Mornings

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*Remember–Milou is for sale; read all about it here!*

Ensenada Grande, Espiritu Santo

The water is still, and I can see every grain of sand on the bottom through the emerald-turquoise waters levitating our boat. A couple dozen pufferfish amble by, awkwardly propelling their boxy bodies with too-small fins. I take a sip of coffee and a bite of banana bread smothered in hazelnut-chocolate butter and lean back on the princess seat in the stern of the boat. Everyone else is sleeping, from my family down below to the four huge catamarans sharing the bay. A huge eel of some kind darts along the bottom.DSC_0838

View from the top of the arroyo hiking trail at Ensenada Grande

View from the top of the arroyo hiking trail at Ensenada Grande

"Mom, that hiking trail sucked. I'm not whining, that's just a fact."

“Mom, that hiking trail sucked. I’m not whining, that’s just a fact.”

Confirmed.

Confirmed.

Private beach off our bow

Private beach off our bow

San Evaristo

Agave in Seussian bloom

Agave in Seussian bloom

The roosters have been up for a while in this small fishing village, and pangas have been launching from the beach, loaded down with nets and gear. The sun hits the Sierra de la Gigantas behind the village long before the light makes it to the water, setting them on fire with pinks and golds. Our boat is surrounded by thousands of ballyhoo, occasionally leaping out in shoals to evade some leviathan hunting for breakfast. Our neighbor, in a sweet little Lyle Hess boat, laughs out loud at the fish and gives an enthusiastic morning wave hello.

San Marte

It’s our second visit here, and the second time we’ve gotten to swim with the resident school of manta rays. This time, there’s a spotted eagle ray interloping. They leap for glory, or sport, or possibly to kill parisites. Let’s say glory. We are the only boat here—just our family, on our little island of a sailboat.DSC_0943

Eagle ray next to the boat, outlined against the pacific manta rays

Eagle ray next to the boat, outlined against the pacific manta rays

Man, I’m going to miss this.

There are certain things that you only get to experience from a boat. Some of the things are not awesome (let’s just say, waves against current, and leave the topic); but some are jaw-droopingly beautiful. On a boat, morning people are richly rewarded. Three mornings in a row, but three very different mornings. How are we going to go back to a routine?DSCF4273

Cost to Cruise: April, 2018

*Remember–Milou is for sale; read all about it here!*

Boilerplate disclaimer: this is not what it will cost you to go cruising.

We're not the only ones looking to avoid the bash north from Baja; these boats are being loaded onto a freighter for their trip to California and points north. Another cruiser we met said her costs to ship the boat to Vancouver were about the same as hiring a delivery crew, minus the wear and tear on her boat.

We’re not the only ones looking to avoid the bash north from Baja; these boats are being loaded onto a freighter for their trip to California and points north. Another cruiser we met said her costs to ship the boat to Vancouver from La Paz were about the same as hiring a delivery crew, minus the wear and tear on her boat.

People’s constant advice, discussing cruising finances, always seems to be: It’ll cost what you have. We did not find this helpful in our planning, however true it may be. What we’re trying to show is the cost to us, more or less, for one month to go cruising. We’re going for monthly expenses, because they’re easier for us to track; so you won’t see the boat insurance amortized, you’ll just see that expense when we pay it. It won’t be what you’ll spend, but it was the kind of information that helped us out when we were trying to wrap our heads around that magical number for our cruising kitty.

Cheapest. Month. Ever. Clearly, we do well when we’re in the middle of nowhere. We’re also trying to use up what we have; pretty sure we have enough TP to last us through the end of our journey, so that’s one major expense covered. Numbers for April:

Marinas: $291.44
Grocery: $352.21
Restaurant: $246.22
Supplies: $47.28
Booze: $18.68
Laundry: $33.76
Communications: $152.44
Fuel: $84.90, diesel
Ice Cream: $21.63
Transportation: $94.39
Water: $23.59
Boat Parts: $34.30
Entertainment: $38
Boat Sales: $95
Dentist: $32.93
Grand Total: $1566.77

A few notes on the outliers:

  • Transportation numbers reflect a car rental in Puerto Escondido, and some pretty pricy cab rides. We don’t use Uber, for a variety of reasons, but it’s the cheaper choice in La Paz.
  • We’ve been trying to sell the boat, but maybe not as hard as we could be. The $95 is from our Latitude 38 ad, which we expected to yield a lot more love. Craigslist has gotten us more responses, and it’s free—but they’re not exactly the responses we were hoping for. And just to be clear: we do not want to trade the boat for a car, even if it is a BMW. Sorry, Craigslist Dude.
  • Entertainment included a trip to see the new Avengers movie, of course; also, the $20 to get bodice-ripper Kindle ads off T’s new device.
  • T had a wicked cavity in a baby canine. Excellent, timely, professional care for about $30.

Just to make sure you continue to be jealous…

Swimming with Pacific Manta Rays

Swimming with Pacific Manta Rays

Cruiser skills: just hanging out

Our friend Mike showed up in La Paz at the end of the month, so we got to take a few days just chillin’ out on the boat. Mike’s considering a cruising sabbatical with his family, so we were non-stop systems chatting, pro/con boat selection, location analysis…pretty boring stuff for the non-sailor, but fun for us. And the scenery was pretty sweet.DSC_0817

Friends hanging out on the beach. Meeting up with people has been an amazing part of this trip. Under what other circumstances would be be chatting on a beach in Mexico with Mike?

Friends hanging out on the beach. Meeting up with people has been an amazing part of this trip. Under what other circumstances would be be chatting on a beach in Mexico with Mike?

The sandstone at the entrance to Caleta Partida has been beautiful eroded by the wind and waves, leaving a lacy pattern behind...

The sandstone at the entrance to Caleta Partida has been beautiful eroded by the wind and waves, leaving a lacy pattern behind…

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At high tide, a dinghy can travel through the cut between Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida; if the waves are chill, you can travel south to find some pretty cool sea caves. The timing of the tides meant an early departure from the boat, but we made our way out in ideal conditions to check out the caves.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the departure time.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the departure time.

Cave approach

Cave approach

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Mike underestimated the depth. A little above the knee....

Mike underestimated the depth. A little above the knee….

Cave number two

Cave number two

View from inside

View from inside

T attempts to knock off a rock with a paddle. The aggregate rock looked like they were ready to let go at any second with a boulder to the head, but they were all pretty firmly attached!

T attempts to knock off a rock with a paddle. The aggregate rocks looked like they were ready to let go at any second with a boulder to the head, but they were all pretty firmly attached!

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Inspecting the nets at the fish camp

Inspecting the nets at the fish camp

Mike was officially our last visitor. From here, we head north to San Carlos, to sort out the details of storing and/or selling the boat, and the complex process of moving off.

Hey, look! It's the whole fam damily!

Hey, look! It’s the whole famn damily!

Shelter from the norther

Baja has some weather. Unlike the mellow katabatic winds of southern Mexico, the Sea of Cortez picks up systems barreling down from the north, pulling with them 30-knot winds that churn up the waters. These northers calm down as the calendar progresses, until things finally start coming from the south–aka, hurricane season. For the moment, though, we’re still subject to the occasional Norte.

View from the stern, after the winds

View from the stern, after the winds

We decided to duck into the protected waters of Puerto Escondido. There’s a huge bay here that provides 360 degrees of protection from waves, although the wind still rips through the gaps in the hills. We put Milou on one of the moorings filling the bay and resigned ourselves to wet dinghy rides and howling winds for a few days.

As I went out walking the streets of Loreto...

As I went out walking the streets of Loreto…

To escape, we rented a minivan with our buddies on Nomi and headed north. The sweet town of Loreto lacks a good natural harbor; most cruisers arrive here over land. It’s the nearest, best source for groceries, and also home to the first mission established on the peninsula, back in 1697.

It’s a bit of a tourist town, and no mistake, but it was a perfect break from the rough winds at the boat. Back in the bay, dinghies were flipping over and our bow was being knocked all over the place, but we were snacking on chilaquiles and sampling paletas.

Cruising kids!

Cruising kids!

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Inside the mission, looking up

Inside the mission, looking up

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I want a house with a hidden courtyard!

I want a house with a hidden courtyard!

Unlimited water in marina bathrooms leads directly to hair coloring...

Unlimited water in marina bathrooms leads directly to hair coloring…

Happy to not be anchored out there.

Happy to not be anchored out there.

Our friend Mike is on his way to La Paz by now, sailing with our buddy Paul Exner from Acapulco; we’ll be taking the next week to get back and pick him up. Tonight, though, there’s cold beer in the sun, followed by wood-fired pizza with friends. DSC_0815