Plans are a funny thing when cruising. We’ve learned over the years not to make them too far in advance, and when we do, to take them as if they’re written in the sand at low tide.
Thus, if you’d asked us in late February or early March what our plans were for hurricane season, you’d have heard a slightly different story than what actually happened. Which is of no surprise to us. What was a surprise was that our plans would be altered by a global pandemic. When Covid-19 ramped up in the spring we ditched plans to head north to the Sea of Cortez for a variety of reasons and, instead, opted to head south to leave Yahtzee for hurricane season in Barra de Navidad at the well-protected marina at Grand Isla Navidad Resort.
From there, the plan of spending the summer in the U.S. with family sort of got back on track. We flew from Puerto Vallarta to my parent’s house in Pentwater, Michigan in mid July where we’d originally planned to cruise their Hunter 39, Marabelle, to Georgian Bay for a month. But … Georgian Bay is in Canada, so that plan was out. Not to worry, we had a great time hanging out with my three siblings, their spouses, and all the cousins, sailing and racing dinghies, doing day trips on Lake Michigan on Marabelle, fishing, wakeboarding, tubing, waterskiing, and much more.
On September 1st, we’ll rent a car again and drive back to my parent’s house in Michigan for the remainder of the month before flying to Puerto Vallarta. Once back at Yahtzee, who knows where the winds of change will blow us. No matter where it is, though, we’re savoring the adventure and family time now, and will see what happens later.
While back in the States, we’ve been getting quite a few questions about our lives aboard Yahtzee, about leaving her in Mexico, and about what the future holds, so we figured we’d answer a few of them below. Feel free to ask further questions via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or in the comments section.
Will you be able to fly back to your boat?
We were asked this question several times before leaving Mexico and have been numerous times here in the States. The short answer is, yes, at the time of this writing, we can fly back to Mexico. It’s a common misconception amongst those in the U.S.—and even cruisers in Mexico—that the U.S.-Mexico border closure extends to air travel. It does not. The land border between the two countries is limited to “essential travel” only, but the U.S. Embassy’s website makes it abundantly clear that, “This action does not apply to air travel…”
When flying from Puerto Vallarta to Michigan, we felt safe. There were screening protocols in place; everyone was wearing masks; social distancing was being observed whenever possible; and restrooms, common areas, airplanes, and open restaurants were very clean. In many ways, we felt safer flying than we have in some places around the U.S. We have a flight booked for the end of September … we shall see what happens.
Where is Yahtzee now?
Again, this is a short answer: Yahtzee is at Grand Isla Navidad Resort and Marina in Barra de Navidad and currently looks like this…
But for many Americans, especially those who have never set foot south of the border, this question can be a bit abstract because Barra de Navidad isn’t very well known and Mexico is a big country.
Before leaving Yahtzee in Barra, we took down and stowed almost anything that could move or would cause excess windage including the sails, some running rigging, most of the solar panels, grill, etc. And we deflated, covered, and lashed the dinghy to the foredeck. We’ve hired someone to watch over her for us, keep her top and bottom clean, and open her up once a week. Overall, we’re comfortable with the place and people we’ve chosen to entrust our home to.
Where are you going next?
When we get back to Yahtzee at the beginning of October it will still be hurricane season, so we won’t be sailing far from Barra de Navidad for a month or more. After that, given the uncertainty of the Coronavirus in Mexico and in other countries, we’re not really sure—and we’re ok with that. We are keeping an eye on borders opening to cruising vessels, however, it is largely just a wait and see type game. By now, we’ve cruised long enough to be comfortable with uncertainties such as these and view it as yet another one along the voyage of life.
What are you doing for school?
The most common questions we get are about how we’re schooling the boys, including: Is Covid changing school at all for you? What curriculum(s) are you using? Do you do school all summer? And more…
In reality, not a whole lot has changed for us schooling-wise due to the Coronavirus. We’ve been homeschooling (not to be confused with virtual schooling) the boys for two years prior to the virus, so it’s pretty much business as usual. We don’t use a standardized curriculum per se, and instead choose a mix of learning materials and methods that work best for us as teachers and them as students.
Tinkeractive is a title that has been a hit with both boys, and we have been happy with the 100 Easy Lessons to Teach your Child to Read to get Magnus started and reading. Duo Lingo is a fun app that all four of us have accounts with to keep our Spanish topped up while out of the country.
We teach and learn year-round and have continued to incorporate homeschooling while we travel to give the boys consistency and to keep a regular routine. Also, Jill’s mom is a retired teacher with 30-plus years of experience so that has been a huge win for us all while we’re in Upstate New York.
Porter is currently at a 2nd grade level and Magnus in 1st—not that it really matters—but it’s a question many adults find important and ask the boys when they first meet. Both of them do a mixture of reading, writing, math, science, world studies, and Spanish. When I asked them what their favorite subject was this morning, they each quickly and emphatically said, “Reading!”
Jill will be starting a new schooling approach when we get back to Yahtzee that will combine their studies to a mixed 1st/2nd grade level with a new-to-us curriculum called Blossom and Root. The materials are starting to arrive (shout out to the US Postal Service!) and she is getting energized to kick it off. The science and history sections are particularly enthralling and the supplemental books required are already getting lots of attention from the boys.
Our approach all along has been that learning should be accessible, captivating, and fun instead of seeming like a daily chore that must be completed before moving on to other activities. That method has been working immensely well for us thus far, so we’ll keep rolling with it!
Here are some highlights of our recent adventures:
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