Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Mosts/Leasts so Far by Dan 3/27

Favorite Place:  Iles Des Saintes, just south of Guadeloupe.  Had the best vibe, happiest people, relaxed place.  We even asked them why they are so happy, and one gal said she went to live in Paris and even then stayed happy for a long time.
Favorite Outting with the kids:  Mud slinging at the volcano in Soufriere St Lucia.  Little did they know we were simply providing skin conditioning.  White mud, black mud, oozy goozy.  Oops we wore white.
Best Baguette: Iles Des Saintes (maybe why they are so happy?)
Least Favorite:  Dominica.  Sights were good, but more than a normal number of people were harsh.
Least happy anchorage:  Deshaies Martinique (pronounced Day High), we kept spinning 360's all night.  Hard on the GPS anchor alarm.  But nice town and nice walk up creek.
Best anchorage:  Off beach in Rodney Bay, St Lucia.  Cool long sand beaches, lots to do,  breezy all the time, good sea floor surface for anchor.
Coolest Natural Wonder:  Titou Gorge, Dominica.  Like those tall narrow deep gorges in Bryce or Zion, but with water flowing thru it and a jump rock at the end.  Bunch of dingbat tourists from the cruise ship though.  We tried to dodge them.
Weirdest Anchorage: St Pierre, Martinique.  Goes from 20-30-40 feet deep to 300 feet deep a few feet further out.  Maybe has to do with the volcano blowing up in 1902 and toasting 30,000 people and the town except for two souls.
Hardest Sail:  47 miles from Guadeloupe to Antigua.  Was just a real long time, and the wind kept changing direction and velocity.
Happiest Time:  Arrival after 4+ hour passages.  Everyone comes alive (because they were asleep the whole time!).
Most Interesting Thing I Learned:  That the French gave up all of Canada to keep Martinique and Guadeloupe.  Because of their sweet tooth.
Most Fashionable:  Karina first day at Rodney Bay Marina, had access to some new clothes, and must have changed 4 or 5 times.
Most Surprising:  My top speed *with* fins will match a dog's dog paddle.  They haul.
Funniest:  Nikolas's stories, like visiting the "mechanical gardens" (Botanical Gardens).
Luckiest Moment:  Annika spaced and left her school backpack in the Dominica Botanical Gardens.  It was still there 4 hours later.
Unluckiest Moment:  Losing a key block (pulley), as we start to set sail from Martinique to St Lucia.  We motored the whole way.
Best Help on the Cat:  Mikai, who is a crack driver in just about any situation.  Great during anchoring.  Great for mooring balls.  He can even back into a slip, with wind blowing.  He even knows when "the engine doesn't sound right", except it wouldn't make the same sound twice.
Vertigo-est:  65 feet up at the top of the mast doing repairs.  Nice view, but not recommended to look down.  Frayed lines are also not a welcome sight.
Funnest Time:  Blowing up floaties, hanging out ski ropes to swing on, bringing out squirt guns, running off of deck holding on to halyard and letting go over the water.
Fastest Boat Speed:  10.5 miles per hour.
Best Thing About Traveling with Kids:  They meet all the kids right away, which connects adults to adults very quickly.
Worst Thing About Traveling with Kids:  When they go haywire.  Even a 43 foot catamaran can be a small place.
Most Wind:  32 knots.  Triple reefed (meaning sail is the size of a postage stamp) and doing top boat speed.
Biggest Waves:  15-20 feet at north end of St Vincent.  25 knots wind too.
Sharpest Eye:  Annika, who will spot any animal, insect, or sea creature within 100 yards.
Biggest Wow:  Seeing the super bright blue of the sun on the water and skin as a whale dives in and out.  It was almost like a bright blue light shining out of the water.
Dog Moment:  Watching a nose pushed into a hole in the ground, moments later the dog jumping high into the air as a crab goes for the pinch.
Frenchiest French:  Marin, Martinique.  Can you say attitude?  Can't imagine how it would have been if I spoke no French.
Foodiest:  Home cooked meal by "Her Highness" (Shawna's Radio Handle) after a long day.  How did she do that in that tiny kitchen?  One hint:  With*out* any one else in the kitchen.  Sometimes we put up yellow CAUTION tape across the kitchen.
Scariest:  When the dog jumped on the boat from the dock, as the boat moved back and forth, and slipped half on half off.  I think the dog still has a hand shaped clench on its back to this day.
Strangest:  Sitting at anchor at night no moon, and seeing eerie phosphorescence or jelly fish or both float by in the water.  First thought was ALIENS.
Deliciousest Moments: Sunset when the green thing happens for a few seconds, when it rains for 20 minutes on a hot day, sunsets, just before wake up time when all is still, night time beach walks, chilling on the trampoline, floating around a beach with the kids.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Updates to Website! 3/25

Site Updates:
  • New Photos in "Photos" section
  • "Stories by Annika" added in "Stories" section
  • "Stories by Nikolas" added in "Stories" section
  • New stories in "Stories by Karina"
  • In the "Our Route" section, we have added each bay/marina/harbor that we are going to and have been to.
  • In the "Our Route" section, we now change the pin points to Anchors. The Anchors symbolize places we have been to.

Things you may not have noticed:
  • There is LOTS of stuff at the bottom of the Home Page:
    • Post Archive
    • Message in the Sand
    • Sign-up for email updates
    • Follow this blog (also gets you email updates)
    • Pageviews count

Coming Soon:

  • Calendar of Events

If you find any problems with ANYTHING at all on this website, please email me (Mikai) at aidanmikai@yahoo.com 


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Antigua 3/18 (Written by Mikai)

HEy Hey HEY hey!! Here we are in Antigua after a long long LONG crossing from Guadeloupe. Only 8 hours... Which is really 8 days if you don't get breakfast or lunch... Can't eat food during a crossing or you get sick! But I sucked it up and when we landed in Antigua I had myself my very own pizza!

On the way over here we saw TONS of dolphins and whales!!!! One whale even jumped out of the water (head out first and head back in first) not 20 YARDS in front of our boat!! And the dolphins swam next to the hulls for quite a while. Unfortunately we were unable to catch very many pictures as Abby (our dog) was leaning over the edge preparing to eat the giant fish! Or so she thought, and then we pulled her away back into the cockpit. Our best and only picture is to the right.

We are docked here at the temporary guest dock in the English harbor, just until tomorrow. Tomorrow we will move to the "Registered" boat area for the 10 days while Papa is gone back to California. He is getting more parts for the boat (such as an engine starter switch which is needed for starting the engine). We also have Grandma Barbara here! She is here for another week or two and then it's back to just our family.

Photos section has also been updated.

More later,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time and Patience 3/13 (Late)

Written by Mikai:

Hey everyone! Sorry we haven't posted lately. It will be like this fairly often because here in the Third World, there is no internet that works! Most of the restaurants and hotels that say "We have high-speed internet" really mean "We have Dial-Up that doesn't work!". But occasionally we find a Wi-Fi that works, and when we do, new photos go up ("See "Photos" section above), and more posts go up on our blog. Sorry for the long wait and thanks for your patience. One more thing: on the "Our Route" section, we are now updating our location! You will notice 3 anchors instead of pin markers. These anchors represent where we have already been. Also, you can see where this post (and all other ones) was written by going to the bottom of this post (NOT the bottom of the page, just the bottom of this post) and you will see "Location: XXXXXX". And there is a whole NEW sections up top, it's called "Stories" you will find many of the stories that some of us have written about this trip. Enjoy it all!!

(Read on for the actual update)

Written by Shawna:

I actually thought we’d have nice leisurely days full of journal writing, reading and playing games.  I think I was right in thinking that we’d be more relaxed overall, but such a lifestyle couldn’t be further from the truth!  Here’s a typical day after our first month of adjusting to boat life:
6:30-7:30 We wake up to either walk the dogs or start breakfast (usually eggs or pancakes).  By 8:00 the crew, crew leader and crew lead mentor swab decks, mop floors, wash dishes and windows, make beds and wipe down bathrooms.  Yes, everyday we aren’t sailing. Then we invariably have a predetermined adventure, like waterfall climbing or gorge discovering, that we enjoy all morning if we aren’t sailing to our next destination. Destinations are anywhere from 2-5 hours away.  After returning to the boat sweaty, sometimes hungry, and usually ready for a rest for sure, the kids have schoolwork for 2-3  hours while Dan works online.  At 5:00 I start dinner ideally, we eat, wash up, review pictures and fall into bed exhausted (at about 8:00) from the sun, fresh ocean air, and all we’ve adjusted to and practiced being patient for during the day.  It’s tedious most of the time, everything takes much longer.  It takes us 5 hours to sail 30 miles for example.   
We are learning slowing down takes more patience than we’ve had the opportunity to practice back home.  We are slowly learning not to blame when things don’t go as expected, we are learning teamwork and to stop saying “that’s not my job”.  It’s been extremely difficult sometimes and extremely blissful others.  Yes this is what we came for.......we can have it easy when life isn’t as available to us as it is right now.  But this kind of life sure does make us think...............autopilot isn’t an option.

Martinique is a French island with croissants, nice shops, a selection of cheese to get excited about and French attitudes.  We visited Saint Anne for the last wacky parade day of Carnival, Marin for Club Med and croissants, Fort de France to say we did and Saint Pierre to depart from for Dominica.  We meandered a bit and climbed Mount Pelee, visited a Rum Distillery (pictured left), picked sugar cane and visited a volcano museum all in 2 days.  Check out our photos from 3/13 that Mikai has loaded to see more!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Finding what you look for 3/3

Not just an ordinary day, or was it?  I swear everyday something happens here that reminds us it really is "a small world after all".  Either that or the Universe really does align with our thoughts... or something like that.  Here's what I mean:
I wasn't successful trying to talk with, or email a family like ours: ( "The Three Little Birds" I discovered on the internet) setting out 6 months prior to us.  "The Three Little Birds are on the wifi list here!" Mikai declared as we motored to our slip in Rodney Bay. ---- What are the chances?  The kids played everyday after "school" and Mandi and I made great neighbors, sharing Mommy stories and ideas.

Then the other day our dog got what looked like an aggressive flesh eating disorder, so I asked on the "morning VHF radio talk" here in the marina if anyone could recommend a local vet.  Vet Tom came on and we dinghyed Jack out to see the Dr. and his wife in the bay.  After a shot of cortisone, a bottle of antibiotics, $20 and some dog talk, we found out that our advisors have lived this way a long time and had much more to share than information about Solar Eczema. They came by today to check in....wow!  A $20 house call.  Now that's something you don't get on an ordinary day.

Then today a boater and his wife yell, "hey Double Down".  I step out into the bright midday light to a chipper couple asking all about our boat.  Turns out they know Double Down well, having raced against her several years ago.  They ALSO have the exact model Cat, equipment, engines etc.  This means we get an expert briefing, and many new questions answered.  Does she hold 75 or is it 150 gallons of Water afterall?  Oh and we should tighten the trampoline?  Right!

Then the crazy thing is we aren't certain where to stay in the north, Nevis? St Kitts? Antigua?  (Chances are we'll need another safe harbor when Dan flies again back to CA for work. ) So guess who just happens to live in Antigua with info about everywhere and everything around?  Yep Ty and Judith, the couple on the boat that stopped by.
And one last thing.  Ty was born and raised in San Carlos of course, just down the street.

Gosh I guess all that talk and angst about safety, strange diseases, pirates, big storms, needs for sailing certifications and big sun hats was just that.  Talk and angst.  Instead we have found what we were looking for: Great, helpful, present, interested, helpful, inspiring, and generous people wanting to share their love of whatever they love.  Looks like it's really true that what you look for is what you find.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Value of Rig Checks - Also Known As "Where in the Heck Did That Nut Come From?"

Stooping down to examine a nut lying on the deck, I muttered, "Huh, wonder where this nut came from?"  We were at the beginning of one of our first 4+ hour crossings as a family, and I was getting ready to set the mainsail.  Or so I thought.  The seas out from the island we departed from were 8-10', and winds were a steady 25 knots.  That 29 mph for you landlubbers.  So it was going to be a fast diesel-less day to the next island.  Or so I thought.

So I hoist the mainsail.  That thing looks funny.  "Huh, one sail batten is no longer attached to the slider in the mast".  Let the sail down, instruct Mikai to hover lest we get into shallows, run to get a bolt and LOCK NUT, oops got one too big, ok back to get the right one, hoist away again.  All's great, we're still dead into the wind for sail-hoisting thanks to Ninja Driver Mikai, and I move into place to adjust the mainsheet and traveler.

It's at this point I stoop down and grasp for the nut lying on the deck.  Butterfingers, and it flies into the drink.  I guess that was a sign of what was to happen next.  No one really saw it, but about ten seconds later, a black shadow shot into the drink too.  Then the main was magically loose or at least looser (not sure I wanted that yet).  "WHAT WAS THAT?"  At first nothing seemed wrong, the boat was fine, I was fine, the crew was fine, nothing was falling, nothing broken.  Or was it?  The mainsheet, the line (NOT ROPE you LANDLUBBER) that holds thousands of pounds of wind on the mainsail had only one block (pulley in landlubberese) holding it.  Now if you remember your physics or anything about levers, you'll know that losing that one block changes it from 4:1 to 2:1.  One lonely block left to hold all that weight.  I guess we could have sailed on one, but if that one fell off, we'd have a boom BOOMING all over the places as nothing else holds the sail and boom except the mainsheet.

So, about two nanoseconds later (nanosecond one was considering jumping in after the block), down came the mainsail, and motoring it was to the next island.

That's the kind of stuff that happens on a typical day.  It's not the boat really--this happens to new and well-worn boats, although a LOCK NUT might have helped.  Anything that does happen is my fault.  Yeah it really is.  Did I do a rig check?  No, not that day.  Would I have caught it if I had?  Maybe.  I'm always keeping a keen eye for anything amiss.  The nut on the deck (no I'm not referring to me or any of the family) was a sign, a 10-second sign til the damage was done.

So we motor off to the next island, and I think, well, I'll just go to the chandlery (hardware store for boats) and pick up a new one.  Except no one has that particular block.  Four local stores later, then 10 in California, no one has that block.  So I call the block maker.  They ask to send a picture, sounds like a custom block.  So at 9pm in the middle of pouring rain (not my choice or directive), a few shots are taken, and I get them the next day, and find out there are 14 left in existence, and have it shipped overnight.

I didn't realize this would be 24X7 adventure, on and off the boat.

I also am happily reminded since nothing truly bad happened, that a 5 minute gaze at everything topside on the boat is paramount.  And I'm sure something unexpected will happen next time, stay tuned here for more.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just a quick note

Hey everyone who follows our blog!! Sorry we have not been updating... There is SOOOO much to do for preparing our boat for this year. Dan is back in California getting a few quick things. Grandma Barbara (Shawna's Mom) is coming back with Dan on Monday (3/5). We will try to make another longer post tonight.

Also, the "Photos" section is the most regularly updated part of this blog. We try to post pictures at least every day if not every other day. Again, not very many interesting things have been happening other than swabbing the deck daily, so there are not very many recent pictures. Tonight we will post more pictures and write another post.