Here we are in the later part of May and we have managed to stretch our week long splurge, of paying moorage at the Marina de LaPaz to relax and celebrate our feeling of having “arrived” in the more calm inner waters of the Sea of Cortez free from the big waters of the Pacific Ocean, into a month long splurge in the name of getting some necessary boat projects accomplished and the fact that the cost of moorage per day is reduced significantly if you commit to staying for a month versus paying the daily rate.
We have decided to go out to the islands that lie just outside of the LaPaz Bay to do some exploring and spend the next three weeks finishing up school and then head back in to LaPaz for the WiFi connection to get the kids’ mandatory state testing done on the 7th of June, and to pick up a new 12 volt freezer that we purchased (that we imagine is going to add ice cream and ice into our already sweltering days and improve our attitudes greatly) that some friends are bringing back with them from a quick trip home to Washington for a few days.
We finished our brightwork boat projects, reloaded the boat with all of our “stuff”, moved a couple of stacks of materials for the next two boat projects to a nice little place that a couple, from the church we have been attending in LaPaz, let us use to store our materials until we get back, went to the grocery store and provisioned up for the next few weeks, and set off for an island adventure.
We started off on the Southeast side of Isla Espitiru Santo at Playa Bonanza for our first night. It was the longest sand beach on the islands but we never went to shore to walk it because the east side of the islands is the weather side for sure and the anchorage was very rough due to wind waves and sea state. The next morning, we decided to head up to the northern tip of the islands to find a more protected anchorage and to explore some “rocks” that are home to a very tame sea lion colony that loves to swim and play with snorkelers.
We watched as snorkelers from some local tour boats swam with the sea lions but the kids decided that they would rather watch other people swim with the sea lions than swim with them themselves, and I do have to say that I secretly agreed with that choice. After watching for a bit we decided to find an anchorage and decide to dinghy out to the rocks if we wanted to visit the next day. So, we headed for Ensenada Grande.
Upon approaching Ensenada Grande we explored all three lobes of the bay and decided to settle in the southern most lobe which was home to a long term scuba tour camp with a row of tents, palapas for common areas and shower stalls made of bamboo like you would see on a survivor reward outing. We had a peaceful night in that bay and the next morning we went for a hike in the very desert like terrain and caught glimpses of the large California hare and listened to an animal symphony echoing back and forth across the canyon that we later discovered was chipmunks communicating with each other probably warning each other that we were coming.
The next day, we went snorkeling and were able to see some great coral reef areas with lots of colorful angel fish, some skinny starfish, trigger fish, sargent majors, blue tangs and wrasse. Darius was moved to go charge all of the underwater cameras and then the next day we snorkeledagain to get some video of the awesome reef areas. We also set a stern anchor to try to fly on the Spinnaker like a swing over the water, but the seas changed and we had to let the stern anchor out on a buoy and didn’t get to fly the sail after all, so we’ll try that again later.
After three days we decided to move over to the center lobe of the bay, to an unoccupied beach area, to have a beach fire and roast some hot dogs and beans.
We had a great beach fire and then another day of snorkeling and then settled in for the night, which came in with wind and heavy seas and set the dinghys to slamming into the side of the boat. Darius untied the hard dinghy and moved it to the side of the boat against the fenders and in the process the inflatable dinghy got caught in the fetch under the post of the windvane and the bolt sliced a hole in it and it immediately deflated and started to take on water so we had to quickly pull it on deck and try to manage to get it secured enough that the wind would not catch it and blow it back off.
We were sharing some choice thoughts and then decided that we truly were blessed when we found the hard dinghy in the ferry lane in the Puget Sound even though it has been more work to tow and stow that boat, it is now the only dinghy we have on board. It won’t support our five horse motor but we can row it very well and it will never pop so we are considering the walker bay inflatable add on pontoons for more stability and then perhaps it will support the motor, or we will shop for another hard bottom inflatable dinghy (and put the rudder back on thewindvane so there is no way for anything to get stuck under it again).
The next anchorage we picked, El Cardoncito, was a tiny little cove that says there is enough roonm for two small boats to swing, but we anchored fairly close to shore in about ten feet of water with a catamaran out a bit farther than us and then we were followed in by a small sailboat who anchored closer to shore than we did and there was plenty of room for a power boat to join us in the deeper water the next morning. It is a long narrow cove that has steep rocky sides and great snorkeling along the walls.
We were all excited for another day of snorkeling except Sarah who was worried about the thought of one of the many puffer fish that we saw at the last snorkeling site possibly getting too close to her and getting scared and puffing into her like a porcupine with it’s poisonous quills and who knows what would happen then? But, the rest of us convinced her that we had left the puffer fish behind at the lastanchorage and she braved through some more snorkeling, well masking because she is convinced she can swim faster without a snorkel and she doesn’t need it to breathe anyway because she can just stick her head out of the water and take a breath….so 10 years old.
Jake and Darius have been on some missions together, taking videos underwater, gathering firewood for beach fires at night and even a midnight fishing adventure when the boat was surrounded by a school of sea bass…small but biting none the less so, catch and Dad will release, because they might poke me with their spines, and a bit of cast netting as well.
As we have been exploring all of the coves and bays along the islands, we have been looking for the blue footed boobie, a small white bird with bright blue feet that uses these rock walls that have been eroded by wind and water to small honeycomb like rookeries. So far, we have seen sea gulls, turkey vultures, and some hawks, but the closest thing to a blue footed boobie we have seen was when a lady with blue fins snorkled by with her swimsuit top half off. We have two more weeks of school to finish and we are headed to anchor in El Mezteno, another small protected cove much like El Cardoncito but hopefully with more authentic blue footed boobies than we have come across so far.
We anchored close in at El Mezteno, snorkled a bit on both sides of the anchorage and spent a couple of nights and then decided to head further south to the northern lobe of the two lobed bay at Ensenada del Candelero. The winds had begun to change and the seas were coming at us from the south, which made for a pretty rough anchorage for a few nights.
The kids swam to the middle of the bay to check the extent of the reef and reported back that there was not much to see. We headed for Ensenada de la Ballena by way of a circular route around Isla Ballena because we had been told that we could get cell service at that point. A couple of hours hunting down and waiting for poor connection and a few facebook video uploads and we got settled into the anchorage.
Jake and I went ashore and found lots of fiddler crab holes and lit a small beach fire and then rowed back to the boat. We stayed here for two more nights and then moved on again to Ensenada La Gallina in search of calmer waters and more wind protection.
We found upon anchoring that we were immediately greeted by bees. Many many bees, so we dug out these cumbersome screen doors that we have been keeping safe for such a time as this and were then able to manage a couple of nights there before heading further on.
Next we headed for Bahia San Gabriel and explored that bay which houses an out of use pearl fishery. We made our way as close to shore as possible, which was still a very long ways out, and began to smell the ripe odor of guano and then noticed about fifty or more birds circling overhead and the flies that come along with the guano that come and fill the boat faster than we can swat them away with someone on flyswatter duty full time. We looked at the situation and decided to sail across the channel and stay in Puerto Balandra, where we have stayed peacefully in the past.
We anchored in Balandra along the northern shore and were able to row to the beach in the mornings to do some yoga and to row into the long head of the bay to get sodas. We swam and played for three nights and then decided to head to the next bay when we were kept awake by increasing seas at odds with the terrible wind.
Captain D. started the motor, Jake and I pulled the anchor and we headed straight into the wind at a whopping .8 knots of progress. We decided to skip the next anchorage because we judged it to be less protected from the seas than the following one and so headed on at our slow but steadily increasing pace.
We made our way into Bahia Falsa as the weather and seas were calming down and dropped our anchor as close to shore as possible because there is a palapa restaurant that had some burgers with our names on them, eventually.
We set, the anchor and checked out our swing and made the decision that we may just be too close to shore for our comfort for overnight, and so, pulled the anchor, moved out a bit further and reset the anchor. All happy now and the wind is gone and now we are hot again, but we haven’t been hot for a week, so hot is good.
The kids had two more days of school to finish up and so we worked toward graduation burgers on Thursday night. We had a rough row to the beach on Thursday, as the current was going pretty strong across the bay, but we made it in, ate our awesome hamburgessa con papas and then Darius muscle rowed us straight out and toward the southern shore and we made it safe and sound albeit a touch damp, exactly to the side of our boat for an excellent deboarding of the dinghy.
Bahia Falsa is the calmest anchorage we have been in for about a week, which isn’t saying much, so we are sticking it out until we run out of something so essential that we cant go on without it. (So far we have been able to use paper towels when we ran out of toilet paper, Darius was able to talk the restaurant into selling us six large bottles of water, and we ate the foods that you would normally give to the mailman for their canned food drive, but we learned that we can make it 23 days on what we normally keep in the cupboards.) Thank God for Ritz crackers because the bread and tortillas have been gone for weeks. We are so looking forward to our new freezer when we get back.
Early Monday morning, as the end of school testing appointment is Tuesday, we will head into La Paz. We are looking forward to buying toilet paper, ice cream, and showering, in that order, a unanimous family decision with no objections. We are set to re-provision the boat, do some laundry, wash down the decks, and play with some kids that have recently let us know on a Facebook post that they have arrived in La Paz as well. We will be busy with some more boat projects, dinghy shopping and some intense summer reading until we set off again and see where the wind takes us next.
How’s my Spanish? Just thought that since we are now traveling through Mexico we should put a lot more effort into actually speaking the language. It seems that the cassette tape language lessons that we have been listening to must be at least slightly beneficial, we are still relying on pantomiming our conversations, which it takes all four of us to have with one poor unsuspecting Mexican person who may have inadvertently stopped and greeted us with “Hola, Como Esta?” We seem pretty able to communicate but it may be more due to their willingness to understand English than our abilities to speak Spanish, but I am thankful for those High School Spanish Classes oh so long ago.
We sailed to Bahia Tortuga or Turtle Bay from Ensenada by way of three anchorages for very short but much needed rest stops.The first stop we made was at Isla San Martin in the late morning for an 8 hour rest. We pulled in and were greeted by a man in a ponga who offered Darius a lobster in trade for a Cerveza and some Cake. We Don’t tend to have Cerveza on board as Neither of us are beer fans but clearly we should have reconsidered our choices at the last tienda. Darius promised the man two wine coolers and three Cervezas and some cake for 5 lobster. The man agreed and went to check his traps with the two wine coolers already in his boat and you won’t believe it but we never saw Raphael again…guess his catch wasn’t what he expected or he didn’t want the cake as much as he said he did. So, sans lobster, we headed off toward our next layover spot, Punta Baja.
We arrived at Punta Baja at 12:30am, in dense fog, with a 5 knot current going against us. We were approaching land at no great pace and it took all of the power our engine had and more guts than we knew that our crew (me) had but Captain persistant pants got us close enough to shore to get past the long 40 foot deep bay and into a more reasonable 18 feet of water that allowed us to set our anchor with 7:1 scope, so 150 feet of heavy to retrieve in the morning chain. The hostile anchorage and sea state made for a rough rest and so we headed right out from that anchorage at 7 o’clock the next morning for a 125 mile passage across a huge bay to get to Isla Cerdos.
Shortly after sunrise the next morning we rounded the northern tip of Isla Cedros but had to travel down the east side of this long Island for about twenty miles to get to the anchorage. As we passed the first fishing village we were circled by a ponga with 5 men in it who had been out fishing and had a beautiful huge fish laying across one of the benches in the boat. As they approached us, we congratulated them on their catch but they told us it was just a small one. Then, in perfect English, the man in the bow asked if we had 5 cigarettes because they hadn’t had cigarettes on the island in many months. Captain generous pants tossed a pack of cigarettes to the men and they were so thankful that they kept telling them that we saved their lives…I’m not sure that they weren’t headed across that 125 mile bay to find cigarettes in their small ponga on their own when we came along.
I guess word travels fast and Mexican ponga fishermen are very friendly because we were circled and waved at by that and several other pongas all afternoon until we arrived at the anchorage and set our hooks and took a much needed nap in the peaceful lee of the island. We slept and then headed out on our last leg of that passage arriving at Turtle Bay around 10 the next morning.
We pulled up to the town of Bahia Tortuga passed up several anchored cruising boats, fishing boats, and pongas to get as close to shore and the protected 12 foot anchorage as was possible and set our anchor just ahead of a tropical storm which settled in that evening and blew at 40+ miles per hour all night while Captain “Is That all You’ve Got” pants sat a storm watch in the cockpit overnight while our anchor held firm and others around us slipped back on theirs. It seems that Darius may not have been the only one watching over us that night.
We spent three weeks in Turtle Bay and got to experience all sorts of mexican culture from Carnival,to a circus, street tacos, buying boat parts from an auto parts store, and shopping for “crazy glue” in a town that sleeps in the afternoon and comes to life at dark. We took a dinghy trip to the beach and had a GoSun cookout with the other boaters in the bay, mastered doing laundry in a bucket and hung it to dry all around the boat because we looked just like everyone else in the neighborhood and counted our blessings including having a water maker on board when the whole town ran out of water for “maybe 3 weeks or a month”.
Finally the winds changed from 40+ to 0 and then to a more reasonable 15 and we decided it was time to once again head south and we set off for Bahia Magdalena or Mag Bay with 3 other boats. We all have different styles of boats with different sail configurations and we travel at different speeds but the wind was up and the waters were calm and it was time to head south. We were the third boat into the anchorage that we landed at in Mag Bay a full 8 hours behind the other two boats who settled into a different anchorage than we planned due to radio problems, engine problems, navigation issues, and trouble powering through stronger than expected currents. The anchorage was very rough, wind and currents were pushing us hard offshore for two days and then the wind and seas settled and we were ready to start our last leg to Cabo San Lucas.
We pulled around the cape and headed into the harbor at Cabo San Lucas and we felt like we had finally made it. We looked forward to real showers, doing laundry in machines, and Sarah could smell french fries for miles. The beaches were sandy, the water was warm, Jake saw huge fish jumping, and we were ready for some MaiTais on the beach.We pulled into the inner harbor and went into a marina for a few days to get our chores done, enjoy the city, get some delicious food and restock our groceries. We let captain sleepy pants and crew get some much needed rest and recovery from a lot of hard work that it took to get this far. After 4 days we went out to the anchorage in the outer harbor but that was rough so after two more nights, we headed off to round the east cape and head into the Sea of Cortez.
Our first stop on the Leg to LaPaz was in Las Frailes, where we were able to dinghy out around the point and snorkel on a reef for a day and camp on the beach with a campfire for two days and really relax and enjoy our surroundings in a peaceful anchorage. Darius and I got to take some walks on the beach holding hands and to really enjoy having each other to share this amazing journey with.Sometimes God presents you with opportunities to really take a look at what you’ve got and really be thankful for your life and for the beauty around you and for each other, and this few days was that for us.
After feeling refreshed and renewed, we set off for the next leg with the intention to stop at nearly every anchorage we passed and enjoy a night or two and then head into LaPaz to resupply. After an overnight trip we were headed toward our first anchorage when Captain D saw a window to make it one anchorage further up because we would have to travel up a narrow channel with a strong current and if we continued on we would approach it early in the morning on an incoming tide with light winds in relatively calm seas… all signs said Go For It! So we did. It was still a very difficult leg as the wind picked up on our nose and the current against the boat’s top speed had us going at about 0.4 knots (a long trip at that speed) but the next morning we pulled into Puerto Balandra, which was the prettiest anchorage I have been in.
So, April is a pretty awesome month in our family because Darius and I both have birthdays and our anniversary is in April too. I picked Balandra to anchor in for my birthday and we celebrated by baking a cake and lasagna in the GoSun and playing at the beach which extended way out into the middle of the bay at two to three feet of depth. A really huge sitting pool with palapas for shade that we found out were available to rent. From Balandra we ventured out on dinghy excursions to Playa Tecolote where we ran into stinging jellyfish that were so small we could barely see them in the water and scorching hot sun with only our picnic blanket and oars to make shade for ourselve, but an adventure it was.
Our next stop was in Caleta Lobos where we spent a couple of nights and found some amazing snorkeling on a small coral reef just inside an island that sits in the middle of the opening of the bay. Jake was a bit stressed that the miniature barnacles that were on the rocks we left the dinghy tied to were going to rub a hole in it and Sarah freaked out over the jumping sand crabs. Darius and I sucked it up and got them over their issues, literally, and we all enjoyed snorkeling over many beautifully colored fish and coral and we even saw some sea urchins and all kinds of colorful wormlike creatures.
Next, we traveled a few more miles to Bahia Falsa and found a Palapa that sold cold water, margaritas and really good hamburgers, so we splurged, for four days in a row. Needless to say, it’s been a while since we had eaten burgers or those french fries that Sarah smelled a month ago heading into Cabo, but that she never found. We met an interesting fellow named Jose who is a waiter at the palapa restaurant who was raised in the US and we spent some time talking with him over a campfire on the beach in a pre-birthday celebration for Darius (Captain Birthday Pants likes beach fires almost
as much as sunsets). We had lots of fun and even dinghied across the bay to explore an abandoned palapa restaurant building
that we were admiring from the beach for it’s interesting look. Then Darius’ actual birthday arrived so we baked brownies
in the GoSun and headed to LaPaz to hunt down some celebration ice cream.
We pulled into Marina de LaPaz on good Friday as the city is closed up and the beaches are filling up with locals heading to the beaches for Easter. We headed into town to find any source of ice cream which we learned there are actually two mexican words for,(Helado or Nieve) and after a short walk up the malecon we were successful! We spent the next few days getting groceries on board, getting our alternators (yes we broke three alternators) repaired, doing laundry, exploring some of the local breakfast restaurants (Darius always loves breakfast), and celebrating our anniversary (matrimonio).We have met some great new people along our travels and are set to spend a bit of time here to explore more mexican culture and share love life and adventure along the way. Hasta Amigos.
Blog November 2016 -Diana
Well, it’s November already and we have had quite a journey so far. We are sitting on the boat at anchor in San Diego Bay and are taking in all of the beauty we are surrounded by, Sarah is appreciating the palm trees, I love to look at the lights of the cityscape at night, Jake is appreciating the sunshine in November, and Darius is enjoying the hunt for WiFi…like hunting for wabbits only different. We have had an opportunity to spend a lot of time together and for the most part that has been a wonderful thing. It is one of the many things that we have to be thankful for this thanksgiving season.
I have had an opportunity to shop for groceries in more than a few seaside ports along the way, finding some good bargains, some interesting new fruits and veggies, and I have taken many long walks hauling groceries in my wheeled cart which is a bit bulky for some of the streets with lots of traffic but no sidewalks which has been the case in many California towns.
In Eureka, we walked several times in our 5 weeks to Grocery Outlet which was a dinghy ride and then a mile walk or to target which was a 1.5-2 mile walk over a highway overpass bridge and then through a residential part of town. We were also blessed with rides for shopping trips on a few occasions by friends we were so luck to get to know.
In Bodega bay we walked around the head of the bay to a tiny little organic market which challenged our food budget with milk that cost $8.55 per gallon and had and interesting selection of “natural food items” but not so much in the way of staples. As we took a shortcut through a campground, Jake smelled the campfires and was stricken with a strong need to build our own campfire for smores roasting. So, we dropped off our groceries, found Darius and went off toward an equestrian trailhead park to find a firepit and build a fire. We played in the sand all afternoon and the kids found a bag of change…an afternoon of blessings of all sorts. We were also able to go explore the UC Davis Marine Research Lab and learn a lot about creatures being cared for off the California Coast, including the white abalone and at the conclusion of our tour, our kind tourguide asked about the kid’s homeschooling and our adventures and then blessed us with a ride back to the boat.
At Half Moon Bay we took a family walk…mostly because I accidentally heard Darius say “we walk, that’s what we do” to someone that he met on the dock. So, we walked…to Safeway…that google maps said was 3.7 miles away. It was a beautiful walk along an embarcadero that bordered the high bank surf beaches where Mavericks takes place and meandered through equestrian trails and camp grounds and beachfront streets. We did our shopping and decided to take a more direct route home, which lead us along a dark unlit highway with sidewalks that come and go without warning, which makes pulling the cart of groceries quite a feat. We had a few days to just sit on the beach and watch the kids fly kites and play in the water. Our first opportunity for Mai Tais on the beach…or bottled wine coolers because the travel better. If I had to pick a place to spend more time along the California Coast, Half Moon Bay would be the place. It was beautiful, the showers were long, hot, and free, and the weather was nice. Somehow, my fitbit says I walked 10.2 miles (Don’t tell Darius…He thought 3.7 mile was too far to walk and tried to talk the kids into hitchhiking, but he succumbed to their safer, more reasonable requests to just keep walking).
Our next port of call was Monterey, where we were blessed with wonderful weather, some opportunities for learning and exploring, and we met a great new friend and traveling buddy. We took a day to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. While we were walking along the boardwalk to the aquarium, a city worker who was repairing a street sign, asked me if we were headed to the aquarium and when I said yes, he blessed us with three free tickets. Wow, thanks so much, what a blessing! We learned a lot that day, about fish, sharks that travel the same trip we are making, whale migration, and so much more! While we were in Monterey we also had a day to spend going through the museums and learning about the Native Californians, the Spanish explorers, the missions, the US Military actions that claimed the west coast for the US and the history of the fur traders and shipping along the west coast.
We took a long walk to provision in Monterey at Safeway. I knew it was quite a distance but I was not prepared to walk up the 18% grade…Which when he looked up at it, Jake said “Mom I think we can make it if we use our hands and our feet to clim it”. It was ominous but we were able to make it up the hill and back down again with a cartfull of groceries and no melons rolling down the hill racing us to the bottom or any other tragedies we predicted, thanks to Jake and Sarah pulling on the cart to keep it from running me over…teamwork!
Next stop was in Morro Bay. We enjoyed paddle boarders, kayakers, and dinghy drivers every morning and evening who stopped to chat on their way by. We took a couple of trips to Albertsons, for groceries and parts to repair Darius’ glasses, which was a nice mile or so walk, only slightly uphill, from our anchorage. We met many very interesting people, walked to town to buy the most delicious cinnamon rolls one morning and spent a few days enjoying that we had finally found summer weather with the kids swimming and kayaking and surfers all over the place because the surf was high while we were there.
Santa Barbara was our next port and that leg was a little rough as we managed to break many parts of out lovely little ship, from overheating the motor to breaking another part of the boom attachment component as well as the masthead pulley from which we fly our spinnaker. We had some fog, some rough weather, rougher water and many obstacles (oil platforms) to navigate around under sail, with no main due to the broken boom and the heavy weather (35+ knots of wind). We rounded point conception and then within five miles or so, in the darkness, we had no wind an no forward propulsion, but we did have a buddy boat. So, Darius commandeered the Iko Iko, put the captain down for a nap and towed our boat into the harbor entrance at Santa Barbara, where the kind gentlemen from the harbor patrol hip tied to tow us into a slip.
We took this opportunity to make our repairs, walk to 7-11 (because my crew works better fueled by slurpees) and to play on the beach. We restocked our supplies at an interesting little Mexican market that had a really nice meat selection and a meat cutter who’s English was limited. I requested 10 chicken breasts and I believe he packaged 10 lbs of chicken breasts. So, that week, we enjoyed really good chicken in four or five different preparations. We also had a chance to try a variety of Mexican pan (sweet breakfast breads). Adventures in cooking and shopping!
Next, we headed out on a leg to Newport Bay…Wow, what a place. It looks like a something between a Hollywood movie set and a Mediterranean seaport. It was so busy and cool and filled with people having fun on the water. We took a trip by dinghy and then an hour walk to a boaters used parts supermarket to try to find some more permanent part to fix our boom issue. We shopped until the store was closed, bought nothing, and decided that we could easily spend another day or two looking over their wares. But, moorage was expensive and the people in the mooring office were not friendly, so, off we go again, but not before the kids evaluated the beach a let us know that the sand was too chunky and not right for a sandy beach.
We made it into Mission Bay and registered with the port feeling like we had arrived at our first real destination point and were welcomed into port by the lifeguard office and told we could stay for free for 72 hours at which time we could secure a permanent slip, move on, or have the boat impounded. A little different welcome than we had envisioned. So, we went ashore, had lunch with Darius’ uncle JR, and then raced back to the boat because Penny and Rod Gunn rented a boat and came out to visit us. A much warmer welcome from our friends and family than the port authorities! We had fun talking and visiting and playing at the beach.
Jake and I decided to take a trip to the grocery store, Ralph’s this time, bu dinghying up to the head of the bay and then taking a half mile or so walk. We set off at about 3:00pm and made our way to the waters edge only to find that the tide was low, very muddy kind of low and the only dock belonged to a resort, but we decided to tie up and take the risk. We did our shopping, helped onto the right path by the Mexican resort gardener who helped us get through the gated part of the hotel storage yard and onto the main street. Jake was pressuring me all through the store about how long it was taking and then finally we were finished and on our way back, back through the yard and side gate of the resort, through the Hawaiian luau at the patio bar and out onto the dock to meet face to face with a locked gate between us and our dinghy as evening is approaching and daylight is dwindling. I had to go back through the maze and into the hotel lobby to ask them to open the dock gate. He was kind, but not negligent in his obligation to his duty of letting me know that it was private and the public was not welcome to tie up there. I apologized and he calloed a security person to let us through. When I got back through the maze to Jake and my cart of groceries, I was met by a security guard letting Jake and then myself know that the dock was private and not for public tie up. I apologized again and assured him that we would never tie to the dock again and he finally saw fit to open the gate. So, by now, it is truly dark and Jake is not happy about dinghying back up the entire length of the bay without proper lighting even though the bay has a five mile per hour speed limit and the water and weather were nice. We settled on using my phone flashlight as a stern light and he was much happier.
After three days, we headed out again for San Diego Bay. We were welcomed by the San Diego Harbor Police for a vessel inspection and we were invited to stay in the harbor at anchor for free for up to 90 days. So, here we are in sunny San Diego, not a calm as mission bay but we traded that for the amazing lights of the cityscape from the bay and an opportunity to rest and be thankful for where we have been, what we have been able to see and learn and the people we have met along the way. Oh what an adventure!
February 2, 2016Hello friends!
I have been busy with lots of new and interesting things on my plate this fall. Everything in our live has changed and change brings about a bit of stress but also an opportunity to move forward. We have moved onto the boat, sold all of our “things” (a daunting task in itself), started homeschooling, continued working, relocated to another marina in Olympia (closer to my job), and I have been trying to solve a skin / autoimmune condition with a new eating plan that is challenging (to say the least) in my tiny ship’s galley.
Selling all of our things to move aboard the boat seemed like such a huge mountain of a task that I was not excited to begin the climb, but we discovered that neither myself nor Darius struggled much parting with things but rather with who we could find to buy, trade, take, share, have, etc. all of our things. The older kids got some household items, some furniture went their way and Allie is set for her new kitchen when she gets out on her own this fall. We had yard sales, side of the road sales, craigslist sales, facebook posts, many trips to goodwill and an outpouring of labor from friends (Eric Hanley, Steph Kalota, Marshall Starbuck DV Robbecke, Shawn Boling, Heather Smith, Michael Smith) and family (Jessica Strieby, Dustin Strieby, Crystal Dayton). We have hung on to only a few of the most important things that we will store while we are out sailing and address again at some point in the future. I think that the toughest things were those that came about from having six kids…”If they have moved out and are not interested in these things, is it OK to part with them?” Jake and Sarah did amazingly well, especially considering that I think Sarah has some hoarder tendencies… Oh, I am supposed to call it her ability to see re-purposing potential.The decision to move from Tacoma to Olympia was difficult at best. It puts me closer (within walking distance) to work and will allow us the opportunity to part with a vehicle as soon as the weather gets a little better. I can bicycle to work and have the added benefit of exercise which is hard to come by in the winter cold and rain on a small boat. However, We will dearly miss all of our neighbors (Mark Burris, Daylene Burris, Kip Walters, Jay Walters, Camille Swayze and your boys, Willie, Marshall Starbuck DV Robbecke, Phil Sanz, Warren Swope). We were extremely lucky to find so many people interested in our journey but also who were so patient and caring in relating to our kids and offered them some of themselves whether it be watching movies with them or letting them borrow a sailing dinghy to learn how to sail or a kayak, evening rowing races to take out the trash, bow sprit diving competitions and so much more…a community experience that will be hard to rival.
Where we have landed, the marina facilities are great with plenty of showers and laundry areas, beautiful docks and walking trails, and awesome marina employees. We have felt very welcome, the kids however, are struggling to find activities to occupy themselves. There are no other children and winter is not conducive to many water activities, so we have joined the YMCA. Jake and Sarah are learning a bit about sitting and getting a bit of a tummy and the benefits of exercising and knowing how their nutrition impacts their health. We are all wearing fitbits and learning about physical activity and nutrition in a competitive way, through challenges…the way that motivates Jake the most. Great fun, physical activity, body awareness, and some stiff competition, let me tell you!We have homeschooled successfully for the first quarter and are headed strong into winter. The kids are liking their days and are doing well to manage the task list that helps them work through their assignments on the days that I am working, and on the days that I am home we are working together through The Mystery of History curriculum. We have learned so much about early bible history, cicadas and locusts, silk worms, dinosaurs, Egyptian pyramids, Trojan warriors, Greek Gods, and Hindu beliefs that guide them to vegetarianism. This has been a great opportunity to “put together” lots of things that the kids know to be true to the history behind the subject. It is amazing to see the light bulbs that are going off when they get to connect the dots for themselves. Beautiful!
We have struggled through some electrical upgrades on the boat to get lighting in the cabin areas (the boat had no working cabin lights when we bought it) and plug ins for the computer and a flat-screen monitor with a DVD player and the Wii (for entertainment through the long rainy season here). We have had to work through internet access issues and have somehow managed to have two laptops break or malfunction in a way that makes homeschooling and blogging all the more difficult, however, we have discovered the beauty of the community library and coffee shops with WIFI.
Additionally, we are, as a family, following an AIP/Paleo diet to try to identify some foods that are triggering an autoimmune response in me and severly affecting my skin. We are perusing pinterest posts to find interesting meals and making a menu each week. I find that with limited space and a busy schedule having our meals planned helps us all. It ensures that we don’t buy more food than we can store in the fridge or the galley and it gives the kids an idea about what is available to make for lunches, which they are beginning to take control of for themselves. We have some limitations with not having an oven, but we have a vita-mix and an instapot and we are perfecting skillet everything from cabbage based dinners to cakes, cobblers and brownies for dessert.
We have had an opportunity to learn a great deal about alternative flours and replacing all wheat based components of recipes with something vegetable based. We are learning more and more about flavoring foods with herbs and spices instead of premade seasonings and the amazing versatility of vegetables. I am hoping that partnering a healthier eating pattern with the doTerra essential oils that we have been using for all of our day to day health maintenance needs will lead me to a healthier state of being. The rest of the family has used a variety of the doTerra essential oils to help with all kinds of ailments ranging from a severe burn to wart care, cramp relief, headaches, and everything in between. We feel confident in our diet and essential oil use to comfortably set sail and cast off without foreseeing a definite need for care from a physician, or as non-dependent on western medicine as is possible unless any unforeseen situation arises (but let’s pray for protection and grace instead).
Thanks for following us through our trials and tribulations in preparation for our much anticipated casting off and the triumphs that come from our learning and our journey.
August 29, 2015
“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields…Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”
― Mary Oliver
Well, here’s to new beginnings…We, as a family, have decided to take the leap into homeschooling this year, a year ahead of our plan, to establish a culture of freer learning that we plan to create for our family.
Initially, Sarah was begging to start homeschool but Jake was a touch resistant to the idea. After discussing the options that would be available to them, such as playing instruments and learning about history from a biblical perspective, we discovered that Jake’s real hesitation was not about the learning at all, but rather that he had told his friends at school that he was leaving for his sailing trip in a year and he would not have a chance to tell them goodbye if he didn’t go back to school this year. We worked out some opportunities for him to see his friend at school and now he is all in for homeschooling.
We have started our lessons already, 4 weeks early, because I have some extra time off of work in the summer and will be able to get a routine established in a more gradual way. They were very willing to begin earlier than the traditional start of school when they figured out that we can completely control our calendar, as long as the necessary tasks get accomplished when they are scheduled. Freedom!
We are working on a schedule that involves some lessons every day but about half of the time is group learning, 3 days per week, and the other days are short blocks of independent lessons that are managed using a daily task checklist, on the 4 days per week that I work. We are in our 3rd week and we are all pretty happy with our schedule which is requiring only a bit of nudging to stay on task by Captain D, home-school Dad!
We have our school resources limited to three milk crate style tubs, due to the limited space available on our beloved sailing home. We have a huge collection of digital books and encyclopedias but have had some initial struggles with the kids jumping on board with reading books on the laptop. This is a battle we decided not to take on, so instead, we took a trip to the used bookstore to purchase some traditional paperbacks, which have served to resolve our reluctant reader issues for the literature selections.
Final decisions on curriculum for this year include Life of Fred for Math, Mystery of History for our history/bible/literature core, Scuba Diving Unit Study for Science this quarter, Duo-lingo for Spanish, and Simply Charlotte Mason’s Bible verse memorization system. Jake is playing the clarinet and Sarah is playing the recorder this year to get the basics down before she moves on to the flute next year, and they are choosing reading level appropriate independent reading books. We are mastering essay writing this year using a list of topics that give us the opportunity to explore many essay styles.
This is like hanging on to the bar at the top of the tall slide (hiding my fear of heights) knowing that I will probably have the ride of my life if I just dare to jump on, with both feet… So here goes, we’re all in.
February 14, 2015
“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
― Mary Oliver
The pictures that come to mind when I think about these words represent the kinds of freedoms that I envision for my Loves to explore in this new life. Freedom to learn so much more of what truly brings them delight, freedom of spirit, freedom to be their kind, loving selves and share that unencumbered enthusiasm for finding the good in people around them.
I asked them what they would like to learn about and they came up with some pretty interesting things. Jake’s list was cursive, journalism, how to play guitar, drawing techniques, architecture, and other religions. Sarah wants to do art with sea shells and egg shells, learn how to knit, how to play the flute and speak Spanish. What an amazing range of interests and, when we do investigate all of these things, imagine all of the true learning that will take place because they are exploring the things that interest them.
So my mission to answer all of their interests is to incorporate their desires into my framework for organized learning. We will be writing out our memory verses from the bible and all of their copywork will be done in cursive. We will be reading many non-fiction resources as part of our history/geography studies that will require narration to develop comprehension and writing skills…understanding the facts and retelling them in journalistic style will be our format until we have worked through many journalism skills.
We will be studying Spanish with a text, with Rosetta Stone and through immersion as we plan our first year in Mexico. Jake will be working independently on guitar instruction DVDs and Sarah will be working on Flute instruction DVDs. We will be working on unit studies in art ranging from shell art projects to knitting and drawing.
It is pretty cool that we have an opportunity to discuss many differences in cultures in the early civilizations that we will be covering with the Mystery of History and have the flexibility of schedule to spend time on each different type of architecture as well as on the different religions that emerge as we work our way through the time periods.
We are focusing our science the first year on astronomy which will include phases of the moon, the tides, navigation with the stars, using a sextant to pinpoint our location, and many other chart and map related skills that the kids will get to practice firsthand.
Follow along as we navigate through literature selections, math curriculum and decide if we need to maintain a history/literature connection of if we give our little loves freedom to chart their own courses in that area…
February 7, 2015
6. Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6
As we are preparing, on all fronts, to embark on this wonderful journey, I am considering how we are going to address all of the questions of educating my little loves. The freedom of living on a boat without a home port is seductive but with that freedom comes the limitations of not knowing whether or not we will have access to the internet, supplemental reading materials, or a support system of other home-educators. My Loves have been blessed to have had wonderful teachers up to this point and I have huge shoes to fill in regard to quenching their insatiable thirst for knowledge and their curiosity.
In planning our path, I have considered a great variety of homeschool curriculum options available. I have two Loves, one boy, serious, curious about how things work, and always on YouTube to learn how to do something, and one girl, very social, very whimsical, and very smart. They are one year apart and very different in their learning styles and interests. We will be doing middle school as we leave on our journey.
Our purpose in our adventure is to put our hands to God’s work and with that intent, I have gathered together a collection of books, timelines and ideas to create what I believe will fit our needs. I am not out to reinvent the wheel as I feel that there is a wealth of information readily shared by many families who are very experienced with homeschooling and have already faced many of the challenges I foresee in our future. I am very grateful to every pinner, blogger, and website I have been able to glean a bit of insight from.
My list of essentials is long:
- Needs to be able to teach to different ages of learners –not grade specific
- Needs to be interesting to both boys and girls
- Needs to be bible based but not exclusive
- Needs to point to our mission of putting our hands to God’s work
- Needs to function independent of internet/power limitations on an offshore trip
- Needs to include lots of literature choices as that is a main entertainment source
- Needs to take up a very small footprint as there is not much physical space available to dedicate to books
- Needs to be challenging, not boring or too easy –our Loves are advanced academic students
- Needs to be inexpensive –our income will not be regular, we are leaving with a sum of money that we have saved for this purpose, but will not be supplementing it regularly.
- Needs to cover a four year period of time- at least through middle school and then we will reevaluate our options for High School.
So, with this long list of essentials in mind, keep in touch as I work through a program for our next few years which looks like a core or backbone of History/Bible/Geography and supplemental materials in many other subject areas relating back to the core topics being covered and Math at their appropriate grade level as an independent learning section.
Hi, my name is Diana. I am First Mate, Wife, Mom, Head Chef and Bottle Washer, Lead Teacher of a one room schoolhouse, and greatly moved on a mission for God to be a seed sower and plant the love of Jesus in the live of many through contributions of time, energy and love. We are preparing to shove off on our 32’ sailboat to head south to warmer weather, fun sailing, great family time, an opportunity to get our hands dirty doing God’s work and learning about the rest of God’s beautiful creation.
January 15, 2015
Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.
I read this quote as I was doing some internet “research” on designing my weekly meal plan, not because I am a planner by nature, because I am far from it, but rather because then I only have to focus on the planning and shopping once a week and the rest of the time I can just follow the plan like a set of rules. I am an excellent rule follower. My passion lies not in the planning, shopping or preparing of the food we eat, but actually in my Loves. I am passionate about what they eat, what we choose to fill our bodies with and how our overall health will allow us to better serve as the Lord intended us to serve.
So…I have interests in Whole foods, Raw foods, Clean Eating, and Paleo. As I plan our menus each week, I look to posts on pinterest or google these words and go website hopping, by way of following a good number of rabbit holes, and come up with my blank menu sheet, for which I use a pocket calendar, filled up with yummy things we would like to eat, with a new dish or two, that adds adventure to our dinner plates, thrown in to the mix. My Loves are getting better and better with change…as it comes on their dinner plates and I am meeting with less resistance and more requests for a particular dish to make it onto a future meal plan.
As I am considering what it means to be living a more Nomadic life, cooking in a galley on a 32’ sailboat, I am confronted with some ever-changing obstacles that I must find ways to work around, such as;
What fresh vegetables are available to me at this time?
How do I prepare Raw Foods when my tool supply space is limited as is my power supply?
What are the most essential tools to include and what can I live without?
What needs refrigeration and what can I store in other ways that still makes it healthy and delicious to consume?
So…I invite you along as I work through these issues and many more on my adventures in the galley to share a life of Love with those around me.
13 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today–to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. 15I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. …
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. 22 If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow–to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him–