Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catching Up On Blogs...The Beginning of Baja Ha Ha!

So, here we are happily installed in Marina de La Paz, enjoying a couple weeks of down time before making our way down the Mexican coast. I thought I would take this opportunity to catch up on blogs covering where we have been and previous observations. First up, San Diego and the beginning of the Baja Ha Ha cruiser's rally. The rally is a race sponsered by Latitude 38 magazine and is basically a bunch of boats who sail down to Cabo San Lucas together from Ocotber 23rd - November 4th. It's a good time and not a hard core competitive race...although I was reminded by my male counterparts over and over again, that it is ALWAYS a race! There are beach parties, baseball games, potlucks and many other social events along the way.

I guess I should mention that I was offered a database training job at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City (that could be a whole other blog!) the week before we left. So with the intention of increasing our sailing kitty, I hopped on a plane at LAX and left the Floating Frat House unsupervised for a week. Captain Ben and his deckhands made their way down to San Diego in my absence. I am convinced there were no vegetables consumed and no underwear worn....but sometimes you just gotta let guys be guys! They had a blast!

I also enjoyed my time working with the nurses and medical staff at the prison, but mostly appreciated the post work solitary confinement in a Crescent City motel. Living on a boat makes me appreciate the little luxuries found on land. The toilet that flushes - not pumped, a large bed with crisp white sheets, the fresh water flowing endlessly out of the sink and shower - without the concern of how much is left in the tanks....and last, but not least, a television with cable!!! Every night after work, I stopped by the local Safeway and picked up a bottle of wine (ok...yeah, and some chocolate). Needless to say I was a happy camper!

At the end of the week, I flew back to San Diego to reunite with my crew. Imagine my surprise as I descended the escalator and spotted my family waiting there to welcome me home. It still makes me smile thinking about it! We hopped a shuttle back to the marina and I moved back aboard our little home, rejuvenated and excited about our adventure ahead.

Now, have you ever had a picture in your mind of what future events will look like, especially a dream you may have? The people, the conversations, the smells, the setting...all vivid and alive as you dream of it? Then the moment comes of the reality manifesting. I returned to San Diego full of enthusiasm and wonder about our future sail down to Cabo San Lucas. This would involve my longest ocean passage, three nights and four days at sea. The reality had some familiarity of my dream, yet other parts were quite different, leaving me feeling a bit uncertain.

Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive and scared of what this would entail. However, I tend to deal with these emotions with humor and the overwhelming desire to spill my guts. As our dear friend, Chris Lowry (a seasoned Kiwi sailor who has sailed around the world on his self built boat) said to Ben after meeting me while we were dating, "Well, mate! She's about as open as a garage door!". So I was a bit perplexed when I encountered people in our marina, the laundromat, market, and other places that were simply uptight, rude and not at all interested in an extended conversation. I remember thinking, "uh-oh, these are the people I will meet during our trip?".

After a tenuous and strained encounter in the marina laundry room, I was talking to Ben how I was really bummed about the people I was meeting. They all seemed so uptight, anal and generally unhappy. He laughed and shared some insight, "you know, a lot of these people have waited years to do this, spent their life savings and it's their first time to venture out like this. They are as scared and freaked out as you! It’s just that other people don’t want to talk about it like you!”.

Ben wasn't a cruising virgin like me, so I hadn't understood the range of emotions I would experience and how we would approach this from different perspectives (male vs. female, virgin vs. slut, mom vs. dad). He was steadfast and relaxed (although sometimes cranky) about our impending journey and I was....well....freaked out! And not only was it just me, I dragged along two unsuspecting children that I loved dearly.

I slowly realized that I wasn't the only one feeling this way and reminded myself that everybody deals with stress and life changing events differently. I tend to mask my fear with humor and eventually become a blubbering idiot, revealing my precarious emotional state. Funny how Ben's insight changed my perspective and allowed me to be more neutral to other people’s state of being and coping skills.

From then on, I used a little bit of humor and then got right down to it....."dang, this is freakin' me out! I've never done a three night passage. I'm nervous as all get out right now!.

I was amazed at the response. I could see relief in some people's faces (mostly my fellow less experienced female sailors) as I revealed my worries and in turn they were able to say, "Oh, crap! I feel the same way!" or words of encouragement from more experienced sailors. There is something freeing about putting yourself out there and not really giving a damn what other people think. They either look at you like you’re crazy (this is a more common reaction to me) or you discover something in common and begin a friendship.

As we made our way down the coast of Baja my stressed fellow sailors, became gregarious, enthused and relaxed. It was a huge explosion and release of tension, similar to waiting in line for a roller coaster. There is the anticipation, wringing of hands and then finally strapping yourself in to experience the exhilaration of the dips, twists and turns. You get off the ride feeling happy, content and relieved. (there is another metaphor involving sex that I could use, but perhaps not appropriate to put in writing here…..see there I go again, talking about things I shouldn’t!!).

Check back soon for the scoop on our first stop, Turtle Bay and the three night passage. Until then here are some pics. I apologize for the formatting, Blogspot is a pain to upload pics on!


Leaving San Diego Bay with all of the other Baja Ha-Ha boats (approximately 160).

Jedi Knight J.P. contemplating our departure. Several of the other boats wore their costumes from the previous day's Kick-off Party.

Kind of crowded heading out to sea!

3 night, 4 day ocean passage requires LOTS of board games!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It's been a month since my last post and my verbose wife seems to be dominating the scene here.

I just haven't had the energy to post anything and finally thought I would look at the calendar for answers. You see, it has been 10 weeks since that fateful day at the end of August when I hitched a ride to San Diego and closed the deal on the boat.

I then spent 2 fairly grueling weeks bashing up the coast.
Once home we spent 2 more weeks moving the house into a storage unit and the remainder of our stuff onto the boat.
We then spent two weeks delivering the boat down the coast, not as brutal as going "uphill", but we were on a schedule and didn't really stop and rest much....and we had our share of overnight passages.
We then headed off on the BaJa-HaHa...2 weeks of fairly long passages down the coast of Baja California, where there are few places to stop and rest.
Once in Cabo, we spent a few days in a rolly anchorage before I finally broke (yes, it was me that cried "uncle" first) and we got our first slip in 15 days. Then we headed out for the trip up to LaPaz.

I am by no means complaining...not only has this crazy schedule been 100% self-inflicted, it has been a blast. But I have been actively sailing the boat or moving houses for 9 of the last 10 weeks, and I am cooked!!!

My body feels old right now. At one point I think I fell asleep w/ my eyes open on a night watch, standing at the wheel with my knees locked. My joints and back are sore like I have never felt before.

We have now been in a slip for a few days and I am beginning to feel young again. I have knocked out a few boat projects, caught up on work, and even started running a bit.
Most notably, I have had a few moments to finally sit back, relax, and enjoy what I have accomplished.
This is a dream I concocted sitting on the dock in Annapolis in 1998. Everything I had hoped for then has manifested. It has taken until now to really start to sink in.
I am feeling very fortunate, a bit tired and weary, but mostly very blessed.

Oh, and Carbon Offset, the boat I built, is off to a new home and winning races!!!
Life is good.


Belated Photos....Halloween in San Diego and Bahia Santa Maria

Finally! An opportunity to load some pictures on the blog! We have purchased a WiFi booster and are having succes. Here are some snapshots of Halloween onboard a sailboat. Hopefully more pics to follow of other locales/events.

Trick or treating in Bahia Santa Maria; an isolated anchorage where all of the Baja Ha Ha boats hung out for a couple days in between passages. The boys went trick or treating in the dinghy, going from boat to boat and got some great booty! Thanks to all of our fellow sailors, that were so generous in distributing tasty treats!

On Halloween I drew the long straw and got to go to the "adult" party on the 55' steel sailboat, Go For Broke. Quickly put on my blue Marge Simpson wig, grabbed my bottle of wine and happily took a dinghy ride over and enjoyed my reprieve from my Floating Frat House. There, I met numerous new friends, told my first exagerrated "sailing stories" and met a fellow uke player. A friend from a nearby boat swam over with a fake pirate sword in her mouth, clamored up the swim ladder and boarded the boat, ready to party! Gotta love sailing women!!!

Baja Ha Ha Halloween Kick-off Party in San Diego. Alas, we did not win for best "Group" costume, but we had a great time! Mick and J.P. were Jedi Knights and I went as Princess Lea. Ben wanted to rent a Chewbacca costume and wear a Hawaiin shirt, but had to settle for a blue wig and pawn himself off as "ChewBecca"....Chewbacca's sister. We are consistenly identified as the "Jedi Knight" boat since the boys are often up on the bow having light saber duels.

Captain Ben "ChewBecca" and Captain Tucker from embrace their costumes at the party.
Jedi Knights from JACE, making new friends, Ruby and Miles"Birds Flying South" from Convivia.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Ocean As My New Roommate

We’ve been off the grid for a while now and things to blog are piling up! A most significant topic is adjustment to life on the ocean. For me it’s like getting a new roommate you don’t know very well. She’s a wild card, not sure how much crazy she’s got in her…..Will she eat all your food? Hog the bathroom? Steal your boyfriend? The question looms, will you be able to coexist peacefully or even become friends?

The road has been a bit rocky at times. The first few weeks, I viewed my new roomie, Oceana, as a loose cannon. I wasn’t ever sure when she would “go off” on me. As proven in my first overnight stint (see previous blogs) she can be a real crazy bitch. But now I’ve seen her softer side, she can be tranquil even comforting at times…..and she’s got really cool friends that know how to party!

On several occasions she brought over a pod of dolphins so huge in number, I transformed into an 8 year old kid, squealing with delight. They frolicked and played around the boat as we all lay on the bow watching them swim along with us. I was literally yelling, “hi-hi-hi-hi!!!”. J.P.and Mickey laughed hysterically, tickled with my obvious enthusiasm. As I write this, she just introduced me to a huge Marlin who is jumping several feet out of the water, 50 feet from our boat.
Sometimes her friends are even allowed to sleep over.

A little green Finch decided to fly into our hatch and hunker down in the head (bathroom) for an extended nap. We eventually had to ask him leave due to his refusal to use the toilet and making a mess on the floor. Ben gently escorted him out to our cockpit where the little guy hung out all night. It’s gotta be exhausting, being a little bird on the open ocean.

However, some of her friends are not so welcome, like the crabs Ben and I stepped on or the flying fish that boldy jump into our cockpit at night.

Oceana also proves to be stubborn in sharing her bounty of food, teasing us occasionally with an opportunity to reel in a bite off our fishing pole. We are still awaiting our first big score of fresh Yellow Tail and Mahi-Mahi as our sharp knife, soy sauce, Wasabi and seaweed wait to be utilized by the onboard sushi chef (this role has not been determined and there have been no volunteers).

I’ve also learned quite a bit from my new roomie as she has educated and reminded me of several important things. A school of approximately 100 small fish swam around our boat while we were anchored out in isolated Bahia Santa Maria. It was so cool to see them swim gracefully together as a group, synchronized perfectly. It was peaceful to watch…….until a group of bigger fish rang the dinner bell and started jumping out of the water, snagging the little buggers one by one. It went on for at least a half hour. I swear I heard the song from the Lion King movie, “The Circle of Life” playing in my head as I witnessed the carnage. J.P. finally turned to me and said, “this kinda makes me sad!” A great opportunity to talk about life and death, the food chain, and a gentle reminder that even though our youngest son is a pistol and quite stubborn, he is truly a sensitive soul.

She even gives us presents to keep; like the enormous sand dollars we found while walking a pristine and isolated beach. Captain Ben promptly made them into necklaces for all the crew using random end cuts of sailing line.

So I’m finding my roommate to not be all bad like I once thought. I think we’re even becoming good friends and like all quality relationships there is a healthy respect and affinity for each other. I have no doubt we will be friends for a very long time.

We have a hard time downloading pics to the blog, so when we have better internet connection we will post some photos.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cabo San Lucas Now!

November 6, 2011

When I wrote this, we were currently in the Baja Ha Ha cruisers rally (now completed and in Cabo San Lucas) and sailing along with about 140 other boats. Please note, these dates are estimates….I have realized I lose perspective on time and dates while at sea. Our stops and rough schedule:

October 24 – October 27 - Sailing from San Diego to Turtle Bay

Ocotber 27 – October 29 - Resting in Turtle Bay (provisioning, socializing with other cruisers, etc).

October 29 – October 31 - Sailing from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria

October 31 – November 2 - Resting in Bahia Santa Maria (boat trick or treating, Halloween parties aboard other boats, swapping of exaggerated sailing stories, etc.)

November 2 – November 3 – Sail to and arrive in Cabo San Lucas……cheating death once again on the open sea!

Here is a glimpse of time spent on a 3 day passage from San Diego to Turtle Bay (Bahia de Tortuga).

Midnight – 3:00 Ben comes off night watch, Molly goes on (observations regarding night watch duty later).

3:00 – 6:00 Molly or Ben on watch. Eat breakfast, watch sunrise, drink coffee….lovely. There’s something about cheating death once again during a night watch that makes you appreciate the dawn of a new day! (to be honest, Ben has been very generous in night watch duties, he will often take a 4 hour watch and let me sleep and take a 2 hour watch).

6:00 – 8:00 Boys wake up; eat breakfast. They tend to sit quietly for a long time waking up. It seems the ocean has lulled them into some meditative state as the start their day. Ben on watch or vice versa. (whoever isn’t, goes down below to sleep some more).

8:00 Everyone awake. Sit in cockpit and talk. Watch dolphins, etc.

9:00 Boat schooling. Read, read, read. Math, Science, etc. (more on that in a later blog).

10:00 Recess (this includes climbing out bow hatch and sword fighting, trying to reel in a fish, etc.).

10:30 More boat schooling

12:00 School out for the day (although the learning continues unbeknownst to the younger crew members).

12:00 Lunch; crew member Mickey likes to take on this task. Usually sandwiches with chips and salsa. More talking, saying hi to our new animal neighbors, etc.

1:00 Cleaning up of boat, stowing away things that are out from the day before, Ben or Molly nap to prepare for another night at sea. Boys do a variety of things to pass time (Mad Libs, reading, Battleship, writing in journal, eating and spitting contest of sunflower seeds…this could take at least an hour of time, make sand dollar necklaces, play Nintendo DS, etc.).
4:00 Fire up the BBQ to grill up some fish we caught….NOT! Not yet anyway. BBQ burgers or other supplies we have. Eat dinner, watch sunset, wash dishes, etc.
6:00 Boys go down below for movie time (usually Star Wars). Ben or Molly nap.
8:00 Boys to bed, another night shift of night watch begins.
Time seems to slow down while doing a long passage like this. Life is slow and at times very boring, but I find it quite nice and a reprieve from the hectic schedule we used to live. However, after three days, I’m usually ready to jump ship, put my feet on solid ground again and find Internet access.