February 28, 2010

Hello world this is Tara and Amelia!

The last few days have been a blast. Tara, Kayvon and Martha came down on the 23rd and from then on it has been fun fun fun. So we picked up those peeps and headed down to Greeeeeeeeeeeeen Island. When we got there we had a fan-tab-ulos time. We went over to the beach and had a huge star fish race!

We named the star fish Jimmy, Bobby, Timmy, Sophie and Julia. Jimmy and Julia were an item! Where ever one went the other went! Bobby ended up winning the race though. The next day we went to the cocooooooooooobandaras. We swam and had a big camp fire.

A few days later we went to the Holidays Cays. On our way to the Holidays Cays, we hit a pretty big storm. A lot of us got sea sick and had to lie down.

Amelia and I went down to another boat when we were giving away earrings. Then on the boat we met three really nice ladies. They told us about an amazing snorkeling place, so the next day that's where we headed. We took 2 trips there. The girls went first and the boys went second. I think the girls' trip was better. We saw 3 sting rays and a crab and a lobster. We even saw a neon fish.

When the boys got back, Kayvon had a huge sting on his knee. It was red and swollen, with little white dots. We looked up "coral stings" in a medical manual because that's what Kayvon thought he had. So we soaked his knee in vinegar and put ice on it. Soon enough the swelling went down. So now we sit here writing a blog. (Mom made us.)

February 25, 2010


This morning Martha, Kayvon and Tara arrived. The flew into the tiny island of Nargana, on a tiny plane and unfortunately we weren't yet there to meet them. Everyone got off the plane and away they all went on boats there to meet them and away the plane flew and there stood Martha, Kayvon and Tara, alone and in the middle of nowhere with nothing else around them except for a runway and a dock and wondering...."Where are the Perry's?"

We arrived about 15 minutes later and anchored in front of the runway. We saw the 3 of them sitting on the dock waiting for us. We all jumped for joy. We got the motor on the dinghy and Alex and Graham raced over to the dock to grab them. It was so wonderful to see the three of them. I actually even teared up....of course. It is just so overwhelmingly cool to have friends come so far to visit us. I really can't thank them enough.

They arrived and after the grand tour we had our capuccinos and a yummy fruit cocktail cake that Amelia had made. We then picked up anchor and headed out to our first paradise island. It is really cool to share our life on the water with them and see the excitement and wonder in their eyes with each new experience. I think sometimes we forget how lucky we are. This is such a nice reminder.

Before the anchor had hit the sand the kids were in their swimsuits with snorkels in hand and ready to go. I had to hold them back and make them wait til Graham and I had the boat set in position. Once it was, away they went to the island. Once the adults had all caught up to them, we found them holding a very large star fish. Kayvon had it in his hands and the kids were getting the tentacles to stick to them. I obviously had to take a picture.

Then as we are standing in the clear water, we see behind Tara this fish start jumping, jumping, jumping....it was obviously being chased. All of us are pointing and saying OMG....poor Tara we scared the beegeesies out of her. She didn't know what was behind her. Then in the clear water you could see the Barracuda chasing the fish. It was really cool.

Back at the boat we had the Kuna Indians canoe up with some lobster for sale. We decided it sounded like a great dinner option and $8 dollars later we had two nice lobsters and wondering..."What now?". Graham put them in a container we had and away they went in the fridge. They made for an amazing dinner.

We have really squeezed every last drop of pure enjoyment out of this day. It is hard to imagine that we can match this day for the remaining days they are here but we will most definitely try. I think my favorite part was after the sun had set and the sky was filled with stars and the kids were all sitting up front on the boat in the breeze and talking and laughing. Absolutely my perfect moment. Nothing better than happy kids.

Tomorrow we are heading to a group of islands called "Coco Banderas". We have also heard them referred to as "Disneyland". The pictures in our guide book look amazing. I can't wait to see if they live up to all the hype.

ps.....we still talk about the Pacific crossing daily and I wonder how the heck I am going to be able to pick up the anchor and go.....it is lingering in the back of my mind in amongst all this "high-lights"!

February 24, 2010


We left our picture perfect anchorage and headed out for Nargana (the island that our friend Martha and her two kids Tara and Kayvon are flying into). On our journey to Nargana we passed many islands that look just like the screen savers and desktop photos that we have on our computers.....spiffs of white sand with three palm trees or perfect oval islands with stretches of white beach and surrounded by swimming pool clear water. Finally we start to pass another of these islands and I say....that's it, we are stopping for a swim!!

It wasn't difficult to convince everyone and within about 10 minutes we were anchored in front of another paradise. This time we had the camera charged up and I can't wait to share the photos with you.

The end of the island was a sandbar surrounded by clear water that was about 2 feet deep and white sand bottom and no waves. The water was so warm, it was crazy. Beyond the shallow water was the reef and then it got deep beyond that.

As we were all sitting in the hot clear water, Graham went off to start his snorkel. All of a sudden he was waving frantically for us to join him. The kids threw their kayak at me and away they ran to him. Once I had tied up the kayak and got my gear on they were way out at the reef. I swam and swam to catch up and I am so glad I didn't get there sooner because once I had arrived they all were over the top excited that they had just seen the hugest nurse shark ever. I don't care how many times I hear that nurse sharks are harmless....I still don't want to swim with them.

Graham convinced me that nurse sharks were more afraid of me than I am of them (I find this VERY hard to believe). He was convincing though and away we went to another part of the reef. I tried to hold his hand as we snorkeled along but due to fear I must of been holding it too tightly because even under water I heard him yell at me.

Graham and Amelia swam ahead and just as I was getting comfortable again and enjoying the unbelievable underwater world, I hear the dreaded "SHARK"! Right below Amelia was another very large nurse shark. Graham said that they startled it and it bolted once it saw them. I swam as fast as I could back to shore. A tiny part of me is thinking how cool it would be to see a shark. The kids are looking up all the fish and sharks they saw in their new guide book on the underwater world. I think we should start checking off everything they see.

We made it to Nargana which was suppose to be the promise land with internet, laundry and grocery stores....LOL.....NOT. Basically huts and dirt streets and a few dusty tins for sale in the someone's hut. We entered this one hut and the owner spoke a little English and was so happy to see that his hut had made it into our guide book. On one side of his hut was the shelves with a few items and on the other side of the dark hut was a hammock and a small TV with rabbit ears tuned into America's Cops! So weird.

Today we took the dinghy up the Rio Diablo river with a huge duffel bag full of our laundry. It was truly the coolest adventure ever. Felt like we were IN the jungle. We were told that you do see the occasional alligator on the shore but that they were harmless and more afraid of you then you were of them..hmmm...where have I heard that before! Luckily we didn't see any alligators. We did find a beautiful spot on the river with a nice stream coming into it. Perfect to do our washing in and also for a wonderful fresh water bath! We all had a great time and we hardly realized how much work it was.

Our boat now looks truly like a trailer. Laundry is strung from one end to the other. Tomorrow morning Martha, Kayvon and Tara arrive and WE ARE SO EXCITED! We are taking the week off and going to have FUN FUN FUN!!! No school, boat work or laundry for us!

February 21, 2010

I don't want to forget

We arrived today at a tiny deserted island, surrounded by coral reef and covered in beautiful palm trees. We are all alone at anchor and no civilization in sight.

Once the anchor was down it was a crazy rush to get swim suits on, snorkel gear out, sunscreen on, yada, yada, yada! Amelia, Alex and I sat perched on the side of the dinghy with our flippers and snorkels on waiting for Graham to get down from Artemo and into the water. For some reason we all always wait for him to go in first. Not sure what we are thinking he will find but we wait for the thumbs up and away we go. It was so nice to be able to snorkel off our boat again.

Once the snorkel was done, it was time to explore the island. We found a few huts on the island that the Kuna Indians must use when they are out this way to fish. We hiked all over and we found in the middle of the island this beautiful tree with bright red flowers on it. It looked so out of place. The ground was all cleared out around it and this beautiful tree sat in the middle?

We sat in the hot, crystal clear water and talked. I watched as Graham walked along the beach at the end of the end of the island under a leaning coconut tree and I thought to myself....I don't want to forget this afternoon. The cameras aren't charged, so we don't have any pictures. All we will have is our memory.

We came back to the boat and the kids jumped off the side over and over again. They played on their new kayak and took turns tipping each other over.

We all bathed in 5 liters of water and then we sat in the cockpit eating humus and tortillas as the sun set.

I don't want to forget.

February 19, 2010

Sometimes you just can't be everything you wish you were

I have been sitting here for a while, with my hands poised on the keyboard wondering how I should tell this latest story. I want to be honest with you all and share the high-lights along with the low-lights but I also don't want to cause you worry. Please remember as you read that my fear factor is multiplied by 15 compared to Graham's fear factor, so it may not be as bad as it seems.

We decided to set off from the Rosario islands for a day sail to San Bernard Island. We had a great sail. The wind was 12 to 18 knots and the seas were fairly calm. We got to get the sails out and even try out the hydro vane. Great wind for experimentation and just plain sailing!

The next day we decided it was time to head off for the 24 hour sail to the San Blas islands. We prepared the boat for the voyage. We made sure we had jack lines run from front to back, so we could be tethered on to the boat if we needed to go forward. We made sure we had all our harnesses and tethers in the cockpit. The kids had their beds in the back set up with books, snacks and movies. We were as ready as we could be. We checked the weather and it looked like 15 to 20 knot winds. We figured it would be about the same as the day before and away we went.

The seas unfortunately built and built over the first few hours out. The wind also was higher than predicted. We saw on average 22 knots but it fluctuated, which made things worst with the big gusts. The waves were coming directly across our beam (middle) and so was the wind. We had to hand steer through these conditions and it was like fighting in a tug o war. We flew through most of the night with only our Genoa out and we still averaged 7.5 knots. On reflection we were probably going to fast for the weather we were seeing.

I have always heard how dangerous the white top waves are when they come across your beam, so it was scary at night when all you could see when you looked up with the white tops of these HUGE waves. The boat was being tossed around so much that for the first time in my sailing career, I woofed my cookies. I felt terribly sea sick, everyone did. Alex and I took gravol at that point and lucky for him it put him to sleep for the night. For me, it just made me drowsy and grumpy, as I moved about my chores.

We took our first rogue wave into the cockpit. I could not believe how much water came into the cockpit. It was shocking. Alex and Graham were on deck and Alex got totally drenched. We hadn't connected the hose to the drain holes in the seats yet, so the water just poured down below. Amelia was in her room and was pretty shaken when she saw all the water. We did the best we could to clean things up.

We had decided to leave our mizzen up, along with the Genoa, for the night sail and we realized a few hours into it that the mizzen was actually making it harder to steer. We just didn't seem that balanced. Unfortunately this meant that we had to steer directly into the waves and wind to bring it down. Easier said then done but we managed to do it. Steering got a lot easier after this.

At the peak of the craziness, Graham looked back to see the mizzen boom being swung violently back and forth. The attachment point for the mizzen sheet had come undone. There were no other options, he had to leave the cockpit and fix the problem. I knew that if he fell in there would be no way we would be able to get him back. He tethered in and I tried my best to steer the boat. The longest 5 minutes of my life.

Graham did the majority of the steering and he stayed calm when I wasn't. He was angry and had every right to be, that I couldn't be more calm or more helpful. He was exhausted and I didn't even want him to go down below to have a pee. I was terrified when I would take the helm and Artemo would get hit with a blast of wind and bend right over. I didn't even try to suppress my fear, I was to exhausted. I would beg him to take the helm again and he would. Tears would run down my face and my legs would shake. Sometimes you just can't be everything you wish you were.

The seas and wind didn't let up until we were behind the island we are now anchored off of. My whole body aches from clenching up and being tossed around all night. The sense of relief I felt though when we turned the bend on the island and were in protected water was beyond words.

I guess I knew it wasn't all about sun downers, white sand beaches and clear water. A good healthy dose of reality is probably exactly what the doctor would of ordered.

on a side note.....Captain Graham says that many circumnavigators say that crossing the Caribbean Sea was the roughest part of their voyage. The water is notoriously rough.

February 15, 2010

I want to make people happy when I grow up....

Here we are in the Columbian Rosario Islands. The water is clear blue and warm. There is a nice breeze to keep the power supply at a level that makes Graham happy. We have cupboards full of food, plenty to drink and new water toys to try out. Life is pretty good.

The only problem is that I know we gotta do the overnight hop to the San Blas islands.....time is ticking. Since we haven't sailed since May I am a bit nervous. Ok, a lot nervous and the worst thing is that our auto pilot (Mr. Auto) has stopped working!! I really hate hand steering, especially at night. Should be a good dose of reality for us though.

We had a great couple days. Yesterday we took our dinghy over to an aquarium on one of the small islands. It was really cool. There are pathways or bridges over all these partitioned off areas of the ocean. You could reach in and touch the sharks, fish, dolphins and mantorays if you dared! They put on a great shark and dolphin show that was really impressive and given the fact that it was not grand scale, you really felt like you were in it! Alex was even able to pet one of the dolphins.

Once back at the boat Graham and the kids got the new Airline scuba gear all ready and I basically sat and worried in the cockpit. I made them all review the scuba rules and all the possibilities for what could go wrong. I then made Graham swear he would keep the kids safe and only go down a little ways the first few times. They all said all the right things so that I would stop talking and away they went.

Accordingly to the 3 of them, it works really well and they love it. It was nice to be able to tell exactly where they were since they were attached to the air line. They are definitely going to get a lot of use out of it.

There are 3 other boats in the anchorage and Amelia has been swimming over to them and introducing herself and giving all the ladies on the boats earrings she has made. Today one of the boats brought over a message in a bottle for her that read, "To Amelia, the adorable little red-haired mermaid that swam up to our boat near Rosario Island and so generously gave me a beautiful pair of earrings that she made. Thank you so much! I will treasure them."

Amelia was so happy that she says to me. I know what I want to do when I grow up. I want to make people happy! I thought to myself..."Me Too"! She started to think about jobs she could do that would achieve this goal. Pretty neat to think about.

Alex and I got our new inflatable kayak (another second hand water toy we picked up in Cartagena) in working order today! It is really fun and it makes a great lounging bed for me when the kids aren't using it. Alex convinced me to get in with him today and then once I was comfortable I see his sly smile spread across his face and he tips me over. His time will come!

Graham spent the morning getting the water maker running again and he spent the afternoon helping out our new friends here in the anchorage with their diesel motor. For some reason it won't start. He was able to figure out the problem and give the fella details regarding the solution but then handed over the reigns to the captain to put the plan to action. No rest for the wicked though, the kids have him out snorkeling the reef as I type. It is 15 minutes past happy hour and I will have his beer and hot banana bread ready for his arrival. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this guy.

Wish us luck on our overnight hand steering journey, write you from San Blas.

February 13, 2010

Salty Ginger

It finally happened. We have left Cartagena! I started to wonder if it would ever happen. It seemed like all four of us had swallowed the hook. We made new friends, had our favorite hangouts and fell into a routine. There was always one more reason to put off leaving another day. On Tuesday we handed in our passports to check out of Columbia and early Wednesday morning Alex woke up with Strep throat! Yup, you heard me Strep! Poor kid. Seems if something is going to go wrong it is going to happen to Alex.

We called our Columbian doctor and he remembered us right away. He told me to go to the pharmacy and get Alex some Azithromycin. I wrote the prescription details on the back of a gum wrapper and off I went to the pharmacy. I was totally shocked when I handed the slip to the pharmacist and $2 dollars later I had the medication and was off on my way??? Crazy eh! I ended up going back and replenishing my first aid kit with Cipro, Amoxicillin and more Azithromycin! All of them cost only a couple dollars each.

Ok, back to Alex.....he took the medicine and a doctor on another boat (Siren's Song) checked him out and we decided that we would leave today since he was feeling better and I have penicillin on board if he happens to take a turn but as I type he is up on deck in the bosun's chair flying around the boat on a rope. Needless to say he is feeling much better.

The good news is that since we had waited to depart we heard that another cruiser was selling their Airline hooka scuba gear! Turns out it had only been used twice and was a steal of a deal. The hooka rig allows the kids to scuba dive without having to rent and carry the tanks. They can scuba anywhere now! You can just imagine how excited they are and I really like that I will always know where they are and they can only go down so far as the line will allow.

Leaving all our new friends was hard. We all became close with an Irish sailor named Dave. He was really funny and the kids were always happy to see him coming over. We also met up with friends on Solange that we met at the Pitons and they had 2 boys. They were traveling with a boat called High Five and they were also awesome and had 3 boys around the kids ages. We had a huge party for Graham's 40th and had 14 people on board for it! Fantastic.

Regardless today at 9am we sailed away. Amelia got on the radio and sang "so long and thanks for all the fish" to all the cruisers as we left. I begged the universe for a calm day to build my confidence with and the universe delivered! Beautiful flat seas with almost no wind. Not a sailors delight but definitely a "Julie Delight". Within the first hour Alex had caught TWO TUNA. yup you heard me right. TWO. He put out a line on both sides of the boat and voila! Totally crazy. Unfortunately I didn't have my 50% rum with me to knock them out with and I didn't want to part with my Captain Morgan's, so Graham got out the fish bonker and things got a little brutal on the back deck.

As we approached the Rosario Islands, Amelia asked if she could go up the mast and guide us in. There was a ton of reef surrounding the islands. Graham reply's, "No problem". Much to my horror. He hoists her up to the first set of spreaders and there she sits, perched on spreader. I am at the helm and already stressed when I see the depth go from 35 to 5 and now I am also worrying about Amelia dangling from the mast. (Can't wait to post the pictures)

Turned out to be "a once in a lifetime" day for Amelia (her words). As she is up there two schools of dolphins surround our boat in the flat seas and dance with us. It was really unbelievable. We could see all the detail on their bodies and faces. Very cool. From Amelia's vantage point she got the whole show in HD!

We anchored Artemo and had the inaugural swim. We are now all waiting for a loaf of banana bread to cool and tonight we can all look forward to Tuna. I think we will stay for a day or two and then off we go to the San Blas. Alex's best friend Kayvon and his sister Tara and mom Martha are meeting us there on the 22nd! Very exciting our first guests who sleep over!

In regards to the "Salty Ginger" title......Uncle Bob came up with this name for our boat but of course there was no way Graham and I would rename our beloved Artemo. The kids really wanted to change it though, so we compromised and named the dinghy "Salty Ginger". Now whenever we are out and about on the dinghy with the hand held radio we are "Salty Ginger" and the kids use every opportunity they can to make radio calls with this name.......yesterday we heard a call come out on the radio "Salty Ginger, Salty Ginger, Salty Ginger, this is Naked Lady, Naked Lady, Naked Lady"! Got love cruisers!

ps...we posted our first position report!!

February 06, 2010

True Perry Style

Unfortunately, launch day did not happen as we had hoped on Tuesday. The travel lift that hauls the boats got a flat tire just as our turn came up. The fellows needed to spend the rest of the day getting it fixed with the forklift. It was probably just as well, since we still had plenty of odd jobs to complete but at the time the cup is half full attitude was not happening!

So, on Wednesday we all arrived before 8 with all of our duffels bags in toe. We were moving on regardless of launch or not. Luckily launch did happen right before lunch. In true Perry style though anything that could go wrong pretty much did.

Once we were in the water but tied up to the dock we noticed that we could only go in reverse, forward was not happening. Of course when anything like this happens there is always a time pressure involved to. They needed us to clear the dock so they could launch the next boat since they were behind schedule. Graham and the mechanic got to work on it. I filled the water tank while this was happening. I kept saying to Graham, geesh she seems to be taking A LOT of water......he would check every so often that all was well in amongst all the other things he was doing. Amelia came running up on deck and was shouting, stop the water, stop the water. She had noticed down below that under the one floor board we had pulled up it was full of water! Needless to say the boat launch manager was not a happy camper because it took us a few hours to get organized and get ready to cast off.

Once all had been fixed there was the problem of actually backing Artemo out. Artemo does not like to back out and especially in really tight spaces. We recruited a fellow cruiser to pull/ guide us out with his powerful dinghy and we also had a bunch of yard hands on the various lines letting us out slowly. There was a lot of yelling and shouting and near misses but WE DID IT. We had finally escaped yet another boat yard.

Away we went for what we thought would be a nice calm 1/2 hour motor. The wind unfortunately was fierce and even with absolutely no sails on the boat, Artemo was healing over. The forestay was not attached because we had to take it off for the travel lift and with the high winds it actually got picked up and started to hit the main mast. I was at the front of the boat and fighting madly against the wind to move the forestay forward away from the mast. Graham finally gave the helm to Captain Alex and came and got the forestay under control. I made my way back to the cockpit and let Alex bring us in to the anchorage.

Anchoring went nice and easy. We got it on the first try, thank god! The unfortunate part was that due to all the chaos on launch the boat looked like a bomb had went off inside.....there were no cervasas for us for quite a few hours after arrival but let me tell you, when that moment arrived it was sweet.

Fast forward to 9pm..... sitting in the breezy cockpit, watching MASH and all so happy to be back on water and excited about tomorrow!

February 01, 2010


(Ignore the parts about no pictures...I was finally successful!)
Ok, so I didn't want to post this blog until I was able to successfully upload some pictures but unfortunately due to internet issues there will be no pictures....you will have to use your imagination!

Tomorrow Artemo finally goes back in the water!!! Can I hear a whoop, whoop?? Todomar boat yard has been really great. They completed all the work and you will have to imagine the gleaming white cockpit with no rotted holes in it. Absolutely beautiful. The new cabinets down below also look great. Graham has mounted his brand new radar screen on the new cabinet and he is like a proud papa. Artemo's paint job is so shiny. They gave her a good polish once they were done. You can see your reflection in the paint. We have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and finally Artemo is looking like home again.

The final job prior to launch was putting our brand new "Artemo" signs from SIGN A RAMA (Bay Street, Toronto) onto all sides of the boat. Again you are going to have to use your imagination but it was really quite a moment. The signs totally rock and the white lettering against the shiny blue hull looks REALLY good. The globe inside the O totally makes it. We have already had many people stop by and ask who designed the logo. My turn to look like a proud mama....toot, toot! We are also so happy to finally proudly display our home port sign "Toronto, Ontario"on the stern. The world is awesome but Toronto is our home.

Prior to us leaving Toronto the guys at SIGN A RAMA made us 3 signs for the boat and a bunch of boat cards.........for FREE!!! They just offered to do it for free? How often does that kind of thing happen? If you get the chance stop in and see the guys there, tell them "Artemo" sent you. They are at 873 Bay Street and their website is http://www.signarama-toronto.ca/. It would make me really happy to send some business their way.

So, tomorrow Artemo hits the water after 8 months on the hard. I am not going to lie to you I am pretty nervous. I have pretty much imagined every possible terrible scenario that could happen and it is only about a half an hour motor to the anchorage. LOL. Our plan is to stay in the anchorage til Sunday and then push off to the Rosario islands of Columbia and then onto the San Blas Islands. The Rosarios are only a few hours away, so they will be a good shake down sail for us. The San Blas unfortunately are overnight sail. Oh well, nothing like just jumping in. Another interesting tid bit for you all is that Graham turns the big 4-0 on Sunday, Feb 7th! I can't think of a better place to be spending his birthday than on the sea living his dream.

Ok, I will stop writing here.....even though I have so much more to say. I am sure there will be lots to write about after our adventure tomorrow. Everyone think tons of positive thoughts for us and don't forget to pop into Sign A Rama!