Sunday, January 6, 2013

Family for Christmas!

The Entire Clan!
About a year ago, a little after we announced that we would be wintering over in the Sea of Cortez, my folks announced a big surprise for the Seattle family members.  They had decided to charter a couple boats and would bring the entire family (9 adults and 9 kids!) down to spend the week of Christmas cruising with us out of La Paz!  There would be a big power catamaran (which would sleep 12), one other rented sailboat and Bella Vita.  Between the 3 boats, we would be able to fit the whole family for a week of fun together over the holidays.

The Charter Boats
One of the best things about this plan was that I didn’t have to say a long-term goodbye to my Seattle family, knowing I would see them just a few months after our departure.  The group included; my Mom (Judy) and step-dad Lloyd; my brother Greg, his wife Suzanne and their 3 kids (Gabrielle, Delaney and Gwyn); my step-brother Dan, his wife Robyn and their 5 kids (Isaak, Austin, Kyndal, Andrew and Lexi); my step-sister Alisa, her husband Scott and their son Lucas; and last but not least, my sudo-sister Cheryl.  

The Captains at the Moorings Briefing
The first to arrive were my folks, just a couple of days ahead so that they could do the final provisioning prior to the arrival of everyone else.  With my Mom’s list in hand, I had checked out the area markets to make sure we’d be able to source all of the food that she had in mind to feed everyone over the week they would spend here.  I’m not sure it anyone can really understand the HUGE amount of ingenuity it takes to plan meals for an entire week for 20 people – but if anyone can do it, it’s my Mom.  She is amazing when it comes to this sort of thing. 

The Hoardes on the Move
After their arrival (in a car loaded to the roof after a Costco run in Cabo), we sourced the rest of the food and beverages and got most of it sorted out just before the rest of the crew arrived, 24 hours later.  The bus arrived with the remaining 16 at about 7:30pm – eager to get off the bus and head out on our boats!  We had a nice dinner at a local restaurant, and then it was off to each boat to get things sorted out so we could leave as soon after the morning briefing from the Moorings charter company.

Mid-day on the 23rd, all 20 of us headed out to spend the night in a nearby anchorage called Puerto Ballandra.  If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ll know we spent two wonderful nights there before reaching La Paz.  The sun was out and the winds were fairly light, so after getting all three boats safely anchored a large contingent departed for the beach while others took out the kayaks and paddle boards my folks had smartly brought along.   

To The Beach!!!
Unfortunately, even though the winds were light that night there was a southwest swell that had all of our boats, but especially the sailboats, acting like bobbing corks in a bathtub.  It was NOT a good night and I felt terrible that this would be everyone’s experience on our first evening out.  A couple of the kids, and several adults ended up jumping ship to sleep on the power cat as it was much calmer. 

Thankfully, dawn finally came and we were able to depart for smoother waters in the more protected bays on Isla Espíritu Santo.  We happily stopped for lunch in Bahia San Gabriel – a huge bay with a gorgeous white sandy beach.  Everyone quickly forgot the terrible night as they swam and snorkeled and played in the water.  What a relief!  Since we were not sure how protected this spot would be, we left around 2pm and traveled up to Caleta Partida – a nice protected anchorage where we would spend the next two days.  On Christmas Eve the kids did some Christmas caroling in the dinghy and we had a great meal of shrimp tacos – perfect for a Mexican Christmas!
Christmas Eve Dinner
Wanting a better beach with a lower population of Boxfish (not a good fish to step on!), we moved on to Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida.  This is the wonderful spot near Los Islotes, where you can swim with the sea lions – a must do when you are cruising in this area.  We anchored all three boats in the center finger of Ensenada Grande – which has a pristine white beach that is perfect for the entire family to enjoy.  We ended up staying at this anchorage for the remainder of the trip as it was an excellent spot for kayaking, paddle-boarding, swimming, snorkeling and beach lounging.   

The Kids - Movie Night!
I’m sad to report that we completely missed out on the sea lions as every time we tried to go, the waves were too big and the snorkeling would have been tough.  On one attempt the power cat rounded the point and was immediately bashing into very short 6 foot seas.  We quickly turned back before all of the kayaks and paddle boards when sailing overboard in the wind.  Yikes!  What a shame as Brett and I had gone there just a few weeks prior and had a GREAT experience that we had really hoped the rest of the family could enjoy.  But as we’ve learned over our time in this area – the weather rarely cooperates with what you want to do!

Three Generations of Wiebes - Lloyd, Dan & Kyndal
The amount of “Northers” blowing through was surprising and seemed to never end, but thankfully we were very protected in our anchorage.  The only issue was one night when a “Coromuel” came out of nowhere (which is what they do).  These are basically a strong south wind that comes up in the evening and blows throughout the night.  They are not fun as all of the local anchorages are completely exposed to wind from the south – so basically you just have to hope your anchor is set very well and ride it out as there is nowhere else to go.  Thankfully they only last for about 12 to 18 hours and this one was mild.  Soon the sun was back out and everyone was playing again.

"Children of Dan" Snorkeling Expedition
While it was slightly overwhelming at times to be with so many people after spending so much time alone the past few months, I wouldn’t have given up even a minute of the time spent with these people I love so dearly.  Some of my favorite moments included paddle boarding with each of my nieces, making dinner with my sister-in-law Robyn on Fajita night, drinks in the cockpit with various visitors, multiple games of “will the wind take it”, watching my brother-in-law Scott try to paddle board (even after falling in more times than I can count – you are a trooper Scott!), watching the sun come up with my niece Gwyn after our first rough night at anchor, watersports with my niece Kyndal (who loves to get you to fall in the water!), trying to kayak with FOUR people in one kayak (didn’t get very far but had some fun trying!), watching beautiful sunsets with my family and drinking some of the best fresh margaritas I’ve ever had – made by my sister-in-law Suzanne – you are an artist girl!  We also loved having Cheryl, Gwyn (at least for a while) and Kyndal (a natural born sailor!) on board – go team Bella Vita!!!

Suzanne - the Master Margarita Maker
Our family is incredibly blessed to have such a wide variety of people with different beliefs, but who are still able to come together in a very small space and not only get along – but really have FUN together.  We work well together, make each other laugh and can even talk about real stuff that matters – without getting upset or creating the bad feelings and fights that seem to plague many of the blended families I know.  I love the fact that even though we may have completely different beliefs, they are willing to listen and debate in an open matter and not judge me for my own views when they are different from theirs.

I remember years ago when I was a teenager a friend asked me if I wished that my parents had stayed together.  Even then I knew how special the people my parents had married were – and how lucky I was to have them, along with the extra family they brought into my life.  Brothers, sisters and in-laws I never would have met otherwise – who have all become cherished friends that I already deeply miss.  But that is a part of this new cruising life and so we move onward, enjoying the time that we CAN spend together and cherishing the fact that we are so lucky to have such great people in our lives.  You guys are THE BEST and I’m so glad we got to spend this time together! 
Saying Goodbye is Tough - We'll Miss You!

1 comment:

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