Our Life

The Adventures of Mike and Kelly At Sea

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fun, Family, and Fortune

DSC07304The sun sets behind the rust colored striated rock mountain range coloring the opposing cliff faces a deep magenta. The rock faces juxtaposed next to the clear, turquoise sea make me feel as if I am in a live water color painting. The hues darken and meld together as the sun dips deeper behind the jagged mountain tops as if nature is being put to bed after a long, hard day. Instantly, as the dimness just begins to settle in, a bright flicker illuminates the landscape like a spotlight shining on an artist’s canvas. The full moon slowly DSC07583creeps up over our shoulders exposing the glittering, glass sea and creating a new picture for us to relish as wee sit in our cockpit enjoying a hibiscus margarita. At last, we have made it out into the Sea of Cortez.

Although, it seemed as if we would never leave La Paz after all the major boat construction, we pushed hard to make it happen. While we had a few job prospects lined up, we decided to postpone the possibility of going back to work so we could at least get a chance to relax and see a bit of the Sea of Cortez now that the weather was much more faDSC07227vorable. We headed out to explore the near by islands, which we had heard so much about during our stay in La Paz. Every single anchorage was picture perfect and the water was crystal clear and warm enough to swim in (finally). We spent two weeks exploring the area alongside our fellow friends (one couple in particular owns the exact same boat as us, which is rare since only 35 were ever made).DSC07320

As to be expected, Mike was able to delight in his passion for fishing activities, while I enjoyed hiking on shore and swimming off the beach. The fruits of Mike’s labor were greatly enjoyed each night as we had a different kind of reef fish to throw onto our BBQ. We spent many evenings dining with friends and swapping sea stories either on someone's boat or over a lovely beach BBQ. It was a brilliant holiday for us and it was really great to enjoy our boat and sail around. And most fortunately, all of our leak problems were fixed!!

DSC07599Although we were just settling into the fun part of the cruising lifestyle, we knew that we had to come up with a plan for the summer. Come May, the Sea of Cortez is scorching hot, which isn’t a terrible thing for me, but Mike was not looking forward to it so much (we’re talking 120 degrees plus). We also knew that we would need to find work at some stage and we had a few prospects in the works. In the end a company called Tradewinds was seeking us out to be Captain and First Mate/Chef of a catamaran in the Caribbean. We held a few interviews over Skype and decided that this would be a great fit for us and a brilliant opportunity.

The following weeks were a whirlwind, but never dull as to be expected. We IMG_0124scouted out a place to keep our boat stored on the hard and mournfully hauled her out of the water. It was sad to say farewell to Maluhia, but we know it is for the best. We did our best to store everything properly with the hopes that we don’t have any issues with bugs, pests, or hurricanes. After all was settled up, we said goodbye to Mexico and made a trip back to the states to see our families briefly before embarking on our next journey.

IMG_1007Now, as I write this recap of the last month, I am currently sitting in Sint Maarten waiting for the next part of our training to commence, but we are at a stand still due to Carnival going on here. Last week, we got to go on our first training charter through the British Virgin Islands, which was an incredible experience. We were fortunate enough to have a great group of guests and a really great Captain and First Mate to show us the ropes of the business. It was pretty much a free holiday for us since we weren’t allowed to do anything except observe.DSC02860 Rough life!! I think I’m going to like it here! Today, Mike is out diving trying to get another one of his certifications accomplished before we end up chartering ourselves. I am jealous that he gets to go explore the waters around here right now! It is hot, hot, hot today and a swim would be so lovely! I am currently helping out all the First Mate’s as they prepared for the next week of chartering. After all the work is done, we will get a chance to go over to a beach bar. As you can probably tell,  it DSC07664is a very busy time for us, but we are really liking it all so far. I will try to update as much as I can, especially once we are a bit more settled in. As far as we know, we could be shipped out to a different island any day, so they are certainly keeping us on our toes! I apologize for the terrible writing and rushed post…I wanted to get it out there before it was too late. Well, I better get back to work now which in this Caribbean world is no problem mon!DSC07655

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lingering in La Paz

“KELLY, JUMP NOW!!!,” Andy exclaimed as he carefully navigated his speeding dinghy through the cloudy, shallow water. Without hesitation I whale shark1obeyed his command and plunged into the murky seawater to be greeted face to face with the 6 foot smiling mouth of a giant whale shark. I screamed underwater and back peddled nearly walking on water, abandoning all logic of the docile nature of the creature before me. I managed to flutter just enough, most likely scaring the poor giant, until I found myself in a much more favorable position adjacent to the magnificent spotted beast rapidly gliding through the water away from me. Looks like I scared the 15 foot mammoth just as much as he scared me…go figure!

Despite my initial shock, swimming with the whale shark was certainly an incredible experience. Our friend Andy from Miatla had been staking out the whale sharks for days, making us green with envy at his tales of riding their dorsal fins. whalesharkOn this day, as he was imparting his great knowledge to us acting as our tour guide, I envisioned myself holding onto the fin, enjoying the ride on one of the greatest creatures of the sea. While my fear got the best of me, my brave husband was able to share the experience for the both of us. Without effort, he slipped off the dinghy into the sea and grabbed onto the dorsal fin like he was an old pro. Swimming alongside, I watched in amazement as my man held onto the shark as if they were life long buddies exploring the mysteries of the sea.

Swimming with whale sharks was certainly the highlight of our two month stint in La Paz, however, there were plenty more activities that kept us so busy that we didn’t even DSC07124realize how time had slipped away from us. A charming little city, La Paz has everything that you could possibly want or imagine, and serves as a gateway to the Sea of Cortez. Many cruisers make it to La Paz, fall in love with the city, and never leave. In fact, some would say that parts of the fair city could be likened to South Florida in terms of the geriatric population that has settled in making La Paz home. With the option of many nice marinas along with a huge, relatively calm anchorage, there is ample room for many boats on any kind of budget.

Another perk to La Paz is the active cruiser community, which makes getting boat parts, selling boat parts (for coconuts of course), troubleshooting, and camaraderie quite convenient and easy. They host monthly swap meets which are not only a great social event, but are a good place to find an array of things from highly sought afterDSC07180 parts to little bits and bobs. There are also frequent trips to the US or Canada made by fellow cruisers, which creates a nice system for mail delivery and obtaining parts that cannot be found at the swap meets or on the morning net. Finally, La Paz is located next to many great small islands and anchorages in the Sea of Cortez making day sails, week long passages, or even longer journeys very accessible. It is quite the cruisers mecca and many threaten that once you arrive, you may never leave.

Being the type of nomadic people that Mike and I are, we scoffed at the threats of getDSC02688ting stuck in La Paz, but slowly realized that sticking around was not such a bad thing. It was cold when we arrived, so we initially said that we would stick around until it started to warm up. We quickly found our groove, managing to help other cruisers by making sails and fixing canvas work, which kept us very busy for a little while. We found a sweet little abandoned palapa on the beach which we dubbed our office and spent many afternoons here working on projects and delighting in picnic lunches. We also decided (as the weather started to warm up) that this would be the perfect place to rip out all of our windows, port lights, and hatches to repair the leaks that we discovered on our trip here. It was a messy job involving DSC02686lots of fiberglass dust, ripping out over 15 feet of our interior wood, and having to rebuild everything in a nice way to maintain the classy look of the boat. We learned a lot about the city of La Paz during that time having to source out places for wood and tempered glass. It was quite the adventure. In the end it was so nice to get it done. Now the water can stay where it belongs: on the outside of the boat!

DSC07145Work was a primary focus for us in La Paz, but we managed to get lots of time to play as well. Upon arrival, we made our way over to the morning coffee hour at Club Cruceros, the hub for the local cruiser community, to try to network a bit with the other people who were in town. Here, we ended up running into Terry and Sabine, our friends from Napa aboard their 62’ catamaran Sea Raven. What a pleasant surprise! We saw Sea Raven when they first bought her about 3 years ago and she was completely gutted. They had left before we made it back to Napa this year to sell our little boat IsabellaDSC07307, so we never got to see the finished boat…until now! Not only was it great to have familiar faces here, but it was nice to see our friends down here living the dream on their boat that they worked so hard to get together. They did an amazing job! Now they have a little girl on the way, so we are very happy and excited for them as they start their family aboard their newly fitted home.

La Paz was quickly becoming a melting pot of all the cruisers we had met along the way at various stages in our journey thus solidifying the statement that it is indeed a small world. With old and new friends alike, we greatly enjoyed the social aspect that DSC07186surrounded us. While some cruisers opted for the daily activities such as dominoes, darts, or dancing announced over the morning VHF net like a cruise ship agenda, we opted to create our own adventures. We delighted in the week long festivities of the Carnaval, where Mike pretty much ate his weight in greasy street food while indulging in the silly street games that were impossible to win. I on the other hand, loved going to the local Farmer’s Market on Saturdays to get fresh, organic produce and to practice my Spanish with the locals; a treat I certainly wasn’t expecting to have down here. Mike also liked going with me solely to delight in the giant homemade Cinnamon Buns one of the local vendors made. I swear I would weigh 500 pounds if I tried to eat like him! Fortunately, our friend Jamie on Tardis shared the same enthusiasm for food, so we frequently would plan our food adventures together so the men could eat and Elaine and I could watch in disbelief and laugh. It was fun to feel like part of a community and to become well acquainted with a new place.

La Paz was agreeing with us quite nicely, but eventually we started to get itchy feet. Aside from a quick little road trip up the coast (which was stunning), we had beenDSC07130 stationary for two months. We had lingered long enough…it was time for a new adventure. La Paz will certainly be another stop in our future, but for now we are ready to get out of town and explore those beautiful nearby islands. We wrapped up our loose ends, bid farewell to our new friends, and sailed away in search of exploration and some much needed r&r.