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