Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gotta Go
By Michael

This is one of the pretty cactus we saw
hiking around Islas San Benitos. We'd
have no doubt seen a lot more there
had we lingered.
Since we started cruising, there have been many imperatives to go, go, go. We spent much of our first cruising year working on the boat, getting it ready to travel long distances. Every day was a challenge to see how much I could get done before the season urged us north, all the way to Victoria.

Sound like hell?

No way. I have a perpetual drive to turn any potential energy into kinetic energy, to get things done. It’s part of what made me successful in the lives we left. It’s part of what allowed us to get out here in the first place. And it’s not just the perpetual boat to-do list that keeps me going; being underway, moving from place to place also sates that drive. Putting miles under our keel feels like progress.

Our season-driven itinerary was made-to-order to please me. The calendar framed our time in Alaska and our need to get back down the Pacific coast. Perfect.

Can we make it to La Paz for Thanksgiving?

Sounds good.

Even Windy’s growing weariness about being on the move was reason to go: Well, let’s hurry and get to La Paz where we’ll be able to just be someplace for a bit.

Then she dropped the bomb, suggesting we leave our anchor on the bottom here in Bahia Magdalena, 350 miles from La Paz.

“What? For how long?”

“I don’t know, till after Christmas? New Years?”

“No, seriously?” I really didn’t think she was serious. We’d already lost so much time to our boom debacle in San Diego. “We’d planned to be in La Paz for Thanksgiving; we’re already so far behind.”

It's hard to get a picture of the moonrise
from the deck of a moving boat. I snapped
about a 100 hoping that for one of them, I
would get the momentary pause, just long
enough for the slow shutter.
“But we’re here.”


“Mexico, Baja. Let’s go cruising, let’s explore this place, Mag Bay, we may never pass by here again.”

That was two weeks ago. Our anchor hasn’t left the bottom except to visit nearby San Carlos for a night.
You know the cruising dream. You anchor in turquoise water off a white sandy beach and you just be, in your foredeck hammock. I will tell you that’s my dream too, but I’m not sure it is. Because it ignores the urgency I feel to pack waypoints into this finite cruising life and to maintain and improve our boat.
But here we are, not moving and not doing in Mag Bay, my Christmas gift to Windy.

The water here is warm enough to swim and clear enough to see the bottom. The beach is pebbly. We’ve gotten to know the crews of the three other boats anchored here over the holidays. We had a movie and popcorn night aboard Del Viento. We’ve enjoyed the special, deep-fried/powdered sugar New Year’s Eve treats of our new Dutch friends and I interviewed them about their boat name story for an upcoming magazine article. We’ve hiked ashore. I spent half a day with other cruisers helping to repair the town’s diesel generator and was then almost literally given keys to the city by the sheriff/mayor. The girls and I took a 20-minute, high-speed ride in a local’s panga. The four of us sat in the shade enjoying cold Cokes and talking about nutrition, why soda isn’t healthy.

The girls have temporarily adopted a couple stray dogs (they named them “Goldie” and “Brownie”). They handed over a few of their stuffed animals to the family that gave birth to a baby boy after we arrived. They enjoyed the feeling of giving and left in the church a bunch of toys and things they’ve outgrown. Eleanor made a friend ashore, a 10-year-old girl named Donna she likes to play with.

When are we leaving? I don’t know. La Paz beckons with old friends and fresh food and water. And even though we could probably live forever on the tortillas and avocados we can buy here, we are nearly out of pesos and there’s no bank or ATM, not even in San Carlos.* But we couldn’t miss tonight, it’s the big New Year’s Eve party ashore, and we’ve been invited. And we can’t leave tomorrow; we’ve not even checked the weather and we still want to go and explore the mangroves across the Bay. We want to do more hiking. We want to anchor out across the Bay near the sand dunes so the girls can run all over them.

I didn’t see any roses here, but we stopped to smell them nonetheless, and it’s been a treat.


* Though fortuitously, another boat came in the bay the other day, two young guys headed north on a delivery and desperate for motor oil. I gave them a gallon and they insisted I take a 500-peso note ($38), insisted!—so now we’re feeling pretty flush.

Here the girls are looking down at an elephant seal on the San Benitos
beach, 15 feet below. You can see them spread out on the
more distant beach.
Cruising has turned them into best friends.

Again, Islas San Benitos from a couple weeks back,
Del Viento anchored off the fishing village.

We've done a lot of this down the coast, wing
and wing with a poled-out jib. Even with our
bent boom this has worked out well. We've hardly had
to motor since San Diego.
Here is what it looks when a cargo ship passes on
on a moon-lit night.

The girls in their new hats our friend Joan Stewart
knitted. Unfortunately, until we leave the tropics,
they won't get a lot of use.

Frances reading her Bone book on the short trip to San Carlos
from Bahia Magdalena.

Frances getting dinghy driving lessons.


  1. Thanks for the post. I know when we were moving we always had the same sense of urgency you talk about; even though that was not why we started cruising. Always a reason to go, never a good reason to stay. Thanks for taking the one hundred picture to get the one; it is absolutely surreal. Happy New Year!!!

  2. It is all to easy to get caught up in dates, even when we're cruising. Sometimes we need a little kick in the pants as well. One of my favorite things to say is "why rush through paradise?" Love your choices. :-)

  3. Sounds like you and Windy are a perfect balance for each other. Without your itchy feet, Del Viento would likely never leave the dock. Without Windy's sage advice to take time to enjoy it all, there really would be no point in leaving the dock in the first place.
    Glad you are enjoying Baja and Happy New year!

  4. Love this! (I'm with Windy, sometimes you do need to slow down!) You had "oli bolens" for New Year's! That made me nostalgic for my mom's. It's good to be in the moment. Happy New Year to your little gang, I'm curious to see where Del Viento will end up this year! Hugs

  5. We love Mag Bay--extended our stay there both times we went down. It felt like the first place we could really exhale and focus on why we were out cruising. Not worry about lists and plans and all the frenetic stuff you need to do to get out there--instead just be there...


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