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 etc.....as 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!

February 16, 2009

3 things you may not have known.....

Hi all! We are in Bequia, St Vincent. We are dividing our days between work and play. The kids are ploughing through their studies and Graham is getting more jobs done on the list. He decided to re bed the Genoa track on the starboard side just to be safe. Every time he does any of his jobs it usually begins with ripping the boat apart! oh well, such is life on a boat.

I thought it might be fun for the four of us to write down 3 things we think you may not have known about our life on a boat. We each wrote our list without reading the others and I resisted the urge to make edits to their lists! Enjoy

  1. I sleep in a different bed every night.
  2. I am taking antibiotics.
  3. I am smarter than Amelia


  1. We have a secret compartment in our boat cupboard don't tell pirates
  2. I have a pimple on my but-ox
  3. Sometimes I make my face look funny and act in front of the mirror, when the door is closed in the bathroom


  1. Every night after we eat we usually watch a couple episodes of MASH together in the cockpit.
  2. Alex and Amelia drive the dinghy. Every time we go anywhere they fight over who drives.
  3. Water is like gold and the guilt I feel when I wash my hands, brush my teeth or rinse the dishes is EXTREME.


  1. Constant state of awareness of your surroundings and threats. Realization that most of the other people out here probably know less than we do, so you also have to think about what the boats around you are doing.
  2. Cruising, comes down to one thing: fixing a boat in a exotic location with little or no help other than that offered from other cruisers.
  3. If you prolong your departure till all the jobs were done, you would never leave. If you leave before all the jobs are done, the boat will never be completed.

February 12, 2009

Chassiron Tour Du Monde

Ok, now say that with a French accent and voila, this is our Artemo. Finally our beautiful French blue bottom ketch is able to live up to its title. Finally we feel proud to have people over. Finally we look around and feel lucky to have such a nice, comfortable boat. Finally the list is not mission critical items. Finally, finally, finally!

We have put so much blood, sweat and tears into this boat, I thought that it deserved its own blog about all the wonderful things we have done to bring it back to life. I think the coolest things for me though are the fact that we can now make our own water and electricity and even send email without an internet connection. It is so cool to see our batteries at 100% and we don't have to run the engine to get there. The two wind generators Graham installed and our solar panel give us plenty of juice! Yesterday Graham got the water maker hooked up and now we don't have to worry about where we are going to get our fresh clean water from. WE CAN MAKE OUR OWN and it even tastes good. The SSB is really cool too. Somehow Graham worked his magic yet again and got the SSB up and running. We are now able to send and receive email through our single side ban radio without being connected to the internet. We are also able to communicate with people all around the world. We listened in to the coconut net that they have every morning at 7:30 and we chimed in when they asked for new arrivals and we shocked the heck out of my dad, who was listening in Antigua. We were able to chat after the show on an open channel.

You have all heard that Graham went day after day to the boat yard and you may have wondered what he was doing, well below is the list! If I haven't said it enough.....he really is amazing. He never seems beat. He always has a solution. He never gives up. He can work in the heat and the dirt and not complain once. He could come home to us at night, complaining about the heat and wishing for the boat to be done and manage to cheer us up and even make dinner. It is his dedication and perseverance that got us a home that we can be proud of.

Here is the list and this is only the items that Graham did. Keep in mind that the boat yard replaced the entire coach roof, replaced the mast step and did extensive woodwork throughout, replaced all the sails, made a new bimini and reworked our rigging for a forward travellor. We also had all our cushions recovered in Sunbrella fabric and had new cockpit cushions made!

Sooooo starting from the front of the boat and working my way back:
  • ANCHOR: Full repair and installation of anchor windlass, backing plates, reinforcement of deck, replace and install new anchor chain, built teak drain grate for inside the anchor locker, replaced the anchor chain to the bulk head fitting in the locker
  • BOW PULPIT: Rebedded the pulpit, installed new LED navigation lights on new teak bases onto the pulpit
  • MAIN: Installed new LED tri anchor navigation lights to top of main, replaced wire for spreader light and steaming light, installed new wind indicator
  • MISSEN: repaired forward spreader on missen, replaced vhf antenna and coaxial cable through to vhf, replaced mast spreader light wiring
  • STERN STEEL ARCH: rebedded the arch, had new arms added for extra reinforcement
  • STERN DECK: made a new teak rail for stern and installed and varnished, removed the stern anchor roller and fiber glassed the area it was in and painted
  • HYDROVANE: Installed self steering gear!!!! Huge job
  • COCKPIT: Replaced cockpit floor with 14m plywood and epoxy, installed drains on the seats in the cockpit
  • PAINT: completed the bottom paint and continue to add numerous coats of varnish to woodwork
  • ELECTRICAL: reran and replaced all of the wiring, added new outlets in convenient locations, installed new instruments, installed new bilge pumps with float switches, installed new LED lights throughout, installed and rewired a new bank of batteries, built and fiber glassed the new battery box
  • PLUMBING: Installed 2 new toilets and hoses, installed all new sea cocks
  • WOODWORK: built and installed new bulk head on port side at nav table, reinforced and installed new backing plate on port side Genoa track
  • SSB: installed SSB

Aside from this long list there were so many little things that he did to make us more comfortable. He definitely knows this boat more intimately than he ever thought possible.
So now I think when we meet people along the way and they ask where we started and what we are up to, I am going to leave the problems behind us and talk about the now because the now is SO MUCH BETTER than the last few months.


February 08, 2009

Island Hopping

We are island hopping our way up to Bequia. We anchored for the night on Union Island in Chatham Bay. It was nice and only a few boats. We took the dinghy in and walked along a secluded stretch of beach as the sun was setting. The kids made a fantastic sand castle. They are trying to make one at each beach we arrive on. The Perry 4 now are pros at beaching the dinghy. We get it as close as we can to shore and Graham heaves up the engine and Alex rows the last couple of strokes, I jump out at the last possible second and pull us in with a wave and VOILA we are beached!

Unfortunately right now to get up the island chain you are heading just off the wind, so you need to sail the closest point of sail you can. Our boat doesn't point that well into wind, so the closest we can get it is between 50 and 60 degrees off the wind. When we are moving into the waves and wind our boat goes very slow but is heeled WAY OVER. arrgggg......ok I am not afraid to admit it, I hate being heeled WAY OVER. If you were on board you might of heard me yell, "Graham, ease the fricken main" more than once :-).
On our sail today from Union Island to Canouan Island we had beautiful clear skies. We tried various sail combinations to try and get as close to the wind as we could. Lots of learning going on. So much fun to arrive at a new island. The kids are usually beggin to go ashore to the beach. Right now the winds are very high and since it is the full moon, it is really rolly. Probably the most rolly of any anchorage we have been in. We decided to grab one of the charter companies mooring balls. There seems to be so many of them and it is a Sunday and we are leaving early in the morning. The security fellow just came out in his boat and told us we had to pay $50ec for the ball for the night. Graham could tell he was lying because he waited until the office was closed, so he said that he had talked to the charter co and it was fine for the night since we were leaving early. The fellow said well ok then and off he went! hope we don't see him later tonight, ha!

Tomorrow we will sail to Bequia. We are all excited to see our friends Ross and Wei and Ishbel! We checked the weather and it looks like a really bad system is moving in later this week, so we may just stay put there til it clears. We will see.

February 06, 2009

Let the good times roll.....

Ok guys, I have spent endless blogs writing about the struggles and challenges, well.....it is time for me to lay the goodtimes on THICK!!! We are finally smelling the roses or mangoes....if you will and below are a couple of pictures of the fun over the past few days. We are still in Carriacou and enjoying ourselves. The fellow who sailed with us from Grenada to here(Kevin) left yesterday. A little to much fixing stuff and not enough sailing for him I am sure and it did make things a bit tight on the boat. Really nice guy, he was thinking of hopping on the ferry and going back to mainland Grenada.

Today I made my second visit to a doctor since we have arrived in Grenada. This time it was for Alex. The people here are so friendly. Everyone pointed us in the direction of Dr. Freddy. When we finally found the building we thought it was abandoned? We asked at the house next door and the lady said to go through the little gate at the side and up the stairs. We did this and sure enough Dr. Freddy greeted us at the top of the stairs and since we were the only patients, he went to work checking out Alex's skin infection. Turns out he has a staph infection, just as Amelia did a few months ago. He gave us the prescription for the topical and oral antibiotics and we thanked him and shook his hand and began to leave, when he said, "I am so sorry but I will have to ask you to pay for the visit". I felt so bad that I had forgot. On the mainland it cost me $80 EC to take Amelia in for a visit about $36 Cdn. Dr. Freddy asked for $35EC ($16Cdn). We were very happy with this price.

Tomorrow is Grahams 39th birthday and as I type Amelia is busy decorating the boat. We are thinking of sailing to the next island up the chain named "Union Island" and anchoring there for his bday celebration! The kids and I managed to find him a new pair of light pants and a pair of long shorts in his new pant size in town.

Things are good. We are feeling more relaxed and taking things in stride. Lots of friends in the bay. Today Amelia's friend Sorlynn left though. They are the french family that we were friends with at Grenada Marine (remember the crazy jungle gym boat). As they were leaving this morning the dad drove his sailboat right over to ours to say good bye. There Sorlynn sat ON THE MAST as it swung back and forth, waving goodbye.

We went over to a Danish boat for drinks the other night. They came by to invite us. They said they saw us come into the bay and anchor and thought we looked so professional. They wanted to know how we anchored so calmly without yelling. He wanted the name of the headsets we use to communicate. Not only did he call me professional, he also referred to me as a SAILOR???? go figure :-)
Amelia got taught her science lesson from some teacher friends of ours from San Francisco who we also met at Grenada Marine (Ralph and Mila). They pulled in here and came over for a visit. Everyone is so open to helping out with the homeschooling. It really is a community here. It is just like living in a small town. Yesterday Alex, Amelia and I were dinghying across the bay and we ran out of gas and the winds were very strong, as we struggle to get the paddles going a boat yelled for us to grab onto their boat and they would give us some gas. We did just that. So nice. Just like borrowing a cup of milk!

Today Graham and I dinghy'ied in for a rum punch at the bar and we met a sailor who came into this bay 3 years ago and hasn't left. This guy was totally drunk and the typical salty sailor. Graham said the guy was half sailor, half drunken local. I told him that has to go on a t-shirt, we could make millions!
Well there you have it, sorry for the mish-mash of a blog, my head is all over the place. So many things happen in a day and everything seems so cool and new right now.

February 05, 2009

Turns out they weren't termites

Good news, good news!!! Turns out they weren't termites. Just small ants and they are all gone and the bulk head is replaced and the track is replaced and it looks great! Super duper! We even took a look at the starboard just to be sure and it looks great, so things are looking up! Here is a video I put together of a few day sails on the way here and of the kids having fun here in Carriacou. Enjoy!

February 03, 2009

Touching Base

Hi there,

I am trying to find the time to write the next blog about our sail here...but I thought I better give you guys a quick update. On the sail from Grenada to Carriacou we noticed yet another problem. The Genoa track on our port side was rising away from the deck. We were on a close reach with the most stress possible on the sail and noticed this with shock and quickly furled her in. Regardless the bulk head and cabinets over the nav bed inside and below the track were all rotted out and filled with what we think were termites (small white fast moving bugs). Soooo Graham and Kevin ripped everything out and are refitting a new bulk head and having steel backing plates made and then epoxying the new wood. Long story short....we are still fixing fixing fixing.....Good news is that we know lots of people here and are having lots of visits. bad news is that we might be here for a few more days. I would like to think we would be ready to move on Thursday but we all know how things go. I will let you know if this holds true. We are now thinking we will sail to Bequia for a day sail and make sure all is good with the work they have done and then to Antigua.

Stay tuned :-) I will post a video of our trip here soon.