Monday, May 31, 2010

Fish and Treasure Island

A.M....just after breakfast.  100 yards out, a flurry of splashing.  Gulls and pelicans swoop in.  A huge school of rooster fish are boiling (feeding).

One friend throws out a line.  Another friend drops his kayak overboard and paddles out with his pole and returns in minutes with a large rooster fish and a tale about the other "even bigger one" that stole his lure and got away.  We watch the thrashing and feeding and squawking birds.

Then the herd of fish head our way.  We can see their green plumed backs pushing up the water.  A school of minnows race under our hull; a wave of rooster fish follow. Henry is going nuts!  We cast a line out baited with yesterday's catch.  The bait falls off.  Henry hooks one anyway and the rooster fish breaks the line.

When the day starts like that, where does home school go from there?  They did sit down to listen to a couple of chapters of Treasure Island.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Today we departed San Juanico and headed around its rocky point to a nearby cove, La Ramada. We spent the day there but found it to be a little rolly so we hailed some friends (two "kid boats") who had headed north the day before and learned they were heading to a beachfront anchorage 8 nautical miles north of where we were. We decided to join them.

After a quick 3-hour motor sail we dropped anchor and Chandler immediately joined a friend for some beach-combing, which this anchorage is known for. She returned to the boat an hour later with some of the most beautiful shells we’d ever seen.

The next morning we all headed ashore before breakfast to gather more shells. As we walked the beach we had to wonder about the many creatures that once lived within the curved walls of each seashell. We all found something unique. Henry and his friend, Casey, returned with their loot and decided to make a business of selling the shells. They priced each group of shells and decided to sell them to their families, since those were the only “customers” around. The making of true entrepreneurs!

After our shell-finding expedition we headed back to HanaCrew for breakfast. Casey’s dad joined us, Chandler headed to another boat to breakfast with her friend, Zada, and Doug cooked up one of his delicious Denver egg meals.

Henry and Casey rode around in the dinghy for a while before taking the surfboard to the beach to “catch” the waves, Chandler continued playing with Zada and her vast toy horse collection at Zada’s boat, and Doug and I luxuriated in the quiet time by reading while taking in the desert surroundings. Later on Casey’s mom, Sophie, came by our boat to show us her beach-combing finds. Take a look at the spectacular Paper Nautilus and seahorse skeleton!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coronado & San Juanico

Something I’m getting used to as a cruiser is figuring out how to plan which days we want to be “at anchor” versus which days we want to be sailing. Wind certainly has something to do with those decisions. As we launched on this sailing venture friends kindly gifted us with the Sea of Cortez Cruiser’s Guide. It holds a wealth of information, giving us everything we need to know about every bay, harbor, and town along the way. It includes depths, rocks, and shoals to watch for, anchoring tips, historical facts, and more.

As we sit in one beautiful bay it’s sometimes hard to motivate and leave, especially when the next anchorage is more than a few hours of sailing away. When we left Coronado for San Juanico however, we knew we would want to stay for a few days since Coronado gave us a rolling anchorage for almost 24 hours and San Juanico would be protected from the northern winds that knocked us around so much.

We pulled into San Juanico (shown in photo), dropped anchor, and found ourselves surrounded by stunningly beautiful rock cliffs. It felt like we were on dry ground compared to our last night at Coronado.

The next day we met cruiser friends on the beach and hiked up one of the cliffs to find the famed Apache Tears…black shiny rocks. They are said to be the tears of the Apache Indians who cried for their fallen family members after the US Calvary fought and defeated the Apaches in Arizona in the 1870’s. With the history lesson/allegory shared, Chandler and Henry hurried up the dusty hill to unearth the stones, stuffing them into pockets and exclaiming every few moments. “Look at this one, Mom!”

Along the way we found the “Cruiser shrine”. This is where cruisers leave mementos of their boats, themselves, and their journey’s. We wanted to leave one too and decided on using a blue flip-flop Ann was wearing as she hiked the hillside to find the Apache Tears. Chandler wrote one of her Sea poems on it, we all signed our names and added our boat name to it and then planned to place it alongside the other interesting pieces of cruiser memorabilia but never got back to the tree to place it there this trip. We’ll have to do that on the way back to Loreto in July when we stop in this favorite anchorage again.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coronado surprise

We pulled into Isla Coronado on May 21st and enjoyed a calm afternoon and evening at our familiar offshore beach. Coronado is about 10 miles off the coast of Loreto so we have been here many times via panga rides but this time we are in our own boat, on our own time, instead of simply for a day trip. The second day here, as we were playing on the beach, we saw a motor boat pull into the cove and realized it was our friends, The Gordon's, from Loreto. What a treat! They were in Coronado for an overnight and would we like to go fishing with them the next day? Henry's resounding "YES" sealed the deal. Two fun-filled beach-kid days followed.

The Gordon's took us fishing: trigger fish, red snapper, dog fish, cabrilla,    A small pod of dolphins play under our hull; visit sea-lion rock, back at the beach the kids collect clams, open and eat a few raw.   

Back on the boat, fresh water showers, read a chapter of “Treasure Island” while everyone stretched out in the cockpit. 

We planned to depart Coronado for San Juanico on Monday, May 24th but at 1 AM that morning we were awakened by high winds and seas and ended up staying up for the better part of that too. By 7 AM we were still pretty tired from a restless sleep so Doug made French Toast and we all climbed back under the covers for another few hours of rest.

Later that day we headed out to make the passage to San Juanico but had to turn back due to the 20 knot winds that were heading us on the nose. We hunkered down and made the best of the situation by playing games, reading, and entertaining each other in hopes of distracting ourselves from the rolly seas knocking us around.

The winds calmed down later that night and we got a good night sleep in preparation for our passage to San Juanico the next day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

Trash is something cruisers have to deal with daily. On HanaCrew we do the best we can to discard trash without hurting the environment. Our food waste goes overboard and feeds the fish but other trash, like paper and plastic needs to be disposed of in other ways. Since we carry this trash for days, if not weeks, to ports and throw it away on the dock we need to compact it when we are on long passages so we don't live among trash bags for days on end. To do that we’ve had to get creative. Empty plastic soda bottles and waxed juice cartons get stuffed with paper and remnant trash and voila, an on-board trash compactor is born! Everybody gets into the act. At first it was used as a disciplinary measure for the kids. Disobedient? Stuff 5 pieces of trash into a receptacle. But Henry actually thought it was cool to use a screw driver to stuff the trash into a plastic Fresca bottle. So, now it’s simply part of everyone’s day, whether we are good or not-so-good.

Water is something else we’ve had to figure out since we don’t have endless storage tanks onboard. We have two-60 gallon tanks for fresh water onboard HanaCrew. We filter the water going into the tanks and again as it comes through the galley faucet but even with conscious conservation, it runs dry after a while. As a result we have taken to making fresh water from the body of salt water that surrounds us. HanaCrew’s water maker has supplemented our cooking, bathing, and drinking water so well we can now see how it will be possible to go on longer passages without having to stop and refill the water tanks every two weeks. To help conserve water we wash our dishes and ourselves in salt water off the back of the boat where there is a very convenient step to stand or sit on while washing. Once clean, we rinse with fresh water. Pretty efficient!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Poetry Day

We've taken to writing in our journals again.  Three years ago we started this wonderful practice after dinner almost each night. It was our first year in MX and it captured so many memories, that I wonder why we haven't kept up the practice.  Yesterday the kids and Doug decided their journal entries would be poetry. 

Doug's poem...

Poetry on the Hook

My pillow is a dolphin.
He mounds on my side and rolls over and under in tireless ease.

He presses down submerged in foaming blond curls then rides high on my cheek bone or dips under my chin.
He is light and cool from staying in the shadows of an  underground room, and when my sweaty rose cheeks plunge overboard and sink in it's depths I feel fun run through my back and limbs like it did when I was just outside in the grass and rolling over my playmates with a football before Mom called us up to nap.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Henry's poems

The Sea

I love the sea.
The sea is so pretty.
The sea has my friends
like the dolphins,
like the seagulls,
like the manta rays and the whales.

I Have to Go Back to the Seashore

I have to go back to the seashore
so I can see my friends
the starfish and the dolphin
and all the others
with my friends.

(Idea for poem came from Doug's recitation of Sea Fever by James Masefield)

Chandler's poetry

The Sea
I must go out to the Sea again,
to the wavy blue old sea.
To see the dolphins jump and dance,
and see the whales spray.

(idea for poem came from Doug's recitation of John Masefield's poem, Sea Fever)

The Sand
The ocean's sand is under my feet,
and sloshing through my toes.
The waves and shore are like
some partners dancing to and fro.

If I were a seashell,
I'd be like a home,
and all the crabs would come
and use me and tenderly sleep and walk around
and then they would go
and I would be in a different place
and have another guest.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Is this what a typical day will be like?

Sunrise:  Tall, Cardon cactus wait on the shore like early morning bathers.  There is a constant “pop” of manta rays jumping and flopping on the sea to shake parasites.  

Morning includes reading: Chandler -  a bio on Catherine the Great; Henry and Dad read about dinosaurs and fish; Mom catches up on US and world news in some back issues of the weekly Christian Science Monitor.  

Set sail around noon with following seas and wind (10-15 knots) and arrive at Coronado Island 20 miles away in about 5 hours – time to read, fix things, and nap.  Chandler is glad there aren’t arranged marriages like in Catherine’s day.  Ann laughs as she shares an article about Korean coffee shops that serve lattes while your feet soak in a tank of fish that nibble away the rough skin.  Henry decides on the Allosaurus over the Megasaurus if they were to meet in a dark alley.  Dad ponders how much energy it takes to sail a boat in order to get that extra reading and family time.  

We arrive and plunge into the sea.  Ann serves a meaty stew and s'mores for dessert.   Two more chapters at sunset of L.M. Montgomery’s, Anne of Windy Poplars, to Ann’s superb narrator’s voice.  The gulls and an occasional sea lion bark close out the day.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day One...the real thing

Although we have lived aboard HanaCrew for almost three months we feel like our launch from Loreto is the real deal.  Now we are cruising!

The exciting part is that we know we will be out for at least four weeks.  Yesterday we packed up the final items and moved onto to the boat. Today we drove home again to get the things that are always forgotten and then remembered as you drive a block away from your home. Fortunately, out mooring in Puerto Escondido is only 15 minutes from home.

The anchorage is 7 miles away, "Marquer", a quiet cove off Carmen Island.  The sea is calm.  The kids lean out at the bow and in half an hour spot: pink squid as we come into the breeze and set the sails; a sea lion floating on its back - he barked at us as we changed course; a pod of dolphins churning up the surface 100 yards away as they feasted; and jumping manta rays entertained us all the way to anchor.  

Chandler and Henry jumped in.  It was their first time swimming naked.   Why does that make kids giggle so much?  Ann put on one of our favorite meals that she had kept frozen since buying it at Costco months ago.  She read from the Anne of Green Gables series as the sun set and we did dishes off the stern.  The lights came on from the town of Loreto, across the sea.  We sat on the bow and found planets, heard crickets, and fish jumping, and laughed at Chandler's rendition of Henry playing dinosaurs in the V-berth while singing, "Yeah Man, I'm riding a slow dinosaur.  The lizard's coming up behind me..."  

A slight roll to the anchorage.  All good. Day one.