Sunday, May 31, 2015

Top 10 "Must Have" list

There are certain items we find ourselves using everyday that we couldn't imagine not having. We hope you find this list useful in the event you are preparing for your own cruising adventure. In no particular order here are our TOP 10 Must Haves:

NALGENE WATER BOTTLES. Every day and especially on passages we use our water bottles. Only in a few places have we found that the water being served isn't purified and thankfully we've brought our own. On long passages it can be hard to ensure that everyone is drinking enough water. With everyone having their own bottle, I ask the girls to drink at least one bottle worth of water a day to guarantee that no one gets dehydrated.

SUNSCREEN. Sun up to sun down we are slathered in sunscreen. We purchased our gallon sized bottle of sunscreen off Amazon. Do NOT buy expired sunscreen as it's worthless. Make sure all of your sunscreen contains at least 5% Zinc Oxide. The stuff with zinc in it is harder to rub in, but it works better and stays on longer.

120 GB IPOD.  Why, oh why did Apple quit making an Ipod that holds this much music? We had to search Ebay for ours. A day without music on the Terrapin? Not a chance!

3 GALLON CANVAS BUCKET. Seems so simple, a canvas bucket. We use our bucket daily to wash off out our cockpit and clean up the decks. When we catch fish while trolling and especially since Phil started spearfishing, he cleans fish almost every day off the back of the boat and we use the canvas bucket to splash off cutting board and clean up the back deck.

BOAT GALLEY COOKBOOK. Ever hear of the girl who was so culinary challenged she could screw up a bowl of cereal? That's me.  Life with a decommissioned freezer (that's a whole other blog post) and without a microwave (we haven't missed it once) has forced me to learn to cook. Over the past few months I've somewhat impressed my family and myself with some of the meals I can now make. According to Phil, my banana bread is out of this world! Best part of this cookbook are the conversion charts it offers which is especially handy as it can be tough when everything you buy at the store is in a metric measurement and your recipe isn't. This book  will also give you substitute ideas for almost everything. 

SSB MODEM. Our single sideband (SSB) radio is connected to a modem that allows us to send and receive text emails from anywhere. This allows us to keep in touch with family and other cruisers. Most importantly, we can also download weather forecasts from anywhere on the planet.

KETTLE AND FRENCH PRESS. My brother gave us a large backpacking french press that's wrapped in a neoprene sleeve. The neoprene sleeve keeps our coffee warm for at least 3-4 hours, which is huge on a passage, especially in the middle of the night.

ZIP-TIES. Move over duct tape there's a new Sheriff in town! Need to attach your GoPro to the side of your boat for a time lapse sunrise photo session? Grab zip-ties. Your snorkel clasp broke off your mask? Sounds like a job for zip-ties. It's tough to look around our boat and not see a zip-tie hard at work. 

PARACHUTE CORD. We use parachute cord to add extra line while trolling, create a line to dry wet clothes,  as bow lines for our kayaks, etc. Like zipties you can never have enough parachute cord.

WATERPROOF BACKPACK. How we ever left on this adventure without a waterproof backpack is beyond me. We did have a large drybag, but not a full on backpack. Strolling through Tenecatita we saw a waterproof backpack for sale. A lady had random things like kitchen supplies, ladies bras and one waterproof backpack thrown on a table for sale. Not sure how much these are in the States but we gladly paid $35 for ours. We use our Over Board backpack almost every day. 

RECHARGABLE BATTERIES.  Everything uses batteries. Any time the engine is on we're charging up batteries of all size. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Caleta San Juanico to Bahia Concepcion

We left Isla Coranados to head to Caleta San Juanico, a beautiful bay about 20 miles north with multiple islets and amazing hiking and snorkeling.

We dropped the anchor right between two of the islets and off of a beautiful white sand beach. 

The geology in this area was amazing.  There were striated layers of sandstone encrusted with old shells and fossils.

Part of the bay was separated by a sandstone bridge that made for some fun exploring and hiking.

This islet had a huge reef all around it which made for some fantastic snorkeling.

The water was so shallow, the girls could literally walk all the way out to the islet.  They had to shuffle their feet the whole way since this bay was chock-full of stingrays!

Emma took an opportunity to get back to her gymnastic roots.

We took some nice hikes from the beach and saw some very cool rock formations and caves.

A highlight of this area was the "Cruiser's Shrine" where cruisers leave mementos with their boat name and date.  We chose a giant oyster shell to decorate with our boat name and logo.

People left all kinds of things here from carved wood pieces to dirty skivvies (ewwww).

s/v Terrapin leaves her mark!

Our next stop was only 8 miles north of Caleta San Juanico in a smaller bay protected by the towering rock of Punta Pulpito. The dark spot in the center of the rock is a giant vein of obsidian glass. Obsidian forms when lava cools so fast that it cannot crystallize and instead turns to a black glass.

We hiked (and scrambled) over to the obsidian vein to check out the cool geology.

The obsidian was mixed with granite and slate and made some very cool patterns in the side of the clifffs.

Up close, you can see that the glass is actually a dark brown and quite translucent.

Jessica found some huge chunks of pure obsidian.

Later that day we indulged in one of our favorite activities: the happy hour sunset cruise!

Around the outside of Punta Pulpito, there were some really cool sea caves that you could probably kayak into if you were brave enough.

The next day, we headed further north to the mouth of Bahia Concepcion. This was one of our best sailing days yet. We were on a broad reach for most of the 38 mile trip doing close to 6 knots (which is fast for us)!

We dropped the hook just inside the bay at Bahia Santo Domingo and were greeted with one of the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen.

Looking west across the Baja Peninsula, we were struck by size and the multiple layers of the Sierra Gigante mountains.

Even Murphy was in awe of the sight.  We plan to spend the next week or so exploring the multiple anchorages here in Bahia Conception before moving further north.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Two little islands...Big fun

We left Puerto Escondido to head towards the Islands of Isla Carmen and Isla Coronados. Both of these islands (including three others) are part of the Loreto Bay National Park.  

We anchored in Bahia Salinas on Isla Carmen and toured the old salt mine and remnants of the abandoned town.

Boat kids from Terrapin, YOLO and Makai

Best use of an old rusted out fork lift

Terrapin, YOLO and Makai anchored in the background





Once we made our way through the abandoned salt mine, we kept walking to see the evaporation ponds. The white salt crystals look like snow on the ground. 

Standing on salt

Day two of Bahia Salinas offered us an awesome snorkeling experience. There's a tuna boat wreck not far off from where we were anchored that we snorkeled. During most of the day you can see the wreck sticking out of the water...something to consider when coming into the bay for anchorage.

I'll always remember the first day our girls snorkeled on this adventure. We were in Cabo San Lucas and the water had finally gotten warm enough to swim in. We had dinghied over to a small island for great snorkeling. After all jumping in, I heard the screams. 

Oh, crap...someone got stung by a jellyfish!  What happened?   Who's hurt?

I made my way over to the girls to inquire what was wrong only to find they both were trying to talk through their snorkels while screaming with excitement. 

OMG Mom, this is awesome! Do you see all those fish?

Music to my ears. We had hoped that the girls would fall in love with snorkeling as we have. It's so amazing to share the underwater world with an array of sea creatures. 
Jessica swimming through the wreck

Emma exploring the tuna boat wreck


Roy (the 14yr old boy on Makai) is a master at spearfishing and took the time to help Phil better understand how to use his spear. Phil's now addicted to spearfishing and is able to put tacos on our plates at diner time. 

Looking through the wreck at Phil and his speargun

A ray trying to hide against the rocks


Phil's first full day of spearfishing yielded 3 fish, a small grouper and two yellow snappers.

We split from YOLO and Makai and headed over to Isla Coronados.  You can easily be confused by the pure white sand and crystal blue waters of Isla Coronados...if you didn't know better you might think you're in the Bahamas. We decided to take a family hike to the top of the old volcano cone at Isla Coronados. The 1.8 mile hike with total elevation gain of 928 feet was actually quite challenging. Apparently, Mexico doesn't believe in switchbacks! The last part of the hike is straight up and not recommended for little kids. 

View from the top of the island

If you were to ask the girls, they'd say they had just summit Mt. Everest. It may take awhile before we can convince them to go on a summit hike again.

The Sea of Cortez has been amazing so far. Every place we anchor is completely different than the last. Los Gatos looked like Sedona, AZ., the water at Isla Coronados looks like it belongs in the Bahamas, Isla Carmen had the salt mine ghost town. Yesterday, we saw a school of at least 50 manta rays swimming together under the boat and then each taking a turn to fly high out of the ocean and belly flop. We hope to get this on video to share as it's an amazing sight. Our next stop is Caleta San Juanico, which is back on mainland Baja.