever she saw us. I will miss her gremlin noises.  I will miss her begging face.  I will miss her unconditional love even when I didn’t deserve it. My baby girl, you will be missed more than you could have ever imagined and you were loved beyond words. The God of the Sea, Poseidon, has been given the greatest gift, our girl.

May you always Rest In Peace, Zorra Bear. November 16th, 2017.

San Diego to Bahía Tortugas- the nitty gritty!

Sorry in advance for the long post coming up- here are some of the highlights and pieces of our story leaving San Diego heading south. Hope you enjoy!

We are participants in the infamous Baja Haha Rally that leaves San Diego October 30th, 2017! We signed up for the rally for a couple of reasons. Reason #1- we needed a hard date in front of our faces to adhere to. It’s easy to dilly dally and come up with excuses as to why you’re not ready, but we really wanted to be part of this rally. Reason #2- we were looking forward to meeting fellow cruisers and being part of a large, safe group during our first big passage.

The day before departure was one of the most stressful to date but we had plenty of help to make it a little easier. Sean helped me empty out the house while Jesper and Brad continued to get the boat ready and packed. Sean was my lifesaver that day, making stuff happen! We got the house emptied, our trash picked up by a local hauler, and made a Costco run to provision. On top of that he had to drive home to Pasadena! We are very thankful for all of his help and are looking forward to having him aboard in Puerto Vallarta!

The day of departure…We were accompanied by Brian, Michelle (brother and sister in law), our great friends Jessi (Jesper’s wife) and Donny (Del Mar neighbor). Donny was a surprise and I am so happy we saw him on our way out! Anywho, the morning was pretty crazy with last minute to do’s and everyone was so generous to help in any way possible. They untied our lines from the dock around 9:45 so we could make our way to the Rally Parade. Once again I found myself overwhelmed with emotions and the tears began to roll.

All of the boats made their way to the parade and we were instructed to get as close to each other as possible. It sure was neat seeing all of our “competitors” up close. There was a media boat that saw us out and then we were on our way past Point Loma heading south towards the starting line. The start was signaled with a booming cannon. We already had our mainsail and headsail out and ready to go!

Aside from just heading south you may be wondering where we are headed to first. We are going to a place called Bahía Tortugas, also known as Turtle Bay. I was excited to get there as I’ve heard great things about it by our friends Chris and Beth.

We caught our first fish on day one, we believe it was a Bonita. Catching a fish while under way gets exciting in a hurry! First you hear the zip of the reel, everyone jumps up, one person handles the reel, the other slows the boat down and grabs the gaff/cameras. I attempted to gaff the fish while Brad was handling the fishing pole- no success! We switched places and he took care of business. We ate Mr. Fish and were very thankful to have caught him.

Nighttime was quickly approaching so we had to come up with our watch schedule. Jesper was on first watch 9-12, I was 12-3 and Brad was 3-6am. It was my first real overnight where I would be on watch by myself. Eeeeeks!!! Jesper gave me the scoop when I came on deck for watch. He showed me the other boats on the horizon, and on our radar. He reminded me how to use the auto pilot to dodge other boats in our path and left me feeling pretty confident that it would all be ok. At around 2am I noticed bioluminescence in the water as it was displaced by our boat. It looked like glowing fireflies in the water! I had a couple of boats to dodge during my shift and then 3am rolled around quickly. Brad came on deck for his watch and I gave him the rundown of where other boats were, showed him the sparkly waves and then the most magical thing happened. A dolphin covered in bioluminescence jumped out of the water off our starboard side! The best part was that we both saw and enjoyed it together. What a great way to leave my watch and pass it on to Brad. I made my way to bed and quickly drooled myself to sleep!

We survived our first overnight of the trip with no problems and continued our journey to Turtle Bay. On day 2 we caught 2 beautiful dorado! Jesper reeled up the first catch of the day and I handled the second. It was exciting, especially when you finally see what you’re reeling in. Dorado are a beautiful green/yellow fish that shimmer in the water as they get pulled in. Brad was suddenly inspired to install the BBQ on the rail and we had excellent grilled fish tacos for dinner that night.

We repeated the same watch schedule and things got a bit exciting. Jesper warned me that if I came in to any sort of weather to slow the engine down. Good thing we talked about it because I did run into weather on my watch. First I felt the strong breeze, then the rain came. I waited a few minutes to see how it would evolve and eventually ended up waking Brad for some help. He quickly sprung to action, shut the port lights, cleaned up all the water in the cabin and decided we needed to reef our mainsail to get the boat under control. It was a bit stressful if I’m being honest, but it all worked out! The little system we passed through lasted about 45 minutes.

It was finally the day to arrive in Turtle Bay! As we pulled into the gigantic anchorage we were greeted by dolphins and sea lions. We dropped the anchor and got down to business of getting to shore with the pups. We loaded everyone up in the dinghy and went to shore. The girls were thrilled to be on land again and use the bathroom! Neither are big fans of our fake grass patch on the back deck.

Turtle Bay is a small town with a few restaurants along the beach, WiFi and an amazing baseball field. Every Baja Haha rally plays a game with the locals and there are no rules, only to have fun. On the other side of the anchorage is an amazing beach. The rally hosted a beach party there and the locals bartended up a storm! It was their chance to make some money for the season. The drinks were strong and the scenery beautiful. We took the opportunity to hike up a small hill for a better view. The mountains are soft and squishy under your feet, yet they stand steep and tall.Turtle Bay was a great experience and we would have stayed longer if we weren’t part of the rally!

Our crew mates have a few words to share- I told them they could vent. Anything to get them to cheer up! 😉

Sydney- what have my humans done?! First they removed me from my beach house, stuck me in a place without a yard and no beach in sight. Now I’m on this thing that never stops moving, and I’m stuck with my parents 24/7. I haven’t pooped in days and I’m on a hunger strike. This will teach them! Although I might be sending mixed messages because I keep cuddling with my humans any chance I get. I also enjoy stealing their seats. If I fits, I sits! Did you know they tried to feed me raw fish?? Ewwww!!!! I have standards! Then things started looking up. The boat stopped moving and my parents got my shore car ready. They took me to a beach, a B-E-A-C-H! Can you imagine how excited I was?! I ran like there was no tomorrow! I fetched, dug, barked, played and made new friends with other boat dogs. Wait, did I just call myself a boat dog?! Oh crap!

Zorra Bear- I’m not sure what’s going on these days. My parents took me to a couple of spas before taking me on this boat thing. Things are weird! They keep picking me up, walking me to this fake grass patch and want me to do something there. I can’t figure it out, but they don’t stop trying! I’m not feeling all that great and my belly sure is swelling, the only good thing is my humans are close by at all times. I’m getting extra pets and I do like that! They took me to the beach and even put a life jacket on me- I was the only one with a jacket. The jacket accentuated my big gut and I was a bit embarrassed about that. I had fun playing in the shallow water and sniffing all the new smells. Oh! I also got fed some fresh caught fish. It was the best thing ever and I didn’t even have to share with my annoying sister! Let’s see how long this lasts!