Ninos de La Paz

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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


Sushi Time

Again. Actually it’s been quite a while and long overdue. Within our first week back to La Paz, Julie and Dena and Dana went to Jiro Sushi in La Paz. This is not only a great sushi place for the Baja, it ranks in quality with San Francisco favorites. This restaurant is something special, food as delicious art. (Foodies – search for Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Season 8 episode 7 about Northern Baja California, very interesting.)

Exquisitos, Chef Edgar making art with his knife, Curricán roll

For those of you milling around La Paz, Jiro is located on the bay side of the Abasolo in Plaza Nautica, near Colima Street, and close to the Mega and Chedraui supermarkets. Not everything is raw, for the sushi-averse. (Vivi Sushi on the Malecon is gone, but Jiro is better!)

Just arrived tuna. Dana, Dena, Julie.

Not only are the flavors wonderful, with some unique sauces, the presentation is beautiful, the chefs’ skills superb, and what could be better but see fresh whole fish coming in through the front door like honored guests. A yellowtail was carried in, and also a wahoo while we were there.

Salmon (flown in), fabulous desserts.

We had the Exquisito Roll (yes, it is) with crab and shrimp inside, tempura squid topping, topped with curry sauce. A Sashimi Curricán – fish roll with crab and avocado served with a special sauce. And shrimp relleno (chile stuffed with shrimp in tempura batter).

Earlier trip with Crit, wahoo, artful sauces applied.

As it was Julie and Dena’s birthdays, we finished off our lunch with some delicious tempura ice cream (also great fruit/chocolate sauce!).



Faugust on the Bay, Part 2

We got out to sail on the bay just twice over the summer, both times on the beautiful cutter, Cetacea. We could have gone out on the water some more, we just ran out of time.

One day we went just for fun, made some new friends, and had a lovely picnic on Angel Island, one of our favorite anchorages on the Bay.

Another day we did get out to watch the America’s Cup World Cup Series. It was somewhat difficult to see the action well as there was a wide perimeter set well outside the race course for pleasure boats. It was mildly crowded the day we went (first day of the races), cold and foggy.

Spectator boats searching for a good vantage point

There WAS a nice area along shore (between St. Francis and Golden Gate Yacht Clubs) with bleachers for spectators where the racing action passed directly by, we’d recommend this option for those who are curious for future races. Also we caught some of the television coverage which was excellent.

Interesting spectator platform (VIPs?). Oracle and Emirates get it on, notice starboard hulls raised.

When there was a lull in the racing action (Bill DID get some nice photos), we had the opportunity for some interesting conversation, and of course snacking and imbibing. Our friend Alison brought some fabulous, nautical cupcakes.

Map is our track for the Angel Island Trip. Captain analyzes unusual boat shoes (or drag queen accessories?)

A costume designer aboard was demonstrating some of the components of her “drag queen” costume she was going to wear for a contest (she won).

Left foreground is one guest who spent the whole day ill, under a blanket using up half the cockpit. Center is A/C racecourse. Right - huge pectoral muscles.

One can never predict what will be seen on the Bay!

Starting line, timing boat, and racers in front of St. Francis Yacht Club.



Remember those essays you had to write in school? Here’s What We Did This Summer (while in the Bay Area).

Cleared out lots of old, useless equipment (not even the schools want it). We found a recycler that would pick up our large stack of obsolete electronics gear. Apple 2E anyone? Dot matrix printers? Photo film processors? Dead video projector?

Collected a van full of unneeded art supplies and architectural materials (former photo props and sets) to donate to S.C.R.A.P. – a non-profit creative reuse center, materials depot, and workshop space in San Francisco. Treasures for some local art classes for sure!

Varmints of San Mateo

Painted some eaves on the building and applied new sealer to the roof. Cleaned up the encampment of a frolicking family of racoons who have been partying on our roof. Emptied about 27 file drawers/bankers boxes of studio files, filling many trash bins. Sent black and white film (processed) to recyclers, will result in a few dollars for silver recovered, and a cleaner landfill.

Built an underwater photography website for a client. Found a few things to sell on E-Bay. Provided some marketing consulting for another client. Caught up with some friends we haven’t seen in a while. Bought some boat parts.

Faugust in San Francisco Part 1

We made another trip “up north” this summer to reset our visas, cool off, and do some chores. In the meantime, the America’s Cup World Series was held on San Francisco Bay from August 22-26 and we went out to watch the action one day from aboard a friend’s cutter-rig. Yes, we took a bunch of photos, but still need to plow through them to pick out some of our favorites.

photos by Stephen DeVaughn

But first, here’s a few from our friend and fellow pro photographer Steve, who wisely photographed them from shore, which was actually a better vantage point. Take a look at Latitude 38 or the America’s Cup website, if you’re curious about the actual results.

photographs by Stephen DeVaughn


Got Wasabi?

The culinary adventures continue, it’s time for an update.

A few finny treats at the La Cruz fish market, sushi/sashimi night with Annette and Ed/SandPiper

We still haven’t been catching a LOT of fish, but we catch some, and the Dorado (aka Mahi Mahi, aka Dolphinfish) are especially lovely. We’ve caught on from some cruisers we met last year, that “fishing with pesos” works quite well too.

Tapas with Jim and Jeanne

Food grown/caught/produced in Mexico is extremely reasonable, it’s hard to go back and do some grocery shopping in the U.S., we have really been spoiled.

Smoked dorado on nice crusty bread with a schmear, Yellowfin Tuna grading in La Cruz

In addition to eating lots of Mexican cuisine, which we love, we find many other options to enjoy including some very decent Chinese (by our Bay Area standards), Spanish, barbeque, Italian, and more.

All you can eat barbeque, for about $15, dangerous!

We’ve found the quality of food in Mexico to be excellent as well. We have no concerns about food safety, we feel there are likely more problems within the U.S. due to mass production that can effect so many people when there is some form of contamination.

Five KILOS (11 pounds) of jumbo shrimp, tuna, and lobster, about $55. The fishing fleet at La Cruz.

And the chicken, there’s lots of great chicken. Roasted chickens all over the place. There are apparently a bunch of nuns cooking some up great ones in La Paz, we want to test that out soon.The meat of the fresh chicken we buy often has a yellowish cast, we’re told the Mexican chickens eat marigolds.

Chickens (and ribs) on stakes in a big charcoal pit in Santiago.

Scenes from the Sea

Here’s a collection of a few of the views that we enjoyed during our trip into the Sea of Cortez from May, June, and July.

Brenda and Ted dinghying around Ensenada Grande, Isla Partida

You can definitely choose to be around people or away from them, there are so many varied places to see and stay. As the days move deeper into the summer there are fewer boats out cruising around in the heat, so it is easy to get to know a good percentage of the boats/owners moving about the Sea.

Incredible "Expedition Yacht" Pangea and three of its tenders at Isla San Jose, as 40ft catamaran goes by

About half this time we were traveling/hanging out with our sistership/Bay Area-homeported/fellow-yacht-club-members Ted and Brenda on Firefly.

Playing with our water toys in Puerto Balandra

After we headed back south to La Paz in mid-July, Firefly headed north to revist Bahia de Los Angeles and points north. We would like to get up that way again, but decided that we would take a break from the heat this year and spend some time in California.

Full Shell and commercial fishing boats at Santo Domingo

Lots of fishing going on in the sea, mostly small boats but a few larger ones as well. A small fleet of purse seiners anchored near us for a few nights at the head of Bahia Concepcion. There seems to be a abundance of sea life, but we wonder how long it can last.

Gypsy in Bahia Concepcion, SandPiper just before heading back to Mazatlan

There was an article recently reporting that sharks have disappeared in great numbers in the sea, they are definitely an imporant part of the food chain – above and below the water.

Shark fishing boats come in near Ensenada Blanca. Fins went in one truck, the remainder in another.

We did not see the big crowd (100 or more pangas) at Santa Rosalia out squid fishing like we did last year, we did not hear what had changed from 2011.

Lounging pelicans at Marina Fonatur, Santa Rosalia

We had some nice “shore leave” time in Santa Rosalia, meeting up with Gypsy and Full Shell, and our San Francisco friend Robert/Cleo II drove down from California (with goodies for all!) on the way to his boat in La Paz.

Michelada Man Ted, Brenda and Robert, Julie and Robert at the Eiffel church in Santa Rosalia

Change in the Weather

These are a few photos from June when we were in Bahia Concepcion

(l to r) Voyager, Firefly, FullShell, 3 Catalinas in a row

It’s rare that we have seen fog on the baja side of the Sea of Cortez. As dry as it is there, this is unusual.

Thick San Francisco-style fog on June 10

While in this bay, we spent several nights a couple of nice anchorages with Firefly, Fullshell and Gypsy, and had several socializing and snacking adventures.

Lovely sunset on June 11 (Thanks Eric & Marilyn for the pix!)

The Sea of Cortez water temperature feels definitely cool to us in the wintertime (like below 80 degrees!), and it is slow to warm up in the summer. And, temperatures can vary from anchorage to anchorage. By June things were finally getting comfortable so we had a little floaty party to celebrate at Posada Concepcion anchorage.

Julie, Marilyn, Eric, Ted, Bill, Brenda's feet

Bahia Candeleros

Our dinghy in the foreground, Voyager is the sailboat at far right.

Most of the cruisers transiting the southern Sea of Cortes this summer are enjoying a stop at Bahia Candeleros (aka Ensenada Blanca), a little south of Loreto and Puerto Escondido.

This is a busy day for cruisers, hang out at the pool and enjoy cocktails. Bill is at right.

Besides being a lovely bay, there is a beautiful, luxurious hotel, Villa del Palmar, that is at least at present cruiser-friendly with Wi-Fi, a small tienda (shop), two restaurants, poolside bar service and a two-for-one happy hour.

Lovely pool area (about 5, including hot tubs) at Villa del Palmar

Furthermore, there’s a little village at the south end of the bay, Ligui, (less than a half mile from the primary anchorage, where we can dinghy in and take a short (quarter mile?) walk to a nice little market with some fresh produce, frozen meats, etc. This is really the first, best grocery shopping available on the Baja’s east coast when you head north from La Paz (the Agua Verde tienda/s can also be worth a stop albeit with a more limited selection, particularly of cold items).

The nearby town of Loreto has better shopping but typically requires a taxi/hitchhike/rental car to get there as it is about 15 miles from the Pt. Escondido boat harbor. Only on rare, benign conditions can a boat anchor directly off Loreto. If you’re visiting Pt. Escondido, definitely stop at Pedro’s tienda at the marina, he has greatly increased his shop size and inventory this year.

Marine mosaic in hotel lobby, Indy 500 on ESPN.

One day we were lucky enough to enjoy watching the Indy 500 race at one of Palmar’s restaurants. Access to live TV, and in English, is a real treat down here. We had a very nice taco lunch (even if a little more expensive than street-side vendors) and a pleasant visit with our friendly and bi-lingual server Olismar.

Hello, Sailor

Unlike many of our boating friends down here, we went almost 19 months without any boarding by the Mexican Navy. During our recent departure from La Paz, we finally got our “turn.” You’re not going to see a great photo of these guys, we weren’t sure it was even cool to ask them about being photographed, so we snuck in a few shots from a distance.

The panga (~24 ft.? open boat) that approached us (we were motoring, not sailing), put two men aboard our boat, while two others cruised around us and took photos of the boat (or appeared to). We’ve heard jokes that their guns have no ammunition, so perhaps their cameras have no film or memory cards, but we would not want to test them on the “ammo” question.

The two men who came aboard limited their visit to our cockpit. They had no interest in looking around “down below,” contrary to the experiences of many other cruisers who have even had their equipment, such as radio gear, below-decks be photographed. At least one of them brought a serious large weapon aboard with him (Bill thought it was along the lines of an AR-15 or -16, we didn’t want to be too nosy).

One the sailors spoke quite good English and conducted an interview that consisted mainly of what type of (primarily safety) equipment that we had on board, how many radios, engine type and maximum speed, liferaft, etc. The second guy made notes on a clipboard. When the process was finished (~5 minutes?) they had a short survey (in Spanish) for us to check and sign. We noted (or at least intended to) that they did their job efficiently and politely. Fortunately we had just provisioned in La Paz so we had some individual packaged cookies (bought in part for this purpose) that we gave to the guys as they departed. We’ve seen some small hints of their life “at sea” and it and their boats do not look plush by any means, the least we can do is give them a little something as thanks for watching out over us mariners (they do have a good reputation for responding to requests for assistance).

Navy guys decide to skip a visit to Firefly in Balandra.

Then, two days later while at anchor at Puerto Balandra a few miles north of La Paz (our first stop!) we were visited AGAIN. This time by a different crew (maybe they heard about the cookies from the first set of guys, but our shopping had not anticipated two visits so close together!). Another interview in the cockpit with slightly different questions, first guys asked if we had drugs or guns aboard, second set didn’t. Their English comprehension was not as good because we were unable to explain that we were just boarded two days previously (maybe it wouldn’t have mattered).

This was also a quick visit, check and sign the survey at the end. There were three other boats in the anchorage they could have boarded, but after finishing with us the guys left, maybe they had an emergency call to respond to.