Haley’s Baja Portfolio

I asked Haley if I could use her images for our blog and you can see why! She also captured some of the more ‘real’ sides to this cruising life. Take the time to click on some of these to get the full image.

For more work from Haley Stevens, go to: hrsphotos.com


Adios Panama! Allora’s Galapagos bound …

Lines checked, deck swabbed, provisions stowed, rust busted (for the most part), sails readied, hatches battened… the hectic phase of passage prep in Panama City is finally done and Allora is ready to cast off for the Galapagos Islands (900 nautical miles away) with the whole Stevens crew aboard. Farewell Central America; hello, Pacific Ocean!

(We have many more Panama pics, including a sweet month spent with Haley and a sail to the Las Perlas Islands offshore, coming soon!)

Route options using different wind diagrams.
The tides affect the ramps so sometimes it’s more challenging delivering groceries from shore to Allora.
Haley topping up one of our diesel tanks – we carry 190 gallons in 4 tanks – thanks, Phil!
Provisioning with Maddi in the Mercado. This guy insisted on GIVING us a small bunch of tomatoes. When I went to pick out a bunch more, so as to give him some business, he just added them to our bag and further insisted that we pay nothing. His family just smiled and shook their heads!
WAY more fun provisioning in the public market than the 5 days at the supermarkets!
Wyatt looking like he grew up on a sailboat!
Captain Fantastic.


Rust busting!
Communicating through the hatch to someone above decks – ah, the chaos of prepping to leave …
Yeah, everything everywhere!



Panama City!  





Panama Play

We’ve been having so much fun exploring in Panama that we haven’t taken the time to embellish these images with words – sorry, but if you look at these pics, you’ll get it!  At present moment, we are ‘on the hook’ at Ensenada Benao (famous surf spot) in Panama, awaiting a weather window to round Punta Mala (aptly named, in my mind at this point) into the Gulf of Panama. On the 7th of March, we have an appointment at the French Embassy to obtain a long stay visa for French Polynesia, and Haley’s coming in from NY. Feeling pretty lucky to get to celebrate her 25th birthday together on the 9th! Pretty soon, all 3 of our crew members will be gathering to prep Allora first for the passage to the Galapagos and then beyond to the Marquesas. More on that SOON!

Ensenada del Veradero, Isla Parida, Panama – It took a series of these gorgeous islands for us to get over the sadness of our mamas being gone.

Mackerela (Sierra)
First Roosterfish!
Fishing boats with a piraty edge!
We think a gazillion of these were making the most haunting sound in the jungle at night – like a cicada on steroids!

Isla Montuosa

Ha, no, he’s not casting for dolphin, but they do often accompany the fish!

Isla Jicaron, northern anchorage, Coiba National Park

These kayak excursions are pure bliss.

Isla Jicaron, northern anchorage



Let’s see what’s ON this beach?!
Spot the Male Ringed Kingfisher? Isla Jicaron, Panama

This made the most incredible massage/tickler!
Fishing patrol.
Male Great Tailed Grackle
Lush greens of the jungle.

Capuchin monkey company
Spot the Capuchin?













Pargo (red snapper) for dinner.

This scarlet bird was mesmerizing!

Isla Jicarita, Panama
These fishermen pulled up and dropped anchor for a few hours next to us. They laughed a bunch – great energy.


Isla Jicaron, as seen from our anchorage on Isla Jicarita

First storm since Puerto Vallarta, over Granita de Oro, Panama

OUTRAGEOUS snorkeling around this little islet!



Enroute Granita de Oro to Isla Santa Catalina. Sweet Assymetrical Spinnaker day on the water.


Geoff (Pajaro Loco) and Jose, surfer extraordinaire. I got a wild ride to town with Captain Ron, I mean Geoff.
A sweet home was set back in the trees here, with kids and horses and puppies and howler monkeys – lots of great acoustics in this sweet location.
Our anchor alarm app on the iPhone! Yeah, our boat was rockin!’


Ensenada Naranjo, Azuero Peninsula




Mamas from the Mainland!

The Mamas have landed.

We stayed at Marina Pez Vela in Quepos for just one night and then left at first light for the long day sail to Bahia Drake, Osa Peninsula.

Mom found a perch on the way from Quepos to Drake Bay.

We dinghied up the Estuary for a mile until we hit some mini rapids. I swam back (crocodiles? no se!)

We walked back toward the village of Bahia Drake from the estuary.

Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Fishermen hand-lining for ??

Our late afternoon swim.
Underway! Another 60nm+ day sail from Drake Bay to Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Comfy perch.
Two humpbacks came pretty close to Allora, surfaced a couple times and then sounded. Brief but sweet visit.

First evening in Puerto Jimenez.
Muy elegante.
A three toed sloth.
Capuchin monkey (we saw Squirrel monkeys, Howler Monkeys, and Spider Monkeys as well)

Scopin’ it out.


Yep, I made ’em do it again.

Our guide, Rudolpho.
Lotta love there.
Over achiever?

Full Moon as seen through Rudolpho’s field scope. ©CAB (Mom)
These two beauties gravitated toward each other.
We each bought each other birthday presents!
Elizabeth found the NECKLACES!
We had to enlist these 4 to help us haul Namo, our dinghy, down to the distant shoreline after the tide went out.
A lone Bottlenose dolphin came alongside Allora while these two were on the foredeck.
Such a great laugh.
Kayaking in Rincon – the northwest corner of Bahia Dulce, Osa Peninsula.







This is how it works in Central America: I went over in our kayak to ask these folks where the closest market might be. Within seconds, they were offering to take me via motorcycle or car, my choice. I let them know I had to return to the boat first to get my shopping bags and money and they patiently waited for the hour or so it took me to make it back. Jorge took me (the car was my pick, as I wanted to get too much stuff for a pista) and waited while I shopped. He loaded all the groceries and whisked me back to Bahia Rincon. Since I still had to get the goodies to the boat, they loaded this panga and paddled all the way over and proceeded to help offload them. Crazy generosity. Beautiful world.
Mod new snorkeling masks. Mom’s first time EVER!
Namo (our dinghy) gets us to and fro with relative ease. The 9.9 horsepower engine moves 4 ppl. much slower than 2, but we get there.

Mom slept on the foredeck for some moonlight and fresh AIR!
These afternoon swims are a ritual!

Trudy, the maestra of the garden Casa Orquideas. She and her husband started the farm 42 years ago.

Lipstick Palm.

Graham and his wife, Jill have been friends with the owners and coming to help annually (from England) for many years.

Foredeck cruisin’


Fish Hook Marina, Golfito.
Bésame Mucho.
They both pitched in and helped clean up from a salt water ingress in the foreword sink. Gracias team MAMAS!
How could Mom resist this BLUE margarita on Valentine’s day?!


Homemade fishing lures! Dorado beware!
This was actually one of the chair options at the Golfito airport!
Goodbyes are so hard.
We’ll get them out to visit soon!
You can tell we’re not REALLY smiling.

And they’re off …


Sailing southeast – El Salvador to Costa Rica

Our hearts ache without our GREM!! BUT, (and this is a pea sized consolation) – there is quite a bit more space aboard s/v Allora! Haley was going back to March in the DC rally and Maddi was off to India, so we had to release them!! Having been more leisurely with our movements from Mexico to El Salvador, we now realized that our time is getting somewhat crunched, so our pace has to pick up in this next zone, which is regrettable. Weather really dictates many of our  ‘should we stay or should we go’ movement decisions and it can be capricious. We’ll get a flavor of Central America; enough to know we could happily come back – on a slower pace.

After saying goodbye to Haley and Madison and this particularly thorough provisioning stop at the market in San Salvador, Marcus said, ‘we could have kept the girls here and just cannibalized them!’ (haha, this way I can tell if they are reading our blog!).
The “Marte” – Art Museum in San Sal. Retrospective on El Salvadorian artists; interesting!
It’s a messy job to switch the paddle wheel (sensor for measuring our boat speed) which is essentially a hole in the boat which gushes water when we replace the wheel with a temporary plug.
Scraping the paddle wheel to rid it of barnacles, which render it unusable as a gauge.
We flew our tattered American flag upside down and half mast – and although we saw no one all day, it felt good to make a statement about this particular Inauguration Day, 2017.
Gulf of Fonseca, El Sal/Honduras/Nicaragua. We hoisted our brand new, ride side up, American flag on the 21st – in solidarity with the Million Women’s March, 2017!
Gulf of Fonseca, where El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua come together (this is an El Sal hill!).
El Tigre Island, Honduras, in the morning light, before slipping away toward Nicaragua.
Marcus’ first Sierra on the ‘ugly stick’ (trolling rig). He did catch and release one on a fly on Isla Tiburon. It’s one of our new favorites for eating!

Dolphins continue to join us almost every day we sail, but whales have been missed in these waters.
Customs Officer, Puerto Capitania and Immigration officers came to us!
The other two officials were much more interested in Marcus’ fishing gear!
The flag of Nicaragua!

Inside the estuary adj. to Puesta del Sol marina.
Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua.
Puesta Del Sol, Nicaragua

We took a taxi to the nearby town of Chinandenga to get some cash from an ATM to pay our check in fees. It was low light (late afternoon to sunset) and the driver was quite heavy on the pedal, so we whizzed by idyllic pastoral scenes of a Sunday in a Nicaraguan village. Nicaragua was basically a beautiful blur, as you can see in this smattering of shots from the bumpy cab window:

Loved this! LOTS of folks pulled their rockers out in front of their homes to take in the evening.

Costa Rica!!

Bahia Santa Elena hikes, but the guidebook is OLD, so the jungle has consumed the trails and almost us!
Dubbed, ‘Worst hike EVER!!’
Not sure what these blossoms are, but they highlighted the verdant hills in Bahia Santa Elena.
Turkey vulture’s plea for some compassion?
I saw (and smelled) two dead sea turtles on a kayak excursion, hence the healthy turkey vulture population.
Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica. This anchorage, with zero development, is a gem. It’s almost landlocked, so a Papagayo howling wind can be wreaking havoc on the seas outside and this place sees no more than some chop and wind gusts. REALLY sweet!
One of our iPhone anchor alarms. This is the course our boat ran around the anchor all night!
We swab the decks (!) every morning there’s dew, to give Allora a nice fresh water rinse.

Bahia Samara, Costa Rica (near Punta Guiones). Big surf area. In this tucked away corner, we had numerous reefs and shoals to deal with to get into a good anchoring position. Here, you can see that our charts are sometimes incorrect, because they have us going over a bunch of rocks when, thankfully, we weren’t. We use other sources, our visual clues (water riffles and breaks over reefs) and radar to piece it all together. It’s tough when the depths are only a few feet more than our keel.
Bahia Ballena. Noodling around.
Puntarenas is a REAL place. Working boats ply this estuary. We are tied up to a pontoon dock (itself floating and secured by two anchors) with never more than 2.5′ of water underneath us. This morning, if our instruments are correct, Allora was touching the soft mud bottom by 3″. Unnerving. But we are here to check in to Costa Rica and these formalities with the Puerto del Capitaniá, Imigracion and Adouana are proving to be the toughest yet.
Our yellow quarantine flag flies as we await the ability to fly our Costa Rican colors.
The Customs and Immigration folks came to the boat, but only after we waited for 36 hours or so for them to show up. The yellow, quarantine flag means we aren’t officially cleared into the country yet, and as such, we have to stay aboard Allora.
Really?! All THAT for two papers?!
Quarantine and Costa Rica flags. Yellow abajo, CR encima!
Our view from the floating pontoon at Costa Rica Yacht Club (fancy words for that experience).
The pilot boat leads us out of the extremely shallow and shoaling estuary at high tide, around 6:30 pm. Southeast headings and a favorable 1.5 knots of current move us away from the Nicoya Peninsula toward Quepos.
Early morning chill accumulates from hours on night watch.
Since our destination was only 55nm away (in a straight line), we had the unusual focus of trying not to move too quickly – to avoid arriving at night. The winds cooperated and we sailed sweetly and slowly along, splitting the night into just two 4.5 hr. shifts between us. Lovely sail. Sunrise and a cup of Central American bourbon coffee (just the name of the bean, no actual bourbon!); perfect setting to clean our dusty fans underway.
Our needs come in bike sized packages! Provisioning for southern Costa Rica with the Mamas.
Marina Pez Vela, Quepos, Costa Rica. This newish marina caters mainly to sport fisherman and is charging the highest rate we’ve seen on this journey! It costs us $180. a night for a slip here. SO … we scooted away for a couple nights (2/4 & 2/5/17) anchoring off Manuel Antonio National Park. By 4pm when the park closes, we have this lush backdrop all to ourselves.

Capuchin Monkey mama and baby


That’s a sloth in the center of the pic!!
Marcus was relieved that wasn’t the spot we chose to land our dinghy – although our effort wasn’t uber smooth and I walked around in salty clothes all day!


Parasailers at sunset, with the anchorage at Manuel Antonio Park all to ourselves!

Drone On! Shoot 1 – El Salvador – Dream House

An irresistible location on the Pacific side of the estuary at Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador. The sun sets too quickly!!



El Salvador adventures!! 1/ 2017

To the village for our cooking class.
Jairo gave us a ‘lesson’ on how to make Papusas!!!
Yeah, they weren’t round.

Quite edible, though the other couple folks there said they’d prefer those that Jairo made!
Not a bad form of transportation, huh?!
Relaxed and content.

An excursion to a coffee Finca (plantation) around 5 hours from Bahia Jaltepeque, in a general NW direction. First, a stop at the beach surf village of Playa El Zonte for a traditional breakfast and a beach walk (the Auntie of the driver we’d hired ran the place. His cousin was the local surf hero).


With a camera by her side.

Maddi sized passages through these wave worn rocks.
Our desayuno shack.

On the drive up to the coffee plantation we passed this mound of color and I first thought it might be recycled glass. I asked Enrique if we could remember the exact spot and stop on our way back. On the sign it says, ‘Protect our environment.’  The material is shredded plastic. Although they are recycling, this endeavor sits alongside a busy road with countless trucks flying by to disperse untold amounts of the stuff into these beautiful agricultural hills. Well, one bag less, as I bought some for a mosaic (which will hopefully address the scourge of said plastics).

The town of Sonsonate.

The coffee finca Portezuelo.





Leaving Mexico for Central America, with Haley and Madison as GREM!


Our well worn Mexican flag comes down after a year.

On one of our first passages, I was typing labels for our personal flotation devices (PFD’s) without my glasses, so I asked Maddi if what I’d typed said,  ‘CREW?’ Guess it didn’t! That laughing went on awhile, but the term has stuck and now whenever anyone comes to help out aboard Allora, we call them our ‘GREM!’

Music to my ears.

Just a mile from Rio Suchiate on the Mexico/Guatemala border. Allora’s been in Mexico for 13 months, which is at least double the time we thought we’d stay. Spanish is still embarrasingly slight, but you’d want us on your charade team. I am sure I’ve said, ‘Lo Siento’ (I’m sorry) far too often, with ‘mucho gusto’ coming in a close second. This part of the world makes me want to be a young backpacker again!

Land of Volcanoes – El Salvador has 788 we’re told! (Lovin’ that new tat on Haley!)
We saw up to 37 knots, beating into the wind, but Allora dug in and got the job done.  It was a tough couple of days!

Like many sailors we were so focused on crossing the Gulf of Tehuantapec, we didn’t think a lot about the Papagayos until we left Chiapas. We heard they were frustrating and unpredictable, and they didn’t disappoint. Our first brush with them came farther north than their usual haunts as we sailed passed Guatemala. The wind jumped from nothing to the twenties in a matter of minutes. We’d been lulled by the forecasts and the calm weather into sailing further offshore than the recommended strategy and so we headed back in before the wind waves got too rough. The breeze was on our beam, but we we were going to have to turn into it to continue on toward El Salvador. On the other hand we could run off, 20 miles in the wrong direction, and find a spot for the night in Guatemala’s one marina, Puerto Quetzal, then wait for a better forecast for the next day. We gave it a little test, but no one really liked the idea of slamming into what was now 27 knots (plus) for who knew how long into the night. We decided even if the wind didn’t die down, it’d be more pleasant in the daytime. We had heard negative things about Puerto Quetzal – like they weren’t welcoming, or there was a coal plant nearby that dropped soot on your boat. They might have mentioned before complaining about the mood of the place that the docks are complete SHIT, totally unstable and completely inadequate for any boat over 30 or 35 feet. They didn’t have ‘surge,’ they had full on rolling waves that would have made an anchorage unpleasant. We had every fender out and zig zagged a 300 foot line across to another dock to try to hold Allora off and still she was slamming into the slip and the mast was rocking back and forth through a ridiculous arc while Diana tried to negotiate a deal where we could spend the night, but not have to “check in” to Guatemala. Though the port captain said we were okay, the marina people were not cooperating. I couldn’t imagine getting a wink of sleep at that slip, so we decided to forget it. We untied our lines and backed out of the slip fast to keep from hitting a piling as the wind gusted and waves surged. We’d back tracked two hours for nothing. And I still had a dorado to filet (it would have been easier at the dock). Diana took the first shift, but I was up with her by midnight. The winds were 37 knots and you couldn’t peek out from under the dodger without getting drenched. Allora slammed into the seas to get in close to the beach. Everyone later assured us that these were unusual winds, that the Papagayo’s never came that far north. So special treat for us. The bar crossing into Bahia del Sol was mercifully uneventful even though it was still blowing over twenty. We were very happy to get our welcome drink and tie up and that cozy Marina.

I was standing out looking at the volcano in the distance at sunrise …
When this happened!
Guess it’s time for a wardrobe change!
Early morning watch.

The river bar crossing into Bahia Jaltepeque, Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. Some days this gets wild, but ours was particularly uneventful, with flat conditions. Bill, from the Annual El Salvador Rally and a panga pilot led us through the shoals and into the estuary.
A ‘welcome’ drink was handed to us as we arrived in Bahia del Sol. We’d had a tough passage and the warm welcome was extra sweet.
Rigging the El Salvadoran flag for Haley to hoist.
Always eager to climb the mast! We had some SSB antenna repairs to make.

(See the Drone blog post with more mast/Bahia Del Sol pics!)

We took Namo 4 miles west up the Jaltepeque Estuary to this little market village of Herradura.
Everyone has either a wooden canoe or a panga.

Nap time:

So good for us to have both girls.
Selfie by the sea

A short walk across this spit of land and we are back on the Pacific side; a different perspective than looking at this from the sea as we came in. LOVE THAT!


Lifeguard station in the tropics. (Lifeguard nieces, what say you?!)
Basura is a sad, but true part of many beaches.
Thought of my sis and her love of animals as I watched these two dogs frolic like there was no mañana!
Might make some necklaces?!
Sticks and stones …
Kind of serene and kind of creepy all at once?
Now I want to get a tat!
Soooooo strong!

A glimpse of the island of Cordoncillo in Bahia Jaltepeque:

Most of the 280 ppl. on Cordoncillo Island don’t own property. They are squatters, but have no protection from floods or lightning strikes. Half of them are under 18 yrs. old.
Hammocks are ubiquitous.
The typical El Sal country kitchen.
Diana Carolina and her cousin, Stephania Tatiana. Fullest smiles EVER!
Almonds drying!
The mooring field at Bahia del Sol.
We scooted Namo over to have our first Papusa, the national food of El Salvador, at this waterfront palapa restaurant. We LOVE THEM!!! Quesadilla’s in El Sal are an amazing sweet cheese pound cake, whereas the papusa is like a smooshed quesadilla (by our definition) with a cheese and bean or cheese, bean and pork filling. They serve it with a pickled cabbage, called Curtido, on top. Delicious!
Happy papa.
Love the wave in Haley’s tropical hair!

This young guy delivered water to Allora when we were on a mooring buoy.

We took a short dinghy ride over to the nearby village on stilts, called “Tesajera” for lunch. There were about 15 different options, but Bill and Jean (cruisers who came to Bahia del Sol and never left – they now run the El Salvador Rally) had their favorite to share. Other options were McDorado and the one they called ‘Hooters,’ spelled Juurers.


The girls took a walk as these lovely women prepared our fish.

Bill, Di and Maddi take a mid-high tide swim after our fried fish lunch.

Some classical guitar with Bill.


Haley’s taking up the ukulele, too!!