Merry Christmas from San Diego

Hello friends and family! First, let me start with an apology to all of you for our lack of updates. The Kellys have been busy lately with our anticipated departure date of 10 December to head back south to Mexico. Our thought has been, “We’ll have time for long updates once we’re sailing.” And, we will eventually post long boring stories of our adventures of the last few months.
We’ve been working on more boat projects, ordering parts and supplies for other projects, and still trying to finish up our medical craziness (why can’t doctors just fill out forms and turn them in!). While some things have been going well, other things are requiring more time and attention. Additional things have been breaking (like our fresh water pump) and requiring our immediate attention. We’ve finally sourced a part for our holding tank (at least we think it will fit) after 6 months, but it’s in Florida and it needs to be shipped. A few other parts aren’t due to arrive until the 8th, which means we could leave with the parts, but the repairs would have to be done while we sail or not until we reach Mexico. We can’t delay even a few days after the 10th or we would not make our Christmas destination in La Cruz (near Puerto Vallarta) by Christmas. Some people say the most dangerous thing to have on a sailboat is a schedule. Trying to make it to La Cruz before Christmas could possibly have us doing things and dealing with weather we normally wouldn’t sail in. There just wouldn’t be any extra time to sit and wait out the rough seas like we did on our sail north from Mexico last spring.
So after lots of discussion and prayer, we’ve decided to remain in California until after Christmas. We feel peace about the decision, although part of me thinks we are just delaying the stress and chaos a few weeks because it’s always crazy the last few days/weeks before a major move. And this is certainly a major move. We have no plans to come back for at least a year.
Please pray for us physically and emotionally as we work through these last few weeks, sell the remaining stuff and vehicles, coordinate with our missionary contacts in Mexico, and fix the must-dos on the boat. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Preparations

The sluggard does not plow in the autumn;
he will seek at harvest and have nothing.

 Proverbs 20:4

    One of the big things I learned from one of my first mentors was “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” God, in his grace, brought us back to the States before we experienced much poor performance. Doing the hard work up front enables us to perform at a higher level later. Two-a-days in the heat of Summer pays off in wins for the football team in the Fall. Hundreds of miles of training runs equals a successful marathon and probably a PR. Hours spent studying vocabulary means a smoother trip overseas. A pattern of obedience in small things helps us choose the right thing in the face of difficulty or temptation.

    As I have said before, what we are doing now does not feel like it is fulfilling our missionary calling. After all, we are “suffering for Jesus” in Coronado, CA.
But, we are building a foundation from which we can more effectively serve in the coming years. When we left last year, we weren’t nearly as ready as we needed to be. Work obligations kept us from doing all that needed to be done in order for us to leave the country for 3-5 years. We really have benefitted from this unplanned return. Of course, God knew what it would take to convince us to bring the boat all the way back here for six months.
    The primary purpose of our return was my VA disability claim. My pre-discharge claim was cancelled (rather than the VA being delinquent on their 90-day requirement). So, I re-initiated everything in May. This month I had appointments for my sleep apnea, hearing loss and tinnitus, had some pre-cancerous spots taken care of and began physical therapy for my hips, neck and back. Just this week, I received my disability rating of 80%. I had no idea how broken I was. It is a little encouraging in that I don’t have to feel so guilty when I just can’t make myself play with the kids because I don’t feel well. At the same time, 80% disability sounds like I am 80% disabled! That is humbling. The VA concurs that my bad knees, hips, ankle, neck, migraines, TBI, hearing loss, etc. are the result of more than two decades of military service. In any case, that’s a big check in the box. Technically, I am now officially a disabled veteran. :-/
    Speaking of medical issues, another reason for us to return was the probability of Brandy needing a hysterectomy. After consultation with her doctor, we opted for a hysteroscopy, a procedure that would take a closer look and help determine if a hysterectomy was really indicated. She had the procedure in the beginning of the month. The doctor found an area of interest and biopsied it. Results came back and Brandy was given the green light. No hysterectomy needed, follow up with a regular exam in a year. Praise the Lord!
    After medical issues, we have been focused on developing our support network. Even though we are not “in the field,”our financial needs are probably greatest right now. Once we leave, most of our expenses will be things like insurance, fuel, rental cars to get to missionaries, the occasional marina and saving for repairs. A common conservative estimate is that you should plan for 10-20% of the boat’s value for annual maintenance. For us, that is about $15,000-$30,000 a year. Right now, we are knocking out some pretty major (expensive) projects that will allow us to leave behind the conveniences of half a dozen West Marine‘s within 25 miles and more real chandleries and highly skilled marine craftsmen that we can shake a stick at. We know that we have a $10,000 standing rigging job waiting for us in New Zealand, so we need to plan for that. We are currently about 25% funded of our $3000 monthly goal. Right now we have $430.41 in our ministry account with $1715.35 of ministry expenses sitting on a credit card. (If you would like to help, you can give online here: – select “Dennis Kelly Ankyrios Mission” from the dropdown. Also, we have an Amazon wish list if you wanted to purchase something for us.)
    Many issues surfaced while we were in Mexico. First and foremost, our battery bank is severely deficient. We had a consultation by an electrician this week. As nice as it would be, LiFePO4 batteries are not in our future (unless a generous donor wanted to help out with a $15,000 donation). So, for about a third of the price, we will be installing 765 Ah of AGM batteries as well as larger alternators and a regulator to ensure that we don’t kill the new batteries. He also looked at our solar array and will be coming back to help us investigate why we are only getting about 50% out of our panels.
    In a couple of weeks we are going to have to haul the boat out of the water for new bottom paint ($2200), all new through-hulls ($400 / through-hull x 9) and repairs of the port sail drive ($900). We would do the through hulls, but the yards around here won’t let you do any work below the waterline in their yards (probably some union thing). On the “cheaper” side, we were able to do much work ourselves this month. Our shift cable broke (while trying to anchor – not a great time, but at least the anchor was ready to let go and the anchorage wasn’t too crowded) and I was able to jury-rig a solution (temporary). I climbed the mast to fix a shorted out anchor light (at anchor in a busy anchorage – probably as much fun as any amusement park ride I’ve done).  
I’ve troubleshot and repaired a water leak and a water pump issue. I have been investigating a number of electrical issues (thus the electrician visit). Both vehicles were in the shop this month ($900 on the truck for suspension and A/C work!) and I ended up doing about $1200 dollars of work myself (brake booster on truck went out, brake job on the car). There is always something to fix around here.
    It isn’t all about working on the boat, we have been busy with ministry as well. Brandy is actively involved in two ladies’ Bible studies. I have gotten plugged in to the Coronado Men’s Connection. We have both been mentoring and discipling some younger brothers and sisters. I have been handyman-on-call for the church as we have been sprucing up the place and most of the men in the church have like jobs or something. The kids attended Vacation Bible School last week and this week as well as youth for the older three. Hope has gotten some one-on-one time with an older girl she looks up to. Just today she headed off for high school youth camp for a week thanks to a generous scholarship from the church.
    I have been doing quite a bit of research for my doctoral project. I had intended to spend this year writing it, but we have been a little busy. I am developing a program to help reinvigorate missionaries and pastors, or really any believer, who are on the verge of burnout and losing their passion and love for the Lord. Rather than the tired “try harder,” “fake it till you make it,” “just pray more” kind of Sunday school answers, I am looking outside the walls of the church for scientific support for spiritual disciplines. I am not saying that the Bible is insufficient, by any means, but I am saying that science supports biblical truth. People who know the Bible sometimes have a hard time hearing what it says to them. Things like neuroplasticity and neurogenesis (Romans 12:2 – renewing the mind), epigenetics and gene activation (Exodus 20:5 – generational curses), and collaborative intelligence and learning (Acts 2:42 – devoted to teaching, spiritual gifts and fellowship). I’ve been listening to tons of TedTalks and MetaLearn.net podcasts while I work on the boat (multi-tasking).
    We’ve also had some fun. We won tickets to Comic-Con and Hope and I both dressed as Captain America.
The other four got in free and they all dressed as Yu-Gi-Oh characters.  
Because we acted as a picket boat to keep other boats at least 900 feet from the fireworks barge, we had front-row seats to the Big Bay Boom.
Brandy and the kids thoroughly enjoyed cat-sitting for our friends with 2 cats and 3 little kittens.  
We had a great visit with some friends, Rodolphe and Stephanie Jourdan from 20 years ago who used to live on a boat.
We had our friends Robert and Cheryl Bradshaw out for a sail. We forget that this life isn’t routine for most people. We were just moving the boat like we always do, but the Bradshaw’s had a good time.
    Next month we will no longer have Fiddler’s Cove Marina as an option. We were just informed that there will be no vacancy for us after 01 August. We have a good lead on a place we can take the boat that should be cheap to possibly free! It should also allow us to leave the boat for extended periods, allowing for a trip East before we head south again in November. We are looking forward to some more fun and practical training. The middle two weeks of August, we will be dog-sitting, which will give us time to pull the boat out. After that, we are planning a 10-12 day trip around the Channel Islands. We have to be back by the beginning of September because I have been invited to preach the whole month of September. We are also looking into the feasibility of my taking a wilderness EMT course. The course is pretty expensive and takes a month, but it would be nice to have the training for our missionary work.
    This has been a lengthy post, but a month is a long time. If you’ve read this far, thank you for your dedication. Once again, I will try to do better about posting more frequently. God bless you all. If you don’t mind, comment on the post so we can get a sense of who’s seeing this and so we can pray for you. Blessings and peace!

Update – 21 June 2017

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
– Luke 18:29, 30
I cannot believe that we have been back in the US for almost two months. It has been even longer since we have updated all of you. We were just talking this morning about how it could be that we have so little time even though I don’t go to work for 8 or more hours each day. Theoretically, there should be an additional 40 man hours a week available. In any case, I have a couple of hours between meetings this morning and so here we are.
Probably the first question you might have is, what have we been doing. The short answer is moving the boat. Basically, we have to move the boat every three days, to anchor from a dock or vice versa. Each evolution consumes 2-3 hours, depending on the distance between them. Being without a “home” has its challenges. When we left San Diego last October, we gave up our slip at the Navy marina (Fiddler’s Cove) we had called home for two years. At that time, we didn’t intend to return for any significant time and figured iliving at anchor would be good practice for cruising. When we decided to bring the boat back a couple of months ago, we planned to use our reciprocal agreements through the Navy Yacht Club San Diego to stay at the dozens of yacht club marinas in the bay for next to nothing. As it happens, we practically exhausted those options in the first month. Long story short, we can anchor for free in San Diego Bay for 9 nights a month and have three complimentary nights a month at the Coronado Cays Yacht Club marina. The remaining 18 nights are paid stays at various places ranging from $0.50-$2.00 per foot per night. $19 a night at Fiddler’s Cove is not terrible, but contrary to what we were told in February, we can only stay 60 days per year (instead of 120) and $570 a month is significantly more than the $300 we were quoted. We have looked at other longer-term options, but being a catamaran (wide) means we need an end-tie or a side-tie (very limited) and living aboard incurs additional fees (to the tune of $150 per person per month). So, we remain vagrants.

va·grant

ˈvāɡrənt/

noun

  1. 1.

    a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging.

    synonyms:

    street person, homeless person, tramp, hobo, drifter, down-and-out, derelict, beggar;

We’ve decided that since we aren’t fully supported yet, that we have nothing to lose by being honest about the challenges we are facing, and to some degree, that missionaries share in general. We’ve decided that one of the ways God is working in our lives right now is to give us a sense of the struggles that missionaries face, especially when they are “home.” One of the things we are learning is that being a missionary in the field is challenging, but not being in the field is in some ways harder.
Sure, it is great to be back to the conveniences of fast food, department stores, super centers and movie theaters. It is great that everyone speaks English. It is nice to be “home.” What is home? For us, home is wherever we drop the anchor. When we left in October, we had to step away from groups and organizations that we had been involved with: First Baptist Church Coronado, AWANA, TrailLife USA, American Heritage Girls, Sisterhood Bible study, Fiddler’s Cove Marina community / family and others, not to mention the Navy. These groups were part of our identity and purpose. Our new identity and purpose is pastoral care to missionaries. Now that we are back, we don’t fit anywhere. Even though everyone is happy to see us, we are on the fringe at best and feel like outsiders. We are not “working” in the sense that we are not in a foreign country, but taking care of the administrative details that need to be done so that we can be free to serve elsewhere. We know that God has a purpose in our being back, but we are having an identity crisis that is amplified every time we have to explain why we are here and not there. We have a personal sense of not being where we belong in spite of our intellectual understanding of the delays. To some degree,  most missionaries struggle with this sense of being faithful to their calling. Coming back to the States is necessary, but is not necessarily relaxing, comfortable, or refreshing. The work is there and they are not. It is an opportunity, however, to be humbled as God reminds us that the work is his, not ours. So, as much as missionaries enjoy seeing friends and family and “taking a break,” many eagerly anticipate returning to the field, returning “home.” We are keenly aware that this world is not our home and that we will never truly be at peace until we arrive at our eternal home in God’s heavenly kingdom. Until then, may we find our purpose in whatever place we find ourselves.
So, in between boat relocations, I’ve been doing maintenance. The biggest accomplishment (and most expensive so far) has been the installation of a new solar controller. After talking to tech support, we determined that our nearly 15 year old controller was done. We went with the Victron Energy MPPT 150/70 TR Solar Charge Controller and the optional bluetooth dongle that allows us to see what the solar panels are doing on our iPad. Very nice feature and super helpful.
The first few days were disappointing, but we have seen better results the last couple of days. We have been hitting 100% charge by sunset purely on solar and wind. Speaking of wind, our wind generator has not worked since we got the boat. I’ve been troubleshooting off and on for a couple of years to no avail. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled the generator’s mounting tube down, removed the blades and hub, cracked the housing open and pulled the main circuit board. I saw some significant scoring on the slip rings and suspected the brushes were the cause. I resurfaced them and we were back in business. We had to change the wind generator’s name from Macbeth (“Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”) to Mace Windu (continuing with our Star Wars naming scheme – autopilot=R2, Princess stove=Leia, VHF radio=C3PO, solar panels=hyper drive – notoriously non-functional). I replaced the spun-out prop on our outboard (his name is Sue – short for Tohatsu). Sue also got new lower gear oil (seriously considering paying someone to do that next time) and a rebuilt carburetor. Changed the oil in both diesels and in the generator. Preserved and painted anchor chain. There is still much to do, but we don’t want anyone thinking we are just playing around on the boat.
I have the last of my VA disability claim appointments tomorrow. Based on my disability rating right now, I qualify for 100% of my healthcare to be paid for by the VA, so that is tremendously helpful. Hopefully, my claim will be processed quickly and we can be cleared to depart after hurricane season. We are continuing to work through other minor family medical issues while we are here.
Brandy and I completed a US Sailing – Safety at Sea Seminar. It was $200 each but is going to cost us much more in the end. We need to purchase new life jackets for everyone that are rated for offshore use ($360 x 4 and $200 x 3), two AIS MOB (Automatic Identification System Man Overboard) beacons that sound an alarm and establish an electronic beacon that can be tracked by any vessel in the vicinity ($270 x 2, the kids have Personal Locator Beacons already). Of course, that also requires a new VHF radio with AIS, GPS and DSC ($360). Safety isn’t cheap, but human life is priceless.
Other large expenditures we are waiting on funding for are new batteries ($5000) and a new water maker (very nice to have to be able to bathe a couple of times a week – $6000). We are having an electrician look over the boat to help us troubleshoot some odd quirks and give us a consult on our battery bank replacement.
Next week we get to fulfill one of Caleb’s lifelong dreams of being right under a fireworks show. We will be assisting the City of San Diego’s annual Big Bay Boom Independence Day fireworks show by acting as a picket boat to keep other boats from getting too close to the fireworks barges. It should be pretty amazing (hopefully not a repeat of this) and a great way to celebrate the birth of our nation.

Update 29 April 2017

Since we are somewhere with something resembling connectivity, we owe you all an update.

First, thank you for all your prayers. We have been seeking the Lord’s guidance as we proceed.

We left Loreto almost a month ago. After preaching for the English-speaking church in Loreto, we began our journey from the Sea of Cortez around the tip of Baja California and North back to San Diego.

We have been trying to day-sail our way back. We stopped to visit our friends, David and Kinyon who brought us 10 gallons of gasoline for our generator and Coca-Cola for our crew. They also bought our lunch, no small gesture when feeding our locust swarm.

Next day, we stopped for a couple of days in Puerto Los Cabos at an actual marina with real showers and shore power. We topped off fuel and water and equalized our batteries. Our battery bank has been giving us fits. After much troubleshooting, we realized that two of our 6 batteries were dead. We removed them from the bank, reducing our theoretical 720 amp-hours to 480. Now we can barely make it through the night with everything turned off except the refrigerator and freezer. The alternator on the engine wasn’t charging. Turns out we had a relay acting up. It was an original part so it had a good run. With the alternator running, we could top off batteries during the day. Oh, by the way, our solar panels and wind generator are not charging our battery bank either. I have spent easily 40 hours troubleshooting those issues in the past three weeks to no avail. We are very thankful that we purchased a lightly used portable generator before we came back, eliminating the need to run our engine just to charge batteries.

As we are “sailing” into the winds and seas, we have to motor-sail as we tack back and forth across the wind. So running the engine is not a problem. It also allows us to run the water maker. Even with full tanks (2 40 gallons tanks) leaving Puerto Los Cabos, we have made 150 gallons of water. It sounds like a lot, but we haven’t been able to do laundry and have only showered twice since Puerto Los Cabos. One of the upgrades we are currently researching is a water maker that makes more than 3.4 gallons per hour. We have spoken with a vendor who can build us a 40 gallon per hour portable system that would allow us to not only shower more frequently, but to expand our ministry by providing clean water to small villages as well as providing additional ministry funds by selling fresh water to other sailors without water makers. More on that in another post.

We headed out, hoping to round Cabo Falso and begin our northerly journey but were chased into Cabo San Lucas by wind and seas. Cabo Falso is the first of three big hurdles on the trip that is (not-so) affectionately called the Baja Bash. Prevailing Northwesterly winds and seas make sailing uncomfortable at best and impossible / hazardous at other times. I made a trip ashore to provision (Domino’s Pizza and Fanta Strawberry) and stripped the transmission on the dinghy motor. It still propels, but over a certain RPM, the motor disengages and races with no prop.

Next day, Saturday, we attempt Cabo Falso again with weather models predicting a smooth ride. Hah! 20-30 knot winds and 5-7 foot seas at 5-10 seconds makes for green children. We had two down for the count and lost one plate to the angry sea. But we made it around and were heading North in earnest. Our first available stop was an overnight sail to Bahia Santa Maria, but we were well-rested, even after the Cabo Falso roller-coaster.

We celebrated Resurrection Sunday with a worship service in the cockpit. Among our prayers was for favorable winds and seas. While I was preaching, the wind shifted forward, which would normally have required a course change since we were sailing as close to the wind as possible. However, in this case, we actually sped up without changing anything. We’ll take our miracles where we find them. Jesus is alive and we sailed at an impossible angle.

We decided that motoring as much as we had been would require more fuel before Bahia Tortuga, which meant a trip into Bahia Magdalena and about 16 hours of additional sailing. Caleb was certainly ready to go ashore and as it turns out, our excursion ashore would be the last time we set foot on terra firma for almost two weeks. We refueled our tanks (50 gallons) and had another 60 gallons of fuel in cans.

Friday morning we sailed “around the corner” (10 miles as the crow flies, but we can’t fly) for a 30 mile sail around to Bahia Santa Maria. We arrived around 6, got the anchor set and tried to get some rest for a morning departure on Saturday. No such luck. The bay made its own swell and the terrain provided little wind protection. All the more reason to move along.

Saturday morning, underway for San Juanico. Another overnight sail, but it was the first available anchorage. We decided that the winds were favorable for us to turn a little more westerly and save a day by stopping at Los Abreojos. Another worship service with the family gathered in the cockpit. I preached on Psalm 2. We arrived Sunday evening and left early Monday morning. Next stop – Bahia Tortuga and the half-way point of our voyage North!

Once again, the weather gets a vote. Motoring into 25-30 knot winds at 2 knots meant that if we ever arrived in Bahia Tortuga, we would be exhausted. So, we bailed out at a small anchorage called Hipolito. We had a bit of shelter from the seas, but the low-lying shore did little to interrupt the whistling gale. We holed up here until about midnight Thursday morning when the weather forecast (quickly becoming a four-letter word because of their gross inaccuracies) said all would be well. In this case, the forecast wasn’t too far off. Once we rounded the point, we had 5-8 knots of wind and 1-2 feet of swell at 10-15 seconds. Not a bad night. There was no moon, but it was clear and as soon as we got our night vision, we could see the stars reflected on the sea. One reason we left in the middle of the night was to make it to port (Bahia Tortuga, this time for real) before the afternoon diurnal winds picked up. About 15 miles (3 hours) out, we saw a weather system blowing in and obscuring the port. We decided that a “full speed ahead” was called for. We fired up our second engine and trimmed the sails to race the weather. We actually hit 7.2 knots and shortened the sail by almost an hour! But we finally made it to Turtle Bay.

Yesterday, we schlepped 35 gallons of fuel from the Pemex station to the beach. About 4 km total. Of course, there was a service that would deliver fuel to your boat, but it was twice the price. So,we saved about $150 and got buff instead. Today we are in search of propane.

We may leave tomorrow or Monday, but that, as always, is subject to the whim of the weather. We do, after all, go Wherever the Wind Blows. We are contemplating a three-day sail straight to Ensenada if the weather continues to be favorable. We are not on a schedule per se, but we need to be back before AWANA end-of-the-year celebrations. The kids have been very diligent in their Scripture memory and we want them to be recognized.

In case you are not aware, we have a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1162554667116095/) that we are able to update more frequently. You have to request to join, but we can do that as well.

Hola from Loreto – Update 20 March 2017

For those of you following along, we survived the drive from San Diego to Loreto, B.C.S., Mexico. We didn’t get out quite as early as we intended on Tuesday the 7th. We crossed the border around 5 pm, which is about the same time the rest of San Diego was trying to cross to Tijuana. So we made it as far as Ensenada day 1.

We were transporting some building materials for our missionary friends, Don and Lorraine Karsgaard. It ended up being a blessing, since we declared the materials and paid the tax. I have read varying rules about how much is allowed to be carried across the border without tariff. If the $300 per person amount was to believed, we would be all right since we had seven passengers. However, some sources said that only applied to adults. That might have been a little more of an issue. The problem is that there seems to be no definitive answer and much seems to be at the discretion of the agents. It is not that we were smuggling anything, but it might have looked like it. Picture the Hulk (our lifted green 1997 Suburban) with two cargo boxes on the roof and the cargo area literally packed to the top with our belongings. It could look suspicious. Suspicion could mean they wanted to inspect everything and that would mean a painful and time-consuming unpacking and repacking job. But, since we declared our building materials and paid the tax, when we were directed to secondary inspection, I was able to present our receipt and we were waved through. Praise God. So the whole border crossing took less than three hours.

We stayed in Ensenada at a super cute villa right on the water next to Marina Coral for less than $100. (Thanks to Brandy’s awesome travel and internet skills.) Unfortunately, there was no central heating or cooling, but they did provide wood for the fireplace. I finally got the fire burning about 30 minutes after everyone was in bed. The next morning we had to re-pack anyway because one of the cargo boxes had slipped sideways and nearly off the rack (saved only by the bar endcaps). A quick stop at Costco for a couple of liters of coconut oil, more peanut butter, other staples and fine dining at the Costco Cafe and we were headed South again.

We drove through hours (and hours and hours) of a Preserve which meant little traffic, poor roads and nowhere for bathroom stops. Pretty, in a desolate sort of way. We stopped for the night in Guerrero Negro, but unfortunately with the long stretch of desolate beauty was also a lack of cell towers. So, we had to find a room old-school – by driving through town and looking for a “nice” place. It was around 10 or 11 at night and we just wanted to lay down. One of the down sides of traveling with a horde is that we need mucho room. Not many suites available in Guerrero Negro. We did find the Cowboy Motel that had three double beds and a foldout sofa. It had a rustic look. So we decided to would be satisfactory. Apparently, it wasn’t just a rustic look. The toilets flushed into the cesspool literally three feet from our door. The room consisted of three double beds side-by-side and a couch. I refused to let anyone sleep on the sofa bed or the couch. When we pulled the cushions off, the trash between them was revolting. It was a vintage couch, and not in a cool, hipster way, more of a disgusting crack-house way. I got my sleeping bag and pad out and slept on the floor which I felt had at least been swept since it was installed circa 1972. Not many complaints from the kids, but they were asleep when we got there anyway. The morning shower included a neat feature – after your shower was done, you stepped into a quarter-inch after shower foot bath on the bathroom floor courtesy of a shower curtain that was 6 inches too short. 

Back on the road with a few more military check-points manned by armed Federales. Standard questions: where are you coming from, where are you going, how many people? At least that is what I think they were asking in broken English. To their credit, my Spanish can’t even be called broken, more like shattered or demolished. By then end of the day, I answered “San Diego, Loreto, and seven.” Not really sure what they asked. One guy looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe he thought driving 5 kids through the Mexican desert was crazy, maybe I told him my name was San Diego, I was feeling Loreto, and the heat was 7. Either way, he stepped back and waved us on. We got back to the boat by about 4 on the third day.

When we stepped inside, Hope’s first reaction was that she liked the way the boat smelled. I thought it smelled predominantly of black-water tanks and stagnation. But hey, I guess that’s what home smells like to our boat kids. Everyone was happy to be back to their beds and stuff they hadn’t seen in three months. I realized how normal being away for that long seemed to me but was utterly foreign to the rest of the family.

So now, we are unpacking and trying to find places to stow all our stuff, repairing broken boat things (holding tanks, yay!), getting the boat ready to set sail again for our journey around Baja. We took a quick trip to drop Brandy and Hope off on some friends’ boat (Waponi Woo) for a Ladies Only Sail (girl power!). The other 5 drove to La Ventana to retrieve our fish tank, plant and surf boards from David and Kenyon. I am helping Don out with some projects around the house and will be preaching for him so he can share at a prison in La Paz. I will be driving the Hulk back to San Diego Sunday, flying from Tijuana to Loreto Tuesday afternoon and then heading South in the Sea of Cortez after I preach on Sunday the 2nd. We anticipate arriving back in San Diego by the end of April. Hopefully, we will be able to post vita Twitter throughout April, so stand by for more updates soon. We look forward to hearing from you.

Semper Gumby

Well, we haven’t posted anything in a while. Momentum is a powerful thing. I keep saying that we need to post a chronological account of our ministry. That has kept us from updating and has kept you from knowing what is going on with us. So, we will post our travelog in time, but in the meantime, we want to let you know how you can pray for us.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” -John 3:8

For our military folks out there, “semper gumby” is part of your daily vernacular. For the rest of you, it is the unofficial motto of many a military organization, Latin for “always flexible.” One of the meanings behind our website name is that we are available to be led by the Holy Spirit (pneuma), to be blown wherever the wind (pneuma) takes us. One of the blessings of our current situation is an inordinate amount of flexibility – no deadlines, schedules, or demanding bosses. We can truly be led by the Lord with relatively little competing demands for our attention and obedience.

We left Ankyrios in Loreto, Mexico in December in order to take care of final retirement details (hello, DD-214!) and to do some networking. We got to reconnect with friends from the years and across the country. Special thanks to Jerry & Kathy Shelton (Brandy’s parents) for letting the plague of locusts AKA our family of seven take over your home. Also, thanks to Abby Winborn, Lee & Sharon Henson, Lee & Blair Linton, Jim & Holly Proctor, Ricky Kelly & Blair Countryman, Mark & Jodi Torres, Dave and Jerian Pahs, Steven & Angie Tabat, Jeff & Molly Armstrong, Glen & Mieka Pugh, Doug & Kristina Steinmetz and Brad & Jen McKenzie for inviting us into your homes and making us feel like family (and saving us, literally, a ton of money. It would probably be literally a ton if we paid in, like, pennies). I know taking in seven people can be daunting, but these brave souls faced their fears and blessed our socks off.

Another bit of admin was submitting my VA claim. Supposedly, if it is submitted while on active duty, it goes into an express pile and is supposed to be processed within 90 days. We came back to CA and thought we would have been able to take care of at least some of the VA stuff in February. So far, nothing, but they have a couple more weeks.

The plan had been to be back on the boat by the first of March, but if you glance at the calendar, you might notice that it is after the first of March. We are planning (as of this moment, subject to change, possibly even before I publish this post) to drive to Ankyrios leaving Tuesday, arriving Thursday. We will plug into the ministry of missionaries Don and Lorraine Karsgaard in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico for a few weeks, which brings us to a change of “wind” direction.

We hadn’t known what was next after Loreto. (How we got to Loreto is another neat story of God’s leading. More on that another time.) We seem to have some direction now. This plan is written in chalk and it could rain any moment, but we are planning to leave Loreto at the end of March. I will drive the truck back to San Diego and fly to Loreto. We will then begin the next leg of our missionary journey – back to SAN DIEGO!!!

Don’t worry, we are not giving up and selling the boat. Though there was a day when Brandy was certain that was the next step, we got past that. (That was during 30 knot winds, 15 foot seas and 15 knots speed over ground. If we survived, we would never sail again. Fight or flight is not the time to make big life decisions.) No, we are continuing our missionary work, just not as far away for now. We have some missionary contacts in Ensenada, as well as a number of ministries in Tijuana. 

A number of factors influenced this next step. First, already mentioned, the outstanding VA claim. Second, we still have some outstanding medical things with Brandy and the kids (nothing serious) that we would like to get resolved before we head out “for good.” 

Finances are certainly a factor as well. Flying between Mexico and the States, while relatively inexpensive, would begin to add up over the next 6 months or so as we took care of these medical needs. One thing we discovered was that Mexico definitely has a lower cost of living than San Diego, as long as you do things Mexicans do. Mexicans do not live in marinas, only rich foreigners who can afford to part with “mucho dinero” do. The marina where Ankyrios currently sits costs about double what we paid in San Diego and it is one of the more reasonably priced ones. It doesn’t make sense to pay for the boat to sit empty in Mexico and for us to pay for lodging and rental cars in the States. We want to be good stewards of what you have entrusted to us and spending that much money on marinas and transportation doesn’t seem like good stewardship.

When we left in October, we weren’t quite ready materially. Everything is safe, but there are some things we needed to do on the boat. (Jeff and Nathan Stickel helped us out greatly with some projects. Thank you so much! But, with all things boat, the projects are never ending.) We considered buying the parts in the states and either shipping them to Mexico somehow ($$$) or delivering them ourselves and taking our chances with arbitrary “import taxes” imposed at the border. Some of the parts could be procured in Mexico, but there is a significant mark-up for the rich foreigners as mentioned above. Another option is to bring the boat back and save some of the hassle and expense. We realized on our trip that our battery bank is due for replacement and our water maker isn’t as sufficient as we thought.

Hurricane season plays into our decision to return. Our insurance frowns on our sailing in Mexico during hurricane season. Once the season begins in June, we would need to stay close to the dock until the end of the season in November. That would severely limit our options and preparation if we were to attempt a Pacific crossing in Spring 2018. Having the boat back in Southern California eliminates hurricane season from the equation and allows us freedom to do some extended offshore sailing / training. 

So, for these and other reasons, we will be heading north, essentially retracing our path. However, the voyage will be far from easy. The trip is affectionately known as the “Baja Bash.” We will be fighting both the winds and the waves once we round the tip of Baja California. It can be a very uncomfortable trip. For that reason, we are asking for your prayers, specifically for calm seas and cooperating winds. We ask that you pray for the kids (and Mom and Dad) that they would be comfortable and in good spirits. We intend to take it nice and easy and anticipate arriving back in San Diego by the end of April. We will hopefully be sailing with another kid boat (s/v Mango) whom we met on the Baja Haha rally in November.

Status as of 18 November

We’re in La Ventana just south of La Paz. The kids (plus a Corbin kid) are having a slumber party at our friends’ house while D and I will catch up on some much needed sleep on the quiet boat tonight. Been working on details all day on where to put the boat and how to get back to San Diego. Details that have been making me crazy for the last two weeks because I haven’t been able to plan. Those who know me know I like to have a plan. Please pray with us that we will make the right decisions. Thank you!

Abide in Christ

“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us”

– 2 Corinthians 1:21 (ESV)

In my reading this morning, I came across this from Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ:

“How many there are who can witness that this faith is just what they need! They continually mourn over the variableness of their spiritual life. Sometimes there are hours and days of deep earnestness, and even blessed experience of the grace of God. But how little is needed to mar their peace, to bring a cloud over their soul! And then, how their faith is shaken! All efforts to regain their standing appear utterly fruitless; and neither solemn vows, nor watching and prayer, avail to restore to them the peace they for a while had tasted. Could they but understand how just their own efforts are the cause of their failure, because it is God alone who can establish us in Christ Jesus. They would see that just as in justification they had to cease from their own working, and to accept in faith the promise that god would give them life in Christ, so now, in the matter of their sanctification, their first need is to cease from striving themselves to establish the connection with Christ more firmly, and to allow God to do it.”


I was just talking about this phenomenon of working hard to restore love for Christ with Doug Steinmetz last night. As we prepare to encourage and equip missionaries, this is first and foremost on our hearts. Many Christians have experienced this discouragement, distance and dryness in their walk. For most of us, help is just down the street in the form of fellowship with our brothers and sisters at church, having coffee, or over a meal. For many missionaries, they feel like they cannot share their struggles with their family and friends back home because it might cause them to struggle personally or doubt their support of the missionary. Missionaries, chaplains, and pastors feel the pressure to be a perfect example for others. Many Christians feel the same pressure as they live their faith in a world that seems to be cheering for their failure. 

So, how do we resolve this strain and restore fellowship and love for God? It seems that the phrase, “let go and let God,” is more than a catchy rhyme. Place your worries and anxieties before God. Confess your efforts to do what God has said he would do and ask for the faith to let him work. Let the faithful God complete the good work that he began in you. 

Don’t Be Anxious

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

Every morning for the past several months, I have been startling awake with panicked thoughts of all that needs to be done before our departure on October 31st. My second thought has been to recite this verse as I lay all these anxious thoughts before the Lord. I do receive the peace of God, but it is fleeting. I get out of bed and start to attack as many of those things as I can in the 16 to 18 hours I have today. 

I was convicted in church yesterday as I was trying to focus on the sermon and anxious thoughts of leaking blackwater hoses crept in. I thought about Saturday, as raw sewage ran down my leg and my hands were covered in, well, you know. This mental rabbit trail was prompted by something in the message. Ryan Bailey was guest preaching and was speaking about the church’s role in missions. He mentioned that one of our responsibilities is to encourage missionaries in the field who often feel isolated and alone. I thought, “Yeah! That’s exactly what we are going to do!” Then I got anxious about the fact that we are leaving THIS MONTH!!! There is so much to do. I thought about the missionaries who are so busy taking care of others and doing Kingdom work that they neglect their own spiritual care and physical and emotional needs. 
The Holy Spirit held up a mirror to me and I realized that we have gotten so busy preparing for this work that we are exhausting ourselves. So, we redoubled our commitment to observe a Sabbath rest and to pray over every project.

 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. 

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 

It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

– Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

In an effort to share prayer needs, here is a non-exhaustive (but exhausting) list of things that have to be done in the next four weeks:

  • Locate and fix blackwater leak in starboard head (closest alligator to the boat)
  • Repair / Replace potable water pump
  • Repair watermaker 
  • Have sails inspected
  • Repair jib sail
  • Make tethers for kids
  • Lifeline netting
  • Replace three bent / broken stanchions
  • Replace all running rigging
  • Inventory gear
  • Stock up on diesel and gasoline
  • Provision food
  • Sell car, truck, van and camper
  • Set up household goods move
  • Finish hard top bimini
  • Install satellite radio
  • Tighten trampoline
  • Sew sheet bags
  • Replace battery bank
  • Repair mainsail cover
  • Sew sun shades / bug netting
  • Purchase life raft
  • Purchase homeschool curriculum
  • Make new dodger
  • Clean out storage unit
  • Cancel cable
  • Cancel cell phone service
  • File VA medical claim
  • Finish checking out of Navy
  • Fix VHF radio
  • Get Mexico TIP and fishing licenses
  • Finish stocking medical kit

Those are some of the things bouncing in our heads right now that constantly get laid before the throne of God in exchange for his surpassing peace. If anyone would like to join us in praying about these things, please, do so. Above all, pray that we would constantly be reminded that we are doing this for the glory of God and to serve his servants around the world. 

May we stayed “Anchored in the Lord.”