Bahia de los Muertos to La Paz

I don’t know why this continues to surprise me, but somehow we spent six nights a Bahia de los Muertos. The first 2 days there we didn’t even leave the boat. Big wind was predicted and happened. For once, listening to the weather worked out for us! Winds over 25 knots blew both nights, or so I was told. I slept right through it. I had six blissful nights of sleep with wild and crazy dreams, as only Baja seems to provide me. No cell service or internet around there – I wonder if there’s some connection?

muertos Summer

The water color is so beautiful there I just wanted to cry, or somehow become part of it. I did swim on the 2nd day, and it was a bit of a shock, being about 10 degrees cooler than what we were used to on mainland. But so clear and clean, and the white sand beach with so little built on it was a very welcome sight. When we finally ventured ashore, we walked down to the unobtrusive ‘resort’ buildings. We walked up the steps to one place and everyone there was acting like they owned the place, I just got a vibe…turns out they kinda did. The whole place was rented out for a wedding that night. Muertos resortNice folks – one woman told us about the Train Restaurant that was just up the way; she said we must check it out. Who are we to pass up seeing a giant train set in the middle of a deserted desert beach? The restaurant was a little ways back up into an arroyo. We were barefoot and the sand was SO HOT. Luckily by the time we arrived (out of breath from running and pain) we dipped our feet into the really cool pools in front. Muertos poolMuertos pool tableThe place was truly deserted except for a bored waiter texting on his phone. The restaurant/bar downstairs was open, airy and beautifully furnished and had a pool table and one of those shuffleboard sand games. Muertos trainsIt definitely looked like a place we couldn’t afford. Upstairs was just a balcony that wrapped around and overlooked the restaurant. Muertos Train looking outAside from the Ms. PacMan game and Terminator pinball machine, the entire balcony was a giant train-set. Muertos Ms PacIt almost seemed like some extremely wealthy gringo’s wife left him and he said “Oh YEAH? Well I can TO have a giant train set” or maybe he’s still married and his wife said “no more goddamn trains in this house!” And he said “Well, I’m going to buy a huge place in Mexico to support my train set habit, and I’m going to spent hours upon hours arranging tiny people and hotels and restaurants and train yards, and there’s going to be THREE McDonald’s”. It was pretty amazing, and really kind of bizarre – out there in the middle of the desert, just a flaming death run away from a gorgeous white sand beach and nothing else around.Muertos trains whole Muertos trains close Muertos Train looking out


On the run back to have our feet sizzle in the water, I realized that hot sand should be the next fitness craze trend. Drop a bunch of people off a couple miles into some flaming sand and tell them there’s a pool of water at the other side. Trust me they will NOT stop running at top speed till they get to it, and they will pick their feet up really high, too. Mental note: Do not wander off on a beach without flip-flops again.Muertos hot sand

We walked all the way to the far opposite end of the beach, which is where there is one restaurant next to the area where all the fishermen come and launch their pangas (it’s only about a 20 mile drive to La Paz from there, so it’s a good fishing tour destination. We had decided to splurge on lunch at this (more affordable than Los Trenes, but still pricey – no competition!). I decided it was high time I had a cheeseburger in paradise. Which led to some Jimmy Buffet discussion and to the bet regarding lyrics to “Margaritaville”, in which I lost heavily and had to do the dishes for 2 weeks. It turns out I really have no idea HOW he blew out his flip flop. I don’t want to talk about it.

Muertos buger paradise

We had an idyllic beach day with our new beach umbrella (such a good purchase!).   I met Sherry and Ken from Cake (I love that boat name, and have yet to find out how it came to be), who were walking on the beach (Jonny was passed out under the umbrella). They are also part of the “Summer in the Cortez” crew, so we’ll be seeing them again and again (already have…). We also spotted Orion, which we were pretty sure was our neighbor in Moss Landing (we met Megan on the docks a couple times), but they left before we got to confirm.


Muertos coralWe had an amazing snorkel day, too. The water is SO much clearer in the Sea of Cortez (just north of Muertos is considered the beginning of entering the Sea). It was so mesmermizing and I could snorkel forever – but remember how cold the water was? We snorkeled until I was shivering.


Puffer caught
Accidentally caught a puffer fish! They are so cute. He deflated himself and swam away when we let him go.
Balandra sand mushroom rock
That little speck on the right is Summer

We and the wind were finally ready make our way North. It was an easy/slow-ish sail. Cake passed us (we caught a fish which slowed us down a bit) and we were about to catch up to them when we caught ANOTHER fish (neither was edible and got returned to swim another day).  Cake We decided to spend the night at Balandra Bay, just before La Paz. We’d been to Balandra twice on our driving trips to Baja. I’ve had a picture of the bay as my desktop on my computer for 3 years. I’ve even tried to Photoshop an image of Summer into it. I have been waiting for the day when Summer would actually be anchored in that amazingly gorgeous water – I could hardly believe we were there! BalandrahongoBalandrda hongo summer Balandra water rocks  Balandrabeachwater Balandra2 Balandra Summer  Balandra Jn summit Balandra JJSummer  Balandra bay smmerWe anchored just off from the iconic El Hongo (Mushroom) rock and hurriedly got the dinghy ready to go ashore. We hiked up 2 different peaks and stared slack-jawed at the beauty.   Back at the boat we swam and got ready to make dinner. There was a huge, fancy ketch with it’s mainsail up, but not sailing and a bunch of support boats taking people here and there. They then moved to the other side of the bay and we could see groups of people here and there that appeared to be filming something. At one point a smaller boat came up to us and we were looking forward ot chatting with them. The guy on the bow was not very friendly and asked us (I think) if we could just move back a little. Apparently we were messing up their scene? The thought of heaving up 150 feet of anchor chain, starting the motor and trying to re-anchor someplace we didn’t want to be wasn’t very appealing. And this guy wasn’t nice OR flashing any pesos at us, so we said “No, es muy difficile” and they went away without another word. Very strange.

Balandra view3

Balandra is not known for being a very tranquil place to spend the night, but, you know us, we’re hard core. It was NOT a very tranquil night and the Captain didn’t sleep well, I even woke up in the middle of the night and crankily thought “what is this all about?!” before I fell back asleep. We planned to get out of there early and head to La Paz. But first, we should check out the other side of the bay – there are two beaches I never got to go to, and probably some good snorkeling. Well, the snorkeling was ALL TIME! We swam in and around a little reef island and it was just magical. I spotted a shell of one of the puffy sand dollars and wanted to get it. It was my first real motivation to try to dive down to the bottom, fighting against the buoyancy of my own bottom. I actually touched it, but it was between coral and I chickened out and/or lost breath. Jonny ended up getting it for me. It’s not quite as amazing as the one I found a few years ago at Punta Chivato (camping trip) – that one looks like a turtle shell and was my prized piece in my extensive shell collection (which now belongs to my nephew). We checked out the beaches and hiked up a huge white sand dune and marveled at the view from this side.

Balandrawater jenndown

Balandra flippers


We left quite a bit later than planned, but we did actually leave. It had been about eight days since groceries with only one meal out, so we were pretty well out of food. Plus, it was Wednesday and we had it on good authority that there was a good pizza place that had two for one pizzas on Wednesdays (I texted Jon from Prism for the name). It was just a couple hours to get to La Paz.   Entering La Paz was far more exciting than I imagined it would be. It feels like such a familiar place to me, we’ve driven all the coastal roads and I recognized everything. We passed by the ferry docks, the super expensive marina Costa Baja (aka Costa Lotta), the crazy water slide I’ve never gotten to go on, the Chinese hotel we used to stay in and the Malecon. We ended up anchoring far out near the navy facility. There were lots of boats and a variety of places to anchor between the Magote (the weird strip of land that runs along the outside of La Paz Harbor and La Paz itself). We spotted a few boats we recognized as we buttoned up Summer and made our way to the dinghy dock at Marina La Paz. We were at what we used to consider “the way far end” of La Paz. We had a lovely walk along the Malecon, it felt so nice to be some place familiar that I also happened to love. We were so happy to have a rooftop table overlooking the water (I know, we aren’t sick of it yet, how weird is that?). The pizza was an incredible surprise- hands down the best pizza I’ve ever had in Mexico. OK I know that isn’t saying much as the worst pizzas I’ve ever had have been in Mexico (hotdogs on pizza? No thank you), let’s say it rivals pizza places in California. As if that weren’t enough to thrill me, it turns out they also had CRAFT BEER. I kid you not. We each ordered a pint and then a flight of samples to go with our two pizzas. We finished every drop and crumb and floated back down the Malecon, not missing the gelato place I took mental note of on the way there. Pizza, beer and gelato. I’d say that was a perfect trifecta.

LPgelato LP Supreme pizza LP cheers

Thursday happened to be organic farmer’s market day not far from the marina. It was tiny and there was only one table with veggies, but what a table it was! Apparently there’s the farmer comes in from near Santiago (mid-Baja – near Agua Caliente, where we’ve also camped). We scored a pile of veggies and some sausages, eggs and bread. We spent a couple more days stocking up on food, visiting our favorite pastry shop and restaurant. We were disappointed to see that half of La Fonda, our favorite restaurant, had been sold out to an OXXO (like a 7-Eleven – and like 7-Elevens in the US, they seem to be on every corner around here (I once looked up how many 7-Elevens there were in Chula Vista. Seventeen. For real. Who needs that much crap food?!?). Anyway, our favorite seating area was all that remained. We were the only diners for dinner. We told the waitress how we loved the place and how sorry we were to see the OXXO – she nodded sadly and said it had been almost a year since it arrived. She then brought us complimentary shots of tequila. We were surprised and grateful, thinking she must really like us and we were very special customers. It wasn’t till we left when I noticed the sandwich board outside advertising “Free Tequila with each meal”. Oh well, it felt good to think we were special for a little while!

Our favorite restaurant is just inside this wall, small and unassuming, with excellent food and bargain prices.


We began sorting things out for our upcoming trip to the States. In lieu of my parents sorting out a big expensive trip to Mexico, they are giving us a trip to New Hampshire, which coincides nicely with our need to renew our tourist visas by leaving the country and returning. We had to figure out which marina was going to be graced with a long visit by Summer. It’s all about price and security. As suspected, we opted for the Fonatur – the cookie-cutter government-run marina. They always have the worst locations. This one is 2 miles away from all the other marinas, back in a ditch at the far end of the bay. But oh boy is it cheap! Not only is is now “off season” rates, but if you stay for a month, you get a 25% discount. So, it would cost the same to stay for 3 weeks as a month. So we opted to sign up for a month, giving us time before the trip to take care of a list of projects, and a few days to recover and re-supply before heading out into the Sea when we return.

LP dead boat
This sad, naked boat stands sentinel along the narrow channel into the Fonatur. A grim reminder of why we do not want to spend hurricane season down in La Paz!

With that all settled, we decided to leave La Paz for a few days. The La Paz anchorage is notorious for “The La Paz Waltz”. Weird wind and currents often have boats dancing around in a variety of directions. Normally boats at anchor will all point into the wind, and swing around together and usually avoid knocking into each other. Not so in La Paz. Things being kind of crazy at anchor, coupled with the fact every time we go ashore money just evaporates from our purse (15 pesos to dock the dinghy, 15 pesos for a shower, and that’s just after going 10 feet onto shore! etc.), made us ready for a little quiet island time. We decided to check out Bonanza anchorage at Isla Espiritu Santo. It is just over twenty miles from La Paz, so we figured we’d get a couple nights in and then head back to hang out with Alex and Naomi from Lunasea.EspSantoWater

ES Desert Tree ES Desertcactus

Bonanza has turquoise waters and a 2 mile long white sand beach backed by pristine desert landscape. Epiritu Santo (like all islands in the Sea) is a national park. There are ton of anchorages on the other side of the island, too, which I hope to visit in June on our way north. Poor Jonny had a sore neck (bad nap?) and wasn’t up for doing much. We managed to get ashore and set him up on the beach under an umbrella. I took off to explore the desert and beach. I had forgotten how complex and beautiful – and QUIET – the desert is. I found myself wandering in and around the cactus and spiky shrubs that want to stab you. I saw a long eared rabbit hopping away from me, cactus bones and beautiful orange flowers. I walked through the desert all the way to one end of the beach where there was a giant rock point. That end of the beach was just gorgeous. The sand was so white and covered in perfect coral specimens and white shells. You could clearly see how they make white sand! ES ShellsThe water was crystal clear and black crabs were scampering all over the rocks. I was just in awe of it all.   ESDesertViewThe tranquility and beauty was soon shattered by angry seagulls trying to peck my eyes out. They made loud barking noises and swooped directly at my head. The first time it happened I ended up throwing myself onto the sand and tossing handfuls of sand upwards. It was rather terrifying. But I soon figured out that they weren’t really going to make contact with me, they were clearly warning me, though.




There was a long row of these territorial, Hitchcock-like seagulls. I had to go way up the dune towards the desert to get by them all. When I got back to the umbrella, Jonny was sorry he missed out on watching my attacks – but luckily I had a video. I accidentally forgot to turn off the camera, so this video actually went on and on for minutes, very “Blair Witch Project”, but this shorter clip will give you the idea.


We had a bit of a wind event and Jonny needed to let more anchor chain out. It was kind of rough and he ended up hurting his neck a lot more. There was no way we were going to leave on the 3rd day. I made him a neck brace out of rolled towels and he spent an entire day holed up watching movies. It was a good opportunity for me to get some confidence taking the dinghy ashore by myself (yes, that’s what it was, it definitely wasn’t payback for all the times he’s left me alone, flat on my back in pain…).

Jonny neck floating ipad
Jonny got tired of holding up the ipad, with his sore neck -so he rigged it up to float!

I went to the other end of the beach and dragged the dinghy as far up as I could by myself. I found two huge pieces of coral to put the dinghy line around, just in case the tide came up. I set up the umbrella and felt pretty satisfied with my solo beach landing skills. I did a long hike on the dunes between the beach and desert. So much I wanted to explore! Mounts to summit, critters to see, shells to sift through. I could spent a full week at this place! As I was heading back towards my umbrella, I noticed it had blown over. So I ran along to save it, figuring I could come back for shell-peeping after. After I got everything settled, a mega-yacht pulled in an anchored right across from me. It spilled out a dinghy and a jet ski. A guy started zipping back and forth on a jet ski. Peace and quiet ended by the rich and famous, I grumbled. But the guy gave me a big smile and wave as he passed by – he looked so happy I couldn’t help but smile and wave back. Next thing I know, he comes back with another guy. They land right next to Peugeot walk up to me. My “woman alone, wearing only a bikini, far, far from anyone or anything” instincts give a little jolt: hyper-analyze these guys and don’t mention your husband is incapacitated!! But I was immediately disarmed by a handsome guy holding two beers and a bag of chocolate chip cookies. He offered me a beer and the cookies – which their chef had just made. Apparently if you give me beer and cookies, I’ll be your best friend. Who knew? Turns out these guys were not 1%-ers on a romp – they were five hard working guys enjoying a perk from their vendor on a company yacht. I’m terrible with names and I forgot my camera that day…but (Jim?) the vendor in charge of making sure these guys had a good time, was the one who brought me the beer and cookies and he looked vaguely familiar to me (never figured out why)- easy going guy who used to be a yacht broker. The other four guys who came ashore were obviously having the time of their lives on this trip. They were all so happy and relaxed –it was their last day before they had to go back to the grind. They invited me to bring Jonny over later in the evening for drinks and to see the boat. I REALLY was dying to see the inside of one of those boats – but unfortunately poor Jonny’s neck was too messed up –and I wasn’t going to leave him to fend for himself in the evening, too.

The next day we managed to pull anchor and head back in to La Paz. We anchored at the beginning of the harbor to avoid anyone doing the La Paz Waltz. Alex and Naomi were up for dinner, so we went ashore to shower and meet them. On the way we ran into Aldebaran and stopped to visit with Lynne and Rob and their friends (Chris and ? – see, I’m terrible!).  There really are no ‘quick visits’ in the cruising world – but we just roll with it and managed to drag ourselves away before it got too late.

We shared arrachera (yummy marinated/grilled meat with all the fixin’s) for dinner and then I dragged them all out to the gelato place. We love hanging out with those guys – and happy that was about as wild as our nights ashore get.

We had one more day in La Paz to load up on groceries, have breakfast at La Fonda – our favorite restaurant-turned-half-OXXO and we headed up to the marina. Marina time always means “work your ass off”. We had a list of projects to do to prepare for the summer and for our two week trip to the States to visit my folks. “Summerizing” the boat, as it were (that makes me laugh almost as much as “our solar system”) is quite a bit different than winterizing. It gets HOT – and so far we haven’t experienced nearly the temperatures we will find in the northern Sea. Our teak work was over-due for a maintenance coat of Cetol – and the sun/UV is really harsh on that so we didn’t want to let it go. We put in SO much work getting it that way, we’re not ready to give it up yet. But we do know eventually we will let it go, strip it off and just do an oil on bare teak thing – this Cetol stuff is SO much work!. We did some of the maintenance coats in San Diego, but ran out of time and figured we’d finish down here. We spent an entire day taping and scuffing up the toe rail and cockpit coaming. At 5:00pm a guy from the marina came down and informed us we were not allowed to sand, paint or varnish by ourselves at the marina (environmental reasons, they claim, but we saw some pretty harsh-to-the-environment stuff going on in their boatyard…). We HAD to put a coat on because we’d already scuffed it all up. So the next morning we left the marina and made our way out the long narrow/shallow channel and anchored. We got our teak coated in just over an hour and then we had to wait all day for it to dry and for high tide so we could get back down the channel. We kept ourselves busy with plenty of other projects. Jonny got the oil changed and I went through all our supplies and took inventory and reorganized and cleaned (yes, I still love doing that stuff!). We were thinking of maybe getting up at dawn and putting the 2nd coat on the next morning, before marina admin came in. But that evening, the guy from the office came to the boat with a clipboard. He went on and on for quite some time about gathering signatures, and a boat in slip C-2 that caused a great deal of problems and on and on. I had NO idea what he was talking about; I thought he wanted me to sign a petition of some sort to save the world. Finally he handed me the clipboard and there was a piece of paper stating in both English and Spanish, that I solemnly swear not to sand, paint or varnish my boat in the marina (or something along those lines) and it had a signature line with both my and Jonny’s name. Very odd timing! Jonny was off hunting down a beer so I signed it and waited to tell him I think our plans had just been foiled. We didn’t dare do anything to piss off the folks who were going to watch Summer for two weeks while we skip town!

F teak
Somehow we had a very cold morning for painting teak. Felt like being in Moss Landing again!


The next morning we motored out again to anchor and put on the last coat. We had too much work to do that involved being off the boat or using Internet – so we could not afford to spend an entire day out there again. But we also couldn’t just wait an hour or 2 for it to tack up because the tide was dropping out and it wouldn’t be possible to get back in until late in the day. So we hurriedly did our last coat and decided to risk getting back and not messing it up. The tide was already dropping out and we knew it was going to be sketchy getting back down that shallow channel. We picked our route as carefully as we could with what we’d observed the past couple times. The shallowest spot was right between the first 2 channel markers. With some anxiety we watched the depth sounder like hawks. There it goes, 4 feet, 3 feet, 1 foot, under 1 foot…WHOOOAAAA! I felt Summer’s keel dragging through some heavy mud, Jonny yelled “Rev it up!!” so I “floored it” and Summer powered through into slightly deeper waters. That sure got my heart rate up!! We are still debating as to whether this truly constituted “running aground”. We’ve had the saying stuck in our heads for quite some time: “There are two kinds of sailors, those who have run aground and those who haven’t yet”. I believe it counts (based on hearing other people’s stories when they said they’ve “run aground” – I used to think it meant simply crashing into a beach or onto rocks and being stuck there). We managed to dock without messing up our handiwork. Whew. But a poor fly did not fare so well and got his little feet stuck in the wet cetol. Glad to have that task overwith!


Our next task was to work on more shade possibilities. Our teal cockpit cushions already get so hot in the sun that we can’t stand on them barefoot. Shading the boat can also mean up to a 10 degree difference in temperature inside the cabin. Our dodger has zippers sewn into the front of it to allow for an additional bimini to zip onto it and shade the cockpit. We have enough Sunbrella fabric left to make such a shade. We decided to mock up a template with some cheap fabric ($1.50 from the fabric store!) and bring it all home and try to make it with my Mom’s help on her sewing machine.

JC shade template

The farther we get into the Sea of Cortez, the safer we will be from hurricanes, but also the more remote it is and less access to food and water. In order to make our fresh water supply last as long as possible, it’s a good idea to wash dishes in salt water (with a fresh rinse at the end). Heaving buckets of salt water on board gets old really fast (been there, done that). We decided to convert our hand pump faucet into a salt water faucet. We have three faucets on our sink – the ‘normal’ one that gives water from our tanks using the 12 volt water pump, the hand pump, which as you may guess, you pump by hand to get water from the tanks, and our drinking water faucet that purifies our tank water through a charcoal block filter and a UV purifier (killing EVERYTHING – we drink hose water and it hasn’t sickened us yet!). Jonny made a T from one of the salt water intake lines and  ran it to the hand pump. Now we can do dishes with salt water without heaving buckets! With this we can pretty easily go 3 weeks with our 100 gallon tank.

Fonatur break
We did manage to take a couple hour break to enjoy the lap pool at the marina


Laundry, arranging airport transportation, placing orders for stuff we want to bring back from the US, cleaning/stowing the dinghy and cleaning/defrosting the fridge and otherwise preparing the boat to be left alone are a few of the other things on our list.


J A Bagels
Alex and Jonny enjoying bagels at this amazing bagerly Alex and Naomi have discovered. They were the real deal!!! What a treat.

We also made time to go into ‘town’ (back where the other marinas are), to check out the nautical flea market going on. Our friends Alex and Naomi on Lunasea met us there and had offered to take our propane tank for us and bring it ashore to get filled. There’s a service at the marina there where a guy takes everyone’s tanks out to the propane place and gets them filled and back by the afternoon. Jonny locked our tank into their dinghy and we hung out for a bit. Naomi was telling me how she’s just met Megan and Jonah and they were also from Moss Landing. As I was saying we’d met Megan briefly and thought we saw them on Orion down in Muertos – Megan walks up to us and says “I think I heard my name!”. So we finally got to talk with Megan and Jonah- they’re awesome! They will be up in the sea with us this summer as well.   Later in the week we all met up for 2 for 1 pizza night. Megan and Jonah had 3 friends along, too – from Santa Cruz (Chris, Chris and Matt. One Chris had come down to buy a boat in La Paz and his friends were there to help him bring it home. That made 9 of us for pizza night – we got 8 pizzas for the price of 4 (and lots of beer), which seems like a much better deal than 2 for 1! We had a lot of fun and we’re so looking forward to spending more time with this crew (and really happy to have “girl-time”).8for4 pizza

We leave Monday morning at 6:00 in the morning, if the taxi we arranged actually shows up at 4:30am. Fingers crossed!!




Food Afloat: Cooking and Eating Aboard a Tiny Ship

If you aren’t much of a foodie, you can skip this entry and not miss any Summer sailing progress. [Also, I'm open to suggestions for other topics!]  This is going to be a pure indulgence of one of my favorite subjects. Basically, I love food and this is my blog. So here it goes.

I have loved to eat my entire life. At six months old, my mother had to cut slits in my t-shirt sleeves to accommodate my hugely fat arms. “More!” was one of the first words I learned. It may be because I was surrounded by so much delicious, fresh and home made food since I was very little. We always had a big garden, my Mom always made homemade bread, my Italian grandmother always had delicious home cooked food from ‘the old world’ for us, my Jewish grandmother’s chicken soup always cured whatever ailed me and holidays were always all about being together, and whatever food went with that holiday rather than religion.


My parents often went through food and nutrition trends: There was the ‘little to no red meat’ phase in the 70s and beyond, I wasn’t allowed to have sugar or candy often, if at all (this led to a hoarding phase on my part, where I always kept a stash of candy hidden in my room (that ended abruptly after the horrific under-bed ant infestation of ’82. I still have nightmares), the “Low Fat” phase, the No Salt era (to present) and of course the on-going avoidance of canned, packaged or pre-made foods. I never even saw a ‘TV dinner’ in real life until I was 17 (at a friend’s house) – not to mention the idea of eating a meal in front of the TV. I was always proud of how, even though my Mom worked full time, we always sat down at the table together for a home cooked meal every night. If I had a softball game, they’d wait until I got home and we’d have a late dinner together.   Not only was the food delicious and healthy, but also dinners around the table were always full of laughter and stories. I always associate food with happiness, good times and traditions.  When I'm unhappy or stressed, I can hardly eat, and at my worst post-break up depression, I even lost the ability to cook my signature fettuccine alfredo properly.

When I left home to live on my own for the first time, I was dismayed to discover how expensive it was to eat the way I’d become accustomed to eating. I (half) jokingly berated my mother for raising me in a way I couldn’t afford to maintain on my own. But soon enough I was able to prioritize food and eat fairly well on cheap stuff. After college I earned the title “pasta queen” – I would make a huge pot of my Italian grandmother’s spaghetti sauce and just eat pasta pretty much every night. Oh to be young and impervious to carbs!!

Fast forward to the past ten years and I’ve become someone whose favorite hobby is experimenting in the kitchen (I’m talking about cooking and baking here). I may also be a wee bit obsessed with nutrition and health. Every time I had to look for a new home, the kitchen was one of the most important factors – no oven? No way. Electric stove instead of gas? I don’t think so. Tiny fridge and no freezer? Nuh-uh. These are challenges you face when trying to find affordable housing in Santa Cruz, California. I’ve also continuously studied up on all the food trends and real nutrition science.  I love learning as much as I can about how food affects our bodies. My own body had become a experimentation lab – I tried all kinds of things to keep myself healthy and in shape, found lots of things that worked and also many that don't. I always took every trend with a grain of sea salt – most are too extreme and end up being unhealthy if you follow too strictly. I’ve never gone whole hog following any particular trend- Paleo, Gluten Free, Low-Carb – all get a little cultish and creepy if taken too far. I mean, when a mainstream grocery store advertises “Gluten Free Canned Tuna”, that’s just bizarre and even more bizarre if that sign prompts someone to buy that tuna.GF Tuna I mostly just eat REAL food – almost everything I buy has just one ingredient – what it IS. If I want more complex things, I make them myself. Of course, given how much I love to eat and try new things, I do succumb to falling off the wagon from time to time—no sense in depriving yourself of EVERYTHING all the time. I do believe that diet and exercise are the true keys to health – there are no magic bullets and it’s all hard work. I discovered a lot of things that work and don’t work for me (and everyone’s different – there is no one size fits all when it comes to diets!). When I was working with a metabolic nutritionist, I was trying hard to follow my customized diet, and I couldn’t help but ask “Just HOW strictly do I need to follow this for it to work well?” (Essentially, I wanted to know how much I could cheat and get away with it. Willpower is not my strong suit). The answer was roughly 80% of the time I should eat to fit my metabolic type. Out of 21 meals per week, that means I could totally blow it for about 4 meals. That’s not SO bad, eh? The more I learned and the better I felt by changing my diet, the easier it became to say NO to crappy food that made me feel gross.

But of course we all have our weaknesses...and when I go bad, I go big, usually.

It was all just a big mistake
It was all just a big mistake

So, what is someone this obsessed with clean and healthy eating who loves to cook elaborate meals and experiment with baking, doing moving onto a tiny boat with a miniature oven and 3 burner stove, a 4 cubic foot refrigerator with no freezer and virtually no counter space, not to mention leaving behind the healthy hippie food center of the universe in NorCal?!? GalleycleanI asked myself that over and over again as we prepared for this life. To be honest, the thing that scared me the most about moving onto a boat and heading off into the unknown was “what am I going to eat??”

Eating my yogurt out on the dock, so I could jump around to avoid the jejenes (noseeums) in San Blas

Many cruisers eat a lot of canned and packaged food. Eating food from a can is practically against my religion. I theorized that we could get fresh local fruits and vegetables, meat and chicken just about anywhere. That’s what most local people eat, right? While I insisted on provisioning a number of dry goods that I knew would be scarce or impossible to find (almond flour, rice flour, cocoa, organic nuts, organic spices, good chocolate etc.), I categorically refused to stock canned goods as a main food source. OK I do have a couple cans of beans, black olives and coconut milk.  The fact that I am the only one on this boat who truly cares about this increased my challenges. I do all the cooking, so that makes it a lot easier. Jonny does all the dishes, which works out great (except for the last 2 weeks, I am stuck doing the dishes because I lost a bet involving Jimmy Buffet’s flip flop…but I digress). I have stuck to the original plan and it's definitely a continuous challenge, with many pitfalls, but we eat pretty well and I'm not giving up!

us groceries
California Bounty

Before I get into just what it is that we’ve been eating, I want to review the ‘tools’ I have to work with. For a long time before we left, every time I was cooking, I would mentally assess all my kitchen tools and mark them as “definitely coming with me” or “I can let this go”. I had moments of sheer terror, deep in the nights, thinking, “Oh my god, it’s never all going to fit on the boat! We’re going to STARVE!”. Jonny sternly told me that all our food and kitchen stuff had to fit in the 2 cabinets over the galley and the 3 drawers under the chart table. I assured him I would make that happen. Oh, but I also just need about HALF of the top shelf above the starboard settee. And maybe the upper storage locker next to the stove. And maybe the storage locker next to that. And maybe the ENTIRE top shelf instead of just half. Oh and the bottom shelf, too. And one storage locker under the other settee… And that’s all I need! Anyway, what else are we going to put in the main cabin? What’s more important than food, tools and spare parts? I did leave 6 other storage lockers and 2 shelves in the main cabin food-free. Oh, there may be a gallon of coconut oil hidden under the v-berth, though.

Magically all my cookware and eat-ware fit in the drawers and one cabinet. DishesPotsI had to sell my 12” All-Clad stainless pan because it didn’t fit on the stovetop. Thanks to my sister’s brilliant idea - I did take the $75 I got for it and put it towards a 10” All Clad pan that DOES fit. I use it at least once per day. So, I have that, a top of the line pressure cooker, 3 stainless pots of varying sizes (one is a double boiler, so I guess that makes 4 pots), a stainless and silicone collapsible colander, a square Corning ware casserole with a lid – that is probably well over 50 years old and belonged to my grandmother (it has a removable handle so can be used on or in the stove) and a tiny 6” Corning ware fry pan I got at a thrift store. I also have a large stainless lasagna pan that fit in the oven once Jonny bent the handles vertical (it gets stored in the oven along with my silicone and stainless cookie sheets). That’s about it (OK I may have another stainless pan hidden under the v-berth – “just in case”. Don’t tell Jonny). I find that I don’t often miss most of the things I let go. I did have to replace my bread pan(s) with one glass one – not sure what I was thinking getting rid of ALL of them. I also kept my mason jars, and replaced the rust-able lids with plastic ones. They are very handy for storing all my bulk stuff and for making sun teas, storing pistachio milks, making breakfast jars etc.MasonJars Many people eschew anything glass on a boat and I had to fight hard to bring the glassware I have – but my thinking is this: I’d rather take the risk of something breaking and having to clean it up, than to take the risk to my health of storing all my food in stinky, hard to clean, toxic-chemical leaching plastics (yes, there’s enough of those in my fridge, but the rotation is more frequent…). So far I haven’t broken anything (knock on glass!). I also insisted on bringing a few of my favorite plates and bowls – although we do have a set of stainless steel plates which are used outside or in rough conditions (Jonny calls them our “prison plates”). We also have a set of stainless cups, which are wonderful. At the last minute, I also insisted on bringing my big, metal and glass Osterizer beehive blender. I do not regret that one bit and have used it quite a lot –plugged into our 800 watt power inverter.


In my 3 little drawers, I was able to fit an amazing amount of cooking tools and silverware. Tongs are critically important, as are a variety of spatulas and spoons, a ladle, a stainless baster, potato masher, Cuisinart stick blender with mini food processor attachment (I just made some great pesto in that!), strainer, silicone veggie steamer insert, graters, measuring cups and spoons, corkscrew/bottle opener and a few good knives. There’s even room for a few other things which make me feel good to keep but I hardly ever use them (oh, like a can opener 😉 ).

I do have one storage locker for my large stainless mixing bowl and a variety of food storage containers – Snapware and these special ones from Sharper Image (remember that place?) impregnated with silver that keep food fresher longer (they really do work!). I use them all the time to store and organize things in the fridge. I occasionally wish I had just 1 or 2 more, but I manage to get by.

Speaking of my fridge – I have just started to get over my amazement at how much I can fit in there. It’s 4 cubic feet and accessed through 2 large lids on the top. There are no nice, neat shelves and really no way to have it look pretty or organized in there. Everything is just piled in on top of everything else and you have to pull out ten things just to find one. FridgepackedBut I have developed sectors and I’ve put in large storage containers to help keep some things separated and I know where everything is J. We have a Technautics Coolblue refrigeration plate (which ended up being far more expensive than what we thought we were going to get – but so far extremely happy we have this one). It is supposed to only be refrigeration – but I have discovered that if I put things right up against it, they will freeze. This has made a huge difference for me – I can buy meats and chickens and package them in meal size portions and put them in the bottom up against the plate and they will freeze solid. I’ve had up to 9 days worth of protein in there and that makes me VERY happy. The downside is that fruits and veggies need to be kept far away from the cold plate, as many do not do well after being frozen (learned that the hard way in the beginning). Sometimes when the fridge is pretty empty, it’s hard to keep things away from the freezer plate. This is the reason I got an ice cube tray with a watertight lid – it makes an effective shield between the plate and other stuff—and BONUS - it also makes ice cubes! Every two weeks I need to empty the fridge to clean up spills and debris and chip off all the ice and frost from the cold plate. In the heat we live in now, it’s usually a very welcome task.


MB Entry fish
FISH!!! Doesn't get any fresher or more local than this.

In the end, I have found that my biggest challenge is finding raw materials. In the desert of Baja, the variety of fruits and veg are very limited and I have come back from many hunting expeditions chickenless. On the other hand, I will occasionally find some things are much cheaper here – for example chia seeds and flax meal are easy to find, as are tropical fruits (pineapple and papaya are staples). When we do manage to locate abundant groceries, carrying them all back to the boat is a whole ‘nother challenge! Jonny will frequently keep us going with fish (and we hear this summer in the Sea of Cortez should provide us with bountiful fish supplies). All in all, I’ve been really proud of some of the meals I’ve been able to create and some of the baked goods I’ve turned out. I do get frustrated with the lack of counter space sometimes when I’ve got all 3 burners going and am trying to plate my latest creations. Storing enough food and cooking volumes to feed more than 2 people is not really any fun (and often impossible) and that does make me a little sad. But given that Summer is usually the smallest boat in any anchorage, we are not often the ‘go-to’ boat for socializing. I definitely feel lacking in my abilities as a hostess (something I’ve always enjoyed – hey, I’m half Jewish and a quarter Italian -I LOVE to feed people!), but I’m slowly adapting and learning to appreciate the gracious hospitality of others.

Typical Baja groceries


I often snap pictures of my creations – one of the oddest new trends in the era of smartphones, for sure (check out this interesting article ) So rather than go on and on about what I like to cook, here’s a few pictures. Happy to share recipes with anyone – just email me!

JC turkey done
Yes, I did cook a 12 lb turkey in my tiny little oven...
Orange pineapple mahi
Mahi Mahi for 4 days in a row...what to do with it next? Orange teriyaki mahi mahi...
Eggs Bene
Eggs benedict...the first and last time. The captain forbid ever making this again because I used too many dishes...
Quinoa Salad
Quinoa with a ginger lime dressing
Amazing farmer's market bounty - La Paz
Potato Latkes!
First attempt at cinnamon raisin bread
Black bean and chicken enchiladas
I love finding home-make yogurt. It's best when I can put strawberries, blueberries, papaya, pineapple, walnuts and hemp seeds in it!
Mixing leftover chicken soup with leftover pea soup...wasn't as bad as you might think!
MB JC Fried Shrimp wine
Christmas shrimp!
pancakes and home-made chicken sausage patties
On the fly/throw it together with pasta and some chorizo that wasn't so good. This meal actually looks FAR better than it was. Can't win 'em all.
Delicious and moist almond meal chocolate chip muffins
When the boat is rocking wildly back and forth, it's a terrible time to get a craving for chewy chocolate chip cookies
Lasagna is always a good thing to make before a passage - 3 easy meals hot or cold!
Deviled eggs
My first attempt at deviled eggs. I had a craving. And I threw an avocado in there. Those are jicama sticks around the outside.
ChocoAlmond bread
Chocolate almond meal bread is one of my favorites for breakfast. Not too sweet (although I found an extra tablespoon of honey and sprinkling chips on top makes the recipe just perfect)
Breakfast jars are great to make ahead of time for overnight passages. That's oat groats on the bottom and I cover it all with pistachio milk.
This is a base for my black beans - which are pressure cooker cooked first and added here
Shrimp stir fry. It can't be Mexican food all the time!
photo 1
Eggplant Parmesan
photo 2
Homemade chicken sausage has evolved to one giant patty (keeps my hands cleaner, thereby saving water!)
photo 3
Grandma's spaghetti sauce in the making
photo 4
Pesto in the making
TB Best Brownies
Best batch of brownies to date
Best Quiche
brownies done
More brownies!

Here are some of my favorite food related websites:

Just Eat Real Food

Food Renegade


The Food Babe

Smitten Kitchen


Punta de Mita to Mazatlan…and Across the Sea

I think I last left you languishing in Punta de Mita. Somehow we spent a week there – although not entirely by choice.

After Naoma left us (sniff, sniff) we moved over to the other side of the anchorage where it was (we thought) going to be a little less rolly and it was closer to Lunasea (friends we met in San Blas) and we were looking forward to hanging out with them and Mike and Nia from Azul (who we’d just met in Yelapa – and are also friends with Naomi and Alex on Lunasea! It’s a small ocean). We had an early dinner and headed over to Lunasea for a fun night of socializing and Cards Against Humanity.

Our plan was to head out to the Marietas in the afternoon and spend the night on one of the moorings, so that we’d have the place to ourselves before the tour boats showed up in the morning. Seemed like a brilliant plan and I was looking forward to finally swimming under the rock arch into the cave-beach. It was only about an hour to get out there. Unfortunately there was a weird current or something going on – because when we attached to the mooring (which was a giant metal tank) we did not spin into the wind. Normally the boat will always spin nose first into the wind when at anchor or a mooring. At a mooring this is critical so that you are always pulling back from the mooring ball. In this case we were smacking up into the mooring ball (which, as I said, was a giant metal tank…smacking the boat into a giant metal tank is no bueno). There was nothing we could really do but abandon the plan and head back to Punta Mita. Very disappointing on many levels.

Neither the town, nor the anchorage is at all appealing to me there. It’s always rough and rolly, so swimming is no fun. We scoured the town for chicken or meat and had no luck at that, either. We stocked up on a few things and were doing OK for food. Since we had a whole day to kill before we could leave again, we decided to check on what that bothersome squeak was in the steering wheel. There are 2 metal cables that go from the wheel down to pulleys and back to the rudder – to control steering in either direction. As it turns out, the metal pin through one of the pulleys was missing cotter pins and was hanging half out! Had this pin fallen out we would’ve lost the ability to turn to port and underway this could’ve been disastrous. Sticking some cotter pins in the ends seemed a simple enough thing to do, right? We tried to brush off the nagging question of “where did they go in the first place?!” and even more troublesome “what if they were never there in the first place?”. The two pulleys are set in a sort of V shape to each other right on top of the metal fuel tank, with the wide part of the V being aft – meaning to get to the inside of the pin you have to reach above the fuel tank, around to the back of the pulleys and turn your hand back 180 degrees (while laying down in the quarter berth with your head stuck inside the little opening of the engine compartment, careful not to rip out any hoses and hoping the headlamp doesn’t fall down. This task was a complete impossibility for Jonny, with his giant hands. So I crawled in there and gave it a go. I got very close, but the angle was very hard. I almost had it by using pliers to hold the pin – in fact I’m pretty sure I could’ve done it. But Jonny got impatient and said we just needed to loosen the wire to release the pulley and do it that way. So he went into the aft lazarette to loosen the cable. When he was taking the pulley down, he accidentally dropped it. It rolled back along the top of the fuel tank and fell down behind it. Loud and angry swearing ensued. There was no way we could initially find to retrieve the pulley. Emptying the starboard lazarette (which is large and contains many, many items, including our 70 lb. life raft) and removing the wall panels to see if we could get behind the fuel tank somehow seemed to be our only option. It was getting dark, so we had to call it a night to return our garage back into our home so we could have some dinner and resume this fun and exciting project in the morning. We did pull up old pictures of Summer and were able to see the possibility of getting under the fuel tank (there were 3 baffles to go over and it was too long of a distance for my arm and possible too small of a distance for Jonny’s arm. It was a fretful night.

Cockpit mess pulley


I thought perhaps I could squeeze myself into the aft lazarette (which was already emptied) and try to reach through a circular hole in the wall that separated the lazarette from the fuel tank area. There was simply no way for me to squeeze in there without potentially destroying the disks and cables of the back of the steering system. So empty the starboard lazarette we did. When Jonny removed the vertical wood panels he discovered that there was just enough room to reach around the backside of the fuel tank (not having to go under) and he retrieved that pesky pulley.

Oh! There is is!
Oh! There is is!

Jonny gets pulleyWe spent the rest of the day putting the boat back together and preparing to make our escape from Banderas Bay once and for all. I gave up on the swimming through the cave fantasy – the Curse of the Marietas won. Maybe next season??


It felt good to get moving back out to the open ocean again. We’d made plenty of tracks all around Banderas Bay and were ready for something new. It was a calm and slow sail north. So calm that I was able to bake a chocolate almond bread and defrost the ice box. I was feeling motivated! Our destination was Jaltemba – a big beach destination for local tourists. It was Semana Santa, “Holy Week” for Mexico – which as we later discovered should’ve been called Dos Semanas Santa (it went on for 2 holy weeks!). There were islands and 2 different anchorage spots near shore, we weren’t sure where we were going to end up. As we got closer we saw that the beaches on shore were simply packed with people and umbrellas. We decided to do a ‘drive by’ and check out the entire shoreline. Banana boats zipped around us and the festive vibe emanated from the shores.Jaltemba beach2 People were having a blast. Thousands of them. It was fun to see, but we decided that maybe heading out to Isla La Peña, just off shore, might be more our style. The water at the island was gorgeous and there was a small beach filled with holiday cheer. We knew everyone would be taking pangas back to mainland at dark, so we enjoyed the loud music and the people watching on the beautiful island for the afternoon.

The swimming was excellent and I couldn’t wait to go snorkeling near shore in the morning. We had a beautiful night and next morning. I took the dinghy out by myself and snorkeled off of it (holding the line so as not to lose it – Peugeot followed me around like a giant loyal dog). Jonny joined me and we covered quite a lot of ground. Lots of fishes and I even saw a small-ish sea turtle! The shore started filling up with vacationers and the music started in earnest. We’ve discovered that loud music is acceptable at any time, day or night and starting to blast it at 7 or 8 in the morning is the norm in many places. Summer Isla PenitaWe were ready to move on the short distance up to Chacala – not new, but well loved. We realized it might be crowded there, too, but we didn’t fully comprehend just how crowded it could possibly be until we pulled in to the bay. The umbrellas and people packed on the beach and in the water was mind-boggling. It was a pretty tiny beach – maybe ½ mile long? There was not a single sailboat in the anchorage, though, so we took our pick of spots. I estimated there were at least 1500 people on the beach when we arrived. We figured we wouldn’t be staying long – just to re-provision and wait for a good weather window to head out to Isla Isabella.


Francisco and Juan Diego swam out to chat with us. We exhausted our Spanish and they remembered how to ask "do you have any candy" in English.
Francisco and Juan Diego swam out to chat with us. We exhausted our Spanish and they remembered how to ask “do you have any candy” in English.

Well, you know how that goes. Another week in Chacala! After a few days we had to swim ashore and throw ourselves into the fray, just to see what was really going on there. The crowds were cheerful and everyone was having a great time. We were only 2 of about 6 gringos I saw the whole time. People here are not afraid of sand. People were rolling, sitting, burying themselves, walking around completely covered in sand. It was almost universal. Some people didn’t even bring chairs, but sculpted comfy sand holes to sit in.   We walked the length of the beach just taking in the scene. There were at least 3 bands playing at all time. When on the beach, as you walked you heard one band at a time. Some were really great! Out in the anchorage we were lucky enough to be able to hear all three of them AT ONCE. Grateful for my large jar of earplugs!


There were so many people everywhere that we didn’t feel it would be safe to leave the dinghy ashore. We were not afraid of theft so much, but more just how attractive our little Peugeot is to children. Such a temptation for climbing, bouncing and jumping…and the teeny beach at the dinghy landing area was always packed with kids. So Jonny dropped me off and I made a solo trip to Las Varas for re-provisioning. It was Saturday and I was afraid everything might be shut down for the holidays. But it was business as usual, and I was able to load up on chicken, meat and veggies (and TelCel). Everyone in Las Varas is so friendly and I kind of like that no one speaks any English. I went to the same carniceria we went to last time and the same woman selling chickens was also there. I got the feeling she remembered me. She was very sweet and helped me remember the correct Spanish for all the chicken parts. I told her I didn’t want the feet and she was quite certain I would like to make a delicious soup with them. I explained I lived on a small boat and cooking soup in this heat was not going to happen. That was much easier for me to say in Spanish than “chicken feet soup sounds totally gross to this gringa”.   It was hot and carrying all the stuff myself was hard, but it was overall quite an enjoyable outing. I managed to catch a collectivo that was just about to leave. It was full up but they managed to squeeze me and all my bags onto the corner of a seat.

More boats started showing up in the anchorage and we met some really great folks. One afternoon I dropped Jonny off on shore and rowed around in the dinghy to wait for him. That’s when I met Lynne and Rob on Aldebaran. They invited me aboard to hang out while I waited for Jonny. They are retired and have been out for 2 seasons already – they have things figured out and are enjoying livin’ the dream. I saw them again on shore when I was using internet at Chac Mool (the uber gringo restaurant that has bad food, loud music and high prices…but they don’t care if I sit there for hours and have just one drink). They were with another couple from one of the other boats. This is when I met Rob and Becky from Manatee- who are just a little bit older than us (always fun to find people our age to play with!). We had a great chat and they invited us over for drinks with Rob and Lynne that evening. (yeah I know, 2 Robs). Rob and Becky had never set foot on a sailboat until January of this year – when they took Manatee out for a sea trial!! To buy a sailboat and take off with no experience is pretty brave and ballsy. And a little bit crazy. Rob and Becky are all of the above. We had so much fun hanging out with them! A dinghy went by as we were all hanging out in their cockpit and Becky called to them and insisted they stop by. They came up for a short visit – and we got to meet three Polish people who live in Germany. I wish I could guess at how to spell their names – a man named Machek (? )And two women – one was Machek’s (?) wife and the other was named Maria. They were wonderful and I even got to learn a little Polish. We kept them from getting their dinner long enough to have a drink with us and then they went on their way.



Rob and Becky have exactly the right attitude to make this life work. They sold their house and all their stuff, made sure their 19 year old son was ok on his own (a little bewildered, but ok) and they bailed! Rob retired from the military, which was a huge part of both their lives. Quite a different set of stories than we’re used to hearing–fascinating.

Rob&Becky Card
I love this! Best part is when Jonny read it and said “Blondes verified? Maybe we can get you verified?”. He had NO idea…

They had been planning to boogie down the coast, go through the Panama Canal and head out to the Caribbean. We kind of convinced them to scrap that plan. They realized they were in no hurry, why rush and miss so much good stuff? They decided to continue down to Banderas Bay and take care of some projects, and then head up to spend the summer in the Sea of Cortez. Then work their way down to Panama next season, at a more leisurely pace. We are looking forward to catching up with them again somewhere in the Sea- they are good people and a whole lot of fun!

While online I learned that we got yet another donation!!!! THANKS goes out to Peggy in Aptos – a wonderful woman that both Jonny and I have worked with. We are so grateful that the people we know and love haven’t forgotten about us and are supportive of this out-of-the-ordinary life we’ve chosen.

We finally got our weather window to head out to Isla Isabela. Or so we thought. It’s a tricky island to anchor at and unless conditions are just so, it’s not really safe or comfortable. We headed out at night, so to arrive in the morning. In the event it wasn’t favorable we’d just continue on to Mazatlan. We had an epic sail that night. Summer was pushing beyond her top speeds and it was comfortable and warm. Fun and fast! It was a little gloomy and the wind was still too south when we arrived at Isabela. It looked gorgeous and we very much wanted to stay and explore. But there was not another boat in sight, the south swell was no good for the south facing anchorage and the winds seemed to be favoring “keep going”.

The Monas
The Monas next to Isabela

We had a good long look as we sailed around the island and sadly tacked away towards Mazatlan. Not far away, the wind died. It was so hot, rolly and slow that we decided to heave-to and go for a swim. I threw a line over for us to hold on to so that Summer couldn’t get away from us. There’s nothing like swimming in 500 feet of the most gorgeous color blue water without a bit of land in sight. The swell was pretty crazy though, so we had to be careful when trying to catch the swim ladder –which bobbed 4-5 feet up and down over our heads.

Isla Isabela
Isla Isabela


Refreshed, we motor-sailed along for the next 24 hours. In the afternoon, a bird landed on the foredeck. It was a pigeon. It looked very tired and maybe a little bit lost. It was at least 50 miles from land. He walked around cautiously, watching us and looking for a place to relax. He ended up in our cockpit. I gave him some. He would not drink on his own when I left it out for him, but everytime I held it up, he’d thirstily swallow it down.   He had bands on both legs and we guessed he was some sort of carrier pigeon. He ended up roosting on top of our solar panels and was gone by morning. Not sure where he went, but assuming he’s OK and where he belongs now!


I was not seasick, but the night watches and disjointed and lack of sleep kind of kicked my butt. I was SO tired during this 2 day trip. I was bleary-eyed as we approached Mazatlan at dawn. We entered the old harbor and anchored in the crowded, protected anchorage. It was SO calm. We hadn’t felt that calm since being at the dock in La Cruz. We slept most of the first day. We noticed Aldebaran nearby and were looking forward to catching up with Lynne and Rob again.   We also anchored near Tacman – a catamaran we remembered seeing way back in San Simeon – our first ‘new’ anchorage. I remembered the name and boat, as that was when I thought it would be clever to keep track of all the boats we saw and where they were from. I still think it’s a great idea. Maybe someday I’ll start doing that. 😉

Sunrise in Mazatlan old harbor
Sunrise in Mazatlan old harbor


The old harbor and only anchorage in Mazatlan is near the ferry and cruise ship port, and on shore is “Club Nautico”, a place that was at one time very nice and happening, so I’ve been told. Now it’s run down and neglected – but there is wifi and showers and a floating dock to tie the dinghy to – as well as 24 hour security and a gate. It’s directly across from the sewage treatment plant for all 500,000 people in Mazatlan. Most days, the wind was often just right to afford us the luxury of enjoying the fragrances wafting from the plant. Sewage PlantOne night it was so awful it actually woke me up. I ended up spraying a handkerchief with jasmine water and tying it around my face. I woke up looking like a disheveled bandito.   But other than that one thing, we had a lovely week in the free anchorage!

MazatlanHill Mazatlan roca islas

We visited with Rob and Lynne a few times, I chatted with John on Tacman and got his story and we met Alain on Blue Lagoon whose wife had just returned to their home in Tucson, Arizona.

Our first day exploring we decided to walk into Old Town Mazatlan. We went up over the rock hill and down into the Malecon and off into the town. MaleconpianolessonsWe saw the old church and Machado Square. Maz Cathedral Maz Cathedral inside     Jonny in cathedral Maz Church square Maz Machado square Maz Lot art Maz DoorThere’s a lot of history there – and cultural arts abound. There’s even an opera house/theater. It is a very clean and friendly city. We went into the Central Mercado – a huge market that sells anything and everything in individual stalls. We scoped everything out for a future food shopping trip (and no, I would not be buying an entire pig head – not that I couldn’t if I wanted to). We walked back home around the backside of the hill. It was a LOT of walking on hard city streets. We vowed to take the bus, and maybe even splurge on a pulmonia in the future. The pulmonias are ‘open air’ taxis (actual translation is pneumonia) that were invented by a guy here in the 60’s when he transformed a golf cart. They are everywhere now –cheaper than a taxi, more expensive than a bus and a fun and exciting way to take your life in your hands.



Jonny decided to figure out what was wrong with our motor mount – he had noticed that one of them looked a little loose when we arrived and he wanted to get in there and figure out what needed to be done. I went ashore for a bit while he tore about the boat and got into it. When I went back to the boat he said it looked ok, it had just come loose and he wanted to put another lock washer on it to tighten it down really well. We went ashore and asked at the office if there was a ferreteria nearby (hardware store). We got directions to walk to one not too far away. So we were set for a little adventure. We ran into Alain as we were coming in and got talking to him about what we needed – he said he thought he might have one. He also introduced us to Jesus (aka Chuy) who was very helpful and said he’d look, too. We decided to hang out for a bit on the cement benches under the dilapidated palapa and see what was going to happen. We learned a bit more Spanish with Chuy and then he went off to look for a lock washer. As we were sitting there, a small power boat came in and tied up at the dinghy dock. A few tourists came off and 2 guys hauled a big cooler up to the palapa. We got to chatting with them – they spoke excellent English and run the little tour boat. They offered us beer leftover in their cooler. They told us about Moto Week – which we just missed (darnit!) the week earlier – thousands of motorcycles descend upon Mazatlan. He said he rode a bike down from Arizona to La Paz and then took the ferry over with the bike. Sounds like a good time, but really, not sorry to have missed it. We enjoyed our beers and Alain came back with a lock washer just the right size for us. Chuy came back and said unfortunately he couldn’t find one. But we were all set. Jonny went back to put the boat back together and I stayed ashore to nurse the rest of my beer and have a shower. Not the adventure out we had expected, but all in all a pretty great afternoon.

Maz beer anchorage

Free beer!

Rob and Lynne raved about La Tramoya – a restaurant on the square. We decided that this would be the place we finally got to enjoy our fancy night out on Van and Susan. We were not disappointed! I had a delicious fresh mango margarita (Jonny had a regular one). The queso fundido appetizer was so huge that I could’ve stopped there and been fine. What’s not to love about a huge skillet of broiled cheese and peppers? I had a chicken with Oaxacan mole, stuffed with these delicate black mushrooms that apparently grow on corn, and a little whipped mountain of squash. Jonny had a delicious mahi-mahi covered in a bunch of shrimp and other sea treasures. I was enjoying it all so much that it was too late when I realized I was way too full to consider dessert. I even had to take a small bit of my chicken home with me (it was too good to leave it!).

TramoyaDrinks Tramoya Dinner


We had considered leaving from the anchorage, or perhaps one of the islands just to the west of the city. We figured we really didn’t need to go into a marina. But after a while we changed our minds. We decided to take the bus up to the Zona Dorada (Gold Zone) about 7 miles from old town – where all the hotels, marinas and touristy crap is – and have a look-see. Armed with a lot of inside info from Rob and Lynne we set off. We somehow managed to get on a bus that went right up the Malecon – along the ocean the entire way. We got to pass right through all the hotels and stuff – and seeing it quickly on a comfortable, air conditioned bus was exactly the way I wanted to see that. I had no need to wander on food through all that garbage! The marinas are kind of up and away from everything. We got off the bus and hoofed it back down and over a bridge to the Fonatur marina – the one we hoped would be cheapest. Fonatur is the Mexican tourism board, and they build a number if identical marinas through out Mexico. We stayed in one in San Blas – it was super inexpensive and good enough for our needs. The Fonatur in Mazatlan was a tiny bit more expensive than San Blas – but it was far superior in most every way. It was cleaner, the showers actually had hot water, and the walls separating the shower stalls were actually bolted down, so there was no danger of collapsing the entire shower area if you accidentally bumped one. The laundry room had working washers AND dryers. There was also a lounge area with desks, couch and books and a decent wifi signal. The docks were made of some plastic squares that appear to snap together – solid enough, but the dock fingers were extremely narrow. It ended up not being as terrifying as I thought it would be though, to jump off the boat onto them. We were going to reserve one night, but then we ended up reserving 2. It just made more sense for all the work we had to do before an early morning jump across back to Baja.


We enjoyed our visits in and around Mazatlan, but even with the buses and pulmonias, we still did a lot more walking than my crooked old back likes. My feet were pretty much throbbing the whole time. We had a few days of overcast/cooler weather, which was not unwelcome. But when the sun finally came out it was really beautiful. On Saturday I insisted on hunting down the organic farmer’s market. At the bus stop we ran into Alain, who was also heading to the market and knew just where to go. It was great to have a guide – he even brought us to a great shop near the market that makes home-made yogurt. The market itself was a bit of a disappointment – it was only about a dozen tables barely filling the square. But I got some great scores – basil, honey, kale, arugula, steak, tapioca and yucca, yucca chips, green beans, eggplant and more. Not bad. Alain took us to another part of town where there was a great bakery and Jonny loaded up on some great bolillos (and I found another organic market in the same building and got a few more goodies).

Maz salt pool
Really cool salt water pool with water slide – unfortunately it was under repairs so not open. We snuck behind the scaffolding to take this pic.
Maz OperaHouse
Opera House

MazFreemanView mazatlan flowers Maz Old ruins


After one last stinky night at the free anchorage and said good bye to Lynne and Rob (maybe we’ll see them in La Paz?).Maz Sunset It was an easy motor up around the islands and into the marina – just a couple of hours. It was fun to see Mazatlan from the boat and recognize all the buildings and places we’d visited by land. We were a bit far out when we passed the Valentino – the night club that used to be a church. Now that’s what I call progress!

MazIsland MazZonaDorada

Fonatur only had 30 foot slips available, so we squeezed Summer in and immediately got to work. She was a pretty filthy girl, so it was good to give her a nice bath. Basically, everything on the entire boat – including us and all our clothes and bedding got a thorough washing. Jonny got the dinghy washed and broken down/deflated – we did not want it strapped to the deck for our 200 mile crossing and we certainly wouldn’t tow it all that way. Jonny went up the mast and fixed the spreader boots and untangled the lazy jacks (the lines that keep the sail in place when we drop it). I did four loads of laundry and used the wait time in between to utilize the couch and wifi in the breezy lounge room. It had been over 3 weeks since I had a real shower, too (yes, there were showers at the anchorage, but they were the kind where you don’t let yourself or any of your belongings touch anything – I hung my soap and shampoo in a bag over the water handle and there was no place to hang or set anything else. Not the most pleasant experience, but you come out feeling pretty clean. These showers were nice tile, clean wooden benches, privacy door, hooks and lots of pressurized hot water. I was in heaven.

Fonatur docks are like a balance beam...
Fonatur docks are like a balance beam…


I prepped a bunch of food for our crossing so I wouldn’t have to cook as much. I pre-cooked some chicken breasts, made pesto with basil from the organic farmer’s market, cooked a whole pot of black beans, chopped up pineapple, kale, cabbage, etc. Our fridge was packed to the gills. It’s a great feeling to be fully provisioned, but it is a pain in the ass to get anything in and out of the top-down fridge set up – you have to take 10 things out to get to one and then put it all back, then you remember something else and have to take 9 things out…but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for the security of abundant eats! I also know where everything is – Jonny doesn’t ever dare go deep in there and I always make sure his coffee creamer is right on top.

We got everything done in enough time to take a field trip to Mega. We didn’t need that much, but we saw one on shore behind the big white church/disco –so we knew it was there and there were a few things we wanted (ok, it was pretty much just granola and pinguinos – chocolate cupcakes that look like hostess cupcakes, only “bakery fresh”). We caught the right bus – along with 5,000 other people…it was packed. We barely got on. Jonny had to stand in the doorway and I was right next to the driver. I squatted down as that seemed safer than standing right in front of the windshield. Although I’m sure the driver was plenty skilled to send all the texts he was sending and fussing with the coin tray while also driving the bus, I was a bit nervous. [Side note about busses: It finally occurred to me that a huge difference in the busses here compared to the states – you always have to have exact change for US busses (right?) here, they have a big open tray full of coins in rows and will give you change, no problem. I realized I always had a bit of anxiety when boarding a bus, not being sure exactly how much it cost and always trying to have a handful of coins to be able to pay the exact amount. It finally hit me, it didn’t matter – they make change! What a concept. They are trusted, as well as everyone on the bus, with a big, open tray of money just sitting right there].

It kept getting more and more packed and we ended up standing in the middle, unsure of where we were or when to get off. Luckily I spotted the Valentino and we turned left at it and next thing we knew we were at Mega.

It was all just a big mistake
It was all just a big mistake

Somehow our basket started filling up, but not too bad! OK maybe we overdid it a little on the pastries (they aren’t always as good as they look, but boy are they cheap. Many ended up as offerings to Neptune). When we were almost finished we ran into John from Synergy. He is from Moss Landing and had his boat just up from us for years – but we never actually met him until San Blas. We got to chatting with him. He had hurt his back and was stuck as Isla Isabela for a while, but finally managed to get himself to a marina the same day we came to Mazatlan. His back was still recovering, so he had rented a car to easily get around. He offered to give us a lift back to the marina. What a guy! He was done before us and even waited while we checked out. We were beyond grateful with the door to door service. He is planning to bash back home to his worried wife as soon as his back will oblige – we wished him well and hope to hear news that he made it (Larry and Amber – keep an eye out for him, will you?).

It was a beautiful sunny morning when we said ‘adios’ to mainland. Palm trees, lush greenery, bountiful fruits and vegetables. I really liked it there and was feeling a little sad about the goodbye. But I knew we’d be back next season, so it wasn’t too bad. We made our way out of the narrow channel, past the marinas that cost twice as much as Fonatur and into the open ocean. I was actually really looking forward to not walking for a couple of days. My feet needed a rest from that big, hard city!

Jonny stud
Sometimes there’s even a good view from down below…
The sun was the most brutal part of the crossing!
The sun was the most brutal part of the crossing!  Well placed sarongs are invaluable.


The wind did exactly as it was predicted to do – which was turn Southwest by the evening of our first night. Seas were flat and calm and we had a great passage. It did start to get chillier in the evenings. Unfortunately the first night I was feeling pretty gross – sort of on the verge of seasick-ish. I was bummed not to be able to enjoy the chicken pesto gnocci and the kale blue cheese salad I‘d made It was not long after I had to put on sweatpants and a fleece. This was the first time I had to put on long pants since ?? Mag Bay? Our last 2 day passage was warm day and night and I felt just fine. So I’ve come to the conclusion that seasickness is directly proportional to the amount of clothing I’m wearing. Foul weather gear is guaranteed to make me barf. Sweatpants? I felt just a little gross. After a few hours nap I was fine.

We took turns sleeping in 3-4 hour shifts and had to motor in the night when the wind died.   I plowed through a few books on watch. A good book will really keep me awake. I had to give up on Flaubert – puts me right to sleep. David Sedaris on the other hand, got me through a 12-4am watch like it was nothing (as did the leftover pesto gnocchi I was finally starving for). I think this was our best passage so far – we ate well, we slept well, got some good sailing and motored when we had to.

We arrived at Bahia de los Muertos (Bay of the Dead) as the sun was rising. We chose to anchor in front of the white sand dunes. I immediately noticed the lack of palm trees and the abundance of cactus. Being in Baja is kind of like “coming home” but after all the time on mainland I definitely know what I’m missing now.   The trade off with Baja/Sea of Cortez to Mainland is the water vs. land/food We will enjoy gorgeous, crystal clear waters, abundant fishing and very few people during our summer here, but we will miss out on lush landscapes and vegetable variety. Mainland doesn’t have the greatest of waters (from what we’ve seen so far) but land scenery is spectacular and the abundance of food to buy is great. Given how hot it’s going to be all summer, I’m looking forward to being someplace where we will be happy to spend most of every day in the water!

It’s windy and grey as I write this from the anchorage. We’ve spent most of the day napping after a big breakfast of French toast with blueberries, strawberries and pineapple. There are several other boats here. We can see, even in the gloomy weather, that the water here is amazing. Gorgeous green color all the way to the white sand beach. Our anchor chain is visible all the way to the bottom. This blustery north wind was also what was predicted – we arrived just in time and hopefully this will blow out soon and another south will come along to blow us up to La Paz.

Muertos Beach
Even more gorgeous this day when it’s not overcast