A few nights ago I was asked what our families thought of our cruising lifestyle. As this was from another cruiser out of Dana Point who mentioned their family thought they were crazy for heading to Mexico; it started me thinking of how best to describe the general feelings associated with hanging on the hook in well-known and exotic sounding places like Puerto Vallarta, Espiritu Santo and Animas Slot! This analogy may tend towards the longish side but please stay with me.


Many of you have experienced a week at a resort in say… Puerto Vallarta. There to catch some sun and drink a few margaritas whilst trying to relax and rid yourself of the daily stresses of work and commuting and it usually goes something like this… Friday night you stay up much later than you should to finish your packing; deciding how many bathing suits to actually take, only to get up at O-Dark-30 to get to the airport for that 6 AM flight. “I’ll sleep on the airplane” you tell yourself. Famous last words for sure!

You finally arrive at the PV Airport where you stand in a long line of people waiting for Immigration to stamp your passport. You can almost smell the sea breezes! After you have your stamped passport securely in hand it is time to find your luggage with the 5 pairs of swim trunks and go through Customs! Oh what fun awaits you as you stare at the red light that means your luggage gets to be inspected by a 16 year old in a uniform? No one really knows what they are looking for but they look diligently through your luggage and leave you to repack as they move to the next person. By now, not only can you smell the margaritas but you can practically taste them as well! Next up is the timeshare and taxi gauntlet and finally, somehow, you are at your hotel; the check in line is only half as long as the Immigration line! Yahoo! A couple shots of tequila and you will be ready to par-tay!! At last, at last!!! You are in your room; you have checked out the all tile bathroom, the view from the balcony, and even opened your suitcase to start unpacking! “I think I’ll just close my eyes for a few minutes…” and Saturday is now in the books.

Sunday you wake up refreshed and ready to work on your tan so off you go to find a sun lounger poolside. Your kindle is fully charged, you look great in your new swim suit and so with lotion in hand you wander down to that magnificent, gorgeous, aqua blue pool with the swim-up bar. In your mind is the beautiful, glossy picture from the brochure you posted on your wall at work that you have been staring at for months! The pool exceeds your expectations… except for all of the people that have already claimed every lounger from there to Punta de Mita! Oh well, maybe breakfast and the beach is a better idea! Where to go, where to go? You finally end up on the beach with a towel and a great view of the Mexican family from Guadalajara… all 15 of them! It must be time for a margarita by now! Sunday slips by while you are working to find that sweet spot and relax. Dinner in the hotel, the Welcome Party poolside and off to bed. Plenty of week left to enjoy!

Monday and Tuesday you finally get into the swing of things! Snorkeling, parasailing, boat rides to the islands, a few cervezas; even getting up early enough to scrounge a lounger poolside! Ticking off the items on your Mexico to-do list.

By Wednesday you are finally relaxed enough to enjoy practicing your spanish with the bartender; to check out the restaurants you have heard about from the folks that are now into their 2nd week at the resort. Maybe even a nightclub run and cantina crawl. Ahh, this is the life! Exactly what you have been waiting for; the opportunity to detox and be at one with your surroundings. That zen moment where all the pieces fit together so smoothly. You know where the best seat is in the cantina, where the best tacos are out on the street, which concierge to ask questions, how much a taxi should cost… Bienvenido a Mexico!! Let’s go get another margarita!

Thursday when you wake up, you realize it is only 2 more days before you need to head back to the airport and make that long trek home. Now it’s time to go souvenir shopping, get more sun so you don’t go back home looking pasty white, the sailing lessons might have to wait… oh nooooooooo!! There’s still too many margaritas to drink, more reefs that need to be snorkeled, and I need to get that cute chick’s email! Aaaaaargh! Only 2 more days!!! And before you know it the shuttle is there to take you to the airport where you will stand in line for a ticket, stand in line for security, stand in line to board the aircraft. That feeling I had on Wednesday has deserted me for reality. Now it’s, “where did I leave my car keys… heck, where did I leave my car? I’m going back to the daily grind. Oh woe is me…”


Does that sound like a typical vacation week? It vaguely looks like a getaway from my past; but what I want for you to take from that tongue-in-cheek look at a vacation is the Wednesday feelings of finally finding peace, being happy with where you are and what you are doing. A certain sense of familiarity but still tinged with vacation excitement. A day that exudes happiness and contentment. These are also the feelings from a cruising lifestyle; where most every day is a Wednesday! Days that allow one to slow down and enjoy the reds and oranges of a sunset, days where the entertainment is watching blue-footed boobies dive from the sky into the sea and then popping up a few feet away, opportunities to not only know where the best tacos are but to get to know the vendors themselves. Others see pelicans lined up on the pangas and pilings, I see a pelican that got a fish stuck on his beak and doing his best Elvis impersonation trying to remove it (which he eventually did). Dolphins! Need I say more?

Not every day is a Wednesday as there are a few Tuesday’s and Thursday’s thrown in; but fortunately many, many Wednesday’s! So, thank you for bearing with me in my long winded analogy and may your every day be a Wednesday!

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I actually wrote this last year but didn’t post it. I’ve read it many times in the last year and like it even more now! We are currently in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle not a wee bit north of La Paz and have been in Mexico for about 13 months now so this was written not too long after we had made the jump down to Cabo San Lucas on the 20th Baja Ha Ha. So much to be thankful for!! 

Sitting here in the San Jose Channel north of La Paz on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and letting all of the random, disconnected thoughts careen and carom continuously whilst flying over the chasms in my underutilized cranium, coursing along changing patterns of creative… well, you get the idea! But mostly what I was thinking about was being at work on Thanksgiving Get Away Day! How soon will the big boss wander by shaking hands and wishing all a Happy Turkey Day; the unofficial end of the day and an opportunity to get home early to try to beat some of the traffic out to see the parents and get some of Mom’s home cooking!

And so here is where the disconnected random thoughts start colliding! In the good old days when I was still punching a time clock, the anxiety about leaving would start just prior to lunch and build. Will I need to actually come back from lunch or call home and start the process of packing the car? How bad will the traffic be? Should I wait until tomorrow instead? I’m sure all have experienced the frenzy of trying to beat the traffic; especially in car-loving LA! But now that I no longer even own a car, nor live in a city, nor have a big boss (Sue doesn’t count in this missive!) my pre-Turkey Day thoughts turn to how much life has changed and the lifestyle that we have chosen! Being in Mexico makes the Thanksgiving holiday bear less meaning about the plight of the Pilgrims and the opportunity to get away from work for 4 whole days! It doesn’t, however, stop the idea of being thankful and taking stock of the many things to be thankful for.

Just being retired doesn’t radically change the approach to the holiday. There are kids coming to visit, or a hop over to check on the in-laws, or perhaps a trip out to take the grandkids to see Santa Claus at the Mall; but living on a sailboat in a foreign country that doesn’t observe the niceties of an extended weekend only gives you pause to remember how wonderful life is; and how different your lifestyle has become! I could list a hundred things that I’m thankful about but will try not to bore you with my list because I know you are making your own list! I will, however, continue to ramble about lifestyle… and some of the differences between the good old days and the awesome now!

Now, on this day 2 days before Black Friday and the official start of Christmas season, (Costco unofficially started in August with a xmas tree display!) I am sitting at anchor 400 feet offshore of the Cardon Forest on Isla San Jose. Cardons are cacti that can grow up to 70 feet. My view the other way is south down the channel towards an island that from the south looks like a picnic ham and from this side like a whale (ballena in Spanish… one of the few words I know!). The sun is peaking through the clouds and the high winds from the last few days have finally died down. There is no turkey thawing, waiting to be stuffed. No giblet gravy, broccoli with cheese, cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie on the menu. No sweet potatoes bubbling in the oven waiting for the colorful miniature marshmallows to be laid across the surface nor green beans with almond slivers. Will I miss any of these things? Well, maybe a few… pecan pie for one! Turkey sandwiches on Friday… Saturday… and Sunday, Orange Sherbet Salad for sure, and the rolls with butter to sop up the gravy with. Great stuff and certainly T-Day standards; but not here, not now.

Now, it will be chicken enchiladas, a glass or 3 of wine, and another “wow” moment when the sun heads for the horizon and reds and oranges splash across the sky before the sun finally drops behind the Sierra de La Giganta mountains at 6:30 and it becomes as dark as it ever gets; that time between the sun and the moon where even the stars dare not intrude. But finally, they venture out in ones and twos before suddenly, they are all there, stretching far away into the night; spinning their own little charms and reminding one of another thing to be thankful for.

It will be stopping to make that mental list of family, friends and opportunities! It will be enjoying the moment, living it in the serenity of a secluded anchorage with my Hunnee Bunnee and believing that the best is still to come! How long this lifestyle will last is an unknown but I am very thankful that it IS my lifestyle!

Sunset in paradise

Sunset in paradise

Seeing Stars

Seeing Stars

It’s 10 PM in Isla San Francisco; the stars are spread out across the horizon and I have a few minutes to spin the cosmos! What a wonderful spot to be as I wander down the Path of what could have been. We are at anchor in one of my favorite places, with an opportunity to consider the various decisions that got us here.

I have been surprised at the beauty of a “desert” region known as the Baja Peninsula. I was thinking more along the lines of palm trees and palapas on the beach as we made our way through the Sea of Cortez but it is much more than that! The islands, the views, the sunsets, the rattleless rattle snakes! All of these things and more contribute to a most exciting experience. Just sailing along has experiences! Mabula rays jumping and performing circus type flips; laying the fishing line out behind us waiting for the big strike, and watching the Pangas go about their business!

Across from us to the west is the Sierras de Gigantes; a wonder of geological striations and also a barrier to Coromuels; the winds that make anchoring an E-ticket ride! To the east is a long sandy beach with hills that rise up against a star-filled sky. The stars are so thick that I have trouble finding my personal constellation, Orion, and the Big Dipper. There is a glow to the south that could only be La Paz but that is such an insignificant portion of the sky!

As I let myself wander across the wide sky, I am reminded of how much it has taken to be here. Selling the house, the cars, paying off everything we could so that our journey on a 43 foot sailboat could actually happen. These are dominoes that had to fall in a perfect order for us to be floating at anchor with the multitude of stars above! And that is nothing compared to the kayak run out to the point; the fishing, the dive into cooling waters that go along with this wonderful lifestyle we have chosen! Tomorrow we plan on walking over to the north beach and search for agates! Sue has a new (empty) wine bottle that needs to be filled and this is the place to do it!

It is my hope that this will inspire other people to follow in our footsteps, so to speak. Whether it is an RV to race across the US of A or following the Siren’s song in a sailing ship; there are an enormous amount of vistas to see, people to meet, and exciting adventures to be experienced! So for those of you sitting on the fence waiting for all of the dominoes to stack up just right; get crackin’ on making a new plan to smell the roses, stare at the stars and make life a living experience!


Week 12 – Echo Bay to Port McNeill

Eagle watching in Booker Lagoon

Eagle watching in Booker Lagoon

When we last left you we were in Echo Bay having visited Billy Proctor and his museum of “junk”. After buying some $10 cereal and a few other goodies at Pierre’s pricey store, we moved on to Lady Boot Cove on Eden Island. It was just a short journey down Fife Straight where, after a couple of zigs and zags, we entered Lady Boot Cove.  This anchorage had come highly recommended to us and so we were both eager to see it.  When we pulled through the entrance we realized it was tiny; just about three boat lengths wide, but protected enough from the wind for us to anchor without worrying about the rocks too much.

We were settled in nicely enjoying books and birdsongs in the center of the cove when another boat pulled in and anchored along one side of this already tight spot.  About that time the wind picked up a bit and we noticed that we were dragging anchor ever so slowly toward shore.  When we pulled the anchor to reposition we discovered that the fluke (the pointy end of the anchor) had impaled itself on what looked like an old barbecue or tank of some sort, so the fluke wasn’t set into the ground, which is why we dragged.  When we set it again, we dragged again!  This time we pulled up a tiled tube with a huge starfish in the middle of it.  You have to picture all this going on in a tiny cove with another boat securely stern tied to the side watching us and probably wondering what the heck we were doing!  We could have stern tied too, but the problem with that is that you still need your anchor to be set, and especially so for us because our boat is so beamy that any breeze on the beam will put a lot of strain on both the anchor and stern tie.  Each time we dropped the anchor only to find that we would be drifting back a little bit further slowly and when we raise the anchor that’s when we found our surprises.  After moving around a couple times we almost left because the other boat was right where we needed to swing. So instead of spending two nights there we ended up spending one and left the next morning for Booker Lagoon on Broughton Island which was just a short 5 miles away.

An eagle flew right over my kayak as he swooped down to catch a fish!

An eagle flew right over my kayak as he swooped down to catch a fish!


To enter Booker Lagoon you pass through a labyrinth of rocks and islets in Cullen Harbour that are so close that it’s hard to determine which way to go since you can’t see open water beyond any of them. Once we made it through

The Rock Man, Booker Passage

The Rock Man, Booker Passage

the maze, and found the “rock man”, we then went through Booker passage which is a short, narrow passage with reefs on both sides, and strong currents; so you want to be there at slack tide. We slowly went through, keeping clear of the kelp beds on either side since we had chosen low tide for our entrance.  Once through the passage Booker Lagoon opens up in front of you.  It’s a large lagoon that some people describe as a crab, with the inlets being the legs of the crab.  We toured three “crab legs” before settling down in a quiet corner and enjoyed seven eagles floating around us as we anchored. There were only two other boats in the entire lagoon, neither of which were visible from our anchorage so we had plenty of scenic vistas available.  As for the weather we had sunshine, rain, heavy rain, thunder, lightning (in the distance thankfully), and wind from all directions. The days have typically been partly sunny with ominous clouds approaching from the southeast in the afternoons, eventually turning into rain showers every evening. Fortunately we have not been caught out in a rain storm again in our kayaks and hope not to again!  And we’re VERY happy to have a full enclosure around the cockpit as we spend lots of time “on the veranda” even when it’s pouring rain.

Rainy sunny rainy...!

Rainy sunny rainy…!

We spent four days in Booker Lagoon, doing everything and nothing.  When the sun was out, we went kayaking; when the rain was pouring down we read (and then drained the dinghy!), did mini-projects, planned routes, or made biscuits!  We never seem to run out of things to do, rain or shine, so that’s good!

It has been a month since our last grocery store run in Campbell River and provisions are starting to diminish to “creative cooking” status. The liquor locker is nearly dry (down to Port, which ain’t bad!); fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, and milk are things of the past.  Though it’s not like we are going to starve since we have plenty of Costco canned food stashed away in all the out of the way lockers and Sue has become very adept at mixing and matching to make some very interesting meals! We have tried crabbing and fishing this week too, but no luck this time around.

We finally left Booker Lagoon heading for Port McNeill, but alas, it was not a good day to make passage as there were still strong winds and the westerly swells were running abeam which meant we were taking them from the side! Not very comfy, so we ducked into Joe Cove on Eden Island and joined 2 other sailboats hiding from the weather. You gotta love the cruising life! No need to be anywhere particular at a certain time creates a more comfortable lifestyle…except for that little liquor locker snafu!

Fog bank over Queen Charlotte Strait

Fog bank over Queen Charlotte Strait

Radar is a good thing!!

Radar is a good thing!!

Our next move was from Joe Cove to Port McNeill, traveling in fog and flat seas, to re-provision, add some fuel and find a beer and burger!  We did the laundry, added food, removed trash, bought a few more charts, read our email, and started watching the weather to get ready for the next leg of our journey north around Cape Caution.  This is a 50 mile jaunt from Port McNeill across Queen Charlotte Sound, which is known for it’s nasty weather since it is open to the Pacific.  There is a SE wind on it’s way tomorrow, with a low pressure system after that, so if the weather holds to that we’ll leave here Sunday.  If not, then we may stay a few more days to wait out the storm!

All is well with us and we are excited to be making the transition to another cruising ground.  Our first stop will be Fury Cove, followed by Pruth Bay on Calvert Island.  We expect to meet up with the Sail Alaska flotilla in the next week, though we’re not sure exactly where!  It’s as they say – you can’t direct the winds, but you can adjust your sails!  We’ll be somewhere that the wind blows us….!  🙂

Status Meetings

From the moment you enter Princess Louisa Inlet you are transported into a miasma of beauty. You have just braved an “S” turn through the Malibu Rapids where all of your attention is focused down on the water; searching for hidden rocks, wondering if the rapids will send your boat sideways into an eddy, keeping a sharp lookout for logs and other flotsam that may impale your boat! And then, you are through and you get a chance to look around or rather, straight up! The steeply plunging cliffs drop right into the water and keep going! We now have 1200 feet under our keel while staring up at the waterfalls dropping from 7000 feet! At first you don’t know where to look. Some bigger waterfalls attract your attention and the cameras start clicking, sounds of wonder and amazement waft from the cockpit, nooks and crannies abound and they all seem to have their own waterfall!

We have hit this short 4 mile inlet at a perfect time! The tops of the mountains have snow on them, the sun is shining, and we are the only ones here… well, almost the only ones! We finally traverse the inlet to the bitter end to find Chatterbox Falls roaring and a 300 foot long dock where there are 2 other boats tied up. Still plenty of room as we figure during the summer there could be as many as 30 boats in this area. But back to the “Mecca of Boating”! Days are spent just watching the waterfalls take shape as the snow melts and finally a quick avalanche to move a small wispy stream into a wide, rushing waterfall as it cascades over the steep rocks. The brochures say there are over 60 waterfalls; I stopped counting after 30! We are tied up so our stern faces Chatterbox Falls and its constant roar, which has actually increased since we first arrived. There is not much level ground here but enough for a small ranger cabin and a few picnic/camping spots so our exploring has been done from the kayaks! One day for the north side of the inlet and another day for the south side. Sue has about 10,000 pictures already and I’ve contributed a few myself.


The days have rushed by as I find myself just sitting in the kayak watching nothing… and everything! Thinking of all that had brought me to this time and place; chasing the dream of a better life, buying a house, marriage, raising children, the daily grind of the endless status meetings, climbing the job ladder! All of those things that were important, and were seemingly important, at the time have all been given their place in my thoughts as just a down payment on the opportunity to be sitting here in this kayak with nothing better to do than to take in the splendor and grandeur of the most beautiful place I have ever seen! Karma, I guess would be as good of a word as any to describe this portion of life where we have no schedules, where status meetings consist of making a decision to stay or go over a glass of wine, and the only ladder that needs climbing is attached to the swim step on the back of the boat!


The latest status meeting included a decision to stay. We were originally thinking of 4 or 5 days here but have decided another 4 or 5 days would be better! So for now, my kayak is waiting as the mergansers are merrily munching minnows, the seals are silently sliding by, the wispy waterfalls continue cascading copious amounts of thawed snow and I have many, many more precocious random thoughts to ponder!