Since I can remember I have always loved the ocean. I loved the way the waves look when the crashed against the beach and the thunderous roar that came after. I loved the smell of the salt water and the way the sand felt beneath my feet. I loved the way the wind blew in my hair and rang in my ear. Now I'm sailing a boat from Washington down to the Sea of Cortez. I'm 13 and as most young teenagers I was not okay with the thought of spending two years on a small boat with my parents. As our trip has progressed, I have almost fallen in love with this new way of life. Waking up everyday and truly living with the ocean. I have fallen in love with the dolphins that visit us and play at the bow and leap around. I've fallen in love with the ocean and the way the waves slap against the hull lulling me to sleep. Most of all I'v fallen in love with traveling and meeting new people and all the different cultures that I've seen and are yet to come.
Coming and Going
For the past 5 months all we have been doing is moving. Staying for a week or so in an anchorage and then jumping on to the next weather window. Finally, on New Year’s Eve, we landed in La Paz, and we decided stay for a month at Marina de La Paz.
After being on the open road stead for some time, we all were super excited to be able to spend time in La Paz.
After hanging out at the fuel dock until the tides changed we made our way to our new dock space for the next month. As soon as we tied the boat up the wind started to howl and everyone’s halyards began to make there lovely songs as they sung and hit the masts. After checking in, we met some of the people at the marina and began to truly relax for the first time in months.
Where Oh Were is Everyone
After many months of traveling and having only met four kids, I thought La Paz was going to be the place were every kid was at. Unfortunately, there was no one my age in sight. I was not only heart broken but began questioning the trip. I knew before we left that there wasn’t going to be many kids but not having meet any kids and spending every waking moment with your parents on a 40ft boat can really make you look back on things. Finally, one day my wishes were answered and two kids my age came to town. As it turned out, they were kids that I had known when I was little and we would see them in the Gulf Islands in Canada. Quickly, getting to know each other again, we soon started to hang out every day and either play games, paddle board, and even just watch movies on some of the stormy days.
La Paz was my opportunity to get into a rhythm once again. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday we would have Spanish from 1-3. From 9-12 I would have school but after that I was free to hangout with friends play bocce ball or just relax in the hammock.
My New Family
Soon we knew almost everyone on the dock and became really close with some of the boaters. Quickly everyone felt like new aunts and uncles. We became close with the security guards and would practice our Spanish with them while they would practice their English. We even became close with some of the kids at the Orphanage and would have some good laughs while we would try out our Spanish with them.
Goodnight and Goodbye
From La Paz we headed to Coleta Lobos just 10 miles away. After that we were off to Ensenada de Murretos 40 miles away where we spent the night and then left at 4:30 in the morning for Mazatlan!
Crossing The Sea
We have done countless passages and over night trips all up and down the coast and had gotten quite used to them. This, on the other hand, would be the first time that we had to cross The Sea of Cortez. The Sea, as we call it, is the body of water that separates the Baja Pennisula from Mainland Mexico. This means that we would be out for 2 days /1 night and there would be absolutely no land for miles and miles. We made our way across The Sea with both the head and mainsail full on a beautiful beam reach,180nm, all the way to Mazatlan.
Everyday we either go to the pool and cool off during the immense heat of the day or we go to the beach to go boogie boarding. During the morning hours while it is still cool we either go to the market, breakfast, or a lovely walk on the beach. Since we have been here my grandma visited which was a blast and it was nice to have air conditioning for a little while. Now we are getting into a routine of boating and resort life which isn’t to hard to take.
Going out for dinner
Jumping off the rocks at the pool
The Journey to Baja December 4, 2014
We left San Diego with a group of 5 sailboats. SV The Red Thread who we have been with since San Francisco was without a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) so they would be following us all night and down the whole Baja coast for safety. As we left San Diego, everyone was taking pictures and enjoying the beautiful sunset and our last views of the USA. At 6ish I was laying in bed watching a movie and soon was asleep for the next 12 hours. When I woke up, we were just outside of Ensenada and were ready to get in.
Checking In December 5, 2014
We were at the dock early in the morning and with another boat that had left San Diego with us, sv Astraea. After going to the office, they told us that it wasn’t open until 9am so we grabbed a quick nap and went back to the office around 10ish. At the office we waited in a little room with wifi with our new friends from Astrea and Adagio. All of us were starting to worry due to the fact that Customs was closing at 2 and wouldn’t be open for 3 days and that there were a bunch of boats checking in and the guidebooks say it takes 3 hours each! Finally, the office opened and we were told that the person that would give us a ride would be there in 20 minutes. After 20 minutes we asked again and were told that it was 20 more minutes. This went on for several hours until the car arrived and slowly we made our way to Customs by noonish. Customs was one big building with multiple offices inside. Once we were inside there was a person at the marina who was almost like a guide. First we went to get checked in at Immigration and then to get the TIP (Temporary Import Permit which allows us to keep the boat in Mexico for 10 years) and a lot of back and forth and all around. We finished and we were off to Telcel for a phone. After figuring out the phone in Spanglish, we headed for our first meal in Mexico which ironically was Mcdonalds and our last meal in the States was Mexican.
My Longest Jump December 8, 2014
After a few days in Ensenada we were very ready to go. Since I flew down to San Fransisco I hadn’t had to do any overnight passages let alone being out at sea for several days. I wasn’t very nervous and I was ready to go to Turtle Bay ( Bahia Tortuga). The passage wasn’t bad although at times it was a little rolly. All in all it was a good first passage for several nights. The whole time I spent in my room either sleeping, reading, or watching TV. In the whole 3 days and 2 nights, 275 nautical miles, and half way down the Baja coast, I ate only one hot dog and a couple chocolate chip cookies but, to my mother’s happiness I drank a ton of water.
Turtle bay December 9, 2014
The kids play in old abandon buildings. The roofs have collapsed and wires stick out in random places. Broken glass bottles are spread around but the smiles on the kids faces almost makes the sad house look like a real home. The alarm systems for houses consist of little chihuahua that won’t stop barking. There is a group of stray dogs that wander the streets and lay in the shade to avoid the immense heat. Some adults work while others do laundry or talk to their friends. Once in a while we would pass a group of kids and say, “Hola” and they would giggle and laugh.The houses were very small and only a few windows. Some houses had cardboard or plywood covering the windows while others just had a sheet. Although the town didn’t have any paved roads and the markets were almost barren the people always smiled and the kids were always laughing and playing together. At Turtle bay we did a little fishing off the boat for bait fish and in the mornings we would watch the dolphins all around the boat while pelicans dive bombed all around. After a little vacation in Turtle Bay we were off to Abreojos.
Abreojos December 10,2014
After the Turtle Bay to Ensenada run the rest of the trips would be just one day and one night at sea. Abreojos was a big bay and didn’t feel very protected at all. We quickly jumped into the skiff and landed on shore.As we were walking along an American woman comes running towards us with a huge smile on her face. After talking for awhile, we learned that she lived here with her husband for part of the year and Truckee, Ca. for the other part. She was happy to see a bunch of boats in the bay and she offered us a ride and was so friendly. As we were leaving the beach a huge wave came and got me and Nanuq completely soaked! After quick showers we had a snack and were off to bed.
Magdalena Bay December 11, 2014
After a very long night from Abreojos to Magdalena Bay we were ready for some rest and a nice dinner. I was down below when we entered Mag Bay and it felt very rough. My parents came down below and said that we made it which was a little upsetting because it was so windy and bumpy in the bay.. We quickly got the skiff down which was quite a show and hurried into shore. On shore the water was crystal clear and it was very, very warm. We watched on the beach as Namaste and the other boats rose up showing their bottom paint and went down with a crash burying their bows and splashing water everywhere. After we took our last steps on solid land we hopped in the skiff and headed back out to the boat. Getting on to the boat was nearly impossible with the violent thrashing of the boat going up and down. We all decided that it was rough with seas 2-3ft at 1 second so we tied the dinghy up to the boat and planned to hoist it later onto the boat when the winds died down. I was laying down below feeling very, very sea sick and hoping soon that it would end or we would leave the anchorage because we all knew it was better out there than in the anchorage. At around dusk my mom went out to check on things and started screaming “THE SKIFF IS GONE, THE SKIFF IS FLOATING AWAY!!!!!!!!!!” All of us quickly jumped up and got into action mode. WE started the engine, lifted 175 ft of chain, turned the boat around and head to our skiff which was quickly heading for Japan! When we got close enough my dad hooked the boat around a handle and jumped in. I was holding on to the boat hook which was very hard because the boat would rise up and the skiff would go down and this happened with every wave. We tied up the skiff and turned around to go back and reset the anchor in a new place. While we were moving, I went down below to check on everything to find Nanuq shaking, panting, and crying. While we were still heading to reanchor I had to sit down below and calm the dog down while I felt like I might vomit. We anchored and then we began to raise the skiff my parents were in the skiff while I was on the boat. The plan was to hook the skiff with the davit lines, then my dad would hop on the boat while my mom stayed in the skiff to keep it away from the wind vane. I lowered the lines and then we attached them to the skiff.. I watched as they tried to attach the lines which was tricky because Namaste would go down into the water they would attach the lines and then she would launch way out of the water along with the skiff creating a violent pull of the davits which could have broken the arch. Then dad hopped out and we hoisted up the skiff until it was clear of the wind vane.. Lastly, my mom would have to jump out and land on the boat. She timed it and safely made it to the boat. After that was over we all went down below to try and get some rest which we all knew wasn’t going to happen but somehow we did get some rest.
No Bad Days December 13, 2014
WE made it to Cabo after a very rough night at sea. When we arrived, tour boats and fishing boats along with jet skis and parra sailors who got a little too close. Pangas and jet skis were coming from all different directions and fishing boats we lifting off huge waves. We quickly found a good spot and fell asleep almost instantly. After some naps we went into shore to have some pina coladas and margaritas. While in Cabo we went to Lovers and Divorce beach with our boating friends for the day. We dinghied over to the arch and hung out in town with all the boating people.
Its a Little Sporty Out
The Wind howled around like wolves on a full moon. The little waves slapped against the boat creating a soft rhythm to sleep with. All night the wind generator was spinning so quickly I thought it was going to fly off. The little rain drops hit Namaste’s deck like little tears. That morning we woke up and it was still a little windy not like the night before. We lifted the anchor and headed out of Mission Bay. As soon as we made the turn out of the bay the waves began to grow and soon the seas were huge. As we were heading out of the breakwater, lobster pots started to spot the water like freckles on a person’s face. We would watch for the pots and we would only see one but as the waves carried us upward and five more pots would appear then as soon as they came there gone. The waves seem to grow and I was quickly beginning to be sea sick. As we started to turn down to San Diego the waves were confused and messy. As the trip progressed, the waves continued to follow us. About an hour in we had our first sea sickness aboard Namaste by Nanuq. The trip was over fairly quickly but it was very, very rough. As we enter San Diego, sailboats and powerboats came at us from all directions. Soon we made it through all the craziness and made it safe to the dock at Chula Vista.
Chula Vista (Thanksgiving)
After a hard day at sea we relaxed poolside and in the jacuzzi. We soon got wifi and I quickly started to stock up on watching Greys Anatomy and enjoying every episode knowing soon we wouldn’t have wifi. We enjoyed staying there and the lovely accommodations. After a few days of busy, crazy packing and many trips to Costco and Ralphs , we finally got to relax for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. I was very homesick and sad over Thanksgiving. I was sad that we weren’t back at our home slaving all day to cook a wonderful meal. I missed watching the parade and seeing all the incredible floats then watching the dog show afterwards. I missed so much the smell of the Turkey and how amazing the pies smelled as they ventured around the house filling it with joy and happiness. I missed the way our fireplace looked as the flames danced around and the heat flickered off my face making my cold bones slowly defrost.
San Diego Zoo
Bright pink flamingos welcomed us into the zoo. Koalas crawled in trees and red pandas slept in the trees while pandas enjoyed an afternoon snack of bamboo. Polar bears napped in the sun while gorillas happened around. The most amazing animal for me was the elephant. They walked with such great pride and the ground seemed to move as they walked all around. Their long tusks hung low to the ground and their trunk swung back and forth. Over all the zoo was a lot of fun and the animals were amazing to see but one day I hope to be see them in their home in the wild. The zoo was great and a ton of fun and I definitely recommend it for people.
Today we did our last shopping in the US and we had our last dinner which was ironically Mexican food. It is weird to think back to the Day we left and all the packing and unpacking we have gone through. I remember the day my parents told me my childhood house was going to be sold and the last night I spent in my old room. I remembered the day my parents picked me up from school early and we spent the last few hours in the place that I grew to love. I remember the week that we moved three times and the moving never seemed to stop. Now I look and see how far we have come and how much I have changed. In the beginning if you asked me about the trip I would tell you that my parents are crazy and that this trip is a mid life crisis. Now I see this trip is so much more. It’s a doorway to uncharted lands and an opportunity that I am so lucky to have. Soon we will be in Mexico and then we will truly be living the boaters dream.
Monterey Bay October 27, 2014
The cold morning fog slowly creeps its way over the sky as the sun rises and warms the land. Rain droplets dance on the dodger and slowly fall and disappear. Sea lions bellow and wail throughout the day on a constant reel. Little sea otters prance around in the water playing and fetching food. Storm clouds are off in the distant like a lion watching its prey. I sit and watch as divers and fisherman run about and seals play just under the surface. We all shuffle around as we gather laundry and clean up ship.
People from town migrate their way towards the little marina and pier mostly to gawk at the sea lions and otters. Divers walk around in full dry suits and tanks. The Coast Guard sounds different alarms and does different drills which is amazing to watch.
Cannery Row is bustling with people from all over the world shopping and enjoying the scenery of this beautiful bay. I sit and think back to Berkeley and San Francisco and all of the memories that I will always carry with me.
Earlier in the week we went to the famous Monterey Aquarium which was amazing. Seeing all the tropical fish and all the sea life that is right under the boat. It was an eye opening experience and not a bad first boat school field trip.
We have also taken many walks on fantastic beaches and seen some incredibly huge waves which was cool to see. The different landscapes that we have seen going down the coast still amazes me and all the different wildlife that I have come accustomed to is truly unbelievable.
A Day’s Cycle
In the morning we grabbed our backpacks and head to Cannery Row. From there we hopped on bikes and headed towards Lovers Point. As we made the pilgrimage out to the point, waves crested and crashed all around creating a beautiful glacier color in the water. The wind blew hard and the spray of the waves dampened our clothes. As we peddled out to the point we stopped at various attractions like the oldest light house, Point Pinos which is 159 years old and a butterfly sanctuary.
Fly away with me
The waves crash onto the rocks creating a thunderous noise that echoes in my ear. Surfers wait for their next wave while birds dive into the ocean around them. The wind howls and the swell builds some reaching 20ft. As we pedal more inland we reach a monarch sanctuary. Little butterflies are all around us. some are starting to form little clusters others enjoy the warmth of the sun as they dance around. We watch in awe as they fly around us and play with each other.
Guide me home
After seeing the butterflies we made the trek out to the oldest light house on the west coast, Point Pinos. At first glance it looked like a normal little light house but on the inside it was a portal back in time. The lighthouse brought us back to World War 11 and led us back in time to having tea on Sunday with the old light house keeper in the 1800’s. The one thing that stood out to me the most was a little room on the top floor that had an old phone, typewriter , war uniform , and an old fashioned radio that still played wonderful music. In that room I could picture a young couple laughing and dancing to the radio with not a care in the world, all that mattered was each other. I could picture the fear that ran in that room when they had to have blackouts or when Pearl Harbor was attacked. I could picture all the things the room had seen and heard whether a women watching and waiting for her husband to come home or a solider watching for the enemy ship to come into view.
The Last Call
August 30, 2014
Anxiety and stressed filled my days as we inched our way closer to our great goodbye. I was nervous about being on open waters and rough seas and most of all, not knowing what could happen out on the great blue sea. Our incredibly close friends helped me a lot. They were great mentors and second parents through all of the stress. About a week before we were leaving, they offered that I could stay with them while my parents came down the coast. I would fly and meet them in San Francisco where our extended family lives. The idea was brilliant. All we had to do was figure out flights and times. Next thing I knew we had our good bye party and were off to Port Angeles to get hauled out. The big plan was for me to visit with different friends while my parents went down the coast. All was good and I was on my way to two weeks of complete freedom!!!!!
During the two weeks of freedom, I hung out with many friends and enjoyed my last little bit of Washington. I went cliff jumping , hiking, sailing, and had fun just hanging out with some pretty amazing people. Unfortunately, in the back of my mind there was a constant cloud of gloom that shortly, I will have to say goodbye for a little while.
The day I left is something that I will never be able to forget. I remember waking up, packing, and eating my last meal in our small little town of Port Ludlow. I remember picking up my best friend and saying goodbye to her mom, who had “ adopted” me into their family. I remember the conversations between her and our friend Anne. We laughed and talked but all of us knew that goodbyes were getting closer. I remember waving to just about every car on the freeway and just enjoying my last taste of home.
When we arrived at the airport we still laughed and talked. We had a great lunch and made new memories. Then it hit us. As we walked to the gate I could feel my stomach turn and twist. I think we all felt the same way. At the gate we all hugged and mainly cried. My friend and I who are about the least emotional people cried more than we ever have in the past year. I will never forget all of us hugging and all of us holding each other for what was going to be the last time for what would feel like infinity . I remember handing the lady my ticket and all of us hugging for the last time. Most of all I remember how it felt to walk down the gateway and seeing their faces for the last time. I recall crying for most of the flight, thinking about what had happened and trying to figure out what is going to happen next.
|Ellie and I enjoying summer fun at Lake Crescent, Port Angeles, Wa.|
|Polly and I hiking Hurricane Ridge, Port Angeles, Wa.|
|Polly and I enjoying each other's company before boarding my plane to meet my parents in SF.|