Querido Santa

Holidays are pretty laid back for us, so this year we looked for something different to do. One of the local Rotary Clubs in La Paz helps to play secret Santa for a remote village in the mountainous areas to the north. They shared letters from kids with the local cruising community. Most of the kids requested sneakers, easy to fulfill with the plentiful shopping options in La Paz.

We did our shopping for Monserrat (6) and her family who lives in La Soledad (approximately 24 54 57N, 110 42 40W), which is inland from the fishing village of San Evaristo, and about 50 miles north of La Paz. She boards away from home to attend school during the week. An attached info form stated that she has two sisters 3 and 11, and her father works as a (farm?) laborer, making about $80 (U.S.)/month.

Her letter (above), and the (Google) translation is shown below. Sorry, forgot to photograph the hot pink tennies we found for her.

Dear Santa! I hope that this little letter is received in good health like me after this greeting short step to the following

My name is Monserrat Amador Amador study in primary school “Nicolas Bravo” during the 1st grade, I have (am) 6 years, Monday to Friday I stay at Hostel # 18 “- Miguel Amador Espinoza”

For this Christmas I would like to do me the favor of giving a tailored pan(t)s size 10 and if your scope is a pair of sneakers # 22 because it is very cold over here.

Well Santa I(n) advance I thank you for granting my request, I hope you spend a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year in the company of all his dear family.


San Javier

The first mission of the Californias was founded in Loreto. Mission San Javier, slightly newer, is about 20 miles southwest of Loreto and is a lovely site to visit within a small village, tucked into a valley area that is quite remote. It is accessible via a two lane mountain road that is succeptible to washouts during rainy weather.

Dena and Dale enjoying the sights with us.

Originally populated by native peoples, a jesuit brother visited the area in 1699 and because there was a source of water there, it was deemed as a place to start some agricultural cultivation (and of course some churching).

Front view of the church, elaborate altar.

The chapel standing there today was built between 1744 -1759.

Funny looking dogs are all over Mexico. Dale checks out an ancient olive tree.

Search on the www and there is plenty to read about this site, if you want to know more.

Field of onions. Architectural detail.


America’s Cup Views

Prada approaching a mark. Cetacea docked at Angel Island.

During our summer visit to the Bay Area, we went out sailing one day during the Louis Vuitton series. (The television coverage was way too superb to bother going out on the bay during the A/C finals.)

Typical windy, foggy, summer afternoon.
Prada gets ready to race. Right next to Cetacea's (South Beach) marina.

Our friend Kerry on Cetacea took us out with some friends, and co-created these photos (we left our camera at home! that’s how disengaged we are with photography!)

The Adele. She is a beauty.

Superyacht Adele was anchored off Angel Island with Tiburon in the background. She is an 180-foot Hoek and in spite of her classic look, was built in 2005. We anchored next to her the last time we sailed in the British Virgin islands (on C470 sistership Beckoning).

Helicopter sneaks under the Bay Bridge (there were two of them) . Larry Ellison's Superyacht Musashi, an 88 meter Feadship.
Fabulous Picnic! Alison brought cupcakes again!

Besides a nice sail around the bay to see the sights, we had a great picnic lunch on Angel Island.

Emirates. Another superyacht next to the America's Cup village.

Purely Temporary

We have lots to tell about the last few months, look for a few new posts to come online soon. In the meantime, a short preview photo is shown below.

(First) dinner from this lovely Mahi Mahi on July 29 at Isla San Francisco, Sea of Cortez…

First course Dorado Sashimi


Birds, Birds, Birds

Lots of updates to be done on our spring/summer in the Sea of Cortez. More posts to come. This post is now complete.

Here’s some highlights of our many feathered friends. The gulls are pretty comical sometimes and not very shy.

We’ve had a few night herons that like to hang around/on Voyager at Marina Palmira.

This little guy was hanging around Marina Fonatur in Puerto Escondido, looking for some snacks.

There have been lots of babies around this time of year. Before the seagull youngsters turn grey, the littlest ones are white with spots.

Every day we get some sort of pelican show. Note above that there is a separate squadron in the back left.

The birds are definitely not afraid of boats and we watch out for cormorants and frigates who like to roost on our wind instruments atop the mast (two took a 6-7 mile ride in June), and pelicans and boobies who like to dive on our lures as we troll (one brown booby caught and released so far this season).

Brown booby circling Voyager. Frigate hitchhiking on our windex.

We saw an amazing bright blue “magpie jay” in town in Loreto recently, sorry didn’t have our camera! Will have to look for him/her sometime again.

Carnival 2013

Several cities in Mexico celebrate Carnival. The one in Mazatlan is one of the largest in the world. As we were in La Paz during that time, we decided to enjoy the local scene.

Mostly pictures in this post, take a break from reading!

It was especially nice for us that the floats were parked across the street from our marina during the day. They were fun to look at, and were definitely not over-done, lots of hand-crafted feel to them.

Balloon vendor looking for customers. A few visitors posed with our friend Bill.

The highlight of the festival is three evening parades along the city’s waterfront (Malecon). The floats had advertising, pretty girls in skimpy costumes, loud music, various dancers, cute kids, and all were designed with an overall marine life/nautical theme.

Ted, Bill, Julie, Bill, Dana, Don, Kathi, Crit

We got a group of 24 friends together and rented one balcony section of a local restaurant for a great view (and good snacks and drinks) – Tailhunter – for the final night of the parade, coincidentally on Mardi Gras. Almost all of us there were alumnus of the Baja Haha 2010 rally.

Pretty safe and calm in La Paz for this type of event, no reputation for craziness here. Lots of families out watching the parades and then visiting food, merchandise, and game booths along the waterfront afterwards.

Click here to link over to our video page, there are a few movie clips, we especially like the dancing whale shark.

Baja 1000s or San Diego Dash

If you are Googling for the Baja 1000 rally, this page is NOT it.

Amazing boulders near the border of the northern and southern Baja states

Lots of photos of the diverse scenery here for you to peruse…

It has often been discussed among cruisers here, if there is a critical boat part that you really need in Mexico, it can be quicker and cheaper to go back to the U.S. to get it yourself. We tested that theory recently with a drive from La Paz to San Diego and back in less than 5 days. Our boat’s GEL-type batteries had given us 9 years of great life and were starting to act up. Not wanting to spend 4-5 months up in the Sea of Cortez (and mostly unplugged from a dock) without good batteries, we decided it was time to replace them.

Nosy raven, our ride for the trip

Over a 2-3 day span while at anchor, we worked up a shopping list of other items to collect while we were up in the states, both for ourselves and a few friends. If we were going to save some money (versus mexican prices) on the batteries, we might as well save some more money by buying other stuff – either things we can’t get in Mexico or can’t bring down on an airplane.

Plenty of wide open spaces. Mostly 2-lane road.

On Monday we returned to our slip at Marina Palmira in La Paz and made calls to vendors in San Diego to arrange to pick up various items on Thursday or Friday (including a few goodies for friends). A few items (Amazon.com, Garhauer) were expressed shipped to one friendly vendor for collection. On Monday afternoon we traveled to the “Banjercito” office at the nearby commercial port (Pichilingue) to update our boat’s import permit (allows us to bring in parts without duty), and by first thing Tuesday we were on the road.

Many, varied cacti can be seen

Our only miscalculation was trying to do this all during the Easter “Semana Santa” holiday; every rental car in La Paz was spoken for and if there were any available, they were more than double the usual price. Delaying until after the holiday week would have meant a waste of a week’s marina rental, helping to cancel out our cost savings.

Approaching an agricultural region

Fortunately one of our wonderful cruising friends loaned us their vehicle (thanks!!! you know who you are!!!). As you’ll see in the timeline below, we took two daytimes to drive “up,” we spent about 40 hours in the San Diego area, and two more daytimes to drive back “down” the Baja.

If you like to drive you’d probably enjoy the trip. There is very varied scenery … otherworldly geology, farm country, a (very) few scattered views of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean. Many twists and turns and mountain passes to cross. Almost all of the roadway is two-lane, and is in decent shape for making good speed in daytime (occasional livestock along the road can make it a bit hazardous for driving in the dark). The minimal scruffy bits of the highway (some due to the extreme rains in 2012), didn’t slow us down below 45-50 mph.

Many military checkpoints are placed up and down the Baja, makes one feel very secure. There doesn’t seem to be much reason for bad guys to be around. Most checkpoints were more interested in “locals” but we did have to get out of the car a few times. On our southbound trip, a few stations were closed (day before Easter) and all except one waved us on through with no contact.

Mass transit

The timeline at the bottom of this post will give you a bit of feeling for the trip. The more time you waste, the less money you save during the “run.”

Grape fields in northern baja

Some of you enjoy a little retail therapy from time to time, which is something we only indulge in while in the states. Most of our shopping in Mexico involves edibles, boat fuel, and occasionally misceallanous boat parts and supplies. Here are some highlights from our shopping list. Keep in mind we could do without some of these things, but as they were convenient to collect, we did.

3 – 8D AGM batteries
2 – 140w solar panels
upgraded solar controller (our existing unit would not operate with 3 panels)
Western Digital video player & HDMI video cable, 13 ft.
compact Canon printer
macerator pump (for marine head)
French (coffee) press
U-Bolts to mount solar panels
block and tackle set (Garhauer) for lifting a dinghy on davits
prescription refill from Kaiser (not recommended if you are out of your “network”)
vacuum bag sealer, (Ziploc brand), our old one hasn’t “sucked” for a long time
Maker’s Mark Whiskey, Mount Gay Rum, a few bottles of California Sauvignon Blanc
Trash compactor bags, super thick, great to store garbage on your boat while cruising
Electronic bug zappers
Drill bit set
Bicycle playing cards
J&J “no more tangles” – conserves water after hair washing
latest: New Yorker, Food Network, and Rachel Ray magazines (paper is still nice and it’s
hard to find adequate internet bandwidth to download digital publications)
Liquid Benadryl (relieves bug bites!)
Dark chocolate covered espresso beans (yay,  Trader Joes!)
Brown jasmine rice
Canned portabella mushrooms

Back to La Paz


7:20 am depart La Paz

fuel stop at Insurgentes  at 150 miles

12:00 lunch – Ette’s Pies, Loreto berry/cherry pie a la mode, 60 p

12:25 – 12:35  military checkpoint north of Loreto

2:30 fuel stop at Santa Rosalia 345 miles

3:35 – 3:45 military check point…exit car, minor search of car (other military checkpoints not noted – uneventful at each stop)

4:50 fuel stop Guerro Negro 491 miles

5:20 Cowboy motel, Guerro Negro – 450p

5:50 Malarremo Restaurant – dinner…fish and chicken entrees, pacificos   380p

6:40 motel


5:30 am depart Guerro Negro

9:30 observed wrecked semi full of hay about 6 miles south of El Rosario

9:40 fuel stop El Rosario at 718 miles

10:45 breakfast in San Quintin, Mission Santa Isabel

3:45 gas stop Tecate 948 miles

3:50 – 5:15 wait at border crossing

6;20 La Mesa, Motel 6 $51

6:45 Best Buy, Target, Barnes and Noble, Trader Joes

8:55 Carls Jr. – burger and chicken salad


8:30 snacks in the room

9:15 mediterranean market (Vine Ripe in La Mesa)

10   Best Buy – Canon printer

10:15 Target, Kaiser, army surplus store, Harbor Freight

12:20 lunch, Caros: sandwich soup salad combos

12:55 – 2   Kaiser again, wait for prescription to be completed (don’t try to get a quick refill out of your local Kaiser network)

2:20 pick up batteries in El Cajon

3:25 pick up Blue Sky solar panel controller in Vista

3:50 Bed Bath and Beyond in Escondido – french press

4:05 Fry’s in Escondido – HDMI cable

4:50 Grainger in north San Diego (they closed at 5) – U-Bolts to mount new solar panel

5:50 Point Loma – West Marine superstore, Vons supermarket

7:00 Comfort Inn on Rosecrans (nicest room of the trip) ~$71

7:20 dinner, Sammy’s Wood Fired Pizza…great crust

8:30 hotel


(most military checkpoints southbound were either closed for Easter week or much more interested in the northbound drivers)

7:45 free breakfast at Comfort Inn

8:15 Downwind Marine pick up solar panels

8:20 Quantum sail loft pick up 2 packages for friends

9-9:30  meet folks in San Diego airport cellphone lot to collect mail for other criends

9:55 Tijuana border (no waiting, green light at customs)

(Aprox. 214- miles driven in U.S.)

10:20 gas in Tijuana at 1162 miles

10:30 Banamex ATM to replenish pesos

11:30 – 12   Costco in Ensenada

3:20 fuel stop in El Rosario   at 1370 miles

6:55 fuel stop in Guerro Negro at 1592 miles

7:05  Caracol motel 580p

7:40 – restaurant Don Gus, mexican combinations  & coronas 300 p

8:20 motel


6:30 depart

8:35 fuel stop at Santa Rosalia at 1738 miles

10:55 fuel stop in Loreto at 1863 miles

11;05 – lunch Del Barracho, Loreto…chicken sandwiches, fries, slaw

12:00 – 12:15 stop at Puerto Escondido…say hi to some friends on the radio who were anchored in Ballandra, visit with Pedro at the marina tienda

3:35 La Paz outskirts fuel stop at 2085 miles

3:55 arrive Marina Palmira

Joys of S * F

We made a short trip to the Bay Area in February. Get the taxes done, pick up a few things, reset our Mexican tourist visas that are only good for 180 days maximum.

101 Freeway in the rain

It’s nice to get back in your car after being away for a while. Even if it’s during wintry weather (no top down this trip).

And to be able to enjoy for a few days, the greatest rock radio station, ever. (Yes, some of you can get KFOG on the internet, we don’t have the bandwidth for that in Mexico.)

We always have to visit a Target when back in the U.S. They would make a killing in Mexico!

And exciting to be able to accomplish so many errands in a single day…versus running around a Mexican town on foot or via bus.

Fall Report (belated)

Like many cruisers, we get too busy to update our blog regularly. Or we’re lazy. Or both. Take your pick.

Here’s a few highlights from Fall 2012

We wrapped up our two months back in California with a visit to our friends John and Lori in Lake County. We stocked up on some lovely local Chasewater (Kelseyville) olive oil, and of course enjoyed some great California wine!

Lovely placid day on Clear Lake in Northern California

Returning to La Paz in mid-September we were welcomed back by one of several (unusual) rain storms (and an earthquake!). The locals say that the 2012 precipitation was the most to fall here in a generation. Several months later, much of the Baja is still quite green.

Puerto Escondido anchorage during Paul's downpour. The darkest colors are the strongest winds caused by the hurricane.

We were brushed by the eastern edge of Hurricane Paul in October. At the time, we were tucked securely into the almost fully landlocked Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, with our friends on Seychelles, Milagro and Kisasa. Fortunately this was a good spot to be as we had some internet connectivity and could monitor the storm’s path on the web.

Voyager at right, the day after the storm. Predicted storm track from the National Weather Service.

40 or so boats shared the anchorage, including about six large sportfishers who left the marina docks there to anchor (more securely at this location) out with us. One large commerical fish boat also came in from the Sea. At one point the storm was predicted to cross the peninsula into the Sea of Cortez but never did, instead remaining on the Pacific side of the Baja. We saw a few gusts only into the low 40s and there was about 10″ of rain over a two day period.

(left image) Waterfalls after the rains. Green mountains over Pto. Escondido.


statistics as of 10/1/2012, since leaving San Francisco on 10/1/2010

We have changed the location of Voyager 152 times.
We have run the engine for 810 hours.
We have covered approximately 5,264 miles.
We have spent 375 of 730 nights in marinas (51%).
We have taken four trips (flights) back to the U.S., about 90 days away from the boat.

Departing Puerto Escondido, derelict boat being towed.

Ninos de La Paz

If you’re looking for something extra to do this holiday season, take a look at

http://www.lapazninos.org/     they have a donation button on the left side of their page.

For any donations between now and December 31, the donation will be matched if the donation is made through International Community Foundation (click on this link).

Former cruiser Pete (88) and some of his fan club, they must keep him young!

Twenty-six years ago, a couple of cruisers (from the San Francisco Bay Area!) decided to get off their boat and settle in La Paz. Wanting to be a full part of the community they enjoy, they saw a need to give an extra hand to children in some of the more modest (to be politically correct!) communities in the area by helping to found FANLAP – Fundación Ayuda Niños La Paz (foundation helping the children of La Paz).

Attending school is not as common here as it is for U.S. kids, especially for low-income families with multiple children. Besides having enough good food to think straight, school kids need uniforms, shoes, supplies, tuition money for high school, and even bus transportation (not free!).

We recently visited FANLAP’s modest building in Colonia Laguna Azul on the northeast side of La Paz where kids can come in for a free lunch after school, around 2:30. Prepared by a volunteer group of mothers from the neighborhood, about 150 kids from elementary through high school age are fed on each school day.

FANLAP kids (blue t-shirts) help out at the Subasta Auction

The facility also has an upstairs library with books, computers (that need updating by the way), internet, and a quiet study area – helpful for the many kids who live in a one-room dwelling. (Electricity just came to this neighborhood a few years ago.)

Most of the cruising community helps out by participating in the annual SUBASTA (Auction) which is a major fundraiser for FANLAP. Held the first Sunday every December, there is a big rummage sale (lots of U.S. and Canadian donated household, boat and clothing items that are purchased by local residents), a raffle, live and silent auctions that include boat supplies/services and certificates for hotel/restaurant visits. Several local food and crafts vendors attend and donate some of their proceeds. Several of the scholarship kids help out at the event or do chores/maintenance at the dining/library facility in exchange for their support from FANLAP.

Great flea-market type bargains keep everyone busy