Honest to goodness... isn't that the question of the day? I laughed out loud when I was on the phone with my mom and her question "where are you now?" was followed immediately with something like "when are you leaving?". Well, Mexico and the Gulf of California are truly wonderful for cruising life but we've not been doing much of that in the last 9 months. Boat projects, boat work, boat shakedown cruise, repeat :: we have come to realize every bit of that process IS cruising life. We were talking with friends from SV Not All There, Steve and Lizzie, and came to the agreement that we are not the same individuals who started out on this endeavor. We are changed. Mike has relaxed a bit on the primary value of efficiency. I have relaxed a bit on the primary value of 'once and done'.
Big deal!! We actually splashed! In cruising jargon that means we got out of the yard, time on the hard, had to leave the most amazing group of folks who shared the pain and glory of our progress. It was a time of celebration tinged with sadness, jarred by a sense of suddenness. We went from the familiar and quite comfortable rhythm of land/yard life to riding on the skate, lifted to the sling, into the water and GO! Waving good byes until we couldn't see faces, the afternoon wind was gaining when we turned out of the marina into the open water. We were embracing our first overnight passage since mid-July. It felt like naught-to-ninety on every level. We hadn't quite remembered that its important to have meals and snacks at the ready, oh, and the bit about securing things in the cabins that can potentially become air-born. And, intensity increased as we as we went ... big, bashy seas, waves at cross purposes, time change messing with our watch wake-ups (?!?) PLUS our first anchor at night. Quite the jump-start to life on the water again.
Scalloping down the Baja we needed to tuck in and wait out some northers (north winds start in the Four Corners area, blowing down the Sea and building waves as it travels south). There were a couple of anchorages that we had been in the south end when heading north last summer and now we were anchored in the north end. When driving, you know how the roads look different depending on the direction of travel or the season? It's that way on the water too! Other anchorages we chose because they were off the beaten path. We were not disappointed with anchorages or shows of marine life. A new sight for us were pairs of black water birds with white necklaces and white shock of tail feathers. They would dive and if pushed, run on the top of the water, barely taking flight. Their wings would propel down through the water when they dove. They seemed more like little penguins from our perspective. It appears they were Craveri's Murrelets. Surprised by joy again! Raft-ups of seals were a highlight on one perfectly calm day. They float snugged together in groups, bellies and noses up, fins and tails high out of the water basking in the sun. Dolphins and mobulas jumping, whales spouting and juveniles breaching ... these are sights more common but always thrilling.
On a different note, a funny project for me was procuring boat liability insurance. That seems straight forward enough, but as I tend to do, I tried insisting on my own way. It is important to us to be flexible and go where 'the wind takes us' or where the weather intersects with most unusual destination. However, our agent was not down with that 'agenda'. He rather suggested that no other insurance party would go for that either. So although we have a magnificent map for inspiration of the South Pacific spanning west coast of North, Central and South America to the South China Sea / Southern Ocean we were forced to come up with a month by month itinerary for a full year. To be fair, we have a library of cruising guides and chart books for the South Pacific so it is not only drop-a-finger-on-the-map to create a course. Poor Mike is on about his own project and I'm peppering him with like-sounding names of places we've never been: "how about... (more vowels than consonants)" ... "well, what about... (variation of more vowels than consonants)". At his request, I made executive decisions with the goal of getting north of the equator by Nov 1st. My biggest concern, as I look at the arc of the year, there may be too few airports to greet family and friends!
So, circling round to "Are you there yet?", we now have a year in view of heading generally west northwest. We are thrilled to be welcoming aboard this week, our friends Kelli and Dave as crew for the Pacific passage to French Polynesia. March 6 is the planned luanch from the tip of the Baja. So there you have it! We ARE going to depart the "World's Aquarium" for places far flung. Thanks for taking this journey with us, we will keep you posted.