The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ten miles shy of destination Isla Grande, January 29, 2015

We are just 10 miles from our next stop, Isla Grande, near Zihuat. The trip down was good by most accounts. It started with fairly flat seas and little wind, but the wind built until we had a nice run for about 12 hours with sails only. Sounds crazy to be excited about sailing, we are on a sailboat after all, but the winds are usually light in this area. Otherwise we motor sailed on and off for the 36 hour leg. The difficult thing about one overnight at sea is you never get into a groove. The first night is hard to sleep when you are off watch, making the days long and tiresome. After several days at sea, you learn to fall fast asleep the minute your head hits the pillow and you are off watch. The kids are learning to amuse themselves with something other than electronics. Zander made an entire rope ladder out of spare line. Porter has been busy with legos and jewelry making (he needs more friends for the number of friendship bracelets he is making). As always, Ana is content with her crafts and her toys.
We had numerous dolphins on the bow and several sea turtle sightings to report to the ProFaunaBaha folks. One of our many ongoing science projects. Others include our secchi disc recordings, our microplastic collection and whale sighting entry into a global database.
We are tired and hot and ready to be there. We have an outdoor shower that we often cool off in during hot crossings. Unfortunately, for the second time, a hose clamp to a pressure water line worked its way off and we lost some water before discovering the break. Plenty of water, just no pressure until Mike can get in the engine compartment and fix the leak. Looking forward to a swim at Isla Grande.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jumped the gun headed to Zihuat, January 27, 2015

Set out at 9am this morning for the long trip to Zihuat.  The weather has been benign lately, mostly variable winds off the coast of Mexico.  We sailed out of the bay with 15 knots of wind.  It was great for the first 5 miles or so as we headed out of the bay.  Once out, we hoped the wind would change up a little, instead we found ourselves heading to weather with 18 knots of wind and sailing into white caps.  After about three hours of bashing and the kids feeling sick, and only make about 3 knots in the direction we wanted, we made the hard call to retreat.  It is frustrating to lose that much time, but looking more closely at the weather charts, there was a short 12 hour, predicted, period of wind on our nose and we decided to head right into it!  Sailing 101; check your weather right before you head out!  We are currently tucked into Manzanillo where we will wait out the rest of the afternoon and head back out in the early evening.  At least the kids will sleep through it if it is still rolly.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Melaque, January 24, 2015

Porter just came back to the boat having seen a tufted puffin.  Hmm,  never mind that the southern distribution of a tufted puffin is probably the Pacific Northwest, it was fun to see him excited from a solo excursion in the kayak, return to the boat and pull the bird books down to ID a new bird.  Sure he can claim an Arctic bird in Mexico. Thinking tern, but I hate to burst his bubble.  

The boys are quickly outpacing me in their knowledge of boat systems.  They both raise sails pretty efficiently, can lower and raise the anchor, lower and raise the dinghy off the davits and land the dinghy better than I can in surf or rocky beaches.  They communicate on the VHF radio with other boats fairly professionally and probably have a better understanding of the electrical systems on the boat.....what switch gets flipped when we are on shore power, making power with the generator, drawing power from the  batteries (DC power) or solar panels.  In fairness to me, all knowledge stems from their need to have devices charged, but we are slowly weening them of their need for those.  A few games in the morning, the occasional movie in the evening or when we are doing a rough crossing, downloading a new game when we have our sporadic wifi.  More of the device time is starting to be filled with electronic reading, so I’m grateful for that.  Neither boy had a huge love for reading to themselves before we left, so we are trying to slowly change that, and if successful I will definitely be doing a happy dance.  They both still love being read to, so we do spend time reading history books and other biographies to them, which is nice to have time for. 

We are currently anchored out from the small town of Melaque.  We have met up with friends on Family Circus and Apropos. Last night we enjoyed a lovely dinner of fish tacos on Family Circus.  6 adults and nine kids aboard and it never felt cramped, we are slowly being sold on catamarans.  Next cruise!  We've been swimming, the kids have been boating, we've taken the dinghy back across the bay to meet the french baker, we've shared meals with friends and we are just taking it easy in Melaque.  The homeschooling continues, although we've been on a lighter schedule lately. We've had a few friends ask us what we do all day.  A typical day at anchor goes something like this:

Wake up, listen to any radio net that may be available (usually in more populated anchorages or towns).  Otherwise we get on the SSB radio and listen for weather or download a weather fax.
Breakfast and then homeschooling for the kids. Mike usually has at least one project to work on.  Yesterday, for example, he fixed the boost pump for our water maker.  There is always something on a boat.  In fact, more than once I have heard sailors say "cruising is just boat maintenance in foreign ports".  Knock on wood, we've been pretty lucky with systems working well, but that is mostly because of the time Mike spent making sure everything was working well before we left the dock.  At some point, things will start to break or need general maintenance.  
Homeschooling for the kids: The boys do a lesson in Saxon Math pretty much every day, a journal entry and then they alternate between other subjects that we don't typically do daily.  Science is usually hands on, Zander is currently reading the PADI open water diver manual and is learning tons of physics.  Writing is dreaded by both boys, but usually consists of book reports, blog entries, letters to grandparents and the occasional research project when we have wifi.  History consists of being read the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer.  I can’t recommend her books enough.  The boys love them and tolerate the accompanying workbooks.   No, I don’t expect they will remember every detail or date, but they get a general sense of which past societies were most influential and they learn little nuggets of trivia that are relevant today.  Several days ago Zander was reading an Astrix comic book and I heard him say “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered). Napoleon didn’t say that, Cesar did”.  OK, so abstract latin sayings won’t get him writing essay’s better, but it is fun to see him recognizing historically significant content in his reading.  Otherwise we have plenty of supplemental resources; books on local history and culture, ID guides (fish, star, bird, and marine mammal), sexton (used once so far), documentaries (when we need a break or on passages) and many other educational apps and online resources.  Spanish is coming slowly, but we are trying to bring more and more of that into our conversations.  We are finding, unfortunately, while cruising, the kids are exposed to a surprisingly little actual Spanish learning opportunity.  Too much time with Mom and Dad and not enough time with locals. What is Anakena doing all this time? She is amazingly content to stay on the boat....forever, I think!  She loves doing her homework, she plays for hours with her toys and in constantly creating little crafts that we have to find a place to hang.  She is not always easy, she still needs a lot of help with things aboard.  Sailboats aren’t necessarily made for 4 year olds, but we are working on her being more and more independent.  What am I doing?  Trying to keep the boys on task......I can’t even say I am instructing most of the time, I’m just tying to keep them focused, not in each others space and productive.  Nothing short of a miracle some days!
After school we get to play.  We usually do some sort of excursion and get off the boat; a snorkeling trip, kayak/paddle board tour, boogie boarding or something similar.  We will also spend time ashore either doing errands in town or hanging out on the beach watching the kids play and catching up with computer projects.  If we are anchored off a town, there are invariably errands we will need to run; provisioning, hardware store runs, diesel runs, etc.  If we are anchored off a quieter beach we often just hang out playing on the beach until the sun goes down.  
Evenings are quiet.  If we are sharing an anchorage with friends we love to try and get as much socializing in as possible.  If not, we hang out on the boat in the cockpit reading to the kids, watching for shooting stars, playing games and there is always the occasional movie session (more often than I care to admit).  Nights are early, we are usually in bed near cruisers midnight (which is about 9pm).
The wonderful thing about cruising is there are just enough moments in the day that you are truly working hard (exhausting watches, less than comfortable sailing, extreme cooking (try cooking bacon and boiling water when the boat is lurching around), jerry rigging systems at sea or trouble shooting systems at anchor that you never feel like you are on vacation.  You are constantly trying to keep a boat afloat, kids educated, entertained and healthy and not kill each other in an environment that just happens to look and feel very close to paradise. It is not all magic, but there are magical moments that make the seasickness, the crusty clothes, the absence of certain comforts all worth while, and then some.  We are truly lucky to be out here, and most days we remember it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The French Baker, January 21, 2015

Ding, ding, ding....a soft voice over the VHF says "the French Baker is on B dock" and we are all out of bed, scrambling for our clothes, trying to get to B dock before the baker motors away in his boat. The French baker services the marina, the boats anchored out and many of the restaurants in Barra de Navidad with amazing, fresh from the oven, pastries, baguettes and croissants. He motors around with his little bell, a lovely alarm clock for many of the boats in the marina. Since it was our last day in Barra we indulged ourselves and bought mini key lime pies, chocolate croissants and cinnamon rolls. $30 dollars poorer, but with happy bellies we left Barra and headed 2 miles up the coast to Melaque. We are hoping to meet up with some other kid boats here and then start the 200 mile leg to Zihuatanejo. We are dragging our feet, stalling, hoping the wind forecasts change, but as it stands we are looking at motoring the majority of the next leg. Those notoriously light winds off the coast of southern Mexico are slowing our progress, but with every passing day, our chances of overlapping with friends in Zihuatanejo increases. We really need to make some southerly progress, but February 2nd starts Sailfest in Zihuatanejo, which brings many of the friends we have met over the last 4 months to the same place before everyone starts breaking off and going their separate ways. Sailfest is a week of organized activities, sailing related, that all benefit the local schools. From Zihuatanejo, those that will spend more than one season in Mexico will start retracing their steps and heading north to be out of the hurricane latitudes before June, those that will puddle jump (cross the Pacific) will start provisioning and either leave from PV or close to in March and the rest of us headed south through Central America and into Panama will have to start moving as well. June seems a long ways away, but we need to be in a hurricane safe spot in the next 5 months. If we continue as planned and decide to cross the Atlantic we need to be out of Florida by the middle of May. If we decide to abort our European plans we can stay far south, maybe Colombia, and we can move at a much slower pace. We sure would love to sail to Europe, but that seems like a lot of Ocean to cross with three kids. Still pondering......

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sea Turtles, by Zander, January 20, 2015

Did you know there are 5 species of sea turtle in Mexico?  One common sea turtle is the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, or in Mexico called the Golfina.  The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle can lay eggs three times a year and up to 100 eggs each time.  They go to the beaches in Mexico and bury their eggs in the sand.  When the baby turtles hatch they have to crawl out of the sand and make their way to the water before a predator tries to eat them.  One in 100 baby turtles make it to the water alive.  One in a 1000 turtles will make it back to lay eggs.  They usually try to come back to the beach they hatched at.  The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle is threatened, but most sea turtles are endangered.  They are threatened because of people on the beach, other predators, getting caught in fishing nets and light confusing them on the shore.

At the Grand Mayan we were able to release some of the baby turtles.  The rangers collect the eggs at night from the turtles that come to shore.  They protect the eggs in cages until the baby turtles are hatched.  They released about 30 sea turtles when we were there.  They were all Olive Ridley's.  It was really cool releasing sea turtles.

Moving south, January 16, 2015

A slight break since my last entry, we’ve been off the beach and have had visitors, so I'm a little behind in the writing. While in Puerto Vallarta we enjoyed a week off in the Grand Mayan Palace with my parents and my grandfather.  I know, how do we deserve a week off when we’ve been “off” for the last 4 months?  You’d be surprised, a week free of boat maintenance, bottom scrubbing, simple tasks that are more difficult on a boat (laundry, provisioning, cooking when we are underway, etc.) was like heaven.  The hotel’s kitchenette felt like Chef Ramsey’s gourmet kitchen, the king sized clean sheets minus the sand and salt were luxurious and other amenities were greatly appreciated by all that regularly inhabit the Pelagic.  We also took a week off of the homeschooling and I’m not sure who was more excited, the students or the teacher! One of the highlights of our stay at the resort was participating in a sea turtle release program.  Zander is planning to write about that in his next blog, so I will leave the details to him.

We had a lovely, albeit short visit with my grandfather, who flew down to PV for two days to share his condo with us.  We also squeezed in an additional Christmas celebration and the kids opened presents from the family which came down with my parents.  They were all excited about their new loot and now we just have to find a place to stow it all on the boat.  I guess Porter will need to mount his compound bow next to his rarely used guitar on the top side of his bunk.  I think I may be sneaking a few things in my parents suitcases to take back!

We enjoyed a week off and then spent an additional few days in the PV area.  Finally on January 12th we started our trek south, this time with two additional sailors on board.  My parents visited Yelapa, Chamela, Bahia Tenacatita and Barra de Navidad with us.  In Yelapa we toured the small hanging village that had been deeded to the community by the King of Spain back in the 1500’s.  We took, probably, the most exciting water taxi ride of our lives into the beach.  Anchoring is discouraged in Yelapa and a mooring buoy includes a ride to and from the beach.  We were picked up from our boat and while the driver waited for the perfect conditions, we wondered how we were possibly going to get in through the  waves and up on the steep beach.  Finally, the driver told us all to get in the back and hold on tight to the bambino!  What?  Before we had a chance to second guess his tactics, he roared in past the surf, pulled the outboard up and parked his boat, on dry sand, between two very surprised Canadian tourists sitting on the beach enjoying their cocktails.  Our look of terror was quickly replaced by whoops of joy from the kids.  They loved it!  Certainly worth our 200 pesos!  From Yelapa we did a night sail (more like a night motor/sail) with light winds down 70 miles to Bahia Chamela.  This was by far the slowest leg of our trip.  We had a counter current and even when we were sailing our speed on the GPS was so slow, the leg took us almost twice as long as usual.  In Chamela we kayaked, snorkeled and paddle boarded around the bay.  Leaving Chamela we stopped in Paraiso, a secluded little gem of an anchorage.  We shared the anchorage with one other boat, but we felt like we had it all to ourselves.  The cove had a palm tree lined, white sand beach, the snorkeling was pretty good right from the boat (clarity could be better, but we saw a few new species of fish).  It was a rolly night, but worth it for the solitude.  Mexico has become a very popular cruising ground and there aren’t many anchorages that you have almost to yourself!  We mostly sailed to our next stop of Tenacatita, but were able to fly the spinnaker, which everyone always enjoys.  Along the way we saw distant whales, dolphins and caught a small dorado.  In Tenacatita we took a mangrove tour in the dinghy and saw 29 species of birds and a coatimundi (they look like our raccoons, but are much more elusive).  Back on the boat we had a relaxing afternoon catching up with boat projects and homeschooling and taking turns playing with the kids.  If space wasn’t an issue, 4 adults to 3 kids would be a pretty good ratio on a boat.  

It has been nice to have guests and it is one thing we truly miss while we are away.  When I peek at Zander and Porter’s journals, the only thing they ever complain about (besides the school work) is missing friends and family. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Leaving Puerto Vallarta, January 13, 2015

Today we head south out of Puerto Vallarta and onto out next leg of the trip.  We've been sailing with boats from all over the west coast for the last 4 months and have made some amazing friends.  Sadly, we will start parting ways with some of those friends as we decide on different routes around the globe.  From Puerto Vallarta many boaters choose to take the big leap and puddle jump towards French Polynesia.  Several will choose to go as far south as Zihuatenajo before heading west, but Puerto Vallarta is a logistically easy place to leave from.  With much sadness we say good bye to some lovely families and hope our paths will cross at some point in the future.

On reflection, our last 4 months has been a pendulum ride of adventure, emotions and self discovery. The ride continues as we move further south and further away from all this is familiar and comfortable.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

La Cruz, December 30, 2014

We are back in a marina.  Although it has only been two weeks, it is so nice to be tied up.    We have never ending power, which means no worrying about our batteries and how much power we are using.  The power consumption battle is the constant on a sailboat.  Unfortunately, we don’t have quite enough power sources to keep up with our power demands, which means every couple of days, if we haven’t run the engine, we have to power up the generator for a few hours.  No big deal, it just feels better when you can get it all with solar or wind.  We opted not to spend the extra 5K on a wind generator this time around.  I think if we were doing the puddle jump across the Pacific or a lap around the globe we would definitely have splurged, but for just two years, we can handle a little  generator noise.  All those 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5K purchases add up and we can cruise an extra couple of months on that money saved.  Likewise, we have infinite water on the dock.  We can splurge on more than 30 second showers and we can wash both sides of our dishes!  Actually we have been pretty impressed with how long we can go without filling up our 200 gallon water tank.  We do have a reverse osmosis water maker, but in between using it we have to pickle it, so we don’t use it unless we have to.  We are finding that we can go about 10 days on one tank of water, even showering off between salt water swims and doing the occasional small hand washing load (and I emphasize small to the kids.  “What can you possible not do without for another couple of days?”).  

The other wonderful thing about being tied up to the dock is not having to prearrange every dinghy ride.  The boys can come and go as they please, visit friends, roam the docks, take the bike out, all without us having to be with them.  While I love hanging out with my children, it's probably no surprise that 24/7 is a little overrated!  

We will be here for another few days.  There are several other kid boats that we have become friends with also in the marina, so everyone gets playdates, adults included!  On the third my parents and my grandfather fly down to PV to spend a week with us at one of my grandparents timeshares.  Yipee, fresh sheets that aren’t immediately caked with sand, towels that don’t stand upright on their own because of the salt content, toilets that you don’t have to pump, a stand up refrigerator........I could go on.  We are excited to take a break from the boat.  We love it, but we appreciate a break as well.  It is going to be great to have company and we are all very excited to see family!