Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Three (3) Cruising Budget Killers

Sitting here bobbing placidly at anchor in the morning light I think through the information I want to communicate.  All cruisers can kill their monthly budgets easily if they don’t take a hard look at needs versus wants.  I’m speaking from experience (although we’ve only just begun to cruise) because we’ve done these things already (either by mistake or as a matter of decision making).  Here’s what we’ve found that put major dents in our savings just in the last 6 months (both prior to cruising and while cruising):

Slips: While some out here take this luxury for granted, we can’t (slips are a luxury for us).  We’ve been in several slips longer than we expected or wanted to be; but we made calculated decisions as to why we needed that slip time (repairs/weather).  Both times we’ve taken slips (for longer than expected) we had repairs to handle and we’re ok with those decisions.  Other boats make their own decisions on why they want to be in a slip…and to us there’s nothing wrong with folks who want to take a slip and afford this lifestyle.  The fact is there’s amenities in most marina’s you just can’t always have on a cruising sailboat sitting on an anchor and this is a major draw for some cruisers.  For example, if you’re on a cruising sailboat there’s probably not the water to take long hot showers, the anchorage might be too crusty or busy to take a daily swim and you probably can’t get a fresh icy blended drink anywhere.  “Why Not” you may ask ?….well the freezer on some cruising boats simply can’t keep ice frozen and most cruising boats can’t plug in a blender to power without draining some portion of their precious battery power for a luxury like an icy blended drink.  Point is this:  Everyone makes their own decisions on how they spend their money.  Slips are expensive (even in Mexico)…so if you’re low on funds or want to save some money…plan on using that large piece of metal on your bow and plant it in the bottom often.

Eating Out w/Drinks: We’ve eaten out at restaurants and had drinks…and seen the bills.  This is another luxury for a crew that loves to cook.  Yes, we do look for unique opportunities at special restaurants in the culture when those opportunities present themselves..but still like to cook.  With the amount of fresh, high quality and inexpensive ingredients offered on the local economy; we often choose to cook rather than eat out just so we can try different combinations of foods in our own galley.  We know the opportunity to eat out at high end places abound wherever we go, but we just can’t go to those places if we want to keep any sort of savings or budget every month.  Usually where we go out to eat….the food and drinks are fairly inexpensive but higher end restaurants abound with opportunities to buy expensive food and drinks to pay for the expansive views or coifed linens.

Unexpected opportunities to improve your boat: Have you gotten the translation yet?  This means unexpected or unplanned repairs or improvements to the boat that are basically mandatory.  There’s things to do on boats that are still in the “nice to have” category but not needed for safety and survival on a boat…then there’s things that are needed to actually keep the boat running, functional and healthy.  On Tulum, we’ve now had three of these opportunities for improvement that were neither welcomed, planned or budgeted for…but happened just in the last 6 months with major impact to our cruising budget.  Our first opportunity happened just months before we had planned to leave and sapped a portion of our cruising budget unexpectedly, but we knew that we were buying an older boat and we made the mistake of not insisting on a good repair estimate.  I’ve written several posts on the overhaul of Tulum’s aging engine…which dropped a bearing in the sixth cylinder…resulting in a complete rebuild of the engine.  The engine was put back in the boat just a week before the Baja Ha-Ha after being out of the boat for three months…a very large learning experience.  These things tend to have a cascade effect…and for us this meant we didn’t any time out of the slip (while the engine was out) to work through systems glitches until we literally motored out of San Diego.  Upon reaching the glorious cruising grounds of Baja, we realized that our energy management wasn’t doing so well and made sure to make an appointment with an electrician to go through our batteries specifically.  The diagnosis was unwelcome but not totally unexpected…our house batteries were shot and not able to take in or let out enough energy to power the boat effectively.  The purchase of six new AGM house batteries in La Paz was the solution and we were forced to make that purchase in December.  Christmas for Tulum but not so great for a cruisers budget.  After these two larger purchases, I was content to do smaller projects and improvements around the boat..knowing we’d bitten the bullet and knocked out two large improvement projects on Tulum that were mandatory and needed.  I even had dreams of building back up our depleted stock account…not spending money like water as we had so far with major repairs.  But once out cruising you’re subjected to the will of weather and the boat no matter how much you want to stick your head in the sand and avoid certain forecasts.  As a matter of precaution, I arranged for what I thought would be a short but informative rig inspection in February.  To my complete surprise, the rigger didn’t even need to go up the mast before he informed me that we would need to start looking at replacing Tulum’s standing rigging…soon.  After further questioning and investigation, we determined that we have no idea how old the standing rigging is…nor do we know how old the chainplates are or their condition.  We still don’t know the full cost or complexity of re-rigging all of the standing rigging or putting on all new chainplates yet..but we’re soon to tackle that project, which will include another dock stay. 

In buying an aging sailboat we knew all of these repairs and replacements were possible, but didn’t know we would have do them all in our first six months of cruising.  However, we’ve much to be thankful for during these repairs….that we were in the US when we lost the engine and needed to have it overhauled, that we were able to get the batteries ordered, shipped and seamlessly put into the boat in La Paz in Dec and that we had a high quality rigger give us a straight answer about the life of our standing rigging..allowing us to make solid decisions about the trajectory of our trip and change of plans to accommodate getting these upcoming projects done.  Sailing and cruising isn’t always cheap but it’s always challenging and keeps our heads in the game.  We’re not ignoring these prime repairs because they effect the health and safety of Tulum…just gotta do it and make sure you’ve got enough money left to eat.  Cruising truly needs to be a fun quest rather than a sprint to anything…as slow is fast out here. 

There’s a lot happening in the world and we do get news mostly every day (when we have WiFi), so we’re well aware of it.  Sometimes neither me or Michelle is sure how to approach our writing while COVID-19 grips the world, but we’ve had followers who have not minced words in telling us to continue to write, as our writing is sometimes used as a welcome distraction from the very real changes going on around the world.  So we’re going to continue writing and hope that you’ll continue to read but know that our reality is tempered by concern for family and friends and world events.

LF2SF is an independent blog/website run by a cruising family (us) who lives on their boat full time in Mexico (till next season when we start moving) with their two kids and Great Dane.  The HelmsMistress publishes her take on boat life every Weds, one of the kids writes for Kids Corner every Fri and Quincy Dane the Great Dane writes from her doggy point of view every Sun.  Of course our posts are predicated on having WiFi or a cell signal so we get these things out and answer comments back.  We LOVE your comments and we’d love to have you follow us (and keep following us). 

We’d LOVE a cold beer while we’re doing all of these upcoming repairs…so instead of panic buying some toilet paper why don’t you consider checking out our Patreon Page and buy us a beer? 








Kids Corner: Animals We’ve Seen While Cruising So Far-

Hello, everybody! Today I will be talking about ALL of the flora & fauna I’ve seen (or maybe just the animals)!  So, #1 is…HUMPBACK WHALES!!!! These gentle giants are VERY abundant in Banderas bay (MX), usually mothers with their babies. The humpbacks are known for their singing, which only the males do. #2…BAT RAYS!!! These super stellar jumpers are known to jump out of the water, and flap their black wings like a bat, hence the name, bat rays! They travel in large groups of up to A THOUSAND BAT RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s totally EPIC!!! #3 is…Black Snook. Yeah yeah, wah wah wah. But it was really big for a fish! It looked about as long as Kellyn was tall! It ate all of the little fish under our boat, and made even dad scared to go in the water! We just decided not to spear it, and let quietly go about its business…#4…sea turtle! Don’t judge them, This fast reptile is very pretty, but is being threatened due to pollution and fishing nets. One of the many places to go to see one every minute is calleta partida, and you can anchor in the mouth of an old, deceased volcano! #5 is…DOLPHIN! I know that they are quite common, but I just couldn’t resist! These playful creatures will often swim near your bow underway, and are very interesting to watch. Wild dolphins have been known to play tug of war with seaweed, and play with coconuts like balls! Okay I gotta go, Teagan up and out

Another late post with another great excuse….this time we were out touring a jungle river checking out crocodiles and exotic birds.  We’ve been told all about the toilet paper shortages in some parts of the US.  We’re out here hanging out in our ultimate bug-out vehicle (cruising sailboat) hoping for the best for all of you.  LF2SF puts out this website from a cruising sailboat where we live with our two small kids, Great Dane and an adventure spirit.  We invite you to come along with us by FOLLOWING this website….as we are Coronavirus FREE!  AND…if you want to help us buy TP, beer or some dog food for Quincy…check out our Patreon Site!    


From the HelmsMistress: Fare Thee Well, Banderas Bay

La Cruz Anchorage, Banderas Bay

After 2 months of thoroughly enjoying ourselves – it’s time to move on.  We always had plans to head back into the Sea of Cortez when the time was right and now it is time to head north!  Highlights of our stay are as follows: La Cruz kids club activities – from recycled boat regattas to kids movie nights (AKA -parents nite out!) – thank you Kat, reunions with so many cruising friends, wishing well and parting ways with those Puddle Jumping (I still love that crossing the largest ocean for 17-25 days is referred to as a “Puddle Jump”), the girls taking Spanish and Art lessons with Maestra Florelisa of Crearte Nayarit– muchisimas gracias, watching iguanas climb palm trees and jumping rays gleefully belly flop through the water, dancing horses, morning yoga in the amphitheater – thank you Dahlia for your skillful mind-wizardry in convincing me that I was relaxing while I was actually strengthening muscles I didn’t know existed!  Waking up in the anchorage and seeing mom and baby humpback whales – I’ll miss the sound of their prolonged powerful exhale when they come to the surface….not to mention watching Quincy’s first realization that there was something VERY large and mobile in her neighborhood!  The sounds of live music almost every evening enjoyed from the comfort of our boat, Sunday market – a farmers and artisanal market like none you’ve ever seen, haul out – not a fun highlight, but a necessary one, side trips to Tequila, Tonala and Guadalajara with Grandma and Grandpa – sip, shop, step back in time. 

Beyond the beauty of the location, for me La Cruz provided the opportunity to slow down and recalibrate a few things on our journey.  The timing was perfect.  Home schooling smoothed out – don’t get me wrong, we still have our challenging days – but the kids get the routine and know once they finish school some free time may be in order.  Today as we left the bay THEY asked if they could start their school work…they’re catching on!  The opportunity to connect with fellow cruising families helped to normalize some of the challenges I’ve faced since we left, the shadows are lifting.  We all come to this lifestyle under different terms, but it amazes me the common themes that exist: parents seeking ways to keep the kids both socially and academically engaged, resolving family conflicts in tight quarters, carving out both time and space for everyone’s needs, defining a new identity – having recently departed the rat race back home, and dealing with the never ending stream of boat maintenance projects.  I met some amazing people and strengthened relationships with others whom I’d only recently met.  The cruising community is a small but hearty bunch who for the most part want to help you succeed.  

La Cruz was a cross roads for boaters of all kinds – Cruisers who have circumnavigated to those who just barely left the states and have only just begun their long litany of stupid boat tricks (yup…pretty sure that’s us), old timers who have sea stories and experience to pass on before they give up their sea legs for a new life on land and young couples taking a sabbatical from work or perhaps hoping to find employment in a foreign land they sail to, boat owners and those seeking a crew position to gain some experience, boats actively prepping to cross the Pacific and others that will head back in to the Sea of Cortez or bash back up to the states, racers who come for the regattas and powerboats of all sizes with all sorts of destinations in mind.  Such diversity and such a breeding ground for inspiration.  The possibilities for world travel are truly endless, limited only by your own fears and reservations…and of course a sturdy, seaworthy vessel to get you there.  So until next season, I bid you adieu La Cruz.  Thank you for the fond memories, fellowship, and friendships that will last a lifetime!

This post is late,,,but we have a great excuse.  Yesterday we moved and when you’re taking your entire home on the move among long lines (off the coast), whales and various navigation points, we tend to focus on that instead of getting posts out.

We sail, travel and explore as a family and don’t really take ourselves too seriously.  If you wanna help, please follow us (and continue to follow us!)…and we’d always love some coconuts for Quincy Dog Food or a coldie.  Check out our Patreon Page to buy us a cold one.  

Last…it’s march….Sun’s out…remember your sunscreen.  If you choose to check out Raw Elements and buy from them…use the discount code “Sail Fast” for a small discount when you order. 

Quincy’s Corner: 1-Bag Per Beach Challenge

Quincy Dane on a special beach…at Mag Bay, BC Mexico. Even better because there was little surf and the beach was literally covered in sand dollars.

Quincy the Boat Dog has been on many different beautiful beaches in the last couple years and loves to play in the sand and the water.  She’s a sucker for a long stretch of beach where she can do a couple of sprints…then be done with her beach day and go back to her favorite nest on the boat for a nap.  However…since we’ve been out on the boat cruising for the last couple months, she’s noticed a few things she wants to share with all of you: (more…)

From The HelmsMistress: Four Months and Counting

Four months ago to the day, we left San Diego on our floating home with little more than plans to head south seeking warmer weather, new adventures and more mindful moments as a family.  We had it good – there was nothing we needed to escape from, but the idea of living together on the ocean was calling us.  Like many families we’ve met down here, time was passing all too quickly at home as we worked the days away, came home tired, sometimes irritated, only to realize we had a few precious hours with our kids before the rat race started again the next day.  We were blessed with an opportunity – a time window – to see things through another lens and we took it.  In just this short four months, so much has changed.  We traded our cars for a stellar dinghy, our conventional shower stalls for jumps off the transom followed by a sun shower (shower), closed toed shoes for flippies or no shoes at all, our steady stream of WIFI and power for intermittent cell service, a VHF radio, and hopes of steady sun and wind (to charge the solar panels and wind generator). 

Before cutting the docklines-

For Chad and me, we consciously chose this lifestyle and accept the highs and lows with a steady focus on the endgame.  Alternatively, for a very social active 8 year old and a pensive, tenacious 10 year old the transition to this lifestyle has sometimes been challenging and confusing and downright frustrating.  We write about the good and the bad on this website, but it is so much easier to highlight and share the positive aspects.  As resilient as kids can be, such a dramatic change takes time and bears with it some emotional ups and downs.  As parents, we had to allow time and space for listening and understanding things from their perspective.  At this point, we’ve evolved from hearing a teary eyed girl scream “I wanna go home!  Why did you bring us here?!” to “So where are we going next?” and “Can I drive the dinghy, dad?”.  We will no doubt continue to evolve, face challenges, and learn more about ourselves; both as individuals and as a family.  I dedicate the rest of this post to my beautiful girls who continue to amaze me and will no doubt set the world on fire.

For my kids:  Your transition has not been easy, but we wouldn’t put any challenge before you we knew you weren’t capable of handling.  You made sacrifices by leaving behind a world you knew in exchange for the unknown and often unpredictable life at sea.  You left friends and family behind, but have realized that with modern day communications, they’re never too far away.  You’ve become stellar dinghy drivers, nimble snorkelers, adept sailors, efficient radio talkers, innovative recycled material boat builders and strong advocates for preserving and protecting our oceans. You’ve learned that friends are for life – whether they live near you or not and whether you just met them or have known them for years.  You’ve helped your dear ol’ mom develop our very own homeschool and have impressed us with your knowledge and creativity.  You embraced a 76-hour crossing at sea with ease and have conquered your fears about the boat heeling, rocking beam to beam, and being far from the sight of land.  You’ve seen that life is not a constant stream of rainbows and unicorns and have learned the importance of calmly thinking through troubleshooting the various systems on the boat when things don’t go as planned.  You’ve had the great pleasure of seeing so many ocean creatures in their natural environment – observing unique behaviors and the joy of spotting something out on the horizon or right in front of your mask, and you’ve done it all while living on our 51-foot floating home.  You’ve been entrusted with more responsibility than we ever gave you back home, because this is how you learn about the world around you.  I love seeing your eyes light up at the thought of stopping at a panaderia or for helado mexicano.  I equally love listening to you develop your own worlds and dress up and play them out – giggling and hiding whenever you think dad and I are listening in (we ALL hear EVERYTHING on a boat).  We (probably) won’t live this lifestyle forever so enjoy the world around you today.  Challenge yourself by moving out of your comfort zone and never let fear of failure inhibit your pursuits in life.  We are so proud of how you handle yourselves both in the face of adversity and in times of joy.  Most of all, we are blessed for the beautiful times we spend with you, learning about the wonders of the world together and seeing things through your eyes.  Thank you for reminding us of the importance of play, that bad words are not necessary to describe anything, that reducing our use of plastic can make a difference, and that sometimes you just gotta dance around the salon and be a goofball! 

We are loving the gift of time at sea with you.

Sunset on Banderas Bay

We continue our limerence with the sea as we continue to travel the slow way (by sailboat).  By this time next week (depending on weather), we hope to be on the move again as we start to slowly head north to check out Isla Isabel (Galapagos of Mexico) and prepare to jump back over to La Paz from the mainland.  

Wanna keep up with us as we travel on a sailboat with kids and Great Dane ? Follow our website and/or check out our Patreon site if you wanna buy us a beer (we’ve heard there’s cold beer in Chacala ?).


Reblog: Weekend Share #122 — Its good to be crazy Sometimes

Ok Ok, I admit I didn’t get the post done that I wanted to get done but I am using valuable Wifi time here to put out a reblog for another MUCH larger blogger.  Why would I do this?  I’m sitting on a boat in the middle of an anchorage using valuable Wifi time rebloging her weekend post….cause I think it’s important enough to do.  See…folks who write for much larger blogs often use their websites to gather smaller bloggers (like me) together and try to get their many viewers to take a look at some of these smaller websites…thus trying to get their bounty of readers to expand the horizons.  I think this is brilliant and I appreciate it…so I pay it back by republishing the page so others can look at it.  If you want to find smaller bloggers who have unique points of view, take a look inside this post at her site and see if you find ones that you click with- or not!

And…remember that the HelmsMistress will be putting out a great story on Weds as we prep to start north (maybe as early as next week).




via Birthday Weekend Share #122 — Its good to be crazy Sometimes

Quincy’s Corner: Hearing Humpbacks

Did you know that only MALE Humback Whales sing the distinctive whale slogs you’ve heard about in movies, wildlife shows and elsewhere?  Yep…it’s true and Miss Quincy the Great Dane can hear them more often than we can.  She can also hear the momma and baby whale’s breathing and she can see and hear the dolphins as they play close close to the boat.  To our surprise, all this activity doesn’t seem to drive her nuts and she seems to take it all in stride.  However, one of her feeders is an avid whale watcher and when there’s whales…there’s no way to break her away from her whale watching time.  Wanna know more about Miss Quincy the Great Dane or her whale watching?  Come back in comments and ask away..she’ll put her paws into it and answer you back.

Yep, we live on a cruising sailboat with a Great Dane, two small kids and a Big Green Egg.  We love our nomadic lifestyle (which is NOT like camping) and taking our home with us as we move…but most of all I love the ability to travel with my dog and family.  Having to make a choice between cruising and the dog would not have worked for us…so we just took her with us.  She’s a handful but she’s our handful.

For the first time in our lives, we’ve been able to lay in bed and hear these same sounds as the high pitch songs of the romantic Humpback males come through the fiberglass hull of the boat, making a tune like no other.  Humpback Males sing to attract a mate or show dominance via their crooning skills or any myriad of other reasons…but we benefit just by listening to the majestic songs of the sea.  the population has recovered and seems to be doing well…which is a relief to folks who depend on the whales for their living.  The songs travel for long distances through the water, meaning the males may be miles away, but their songs travel with the tides.  The highlight of this place has been the whales…and the good weather.  But soon it will be time to start traveling again and we’re starting to get ansy…ready to get going soon.

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Surrounded By Sailing Luminaries

I sit here in the light of the sun slowly fading on the western horizon, Tulum gently rocking in the swells.  As our thoughts begin to focus more and more on moving back into the Sea of Cortez, I reflect on the sailing notables and luminaries who have frequented La Cruz just in the last couple months.  Some we met and some we didn’t, but they were here at one point or the other in the last couple months.  Just thinking through the confluence of sailing experience here in the last 30 days..I’m a bit starstruck.  I plucked up enough courage to be able to ask some of these folks for interviews (for the website) before they left, but only a few were able to coordinate schedules and meet with me for a quick interview.  (However, every one of them did actually email me back, even if they couldn’t meet with me). (more…)

Kids Corner: Teagan’s Pet Recommendations

TODAY, I WILL BE WRITING ABOUT………PETS ABOARD!!! Yeah, I’m totally psyched about boat pets.  But then again, I REALLY want one myself. I think that’s what I’ll write about this post, ‘cause they are pretty cool (and some- times furry, slimy, soft, pretty, cute, and maybe even creepy!)! There are tons of pets, and so many of them can live on a boat with you. They are usually pretty easy to care for, and love to play. Me, I think I want a hamster. Today, we’re gonna dive into the creepy, cute, playful world of boat pets!

Many rodents are compact, yet small enough to be perfect for a boat. #1, guinea pig. These little fur balls LOVE to play. Although they usually have to have another guinea pig around (unless you’re around ALL THE TIME), that just means twice the fun! They are good for kids of all ages, and I’m pretty sure they aren’t nocturnal. #2 hamster. These little guys are actually pretty nice for a boat. On long crossings, all they need is food, water, perhaps a clean cage, and a place to curl up and sleep, and that’s exactly what they’ll do. They take little thirty-minute naps, day and night, so expect them to be awake at night when you are considering where the cage should go. We have some cruiser friends (Totem), and they had two, and said that their hamsters did pretty well, except for New Zealand and Australia, where qoroutine was really bad.

Dogs and cats are actually pretty well equipped for living on a boat, and are very popular in the boating world. #1 dog.  These guys are the perfect four-legged friends to have on your boat, and as long as you love them, they’ll love you tenfold! Although, not all pooches are good on boats. Some, especially small and very fury dogs, because all that fur would weigh them down in the water, and small dogs have the increased chance of getting hypothermia, due to having not a lot of body fat. #2 cats. These furry felines are actually usually kinda lazy, but can be the ultimate snuggle buddy! All they need is a litter box, daily food and water, and sometimes a little bit of love, and they’ll be just fine. They can be pretty cute around the right toys. Just be careful around other pets, especially rodents, because natural instinct may just make them want to jump.

I think fish and other H2O animals go really good on boats, especially for beginners. #1 fish! For starters, these guys are really good. If you are a beginner, go strait past the goldfish. Although they are portrayed as “the ultimate starter pet” they are actually kinda hard to care for. Instead, look for beta fish. These guys are not only really pretty to watch, but they are really easy to care for. #2 snails and crabs. Whether caught or bought, they are REALLY captivating. Sometimes, for the crabs, you can paint a shell, and the crab will happily move in. at pet stores, they might have those really cool shells that look, for example, like the crab has a mini castle, or city, on it’s back. It’s really cool!   Thanks for reading. TEAGAN UP AND OUT

Remember that the author of this post is 10-years old and lives on a cruising sailboat…with a pet.  Her pet is a Great Dane named Quincy who’s 130 pounds, slobbery and smelly but a lovable goof. 

We love the fact that we’re out here with our kids during these years of their lives, with only weather to dictate a schedule.  We’d love to hear from you as we love comments and love to have you follow us if you feel so inclined- Have a great day and a great weekend. 






From The HelmsMistress: Turtles, Whales and Boobies…oh my!

One of the coolest parts of our journey thus far is the opportunity the girls have had to learn about the ocean’s many creatures through live interaction supplemented with presentations by those who are actively researching them and working towards conservation.  Growing up in San Diego, my education on ocean animals came from visits to Sea World, but just think of the experience cruising kids get by observing the animals in their natural habitats and even having the opportunity to help marine biologists with sightings and conservation! 

The “turtle girls” as they became known on the Baja Ha-Ha, are turtle researchers who are working with UPWELL, a non-profit organization focused on protecting endangered sea turtles.  They took special interest in educating the kids during the Ha-ha – teaching them about turtle conservation through games and activities on the beach and even running a Q&A session on the VHF radio just for the kids.  As cruisers, we hit some remote locations and we found out we could become a part of the turtle spotting mission by recording our sightings and registering them with UPWELL – girls get your binoculars!  We didn’t spot any turtles on the Ha-ha – possibly because they are so recluse and very likely because we were all a bit preoccupied with “figuring this cruising thing out” at the time, but we have seen several since – both in Baja and on the Pacific coast.  We had another presentation just the other day during which we could ask about turtle behavior we have seen and I was reminded of the need to send in our turtle sightings and photos from Caleta Partida.  We still hope to help out with a baby turtle release while in Mexico, but in the meantime will keep our eyes peeled for turtles during our travels.

We are in the height of Humpback (whale) activity in Banderas Bay with mothers and calves seen frequently swimming side by side.  The bulls are coming into the bay to compete for a suitable mate and with that comes much more “excitement”.  For boaters, this means running with your motor on and being on the lookout for groups of whales performing all sorts of acrobatics.  I love watching them….from afar.  Having just returned to the anchorage yesterday, I was preparing lunch in the galley when I spotted a huge splash on the horizon.  “Whale breaching at 9 o’clock!”  I shouted to the girls.  Once everyone got their clock orientation down, we all saw this humungous creature launch his entire body out of the water and land on his back with an enormous splash.  I’m going with male, but could be entirely wrong, regardless it is just a remarkable sight even at a distance!  For the most part we see spouts followed by the very characteristic humpbacks, and repeated behavior such as pectoral fin or tail slapping which can go on for minutes and be heard from quite a distance away.  I sit at anchor constantly scanning the horizon until my eyes are watering often confusing a bird on the surface or a white sail in the distance for what I hope will be a whale sighting.  Their magnificent presence never seems to get old.

One of about a thousand pictures I have with a tiny spec of whale on the surface…time to break out the telephoto lens

We had an opportunity to hear about the local programs that are working to protect the whales – ECOBAC and RABEN.  ECOBAC is a Mexican non-profit organization working on research, protection and conservation of the whales, while RABEN is the team trained to rescue whales from entanglement in fishing gear.  We now know that should we ever find ourselves close enough or have the correct telephoto lens on the camera (good luck) that we can send photos of the underside of their tail to assist with identification and tracking of these massive creatures.  We were also encouraged to see that there are laws that dictate how far your vessel must be from the whales and that there are precautions around the bay warning any newcomers to observe without disturbing them.  Right in the anchorage we have active fishing nets being put in place as they have been for years prior to cruisers’ arrival here.  Banderas Bay hosts an intersection of whales and other large pelagic creatures, lush fishing grounds, cruisers, and tourists – we all have to strike a balance in preserving this beautiful bay for the future generations.  Out of the ashes of global warming and overfishing, we MUST fight to strike a balance that benefits man and beast.

Taken with an iPhone less than 100 yards from our boat. This is a mother Humpback actually nursing her calf. The calf is the second black bump in the picture. Female Humpbacks actually have nipples under their fins for the calf to suck on while they lay still in the water(logging), resting with just half their brain turned on.

Last but not least are the boobie sightings.  Not sure what others are seeing in nearby touristy of Puerto Vallarta, but I’m talking about the birds…. of course.  Who ever knew birds could be so exciting?  Certainly not me.  One of the first things you witness upon arriving at the anchorage are birds that literally dive bomb in a direct vertical plunge into the ocean with a nimbleness that puts most Olympic divers to shame.  Unless I’m on the lookout for whales, I am usually alerted to their presence by the “SMACK” sound in the water nearby.  I look up to see a splash and eventually a little brown and white head emerges, shakes off the water, and flies away, tucking in its blue feet as it goes.  I didn’t believe we would see the famed blue-footed boobies until visiting Isla Isabel (AKA the Mexican Galapagos), but those feet were indeed a bright turquoise blue – no doubt!  I confirmed that they come from the nearby Marietas Islands we navigated around just before entering the bay on new years eve.  I’ve also grown to love watching the pelicans with their awkward appearance and much less graceful PLUNGE into the water.  Who knew?!

The girls are becoming little marine biologists in the making – I think it must be inevitable for cruising kids.  They are persistent about accurately identifying the fish they find – presently debating whether it is a box fish, porcupine fish or puffer fish who frequently visits our boat in the marina. My kids are not shy so to hear them ask questions during the presentations and share stories in an effort to learn more about the world around them inspires me and gives me hope for the future.  We’ve all made efforts to live a little “greener” while out here and admittedly still have some work to be done.   When you see these amazing animals in their natural habitats, you understand how important it is to preserve that habitat for the future.


For more information please check out these websites to see their amazing efforts to help the animals.

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