June 29, 2010

Tonight I will remember and tomorrow I will celebrate

Here I am in the cockpit in the pitch black on my last night of our voyage. This last day has been everything we could of hoped for in a last day. I woke up to the smell of fresh whole wheat buns and bread. Graham had been busy during his watch. Love starting my day with a hot bun with butter and honey on it. YUM.

Once Graham was off for his sleep, the kids and I dug into school work and guess what???? THEY FINISHED!!!! yipeeeee. They are done their school year. I am so happy for them and me. Two whole months off. Glorious!

As soon as school was finished and I had just closed my eyes in the cockpit Graham poked his head up and said....."We have got a fish." I sat up to get ready for the onslaught of activity and noticed that we hadn't just caught one fish....we had TWO. I wish we were able to take a video of the craziness that ensues once we have hooked a fish. Alex, Amelia and Graham are struggling with both the reels and pulling in the fish. I am running around grabbing tequila, camera, shorts for Alex (or else he won't let me post any pictures), the gaf, the pliers, the leatherman. We also have to bring in the head sail to slow the boat while trying to hold the reels. Pure craziness. Oh and the seas are totally crazy at this point. We are all being bounced around from one side of the cockpit to the other, so I am trying to tether the kids as they are reeling lines. With one hand I am holding on and with the other I am trying to hook their harness. They are also moving, so even this small task takes way to long. Two fish is craziness times two.

Graham landed one of them and Alex gaffed and landed the other. They pulled them both up onto the back deck and for the next hour they had to steak and fillet them. They have it down to a science now and I am noticing that Graham is having Alex do more and more of the gutting and cutting. At the end of the ordeal Alex exclaimed, "What a perfect ending to our voyage!"

Once the fish was safe and sound in the fridge Graham and I had a few minutes in the cockpit together as the sunset. We are both really excited about making landfall tomorrow. Excited doesn't seem like a big enough word. I want to climb to the top of a mountain and scream, "We did it!" I feel so proud of us. How does impossible become possible?

Rewind to January 2006 to the Toronto boat show in the convention center. There is the Perry family standing inside the first sailboat they have ever been on. Amelia says, "look at how big the wheel is". Alex says, "This boat is nicer than our apartment". Julie says, "I could totally live in here". Graham says, "We won't be getting a boat this nice guys". That day seems so like only yesterday. What a whirlwind the past few years have been. I remember telling everyone who would listen, "We are going to sail around the world". Saying it seemed to give it power for me. I remember our first sailing lesson in April 2006. In true Perry style we got stormy weather and high winds. I remember the first time we could take out one of the bigger boats all alone with the kids. I remember taking my sister Chanty out for a sail and getting hit by a small storm and scaring the shitaky out of her. I remember chartering a boat for a week on the ocean and catching a glimpse of the possibility of actually sailing around the world. I remember seeing Artemo for the first time. I remember moving on board. I remember all the countless goodbye's. I remember the months and months of elbow grease...blood....sweat...oh there was sweat and of course tears. I remember our first anchorages, our first snorkels, our first fish, our first sunsets, our first sail. I remember the fear. I remember it all and it makes me feel so good and so proud.

Here we are just as we had envisioned so many years ago but secretly I may not have believed all the time. I don't want this feeling to fade. I want to remember Graham coming home with book in hand and telling me he wanted to sail around the world. I want to remember how ludicrous I thought this idea was. How I dismissed it so quickly. How fear overtook me when I thought of leaving land behind with my two kids on board. How the hell did we do this? How are we here? This is so totally whacky. I AM going to scream, "We did it" when we arrive tomorrow. From the top of my lungs. You know there are going to be tears. I am already tearing up.

Tonight I will remember and tomorrow I will celebrate!

June 26, 2010

Life of Riley...

Rollin, rollin, rollin......get this sailboat rollin....Rawhide! We are directly downwind now and Artemo is rocking back and forth. You can hear everything in the cupboards crash to one side and then to the other. Anything left out is rocketed across the boat. So far no major injuries just a few bruises. I had another bath today and as I am leaned over with my head in the bucket we had a huge rock and I ploughed my head into the bottom. Lovely! Regardless, I am clean again and feel so much better.

The day was beautiful. The air is warmer now. It feels like we moved from Spring to Summer in a few days. The swell is back to normal height and the winds are only 8 to 12 knots. I feel so happy. I stood for quite awhile today in the cockpit with my head up over the bimini watching us sail across the ocean. I love it when Mother (being the ocean) is happy. We blasted the tunes and soaked in the day. I came to the realization that I am actually enjoying sailing. Can you believe it? Not only am I actually sailing the boat now but I am also liking it!!! Somebody slap me! Millie was laughing at me as I was yelling with tears in my eyes and my arms spread wide open......"I love you Mother ocean".

Graham realized today that I am actually getting about 10 hours of sleep a day. The kids have been staying up til 11 pm with me and I snooze in the cockpit and then they go to bed and Graham gets up at about 12:30 and I go back to bed til 8! Ha. I even manage to sneak in an afternoon nap most days. Life of Riley I tell ya. Graham has a bit more trouble sleeping than I do. I never go wake him up but he still seems not to sleep for long stretches. He goes to his berth from about 8 pm to 12:30 and then from 9am til 1pm. Not enough sleep in my books but he seems ok.....aside for the grumpy behavior.....but it's hard to decipher normal grumpy from over tired grumpy. ha

I think the kids have thought of just about everything and anything you can play over the vhf radio. They have done battleship, X&O's, 20 Questions, "if you had a super power what would it be", made up personalities, worked through recipes together making cookies and cakes, read school assignments, talked giberish, reviewed books......and I think that is about it. If you can think of anything else they can do I am sure they would love to hear it. At the end of every conversation they say, "Standing by on 6". The other night Amelia came up to the cockpit to say good night to me and then she says, "Standing by on 6"! LOL. Total habit. I laughed.

We are still eating really well. Tonight we had open faced hot pork sandwiches with gravy, mash potatoes and peas. Total Alberta meal. YUMMY. I thought Alex needed a bit of Alberta in his life. He just finished reading Anne Frank in about 4 days. It has made him sad and left him feeling a bit homesick. We had a few good discussions about the book. I am shocked by how much he picked up from the novel. He talked about how Anne's moods were reflected in how she addressed her diary and how creative her mind was. He spoke about what an amazing and unique person Anne was and how she would never have settled for an ordinary life. I feel really lucky to have this time out here to be able to work through and discuss all of these things with him. I have to wonder if I would of even realized he was reading the book if we were back home in our regular routine.

Amelia completed her first knitting project today and I am wearing it proudly around my head. It is a beautiful yellow and white headband. Nanny Judith gave Amelia a knitting book, yarn and needles for xmas. It took us a few goes but finally we got the hang of it. Amelia is now teaching her Dad and Alex the techniques......I am sure you can just imagine how this is going.

Well we have about 490 nms to go. I am thinking we will arrive on June 30th or maybe even Canada Day. The kids are on target for finishing school! Well it is time for my evening snooze.

Miss you

June 24, 2010

Detox - Day 14

LOL. Day 14 of no happy hour gin and tonics .....no red wine.....no coffee....no internet.....hmmmmmm I wonder if this has anything to do with how good I feel? I hope not :-).

Today the seas were.....hmmm what is bigger than gigantic and monstrous??? HUMONGOUS!!! Seriously. It was enough to make you want to run for cover. It continues to shock us all that Artemo just rides up and down, no matter what side she is hit on. We had to change our course today though so that the seas were pushing behind us. It was just to dangerous to have them coming at us on our side and really uncomfortable.

I was sitting in the cockpit facing backwards watching in awe as the waves form behind us and coming charging at us and then whoooshhh us down. On one of the waves I noticed something in the water and then all of a sudden the waves were filled with them...."Dolphins"! It was mind blowing. To see the dolphins just beneath the surface torpedo'ing down the wave towards Artemo was WAY COOL. They all swam in sync. I got the most amazing pic of it and the cool thing is that finally since the dolphins are in the water it gives the wave some perspective and you might be able to get an idea of how huge they really were from this picture. For the next 1/2 hour we watched as the dolphins performed their show for us. They were jumping and diving all over the place. Imagine Amelia yelling, "Oh My God" over and over again......I have created a monster. Ha. Alex was yelling at his Dad because he went back down below to tend to his cooking. He couldn't believe he could leave during such an event. Given the size of the seas we were all tethered in. The size of the waves finally got to Amelia though and she said she was to nervous to stay up on deck anymore. I couldn't blame her, I was wishing I didn't have to either!

Finally at about 8pm tonight the seas have become more calm. I am so grateful for the calm. It looks like we should only have about 6 more days out here if our speed continues as it has. I might need to slow us down so the kids can finish their home schooling.

Yesterday Amelia was the SSB net controller for the Pacific Crossing net. The net is a SSB radio station that vessels crossing the Pacific tune into and give their position and just let everyone know how they are doing. It is very structured. Everyone takes their turn talking and the net controller orchestrates everything. She practiced the day before with the script and the morning of she got on the radio and did beautifully. She sounded like an old pro...."Any underway vessels for the Pacific Puddle Jump net wanting to check in, come now"...."Roger That"...."I have your position at 7 45 S and 112 35W...is this correct" "next check in come now"....She was really good. We took a video of it. It was alot of fun. Our days are Tuesday and Saturday and we do it twice a day. There are about 7 other boats crossing right now. Alex says he wants to do Saturday's net.

Ok, my shift is over time for bed. Here is the link to our position reports so that it opens in a big window.


June 21, 2010

Night Watch - Deep Thoughts....

I know.....yet another blog. Forgive me, I have nothing but time out here :-)!

This South Pacific passage is like the gateway to the world for me. I feel like we have finally been given the key to the locked door we have been knocking on for so long. There are moments out here when it all hits me and I am overwhelmed with emotion. We are finally here! I am so happy to have 20 some days to reflect on this fact, rather than running to the next goal. It feels good to revel in it for a while.

I feel this sense of power. I find myself wondering what else there is that I can do with my life that I haven't even imagined yet. Is it really as easy as setting a goal, making a list and forging ahead through thick and thin? If this is true that opens a whole different door! hmmmm possibilities fill my head out here at sea and nothing but time to explore and think through each one.

Enough of my night watch "deep thoughts"......We had another day of squalls yesterday. Artemo handles them beautifully. At one point the wind was blasting at 28 knots and it was pouring rain. I cracked opened the door just a pinch and peeked below to see what was going on. A warm blast of heat hit me from the cooking. It looked cozy down there with the soft glow of our lights on. Graham was just finishing up making dinner and telling Alex how to play solitaire. Alex was on the computer at the navigation station. Amelia's fresh baked cookies were cooling on the non skid on the table. Graham yelled out, "Amelia dinner time" and I heard her from the back call out, "coming".

I got my warm fuzzy feeling and quietly closed the door. Nice to be able to peek in on normal every once in a while when "crazy" is blasting around you. Not to long after that I heard a knock on the door and I opened it up and out comes my yummy spaghetti dinner.

We finished our 4 baths today. I feel glorious. We each heated up a pot of water today for the occasion. (good idea Theresa) This added an extra step but so totally worth it!

12 days out and we haven't had to run our engine yet. We truly are a sailboat. We are also almost making enough power from our wind generators and solar panels to stay topped up. Every few days Graham runs our Honda generator to bring us back to 100%. We have gone through 2 tanks of water so far, so we are making water to fill them back up. It is so cool to have everything we need to survive on board.

As far as garbage goes we have about 1/2 a bag now. All our paper, food scraps, tin cans and bottles go over board. We have a bit of fresh fruit and veggies left. Probably enough for another 4 days. After that we will be onto dried fruit and canned fruits and veggies. We have tons of potatoes, onions and garlic though. Freezer still has lots of meat in it. We have been cautiously moving through it. We are making our own bread and yogurt. We have a ton of cheese. As far as food goes we are doing well.

The kids are working hard to get through their home schooling year. Amelia finished math and tossed her book to the sea. Boy was she happy. I promised Graham they would be done by the time we get to Marquesas. What was I thinking! I have told the kids they better not let me down.

Well I better run....the sun is just setting and I don't want to miss it.

June 19, 2010

Gigantic Monstorous Waves

Yesterday the waves and wind built and built to an all new high. It is so strange to ride up so high on a huge wave and then plunged down deep into the trough and be staring up at the next massive wave. It seems impossible that they won't overtake you but right as rain Artemo slides back up and finds a sweet spot to belly surf down. This isn't to say that there isn't the odd "BANG" or "CRASH" against the boat and then a huge "SPLASH". I hate these noises. Sounds like the world is coming apart but luckily it doesn't. We are really lucky that our confidence is building in rhythm with the increase in the weather. We are handling it in stride and fear doesn't grip me like it use to. Although when I spot the breaking waves and can look through the top of the waves and see the beautiful blue green color of the sea as they form their roll......this scares me a bit! I can't remember if I ever told you how I use to shake with fear when things got chaotic, like actually shake and I couldn't seem to stop myself. I may have been to embarrassed to mention it but we are way past that now :-). The good news is that the sky is blue. It always seem worse in 25 knot wind and huge seas when the sky is ominous. I am grateful for the blue sky!

Well this morning just after Graham had gone to bed following his shift and just after I had finished writing the above paragraph.....we began our day of squalls. The beautiful blue sky filled in with dark clouds and you could see weather systems all around us. The squalls moved much faster than I was expecting. I had just spotted the extra dark spot off my port side and I noticed that there was a line of frothy water coming towards us. I managed to get the computer down below and slide the door in its place just as the rain and crazy wind began. I knew I had to furl in the Genoa, so I release the line and tried to hold it as it flailed madly, with the other hand I tried to pull in (furl) the sail up. There was so much pressure from the wind it was hard. The kids were yelling to me, "Dad is coming. Dad is coming". I managed to get the winch handle on and start to bring the sail in as Graham came up on deck and helped me out. Winds blasted up past 30 knots and the seas built even bigger than I wrote about above. Pictures do not do the size of the seas justice. I did get a picture of the wind speed indicator at 30 and also the radar showing the massive squall moving at Gromit and Artemo. Now even through all this chaos we still were in good humor, if you can believe it. I remember at one point Graham and I are standing in the cockpit soaking wet. I had my full rain gear on. My hair is sticking to my face. We are braced against the missen and tethered in. Graham only has his rain jacket and underwear on because he got woken up from his sleep and he was shivering. We stood there hugging each other and I said, "Living the dream baby!" We both laughed.

During the day we had 4 more squalls hit us. Graham went to bed after the 3rd and I handled the last 2 on my own. It was a good drill to do over and over. Once you feel confident that you know what to do in these circumstances, that you have a plan.....all you do is execute the plan. I was really proud of myself. I even managed to do the last 2 squalls with the hydrovane steering us. I have finally mastered the hydrovane and feel as good about it as I did about the auto pilot. The best part is that it uses no power though! The kids weren't as confident in my skill as I was though. For both of the squalls they still asked over and over, "Should we wake up Dad". ha. It may have taken me longer to furl etc. but I got the job done!

In between the squalls I was making buns and pizza dough for our halfway party. At about 8pm we reach it. We celebrated by eating pizza and all four of us singing the Gromits a song we had written for them. It went over really well and there were lots of cheers coming across the radio. We also pulled out the cream soda in celebration.

So Alex got his wish. The day after the big one got away he was out on deck at sunset and voila......he landed a beautiful 5lb tuna, that was just the perfect size for dinner and lunch! He cooked up a storm and the fish was his best yet! My rule is that he can't fish until we eat the fish we have, so tomorrow he should be able to begin again. He is excited. He might even be getting a tad bit cocky :-)! Oh I have to mention that it was 150lb test that broke. Alex was horrified that I got that wrong! ha

Right now we are wing on wing downwind sailing. We are averaging about 6 knots an hour and only 1420 nautical miles to go!

June 17, 2010

The one that got away

I am sure or at least I am pretty sure, that nearing the end of the 3 weeks at sea, you will see a blog post titled something like, "Get me the heck off this boat", but for right now we are all really enjoying our time out here. Seriously! Weird eh?

Each day gets easier and easier. You take the pros with the cons and eventually it just becomes life. You get use to the movement on board, high gusty winds, the odd rogue wave or two in the cockpit, holding on all the time, reading, talking, lounging, star gazing, bird watching, squalls, rainbow sightings, cooking, eating, wave riding, speed watching.......I am really surprised. Today as we sped along at over 7 knots, I actually cleaned the bathroom and washed the floors in the boat and then scrubbed down the cockpit. Life goes on.

We are all still super hungry all the time. Graham made two really fantastic meals today. The first was fresh fish sticks made with Alex's first fish of the trip. A small Mahi Mahi that he caught yesterday. He double breaded the fish fillets into sticks and did a fry. OMG it was good. The second meal was a dish called, "doubles". It is our favorite meal but it takes him quite a bit of work. It is basically a chickpea curry sandwich. He makes the curry a day ahead so it sits and gets really flavorful. Today he made up the curry bread and then fried up the bread and made up the doubles. Now they will never be as good as Mama Thackoories (say Hi to your mom for us Brian) but man did they hit the spot!

At 4 pm today we hit 1000 nms and our 1 week out mark! Very exciting. We sailed side by side with Gromit in celebration. They were so close we could talk back and forth. Probably closer than the captain would of liked :-). It was a lot of fun. It was so great to see them all up close and not just speak on the radio. I got some great pictures of them. The kids got out the air horn and fired off a couple shots.

It has been a great learning experience budding boat on such a big ocean. I don't think any of us realized how much work it would be to try and stay together. Gromits boat is 47 feet and ours is 43 feet. Our boats sail very differently and go faster based on different points of sail. Given Gromits size they could beat us in most races though. This means that we have to work at adjusting sail plans to maximize our speed and also set up their sails to match us. We check in with each other every few hours and see what our average speeds are and they try to match. When weather kicks up we reef and we check back in to see speeds etc. The first 4 days or so, there was the steep learning curve. We did a lot of cat and mouse which was a bit tiring. One night Gromit ran on only their main waiting for us and then the next night we even got way ahead and had to run on only our main. Artemo for some reason goes really fast when the wind is behind her. Anyway by day 5 I thing we had the hang of it and now we are both steering via our windvanes and we set our course based on the wind and the boats just do the rest! I am constantly surprised that Artemo is totally on the rum line to Marquesas. No matter what the wind does. It is freaky. She definitely knows the way.

Tonight as the sun was setting Graham and I were down below on the SSB radio net. Other boats that are underway to Marquesas check in and give their coordinates. As we were listening the kids start yelling they have a fish. I look up just as they lose it and then all of a sudden we see the other handline start unraveling at a crazy rate. Amelia grabs the line and almost cuts her fingers. Alex grabs the hand reel and can barely hold on as Graham scrambles up the stairs. He grabs hold and is in shock at the load on the line. Well you can just imagine the frenzy that picks up on board. We realize it is huge so I go to grab the Tequilla (still have a bit left! thanks Martha) and the gaf. I fasten the harness on Graham and the headlamp. Alex gets his harness on. We relay the play by play to Gromit and then finally the fish is close enough to the back of the boat to see it. Graham and Alex are yelling and the smiles and excitement on their faces was better than anything. They said it was at least 5 feet long and looks like a wahoo. Just as they are bracing themselves to pull it in the 300 pound test snaps and they watch as the massive fish takes a final leap in the air and is gone. SO SAD!! Unbelievably SAD. You can not imagine how hard it was to lose this fish. We spent the next hour re-living the course of events and examining the line and dreaming of the one that got away.

Tomorrow at sunset you will catch Alex out on deck fishing, convinced that he will catch that BIG ONE! Stay tuned....

June 14, 2010

Taking a Bath on Artemo

STEP ONE: Clean fish blood from your bath bucket. Do this by using small bucket with rope attached and swinging down into ocean and grabbing bucket full of water to wash the bigger bucket with.

STEP TWO: Hoist the 5 gallon water can from the pantry below to the cockpit

STEP THREE: Pour a small amount of water in the bath bucket. Be very conservative with the water. All 4 crew members will be using this water.

STEP FOUR: Position cockpit cushion across the companionway opening or yell, "don't look up here" and wash your body

STEP FIVE: Pour out fresh water

STEP SIX: If you have long hair use the ocean water to shampoo and condition your hair. Use small bucket to retrieve ocean water for your bath bucket

STEP SEVEN: Pour out ocean water

STEP EIGHT: Pour in a little bit of fresh water and do a final rinse of your hair

STEP NINE: Repeat for all four crew member

STEP TEN: Clean up the wet mess in your cockpit

STEP ELEVEN: Hang all wet towels from your life lines

STEP TWELVE: Ask the captain again why installing a shower isn't a priority???!!!

June 12, 2010

Teeter Totter

I was going to start this blog with how many miles we have gone and how many to go but I am to tired to get up and figure it out! ha. So instead I will start with ......Here we are on the South Pacific ocean somewhere....

Life right now on board is like living in the middle of a teeter totter with a couple of crazy kids at either end changing the rhythm and pattern. Just when you think you are compensating just right.....leaning to left and then to right....you will get a left, left and it will throw you around the boat. Stuff down below regularly gets catapulted across the room. You start believing in the rhythm and thinking you can predict but really you can't. This is the life of downwind sailing. Remarkably thought we do still manage to go about our lives, we just move a bit slower and only when necessary.

As with any point of sail and any weather on Artemo we are all always hungry. Crazy eh? I have heard of many sailors who get sea sick and eat only crackers and other sailors who only eat easy meals like sandwiches, tuna, beans, etc....not us. We all crave yummy new flavors and foods. We have been moving through our "Best of Bridge" cookbook (thank you Judith!). Man I love this book. Yesterday we had curried apple and sweet potato pilaf and today broccoli mandarin red onion salad from it. We have a ton of fresh veggies to eat up and we are determined to cook them in new and unique ways. So far so good! We are going to arrive in Marquesas not quite as lean as when we left.

The kids are doing great. No fish yet for Alex but he is determined. I am so grateful for this time with him. It is hard to believe that there are still stories we can tell each other that we haven't heard before. We have lots of time to talk. He stayed up on watch with me last night and we laid in the cockpit and star gazed together. Since it is new moon right now the sky is dark and filled with stars. I saw the coolest shooting star. Alex was mentioning today how surprise he was at how easy it was to fill his days. We discussed the fact that right now it is kind of like a sick day back home. Where you don't feel that bad but you get to lay around, eat, read, and watch TV. I am making them do at least one assignment a day for home schooling. It is hard right now but they are still managing and once we get even more use to the rolling it will get easier.

Amelia is always smiling. She has discovered her love of reading. She has read the entire twilight series and is into a new series called Lightening Thief. I LOVE that she is choosing reading over dvds. She keeps coming up and saying, "My book is getting soooo good." She chats on the radio with the Gromit girls regularly. They discuss all the goings on, on each boat and parts of their books. I enjoy listening in. Liam chats with Alex a couple of times a day to. He is such a cute kid. We all get a kick out of him. I wish I could record the conversations because they are classic.

Graham is in his element. I am so so proud of him. He has dreamt of the South Pacific for so long. No challenge seems to big for this guy. He takes everything in stride....except for my moods :-). We are both struggling a bit with the lack of a good night sleep. We are taking shifts of about 4 to 5 hours but it still feels like we never quite get enough. I feel like when you wake up super early to go to the airport. Kind of yucky but if you keep pushing through it eventually during the day we feel semi normal.

I really can't believe we are doing this. If I think about it for to long....our little boat crossing the ocean...so many miles.....it scares the heck out of me but then I come back to the here and now and reality really isn't that scary. I am actually wondering if it might be harder for you guys having to watch the dot move out further and further. I put myself in my moms shoes and think of Amelia out here with her family and me watching from many miles away and I wish I could give mom a hug. Please don't worry to much. Gromits are nearby, we always wear our life jackets, we tether in at night, we never go forward without someone watching us, we have 2 EPIRBs if we ever needed a rescue, we have SSB contact and vhf with Gromits, we have spares for almost everything important and most of all we have Graham!

June 09, 2010

Where dreams come true

The island of Isabella is better than Mr. Walt Disney's wildest dreams. I feel like we have entered another world. On the way into the anchorage 2 super huge mantorays greeted us. I had no idea that they got that big. They had to be 16 feet across. At first when I saw the two fins from the tips of each of its sides I thought it was two dolphins and then it came closer and we were in shock. I grabbed the radio and yelled at Gromits..."massive rays, massive rays"!

Once we were anchored the penquins swam around our boat. YES PENQUINS!!! I told you it is like another world. Is this really my life??? We were a bit tired from the overnight sail, so we got a couple hours sleep and then we were all off on tour of the island. Our first stop was an up close look at the blue footed boobie birds and penquins. There on the rocks, just a stone throw away from Artemo they all sat together in harmony. It was so cool to see these amazing blue feet. The next stop was a mangrove tree with a huge frigate bird in it. It's beak was all curved so strangely. He looked like he came straight out of the prehistoric days.

From there we went on to see the fields of marine iquanas. It reminded me of Indiana Jones and the scene with all the snakes. The ground was just littered with lizards. Totally freaked me out. The scurried to get out of your way. Next we saw white tip reef sharks. They love the shallow water in the mangroves and the nice current, so they just hang out. Very, very cool. Next to the shallows was this little pond and as we were standing there a penquin swam across the pond and as if on queue about 8 fish starting jumping and flying across the water. He was probably chasing them but it looked like a cherographed Disney film.

We then all got our snorkel gear on and went for snorkel. We saw tons of fish. The fellow who brought us out in his boat just followed all 9 of us along as we snorkelled the reef. With all the sea life around I was pretty nervous. Graham was so nice, he held my hand the whole time.

After our tour we all got together on Gromits boat and ate the massive Tuna Alex caught on the way to Isabella. Alex also did up the yummiest marinade for the fish. The Gromits were so impressed, it made him feel really good. The Gromits had another kid boat over for drinks after. Another great day.

The next morning we were up and off to shore before 8am. We had heard that the volcano tour is a must do. We had also heard that it was $45 per person. There was no way we could afford this, so we decided to go into town and see if we could negotiate with a taxi driver. We managed to do just that and we got the total trip for 9 people down to $180! Yippee.

We all hiked the 16kms, which was totally worth it. The volcano had craters and lava tubes. All sorts of different colors of hardened lava. Tons of hot little holes and the view from up top was breath taking. The guide said he couldn't believe that the kids could hike up hill and fast the way they did. He said he was expecting them to get tired. Made us all feel really good. They all seem to motivate each other.

On top of the volcano, overlooking fields of hardened lava we all ate fresh tuna salad sandwiches. Half way down we came across a fellow who had brought some people up on horses as far as he could and he was now waiting til they hiked back. He offered the kids each a ride on the horse. They were so thrilled. Alex said, "I have always wanted to ride a horse". I said, "I told you that this is the island where dreams come true".

Once we were all back at the boat we all jumped in and had a bath. Cornelia and I jumped in off our boats in unison as the kids counted down for us. Once I was in (of course again in my underwear) I look over and there is a huge charter catamaran with their 15 guests all sitting on the deck watching us. LOL. The only thing I could do was wave. They watched as we all lathered up and shampoo'd our hair.

I am so happy we decided to stop here. It was totally against the rules but luckily we have managed to avoid the Port Captain. We know we better not push our luck though, so in about an hour we are off to....MARQUESAS!!! Yes, today is the day, Wednesday, June 9th at 4pm (central time) we are leaving on our biggest ocean passage.

It is 3000 nautical miles away. If we were to average 5knots this would be 25 days. If we were to average 6knots this would be 21 days. Maybe we should have a contest. Everyone put their guess as to how many hours til we arrive in the Marquesas.

My guess will be 504 hours. I am already seeing ourselves happy, excited and grateful to be in Marquesas! We will try and post our position often.

Thinking of you all at sea.

Julie, Graham, Alex and Amelia

June 06, 2010

Bottom Scrubbers

The seals and sea lions are everywhere. It hasn't gotten old. I can't imagine it ever getting old. It still surprises me when we walk down the pier and they are stretched out on the benches. They seem so human. Today I had to walk around a mother as she was nursing her baby seal....in the middle of the side walk. They seem to be stretched out whereever they can find a nice piece of shade or some sun to bask in. All of the old abandoned boats in the bay are covered with them. Yesterday Gromit gave us a call and let us know that it looked like we had a vistor in our kayak. We all ran out on deck and sure enough there was the cutest baby seal sitting in it. He looked right up at us as if to say, "Can you pass me the paddle?". We were so pleased to have him as a vistor. Unfortunately this morning when the kids went to get in the kayak it was punctured all over the place. The seals must of been biting at it. It is beyond repair. So sad, we really enjoyed the kayak.

The kids have been scrubbing the bottom of the boat the last couple of days. There is a thick layer of green hair all around and mixed with that is tons of barnacles. They had to first scrub at the seaweed and then take a scrapper to the barnacles. The water is pretty cold and it has been pretty windy. They have been real troupers but I think it is only because Graham said he would pay them $25 bucks. It is hilarious to listen to the two of them. Alex just wants to get it done and Amelia is nervous about the seals. She keeps freaking Alex out and then they fight and then Graham yells, "The reason I am paying you is so that I don't have to listen to you guys fight". I am just thrilled I don't have to get in, so I am staying out of it!

The other night we had the Gromits and a couple of other boats over for happy hour/evening. It was great. We all made appetizers and had a feast. We had so many new dishes to taste....cruisers love to cook and eat.

Today we leave for Isabella. It is only an over night sail. Artemo is all ready to go. We will only spend a couple days there before leaving for Marquesas. I can't believe it is only a few days away til we do the sail that has caused me the most sleepness nights and worry, since Graham came home with this idea!!!! I feel so differently about it now but it is still occupying my thoughts. I do actually feel excited. Kinda like that feeling you get on your way to the airport. I keep reminding myself about all the good parts, like the fact that you get to relax underway and no more shopping or running around or spending money. Life gets a whole lot easier.

June 04, 2010

Avon Calling

I was remembering last night one of the reasons this adventure appealed to me so many years ago. Graham and I have sold everything and gone off and traveled a few times during our 20 years together. Unfortunately, what would always end up happening was that we would crave our home and stability.

Now here we are in the Galapagos going off and exploring the island, struggling with our Spanish, tucking into little shops, eating the local food and having everything seem so cool and new and THEN....we get to come back at night to our warm, inviting, comfortable, familiar, ARTEMO! We get to eat our Ol EL Paso Tacos and our Thousand Islands dressing and our Heinz ketchup and watch our MASH and Friends. We get to go HOME each night in paradise. I tell you, I needed a little bit of normal though, a bit of home, after my day at the local butcher.

Cornelia warned me as we were walking to the shop that it wasn't up to our level of cleanliness (and those who know me, know that my level isn't that high!). It was basically a small cement room. There was an old screen door that we came in through. There were two silver top counters, 3 big freezers and 1 ban saw. The butcher was just a guy in a t-shirt and jeans all sweaty running meat through the ban saw. There were two raw chickens on the counter (not refrigerated). There was a tray of ground beef on the counter (not refrigerated but it looked fresh). There was a pile of old shoes on one end of the counter (yes...Old shoes???).

Cornelia speaks really good broken Spanish and adds in sign language where needed. She let the fellow know that we needed alot of meat. We wanted pork, hamburger, steak and chicken. She told him we had our vacuum sealers and we would like to seal the meat as he cuts it and then leave it in one of his 3 freezers for a few days. He was happy for the business and motioned for us to push the shoes aside and unplug the old TV hanging from the wall and set up the vacuum sealers. For the next two hours Cornelia and I cut bags, sealed bags, filled bags and vacuum sealed bags as many of the towns folk came in to see the show and get their daily meat needs. Everyone thought the sealers were very cool. They were interested in how long our meat would last us on our boats.

The butcher didn't have any wash clothes for wiping the counter clean. He didn't where any gloves. He hacked up the raw chickens on the counter and I put the pieces (with my bare hands) in the bags. I was going to leave the backs and such but he insisted that I take them for soup. When we moved onto pork, he opened the freezer behind him and you could see all these different hunks of meat (not wrapped or in bags) and he grabbed out a huge thing of pork ....maybe a leg? He then ran it through the ban saw for us and the meat went directly onto the same counter as the chicken did and the steak before that.

Once we were finished I asked him if he had someplace where I could wash my hands. He led me behind the counter to this little dirty closet where there was a toilet bowl with no seat on it and no back part, a half a big garbage can with water in it and a milk jug for scooping water out, a floor wash bucket that was empty, a small little bucket next to it that was empty and a bag of what looked like powdered laundry detergent. I stood there very confused and then decided that since the milk jug looked dirty and was floating in the garbage can that I would just stick my hands in there. He came racing in behind me saying, "no, no, no". He had me pour some of the powder into the small bucket and then put some in my hands. He then had me hold my hands over the wash bucket and he scooped water and poured it over my hands? I just wanted to get the heck out of there but believe me it took quite a while to understand what the heck he wanted me to do! I am sure he was thinking to himself....crazy tourist! All of my meat came to a grand total of 34 dollars but I tell you the experience itself was worth so much more.

ps...I forgot to mention that he also sells Avon....yup, AVON!