Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Welcome to Paradise, Please Unclog our Toilet? (Auntie Chelsea is Here!)

Nothing says "welcome to boat life" quite like being asked to plunge out a clogged head...from the water

"Ask Chelsea to keep plunging and if she see's anything coming out" Scott yelled to me from our (very clogged) aft head. I was confused. She'd jumped into the water for a swim ten minutes earlier...but...plunging? I asked Scott what he was talking about.

"Well, she was going in the water anyway, I thought while she was in there she could try plunging from the thru hull while I pump to see if we could dislodge the clog." He shrugged.

"You what?!" I gasped. I looked over the rail and sure enough, there was my sister, under water, donning a mask, a snorkel and an oversized toilet plunger.

Welcome to paradise!

She popped her head up for air, chuckled as she removed the snorkel from her mouth and smiled, "This is really disgusting" she said matter of factly before replacing the snorkel mouthpiece and diving down to try again.

Long story short, it worked. There was corn. And quinoa. Among other things. It was revolting but necessary and she was up for the job (hashtag boatlife). While there have been jokes about staph infections and pink eye, Chelsea's come out of it unscathed. Maybe stronger. She didn't even complain.

We sure know how to initiate 'em.

***

Having my sister here is amazing. Obviously the above story is a testament to her sheer awesomeness as a boat guest and a person. Not only do I adore her to pieces, but she is a truly wonderful aunt to our girls. She gets down and dirty with them, truly plays with them and - because she is something of a big kid herself - genuinely enjoys getting to their level and just having fun. The squeals of delight from our girls indicate the feeling is mutual. 

Having her here is also a huge help. Having spent much of her early twenties as a nanny, she doesn't miss a beat with the girls. She scoops them up when they fall, changes diapers when they need them, and is quick to distract when tantrums are threatening. She is a salve to my soul and having her here makes life approximately 45% easier. If there was any way to convince her to move aboard and live with us full time I would do it, and while she would be keen ("I love your life!"), she has her own wonderful life to live (she's an incredibly talented illustrator, in case anyone is looking) and responsibilities back in Portland, OR.

Not only did she unclog our toilet, but she came down bearing loads of "gifts". Anyone traveling to a cruising boat will undoubtedly shepherd goodies from home for the crew, and this visit was no different. She brought clothes for our growing girls (okay, some for me too), more jammies and swimsuits for Isla (we are still in the jammie stage), and a new slew of products from one of our favorite supporters, SailorBags (giveaway to come soon!). Everything down here is ridiculously expensive so utilizing visitors to bring stuff from home is necessary and cost effective.

***

We're already half-way through her trip (sad face) and after spending a couple days enjoying Trellis Bay, are back in Virgin Gorda for a diving excursion (she's a bonafide mermaid and free-diver after living in the Bahamas for a year). She's soaking up family love, general island awesomeness and having a blast. We're enjoying the extra hands, the awesome company and, of course, a working toilet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cruising with Kids: The Ugly (and Poopy)

As I wrote the title for this post I realize we aren't really cruising with kids. We are cruising with babies. Which is really, really different for obvious reasons (not to mention the fact that we have two of them!). For example, people who cruise with kids (and for the purposes of this blog I am calling a "kid" a child over three) rarely have to clean up that child's poop in their cockpit. Poop, mind you, that's been smeared - Picasso style - by the pudgy hands of the children that made them.

And so I bring you the moments when cruising with kids, er, I mean babies, isn't so awesome.

The day started normal enough. The girls stirred from their nightly slumbers sometime between 6:15 and 6:45 am, at which point Scott and I did our best to pretend not to hear them in order to snag a couple more zzzzz's. This is much easier said than done on a 44 foot boat with doors as thick as cardboard.

"Maaaaaaaaamaaa!!" Isla whined in a semi-sleepy, but very much awake voice, "I'mmmmm aaaaaaawaaAAAAAaaaake. The suuuuuun is uuuuuuuuuup" she moaned as she stretched like a cat in her bunk. "I 'm doooone sleeeeeeepin'" she punctuated, sitting up.

Because I am a) still nursing multiple times a day (exhausting in an of itself)), b) wake up at least once a night to feed the twins, and c) (according to Scott) am not a "morning" person, Scott takes breakfast duty and tries to keep the littles quiet enough until 7:30 or (if I am *really* lucky) 8 so I can "sleep in". This gesture is sweet and much appreciated, but "sleeping in" with three children under three is pretty much impossible unless you have a soundproof bunker that can be locked from the inside and/or have taken a narcotic sleeping aid. Shrieking, squawking, laughing, banging and screaming ensue in various pitches and tones on our boat and when you are not more than fifteen feet from the source of those noises, you hear them loud and clear. So usually I just lay in bed feigning sleep until I smell the heavenly aroma of caffeine wafting through our boat, at which point I consider it "safe" to go in.

After the breakfast rigamarole we dropped our mooring ball and started the upwind sail just as I was getting the twins down for their 9am nap. Sailing with three little children, mind you, is not exactly fun (kudos to those families who make long passages with more than one baby, that is so not our bag - with one baby, it was fine - more than one? No thank you). In fact, the other day during a particularly rough moment when we all took a wave of saltwater to our faces while seated on the high side I believe I said, "I love living on a boat, but I hate sailing". And, at that moment, I did. "There it is!" Scott said with a menacing, almost maniacal chuckle. Because of this, we try to sail as much as possible while the twins are sleeping in their bunk because it is infinitely easier (and more pleasant). This is, at the very most, a two hour window. Most sails these days are three or four hours, leaving at least one or two hours where I am playing "whack-a-mole" and doing nothing more than desperately plying children with snacks (vanilla wafers are cheap and seem to do the trick) and making goofy faces while singing made-up songs in attempts stave off a mutiny in the form of multiple tantrums in surround sound (aka the tenth circle of hell).

We were sailing from Cooper's Island to Trellis Bay. Scott had originally wanted to sail all the way to Virgin Gorda, but after telling me it would take about five hours I demanded that we break it up and stop half way. After exiting the harbor into the strong headwinds and rough seas, he agreed. Yes, Trellis would do. There's a fantastic little art studio there and a small grocery store where I could replenish our meager provisions (for a fortune - grocery prices here are highway robbery, but that's another post all together). By all means this sail is easy. A strong, steroid ridden arm could probably throw a baseball between the two islands but being that we had unusually powerful winds "on the nose" meant that we had to make many tacks in order to get from A to B, essentially quadrupling the distance we needed to travel to our destination.

"How much longer?" I kept asking Scott, slightly agitated knowing that the babies would be up soon.

"I don't know, look at the chart" he replied, dryly.

We weren't making very good time and there were lots of squalls on the horizon. Squalls make me nervous these days what with all the babies on board and what not.

We pulled into Trellis Bay in perfect time for lunch, which - really - is the ideal time to arrive. Lunch can be served with ease, and in an hour it's nap time again. Things were going according to plan.

I fed the babies their pasta with marinara sauce and immediately realized why they eat Kraft macaroni and cheese 90% of the time. Sauce. Was. Everywhere. In their hair, dangling off their eyelashes, on their chests and, I later discovered, even in the confines of their diapers.

"Mama, the babies are really, really messy" Isla noted as she gobbled up a spoonful of pasta. She is nothing if not astute.

I decided that instead of trying to towel them off with wet wipes, I'd just hose them off and give them a shower on the back of the boat. I stripped each baby down to their birthday suits (something they thoroughly enjoy) and went down below to get fresh clothes and diapers for them.

When I came up both babies had laid fairly large, impressively stinky poop eggs in the cockpit and both were trying their hands at finger painting with them.

"Scott!" I yelled desperately "I need you!"

He swept into action removing the babies from the crime scene while I scooped up the poops with paper towels and flung them overboard. I grabbed more paper towels and spray cleaner with bleach, frantically disinfecting the entire area with visions of eColi and pinkeye dancing through my head. It was about that time that Isla woke up prematurely from her nap declaring she had wet the bed. It was also about this time that the decent squall I'd seen on the horizon blew threw with vigor, thoroughly drenching the boat and our cockpit and, in general, wreaking havoc for a solid eight minutes.

What's that they say? When it rains, it pours. Yes. Yes it does.

Scott went down below to change Isla and settle her back down, and I was left with the poopy (and still very sauce-y) babies.

I grabbed Haven and brought her to the aft deck to hose her off and clean her hands. Once I was convinced she was poop and sauce free, I replaced her in the cockpit and grabbed Mira to repeat the process.

I was just toweling off little Mira when I heard the dreaded "thud-silence-wail" sequence. All parents know that the pregnant pause before a scream usually indicates a pretty serious ouch, and I looked over and saw Haven on her back after having slipped on our wet cockpit while trying to summit the combings. Her eyes were wide and mouth agape for another split second before she started howling like a banshee (this child does *not* hold back) with a healthy amount of blood coming from her mouth.

"Haven's bleeding" I casually yelled down to Scott, giving him a little update on our goings ons. He was struggling with a full-blown tantruming Isla who felt that fifteen minutes was a perfectly acceptable nap and he is far more patient with that stuff than I. Fighting with a (seemingly) possessed three year old is on my list of the top five things that will drive me insane, so I was happier to be dealing with the upper deck issues. I will take blood over tantrums any day.

I put Mira down in the relative safety of the cockpit and scooped up Haven to assess her injuries. Luckily, I am not squeamish and blood doesn't bother me. I was pretty sure she was more scared than hurt, and I was right. Her bottom teeth had cut a bit of her top gum and although there was a lot of blood, it was nothing serious. I held her tight to calm her, let her suck on a wet, cold paper towel and once she was calm and happy again I finished the task at hand.

By the time everything was sorted out, it was time for the blessed second nap. I nursed the babies, tucked them into their bunks and retreated back to the cockpit where I wish I could say I kicked back with a nice, cold and highly potent adult beverage but we were plum out of alcohol, adding insult to injury. So I just closed my eyes and relished in the quiet.

Cruising with babies*. Where a day can go from fine to crappy (pun intended) in the blink of any eye.

But at least we always have a killer view. That's definitely good for something.

*I realize that you could replace "cruising" with "living"...on land or sea, three under three and parenting in general is always an adventure!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Catching up: Daily Life

Sorry I have been so remiss about blogging. It's not easy to find time to write, particularly if we can't get a decent wifi signal on the boat and I need to go ashore to get online (we use a Rogue Wave wifi booster which works amazing when there are open signals, but these days most are password protected). As such, most of my "updating" has been via cellular data to our Facebook Page (point for smart phones!). Luckily, I have decent boat-based wifi at the moment, and instead of spending hours I do not have on all the wonderful individual posts I want to write, I'll just post a bunch of pictures and a mini-cram-style-missive to show you what we have been up to. A photo is worth a thousand words, right? This will be much more efficient I think, and it will get the point across. In the meantime, I will work on more detailed posts offline on a variety of subjects to post in the coming days and weeks.

So where are we now? Well, we made the upwind slog to Virgin Gorda from St. John. Winds have been unusually high these past few weeks - ranging from 20 to 30 knots every minute of every day - so it was indeed a "slog" taking us a rather pathetic three days of tacking back and forth to make this meager twenty-five mile "passage". We came here for Scott to race on the super yacht Parsifal.  Note that I said "super" and not "mega". Apparently there is a difference and though I cannot be sure, I think it amounts to another trifecta of zeros on a given bank account. It's not every day you get asked to crew on a 180 foot luxury sailboat and Scott could not pass up the opportunity, even if it did mean leaving me to be a single boat mom for five days. Though I gave him a hard time for abandoning me to go play both in truth and (mostly) in jest, I couldn't deny him this chance. Being former racing sailors has it's perks, that's for sure. We have so many sailing friends and several who work in the yachting industry that every now and then we get some opportunities to do things and meet people other people only dream of. I'll write more about the super yacht experience in a later post, but I must give a big shout out to our good buddy, Gonzo, for always thinking of us and inviting Scott to participate. It was pretty awesome, even from my vantage point from the deck of our boat. More to come...

As for other goings ons, we continue to get the opportunity to meet great blog followers and friends alike as this area is positively teeming with boating enthusiasts and blog readers. Paul and Sheryl Shard, of the television show Distant Shores, are here as well and got some great footage of our family to use in an upcoming episode for their show. That was fun and it was great to catch up with them again after seeing them at the Chicago Boat Show last year. We'll keep you posted on that interview and when it airs you can see for yourself if things are going as well as we allude to on this blog, or if it's all a ruse and we are teetering on the brink of insanity. Or maybe it's a little bit of both. You decide (wink).

Life on a boat continues with ups and downs and non-stop projects. We are always chasing up issues, from diaper blow outs and tantrums to battery problems and gear that has fallen into disrepair. Each morning before racing Scott fixed a new leak that would spring up. The first two were from faulty hoses from our sink faucets; easy, quick, fixes. The last leak, from our manual head pump (aka the way we flush our toilet), was more difficult. We are still dealing with it and while it's not bad enough to be considered urgent, it is a (pretty gross) nuisance to have seawater slowly trickling in from a blown seal on your toilet. Walking into a bathroom (or "head" as we call it) with a wet floor has always been one thing that has made my skin crawl. Even as a child I would tip toe into the stalls at the pools - their floors all slimy and wet - so disgusted at the thought that what I was stepping in might actually be pee and not pool water. As I even type that sentence my face is contorted into a disgusted grimace. Shudder. Not looking forward to the final fix as it will no doubt result in fecal matter getting on our skin. We'll just keep putting it off until we can't.

We have lots of fun stuff coming up to that does not involve poop or faulty hoses, not the least of which is the fact that many friends are coming to charter in the area (including AJ, who helped us out earlier this season) and my amazing, beautiful and crazy talented sister, Chelsea, who made a last minute decision to spend her spring break with us. Cannot wait for her arrival. And for all the goodies she will be bringing. Because if you ever visit people living on a cruising boat in the islands, you will be bringing them stuff from the homeland. Be warned.

So that is that. We are loving life and feel very much at home down here on our boat. I think we are past the "beta test" stage and I can say with resounding confidence that this is actually working, despite what most people - and even I, in my darkest moments - thought. Talk has now turned to how to make this viable in the long-term (aka operation "make money" in the islands), which is a complicated matter for sure. For now, we'll just keep on keeping on and letting the Universe guide us where she will. So far, so good. I'll let the pictures do the talking for now...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Haven and Mira turn ONE: Island Style

I am not a Pinterest worthy mother. Other than the fact that I do keep our living space pretty tidy, I am a terrible cook (the babies' eat mac and cheese more than I care to admit, but they are still nursing 4-5x a day so it’s okay, right…right?), I don’t dress our babies in super cute clothes with equally adorable hair-do's, and, as much as I wish they were, crafty DIY projects are simply not in my wheelhouse. Add to this the fact that 100% of our children's birthday parties - the mommy Pinterest-post mecca - have been totally thrown together last minute with almost zero thought. I'm a sort of haphazard mommy when it comes to stuff like this.

That said, the twin’s first birthday - like their big sister’s before them - was off the hook. 

Okay..."off the hook might" be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a fantastic little get together full of love, friends, fun and rum. One that will never be forgotten.

Earlier in the week several boats arrived for our friend Genevieve’s, 32nd birthday. (If you want to read about those shenanigans, check out >>>this post<<< spoiler alert: all the ladies jumped of the upper deck of the floating bar, Angel’s Rest). One of those arriving boats was the couple behind Where the Coconuts Grow, fellow bloggers we had grown to know and love online, but had never met in person. It was so great to finally meet Jody and Peter and make it official. Since they had made the upwind slog for Genevieve’s festivities, they of course stayed for the twins’ party as well. What a treat this was as Jody is a gifted photographer who took the most amazing shots of our day. If you want to see some of the absolutely beautiful pictures she took, please, please check out >>>her post<<<. We are forever indebted to her for capturing this special day so perfectly.

We also had the pleasure to meet some blog followers who just happened to be chartering in the area and dinghied over to say hi. What an awesome couple they turned out to be. As we chatted in our cockpit, Lauren and Brian mentioned that they wanted some upwind sailing experience with another hand on deck, which was odd since Scott needed a lift to Soper’s hole (upwind) where he had some day work as a captain. It was decided then and there that Scott would help them handle the boat and give them some pointers, and they’d drop him off where he could get to work. How’s that for serendipity? Brian and Lauren were, of course, invited to the twins birthday party the follow, so they turned around and made it back in time for the festivities. They were a wonderful and very natural addition to the party. Fast friends and fantastic soon-to-be full time cruisers.

And so our girls turned one in style, and in good company. 
Heading to the beach for the party 
Possibly my favorite picture EVER
Isla and her pals from s/v Necesse who, incidentally, were there when Isla turned one!


So now for the sappy bit...

Of course it’s cliche to mention how fast time has flown, but I don’t care. It feels like yesterday that I gave birth to these little monkeys.. This year has, without a doubt, been the fastest year of my life. I'd been warned that twins would do that. These babies are incredible and I can honestly say that our surprise "two-fer" has been the wildest, most amazing, ride of my life. Of course there were the very difficult days in the beginning when I wondered “why me?” but it has become clear that these babies, and twins in general, are a humongous blessing. To raise two babies at once is truly a magical experience. I mean, these two little monkeys kiss each other on command. You have not seen cute until you have seen two babies plant big wet kisses on each other when asked. It is beyond adorable. Watching their unique bond blossom is something else.

Speaking of 'blossoming', their personalities are coming in loud and clear. And what's more is the fact that the girls are night and day. Night. And. Day. Haven is wild eyed and happy. Easy to smile and flirt with anyone who will look her way, but just as quick to turn "off" and harumph in frustration if she doesn't get her way. She has the most insanely hilarious (maniacal?) giggle, which she lets out all day long to the joy of anyone in earshot. She is into EVERYTHING. She is truly the female “Denis the Menace” and definitely a “full on” little imp. And, yes, she is still very loud. Everything she does is with gusto, from smiling to screaming, and she is definitely not a “look before leap” kind of kid. Head first is her way. Everyone who meets her falls instantly in love since she is pretty much the Gerber Baby, but not before shaking their heads and laughing as they say “you will have your hands full with that one!". She is very physical and is mastering the large motor skills. She is walking like a pro and, much to our chagrin, there is no area on the boat that she cannot summit. She is a high octane bundle of love and energy and makes us laugh all day long. 

Sweet Mira is just as happy as her sister, but - like Isla before her - a little more discerning about handing out smiles. More mellow and quiet than Haven, she is thoughtful and pensive. She is also the best little snuggler around, and will nuzzle up to your neck and settle right in for a good long cuddle which, as any parent can attest, is pretty much the sweetest thing any baby can do. She is a full blown mimic and loves to try to dress herself, put on sunglasses and fake “read” by holding up a book and “talking". Her baby babble is very advanced, and when she talks it almost sounds like playing a record backward, which of course makes us wonder if perhaps she is a genius baby. She is still a little peanut (20% percentile) and not quite walking yet, but she creeps along furniture and can climb like a little monkey. She is quick to hand out kisses to everyone who asks and her gentle, sweet demeanor melts the heart of anyone who snuggles her. Her greatest joy is to make people laugh and if you giggle at something she does, she will repeat it over and over. She is small but mighty and I seriously could snuggle and kiss her all day long.

These two little fish are so happy and lovable that it takes everything I have not to eat them on a daily basis. That is how cute they are. I know that sounds weird and strangely cannibalistic, but it's true. Must. Eat. The. Babies.

As for me, well, as I mentioned a while back, I have been put to the test as a mother more times than I can count - and I have failed more times than I care to admit. But I have also excelled at times and I feel very proud of those successes. At the end of the day, we have three healthy, happy children who are loved with such hopeless abandon that, truly, nothing else really matters. It’s all about the love. #Thankyouuniverse.

So it was a very happy, very special first birthday party for Haven and Mira. Maybe even Pinterest worthy. We did it. We survived the first year with twins, and maybe even thrived here and there. What a trip. The future is bright for these little fish, that is for sure.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Sailing Swing

One of my fondest memories of being a boat kid, is when my dad would make a halyard swing with the bosun's chair for us. We'd be underway - sailing upwind - and when we got a good enough heel, we'd launch ourselves of the side of the boat and skip across the water, tip toeing along the waves and laughing hysterically as we charged forth alongside the hull. It got especially fun when a good gust would come through giving the boat that few extra degrees of heel, dunking us thoroughly into the cold, fresh water or when we'd get too close to the boat and have to kick off to get back out over the water. Shrieks and gasps and wide eyes would ensue. It was good, clean - possibly dangerous - fun.

Such is life on a boat, right?

Isla is a monkey. I think I have mentioned it before, but one advantage of bringing babies on boats when they are very young is the simple fact that by the time they are two or three, they are seasoned little sailors or, at the very least, adept at maneuvering around on a sailboat. Isla roams free on our boat, no area is off limits to her. She understands the consequences of getting too close to the edge, knows exactly how to move along a sailboat's odd angles, instinctively avoids cleats and dodges lines, and embodies the cardinal rule of "one hand for you, one for the boat". Some might call us "reckless" for allowing her to play freely on deck, but we think of this sort of play as "skill building". She is never more than fifteen feet away from either of us at any given time and let me tell you, this kid can climb.

The other day, I was down below making breakfast while Isla was playing on deck, watching for turtles with her little binoculars and climbing around on the rigging. "Mama, come see me swing!" she yelled from the bow. Swing? I thought. I went up on deck and found her hanging on the jib sheets with a huge, beaming smile plastered across her sweet little face. Scott decided then and there she needed a proper swing. So a proper swing was made.

Needless to say, she loves it. We hoist her ten feet off the deck and swing her out over the water. Some might see a boat as one big hazard for kids, but to us - and certainly Isla - it's one, big playground.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Running out of Coffee...I mean Propane

I write you this morning sans caffeine. That might not sound like a big deal to some of you, but to you fellow coffee addicts lovers and mothers of small children who rise with the sun - I'm pretty sure I heard you all collectively gasp. "First world problems", I know. But it's a problem nonetheless. My head is positively pounding. I never knew the caffeine headache was real, I mean I heard about it, but was skeptical - but it is. It is very, very real.

How does this happen, you wonder? Well, our boat carries two ten pound propane tanks which provide gas for our stove and oven. They each last well over a month usually, and when we finish with one, we are typically careful to monitor (by the passage of time, we have no gauge on our tanks) when we might need a refill so we don't find ourselves in this predicament. When we ran out the other day, it was no biggie. Switch tanks, use the full one and - voila! - we were back in business. Except we weren't because our spare tank wasn't full. Looks like when we put our boat away, way back when, we forgot to top them up or at least remember that one was empty. So yesterday, as I was cooking pasta for lunch, I saw the flame flicker and fade out - poof! - and just like that, it was gone. The plus side of this was the pasta had actually cooked, so that was good. The down side was we had no idea when and where we'd get more propane. Sometimes this can be a tricky endeavor that involves leaving tanks in various locations only to get them back days later.  My first thought, of course, was "What will I do for coffee in the morning?!?!" I mean, cold meals I can deal with a but a morning without coffee? That just seems impossible. But here I am. This is happening.

My point in all that is to excuse this post. It might ramble and it might not make sense. It probably doesn't even have a point. But I'm just going to go with it while the babies nap and Scott and Isla get our tanks filled ashore (fingers crossed).

After spending a week in the beautiful Hansen Bay, we decided it was time to move. Not because we needed a change of scenery - we actually really enjoy finding a nice spot and staying for a while (because sailing with three little ones is a...production)...no, we decided to move because of upcoming weather. The easterly trade winds are supposed to pick up significantly in this area and night time calls for gusts in the 30's, which isn't too crazy, but the bay we were in has very little land mass to the east, meaning gusts could be even stronger (think williwaw effect except a little different). We decided to move somewhere that offered a little more protection from the wind and, as such, better sleep at night. So we did, over to the easternmost side of the island in the area of the main town, Cruz Bay. Where, luckily (hopefully?), we will be able to fill our propane tanks.

The passage was okay, if not a bit rolly. In fact because I was up and down and up and down so much between getting the kids to sleep and preparing lunch, it was the first time I actually thought I might get seasick. Luckily I didn't. Laying down in the cockpit once all the kids were out was all I needed. Sleep, precious sleep. The cure-all for just about anything. Other than coffee, of course.

I have to say, each time we sail with the three kiddos I praise our choice to stay in an area where passages are short and sweet. I mean, wow. There is no way I would attempt anything longer than three or four hours with this crew right now (unless it was overnight, and even then I wouldn't want to because that can be beyond exhausting). The other day we met a guy on the beach; "So he sails the boat while you watch the kids?" (he paused inquisitively) "So who's job is harder?" he asked in earnest. I wasted no time in telling him mine was. Because it is. You do not need to be a math whiz to figure our that two arms for three kids is simply not enough. Factor in a moving sailboat where two of the three cannot maneuver safely because of their fledgling legs, and it's a no brainer. We make it happen and it works pretty well, but we have found two hour sails are our sweet spot. Long enough to get some place interesting but short enough that they can all be sleeping for most (if not all) of the journey. Baby steps.

SKEEEERT....Stop the press!

Okay, our amazing buddy boat just dinghied over with a french press full of steaming hot fresh coffee so I must go drink it now. Right this minute. This blog post is over.

Priorities.

Boy does it pay to have good friends. And caffeine.
Saved by the Press!! Thank you s/v Necesse! Best cup of coffee I ever had!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Awesome Sailing People: The Delos Crew

Imagine being on a well appointed cruising boat in an impossibly perfect tropical paradise with two hot blonds, two handsome men, tons of toys (from drone to dive gear), a moonshine brewing still, a thousand beers and a penchant for all things fun. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Yeah. Such is the life of the s/v Delos crew. These four have perfected the art of living harmoniously "in the moment".

If there is any crew in the whole wide world that I would want to join and sail with for a good long while, it is this one. Not only are they accomplished sailors who've logged an impressive number of nautical miles from Seattle to Asia, they are people after my own heart and I'm pretty sure their sailboat acts as a sort of portal to personal enlightenment because everyone who steps off s/v Delos seems to have changed permanently for the better. Or maybe it's all the alcohol they brew. Either way, I want in.

When we started blogging back in 2009, there were no where near as many blogs as are out now, but there were a few, and Delos was one of them. We've been online "friends" since our blog's inception and their site has evolved from blog to vlog - and a really, really, REALLY fantastic one at that. If you have not checked out their amazing videos, you should (subscribe to their YouTube Channel >>>>>HERE<<<<<). Not only are their episodes excellent dream fodder, but candy for the eyes as well. They've really honed in their techniques over the past few years and each crew member brings something unique to the table. I want to be friends with each of them, for real.

I love these guys. They make me smile. I love their attitudes (Nothin' but love!), their spirits (Peace and positivity!) and their approach to life (Have fun!) and everything in between. I think you will, too. Jump in and read my interview with them to learn little bit more about the Trautman boys, Brian and Brady, (real life Peter Pan's) and their beautiful side kicks, Karin and Josje...and if you want even more Delos ('cuz you will!), be sure to head over and like their >>>>Facebook Page<<<<

1) Brian, when you set off for this trip - none of your current crew were a part of your team...What was the vision for Delos then and how has it changed?


(Brian) That’s the really amazing part of this for me personally.  I didn’t start out with a vision at all….  I just wanted to take some time for myself, sail, travel, explore, a bit of soul searching and discovery.  Along the way my brother joined and we met some fantastic, amazing people.  In fact we’ve had over 35 people sail on Delos!  Some for only a few months, others for years.  Everybody has left their energy and added to the experience in their own special way.  To me this has been the most awesome aspect of the voyage, and has really helped to shape the vision of Delos.  Which is pretty simple actually- just have as much fun as possible, and show others what a beautiful place this world really is.  If we can make someone smile then we’re doing a good thing!

2) Brady, what were you doing when you decided that you *needed* to be a part of the crew - and when did it become apparent that you were not going to leave? 

(Brady) I was ‘treading water’ at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  I spent the semesters convincing myself that I really needed the Environmental Engineering degree I was working towards and I spent my summers down in Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, teaching scuba diving and playing with boats! I spent Christmas and New Year of 2009 sailing with Brian in Mexico and had an awesome time diving and cruising around. That’s when they asked if I’d like to join for the passage to the Marquesas in March of 2010. I asked myself “Go back to finish a degree just for the sake of finishing or go sailing to this far away mystical place called French Polynesia?”  Let’s just say the banks who gave me my student loans to go back for the spring of 2010 weren’t happy.  I was supposed to be on for the 3 week passage, hang out for a few weeks then fly back home from Tahiti  All of a sudden we were about to sail into New Zealand 7 months later…  I knew at that point I had permanently switched to the University of Sailing the World.

3) Josje - (I think you are the one behind the animation of the videos?) - you are wicked talented - was this something you always did (video editing) or is this a talent you discovered underway?

(Josje) We all take turns at editing the videos which you can tell by who does the voice over. When we started making them in Australia, it was just sort of a hobby so when we got our hands on a decent editing program, we all just sort of taught ourselves! It was a huge learning process but really fun! Still learning heaps even now. So I guess I was never ‘into’ editing before but it’s definitely a skill I highly value and appreciate now. It’s so awesome to be able to whip up a little something with music and the whole works! Haha in terms of most of the effects in the videos, Karins gets the credit for this! She’s been teaching herself a program called ‘after effects’ where she’s able to do all the awesome effects like in our intro for the vids. I also really like the fact that we take turns at editing the videos, it makes it really unique in the fact that we are all able to portray our experiences through our own perspective. And I think people can pick up on those sorts of things which is really unique! 

(Karin) We all edit the videos, which I think is awesome, and everyone has different styles and ideas. The animation part really started with us wanting to create a new cool intro. I looked into stop motion and really loved it! 

I did some small video projects during my 3-year degree as a landscape architect, but this was on a different level. And so much fun! 

In the beginning I did the old school camera on a tripod, take a photo, move the object then another photo. This was extremely time consuming! So I looked into After Effects, after a week and dozens of YouTube videos later I knew enough to make a small intro. It’s a fascination program and I’ve only started to scratch the surface of what’s possible.

*Editor note: Sorry Karin!! I thought Josje did the stop motion - SO FANTASTIC. Love it. I stand corrected.

4) You all seem to have a good dose of "hedonist" in you - is this something you always had in life - or was this cultivated by living on the water, being free and just letting go of social constrictions that the US sort of imposes?

(Brian) I think it’s probably a mix of lots of things.  Society in general has this idea of what is common, and what is out of the ordinary.  For me that really changes when we go sailing.  It’s a very different life spent in a small space with people you really care about.  You’re more than just friends- you become a family of sorts.  So things like partying a bit, skinny-dipping, and showering on deck that in a city would be considered way out there are just part of the norm for us now. We’re all in committed relationships and care deeply enough that we all respect personal boundaries so that helps.  So, I guess yes and no at the same time.  What may be crazy for some is just a shower in the rain for us ;)

(Brady) Haha well after googling hedonist I can say that I have always had a strong belief in the power of pleasure and have always searched for it and surrounded myself with pleasurable experience.. (winky face)…  I guess what I mean is I have always thought that you should put your happiness and pleasure first (as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else in a negative way).  Life is short so eat well, drink often and laugh a lot. Delos has definitely brought out more hedonistic tendencies though.  We often gorge in alcohol, food and other pleasures to the point of it being a bit much…Nah, never too much…

(Josje) Haha this question is great. I think it’s definitely something that I’ve always had a craving for and being on Delos has definitely been a space where being free and open is the norm. No we don’t all have sex with each other or anything, but going for a naked swim or taking an outdoor shower while the others read a book in the cockpit is totally cool and accepted. It’s a boat after all! 

(Karin) I don’t think I’ve ever really seen myself as an adventurous, living in the now person. And it’s definitely taken me some time to be able to really live in the present and not think so much about all the things your “supposed” to do in life. So the sailing life style has definitely changed me as a person, only for the better. I will always remember one thing Brian told me when we first met “you will never look back and wish you worked more.” – so true!

5) Josje and Karin - both of you joined the crew of Delos as girlfriends (I think?) did you ever picture yourselves living on a boat or did the love of the Trautman boys lead the way to the sea for you? What finally made you both realize that, yes, you would live on the boat as sea gypsies and was the transition hard?

(Josje) Haha yeah I guess thats pretty bang on. I met Delos in 2011 in Fiji and Brady pulled the old “wanna come sailing for the weekend” line. Its been four years of sailing on and off since then! Sailing had never been something I was remotely interested in before I went travelling. My dad actually put me through sailing lessons when I was about 10 and I absolutely hated it! Strangely enough, 10 years later, I was cruising around. I think the moment I realized that yes, I would live on a boat as a sea gypsy, was when I first met Delos. They were young, fun and totally about living simply and free, everything I had been craving. I knew I had been searching for something, not quite knowing what, and when I moved on board Delos I knew I had found it. So I guess the transition wasn’t so hard, I still miss life on land, my friends and family. Ive come to realize its all about balance! 

(Karin) I met Brian in Auckland, NZ in 2011. He asked me if I wanted to go sailing for a weekend and here I am 4 years later.  I grew up above the polar circle in a small town in Sweden so I’d never sailed before. It had never even crossed my mind that I could do something like this and now it’s something I could never live without.  I loved it straight away- it’s an incredible feeling of freedom and self-sustainability, the ultimate way to travel and it’s now my whole life!

6) Videography seems to be your platform of choice - and your Delos episodes are so well done and entertaining, they are practically television-worthy. What made you decide to go the "vlog" route when so many sailors are doing blogs? Was it a conscious decision or was it more organic?

(Brian) I was actually sitting with a guy in a bar in Mexico enjoying a few Pacifico’s.  He had inherited a fortune from his family and had been traveling around for about 7 years through South America and Mexico.  I thought his life sounded really interesting.  When he asked what we were up to he lit up and said “Wow man, that’s really cool!  You should be capturing everything on video!”  I thought if this guy with a fascinating life felt our experience was interesting then maybe others would as well.  So I bought a cheap $200.00 camcorder and starting messing around. This sort of stuck with me and over time we started taking videos of what we were up to.  As we got better gear and more into the project it sort of evolved over time.  We love writing the blogs and taking photos, but video brings such a different perspective. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video must be worth a million right?  Plus it’s a whole lot of fun, and we’re really looking back to seeing these 30 years from now!

(Josje) From my perspective, it was definitely more organic. I remember when we started to make the videos, it was like a funny joke almost, like we just had a bunch of footage of us doing random, stupid stuff and thought if we threw it together, 30 years down the track we could all meet up, drink some wine and watch them and have a giggle about the the 'good old days’. So when we started getting a big following and lots of support and interest from the videos, it turned into something more which sort of got the ball rolling to where it is now. So its definitely been a wonderful and interesting journey, but still learning and growing, always! 

(Brady) Thanks so much for the compliment!  We really have an awesome time doing the videos.  It has been a totally organic thing.  We started making them because we thought it would be funny to look back and watch them 30 years from now.  We also thought it was a great idea to show our family and friends what we were actually up to.  Writing is a really great way to tell stories but video footage is even better.  Unless you’re a wicked writer like yourself! (*Editor's note: Thank you Brady!) While Josje and I went off to work last year Brian and Karin did an awesome job making the videos on a regular basis and helping to keep the momentum of everything going. We still do a bit of blogging but it has definitely taken a back seat to the videos.  Maybe we will write more on this next season!

(Karin) When I want to learn new things or get inspired I find it easier to watch rather than read. Therefor it came naturally to start filming, we wanted people to be a part of our lifestyle. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and the whole experience becomes more alive.

7) Your blog has been around a long time - you are actually one of the few I followed from the get-go (as you know since we have emailed back and forth almost yearly since 2009)...from my perspective, it seems like your blog has changed - you've obviously gained a ton of popularity with your awesome videos, but I feel like there has almost been a sort of "enlightenment" amongst your crew and the way you share your life - do you agree, or have I drank too much wine tonight?

(Brian) Is there such a thing as too much wine?!?!?  Certainly not if you can still type ;) There is no doubt that this experience has changed us in ways that we are still just beginning to realize.  I’ve often wondered if the places and people we visit get more fun, beautiful, and interesting as we sail West or are we changing as people and are now better able to absorb the experience more fully? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.  In any case I think our perspective on things has changed, and this has come through in our sharing of the experience to others.  We are so lucky to be able to do this and sharing the experience with others only adds to it.

(Brady) First of all, there is no such thing as too much wine!  Is that a hedonist statement? Haha. Yep, we have definitely e-mailed back and forth over the years. One day we will anchor together and finally meet! (*Editor's note: YES! And by then our kids will be old enough so we can party a little harder - ha!)  Yea, we have changed the way we share our lives and it has just been a natural progression of the blog.  You can really SHOW people what goes on while sailing through videos.  I think videos really reach people that normally wouldn’t be searching and reading blogs.  We got an awesome email from a trucker that would get together with his trucker buddies at a rest stop on the highway each time a Delos video came out!  How crazy is that?!  It is really inspiring to be able to reach so many people.

(Josje) Firstly you definitely haven’t drunken too much wine tonight. There is no such thing as too much wine. Secondly, I agree with your statement. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘enlightened’ because I don’t consider myself a monk or buddha, but I’d definitely like to think I’m on that path of love and all things positive. Everyone brings something different and unique to the boat and I think over the years, as we have travelled further, pushed the horizons and expanded our minds, I feel we’ve definitely become a lot more content and understanding with the world, with each other and most importantly with ourselves. I think from sailing on Delos, we’ve all realized how to slow down and realize whats important in life. I’ve definitely seen a lot of mindfulness and meditation books being read on the boat! 

(*Editor's note: See!?!? I told you they were after my own heart. All of them mention that there is no such thing as too much wine. My love grows...)

8) This question is for each of you - if you could sum up how Delos has changed you life in five words or less, what would you say?

(Brian) It has changed my DNA!
(Josje) (This is so hard!! Ummm….)  Opening eyes, heart and mind
(Brady) Poor Materialistically, Rich Spiritually, Grateful
(Karin) Value of freedom!

9) You guys have mastered the art of cruise - break to work - cruise break to work, and this has obviously been a good formula for you. Do you ever see yourselves being called back to land? Is there ever the urge to "settle down" for any of you?

(Brian) Wow, great question!  I only intended to sail for 2 years and we’re moving onto 6 years now!  One of the toughest things about cruising is being so far away from family and friends.  So the thought of having some sort of a “home base” on land is attractive.  Plus, I’ve found that after leaving Delos for a few months to visit home it creates a new level of excitement looking forward to the next season of sailing.  It’s not in the immediate future, but a definite possibility to sail for a few months a year then live somewhere awesome the rest of the time.  Come home to visit with family and friends, then return to Delos when the time is right.  We’ll just have to see.  For now we’ve still got a few more years I reckon though!  Plus it would be really sweet to have someplace to set up all the awesome things we’ve collected in the islands so far!

(Josje) Haha definitely. There is something about the mountains and being surrounded by the forest that just resonates with me and I definitely miss this while sailing. When I am home and surrounded by it, its definitely hard to leave. But I wouldn't say an urge to ‘settle down’ just yet. I love to travel. And to travel by Delos is the cherry on the cake. Actually it should be the cake! 

(Brady) A few years ago I would have answered this question with “Nope, I will live the rest of my life as a pirate”.  As time has gone on I realize that just as much as I love sailing and traveling the world, I really love having a home “base” where friends and family are not on the other side of the world.    I will always sail but maybe it will evolve into a 3-4 months sail then the rest of the year in a bad ass house with a garden, dog, a place to keep all the carvings collected, and of course friends and family..

(Karin) I have always said I will sail until I run out to money or until it stops being fun. I have run out to money a few times already and the more I learn about sailing the more fun it becomes. So at this point I can definitely see myself doing this for many more years but I try not thinking too much about what the future holds. 

10) Will there ever be any mini Delos sailor thrown into the mix? (And, yes, I am talking about babies - sorry, but - come on, look who you are talking to here!!)

(Brian)  After meeting so many awesome kids cruising on boats it’s really opened my eyes to just how cool of childhood it must be!  So that’s a definite maybe, when the time is right of course! ;) 

(Brady) Haha hmmmm nothing on the Horizon for Josje and I at the moment….Maybe a little half Swedish half American sailing spawn from Brian and Karin?!

(Josje) Haha good question! I think this one is more suited for Brian and Karin, they’re kind of that age where there is subtle hints of thoughts and possibilities. As for Brady and I, not in the forseeable future right now. Haha I’m 22 this year, got a lot more life to live before I feel totally cool with bringing another little being into this world! 

Haha cheers for the questions brittany!! After answering all of these, I asked Brady to read his answers and literally laughed out loud when I realized we had written so many similar things!! So its not like we talked about them first, it just happened! Shows how connected we are haha. 

(Karin) I could definitely see myself having a family in the future. And I’ve met so many awesome cruising kids out here, what an awesome way to grow up! 


See, don't you just love them? I thought you would ;) Subscribe to their YouTube Channel >>>HERE<<<, Follow them on Facebook >>>HERE<<< and check out their blog >>>HERE<<<.

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview with me you guys, we are sending nothing but LOVE and positive thoughts your way and can't wait for our wakes to cross one day.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Anchor Drills: Keeping One's Humility in Check

Sometimes a view like this doesn't come easy!
Life afloat offers many moments when you kick back and think, "THIS is the life." These moments usually involve a spectacular sunset, a perfectly calm anchorage in a beautiful bay, and, more often than not, are accompanied by an adult cocktail of some sort. Yes. Cruising is full of moments like these where you truly cannot believe how lucky you are to be living this life. A-men.

But cruising is also full of moments when you curse your choices and would do anything to be back amidst the convenience of land, away from the rigorous challenges that boat life offers in spades.

Those moments are too many to list, but one such instance is when you try - over and over and OVER again - to set your anchor only to have it drag. Every. Damn. Time. Mix in an audience of fellow boaters, throw in a couple of screaming kids, and you have yourself a one way ticket to the nut house, my friends.

Let me explain...

Anchoring, for the most part, is pretty straightforward; find a spot, drop anchor (with appropriate scope), back down on said anchor (to dig it in nice and solid), check that anchor (we usually dive it) and relax. Scott and I consider ourselves pretty okay at this drill... I mean, we've never ever dragged (touch wood) and we have a rather robust ground tackle set up, so at anchor, we sleep well. We don't fancy ourselves experts at anything, but after having anchored hundreds of times - we sort of feel like we know what we're doing in this department. Until we don't. 

The other day we returned to our quiet and peaceful Hansen Bay to rejoin our friends, and went to "drop the hook" as it were. We got the babies in their seats, pacified them with fig newtons, and Isla and I took our spots on the bow (she likes to be up there to "help" me, she stays very clear of the windlass). Typically, when the sun is shining overhead as it usually does in these parts, it's easy to find a nice sandy spot by the color of the water. On this day, however, it was overcast making identifying the bottom difficult at best and, we later learned, the bottom of this bay is sort of famous for being a mixed bag.

It was about 4pm when we arrived which meant the babies would be squawking and wanting some dinner in an hour. No biggie, we had time. We found a spot we thought looked good, I dropped the anchor, letting our our initial 3 or 4:1 scope, snubbing the chain and giving Scott the hand signal for "okay to back down". Under normal circumstances, this process takes all of five or seven minutes. Scott backs down, the anchor holds fast and when we are sure we are secure, we let out a bit more scope (5:1) and snub off our line for good.

This time, however, when Scott backed down, the anchor just skipped along the bottom. It'd grab for a second, and then start skipping along some more. I gave Scott the signal for "skipping across the bottom" (which is basically me making a wavy motion with my hand, very official), and then told him we needed to go for it again. Luckily, we have a windlass (which is a mechanical drum to raise and lower the chain) so the process of re-anchoring is no where near as laborious an effort as it is for some (Note: we LOVE our windlass). Up she came. We motored around some more. Scott and I discussed where to try next. And we got into position. I dropped the anchor, let out the scope, Scott backed down, the anchor once again skipped happily along the bottom.

Okay. Deep breath. No biggie. Third times a charm, right?

Wrong. Skippy McSkipperton again.

By now the babies were starting to pipe up and the fig newtons were doing nothing to quell them. Isla, too, was growing impatient because she had seen her buddies on the beach and was demanding in a whiny voice to go "RIGHT NOOOOOW" to be with her friends. Have you ever tried to reason with a toddler? It's not effective and utterly frustrating. "Mommy and daddy need to anchor, honey" I told her in a very strained but calm voice, "We can't go to the beach until we anchor so mommy needs you to be a very good and quiet girl right now and sit still." She did not get the memo and maintained her position of defiance. I ignored as best I could and tried to focus on finding a new spot.

"Did you see any sand," Scott yelled up to me, the annoyance starting to find it's way into his voice.

"Not really, it looks a little scoured out and rocky," I yelled back doing nothing to hide my frustration.

By now our buddy Eben had paddle boarded over to give us his two cents on the matter. We tried to anchor closer to our friends at his suggestion, the logic being it worked for them, surely it would work for us? Eben had seen sand down there when he scoped out the area the other day. Anchor down, scope out, back down. Skipskipskipskipskipskipskip.

Okay. This was getting ridiculous.

It was now about 4:45 and the babies, still strapped in their seats, were pitching epic fits. Isla was non-stop whining about going to the damn beach and Scott and I were at each other's throats.

"What if we try over there?" I asked him pointing to a spot in between a couple boats closer to shore.

"Because over THERE we are too close to that other boat and those ROCKS, BRITTANY," Scott seethed.

Haven had kicked it up a notch and was now wailing. Have I mentioned how loud this child is? She is very, VERY loud. 

"Well, then, SCOTT, do YOU have any OTHER ideas?" I retorted. I went below, grabbed a baby carrier and strapped Haven to my chest doing the frantic mommy bounce to try and quiet her. It worked, for a while.

Back up on to the bow I went where we tried - and failed - yet again. 

Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now.

By now, the beach was full of onlookers, fellow boaters were watching from their cockpits and I think even a few snorkelers had popped their heads out of the water to see what the heck this stupid boat that was motoring all over the place was doing.

Babies were wailing. Isla was whining. Mommy and Daddy were beyond frustrated. The stress level was high.

"I'm going to get you one of those marriage saver headsets" Scott threatened, "this is NOT working."

I cringed. No! Not the headset thingies!! (Sorry to those folks who love them, they just give me flashbacks to my days as a sales clerk at Old Navy. Note: we *will* have those dreaded things by the end of the season.)

To say we were humiliated would be a huge understatement. 

Finally, after another heated exchange between Scott and myself about where the hell to anchor, he put the boat into gear and zoomed - and I mean zoomed - to a completely different area of the anchorage and yelled, "DROP IT."

I did, but not without saying a little prayer first.

The anchor fell, I paid out the chain, and we backed down. 

I held my breath.

Pleaseholdpleaseholdpleaseholdpleasehold...

He revved up the engine a little more and a little more in reverse.

Pleaseholdpleaseholdpleaseholdpleasehold...

It held! 

We were secure!!

Scott turned off the engine and jumped in the water to check and make sure our anchor was set. It was. I got the babies their dinner. Isla got a cookie. All was right in the world. Almost instantly, the mood on our boat returned to happy. Scott and I had a little chuckle about what a ridiculous drill that was and, within five minutes, it was almost as if the whole thing never happened.

We still needed those drinks though. BAD.

Such is the bipolar cruising life. One minute your loving it. The next, you are cursing it. And then you are loving it again. Love, curse, love, curse. And so it goes. Sigh.

Like golf or tennis, sailing is a game that can never be mastered - so it's best you remember that lest you find yourself getting a humility check in some tropical paradise too. Sometimes these views come at a price.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Salt Life

We are certainly finding our groove around here. Of course we have our moments, as any parent does, but over all - life on the boat is going really well. I might even dare to say better than expected (there were tongue-in-cheek bets happening back home about how quickly we'd purchase our return tickets...the earliest - three weeks, longest - five weeks).  A huge part of our "success" is the fact that we have two full-time, hands-on parents aboard and the second component (and I know I sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating) is the simple fact of where we are.

The US and British Virgin Islands (USVI and BVI, respectively) - albeit a bit expensive - are truly a wonderful place to cruise with a young family. There are so, so, SO many places to sail just an hour or two away and, to us, those short hops are key. Having sailed from Florida to Grenada and back up to St. Maarten (approximately 5K nautical miles in total) with one baby, I can say that these little leisure sails in these comparatively calm and protected waters - which cater more to families than the islands further south - are infinitely easier. Lately we've been doing our "passages" (if you can call them that) while the babies sleep which makes sailing all the more pleasant (and easy) for us, and the babies seem to even sleep better underway; the natural and gentle motion of the boat lulling them into a cozy slumber. Win/win.

The last week found us reconnecting and enjoying time with our old friends on s/v Necesse. We first met them in Georgetown, Bahamas in 2011 and then again in Georgetown in 2013. They have two adorable daughters, one of whom is only a week younger than Isla (you might remember them from my "Bahama Mama" post) and even though two years has gone by, it's almost like no time has passed at all and it's wonderful to see our kids to play together again. We have missed them and their company tremendously and this reunion was a long time coming. I have mentioned before "kid boats" like to find each other and stick together, and the wonderful Necesse family is no exception. This, coupled with the simple fact that the seeds of friendship are sown and grown at warp speed out here made for a very happy reunion. We plan to stick together as long as possible.

We've also been able to meet up with even more fantastic blog followers. Scott was clearing back into the BVI when one of them said, "Welcome back" and introduced himself (nice to now know you Brand) and then another lovely couple recognized Scott and offered him a ride in their rental car from Nanny Cay to Soper's Hole (he was going to ride his bike) - all within three hours of each other! Big shout outs to our new friends Adam and Kelci (thank you for the Painkillers and awesome company for two evenings) and the crew of s/v Pixie Dust (thank you for the ride) - it's truly incredible to see, in person, the far reaches of what began as a simple little blog of my musings written from my office cubicle. Sometimes it kind of blows my mind. The world is small, my friends. Very, very small. And the vast majority of people are really, really good. It's a nice reminder.

In other news...Scott - always on the hunt for a way to make a buck and add to the cruising kitty - has secured a couple days of work acting as captain for a sea trial for a boat that we met back in Norman's a couple weeks ago. They're selling their boat but cannot be here for the trial with the new owners, and Scott offered his services. Having a captain's license and being a solid person with an eye for opportunity can get you places in these parts. We have some very neat and exciting things brewing that *might* just keep us here for the long haul (we are currently living on savings at the moment and need to work again soon-ish) but we are going to have to wait until we know for sure what's happening before we divulge. In the meantime, we're going to continue island hopping and simply enjoying this beautiful salty life; the good, the bad and everything in between.

As usual, we'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Feeling of Calm

"And right now there is a very unique weather phenomenon happening in the Virgins..." we were listening to Chris Parker giving his morning weather report on our single sideband radio, a report which unfortunately coincides with breakfast time meaning picking up the whole thing between baby screams and toddler demands is near impossible.

"Momma! More yogurt please"
"....cold front.....creating a dam effect..."
(Various baby screeches and yelps looking for more food)
"....significant northerly swell..."
"Momma! More yogurt!!"
(more baby screeches)
"...and now for the Mona Passage..."

And that was about all I got. Something about a weather phenomenon, demands for yogurt and significant swell. I got the yogurt and the report for our area had ended.

***

I've written a few times about rolly anchorages. At best they are uncomfortable, at worst they are unbearable. They are, without a doubt, one of the negative aspects of living on a boat and cruising because no matter what, you will experience them at some time or another.  The past three days found us smack in the middle of the "unique weather phenomenon" Chris spoke of which just so happened to make our northerly exposed anchorage somewhere between uncomfortable and untenable. We, along with our buddy boat Necesse, had already moved once (from Caneel to Hawksnest Bay) in anticipation of the weather and subsequent wacky swell. Unfortunately for us, the anchorage that would have provided the best coverage was completely full (many other boats were also in search of calm), meaning we had to take the next best which, as it turned out, wasn't good at all.

"We need to move first thing in the morning" I said to Scott at 2:30am when the rolling began to peak. Our boat was rocking back and forth aggressively, so much so that laying in bed actually required effort and core strength. I could hear the books falling off our shelves and the contents in our cupboards kept threatening to bust out of their containment. Of course being a mom meant the only thing I was really concerned about was the kids and their precious sleep. Isla was stirring and complaining that her belly hurt, and upon the next roll which produced a particularly loud clanking noise from somewhere (we didn't have time to investigate) the babies started to wail.

Crap.

Up to the v-berth I went to calm them and nurse them back to sleep.  All was quiet for a brief moment when all of a sudden I heard the loudest, most terrifying banging noise coming from the bottom of the boat, followed by a shuddering thud. "What the..." Every subsequent roll I brought a BANG followed by a reverberation. My heart started beating double time. "Holy ***, we've broken from our mooring and run aground!" I thought. With the babies on each boob I yelled, very loudly and slightly panicked, to Scott. I didn't hear him.

BANG. Shudder. BANG. Shudder. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod.

The babies were full-blown screaming now, terrified. I frantically put them back in their bunk and rushed on deck to see what was going on.

"Scott! What is happening?" I panicked.

"I tried to lower the centerboard to slow down the roll" he said back as he labored to crank it back up.

PHEW.

BANG. Shudder. BANG. Shudder. 

Babies screamed in surround.

BANG. Shudder. BANG. Shudder. 

We needed to move.

Unfortunately it was 3am meaning that moving was really not an option for us. I got the babies back to sleep, calmed Isla and got her back down and Scott got the centerboard up so the rolling no longer produced the horrible vibrations and noises. Exhausted and slightly nauseous, I retreated back to our bunk until daylight. Sleep evaded me the rest of the night.

***

By daylight our buddy boat had dropped her mooring in search of a calmer anchorage and we followed suit minutes later. The swell had gained size and momentum during the night and motoring into it as we exited the harbor turned our boats into aggressive hobby horses (broncos?). Because we had left in such a hurry, we didn't have time to properly prepare. It was raining. The boat was uncomfortable and stuff was everywhere. I had the kiddos down below, hungry and tired, and all three wailing and wanting to be held by mommy. Scott tried to settle our boat in the wind and waves and I worked on calming the kiddos. To say this little passage was "unpleasant" would be a very large understatement. Thankfully, it was short. 

Thirty minutes later we were in Francis Bay. The new anchorage was better, but still not great. I was exhausted and could feel the familiar "tired headache" kicking in. Scott got to work making fresh waffles for all of us and our friends came over for a couple hours of playtime and breakfast. By noon it became apparent that our new home was going to be just as bad as the previous one and once we heard that the swell was only going to get worse, we dropped our mooring again - the third time in two days - in search for a calm bay and a good nights' sleep.

After a beautiful two hour sail while the kids were all napping (so much nicer to sail while they sleep!) we finally dropped the hook on the other side of the island - the only area where we were certain to find protection from the dreaded roll - and found our calm in Hansen Bay. It was blissful and beautiful. Not a wave, ripple or roll in sight.

I don't think I have ever appreciated a flat anchorage, and a good nights' sleep, so much as I did yesterday.

The feeling of calm. Siigh.





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