Lively discussions animated our three-day sail from the USA down to Mexico. Once again, we experienced symptoms of stress, just as every time we are entering a new country. According to my research on Noonsite, some ports of entry might require a zarpe from the last country visited, a very close follow-up on our journey, many copies of our travel documents, a specific boat insurance… In short, I have been working on this since Alaska. However, I wasn’t able to get a zarpe when leaving the United States, so I’m a little worried… In fact, we might have been able to get one if we had stopped in San Diego, but it would have been a complicated detour. Plus, we prefer to avoid big crowded cities. It’s not easy for us to deal with the kids in such places.

—After all, stopping in Mexico might not be worth it, suggested the captain. The entry paperwork seems so complicated… I feel like returning to French Polynesia instead.

—As you wish, I told Marcus. But we haven’t got the anti-rabies test required for Brume to be allowed on land.

—Neither did we have it last time we went, replied Marcus.

That’s right… Before sailing up to the Marquise Island in 2019, I had visited a vet in Castro, on Isla Chiloé in Chili. He wasn’t able to do the required test, saying the only place that it could be done was in Santiago. Forget it! In the end, it’s only once we got in Tahiti that we finally found a vet that could come onboard to perform the needed blood test. Since the results came in only a month later, while we had already left the Society Islands, our dog Brume never had the landing permit in French Polynesia. We even were asked to let her on a friends’ boat while Pinocchio was hauled out at Raiatea’s boatyard. Oh! Speaking of the boatyard…

—What about the bottom job, Marcus? I thought you wanted to haul out in Mexico… The climate there is dryer than in Raiatea, and the price is lower, I added. Plus, there’s no guarantee we will find someone for pet-sitting Brume this time.

—What? We’re not stopping in Mexico, said Thomas, visibly upset. It’s such a well-known spot for great kitesurfing…

—Oh right! You’re changing your plans again, said Charlotte in panic. The one time I was extremely happy to go somewhere. Hey! We were supposed to see the Bleu Nomade, come on!

—How long would be the sea passage, worried Felix, who’s afraid to be sea sick again?

—Well, then, we should probably go straight to La Paz anchorage, suggests Marcus. At least we wouldn’t have to pay for the marina. Its $140 CAN per day in Ensenada.

—But we’d miss all the best diving spots I had planned to explore in the peninsula of Mexico, mumbled Raphaël in the corner of his room.

—Hmm… I’m unsure for La Paz, I replied hesitantly. According to Noonsite, Ensenada is known for being well organized for quick and simplified entry paperwork. We could stay only one night, and leave the next day. I wrote to Antonio. He said he received all our documents and everything is fine. If we arrive before noon, all the paperwork will be done the same day. Don’t worry too much, I’ve been working on this for months!

—Ok, good then. I trust you, Johanne. But I let you deal with that. You know how I feel when things are too complicated…!

—Mom… Mom … asked Alice softly. Are we ever going to see our friends from the SV Renard again?


There you go! Even the youngest get involved in the discussion now! We finally arrived in Ensenada, exactly at the same time as the SV Renard! We slowly entered the port, surrounded by huge ships. Marcus drove slowly inside the marina. Oh dear! We hate it each time. Yet, we always have a great time with the other sailors who all have their own interesting stories. I call Antonio on the VHF to let him know we are arriving. We search for the space E-30. Someone was there waving for us to follow him. Marcus made a last tight turn, the boys threw the lines. Everything went well… Yet, oh no! We hit the dock’s corner once again. More chipped paint on Pinocchio. A bottom job will be more than needed!

As planned, we were quickly admitted in the marina office. Antonio filled out the forms, make copies of our passports and print out loads of documents. We are then invited to follow an agent in his vehicle to reach the customs and immigration office in town. Good thing he was there, he was a great interpreter! I didn’t practise my Spanish quite enough! Turns out all the paperwork was done in the same building, even the temporary importation permit for the boat. They even accepted payments by debit card. It was simple and relatively quick. Plus, no one asked for a zarpe from the United States. Good thing!

We were back to the boat for lunch around 1 p.m. Now that the stress was over, we could benefit from the time we had left to go take a warm shower and chat with our neighbours. We even went for a little walk in town together to fill up our backpacks at the groceries. Marcus was hypnotized in front of the hot sauce aisle! There were so many kinds, he couldn’t stop himself from filling up the bottom of the shopping cart with about twenty bottles. For my part, I was disappointed to see no whole wheat flour to make my bread and cakes. I only found white flour and a dozen varieties of corn flour. Oh well, we’ll have to go with that. Too bad for the glycemic index! After all, we are in Mexico, the country of corn tortillas! I still hope I’ll find some elsewhere…

I am glad to benefit from the marina’s internet access to search for a boatyard for hauling out. However, I discovered all the boatyards I checked where full until February or March… I sent a few more requests in the North of the Sea of Cortez. We never know. Also, since we were planning to stop in La Paz, I found a vet, a dentist, an optometrist, a medical clinic… Perfect! I will be able to have everything done in the same stop!

The next day, we dropped the mooring lines and got set for a three-day sail off the wind. It’s fairly relaxing. We first had the visit from a little brown bird which stayed with us all day. Juliette and Alice spent hours spoiling him with sunflower seeds and where sad when he left at the end of the day. Then, thousands of dolphins came jumping around Pinocchio. Brume was breathless with excitement!


The captain too! He caught a tuna with both of his fishing lines, and even a third one when we put one of the lines in the water for a quick rinse while winding it in. Three tunas in less than an hour! Luckily, I had help in the kitchen! Alice, Raphaël and Thomas took care of the filleting, while Juliette, Florence and Felix helped me preparing the breading to fry the first tuna. We then made soup with the second one and boiled the third one to make a few meals for Brume, who couldn’t wait to have a bite!

—Oh dear! You’re drooling everywhere. Calm down my dog!

(Here is the link for the Fishing Permit in Mexico)

Bahia Tortugas
Every morning in Bahia Tortugas, the bay was animated with many fishermen waving “good morning” as they passed by Pinocchio with their launch, followed by thousands of pelicans. Marcus and I went wandering around in town.

As we approached the shoreline with the dinghy, I noticed an amputated man waving with his one arm. He started making sings so we’d beware of the reef. We followed his directions and thanked him once we were close enough. As we pull on the dinghy to haul it out of the water on the beach, the man grabbed it with his one arm to help us. Then, he asked what we wanted to do in town and said he will watch our dinghy during our absence. He wore a stained tank top, had sunburned lips and spoke Spanish with a few English words. We said goodbye and went for a walk. The streets were dirty and dusty, the buildings were in a pitiful condition and some areas were completely in ruins. A state of extreme poverty and misery.

As we approached the church, we noticed the houses were much better maintained and freshly painted. A lady came to us and explained that she was getting ready for the arrival of the annual Baha Haha Rally. In two days, she would be opening her doors to navigators passing by and offering them a meal in her house. It would become like a restaurant during this large event that would be gathering more than 300 boats in this bay. Oh dear! We’d better get out of here! The bay was wide, but still, it would feel crowded! We enjoyed good company, but we didn’t like having other boats anchored very close to ours. Then one of them might drift away and there’s always risk of collision. Also, it felt more stressful to sail at night knowing that there are hundreds of other boats in the area. In short, we didn’t feel like being in the midst of such a boat event!

We therefore went back to the beach where the improvised “dinghy keeper” was waiting for us. He invited us to try his friend’s restaurant right there near the beach.

—Good food. Free internet, he insisted.

We never eat in restaurants. It’s way beyond our finances. Yet, I do need internet, so we accept to go for a cold drink. I must check my email to organize my appointments in La Paz and see if we got a spot available in a boatyard somewhere. The restaurant’s door is, however, locked. The man came by and knocked at the neighbour’s door. A lady opened. They exchanged a few words and then explained that the cook was gone fishing. But he would apparently be back soon.

—Un momento! Un momento!

Fifteen minutes had passed. Yet we still hadn’t seen any sign of a fisherman around. The kids were waiting on the boat, so we gave up and returned to the beach to recuperate our dinghy.

—Un momento! Un momento! repeated the dinghy keeper…

—La maniana! La maniana! I told him, so he’d understand we’d come back the next morning.

—Oh! Ok. Tipo! Tipo! He replied.

Of course, he expected a tip for his service as a dinghy keeper and tourist guide. This little tour will have cost us a hundred pesos! With all those boats coming with the rally, he sure found a great way to line his pockets!

The next morning, our friends from the sailing vessel Renard arrived in the bay! The kids were excited! Thomas had organized a big October 31 Party with games, activities, candies and surprises. The two girls from Renard were invited to celebrate on Pinocchio. Marcus installed the Tarzan rope, Charlotte made denture shaped cookies, Thomas made chocolate bats, Juliette prepared a fruit cocktail. Everything was great, except for my pumpkin soup. It’s the first time I make it with canned pumpkin. It tasted metal… And my bread didn’t rise…

The next morning, a few boats from the Baha Haha started to arrive. It was time to go. This time, we set sails for a 6-day passage towards the sea of Cortez with a possible stop in the well-known Bahia Magdalena. We aren’t sure yet, though. According to the weather forecast, we would be stuck there during a week without wind. The bay’s water is cold, so no swimming. Plus no internet access… So, that means unhappy kids. And we don’t feel like using the engine if we can do the same distance with sails up. Therefore, we decided to keep going down the coast while the wind was still blowing. Renard did the same.

When we arrived completely south of the Baha California Peninsula, we passed in front of Cabo San Lucas by night. We could hear the loud night house music and see the intense city lights from 2 to 3 nautical miles distance. The anchorage is known for being very crowded. I am glad the captain decided not to stop there. While we pass in front of the city, we were able to have internet access with Thomas AT&T data plan! I therefore tried to publish a blog post, but the site broke because of an automatic update that occurred before I realized I first had to do an important plugin update. I ended up spending all night trying to find a way to fix this major failure. I finally succeeded in the early morning, but then internet cut off… We were then too far from the city. Too bad for my blog post. It will have to wait at the next city…

We finally entered the Sea of Cortez! It is now time to go back north on the east shore of the peninsula. The problem is that the wind almost always comes from the North! Luckily for us, the wind dropped just as predicted. We were therefore able to engine upwind against a light breeze. Still, the waves remained restless and choppy, making the progression difficult. Pinocchio could barely reach three knots.

Los Frailes

We therefore stopped in the first bay of Los Frailes, where a small camping ground is located in a dried river bank. It really was a wonderful place! First, the water was so clear we could see our anchor in the bottom! It was the first time we did since we had left the tropics in 2021. Also, the weather was beautiful and hot.


In the morning, we went for a hike on land. It was very complicated to find the path amongst the cactus and thorny plants. Marcus tried on one side, Thomas on the other side… Turned out being Raphaël and Juliette who found it with their keen eyes. The ascension was steep. The sun was beating down. There was no shadow anywhere. It’s been quite a while since we’d been so hot. I started feeling dizzy. Despite my numerous pauses, I couldn’t follow any longer.

I turned back towards the beach with Alice and Juliette. We jumped into the water to cool down. It was a pure moment of bliss. Its temperature was just perfect! We were so glad to have finally found water warm enough for swimming happily! While the girls had fun playing in the waves, I went in slightly deeper water to do some aqua fitness. I really missed being able to exercise that way in the water. As I coordinated movements of the limbs following a rhythmical sequence, I kept remembering all those years when I was teaching this sport at the local swimming pool and all the wonderful people I met. Found memories… This is a perfect sport for people who live on a boat like me. All those times I exercised while watching the kids playing in the water during a short school break, or while chatting with friends in the water near the beach still watching the kids playing around! It’s really convenient. But not when the water is cold like during the last year in Canada and Alaska! No thanks!

After an hour, the whole family was back from the hike. Everybody was excited about their discoveries! Raphaël showed me his pictures of the stick insects they had seen! How spectacular! Too bad I missed that! Everyone was exhausted, sweating and red like a tomato, still very happy to be back in the tropics!

Los Muertos

We then made a short stop at Los Muertos were a luxurious villa and a splendid restaurant have been built. The boat launch ramp was busy all day and fishing boats full of tourists crossed the bay constantly. Marcus drove Raphaël to the rocky pointe so he could do some free diving. But he was worried about all this boat traffic. He doesn’t have his diving buoy anymore. It has split open in the sun.

—Please come back to pick me up in two hours, said Raphael to his father. I won’t come back swimming, there’s too much boat traffic here.

—You really should buy yourself a new diving buoy, replied Marcus. It would be much easier for boat drivers to see where you are and safer for you.

I felt like going for a long swim too, but the same thing happened to my torpedo buoy and water kept penetrating in it. It died after 6 years in the sun. Still, I was very glad to finally be able to wash myself on deck and dive in to rinse off the soap without freezing for hours.

As soon as Raphaël came back, Marcus went on land for a walk with Brume and 6 of the kids. Thomas and I remained on the boat. I had work to do and Thomas wanted to play guitar and to do a workout on the deck. It’s rarely quiet onboard. It’s a challenge at times to live the 9 of us on the boat. We sometimes give each other some respite like this, which feels nice.

Isla del Espiritus Santo

Finally, we continued our way north, stopping at Isla del Espiritus Santo. A stronger wind from the north-west was announced, so we found shelter in Bahia Bonanza where is located a beautiful long sand beach… Raphaël went for a dive, but brought the dingy with him this time.

La Paz

The following day, we sailed towards La Paz. When we passed by San Lorenzo, Marcus decided to stop by in order to fill up on fuel. We were greeted in a very professional way. Skilled workers moored the boat and surrounded it with a special device that was meant to absorb the diesel in case of an accidental spill. They then brought the diesel pipe directly to the boat. Some other American sailors passed by the boat and were so thrilled to see all our kids that they gave them a giant chocolate bar! We later discovered we could have paid much less directly in La Paz. What’s more, the fuel dock charged us for the service which we didn’t really need. Plus, we paid for 250 litres of fuel, but in the end, there were 15–20 litres missing in our jerrycans. Anyhow, we left without making a big deal out of it, as usual. But we certainly will never go back there.

So there we were, anchored in front of La Paz. Marcus and I visited the marina office to declare our arrival, but we were told to simply do in on the VHF by calling the Capitania del Puerto on channel 16. Same thing for the departure. Well! It’s much simpler than I thought, once again! We therefore returned to the boat and lent the dingy to our three teens that wanted to go shopping. Charlotte found a t-shirt and Raphaël bought a new diving buoy! The internet connection was working well, so I checked my emails to confirm Brume’s appointment at the vet and all that. To my surprise, I had received a booking confirmation for hauling out Pinocchio in San Carlos on November 25! That gave us a short timing to get there. And the winds would be against us the whole way, which promised to make it longer and to require numerous stops… I therefore cancelled all my appointments.

Out we go again! Pinocchio heads off to San Carlos!

Go! Go! Go!

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About the Author

Je suis traductrice et je navigue autour du monde avec mon mari Marcus, nos 7 enfants et notre chienne Brume sur notre voilier Pinocchio à la découverte des océans, des îles, des gens, de la flore, de la faune, des insectes, des poissons, de la culture, de la musique, des arts, de l’histoire et des saveurs d'ailleurs...
I am a translator and I travel around the world with my husband Marcus, our 7 children and dog Brume on our sailboat Pinocchio to discover the oceans, islands, people, flora, fauna, insects, fish, culture, music, art, history and flavors of faraway...

  • Bonjour, quelle belle aventure! Je suis impressionnée et admirative face à votre courage de poursuivre sur votre lancée avec ce projet aventurier accompagné de 7 enfants. Bravo, lire votre récit c’est un bonheur pour moi, en quelque part je vous envie, vous êtes allés au bout de vos rêves. Vos enfants ont beaucoup de chance d’avoir des parents comme vous, encore une fois bravo et bon vent!

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