One Third Down 2021!

April 30th: Where’s this year going? It’s certainly been a strange one so far, with so many plan changes, possibilities torn apart and priorities rearranged! Who knows where it’ll end up. I think I’ll end up home actually.

We’ve spent the last few days anchored at the south end of Isla Coronados, 6nm from Loreto. Very strong NW winds were forecast and Loreto isn’t a good place for that. They’ve certainly been pretty fiesty, it’s currently about 25 to 30 knots. I tried to go out and work on the decks but it was too horrible. Bernie’s working on a translation.

He got the rebuilt starter motor installed and the engine started sweetly so job well done. That meant we could put the sail cover on and stow the foresails. The sun is so hard on them but while it was our only form of propulsion we had to have them ready for use.

We had sundowners last night with Mike and Katie from the yacht anchored near us, Alegria. It was great fun, a really awesome couple. I like their boat a lot. The layout of the interior is fantastic. It’s 50′ so a bit bigger than Momo, more my style! We all got pretty happy and when we got back, Bernie fell asleep on the couch! I couldn’t even wake him so just put a blanket over him and went to bed.

Fouche rang the other day. It was great to catch up with him. He wanted to know if he could come and travel with me for 3 weeks. I’d have loved to but it’s the same time Matt and Meg are here, so unfortunate timing. He had just been offered time off before the Mediterranean season gets going. He’s got his Chief Engineers ticket now too, which is great. He’s done very well in the 3 years since he turned up as a greenie on my boat! I’m blessed to have such good friends.

Yesterday we had a run in with a tourist boat that was driving straight through a pod of dolphins, herding them and upsetting them. Ignorant fools. Bernie notified their company who replied they’d talk to the skipper.

The kittens are full of themselves!

May 1st: It’s 1130 and we’ve just started motoring back to Loreto, giving the engine repairs a workout! Alex just gave us both mini heart failure. Both kittens usually go and park in their favourite spots when they realise we’re about to get underway. But we suddenly realised Alex wasn’t to be seen. Having searched inside and out for 5 minutes, with increasing panic, I begged Bernie to stop the engine in case she’d got into the bilge while he was checking the engine and opening the fuel valve. Just as he did, I went onto the bathroom and spotted her sitting on top of the jackets, swinging gently! Such relief. Silly cat! I’ve never seen them get up there before. So onwards we go, happily. Calm seas, sunshine, Bernie working, me on watch and 2 cats.

I’ve spent the morning cleaning stainless. It’s one of those futile jobs which you need to start again the minute you finish, but I quite like it. It’s rewarding, seeing it shining, sans rust. Bernie didn’t even notice, cue the eye roll! I have relaced the wheel leather back on too. It looks much better.

We had peanut butter and tomatoes on toast for breaky. It’s an old favourite of mine and most people screw up their noses when I mention it, but I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t actually like it once they’ve tried it! Bernie’s my most recent convert.

5.05.21: It’s 2pm and we’re sailing nicely at 5 knots towards Ramada Cove. Matt and Meg rejoined us on Sunday and we had two nights anchored in Loreto while Bernie finished his translation job. The three of us went into town on Monday to have a wander round the town. Both kids liked Loreto as much as I do. Meg bought a couple of cute dresses and a pair of white trousers in a lovely shop we found. We had lunch at the Marina restaurant which has live music daily. It was great. Then we filled the water drums and headed back to Momo. Matt helped me get the water up and into the tanks, then the two of us did a second water run to top us off. Bernie finished his work and we plotted our moves over a few sundowners!

Yesterday was totally calm so we motored over to Isla Coronados and anchored in the south west bay for the night. We went ashore and Matt and I snorkeled. Didn’t see a great variety of fish but the reef looks as if its regrowing slowly. Saw Sting rays and a sea snake. There’s lots of turtles in the bay too. This morning we sailed off the anchor and after a slow start are now only a couple of hours from Ramada. We’ve got the lure out in hopes of a mahimahi!

I’ve been feeling pretty low again lately, also very lacking in confidence and worried about my future. I’ve been super sensitive too. I hate it. So I decided this morning to increase my dose of Fluoxetine to 40mg every second day. If that helps I’ll be very pleased. Bernie’s worried about me taking a higher dose but I can’t expect him to put up with me being such a cow. Matt and Meg have been very understanding and helpful. I’m so grateful to have them here.

6.05.21: We anchored about 1630 yesterday and Bernie straight away went spear fishing. He got two big hogfish so we had a yummy dinner! I cooked the fish and Meg made potato wedges!

Just after we’d gone to bed, Bernie said he could hear a whale so we all tumbled out again. We didn’t see it but certainly heard it. They even sound huge! Matt and Meg were quite awe struck, I think.

The cats are finding it too hot to cuddle at night now, sad face. I miss it but Jack still comes and gives me smooches. He was very attentive earlier this morning. We still get our gender pronouns mixed up, I notice! They get he and she at varying moments!

7.05.21: It’s 0600 and I’ve been awake since 0300. So annoying! It’s been pretty windy too, which wasn’t forecast. Yesterday was stunning. Matt, Bernie and I went snorkeling in the morning. I was going to hunt too but the band on my spear gun came apart on the first loading. So after we got back to Momo, Bernie spent ages fixing it. We went off again after lunch and I got my first fish! Three, in fact; two Maori fish and another one I can’t remember the name of. So I’ve finally put my new spear gun to good use. I was so excited with the first one but didn’t even get a “well done” from Bernie, just “we don’t usually shoot those”. He didn’t know why though. I was a bit bummed so was delighted to get two Maori fish. They’re hard to find and great eating. Bernie got a small grouper, so we baked the three smaller fish for dinner.

Meg made muffins yesterday afternoon as well. So good! Consequently, we had a very relaxed evening on the bow. Its great having them here.

1600: Matt and Meg went for a walk around lunchtime, climbing the hill on the SW side of the bay. Good effort in this heat! When they got back Bernie and I took beers and nibbles to the beach to hang out there for a bit. We swam and the water’s lovely. After that I snorkeled over to the rocky peninsula on the NE side. There’s not a lot there though.

Sunday 9th April: It’s Mother’s Day in New Zealand. I remembered to send an InReach message to Mum yesterday, since they’re ahead of us! When I said about doing that, Bernie suddenly remembered he’d missed his Mum’s birthday.

We took Matt and Meg over to the wee stony beach where we fished two days ago. The snorkeling there is great. We hunted (Bernie got a lovely red snapper) but my gun broke again. And Bernie had put a clear plastic end cover on mine without telling me so I shot two fish, was certain I’d got them but they took off. It wasn’t until I got ashore I saw the plastic. It was funny but… Omg. His lack of communication skills are frustrating at times. Unless something directly affects him personally, he doesn’t notice it!

We decided to watch a movie, which requires us all to sit close together round the table. So Matt and Meg shimmied in one side, and Bernie stretched out along the seat on the other, lounging comfortably along the seat. I said “Ah, Bernie, I need some place to sit”. He scrambled upright going “oh, sorry” but honestly, I wonder how Michelle put up with 20 years of going largely unnoticed! Being taken for granted. It does my head in. I have everyone’s needs in my mind, all day, every day. Bernie can sit two metres away from me and I’ll be cooking. When I put the meal down in front of him, he’ll go “oh, wonderful! When did you make all this?” Seriously, if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry! Anyway, they’ve been dissecting the movie this morning. Matt and Meg didn’t like it. I did warn them about Bernie’s odd taste in movies! It’s 50/50 if you’ll like something he loves!

Matt and Meg have a very cool relationship. I’m so proud of them. They’re so supportive of each other and help each other all the time, are mindful of one another’s needs. They’re honest and strong, don’t let each other step on their wishes, talk things out. They seem well matched in their aims in life, both physically and emotionally. Wish I could’ve found that level of trust with someone. I’ve never been with anyone who’s truly had my back. And since Danny died, all desire for a relationship with anyone has vanished. My mojo has gone! It’s peaceful in a way!

I watched some local guys fishing with the circular weighted fishing nets they throw for catching bait fish. It was pretty cool to see.

May 10th: We’ve anchored back in Isla Coronados after having to motor most of the way back! Flat calm day – ideal sailing weather according to Matt! Mmm, something wrong with that picture! We saw lots of dolphins though, which made them happy! Tomorrow we’ll go into Loreto and they go to La Paz the next day. It’s a hot evening. 6pm and over 30°C.

11th : So we’ve said goodbye to Matt and Meg. Boohoo. I’ve taken the laundry ashore and grabbed some cheese and tomatoes! The rest of the shopping can wait till tomorrow. The kittens have helped me make the beds and are now relaxing.

Isla San Francisco

Monday 19th April: Bernie finished his translation job yesterday morning so we prepped Momo and headed out of La Paz around 1630. Aiming to sail through the night, with variable and unpredictable winds forecast, we hoped for the best! The kittens hunkered down in bed with me, happily at first and somewhat disillusioned once I was on watch and getting up every 20 minutes! After a couple of hours on a port tack, the weather gods smiled on us and we were granted a following sea for the entire night! 34nm and only two jibes later, at 0730 we approached the entrance to this gorgeous bay on the south of Isla San Francisco.

A manta ray celebrated dawn with us, leaping out of the sea to our starboard, as we prepared to anchor. Only moments after setting the anchor, peering over the side into incredibly clear water, we saw a huge turtle mosey on by, below Momo, and a bunch of puffer fish. Not long after that we saw dolphins cruising round the bay and more turtles, one simply sunbathing on the surface near us. It’s so heartening to see so much sea life here.

There’s no internet and I’m dying to send pictures to Matt and Meg! I wish they were here. Meg would love being able to snorkel without getting wet! The water is that clear! After bacon and eggs for breakfast, we went for a hike, scrambling up a trail above the sea cliffs. It was a stunning view and a lot of fun. Saw lots of lizards. Its a nice beach and we’re considering introducing the kittens to sand/land! Though they’re totally entertained on board right now, chasing bees, a doubtful pastime! I believe Jack’s been stung already as he slowed down for a while.

2141! We went spear fishing after a post lunch nap, taking the dinghy round to a bay we’d seen on our walk. Really good snorkeling and a fish for cerviche. But my first attempt at using my new spear gun wasn’t a success! I shot at a hog fish, missed and realised the line had broken. So that was it for me! Bernie says he can fix it though.

Had a rather funny interaction with the yacht next to us. They radioed saying they were worried about how close we were. It wasn’t a problem, heaps of room, but the guy didn’t like me saying so and they picked up their anchor and moved. We felt a little bit bad, since we arrived after, but there really was no problem. Another yacht arrived later and almost dropped their pick between us, which would’ve made my day, but didn’t!

We’ve seen so many turtles today. Sitting on the bow for sundowners was like watching a doco on them! Just magic.

I asked Bernie if we needed to separate off the bottles this trip. If we can we take all rubbish ashore, but if it’s a long trip we have to store it on board. So we clean it and burn it on the sand when possible, saving the scraps. Glass can be filled with sea water and dumped. Its non toxic to the environment and fish love it! But Bernie misunderstood or something and told me off for a dropped egg I’d cleaned up with paper towels this morning and put in the general bin instead of the food scraps bin, which I’d totally forgotten about. So I was a bit upset. I was cooking at the time and he had the engine floor hatch up so I couldn’t move safely. So I dumped it there in the rush. I hadn’t purposely put it in the wrong place.

In an effort to brighten the mood, I agreed to watch a couple of episodes of “The good place” with him. He enjoys it, especially when he’s high, but I’m not much of a fan. I find it silly, but am not about to say that as he really loves it! I’m now cuddled up with both kitties taking up more bed than I’d like!

20.04.21: It’s 1030 now and I’ve been sitting on the bow reading, having coffee and enjoying constant visitations from turtles. It’s just wonderful to see so many. Bernie came and we did a 10 minute meditation. I had a very strong vision of the whole family at Mum and Dad’s, Matt, Meg and I all home. It was a nice feeling. I do miss them. If I can afford it, I think I’ll try and do Tomorrowland and then go home for a while.

1530: What a great day. After breakfast we took the kittens for their first shore visit. I was rather terrified, visions of them tearing up the hill in horror, us unable to catch them, torturing my brain. Bernie was more calm about it! We put them in their cat carrier and took their treats and a picnic rug with us. Once at the beach we pulled the dinghy almost entirely out of the water, laid the rug out near it and Bernie sat down. I opened the carrier and left the kittens to decide when they were ready to come out.

Far from leaping out and tearing off, as I feared, they were super cautious! With much meowing and peeping out of the dinghy like meercats, making us laugh, they were totally unwilling to brave the life of landlubbers! We bribed, called, encouraged, all to no avail. In the end we picked up one each, cuddled and reassured them, and sat on the rug. They mooched about our legs a bit, accepting our admiration, before tiptoeing across the sand and elegantly jumping back into the dinghy. Boat cats, indeed! So much for that! Realising they were unimpressed with the expedition, we took them back to the yacht. They seemed happy enough loose in the dinghy on the way but as soon as we got within jumping distance of Momo, about 1.5m, they both did awesome leaps onto their home base! Alex landed on the Danforth anchor secured outboard starboard aft! Jack was slightly more graceful. They’ve been sacked out since, exhausted apparently.

Once we were sure the cats had settled down and we hadn’t scarred them for life, guilt in our hearts, rather, we decided to go fishing. Bernie had restrung my spear gun. We went round the NW point of the bay and found great snorkeling and a good number of fish. I missed a dammed good Maori fish which are excellent eating, so I was peeved with myself. I suppose I should cut myself a little slack for it being my second ever shot with the gun! The trigger is a bit heavy on it which is a problem but I guess I’ll learn to compensate. Bernie got a magnificent Trigger fish of about 10lbs, and a hog fish, which we ate for lunch in tacos. Yum. The special fillets will be for tonight! It’s great having fresh fish again.

And Jack just got stung in the mouth by the bee she was chasing. Well. What a surprise! I had to extract the stinger with my forceps. Poor silly meow!

21.04.21: Having greeted the day fairly early, we decided to get underway and head a bit north to Isla San José. We just motored and towed the dinghy as it’s not far. It’s a pretty passage, passing Isla Cayo, Rocas de la Foca, and Isla Coyote. We anchored at the southern end of Bahía Amortajada. The plan was to take the dinghy through the mangroves to the nearby lagoon. It turned out to be a stunning trip and as we had the outgoing tide on the return trip, we floated and used oars the whole way. The quiet was magic, allowing us to hear the birds and simply soak up the atmosphere. Herons, egret and pelicans abounded. Once back on the sea we saw groups of grebes and small ducks that looked like Scaups.

After a wonderful lunch (if I say so myself!) of pan fried trigger fish fillets in butter, fresh basil, salt and lemon pepper, stir fried veges and potato/Kumara mash, we felt fortified for another adventure! Leaving the cats to chase bees (of which there are too many for my liking here), we set off to visit the salt pans at the North end of this bay. They are actually very extensive and there’s old falling down buildings and rusted out trucks and an old catapillar dozer! It was interesting and worth the long dinghy trip. We saw dolphins on the way back, and always turtles!

22.04.21: This morning we decided to motor across the Canal de San José and anchor in San Evaristo. It’s a quaint little fishing village which has a desalination plant, of all things. We don’t need water though! Bernie said that this time last year, when covid-19 was new, the locals here threw stones at yachts to make them leave. They seemed OK when we arrived today and there’s now 3 other yachts anchored here as well.

I made a coconut based Indian sauce for the rest of the trigger fish, for lunch. It was pretty yummy and there’s enough for dinner! I like that Bernie is so unfussy and eats whatever he gets without complaint!

I’m covered in little insect bites right now, so itchy! Amortajada is famous for insects unfortunately! But it was worth the visit.

Friday 23rd April: It blew like crazy all night from the West and immediately veered into the North at dawn. As we want to go north it was most infuriating! Its a solid 15 knots, gusting 20, so no point motoring into that. We want to head to Puerto los Gatos next which is 29nm so hope to sail it. Tomorrow’s another day. There were 10 yachts in here overnight but there was only 4 of us left by mid morning. We had a bit of a ly in and had more of a brunch than breakfast! After that we took the dingy ashore at each end of the bay, walking to the light on Punta Romualdo first and then to the salt pond over the hill at the north end. They were quite impressive actually. Its a stunning part of the Baja, with the towering Sierra de la Giganta mountain range behind it, its striated terrain giving an awe inspiring backdrop. A local dog followed us the whole way!

I made some guacamole on rice and quinoa flatbread mid afternoon and did some washing. I’ve just checked it hasn’t blown off the guard rails and into the next bay! I’ve read Water for Elephants again over the last couple of days. I enjoyed it just as much this time. Bernie said he’s got the movie so might give that a whirl too.

24.04.21: It’s ANZAC Day in New Zealand, the 25th. This time last year we were in lock down at Fizz’s. Crazy huh. We remember them all. ❤️

This morning we sailed off the anchor on a starboard tack, having decided to go as far as Nobolo, and if we got a good southerly on to Puerto los Gatos. However it was northerly so aimed for Nobolo. As we approached Bernie said he was just going to start the engine to check it was fine, though we planned to sail onto the anchor as well. Nothing. Didn’t even turn over. Holy foxtrot! Nobolo isn’t the greatest anchorage in terms of space, so no engine isn’t a great idea. Tacking out again, I watched while Bernie tried to work out the engine problem. After some tests he’s decided it’s the starter.

This isn’t wonderful. We basically have two options; go straight to San Carlos where he knows he can get it sorted, or go to Puerto Escondido, just south of Loreto, and a better anchorage than Loreto, to see if he can fix it himself first. As we hope to see Matt and Meg there on April 2nd, that’s the preferred option. So we’ll try for that. It’s currently 1545 and bugger all wind. Murphy is laughing at us. Could be a long night!

It’s 7pm and we’d be lucky to have home much more than a mile! Zero wind and we’ve even let the kittens out. They’re fascinated by the sails but haven’t done anything too crazy! Bernie’s on the floor with his head in the engine space. I hope he can fix it. I’m enjoying the late evening without sundowners! We’ve seen a whale, rays and turtles today. We’re stalled right at the North end of the Canal de San José.

25th April: It’s 1130 and we’ve had fairly slow going most of the night, making only about 2 knots right now. We watched a documentary about Gallipoli and I went to get my head down at about 2130. I did watch from midnight to 0930 then from 0530 to about 1030. Bernie cooked corn crepes for breaky. We’ve got about 40nm to go. Weather forecast tells us good southerlies will arrive tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be at Loreto by then! Good old Murphy!

2100: Bernie advertised on the Sea of Cortez fb page to see if anyone knows where he can get new starter parts in Loreto. He’s taken it apart and knows what the problem is now. I messaged Matt and Meg to say we were nearly here (about an hour to go) and let them know what’s going on. They fly to La Paz on May 1st and will likely bus up to meet us. Hopefully it’ll be sorted by then!

We’ve had a nice sailing day, varied winds but made better progress than we’d expected. I’m tired though, and will be glad to get the anchor down.

Monday 26th April: It was 2300 last night, by the time we’d anchored and got the sails tied down. We collapsed in the saloon, Bernie with a beer and me a whiskey! Around midnight we went to bed and I fully expected to crash but had a restless sleep in the end. Bit jaded today but its been productive nevertheless! Bernie talked to his mum and I talked to Matt, so we’re both happy! We then took the rubbish and laundry ashore and got a taxi to take us to see about the starter motor. The driver knew a good mechanic so, with trust in our hearts, we let him drive us to his mates workshop. He had excellent English so was able to help us explain what was needed and we arranged for him to pick us up tomorrow. His friend, Miguel, reckons he’ll have it fixed! Fingers crossed 🤞

We then grabbed a few groceries (even found TVP!) and stopped for lunch in town. I like Loreto and it’s so much more alive now than last time we were here back in July last year. Lots of building and road works going on. We’re back on the boat now, in hot, wet puddles of exhaustion! I need a swim.

Matt and Meg on Momo!

Friday 9th April: Totally wonderfully for me, Matt and Meg are here with us on Momo. They arrived two days ago and have settled in easily, with the kittens delighted to have more humans spoiling them! Their plans had a forced change when poor Meg had a ghastly experience going into San Francisco. She got the worst kind of immigration officers, was treated appallingly, and deported.

Forced to return to Cancún, very upset, and unsure what was going to happen with her egg donations, they got in touch with her agent in the US. While they sort out the legal mess, the family are happy for her to do it from a clinic in México. Very relieved, they’re waiting to hear when that will happen. In the meantime, they’re relaxing with us and we hope to take them sailing north with us.

We’ve had some stunning sunsets and sunrises lately. It’s hotting up now, with daily highs around 30°C. Bernie and I had a couple of days in Bahia Falsa, not far from here, but a nice change from this busy La Paz anchorage.

Wednesday 14th April: Well, we’re back in La Paz briefly, mainly to reprovision fresh stuff and wine! Matt and Meg headed off to Mexico City two days ago, on Meg’s birthday. We’d had a wonderful few days sailing with them, taking a short trip to Isla Espíritu Santo. It was Meg’s first time sailing and I’m happy to report that she loved it and didn’t get sea sick!

We had a night in Caleta Partida, which wasn’t the most inspiring anchorage, and a night in Ensenada la Gallina, the southern most bay of Puerto Ballena. Now, that is a super cool spot. So many turtles! Truly a wonderful treat. Matt and Meg were both excited beyond words! We had a nice little snorkel there too.

The sail back was fairly frisky and as it was on Meg’s birthday, I was very relieved she wasn’t sick! That would’ve been mean! But they both seemed to love it and are determined to return to us, to my joy, after her round of donation. We’ll likely sail up to Loreto and meet them there.

I had a message from Fizz, too. She’s doing a drive/cycle tour in the North Island. She detoured to Ohope and visited Danny’s roadside cross. She sent us a picture and it was nice to see people are still leaving flowers, remembering.

Plan Changes – Again!

It’s the 27th of March today and two days ago Bernie made the call to not sail across the Pacific this year. It was a hard call as it means another year away from our families, potentially. But with all the Pacific Islands except Fiji closed to yachts, it would mean a long non stop sail from here to Fiji. There’s definitely higher risks involved in that, exhaustion from no break from watch keeping, at the very least.

So after much discussion with Michelle, on Bernie’s part, and with Matt for me, we made the decision. Everyone at home understands, though they’re disappointed, of course. On the plus side, if we go next year, we’ll hopefully be able to stop frequently as things open up. It’ll be more fun and safer. Another plus for us both is that Bernie hopes his Mum will be able to come to visit us here, and I’ll get to see Matt and Meg again. They’d planned to return to Mexico between Meg’s donations, so now we can take them sailing.

One total bummer is that the NZ government have just changed the quarantine rules. To have the cost of it covered, we now have to stay in NZ for 6 months, instead of 3. Matt and Meg have cancelled their trip home over Xmas and New year. I’m not sure what I’ll do. Wait and see. If I can get vaccinated, that might change things.

Yesterday I cleaned all the snorkeling gear, which had got mouldy after so long in storage. The stuff we use a lot was fine of course, but the rest was pretty feral. It’s shiny clean now! Jack helped, my feline water baby!

After lunch, I hauled Bernie up the mast to check all the rigging and get Red the rooster down. Bernie has made a new wind vane, an Orca this time.

While he was up there, we saw a big sea lion just chilling on the surface, sunbathing and letting the current take him along!

Around 1630 we went into the marina to shower but the office was shut, so we couldn’t get passes. I decided to check the women’s shower room was shut because sometimes the door doesn’t quite latch. It was open! So, there being no one in there, I sent Bernie into the shower quickly, with orders not to finish and come out until I told him! So he got a nice long hot shower while I hurried through washing my hair and shaving! After I got out and checked the coast was clear, he scurried out and waited while I dried and combed out my hair!

Then, as newly clean and presentable sailors, a rare event, we headed out for dinner and drinks! Bernie and Kyla had gone to a wee place that he said was great. And it was. I had steamed Dorado and veges, with rice and salad. Very good, indeed. After food we headed to a beach bar for a sundowner. There was a guy playing guitar and singing County music (and no boats to rescue) so a pleasant evening. We’ve had some stunning sunsets lately.

Today is pretty windy and as the tides are Springs and opposing right now, there’s a fast current against the wind making it rougher than normal! It feels like we’re sailing! The kittens are cuddled up with me in bed, three lazy pussies! Bernie is getting a good amount of translation work so he’s busy with that today. Earlier, Alex worked out how to open my cupboard and he and Jack curled up in there for a while, one on each shelf!

Bernie had to dinghy across and check on Marten earlier, the chap we helped the other evening. I had looked out the scuttle to see what looked like him raising his anchor. Concerned, as he has no idea how to anchor, we decided to see what he was up to. Turns out he’d taken the snubber off, god knows why, and was thinking he should put it back on! So Bernie let out more chain and did it for him. The last thing we need is him dragging in this weather! He’d come straight at us.

30.03.21 : I’ve been taking Bernie up the mast to work on the new wind vane and check the rigging, the last few days. It’s a good workout! Jack only realised today where he was and seemed quite perturbed! He stared without blinking for about 5 minutes. Alex has already sussed it all out. He’s very vocal on the subject.

This morning we offered to take Marten, off Fulica, into shore to get groceries. He has no dinghy. So while he went off to do that, we checked out spear guns. I want one for myself since we’re staying another Summer. They’re pretty spency. It’s a nice walk along the sea shore though, and we indulged in an ice cream. Bernie finished mine, as the smallest was huge!

31.03.21: Last night we decided to go into the marina for drinks. Washed and dressed up, we headed off, only to have the motor stop a few minutes out. I looked towards Bernie to see why, only to realise there was no fuel tank! I burst out laughing, understanding immediately that Bernie had taken the tank onto Momo to refill it, but forgotten to put it back! He was suitably embarrassed! The tide was taking us away from Momo so he got in and tried to swim us back but made no headway really! Resigned, I stripped down to my bra and knickers, and got in! Together we towed the dinghy to the nearest yacht and knocked on her hull. Confessing his foolishness, Bernie asked the guy on board to take us back to Momo. Laughing, he did, so we invited him to go out with us, our shout, after we’d washed and dressed again! So we have a new friend! Tai. We had a fun evening with him. He’s just solo sailed down from California and was happy for company.

Today we went in, without incident and with the oars I’ve been begging Bernie to find and put in the dinghy, as a secondary means of propulsion! We got the laundry, groceries and my new spear gun!

Team Momo to the Rescue

Monday 22nd March: What a crazy day we’ve had! It started off with Bernie filling out the paperwork for getting his NZ residency visa transferred into his new passport and me taking him in to go to DHL to send it and collecting Kyla at the same time. She went to the beach yesterday and ended up staying ashore. By the time we went in, mid morning, the wind had got up. It was wind against tide so the sea was pretty rough, making for fun in the dingy! Kyla and I got soaked coming back into the wind! She loved it.

She had to pack, as her flight was going at 2pm. That done we went back in and parked ourselves in a restaurant to wait for Bernie. After he arrived and we were having drinks, Kyla got a lesson in using Ding to top up her phone. As that was happening we felt a splatter raining on us and I exclaimed “God, a gull pooped on us!” In fits of laughter, we used paper napkins to wipe it off! One large dollop had hit the side of Kyla’s glass. Not an addition to your vodka you really want!

Then the fun began. We’d noticed a yacht very close to the beach, with an old dude on it. I’d commented that it must have a retractable centre board earlier. At this point two young guys came into view at the water’s edge and took off their shoes. Then in jeans and shirts, waded in and started pushing the yacht out. The guy aboard started his engine, an outboard, churning mud like mad, and after it was deeper motored off. The young guys watched a bit then left and we didn’t think much more of it at that point, and we’re only idly watching.

However, as we did we saw he was going all over the place, round in circles, and moving from the helm to the anchor and back, over and over. Then he untied the dingy he was towing behind and tied it forward. I said to Bernie “why the hell is he tying that on the bow in this weather? He’ll sink it.” I swear it was 5 seconds later and that dingy was filling with water and then submerged under the yacht, the old guy totally oblivious. It started pulling the yacht round, so he tottered up the starboard side and saw his dingy gone. By this stage we were half laughing and half horrified.

Kyla announced she was going to help him. Bernie was of the opinion we should keep out of it but I couldn’t let her go alone, as she really doesn’t know much about boating! So she went in in her knickers and t shirt, while I had my skort and bra on! We swam out to him and while I retrieved the oars, Kyla tried to get the dingy out from under the yacht. The guy was zero help and in fact still had the motor running. I yelled at him to turn it off, with slashing motions of my hand across my neck! I tried to get him to follow instructions but it was immediately clear he was drunk out of his skull. Kyla managed to untie the dingy painter and pull it clear of the yacht, though still submerged. I started towing the yacht out of the shallows into deeper water. Once in enough water to be safe, I got him to hand me his anchor and swam it out further. Then I dived and dug it in before telling him to let out lots more rope. He had very little chain on it. However it seemed to hold, so I went to help Kyla take the dingy to the beach and empty it out. As we finished doing that, the crazy old bugger waded in and started yabbering nonsense at us. No thanks! Feeling we’d done enough, he was anchored and safe, we went back to where Bernie was sitting, watching the whole drama.

However, that was not the end of it! Hot damn if he didn’t then start trying to row back out to his yacht in the dingy with only one paddle. Going against the wind he very nearly got carried off but just managed to make it, get on board and tie off the dingy. At the stern! Next, to our disbelief, he started the engine and, with the anchor still over, motored off. Abandoning the helm he went to get the anchor up and the yacht started driving itself on a very erratic course. Horrified we watched him almost run into a number of other boats, going in crazy circles. At this point, I got a waitress and asked her to call the Navy /coastguard before he did serious damage. Unreal! Then Kyla had to rush or she was going to miss her flight back to Hermosillo.

23.03.21: That wasn’t the end of the day’s drama. Later in the afternoon as Bernie was resealing the starboard forward deck plate, I heard him talking to someone about borrowing food. I went topsides to see what was going on and see if he needed me to help. He was talking to a chap on another yacht that was circling us but then took off. Bernie did he’d looped round a couple of times and asked if he could buy food off us. It was all a bit odd but I put together a few things in a bag, and we watched him.

He dropped his anchor and pulled it up a number of times. Wondering if he needed help we went over in the dingy, me with the food. He said he was fine but the anchor wasn’t holding. We came back but after watching a bit longer decided he had no clue how to anchor, so went to offer help again. Bernie got on board and drove his yacht, with him on the bow. Once in position, he let go the anchor, only about 20 feet, not enough to touch the bottom even. I was calling out from the dingy “más, más, más!” (He’s Mexican) He had a manual anchor winch and it was obvious he didn’t want to let much out because he’d have to haul it up by hand! But with me yelling “necesitas más!” he did! Bernie dug it in and put on a snubber. And, surprise surprise, it held! So he had a good night’s sleep! As did we! His name is Marten and he’s just got the yacht. He wants to sail it to Mazatlan where his partner lives. God help him! He was super grateful for our help and the food, a sweet guy, but no sailor!

Matt, Meg and Me!

It’s March 14th and I am, most wonderfully, with Matt and Meg again. They surprised me with the news they were coming to Mexico not long ago. So here we are in a truly gorgeous Airbnb called Bungalow Salamandra in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. I flew in from La Paz via Mexico City and they flew British Airways into Cancún. Then we hired a car and drove down, finally finding this delighting secluded place late in the evening. Our hosts are the sweetest people, cooking for us unplanned that first night, and helping us learn Spanish! Their food is so good I think we’ll all head off heavier than on arrival! Well, me anyway! Probably the young things will shrug off the extra calories!

Their property is a meandering gathering of beautiful apartments hiding amongst the jungle. We’ve seen many lizards, an iguana right outside our unit and terrapins in the pond. We’ve swum in their pool and sat outside listening to the geckos calling at dinnertime.

Yesterday we drove to Cancún as Meg needed to see a dentist. Poor lass has to have some pretty knarly work done but it’s efficient and much less expensive here. She’s positive and it’s worked in with their other plans nicely. Matt and I hung out in a restaurant bar while she did that. I had a cocktail called Tidal Wave. Not as good as a margarita!

Last night, as we were sitting on our balcony having after dinner drinks, our host, Guillarmo, came up and said they would like me to have my own room, next to Matt and Meg. So I’m now in a beautiful big bed with my own gorgeous bathroom. So lucky. They really do like us! They’ve done this place with so much heart, lots of little touches that set it apart.

Today we drove south a bit to Cenote Azul, fresh water pools in the forest which you can sit/swim/snorkel in. I snorkeled with my underwater camera. There were terrapins. And lots of fish. A very pretty place. Now we’re chilling in this stunning Airbnb again, unwilling to venture further. It’s so perfect! We’ve seen more lizards and iguanas. Meg and Matt saw two iguanas scrapping!

Monday 15th March : It’s midday and we’re sitting in the car at the front (happily) of the line to get on the ferry to Cazumel. We checked it out yesterday luckily, and were told to be here 3 hours prior to departure as its first on first served, and the ferries have been full lately. Apparently there’s only two a day, with covid, whereas it used to be one every hour. So we brought games (Matt & Meg), reading and I’ve been doing my duolingo Spanish practise! The car is running so we can have the air conditioning on. There’s a ute parked under a tree with a sheep on the back. She’s wearing a lead harness like a dog’s! And her owner brings her water in a big cup, plus she has branches to eat on the tray. I went to visit her!

Our apartment here on Cozumel is fantastic. Matt & Meg are so good at finding excellent places. The view is outstanding. Matt and I went swimming after we’d settled in and had a couple of bevvies on our deck. The snorkeling is great with the most extensive array of soft corals I’ve seen outside of the Great Barrier Reef. I’ll take my underwater camera in next time. We were treated to a stunning sunset as we sat outside with our drinks and nibbles.

It’s 1330 on the 16th March and we’ve decided to do the loop road around the island. First stop was Playa Palancar, a renowned snorkeling area, but its too windy and rough. So we sat on the beach and had lunch and limón daiquiris! I had a wee snorkel and Matt and Meg splashed about on a wooden disk!

The East Coast of the island is wild and more deserted, very beautiful too, though.

We rested up once we got back to the condo, and I watched a YouTube video on using my new camera. Then I went snorkeling with my it, to practise a setting I’d learned about. It seemed to improve the pics too. Fabulous snorkeling.

The evening involved a walk to a little restaurant on the beach called La Monina. Matt and I had mojitos, the first I’ve found here! So good. The waiter was awesome and the food excellent so we left a decent tip. We watched yet another stunning sunset. On the way home we poked our heads into a wee jewellery shop. I fell in love with a silver and blue larimar Sting Ray set so…. what can a girl do!

Thursday 18th March: Yesterday was our last full day on Cozumel. We decided to hang out at our apartment and just enjoy the beautiful spot. I made breakfast quesodillas again. After lunch I decided to get a mani pedi, probably the last opportunity until Fiji! The girls must’ve been bored with fewer tourists than usual because they spent literally hours, giving me an amazing experience, doing a beautiful job and helping me improve my Spanish as well! I really love my toe colour!I took a couple of water front pics in the town too.

We went out for dinner again, to a place called Hemmingway. I didn’t think we could improve on the previous night, but yes! I had a surf ‘n turf meal which was divine. Matt was impressed I finished it but thankfully I hadn’t eaten since breakfast! It would’ve been a crime to leave any!

Saturday 20th March: We’ve just left Casita Jabin. Boy, these guys are amazing at finding cool places to stay. It was a little place in the bush with a pool on the terrace. We’ve had two nights here and on the first day went to visit Chichén Itzá, the famous Mayan archaeological site. Its pretty awe inspiring. I bought a little obsidian healer’s carving as a momento.

Yesterday we went to two different underground cenotes. They are super cool, with wonderfully shaped stalactites and bats living in the ceiling. We got some epic photos in the first one, as the sun was making spectacular rays!

22.03.21: So, I’m back on Momo. The kittens and Bernie seem pleased to have the PIC (Pussy in Charge – Shane’s name for me!) back! I hated saying goodbye to Matt and Meg, of course, but it has been a wonderful week. Such a bonus when I didn’t think I’d see them till Christmas time. Thank you for visiting Mexico, you gorgeous pair 💖💖💖🇲🇽

Goodbye San Carlos

It’s Thursday 4th March and we said goodbye to our home away from home, for the last time, this morning. We went over to say bye to Kim first thing and were underway by about 0915. It’s now 1240 and we’re doing around 7 knots on a starboard reach. It’s a bit rolly and both Alex and I have been seasick!

My first ever actual throwing up over the side kind of seasick! What is going on? Why now? There’s only two things I can think of that are different. One, I’m on Fluoxetine. And two, I have a very blocked right ear which I’m hoping to sort out in La Paz. So if its neither of those things, I’ve no idea why I’ve suddenly started getting seasick. Hot damn. It’s not on!

Yesterday Nancy, Kim and I went to Hermosillo to pick Dawnda up, then had lunch before returning and meeting up with Bernie on the dingy dock. Bernie, Dawnda and I went to Hammerheads for our last margarita there. Kyla, Tyr, Dillon and another lady we didn’t know were there so we got to say farewell to them. I really like Tyr. He’s a cool guy. Sweet and caring, I think.

Then the three of us went out to Momo and introduced Dawnda to the yacht and the kittens! To my delight, they responded perfectly to bribes and love her! She bought them toys! We had sundowners on the bow, our last in San Carlos harbour.

1650: Dawnda and Jack are snuggled up in her sleeping bag, Bernie is resting in his cabin and Alex and I are on watch. We’re both feeling a lot better. It’s pretty wild outside but we’re speeding along nicely, averaging 7 knots. If this keeps up we’ll do the trip in record time and be on anchor again in the small hours. The winds building, the sea too, but its not particularly uncomfortable. We had a laugh when Dawnda asked if this was bad and we said no, it’s really good. Her face was a picture! Sailing 101; it’s the opposite of motor boating! Not fast. Not noisy. Not even keeled. Not predictable! I made lunch during one of the gentler periods. Just spuds, asparagus and pork chops. Pretty good though, and it’s all stayed down! Winning!

March 8th. 1400. Had a marvelous couple of days. We anchored in San Juanico around 0130 that first night. After a good sleep in, we set out to explore the beach. Its a really pretty cove. There’s a cruisers shrine there so we went to look at it, but in all honesty, I reckon it was just a Bush with junk hanging off it and looked like a rubbish dump. We climbed to the top of an outcrop and took photos of the bay. It was pretty windy the first couple of days so we didn’t swim or spear fish.

From Caleta San Juanico we sailed to Puerto Ballandra, having to motor the last 10nm when the wind dropped right off. It was a great trip though, warm and beautiful to sit on deck. The bay itself is a very sheltered spot from all directions except West. It’s stunning and with the water a bit warmer, Dawnda and I enjoyed a “shower ” on arrival! Bernie spear fished successfully too. Then, naturally, rather a lot of sundowners

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Yesterday morning we snorkeled. Not huge numbers of fish, but lots of different soft corals and small life. About 4 species of star fish and way too many puffer fish for my liking. They’re creepy buggers, if you ask me. Even their skeletons are creepy.

In the afternoon we did a short boost to Bahia Marquer, arriving in time for sundowners. The motor boats came later and anchored in the bay with us. This morning Bernie went spear fishing again and got three fish. He got a trigger fish after going through a snapper! Two for one shot! So I made cerviche again for lunch and we’ll have the snapper tonight. We have to lock Jack and Alex below when Bernie is filleting the fish as they really do not help! Their little beaky noses are half an inch off the knife and in danger of being trimmed! While Bernie was fishing, a huge pod of dolphins cruised by. What a treat. Dawnda was stoked, and I for her.

After Bernie had dealt with the fish and I’d put the cerviche in the fridge to marinate, we went ashore for a walk. It’s a lovely beach with interesting volcanic rocks and terrain. I got a good pic of a very red star fish chilling in the shallows. And a nice pic of Momo on her anchor. We’re now motor sailing to Bahia Agua Verde, about 20nm. I’m on watch. We’ve eaten our cerviche, which was great, if I say so myself!

My favourite snack at the moment is Jicama (pronounced hicama). Its a Mexican turnip but is crunchy, juicy and tastes like a cross between a pear and a radish. Really hard to explain but so good. I wish someone had introduced me to them sooner! It’s yummy added to cerviche too.

March 9th @ 1500. This morning we motored, due to flat calm conditions, to Puerto los Gatos. Very appropriate really, though I don’t think our cats appreciate the subtlety! It’s apparently named for a family of wild cats, pumas, that used to live here, but they died out years ago. It’s a stunning bay with fantastic geology. We had lunch on arrival and then put the dingy in to go fishing /snorkeling. It was awesome. The most beautiful reef I think we’ve found in the Sea of Cortez. Wonderful diversity. I tried my new underwater camera again, as the water is so clear here, and got better results I think. I’ll put them on the laptop later. No luck with the spear fishing. Some steers have just come down to the seaside. They’re drinking the sea water and are really skinny. Not a great sign for their general survival, I wouldn’t think.

While we were snorkeling, a Dufour anchored way out in the bay. After Dawnda and I came back to Momo and Bernie disappeared off to try for fish, the skipper came over in his dingy to ask me if I thought they’d be safe to anchor closer in. They’d hired the yacht in La Paz and were obviously very inexperienced. He didn’t even handle the dingy confidently. I asked how much they drew, and said it was not far off low tide, so he should come in next to us. They did, but later when the northerly wind got up as expected, he radioed us. I took the call and he asked about the weather forecast. I told him it was likely to stay in the North and he should be fine where he was as long as he’d dug his anchor in well. We’re not on a lee shore here. So it’s now 7am on the 10th, the wind has died and everyone is still in the same spot! However we did leave the VHF on overnight, in case he needed us again!

It’s now just after 1100 and we’ve been sailing a couple of hours. There’s a ESE breeze of about 10 knots and we’re doing 6 knots, so all is right in our world! Earlier, when we were in lighter air and only doing about 3.5 knots, we tried letting the kittens out, with the new rescue net handy. However, after about 15 minutes they got cocky and Alex raced the length of the yacht before leaping onto the guard rail, with a view to climbing the Yankee sheet! That was enough for this mother. Protesting cat under one arm, I closed the hatch and shut them below again! We might have to try training them to wear harnesses. Two month at sea shut below will drive them crazy.

I’m reading, among others, a beautiful book given to me by Ashe, off Distant Star. It’s called Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. It’s a story of indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. It’s a really lovely piece of writing. The chapter I’ve just read is about how the indigenous people of the Americas started each day with an address of thanks to all aspects of nature. It appeals to me a lot. Thanks is offered for the cycle of life as people, to mother earth, to the waters of the world, to fish life, plant life, berries, food plants, medicine plants, trees, all animal life, the birds, the power of the four winds, storms, the sun, and the moon and stars. I heartily recommend it.

1640: We now have quartering winds and have for the last 20nm or so. Making good time, if not the most comfortable. We’re more than half way to La Paz and if this keeps up will be there by midnight. We’ll probably anchor in a small bay before the entrance to avoid the narrow channel in the dark. The kittens have got a bit more relaxed about being in a roller coaster ride. Alex even climbed onto the spud basket and was most disconcerted. It looked hilarious, as he was swinging wildly and got off fairly promptly!

11.03.21: What a crazy 24 hours. As we approached La Paz, I saw a post by Tyr saying Kyla had been robbed and lost all her documentation, phone, money, everything. He’d had to catch a plane from La Paz and was worried about her there alone with no money or passport. I messaged him and said we were nearly there and would find her. So we went ashore asap and I rang the Airbnb he’d left her at. They agreed to bring her to the marina, bless them. When she got to us she was literally trembling, poor thing, so frightened and upset. Between the three of us, we managed to calm her and assure her we’d make sure she got sorted. She’s going to stay on Momo with Bernie while I’m gone.

It was a lovely last evening with Dawnda. Kyla was very quiet, not the chatty girl we’re used to. A hard lesson. I’ll be sad to say bye to Dawnda but she vows she’s going to join us in Fiji! That’d be epic.

More Than One World

I’m not sure I want to ever relinquish this life. The freedom to go where I want, to be at one with the environment I’m in, to welcome all people and cultures into my life, to play with animals as if I’m one of them, to offer my services in a community where I speak little of the language, and yet, I’m very aware, in this current climate, I have one of the most wanted passports in the world. I can go home any day and be safe. I’m blessed with a good upbringing, education, skills, a loving family and friends.

I can sit on the bow of my dear friends’ yacht (Michelle and Bernie) as crew, all care and limited responsibility and enjoy the challenges and privileges of this life style. I get to meet amazing new friends, with similar life philosophies, but can always know I have a beautiful bolt hole.

Not everyone gets that lucky.

This is what keeps me honest, real, when I’m drowning in grief over losing my beautiful son. I try to remember Danny packed so much into his young life, just like I always encouraged my boys to. “You’ll seldom regret saying yes”, I always told them. I’ve regretted saying “I’d love to but I can’t”, realising too late there’s always a way. So, knowing my boys experienced so much together, before Danny left us, it helps. Some of the time.

Matt made my day today. He and Meg are coming to Mexico. Oh my god, I’m dancing on stars. I didn’t think I’d see them till we all got to New Zealand! But I’ll see them here and they might come to sail with us. So so amazing. I’m thrilled beyond words. It’s February 23rd today and they’re arriving on March 12th. Not long to wait. 🤸💃💖

25th February :  A beautiful day yesterday and a howling wind today! Kim came over last night for drinks. We sat on the bow until long after dark, shooting the breeze, before scurrying inside when the temperature dropped. The kittens remember Kim like she’s their granny. They’re very sweet with her. Every other visitor gets the cold shoulder, especially kids! 🤣 They positively hide. They absolutely love their sisal scratching pole – the world’s biggest, I reckon

We had lunch today with Kyla, Tyr (from Iceland) and Dillon, a guy from Alberqueque, who’s moved down here only 8 months ago. It was fun and good spirited. Afterwards Bernie went to shower (coz he didn’t last night!) and I went to buy some of the gorgeous Mexican pottery for Fizz. And me!

Tomorrow we’re dining at Patrick and Ellen Booths place. They recently bought a casa out near the ranchitas. They’ve had some incredible murals painted on the patio walls so we’re looking forward to seeing the finished product. I’m making salads. I’m hoping Kim comes too! I’m going to miss that lovely woman. She has a heart of gold. Then on Saturday night I’m cooking for Nancy, Glenn and Kim. At their place though as they can’t climb onto Momo. So we’re catching up with everyone before we leave.

Today I finished resealing all the scuttles. 12 of them! It’s not a hard job and I quite enjoyed doing it. And I’ve just smeared clove oil on the African statue to try and stop Jack from biting off the beads and leather tassels! Little wretch! 😻

Distant Star splashed yesterday and Ashe just wrote to me that they’re anchored in Puerto Ballandra, near Loreto. I hope we catch them up. She, Kyla and I had a girl’s night out before we splashed Momo. It was fun and a wild ride home on the back of a ute capped it off perfectly!

We splashed last Thursday, so been back in the water just on a week. No drama really except we had to wait for the tide to come in enough to motor out of the bay. We anchored by the fishing fleet again. I don’t like that bay. It gives me the heeby jeebies! Bad spirits there.

I dreamed about Danny a couple of nights ago. It was wonderful to see him and hear his voice in my head but I was pretty upset for the following day. I miss him so much.

March 2nd – Tuesday! My lovely friend, Dawnda, arrives today! I’m so looking forward to sailing with her on board. I can’t believe our time in San Carlos is at an end. Tomorrow we leave to make our way to La Paz. I’ll miss all the friends we’ve made here, Kim in particular.

WAITANGI DAY NZ

For only the 3rd time in my life I was outside New Zealand for our National Day! Looking over the news footage from here in Mexico, I felt rather proud of the way my country and countrymen (yeah, there’s not a good gender neutral word for that and I don’t care really!) have conducted themselves this last year. Goodness knows the world’s had more than its share of challenges but little old NZ had come out ahead of the field. Every American knows who and where we are now! I meet them every day, admiring us and our government. Its a pretty good feeling to have the most wanted passport in the world!

And then there’s Brexit. Need I say more!

We’ve had a really busy few days. 7th today. Bernie’s had been translating almost full time, so I’ve actually done most of the painting. However, today there was just the top black stripe to do, and the bit under the support pads. I had assumed (yes, I know, fatal mistake) Bernie would do the top and I’d do the pads, as I can’t reach the top. But no. He accepted a new job over night, and asked me to do the lot. I was fairly pissed off, to be honest. It involves lifting the extremely heavy scaffold round and round the boat. First to tape, then sand, then wash, and finally paint. Three times. So six go rounds.

By the time I got to the wash part I was exhausted and my back really sore. I had a bit of a melt down and threw in the towel, refusing to do more today. I’m going to suggest he helps me in the morning, that we work together, then he can translate the rest of the day. I do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry, so I don’t see why I have to do all the painting alone as well.

It’s getting hotter by the day. Definitely back into T-shirt and shorts weather. Even the kittens are sleeping on top of the covers again! They are the sweetest wee creatures. Jack goes in the crook under my chin usually, and graces me with little pats and grooms during the night.

Bernie has ordered another stuffing box hose and bearing for the drive shaft. We have no propulsion at present so won’t be going anywhere! We’ll be longer on the hard than expected, unfortunately. Its getting delivered to Glenn, who is luckily still in the US and can bring it down. Thank god. Or we’d be here weeks longer possibly.

I’ve met a bunch of people here, all working on their boats. An interesting bunch. Talked to a guy called Matt today! His brother, Marty, was killed by a Hell’s Angels mobster 15 years ago. So we talked about that kind of loss for a bit, and how being at sea helps. He owns a ranch in New Mexico and I told him Matt, Meg and I had visited that state last year. He invited us to visit his ranch. I’d be keen.

I think it’s the 9th today. We’ll get the painting finished today. Hooray. It looks good too. It’s a chilly morning, only 14°C. Not enough for this hot house flower so I lit the fire earlier! Even Jack has only just ventured out from under the covers, though he was motivated by having spotted one of my hair clips on the shelf opposite the bed. They are his current obsession and he can actually unclip them from my sponge-bag himself. He then carries his prize off in his mouth for all the world as if he’s caught a mouse. So pleased with himself. Its very funny. I find them hidden all over the boat!

We’re letting them out a bit more. I still worry they’ll fall off but they’re not showing signs of actually wanting to get off Momo. In fact they get quite stressed when we’re on the ground. They meow at us and track our progress up the ladder, demanding attention and reassurance upon our return.

10.02.21: The painting is finished and looks great. I sent a photo off to Michelle and the girls so they can see. Bernie’s translating today and just had a break to come to the little Mexican food place on the corner for lunch. Great food and super cheap. Saves me cooking!

We had an impromptu party last night. Some people we’ve met here showed up for sundowners. It was a lot of fun. Steve is a 66 year old solo sailor with a trimaran, based in Loreto. The other two, a couple, are Ashe and Luca who have 3 sons; Kalil – 11, Makawi – 15 and Ilo – 17. Really neat people. They’re on a yacht called Distant Star and know the Arena crew. So they’ll be crossing to French Polynesia at the same time as us and Utopia. Luca has a European passport so they can stay there. France has just closed it to tourism due to Covid. We need to apply for our permit to provision there soon.

I also met a young couple called Eric and Natalie this morning. Their yacht is called Bria Mia and they plan to sail to Hawaii, then up to Alaska and home to Vancouver. They have a lovely dog and my kittens are currently going nuts over the smell of her on me! Jack’s been half licking/half biting my foot and rubbing his scent glands all over me!

Nel and her two kids, Brody and Kai, are taking me to San Carlos tomorrow. They haven’t been before so I said I’d take them to brunch at Barracuda Bob’s! Tyler is staying behind to work unhindered by small people, on their yacht Polaris. I’m hoping Kim can join us, as it’s her birthday today and I’m sorry we can’t celebrate with her.

Friday 29th January 2021: Ready for Haul Out!

Well, the paint finally arrived in Guymas and Kim, bless her, took me to collect it. We’ve got everything we need now to paint the hull and are scheduled to haul out at Gabriel’s yard on Monday at 0800.

So we plan to sail the 20nm across to Guymas on Sunday and anchor there for the night, ready to go. We’ve decided we’ll have to keep the kittens shut inside while we work. I’m worried they might fall off; it’s a long way down, and there’s probably dogs around. Plus, it’ll be dusty so closing up the boat will keep it cleaner.

I’m having a very quiet afternoon today, as I had a diagnostic procedure this morning, under sedation. A nice little cocktail of midazolam, fentanyl and propofol! Can’t remember a thing. And the surgeon says all is well so I can sail off into the sunset without worrying now! The system was very similar to home and I felt totally at ease with the service I was getting here. It was a fair bit cheaper than home too, though I would’ve got it on my health insurance at home.

Kim and I went to Nancy’s the other day for a cards and pot luck lunch event with a bunch of local ladies, most of them sailors. A great bunch with very interesting and varied backgrounds. It was a fun afternoon. San Carlos is starting to feel a bit like home away from home, and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to everyone when we leave.

We’ve had some amazing sunsets and sunrises here lately, changeable weather making for beautiful skies. There seems to have been a huge flock of cormorants congregating in the bay too. I got some pics while out in the dingy a couple of days ago.

I got a gorgeous photo of Kim’s gentle giant, Bandit, too and of her in the dingy with Zoe wearing her doggy life jacket! I’ll definitely miss this woman and her menagerie!

Sunday 31st.     Yesterday we heard from Gabriel’s yard that we couldn’t go till Tuesday. So we’ll sail over tomorrow now. Bernie also thought this morning that he was going to have to spend a small fortune on an AIS transponder. He was very down about it but it does seem that the InReach system might be enough. Its to do with Fiji requiring us to be able to prove our track and time at sea, on arrival. French Polynesia had just announced its closing on February 3rd. Omg! Plans change daily almost. This means we’ll have to do a straight hop from here to Fiji. Two solid months at sea. Grrr. Not my favoured scenario.

Still, what can we do? Gotta go with the flow.

Monday 1st February:                              After getting Momo ready for sea this morning, we pulled the pick around 1150 and were out through the heads of San Carlos harbour at midday. I had been feeling a bit queasy before leaving – hungry! – and realised I should’ve fed myself before leaving when we hit open water and encountered 1.5-2m fetch from the high winds last night. For the first time in my life, I felt sea sick. Hot damn! Do not want to experience that again. I believe the cats shared my misery. We all kept to one spot; Alex on his favourite shelf in Bernie’s cabin, Jack in my cabin and me steadfastly watching the horizon on deck on permanent watch! It’s a form of meditation, I decided, as it required definite focus on one spot to convince my rebellious tummy to settle down.

Bernie was tired, not having slept well and we had stayed up late too, talking. He was feeling low, mostly with all the extra worries on his mind. But he’d also talked to Michelle while I was ashore. We’d been invited with Kim to dinner at Nancy’s, but Bernie chose to stay behind. He’d said he didn’t feel well but I now think he wanted to be able to ring her without me here. He could just be honest about that. There’s zero reason why I’d mind. He was still on the phone to her when I got back and didn’t even acknowledge me when I arrived. I was actually pretty pissed off with the whole attitude. It’s fucking immature. He did the same think the other day when talking to his friend, Evette. So pointless. Still, we talked about it and he apologised, conceding it was pretty unkind.

Kim, Nancy and I had a wonderful girls’ evening anyway. We cooked a complicated recipe for corn truffles a local delicacy. It was delicious. And of course, we cooked with wine – champagne actually! Kim and I navigated home by braille I think!

So here we are, anchored not far from where we get hauled out tomorrow morning. It’s 1937 and Bernie went to bed ages ago! So I’m sitting in my bed reading and doing this. It’s flat calm. Andrew Deeley told Bernie today that he thinks we can still go via FP. I hope so. First things first, though! Bottom paint to do!

February 3rd.

Yesterday we sailed – motored actually – round to the shipyard to haul out by 8am. The bay is very shallow and murky and our depth sounder gave up, so we were tiptoeing in blind. With no apparent navigation aids we ended up aground! Never done that before! Very gentle, it was! One moment going along slowly, the next going nowhere.

Deciding the was no point stressing, Bernie emailed the yard to see if they were ready for us and give them a sitrep, and I cooked breakfast! Timing things to perfection, they got back to us after we’d eaten. Bernie then put the boom right out to our port side and hung off it while I tried backing us off the mud! It worked and we were free. Following rather overdue instructions from the yard that what appeared to be mooring buoys were actually colourless lateral markers leading us in, we regained the “channel” and came into the slip without further drama.

I’d put the fenders and lines ready earlier so all we had to do was pass them the lines and watch while they backed the lift over us and put the slings underneath us. We did have to remove both forestays to allow the lift to back up. The mast is held with the halyard at present. Before long we were out of the water and in our spot for the next week. The supports were set under us and the lift drove off, leaving us high and dry! The whole thing was efficient and the guys doing it helpful and friendly.

Within the hour they’d brought the water blaster and were cleaning the hull for us. At almost bang on midday Bernie started sanding, while I got lunch ready. He stopped and started a lot so I thought it must be hard going, listening to him. After 45 minutes he came in for lunch, then I did an hour non stop. Its a decent work out but not that bad. I’m a bit concerned at how unfit Bernie is, and lacking in stamina. So we took turns, with me doing the bulk of it, and knocked off just before 4pm. Pleased with our progress, with 3/4 of the sanding done, we went to shower. Then, of course, we rewarded ourselves with rum & whisky!

Today we have finished the sanding and washed the dust off. Bernie has put epoxy round some through holes and is starting painting. That’s probably all we’ll do today but good progress. I had a nice long chat to Mum and Dad after lunch. Good to see them. Video calling is awesome. I wish Matt didn’t hate it! Talked to Fizz yesterday. 💖

4.2.21: Another very productive day and the first coat is done, as well as the extra coat on the leading edges. It’s looking really good. The kittens seemed to have resigned themselves to being inside, though they’ve found some creative ways to express their displeasure!

We got invited to another boat for sundowners last night. Vince, off Northern Dream, a boat builder from North Pole, Alaska! He’s a very colourful and garrulous character. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and we’re impressed with his yacht. Yes, he built her! I think Bernie now wants a work shop on Momo. My cabin might be in danger!

Tuesday 19th January 2021

I haven’t felt like writing the last couple of weeks since getting back from our silly season jaunt. Not sure why but we’ve been busy, which may have diverted me!

Bernie has been checking all the chain plate bolts and resealing where the chain plates go down through the deck. He’s also reseated the scuttle in the bathroom and has to do the three in my cabin. He’s just waiting on more sealant that he’s ordered. I’ve done my bit (other than the usual cooking and cleaning, which, to be honest, I’m pretty sick of right now!) by taking the winches apart, one by one, and cleaning & oiling/greasing the necessary parts. I’ve run out of gloves which I need as we use gasoline to clean them and that stuff kills my skin.

I’ve been pretty restless lately and have talked about my options a lot with Matt. There’s not a lot of choice in the current climate though. I can stay here and do the crossing, which I daresay I will, go home and get nursing work, which I’d likely regret in a heartbeat, or go travelling in Mexico for a bit. My South African friend from France, Fouche, thought he’d be tempted to join me for that. If he did come over, that’d be awesome. But travelling here alone isn’t the best idea. In the meantime – boat maintenance!

The poor kittens have been speyed. They’re actually doing really well but this Kiwi cat mum got all teary eyed dropping them off! Kim took Midnight (their sister) in at the same time. They’re perkier today, day 3 post-op, but very aware they aren’t as agile and strong as usual. They’ve been quiet and moved with great caution on deck! Still, good to have it done and, other than a rabies vaccine, it’s the last thing to do before taking them to NZ.

The clinic which did them is a free clinic set up by local expats. An American vet comes down once a month for the weekend and he and a local vet do non stop speying and neutering of any cats and dogs brought to them. They do a solid 10 hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday, hitting roughly 100 animals a day. Local and expat nurses assist and recover them. There’s also a van that catches feral animals and they get done too. A truly wonderful service.

When we went to collect our cats, I volunteered to help. The guy in charge, John, was very keen when I said I was a theatre nurse! Then, while he was talking to Kim, who knows him well, I noticed a dog had stopped breathing. Trying to get their attention, I felt for it’s pulse and finding nothing, rolled it on it’s front and opened it’s airway. Kim had twigged by then and knelt beside me to begin rubbing it’s ribs vigorously. We got it going again! John was very happy with us and I reckon we both have a job!

I had Momo to myself yesterday. It was divine. And a beautiful day too, so I could sit on deck and read. A weird fog rolled in for part of the afternoon, making for great photos! Bernie had had to drive, with Josh & Morgan off Grey Matter, up to Kilometre 21 to renew their visas. Its a 4.5 hour drive, so they left here at 0800 and got back about 1830. A long but successful day. My visa is valid as I renewed when I went to see Matt & Meg.

I get desperate for my own space at times. It’s impossible on a boat this size. I think Bernie was a bit offended when I was so pleased to be left alone, but I can’t help it. I needed a bit of peace and quiet. He lives in his head so much, I don’t think he notices it. We talked about it a bit when he got back. Hopefully he understands it’s my need and not a direct reflection on him, though admittedly I find his messiness testing at times and the way he’s such a noisy mover! But he can’t be expected to change after 56 years and I’m not going to try! He is who he is and, as Kim says, has many fine qualities! None of us are perfect and I daresay my obsession with hygiene and cleanliness drive him just as crazy!

He got a call from Jana today, his younger daughter, which made his day. He doesn’t hear from his kids nearly as much as Matt and I talk, so it means a lot when he does. They talked for about two hours. She is so clever and articulate, light years ahead of most 16 year olds. Hardly surprising with two incredibly smart parents, and an unconventional upbringing on Momo.

The kittens have spent most to today in bed!

24th January. Where are the days going?! January is nearly gone already. I caught up with the whanau yesterday, talking to Fizz, Mum and Matt, as well as Dawnda. It was a nice calm day and I helped Bernie with rigging, learning how to retension the stays. It’s actually easier than I thought, as long as you do one at a time! I also cleaned up more of the deck plates!

We had rain a few days ago! Real pouring rain all night. It was wonderful and Momo is fresh and clean. This may not seem particularly news worthy, but Sonora got no rain during the entire rainy season and we’ve only had two small showers with a squall last year around August. So it was the first proper rain since I arrived last July. Jack, our water obsessed kitten, was fascinated. He sat under the bimini watching, venturing out now and then to try and work out where it was coming from. Very amusing! They are such fun little animals, always following us around, helping with our projects!

I went ashore with Kim a couple of days ago to help do the garden out at the ranchitas. We met Nancy for lunch first, ordering pizza which was divine! Then did the weeding and picked some veges and herbs to bring home. It was a nice girly day. I met a couple of their other women friends here, both smart and interesting ladies. Kim reckons she could write a book about all the fascinating women here. They’re certainly all real hard case characters!

I’ve just finished a really good book called “The last lieutenant” by John Gobbell. I’m got to start the next in the series. Bernie and I have been watching a good series too, called “The sandbaggers”.

Not much to report really! 😻

New Year 2021

January 3rd.

It’s Fizz’s birthday at home and I can’t ring her. So gutted. We’ve had internet in all the places we didn’t think we would but not here, where I did expect it, being close to Mulegé! Grrr! I sent her a message on the InReach system but I wanted to talk to her. 😨🎂🥂💖

Jack has just gone for an unplanned dip in the sea. He’s very bedraggled and unhappy right now but as he won’t let me dry him with a towel, there’s not much I can do. He got back up the starboard rescue net as we can see the trail he left! Water everywhere! So they’ve both gone overboard now. The heater’s on so he’ll dry off eventually.

We’re now in Bahia El Burro, having sailed here yesterday. It was stunning sailing conditions. We sailed off the anchor and onto it again. Feels good to do that. This is yet another gorgeous place. There’s a restaurant on the beach, Bertha’s, and we had dinner there last night, and margaritas! Very good quesodillas con camarones.

We saw the new year in with the people who live in Bahia Santa Inés. They invited us to join them for their 1900-2100 get together, after we met them while ashore getting veges from Raoul. It was such fun, and they’re a great bunch. I think it was actually nearer 10pm when we got back to Momo, and we cracked the rum bottle to see out the rest of 2020. Bernie didn’t make it, falling asleep, his hand still wrapped round his rum glass! So I put on Armin van Buurin and the kittens and I danced till midnight rolled over!

I woke up on New Year’s day feeling very chipper, unlike the skipper, who nursed a hangover all day! But as happens, from time to time, I suddenly crashed into heart broken sorrow, feeling like I don’t dammed well want another year that takes me further from when Danny was in our lives. But there it is. One of the guys I met at the new years party, Phil, had also lost his son, to suicide. That has to be hardest of all. We talked for quite a while and shed a few tears. Then told stories about our boys.

Today, Bernie and I hiked to the top of the mountain, Bell Rocks, that shelters this anchorage. There’s apparently petroglyphs on the rocks up there. We did see what could have been some but they were also in an unlikely place and neither of us was convinced they weren’t a hoax! But the view from the top was worth the effort for these two unfit sailors! I’m fitter than Bernie though! I’m glad I’ve been trying to do my yoga every day, as my muscles were fine, even if the heart rate was up! The terrain was startling, arid and beautiful, with huge cacti and every bush covered in lethal prickles! Osprey hunted overhead and I even saw a snake. It was about 18 long and very slender. It was sunning itself on the path just ahead of me and I could’ve trodden on it if I hadn’t seen it and stopped! I really don’t think it heard me coming! It took off pretty smartly.

Oh dear, poor Jack is very unimpressed with being wet. But he won’t let me comfort him or dry him so I just have to watch him shake his legs and look unhappy. Intensive grooming under way!

It is only 1830 and Bernie has gone to bed, exhausted. It’s rather worrying that he has so little stamina. It can’t be good, but I guess he does spend most of every day on the settee in front of his computer screen. I, at least, keep active in a way; cooking, cleaning, yoga, playing with the kittens. It’s not a lot but much more than he does! Anyway, I’m sitting on my bed with both kitties for company. Bernie is sniffing incessantly, which irritates the hell out of me but he’s oblivious and gets grumpy if I ask him to blow his nose. Just another topic for me to add to the “can’t be mentioned” list. I do find it a bit frustrating that, living in a small space, I endeavour to take his needs and feelings into account, but he does whatever he wants. I feel like now he’s used to me being here and knows I’m staying for the crossing, he doesn’t bother trying to be thoughtful of having another person on board.

I had a ghastly nightmare last night. I dreamed I was shopping in Ballantynes with Mum and Danny. But it was a much bigger store and Danny said he was going to look in the men’s department while we were doing girly stuff. Then someone ran up and said there’d been a huge accident and Danny was hurt. I ran to the scene but they wouldn’t let me get to him. I was shouting his name and he was calling back to me. But I couldn’t get to him. I waited and waited and when I finally got in, there was blood everywhere and no Danny. I was frantic, rushing round screaming his name. I woke up panting, upset, and devastated to find my reality hadn’t changed. He is still gone. That was 2am and I didn’t get back to sleep till 7am. For just over an hour. So I should be more worn out than Bernie, but I’m OK. Just sad. I’d like to get off this ride now please.

I think we’re going to go spear fishing in the morning. The sea is only about 18 degrees celcius now so I double wetsuit. I put my short legged one over the full length one. It makes a big difference. I bought myself a hood and gloves in the USA. They’re so worth it!

5.1.21: 0730: Bernie did go spear fishing yesterday but had no luck. He said there were few fish and none big enough to hunt. I didn’t feel like going and wanted time to myself. I’m a quiet person and Bernie is noisy, so I find time to myself precious.

After he got back, we motored to the next bay, Playa Santispac, to see if we could get internet but no joy. So I think today we’ll head across the bay to where we lost it coming in and see what the weather is for the next while. We need to start heading back to San Carlos. Jack stayed below on my bed while we motored. He was very quiet on deck yesterday, after his impromptu swim!

Alex gave us a grand demonstration of how clever the kittens are yesterday. He wanted to jump up and sleep in his favourite place above the fire but has learnt the fire is hot! So we watched him sniff the dial, look intently into the fire box, stand up on his back legs and carefully tap the top to see if it was warm, then deciding it was off (it was off!) he jumped up and went to sleep! Clever kittie!

We watched a few movies last night; one about the Beetles, Of Mice and Men and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. All good. Bernie is a bit obsessed with German documentary type things and I get really sick of them. So it was nice to watch something different.

I’m going to get up and make coffee now. Bernie is sniffing again. About once per second! Grrrr. Jack is attempting to comfort me with snuggles and purring! He’s a dear wee beast.

We’re going to go for a beach walk as there’s apparently warm springs along from here. It’d be nice to have a soak but we’re not sure if they’re that kind of springs. I hope so.

1430: We took the dingy and explored the whole bay. The water is fairly clear here and we saw lots of sting rays settled on the sandy bottom, though little else in the way of sea life, just small fish and the odd puffer fish. They’re the weirdest looking things. The usual pelican colonies are in abundance, however and a healthy number of other sea birds.

We did have a walk ashore to stretch the muscles, after our big hill climb the other day. We found the rather uninspiring hot springs, which we couldn’t swim in, sadly. Nothing like the wonderful hot streams and pools in the North Island of New Zealand. Bernie got some fantastic photos on his big camera, though my new phone camera does take very good pics for a digital one. He’s a pretty good photographer.

I made tortillas for lunch and we listened to a Daryl Cooper podcast afterwards, but I have a headache, so just wanted to lie down for a while. I’m feeling a bit homesick at the moment. I wish I could go home for a bit but covid makes it impractical. Unless I go and don’t return, which I’d feel bad about since I did commit to doing the crossing with Bernie. But a rather large part of me just wants to go home right now.

1630: This is our third evening without internet. How dependent on it we’ve become! We want to check the weather and the InReach weather isn’t that accurate, plus they only give you two days in advance. And I keep thinking of things I want to look up and can’t! We have got the dingy on deck, so if its calm overnight, we might get under way.

Wednesday 6th January

It’s nearly lunchtime and we’ve been under way since 0300. We crept very carefully out of the bays, given the number of small islands and reefs in this area. The radar failed, which annoyed me rather. Once out of Bahia Concepcíon, we got the sails up and turned the engine off. The wind is NNW and we’re on a heading off 035° for San Carlos. Bernie’s just putting a second reef in the mainsail as we’re heeling and it’s pretty uncomfortable. We’re flying though, making great time, even a little above our course so we can always fall off later. I did ask Bernie to strap on! I’m pretty sure he’d be out there with no life jacket or safety line if I hadn’t asked!

The kittens have slept since we got into open water, being fairly unimpressed with the yacht on a 45°angle, bouncing all over the show! Alex is on Bernie’s bed and Jack is next to me on the starboard couch. I made scrambled eggs for breakfast, an exercise in balance! Also coffee. But when I tried to make lunch, the sea thought that was a step too far, picked us up and dumped us sideways so hard I went flying backwards. I ended up in the nav station and am now sporting a darkly bruised haematoma on my right hip and a cut finger. Oh well.

1500: The wind has suddenly pegged back a little. Its been a solid 30+knots all day but I reckon we just lost 5 or so. Hope it lasts! I’m a bit over this washing machine feeling. I responded to a station relaying a mayday about half an hour ago. But they didn’t have any decent info so I just gave them our position and destination, if they needed us. Haven’t heard anything else. Hope no one is in serious trouble out there.

Arrived back in San Carlos harbour at 2015ish. Fast crossing! Good to be home.

SUNDAY 27.12.20

Another year is almost done. What a strange one its been. In some ways the worst of my life, having to learn who I am without Danny in my life, in some ways (for both Matt and I) full of amazing experiences and people as we’ve travelled. It’s these people and places that have got us through such a ghastly time, helped us reevaluate and deal with the worst loss we could’ve imagined.

Having three weeks with Matt and Meg through November and early December rounded off the year in a positive way for me. I needed that. Most of my adult life has revolved around my gorgeous sons. That’ll never change in essence, but it has to evolve for my own sake. I’m so very proud of Matt, both of us really, for how we’ve coped. It’ll be a never ending process and we’ll always be there for each other. We’re blessed to have such wonderfully supportive and loving family and friends.

Further to my last post, captain/crew relations seem to have stabilised! Living in a small boat with no outside influence much of the time is always a challenge. No matter how chilled a personality you might have, things will always push your buttons, and the ability to see how one’s habits might affect others and accommodate that, isn’t regulation issue! So while I get driven insane at times with Bernie’s ability to create mess and not give a shit about personal hygiene, I daresay he feels the same about my OCD Nurse’s need to be clean and tidy! Mostly we give each other leeway but at times it comes to a head! Like when he wears the same clothes for a week straight without washing! My hints fall on deaf ears and I threaten to chuck him over the side. He simply doesn’t care, lol. So basically, I have to get over it!

We’ve had some really strong winds at San Marcos but it’s a good anchorage in a northerly so we were fine. Kim wouldn’t have like it though so I think it was as well she didn’t come. We shut up the boat, hunkered inside so the kittens didn’t get blown off the deck! Digging in so well has cleaned the anchor and chain beautifully too! Couldn’t help appreciating that as we raised the pick this morning!

We went for a walk on the island a couple of days ago. It was good to stretch the legs and a very interesting jaunt to the local mining village and back. It was Christmas day, now I think about it, and everyone called out “Feliz navidad” as we wandered by. Such friendly people, the Mexicans. It’d be a tough place to live, gypsum dust over everything. I wondered what their lungs were like. One local, an English speaker, came and chatted to us, told us a bit of local history, which was nice. He said he grew up there but now lives in Hermosillo. I’d want to go to the mainland too, were I him!

It’s 1100 and we’re rounding up on Punta Santa Inez. We’ve only come about 12nm today and motoring at 5 knots so an easy trip. Lots of pungas out fishing after the stormy weather. No Mahimahi on our line though, sadly!

Anchored at 1135 in 20′ of water in Bahia Santa Inés. Its very pretty and sheltered. Can see a few days here maybe! Up to the skipper of course! The cats were pleased to be allowed on deck for the trip and have just demanded lunch. I try not to feed them right before sailing! Bernie is talking to Jana and I’m cooking grouper for lunch.

1830: I really like this spot! We took the dingy and had a walk ashore. There’s a fabulous beach totally covered in shells, so many kinds, all colours. Danny would’ve loved it. I said to Bernie “This is one of the things I find hard to get my head around. That I can’t share this with Danny.” So we collected shells and I’ll make candles with them one day, like he did.

Aside from the beach, there’s an airstrip and a wanna be airport building which looks like it started with a hiss and a roar, but never got finished! The town is the kind of remote but gorgeous place you’d imagine having a holiday home. Amazing geology (again), lots of birds, plants that defy the lack of water. And the water is so much warmer than San Carlos I had a swim! Very salty, though, interestingly.

Oh, and I forgot to mention. We found loads of sand dollars fossilised in the cliffs. Cool.

28.12.20: Another lovely day in this beautiful place. Bernie was a bit below par today, having enjoyed a decent dram or 6 of rum last night! Should be trained by now!

We went for another walk, checking out the deserted resort on Punta Mezquitito. A lady, Didi, who kyaked past us earlier, while I was hanging out laundry, told me it’d been abandoned, and we found papers inside dated 2016. It’s a shame as it must’ve been a lovely place. There was a lovely seaside bar/restaurant and even a dive pool. The paved walkways had nice detail in stone work.

Didi also said a guy, Raoul, comes every Wednesday with great fresh produce and a fishmonger visits the bay the same day. So I think we’ll hang here till then as we are getting down to the last onions etc! Then maybe go to Bahia Concepcíon.

A fog has rolled in and it’s chilly now, so we’re inside keeping warm. Still don’t need the fire however. It’s so much warmer over here, than San Carlos. Bernie checked out what we need to do for our haul out today. I asked him about it a while ago and he got shitty with me, assuming I was criticising his planning. I wasn’t. I’m just organised and like to know what we’re looking at. Anyway, it turns out he needs a current FMM (mexican visa) and his expired in May. So, if he’d known that earlier he could’ve got it sorted. Now he has to organise a ride to the US border for it. Which delays us. Bit of a pain but that’s the way it goes! And I dare not comment!

Hasta Luego, Matt and Meg 💖

Friday 17th December

And so we boomerang again! Matt and Meg are back in the UK after a very successful donation trip for Meg. And I’m back on Momo, in San Carlos harbour.

Well, I didn’t get far! It’s now the 20th and I’m sitting in Kim’s car drowned in grocery bags after a massive provisioning shop! Kim and Bernie have gone in to get us an ice cream! The poor dingy won’t have much free board after we put this lot in it and Kim’s wee VW is down on the back tyres!

We spent about NZ$500, but that included 2 bottles of whisky, 2 bottles of brandy, 6 bottles of rum, 2 sets of warm clothes for me and all the food for about a month. Just the rum would’ve cost more than half that at home!

We’re planning on sailing to Isla San Marcos tomorrow for the silly season! Might go elsewhere too but that will depend on the weather. It’s very much a prevailing northerly at this time of year here, so sailing south too far means a lot of painful beating back into the wind to get back to San Carlos. And we have to come back here to haul out in the new year and paint Momo’s bottom. That needs doing before we cross the Pacific. We hope to leave in March for French Polynesia.

Kim was going to come with us but has pulled out. We decided she might not be feeling like getting her boat ready for sea at present. She’s got a lot of gear on board, plus all the animals, so it is a big effort. But we’ll be sorry not to have her company. She’s a wonderful woman.

Anyway, back to my last week with Matt and Meg. I stayed in a hotel close to theirs which was great, as it gave us all our space, especially with Meg recovering from her donation procedure, but also was easy to pop across and spend time together.

Generally Matt would bring my breakfast over and we’d do some little outing together. Then he’d go back and see Meg and we’d get together again later on for the afternoon/evening and dinner. Meg is a very good cook, happily for Matt and I! Their hotel had a spa pool which we took advantage of, especially me.

It was marvellous to have this time together. I know I was desperate to see my boy but actually being together made me realise just how much I needed that. It’s the first time we’ve had since Danny died and I guess I simply needed to see him in the flesh, get hugs and touch base properly. It’s settled something inside me, made it easier to face the next period apart. As he said, we’ve chosen this travelling life as our way to cope with losing the most important other person in our lives, and with that comes separation. Naturally, I probably feel it more, because Matt has Meg, for which I’m very grateful. Whereas I’m essentially on my own. Bernie has been a great friend but that’s not the same as being with a partner, having some one to hold you at night and hug away your nightmares and sorrow. Still, it’s just how it is.

00-something on the morning of the 23rd!

Well, we sailed across and are now safely anchored in the south bay of San Marcos Island. We left at 1630 on the 21st and had great sailing, averaging around 5 knots, until the small hours when the wind died. After drifting for a few hours, Bernie (to my relief) decided to motor the rest of the way, and we dropped the pick here around 1230 yesterday.

I had put the kittens in Bernie’s cabin when we left (we shut them below when under sail – can you imagine the results with two kittens chasing sheets?) so they would get to know the most stable part of the vessel when sailing. The motion is vastly different under sail to motoring, and we were well heeled over in a nice breeze from the get go. Poor Alex got seasick but came right once he got used to it. My tlc of him during that time seems to have cured the last of his “cold treatment” to me for leaving left them for a month though, lol! Don’t you love that about cats? He thinks I’m one of the good guys again 😂

I’ve been feeling nauseas, I think because of the dratted hot flushes, but maybe cos I made a pasta dish for Bernie. He loves it but I don’t do well on an excess of carbohydrates! We took turns on watch but I didn’t sleep much on or off watch! I’m not as good as Bernie as cat napping in 20 minutes lots anyway. If I’m on watch, I’m watching! This area is full of local boats which are a law unto themselves, often no lights, no comms, no AIS etc. I don’t trust them to even have a watch keeper. Bernie is far more blazé.

Captain /crew relations are a little off at present. In usual male fashion, Bernie thinks its all on me and while he expects me to explain my thoughts and feelings, making allowances for him, I’m not seeing that reciprocated! While he’ll say “we discussed it”, that’s really man speak for telling me all the things I’m not doing right according to him while he doesn’t have to explain or take responsibility for a thing! I do feel like a mother hen at times! It’s like having another kid. “Have you got your mask? Wallet? Filled the log? Taken your antibiotics (he has a sinus infection) Blah blah blah! Should I even bother? He’s a grown man. How hard is it to do a wee check list now and then? Michelle has my highest regards for doing this for 20 years, lol! That’s what happens when you get an OCD vs a complete opposite! Anyway, it’s all good. We’ll be fine!

Have I mentioned the kittens obsession with water? It’s hilarious, especially Jack. He loves it. It actually stood him in good stead the other day. He burned his paw (he now knows the diesel heater is hot!) and let me cuddle him upside down while I held the paw under the cold water trap. Poor chap!

They also love it when they can get in the dingy, an extension of their play ground!

And Jack gets right under the bed covers with me on these cold nights! My own wee hot water bottle!

Oklahoma 20.11.20

We got a bit of a late start this morning, as the kids were gaming till the small hours! No rush though! First up they went to look at a couple of places they might rent from the 24th, while I went to the dive shop to look at BCDs & regulators. Happily shopped out by lunch time, we headed for the barn house we’ve booked tonight in Oklahoma.

Well, it’s now December 5th! Saturday I think. The days have flown and I haven’t felt like writing. We had a wonderful trip through Arkansas and Missouri, with a few days by a lake. They’re really pretty counties, hills and woods, rather European. It was definitely jacket weather and we even had rain. Haven’t seen that stuff in months!

On our return to Dallas, we settled into the apartment Matt booked. It’s great and roomy for them while Meg does her medical stuff for her egg donation. She’s handling it really well, clever girl. For my birthday, Matt and I went to a gun range. We had a go with a Glock pistol and an AR15 rifle. Awesome fun. We decided it was a draw.

On the 30th November I flew to Reno to visit my friend Dawnda. She lives in Carson City. Its been wonderful to catch up. Gotta be 5 years since I last came! Her house here is lovely, part way up the mountain, amongst pine trees, with deer, squirrels, bobcats and bears around. I’ve gone hiking every day and feel a bit healthier than I was. My body doesn’t like being sedentary! Dawnda’s dog, Cocoa, is delighted to have someone home all day! I take her with me when I walk. She’s a very good dog.

I’ve finally got onto my yacht masters offshore theory course. Done 7 modules.

I head back to Matt on Monday 7th. Can’t wait to see him again. Making the most of it coz god knows when we’ll next be together. I miss him so much. Its been a really shitty year for everyone and worse for us. I’ll be glad to see the back of it. Travel and Momo have kept me more of less sane. I still have trouble accepting Danny is gone.

Life goes on whether I like it or not.

Me, Matt & Meg in the USA!

FRIDAY 13TH NOVEMBER

Yesterday was Matt’s 29th birthday. Hard to believe I have a son a heartbeat away from 30! I feel so much for him, his birthday forever inextricably interwoven with Danny’s loss. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing him tomorrow.

Today is the first anniversary of Danny’s death, something I’ve been dreading for all of us. But we got through the day, as with all the other “firsts”, no choice in it! I did pretty well really. It was a weird day. I went on the bow by myself in the morning to listen to some of Danny’s music and just reflect. Hearing an anchor being dropped, I looked up and saw, to my delight, Arena setting her pick near us. I bounced up, waving to Steph on the bow, tears of pleasure in my eyes. I was so happy to see my lovely friend.

We got in the dingy and went over to see them straight away. They’d decided to surprise me, hoping they’d arrive before I left to join Matt and Meg. Four hours to spare! I got a big tearful hugs from Steph. I miss hugs. Bernie’s not much for physical contact, even between friends in need. And I’m so tactile, sometimes it’s hard. I was so so pleased to see her, even if it was brief.

Kim picked us up at 1pm and we headed for Hermisillo, where I was to fly from early the next morning. She and Bernie dropped me at my hotel at 3pm and I hid out for the rest of the day. I listened to music, had wine and food, shed tears and generally thought about how life can change in an instant and your reality is forever different.

I will miss you always, Danny. Our lives are forever less without your beautiful spirit in it. 💖

SATURDAY 14TH NOVEMBER

Today was manic. I got a cab to the airport at 0630 and with my flight not leaving until 0850, thought I had plenty of time! However, after a total lack of signage, coordination, zero English speakers among airport staff and three different queues, I finally was checked in to the correct place and aboard my flight. The first leg of the trip was to Guadalajara. We were 20 minutes late arriving, turning a one hour turn around into a very tight connection with my next flight to Las Vegas.

Presenting my passport and Mexican visitors visa (FMM) to the check in woman as I went to board, she refused to let me on, saying I had 10 minutes to go and renew my FMM. I literally ran to the opposite end of the terminal, downstairs, back to the other end on the bottom floor, and panting, found the Immigration officer. He was awesome, filling in my new one in record time. I raced back to gate B2, certain I’d be too late, and saw the woman who’d sent me off beckoning at me to hurry. Rueing my lack of fitness, I made it on last, the doors shutting behind me. God, I was lucky. That’s the closest I’ve come to missing a connection. All because of an FMM which had run out a few days earlier and shouldn’t have been a problem. Every website said not to worry, as most offices are closed due to Covid-19 and its impossible to renew unless you’re leaving and returning. Oh well.

My travel drama was not quite over! I cleared customs in record time, got my bag and was joyfully heading out to find Matt, when I nearly got stopped at the last hurdle! At the last check point, the guy asked how long I’d been in Mexico and where I’d been. I told him the exact truth and he said “you’re lucky, if you’d been to Mexico City or living ashore, I’d have had to make you quarantine for a week.” As it was, he sent me on my way.

And suddenly, there was Matt. After almost a year, a horrible heart breaking year, I had my boy in my arms again. Such joy and relief. After a bunch of three way hugs, we hit the road.

The plan was to drive to the town of Williams, and visit the Grand Canyon the next day. The Hoover Dam was en route so we checked that out, just on dark.

We stayed the night in Williams, a town just west of Flagstaff and a short run into the Grand Canyon National Park. Viewing this astonishing work of nature was the day’s plan for the 15th. We didn’t get there till around midday, as we all slept in!

Matt’s got a dodgy ankle so we stopped at various places to look and admire, rather than doing any of the hikes. It really is truly breathtaking. You’d be seriously annoyed, as an early settler, coming up against that impasse, completely unexpectedly! We saw some elk in the forest on the way out, which was cool.

MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

We stayed last night in a wee town called Gallup. The hotel was nothing to rave about but comfortable enough for the decent price of $57 for the one night for three of us. It was a long drive from the park and we didn’t arrive till after 8pm.

A lot of miles covered today! Matt was happy to be passing through very interesting and diverse geology. Incredibly long straight roads, and the young ones took turns at driving.

Meg and I are pleased to have Matt’s expertise to explain the volcanic geology! We found the local Walmart, after checking in, as I needed jeans and we wanted food and wine for the evening. Ticked all those boxes, then relaxed with a vino!

TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

We stayed stayed last night in the town of Alamogordo. It was a great hotel with a very good breakfast. We have them grateful feedback on the way out. I rang Bernie before we left and had a catch up, as well as talking to the kittens.

We went to the White Sands National Park this morning. There weren’t many people there so we were able to have vast areas of these beautiful white dunes to ourselves. Matt and Meg took some gorgeous photos for their Instagram. I just took holiday snaps!

The five hour drive from White Sands to this city of Lubbock, now firmly in Texas. The Trump mad population have put flags up everywhere. Nauseating. However, the endless flat, desert-like terrain en route was very interesting. There were massive ranches, though barely an animal did we see! Then there’s endless miles of oil fields, which was rather sobering, oddly. Its a bit creepy to see the pumping arm (horse head) of each little oil well bobbing up and down. Another feature, was the cotton fields which have just been harvested. So there were round bales of cotton, not hay. We went through tiny, barely – there towns with names like Tinnie. That particular town (don’t blink!) was set in a gully with one of the few rivers we’ve seen. So there was a narrow strip of greenery and then it gave way to arid desert again. The town of Roswell had little to remember it by, except for its obsession with UFOs! Even the McDonald’s was UFO themed. And there was a diner called Big D’s Downtown Dive!

Tonight we are in a big town called Lubbock. Not a very nice name! We’re all a bit tired, covered a lot of miles the last few days. 1048 miles, in fact. So we’re just chilling to my music. Might hit the hay soon.

18TH NOVEMBER 2020

Today we were up earlier than usual to get to a Covid testing place at 9am. Meg had to get one done. I’m sure it’ll be negative. Then we hit the road and busted out the 5 hour drive to Dallas, stopping only for food and loo breaks. Meg teases Matt about how often he goes to the bathroom but he says he listened to his Mama and takes every opportunity that presents itself! Good lad.

The terrain has been endlessly flat, though the vegetation changed slowly from desert to tree clad, autumnal acres. Lots of cotton fields also, in the process of harvest. And the never ending oil wells and wind turbines. At least wind turbines don’t give me the heebie jeebies.

Today was one of those days. I was constantly on the verge of tears. Once we arrived at our hotel (a very nice La Quinta) I had half a gummy of sativa which improved my mental space 100%. It’s great being able to take it, knowing exactly what you’re getting, that it’s safe and regulated, and the effect is predictable. Man, it irritates the hell out of me that NZ missed this opportunity. We’ve had a lovely evening, the three of us just chatting. Nice to know we don’t have to rush off tomorrow. Meg’s appointment isn’t till the afternoon.

Where now?

13.11.20

One year ago my younger son, Danny, and Matt’s brother was taken from us by a drug driver.

I feel as if I’ve conducted myself with as much strength as I am capable of. Matt and I both felt we were allowed to do whatever we needed to get through (is that even possible?).

I’ve read a lot of books dealing with this loss, I’m a nurse so I’ve seen it first hand in other people, I’ve tried really hard to control how I react. I’ve had to deal with all the legal stuff by myself, because both Danny’s father and Matt didn’t want to. It’s understandable, but I gave birth to him, I raised him, I’ve loved him with every atom of my being from the moment he’s popped into the world. I’m the ONLY ONE who can claim that.

Yet, so much has been expected of me.

Finally, one year on, I admit I can’t do it. I’m adrift. I’m alone. I regret so much. I’ve tried so hard.

I have to find a new focus. Start over.

I wish I could swap places with Danny. He had so much to offer. I loved him so much.

Bahia Algodones

It was with joy in my heart that I hit the “up” button on the anchor winch this morning! It’s Sunday November 1st and I’m so so happy to put a few miles under the keel today! We’ve been at anchor in Bahia San Carlos so long that the anchor chain had spun itself round and round. We had to bring it up slowly, going up and down a few times to get the kinks out! The kittens handled the engine starting and anchor coming up like pros. Not too perturbed at all! I popped ashore quickly before we left to take the rubbish and get wine. There’s a nice trail from the dingy dock to the town. One of the things I love about Mexico is the colour and pattern they put into every day things!

I drove us out while Bernie checked a few engineer type things! We rounded Punta Doble and headed due west towards Punta San Antonio, the south western point of Bahia Algodones. The dramatic Tetakawi mountain, Tetas de Cabra, makes a wonderful backdrop looking back to shore as you cross the bay.

The kittens decided the best spot for them was in the well of the cockpit, though they got their courage up to watch the world go by a bit later. Then Jack discovered a great spot inside the bimini! We did wonder if they felt a little bit sea sick at one point. It was quite swelly, more than anything they’d experienced on anchor. But they’re fine now and totally chilled.

We hoped to tuck in behind the highest hill on the island to the northern part of this bay but couldn’t set the anchor there. So we had to move closer inshore where its sandy but more exposed.

Bernie’s new set up with the solar works perfectly. He’s pretty chuffed, I think!

Bernie made these potato pancakes for dinner, a childhood favourite he tells me. They were good too. He had sugar on his! Crazy man! He’s such a sweet tooth! After eating, we sat in the cockpit, out of the wind, yarning. The kittens did sprint laps round Momo. At one point I found Alex in the dingy, which we’d winched up for the night. These cats will age me further!

It’s full moon at the moment and it was enormous and red as it rose behind the mountains. I got a cool shot of it a couple of nights ago.

2.11.20: We went snorkeling this morning in hopes of catching food for the next couple of days. Bernie got one fish but the sea life is pretty minimal here. This side of the sea of Cortez has definitely suffered from the higher concentration of human beings taking more than they should! But it was nice to get in the water and get some exercise. Jack was fascinated by the fish when we got back, wanted to play with it.

4.11.20; This time last year I was heading to Koh Phangan with Ruth for my diving course. What a wonderful trip that was, the last truly happy week of my life.

Yesterday Bernie and I had a lovely day. It dawned flat calm so we lifted the pick and headed north early. The prevailing winds are northerly at this time of year, and tend to get up later in the day, so we wanted to avoid that. We’re trying to acclimatise the kittens to boat travel gently. It was an interesting coastline, with very volcanic, contorted rock formations. Little gullies had palm trees and other greenery too, so there must be the odd underground spring.

We spotted a particularly attractive spot and I suggested stopping for a snorkel and wander ashore. So we did that and what a treat it was. There’s a lot more sea and bird life as we get further from San Carlos /Guaymas area. We even saw sea lions and a seal. Bernie got lunch and I made cerviche & rice. Delicious.

Still with perfectly calm seas, we motored the last stretch to Bahia San Pedros, our destination for the next few days, probably. I took the helm and Bernie set the anchor this time! He took the opportunity to let all the chain out, get the twists and kinks out, and give it a wash! Then we settled on 150 feet out in about 25 feet of water. More than enough.

This bay is postcard perfect. It’s almost circular, the entrance fairly narrow, has a lovely sandy & pebbly beach, stunning mountainous backdrop and there seems to be so many fish, as they’re constantly jumping. There’s a small motor boat here, as well as a fishing panga, and a large motor boat turned up at dusk, unfortunately, as they anchored really close to us and have their genny running. (it’s 0500 as I write this)

We went for a walk after lunch, finding a rough trail across the peninsula to the next bay. Climbing a small hill gave us a great view over both bays. Sadly, we found a disgusting amount of rubbish on the beach and in the scrub behind the beach. Likely local fisherman, judging by the endless fish carcases on shore.

The kittens have been hilarious today and given us both multiple heart attacks with their wild antics! They’ve really found their mojo and show little fear, especially at anchor! There’s a lot more insects here and they chased them with concentration and a lack of respect for the yachts boundaries! Until Jack nearly fell in! The closest either of them has come, and a stunning recovery he made, hanging off the steel railing on the extreme bow! We were sitting up there, in the half light, had smoked a pipe and it totally set me off. I was in fits of laughter. Well, we both were but Bernie announced he felt Jack’s momentary fear and was fairly concerned, whereas I simply found it hysterically funny. Maybe because I’ve had more experience with animals? Even if he’d gone in the drink he’d have been fine! It’s a short swim to the rescue net. It subdued him though and he stopped haring around for the evening! We’d also noticed Alex was a bit quiet and hadn’t eaten much dinner. Bernie, while holding him up for a snuggle, spotted a bee sting in his lower lip! I pulled it out and he seems right as rain.

God, I’d love some rain! I actually dreamed it rained earlier this night! In my dream, I was delighted because Momo was getting a really good fresh water wash down! A real deckhands dream, lol!

Thursday 5th November

It’s nearly 8am and I’ve just climbed back in bed with a coffee. There’s a bee buzzing up in the hatch which can’t be opened at the moment. The kittens can see it from my bed but can’t get to it. So they’re jumping in and out the scuttles trying to get it from above! Which, of course, won’t work because it’s inside and they’re then outside! So funny! They’re very fiesty this morning and I don’t intend to be caught in the cross fire!

Yesterday morning we took the dingy and slowly motored round the next couple of headlands. The geology is incredible here. Matt would be in his element and able to tell us what we’re seeing. There’s so many colours in the cliffs, layers of red, yellow, orange, brown, white; just beautiful. The bird life here is impressive too. When I hopped up on deck first thing this morning, there were hundreds of pelicans and cormorants on the water, sheltering out of the wind. And during our outing yesterday we went very close by a group of perhaps 20 baby pelicans. They are totally adorable and when they feel threatened, all duck dive as a unit. Though there’s always that one kid that’s like “hey, wait, where’d you all go?” before disappearing beneath the waves!

Bernie went spear fishing after we returned from our jaunt. I didn’t feel like it and stayed here to cook lunch. He was gone two hours and in that time the wind got up a lot. We dragged the anchor and the motor yacht anchored near us started swinging wildly on hers (without the deep, stabilising keel Momo has). I wasn’t happy at all with how close we were getting. I tried to attract Bernie’s attention but he goes off in his own world when he’s spear fishing. I got pretty pissed off actually, that he never checks in with his crew, just disappears. Anyway, I tried to call Good Lack (stupid name!) on Ch16 but she wasn’t keeping a listening watch (queue the eye roll) so that was zero help. Deciding I’d get ready for any necessary action before it became totally necessary, I opened the fuel and sea cock lines below and started the engine, took the snubber off the anchor chain and came up on the anchor a bit. Then, with 150′ out, I reversed on it and tried to set it in hard again. It seemed fine and we were a healthier distance from Good Lack. Still, not entirely happy since I couldn’t see Bernie and was here alone, I turned the engine off but left it ready to start again and the anchor free for manoeuvreing. However the chain was being pulled from the drum now and then, which shouldn’t happen. We should be able to ride on the winch. Of course, you don’t usually as that’s hard on the gear, but it should be possible. But there wasn’t more I could do for now and we seemed OK. Not long after I saw Bernie haul himself into the dingy and start to head off round the headland. I tell you, I was livid. It obviously didn’t occur to him at all to check in with me, look at Momo and notice the weather was worse, just because he was right under the shelter of the cliff. Jeeeez! I yelled and waved my arms at him and eventually he noticed and came over, to be met with a fairly pissed off deckhand, who was trying not to let fly the temper! Poor man!

Once he was on board I explained everything to him and to be honest, I don’t think he believed me. With a very dismissive “Oh, well, that makes no sense. We shouldn’t have dragged. We set it well.” he wandered forward, put the snubber back on, mucked around up they’re for a while, then upon returning aft said “The winch was loose, don’t know why, shouldn’t be. I’ve tightened it so the chain shouldn’t pull through now.” I was standing there, keeping a tight rein on my ire, and said “yes, I know that. The problem here is less about this situation, which I handled by the way, but the complete lack of communication. You’re off for two hours, no radio, because guess what, that doesn’t work either, and never once thought to check in with me. And you would have disappeared round the corner without even telling me, if I hadn’t seen you going.” He saw my point and apologised for stressing me, but I still think he reckons I was over reacting.

Perhaps I was, but he needs to remember I’m used to really big ships, with a full crew, well maintained, with an anchor that can be operated from the wheel house if necessary. Also, he and Michelle have had 15 years to get used to how Momo works, and know every detail about her. I’m sick of being expected to be on that level, being compared to Michelle and found lacking. In fairness, I don’t think he even realises he’s doing it half the time. He only notices what directly affects him, not how it might affect me! Such a bloke, lol!

I made a hot pasta dish for lunch but I think it was a bit spicy for Bernie. At least it would’ve helped warm him up after fishing. I’ll have to tone it down. Shame, I love it hot!

11am. Oh my goodness, the cats are wild today. As my Californian friend, Dawnda, would say “they’ve got a wild hair up their ass!” They’re leap frogging round the interior after winged beasts, a mixed blessing since some of those are bees! Then wrestling like sumo fighters with each other, and getting totally in Bernie’s way as he’s trying to go locker by locker cataloguing what he needs in spare parts. I came on deck to do a little laundry and they followed me up, giving Bernie brief respite. Of course, as its windy, everything is flapping most satisfactorily! You’ll see, if you look at the photos taken along the yacht’s waist, that the guard rails are two stainless steel rails with netting inboard. Except on the extreme bow and stern. Well, Jack has discovered he can stand on these rails, back paws on the first and front paws on the top. Most nerve wracking for parental watchers.

We have the bay to ourselves today, rather nice. The winds shifted from overnight stiff northerlies (30+ knots) to a steady north westerly of about 18 knots, I reckon.

I’m very cross with myself as I think I left my good deck sandals on the beach when we swam the other day. Of course they’re not there now. So I only have slip on $3 floppies and some cutesy jandals. I’ll have to go buy some runners or something similar before going to see Matt and Meg. I have tickets, did I mention? Very excited and feeling better within myself for having a plan, a date. Every parent loves to see their kids but I tell you, when you’ve lost a child, seeing the only remaining baby is super important. Even if they are packaged in a 6’2″, highly intelligent and independent adult!

5.11.20: We had a few bevvies sitting on the bow last night and a long talk about the future, options and what we hope for. It was productive. Bernie, very kindly, told me he thought I was an intelligent and amazing woman and he admired that I was modest with it. Well, I’m not used to being told that by men and don’t really think of myself that way, but it was sweet of him. He is certainly way smarter them me, and I reckon Michelle is too. I’m just me. A simple country girl! At one point, in a lighter moment, Bernie asked when the cats have to be speyed and if they’d start marking their territory. I laughed and said at about 6 months old and that, no, they wouldn’t. He remarked it was funny because he always felt the need to pee over the side of Momo each time we anchor! I howled with laughter. I stayed on deck after Bernie went to bed and had a wee melt down over Danny’s loss and being on my own for the anniversary. It had to hit me sooner or later. I’ve been coping OK the last couple of weeks since being ashore. But this was always going to be a totally shit time. I’m so glad I’ll be seeing Matt soon. I’m still feeling delicate this morning. It’s a gorgeous day and I’ve been sitting on deck again since sunrise. We’re still here on our own and it’s peaceful. Good spirit food. Alex has caught two bees that I’ve seen, without getting stung! Goodness knows how.

11am. Bernie is climbing the hill on the edge of the bay, so I have Momo to myself at the moment. I couldn’t go, having stupidly lost my only decent footwear. We looked at Michelle’s stuff she left behind but she’s got bigger feet than me. Bernie said I could borrow some of her warmer gear too and I’ve grabbed a couple of tops and a fleece, but she’s much bigger than me round the waist so none of the trousers or shorts fit, unfortunately. I’ll have to go to a second hand shop.

I’ve done the laundry, having decided the water is much cleaner here than in Bahia San Carlos. So Momo is lined with flapping clothes! The wind has got up from the south but we’re ok for now and I’ve seen Bernie on his way back.

1300. Bernie got back, a bit worried I’d be stressing about the wind, after yesterday’s drama! But I was fine. Anyway, we decided to move to the other side of the bay where its more sheltered in this wind. Its a nice spot too, and I’ve had lunch. I made chicken masala. When I say I’ve made something definitive like that, it is usually doctored in some way, as I seldom have the exact ingredients! So this had whisky instead of sherry! Still tastes really good!

7.11.20: We had crazy gusty winds overnight and were up and down checking our position. No worries, though an annoying swell from somewhere is hitting us broadside, even though the wind is on our nose. The dingy got flipped over. Luckily we’d taken the engine and fuel out last night. But all our snorkeling gear was in it. We recovered what was floating but Bernie will have to dive for the rest. On the plus side, I’d tied the dingy anchor to the dingy (as well as the painter) so we have the location to dive marked! We had some of the fish Bernie got yesterday for breakfast. Very good too.

8.11.20

It’s 0440 and I’ve had a restless night, don’t know why. I woke at 0030 and popped my head up on deck to check our position. The wind had flipped into the north and we’re in a better position now. We moved back to the North side of the bay last evening, though it was still southerly, because it was forecast to change around midnight and we didn’t want to have to move then. So we risked a lee shore for a few hours. It was actually more comfortable anyway. I reckon the southerly swell swings around the point of the bay and turns as it enters, making for a broadside swell at the bottom end of the bay.

We got Momo ready for sea last night, so plan to head back to San Carlos first thing. I’ve had about an hours sleep so would be happy to leave now, lol! I think Bernie’s still asleep though! I’ve got Alex sleeping on top of my legs and Jack wrapped round my head! They are funny! Jack has an obsession with grooming my face that I don’t really share! They’re due for their second round of vaccinations, poor kitties.

Maintenance +++

24th October 2020

Bernie has been working really hard on getting the new solar panel mount made and installed. It involved a lot of time under the deck preparing for the aluminium frame, a very uncomfortable and hot job. I do admire how he can think the whole process out in his head and translate that into a working arrangement. It is up and we’re trialing some panels that Arena bought and then found too big for their space. We think they’ll work, which is good news for both them and us! We just need to go to Guaymas today for some wood and parts.

Other than the solar system upgrade, we’ve been working our way through a list of maintenance jobs and Momo is starting to look pretty sharp. It should benefit both Bernie & Michelle in working out their finances, so I hope it goes ahead smoothly for them. He really does want the best for them.

The kittens love all the work going on, as each time we open cupboards or get gear out, it’s like a whole new jungle gym for them to explore! They’re getting more confident with their swimming lessons too. They’re not too fazed by it all!

Kim has two new babies too hand raise, the most adorable Siamese looking kittens!

The weather has cooled down a little. Its still in the 30s but the humidity has eased, thankfully. The water temperature has dropped a bit too and is much nicer. We’re getting a rolly fetch at the moment, the last two days, which is a bit of a pain! So somewhere out there they’ve had rough weather, lol! Still no rain! There were a few drops a couple of weeks ago and the kittens took off inside as though they’d been stabbed! It was so funny. Didn’t even dampen things though. We’ve had some lovely sunsets and sunrises.

Matt and Meg are in the USA! Hooray! 😍💃💃💖

Sunday 25th October: We had a great night out with the couple who live on Maitairoa, in the marina. Patrick is South African originally, and Ellen is American. It’s a friendly place and getting to know the other yachties is the good thing about being stuck here.

26th: Is Hannah’s 21st! In NZ, that is! Hard to believe it’s 3 years since my boys took her on a pub crawl for her 18th! She’s the only one who got to do that kind of stuff with Danny  😕

I’m ashore, house sitting, though its not necessary, more “time to myself” to reevaluate. A couple of months ago I would’ve been 100% sure about staying on Momo. I was happy. But now, I don’t know. Bernie’s put me on a back burner. Big time. I’m not willing to be messed with again. It seems to have coincided with his trying to finalise things with Michelle. I’m attempting to give him the space he needs to deal with that. It understandably hurts. But in withdrawing, it’s meant my willingness to engage has suffered. I think, for now, we’ll remain close friends.

And I’m really struggling with losing Danny. I guess it’s catching up with me. I’ve tried so hard to look after everyone else, doing the legal stuff by myself because Richard & Matt “didn’t want to know”, not wanting to stress Bernie with “bereaved mother” etc etc etc. My walls are caving in. The pieces of the puzzle are lost.

30th October.

I came back to Momo yesterday, after helping Kim take her yacht out onto her mooring. We did it like pros. Go the girl team! Her animals are so happy to be on the water! The babies have really grown.

My few days on my own ashore have done me the world of good. No cooking or endless cleaning. Just peace. I feel like I can handle it all again. It seemed to have been good for Bernie too and he seems happy to have me back! He’s nearly finished the solar panels which is great.

The kittens reaction to my return was so sweet. They’re so pleased and are all over me. Jack actually was drooling he purred so hard! He slept on top of me and Alex right beside me. So I couldn’t move! They’re following me round like shadows today! I’m enjoying the extra attention!

I’ve managed to have nice chats with Matt. They’re doing a bit of a tour in their hired truck, making the most of their free time before Meg gets into this treatment regime. They’ve had snow in Colorado! Posted some gorgeous pics. Hard to believe it’s snowing up there when we’re still getting hot days in the high 20s.

It’s definitely cooled at night. I bought a cool blanket for my bed. I love the colourful Mexican designs. Bernie said “oh look at your lovely bed” and I replied “yours could look like that too!” Never gonna happen!

The Weirdness that is Meditation!

Soon after rejoining Bernie and Momo in July, Bernie suggested we do a daily meditation using Sam Harris’ guidance. As there’s a ton of research showing it is a helpful practice in dealing with trauma, I readily agreed.

It’s never been something I’ve felt I’d be any good at, since I don’t usually sit still for long and my mind spins off on all manner of tangents. But Bernie explained it in a way that gave me reason to think I might learn and also Sam Harris teaches it in a slightly different way. He talks you through the meditation and then follows up with a discussion/lesson.

So, while we’ve been fairly erratic, not exactly managing the ‘daily’ part, we have been doing his lessons sequentially. We sit on deck, in the shade, or early enough to avoid the heat. Anyway, yesterday something fairly wondrous happened to me. We were asked to try to meditate with our eyes open. We’ve done little snippets of that before, but this was for almost the whole session. Sam got us to focus on one place and then, without really moving our gaze, widen our fields of view and sort of try to not really see the individual objects but just notice the colour fields blending. I found I could do it easily and really enjoyed the experience. Bernie was astonished, as he finds that difficult. And I’m pretty useless at the exercises we get usually!

However, I was reminded of those pictures that were very popular about 15 years ago. They were a picture in a picture, and you had to focus intently on one spot and let yourself look into the painting to find the second one. I could do that easily too and knew many people couldn’t. Bernie said he’d always had trouble with those. It’s so interesting the way our brains work.

He asked if I couldn’t see anything except colour any more. But I could see the boats, mountains and so on, they just became indistinct and blended together, more patches of colours. I did see a turtle because it popped up right in the central point of my focus!

Then, last evening (10th), we were sitting in our usual spot on the bow, a little bit high after a nice wee Mexican buzz, and I tried it looking at the sunset behind the mountains. I found I could not only blend the colours but actually manipulate them and their outlines. It was way trippy and so cool. I could make the whole horizon become one entity, though its actually hills in front of bigger mountains, then darken it and move it down the front of the mountain, though the whole time still able to see the original horizon. So freaky and awesome! I was commentating as I did it and Bernie was fascinated! Later as the sun made a red gold back drop, I could turn it sort of black & gold like a honey comb. It’s rather addictive!

12.10.20: Yesterday I got onto my list of “tomorrow’s jobs” (clever, huh, always got an out!) I started polishing the stainless on the bow, a work in progress, mended Bernie’s trousers, tried to free the rusted solid fittings on the Danforth (spare emergency/kedge anchor), cleaned out the kittens’ litter (daily job), added refinements to the kittens’ rescue nets (weighted the forward edges so they don’t blow out), did Spanish lesson/practice, researched how to make a bong and mended the foot pump for pumping up the dingy. I also swam over to Compass Rose and back. All by lunchtime. Then I was knackered for the rest of the day!

The kittens are battling around my feet, a disconcerting experience. I expect my ankle to take a bite any second! We have a little step stool that just gets used to sit the computer on while we watch a movie, but the kittens love it. One gets under it and they pretend to be hidden from each other. Oooh, my calf just got bitten. Rats! It’s probably payback for all the times we swoop them up for tummy rubs. It must be infuriating to be so little at times!

October 13th 2020: Its 11 months since Danny died. I’m feeling a bit tender, well, more than usual. I’m trying Sam Harris’ exercise for today which he says will help stop us reacting to things that upset us. Guess it doesn’t work on the feelings that come with losing a son. Kitty cuddles work better.

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the crew of Arena and Kim, last night. I’ve never experienced traditional thanksgiving before. We did pot luck so Steph wasn’t cooking for nine people. It’s was a truly fun evening. Steph made us all name one thing we’re thankful for, before eating. The kids were funny, struggling to think of something and settling for practical things like “a comfy bed”! I said I was thankful for Bernie having me here while I tried to put the pieces of my life back together, and for the wonderful new friends I’ve made here. Bernie said he was thankful to have my company on Momo. I’m also thankful for our kittens, which give me so much joy!

On the subject of the cats, again, we gave them another rescue lesson. I’ve made better nets for them to climb up, out of some spare green net Arena had and two old swim noodles. It worked a treat. I got in the water with fins and Bernie handed down each kitten to have a go. They did so well, didn’t panic or claw me to bits. They just perched on my shoulder till I said it was time to swim to the net. Jack went very sedately but Alex cleverly did a massive jump off my shoulder onto the net and scrambled up like a bat out of hell! We did it twice. Jack didn’t find it as easy and I realised it was because I’d trimmed his claws that morning, so I won’t be able to do that again. Poor man. His ego took a hit!

Alex taking the leap!

The poor kitties also had to have their first jabs recently. The vet came to Kim’s catamaran, The Cure, which was awesome. Kim has 4 cats and Midnight, our guys’ sister. So it’s easier than carting them all round! I felt sorry for them but someone pointed out they probably minded a lot less than the swimming lessons! Alex made a wee squawk when injected but Jack didn’t seem at all bothered. So round one of inoculations done and the next lot, including rabies, on November 2nd. I can also get them microchipped for 200 pesos each, so will do that then too. Its a requirement for bringing them to NZ, so I’m glad it’s no trouble to get done here.

0100 hours on the 16th October:                I’ve been tossing up whether to mention this or not, but have decided that I’m not into just putting the “perfect life” up. So much on social media is not real but I don’t want my story to be a lie. So, over the last month Bernie and Michelle have been working things out between them, in a much more civilised way than many couples when they are separated, I might add. You know, the financial stuff etc. It’s been hard on both of them and messing a fair bit with Bernie’s peace of mind, which is understandable. I’ve tried to be supportive and not be involved any more than he wants me to be. It’s their business. The bit I’m finding hard is that all of a sudden the lovely, easy, caring relationship we were developing has vanished. He’s pulled right back from me, putting physical and emotional distance between us. I feel very much like “the crew” and that I should be “working” all the time. I no longer feel relaxed and able to plan my day as I wish. I feel guilty if I’m not slaving over something. Which is crazy because I’m not being paid, I came as volunteer crew, I’m putting quite a lot of my own money, caring and time into being here, yet I’m not feeling entirely wanted right now.

I’m trying to just let it ride because I do know this is a difficult adjustment for him to make. But I have my own demons to deal with and don’t really need this. It all comes just as we’ve got the kittens and I’ve committed to doing the crossing next year. Yet here I am, feeling like I could be doing it only to find on arrival in NZ, I may not be welcome, that Bernie might just try and get it all together with his family again. For all their totally disfunctional relationship over the last few years, he is definitely still in love with Michelle. I don’t know that I can cope with being screwed over yet again by a man I’ve put my trust in, however unintentional. I’m thinking my trip to see Matt soon will put some timely distance between us, give some perspective. I just can’t deal with any more hurt right now. I didn’t come to Momo expecting to find someone I could be with, only to help a friend, but Bernie himself put that possibility on the table and now I feel it’s being withdrawn. Except that he’s not telling me, not talking to me, just quietly backing off. I guess time will tell. At some point I will need to try and get him to talk about it. When I raised it the other day, he denied there was any change, which I found disingenuous because it’s so patently not the case.

On so many levels, I wish I could turn back the clock. Maybe to 2018, September, when I was on MY Moonbeam with Fouche. We had such fun and made the most of every day. Matt and Danny were happy and doing great things. Life was good. Damn it. I want that back.

I went back to look at my posts from that time and found I hadn’t made any. I only stop writing when I’m really happy, so I guess that shows I was totally loving life at that point.