Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Splash of Reality

All you’ve heard about the adventure aboard Kamaya is a rosy painting of everywhere. Now I’m talking to those of you who might visit us, that’s not really how it is. For example, in Los Islotes, with Oma, I didn’t say anything about jellyfish did I? No I didn’t, actually I have been getting jellyfished the entire trip down, but I will give more detail later, because you get the point. Also there are many nasty odors, when we catch a fish there aren’t many great smells there, or when we’ve anchored by islands covered in guano (bird poop.) I often shut my hatch and close my door. Or in Mazatlan, where the forward head stunk so much that we had to take it out and clean it. In Bahia Santa Maria Kai and Bendon got pinched by blue crabs. There was some trouble with cacti in Isla San Martine for mommy and I. Sometimes we have to eat lobster, and don’t get breakfast or a few bites for dinner. There has also been some incidents: kids and grown-ups have fallen down the Stairs and recently Kai got bonked on the head by a chessboard and a light sabor that had rolled down off it’s place.

Jellyfish:
The jellyfish that hurt the most are the little ones. The first time I was stung by a large jellyfish. My foot got tangled with the jellyfish. After that I probably got attacked by fifty something jellyfish. The best cure we’ve found is to squeeze lime on the skin.

Sun:
I just plain hate the extreme heat and having to put on sun-block every day. Maybe I should move to Alaska.

Bugs:
The no-see-ums come out at sunset, especially in San Blas and Chacala. That’s where we suffered from many mosquito bites. There have also been little water things that prickle your legs and a few seconds after you get out you feel this tingling but think you’re imagining it. Once you’ve gotten out of the dingy it starts hurting, by the time you’ve dried off the little things are burning. So I scream that I need some lime and it begins to stop.

Toilets:
One of the hardest parts about using a marine toilet is you can’t put toilet paper in the toilet. You have to pump the toilet, some people aren’t very good at pumping, like my brother, Kai, who leaves poop in the toilet because he doesn’t do a good job pumping. When we sailed from La Paz to Mazatlan, we noticed that our head stank a lot and so my Dad had to take the whole toilet out and fix it. When we got the boat the aft head didn’t work so everyone had to use the forward head, it took a while to fix it and we’ve learned to put vinegar into the head.

Beware the cacti:
We went to Isla San Martin and decided not to go swimming because it was a little cold. When we got to land, there were nasty flies. We hiked up what looked like the trail heading to the lava-tubes that Charlie’s Charts talks about, and that’s when we saw them: the cacti. They didn’t look bad, at first, my mom turned a different way and from our perspective she seemed to be bush-wacking. Then we heard her yell, “help!” My dad had to go get her. At the same time, my foot got pricked on a cacti. My mom yelled more desperate, “forget the kids, help me!” She had cacti on both her hands and her feet and couldn’t move. So we went back to the dingy after getting the cacti out and when we went back to the island, we stayed along the beach.

Seasickness:
Some people get seasick easily. There was a girl who came to the boat when we were anchored in Los Frailles and she got seasick even in the calm anchorage. Kai used to get seasick, but doesn’t anymore. And we just took some Mexican friends from San Blas to Chacala and one of the women got horribly seasick. All the puke gets pretty disgusting.

So this is cruising life, or at least some of it. I wanted to give you a splash of reality. I’m sure we will have more bad cruising experiences and also lots of good experiences like swimming with sea lions, getting close to nesting booby birds, and watching humpback whales jump high into the air.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Celebrating the Holidays in San Blas

The night before Christmas, Maya asked whether we had stockings to hang up for Santa Claus. When we packed the boat, the holidays seemed so far away and neither the Christmas stockings nor the menorah came with us. But that gave us a chance to improvise.

Tim and the kids made a menorah from a piece of driftwood that we found on Isla Isabela and he taught Maya and Kai how to use his drill and make holes for birthday candles. It’s a perfect menorah: the short lived candles keep us from burning down the boat but we do “stand watch” after we light the menorah. For stockings, we took two of Tim’s socks and decorated each of them. Kai wrote his name on duct tape and stuck that to the sock and he then attached it to shackles to hang his stocking. Maya sewed her name on the sock with light thread and that too was transformed into a useful stocking.

There was another hurdle: Santa Claus doesn’t know how to swim plus he’s too fat to fit down our mast. But he did manage to figure out a way to leave a few pesos and to relay a command to buy the kids Swiss Army knives when we find them in Puerto Vallarta or somewhere else along the way. Santa Claus on Christmas Day also brought Bravado, a 45 foot New Zealand Elliot designed boat, into the estuary with three kids to play with and books from Oma that came via Jennifer on Ecotopia who brought them from Seattle to La Paz. What a journey for that package! And perfect timing, especially since we hadn’t been able to do much Christmas shopping nor could we afford to have more toys take up space on the boat.

We’ve found that downsizing our stash of toys hasn’t impeded the fun and has perhaps even enhanced the fun. I’ve been so impressed with how creative the sailing kids have been with their playing. Just yesterday, Jet (our new friend on Bravado) and Maya were constructing a hammock to hang out on the boat. They took a towel and line and a cup holder and figured out how to string it between the staysail and the jib. Then they wrote a sign: “Keep Out: Relaxing.”

Maya and Kai have been busy building a miniature boat with wood from Isla Isabela and sails made from Kai’s old shorts. Maya sometimes decorates Kamaya by taking all the spare lines and stringing them around the bimini.

It sounds like those of you living up north have been enjoying a very white Christmas. Please build a snowman for us and we’ll build a sand castle for you. Ho, Ho, Ho ….

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Isla Isabela with Baby Birds



Solstice afternoon, Maya and I went ashore to climb the ridge and observe the blue and yellow -footed boobies. To get there, we walked past the nesting frigate birds. These rather unattractive but good flying birds congregate in the trees and build their nests close to each other, just like apartment living. We saw as many as 15 frigate birds perched on one tree. Some of the males were showing off by puffing their red throats and making clucking noises. But Maya and I didn’t stop to admire them. We were on a mission: the sun was going down and we wanted to spend some more time with the congenial and rather funny looking blue-footed boobies.

Instead of living on an apartment in a crowded tree, the blue-footed boobies build their nests on the ground, many with views of the blue ocean. Maya and I walked on the ridge overlooking the anchorage. We walked carefully because we didn’t want to trip on any of the birds nesting on the bed of grass on the ground. Some still had eggs, some had tiny chicks and others had chicks that seemed a little too big for their mother’s to be perched on top. Like kids they don’t want to leave home, even though they were a little squashed, they seemed content with their mom’s warmth. None of the birds seemed to care that we big footed humans were nearby.

I found two male blue-footed birds looking at each other and circling a blue egg about three inches long. The egg looked abandoned, but it seemed like the males were wondering which one would sit on it. None took the initiative -- they just kept prancing around discussing the matter in their bird language.

Perhaps in this case, sitting on chicks is best suited for the females who with their brown and white feathers and neutral webbed feet aren’t as attractive as the males, but know how to take their jobs seriously. Once they lay their eggs, they have four days before it hatches and then comes the task of feeding the hungry white fluffy chicks.




Just next to the abandoned egg, some of the males congregated in pairs and danced together. Pointing their tails in the air and lifting their blue webbed feet. As I watched the birds and wondered what life would be like being a booby soaring through the air and building nests, Maya bent over and handed one of the female birds a piece of straw for her nest. The bird took it from Maya.

I smiled to myself as I watched the sunset on the shortest day of the year. What a privilege to be so close to the birds where our presence doesn’t concern them; and how doubly satisfying to be able to share this special moment with my own little chick, Ms. Maya.

Our journey out of Isla Isabella was equally impressive. We saw a number of humpback whales breach high into the air and then slapped its large tails back in the water. Some say they are courting the females and others say they may be trying to get the parasites off their bodies. Its really impressive. Tim caught some of the breaching on video for you to experience as well.

Made it to Mazatlan

We made it to Mexico’s Mainland Mazatlan. When I left you last, we were in La Paz -- but since then broke free of the umbilical cord and sailed back to Ensenada de los Muertos, which means Bay of the Dead but has been renamed “Bay of Dreams” for marketing purposes, and Los Frailes and then 160 miles across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland. Along the way we thought heavily about Christina Bockius and her family. For those who don’t know Christina -- she recently had a horrible kiteboarding accident in La Ventana and was airlifted back to Oregon. Unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t help her and she died. I kept seeing Christina’s charismatic smile as we sailed by La Ventana. Her contagious love of the outdoors and her zest for life will endure in all of us who were fortunate to know her.

Before we crossed the sea, we stopped in Los Frailes to meet up with Wynn Pechous who lives in a blue house overlooking the bay with his wife, Anne and four year old daughter Hana. Wynn and Tim were about Hana’s age when they met in India. When Wynn said goodbye to us he told Tim “I hope it won’t be another 40 years before we see each other again.”

Our crossing to Mazatlan started out with a spinnaker but soon ended up with super light wind. The smooth seas enabled us to spot gulls resting on turtles. But the real highlight was a birthday delivery to Jason from Third Day, so named for the Third Day in Genesis where God created the seas. We discovered via the radio that Jason was celebrating his 10th birthday so Tim turned the kids’math lesson into the problem of how to intersect with a boat coming about 10 degrees north of us. They started their crossing at three in the morning from Ensenada de Los Muertos and we left Los Frailes at 7 in the morning. We could talk to Third Day on the radio and we could see them on radar. Tim showed Maya and Kai how to finagle the newfangled GPS as well as do some fancy geometry to figure out how fast and at what angle we needed to sail in order to meet up with them. They calculated correctly and about 80 miles out, we were able to pass Jason a gift. Captain Rich had just baked sourdough bread and he generously gave us some of his tasty bread. It tasted so good that when we reached Mazatlan, we found another boat, Perpetua, who gave us some real Alaskan sourdough starter which we have been feeding and just succeeded in making our own tasty bread.

As we entered Mazatlan’s narrow channel, coincidentally our friends in the catamaran Don Quixote was leaving. We spent three days at Marina Mazatlan and were fortunate to dock next to Sea Venturer where owner Michael, a former welder, fixed the dinghy davits (that’s what is on the stern of the boat). Being in a marina is always a luxury, one which gives us a chance to clean the boat with fresh water and give our sea legs a break. The special treat was watching the Chinese Circus which had some unicycling, spectacular gymnastics and, of course, an elephant that does handstands.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Swimming with Sea Lions


I drove the dinghy around the island searching for the sea lion rocks. Once we found the guano-covered island, everyone got out and took off their life jackets, all except mommy, who wore hers while carrying Kai’s and mine. She insisted that we might want them, though we never did.

We all swam off in search of play mates. It only took a few minutes flicking flippers, diving down and spinning, and swimming fast. A sea lion pup swam straight under me, speeding up then somersaulting over to spin around staying still for a second and then swimming straight up and flipping at the last second. Oh, I love the sea lions.

The next week or two Oma and Poppa Nate came and we took them to Espiritu Santos. Poppa Nate didn’t come swim, but Oma did. The family showed Oma how to swim with them, play with them and just do with them! It was fun-y! Oma played with them and had lots of fun.

Espiritu Santos.








Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dolphin and Sea Lion Videos

Here's links to a couple of videos of us swimming with sea lions and sailing (motoring actually) with dolphins.

Dolphin Video

Sea Lion Video

Friday, December 5, 2008

December Already!

In the past few weeks, we’ve made La Paz our home-base and have explored the surrounding islands of Espiritu Santos, Isla San Francisco and Isla Coyote. Our family favorite is Los Islotes, on the north end of Espiritu Santos, where the sea lion pups swim circles around us, nip at our fins and play like puppy dogs. Their insatiable appetite to play reminds us of our dog Jedi.

Momma Myra (known as The Oma) and Poppa Nate joined us for Thanksgiving and it was great fun to share our boat life with them. We took them sailing and sailing for days with a 24-hour interval on land to feast on turkey at Ted and Michelle’s home in Los Barriles. Thanks to Trudy and Michael, who brought a frozen turkey down in the airplane from San Diego, we had a traditional Thanksgiving supper. Trudy said that she was a little worried that the dead bird stored in the overhead compartment might thaw out and make a little mess on the airplane. But the juices stayed intact and Michelle concocted a fabulous and memorable dinner.

Rather than recount all the details of our life at sea, I thought I’d share some thoughts about the kids who have tolerated our boat schooling program but are thriving as boat kids. They both think of books as candy and eagerly awaited Oma and Poppa Nate’s arrival, not just because it’s special to have grandparents on board and banana bread baking in the oven, but also because they brought a suitcase of books.

As I write, Maya, who turned 9 a few weeks ago with a piƱata party on the beach, is having her first boat sleepover on another boat called Don Quixote. Instead of using a cell phone to talk with her friends, she used our VHF radio to coordinate logistics. Sometimes all the boat kids use the same channel to chat altogether.

Kai has been our chief mechanic and enjoyed teaching Poppa Nate what buttons and switches to push and at what time. He loves starting the engine on our dinghy and just yesterday after he went to the dentist, he drove the dinghy from the dock to the boat all by himself.

Both Maya and Kai have been unicycling all over La Paz and yesterday a man stopped us and told us that he was a clown and could use some help at a fiesta. So Maya and Kai are going to don their juggling hats and unicycle for the party. I just hope they won't jump ship for the circus which is coming to town.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! There's so much to be thankful for .... especially the privilege to be at sea for the year where the dolphins play on our bow and sunrises and sunsets are rarely missed.

Thanksgiving in Los Barriles


Kai on the ATV. Is he old enough to drive?










Michelle and Trudy proudly displaying our feast










Even Oma jumped on the ATV!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Interview with Kai

What have you have been up to for the past few weeks?

A lot of things. One of them is swimming with the sea lions. Another one is making banana bread with Oma. Another one is snorkeling in Isla San Francisco and Espiritu Santos. I've also been unicycling all over La Paz.

You went swimming with the sea lions-- how was that?

Fun. They swam next to us and we chased them and then they would come up to us and turn at the last moment.

What have you seen snorkeling?

I saw a crab, puffer fish, starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, parrot fish, and lots more fish.

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?

We went to Ted and Michelle's house in Los Barriles with Oma and Poppa Nate and rode ATVs (all terrain vehicles).

What was it like driving your own vehicle?

Fun.

How would you describe it to your friends back home?

It's like driving a bicycle. But there are four wheels and a gas pedal and you don't have to work so hard pedaling up the hills.

What happened when we did the man over board drill?

Maya went overboard and I pushed the man over board drill and we threw out lines and life savers for her. She grabbed on to the life saver and then they were going to pull her in, but Maya wanted to stay in the water because it felt better and then I joined her.

What happened when you and Maya were swimming behind the boat when we were sailing?

We were swimming against the current. There was a life raft behind the boat and Maya caught it when it was close and I didn't. Then the boat started sailing away without me. Then they turned back and got me.

Were you scared?

Yes. Because I was thinking that I might be left behind.

Who saved you?

Maya did. She caught hold of me and then we came back to the boat with the life saver.

How did you like the dentist today?

I hated it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

purple pink guck

I jumped out of the dingy into the water after mommy. I began swimming, taking in mouthfuls of water as I went. We had a not-too-long swim to get to the rocks where we would get out. In a few minutes I crashed onto a rock skinning my left shin and right knee. Once the wave had tumbled back into the sea, we got up and scrambled over to where the waves could not reach. I immediately took up the lead, we climbed over a cave-shaped opening. After about 6 minutes, I noticed some vomit colored dried guck..
. . .
Now, if you believe that anything gross is cool I think it's time you see guck. If only it didn't look so much like stale vomit. The sponginess helps but it's going a little overpowered. Think about it, five inches above sand is a little overestimated. If only it was purple with pink spots, or pink stripes, I would have been making guck castles, rolling around in it, and doing anything else I could think of.

To anyone who has time to listen

Learning to surf in Santa Maria Bay


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Interview with Maya



Where are you now? What is it like?

I'm in Bahia Santa Maria. There are blue crabs in a lagoon, sting rays, and purple pink guck.

What's guck?

Guck is guck. The guck I'm talking about is spongy. I'm going to write a story about it.

What have you been doing at Santa Maria?

I've been eating, sleeping, and boogy boarding, surfing, fishing with Kai, and spending Sand Dollars.

How do you spend Sand Dollars?

To spend Sand Dollars, I see a dollar and tell Kai to go get it. Then I lose Kai's attention. I find the Sand Dollars at the beach. They're not hard to find on shell beach.

Tell me about some of the other shells you've been collecting?

There's a pretty one I found yesterday. It's white and very strong and how you would imagine a nice shell to look like.

What do you do for fun on the boat?

I swing on the bimini. I climb the jib. Why is the bimini called the bimini? (Tim answers that its named after Bimini Island near the Bahamas where there's lots of sun.)

How do you like surfing?

I like it. I can stand up.

What are you going to do with all these shells?

Keep a collection and I have a notebook with all their names.

What books have you read since you started your voyage on Kamaya?

I'm reading the Warrior series: Fire and Ice, Forest of Secrets, Rising Storm, and I'm reading the fifth book, A Dangerous Path. I also read Inkspell and Inkdeath and The Mysterious Benedict Society. I'm also reading A Wind in the Door and I'm reading Brisingr with Mom.

What's been your favorite book?

I don't really have a favorite book. They're all different. Ones about a cat, another about going inside human beings and another about good dragon riders and bad dragon riders.

Are you writing a lot?

Yes.

What are you writing about?

I'm writing a book, but I haven't really figured out what's it called or what it's about. I do know a few characters.

Do you miss school?

No, not really. I miss the people, but not the stuff.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pondering Elections and the Internet

This post is sent via Single Side Band radio to our friend Chris who will post it on our blog.

During this morning's boat schooling lesson, we learned about some of the Civil Rights leaders, including Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson. Martin Luther King didn't get into the discussion because Maya and Kai protested, saying they've studied him too many times in school. Although it feels like we're isolated from the US in Bahia Santa Maria (about 2/3rd of the way down the Baja peninsula), Obama's victory makes us proud to fly the American flag. His win is a symbol that if you put your mind to it and work really hard, no matter what your color of skin is, and with the stars aligned correctly, you just may become President of the United States.

But I also have a huge pain in my side as we also learned that the stars weren't aligned for my brother Ethan who worked really hard and is a born leader. Unfortunately, he was unable to persuade the state of Alaska to vote him in as their Representative in the US Congress. I haven't been able to talk with Ethan because we are in the middle of nowhere, but last I heard the polls had him ahead, so his loss comes as a surprise. It's also surprising that the Great State of Alaska would vote Senator Ted Stevens, a convicted felon, back into office. But perhaps in retrospect all this isn't that surprising since there are more churches than bars in Alaska and they have Sarah Palin at the helm.

Getting election results last night was challenging. Yesterday, after sailing overnight from Punta Ascunscion, we rejoined the 100 plus fleet of the Baja Ha Ha in Bahia Santa Maria. All of us tuned into the VHF Marine radio and a few boats were able to use email over the Single Side Band radio and also obtain some news from the radio and then they would relay the news to all of us. Our radio wasn't as powerful. So instead of being glued to the television like I have in previous elections, I was frustrated and glued to the VHF.

Which brings me to another related topic -- communication and information at our finger tips - - something which most of us have, but here on the boat it's not as accessible. It's bittersweet. I love being able to google, check my email, and surf the web. When I first got aboard the Kamaya, I'd look around to check my cell phone or access internet and then I'd stop myself because that's not what always possible. And then -- here comes the sweet part -- forgoing time on the phone and Internet means that I have more time to do other things. Does it really matter that I know immediately what happens in the world? How much do I need to know? How many hours a day do you spend on the computer? With minimal access to the world wide web, I find that I have more time.

Nevertheless, it's an historic time in the US and the world and I certainly wish I could surf the net or read the newspaper. I can't wait to hear all the details. I still don't know who won in Oregon.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ruth's Ramblings

Last night for Halloween in Turtle Bay, Kai dressed up as Indiana Jones and Maya was a Star Wars pirate with a light sabor. They trick or treated boat to boat with our dinghy and came back with a bag full of delicious candy.
We've been slowly sailing our way south, catching yellowtail tuna, dorado and lots of bonita along the way. As Kai's story relates, as soon as he put the bait in the blue ocean, a fish bit. The simpler life agrees with us -- we're getting into a rhythm, the boat is sailing well, the spinnaker flying and the kids are actually learning in between fishing, dinghying and sailing. I'll ramble some more in a few days. We set sail this afternoon to catch up with the 100 or so Baja Ha Ha boats that we joined at Turtle Bay. It was great for the kids to meet other boat children.
We'll cross our fingers for positive results for the election... in the meantime..Fish On!

Fishing

Once I went fishing on Kamaya. And I was starting to put the fishing pole in the water and then I caught a fish. I told my mom, "Fish On," and she thought I was joking, but I wasn't. I was reeling it in and Maya was reeling it in too. Then we got it in. Unluckily it was a bonita and we threw it back.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interview with Kai






Kai, how do you like the food in Ensenada?
Good, I like the fish tacos and the rice and beans. I don't really like the shrimp tacos.

Did you try the oysters?
Yes, I didn't like them.

What about the papayas?
I don't like papayas, but I like the bananas.

I hear that the guards yell "monociclos" when your family leaves the dock. How's your unicycling going?
Good, I can now go backwards. Lots of people are looking at us and want to try it, but its too hard for them.

How did you like flying through the air at Las Canales where we spent an overnight?
I loved it. We put on a harness and then clipped in and flew through the air. We also climbed through bridges.

Were you scared?
No, I wasn't scared.


How do you like the new Indiana Jones movie -- about the crystal skull -- that you finally got to see when it came out on DVD?
It's really good. I saw it once in English and once in Spanish.

How do say "skull" in Spanish?
"calavera"

What's your newest move on Kamaya?
I move like a monkey on the bar inside the boat. My record is 20.

Who do you think is going to win in the Presidential election?
I think Obama will win. I don't know why I like him.

How about Alaska - for Congress?
Uncle Ethan. He's the best and the smartest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back Home to Ensenada

We've been in and out of Southern California getting last minute provisions and waiting for Hurricane Norbert and any future wild winds to calm down before sailing south into warmer waters. So that means that, while turning a blind eye to the demise of our economy, we've been driving tractors at Ted's Ranch,
exploring the San Diego desert, teaching Solene and Luc to unicycle, swimming in Francis and Peggy's pool, speaking Chinese in Malibu and surfing (Tim has) at Pt. Dume. Not a bad life.

When we returned to Kamaya Thursday afternoon, Maya and Kai bee-lined to the boat, put the dinghy in the water and took 12-year old Caden out in the harbor to show him the highlights of being a "boat kid." We were all glad to be back aboard our new home.

"Mexico is over there," I pointed across the way to Lori, Caden and Chris who drove down from Arizona to sail with us for the weekend. In our protected harbor at Cruiseport surrounded by mostly Americans, it does feel like we haven't left the US. Fortunately, Mexico is only a five minute down the guarded road.


Over the weekend, we sailed out to Todos Santos, an island 10 miles west of here. We anchored in one of the tightest anchorages I've ever been in. Protected from the strong winds, Tim assured me that we wouldn't end up on the rocks. We tied our stern to a concrete post and our bow tucked closely behind the 300-foot circular fish pen.
That's where the captured bluefin tuna live and fatten up on sardines before ending up as sushi in Japan. It looks like a lucrative operation, especially when the price of tuna can be as high as $45 a pound and the fish can weigh as much as 300 pounds. You do the math.

Time for boat schooling to begin, so I'll sign off. Remember to vote -- Tim and I casted our absentee votes before crossing the border. We followed Ethan's advice and voted for "Obama and Tina Fey."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fish Tacos in Ensenada


Maybe it's best to put up the spinnaker and sail away from the problems of the US economy. However, we can feel the stress even in Ensenada, Mexico where the marinas and streets are relatively void of tourists, where the gigantic Mexican flag flies high at the Plaza of three heads and where sailors come to join the "ninety day yacht club" so called to avoid California taxes. Well, taxes is one of the reasons we had to leave California early. Even though we're Oregon residents, in order to avoid paying the California sales tax for our boat, we had to take her out of California within 90 days of purchasing our boat. We made it exactly in 87 days. Deadlines help.

But I'm getting ahead of ourselves. Let me start where I left off -- in San Diego. We sailed out of San Diego at 11:00 pm Wednesday night with extra crew, Tom and Jo Matson. They used to live in the Gorge, but flying for UPS forced them to move to sunny San Diego. Just as the sea lions barked good-bye from the red buoys (remember to leave them on port when you exit a channel), I tried to coax Maya and Kai to go to bed. They protested, eager to stay up all night on watch. I told them they would have a productive sleep and wake up in Mexico and finally they acquiesced.

In the early morning, while I slept exhausted from staying up every few hours, Tim and Tom raised the spinnaker and sailed downwind at 6.5 knots with the 10 knot breeze. Kai tried fishing and Maya performed her "fast feet on fast boat dance." That's when she moves her feet as fast as she can in the cockpit. She's hoping to find crew who will join her. Maybe even a competition. Anyone interested?


We arrived in Ensenada in the early afternoon and now call Cruiseport Marina our home. It's the newest marina, the cleanest one and perhaps the safest one, with 24-hour guards and no surge. As I write, the boat is perfectly still. We can even leave our cupboards open without any banging or rattling. Maya and Kai are enjoying unicycling through town where everyone gasps, "Mirar, monociclo!" Over the weekend, they even helped a clown gather a crowd for his performance at the plaza.

Shana Tova -- Happy New Years! An appropriate time as we have finished the first leg of our adventure.

Interview with Kai

How do you play Indiana Jones on the boat?

We do acrobatics stuff, like swinging on the bars and climbing the mast. I am always Indiana Jones and Maya is Sythia. We made her up. She's Indiana Jones' partner.

Where is your boat now?

We're in Ensenada at Cruiseport Marina.

What did you like about San Diego?

I liked the swimming pool at the Yacht Club. But they need to have some table games. I liked seeing my cousins, Luc and Solene. Luc and I were trying to make the paper airplanes go on top of the roof. We made a lot of them.

How did you like the sail from San Diego to Ensenada?

I just went to sleep, so I don't really know. When I woke up, they were putting the spinnaker up and we sailed faster.

Who are the three big heads in the main plaza?

Benito Juarez. He was president of Mexico and lived from 1806 to 1872. Miguel Hidalgo. He's the one who helped get Mexican's Independence. He lived from 1753 to 1811. The third big head with a beard is Don Venustiano Carranza. He was President too and lived from 1859 to 1920.

Tell us about the sea lions.

Then live on a shipwreck and they bark a lot.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The mission

One day, after being chased by villain and helper. I jump down a few rocks and see that I'm trapped. Oh no! the villain walks toward me. He says"Go into the cave and figure out how the golden shower works. You can't come out until you have.'' He pushed me in. I wander around and then I remember the matches and candle in my secret-pocket. I light one and put the flame next to the candle. There the shower was, right in front of me. I set the candle away from where the water would flow. Then I studied the the shower. I backed up. Erised, I obviously had read Harry Potter. erised was desire spelled backward. but this time it must mean the truth. I decided that a small chunk of gold and a bracelet of silver with all the stones discovered. I slept the night in the cave wishing for a blanket and for the villain to leave, which of course happened.
The next day I left the cave and headed towards my house.

Based on a true story

In San Diego, After swimming with Bendon and Kai, we walk towards the showers. Since the mommy Isn't here, I'll have to go in alone. Once I walk in, it takes me a long time to figure out how to turn on the shower.............................

Monday, September 22, 2008

Whirlwind to San Diego

Sailing Kamaya with the sun spilling orange into the sky and the wind on our sails, I can’t help but think how lucky we are and what a luxury and a privilege this adventure is for us.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week full of wind, howling wind, little wind, no wind and perfect wind all together bringing us south to San Diego. That’s where I am comfortably writing as Maya and Kai are swimming in the San Diego Yacht Club pool. When I left you last, we were in Ventura. We sailed to Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands, spent a night at Marina Del Rey where we met up with brother Ethan, picked up Karen and Martin Reimer and sailed overnight to San Diego.

When we arrived at Santa Cruz Island, a 100 foot military ship was testing missiles so we couldn't go farther than Smuggler's Cove. The waves crashed on shore and we took our dinghy the first visit, but opted to swim the next time. When I was five the under tow, not under toad, yanked me under at Baker's Beach in San Francisco, and since then I've always been scared of waves. So after harvesting walnuts on shore and imagining what life was like for the people who settled there in 1889, we were ready to swim back to the boat. Tim took Kai through the surf and Maya and I stuck together.

Traveling with kids, adults are supposed to act confident and hide all trepidations. As we walked towards the waves, I held Maya's hand. "Not this one," I kept saying as I tried to count the waves and find a small set for us to swim through. Finally, I thought the waves had gotten smaller so we swam hard, only to both be pummeled by waves and pulled under feeling like clothes in a washing machine with sand up our noses and pushed back to shore. Strong swimmer Maya took it well compared to her mother who hyperventilated. We both finally made it through the surf and back to our safe abode on Kamaya. Next time, Maya wants to go with her Dad, but maybe next time, I'll be a little wiser.

We left Santa Cruz Island Friday at 2 in the morning for a 60 mile sail to Marina Del Rey. We wanted to make it for brother Ethan's fundraiser. With Sarah Palin elevated to the high position of Vice-Presidential Candidate, "people from Outside" -- that's what Alaskans call those living in the lower 48 -- are interested in Alaskan politics.

Ethan is running for the sole Congressional seat in Alaska and is remarkably 12 points ahead of his Republican opponent Don Young. Please take a look at his website, www.EthanBerkowitz.com and if you can make a donation. It was great for us to take a break from boat life and watch Ethan field questions about Sarah Palin and solving problems in the Middle East. It was equally great for Ethan to take a break from the campaign trail, and visit our home. He said it felt like "comfort food."

Karen Reimer (my bell sister as when we sailed together at UC Berkeley we were dubbed "Ding and Dong") and her teenage son, Martin, joined us in Los Angeles. They drove our white van down from the Bay Area and were ready for some more motion -- the sail to San Diego. Only moments after Mary Jane Heppe from Hood River who happened to be in LA with her son Keenan, set our dock lines free, Martin felt a little queezy. He suffered through our sail (the drugs kicked in) and photographed all the lighthouses along the way. Karen got a dose of the night shift where we have to be on the lookout for the tankers crossing our path.

In San Diego we received our new Ullman main, which cousin Delphine who lives here, says is just like getting a "boob job" as you have to look good in Southern California. So we're enjoying the good life, looking hot, and gearing up for our sail to Ensenada.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That's Not Part of the Deal

You shouldn't have to make deals with a mommy. Mommies are supposed to do things for you like make breakfast. You don't fire mommies so they care about what they do. In this case, most of the rules are broken.

One day on Kamaya after a night of keeping watch, two hour shifts, the Mommy was very tired and sleeps in. I sleep in too. Not that there's anything wrong with sleeping in.

Nothing goes wrong until the second I walk into the room where the Mommy is sleeping. Well she wasn't really sleeping, she was just in bed. I ask her, "Can you make me some French Toast?" She replies, "Give me 20 more minutes." I tell her 20 more minutes is too long. The Mommy tells me she'll do it if I call Oma and ask her where she put the banana bread. "Deal?"

"Deal," I say. I do just that. I come back and ask again. The Mommy tells me to make my own breakfast. I refuse. She then tells me to get dressed. "That's not part of the deal," I say.

The Mommy says nothing. I put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I come out. The Mommy says, "Put some pants on."

"That's not part of the deal," I say. I come out with pants on and the same t-shirt.

"How about a sweatshirt?" This time I win.

"That's not part of the deal. That's not part of the deal, Mommy."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ruth's Reflections

A week ago today we sailed Kamaya out the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a little scary and you can see the fear and relief in our eyes to finally cut loose.



This morning, we’re docked in Ventura right outside of John and Dee Lockwood’s home. They live on the water and Tim and I were here ten years ago preparing Capella, our Mull 45 for the ocean. Now we're back. This time married with kids.



My mind races through all the hurdles it took to get us here this second time.

First, the task of finishing up work and packing our home in Hood River was more challenging than I had ever imagined. Thanks to Liz, Sue, Michelle and Ted, Kelly, Barbara, Jennifer, Margaret and Mike and Barbara, I was able to sort all our Stuff with a capital “S” and figure out what to store, what to purge, what to give away and what to throw away. I could not have done this daunting task without these exceptional friends. It’s amazing how much Stuff you can accumulate in life, especially if you’re a pack rat like me. Now our life on board Kamaya is considerably simpler with less toys, less clothes, and less junk and we don’t seem to miss anything, at least not yet.

I’m writing like I do in a diary as I think that’s appropriate for our blog, though I’m new to this and don’t want to bore you, the interactive reader. On August 31st, the kids and I waved good-bye to the Davis’ and Whitmores, and drove out of the Gorge in our Betty mobile packed with clothes, tools, and pots and pans. Tim was already in San Francisco preparing the boat. I choked up sad to leave our wonderful friends and life in Hood River.

As we crossed the Hood River Bridge, Kai said he had left his money and wallet under his bed, so we made our last stop in the house. We’d never seen our house so neat, clean and empty. Our house will be rented out by Kristin and Joe O'Neill who are moving to Hood River from Ojai, California.

We drove to the airport to pick Tim’s college friend, Chris Cleland, who had volunteered to fly from his home in Arizona and help me drive out of Oregon. After all, Chris helped us move to Hood River in 2001. Thank you Chris!

Oma had banana bread waiting for us when we arrived in Sausalito about 20 hours later. I’ll skip the part of packing the boat with food, unicycles and books and fast forward to Monterey, our second stop. With light wind on our nose, it took us about 12 hours to get to Monterey and we left Half Moon Bay around 2:00 in the afternoon. So at 2:00 in the morning Tim and I made our way passed the barking sea lions and into the narrow channel to a slip in downtown Monterey. Fortunately, the marina has a night guard who led us to our home.

Biology class the next day included buzzing around in the dinghy to study the sea creatures that have taken over the harbor. We saw sea otters share clam shells with their pups while floating on their backs. We examined the barking sea lions under the docks, many waiting for leftover fish from the fishing boats. Others played queen of the docks by pushing each other off the top of the docks. Some sat on buoys while others jumped into the water. The seals were the quiet ones, and lied flat on their backs, perfectly content to hang out for hours. Boat schooling can be pretty fun, though sometimes our students protest the various subjects. Kai loves the Singapore Math, but doesn’t like journal writing and Maya is the opposite.


The kids are also learning how to work as a team, which is imperative on the boat. When we left Monterey Wednesday morning, we flew the spinnaker, our colorful sail, and as the winds increased we were moving at a good pace of about 8 knots. When we approached Pt. Conception, dubbed the Cape Horn of North America, the winds increased even more and we needed to work together to douse (take down) the spinnaker. Tim and I went forward to gather the spinnaker. Kai was in charge of steering the boat downwind and Maya had to let the sheet off so we could gather the sail. We had to make sure the sail didn’t drag in the water or pull us over to the side. Fortunately, everyone did their job without any mishaps.

While Kai and I bundled up in the aft cabin, Maya and Tim sailed us through the ominous Pt. Conception where Tim claimed the knot meter peaked at 50 knots. Kamaya proved herself to be a strong, sturdy boat and the big seas didn’t phase her. The winds didn’t seem to phase Maya either as she was focused on playing “Name that tune” with Tim, who hid his fears well.

So we’ve made it passed perhaps the most challenging part of our journey and are spending a few days in Ventura with a house, a dock, great company and John's garage full of tools and a 1920 Model T Car.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Interview with Kai

What do you like the best about sailing so far?
Steering the boat and my second favorite is to pull the lines in.
How do you like steering the dinghy?
I like it.
What’s your favorite thing to eat on the boat?
Swedish Fish
What animals have you seen so far?
Whales, dolphins, seals, pelicans, sea otters and sea lions
How do you like sailing over night?
I don't really like it, but I do get to stay up late.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"We did it, we finally did it!" We're off on the beginning of our voyage and have sailed a full 20 miles down the coast to Half Moon Bay, my old stomping grounds. We had a full crew helping us begin our voyage. Ruth's brother Zach, his wife Stephanie and their kids Eli (5) and Ari (3) on board, along with my friend Dave Metcalf and his son Cole (6).

Cole not only drove across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in his life, but he also got to sail under it and scream and hear his echo for the first time.

With 24 knot winds and a flood tide, we had to beat our way out to the ocean. Typically, that's the windiest part and as soon as we were about half a mile out the Gate, the wind dropped down and we had comfortable 12-15 knot southwesterlies the rest of the way.

Along the way, dolphins, seals and jellyfish joined us. The kids loved clipping into their safety harness and maneuvering their way up to the bow. Fortunately, no one got very seasick and Aunt Sassy and Eli had a marathon sleep in our aft cabin.
When we waved good-bye to our crew last night, we realized it was just the four of us now on our journey south. Kai and Maya drove the dinghy back to the boat, our new home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maya's thoughts

This is an interview with Maya.
What are you excited to do on your big voyage?
I'm excited to climb the mast all the way to the top
What have you been doing now with the boat while your Mom and Dad prepare her for the voyage south?
I've been playing on the jib sheets, making tricks -- swinging and climbing. We have a kayak and I've been paddling around the Emeryville Marina.
We went to pick up our 8-person life raft yesterday and we got to sit in it and taste the food rations, is there anything else you want to add?
Yes, inside it stinks really bad and the food doesn't taste good.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Marital Promise

Monday, July 28, 2008

On May 29, 1998 at our wedding, Tim and I promised each other that when we had kids and they were old enough to swim and talk, we would take them sailing on a boat in the biggest ocean in the world, the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t going to be a day sail in San Francisco Bay, but a huge adventure west out the Golden Gate Bridge, to Mexico and beyond.

It’s funny how time whizzes by, so in 2008, ten years later, and feeling enmeshed in our land life, Tim reminded me of our marital promise, our dream of living on the ocean.

First we needed to find a boat for our journey. We lived in Hood River, a mecca for windsurfers, not sturdy ocean sailboats. After putting the kids to bed, we spent late nights examining boats for sale on YachtWorld.com. Most boats look pretty snazzy on a website, but you can’t sail them, feel them or smell them on the computer screen. We looked around the country, as far as Annapolis, Maryland then Seattle until we accidentally stumbled upon Kamaya.

Finding Kamaya

We found Kamaya, then named Julia, in May, 2008. Tim went down to the Bay Area looking for a boat and even made an offer on an Outbound 40 as it seemed like it would do, but the owner rejected our offer. Perhaps insulted, he fortunately counter-offered more than $80,000. Fortunate? Well, if he had accepted we wouldn’t have found Kamaya.

It just so happened that the yacht broker, Larry Jacobson, who had helped negotiate the Outbound was trying to sell his own boat, a Stevens 50, that he had sailed around the world. Fifty feet! That seemed humongous! I called Trevor Baylis, who I knew from junior sailing at the San Francisco Yacht Club, for advise. Trevor said that 50 feet might seem big and expensive at a dock, but when sailing in the ocean we’d want a big boat to plow through the huge waves. Poppa Nate wanted us to find a boat that was heavy and safe as he wanted to make sure his grandkids wouldn’t disappear into the ocean.

I kept looking at Larry’s fancy website of his boat sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge with her rainbow jib. Larry’s slick video highlighted the luxurious water-mister under the large bimini for those excruciating hot days. Kamaya had nice lines, but she had a cluttered deck, a monstrous bimini and a large dodger. When I talked with Larry on the phone, he urged me to consider his boat, “the Outbound is a Mazda; my boat is a Mercedes.”

Tim had seen Julia, named after Larry’s mom, when he made the offer on the Outbound and he thought she was impressive, yet way too big. Still interested and feeling that if we were going to fulfill our marital promise, we had better find a boat soon, so I flew down to Oakland to take a look.

Oma and Poppa Nate picked me up from the airport and we drove to Emeryville Harbor, getting lost just before the final turn under the freeway. Larry told us he would wait for us at the gate. On the way, I showed Poppa Nate the boat’s marketing materials and he deemed the literature a little much, but he said he would have an open mind. Larry looked nautical with his Bermuda shorts; I felt rough with my cowboy boots from Oregon.

We walked down the dock and I remember my first sight of Kamaya. She looked huge, much bigger than I had imagined. My Dad asked the technical questions: about the engine, generator, autopilot, radar, and water maker. Larry apparently had the right answers: 90 horsepower Westerbeke engine, Westerbeke generator, Raymarine autopilot and chartplotter and Spectra water maker,

Larry told us how he found the boat in Florida and then shipped her back to San Francisco to prepare her for his circumnavigation. Poppa Nate seemed impressed and the boat seemed well equipped and perhaps even overbuilt. I stood at the galley with the three sinks, trying to imagine our family living on board. I could see Maya and Kai sleeping in the port cabin with the bunk bed. I could imagine myself cooking crepes in the galley and Tim figuring the maze of electronics.

Perhaps reading my mind, Larry looked over and with a salesman’s smile, “She’s a floating condo, you’re going to love her.”

We agonized over our decision, made lists of pros and cons and ultimately decided to make an offer. One of the challenges of buying a boat is that you need to make an offer before being allowed to test sail. So we drove down to the Bay Area and went for a test-sail.

My brother, Zach, joined us on our test sail and he took one look at the main and shook his head. He hated the bimini as it impeded his view of the sails and he thought the boat was sluggish. Well compared to his boat, an International-14, it doesn't maneuver well. But Tim and I liked the interior of the boat and felt it was sturdy and safe for our kids. It wasn’t a racing boat and it was super heavy – 2 tons, almost 50,000 pounds! How many elephants were we going to lug around the ocean?

With new sails, she’ll definitely perform better. Yes, she has potential. Zach was a little less enthusiastic, thinking that we should wait and look for another boat. But the truth was time was ticking. It was the beginning of June and if we were really going to leave in September, we needed to find a boat and get ready now. Most people give themselves a few years to prepare for their journey, but we didn’t want to take that time.

So fast forward to June 27th, the day we took possession of the boat. To avoid paying the California sales tax, we had to sail five miles out the Golden Gate Bridge to the Lightship buoy. It was blowing 35 knots. We needed two witnesses: my friends Karen and Susan who both sailed with me on the UC Berkeley Sailing Team. We documented the day with a newspaper and GPS reading.

Both “little Kai” and “sister Karen” got a little seasick in the big ocean waves.

And Susan, well she just kept talking and laughing along the way. Ken, Larry’s partner, continued to drink multiple glasses of white wine.

As soon as we reached the five mile point, Larry and Ken handed us the wheel. “She’s yours now,” Larry said relieved. Tim and I kissed each other in celebration.

“Turn off the engine,” I commanded and we sailed her back into the bay.
At first, there wasn’t enough wind but then it clocked behind us and we started moving, making 10 knots under the gate.

“See you didn’t buy a lemon,” Larry assured us.

Now we're packing up our house, preparing ourselves and our new yacht and getting ready to live our marital promise. How will we get everything done in time???

Looking Back

It took me more than seven years to turn our blog into a hard covered bound book. At first, I was leery of wrapping up our adventure because...