11/25 – 12/12/20 Newport Beach to La Paz, BC

After too many farewell dinners and false starts we slipped quietly out of Alamitos Bay Marina at 0430 Hours to begin our journey south.

First stop, San Diego, rising before dawn and setting a course for Ensenada, Mexico.

BIENVENIDOS A MEXICO! Arrived at Marina Coral in Ensenada, checked into Mexico at the local customs and immigration office then enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner of local specialties and “skinny” margaritas: 38 USD.

After clearing customs, and a good night’s sleep….our journey into Mexico begins
Anchored 1/2 mile off the broad headland at Colonet with no other boats in sight enjoying the sunset and solitude.

Anchor weighed. On a mission. Continuing south with the cutest V.I.P. escorts ever! ( click the video below)

With our usual early departure and ready for an overnight trip, from Colonet we set sail to San Quintin ( pronounced “San Keen Teen”). From San Quintin we headed for Turtle Bay but passed it up the next morning deciding to continue on to Asuncion. We anchored before sunset off the village noticing there was something wrong with our prop when in reverse. Next morning the captain donned a wet suit and dove in to find a yellow nylon line tangled in our prop. Someone’s fish trap now floating free!

From Asuncion we set a course for an overnight passage to Santa Maria Cove outside Magdallena Bay. En route, we had decided to bypass Saint Ignacio Lagoon famous for being a nursery for migrating Gray Whales regrettably thinking we were just too early to see them. And voila! Within minutes of deciding to continue south and while crossing the Bahia de Ballenas (Bay of Whales), we were treated to a most spectacular private show by two enormous and seemingly very communicative humpbacks that lasted over an hour! A day to remember forever!

Fin slapping spy hopping incredible creatures!
THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! We saw lots of breaches but only managed to film a few.
The whales did not appear shy, did not veer away from us or appear bothered that we were so close. Rather, it seemed honestly like they wanted to talk to us with their slapping, breaching, and blowing. It was magical!
After sailing all night, we arrived at Cabo San Lucas. Here, a view from the water, shows the famous rock arch pictured in every local postcard, at the far right of the photo. What we chose NOT to document was how built up and dense the area is now….condo after condo after hotel after hotel. It has been years since we had been here. Katie spent her 40th birthday here ( ah hum) some years ago. A little bit sad to see what looks more like Miami Beach than the quaint village we hold in our memories. We pass on to spend the next couple days in the still somewhat quaint “San Jose del Cabo” to re-provision and get a good night’s rest.

Without fail, every night and every morning nature mixes up her paint palette and delivers a new delight for her audience. We are humbled…………

A beautiful day at Ensenada de los Muertos bay. In the dinghy and headed to the coral reef for our first snorkeling adventure! Water sparkling clear and warm, sun is hot, life is good! On shore is an open air restaurant and “Beach Club 1535” where we relaxed post swim with a local cocktail and lunch!

Behind the wheel once again, Jeff proceeds to navigate Samsara to beautiful La Paz, the capital of Baja.

An evening walk to dinner along the “malecort” that perimeters the bay at La Paz. Nearly everyone here wears a mask as protection against the virus and one’s temperature is taken upon entry of any store, restaurant or marina.

Following a long walk through the historic district of La Paz, a perfect dinner at the beautiful outdoor restaurant, NIM, where the food and the service were unparalleled. Shrimp ceviche with olives, capers and tomatoes (amazing), mushroom strudel wrapped in phylo, fresh grilled yellow tail, rich local mole with roasted chicken, rice and local veggies, crispy romaine salad with toasted pistachios and goat cheese, and, of course, flan. Margaritas, beer and California Pinot! Thank goodness we had a trek back to Samsara!

9/8 – 9/19/20 San Juan Islands to Newport Beach

After several weeks in the beautiful San Juan Islands, we concluded that we had successfully accomplished the first part of our shake down cruise and were eager to head home to plan the next leg of our adventure on the high seas : Newport to Mexico! With plenty of great memories in our hearts, we set sail on Tuesday afternoon, 9/8/20, out of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and into the Pacific graced by a stunning sunset. Expected ETA: 11 days.

More than few nights, Max would join me on my watch or vice versa for a few minutes before heading off to sleep. This was a particularly cold and bleak night with little visibility! Here’s Max tethered in to avoid an overboard accident keeping Samsara on course!

We motored through the smoke and fog for 4 days to Humbolt. The second day out we caught a King Salmon that made for some haute cuisine “good eats”!

Late one chilly night we discovered a small stow-away on board! This little fella decided to hitch a ride for over a day on the back of the boat. He seemed to feel quite at home and indulged in our galley crumbs with no fear. Several times he would take flight over the ocean, circle the boat and then light right back near his food plate. He started to take the term “poop deck” rather seriously so Max made sure he knew he had worn out his welcome.

Off Monterey Bay, we sailed through a virtual sea of mesmerizing jellies! Hundreds of them…


A few moments of peace and quiet: Max, out cold after a long night’s watch duty, Finally a clear day with blue seas, and a contemplative captain taking a moment to exhale and take it all in.

The first of many of Katie’s drawings!

Nearly home and we hit a bit of a rough patch accompanied by 30 knot winds!

8/20 – 9/7/20 San Juan Islands

We left Port Townsend and sailed north to the San Juan Islands

First Anchorage: Watmough Bay
What an idyllic landing spot! Our first night in the islands we anchored at beautiful Watmough Bay. We cleaned the boat, inflated the kayak, paddled around the bay, took a big breath, and prepared to sail to Friday Harbor the next day to pick up our daughter Hannah and son in law, Matt!

It felt amazing to arrive at our first anchorage, catch up on some sleep, and explore this beautiful place by kayak and on foot!

Hannah and Matt flying in the time of Covid from Orange County, CA to Seattle, WA, then on a float plane to Friday Harbor.

With Hannah & Matt aboard we sailed to Indian Cove on Shaw Island. We took a walk on shore before a brief rest looking out on Reef Net Bay.

Monday, 8/24/20, we headed to Stuart Island and took a hike through a primordial forest lush with green ferns.

Hiking in the lush forest of the Pacific Northwest!

Our skilled crew made the most of the bountiful waters! Thanks to these landlubbers disguised as expert fisher people, we ate like kings! That’s Hannah with a nice sized Ling Cod ( think fish curry with rice and veggies), Max and Matt with the local crab ( think fresh crab cakes and hot parmesan crab dip), and Matt and Max with another beautiful Ling Cod ( think baked cod with garlic and miso)

Next, we sailed east from Stuart island to Sucia Island anchoring in Echo Bay and explored on shore, tried our hand at fishing from the dinghy and fostered our culinary love affair with local crab!

If we lasted that long, nightly activities included competitive card games that went late into the night….fueled by a few beers and a bottle or two of wine!

Finding ways to stay fit on board… the Captain is workin’ it!

Heading from Orcas Island back to Friday Harbor we encountered dense fog, a common occurrence throughout our trip
Max demonstrates a new way to steer the tender.

Friday, 8/28/20, we picked up new crew; niece Cassidy and Eric Shaefer flew in on a sea plane after a long journey from Washington, DC. We were delighted to welcome them aboard!

Uncommonly fit, we felt obligated to provide exercise that equalled Cassidy and Eric’s boundless energy level. Hiking the local forests to panoramic look out points was a favorite activity.

Hiked out to the Turn Point Light Station.

Another Ling Cod! Katie made curry and rice. Yum!

Sunday, 8/9/20 we sailed south to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island to have lunch then continued south to Garrison Bay where we caught more crabs for a luscious crab dip with homemade sour dough toast.

Next day we sailed back to Watmough Bay where Cassidy and Eric enjoyed their daily plunge. Water temp about 48ºF.

We hiked around the bay and enjoyed having on feet on solid ground and the spectacular views.

We climbed Mt. Constitution from Rosario Bay. A tough 13 mile round trip but the views at the top made it all worthwhile.

Back at Friday Harbor with views of Mt. Baker and the ferry. Enjoyed a fantastic good bye dinner with our DC Crew at a local restaurant….. one of the best of our trip.

In an attempt to fix what we thought was perhaps a clogged head through-hull Max bravely suited up and got wet (and cold). In the end it was a broken valve that required professional help.

Katie, Max and I sailed East to Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island to hike, fish and do some more relaxing.

Since we’d not seen Orcas our whole trip on our last day we booked passage on a Jet Boat and chased a pod that was near the Canadian border. We saw quite a few and they came close to our boat but we only got a few good pictures.

On what we decided would be our last morning, we rented bikes and road south on San Juan Island. We were back on the boat by noon and under way by 1300 sailing for Port Angeles to spend the night and prepare for our journey south to Newport Beach.

8/8 – 8/19/20 Newport Beach to Puget Sound

Authored by Jeff

Katie, Max (our son and first mate) and I made our 0400 wake up and untied the lines just before 0430 on Saturday morning, August 8, 2020. Quiet, calm and a little eerie leaving the marina and entering the big ocean. Navigated through the large commercial ships anchored outside the breakwater and watched an enormous container ship exit San Pedro and cross just behind us. Katie went back to their bunks and I made a cup of java. So excited! I can’t believe this is happening…

Our first night out we anchored in Becher Bay on the east side of Santa Rosa Island. We rose at 0300 Sunday to make way to Morro Bay. It was cold.

The ocean was calm and the sea life abundant. We relaxed and took it all in. Our life was about to change….

We saw more wildlife off Point Conception than any other place on our voyage including whales, seals, dolphins and birds. Next stop: Morro Bay and a visit and dinner with one of my childhood friends, Tom Bernardy.

Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, South of Monterey, where we witnessed our daughter Hannah get engaged in 2016!

A wondrous sensation to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge!

We arrived in San Francisco the afternoon of August 11 and anchored off Sausalito.  Next day was my birthday! We rose to a beautiful sunrise over the city, cleaned the boat and went ashore for breakfast and groceries.  In the evening we celebrated together with Max’s college friend and his wife at Bar Bocce.  Very fun!   Rose early to top off our fuel tanks and leave at high tide.

Leaving the Bay Area and heading north to the San Juan Islands.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee… a lot of excitement when Max caught a 25 lb Ahi tuna the second day out.  Katie made a delicious dinner and we had filet to spare in the freezer!

BIG milestone: rounding Cape Flattery and entering the Straits of Juan de Fuca, between the Washington and Victoria, Canada, the gateway to the San Juan Islands.

A day after entering the Straits and after 6 days at sea, we anchored off Port Townsend, WA. Took the tender in to explore the quaint, historic town, did laundry and had a fine dinner.