December 28, 2009

Sailing - By: Alex Perry

The sails are set
The ocean laid before us
The waves move in a beat an endless beat
The mountains behind us are growing hazy
We are ready to go

Now we are alone
Nowhere to run
Nowhere to hide
We have to keep going

The feeling of seeing land
We did it
I did it

The Pacific crossing

December 13, 2009

Casting Off

You have heard me say it before but I am going to say it again, "I am grateful". These past 7 months in Toronto have been better than we imagined, while we were daydreaming out at sea. Dreaming of coming home and seeing our friends and family, parties, catching up, laughing, eating, shopping, showering, hot water, fresh berries, familiar foods, clean clothes, hair cuts and the list goes on. WE GOT IT ALL AND SO MUCH MORE!! Our motto these last few months has been to never say no to an invitation. We spent so much time over the past 4 years planning for our trip that we maybe didn't go out or have people over as much as we would of liked. We made up for this 10 fold while we have been home. We need to head back to the boat to relax :-)! One of the biggest realizations we have had this past year is that life is all about the people in it. I am grateful to have such an awesome circle of people around us.

Now given the amazing time we had in Toronto, about 2 months into it we decided that we didn't want to continue on with our journey in January. We decided that we would wait until November 2010 to head off. We all settled in with this in mind. I signed up with the PTA, Amelia and I took sewing classes, Graham and Alex began looking into high schools, and we started thinking about work for the new year. Then around the end of November we started to think...."what are we waiting for?". We should coin a new phrase for when we shift gears and head off in a new direction....maybe we pulled a Perry.....or something. So we called a family meeting and over the course of a weekend we decided that as fun as Toronto was, it was time to Castoff again.

We have been fully submersed in packing, getting home school supplies, buying boat parts, getting rid of furniture, getting ready for Christmas and the lists go on and on. Some of you may be wondering what each of the Perry four are feeling with the new turn of here you go.

  • Graham is in full out planning and prep mode. He has been researching non-stop all of the best safety equipment we need to cross the south pacific. He has been organizing having boat bits shipped to various family members over the holidays. In his spare time he is setting everything up and making sure it works right. He has bought the Panama guide book and needless to say....he is VERY excited.
  • Amelia is also excited to return to Artemo. When we first discussed the new plan she was didn't occur to her until a few days later that going meant LEAVING. It was quite sad when it hit her. She is an adventurer at heart though and this morning I heard her belting out, "There ain't no mountain I can't climb...." in the shower!
  • Alex remembers the hell we went through in Grenada, waiting for the boat to be fixed. He remembers the heat, he remembers the disappointment, the anxiety, the stress and he remembers his sea sickness. I think girls are born with the ability to forget easily, maybe due to childbirth? Regardless, Alex is also an adventurer and it didn't take him long to weigh the pros and cons and be really excited. In the next few days I am going to post a poem he wrote at school that says it best.
  • As for me, I am finally gearing up for the South Pacific crossing. For so long we would say it but I wouldn't really believe it. I can see it now. I am visualizing the moment we lift anchor. I am thinking about our days at sea. I am imagining us living it, not enduring it. A new friend of mine sent me the link of a 16 yr old girl who is currently sailing, non stop, solo around the world. She is inspiring. Check it out!

On Tuesday we head out West for Christmas. We all can't wait to see everyone we miss so much. We fly back to the boat on January 6th. Oh and GUESS what? We finally have a sign for Artemo and boat cards. Sign A Rama did an amazing job and their enthusiasm regarding our trip was really great. Check them out:

July 16, 2009


We did our first presentation last night on our trip to the Humber Sailing Club. We all had a lot of fun. Before we went I had to twist the kids arms to speak to a few things like provisioning and homeschooling but on the way home last night they were wanting to do another presentation with more speaking parts!!!

They really enjoyed themselves and so did Graham and I. I did the thing I always seem to do in front of a room full of people (those of you who work with me can confirm), I had that mini anxiety attack at the beginning but I let the room know that I was nervous and then it vanished. Thank god it always seems to go away once I have said it!

It was fun for us to reflect on the trip from start to finish. It seem to actually get us more excited for our next leg and everyone in the room looked like they enjoyed themselves to.

So cool to have the opportunity to inspire other people! We are hooked.

May 31, 2009

Back in Toronto

We are home in Toronto and feeling great. Today as we flew over Lake Ontario and the CN Tower came into sight the pride in what we had accomplished over the last year was overwhelming. I even got a spontaneous hug out of Alex! Unfortunately no one is much in the mood for reflecting because they are having to much fun living. Below is an ode that Cheryl and Dave from Aries wrote us right after we made the decision to "Turn this rig around" and head back towards Panama. It sums up our story so far and is a great place to leave off. I hope you all have enjoyed reading about our adventure this past year. Our flights are booked to head back down to Artemo the first week in January....stay tuned!

Ode to the Perry's Prairie Dream

A long time ago, on the vast prairie
This family was inspired to take to the sea.
Well sailing they had never done
But somehow they thought it might be fun!

So off to Toronto they went in a flash
Where in each of their courses they made a big "Splash"!
One course to learn the parts of a boat
Another to understand how to tie up a rope!

To fix anything, Graham had all the skills
And keeping the family together is Julie's will.
Alex knew how to steer with no rudder
And Amelia could cook like no other.

Oh yes....and we definitely need a boat!
There's nothing better on which to float.
So off to Antigua they did go,
To search for, and find, ol' "Artemo".

They surveyor came in and did his job?
Yah, right! He was such a sod!
He declared "Artemo" safe and sound
Oh no, not a bit of rot could be found!

So confidently they sailed away
Out of a safe harbour, out of the bay....
Down to Grenada and into a yard,
Where sadly soon "Artemo's" up on the Hard!

Well "Artemo" is a handsome French Ketch
But her rotten cabin really made them retch.
They didn't give up, they perservered
Working through many things they feared.

Twelve weeks of living in an airless hell
For their dreams t'was the death knoll!
Broke and sad they headed North
To find the surveyor and kill him off!

Three years to sail the world, they dreamed.
Now one year later, harder than it seemed!
So they nearly gave up and to TO returned.
Until St. Lucia, where having fun they relearned.

Now sailing the seas on "Artemo's" Keel
A Life of Adventure is for real.
It's not always easy but it sure is fun
"Come 'on, give us some weather we can't outrun".

"Yes we can!" comes their refrain
We've done it before, we'll do it again!
We'll rise up to each challenge sailing brings
Meeting good friends and learning new things.

Now it's back to the plan that they had before
And they're off on the sea to explore some more.
Knowing their boat from inside out
And trusting themselves now without any doubts!

("well maybe a few!")

Your crew is fit and your're in the flow.
Au revoir "Artemo", you're ready to GO!

May 28, 2009


OMG Cartagena is HOT. Ok, so you know I have complained about the heat before but this is CRAZY heat. We look like we just stepped out of a shower, all the time. I have never sweated like this before, beads of water all over me. Let me ask you this.....When it is this hot what is the best thing to do???hmmmm.........Strenuous boat work! ha

Graham and I have managed to get Artemo all packed up and hauled out. We took down the sails, covered all the cushions in plastic, coiled all the lines, cleaned out all the cupboards, covered the boat with tarps and the list goes on. We would leave the kids at the marina and Graham and I would work on the boat in the blazing heat. I even managed to get a whistle the other day from some locals. I was stripped down to least amount of clothes possible and we were wrestling with the sails. We were dirty and sweaty and I got a whistle!!!! Ha, at this point, I will take what I can get :-).

We checked into a little bed & breakfast for our last few nights. It is a beautiful place. From the street it looks like just a big giant door. Then you knock on this giant size knocker and a little window opens and they check you out and then the little door within the big door opens and you are in an oasis! It is very cool. There is a nice little pool in the court yard and hammocks and parrots, so beautiful! and best of all AIR CONDITIONING! Unfortunately though, I had to break it to the kids that it is a "Bed AND Breakfast" place, NOT a "Breakfast IN Bed" place. Too funny. They both thought they would be getting breakfast in bed.

Cartagena is an awesome city. Taxi's are dirt cheap and eating out is super cheap, so we have basically been eating, eating, eating!! Feels like we are spoiling ourselves but it is cheaper to eat out then to make our own meals. The city is alot bigger than we thought it would be. Population is over a million and it has lots of modern facilities. It looked like what it would probably look like to sail into Miami. The old city has so much history in it to and we have spent many hours just walking the cobblestone streets. Everyone tries really hard to help our Spanish along. We all want to take a Spanish course when we get back to Toronto.

Our flights are booked to come home. We arrive in Toronto on Sunday! We have booked return flights to Cartagena, for the first week in January. I will get the kids and Graham to write a small paragraph each on their thoughts of this past year for our final blog. It has definitely been a year full of adventure!

May 20, 2009

Arrived in Cartagena!

Hi All, Thanks for all your nice birthday comments and emails. Made me feel good! We arrived today at 1:30pm in Cartagena. It is a HUGE city. Very cool. We are just getting settle in. The trip here was good and luckily uneventful. We are excited to get Artemo hauled out and book flights home. I had some time on the journey here to do a video of the kids getting their Open Water Dive Certification. Enjoy. Julie

May 19, 2009

Day Three at Sea

Well here we are, day 3, en route to Cartagena. I thought you might all like to hear our thoughts on various aspects of being on a boat for this long.....

The Ocean - Amelia

One thing about the ocean is that it can be really rough or really calm or just perfect. Today it was just perfect. I saw dolphins. There are many flying fish. The water is a beautiful blue color. I have never seen anything this amazing. The downside is that when you go to sleep at nighttime you go up to the high side and then you have a big wave and then you roll back down to the bottom, so you can never get a good position. It usually takes me 1/2 hour to fall asleep but last night I fell asleep in a jif, I was so tired. The thing I find the most strange, is that we are so far from everything and can't see land but we still see birds. It is hard to imagine how they get this far out.

Sea Sickness - Alex

Sea sickness is never fun. On this trip I had it the worst. Overtime sea sickness gets better but it always seems to linger in your stomach and it is never fun. Amelia is practically immune to it. She is always downstairs and watching tv and stuff. Mom and Dad don't seem to get it to bad either. I usually stare at the horizon so I don't feel as sick. It doesn't usually help very much. We also have ginger gum.

Hygiene - Julie

I am sick of feeling grungy. It seems that the grunge factor is multiplied on extended passages. At night everything seems to get a layer of salt on it and everything gets damp. I have taken to wearing socks and this seems to help a bit. We don't seem to change our clothes as often and unfortunately we aren't swimming! Yesterday we put a large bucket in the cockpit and took turns cleaning. Everything seems 100% better when you are clean.

Sleeping - Alex

Sleeping is hard because you have to go below to do it and that usually makes my sea sickness worse. Once you do get to sleep though you don't seem to get woken up by the rolling.

Sailing - Graham

Down wind sailing is great. You usually have a helpful current and Artemo likes to sail "wing on wing". We become a kite and fly up and down the waves. There is the roll that you have to deal with as Artemo pitches back and forth and rolls side to side. This action can become quite violent at times. Currently, we are not sailing, but are motoring. Flat seas with no wind down here equates to HOT. We knew this was coming and decided it was better to motor through this stretch than chance getting getting hammered by the almost constant high winds and seas that are the norm for this area.

Boredom - Amelia

Some people might think that living on a boat and sailing on blue waters and not seeing much land might be pretty exciting. A little scary but pretty exciting. Thats what I thought at first but NO it is the boringest thing you can ever do. Once in a while you can watch a tv show but you can't watch tv 24 hours a day. I have my mp3 but it also gets boring. If you run out of that stuff, you can write or do mazes but sometimes that makes you feel a little yucky inside. Fortunately on this trip I had stuff to think about, like going to Toronto and being able to shop, so I am spending hours at a time just thinking about Toronto and seeing my friends and family.

Here are our votes:

Could you see yourself doing this for 23 days at sea?

Amelia - YES
Julie - YES
Alex - YES
Graham - YES

May 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

Ok, so I am not one of those people who let their birthday quietly go by unnoticed.....HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Today I turn 38. Wowza.

It is 2:45am in the morning right now. We are about 20 hours into our trip to Cartagena. We have about another 56 hours ago (give or take a few). The winds have just died down but the moon is out now and it is orange, throwing a streak across the sea. Very cool. The water is glowing from these flosflourescents (sp??) in the ocean. We are so far ahead of our estimated targets but given that the wind has died down we may lose those 3 hours we gained. Alex was sea sick today but he seems to be feeling better now. His appetite seems unaffected by it, so that is good.

Amelia was popping around all day super excited, non stop talking. She can not wait to get back to Toronto. She made a list of all the clothing stores she is going to for a shopping spree and a list of all the restaurants she wants to eat at. She is talking about seeing all her friends and fantasizing about play dates, first day of school and even Halloween! I am hopeful that my mullet will look better once I take the hair straightener to it. I fear my bandanna will not go over well in the city. We all can't wait to come home.

Here is the link to our position report. We are trying to update every four hours. If you click on the dot we can put up to 80 characters for a comment and we usually do.

Have a great May 18th! My favorite day of the year.


May 14, 2009

Weather Window

Well here we sit in Curasco waiting on a weather window. We made the 10 hour hop from Bonaire to Curasco on Mother's Day. We probably should have waited for better weather. The wind was high and the seas were big. We even saw gusts up to 37 knots!! Artemo does great down wind and no one except me, seemed too bothered by the gusting wind and getting belted down. Happy Mother's Day to me!

In amongst these huge waves and wind, we saw a military boat coming right at us. I couldn't believe my eyes. I yelled at Graham to get up on deck because a boat was heading right at us at mock speed. He recognized the boat right away as a military boat, so we yelled at the kids to poke their heads out to see this zodiac manoeuvring in these huge winds and waves. So there is the Perry family with this military boat at us and we are all waving and smiling. All of a sudden I realized that they probably wanted something, so Graham ran down below and turned on the radio. Sure enough they wanted to know our intentions etc. All good though.

We made it to our anchorage which was the bay we stayed at during Christmas. Graham and I somehow forgot how terrible the holding was??? It all came back to us fairly quickly as we anchored, re anchored, re anchored, and so on and so on. Finally we were exhausted and hungry and angry and we are at the front of the boat "discussing" options and still drifting. We finally arrived at a solution. We would use the pole that holds out our Genoa to hold up our second anchor and we would pull up 20 feet of chain and attach the second anchor to it. Viola! We were holding but just to be sure we each took turns staying up on anchor watch for 4 hours at a time. We are holding though. Haven't budged an inch.

So here we are in Curasco for the week waiting on the good weather this weekend. The kids begged us to use their money this week and to get Open Water Dive Certified!!!! and can you believe....I SAID YES! So since Monday, they have been taking their course all day and studying all night. I have never seen them so dedicated. It is really great. I can't tell you how frightening it is though to watch them gear up and head out to the ocean and disappear beneath the water. I think it would be so much easier if I was a diver. Tomorrow is their big test and they can only get 15 questions wrong. We are studying like mad. Cross your fingers for them. I have been taking video and pictures, so hopefully I can post a video soon of their adventure. I am so happy that my fears and worries don't seem to rub off on the two of them. They make me very proud. I on the other hand will be breathing alot easier once their final dive is done tomorrow!

We are heading to Aruba on Saturday and then we have decided to go out with a BANG and do a 3 overnight trip direct to Cartagena! Weather looks like it will be good and it will be a good test, to see how we do at multiple days at sea.

We are all talking nonstop about coming home and getting really excited. We are working on things like summer camps, school for next year, accommodation and finding work! All exciting stuff. We will post some blogs on the last leg.

Can't wait for patio season in TO!


May 08, 2009

Heaven or Hell

I pieced together a bunch of video and pictures from the last few weeks. Shows the highs and lows. Sorry the resolution is so poor. Internet connection isn't so good, so I had to make the file small.

Also, check out Alex's blog for a video of his Piton Climb.


Check out Alex's blog for a video of his Piton Climb.

May 06, 2009

Squall in the Dark

We headed out from Los Roques at 4pm on route to Bonaire. Winds were light and the seas were calm. It was a beautiful downwind sail. The only problem was that off in the distance on the Venezuelan coast the sky was dark. You could tell they were getting rain. As the night set in you could see the sky light up with the lightening. It really freaked me out. Amelia assured me that if I couldn't hear the thunder than we were ok. I managed to relax a bit and tried to enjoy the sail.

The kids went to bed and Graham and I took turns on watch. At about 4:15am Graham woke me up with a start. He told me that the winds had all of a sudden picked up and switched directions and that we needed to get the Genoa down asap and reef the main. I was in a deep sleep and really disorientated. As he said this the torrential rain set in. We were soaked to the bone in seconds and bringing in the genoa. I then had to turn Artemo directly into the wind and big seas while Graham reefed the main.

My heart was thumping. I got Artemo turned back in the general direction and it was still pouring like you have never seen and the wind was howling and it was pitch dark, except for when the sky illuminated with the lightening. We had to move the navigation computer down below because rain was coming from all directions. While I was down below I grabbed one of our books and quickly looked in the index for lightening and opened to the appropriate page. What I read gave me ZERO comfort. I threw the book down and headed back on deck.

Graham asked me to put the computer at the back in the kids room and yell directions at him from there so that we could minimize water getting below. I did just that. There I was in between two sleeping kids, yelling, "5 more to starboard".

Once Artemo was holding course I started to feel a little guilty and dry down below but not guilty enough I guess because I accidentally fell asleep! Imagine Graham's angry face after he has yelled for me and knocked for me and finally opens the companionway door to find me sleeping! Very funny!

Finally the rain subsided and the sun came up and we could see land! At this point you might think that Graham would rest or dry off? NOPE, he made me a cappuccino! Nothing says I love you more than a cappuccino!

The kids didn't wake up til we had tied up to our mooring ball. They came up on deck all smiles, waving at our neighbors. We had arrived in yet another beautiful destination!

May 03, 2009

and Artemo sits alone

We made it to Los Roques after quite an adventurous overnight sail. We left Blanquilla with two other boats. It was comforting to have other boats to talk to on the way. It was also neat to see if we could keep up to them. I found that we questioned ourselves a bit more though. If the other boats didn't put up their main, then we wondered if we should take ours down or if they reefed, etc.. It was good learning. Turns out Artemo goes FAST!!!! We even managed to take the lead for awhile. Then I told Graham to slow the heck down. We were surfing down waves at up to 11.2 knots. This is crazy. We usually do 6 to 7 knots on a good day. Wait til you see the pictures the buddy boat took of us surfing! The waves were the biggest I've seen yet and the roll was probably the worst but remarkably we were all rather calm. I think we are becoming acclimatized (knock on wood). The kids love the overnight sailing because they go to bed and wake up and we are there. We had a really exciting moment as the sun was rising on this journey. Alex caught his first fish, a TUNA! The video is hilarious. We had a line out both sides but unfortunately the first fish he caught must of been huge because it snapped the line. Graham and Alex brought the tuna on board and let me tell you, we had the best meal EVER. I am now a tuna lover. Who would of thought we would see the day?

Los Roques is really neat. There are a ton of little islands surrounded by reef and separated by about 5 to 10 miles between them. Sailing is amazing because the water is so calm. The town is on a island called EL Gran Roque. It is all sand streets and the buildings are all painted nicely. It felt like we were on a movie set. We rounded one corner and there was 1 Valdez pulling a cart behind him.

It is fun to be in country were they don't speak English. Good to struggle a bit. We needed to exchange some money and we found a fellow who spoke some English. He got on his cell and within moments down the street comes the money exchanger. If you exchange at the bank you get 2.2 to the dollar, from a guy on the sand street, you get anywhere from 4.8 to 5.5!!! We were rich! We bought some veggies and fruit and picked up some dusty groceries from the "Supermarket". I use the term "Supermarket" loosely. There was nothing super about it but we did find some basics. We also splurged and had dinner out at a pizzeria. We had enough leftovers that we played "pizza deliver" and delivered pizza to our 2 buddy boats.

Right now we are anchored at a tiny island and Artemo sits alone! It is very cool to be the only boat. Graham said that this is what he pictured when he dreamed this dream. Artemo at anchor alone in crystal clear water, surrounded by reef, plenty of fish, beautiful beach, many birds and even flying pink flamingo!

In amongst all this adventuring we are still home schooling. I never thought I would be sitting on my boat in the Caribbean paper mache'ing! We need to take a picture to send in for grading. I will need to explain why both Alex's dragon and Amelia's puffer fish are blue and red. The only paint we have on board.

This afternoon we leave for another overnight sail to Bonaire. We are making chic pea pot pies for the journey tonight. Funny how little things like dinner menu gets us all excited. :-)

April 29, 2009

Blanquilla - by Amelia

Blanquilla is a cool island. It has nice sand beaches and lots of cool shells. Me and mom found a bunch that are really colorful. Even orange ones. There are also lots of flamingo tongues. Flamingo tongues live on coral fans. When they die they come up onto the beaches. We found at least a hundred here. It was one overnight sail from Los Testigos to Blanquilla. The water is crystal clear. There are lots of boats around us and the snorkeling is ok.

Today we had to make paper mache for art. Alex made a dragon and I made a fish, just like the one we are going to catch on today's overnight sail. I am going to make a scape book of all the places we are visiting in Venezuela before we come home for 6 months. Yesterday the coast guard came to our boat and boarded us. We gave them cookies and I don't think they liked them. They only ate half of them. They spoke Spanish and Dad only knew a little bit which is poco in Spanish. All Dad knows is dough cervasas por favor. They just wanted to see our boat papers and passports. Mom still made me put all the electronics away just in case.

I am looking forward to going and seeing Los Roques. We are going on the sail today and tonight. It looks like it will be so much fun. Can't wait to see the snorkeling.
Love Amelia

April 27, 2009

Push Pins

I ski but I am not a skier. I sail but I am not a sailor. I snorkel but I am not a swimmer. I am a small town base brat, doing things I never could have come up with on my own.

I remember when Graham and I moved into our first apartment together 20 years ago. He started telling me about how people back packed around Europe. I am sure my first question would of been, "Where's Europe?". I remember how excited I was at the possibility of taking a plane and flying to a different country and setting off exploring. We bought a map of Europe and taped it onto a big piece of cardboard and pinned flags in all the countries we wanted to visit. We began to save and plan and dream. As much fun as it was to talk about it and dream about it I still didn't think we would actually go but I kept putting one foot in front of the other in the planning process. Then before I knew it we had all the money saved up, the three months off, the travel plans and we were off. It was totally possible.

If someone had told me all those years ago as I pushed pins into countries in Europe that some day I would be sitting in the cockpit of a 43 foot sail boat in the dark, with no land in sight, with my two children on board, I would have never believed them.

This is our fourth overnight sail and it is definitely getting easier. Alex isn't sea sick. The kids actually slept through the whole night. The anxiety left after only an hour out this time. We have sailed the whole way. Graham has rigged up Artemo so she sails FAST downwind. It is wonderful.

In the middle of the night I could hear Graham yelling at me, "Julie, Julie, get over here you gotta see this". Of course I wake up in panic mode and then he tells me that he was watching the waves break along the boat and then there right before him on a few feet away in the darkness were dolphins. SO COOl. I didn't get to see them but I fed off his excitement. How lucky we are to be experiencing all of this. Blanquilla is about 9 nautical miles away and we have about an hour an a half more to go.

I can't help but wonder what life has in store for me down the road. Will I be reflecting 20 years from now, saying, "20 years ago I never would have thought that I would be....." Maybe I can imagine up the next crazy dream.

April 25, 2009

Off the grid

Here we are in Los Testigo's. It is such a strange feeling. Feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. There are about 6 little islands and they are fairly low lying. Looks like there are almost no people living here, just a very small fishing village. We are anchored in front of a small gap between two of the islands and we can see the waves breaking in front of us. There is a beautiful white sand beach that goes on for a while on one side of the gap and the water looks crystal clear. We spent the afternoon there today. Late last night one other sail boat appeared. They have a website written on the side of it ( We went over and met them today and Amelia made them a bracelet with their boat name on it. We invited them over for happy hour and ....THEY SAID NO??? We are missing our friends Dave and Cheryl from Aries, big time!

A few fishermen rowed out to us today and asked in Spanish for what we thought was a camera. I said, "No but we have hot chocolate chip cookies". They looked at me in confusion. I said the only Spanish I know, "Une Momento". I gave them a big plate of hot gooey cookies that Alex made and they seemed happy. Turns out that they were looking to borrow a snorkel mask to clean the bottom of their fishing boat. Makes more sense! ha.

There are HUGE jelly fish in the water here. They are about the size of a basket ball and they have a red rim. I am not a big fan of swimming with jelly fish. The fishermen say they are harmless....?

Everyone on Artemo is very happy. We have tons of wind, so we can play the WII now! Today the kids woke up and hit the cook books. They have been really enjoying cooking. Last night they made sushi. Dave and Cheryl from Aries managed to make it to Grenada to meet us before we left for Venezuela and they gave us a few speciality items that we have been enjoying. Sushi seaweed wraps being one of them!

Today Graham rigged up a pole that will keep our Genoa sail way out to the side on our down wind overnight sail tomorrow to Banquilla. I am soooo happy. This will mean no flapping head sail. I hate the sound of flogging sails. Now our main and Genoa will be wide open and we should get the maximum amount of push we can get from the wind. We are going to head off before the sunset this time. We are hoping this will help us get settled before the darkness sets in.

We are all suffering from internet withdrawal, hence yet another blog post from me. It is strange not being able to see you all online. Funny how a little green dot next to your names on google talk, an email or a quick skype call can make us feel closer.

Thinking of you while we are off the grid


April 24, 2009


Pitch black, no lights from land or other boats present and Artemo was rolling back and forth from side to side. The motion felt so foreign to me. I just couldn't believe that it could be "Normal".

The wind was coming from directly behind us and the waves were coming from right beside us. Graham had worked his quiet magic in Grenada and rigged up these lines to hold the main way out to the side to catch the maximum amount of wind. It was working but the roll....oh my, "the roll"! We thought we had everything latched down but we found a few more things that came loose and began to bang around. This added to my panicky feeling. I felt my legs begin to shake and I realized it was fear.

I sat next to Graham and asked him, "The boat couldn't roll over on this point of sail...right?" I just wanted him to reassure me all was well. He was not in the mood to play the, "Everything is ok Julie" game. I sat back on my own side and I gave myself a talking to. I took some deep breaths and then it was as if Artemo whispered to me..."It's ok I've done this before".

Beautiful, wonderful, sturdy Artemo. Her strength overtook me and I wasn't scared. My legs stopped shaking and I began to relax. Amelia came up from below and saw how calm and peaceful I was and she mimic'd this. We enjoyed the night together on deck.

Night ended and the glorious sun rose. So good to be able to see again. About an hour ago Graham yelled, "Land Ho". Finally we can see land. We also had the opportunity to talk to our friend Ross from Gemini on the SSB this morning and we got to talk to Dad. This made the ocean seem a little smaller.

Amelia and I made a big batch of crepes and Alex and Graham got the fishing line all worked out and we are trawling. Right now I am sitting in the cockpit. Graham is sleeping. Alex is reading and laughing out loud and Amelia is watching Gilmore Girls. The islands of Los Testigos are really coming into sight and look beautiful.

Artemo has both her Genoa and main way out to the starboard side and she is bringing us in!

April 23, 2009

Venezuela here we COME!!

Just a quick note to let you know that in about an hour we will be heading out to Venezuela. This will be our first time heading out in the dark. We are all excited. We should arrive tomorrow before lunch in Los Testigos. I will try and update our position reports on the way! Sooooo exciting.

April 19, 2009

The Grand Finale - by Alex

We have returned to Grenada after a long sail. About half way through the trip I thought to myself, "Why are we ........... click to read the rest on Alex's new blog site......

April 17, 2009

Overnight sail on Artemo

Forced the kids and Graham to write their thoughts about the trip and resisted every urge in me to edit them :-)! Enjoy

Alex: Sailing in the dark is better because you can't tell if you are on deck or below deck. Sailing to Grenada was so-so. During the day I was sea sick and at night it just got bearable. Sleeping was hard because of the constant rocking but the voice of the guy from Plant Earth helped me go to sleep. Once we got behind St Vincent the rocking stopped and we had dinner and m*a*s*h. Then I fell asleep and slept most of the way. Love most of you. Alex
ps what i mean is I love all my family reading this and like the rest of you!

Amelia: It was very scary being out there. The waves look so different in the moonlight. Although it was cool to be able to stay up for a few hours at midnight, I was so nervous that someone would fall overboard. We didn't even have flashlights or whistles on our life jackets, which we now have.
ps Aunty Ann-Marie tell the Sparks family I miss them
pss I love you Nanny Donna
psss I love you Nanny and Papa

Julie: At one point we looked out ahead and a sail boat was sailing towards us. We all sat and watched in amazement. The front of the boat would dip so far into the huge waves and the wind would push it so far over in our direction that it would look like it was heading for us and then it would come out on top of the wave and correct its heading. As we were all watching with our mouths opened. I looked at the kids and said, "Do you think that is what we look like?" The realization was a little scary and exciting.

Graham: Well, my crew preformed excellent on our first overnight sail of this season. We learned lots of lessons about what needs to be lashed down better (today I was out getting webbing to strap down items that always seem to be on the move). I also found out what it is like to cook a meal while the boat is rocking back and forth in confused seas. I liked sailing at night: the sky is full of stars, you watch the sun set, the moon rise and eventually (hopefully) the sun rise again.

April 15, 2009


The four of us have made a pretty big decision about a week or so ago but before we get there I need to share a few details that I haven't mentioned. When Artemo left Grenada and we watched as we left what we thought was our black cloud behind and we headed to Carriacou, we thought it was smooth sailing ahead. We were exhausted both physically and mentally at that point. When we found more problems on that first leg of the trip after the reno, it was more than a little devastating. We really felt defeated. All four of us. We began to talk about what the trip was suppose to be and were we all happy. We told the kids flat out that it was "Four in or Four out"! They said they wanted out and Graham and I were easily convinced. We were done. We all started to fantasize about our new life in Toronto. A new place near the kids friends, with all our things from Alberta. We even talked about getting a dog. Amelia started thinking about how she would design her new room and Alex was wondering about Jr High with his friends. Graham and I thought about life minus the stress and continuous problems. We thought about how great it would be to start fresh in TO.

We decided that we would sail to Antigua and haul Artemo out and put her up for sale. We decided that we would start enjoying the days more, even though there was still much work to do. Introduce a bit more balance. We also decided to try and just let the idea sit with us for a few months and "Decide not to decide". We realized how easy it is to change our mind and we wanted to wait til we were sure that we were done with this chapter of our life before we said it was so.

Turned out that this was the best thing we could of done. The pressure of "around the world" was gone and we also thought that we might only have a few more months of this life left, so we tried to soak it in. Then the strangest thing happened. Alex and Amelia were gone for the night to our friends Cheryl and Dave's boat and Graham and I had a chance to talk alone. Graham finally said it out loud that he thought we were heading in the wrong direction. Even if we decided not to decide, we could turn around and start heading in the right direction of the Panama Canal. As soon as he said it, I was excited. It totally seemed like the right thing to do. Over the past few months when times were good we would joke about who wanted to stay and who wanted to go. Amelia was pretty much up for anything. She seemed to sway whatever way the wind was blowing. Alex wasn't so easily convinced. He had already picked out his type of dog and was wanting off the crazy Perry roller coaster. Graham and I realized that if Alex wanted didn't want to continue then we wouldn't be.

Well the next morning Alex and Amelia came home. Graham and I were working on the floors and we didn't say a word to the kids about our discussion and out of the blue Alex says, "You know I could see myself sailing around the world." Graham and I stopped working and my mouth dropped. We told Alex and Amelia about our discussion the night previous. All of sudden our faces were all smiles and we were all saying, "Four IN"!!! So exciting, so very exciting. We had decided to turn around and begin to head towards PANAMA! We spent that night reviewing all of our options as a family and making sure that we really were all good with this new turn of events.

So here is the gist of what we have decided so far but please keep in mind that as with any plan, things change. Today (in like 20 minutes) we are leaving beautiful St Lucia and going for a 20 to 24 hour overnight sail to Grenada. We are going to sail down the windward side of the islands, to try and flex our sailing skills. We have had our life raft serviced and watched how it inflated and saw what provisions were inside it. We bought flares that weren't expired. We have our EPIRB. Amelia and I packed our ditch bag. We hooked up our hydrovane. We are deflating our dinghy and we are ready.

The plan is to stay in Grenada for a bit, then sail 3 nights to Los Roches and then to Curasco and then to Cartenga, Columbia!!! We hope to haul Artemo out in Cartenga and be home the first week in June for about 6 months. The kids want to go to school in our old neighborhood, so we will need to find a place from September to December in the district. There it is, our plan on paper! So are we all a little nervous about the sail tomorrow??? YES!! Alex said he wished he could just snap his fingers and we would arrive at the next destination. Wouldn't that be nice. The kids are hoping their friend Adam is still at the marina in Grenada. I will try and post a note enroute through the SSB. Who knows after 24 hours of sailing the plan might change :-)! Life is funny that way but for now it is "FOUR IN"!

April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

This morning we said goodbye to Jason. The water taxi came to Dad's boat and off Jason zoomed around the Piton and out of sight. gulp.....we miss him already.

It was neat to have a visitor on board. We all loved seeing our life through someone else's eyes. We kept asking him what he thought. If it was what he expected. What he liked and didn't liked. Jason felt all the things that we felt and described it to us perfectly and of course with his Uncle Jason sense of humor. We laughed, man did we laugh. The kind of laughing that makes you feel good to the core. Jason got to have a taste of the life. From the motion of the boat, the feeling of movement on land, the shower situation, the lack of space, the glorious quiet mornings, the beautiful setting sun, and of course happy hour!

This was Jason's first holiday to someplace tropical, so he had never snorkeled before. Amelia and Alex were so excited to show him their underwater world. They were so proud of how far their swimming and free diving have come that they couldn't wait to show him their skills. It was fun to watch. Kids and I guess anyone for that matter, love recognition.

We anchored next to Dads boat Mystic Journey and we swam or rowed back and forth. We had dinners at each others boats and we also got Dave and Cheryl from Aries in on the group get togethers. We spent most of our time anchored in between the two Pitons.

Yesterday Alex and I rented a hobby cat. These are little catamarans with one main sail. It was ....ummmm....exciting to say the least. Since Alex has had 3 summers of sail camp on little boats, it put him in a position of having more experience than me but me being the adult had more experience with not pushing our luck, so needless to say we spent the majority of our time arguing while sailing this little cat. Alex's skills were really good though and he even managed to bring it up alongside Mystic Journey and allow Jason to jump on. Jason got to see first hand how Alex and I sail together....LOL. Alex was working the rudder and I was working the sheet (line connected to the sail). Alex would get her on the point of sail he wanted and yell at me to either harden or release the sheet. He would get really angry when I wouldn't do it fast enough or if I was reluctant to harden to much. Oh well, Jason got a real peak at how I do under stress....not well.

The Easter bunny managed to get his act together at the last moment and the kids woke up and began their hunt. I hope, I hope, I hope they found all the chocolate eggs because if not, I am sure the ants will.

We have another piece of HUGE news......we realized that we are heading the wrong direction. We are turning around and heading South not North. We are even considering getting the boat to Cartenga before we come home in June!!!! stay tuned for the next blog!!!!!

Have some ham for us and enjoy your Easter.


April 04, 2009

Where to begin...

We now have the most beautiful floor EVER. We all love the floor. We can't stop admiring it and inviting people over to admire it. It is soooooo nice. Out of all the things we (being mostly Graham) have done to improve the boat, the floor makes the biggest impact to the beauty!

We didn't quite know how to go about making new floors but as with anything new sometimes you just gotta dive in! We checked into options for flooring and decided on buying plywood and teak & holly laminate to glue on top. It worked out really well but of course there was a bit of trial and error. We borrowed a saw to cut the plywood and had to find an area to do our cutting, which of course meant carrying wood back and forth. We traced each of our existing floor boards onto the new plywood and cut them out. Then we............NEVER MIND.....BORING......long story short....a few fights...more than a few swears.....LOADS of sweat.....unrelenting heat......many visitors while we plugged away.......late nights.......frustration....and then at last.......pride of accomplishment!

You guys have heard me say it but I am going to say it again.....Graham is amazing! He can now add "Make boat floors" to his list of things he can do, along with boss me around but that has been on the list for awhile :-)! It was a little strange to be his assistant on this project. Obviously he has more experience with construction and power tools, so there was no way I was taking the lead but I think I would of rathered work the jig saw than spread the contact cement! All totally worth it though.

The kids lives were not disrupted to much. They spent four nights away. They were more than happy to escape the chaos. They were thrilled to have Grampa Griff and Nana Cheryl here to spend time with and they also really enjoyed their time at Aries with Cheryl and Dave. When they were here, they were catching up on their homeschooling, swimming, buying ice cream, and playing with friends.

During the week we met so many new people it was unbelievable. I said to Graham that it is like we are in a movie and new characters keep entering. Most of the nights once we had everything cleaned up and were showered, happy hour began on deck and we had people over. One lady we met had the most amazing stories. She just arrived from South Africia. She single handed her boat most of the way from Australia, once her husband was emergency evacuated from their boat!!! He left in June and she has sailed all the way here since then. You can just imagine her stories and she looks like a granny!!! SERIOUSLY! She is the total opposite of me. Not emotional in the least. When I asked if she considered going back to the states and making sure her husband was ok after his strokes, she looked appalled. Why would she do that when she needed to get the boat moved? She said she had only talked to her hubby a couple of times since June. I guess after 45 years of marriage there wasn't much left to say?? She was 42 days at sea with only a couple of days break at day 12 on a small island. After she left Graham and I looked at each other and were like..."What the heck is stopping us from the world?"! It was inspiring.

Tomorrow Jason gets here and we begin a week of holidays. The kids will take a break from school work and Graham and I will take a break from boat work. We plan on .......HAVING FUN! Artemo and Mystic Journey will hopefully also see their first sail together. Stay tuned.

Missing you.....on our new floors in St Lucia


March 26, 2009

The Shower

One of the many benefits about having the boat on the dock is that we get to use the marinas shower facilities. It is such a luxury to be able to run the water and shower in private. On our first day here at the marina, Graham and I headed to the shower building. When we got there this fellow cruiser saw us and told us that there was a better shower building behind the pool. He told how the stalls where huge, there was a place to put your stuff down and there was even hot water. He said it was a much better place to shower. Graham and I thanked him and headed out of the building and past the cleaning woman. The cleaning woman looked angry that we were going to the other building to shower. I am not sure why? She shouted something at us but we were following the cruiser.

Regardless when I got to the other building there was another cleaning women and she was on her cell phone. When she saw me, she snapped her cell phone shut and gave me this angry face. That was when I realized that the other women must have just phoned her. She put her broom across the door way and said I had to go back to the other building. I was in shock. It was so blatant, that I actually said, "Did the other lady just phone you?" She actually said, "Yes". I asked her why she was so angry and that all I wanted was a nice shower. She told me that she was going to clean this one and that I would have to go back. I could tell the shower was clean and that she was done and that they were both just making a point. I was really angry and all this just over a shower.

I went back over to the other building and sure enough that cleaning woman is just closing her phone. I said, "I can't believe this? Did she just call you? All I want is a shower. This is ridiculous!" All of a sudden showering on the back of my boat didn't seem so bad. It was definitely less headache, even if I did have to fill up the bag, hang the bag and shower for all to see. Now I try to time my visits without running into these far so good, except for one run in yesterday that didn't end well!

Yesterday we went for a hike over the south end of the island with our friends Dave and Cheryl. It was really fun and we found some cool things. Alex on hikes will usually want to deviate from the established path and he loved that Dave was easily convinced and sometimes even initiating adventuring off on a tangent! We made it back to the marina with 10 minutes left on happy hour, albeit we had to run the last 100 meters. The kids played in the pool while we enjoyed our cheap 2 for 1 drinks! Dave "accidentally" fell in the pool and ended up doing all sorts of crazy tricks for the kids; back flips, handstand dives, full rotation jumps, the list goes on. The kids were in heaven and inspired. Graham and I were shocked to find out that Dave is 61. I can tell you this....61 ain't what it use to be!!!!

March 23, 2009

Long Weekend at the Pitons

The kids finished off there school unit a couple of days early and we decided to sail up to the Pitons here in St Lucia, for a long weekend vacation. A break from school work and boat work.

We had such a great weekend. The Pitons are two huge mountains and you anchor in between the two. The Pitons have the most amazing snorkeling around them. To quote Amelia..."That was the best snorkeling of my life!" The mountains are great for hiking and of course there are waterfalls and volcanoes to walk to. It is the perfect destination as far as we are concerned. You feel like you are away from everything and enjoying every aspect of nature that we love.

The cherry on top for the kids was that there is a resort nestled on this beautiful beach in between the Pitons and the resort turned a blind eye to our use of....1) Slide in the water 2) floating dock to jump from 3) cushioned beach chairs with canopies above them 4) massive swimming pool 5) Huge swinging KING SIZE BEDS surrounding the pool with shade over top 6) ping pong table 7) play structure.......OK, so you get the picture....AMAZING and then when you think it can't get any better the resort worker brings around a tray of free punch for everyone. The other great thing was that yesterday our Canadian friends from the catamaran "Stray Kitty" came around and anchored next to us. We got to enjoy a day at the beach with them. The kids had ...and to quote Alex..."The best day EVER!"

Now you can't have a weekend without a moment here and there, where we all don't agree. On Saturday we decided that we would hiked up and find the volcano, hot spring and mud baths. We knew it would be a bit of an adventure and that it would also be a hike. The kids were in for it though, so away we went. As we were heading to shore in the dinghy we spotted "Stray Kitty" and they were all getting into their dinghy and this is where the moment begins.....

Chris said they were all heading to town to hire a van and guide for a tour of the volcano and hot springs, etc...and hey did we want to come with them, we could split the costs. Can you guess what happens next? Our kids get bit by the envy bug...I start to think that maybe we are to cheap, and maybe it would be fun to just hire a tour, and it pretty hot out, and the kids could spend the day together, etc, etc, etc. We get to the dock and the negotiations begin....250 ec to hire the van and then admission fees for the places and they are going to go to the gardens to and we start thinking about lunch....YIKES. How did we go from having a day of hiking and enjoying the cool beer, juice and snacks in our backpack to spending a day in a van, squeezed in and spending money....Graham and I after discussion (in amidst mass chaos) knew we had to tell the kids we just couldn't do it....THEY WERE SOOOOOO MAD. Over the top mad but the funny thing was that as we hiked up the hill towards the volcano....Graham and I could hardly keep up with them they were walking so fast, giving us the cold shoulder!:-). We didn't need to tell them to pick up the pace even once.

When we arrived at the volcano, we decline the use of a guide and saved a bit more money. We found these mud baths and we went down and did as the locals do. We covered ourselves in hot mud and then washed it off in the hot, hot, stream. As we were doing this we saw a tour way above us on the bridge, watching. Yelling down every so often questions..."How does it feel?"..."How hot is it?" could here some of the kids asking their parents, can't we go down but the answer was "No". Next we found a hot springs with a mini waterfall and we bathed. Again another tour group taking pictures of us and asking us how it felt from up at the look out point. When we finished and came back up, two little boys, asked us how warm the water was and was it fun. I couldn't help but think...."The grass is always greener!" Here my kids were wishing they were on a tour and here these kids were wishing they were standing in the hot waterfalls. We hiked some more and came up to the top to a beautiful museum and watched a video on how the volcano came to be. We asked the lady who was working there how come we were the only ones there? She said the tours don't walk all the way up. I resisted every urge in me all day to say to the kids "See....I think we made the right decisions!" You can imagine the urge was great.

As we hiked we met a few locals along the way. I told the kids that everyone has a story and we have to just listen. We met a Rastafarian man named John Alexander. He was sitting about half way up the mountain making necklaces. We all sat down and took a break and he told us how he made them. Who knew he actually planted the seeds and grew the trees that produced the nuts that he made holes in and dried out to put onto the jewelery he made. He told us how in 1998 he bought the seeds and how he planted more than one tree just in case one  of them didn't grow. He offered us some of his lunch. He gave us some of these really cool seeds that turn bright orange and black. He was really neat. On the way back down I bought one of the necklaces. We only had $10ec to offer him but he said that was fine. Mom, this necklace will come home with Jason for you. He also gave us two of the seeds with holes he put in them since he heard that Amelia made jewelry. He said she could make earrings out them and she has. These will also be coming to you mom. They are beautiful.

Anyway I can't end this tale with the kids saying "Gee Mom and Dad we are so glad we didn't take the tour" because it didn't but at least a bit of my guilt is eased for not doing it :-)!

As I type, we are heading back to Rodney Bay for a week of school work and floor making!

Miss you guys.


March 19, 2009

Karaoke in the Caribbean - by Alex

Last night was the real one. It was fun and enjoyable. Yesterday was karaoke night. They brought in a big system and they gave us a huge book of songs to chose from. It was really cool because we knew alot of them, so it was easy to pick. The evening started off with chatting with some friends and then I made a deal with Amelia. I told her that I would sing with her if she sang "Hit me with your best shot", by Pat Benatar. SHE DID IT and half way through, mom popped up and started singing with her and this was funny because the guy came up and turned on her microphone. Mom was really loud. That was the shocker. After that Amelia and I sang "Born to be wild". I was nervous and my legs actually started shaking, very weird.

When we were done we went for a swim in the pool, in the dark. It was nice and refreshing. We then went to our friends boat called "Aries" with Cheryl and Dave and had dinner there and played a game of scrabble. All in all it was a great night.

PS...we made it to the Pitons today. When we left the dock....things got a little crazy and we almost hit the dock, we may have nicked it. Thank goodness Dad was at the helm!

March 18, 2009

If I had this boat, I would be happy every day of my life

The other day this St Lucian man named John came by. He does odd jobs around the marina for money. He is a really nice guy and knows that we won't be spending any money but he stops by and admires the boat every so often. I was down below in the kitchen when he stopped by and I could hear him talking to Graham. Graham was rebedding all of the stanchions around the boat. Pretty time consuming job but well worth it. Graham was saying the typical, how much work it was to have a boat, same ol' same ol' and then I heard John reply..."If I had this boat, I would be happy every day of my life."

It was like a light switch went on for me. It touched me so deeply, I can't get his comment out of my mind. Each time I think about it, I actually get tears in my eyes. Isn't it funny how it is all about perspective. I am lucky; I have everything I need. I don't want to be bitten by the "I want, I wish, I need" bug anymore. I am really really grateful and if any of you catch me complaining about anything on this boat, ever again, call me on it. Envy isn't a good thing and you so quickly lose sight of what you have.

In the mist of mulling this comment, over and over in my head. Alex had a homeschooling assignment yesterday to review a fable and write an observational paragraph. The fable he choose was about a family who felt their home was to crowded. They went to the Rabbi and asked his advice and over the course of a few weeks and a few visits, he instructed them to move their chickens, cows and goats into the house. As you can imagine the house was full, crazy and dirty. They went back to the Rabbi and he told them to take all the animals out of the house and clean it from top to bottom and come see him the next day. They came back the next day and they were so happy. The Rabbi asked them if the house still felt crowded and of course they said, "No, we have more than enough room!"

Alex was watching me read over the fable and watching the tears come to my eyes(I know I blubber to much) and then I told him and Millie about John's comment and how easy it was to get caught up with wanting more and not being happy with what you have.

As we sail around, we are going to meet some people with more and some people with less. I know that if it is challenging for me to go have dinner at a huge, beautiful catamaran ( and not have the occasional "I wish"...pop out of my mouth or have the neighbor offer to wash our laundry in his washing machine on his 65 foot brand new yacht and not think..."I need", then you can imagine how hard it is for the kids but the first step is the realization :-)!

I am a grateful, happy, satisfied, lucky woman!

March 16, 2009

Nothin' Special

I realized after reading Chantelle's comment that I might not have mentioned before how many folks are out here living this life. It is ALOT. It really doesn't seem that special. Most of the folks down here are couples over 50 (most of the time even over 60) enjoying their retirement. The men seem to love the projects and tinkering and the women seem to love to swim, snorkel, craft, cook, picture take, etc. Many of them have been doing it for so many years, that they know many, many people and they are always getting together and hanging out and meeting up along the way. We are told that the Caribbean is the Disneyland of sailing destinations. It is pretty easy to get around and so many folks to help you out if you get in trouble.

There are also more families than you would think. We meet at least one in each anchorage. Most of the folks out here though, have been sailing forever. Either both of them began in their youth or at least the husband did. Also, most of the couples have done at least one huge open water crossing.and a few others have actually circumnavigated. Now don't get me wrong, this is a really cool life but it isn't like we are forging new ground or doing the impossible.

Things have been going well. We are definitely enjoying ourselves. The kids have been memorizing a poem for Uncle Rob. He told them he would pay them if they could each recite one from a list he gave them when they got home. The poem Alex chose has got us all thinking. It is the best poem. As he memorizes each verse we end up discussing and each line seems to be able to resonate differently with each of us. It is such a cool exercise to memorize poetry, even though it was motivated by money, it has turned out to be great family fun! Below is the poem that has got us talkin'. Enjoy!

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son! ________________________________________

March 12, 2009

Life on the Dock

Graham and I decided that we would like to redo the floors inside the boat. Currently they are basically just covered plywood with this paper or laminate that has been well worn. We want to redo them in teak and holly. We decided that this would be better accomplished on the dock. We headed into Rodney Bay Marina here in St Lucia a couple of days ago and we have all been enjoying being able to step off the boat onto land whenever we please! The other great thing about being in the marina is that you are meeting people constantly. Our friends Ross, Wei and Ishbel are on the dock next door and we have met a few other cool Canadians. We are heading to a boat called Stray Kitty tonight. They are a family from Ottawa with 3 kids, who headed out in July last year and sold everything and are doing basically the same thing we are. They came over for drinks the other night and we had such a good time swapping stories and the kids got along good. Nice to know that everything we are going through, others are too! Last night we went for drinks at a boat named Aries, with a lady named Cheryl aboard. Cheryl is from Victoria and has an amazing beautiful Liberty boat. She brought up all the deck cushions onto her back deck and she spread out a bunch of food and munchies and we sat under the beautiful Caribbean sky and it felt like we were camping or on a picnic. Really nice! Oh and another neat thing is that her husband’s cousin is David Miller. We were saying how we all fell in love with Toronto and she mentioned how proud David was of the city!!! Too cool.
Ok, all fun and good times aside, we decided today that we better turn our minds away from rum punch and on to finishing our floors. First thing on the agenda is to find someone with the skills to cut the wood from the templates we provide. We will let you know how it all goes.

The kids are working like crazy on homeschooling and are timing their break for the week Uncle Jason arrives, so far they are on schedule!

Still missing you


March 06, 2009

The biggest flying fish I've ever seen

While we were sailing from Cumberland Bay to ST Lucia an amazing thing happened. I was laying on the lower side and mom saw something jump out of the water. She said, 'That's the biggest flying fish I've ever seen.' I asked her if it was a flying fish or just a jumping fish and she said she wasn't sure and then another one jumped out of the water and we realized they were dolphins. We all got up on the high side and watched the dolpins swim alongside the boat. There were big ones, small ones and baby ones. It was really cool. The boat was leaned right over and we were all yelling and smiling. It was one of the best moments of our sailing trip.

Ok, done with the dolphins movin on. We are in St Lucia and we are doing our school work on this table on land and mom says she is going to check out this store and she comes out and we don't see anything and we come back to the boat and mom comes out with this itsy bitsy bikini on!!

Mom and Dad say they will give us five bucks every time they fight. We have 10 bucks so far. We are going to be rich soon.

Amelia and Alex
Tobago Cays

March 04, 2009

Good bye Tobago Cays

As a finale to our Cays trip we pulled up anchor and headed out in front of the horseshoe shape reef and anchored for a few hours at Petite Tabac. This is the island in Pirates of the Caribbean where Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth are abandoned and they watch Jack's ship sail away. We danced on the beach and knocked on a few coconut trees. It was really awesome. The water was so clear. We took some amazing pictures that we will post once we have an internet connection.

We then headed to the island named Mayreau for the night. The anchorage was so calm and the water seemed like glass. We had our friend Joanne over for pizza night and it was the perfect evening, light breeze, clear sky, good food, wine and great conversation. It is so nice when we meet folks who can include the kids in the conversation and the hours pass like minutes.

The next morning, the kids, Graham and Joanne went for a snorkel and then we said our good byes and headed out for Bequia. The sail was good. I will toot my own horn for a minute. I sail Artemo really well!! We are of course always on a close haul but I seem to be able to find that sweet spot where she cuts through the water on the side of her belly and you can see her speed getting higher and higher. If I don't look at the gages and just feel the wind in my face and really get into it, I can increase
the speed substantially. It is really cool. It is like you become part of the boat. Once you throw big waves into the equation, it is like you are riding a horse or I guess what I imagine riding a horse would be. The helm is your reigns and you reach the top of the wave or jump and down you come. Sometimes you come down gently and sometimes you come down hard.

Today we headed out from Bequia to the main island of St Vincent, to a bay named Cumberland Bay. The sail was a mixture of high, medium and low winds. Alex loves to go fast. He is always asking or telling us to put out more sail, more sail, more sail! Today Graham and I gave into him and out went full sails in up to 25 knot winds and it was as if Artemo sang with pleasure. We got up to 9.5 knots. The faster we went the bigger Alex's smile got. I got hit with a huge wave and got a full on shower.
The kids enjoyed this. Luckily we had the companionway closed.

We arrived at Cumberland Bay and it looks like a lake. The water is so calm and very deep. We needed to backed into the shore and then these guys, called boat boys, take a rope from your boat to the trees on shore and tie you off and you have your anchor off the front end holding you in a line. It took us forever and much frustration to try and master this technique and of course with everything out here, there is always an audience! Graham is running between the anchor, the helm and the rope at
the rear of the boat and the rest of us are trying to help out where we could. It was quite a show I am sure! The Perry's had arrived.

We have been enjoying the afternoon. We paddled all around, swam and the kids have been fishing. Tomorrow we leave for St Lucia. We are all missing internet! Especially Alex. Amelia is busy, busy, doing many crafts with shells, knitting, crocheting and of course reading. As I type, Graham is making crepes and enjoying a rum punch. I can't wait to post some pictures. I will force the kids to write the next blog!

Still missin' you


March 01, 2009

Sheer bliss and tribulations

I was thinking today, god forbid someone out there envied this lifestyle. There are picture perfect moments of sheer bliss but these moments are balanced out with tribulations. The Tobago Cays lend more to the "sheer bliss" side of the equation but there are still tribulations here. The day before last it seemed like we had a day of them. Our dinghy motor stopped working and without a dinghy motor you have to row everywhere, which is fine if the currents aren't strong and there aren't 4 people in
the dinghy. Luckily our friends Joanne and Dev (Murray) offered to take us out to the reef in their dinghy. En route to the reef their dinghy motor stopped working to but luckily there was another boat around and they towed them back. Dev finally got the motor working and away they went out to the reef. Graham tied the dinghy up to the mooring ball and they all went snorkeling. Unfortunately the dinghy came undone and began drifting away. Joanne noticed this and is a great swimmer and was able to
catch it and then Dev and her drove it back to the mooring ball and tied it up again. Tribulations weren't over yet, later that night I was making dinner and I had the water and pasta on boiling. I went to put the garlic buns in the oven and the pot tumbled over behind the stove and the hot door of the oven fell off. Hot water and pasta everywhere. Arrrrgggg .To quote Graham as he was sitting in the dinghy attached to our boat and the dinghy is flopping and bouncing around while he is taking apart
the motor since it wouldn't start, "For f&^* sakes, it is just like I signed up for army training!" Nothing better than rolley polley ocean, tiny screws and gasoline.

Yesterday was a day of SHEER BLISS. No tribulations to be had. Our dinghy motor began working again, once Graham had cleaned everything out ( it isn't working again and Graham is in the dinghy working on it as I type, such is life.). We all headed out to the reef. The four of us had the best snorkel together yet. We spent time just studying coral heads and all the fish that lived within. The kids are so comfortable snorkeling. They would dive down and point things out for me and take
pictures. Graham led the way and we seemed to go forever. We saw lots of cool fish and coral and got some great photos. We seemed to laugh so much yesterday. One of the funniest moments was when we got back to the dinghy. Graham climbed in and then I went to hoist myself up and I couldn't seem to get myself in. My arms aren't strong enough I guess. Anyway after trying for a bit and having the kids and Graham making fun of me. I finally heave my leg over the side but I am sort of lying on my side
not quite on top of the inflatable. Graham begins pulling me in and saying he has landed himself a big tuna. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe or help him get me in. It seemed to take forever. Very funny.

The other thing we did yesterday was Amelia and I swam naked. We figured everyone else out here does it and you don't get a suit wet and it just feels good! The boys were down below. Alex wanted to be as far away as possible. We had our towels on and we sat on the edge of the boat working up our courage, actually my courage. Amelia was the instigator and she didn't need any courage. She was just waiting for me. Finally I figured what the heck, why not. We jumped in and laughed ourselves silly. It
was a hoot. Even this morning, I heard her giggle and I asked what she was thinking about and she said our swim. To cute.

Last night to end the day, we all pulled the cushions onto the roof and watched the stars. There were so many shooting stars it was amazing. The moon was a sliver and it had a star just beside it, just like you'd see in a kid's picture book. The four of us were laying in a square and we looked up our two masts to this amazing sky. It seemed only appropriate to recite "Winkin, Blinkin and Nod". My mom would say this poem to us every night before we fell asleep. It felt neat to be saying the poem on
the ocean with our bed rocking back and forth. I won't lie to you made me miss my mom.

Still in the Cays and hoping for more bliss


February 26, 2009

"Where's the dinghy?"

"Where's the dinghy?"
Yesterday evening I was up on deck cleaning up from the day. Graham and the kids were getting dinner prep ready. I was about ½ hour into the task and was about to put Amelia's flippers with the rest of the gear in the dinghy and I looked up and...NO DINGHY? I looked left and right in disbelief. I looked to the back of the boat and saw the line still there, and relief swept over me. I figured it must have been tied tight and maybe I just couldn't see it. I began pulling up the line and no dinghy in
sight. Soon the end of the line, with the bit of the dinghy that we attach the rope to attached!! You can imagine my horror. I yell for Graham. Amelia, who loves drama, comes running up first and we both begin scanning the area behind us. We had picked a spot well away from all the charter boats and off in our own area but LUCKILY one of the charter boats had come and anchored behind us, about an hour before hand. I say to Amelia, "Hey isn't that our dinghy hoisted up on their main?" Amelia with
her sharp eyes confirms and we begin to hoot and holler, since they are pulling up the anchor and heading out. They wave back and acknowledge that they have it. They then pull up their anchor and begin to motor over to us with our dinghy attached. They must have been old pros or had a ton of beginners luck because they motored right up to us and handed us the dinghy and unfortunately, since we don't know French and they didn't know English, no words, aside from merci were spoken. I blew them a kiss.
Not sure why. Couldn't think of anything else to do! So our good deed came back to us and thank goodness it did! We now have two different connection points on the dinghy with ropes attached, just in case.
Today was one of those days; I use to dream about when I thought of our life on a sail boat. We spent the morning homeschooling and the afternoon snorkeling, island climbing, sandcastle building, swimming and reading. We came back to the boat and I made an amazing papaya salsa and we had rum punch as the sunset. The kids are played out and reading up a storm and I just feel really good and really fortunate. I am just going to savor the good times.

February 25, 2009

1st post from the SSB - God went crazy with the glitter

1st post from the SSB - God went crazy with the glitter
Yesterday we sailed from Bequia to Tobago Cays. I still feel nervous as we are sailing but it is mostly just the thoughts of what could go wrong, not really nervous about what is happening! Graham and I still need to work on our communication during high stress times. We tend to yell, ha….surprise! And why the heck is it that every time we get blasted by an "out of nowhere" gust of wind that batters us down, I am almost always at the helm???? You know what I realized though that I had forgotten about
myself is that I thrive on competition. Yesterday on our sail here there was a boat ahead of us as we left and for a large part of the trip I wasn't worried about sailing, I was just thinking about passing him and we did!! It felt really good. Once we had passed him, the dark clouds started looking pretty scary and I begged Graham to reef the main before it got to crazy. He did this reluctantly and luckily it turned out that the squall past behind us. Once we reefed though the boat we had passed
was able to pass us. Back to my game face and "Graham get the main all the way out!!!"
Once we reached the Cays we were in awe. It is really beautiful. It is a group of a few small islands and horseshoe shaped reef. The water is every color blue you can imagine and every island has a beautiful white sand beach and picture perfect palm trees. It is a national park; it's like Banff on water! As we began to motor through the passage between two of the islands towards the reef, we look over and who do we see, Amelia's friend Sorlynn (remember the French girl we have met up with a few times
on the crazy boat) arriving on her boat at the same time. There was much waving and yelling to mark our arrival!
We all settled into our new anchorage and we made chicken stew, biscuits and later in the evening buns! The sky was amazing last night. We all laid in the cockpit and looked up at the sky and it was like God had sprinkled glitter across it. It was like no sky I had ever seen. The stars looked crowded. Tonight Amelia wants to sleep on deck, so we will see.
Today we woke up to a wonderful breakfast…..eggs, bacon, potatoes, mango, and coffee….yummy. Amelia unfortunately managed to get in trouble even before 9am, so her punishment was that she couldn't go to the beach in the morning. Graham decided it was a good opportunity for a one-on-one fraction lesson. I don't think she will be sneaking off to read while the rest of us are cleaning up, any time soon. Life goes on even in paradise!
We just got back from a family snorkel. We went to this area where there are MANY turtles. It was very cool. The kids got so comfortable swimming with so many of them that they even began touching them. We are just taking a break now. The kids are reading and Graham is putting more copper strapping throughout the boat? Something to do with making our SSB signal stronger. His breaks look a bit different than mine!
Missing you in Tobago Cays

February 22, 2009

Our grass is pretty green

Life in Bequia, ST Vincent and the Grenadines
Right at this moment our grass is looking pretty green on this side of the fence. Our days are full, everyone is happy, well fed and plenty of exercise. We have been doing so many cool things and it is nice to stay for a while and really get to see the island. We have been hiking all over, visiting friends on other boats, making fabulous food, reading and of course swimming. (I will leave out the bits about endless hours of varnishing, engine oil changes, rig tuning, SSB tweaking, anchor watch and missen climbing :-))

Our friends the Biddles left for St Lucia the other day but not before extending way too much generosity. Ross is an amazing cook and we enjoyed many meals including Mahi, Mahi and Wei even made us Tiramisu! Our favorite. Their daughter Ishbel is so cute and we all can't seem to get enough of her. Ross has been sailing for so long he has lots of tricks and Graham and I try to soak up as much as we can. Thanks to Ross's advice both our anchors are both operational and given that the winds are right now hitting up to 30 knots, we have 2 anchors out holding us in place!

There are lots of Canadians out sailing these parts and it just seems easier to make friends on the water. We said good bye to a couple from Toronto the other day. Wendy and Sam are sailing on a boat named Maestro. Amelia enjoyed a homeschooling social lesson on board their boat. She learned all about the Federal government from Wendy.

We also met up with some friends we made in Grenada Marine who are also Canadian. Joanne and Murray. We have been enjoying cocktails at each others boats and today Amelia went over and had a crocheting lesson. She had a great time and has been going at it ever since she got back.

Amelia made another friend in the bay who lives on her HUGE ketch and goes to school in town. She has been going over and playing after school. The boat is so big they play hide and go seek. Alex even got in on the fun the other day.

Every time we go to the beach we see people we know and the kids swim and we all sit and chat. It is really nice. Conversation just seems to come so easily, no pressure.....could be the booze?

Yesterday we walked to the other side of the island and went to see the turtles. It was really cool. This man on the island has been spending many years trying to boost the turtle population by helping them out in the first few years of life. You can get right up close to them and they are all at varying stages of life. As cool as the turtles were, the kids fell in love with the owners dogs. Too funny. They can't wait to own their own dog.

There are alot of fruits and veggies available on the island but the problem is that the vendors are mostly men and they harass the heck out of you and size you up and charge you what they think you can afford. A couple of days ago we solved the problem. Graham went in and moved about the stands with all the men and of course all the commotion stirred around him. "You want mangoes?" "Come over here, I have the best tomatoes" etc all this is happening I sent Amelia in and told her to go quietly to the back to this old woman and ask how much for a bag of passion fruit and a bag of mangoes. She came back unnoticed and managed to get them each for $5 ec a bag. This is a great deal around here. We have been piggin out on passion fruit and mangoes ever since. The lady is always happy to see her.

Oh and I forgot to tell you that we also did our good deed for the week. Another Canadian boat had some trouble the other day. Their anchor snapped off in the wind and of course they began to drift away. When they ran up on deck, they went to start their engine and then an engine fire started. Our friend Murray yelled across to Graham that they needed helped, so Murray was jumping in his dinghy and Graham was jumping in our dinghy and of course the winds are howling. Well, Murray's dinghy wouldn't start and he had already let go of his boat so it is drifting quickly out to sea. Graham raced (as good as he could with our 3 hP motor) and helped tow Murray in and then the two of them set out to help the Cdn boat "Step Three" in trouble. He was finally able to get attached to a mooring ball and put out the fire. Graham offered to find his anchor and retrieve it for him. So Graham and I went out in our little dinghy and did just that. He never seizes to amaze me. It was just like watching a survivor challenge. First off, he swam all over and found it. Then he dives down and ties rope around it. Then he ties the rope to floating fenders. The he dives back down and begins heaving at it, cause it is really jammed in! He finally manages to loosen it and it floats up a bit due to the fenders. He gives me the signal to begin back to "Step Three" and drag the anchor back. Our little dinghy did a great job, against the wind and the extra weight. We made it back to the boat and up comes their anchor and we are left with a warm fuzzy feeling. The thing that was interesting was that their anchor broke off right on the point we had been warned about by Ross Biddle. It is this swivel shackle that Ross told us to take off of ours because there is this problem of them snapping off. Well we did just that at Grenada Marine and are now happy we did!

Tuesday the winds should die down and we are leaving for Tobago Cays, since we have the SSB up and running you will be able to track our progress. The following is a link to our position reports: Artemo Position Report
For some reason google has the island we are on mislabeled. It isn't Union, it is Bequia. 

ps....I would like to dedicate this blog to ZAC! 
Missin' you all in Bequia!