From Ensenada to Turtle Bay

Well, we finally departed Ensenada. It was a fantastic small city to live in and get our bearings. We loved meeting so many wonderful and friendly people, from our Spanish teacher, to the school principals and wonderfully inclusive moms.

We were sad to leave our new friends at the dock, and at the same time we were eager for new adventures. Again, John joined us and we left with only a few little exciting moments…like me not getting on the boat in time. (I ended up running to an end slip where the Captain waited for me as Ro was screaming for me. He was worried I would get left behind.

The sail to Turtle Bay was  a good way to remember how to sail our beauty. We had to tack to get out of Ensenada’s bay, and enjoyed a ripping 5 to 7 knots. The next day the wind were lighter and the travel was easy. No one was seasick this time and most of the kids were reading.

We arrived in Turtle Bay 4 days later, safe and tired. We all went out for dinner at a lovely restaurant that opened just for us. She had internet too.  It was nice and the kids all played in the water at the beach.

(More to come as I get some time and internet again…in Puerto Vallarta. (Currently we are leaving Mazatlan. )

Los Canadas

We located an adventure not too far away. We borrowed our Spanish  teachers car (have I mentioned how amazing she is?) and drove out to Los Canadas – twice! The kids and the adults loved it so much we had to take Oma when she arrived here too.

The first thing we do when we arrive there is park beside the Zip Lines. All four kids were keen to try zip lining so we signed the waivers and donned the gear. All of us wore helmets, harnesses, and a variety of lines. After meeting our guides, we scrambled up the tower to look at the first crossing. dscn0223It stretched out before us across the valley. There were 5 lines in total to cross. Overall it was about a kilometer of lines. The first one was not too far, or too high, but it is the first one. I was a bit nervous and so were the kids. Before we knew it, Marcus was attached to the line and tossed off the platform. He was laughing and I was stunned. My first thought was, “Well, I guess we are all going now.”

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Marieke and Julian were hooked up together and sent across.dscn0569

I was next. It was great!

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Roman was attached to Yonas and and they followed. He clung to Yonas’ neck like a little monkey and proclaimed he loved flying with Daddy. dscn0240

Between each zipline there is a bit of a walk to the next platform. Some of the walks went on suspended bridges we had to clip our lines to and cross. Marieke was unable to do one bridge, as she was too short. Roman was able to only  cross two of the five.dscn0282 dscn0265 The guides said the three oldest could have a job there as soon as they were older as they took to the route like ducks to water. Confident, light footed, and sure of step. Roman and Marcus were sad when we finished and wanted to go again immediately. Marieke was keen to go again too. Julian suggested we cone back for a second trip and so we did, with Oma. She choose to watch only, even though we offered to pay for her trip…dscn0309

After all that fun it was water slides, swimming, some light trail walking, and good food for the rest of the trip.

The second favorite part of Los Canadas was the new wave pool. I am so glad these kids can swim! It was crazy strong waves and the kids liked to be in over their heads as much as possible.

We also enjoyed the peddle boating on the lake we had recently flew over. Oma got involved in that activity and had a blast racing about on the lake. At one point she had most of the kids and the snacks. It was a great trip!dscn0587

School in Ensenada

Hello again! It has been a while, but I think I am up to the task of blogging again…We’ve been a bit busy here learning Spanish for the last two months. So the next few blogs will be about Ensenada as we are living here.

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One of our goals is to speak Spanish and for the kids to immerse themselves in another culture. We had talked about how to do this as we traveled and what would good opportunities look like. One option all the older kids were keen to try was going to school.

So, Back in April, we hooked up with a great Spanish tutor and she has been amazing in getting us looped into the local culture. She recommended a few bilingual schools for our crew and arranged a tour for us as well. We all were impressed with the school environment (Locked compound, uniforms, good student to teacher ratio) and the kids started the next day.   Then the second day was a party day – Dias de los ninos. Then a Mother’s Day celebration all day, followed by early dismissal for teacher’s day and the next week has a restaurant day and early dismissal again. School here is a bit different….

School here starts at 7:45 am. And there is a bus ride to school, or taxi before that. I get up at 6:00 so I can be civil by the time they are up at 6:30. And they all get up happily, raring to go to classes. It is so nice to see the organized chaos each morning.

The kids return after a 2:30 finish, willing to do their homework, if they understood what the homework was. They are keen to keep up with their class. All three of them are really getting a good workout in English – grammar, spelling and a lot of writing. Their Spanish is progressing too.

Ro also began to go to school, but he only lasted 3 days before it was determined that he was not quite ready for formal schooling…lol. So Ro and I now spend our mornings swimming, adventuring at the playground or reading together. Sometimes we go shopping for groceries and doughnuts.

Yonas and I continue to take lessons M-F for 2 hours a day. It is going well.

So many differences….and more stories to tell.

Happy Folks

In our travels, we meet many folks travelling as well. This month has been no exception. We are delighted with our neighbors in Marina Coral here in Ensenada. There is a family with two young children, close to Mookie and Ro’s ages, where Mookie plays as often as she can. They also make regular trips to the States and have been willing to pick us up supplies – contact lens solutions, Nutritional Yeast… Our dock seems to hold a sundowner party every good weather Friday, so we have a regular Friday night social – Gary makes a wicked guacamole and his lovely partner Marty makes great jello shooters.

The sailors here are friendly and very helpful with connecting us to local spots for shopping, farmer’s markets, gear, telephones and anything we need. Offers of rides and Costco trips abound. I even get organic produce picked up for me on market day sometimes. Wow!

Of course, as we have been here a month, we are suddenly on the giving end for new arrivals – where to get food, how to catch a bus, what cabs cost and where did you find xxx? Happily, we can answer most questions now.

We were fortunate to meet a family with 5 children who have been sailing the globe for 15 years. Their children were all the same ages as our children and loved to play with us as often as they could. They were only here a few days as they were off to Hawaii and then the NorthWest Passage. This is their site. We did enjoy a beach clean up evening with them as well, collecting tires, plastics and abandoned tarps. The kids really got into seeing who could find the largest and strangest garbage. They played hide and seek on their boat and love to meet up at the playground for recess…right before our Spanish class started.

Our Spanish has come along way since we arrived. I managed to have a conversation in Spanish yesterday and Yonas is doing great too. We have a tutor, Joli, who has been a Spanish as a second language teacher for 15 years.  She has also  been fantastic in getting us orientated to local shops, asking directions and researching schools for our kids to attend. (That is a blog entry on it’s own, so wait for it!)

Overall, Mexico has been kind to us and we are enjoying living here. I finally bought a new camera, so pictures are on the way.

 

San Diego, CA to Ensanada, BC

A short visit we had on Shelter Island in San Diego for sure. It was not what we love and Mexico was so close…but here are the highlights.

We arrived late in the day to the transient dock. Not a fantastic location for a family. It was okay though as we located a playground about a 1/4 mile away. John went for a walk to scope out the area and Yonas took the kids to stretch their legs.I had the boat to myself – what a treat.

Yonas, and thanks to the amazing Craig’s List, procured us a double kayak that is perfect for the kids. I went in it for a paddle and gained a very wet bottom due to the drainage hole design…

Dad and I went for a final shop a few miles from the boat, and Yonas decided to meet up with us at the fuel dock. He had the kids help him cast off the dock we were on and they motored up to the dock Dad and I were waiting at. The kids did great casting off and getting back on board in a safe and timely manner. Marieke and Julian love to help with docking now.

Dad departed San Diego, headed back to Golden the next afternoon. Yonas called me at the playground and suggested we leave too – the winds were going to shift, keeping us in California for another 5 days if we did not. Given the options, we elected to cast off at 5 pm. We set sail for Mexico.

It was a pleasant, gentle sail all night. Yonas took the first watch and I did the second. There was only one ship to be seen all night, likely heading for the LNG plant on the Baja peninsula.

After dawn and heading into Ensenada’s bay, I had the exciting experience of avoiding a grey whale again! It was very close and curious about us. It passed on our starboard side, where all the kids got a great look at the gentle giant. It popped up around our stern as well, watching us. An amazing experience. Here are a few phone photos we managed to get. No, actually. I will post them next time. They are on my phone, I hope, and Yonas has my phone as his went for a brief and fatal swim….

Currently, we are resting in Ensenada for a month, getting our papers in order and learning Spanish.

Catalina Island

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Our harbor for two nights

What a treat to be at anchor. The boat is still and we can fall asleep listening to the shrimp clean the hull..clack, scratch, scritch.

Catalina Island is privately owned, and very popular with folks from the LA area. We staying on the south side in Catalina Harbor, right at the isthmus. It was a mile to walk across the island at that point, but there were tree swings and a playground along the way.

We stayed for 2 days, resting up for the last leg to San Diego. Laundry was washed, hikes were taken, work caught up and sleep as well. I have some photos from John and from our phones. (The camera will have to be replaced.)

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The other side of Two Harbors

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Can you see the entrance to the harbor?

But, as always, another adventure was waiting for us at our departure time. We chose to use our very large ground tackle and put out a stern anchor, both because it was needed in the anchorage to prevent swinging and because we needed practice at anchoring. Oh, boy, did we get practice.

The stern anchor came up as soon as we flipped it over. Classic. Then we were hanging on the bow anchor and we should be able to motor over the anchor and haul it in. Nope. Not forward, sideways or in circles could we loosen the anchor. We were caught on a monstrous chain. In fact, as we hauled in the anchor and got the top of the anchor to the surface, we could see the chain wedged into the anchor’s folding joint. Now, how to get it off. (Harbor Patrol offered to do it for us for $109.00)

Well, after a few fiddling attempts to drag it loose, we decided to float another line under the chain and lift it off the anchor that way. The first line got wrapped around part of the anchor, so it could not work, but the second line lifted the chain easily. Yonas attached the anchor to a halyard and swung it out as it was lifted clear of the chain. Now we were held in place by the floating line under the chain. We were finally ready to leave – 2.5 hours after we started! I had time to bake a batch of muffins while we worked at reclaiming our ground tackle. I released the end of the line, pulled it aboard and we were off. (Again, many thanks to John, wincher extraordinaire!)

It is a bit strange to be the morning entertainment…

We sailed off the island and then the wind died, so we motored a lot towards San Diego. It was another overnight trip as we picked up some kelp later in the evening, reducing our propeller’s efficiency and allowing us only 2 knots.

By 9am Yonas was volunteered to go for a swim and free the propeller. After setting up the swim ladder and getting the mask all perfect, he began to test the water temperature. At a mere 17 degrees, we tole him to jump in as we did not want to wait all morning. And he did jump in! It took scant moments to free the prop. Julian also jumped in for a swim. Mokie got her feet wet.

We also had a small songbird hitch a ride with us. It was quite curious. Visiting inside the pilot house and hopping about under the helmsman’s chair.

Wind, Waves and Wild Rides

When you start saying things like, “Do not hit that whale. Turn. Miss the whale. Oh man, I hope it dives.” You begin to wonder why. (Why am I doing this?!)  And it feels surreal to watch the whale dead ahead of you get closer as your boat screams towards it, running with the fierce and unexpected wind.

Wait, let’s start at the beginning.

We left Morro Bay on a lovely, sunny day, though the water was a little choppy. We sailed south and no one was ill. Yea! We all kept a lookout for whales and dolphins, but this leg of the trip was uneventful. As night fell, we approached Point Conception and the winds picked up a touch. The moon was not out, so the stars were in full glory. The kids said the stars are so amazing that they looked fake! Marcus chose to sleep in the cockpit, under the stars. He often likes to sleep outside.  John handily took us around the point on his shift, adjusting for the different wind directions and speeds while keeping us way away from the oil platforms and shipping channel. The oil platforms are super well lite and huge! What an unusual sight by night.

The next morning we had little wind, Yonas threw up the spinnaker. It is a pretty red, yellow, and orange. As we skipped along with this one, we were visited by dolphins! Lots and lots of dolphins! The kids all tried to entertain them by dragging our toes in the water or whistling to them. It was great fun.

We coasted into Prisoner’s harbour in Santa Cruz Island, where we could watch the red crabs swim in the clear water. We set anchor (it took three tries!) and left John on the boat while we took the kids ashore for a stretch.

Santa Cruz Island is a large, protected island in the Channel Islands. The kids went ashore in the park where they located a guide book full of questions for kids if different ages, so they choose to do it together. The older kids played island Bingo, spotting a wide variety of wildlife and identifying it. We also spotted an island fox and an island scrub jay, both native to the islands, found nowhere else. The fox was about the size of a house cat and looked so soft. We hiked up a hill, to a lookout point then I continued with Julian and Marcus to the next top. We saw another fox and watched it hunt down a snack. We also saw lizards and more birds. 

We went back to the beach as we noted the wind was rising. Shortly after arriving on the beach, we decided to go back to the boat as it would soon be hard to row the tender out there(…and in all this chaos, the camera got soaked and no longer works. Sigh.)

The trimaran was starting to drag anchor, heading for the pier. We quickly tied on the dinghy, hauled up the anchor and hightailed it out of the unprotected harbour. Once out a ways, we could then hoist up the dinghy, holding our position with our motor. As Murphy was visiting, the ropes for hoisting had come off the aft side and needed to be re threaded. Challenging in the winds with white caps growing all around you. The winds were still rising, like my adrenaline, so we opened up the jib and we aimed for the point, hoping to round the point and shelter on the lee side.

Now we were running with the wind, as it rose, and without warning, a whale pops up in front of the boat, about 50-100 feet away.In an ocean, with white foaming wind waves and the feeling of speeding, that is not far away…not far away at all. We did not hit the whale, but it was a lot closer than I like to see. A beautiful fin back whale too.

As we cleared the point, it was clear we were not going to be able to turn into the wind to get back to the sheltered harbour, so we quickly decided to set course to Catalina Island, 60 miles away. And so our second night sail in a row began. Certainly, we were tired.

The winds hit 35 knots with gust to 40, technically gale conditions. Yonas joked that we were getting out training for Volvo racing. I did not find it funny, so I went to bed, knowing I’d have a late shift and an early shift after that. We adults each took two hour shifts to get a four hour sleep in between. (The wave were way less that the first night sail we did and it was far less slam, slip and slide.) The first shift was good for me as the Hydrovane held the course and all I had to do was watch for other ships and whales, but as the moon was not out, it was just a watch for other ships. 

Eventually, the wind died off and we were left with sloppy seas and motoring. Every change in speed is heard by us below decks, so we know when the watch person is adjusting sails, motor speed or direction. By morning, a breeze arrived and we were sailing again. After breakfast, the kids were found by a pod of dolphins and great fun was had. I slept, lulled to dreamland by the rush of water bubbling past the hulls.

Approaching Catalina Island we had a few choices, so in our addled and sleep deprived brains, we chose to go to Catalina harbour. It was the closest at the time because we forgot about another one….It was a great choice overall. The approach to this harbour was really unsettling for me. My eyes were really tired, and not seeing well, so spotting the break in the island’s shoreline was next to impossible. Until we were nearly at the harbour mouth. From our approach, it was a perfect pirate hole!

By dinnertime, we had found and entered Catalina Harbour and grabbed a mooring ball. Sleeping that night was weird as the boat felt perfectly still.

Exploring Catalina…when we return!(And hopefully, lots of photos too! Currently, the photos are not uploading, likely due to water issues….)