November 29, 2012


"What's that smell?", I asked. "I smell skunk."

Salty Ginger doesn't have a water maker on board yet, so we have been concerned about our water consumption and haven't been having showers. Moist towelettes, a spray bottle and pit stick have been the name of the game for the past 6 days. Maybe you can guess what that skunk smell was. It was us. Ok more Graham than me. lol

We checked out our water levels in the tanks and given how thrifty we have been we were only down 1/4 of one of our 2 tanks, so today was "Shower Day!" Yippee. Ok for any of you picturing a nice hot shower in a stall with privacy and unending water...think again. Now we do have a nice shower stall in the front bathroom but there is nothing to hold on to in it and one of the sides is a folding door that for sure we would fall into with Salty Ginger rolling back and forth like she is. So luxury for us was a nice spray off sitting at the helm in the cockpit with our deck shower. YUP..we have a deck shower. Man I love this boat, so nice. We each had our time alone in the cockpit. I couldn't help but remember pulling up salt water buckets on our South Pacific passage and boiling a pot of fresh water for a wipe off. Funny how much we all appreciate the small things like a spray nozzle now. Sometimes things have to be a little tough to see how good you got it.

I am so happy to be clean. I even washed up the inside of the boat and bathroom. Such a great day. We are wing on wing again and almost pointed at Antigua. Only 10 more degrees to go to be pointed at her. The winds are light but we are still averaging 4.5 knots and I would take this any day over the squalls. Amelia disagrees and but I am so cool with this speed and slow pace of life. I feel like we have escaped for a while in our own oasis and the best part is that we haven't spent any money in 6 days! ha

The dreaded school has begun and no more seasickness or sleep deprivation. We all want the generator to be on during our watch so we can watch a show. We will see who wins tonight. A fellow cruiser gave us a bunch of new shows before we left Lanzarote, so I am now addicted to Dexter. I can't believe I am watching another gruesome show. Totally not my style but strangely awesome.

Nothing else new today, just endless ocean. Thanks for all the comments. Ann Marie sent them to us and this morning we all enjoyed reading them. Rob we all laughed so hard about your lawn mower comment!

Ciao for now.

November 28, 2012

Dolphin Poop

So strange to look up from my kitchen window and see dolphins. Salty Ginger is so cool with these long hull windows so close to the water that you can see the water and sea life right there.

The squalls stopped at about 9am, the sky cleared, the wind went to zero, the swell eased and on went the motor :-). It is gorgeous out but we do worry about using our fuel so early into the trip.

At about 11am the kids and Graham were up on deck and I hear "Dolphins, spotted Dolphins!" I look up from washing the counter and sure enough there are our friends. I love seeing them when the water is so still and clear. There were so many. The water was filled with them and they jumped and played in Salty's wake and splash.

The kids went to the bow and hung their feet over the sides and watched in awe. Every visit seems so different than the last. This time since it was so clear and still you could easily see the hole on top of their heads opening and closing as they would come to the surface for air. Amelia also got the pleasure of seeing a dolphin poop! She let out a big "Ewwwww." I may have captured it on camera. We will see.

It is 9pm now and we are motor sailing with light winds at a low rpm so low fuel consumption. We are hoping the wind fills in through the night. We are back on our regular watch schedule. I am looking forward to sleeping in a bed tonight rather than the cockpit.

Only other interesting thing that happened today was seeing another sailboat in the distance. We called out to it on the radio but no reply :-(

1/4 of the way there! Any guesses on arrival dates? I am guessing Dec 13th, Amelia the 9th, Alex the 10th and Graham the 11th. Keep in mind that all these guesses were made the day before we left...we each put in $20 bucks so the stakes are high. LOL.

November 27, 2012

Classy Chicken

Well the squalls and swell found us, darn it. Hard to believe I was considering making bread a day or so ago. Sunday at about 2pm the squalls started, 1 after another. Terrible feeling to see the dark clouds and know that they are coming for you. You try and out think them, "Maybe if I get behind it" or "Maybe this one won't have that much wind." We never seem to get it right though. I can't tell you how many times we have been fooled by the "calm" before the squall. Basically we start to feel silly for reefing and let out more sail only to be hit hard with to much sail up. Yucky. We are learning though. I hate seeing the white line of frothy water from wind and rain rushing at you across the ocean. Most often though it seems it is just a heavy downpour that hits when this happens and the worst of the wind has already passed.

Strangely enough though we aren't really scared of the squalls. Wind hasn't gotten higher than 30 knots and Salty is easy to reef, so that is basically what we did all day...reefed and unreefed...over and over again. The boat got a nice wash though.

Unfortunately squalls are the least of our worries. The swell is the concern...huge swell. We are worrying less about our course and just making sure we take the swell at the right angle. It knocks us around pretty good and we have had a couple very steep knock over's. Learned my lesson about holding on.

Graham reviewed the rules again and how important it is to follow them....Lifejackets and tether on upon entry to the cockpit. Pay careful attention to the lines as we reef. So much force on the sheets (lines) for the sails, so you have to be so careful nothing gets wrapped in them.

Sunday night given the combo of squalls and swell I opted for just Graham and I to do the 12 to 6am shift together in the cockpit. Amelia and I did 9pm to 12 and Graham got Alex up to sit watch with me sleeping in the cockpit from 6am to 9am. Seem to work out well. So far nothing that Salty Ginger and crew can't handle but today I did find myself asking Graham, "Is this fun for you?" He replied, "high highs and low lows." This pretty much sums it up.

Oh I forgot to mention that Graham also got the Hydrovane wind self steering gear working on Sunday. He was so happy. It works really great. He left it going through the squalls until after about 5 hours of squalls and Hydrovane I asked if we could please just focus on squalls and put the boat back on auto pilot. He agreed...thank goodness.

The kids are in good spirits and we have had lots of time to talk. Alex's sense of humor kills me and as I type Amelia is belting out, "On the Cover of the rolling stones." I am enjoying spending time with them.

The best thing at the end of a day like this though is Nanny Judith's "Classy Chicken Casserole". Amelia surprised Graham and I while we were out provisioning in the Canary Islands and made up this casserole and put it in the freezer. Graham just past Amelia and I up a bowl with hot potatoes on the side with butter, salty and pepper. YUMMY.

The sky is beautiful blue again and the sun is setting. The swell seems more manageable but I will be looking forward to seeing the sun rise again in the morning!

November 25, 2012

Seismic Bella

Law and Order plays in the cockpit and over the deck speakers. The bimini is down and the stars are above us. Graham is taking this opportunity for a snooze below. I have just scanned all around us for lights and checked the charts. We are snuggled beneath blankets and life seems pretty good.

and then....

Loud piercing alarms, so menacing sounding they rattle you. I jump to the helm and see that 2 of our 3 instrument panels are flashing strange warning messages. The screen in front of me reads "Seismic Bella" and Bella is in large letter. I click "Ok" hoping the alarm will stop. I am panicking. I think seeing the word seismic made me think "under" and maybe we were passing over something?? I diverted course 90 degrees and was shaking now. I am yelling at the kids to "get Dad, get Dad." The second screen is still blaring "Dangerous Target" but displaying a message I had never seen before. I click "ok" and finally the alarms stops when Graham reaches the cockpit.

At the point he could see how shaken I was and after surveying the surrounding waters he took me in his arms and told me everything was going to be ok and it was most likely a technical glitch. He rubbed my back and waited patiently for my heart rate to return to normal.

ok...I lie...:-)

He sat calmly at the second helm and asked what was going on. I was still panicked thinking that something was underneath us. The kids and I all were talking over each other trying to explain what had happened. I kept muttering "Seismic Bella, Seismic Bella" over and over until finally Graham loudly says, "You haven't made one word of sense since I sat down." I then try again and say "do we have a sonic sounder reader or something under the boat." I laugh as I type this because at the time in my head I sounded sane and asked if our depth sounder had an alarm that may have been triggered but this is definitely NOT what I said.

We had words back and forth until finally he has assessed the situation and still sees no risk and wonders why we are bobbing around going in the wrong direction. My heart rate is returning to normal. I can kind of see the situation from his perspective. Awoke from his sleep to a crazy crew with no real issues. He returns to below but not before asking, "Did mom swear during all of this?" Amelia perks up and says, "Nope and I was keeping track." lol

The 3 of us laughed for a while over my "Seismic Bella" blabbering. I still don't know what the heck it was? It was a strangely flat calm night and we could see boats on the AIS from over 400nms away! Perhaps like the captain said it was just a glitch or perhaps ol' Mr Fear felt he had spent to much time in the hallway the past few days.

November 24, 2012

New Goal

Beautiful gorgeous weather, the kind that you see in the sailing magazines. The sun looks like it is dancing all over the water. The sky is huge and crystal clear blue. The nights are star filled. I love sailing wing on wing. It seems so picturesque. I love the feeling of the wind pushing us forward and surfing down the waves. I am not silly enough to think that the next 20 some days are going to all be like this but man it is so nice to start a journey like this without...fear.

I still see him waiting in the hall though...and there are moments when he tries to creep in. I read a book recently that had a line in it that unfortunately has stuck in my brain and I can't seem to shake it. It was about this woman who sailed solo around the world nonstop. She said that if you felt fear being out here then you shouldn't be here. Yikes. I read the line and re read it. I was disappointed because so much of her book inspired me and then I came to this one line that I couldn't relate to. I tried to twist it in my head and thought things like …it wasn't fear that I felt but rather anxiety…..ok it didn't last long….I couldn't fool myself or anyone else for that matter. There are moments that I do feel fear out here….you all laugh in unison…..Obviously the more I learn the feeling lessens but it is still there sometimes full tilt with my legs shaking and other times lingering in the hall…. so…I did what I do with most things I read I kept the parts I liked and tried to do away with the rest of it……just wish I could rid myself of that one line because damn it...fear is present in most things I do. If I never did anything because I had fear then my life would be VERY different. I would never have packed up my 2 door Honda civic at 18 and moved to Edmonton with a guy I just met 3 months earlier and started my life with him. Ok....enough about can imagine I have lots of time to think out here.

The watch schedule is going well and we are all trying to get adjusted to our interrupted sleep patterns. Everyone is a bit short tempered at the end of their night shift. I decided today that I would try and go the whole day without swearing….just realized I used the d word above…oops…ok..starting now. Last night the wind shifted angles on us again and Graham decided it was best if we did change the pole and preventer over to the other side of the boat at 2:30am in the morning. Alex's shift ended at 2am but Graham had asked him to stay up to help and he woke me up to help, so already we were not in the best of moods. It is a bit stressful with Graham at the front of the boat maneuvering lines and poles in the dark and trying to yell out what we should do with the wind against him. Things didn't go as smoothly as the day previous and it took us 3 tries to get everything all sorted out correctly. I get so frustrated with myself for not being quick enough or grabbing the wrong lines. I seem to cope by dropping an "f bomb" or two...yup...not perfect. So today is a new day with a new goal. Graham asked if I would like his help in remembering. LOL...gotta love him. Made me laugh.

Amelia did our hair yesterday. We decided we didn't want to arrive with a rat's nest, so we bought a few wide tooth combs and have a spray bottle and some conditioner in the cockpit. She brushed my hair out and braided it and did the same to hers. I looked just like Pipi Longstocking...I would have preferred the Jennifer Aniston look but such are the cards I was dealt. LOl. I even had the multi coloured Christmas socks on in true Pipi fashion.

Meals have been good onboard but this morning we were looking forward to a box of what I thought was Spanish cream of wheat but once Graham had it cooked up we realized it was most likely pablum (baby cereal)…needless to say pretty mushy and not at all that pleasing.

We checked the weather files and unfortunately it looks like there are very high seas coming our way in a couple of days. It looks like about 4 to 5 meters waves. We have had much discussion on which way to go to try and avoid this. It doesn't seem though that we are ever successful at trying to outwit the weather. We are also wondering if since the intervals of the waves are 10 seconds if it won't be that bad. Lots to talk about anyway. Our plan for now is to carryon on down wind to the South West at a heading of about 235. We will keep watching the weather and decide when to make our turn to the West to set a course for Antigua.

Well time to wake up Alex for his daytime shift. Enjoy the day.

November 23, 2012

Day 1 - Not the Captains Log

lol....yep...I am not the Captain. Graham is my Captain. Oiy that pains me to say. Ha. Right man for the job though. He has everything figured out and the things he doesn't he takes time to think it through for a good solution. I noticed that he has also been working on his Captain communication skills. He did a great job orchestrating us all in bringing out the pole and even dished out a "good work crew" afterwards.

It seems kind of crazy to think we are on our way to the Caribbean. We had been planning on leaving next week but on Wednesday Graham checked the weather files and ran a plan by all of us of leaving the next day! Of course Amelia was a resounding "YES". Since the start of this adventure in France all she has talked about is getting to Antigua. I was happy to go if the weather looked good and I confirmed that it did look like the best window and Alex was....indifferent....I forget his exact words but they were something like...."well we have to go regardless"....gotta love him.

As I type it is actually the next morning at about noon which is 24 hours since we left. We had fantastic wind through the day yesterday and night and the waves were beautifully behind us. We surf down the waves so fast. Unfortunately at about 5am the wind died and also shifted which would of required going to the front of the boat in the dark and moving the pole to the other side. We opted to go with a bit of sail flapping for a couple of hours til the sun rose.

We are now all set up on the other side and making about 4.5 knots. Wind is about 6 knots, so this is pretty darn good. The sky is clear blue and the sun is out and we are in shorts. My watch just ended and Alex is up now. I am going to go get some shut eye.

fyi...we did end up catching up with the cruisers in Lanzarote. We had a few good parties and lots of laughs. We managed to get 11 people in our cockpit with room for more. Made me wish we had more time to get to know them all. We even attended our first fondue party on a sailboat! Lots of interesting people with unique perspectives and a willingness to share their time and knowledge. I hope we get to see them on the other side!

November 10, 2012

African Pirate

I guess I always pictured someone hiding if we were ever boarded. I just never imagined it would be me hiding under a blanket in the cockpit as Graham and Alex chased an African pirate around down below. Finally they managed to show him the door. He may have been small but he was swift and cunning. Captain Graham gave me the all clear sign and I came out from hiding and scanned the never ending ocean for him until finally my gaze came to rest at the front of the boat. There he sat proudly on Salty Gingers bow. I thought perhaps he was catching his breath before talking the leap and I decided he was a safe enough distance for a photo to remember our first pirate boarding.  I placed the blanket next to me and leaned down below and asked Graham to pass me the camera. With camera in hand I leaned back up and scanned the front of the boat again and he was gone! I turned to go for my blanket again and there he was sitting on top of it and looking at me like...."Game ON!" I let out a yelp and watched as he took the leap, and I confirmed his departure. Relief washed over me and finally I felt sure that we were once again alone. Life returned to normal. Everyone returned down below and I remained in the cockpit. I scanned the horizon, checked the charts and settled in for a quick shut eye. I had my toque on and not 5 minutes later I felt that African pirate on MY HEAD. Needless to say I freaked out and was ready for a full on brawl but he was gone. I scanned the boat again and there he sat again at the bow and I swear it looked like he winked at me and this was the last we saw of our African pirate before he flew away.

Lol...I joke. Funny thing is that I really was terrified of the bird...chalk it up to a childhood tragedy which involved a pet bird and a box and also the fact that Dad had a bird that he let fly freely in his apartment!

This 5 day passage has been exactly what we all needed. The weather was pretty much perfect and perfect meaning a mixed bag which allowed us all to practice. The nice part was that even in high winds the sky was blue which does wonders for the psych-k(sp?) and Salty Ginger sails like a hot diggity damn! We partnered up before the passage and decided that Amelia and Graham, and Alex and I would stand watch together. We all got use to new shorter sleep cycles, working together and maximizing our sail while still being comfortable. Alex did tire of our deep talks though. Funny how philosophical you feel on a star filled night as your boat slices through the ocean. On one of our night watches I told Alex that I was thinking that sailing Salty Ginger was like raising a child. I could just set the sails and only tend to them when convenient and only set them to suit my needs and that this might work but Salty Ginger wouldn't realize her full potential and she might go off in the wrong direction for a while with no one tending to her and sometimes if I didn't let her lead I wouldn't get to see her much like raising a child. The next morning we were sailing along and Alex said, "Wind has died, time to let out more sail." I replied, "Lets wait a bit I'm comfortable." Of course Alex smiled and fired back, "Let Salty sail. Let her reach her full potential!" I laughed.

I was worried as we sailed down the bumpy coast of France, Spain and Portugal that my love of the sea was lost but this trip has reminded me of all the things I love. I wish I could find the words to describe how you feel at night way out in the middle of no where all alone and self reliant. Gorgeous star filled nights, beautiful orange moons, glowing seas. I guess it is best described for me as feeling perfectly at balance, like feeling full, like you want for nothing. It feels like an emotional cleanse and believe me I so needed this cleanse. I want to be better, do better, listen harder and see more. I feel ready for what's next.

This morning our 4 night, 4 day passage came to an end and we arrived officially in the tropics....we have crossed the Tropic of Cancer. We are at dock in Lanzarote in Canary Islands and will be waiting on a weather window to make the leap across the Atlantic at the end of the month!

ps....Mom painted this following the blog and I absolutely love it and had to share. Enjoy

November 03, 2012

This is COOL

Click on this link and enter our call sign VA3PRY and click VIEW button.

The website draws our route from all the position reports we have sent since 2009. I wish it had them all since we left Antigua in 2008 but this is pretty close and way cool. I watched as the red line was drawn and I won't lie to you it felt really good. What an amazing adventure we have had and are having.

Looks like a weather window is opening up for Monday. Fingers crossed we will be sailing away to the Canary Islands. We will be in good company as there are 3 other Canadian boats who will also be on the water with us!

Tomorrow is Amelia's 14 birthday and I am so looking forward to surprising her with a day long palooza of birthday events! I am so lucky to have such an amazing daughter and friend to share these adventures on sea with. I wouldn't want to imagine life without her constant chatter, singing and craziness. I truly am grateful to continue to spend my days with my little sweet and sour girl!!