Kate

Kate

professional mariner | full-time traveller | part-time blogger | amateur photographer | semi-circumnavigator | happy wife | made in South Africa

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I finally managed to get my hands on a digital copy of Sailing Magazine’s September 2017 issue! I’m especially excited about it because one of my images fronts their charters feature (left). It’s an honour to be included in such a prestigious sailing magazine, with more than 50yrs in print. This shot was taken from Ranguana Caye, Belize, while running a charter for Belize Sailing Vacations in Feb 2015. It’s of the Leopard 38 sailing catamaran we were based on for that charter, hosting an amazing couple from the US, Ken and Elizabeth, who are still friends to this day.…

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This was our first stay in Mexico together – Rufus had never been except for our bus transit through from Belize to Cuba (Dec 2014) and back but I visited areas on the Caribbean side, on a weekly basis, while I was working on cruise ships after my studies. The “surfing” village of Sayulita is on the Pacific coast in the province of Nayarit, an hr or so drive north from Puerto Vallarta. We flew in to PV from Ft Lauderdale and then took the bus from there.
Luckily for us it was off-season so it was quiet and relatively peaceful except for a few nights when the “gringos” got rowdy in a couple of the nearby bars. We spent the first 3 days exploring the town and nearby beach on foot and then we rented a car and visited a few beaches further on where Rufus could surf while I made friends with the other surfer widows, read and took photos.
There is a vibrant design and craft scene – thankfully not in the typical cheesy (and boring) touristy way though – which we thoroughly enjoyed. We got to observe some of the artisans at work, speak to a couple of the expat designers and get some insight into their collaborations with the locals and how they have integrated centuries old traditional Mexican craft with their modern design aesthetic . My two favourites were Evoke and Artefakto but there are so many more to choose from with an almost overwhelmingly huge variety of beautiful items to choose from, no matter what your budget.
Everything was within walking distance of our little “boutique hotel”, a myriad of different options for delicious food and cocktails, some live music and evening strolls through the cobblestone streets. We stayed in, what the owners describe as an “artistic apartment” in the heart of the village, 2 min walking distance from the square. The owners, Lucy and José, also own La Esperanza which is a “health food Café, Restaurant & Bar that creates and serves conscious and nutritious food for the health of their community”. It’s located directly across the street from their accommodations but unfortunately we were never able to sample their food as it was closed for the slow season. The accommodation itself was lovely and I was super snap happy with my new Fuji, as you will see below. We booked through AirBnB and you can see my review here.

a map of Sayulita painted on a wall as you enter the town by road

La Esperanza, our Sayulita AirBnB stay

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hand embroidered Otomi cushion covers from Artefakto

Rufus in his happy place

Every two months we leave the boat (we work on) securely in a marina and take a week off to travel, explore a destination on our bucket list, and use the time to rest, recharge and do the things we can’t while working/on the water.

The first week we took off was last year, in early September 2016. One of the things Rufus doesn’t get to do much while on-board is surf, as the places we go are focused on a specific kind of fishing which, up till now, has rarely coincided with decent surf breaks. I had been in contact with Petter from Sunshine Stories, picking his brain about good surf spots in Mexico. He suggested one of his and Linn’s favourite places, Sayulita. After re-reading their posts on the town and googling some additional info we booked our flights, which were conveniently super cheap and fast from our location in Ft Lauderdale, and packed our carry-ons!

Since it’s almost the same price to fly your surfboard, to and from Mexico, as it is to buy a new one, Ruf decided it best to leave his Al Merrick behind and rather rent a board from one of the many local shops at our destination. I did however pack my new Fuji XT-1 mirrorless camera which I had just received for my birthday.

I had been eyeing and throughly researching this beauty for over a year and finally saved the cash (and gathered the guts!) to splurge on the graphite silver model together with a 35mm prime lens. This was the first real opportunity I got to use my new camera and so needless to say I took a LOT of photos… Also, Sayulita is a seriously photogenic town. It felt to me as if all the locals get together on a regular basis to discuss and plan the aesthetic of the village, everything from the colour schemes of the buildings, the street signs, store fronts, street side vendor displays, right down to the type and arrangement of the potted plants and coconut palms. It’s such a beautifully curated riot of colour and design, so all of the 6 days we spent there were a visual feats for our eyes!

We visited in the off-season so rates were more reasonable and the town wasn’t jam-packed with loud and rowdy tourists. We prefer a more chilled out vibe but still appreciate a vibrant atmosphere which Sayulita produced in bucketfuls. One thing we were disappointed with though, was the condition of the town’s main beach, it was unfortunately rather dirty (we were prepared for this, having read the same in a few travels blogs beforehand) and the waves were underwhelming so we decided to do day missions down the coast to find better surf, a little further away.

Note: I’ve decided to break this up into two parts as I have so many photos and I couldn’t cut nearly enough to make one reasonable length post. So here’s part one… enjoy!

*Please ask before using any photos from this post, or anywhere else on the blog. We are happy to share but we’ve had some people poaching pics for their business websites without asking, making money off them. Be cool. Thanks!*



 

It’s been over a year since my last post… We have been fully focused on our work, running a private yacht, covering more than 5,000nm around the Caribbean Sea. Our semi-circular route began in the east Florida coast of the USA, heading east to the Bahamas, then southwards down the Eastern Caribbean Island chain and finally crossing west to Central America, ending in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

It has been a phenomenal year in so many ways: The rare opportunity to set up a brand new private yacht from scratch, a beautiful blank canvass with almost total freedom to kit it out with all the necessary gear and design the interior. The running of the vessel to super yacht standards while travelling extensively in pursuit of the elusive “Permit” fish. Most valuably though, developing relationships with very special people we can now call friends for life.

One of the many things Rufus and I have in common is our strong work ethic, and while that has always benefitted us professionally, it has not always been the best for us personally. We are passionate about what we do, we believe in excellence in all things, but sometimes it becomes hard to distinguish between the professional and the personal areas of our lives when we become so invested in our work. It has been an especially difficult lesson to learn to distinguish between work and personal life, switching off at the end of the day despite our home also being our work place.

For that reason 99.9% of my time, effort and energy has been focused on the job over the last year. Thankfully there is something else we (hope) we are good at and that is learning from every stage in our lives, both good and bad.

This year will ideally be different: no less commitment to our work, but a much smarter and more balanced approach to every aspect of our lives, especially the personal side, relationships and physical health. Here’s to a happy year filled with many more rewarding challenges and experiences, starting with one of our favourite places so far, Bocas!

Red Frog Nature Preserve, home to sloths!

our view over the marina

walking through the preserve to the beach

Red Frog Beach

Rufus chatting away to a fellow South African cruiser, also living in the marina on his boat

our favourite local beer, appropriately named Panamá

Palmar Beach Bar

 

waiting for our water taxi in Bocas Town, on Isla Colón

the water taxi seats are all hand painted with different designs, according to their chosen theme

La Buga, in Bocas Town, right next to the water taxi station – our favourite spot for a smoothie with a view over the water

waiting out some weather in the shelter of the mangroves

Rufus caught in one of the typical downpours at this time of year, rainy season

girls dont get special treatment onboard – pumping up my SUP is more work than the actual SUPPING!

enjoying the fruit of my labour…

 

a Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor resting on the starboard side hydraulic arm, used to lift and lower the aft platform

our Brazilian friend Jerson, whom we met in Trinidad three years ago while cruising on our own boat

sunset view from our cabin, in the marina

Our new job, setting up a new boat, means that we are bound to the marina here in Fort Lauderdale, while the works are being completed and until hurricane season is over…

As a result, the only thing I have to document is a construction site of a catamaran. So, instead, I have been going through my archives and catching up on events that haven’t yet been included on the blog. This particular one is special because it involves some of our closest friends back home, in South Africa…

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In my last post I briefly mentioned how we got the opportunity to travel to South Korea for 10 days with Kia Motors last year. In this post I have included another one of the marketing videos (the more adventurous of the 3, with surfing and zip-lining etc) and some behind the scenes photos showing what it was like in front of camera and our experience of the amazing country.

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Facebook has been popping “memories” into my feed from a year ago. All the memories have been from our trip to South Korea last year, courtesy of Kia Motors!

We were on charter in Belize last June and we got a message from one of Rufus’ friends, Faan, asking if we would be interested in being part of a series of online ads for the “all new 2016 Kia Rio“. Of course we said YES (!!!) and soon we were being whisked off to Jeju Island for 10 days of exciting activities.

I will include some behind the scenes photos and more info on our amazing experience in my next post, but for now here’s one of the ads produced from the trip. Let us know what you think??!

 

For the better part of this year so far the plan has been to complete our circumnavigation in 2016, by crossing both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Pacific crossing was a peaceful time of reflection with little distraction – 5 weeks of thinking, dreaming and talking at length about what we want out of life, both together and individually, as well as our immediate and long term plans.

One afternoon in the cockpit, during one of these discussions, I asked Rufus “What would you do if, when we arrive in Marquises, we get an email with our dream job offer? Would you take it?” His immediate response was “No. We are committed to completing this circumnavigation this year. Absolutely not.” I then replied “Good, because that was a test and you passed with flying colours!”

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A few days after we arrived in Marquises, our friends Natali and João joined us after making the same passage from Panama on their boat Babilé. They chose a route more north of ours, above Galapagos, and unfortunately had an entirely different experience from us – multiple squalls, auto pilot broke, main sail ripped and the list goes on.

We were so excited to see them in our anchorage and they were obviously extremely relieved to have arrived safely and finally get a chance to properly rest at anchor after thousands of miles hand helming in bad weather.

Once they had caught their breath and rested up, the four of us rented a car and spent a day driving around the island and hiking the hills and beaches. The rental was $100 p/day and a must do to properly see the island!

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FIVE WEEKS AT SEA. More than a month – 33.5 days to be precise – without contact to the outside world, other than our satellite phone and very limited credit to send one sms every few days with our position, to my dad who plotted our progress on google earth (Thank you Daddy!).

On September 21st, 2012, Rufus and I set sail with Melody across our first ocean together – 4 weeks across the Atlantic from South Africa to Brazil, with a half way stop at St Helena Island. Exactly 3 years and 7 months later we left Panama on April 21st this year, for what is most likely the longest passage we have and will ever do.

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And we are off! If you are reading this Rufus and I are sailing our way to Marquesas across the Pacific. The journey should take between 4-6 weeks…

See you on the other side!