Baja Ha-ha 2018: To Turtle Bay

While the days leading up to the rally were filled with work, there were plenty of parties and mixers to attend.  At the West Marine send off party, we learned about an initiative to catalog wildlife sightings off the Baja coast.  Apparently, it is one of the least cataloged coast lines in the world.  Additionally, we were invited to join the Marine Debris project through NOAA.  I eagerly signed up and downloaded the requisite apps.  Shame on me, that’s as far as I got.  Apparently I needed to create an account for each.  So that’s  now on my to do list.  The girls were stoked.  Homeschooling freaking ROCKS.  

The day finally came for us to leave with the Baja Ha-Ha.  We joined the fleet in San Diego Bay.  The air was alive with the excitement of over 500 sailors who had been working for this day; some of them for years.  The shot rang out signaling the start and all the vessels headed out to the Pacific together, with a lack of wind forcing use of the iron sails (engine).  The fire boats showed off their pumps, spraying water cannons into the air while doing doughnuts, increasing the festive feel.  Our kids enjoyed having free use of the air horn, adding the voice of a normally emergency only device to those of all the other boats.  It was loud and crowded and sweeping in anticipation of the adventures we were collectively heading towards.


BAHA Fleet
Only a small view of the Baha fleet

That evening was when I realized we were back on a 24-hour clock.  <insert favorite expletive here>  Have I mentioned how much I truly love sleep? There was nothing to be done about it, so I muscled up and put on my big girl panties.  With little to no wind, we motored all the way to our first anchorage, Turtle Bay.  (La Bahia Tortuga)  We arrived in the dark, but anchored without mishap.  Not needing much water, we passed the monohulls and dropped the hook right off the beach.  In the morning, we were rewarded with beautiful scenery, locals buzzing around the anchorage in pongas offering everything from fresh shrimp to garbage collection, and fellow Ha-Ha’ers exploring. 



The girls and I joined a celestial navigation class, which provided the kids with an opportunity to use a sextant.  That gave Daddy the opportunity to fix… something.  When the girls and I returned, we dropped the paddle boards and let the kids burn some energy.  They certainly had a lot stored up. 

BAHA Party
I think this has happened before…


All ashore who’s going ashore

The next day, after I took a turn on a paddleboard, we took part in the yearly baseball game: local kids vs Ha-ha’ers.  I’m not going to tell you who won.  I will tell you that Turtle Bay is a tiny town with dirt roads and…a PROFESSIONAL baseball field hidden in the middle of it.  Apparently, the locals have a thing for this game.  They certainly know how to make it fun. We ended the day with some local fish tacos and then got ready to take off in the morning for our next anchorage, Bahia Santa Maria.

Nice Baseball Field!

Leaving SF to Meet up with Baja Ha-Ha

We left the dock without fanfare, nothing to mark this moment, this trip as anything other than a quick sail on the bay, or perhaps a mini weekend vacation. The earlier Costco run, not quite fully stowed, was a dead give away that this trip was unusual.
Reverie was bedecked in the traditional cruising boat jewelry, gery cans of yellow and red graced her decks. A cherished neighbor came out to give us a shove. He yelled a sailor’s blessing to us and waved well wishes as we made our way out of the marina we’d called home for six and a half years. It’s the only “home” my children have a memory of.

There were a few tasks that required completion prior to making our way to the Pacific, mainly finding last minute hidey-holes for things that didn’t seem to fit anywhere. So we anchored just a few hours away at Treasure Island. It’s a spot we have frequented for years. Nothing out of the ordinary yet. The next day, everything still wasn’t done, so we skipped to a nearby anchorage of my preference. Richardson Bay was a beautiful spot, and a fantastic place to kick off our trip. West Marine was nearby, and we were around the corner from the Golden Gate Bridge.
With the last of “everything” stowed creatively, Hubby took the dinghy to West Marine, and I took a lengthy nap.

The next morning, we arose as the ungodly hour of 4AM. After our last experience getting out of the gate, we were taking sea sickness very seriously. A round of Stugeron for the grownups, Dramamine for the kiddos (who were inexplicably awake) and sea bands for all. We were prepared for the gnarly waters ahead. Naturally, since we were so well prepared, it was flat as a pancake. I was almost disappointed.

Bye Bye SF!  Not much light so early in the morning.

Our first day on the Pacific was idealic. As the sun rose, I watched the sea birds, so perfectly at home in this environment, and was overcome with a sense that I was a guest here. The fluid environment stretched out before me as far as the eye could see, a busy, restless force. Its constant movement is hypnotic. This morning, the Pacific is sleepy, even Reverie, who was so sprightly in the days before, seemed drowsy.  We watched the California coastline slip away.

California Coast
Pretty Clouds



Monterey Bay Aquarium Sleep Over

My Mother In Law is a rare woman.  She somehow manages to find the coolest activities.  When she called me with an idea to do a sleep over at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with all the cousins, I couldn’t say no.

I packed up the kids, a ton of snacks, and all the gear they could possibly need for overnight.  That turned out to be A LOT more than I had initially planned.  Thank heavens Grandma volunteered to bring sleeping bags!  I couldn’t help but reminisce at how different things are now.  When I had sleepovers, we showed up with a sleeping bag, toothbrush and toothpaste, our favorite stuffed animal, flashlight, and snacks.  Seriously, I didn’t even bring a pillow.  Not the case now-a-days.

At any rate, I found parking in a nearby parking garage, pulled out my collapsible wagon, and loaded it up.  What a life saver.  We sashayed to the Aquarium, met up with our group, and were ushered in.

The staff provided a place for us to stash our stuff while we explored.  If you haven’t been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you should know there is a reason why it is so well known.  It’s pretty much amazing.

We went to orientation, where we were advised of safety and behavioral restrictions.  (don’t shine flashlights on the animals at night, duh!)  I was really grateful they took the time to inform us, as we truly were there to appreciate and marvel at these creatures, not cause them distress.

After the orientation, we picked up our gear and made our way to our designated area.  While I had a secret hope for the Jelly fish room, the shark tank was not a let down in the least.  Air mattresses were inflated, kids were running around, chaos was escalating.  I had a great idea.

“I’m taking the kids to brush their teeth.”  I made my announcement with authority, and with the desperation of someone clawing for militant organization; also, as someone who was dying to brush their teeth.  I rounded up the sub 18-year old set of kids.  Yes, all SEVEN of them on my onesies.  Mixed genders, mixed ages… praying it would end well.  Guess what?  When you are dealing with awesome kids, awesome things happen.  It was one of those beautiful moments, where all the kids listened and were respectful.  All teeth were brushed, hands were held, we were practically dancing down the yellow brick road while singing a Rodgers and Hammerstein’s compendium.

When we returned to our site, my incredible in-laws had done the impossible.  Everything was set up and organized.  Holy Moly.  We all hunkered down to go to sleep.  Hahahahahahhahahaha!!!  I got you!  Kids don’t sleep at a sleep over!!  The cousins giggled and whispered into the late hours.  I watched the hypnotic swimming of apex predators, alarmingly close, yet safely contained.  I couldn’t help but think of Jurassic Park as I listened to water flowing through a complicated network of pipes overhead.

A curtain dropped down to blanket the tank in blackness, and our lights were extinguished.  It was explained to us that this triggered the animals to move into a night time mode. Five minutes later, the curtain lifted.  Indeed, I could see a difference in the behavior of the inhabitants of my unconventional night light.  I wanted to get up and visit the nocturnal animals, but my tired body refused to move.  After shushing the kids gently for the millionth time, they settled down and breathed deeply.  As the kids slipped into snoring mode, my own eye lids dropped on the scene of prehistoric predators circling sleepily through a blue void.

I awoke before the lights came on.  The sharks had quickened their movements, but not by much.  I had slept in my day clothes to make getting ready in the morning easier.  That proved to be a smart move.  (my Mother In Law’s idea)  I roused my kids, packed quickly, and we tracked the faint scent of coffee to its location in the cafeteria.  For gluten free eaters, the spread wasn’t fantastic, but we found plenty to eat.

After everyone had their fill, we dropped our gear in our cars and meandered around the Aquarium.  Eventually, tummies again complained of being empty, so the search was on for lunch.

We found a pizza place that served gluten free pizza.  By the time our team was finished, there was nary a crumb left.  We said our goodbyes, and headed to our cars, carrying with us fresh memories of quality family time.

Summer Camp(s)

We’ve hit the end of summer, but I wanted to review what we have been up to.

In June, the girls attended Vacation Bible School at their Grandmother’s church.  It’s a environment filled with positive, loving people.  They truly do a fantastic job.  The girls have been going for a few years, so it seemed reasonable to send them again this year.

My older daughter was of age to be a helper.  This was a position she was very excited to take on.  At the end of a week filled with what amounts to a babysitting position, my older girl had an interesting take-away… “Mommy, four year olds are A LOT of WORK!”  Yes, indeed my dear.  After that, she went to a sailing day camp.  At Peninsula Youth Sailing Foundation, she took the Intro to Racing track.  WOW did she have fun!  PYSF does a fantastic job of motivating and empowering each student.  Finally, after a couple years of searching, I found a class at a day camp that taught a skill she has been incessantly begging to try out.  The Crucible in Oakland was offering a MIG welding class; and she was of age.  I signed her up and scored serious Mom Points.

Signs of a serious boat kid!  She’s designing and welding her own catamaran.


Daughter number two attended VBS with the usual excitement. It falls on her birthday week, so she gets an added thrill of being “the birthday girl”.  Her next camp was something she only recently communicated she wanted to try.

“Mommy, I want to take a dance class.”

I could only roll my eyes.  This was something I had gently tried to convince her to try a long time ago.  Nothing could compete with tennis, so I let it go.  Now she wanted to try at the age of 9, when all the other kids had been taking dance for years.  Well, we did it anyway.  What a happy kid.  At the end of the week, she had a performance.  It’s incredible what can be accomplished in a week if you are focused.  This may have sparked a lifelong love of dance.  Stay tuned.

It was difficult to find daughter #2 an activity at the same time daughter #1 was welding, so I found a class at The Crucible that was age appropriate for her.  She spent the week learning soldering.   This is a skill my older daughter had already learned (and loves BTW) so it seemed like a possible hit.  Once again…. serious Mom Points were earned.  Yes, I’ll be internally patting  myself on the back for a long time.

For recap:  If you are in the Bay Area, check out PYSF and the Crucible.  PYSF is just down the road for us, but I would brave a lengthy drive.  They do a great job.  For the Crucible, I had to drive appx 3 to four hours a day.  It was worth every excruciating minute of rush hour traffic.  That place is a gem.

Holidays are Over…Get to Work!

Usually, I love the holidays.  The lights, the music, the FOOD; for me it’s part of what makes life worth living.  This year, however, I was infected by Grinch-y-iteis.  There was so much to do, and with all the boat issues, I was exhausted after the first week of December.

We managed to get some great work done while living in a hotel.  (patting self on back) At the end of it, though, I just wanted to sleep.  Not just sleep, but hibernate grizzly style.  I’m going to just come out and say it, my brain hurt.  Suddenly, I had an epiphany.

“Why am I making three meals a day, doing all the clean up, scheduling, and planning?”  This question rolled around in my mind.  It occurred to me that I was looking at two sets of capable hands.  They were smaller than mine, to be sure, but hand size has never been an issue for me.  I realized that my kids can take on a lot of this stuff.

I prepared myself.  The next time I heard “Mommy, I’m hungry!”,  I responded, “Sweetie, you know where the food is.  Go get something to eat.”  You could have heard a pin drop. Once everyone had recovered from this unexpected reply, the kids began to rummage around the pantry with a suspicious eye on me.

“Can I eat this?” asked the older one.


“What about this?” she inquired.

“Uh huh,” I responded, eyes glued to the project in front of me.

And on and on and on…….

Later, I was informed by my younger child that she was hungry.

“Hmmm… how can you resolve that issue?” I asked her.

Her eyes lit up, and she proceeded to pull random things out of the pantry.  I’m not certain it would have won any junior cooking awards, but she filled her tummy, and used her creativity.

What was the result of this experiment?  I rarely now cook breakfast, or lunch. This has opened up a lot of time for me to focus on other things.  As for the kids, they have come to appreciate more autonomy and responsibility for themselves.  Here’s to further empowering the next generation.

No, that’s NOT a leak!

Okay, here is the leak update.  We don’t have one.  (fanfare, cheering, ticker tape parade!)  Our situation is more challenging.  It turns out, we have an issue with condensation.  When we run the heater in the evening the boat heats up, but the air outside does not.  The boat cools, and we get condensation in out of the way spaces.  The condensation pools, and we get rain inside the boat even when it’s dry outside.  Science is so cool.

The solution is ventilation.  With that we are installing a fan in a high point on the boat.  Fingers crossed that this will work!

There’s a Leek on Your Boat!!



Wait, that was supposed to be “leak”, not “leek”.  Aren’t homonyms fun?  Finding new homonyms has become something of a passion for my youngest.  This is one of her favorites.  While I’m a fan of the produce, water making it’s way inside my boat is more than an annoyance.  We have been trying to track down this leak for a while.  It only happens when it rains.

Dousing the decks and all areas outside with a hose doesn’t recreate the problem, but with the slightest cloud-based sprinkle I’m battling indoor rain.  Let’s just say it’s intensely frustrating.  It’s practically impossible to get to sleep with a constant drip, drip, drip.   Then there’s the psychological impact: the mental association of water with a necessary trip to the restroom.

Drip, drip, drip…  I leap out of bed with a bladder emergency, every few minutes.  Totally uncool.

At any rate, while it has all the makings of a snipe hunt, we will continue to pursue this leak.  Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this water talk is having the usual effect.