Monday, December 26, 2016

What an adventure!

We haven't made any posts to our blog for quite some time now. So I thought it was time for an update. I don't think we will be posting often.. matter of fact, this will likely be our last post.

To close the blog I simply locked the blog. Unfortunately, a few people thought we had locked them out – absolutely not the case. We were going through some big life changes so decided to just shut the blog down.

When we set out on our cruising adventure we knew it was going to be life changing. But honestly, we had no idea HOW life changing it was going to be. It reminds me of the saying “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger”. Well the adventure nearly killed us, but in the end, made us stronger than either of us could have ever imagined.

First I want to shout out to our friend's David and Stephanie. I doubt most readers of this blog know who they are as we met them cruising, but I think their lives followed a similar path as ours. They never gave up us and were always supportive. Stephanie just kept telling me “we went through it too – it will be okay”. Thank you!

When we left the Puget Sound we thought we were a fairly normal average couple. We had our issues, but we loved each other and found ways to work things out. Then we turned our lives upside down. We nearly destroyed our relationship but in the end discovered what true love actually is. We have found an intimacy that we never imagined existed. We know each others most intimate thoughts and feelings. We have a love for each other that will never be broken. Words will never describe it fully.. but you know what it is when you meet certain couples. I always wondered how they did it. Well, I don't know how THEY did it, but I know how we did it. I just smile and say “thank you” every time someone says “wow, you two are quite the love birds”. We don't go around doing inappropriate PDA so I can only guess it is because we glow.

Even greater than our love for each other is our love for our Lord. Our faith has grown immensely. I use to think my faith and love for the Lord was very strong. But now I realize how shallow it was and how much growth there is yet to come. I thank the Lord for loving me when I did not love Him. I thank the Lord for loving me so much that He has filled my life with love.

So as I said – what didn't kill us, made us stronger beyond our wildest imagination!

God bless you all!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Lingcod, the *other* white meat

I have already said this, but it is worth saying again - we have figured out how to catch bottom fish in Ensenada. Last Sunday we went back to our hotspot that we discovered for bottom fish. To say we had a good day would be a gross understatement. I had a good idea of where I wanted to fish and what technique I planned to use so we got right to it. As it turned out, the wind and the current were going in a different direction than they were when we were last at this spot so we had to make some adjustments. But we figured it out very quickly I hooked the biggest lingcod I have caught to date. And from that moment on, it was one right after another.

Now most people would think this is a good thing. But from Jan's perspective, not necessarily so much. To my great pleasure, Jan loves to fish. We have come up with a procedure that makes it very enjoyable to her. There are 2 things Jan really likes about fishing - getting a fish hooked on her line and seeing what comes up out of the water. She is not so keen on fighting and reeling in huge lingcod (or tuna for that matter). So the technique goes like this: Jan hooks the fish and begins the fight. Then I take the rod and fight the fish to the surface. Then Jan gets to see the fish come out of the water. This works really great... until we both hook up at the same time! Then Jan has to fight her own fish until I get mine in the boat. And when fishing is hot (like it was this day), that happens all too often.

We had a great day and filled the boat with fish. We have been looking for a cooler to keep our catch in but as yet have not found one. So we use a bucket which has worked pretty well in the past. This day however was a different story. The first 2 fish were so big they completely filled the bucket. So we just started throwing them in the wheel well in the cockpit. Eventually our cockpit looked like the scene of an axe murder. The biggest problem we had was on the way home the wind and waves picked up so we were constantly chasing the fish around the cockpit as the boat rolled and pitched.

Bloody mess (as Jude would say)
Fortunately we can just take a hose to our cockpit and it cleaned up very easily.

When I was researching how to catch lingcod I kept reading warnings about not putting your hands in their mouths or gills. Well, as you can see, they have some really big, sharp teeth!!

Jan caught the lone rockfish of the day.

On the way back we came across the first sea turtle we have seen.

This is most of our catch for the day. Unfortunately our freezers are now full so we are going to have to start giving them away. We are certainly not going to stop fishing!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends. We miss you all very much.

Christmas this year is obviously very different for Jan and I. We really miss our traditions and our family. But honestly, I am very much enjoying this year. I have always had a huge problem with the commercialization of our Lord's birthday celebration. It is a rare thing to hear someone rejoicing about the true "reason for the season". It is all about presents, shopping, Christmas trees, etc... and not about the single most exciting event of human history - God sending his son to endure sin, ridicule, and a most horrifying death to save a group of people that routinely spit in his face. Every time I find myself looking for a definition of love, that is where I end up. Whether you are a believer or not, you cannot argue with this being the true definition of love. So the next time you get angry/frustrated/upset/??? with a person that you "love", stop and think about the true meaning of love.

When in Rome.... This year we tried a new Christmas tradition - a Mexican tradition. We made 60 (yes, 60!) tamales.

Tamale Party
It was a lot of fun! Unfortunately we don't have pictures along the way as it was quite a messy operation. Honestly, it was Jan's idea from the start. And she insisted that we make them the traditional Mexican way - with pork lard (yikes!). I fought it as best I could... "lard?, honey really?". But in the end Jan won out and we bought a huge tube of pork lard. It was kind of funny because these lard rolls showed up in the grocery store a few weeks ago. There were hundreds if not thousands of them piled all over the store. I had no idea what they were, but figured a lot of people must be looking for them.

It turned out to be quite a learning process in many ways. Since we got to Mexico I have been struggling with how/where to buy meat. So far we have not had to buy any meat. We have been eating a lot of fish that we have caught and we brought some meat with us in our freezer. But eventually it will run out and we will have to figure it out. I will not go into the meat situation here in Mexico now, but let me just say that I am VERY concerned! Anyway, the learning process came when we went to buy a pork butt for the tamales. I have looked for large cuts of meat several times and have never found them. The ad flier for this week had pork butt listed so I went to the butcher counter and used my best spanglish/finger pointing I could muster and finally found out they keep these types of things in the back. Yes!!! So he brings out the biggest pork butt I have ever seen. "Half will be just fine senor". Half of the butt was almost 8kg - huge! We had to cut it in half and run 2 batches in our crock pot. So the lesson - you can get big hunks of meat - they are in the back!

We spent several hours that night making tamales. Who knew you could assemble 60 tamales in our galley. It was really a very fun experience. Jan and I worked an assembly line rolling them out while listening to Eric Ludy on the radio - it was really a very fun evening.

To continue with the Mexican tradition, we planned to give a lot of them away to our friends. The first person I contacted was a friend (Peter) that I work an HF (high frequency) radio net with each morning. The HF net is a lot of fun - right now I am feeding weather information every day to a 72 year old man that is sailing his 38' boat by himself from Canada to Hawaii. He is currently about 2/3 of the way there - about 1000 nautical miles to go. It is really great to hear his voice each day (and my guess is he is really glad to hear my voice as well). Anyway, I called Peter on the radio and asked if he and his wife would like some tamales. He said "do they have meat in them". Well, of course! But... yeah, you guessed it - he and his wife are vegetarian.  Better luck next time I guess.

Merry Christmas to everyone wherever you are! Remember, God loved you so much that he sent his Son to die for YOU!

And a parting shot... good morning Jan :-) I said "YIKES!" and she said "I worked on it all night".

Jan Christmas morning - "Do I look a fright?"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Surf's Up!

I have to say that I am pretty anal about weather. Weather takes on a whole new meaning when you are cruising. First, you can't just turn the TV on at 5:10PM and have someone tell you what you should wear to work tomorrow. Television is a luxury when you can get it, and certainly not something to rely on when on passage or at anchor. Second, when you live on a sailboat on the ocean, weather is a lot more than just a sweater and an umbrella tomorrow - it is your life and comfort. The Lord wasn't messing around when he created the oceans. This stuff is for real.

That being said, I do tend to get a bit lax when we are tied up in a marina. So I knew the surf was getting big (not a good time to take the dinghy out fishing) and I knew it was likely going to rain yesterday (I marked that off as one of the 10 days of rain I expect this *year*). My main concerns these days are: can we go fishing in our dinghy and will we have to close the port lights and hatches on the boat to keep the rain out. So I was caught a bit off guard when my mom called and asked if we were okay. I thought... yeah, I have enough sense to close the windows and leave fishing for another day. But then I got a couple of emails asking the same question. That is when it dawned on me that maybe I should check into this.

As it turns out, a major storm was ravaging California and was heading south. So that explains the growing ocean swell and the coming rain storm. Funny thing about ocean swell - it can grow to significant heights from storms hundreds if not thousands of miles away. So with this big storm just a couple of hundred miles north, we were definitely going to feel it.

The marina we have chosen only has a single breakwater. Don't get me wrong - I am REALLY happy to have it!!! But when the swell gets big, it still surges into the marina and causes the boat to "dance" quite a bit. It is not really a problem, it just makes Jan and I feel more at home.

The storm finally did hit Ensenada yesterday morning shortly after the net (VHF cruiser radio net - more on that later) closed down. I clocked 20 knots maximum wind here in the harbor. I estimate it was 30 to 35 outside the breakwater. We also saw heavy rain (sideways rain of course) associated with the cold front. The wind and rain lasted about 30 minutes and then went almost dead calm and showers the rest of the day. The big change was the temperature - we had been in the low 70s and now the coming week is forecast in the mid 60s... bbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrr (yeah, right!).

Today, the day after the storm, it is another beautiful sunny day. So Jan and I took the camera and went out exploring. There is a good 15 knot breeze blowing and the surf is pounding hard. The waves appear to be 8' to 10' on average.

I guess the birds still have to eat
This is one day that we are really happy to be tied up!!!

We found a little cove that has a gravel beach. After a big wave crashes up the beach it quickly retreats. We were amazed at the sound of the rolling gravel as the wave retreated. It was really loud! We sat there for quite a while taking in the sights and sounds of the raging ocean.

Beautiful afternoon at the beach... in DECEMBER!

Jan enjoying the breezy day


One of our favorite shots - the selfie

Being from the Pacific Northwest we have a certain view about things. And there is an architectural oddity here in Mexico that baffles both Jan and I. We first noticed it while riding our bikes in town. Neither one of us said anything at the time because we were riding in a line, but we both noticed it. Unfortunately we didn't take any pictures because we didn't have a camera with us. But while walking over at the university we came across another example so we took a picture. Can anyone from the Pacific Northwest tell us what is wrong with this picture?

I'll give you a hint - this is a gazebo with picnic tables and benches. The structure we saw downtown was a bus stop with a similar oddity. Any idea..... there is no roof! It is only slats. The bus stop benches had a structure over them without a roof also - just slats. Not only will this NOT keep the rain off of you, it will collect it and then drop much larger drops on your head. Holy cow man - what is the use of something like this? We just don't get it...

When it rains in the desert, everything comes to life! Last week it was just some cactus ground cover. This week...

I will leave with the shot of the day.. God bless you all!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I have said it before, and I will say it again - we LOVE the pelicans! They are really cool birds and there are a lot of them here in Ensenada. There is a large group of them that live here at Marina Coral. They generally hang out on the breakwater. But when the bait fish come in the marina they come in to fish. It is the most amazing thing to watch. They line up on a dock and then take turns heading to the sky. They circle about 50 feet in the air until they spot a fish they want. Then they put their feet down to slow and prepare for the dive. Then they point their beak straight down and dive at full speed toward the water. Then at the last second they pull their wings back, hit the water, and gulp their fish. As soon as they hit the water the seagulls swarm them hoping to steal their lunch.

Jan took the camera out today and got some good shots of the feast.

Take Off

Fish spotted, feet down, ready to dive sir


Oh dear, this is going to hurt

I have you now... LUNCH!

Ouch! That hurt


Another successful flight and kill. Back to the roost.
And that is Jan's pelican story.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rockfish Galore

This will be a short post as Jan is hot and heavy in the galley fixing cheese burgers and fries - yummy!!!

We have discovered rockfish! And we are oh so excited. We have been doing a lot of fishing since arriving in Mexico. It is such a pleasure fishing here. The laws and rules are simple - buy a fishing license and go see what you can catch. You don't have to be a Harvard lawyer to figure out when/where/what you can fish (or if it is raining on Tuesday after a partial solar eclipse...). The other fun aspect is fish are everywhere!

We started out fishing from our dinghy. We originally went after lingcod out off the breakwater outside the marina. Fishing was slow but we did bring in some really tasty lingcod. Then I did a lot of studying and found a kelp forest about 4 miles out. We have done really well in that area as well. We have caught bonito tuna, yellowtail tuna, and barracuda in that area (and I have some ideas for future trips).

Yesterday we decided to take Rapture out for a sail and try some fishing farther offshore. It is really late in the year for yellowtail tuna but they are still catching them (they are called "old guard" - the old fish that don't migrate south). The fish count reports have shown constant good numbers and the "guts" barrel up at the fish cleaning station regularly have remains of some very large yellowtail tuna. So we secured the boat and headed out to Islas de Todos Santos (Todos Santos Islands). They are about 10 miles out from Ensenada and are a real hotspot for fishing. All of the yellowtail reports have been from Todos Santos.

The day started off great - we hit 2 bonito and 1 yellowtail trolling on the way out to the islands. Then it all died. We spent almost 3 hours drifting and jigging the west side of the islands with not even a bite. This is where all of the huge yellowtail have been reported. Finally we got discouraged and decided to start back. But on a whim we decided to give Punta Banda a try. This is a point that extends out from Ensenada bay and creates somewhat of a choke point between the mainland and the islands. So we diverted.

A couple of miles off the point we shut down and started jigging. About 5 minutes into it Jan reports a bite but no fish. A few minutes later I get a bite. Then all of the sudden the flood gates opened. I would drop my line and have a fish on by the time it hit the bottom. The first fish Jan pulled up was about as ugly as you can imagine - clearly a rockfish. And that was how the next 45 minutes went - fish after fish, all rockfish. We really wished we had more time but we were just barely going to make it back before dark now. You really don't want to be out in Ensenada bay in a boat after dark. There are lobster pots EVERYWHERE and none of the are well marked. A Mexican lobster pot buoy is just about anything that floats. I have not yet seen a styrofoam coffee cup for a buoy, but I have seen everything else. And most of them are really hard to see in the daylight, let alone the dark!

The thing about rockfish is they are very ugly but taste great when you eat them. They are generally a flakey white meat that is usually firm. The other thing is there are a lot of different varieties. You can generally tell it is a rockfish by looking at it, but which species is a different story. So we took pictures of each different species that we caught for later identification. So here they are in no specific order.

Yelloweye Rockfish

Yellowtail Rockfish

Blue Rockfish
One thing I can tell you for sure - we are going to be heading back out to Punto Banda REAL soon! BTW - we made fish tacos out of a small piece of Mr. Yellowtail (he was HUGE - the picture doesn't do him justice) and they were great!

Jan and I have become the "fisherpeople" in the marina. A guy from down the dock decided to drop a line in the water here in the marina because of all the fish he has seen Jan and I bring in. Well he caught a fish.. and then didn't know what to do. He came running down the dock with his fish wrapped in a towel yelling my name. I came running outside to find out what was going on and there it was. He had no idea what it was or what he should do. So I brain spiked and bled the fish for him (he had to turn away and couldn't watch - he is a very sweet man!!). Then we went inside and I looked the fish up for him. Turns out it was a croaker. I have never heard of or seen one, but there it was. Then Paul said he had no idea what to do next so I walked up to the fish cleaning station and filleted it for him. It has become a common question when we walk by people.. "what did you catch today?".

Monday, November 24, 2014


We have been in Ensenada Mexico for a few weeks now. We are really quite comfortable here. The weather couldn't be better (low to mid 70's during the day and low 60's at night). It did finally rain a couple of days ago for about 30 minutes. This is the first rain we have seen since we left Washington!

I think we are true cruisers now because our plans seem to change daily. The current plan is to stay in Ensenada for the winter and then head back to southern California for the spring and summer. We are hoping to have our grandkids come down and spend some time with us next summer and it will be so much easier if we are in the US. And that would be unlikely if we headed to the typical central/southern Mexico cruising grounds as the 750 nautical mile trip back north along the Baja peninsula would be very difficult. But more important, we are really enjoying Ensenada and want to take time to get to know the people here. Jan has met a couple of local ladies in the sauna and we are hoping to get to know them and their families.

Ensenada has a little of everything. It is a major stop for most of the cruise lines because it is a major port of entry into Mexico. So the cruise ships stop here and get everyone checked into Mexico and then head south to the gold coast. The cruise ship dock is downtown and not surprisingly the area around the dock is what I would call "Little Tijuana". If is full of little shops overflowing with tourist junk and high pressure salespeople. It brings the quote "for you, nearly free" to mind. If you show any interest in anything you can bet the someone will be on you immediately pushing you to buy it. And if you start to walk away, the price will start dropping. They will even chase you down the sidewalk lowing the price with every step you take. It is fun for a little while, but gets old pretty quick.

We are berthed in a marina called Marina Coral (pronounced Coraaaal, and they are not shy making sure you know that). The marina area is basically "San Diego south". Virtually everyone here speaks english (to some degree - some of them speak english about as good as my spanish). It is a very nice marina, except they might want to pressure wash the docks once in a while. The big downside to Marine Coral is the surge. The breakwater is very big and robust but there is only a single breakwater. If you plan to stop ocean swell you need a double breakwater. So when the swell is kicking up or coming from a direction that causes reflection to the marina entrance it can get pretty rough at the dock. So I am keeping a close eye on our dock lines and fenders. The other thing that makes this "San Diego south" is the "big box store" area. Just south of downtown is an area of a couple of blocks where you can find Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, McDonalds, etc... You can find virtually every chain store/restaurant that you know from the US.

We are really loving our bikes! Jan has a thing from her childhood about getting a "brand new" bike so she was really excited to get a "brand new" bike. In any case, we have really used them a lot here. The marina is about 5 miles north of town so we would be on the bus or a cab without them. There are only a few major folding bike companies and then several very small companies. Without question the biggest company is Dahon. One of their close competitors is Tern. Tern was actually started by the son of the man that built Dahon. So they are very similar bikes. Anyway, we bought Tern bikes.

Ready to ride

Folded and ready to go below
We have been doing a lot of fishing here. To my pleasant surprise Jan loves fishing. Right now we are just taking our dinghy out in the bay. It is a lot easier than taking Rapture out for a couple of hours. We have been doing really well. We have caught quite a few lingcod. They are about the ugliest fish you have ever seen, but they taste really good. The lingcod we have been catching have been fairly small (as lingcod go) because of where we have been fishing. But we plan to take Rapture out to Isla De Todo Santos (a couple of islands just under 10 miles out from Ensenada) looking for much bigger fish.

Mike with a lingcod
A few days ago we were out trolling around one of our favorite spots and I caught a Pacific Barracuda. I knew I had something good on when it hit because it was pulling hard. Then I got it up close to the boat where I could see it and knew I had a barracuda. We safely got it in the boat without it's teeth puncturing the dinghy or me! This was just a small barracuda.. boy, I can't wait to catch a big one! We really liked the barracuda. When I filleted it we got 2 long thick round chunks of firm white meat that tasted great!

Mike with the barracuda
It is very "interesting" to go out in the open ocean in a 9' inflatable rubber boat. The swell has been growing quite big lately because of all the storms going on up north. We were out a few days ago and I estimated the swell to be 8 to 10 feet. Swell generally comes in groups of  threes - if you get a big one you can bet there are 2 more big ones right behind it. When you encounter swell this big in a small boat right on the water all you can see is a wall of water coming at you when you are in the trough. Then at the crest you take a quick look around to get your bearing and make certain there isn't anything breaking coming at you. As always, as scary as huge swell looks, it is only dangerous if it breaks. On this particular day, the swell was so big you could hear/feel wind created as you climb the face and descend the back of the wave. Needless to say, we didn't stay out very long that day.

We went fishing yesterday and had a good day (well, *Jan* had a good day). We were trolling around one of our favorite spots and Jan about jumped out of her skin. I looked over and she was holding onto her rod with both hands for all she was worth. I asked if she had a fish on and she could only shake her head. So I killed the motor and got my line out of the water. It was all Jan could do to hold onto the rod so there was no way she was going to be able to crank the reel. Finally she said "the line is going the wrong way" (it was spooling off against the drag pretty fast). She said it was too much for her so I took the rod and the fight was on. I finally landed a bonito tuna after a good fight - it was major fun!

Jan and her tuna
Later that day, I made my catch of the day - a black sock size 9 to 11. That's right, a sock like you would wear on your feet. It was a bit more than embarrassing. And Jan took full advantage telling everyone of the day's catch.

The bottom line - the bikes and the dinghy were very expensive purchases before leaving the US, and were worth EVERY penny!