Surf landings, giant shrimp, and turkey on Thanksgiving

November 23, 2014

Packed up the dinghy to have a beach afternoon yesterday but had to abort because of big breaking waves. Our last two surf landings (think California surfing waves) were very wet and the kids weren’t so keen on trying with even bigger waves. How to beach a dinghy 101: 1. ride a wave in until dinghy wheels hit the sand. 2. pole vault out of the dinghy using arms. 3. pull it up on the beach as fast as you can before the next wave hits. We can usually do the beach arrival OK but our relaunching into the surf needs a little work. Two days ago we got caught between breaking waves, and wave after wave crashed on us soaking everything. Marietta is always up for an adventure but Jack Jack hasn’t yet learned to appreciate unique experiences.

Today we will sail 30 miles to Bahia Magdalena, we hear the beaches are a bit more protected there and maybe we can practice our surf landings in more controlled conditions. Half the mahi mahi is gone, between sushi for lunch then grilled for dinner, this fam of four can seriously put away some fish. Raising anchor soon, must go prepare the fishing lines, this is one of my favorite parts of living on a boat – fishing!

Off to the beach.

Off to the beach.

Grilled mahi mahi for dinner, not bad.

Grilled mahi mahi for dinner, not bad.

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I can’t convince Ta that her “Princess shoes” are inside shoes. She wears them everywhere. I also can’t convince her that Birkenstock and Chaco are the coolest shoes made. Not sure what to do with this sweet girly girl.

November 25, 2014

We are spending a few days in Mag Bay, pretty place with lots of beaches and tidal pooling that the kids are loving. Two days ago Jack called the port captain on the radio and asked, half joking, if there were any turkeys in the village for our Thanksgiving dinner. The port captain replied that he knew where he could get us one. Yesterday he showed up at our boat, which is anchored about 8 miles from his village, with a 15 pound frozen Butterball turkey. That is one resourceful guy! We paid him for the turkey ($30) and a $10 tip for the delivery. We have encountered such kind people in Baja California.

Today I need to read up on how to cook a turkey as it will be my first time. Can’t believe I’ve made it 40 years without having to cook a turkey! I’m thankful for all the fish we are catching, but I’m also extremely thankful that we will be eating something other than fish in the near future.

Sailing down the coast of Baja California, a rugged and mountainous desert.

Sailing down the coast of Baja California, a rugged and mountainous desert.

Swimming lessons in a warm tidal pool.

Swimming lessons in a warm tidal pool.

 Turkey delivery by the port captain. Score! — in Bahía Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.


Turkey delivery by the port captain. Score! — in Bahía Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

November 28, 2014

We had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday. Seemed a little odd listening to “Let it Snow” while sweating in 90 degree weather. I’m living vicariously through all your snow pics on Facebook, keep’em coming! The turkey squeeeeezed into our little boat-sized oven with about an inch to spare on the top, whew. Early this morning the shrimp fishermen swung by to see if we would like to buy their catch of the morning, HUGE prawns. We bought four pounds for $15. We have a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers and now prawns? Anyone free to fly down and help us eat all this food?

 Our Baja Butterball turkey. — in Bahía Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.


Our Baja Butterball turkey. — in Bahía Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

 Very nice fisherman selling us some of their morning catch. They were thirsty and had no water, we gave them a gallon of fresh water and they drank about half of it on the spot. — in Bahía Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.


Very nice fisherman selling us some of their morning catch. They were thirsty and had no water, we gave them a gallon of fresh water and they drank about half of it on the spot. — in Bahía Magdalena, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

 I turn my back on the kids and the prawns for about a minute and look back and they are using the prawns like puppets, making them talk to each other.


I turn my back on the kids and the prawns for about a minute and look back and they are using the prawns like puppets, making them talk to each other.

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Whales and lobsters and mahi mahi

November 19, 2014

Sailed 55 bumpy miles yesterday, the boat handled beautifully, I love this boat. The whales are currently migrating south so we spent the day trying to figure out what kind of whales we saw blowing and surfacing. Jack wanted to get closer so he could get a good view while I wanted to steer clear of the huge mammals lest they decide to get playful with our boat. Marietta wanted to share the latest shells and sea glass she found at the beach, she is organizing them to do an art project now. We had another wonderful gift from kind local fisherman, they brought us 7, yes seven, lobsters and wouldn’t accept anything for them. Marietta ate a whole lobster by herself and Jack Jack wasn’t far behind. Future suitors beware: these little guys are developing expensive tastes.

Not a bad place to watch the sun go down, eh?

Not a bad place to watch the sun go down, eh?

Organizing our growing collection of treasures found at the beach.

Organizing our growing collection of treasures found at the beach.

Free lobster!

Lobster tastes even better when it’s free!

November 21, 2014

Raising anchor in t-15 minutes to leave the little village of Punta Abreojos. Their claim to fame is to have the highest concentration of nesting ospreys in North America. Quite a cacophony of sounds floating through the breezes. We attempted to find fresh vegetables but were largely unsuccessful except for some nice looking avocados. It’s been two weeks since I went to the supermarket and our fresh veggies are looking a bit sub par. This is good practice for our jump into the Pacific in a little over a year, I’ve heard it’s difficult to find fresh foods. In the afternoon the kids made treasure maps then we went to the beach to try and find their buried treasures. We have been doing a lot of route planning so the kids are interested in learning to use maps. Today we sail 130 miles to Bahia Magdalena or “Mag Bay’, we plan to arrive tomorrow morning. Internet very slow here, could only get one pic to upload, hopefully will have better internet in Mag Bay.

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November 22, 2014

Just arrived in Bahia Santa Maria after a 145 mile sail. The highlight was definitely the mahi mahi we caught yesterday, looking forward to a hearty lunch. The seas were calm and the kids did various art projects, more treasure maps, and while Jack Jack was napping Marietta did a self portrait out of the shells and sea glass she found a few days ago. I was impressed, she did it on her own then called me over to show me. I see a nap in my near future as I did my normal 12a-3a watch. I accomplished reading a whole cookbook on my device, “The Soupmakers Kitchen”. Gotta find ways to use all the seafood that is coming our way. Never thought of making fish soup with the heads. OK, off to tidy up the boat, it’s a bit of a mess after the sail. Cheers!

Lunch.

Lunch.

Treasure maps.

Treasure maps.

Ta's self portrait.

Ta’s self portrait.

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Laundry day, dinghy on wheels, fish from sea to sushi

November 15, 2014

Arrived in Turtle Bay yesterday afternoon after a 31 hour sail, I didn’t feed the fish, not even once!! What do we do for 31 hours on the high seas? Well, the kids made a fort under the table and watched movies, they felt fine the whole time. Jack and I took turns doing watches, I did 7p-10p then 1a-4a, Jack did 10p-1a then 4a-7a. I can’t say that sailing at night in tossing seas is my choice activity, but when we arrive at a new place to explore, it all seems worth it. Did a weeks worth of laundry on arrival, the gypsy boat is here! Today brings beach combing as we have heard the beaches here are full of shells.

Jack Jack and Mama. With nothing to hit and no land in sight, one can relax a bit at the helm.

Jack Jack and Mama. With nothing to hit and no land in sight, one can relax a bit at the helm.

Laundry day.

Laundry day.

Marietta's fort.

Marietta’s fort.

November 16, 2014

Anchor raised, motoring out of Turtle Bay harbor right now. Sailing 50 miles south to Bahia Asuncion. Got to use our new dinghy wheels for the first time yesterday to pull our dinghy onto the beach, worked great, we were so pleased. Kids found lots of neat shells and have now started a shell collection. Guess the shell collection beats the rock collection they started when we were sailing the East Coast of the US. Signing off for now, better send this before I lose internet signal. Cheers!

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Not a bad shell collection for the first day!

Not a bad shell collection for the first day!

November 18, 2014

Successful fishing day yesterday, two Black fin tuna. Didn’t weigh before filleting but we ended up with 13.5 pounds of sashimi. Jack Jack absolutely loved the sushi, wasabi and all, and ate so much I had to suggest he take a break from eating lest he overdo it. I usually don’t make a separate meal but Marietta requested her fish cooked. She ate about a pound of tuna sauteed in olive oil. It was a great sail yesterday, we had the “fair winds and following seas” that all sailors wish upon each other. Our goal is to arrive in Cabo San Lucas, the southernmost point in Baja California, for Thanksgiving. I told Jack I would buy a big chicken and we’ll pretend it’s a turkey. I do have the cranberry sauce and pumpkin to make a pie. The holidays are just around the bend!

The first of the two tuna that hit our lines at the same time.

The first of the two tuna that hit our lines at the same time.

Yaaaaaaa - thanks God for the fish!

Yaaaaaaa – thanks God for the fish!

Dinner is served! Almost didn't get the pic b/c Jack Jack started crying when I told him I wanted a pic before we ate.

Dinner is served! Almost didn’t get the pic b/c Jack Jack started crying when I told him I wanted a pic before we ate.

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Biology lessons, bartering for lobster, boatbrewing

Nicole’s editor (aka sister) here. As most of you know, the Let it Be crew have been sailing down the pacific coast of Baja California. Unfortunately they’ve had spotty Internet so Nicole has only been able to post of their adventures here and there on Facebook. They’ve had some great times and I wanted to make sure everyone who reads this blog gets to hear the stories too! So with her permission, I’m posting some of her content from Facebook here. Since some of it is from several weeks back, I’ll be dating everything so you know when it actually happened. Enjoy!

November 10, 2014
Sailing down the Pacific Baja California coast. Caught a couple nice yellowtail and the kids loved the biology lesson. Sushi the first night, fish tacos the second night, probably fish curry tonite. Will have to start reading more cookbooks. Thanks to my nephew Noah for the lures that provided dinner!

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Not a bad backdrop for two smiling kiddos.

Checking out Papa's catch!

Checking out Papa’s catch.

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Putting our spinnaker sail to good use.

November 11, 2014
Two kind Mexican fisherman came to our boat this morning to trade. This is how it went: three nice sized lobsters for two Trader Joes juice boxes, four granola bars and a bit of cooked elk sausage I happened to have in the fridge. Both sides were very pleased with the outcome. Guess what’s for dinner tonight…

The kind fishermen wanting to trade the lobster they caught for some snacks.

The kind fishermen wanting to trade the lobster they caught for some snacks.

So happy with our lobsters!

So happy with our lobsters!

Jack Jack and Ta babysitting the lobsters.

Jack Jack and Ta babysitting our dinner.

November 12, 2014
This morning started off cloudy and chilly, decided to brew me some brew – an Imperial Red IPA. Jack spent the morning getting my sixth anniversary present set up, a wort chiller! He is a romantic, but glad he is practical as well. He rigged the wort chiller with a small bilge pump that we dropped into the ocean, cooled my wort in 12 minutes flat, score! This afternoon the sun came out and we went ashore to play in the sand dunes with the kids, they loved it and burned some serious energy. Tomorrow is a two-day passage down the coast of Baja California to Turtle Bay.

Is it called boatbrewing when you homebrew on a boat?

Is it called boatbrewing when you homebrew on a boat?

Jack's marvelous wort chiller rig.

Jack’s marvelous wort chiller rig.

Wort, with LOTS of hops!

Wort, with LOTS of hops!

Stay tuned for more re-postings!

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Cat Calls and Summer Squalls, Part III

Part III

Cap’n Jack here…
I last left you in Newport harbor where we spotted the Fontaine Pajot (FP) Mahe catamaran as we dinghied back to the Kitty Hawk. The story continues.
We became friends with Mike Cote and his wife as they showed us their Mahe 36. Mark was very well known on the multihull forums and respected for being very knowledgeable, we later found out. As it turns out, he was a great resource with whom to discuss the technical and seaworthiness issues about cats that plagued me. It helped me that he is an engineer also; we therefore shared the way we look at things and he spoke about things in a way I could relate to. Of course we were impressed by the design and the layout. As the tour went on, my many questions were answered. As my objections were being dispelled, I noticed the gloom begin to lift from Nicole and a glimmer hope as to the possibilities began to break through the clouds. At that moment the cat calls became as a purring. Like that comforting sound of a kitten as it warms up to you. Teeming with excitement, Nicole got all giddy on the ride back Purring Kittento our boat. She was all smiles and was quite chatty, carrying on about the possibilities, but was mostly just rejoicing and thankful that I “might” be willing to break the bond which had me firmly tied to the Kitty Hawk. At that point I felt I had made a mistake in taking her to tour that boat. The kitten, to me, was not purring, instead it was a like roaring lion, something to be feared and a danger to be reckoned with. I Roaring Lion 2rubbed my scruffy chin nervously wondering what I had gotten myself into. My mind drifted back to my previous life, remembering when I decided to stop buy a farm to check out some Labrador puppies they were advertizing. As it turned out they were asking way too much money for them, but I made the mistake of bringing my older set of kids along. They had recently lost their chocolate lab Sophie due to poisoning and they got all emotional about these chubby chocolate colored pups.  Of course they had to have one. Guess what happened next? Dad forked out the big bucks. I had never in my life paid for a dog. I was now reliving that mistake. I had opened Pandora’s Box and there was no turning back. I my mind I kept chanting the mantra, “Happy wife, happy life” over and over again, while inside I was freaking out about more than just paying for it.

What do you think honey?

What do you think honey?

Really? I LOVE it!

Really? I LOVE it!

"You're kidding, right?"

“You’re kidding, right?”

"How could I say no?"

“How could I say no?”

Catamarans are expensive and our boat even at top dollar would barely cover half the cost of the cats we were looking at, albeit, five year-olds coming out of the charter fleet, fairly bare and a little beat up. Nicole chimed in, “If we sell the house in Honduras then we can afford it. We plan to live on a boat for at least 10 years,  our kids will be able to enjoy growing up in it? . A catamaran will give them a lot of space to run around and I can watch them bounce on the trampoline while I’m busy in the galley instead of stressing down below in the galley of the Kitty Hawk wondering what danger they risk on deck”.

Mama’s view from the galley.

Then a funny thing happened. We came across a blog from a couple who had circumnavigated on an Orana 44, Isle De Grace, a serious accomplishment and a credit in favor of this boat and her crew of course. I read their entire blog to learn more about these boats and what setbacks may be lurking behind the scenes. Amazingly enough, as far as the usual setbacks that all cruising boats experience from time to time, this boat had nothing unusual. I contacted the owners and having followed the link to our blog, they then contacted us and invited us to visit them at the Magothy River near Annapolis where they lived. We had planned

Kitty Hawk Tied to the Orana 44 in the Magothy River

Kitty Hawk tied to the Orana 44 in the Magothy River

to have a closer look and ask many questions about long term voyaging, storms and storm tactics, technical issues etc. Then one day an Orana named Joia came into the anchorage. Curiously enough they circled our boat and then decided to anchor next to us. Imagine that! Of course we had to have a look at the Orana and went over to say hello. There were two families cruising on her for the summer and we remarked how uncrowded the boat seemed with all of us and all of them aboard. After a tour of the cat and a bottle of wine shared, we were hooked. Marietta then began asking me every day, “Papa, are you going to buy me a boat with a twampoline?” Later that summer, when we arrive in New Rochelle, NY, Captain Jamie invited us to go for a sail on Joia. We flew the Parasailor spinnaker on a downwind run and then tacked back upwind. I was surprisedParasailor by her sailing ability. Certainly my boat could not point that high nor sail that fast on those points of sail. We were really hooked now, but we had to sell our boat and the house first and that would not be an easy thing. Somehow I felt secure in the thought that if this was not meant to be then one thing or another would make it impossible for us to make the switch from a monohull and at that point I could chalk it up to fate (therefore I would not be the one to blame for raining on her parade) we would have to resign ourselves to the good blessed boat we had and continue as we were. The good thing is that Nicole was cool with that, but she was full of faith that she would one day have her cat. However, we both agreed that we would not stop cruising if it a cat was not in our cards.
At night the cat calls kept us wake. I awoke at about 3:00 am one morning only to find Nicole fully awake and both of us thinking about catamarans. We could not stop thinking of the possibilities. I could not stop thinking of the drawbacks of cats. The Kitty Hawk was like a part of me. Breaking that bond would be like cutting my arm off. Could I do it? Would I do it? Could I dash all of Nicole’s hopes and now dreams? This was one summer squall that messed up my head and became a maelstrom in my heart.

Stay tuned for the rivetting end to this tale, part IV, next…

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Tomorrow is Cast-Off … Sea of Cortez, Here We Come!

I’d like to start with a bit about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, one of our favorite weeks of the year.  With 550 hot air balloons this October, the sky was full of wonder and the city full of smiles.

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We crewed with the cactus balloon, it’s HUGE!

What a neat week!  My parents drove in from Marion, IL and my sister flew from DC to meet up.  We again crewed with the Nilz Family balloon team and Jack and my dad even got to fly.

Back row:  JJack, my sister Megan, my Momma and Dad.  Front row:  Jack Jack, Nicole, Marietta.

Back row: Jack, my sister Megan, my Mom and Dad. Front row: Jack Jack, Nicole, Marietta.

Marietta working the early morning balloon set-up.

Marietta working the early morning balloon set-up.

I had an especially fun time this year as the kids are now old enough to wake up at 4am to head to the field and be part of the team, which meant that I got to be part of the team.  They loved setting up the balloons, being on the chase team, then packing the balloons away.  After the morning work is done the tailgate party starts.  If we ever tire of sailing, I could see having a family balloon.  I always wanted to get my pilots license and Jack already has his.  We would be a good team.

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Unpacking and laying balloon out flat on ground.

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Inflating balloon, first with huge fans then with hot air.

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And … lift-off.

Marietta and Jack Jack

Marietta and Jack Jack

Our good friend Captain Ron Sheridan met us there for the week, great to spend time with him and reminisce of our sailing adventures together in Panama.

Our good friend Ron Sheridan was a kid magnet.

Captain Ron Sheridan was a kid magnet.

And now for current news … WE’RE OFF!  Tomorrow morning we plan to start our southerly migration toward Cabo San Lucas then up into the Sea of Cortez.  I have some last minute things to get at the supermarket and then will rig the fishing lines.  We are hearing stories of the big tuna and Mahi Mahi that sailors are catching along our route south, hoping for some sashimi soon!  Please pray for smooth sailing and that the little guys (and the mama) don’t feed the fish.  Will update blog when we have internet again.  So excited to be on the move!

A bit of play amidst all the preparations.  Cool new tube that we pull behind the dinghy.

A bit of play amidst all the preparations, enjoying our new tube that we pull behind the dinghy. And there is our beautiful “Let it Be” in the background.

And a few more neat shots …

Yes, that is Darth Vador and Yoda flying together.

Yes, that is Darth Vader and Yoda flying together.

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Cat Calls and Summer Squalls (Part II)

Part II

Cap’n Jack here…

It was now spring 2013 and we were planning to cruise up to and spend the hurricane season in New England. We were looking forward to the cooler weather remembering the sweltering summers spent in the Chesapeake Bay and Washington D.C. area the last couple of years. In preparation for crossing oceans

Double Head Sails

Double Head Sails

downwind we had rigged a second roller furled head sail on a wire and carried two spinnaker poles so that we could sail downwind effectively. That spring we had also bought an asymmetrical spinnaker to complement our light-air sailing strategy to keep the boat moving in all conditions.

New asymmetrical spinnaker sail

New asymmetrical spinnaker sail

We were pleased to have had to opportunity to learn how to use it and then fly it on our longer passages up the coast. It made a world of difference in family cruising comfort sailing at a good speed in 10 to 12 knots of wind as opposed to waiting for 15 to 20 knots that such a heavy boat likes. On our northward migration, Jack Benjamin turned one the day we reached Elizabeth City, NC, coincidentally the same place where Marietta Grace had her first birthday in October 2012 as we headed south that year.
We made it to Block Island under spinnaker sail from Cape May, NJ returning to the Kitty Hawk’s hailing port after ten years and then settled into Newport Harbor for the summer. That summer was a chilly one in New England and the kids ended being cooped up in the main salon for many a chilly morning in the fog.

Foggy Newport

Foggy Newport

Pretty soon it seemed like cabin fever was setting in, as the mysterious cat calls got louder in the background. The kids, more active now as they got older required more exercise and more space to move about.

The deckhands are ready to go to the library.

The “Little Guys” peeking into the galley.

They began a routine of running back and forth the aisle-way from the main salon to the front cabin. It reminded me of those caged tigers you see in the zoo pacing back and forth in their cage.

Chomping at the Gate

Chomping at the Gate

When the drizzle quit they were quick to go on deck for a romp but someone had to go on deck with them because they could not be seen from the main salon and even though we had netting all around, those little climbers could easily fall overboard.  Notice them on top of the bicycle below; well above the life-line.  They do require constant attention and supervision.  One cruiser once said, “The greatest thing about cruising is that we get to be with our kids all the time.  The worst part of cruising is that we rarely have any time away from our kids. ”  We find this to be so true.

Play time

Play time on deck

The cat calls then grew louder. One day Mama, Nicole, was in tears all of a sudden. Even though it’s nice to have a washing machine on board (a rare luxury on a sailboat) with diapers hanging

Diapers drying in the main salon on wet days

Diapers drying in the main salon on wet days

everywhere in the main salon, two booster chairs, two car seats the kids doing their tiger pacing routine among all the toys strewn about and the dreary weather keeping us all inside and cold made those inaudible cat calls even louder.

Another plus fro Newport; Fresh Lobstah

Another plus fro Newport;
Fresh Lobstah

On the passage up we visited our friends Jim and Ofa Erb and they had just bought an Amel Mango 52’ on the Chesapeake Bay which got us talking about the possibility of a bigger boat, but we were reluctant to make a change for the reasons explained before. We were both in agreement about not changing horses in midstream; however hysteria is a powerful motivator. In 2012, when we were in The Bahamas, we came across a family sailing in a catamaran. We envied their boat, but we felt catamarans were too expensive but more importantly I was an ardent monohull sailor with the “perfect” boat, of course, so we could admire those roomy “condos on the water” but that’s as far as it went. That morning things would begin to change.
One afternoon in Newport a really nice looking catamaran anchored next to us and it got us talking about the niceties of its design. It was a Fontaine Pajot Orana 44 we later found out.

Orana 44

Orana 44

Even then we were oblivious of the cats calling because that territory was in fact taboo. A good friend of mine once told me his secrete for happiness. He used to say, “Happy wife happy life.” With Nicole in tears that morning I decided to stay behind at the Maritime Center and do some research while she, the kids and tia (auntie) Megan went for groceries. Oh, I had forgotten to mention, that during that time Megan was a guest on board and although we love her dearly, is always welcome and is always great help and joy to have around, none the less, she was one more body with which to do the famous boat dance. (The boat dance is similar to a Dosey Doe in Square Dancing when one party has to move out of the way to let the other pass.) That day I began to do some research on catamarans. I wanted to find the maker of that one we had seen in the anchorage the other day. As I did my research not only did I come up with the manufacturer and model but also learned much about modern cruising catamaran design and about the myths (myths that most monohull sailors hang their hats on) perpetuated against their safety and seaworthiness. The more I read the more I liked the design philosophy behind the Fontaine

Orana 44 Layout

Orana 44 Layout

Pajot (FP) catamarans. In fact, what I noted is that it was very similar to the design philosophy that went into the CSY’s. The Orana 44 looked like it might fit the bill.

Orana 44 Layout Below

Orana 44 Layout Below

Philosophically I was impressed, but there were still many objections firmly rooted in me.

Later, as we dinghied back to the anchorage there was an FP anchored behind us. From a distance I remarked to Nicole, “Look, there is an FP cat.” She was astounded that I would recognize a cat and the maker from such a distance. She was even more amazed

Loaded Dinghy Megan and Nicole yet to board.

Loaded Dinghy
Megan and Nicole yet to board.

when I told her I had spent all morning researching cats and that I was partial to the FP’s. Having gazed at pictures of the many makes and models all morning long I was sure it was an FP we were looking at. As we passed by it, ever so slowly, looking at her intently, the owner came out and greeted us and then invited us on board.

With three adults two kids and our bikes and kid gear in the dinghy we agreed to come by later while Megan looked after the little ones. And so, the cat calls grew louder and louder.
Stay tuned for Part III…..

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Cat Calls and Summer Squalls

Part I

Captain Jack here…
It’s been noted on our blog before or should I say Nicole, my wife wrote before, that our CSY 44 cutter rigged sloop Kitty Hawk, was the perfect size boat for a family of four. Or so we thought then. Please note the following quote:
Aussie says: (Here’s the link: https://ohtheplaceswevebeen.com/about/comment-page-1/#comment-2 )
May 17, 2012 at 12:27 am
what is the boat? – ketch – single pole – made by? – have a 45 foot french built ketch
Reply
• Oh, the Places We’ve Been! says:
May 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm
Hi there, thanks for reading our blog. Our boat is a 44 foot CSY sailboat, 1 mast. Great size for a family of 4!
There, the record has been duly noted. So what happened? Why are we cruising around in a catamaran? Let me explain. First of all, that was just after Jack Benjamin was born. We had not yet gone cruising with an infant and a toddler when she wrote that. In fact, we had not left the dock since the baby was born and would not do so for another four months, when it became time to head south to Florida and The Bahamas for the winter. That year we made it to Melbourne, Florida, attended the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) Gam and then decided to stay there for the winter. Nicole was not having an easy go of it with two babies in diapers and was not happy at the thought of continuing to The Bahamas. On her birthday, while she took the kids for a stroller ride on shore, I remembered a dock where some friends on another CSY had tied up the previous year and saw that it was available. I promptly went over there and met Joan Olszewski and arranged to stay at her dock for the winter.  photo(2)Nicole was pleasantly surprised and thanked me that I had given up the plans to sail to the Bahamas that year. We have always agreed that we would do this as long as it was still fun. When it is no longer fun, we sell the boat and move on. I think that is when we began to experience the “cat calls” even though we didn’t quite know what it was it yet.

Before I go on, I want to say that we loved our time with Joan, a former cruiser herself.  We all grew very fond of her and her easy going style, especially Marietta who loved to go over for a visit to water her plants, so and we adopted her as a surrogate grandmother.  We will always love her and hope she might join us on board our new boat one day.  Maybe for her third Pacific crossing.

As many folks out there know already, there is a great debate as to what constitutes the best cruising boat and the camps are especially divided when it comes to monohulls and multihulls. Some folks are pretty adamant about defending their choices. I have found most surveys on the matter give inconclusive results because most boat owners love their boats and think theirs is the best, and that is as you might expect. Since there are many factors to consider in making that sort of assessment and since different skippers weigh them or prioritize them differently, the jury is still out on that one. However, considering all the specifics of boats, I have never seen such passionate disparity as there is in the Catamaran vs. Monohull debate.
While moored in Ensenada, Baja California, working on several projects on Let it Be, our Bahia 46 catamaran, we happened to be there for the finish of the world renown Newport to Ensenada Race. Wow! Now that I have mentioned “race”, I can already feel the monohull camp getting uneasy.

Orion

Orion

To that I’ll say, COOL IT! I’m not here to add to the ongoing debate, although, one cannot ignore that the first boats to come in were Orion and Mighty Merloe, two huge and very fast multihulls, the first, of America’s Cup fame.  However fast, these boats can hardly be considered cruising boats.  After the race, while conversing with the skipper of catamaran “Tomahawk”, being very proud of

Mighty Merloe

Mighty Merloe

his homebuilt boat and her performance in the race, he said, “A monohull is only half a boat.” There, that should incense the monohull camp, but hey, sorry, I did not say it, that is one man’s opinion.
Now I will say something in favor of the Monohull camp.

After working on the Kitty Hawk and sailing her for over ten years, all the while preparing her for a circumnavigation, or better said, to sail anywhere about the world (except the bitterrrr cold places), we got to the place where we felt she was pretty much ready. She is a stout well founded boat with a heavy built hull, a stable cruising platform in big seas. With the engine replaced, the rig refurbished, the fridge and freezer rebuilt, with equipment and systems to make her safe and the creature comforts to make her a nice home, we were finally glad to be basically done with projects and happy and thankful for a nice home.

Kitty Hawk the day she sold.

Kitty Hawk the day she sold.

Bow Roller

Pivoting Bow Roller

With a cutaway keel and a skeg-hung rudder, she was more maneuverable than a full keel boat and still had a well supported rudder. I would always say, “I’ll never go to sea with a bolted-on keel or a spade rudder.” At 22 tons, fully loaded with 400 gallons of water and 100 gallons of fuel I was happy with my hefty “coral cruncher”. Coral cruncher? Yes, I once met a guy who salvaged a CSY off a reef days after it was abandoned by a couple who had run her hard aground during a charter. He pulled it off the reef and then sailed the boat from Mexico up to Florida. She was heavily scarred, but not holed.
Essentially, with a cutter rig and a self-tending staysail, a bow roller pivot to handle our Delta 88 anchor and a powerful windlass to handle our G4 all-chain rode, I felt I would never need or want another boat. A bigger boat would be harder to single hand; it would mean bigger everything, a bigger rig, more expensive to maintain, deeper draft, making it harder to reach some of our favorite places. After sailing her successfully for over 20.000 nautical miles through many a tropical squall including getting caught by Tropical Storm Gama who back tracked down on top of us while near the Bay Islands of Honduras, with winds of 55 knots gusting to 65 and 25 foot seas, feeling safe and in control with three reefs in the main and one in the staysail, why would I ever want another boat? After investing so much blood, sweat and tears into this boat, why would I ever want to begin the process of preparing another boat for the task. I am ready to go, the boat is ready to go, so let’s go. There a places to go, things to do, people to meet, let’s go, let’s go! “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!”

“Hold your horses! captain, you know too well we’ve got to grow the crew”,  Nicole kindly reminds me.

…Stay tuned for Part II!

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Land Cruising

We recently made a somewhat unplanned trip to Southern IL for the passing of my grandmother, Daphne Morgan. She was 94, lived a long and exemplary life and is someone I always strive to be like in her love for people.  So good to see family I hadn’t seen for a while and let Marietta and Jack Jack play with all the cousins.

Grandma Morgan and Jack Jack, Christmas 2013

Grandma Morgan and Jack Jack, Christmas 2013

We bought one-way tickets to Illinois as we didn’t know how long we would need to stay.  This was our first time as a 4-ticket family, no more kid on the lap for us.

Long day of travel and airports

Long day of travel and airports

In shopping for plane tickets back to Mexico and finding them very expensive, I started thinking about driving our car back. I did a few quick calculations of gas cost for the trip and then thought about the tent we had planned to buy for our National Parks camping trip next summer. Why not buy the tent now and camp on our way back to Mexico? Jack thought it was a great idea and we found the tent we’d been dreaming of at REI. After a dry run in my parents backyard with the cousins, we deemed ourselves ready to teach the kids our well-honed camping skills.

Night of camping with cousins

Night of camping with cousins in Grandma and Grandpa Tates backyard

They loved it!  So, we are all set up for a winter of sailing in the Sea of Cortez then a summer of camping next summer.

They learned a new word, "shuck" and for some reason found it funny.  They ran around saying "shuck" the rest of the evening.

They learned a new word, “shuck” and for some reason found it funny.  It became the word of the evening.

In case you have heard of Hurricane Odile that is bearing down on Cabo San Lucas, we are fine.  Below is the projected path.  We are located in Ensenada which lies just outside where the biggest circle meets the western coast of Baja California.

Hurricane Odile predicted track

Hurricane Odile predicted track

Below are some misc pics of the cousins we met up with on our trip to IL.

Back row: Noah Tate, Grandpa and Grandma Tate, Tia Megan-the-coolest, Front row:  Marietta and Nicole

Back row: Cousin Noah Tate, Grandpa and Grandma Tate, Tia Megan-the-coolest, Front row: Marietta and Nicole

Can't believe Hungry Hippos is still a popular kids game.  Love it!

Can’t believe Hungry Hippos is still a popular kids game. Love it!  With cousins Ella and Jack Tate

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Cousin Griffin Tate taking Jack Jack for a spin in his new Jeep

Bedtime story read by Grandma Tate with cousins Ashley and Claire Morgan.

Bedtime story read by Grandma Tate with cousins Ashley and Claire Binder.

Good times with the cool cousins in Phoenix, Carson & Jackson Chapman.

Good times with the cool cousins in Phoenix, Carson & Jackson Chapman.

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Ensenada, Baja California: Summer of projects

There’s a cliche saying among sailors that “cruising is doing boat work in exotic places”, um … yep.  We often remember a location by the specific projects we did there.  We’ve had a busy and fun few months in Ensenada Mexico.  I’ll break it down by family member as to what we’ve been doing:

The desert of Baja California

The desert of Baja California

 

Jack, once again, has been the Jack of all trades. I can’t begin to list all the boat projects he has done but a few of the larger ones are:  building a 50 gallon/hour water maker from scratch, building a fiberglass top for our cockpit, converted the forward port head into a laundry room  and a new washing machine installed.  He has serviced both our Yanmar diesels, serviced and rebuilt the lower unit of our 20 hp. outboard, painted the engine rooms, and is in the process of revamping our solar array. Projects in the wings include finalizing the SSB radio and Pactor modem installation, installing our long distance wifi antenna and router, etc., etc.

Tuna: soon to  be sushi

Tuna: soon to be sushi

 

Sushi, compliments of  above tuna

Sushi, compliments of above tuna

 

"Let It Be Brewery", previously the port hall closet

“Let It Be Brewery”, previously the port hall closet

Nicole:  I’ve been raising happy healthy kids who have an insatiable desire to learn, this occupies most of my time.  I’ve been working on provisioning the boat with all the food, sunscreen, clothes, etc., that we will need for our upcoming adventure.  It’s no small amount of planning to figure out what sizes the kids will wear in a year and beyond and what the seasons will be like wherever we end up.  I’m having a lot of fun with my beer brewing and am currently stocking the boat with supplies so we won’t run out anytime soon.  I also started brewing kombucha, thanks to my friend April, and love it!  If you like drinking pickle juice, kombucha is for you! It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.

 

 

Marietta's school picture

Marietta’s school picture

Marietta attended Greenhands College preschool for 3 months and loved it.  Her Spanish improved dramatically and we made some good friends through the school.  She is almost 4 years old, loves all things girly and is well into her “Princess” phase and already has her first pair of heels.  She compliments me on the rare occasion I wear a dress and tells me how pretty I look.  As much as I try to make her into a Chaco and board shorts girl, she wears dresses most days and tries to beat the boys in races while wearing her white pumps.

 

"Jack Jack", San Felipe, Baja California

“Jack Jack”, San Felipe, Baja California

Jack B, aka, “Jack Jack” is about the same size as Marietta and many people ask if they are twins.  He is 2.5 years old and can eat a whole hamburger by himself.  He is feisty as I’ve ever seen a kid and gets a fat lip a few times a week from falling after various stunt attempts with his Razor scooter.

Our plan is to stay based here in Ensenada Mexico until the end of hurricane season (end of October) and sail to the Sea of Cortez beginning of November.

This is just a quick update, more to come very soon.  I have a few blog ideas, including the highly solicited “virtual boat tour”.

All dressed up for 4th of July

All dressed up for 4th of July

 

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Watching the “Baja 500” off road race. Ensenada, Baja California

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