Sunday, May 23, 2021

We didn't know whether we would even like sailing!

Well it's true, we had never "sailed" before.  Of course, we had been on a boat that had sails, you know your booze or sunset cruise type event never the real thing.  We had never lived on the water, for any period of time on a small vessel.  Cruise ship for sure but that's not small.  So we need to figure some things out I guess - everything. 

There are many options to consider for training these days.  You can watch a few vids on Youtube and give it a shot.  Go to the local yacht club for lessons and get your ass handed to you by a 5 year old kid in a 50K Laser.  You could try and crew on a boat.  Keep in mind nothing is free in this world, these old sea dogs will want something in return 😬😬😬. The options are endless really.  We landed, on a liveaboard sailing school.  Meaning we would live on board for 7 days while receiving structured training that would result in a few sailing certifications that could be useful moving forward.  We found said school was offered in the Sea of Cortez. That is the Gulf of California for you US based folks (it is in Mexico you know😏).  This seemed perfect as we would likely spend a couple years cutting our teeth in Mexico before retirement and really sailing off. We also thought it could provide a good "sailing" experience that we could build off.  So we signed up to attend Nautilus Sailing School in November of 2018.

So let's set the stage.  There will be four students, total strangers and an instructor, all living on a 44ft sailboat.  We had an ice breaker via email, which was a great idea.  Then in person at a restaurant in La Paz before kicking off the training.  For me, this was a serious week.  I needed to get more than my money's worth.  I had a ton of questions, but mostly Tami and I need to know if this would be a viable lifestyle, fun, fulfilling - you know all the good stuff you want for a retirement.  Can we actually become sailors???  Well this is a big question.  A term not to be taken in a trivial manner as we have learned.

So off we go and this is when the first point of confirmation landed.  We pulled out of Costa Baja Marina, yep we will come back to this place later with our own boat and motored out the channel.  Then our instructor, Mark Brown, said "put up those sails and turn that damn motor off."  Have you ever seen a bunch of 5 years old's playing soccer??? expect with the exception of Courtney, we were older people.  Thank God Kent knew what the hell he was doing, turns out Courtney did also.  As ordered, sail went up, motor went off and our love affair with sailing began.  First the beauty of silence - The sound of silence if you will.  How the hell do these sails propel this boat forward?  I was and still am simply amazed by the power of the wind captured by a well trimmed sail.  It was exactly what we need to keep this idea alive.  By evidence of how much was involved in raising the sails, it was clear that we had to learn a ton of stuff.
The first time the sails went up!

Tami behind the helm for the first time EVER!

Sheets, halyards, lines, jib, genoa, mast, boom, spar no one told me we had to learn a new language, WTF. Turns out it is vital, and you must know what this all does individually and together with other pieces.  Do you think the wind direction matters a bit??  Hey "please pull the thing" isn't helpful.  There are about a million things to pull, go on and have fun with that one for a bit 😆😆.

This could really go on and on, we learned so much,  Most importantly we need to keep learning - rapidly.  Turns out sailing a vessel, on the ocean, can be super awesome but also super dangerous.  You have to be able to operate your vessel, repair your vessel, understand weather WELL, navigate in places you have never been and hope the charts are correct and about a billion other things.  But it is possible, we don't recommend the Youtube route - sorry.

So we graduated, with our three certificates.  Full of ourselves and wondering what comes next.  Fortunately for us we met quite the character, as we went to depart La Paz named Laird.  This quick friendship would turn out to play a huge role in our cruising future, boat purchase and quite frankly just providing support and advice to topics we had no idea were even important yet.  Laird and his bride Glenda are still very close friends of ours to this very day and I have even been able to help them a time or two.  If you are planning to sell it all, buy and boat and sail into the sunset I recommend some good training, but most importantly you better have a Laird.

"I have seen many people start down the path you are on and if you remember nothing about tonight remember this - You must leave the dock!  It is terrifying at first but you must do it to be a cruiser." - Laird November 2018

PS - I still don't consider myself a sailor, but we are off to a good start.

Our first cruising friends and mentors Laird and Glenda.


Our first raft up boat party

A very focused Courtney at the helm with a good heel going on.

Saturday, May 15, 2021


OMG!  #Bees !  It is that time of the year here in the Sea of Cortez and quite possibly many places where cruisers flock to for sunshine and sandy beaches.  Here, near #loretobcs , they are looking for fresh water.  Certainly their presences, as we are trained from birth, is a nuisance and we should get ride of them.  Thankfully science has proven the our very existence depends on these little creatures - who have a dart for a butt.  So how do we deal with this on Animal Cracker?

Well first we have been fortunate to get tips from others.  One of them is this bowl full of fresh water on the bow.  Give them what they want, except place the bowl where you want them.  This works pretty well but they are still out searching for more.  Of course below deck you have sinks, showers, etc.
- all fresh water. So we found you need more.

This is where the bug screen comes in.  We can fully enclose our cockpit with bugs screens.  This helps a ton, but it comes with a cost.  I think we paid a couple boat bucks for these to be made.  Not only do they help with the bugs but the summer sun is quite intense and they provide some level of shade so we can sit outside and enjoy nature, after all that is why we are here.

Our enclosed cockpit.  Creates more living space and of course keeps the the critters out!

We have the our dodger window open for ventilation.  But we stretch a screen across it so we keep out the bugs.

The final part, is we lined all our port screen with "no see'em" screen.  This is very fine netting that stops just about everything, including the wind sometimes 👿.  So we can keep all our ports open and the air moving - mostly.  

That is the end of my little rant this morning, why you say?  Well I got stung because we were to lazy to put all the 💩 up we bought to prevent that from happening.  Have a splendid day  

Monday, May 10, 2021

We're not 55...Can we stay?

 After the shock of selling our home so quickly we had to find a place to stay.  Still no sailing experience and lots of stuff to sell.  We had become avid desert riders (Thanks to the Teason's for that) over the years, owning a CANAM X3, and we had a rather larger toy hauler that we could live in.  Lucky for us we were in Arizona, and there are tons of facilities we could choose from, or not?

Turns out many of these places are 55+ - we were/are not.  But a quick search of the fair housing laws and we found out that as long as more than 50% of occupants were 55+, they could keep their designation and we could stay.  So we found this cool place called the Arizonian.  Big lots for our  "stuff" and we could ride in the desert right from the park.  It was perfect and after closing, around June of 2018, we set up shop.  What a crazy place to live!

The management welcomed us with open arms (well some of them), full year payment up front that helps.  I figured we would stand out a bit so I asked the manager if there was a rule book, her response was classic.  "Honey you are moving into a 55+ community.  If you are doing something wrong there will twenty 80 year old people in golf carts telling you what it is - no rule book required."  Man was she right!  I had several run-ins with the local "governing seniors," but we also met some of the best people ever.

The first folks we met, in the dead of summer, was Ken and Mary.  We turned into quick friends and are still friends to this very day.  They tried vey hard to help keep us out of trouble, but sometimes it was not in the cards.  We met tons of couples, even couples near our own age. In fact, turns out we were not the youngest couple in the park.  It was an interesting time, at least until about 730PM - LOL.  Lots of great people that turned out to be supportive of our plan.  In fact, most were very adamant that we go, go now while we are still young - don't wait. Remember that Tim?  We do!!

This move set up several steps to come.  First, if we can't live in a trailer, which is likely bigger than a boat we can afford, then this will never work.  It also allowed us to to complete our downsizing and start saving money 💪.  We met lots of great people and made lots of memories we hold closely today.  It was also going to be easy to transition, because we were basically renters.  Drop the trailer off at consignment as we left town, simple.  Wrong!

PRO TIPS for 55+ (if you are not 55+):

  1. There are park politics and you are not welcome in them.  Similar to a prison, except smiling senior citizens.  Be careful, they can be dangerous.
  2. I recommend staying away from morning coffee in the "hall," lots of complaining - no action.
  3. Use all the facilities and meet all the interesting people that come from all over, even other countries.  It is so much fun.  We tried pickleball for the first time and got the 💩 kicked out of us.
  4. Ask before you do anything.  Then ask again.  Then ask other people. See manager statement above.
  5. Be prepared to drink 😈, mostly day drinking.  But fun nonetheless. 
  6. Never, ever leave anything outside your lot after dark.  It will likely get hit by these mysterious rolling UFO's called golf carts 💀
I know, what about that sailing.  It's coming up next.  Did we really start with no experience? We did indeed.  Was it super scary?  Sometimes!  Do we recommend people jumping in to this lifestyle?