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. :-)