TRUST YOUR GUT Keep Calm & Sail On

I’ve always said that intuition was born of wisdom, and this couldn’t be more true in these days. While most of our friends and family are in quarantine in the USA, navigating the frustrations and heartbreak of this new life, we also have unique challenges being in another country, out on the sea.

We deliberately left corporate jobs, sold companies, sold our house, downsized, started new digital nomad careers, and sailed away – relying on a retirement portfolio and new reduced income streams to fund our new way of life. We don’t have any regrets, but it’s created a new host of uncertainties we hadn’t expected. In truth, I was worried about the following things happening when we took off two years ago – two of which have already happened:

  1. A rogue wave
  2. Getting caught in a hurricane
  3. Boat breaking down in the middle of the ocean (happened twice)
  4. Hitting a whale (already happened) 

We certainly didn’t have Zombie Apocalypse on our global Bingo card!

Like most natural and human made emergencies, nothing is a problem….until it is. Mexico was late coming to the emergency of COVID19 and still is pretty sleepy compared to many other parts of the USA and the world right now, but if you believe it’s coming, then you have to prepare. And, while we have it pretty good on a house that moves (our sailboat), there are still many restrictions that limit our mobility.

social distancing
Social Distancing at Marina Palmira w/ friends aboard Agave Azul

In the past 48 hours, Mexico has locked down whole cities and towns, making it impossible to go in and out unless you can prove residency. They have made it illegal to do any kind of recreational activity, and this means sailing. Mexico has also locked down national park islands and coves where we normally anchor, and some ports have now made it illegal to enter/exit unless you can prove you are transiting to another port or entering for fuel or provisions. Something that has never happened before. So, we are now locked down in a marina – sailing season is effectively over.

And, this brings me back to trusting your gut. 

When you start to gain knowledge, stay calm and listen to your inner voice, it almost always tells you what to do. I’m not just talking about a Fight or Flight mechanism. I’m talking about what is right for you and when – even if no one else seems to be following your lead. Kirby and I have watched enough pandemic, apocalypse films and TV to know that you must keep moving forward – at all costs. If you stand still or freeze up, you have a greater chance of something worse happening. Yes, I know it’s TV, but I also believe it to be real life, and it’s served us well over the years – even during times of much less strife. 

So, when we decided to leave Puerto Vallarta 2 months earlier than planned (after my trip to Turkey was canceled) to get back to La Paz, where we have our car and a safe marina slip reserved for our boat this summer, we decided to do it. Some people told us we were overreacting, we should wait for a better southern wind weather window, and that it would be fine. Now, just two weeks later, as anchorages and ports are closing, with the coast guard patrolling daily broadcasting warnings, we feel so much better to be snug as a bug in our boat in one of the safest marinas in the southern Baja. If things get a lot worse, we can always jump in our car and drive north or sail north…

The Mexican Coast Guard patrols La Paz waterways and marinas daily with recorded broadcasts to “Quédate en Casa” (Shelter in Place)

Staying and being present is the only way to live right now. A wise friend gave some advice when I start to feel out of control – take these 6 steps:

  1. Breathe deeply for at least 1 minute
  2. Ask yourself: “Am I okay RIGHT NOW?”
  3. Stop negative spiraling thoughts by refocusing your brain on what you see, hear, smell, or taste
  4. Try to live your life and carry on as normally as possible
  5. Empower yourself with knowledge
  6. Be grateful
Making the time to reaquaint ourselves with old passions & hobbies

We are still happy to be on a sailboat looking out at the water, enjoying the sunshine, and watching the sunset, even if we cannot really leave our boat. As long as our internet holds out for us to continue to do work and communicate, we’ll be just fine. And, in the meantime, the wildlife here reminds us that the Earth is healing herself.

Stay Home, Stay Safe!

HOW CRUISING IS LIKE PREPPING FOR A PANDEMIC

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance*

It’s occurred to me over the past week as we are inundated with MORE bad news of a global pandemic, that there isn’t much we need to do. We are ready, my fellow sailors. We. Are. Ready.

Enjoying a beautiful virus-free day at sea

As fans of The Walking Dead, we have also joked for years that we are readying ourselves for the Zombie apocalypse. And we are….unless the zombies swim or float (which they don’t, in my expert opinion; you always have to fear the living, not the dead). We aren’t survivalists by any means, but good preparation for long passages has a similar look and feel as compared to what the CDC or WHO has currently advised.

Kirby in La Cruz, contemplating a few maintenance repairs and the sunset

Our “home” floats and travels – using wind and solar to get us just about anywhere, and within less than 20 minutes (5 in a real emergency) we can be off and away from land. It’s completely self-contained if need be. We have a water maker on board that makes 30 gallons/hour from seawater, and my general paranoia for running out of food means that we always over-provision (how long should I keep those bags of dried nuts before I acquiesce to their actual expiration date?!). Just last month, I inventoried and restocked our medicine cabinet with just about everything you can think of that you may need if you’re stuck in the middle of an ocean (or escaping a global pandemic). 

Pantry 1 of 8 on the boat

Cleaning out and inventorying some of our lesser used cabinets the other day revealed a literal treasure trove of virus-useful equipment: e.g. seeds for fresh sprouts, 4 full boxes of anti-bacterial wipes, and face masks. And, of course, this excludes our Ditch Bag supplies, which are supposed to keep us alive for several days in the event the Zombies do take over the boat.

Contents of our Ditch Bag emergency kit

But, this is no laughing matter, and experts say it’s about to get a whole lot worse. We have been traveling via plane a lot lately and visiting a few big cities, going about our lives but with a heightened sense of our space around us. We also recognize that we healthy adults have a community responsibility by not being innocent carriers to others whose immune systems may be weakened or otherwise compromised. As a reminder, these rules of safety should be our norm, not our new exception, but it deserves repeating:

  1. Wash your hands – and your phone – frequently
  2. Wipe down the areas around you on planes, at home, and on your boat with anti-bacterial wipes, a soapy bleach solution or alcohol of at least 70%
  3. Refrain from shaking hands and avoid touching your faces
  4. Keep 3-6 feet from people in groups/crowds if possible
  5. Listening for coughing or sneezing nearby from which we can inconspicuously and quickly move away
  6. Share your anti-bacterial wipes with your neighbors and strangers in close quarters
Treasures of the Bilge….

Stay safe out there, friends.

*SOURCE: POLLY BICKEL WONG’S MOM XO

PROVISIONING: 50 MUST HAVES FOR YOUR PANTRY

When I was the cook aboard the Sea Shepherd, I learned a lot of things very quickly:

Photo Credit: Sam Rose Phillips
  • A satiated crew is a happy crew
  • A well stocked pantry delivers infinite possibilities
  • Knowing everyone’s favorite treats can turn around a bad attitude
  • Always cut up the fruit if you want anyone to eat it
  • Rotate your leftovers by incorporating them into a new dish
  • Popcorn is a universal treat
  • Cookies are magical
Lodos’ galley with our fabulous new Dometic fridge

What I have learned so far on our boat, is what I heard repeatedly from others who cruise, but I did not heed their warning;

Do not over-provision!

The Hallway Pantry: one of many places we store (cram actually) our foodstuffs

Remembering that wherever there are people, there will be food. It may not be your brand or type of food, but it will be there nonetheless.

We decided that on our boat, we would mostly be plant-based (vegan). We don’t feel deprived and we never really miss anything (eggs may be the exception, and then we buy local). If we have an intense craving for anything, we eat it when we’re off the boat. Simple. Easy. Low Impact.

PRO TIP: When storing foods while the boat isn’t being used – assuming you have secured your boat from outside intruders (including blocking thru hulls with water permeable materials that keep bugs from entering), we get rid of anything canned that has high acid, tomato sauces, and flours that may hatch bugs. We also ensure everything is in vacuum bags or containers with lids, just in case we do have bugs hatching – it will help contain them. Separately, we layer bay leaves and fabric softener sheets (not in the food, obviously) throughout the boat and in all drawers and cabinets. We also use small cockroach hotels (just in case) on the floors, in cabinets and drawers. Knock wood, we’ve never had bugs.

The reason to eat mainly vegan aboard was multi-dimensional:

And finally, here’s the list!

50 (or more) Must Haves for the Pantry

Back in the Sea of Cortez – during hurricane season…

I love the familiarity with the sea, the anchorages, the wildlife and impending challenges we will no doubt encounter while sailing. The big difference for this 2 weeks, is that we don’t have internet, and I feel that I need it for work, which has created a new set of problems or anxiety – needing to be in a specific place for a phone call or meeting isn’t exactly the safest way to sail/travel, as it forces you to make potentially compromised decisions on weather that you might not have otherwise.

Sunset in Caleta Partida

We started this trip with a few days in Caleta Partida – an anchorage that divides two islands, and which has a narrow channel that we can take our dinghy through to get from one side of the island to the other. It’s one of our favorite places because it’s sheltered and protected but also because it’s the home to dozens of turtles.

Kirby cleaning the hull
Jodi snorkeling with sea lions

On our way to our next anchorage at San Francisco Island, we made a quick stop at a couple small islands that are home to hundreds of sea lions. The pup season ends in July. Kirby anchored the boat in a deep rocky islet while I jumped off and swam with them. They warned me to not get too close by barking at me – they were adorable and fun to see up close, and of course swimming with sea lions is pretty special.

Heading north to Isla San Francisco, we happened upon a group of 5-7 giant manta rays feeding at the surface. We stopped the boat to watch them eat, and then saw them soar under the boat with wingspans of more than 10 feet, mouths open, breathtaking….

After arriving in Isla SF, we stayed at two separate anchorages – we found some fantastic dive/snorkeling sites and appreciated the rich variety and diversity of the fish – so many we’d never seen before and that are indigenous to the Sea: Golden phase puffer fish, Cortez round ray, Cortez angel fish, and dozens of others – including 4 types of parrot fish.

Bahia Agua Verde

Our next stop was one of our favorites – at Bahia Agua Verde – but we had to scoot up to Puerto Escondido (where we are now on a mooring ball) as our refrigeration is on the fritz, we need to do laundry and dump our trash 🙂 We’ll be here for a bit while we catch up on work and projects, and I plan for my next trip to the USA for work.

And, it’s hot. So hot. ~100 degrees and nearly the same in humidity. We are having trouble keeping the fridge and freezer working properly it’s so hot….but, we are swimming and relaxing and doing our best to breath our way through it as the benefits outweigh the annoyances.

Hurricane Prep: Sea of Cortez

It’s hard to believe we knew virtually nothing about this just a few months ago, and now I feel like we’ve sucked up every bit of knowledge from so many sources. There are a lot of resources out there, and a wide swath of passionate opinions that can make your head spin. Everyone has their own “must do’s”, and there is a wide range of prep taking place in the marina here in San Carlos.

susananddennis
Susan & Dennis Ross at Marina Palmira in La Paz

First, thanks for Susan & Dennis Ross aboard s/v Two Can Play – they really made our brains swirl with information (and some panic) when they generously offered their time to teach a seminar in La Paz about Hurricane Planning back in April. One guy in their class said, “heck, I’m so freaked out, I think I’ll just go back to San Diego now!” <hahaha>

All joking aside, this is serious business. I’m sure we won’t do everything right, and in the event of a really bad storm, it might not even matter, but we’ll leave Lodos knowing we did all we could to ensure she is safe and secure.

 

We talked to dozens of people, read dozens of blog posts, looked at how people were prepping their boats around us, and have made multiple revisions to our list of “to do’s” before we head out in less than two weeks. We started a running list of everything we had to do to get the boat ready to haul out of the water next week, we got a storage unit for the season from the great team at Bahia Storage (Thanks again to Miguel for the truck and extra set of hands!), and we bought an inordinate amount of aluminum foil and car windshield reflective shields to cover the windows and portholes. The inside temp of the boat can easily be over 150 degrees here in summer! I use this digital laser thermometer to measure temps inside the boat – it’s a super cool and useful tool!

I even asked my mom what they do to prep their RV/mobile home prior to leaving the hot summers of Arizona, all of which is now incorporated into our list below.

The first hurricane of the season (ALETTA) has gone out to die in the Pacific, and it looks like there is one right behind it, which will be called BUD. It’s not likely to reach us here, but it may make landfall in Cabo San Lucas. We’ve been obsessively watching the weather and learned some new geeky weather jargon such as: “this system is now an invest 92E which has turned into a td3e”.  I’ve upped my weather game substantially and added the following sites to my obsession: two_pac_0d0

 

 

 

 

 

Passage Weather  https://www.passageweather.com/

Tropical Tidbits  https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/

National Hurricane Center (NOAA)  https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

AreaTask
RIGGING:
Remove all sails (wash, dry, take down, fold)
store all running rigging
Use T-9 or Marlube on all tracks and roller furlers
secure mast boot from high winds
pull all halyards up into mast with leaders to base of mast
store excess halyards in bag at base of mast
center boom and lock down with line currently on stern ladder
cover furling and tracks w/ foil/towels
fold up/secure davits
EXTERIOR:
Remove dodger and bimini canvas
drain water tanks and add a little bleach
remove and store bbq - take to storage
remove and store life ring
prep scuba equipment - take tanks to storage
deflate dink and store w/ lines in storage
remove outboard and store (change oil?)
close all thru hulls after hauling (except bilge)
wash bottom (no pressure washer) and inspect bottom, paint
plug all thru hulls with cbronze or vinyl wool to disuade bugs
fill diesel tanks and add biocide
extra lines on solar panels
cockpit cleared of everything
winch handles stored below
empty cockpit bags
cover instruments w/ blanket/tie down
remove wind generator blades
inspect hull, paint/repair as needed
Tighten/adjust bimini rails to readjust location
cover all tracks & pulleys and winches
move all sails, canvas, etc to offsite storage
wash boat/clean outside of boat
cover flat surfaces with sunbrella fabric, weight down with chain
Mark with grease pencil fiberglass spots
INTERIOR:
pack for Turkey, organize clothes we are taking off the boat
cover all windows and hatches with reflective material
roll up and store all carpets in sheets, storage
store all cushions in master cabin
deploy roach traps
remove all perishables/donate
remove med kit with any perishable items (incl contact lenses)
Organize and clean out food storage, cover bags, double bag/box foods, remove cardboard/paper
leave buckets of water for humidity
lubricate hatch gaskets with silicone grease or other rubber safe lube
remove batteries from all handhelds/clocks
put mineral oil in heads to lube gaskets
put dryer sheets in all cabinets/drawyers
put essential oil on sponges for freshness
store bedding/vacuum pack
close/block seat cushion holes
cover woodwork with relfective material
donate canned food, etc
remove/store electronics/computers
remove $$ & take copy of vital paperwork
final clean of boat and launder all sheets & clothes to be left on the boat
fold up bed/store
move clothes from closet, vacuum pack clothes as necessary
wrap companion way door in reflective material
final run to storage, drop off key
clean out fridge/freezer
MECHANICAL:
prep air conditioner
pickle water maker
flush and fog outboard for storage
flush engine with fresh water and vinegar / check with yard on recco
disconnect propane/prep propane tanks
check propane tank guages
ELECTRICAL:
Unplug all network connections from devices on network
Remove power to devices
disconnect antenna leads
remove electronics where possible
ensure bilge pumps work with solar power
store electronics in oven?
put handhelds/smaller items into safe
MANAGEMENT:
give letter of approval for Alberto, Garth, Arturo to be on boat
develop quick checklist for Alberto to do weekly or monthly w/ pics
laminate note for back of boat of who to reach/how to reach
UPON RETURNING:
Change oil in all engines
clean boat
provision
replace zincs
reconnect/refill propane
change oil in engine & outboard
change oil in genny
remove all impellers, place in zip lock with silicone coating
Replace gaskets in toilets
Adjust bimini rails
Replace propane gauges in aft locker