Thursday, April 20, 2017

Introducing The Coconuts: A Crazy (Awesome) Family Afloat and Sailing for a Cause


WHEW! Hello from my terribly neglected blog! (I'm very active on Instagram and Facebook though, much easier and less time consuming!) I have all the usual excuses of why I haven't written so I won't bore you with those, but I do have a very cool family (who is doing some very awesome stuff) to introduce you too...


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The blog world, particularly the sailing/cruising/liveaboard blog world, is very small so when Natasha reached out to me asking if I would like to share her family's story, I jumped at the chance because I had actually been following them for a while (and totally in awe of their incredible adventures and overall adorableness!) so spreading the word about their new campaign was exciting for me. And, lets be honest, we aren't exactly 'adventuring' these days (but watch this space! Twins are THREE now!) and while I love our island expat live-aboard life and the daily 'adventures' that brings, sometimes we all want to read about the crazy kind of stuff this family is doing (and has done - like give birth to two babies...aboard their boat!)


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Please read our interview below and get acquainted with The Coconuts and if you like what you read, consider contributing to their campaign (video below) and follow along with their various social media outlets: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

  1. Your family is so unique with almost every member being born somewhere else, give us a little background on each of you: We are The Coconuts, a family of 6 who for a decade have lived a nomadic life aboard our eco-sailboat (engineless). Jay, the Captain, was born in California, and sailing became his life passion at a very young age...when most teenagers buy cars Jay was buying sailboats that he would fix up and later sell, his 3rd boat was finally an offshore vessel on which he left sailing south bound. 4 years later he found himself in Costa Rica where he met his wife (me), Natasha. I was born and raised in Costa Rica, and am a photographer and filmmaker who after getting my bachelors and masters degrees in the US came back to my native country to open a production company. My first daughter Sol was born in NYC...I decided to become a single mother by choice, and I moved back to Costa Rica when Sol was a year old and I was pregnant with Luna who was born there. I met Jay when the girls where very small (around 1 and 2 years old). Jay adopted Sol and Luna and has raised them as his own, together we had Caribe, born onboard in Martinique in the warm Caribbean sea and Ártico born in Iceland in a little house surrounded by snow near the Arctic circle.
  2. Tell us a little bit about your history as cruisers (where have you been, etc) and what drove you to pursue your current project? Shortly after meeting and falling in love, Sol, Luna and I jumped onboard Jay’s boat in the Pacific of Costa Rica and became permanent stow-aways. We sailed the boat back up to California to refit it and then back down to Costa Rica were we sold it when we had the opportunity to rescue a boat that had been abandoned in Florida, this was Messenger, an ex-racer from the 80’s which we fixed up while we lived in it and sailed down south from Florida. From there we went to Bahamas, Cuba, Costa Rica where they had a beach wedding, then Panama where we conceived, Colombia, Curaçao, Bonaire, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia and Martinique where we had our boat birth for which Jay attended the birth, again by choice. Then when Caribe was a month and a half we continued on north to Dominique, Antigua, Barbuda, Bermuda, New York and Newport, RI where we stopped to refit Messenger completely. During this haul-out we flew to California to visit Jay’s family and ended up buying an old VW.  We refitted that in Jay’s parents garage in a week and set off land sailing across the entire US back to RI where we sold the VW for a huge profit. After the refit of Messenger we set sail again with Natasha pregnant and went to Lunenberg - Nova Scotia, Saint Pierre et Michelon, Saint John’s - Newfoundland, Saint Anthony’s - Labrador and off to Iceland where again we stopped for a birth, though we lived aboard all winter in the harbor of Reykjavik it was too dark, cramped and cold to give birth on the boat, so some friends of ours invited us to stay in their great-grandmothers empty house in the West-fjords of Iceland where we had our baby, Artico, in a 200 year old house. Ártico was the 26th baby to be born in this house, again attended by Jay, again by choice. When Ártico was 4 months old we set sail circumnavigating Iceland through the north to the east and jumping off to the Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and finally France where we are now.
  3. What do you love most about the cruising/living on a boat lifestyle? EVERYTHING! Not only do we all love the sea, sailing and traveling to new places but we are true minimalist, so a life at sea, on a boat with little belongings fits us very well. We love meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, traditions and foods. Actually we have never really identified or called ourselves cruisers which relates to pleasure and leisure, I think this is the reason why we needed to get out of the Caribbean and explore places where there weren’t any cruisers. We really immerse ourselves in the places where we go and make strong friendships with the locals. Therefore we love that our home is mobile and we can take it with us anywhere, so we are never really tourist either because we have our home with us.
  4. What do you find is the greatest challenge living on a boat/living nomadic with children in tow? There are as many challenges as enjoyments, life at sea with this many children and living on a tight budget as we always have is not for everyone and definitely not for the faint of heart. Finding work, finding money, living in tight quarters, having to carry our food and dirty laundry around, it’s all a challenge. We really are modern nomads, just like going out to hunt and gather we have to go out and hunt a grocery store and then carry on our backs our food into a dinghy and row it to our boat. Actually during our travels we forage a lot: fruits, mushrooms, snails, mussels, coconuts and of course fish a lot… we are gathers and hunters still in many ways.
  5. Tell us a little bit about your current plans and project? Currently we are tackling the world of professional sailboat racing, a world that is dominated by corporate sponsors, and as always, we want to do things differently, this is why we have launched a crowdfunding campaign with a purpose: to race for freedom. Jay has been dreaming about this since a young age and that is why we came to France, the mecca of offshore sailboat racing. We are building a race boat to compete in races throughout Europe, UK, the Caribbean and the USA. Some races are double-handed for which both of us will participate in, even the kids can do some as well, while the trans-Atlantic ones are single-handed. To see more about our plans, please see this video: https://www.gofundme.com/racingforfreedom
  6. Was there ever a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and head back to a more conventional life? NEVER, we dislike convention, we don’t see ourselves ever living in a house, life on a boat is so much more simple, frugal and ecological.
  7. In an ideal world, what does the future look like for the Coconuts crew? In an ideal world, we see The Coconuts living in a big boat where everyone has their own space, spending winters exploring the north and summers in the south racing smaller boats, always in our mobile floating home changing the view.



Thanks Natasha, for reaching out and for this great interview! I hope to meet you and your beautiful family one day!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Asante is FOR SALE: Blue Water Brewer 44 READY TO GO in Tortola, BVI!

As most of you know, we bought a new boat. It is awesome and it has been a very welcome change for our family. But...we still have our old boat. It's been a stressful (and fun) few months with work and the general chaos of life with three small children, but we have finally gotten around to giving our old boat some TLC with a deep interior cleaning and hull polish, and thus have finally created our listing. Please see the downloadable/printable FULL SPEC SHEET PDF of our amazing Brewer 44, and *PLEASE* share! We don't want to own two cruising boats much longer!

She is ready to go in beautiful Tortola, BVI at the Nanny Cay Marina!

In a nutshell:

ASANTE is a well-appointed and proven blue-water capable Brewer 44 Center Cockpit currently Tortola in the British Virgin Islands - the perfect starting ground for live-aboard cruising! She has been listed among the 10 Best Center Cockpit Cruising Boats by Jordan Yachts and boast many, many features ideal for live-aboard cruising such as:  two cabins, two heads, a cutter rig, center cockpit, swim scoop, lots of deck space, and the ability to control all sails from the cockpit...She has a gorgeous interior with a nice, spacious layout, a u-shaped galley, an aft suite with a king size bed, an awesome aft deck shower and TONS of storage. In other words, the bones of a great family cruising boat. To learn more about why we chose her, read this post.

She has a navy blue hull, Raymarine electronics, full center cockpit enclosure, bow thruster, in-mast main furler, air conditioning and low hours on the main engine. In 2012 she benefitted from a soft refit and was converted to a cutter rig boat, which makes sailing her a dream, particularly in high winds. Her cockpit is huge and offers a great place to socialize, nap and sail underway. ASANTE has many upgrades including new SSB with Pactor 3 modem (2012), Rogue wave wifi booster (2012), custom 3” & 4” stainless dinghy davits (2012), 280 feet of galvanized chain (2012), and a high output 30 GPH Cruise RO watermaker (2013). She was upgraded with full-time live-aboard cruising in mind and therefore has all the comforts of home, with the full functionality of a well appointed cruising vessel. To see a  list of all the work we did to her when we bought her, please see our post about the mini-fit which outlines all the work we put into her.

We have been live-aboards for the past four years and are only selling because we needed a bigger boat to accommodate our family of five. She has been lovingly and very well maintained by and is ready to go sailing today. She comes VERY WELL EQUIPPED and we'd love to see her sail off to another horizon.

We are listing her "priced to sell" at $129K.
Interested parties please email windtraveler09 (at) gmail.com

That's her in a nutshell, now for some pics:

The main saloon. TONS of storage abound.

The galley, again, TONS of storage. Also boasts a front and top loading refrigerator, and an ample top loading freezer.

The nav station with new electronics and new control panel.

Forward head with two access doors so v-berth is en-suite.

The v-berth, again, TONS of storage. There is a large hanging locker to port not pictured.

Looking aft from the v-berth

The walk-thru to the aft cabin.

The control panel, easy access - it pulls down so working on wiring is easy.

Engine room access that most boaters DREAM of. Nothing was out of reach. Such a bonus.

Aft cabin with king-size bed and plenty of storage. 

Looking forward from aft cabin

Aft head with new corian countertops (2016)

Looking forward from walk-thru

Bright and airy main living area. Love all the light!

Lots of opening ports and hatches makes this boat super comfortable at anchor.

Roller furling boom makes Asante easy to singlehand.

She turns heads!

Miss this cockpit - so much space to play, hang out and entertain!

Aft cockpit is roomy making for loading and off loading the dinghy a breeze.

Foredeck

Trusty windlass with foot switches (and a helm control) and 280 feet of chain. Great set up.

We LOVE the cutter rig. We'd be hard-pressed to buy a boat without one. So many sail options and easy to change sails in shifting conditions.

The davits!! They are custom and amazing. Super ridgid and strong, and make hauling the dinghy up and down a breeze.

The layout of Asante.

If you are looking to toss off the dock lines and go cruising in the Caribbean - this could be your vessel!! She is a great boat and has made our family very happy and safe the past four years. Please feel free to share this post and any interested parties should email windtraveler 09 (at) gmail.com. Thank you!

Our last boat sold in less than 50 days after we listed her on our blog, please help us break that record and get another great family out on the water! SHARE!

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Special Day in Trellis Bay: An Artist Community and A Magic Morning

We don't get to East End, home of the eccentric and eclectic Trellis Bay, often. For one thing, it's quite a drive - which I realize is laughable on an island that measures twelve miles by three - but as the car drives, it's a solid 30-40 minutes one way. With three little kids, and a mid-day nap that I will only forego for extremely special occasions - it's hard to justify an hour or more commute for an hour or two of fun. But when our friend, Cem (pronounced "Jem", like the jewel) invited us to see a special artist friend of his, I thought, "Why not!"

Trellis Bay is...unique. It's location - on the easternmost tip of Tortola - is a bit off the beaten path giving it a relaxed, sleepy vibe that is more commonplace in the remote islands down south. The bay itself is a horseshoe cove surrounded by thick mangroves and tucked-in by steep hills making it feel somehow hidden. It is home to a host of live-aboard boats (and a few derelict ones), a handful of great restaurants, and a vibrant artist's community. At first glance, it doesn't seem to have much to offer. There is not much beach to speak of, and the area isn't particularly 'beautiful' as tropical island coves go, but it is certainly 'picturesque' and what it lacks in sweeping visage it makes up for in character and charm. This place has more color than most and I've never been anywhere quite like it.

We kicked off our shoes and started walking down the beach to the sound of sand underfoot, rustling wind through palms,  and the call of the mourning doves until we came upon several local fishermen on the shore hauling in their catch in tandem. The girls stood and watched, mesmerized as the men - completely unfazed by our presence - grabbed handfuls of small bait fish out of their nets and headed to their boats to catch the bigger guys. We headed down the beach a little further, to Aragon's Studio, where we were to meet Cem and his artist friend.


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Under the shade of a lush sea grape tree, there was "Green Eye" Joseph putting the final touches on a carving. Surrounded by messy pots of paint, with his head cocked to one side, he tentatively painted the various grooves and crevices of his creation, his hand smooth and steady. At his feet played his son, Ocean, a beautiful boy of seven who's general adorableness and effortless charm made me want to have a son and name him Ocean. Haven and Mira (Isla was at school this morning) were immediately taken by him and after a few bashful moments from the girls (who clung to my legs), soon they were all three jumping on the giant, purple, ad-hoc fishing net hammock set up in front of Aragon's.




Suddenly, I heard the happy voice of our Turkish friend, Cem. "Welcome, Brittany!" (he pronounces every syllable, Bree-tan-knee) "You came early! You meet Joseph? I have picnic and wine, but is chilling...wait a moment..." and off he was in a flurry. He returned with a bag of pretzels which the girls and Ocean happily indulged in and then he started giving us the run-down of Joseph's work. How he, and most of the (dead) wood he carved, came from Dominica, how it's sustainably harvested from the rainforest. We oohed and ahhed at his creativity, at which point Ocean showed up at my hip with a handful of his creations. "I made these ones!" he told me. "I sell my art too!" he beamed. God, this kid was cute. I would be buying something from him for sure.

Joseph, while incredibly friendly and kind, was a man of few words and for the most part stuck to his work, quietly laughing and smiling at random comments from Ocean or at some antics the twins got into. At one point he brought over some pictures of commissioned work he did for Richard Branson a few years ago. If you visit Necker or Mosquito Island, you might just see Green Eyes work. Our party migrated to a picnic table where Cem (an environmentalist and keen farmer who has an eco-resort in Turkey) produced a lovely picnic of a prosciutto-esque meat (the name escapes me), organic tomatoes and arugula grown in his very own garden. He also unwrapped a gorgeous hunk of grainy white cheddar and a few fresh baguettes. I was instantly transported to my solo backpacking days where this was the go-to meal of choice; often eaten on the steps of a church, piazza, or park under the mid-day sun in some new town... I had forgotten just how well these simple ingredients came together.


As we gathered, a few more people joined us: Aleksandra, a Polish print artist just out of art school doing a residence in the studio for a couple of months, an old salty sailer with milky eyes who has been a captain most of his life and written books, and Dave, a jack of all trades sort of fellow who lives near Trellis and does some work for Aragorn, maintaining the full moon party fire balls and general upkeep. It was an interesting assembly and some good conversation was had while the kids played happily in the background and we munched on Cem's generous picnic, sipping wine and chit chatting.

As the food dwindled, Aleksandra brought out a giant piece of sailcloth and a few pots of paint. "Is it okay for the girls to make art?" she asked me. Of course it was! Off came the twins' shirts and on went the paint. The girls and Ocean had a blast painting and creating on their giant canvas (and themselves!) and as I observed the scene I had a visceral moment of gratitude that our kids are able to have experiences like these. Moments like these are precisely why we live here. Everything I wanted and imagined.


Too soon, our time had come to pack up and leave to get home for naps. We finalized our purchases from both Ocean and Joseph, and made promises to return.

Which we will do, sooner than later.

The magic and organic evolution of this particular morning (one where we thought we were just going to check out some carvings!) would be hard to re-create, for sure, but you never know what might be in store for you when you visit Trellis Bay. At the very least, you can be transported back to a sleepier, simpler time and quietly enjoy the beauty and bounty this exciting little place has to offer. Or maybe just maybe, you will be treated with open arms to a lovely picnic with a talented artist, his eclectic and interesting neighbors, and walk away with memories to last a lifetime.


Joseph's art
Ocean

The meeting of new friends, always a bit awkward at first.
Cem, saying hello to the girls
Ocean constructing stands out of remnants of a fire ball
The commissioned pieces Joseph did for Richard Branson.
Our picnic
Joseph, methodically working away - Ocean's creations are on the front of the table.
By the end of our visit, the girls ADORED him!
More of Joseph's work.
Ocean serenaded us after we painted
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