Leaving Los Cabos...


March 31st and we have just departed Los Cabos for Los frailles...
I still have a signal now but don't know what we will find around the bend.
I will once again post when I can and add photos when there is wi-fi...might be a few weeks as we are anchoring out, slowly making our way to La Paz.
Los Cabos was a ball...
Yesterday, we visited with friends of friends, who were Vacationing in an exquisite villa nearby the marina. Our hosts picked us up and whisked us off to their palace on the cliffs over-looking the ocean. Jon and I chatted and made new friends and the kids played with a pile of Their grandchildren in the pool and a lovely afternoon was had by all.
Their chauffeur and houseman, Mauricio, a very hip and handsome guy and his extraordinary chef-wife are caretakers for the house. Mauricio helped us with our Spanish giving us a better insight into what areas use what phrases and how to speak with the most respectful phrasing- always important when you are mostly butchering someone else's language!
He dropped us off at a restaurant near the marina, up in a valley behind the hill, with the big cross. Flora farms is not on a cruisers budget but we had to break the bank for this one. We were seated outside, among rows of sunflowers and tomatoes and pots of geramniums and wildflowers, at linen covered community tables, surrounded by tivoli lights dangling from trees. They grow everything organically at Flora and raise their pigs and chickens. They also sell fresh produce from the farm so after an unbelievable dinner of wood-fired pizzas and roast chicken and organic vegetables and cold WHITE WINE( unheard of luxury for us these days) we loaded up on lettuces, cherry tomatoes, peppers, fresh basil and sage...and piles of homemade sausages! We couldn't resist the wood fire ciabattas and sticky buns and I am eating one right now with freshly griund coffee grown in the Baja!
So.... Hunter is taking a turn at the helm, we just passed two sea-turtles, one green, one leatherback and the hook is in the water as we motor slowly along, the flat calm sea shining below us, the sun baking us brown and we are off to the next anchorage.
The only question is...
When are you coming to join us?


We make some new friends

their amazing pool 


At Flora Farms...This is Baja!

The galley wench's idea of heaven

Booty from Flora Farm

We cleaned up for this one





Surrealism in Puerto Los Cabos

The next morning we wave goodbye to our new friends, then climb off the boat in search of showers.
The marina is vast, as is their boat yard and it feels like a two mile walk to the showers. As we walk we pass a National Geographic boat and another research vessels moored nearby. Cool. We know that they are here because of all the amazing stuff there is further up the sea.
research vessel Zephyr

As soon as we walk another ten feet I notice an amazing sculpture. Holy cow, I think. That looks really familiar but I can't place it. I take a picture of it, impressed that someone would add such a lovely, cultural touch to a marina. A little further up, my mind is blown. Every ten feet there is a painting or a sculpture. They are all surrealist, done by two artists, clearly but i still can't place who they are. The work is amazing, high above us on a hill is a giant cross, also super cool. We are in like a huge, outdoor exhibit. 
There is no  defined beginning or end to this museum, it just appears on the walkway. We wander down the path, checking out the amazing art. Finally, I see a plaque; Leonora Carrington and the sculptures are, of course, her paramour, Max Ernst!!! Really? I get to teach the kids about Surrealism on the way to the showers in a marina in the middle of nowhere. I still have no idea why this is here. No one who works at the marina knows why but apparently they planned on this place attracting a very upscale clientele. Maybe the economy squashed their ambitions for the moment, cause nothing else is really here-except for a hideous"swim with the dolphins" attraction. The dolphins are kept in large outdoor pens and tourists come and are given wetsuits and get to paddle around in the company of these exquisite creatures. I know I sound like a snob, because yes, I live on a boat but i have spent days and nights watching these creatures and like all beings, FREEDOM is their natural right. If you could see them, dashing along our bow, spinning and twirling and then speeding off again...these are not pets. These are not playthings for humans. They are a miracle of muscle and sinew and brain power and the only interaction we should have should have with them ought to be on their terms, not ours.
Anyway...that's my two cents. You want to see dolphin's-live on a sailboat.

Art in the Baja

Kai gets some inspiration

the original Adams family

my new favorite artist



After art history lessons and a shower, there was lunch and then a hike along a massive deserted beach. We had to be careful not to step on beached puffer fish- peligroso!  We found a neat estuary and listened to birds nesting and watched a local fisherman cast for fish. Kai is determined to get a cast net at some point. He spent the evening trying almost successfully to hook another puffer fish that was lurking under the boat.





no fish is safe
especially you, buddy!
                           


Whales, a turtle and a Falcon

locals
Ten minutes later we saw the blows, right there in the shadow of the Princess Cruise Ships. Like all the other locals in Cabo, the whales were muy tranquilo and seemed tolerant of the gawking tourists ( ourselves included ).  This is a mother and calf. There were also two larger males further out who seemed to actually be showing off for the whale watching boats that zoomed around them every time they surfaced. We keep our distance on Pura Vida, this being our house and all but we have been lucky enough to see whales pretty much every day of our trip. We are getting good at spotting blows or seeing other telltale "footprints" left by these spectacular animals. Grey whales leave large "nets" of tiny bubbles on the surface, a moving whale leaves a large smooth patch of water where it has surfaced and most interestingly, you can almost always "feel" them before you see them. There is a distinct presence, like the feeling you get when you realize you are being watched and suddenly you think..."whales" and then you look around...and you'll see the blow. It's usually much too far away for them to actually be watching you but this has happened so many times now, I'm convinced there is something to it.
The waters that we are bound for are one of the world's great wildlife arenas and home to vast arrays of  birds, dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays and more species of whales than anywhere else in the world.
We watch these Humpbacks for about and hour, then, for the first time in five weeks, we shape our course to the North...The Sea of Cortez.

The sail to our next spot is easy. The anchorage we are bound for, Los Frailles , is about six hours from here but we opt to stop on the way, mostly because we forgot to fill one of our propane tanks in Cabo. We also have the wind on our nose, so the sail will take us too long to arrive at our anchorage in the daylight-what with all the fantastic whale watching detours this morning, so we opt to duck into a new marina about halfway up the coast to the anchorage. I sail and sunbathe and Hunter finds an old issue of Rolling Stone in my bookshelf that has a treasure trove of Lady Gaga photos, so she spends the afternoon cutting out pictures and turning her V-berth into a shrine to the mommy of all monsters. Jon spends the day kneeling at the alter ( rear end sticking out of the engine room door) and Kai reads in our room. I look up and spot what appears to be a gigantic barrel floating in the water. Then the barrel sticks out a massive head and opens two dreamy eyes. "Turtle" I yell. "Turtle! Turtle! Turtle!"  the poor old fellow took one look at me and  immediately dove below the waves. By the time everyone got on deck, he was long gone.
"Oh, my god, you missed it, he was as big as Kai" I say.
"You scared him with all that hollering" said Jon. "next time, just throttle back and put it in neutral, we'll know something is up and come see."
Okay, fine. I'll do that. I'm sorry no one else got to see him- he was huge and green and totally AWESOME.
Just then, some Risso's dolphins cross our bow. Hunter and I hang over the rail and watch them in the aquamarine water. They are the size of pilot whales but their heads are pure white-scars from battles with the vicious Humbolt squid that comprise their main food source.
An hour later we pull into the man--made breakwater of Puerto Los Cabos.
The marina is still under construction but very expensive. There are tons of fancy boats in here, just sitting, I guess, as no one seems to be around. We opt for one of the docks that does't have power yet as it's half price and we don't plan on being here long. The dock manager gives us our slip number and we motor past mega yachts and never used fishing charter boats and find our spot. As we pull into our slip, we see a really great old ketch next to us. A Perrigrin Falcon sits on top of it's mizzen mast. Jon docks us and I jump off the boat with the spring line. A super-tan, super-agile, 60 year-old dude in jeans and a t-shirt appears on the deck of the cool boat.  He watches us tie up. "Hey, you guys." he says, "welcome".
We chat as we secure our dock lines. We tell him we just sailed from Marina Del (feeling pretty impressed with ourselves) and he smiles and tells us "that's great".  We ask where he's from. He just flicks a tan thumb at his boat and smiles. We smile back and nod knowingly. " So, you untied" he says. "good for you guys".
"Yup" I say.  "Us and two little ones, they're around here somewhere..." I can hear Kai and Hunter below, clobbering each other with an empty water jug.
" kids?" says the dude and his face lights up. " how old?"
"Seven and ten"
 The dude grins at us. Once again, we are IN.
" I got my boat-kid here, too." he says.
At that moment the tannest, tallest, most long-haired, most gorgeous twenty year old boy pokes his head through the hatch. "
The old dude grins at us. "mine's a little bigger, now" he says.
And that's how we met Mike and Karen and their son, Falcon. And yes, the real falcon perched on their mast was just a coincidence, although somehow indicative of their coolness. These people had been cruising the world for THIRTY years. They are on their THRID circumnavigation. Falcon was born and raised on their boats. He didn't get off until he was 18. He was now 23 and has been traveling the states for a few years and had just rejoined his parents, five days ago, to sail with them to the Marquesas...they were leaving tomorrow. !!!!!!
Let me try to express what this was like for us. It's like, being a dinner theater actor in Demoines and deciding you are gonna go for the dream and with no experience and 15 bucks in your pocket, you hop a bus to Hollywood and the first person you meet when you land on Sunset boulevard, is MERYL STREEP.
These guys had sailed around the WHOLE WORLD twice already!!! They were making their way around again. They had been doing this for thirty years, encountered pirates in the Adman sea, had spears thrown at their hull in New Guniea, lived on desert islands for six months at a time, been rammed by whales, been sunk by boats, fended off tiger sharks, sailed every ocean and raised a CHILD, who now was clearly an incredible young man... I mean, COME ON!
We are docked right next to the coolest, most inspiring people we could possibly meet at this stage. They make their living writing books and fixing things and Karen sews sails and makes things and they couldn't have been nicer to us newbies. We sat on our decks, moored side by side and listened to their stories and tips. Mike and Karen have spent the last TWO YEARS in the Sea of Cortez.
"Don't rush it" they told us. "Go further up", "The wild life is incredible...', "Whale sharks under the boat", "watch out for the sweat bees...you gotta kill the scout..." and so on.
We listen with rapt attention, while Falcon taught Kai and Hunter fishing tips.
We bought a couple of Mikes' books. One on the raising of a Falcon-about his childhood at sea and another one about Karen's awesome recipes. Everything from the worlds best banana bread to Jellyfish salad and shark fin soup. They catch everything, they make everything, they fix everything...Oh, my goodness.
We crawled into our bunk that night and lay in the dark speechless.
 "Wow" Jon flipped on his light and reached for the book about Falcon.
" I have to read this, RIGHT NOW." he said. " I am totally star-struck by those people".
"No kidding" I reached for Karen's recipes.
And so, here we were, a couple of newbies,  next door to these VETS, who were about to jump the "big puddle" the very next morning...
Who do you think got more sleep that night?
I know it wasn't us. We read those whole books in one go.
Karen, Mike, Falcon and the kids. They make a nice family, don't they?

Bon Voyage to Beau Soleil... we hope we meet again.
lands end arch
So we sailed out of Cabo, well, motored...what a total zoo! Jetski's, pangas, glass-bottom tour boats, all trying to squeeze their way through the tiny channel between the breakwater on the way out.
Captain Jon guides us into the busy fuel dock and we top off Pura Vida's tanks- we've used just over a quarter of a tank since we left Marina Del Rey, 900 miles- not too shabby, just a teenie tiny carbon footprint in the sand. We also refill our two diesel and two gas jerry cans we have lashed to the foredeck. Deisel for the boat, gas for the generator and the outboard. We bought this super nifty generator before we left, a 2000 watt little fireplug that we set up on deck when we are at anchor. The genny lets us run the fridge without relying on Old Perkie and Solar does everything else.
We had a laugh watching two resident bull sea lions literally "beg" for fish off the transom's of passing fishing boats. These 800 pound puppy dogs, chase the fish boats, somehow launch their girth onto the swim platforms of the tiny vessels without sinking them and are tossed a few bait fish after which, they slide back into the water and move onto the next boat.
We motor out and squeeze between galactic cruise ships and an amazing spectacle- the monumental idiocy of American's on vacation. This is fat middle-aged people being sleigh-rided on banana boats or towed through the air on parachutes or zooming around on Jet-skis. Incidentally, you do not need a license to drive a jet ski, or parasail. or banana boat...which means there can be no insurance claim if you hurt yourself, which means you can essentially have had a lobotomy and still do any of these activities.  I think
that explains what attracts certain people to these sports. It is the simulation of "risk". Not actual risk. which is kind of akin to simulating love or sex or anything else exciting and risky. I know, that once on a parasail or a banana boat...these people all feel silly. They do. They must. They certainly look embarrassed enough. The idea is fun but the activity has been robbed of all adult content. You are in a grown-up "jolly-jumper" and you know it.
As we motored past these human cat toys, Kai asked me, "Is that fun. mommy?"
"No."
"Do you like Jet-ski's?"
"No"
"why not?" he said, I could tell he wasn't  impressed with my answers already.
"Because it's boring" I said, adjusting the sails.
'You think everything is either boring or terrifying" he said.
I had to think about this for a minute.
"No." I answered smearing his nose in number 350 sunblock...the kind made for albinos and cave mice.
" I think everything is boring or terrifying or AWESOME".
I glanced down at the GPS the next point on the horizon is...Punta Palmira...
I'm hoping for Awesome.

A donde el viento mi lleva

Since we left SanDiego, we have been using Rosetta stone to learn Spanish.
The kids are really good about it, because, the way it's set up, it's like a game and since each person does their lessons on their own, with the computer, Kai and Hunter can't bicker about who's better at it, while they do it. For the first few weeks everyone was shy, except Jon (no surprises there), about trying out speaking it with actual Mexican people but after five weeks, we all are jumping in.
Here's the thing about learning Spanish in Mexico, Mexicans are AWESOME.  
They take huge pride in their country and if you show the slightest interest in their language, food, history, towns, wildlife, sports teams or music, they all become your maestros. They could care less how limited your vocabulary is, or how badly conjugated your verbs are, the fact that you are trying and showing an interest, is enough to get you in and Latinos let you IN. They are the warmest people I have ever met.  They like their music LOUD, they all sing all the time, they have amazing food, they ALL have kids, they love to dance and eat and take siestas...and they love to TALK. Everywhere we have been, we try our best to communicate in Spanish and even though it's pretty pathetic, we certainly are learning more everyday. The kids get it now, that when you are in someone else's country and you thank them, or tell them how delicious your dinner was, or ask them if the fish are biting, and you say it their language, you make a new amigo everyday.
The divine Miss H.


Cabo!

There was some debating about Cabo. It's a tourist trap and expensive to stay at the marina and many cruisers skip it altogether BUT we have been out for three weeks now since Ensenada and plan on cruising slowly through the anchorages on the way to La Paz. I am eager to have a long hot shower and put on a nice dress and go out to dinner. I also am desperate to find some WIFI so I can upload pics and our laundry has been building up- soon I will be able to wash it on deck and dry it in the warm sunshine but right now, the bag is threatening to sink the boat. Jon never passes up an opportunity to make me happy so he agrees- This is how a wise captain gets a wife to live on a boat!
We look at the weather. Our constant issue is that we can't just leave on overly mellow days because our engine is old and we don't want to have to use it too much, if we don't have to. We need days with wind. The next few days look incredibly calm but since we took a bit of a beating on the way down, I beg  Jon to go for it now. I am eager to have a slow, gentle sail, use our asymmetrical in the day and have some calm seas. Jon has to think hard about it because Cabo Falso, the very end of  the Baja Penninsula, can be a formidable cape- one should try to round it just after dawn to avoid  the daily build up of wind and seas that are so common there. Jon studies the weather and puzzles our timing. We planned to leave on the 23rd.
We all had a sleep in the morning after Kai's b-day and I cooked up some food in prep of our up coming next leg- it would be shorter but still two nights. the kids fished all morning off the boat and Hunter caught a baby barracuda, which was a thankfully, a manageable size to get off the hook. We let him go after much observation by Kai. At 3:00 pm Jon poked his head out the hatch and looked around. He had been bent over the Nav desk for awhile. "if we weigh anchor in the next forty five minutes, our timing should be perfect." The wind had shifted slightly and right now was now better than our planned departure.
Exactly forty five minutes later we were sailing for the entrance of the bay...
The sun was setting and the sea outside the bay was like GLASS. There was barely enough wind to keep our sails full but we were moving along at 4 knots. We sat in deck and watched pods of dolphins play as the sun set. The stars were coming out. It was heaven...
The passage was a milk run. When we finally got far enough off shore to shape our course, we were twenty miles out and the seas were like a giant puddle. The first twenty four hours, sleeping in your bunk off watch was like sleeping in your bed at home. When the swell picked up eventually, it was nothing. The winds were light at times but always enough to keep moving. At night, we don't fly the spinnaker so we do slow down but it was all part of Jon's master plan and sure enough, 36 hours later I watched the sunrise as we approached Cabo Falso.

Sunrise over Cabo Falso
The first thing I saw as sunlight poured over the mountains and across the waves were two giant blows about three hundred yards away.  Two humpbacks spent the last part of my watch with me before I woke Jon up from his off watch. We were surrounded by sea birds and spinner dolphins as we drank our coffees on deck. I threw in our hook and the kids came running on deck every time someone spotted another whale spout on the horizon. By 7 am it was HOT! It took two hours to pass the cape and sure enough, it picked up as we did. Suddenly it was blowing 23 knots and the seas were choppy and whitecaps, just lovely sailing but you could see how in stronger conditions or later in the day it could get crazy out here. Hunter came on deck and looked around at the rushing waves . " little bigger?" i said. "This isn't big, it's perfect!" said Hunter. Good little sailor. The kids LOVE the boat. No matter what. They are so used to it now, they don't even want to go ashore unless it's a beach. When we say we're getting underway, they are thrilled to be sailing again. Which is awesome because you can never guarantee everyone is going to love it-but they do, which is great.
Just as we were rounding the cape, a huge humpback breached about 500 yards away and then right at that moment BAM! A strike on the line! We jumped into action. Jon played the fish, the rest of us sprang around to bring in sails and Kai kicked on the engine and drove the boat to help his dad land it. Twenty minutes later, in the gusting wind and seas, we had our first FISH on deck! We had no idea what it was but we GOT IT! Kai told us it was a big-eye tuna and he turned out to be right. They aren't as good eating as yellow tail  but we gutted it and I fillet it for the practice. It might seem wasteful but I didn't want to butcher our first yellowtail or mahimahi without having honed my skills a bit. An hour later we passed Neptune's Finger and the lands end arch. The bay was jammed with tourist boats and the beach covered in hotels but it was 86 degrees out, we had a caught a fish and we had just sailed down the entire west coast of the Baja Peninsula! Hot showers and dinner at a nice restaurant awaited us...Oh, happy days.

the one that didn't get away

love
spotting whales








more love

cheers!

A whale of a birthday

don't mess with muchacho
It blew like heck in mag bay but we held steady on our anchor. We had a trip in on the dingy to the village and brought the local capitan de puerto a tub of Nutella as an offering of respect. We cleaned the boat and read books and did Rosetta stone and Hunter and I made secret plans about a birthday cake and a plan was hatched that jon would watch "The Right Stuff" with Kai on the computer while we baked. Kai peered through the binoculars and lamented that there were no whales in Mag ay. We had all had images of a bay positively leaping with whales and we were all slightly disappointed although the many great frigate birds and hundreds of terns and pelicans and two giant ospreys that surrounded us at all times kept us busy with binoculars.
The pelicans got so noisy around us that we resorted to shooting old limes at them with Kai's slingshot. Excellent entertainment, I must say. Beats the snot out of a video game.

Pelicans be warned!

"I hope I see whales tomorrow" Kai said as we tucked him in on his last day of being nine.
So did we. We only sailed 700 miles to see them!
Kai's b-day arrived and our water-child truly had The blessing of Neptune on him. The weather was flat calm. Not a breath of wind, the sea like glass. We made him a speedy breakfast in bed and I made jon and I a thermos of Mexican coffee and we all piled into the dingy and went looking for whales.
Frigate birds soared above us. Magdelana bay shone like a mirror under us as we motored towards a sandy point the locals told us had muchos ballenas gris.
And they weren't kidding.
The first blow we saw was followed by a second, third, fourth and so on. We puttered along following the slow moving giants as they rolled along the sandy bottom scratching them selves. We were surrounded. We tried in vain to get footage on the gopro. Unfortunately what
Looked from the surface like clear water- we could see straight to the bottom ten feet below- was actually pretty silty from the motion of the giant flukes. So even though we had gone all animal planet and strapped our gopro to the extending boat hook-the actual footage was not as impressive as what we got to see." this is the best day of my life" Kai said, as we rowed along five feet from a grey whale calf.
We spent the morning in the company of giants. Then, as the sun threatened to obliterate our pasty white selves, we motored over to the village and dropped in on the only joint in town. Jose runs a little palapa( palm thatched shack) on the beach. There is no menu, only fresh lobster, shrimps, fish, tortillas and beans...and cold cervesa. What else could there possibly be? For thirty bucks we feasted Kai and the rest of us on grilled lobsters and shrimp and homemade salsa and tortillas, sodas for the kids and beer for us.
Jaun and Jose

chatting to grandma on the b-day
After that it was back to the boat and while Kai and dad snuggled in a bunk watching a movie about astronauts, hunter and I decorated the boat in drawings and poems and baked a chocolate cake decorated in jelly beans and sea shells. We grilled a couple of steaks and made baked potatoes and dug out the smuggled transformer toy we had stashed away and Kai celebrated his first double digits in fine style.

Happy 10 Kai1
Tomorrow we will wake up and...have absolutely no plan, no itinerary.
I wonder what we will do?
Fishing sounds good...

A magical thing

We crashed hard and then woke up around 8:00pm. I made us a decadent meal of pasta and chicken and a salad of shredded cabage and cilantro with lemon dressing and we lit the candles and put on music and drank some red wine. Jon and I sat, gazing blissfully at each other, still tired and slightly drunk, in the beautiful light of the cabin as Pura Vida swayed gently on her anchor. The kids were getting ready for bed.
Kai poked his head in the salon.
" humble we must be, if heaven we must go...
For the walls are high but the gates are low."
Hunter plays boat ninja's
It was the poem from magic ring he had read out loud the other day." did you remember that from just reading it once?" I asked, incredulous that anyone's brain wasn't as soggy as mine right now.
" I memorized it...and a couple others too." Kai said. " now you guys say one"
Jon and I stared at each other. Was this our soon to turn ten year old boy actually reciting poetry that he was reading on his own?
" daddy, are you crying" asked Hunter with her sly little look. " you NEVER cry!".
I'm sorry to report that neither Jon nor I, with all our years of memorized poems and sonnets, could think, at that moment, of a single line or poem or even a thing to add to Kai's magic ring attempt. We just sat there and smiled and cried.
Then everybody went back to bed.

Magdelena bay

We pass The entrance to Bahia Santa Maria and debate stopping there. It's supposed to be beautiful and we are the tempted enough that we alter course and poke around the outside for awhile but in the end we opt to continue as Kai's b-day is in two days and we want to rest and settle in, rather than weigh anchor again tomorrow. We shape our course for Mag bay, with conflicted hearts, knowing that we may never again have the opportunity to explore what lies behind the headlands of that vast bay.
We soon forget our quandary as we are suddenly surrounded by hundreds of dolphins and frigate birds and sea lions. Clearly we are amidst a feeding frenzy and we scramble to throw our hooks in the water. As usual, we are ignored and though we imagine all the wonderful fish that must be lurking below us, we remain catch-less.
Two hours later the entrance to Mag bay looms before us. The bay is so wide behind the headlands you can't see a thing. Imagine Santa Monica bay, from Palos Verdes to Point Dume. With NOTHING in it. No buildings, no people- there is the town of San Carlos up the estuary but you can't see it. We are lookng at endless wilderness as wild and lonely a place as you can imagine. We enter the bay and the swell disappears. Always exciting when you are tired and have been rolling around, moving from one hand hold to another for days. We make our way six miles up to the anchorage off the tiny village of man-o-war cove. Population 100 adults and 20 ninos.
Several small buildings,one palapa on the beach and piles of massive whale bones. So amazingly cool.

We drop our hook in the sand and it bites immediately. We back down hard on the throttle but she's set. We shut off the engine and sit in the silence looking at this little town and this huge and wonderful bay that we have sailed 700 miles to see on Kai's birthday.
"I don't see any whales" observes Kai.
We can't even answer we are so bagged and amazed we got here. I go below and make up a snack(lobster dip and crackers) and pull a bottle of pink champagne-given to us by a friend before we left-from the fridge. " go pour yourselves a coke" I say to the kids. "really?" they are amazed. Soda is like crack around here and i am not usually down with it but this is a celebration.
We all sit on deck and have a toast and munch on the snacks and are pretty much speechless. As we polish off the bottle, exhaustion weighs on us like a heavy blanket. Jon and I crawl below and fall into our bunk together for the first time in days.
" You did it." I whisper...but he is already asleep.

a day to celebrate

happy kids

happy us
whale bones and Pura Vida in the bg.

A better day

For 36 hours we got our butts kicked and then the sea and wind settled into something we could manage. It was still blowing and big but much more comfortable. We kept in the 3rd reef and a scrap of genoa- wishing that we had rigged the cutter before we left TB and could use our staysail-but it was too rough on the foredeck to hassle with that now. We still flew along at about 6.5 knots and despite the wanderings of our course the night before as we tried in vain to find a steady swell, we were ahead of schedule. Evening rolled around and the stars came out. Kai had successfully lobbied for night watch with Jon, so Hunter and I climbed into bed. Three hours later Kai touched my shoulder. " your watch, mummy". Even in the dark cabin, I could see his eyes shining. He loves night watch with his dad. Jon says he talks the whole time, free associating on every subject; books he's reading, the minutiae of bat rays and some rare kind of owl that lives in a jungle in New Guinea, what GIJoe and Snake Eyes favorite weapons might be and anything else that pops into his head.
I climb out of my warm bunk and leave Hunter to sleep , since she finally is. On deck, it is beautiful. The moonless night glows with an unimaginable number of stars. The middle of the ocean is unaffected by light pollution and it's heart stopping how jamm packed it is. The milky way arc over me, from horizon to horizon. Jon gives me my orders for the watch and points out a few ships and then heads below. I hope he will sleep for this watch, with the relatively even motion of the boat. I cross my fingers that it doesn't change for the next three hours.
I clip in, noticing that it's warmer now. We are getting South.
I smell them first. A distinct waft of fish. Like someone burped sushi in your face. Then I hear the gasp of their blowholes. I move my harness clip to an outside cleat and lean out of the cockpit. Brilliant green trials zigzag next to the boat, leaving psychedelic patterns in the water. I can make out the shape of the dolphin's heads and snouts, illuminated by the green glow of microscopic animals but the rest of their bodies are smooth green blurs. They look like dolphin-headed comets streaking along beside the boat. The waves are crested in brilliant green cascades as well. The whole ocean looks like a reflection of the twinkling above me, a mirror image of shooting stars and galaxies.
When I go below to wake Jon, Kai is already dressing for watch. " are you sure you don't want to sleep with mommy and Hunter?" I ask him. " no thanks", he says in his impossibly soft voice. " it's my watch". I look at Jon, who's smiling at me as he pulls on his gear. As much work as it is, I know these crossings are his favorite part. This is adventure. It demands the best of everybody- most of all him- and he's the happiest I've ever seen him.
I crawl in with Hunter and look at the clock. Six hours and we should be in Mag bay.
the milk run

Technical difficulties

Experiencing some really annoying tech issues with the blog.
Part of it is due to Blogger changing their system and the other, of course, is we are sailing a boat down the outside of Mexico!
Please be patient!
I have many amazing photos and some great blogs- some of which I wrote and uploaded and they have mysteriously disappeared from the site...
I will be dealing with this in the next few days, as we are in range of wi-fi again.
(whew!)
Xo,
Scribe and tribe.

Mother ocean teaches me a lesson

We rest in Turtle Bay for two days. We listen to forecasts on the SSB and download our Grib charts. Our next destination is a 250 mile journey and my Captain figures it'll take around 48 hours if we average five knots. Predict Wind says it should be blowing an average of 15-18. Timing is everything when trying to make landfall during daylight, so we decide to weigh anchor at 12:00 noon the next day.

The day breaks cold and windy...perfect.
We say good bye to TB and head out to sea on a broad reach. Pura Vida loves a good reach and she dashes at 7.5 knots over the whitecaps. The swell is up a bit from the predictions but once we get out to our to our rumb line and can shape our course for Mag Bay, we will fall off and head South. We figure the wind will be behind us and the seas will mellow and the boat will still speed along. It's a stunningly beautiful day.  I make afternoon tea and shortbread and Hunter and Daddy have a dance party to Scissor Sisters in the cockpit while Kai draws yet another arsenal of medieval weapons. I am now incredibly well schooled on the many vile and terrible ways one could die back in the day. Kai and Hunter spend a great deal of time drawing "shops" which sell things for various amounts of dollars-or pesos. Hunter's shops always sell wigs and posters and lipsticks and Kai's sell maces and two-headed axes and...cellphones. When we asked him about the cell phone plan he had listed for 8 million dollars, he said, "it's for life. Like it or not." which is ironic, because that is exactly how I feel about our cell phone plan. He also told us he planned to "false advertise" so he could get more customers! I don't think Kai needs school at all,  he's got a pretty good handle on the whole free market thing.
The wind is picking up. Its blowing 24 knots. We are now clear of the headland and are heading South but the seas are getting bigger- when they're coming from behind, they usually seem smaller- these don't. They are very steep with a short period in between sets and very FAST. We have trouble finding a good balance for the boat so she doesn't rush down them too quickly. We adjust our headsails but our poor old girl, who is usually steady in the troughs is rolling around and no amount of sail trim seems to solve the problem-because we also have this weird beam sea coming at us from both sides.
Few things are more uncomfortable on a boat than a confused sea. None of us get sick but it was a tosser.  Pura Vida soldiered on, through fourteen foot seas that seemed to come from everywhere at once. We got a chance to see what things were not stowed properly. The tea kettle finally had to be stashed away in the shower under some laundry because it seemed to launch itself across the cabin from anywhere else.
It was sloppy and cold, gusting 30 and the sun was starting to set. I could feel my jaw clenching and my teeth starting to hurt already. It was going to be a long night. I called Jon up form his off-watch rest-knowing he wasn't getting any anyway and we decided to put in our 3rd reef for the night.
I called down to the kids to hang on as Jon brought us into the wind. I could hear them below shrieking with laughter as they were flung around the cabin when Pura Vida rose and dove over the big waves coming straight at her bow. I was suddenly grateful for the vast menagerie of stuffed animals we have aboard, knowing that wherever the kids landed they would, most likely, hit something soft.
We reefed and readied for a tough night watch.
I make us a quick dinner of chili I had made ahead- I always make a few meals up before a crossing. Just in case its too rough or I'm too busy to make something good. Food is paramount to crew happiness, so there is no skimming or wussing out. If you don't feel like spending an hour in the galley getting tossed around like a rag doll, make something delicious that heats up quick and some homemade bread the day before. It goes a long way to improving morale on an arduous trip.
I wash up from dinner and come on deck to look around at the seas. They're still icky and still coming from all directions. Is it refraction from the coast? We are thirty miles out!  Jon checks the depth on the charts. Seamounts are everywhere on this route, so maybe it has something to do with the swell hitting the shallower rises. The waves don't scare me, they're not so big, 12-14, but I know that with this long fetch and it blowing upwards of 24 for the last 12 hours- they will get bigger.  I just wish they would organize themselves into something that Pura Vida could settle into. She's tough and all. She has a short mast for her size and we have her reefed down but still, she's an old girl and we don't want her bashing around like this. It's feels like you pushed your grandma into a mosh-pit, or something.
Jon sends me to bed, tells me to get some sleep. It's my duty to find some no matter how impossible it is in this bucking, rolling sea. But I will have to serve my watches and be alert, so you have to make it happen. I brought earplugs for all of us and they help. Also wedging yourself between sleeping babies helps. The kids will not be allowed on night watches tonight, as it's too rough.


Jon will take an extra long watch because it's spooky out and it's also a dark moon, so there will be no friendly moonlight to comfort us out here in this pissed off ocean. I can't see short distances without my glasses on and with no ambient light, I won't be able to see far away either- so I am pretty much blind on deck. I crawl into bed with the kids and think about Jon on deck in the wind and the black waves hissing by him. I know he is clipped in. Cardinal rule of the on-watch person is clipping in so the off- watch person doesn't have to get up every five minutes to make sure their soul mate wasn't washed overboard. I snuggle the kids and close my eyes...
I don't sleep. No one can. The kids and I go back and forth between their v-berth and our bunk but unlike Goldie Locks, we just can't find a bed that works. Our bunk is directly over the self steering arm which is noisy and working like crazy as Pura Vida yaws around on the huge rollers and their berth is like trying to sleep in a washing machine. I pull on my Helly's and head on deck to see how Jon is making out up there. I open the hatch and Jon is looking down at me with eyes like saucers.
"Hey, baby..." I say.
Jon looks like he just ate a giant bag of magic mushrooms.
I notice TWO empty cans of Redbull in front of him.
"everything okay?" I ask- I only ever want ONE answer to this question. Jon gives it to me.
"Yup.  Everything's cool. Nothing to worry" He says.
I see something huge and metal lying on the deck behind him.
"what is that?" I can't really see the thing very well in the pitch black.
"The wind generator." Jon says. His eyes are wild. "snapped in half and then slammed into the deck and was hanging off the boat."
"Holy shit",  I say
I clip on my harness and climb out to have a look. A six foot tall, three inch around, galvanized steel pole and the 20 pound wind turbine that sat on top of it are now duct-taped to the stantions.
"Holy shit", I say again.
"It must of sheared off with all the torque from all the crashing around. Lucky it didn't hit our solar panels or the dingy."Jon says this last bit seeming kind of amazed.
I think about what kind of forces induce metal fatigue and look up at the rig... and wonder.
Apparently, Jon spent the last two hours wrestling a hundred pound pole and the turbine back on board, a moving deck, in the pitch black and howling darkness. I feel badly for him but am grateful it wasn't on my watch, because if that thing came crashing down next to me, I would have had a heart attack and died.
I don't want to go back to bed but Jon insists I do. He is strict about the watch thing and I know he's right. I go below. Kai and Hunter are awake, they don't complain but I know they are nervous and uncomfortable. I tell them to turn on a light in the berth and wait for me. I make my way through the thrashing roller coaster of the main salon and rip off the settee cushions and root around in the storage lockers. I dig out two boxes of animal crackers and some strawberry milks, treats i have stashed for occasions like these. I return to my cabin and Kai and Hunter's small pale faces light up. I give them the goodies, climb into bed and stick my head under the covers. I listen to them giggle and whisper as pretend I to sleep. At least they sound happy. Thank God for sugar.
An hour later Jon pokes his head in. "you're up" he says.
 I pull on all my gear, make a thermos of tea and head on deck. Jon shows me our position. We aren't even close to halfway. The seas are still awful and even though I can't see, I can hear them hissing in a nasty way. It's so pitch dark outside that the phosphorus in the water seems extra bright. You can tell how steep the waves are as they rise up behind us just by looking at our wake.  It looks like a huge green ribbon floating in the air above the dingy. Judging by the height of that green ribbon, I guess the waves to be about 16-17 feet now.
I tell Jon i'm fine and wish him some rest. He goes below and I am alone.
Night watch is dark, dark, dark. My eyes just can't adjust. There are optical illusions everywhere. Phantom ships twinkle on the horizon and phosphoresence float by my nose. I keep busy, checking for (real) ships and trimming sails. When the wind dies down, the boat bucks around even more because she's making no way. We need to charge our batteries, so I kick on the engine and hope Jon and the kids can find some sleep with the comforting rumble of old Perkie. I go below to find some music. I consider Donna Summer's "i will survive" but I just don't feel like a party. It's too scary for disco. I opt for comfort tunes and find some James Taylor and Mumford and Sons. I grab a stick of incense i brought back form Tibet last fall. It was from a monastery in the province of Ganden, that sat at 16,000 feet. I don't know what the folks up there in the Himalayas know of the ocean but I liked their style. 
I go back on deck and look out at the cross sea. James Taylor sings steam roller blues and i face away from the wind grip the incense between my teeth and toke on it to light it. I say a prayer, conjuring every arcane sea diety I can think of and toss the little joss stick into the raging blackness. Just to prove she isn't religious, the sea spits a salty wave in my face. I mutter that I am a fool and have no right to be out here in the middle of the ocean when she is so obviously in no mood for mortals and their peevish wishes. I busy myself with survival and sailing the boat as well as I can.
Time flies when your scared shitless and before i know it, it's been three hours and Jon is back on deck.
We come and go in three hour watches and they are all gnarly, all cold, all intensified by the motion and the darkness. The night is as hard as any i've ever had at sea but like all nights, it eventually passes.  
The sun rises on my watch and the morning is cold and grey. The kids poke their lovely faces through the hatch and I know they haven't slept a wink but they give me a chipper "'Morning, Mummy!". They are so, so good at sea. I go below and make everybody grilled egg and cheese sandwiches and hot cocoa because it's the least I can do for them.
 I set the water to boil and I notice how bone tired I am.  Even in the light of day, I'm shaking like a chihuahua from cold and anxiety. I can't even imagine how Jon feels. He shows no signs and makes no complaints but I know how much rests on his shoulders. The safety of his boat and it's most precious crew all lies with him. He vigilantly checks on our old engine and re-checks our  course and position and studies the charts and we both look out for chafe on our gear. Pura Vida held up wonderfully-except for the wind generator and that's not really part of HER, exactly, more of an IT.
I pass out breakfast on deck and we ignore the thrashing, moody sea and Hunter turns on Lady Gaga full blast so she can have a dance and get her morning "monster" on.
Jon takes the watch and the kids and I go below and the three of us wedge ourselves sideways in the v-berth and barricade ourselves with stuffed animals to minimize the rolling and somehow sleep manages to find us.
Four hours later Jon shakes me awake. I take the next watch and the sun has the decency to come out. The seas are still rather large, 12 feet or so and steep but they are somewhat more organized. I really want Jon to get some sleep and the since the breeze is fresh, I alter course slightly so we can ride a more comfortable point of sail.  Pura Vida falls into a nice beam reach and I can keep her on this just a few degrees off our rumb line. A couple of hours later the kids come up. We decide to play Uno but just as the game gets good, the wind shifts. I move the preventer to tack but in my exhaustion, forget to move it back outside the shrouds. When I readied to tac, the wind gusted as the sail moved and it slammed against the shrouds and the jib sheet tangled and suddenly what had been all smooth and controlled seemedchaotic and crashing about. I was too tired at that moment to figure out what was wrong. I hollered at the kids to move and i leaped to  free the tangled jib sheet from the winch. My hair caught in the sheet as it flew out( rule number 2-tie back long hair) and tore our a good chunk of hair and scalp. I yelped at the kids to "go get dad!" and a moment later Jon appears on deck, looking utterly exhausted and bleary eyed and says "what's wrong?"
" I was moving the preventer and it snagged on the shrouds and the jib was tangled and..." I think I was hyper-ventilating.
" what's WRONG? "Jon asks, again.
" I don't KNOW" and I'm furious for some reason.
Jon is blinking, trying to figure out why the hell I woke him up for this. The wind is calmer now and 
nothing seems out of control-except, maybe ME, i guess...He's shaking his head.
" I don't know what you want me to do..." 
"well you SHOULD" I scream at him. "it's your fucking boat!"
And with that, I flee below deck, crawl into the shower stall ( inexplicably) and sob for ten minutes.
When I  get it together and go back on deck, Jon is sitting at the wheel looking beyond tired. I sit down beside him.
"I'm sorry"I say.
He puts his arms around me and I sob for another ten minutes.
"look at my nose" I say.
Jon touches a black bruise across the bridge.
" I smashed into the dodger last night."
"poor baby" says Jon and kisses it.
"I'm okay," I say. "Go get some rest"
Jon goes below.
I sit there for awhile, feeling like a cow.
I look around at the ocean. She has calmed down completely. The waves are smooth, spaced well apart and coming from one direction. The wind is twelve knots. Pura Vida is running comfortably on the swell.
The ocean rolls over, opens one dark eye and looks right at me.
"Little sister...", She slurs, in her salty voice. "there only be room for ONE crazy-ass bitch out here".
And I know she is right.
I vow to make Jon and excellent dinner and rub his feet in coconut oil when he wakes up.



fishing outside turtle bay
clipped in.










Turtle bay

We arrive in Turtle Bay in the late afternoon. I peer through the binoculars and spot a few masts bobbing around in front of the tiny village. As we near the anchorage we discover the masts all belong to derelict boats. I wonder about the fates that befell them before they were salvaged and dragged here to be stuck on moorings and turned into slowly rotting seagull hotels. There are a few Mexican shrimpers anchored near us. Their boats are hulking, rusted out vessels that look like something out of Mad Max or Waterworld. It's a long way from our posh Marina in MDR where everyone is decked out like an ad for West Marine! The fisherman themselves look as tough as their boats but they smile and wave "Buenas Tardes, Pura Vida!" as we motor in between them and find a spot to drop the hook.
We all crash hard for ten hours and when we get up I make pancakes and black coffee and we crawl into the chilly sunshine on deck to have a look around. Two more sailboats have come in during the night and are anchored behind us. I think I recognize one and a peek through the binoculars confirms it is the little 20 ft. Pacific Seacraft, "Nomad". We had met Bill and Saba in Ensenada, they are also are from MDR. They left a day and a half ahead of us from Ensenada and we are eager to touch base and see how their trip down was when they wake up.
Jon and the kids go ashore and I opt to stay aboard and tidy up the chaos from the last passage. I putter around and decide to make a feast using our fresh food before it goes funky. Cooking on board has the added challenges of quickly fading fresh produce, constantly moving seas and a finicky oven that is determined to burn everything on the bottom. Plus, where we are cruising you can't just restock whatever you need. Which reminds me, it's time to turn those eggs in their cartons. Six cartons have been stowed in a bilge, below the water-line, unrefridgerated. I crack one to check and they are perfect and fresh.
Jon and the kids return from the village. It was dusty and poor and the people were lovely- a recurring theme, here. They bought a couple of fresh baked buns from a shop in someone's house and stopped by Nomad on the way back to the boat. Saba was sleeping but Bill was up and he and Jon compared trips and current weather reports. Bill said they had quite a time on the way down. Seas which were no big deal for our sturdy girl were a lot for pretty little Nomad and their self steering arm was struggling. Like us, they had run into quite a bit of swell and wind North of Cedros Island and found it pretty tiring. They had tried to anchor at Cedros but were boarded by the Mexican navy and told they could not stay. They were given no other explanation and had to continue on to TB. I remembered hearing over the cruiser's net before we left Ensenada that a ship had been lost with six people aboard in the rough waters to the North of the Island. A Mexican official in charge of fishing was among the missing and the Mexican Navy had been called in to help with the search. When we left Ensenada it had been two days since the tragedy and there was little hope of finding anyone. I had tried hard not to think of that incident as we passed Cedros on a night watch. We were safely reefed and our boat was steady and the sun would rise within the hour but I was haunted and whispered a silent prayer to those who were lost.
The forecast was predicting winds 12-20 NNW for the next three days. Then it was supposed to blow harder for a few days after that. Bill and Saba were opting to wait through the week and regain their strength before continuing on to Mag bay. We were eager to set for Magdelena Bay before Kai's b-day. We had read that migrating grey whales spend the months of Feb and March in the bay having their calves and thought there was really no better way to spend a tenth birthday than looking for grey whales in a bay in Baja.
We sat down to a feast of roast pork with grilled corn and jalapeƱo relish and coconut pinapple rice and apple and romain salad. A welcome fresh dinner after the canned tuna salds and cheese and crackers of the past two days.
fishing boat in turtle bay

marking down a whale sighting in the whale log

Amigo Net and a Magic Ring

As evening apporaches on our second night at sea, Jon successfully tunes in on a station with our SSB. We are forty miles offshore and have seen nothing but ocean for 36 hours. We listen through brutal static but manage to hear the net moderator welcoming everyone to "Amigo Net". He asks if there are any reports of emergency, medical or otherwise and then begins cruisers check-in. The voices are garbled, the broadcasts are from much farther south, mainland Mexico and the inside of the sea of Cortez . We listen for awhile, only able to decipher about every third word. I hear a woman's voic in the buzzing and crackling and the name "Hotspur". I tug at Jon's sleeve. " I know them!" I squeal. I don't actually KNOW them, exactly, but i feel like i do,because in the months leading up to our adventure I had read several excellent blogs written by cruiser's who were doing just we we were planning to. Now here I was, in the middle of the ocean, far enough South to actually hear the voice of one of these people! I cannot express how exciting it was. It was this feeling of suddenly realizing we are actually DOING this thing. This PLAN that dominated our thoughts and minds, every day from morning to night, if Jon wasn't prepping an audition or working on set and I wasn't writing, this is what we did. Pretty much ALL we did. It took TWO years of ass-busting, frustrating, overwhelming and sometimes, seemingly, insurmountable work but this Thing, this DREAM was now actually happening.
" this is Hotspur, we're here... "
I can't hear where she is but she sounds really NICE!
Hotspur and the moderator chat like old pals for awhile. Jon and I listen, grinning at each other.
"any other cruisers out there want to check in?" asks the moderator.
Jon picks up the mic.
" this is SV, Pura Vida, Whiskey, Delta, Gulf, two, five, seven, four..."
We wait. The radio crackles and hisses.
The moderator comes on.
" I'm getting something, bad signal, they must be on the outside, I can't pick them up. Any one can relay?"
Jon and I look at each other. We totally don't even know what that means.
Then another voice comes over the radio waves.
"Copy that. I got him. Pura Vida, Pura Vida, come in, I copy you. Hey, there, this is 'Jacaranda' what's your position? Over."
More grinning. Jon picks up. He tells them this is our first time south and gives them our Lat/Long. Our outbound and inbound. Our speed and heading.
"how many you got on board?" asks Jacaranda.
We say we are four. Skippers name, a wife and two kids.
" kid boat! Alright!" says Jacaranda. " how old r your kids?"
We tell them we have a girl, seven and a boy looking to turn ten in Mag bay.
" that's just great!" says Jacaranda. " been a dirth of kid boats comin' down lately but there are a bunch of them down here already. You keep heading south and you'll meet up with a whole lot of them."
Hunter jumps up and down when she hears that.
Jacaranda offers to send us an email over saildocs with some good weather stations for the Baja. We thank him and listen to the rest of the cruiser check in. Everyone sounds amazingly cool. Jon and I can't stop smiling. At the end of the session, Jacaranda welcomes us again. Jon picks up the mic.
"thanks so much. I've just fallen in love with the human race all over again"!
" I caught that" says the moderator.
" and you're right. It's a real special group of folks out here. You and your family have a safe trip down and I look forward to meeting you some day for a coffee if you're ever in PV."


Dinner is almost ready and the sun is setting.
" maybe we'll see the green flash" I say.
I make us a couple of screwdrivers and we sit up on deck, watching. It's blowing sixteen knots and we are running comfortable on a six foot following sea, we're doing 6 knots. Life couldn't be better. Hunter comes on deck. She has found an old leather bound book.
"what's this?" She asks me. Her face is already brown and freckled, her blond hair tangled in terrible dreads I will have to brush-someday.
I take the book.
"this is the Magic Ring" I turn the book over in my hands. My throat tightens.
" it was grandpa Kaiser's?" she asks, snuggling next to me.
" I'm sorry, mommy." she says.
Kai comes on deck to see the sunset.
"what's it about?" he asks. He's standing on the cockpit edge, hanging on to the dodger, looking out at the indigo sea rolling by us. I can't believe he'll be ten in a week. In this light I see flickers of the man he will grow into one day, playing on his features.
I tell the kids it is a book of poems but it is also a game, played at a summer camp that grandpa and his brothers and sisters all went to.
" Mommy and and all her cousins went there too" I say.
I open the book. I see my father's handwriting in the jacket and try not to cry.
" how do you play?" asks Hunter.
" whenever you are gathered with friends and the setting is just right, so right that you know it is something special, someone says a poem, or a line from a poem or one they made up. If every person in the circle adds one, it makes a 'magic ring'. This book is a collection of favorite poems that were said by all the campers".
" grandpa liked poetry". says Kai.
"yes, he did."
I look out at the darkening sea and the crimson sunset. I open the book and read one to them.

"He who walks with beauty has no need of fear;
The sun and moon and stars keep pace with him.
Invisible hands restore the ruined year,
And time, itself, grows beautifully dim.
One hill will keep the footprints of the moon,
That came and went a hushed and secret hour;
One star at dusk will yield the lasting boon:
Remembered beauty's white immortal flower.

Who takes of beauty's wine and daily bread,
Will know no lack when bitter years are lean;
The brimming cup is by, the feast is spread;
The sun and moon and stars his eyes have seen,
Are for his hunger and the thirst he slakes:
The wine of beauty and the bread he breaks".

Hunter reached for the book and found a poem about a house that she liked and Kai had a go and read a beautiful one about humility that was appropriate out here in the vast blue and Jon finished us off with this bit of artistry:

"As I sat with the Dutchess at tea,
She asked, "do you fart when you pee?",
I said, with some wit, " do you belch, when you shit?"
And I felt it was one up for me!"

A magic ring was had and we all watched, as the sun dipped below the horizon. There was no "green flash" yet.

Maybe further South...

Ships that pass in the night

Jon wakes me three hours later for my watch.
"My time to shine", I joke and climb back into my Hellys (free advertisement plug here - if you can afford them or can manage to get them donated by generous friends as we did, Helly Hanson makes the worlds most dope foul-weather gear ever. They fit perfectly, are comfortable and most amazingly, still make your butt look cute. Please God, let them read my blog and sponser us!).
I come on deck at 11:30. The wind has dropped and the moon is out and it is a truly beautiful night. Jon heads below for some much needed sleep and I spot a large ship on the horizon. I set the radar and watch for awhile. It's traveling quickly and directly on our course. Since we are running, this presents a question. Do I tack and head off for awhile and let him pass? But I know if I tack, just when jon has gone below, he will get up to see whats going on. I look at the radar again. I need to make the call. Big Ship is closing on the four mile mark and at the speed he's moving compared to us, I can't wait too much longer. Much as I don't want to, for his sake, I have to call on Captain. " Hey, baby, before you tuck in...can you come have a look?".
Jon pokes his head out the hatch. He looks exhausted.
"I need you to have a look". Jon shakes off his brain fuzz and comes up.
Jon agrees with the plan to tack. We do. And guess what...
Big ship adjusts his heading just as we do. No wonder, it's the rum-line for Cabo- where it's most likely bound.
Crap. We can see by the amazing spectacle of lights that are getting closer and closer to us that this is a cruise ship. We have on our tiny running lights but we don't know if he knows we are out there. Jon is calm. There is still plenty of room for options.
I offer some advice.
" I read this blog, once, where this couple traveling to turtle bay had this exact same experience and they hailed the ship to see if they had them on their radar."
Jon doesn't answer, he's thinking.
" The ship answered so they were fine, but the ship never saw them."
Jon picks up the VHF.
"Big ship, big ship, big ship... This is SV. Pura Vida, come in. Over".
Nothing. We look at the radar. Blip. Blip. Blip. It's getting closer by the second.
We look at each other. Then the Radio crackles.
An Italian/Russian/Mexican voice( as we have not had much sleep, it's hard to tell) comes over the radio.
"Good evening, Pura Vida. Theese eesse (snap, crackle, pop) "Sea of Dreams", Princess Cruise Line, come in. Over."
"Good evening, sir. Do you have a visual on us? We are about 4 miles off your starboard bow."
" You are 4.2 miles. Do you need more vroom?"
Jon and I look at each other.
" No. That is just fine. Thank you, sir."
Then Jon asks for their heading and they are bound for Cabo but they see us fine with all their fancy radars, so we know we have nothing to worry.
Jon heads off to bed and I watch what looks like a giant Christmas tree pass us silently in the night. I think about all the hundreds of passengers sleeping in their bunks, certain that their skipper is keeping them safe from crashing into tiny boats full of small children and how they will all wake rested to fresh orange juice as they pull into port at Cabo.
I pull up the collar on my super-awesome Helly Hanson jacket. I'm In charge here. My watch. My ship. The winds are light and I know how to sail light winds. I raced a lot of dingys and small boats as a kid. Pura Vida can be a lot for me when it's blowing over 18. Theres a big difference between my 120 pounds and Jon when it comes to hauling in sheets or rasing sails but in lighter winds, it's just sailing. And I love to sail.
The wind has backed around and our sails are flogging, so I gently gybe us and head up a tiny bit, so we are running comfortably with the swell, I re-rig the preventer and trim our sails and tighten all the lines. Pura Vida is happy. She moves well on this course and the boat is quiet so I know my captain can get some sleep. I mark our speed, course and position in the log and settle into my watch.

We change watches every three hours, we hang out for a bit in between and update one another on the goings on. The kids come and go between us. They love the romance of being able to have these unusual hours with us. They take turns sleeping with us and joining us for watches. Especially loving the night-time routine, with it's element of danger. We all wear more gear. There is much donning of offshore life vests, and harnesses, always clipping in to jacklines or cleats when in the cockpit. There are headlamps, and night vision on the GPS and there is always a thermos of hot tea or cocoa. Best of all, there are hours and hours of having dad or mom all to yourself.

When the wind and swell pick up and things get intense, they yawn and say its "boring" and disappear below to crawl in with whoever is off watch.

And so it goes...
ready for night watch
tired after  dog watch

Day one of the first passage

I finish my last blog entry, call my mom, tell her not to worry and fall into our bunk. My stomach is killing me and i feel sick. I set the alarm for 4:00 am but i hardly need to. Sleep eludes me. Thoughts roll over in my mind as i try to relax. Have we done everything we need to do? It was blowing pretty hard when we came into Ensenada, so we had a fairly good shake-out but I still think about the rig. I know jon is lying next to me doing the same thing. I will myself to empty my mind and get some rest. A couple of hours later i wake in the dark cabin. It feels like someone just dumped a bucket of ice-water on me. I'm lying in a pool off cold sweat and my stomach is churning. I get up and look at the clock. It's 3:45am.
I lie there for ten minutes trying to get a handle on my nerves. I'm suprised i'm reacting like this. I cannot believe how ill I feel. I calm myself down and wake up Jon.

We pull on our gear and go on deck to have a look around. There's hardly a breath of wind, here, behind the breakwater. It's dark, the light of the waning moon is obscured by fast moving clouds. There's wind up there somewhere.

We untie our lines and slip silently into the black night. A night watchman stands on another dock nearby. "Vaya con Dios, Pura Vida" he calls to us. I wave back, thankful for the blessing.

As soon as we scoot out of the breakwater the surge is about 8 feet and really sloppy from all the refraction in the bay. I'm burning hot- an anomaly for me- and my stomach feels like I have piranhas breeding in there. I stow dock lines and tie bumpers, trying to keep busy and ignore the fact that I think I might be sea-sick. Maybe it's just a really bad case of nerves. I trust Jon completely as a skipper, his inexperience only makes him that much more vigilant about every detail but knowing we will be out of contact from phone, emails, VHF, depending only on ourselves and a single side-band radio, which we have never been able to use, other than to confirm it functions, makes me quiver with nerves.

Jon is standing at the helm studying our course. He has a choice to make in the darkness and the swell- to pass outside islas Todos Santos or take the shorter course, clear of obstacles but it runs between the islands and a rocky headland. The wind is in our favor should old Perkie decide to quit on us, so he opts for the shorter course, favoring the islands, as is advised in the navigation guides. I know these kinds of decisions are all his. If he asks my opinion, and if I have one- I give it. The fact is, it's all on him. Always. He's the captain, that's the deal. He seems content with this reality, thank goodness.

My head is throbbing and every bone in my body hurts. I go below to make coffee but it's like I've been drugged, everything is swimming in my vision. I go on deck to get some air and watch the sun rise. In the daylight, Jon finally gets a look at me for the first time. Apparently, I look as good as I feel. " what's up, baby? You feel sick?" I don't recall ever being sea-sick before and I certainly never have been on our travels so he's as surprised as I am.
"I think it's just nerves" I say.
" or the shrimp fajitas from restaurant last night..."
At the mention of the word "shrimp" I dive for the rail and feed the fish. Again and again...and again.
So begins our first offshore passage. I have food poisining.
Within the hour I am shaking so hard I can barely stand, let alone fill any of my duties as first-mate, cook, mother or wife. No amount of Scottish reserve can overcome my fever and constant evacuations, so Jon makes me some tea and a hot water bottle and orders me to my bunk.

Four hours later, when I surface, I come on deck into the sunshine and the first thing I see is a whale spouting two hundred yards to our stern. Jon is smiling and feeding the kids hotdogs and Pura Vida is sitting well in the 10 foot swell and I probably won't eat for the next day or so but at least I feel like I will live. Thank god.

Jon sets our way-points and we barrel along at 6.5 knots, heading steadily offshore and on our way South.

The first day is pleasant. The clouds clear and the seas calm to 4-6 feet, the wind fades and we put up the spinnaker and fall into a loose watch schedule. The kids spend the day sleeping and reading and Hunter spends hours with the Go-Pro filming herself dancing on deck to Lady Gaga, complete with various costume changes.

Im still too weak to muster any major meals, so i make a light dinner of pasta and cherry tomatoes. Jon rigs up our jacklines and I help him put a reef in our sail and we ready for the first watch of the night. The wind picks up and the moon is late to rise, so the night is very black and we are forty miles offshore. The wind moans in the rigging and the waves hiss by, unseen in pitch black around us. It's spooky and I'm trembling as I climb into our bunk, where the kids are already fast asleep. The self-steering arm is under our berth and I listen to its constant groan and wheeze as Pura Vida surfs down the bigger waves, trying to keep her course.
I would be lying if I said i wasn't scared shitless that first hour as i lay in our bunk, thinking about how puny we are in that great expanse of ocean, in the dark and wild night.
But I resolved to think rationally. I know our boat is sturdy and safe, we have lived on her for two years, many old salts have been aboard her in that time, offering us advice on engines and rigging and every other system. " Good boat, you have here," everyone of them said.
I look up through my porthole, a sly star winks at me through the black clouds. I think about my mom and how worried she must be for us. I snuggle down next to Hunter and Kai. They breath gently next to me, warm and sweet as fresh baked cookies. They are sound asleep and happy. Why shouldn't they be? We are safe and warm In our bunks. Their smart, strong, capable father is at the helm( safely clipped into his harness) and this old boat is doing exactly what she is built to do. I reach out pat her, "Good boat", I say and fall asleep.


sunrise out of Ensenada

Reviewing the weather gribs....Would you trust this man?


A more confidence inspiring photo of Captain


The other way to predict weather...look outside.

Captain studies the GPS...

coming down from night watch