We have been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by A Family Afloat http://wp.me/p4yiUK-4e
The Leibster award is passed from blogger to blogger. Liebster is a German word for beloved, and this peer-to-peer recognition got started on the web in 2010. You are nominated by a blogger who enjoys reading your blog and they ask you a series of questions. It helps connect bloggers in a fun way!
These are the questions we were asked by A Family Afloat:
1. What inspired you to start your blog?
All the people we met along the way who where fascinated by our life style and adventures and asked if there was a way to follow us and read our stories, they inspired me to finally find the time to start a blog. We have been cruising and living aboard for years (4 myself and 9 my husband) and I finally started a blog only 3 months ago. I never could find the time to start one, just adjusting to the new life style afloat and traveling as much as we where the first few years I never could find the time. Finally when we did stop long enough in one place to do a refit on our boat I had time to start one.
2. Who is your target audience?
Families who live aboard and those who wish to live off the grid, be self sufficient and give their children experienced based learning. Un-schoolers, homeschoolers, hippies, tree-huggers, sailors, cruisers, sea lovers, adventure lovers, natural birth advocates, entrepreneurs, free-loving people, etc…
3. How or why did you end up with the boat you are currently sailing on?
Messenger had been abandoned at anchor up the Stuart river in Florida for 5 years when we rescued her. We were living in my home country of Costa Rica where we had my husband Jay’s boat Carrizalilla, the one he had left San Francisco 5 years prior. We sold Carrizalilla and flew to Florida to get Messenger, who has a special history. She is an IOR one-toner custom built boat designed by German Frers in 1982. She raced all over the east coast for her first few years and later was sold from hand to hand until it was forgotten. In the 4 years we have had her we have been restoring her to her original beauty while living on her and sailing her some 8,500 nautical miles.
4. What has been the hardest part of boatschooling your kids?
We are considered un-schoolers where experiences and life itself have been the lessons, we follow no curriculum. And the hardest thing about it as a mother has been being confident that I am doing the right thing by my children.
5. What has been the most enjoyable/satisfying part of boatschooling?
Watching them develop their own interests, pursuing them and becoming quite good at them on their own. Watching them empowering themselves and teaching their younger sibling how to draw, color, the alphabet, and numbers. Watching them learn how to read, which they did in a shorter span of time than I can remember learning myself, regardless of the fact that they learned a bit later than schooled children.
6. Do you plan on traditional schooling at any point? If so, when?
They have already experienced schooling, it has been important for us as parents to give them those experiences as well so they know “how the other half lives”, so to speak. They went to public French school in Martinique for 3 months where they learned enough French to play with the majority of the kids they have encountered cruising. They also went to public school in Rhode Island, USA for 6 months and now they are in public school in Iceland and will attend for 7 months. It will be their decision if they want to attend high school full time and if so we will stop traveling and settle in one place for them to do so but so far they say they won’t want to, so we will see once those teenage years kick in and all they want is to be with their peers and no longer stuck in a sailboat with their parents.
7. What sea creature do you most identify with (what would you want to be?) and why? And how about the rest of the family?
Jay an albatross, “because they are as free as a bird”. I argued it is not a sea creature so we looked it up and it is an oceanic bird so I guess it counts.
Sol a dolphin, “because they are so peaceful and smart”.
Luna a dolphin, “because they have the most fun”.
Caribe a dolphin as well, because she loves the water and swimming, she said in her own toddler words and probably just because she is always copying her older sisters.
Natasha (myself) an orca to rule the sea.
8. How do you divide your watch hours? Do any of the kids help if you have kids?
Jay, the Captain, is the sailor so he drives the boat, I am the chef and take care of the kids and the kids just have to be kids. For the first 4 years on Messenger we had no autopilot so I would drive a couple to a few hours in the morning and another couple to a few in the evening but for the most part Jay has been a slave to the tiller. Only for the last 2 months have we had an autopilot and since we have been sailing in the northern latitudes only Jay and the autopilot have driven, I’m from the tropics so I have stayed down bellow.
9. What is your favorite recipe for your first 3 days of a passage?
10. What is your favorite Ice Cream?
Jay, Caribe, and Luna chocolate.
Natasha (myself) strawberry Häagen-Dazs.
For 10 days we docked in Saint Johns, Newfoundland the capital of this lovely Canadian island, waiting for a window to cross the Atlantic ocean and make our epic passage to Iceland. Jay had been looking at the weather patterns for the area we were to sail through since before we even left Newport, Rhode Island in order to get acquainted with the patterns of highs and lows in the area during this time of the year. After 7 days in Saint Johns we saw a window and got everything ready but the night we were to leave Jay went to check one more time the grib files because there seamed to be a low brewing over Iceland and he wanted to see if it intensified or faded away. Thank goodness he checked, he came back and said “we cannot go yet”, the low was forming into a nasty storm which lingered over Iceland for the next week with winds up to 60 knots, we would have sailed right into a disaster if it weren’t for Jay’s acute instincts. So we remained at Saint Johns for another few days until we got bored and ansi and so decided to start hoping our way further up north in order to get closer to our destination and see more of Newfoundland. By now we were even considering hoping to Greenland in between these constant lows that were forming in northern Canada and coming down the Labrador sea around the southern tip of Greenland and then up to Iceland.
We left Saint Johns Friday September 26, 2014 after midnight which technically made it Saturday and therefore safe to leave harbor, obeying the old sailors myth never to leave port on a Friday. We pushed off the dock and sailed out the narrows, it was a beautiful calm starry night. We ducked into Catalina Harbor south of Cape Bonavista 12 hrs and 60 nm later seeking protection from a low that was going to blow over us. We found a large empty pier and sailed up to it, tied on and began another of our multiple parties we were now often throwing while we awaited for small storms to pass over us. After about 20 hrs we continued N by NE for the next 2 days, both nights we encountered gales with sustained winds of 30 to 45 knots. On our second night we tried to enter Goose Cove but it was blowing too hard and the harbor wasn’t protected enough for us to anchor so we sailed right back out and hove-to for the night until day break when Jay began to approach Saint Anthony a bigger and more protected harbor a bit north. Saint Anthony turned out to be a lively fishing town of 2,500 inhabitants, all extremely friendly. We found a free dock in between fishing boats and though it was very early in the morning we had a handful of people in cars come up to say Hi!, they had seen us sail into the harbor and were wondering what a sail boat was doing this far up north this late in the season. Right away a man offered to drive us into town so we grabbed our dirty laundry and packed into his warm car. After a lavish breakfast out we sat at the library to check email, social media and of course the weather. No sooner had we arrived and I was looking forward to some land activities that Jay turned to me and said “our weather window is now, we have to leave asap”. The next day was Thursday so we had to leave before midnight of course.
We had a wonderful short visit in Saint Anthony and again prepared ourselves for the crossing. Jay loves to leave port at night, usually around midnight so there we were preparing things while the girls were already tucked in and fast asleep. We celebrated our last evening by having lasagna, the famous Coconut CrockPot lasagna. Time flew by and it was nearly 2 am when we pushed off the dock, I asked Jay if this was okay since technically it was already Friday, he shrugged his shoulders and said “it’s only a myth”, but I believe that this idea has changed and he has begun to believe that there is some truth to this myth. It was a cold but clear starry night and as soon as we were in open sea dolphins came about the boat to give us a farewell, a great omen we thought.
The first day we made good time though it was very cold as we crossed the labrador current, about 45-50˙F / 5-10˙C inside the boat, we made about 180 nm. Sunsets and sunrises began to get very long, you start to notice a change around 2 am but the sun doesn’t finally come out until about 8 am. The evenings are a torture for Jay who has to drive all night because the battery isn’t strong enough to use the autopilot but as soon as the sun hits the solar panel he is free and able to turn it on and climb into bed. I make breakfast as I stand watch though there is nothing to watch for, there are no freighters in these waters, no fishing boats this time of the year, no icebergs (we hope), and definitely no other sailboats.
On the second day the wind began to diminish and an endless calm began to set in. We made only 40 nm on day 2 and between days 3 and 5 averaged between 70 -100 nm per day. The calm really set in after day 5, on day 6 and 7 we averaged 30 nm but at least the water got about 7˙F warmer as we left the Labrador current and it got up to 58˙F / 15˙C inside the boat. We laid in a calm under Greenland and we got as close as 130 nm from it, even at suck great distance and through fog we could make out this massive land of tall frozen cliffs, it was eerie so we tacked to make some distance from it. Jay’s frustration grew as the calm set in over us, the girls on the other had came out of there “caves”, their warm bunk beds and began a normal life of playing and coloring, they even watched a movie with popcorn one day. I was able to keep up with chores like bailing out our flat shallow bilge that seams to fill up with just a few waves coming over the decks and in through the mast head, emptying trash cans and throwing our compost overboard, washing dishes and cooking. Taking french showers and grooming a little as well.
“A calm for these many days, in this part of the world, this time of the year, is unheard of!” our Captain yelled and added “I am NEVER leaving on a Friday again!” Jay had to find other ways of keeping busy as to not loose his mind. He fixed the toilet hand pump which seamed to be stuck, he even put up the flews and started a fire in the stove, this was a really nice treat after days of being cold, it also dried out the boat and the light at night was most pleasant. Here we were in the Atlantic ocean, close to the Arctic Circle with water that looked like glass under a full moon with not a cloud or a sound about, it was a time for reading, sleeping, painting, playing and cleaning. But it was also a time for worrying, not knowing what lied ahead or even worse what was going to come in behind us, the calm before the storm, so we were psychologically preparing for the worse but we were lucky that when the wind started filling in it was from a low that passed bellow us heading toward England and even though it gave us head winds they didn’t get higher than 25 to 30 knots.
Now the slow ascension to Iceland began, we had to tack our way there, like climbing a tall mountain. The wind was coming directly from Reykjavik, our destination and it did for the remainder of our passage. “This is also unheard of for this area” yelled the Captain once again, the wind never blows from the East it is usually quite the opposite and blows Westerly and if it does blow from the East it is for a short time as a low pases by but this low held for days bellow us and moved from west to east very slowly, needless to say the Captain felt unlucky once again. Messenger did it’s worse time ever on this passage, usually she makes 150 nm on average in 24 hrs but she averaged 100 nm on this passage, her VMG was only about 4 knots. But regardless of the numbers, to me it is miraculous what she and her Captain accomplished and once again they have brought us to yet another magical place safe and sound.
Messenger headed upwind with 3 reefs in her main and with a storm jib for most of the time, at times there where squalls after squalls and Tormentina, the storm jib, went up and down a handful of times. Perhaps the only good thing about sailing up wind is that Messenger can sail itself with the tiller tied and this is what she did for days on end while Jay just laid in his cot reading and sleeping, about every 12 hours we would tack.
After 14 days and 8 hrs we arrived in Iceland, “Land ho!” yelled the Captain and as soon as we got into the lee of the Island where the water was flat and the boat was no longer healed over the party began, it was about 4 am, dark and cold but it was a clear calm night. I remained inside my warm bed, cuddled with Caribe while Sol and Luna began their celebration by drinking Ginger-ale and eating powdered milk mixed with sugar, a true Costa Rican treat when Jay yelled to us to come above deck and see the Aurora Borealis welcoming us to Iceland. I did not want to get out of bed and so I said I would see it all winter long, Sol and Luna were in awe and told me I had to come out that it was spectacular, all the screaming woke Caribe up and she wanted to see it. So I finally got up and I am so glad I did because it was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. It spanned our entire port side from bow to stern in an arch like a rainbow but much wider, nearly covering half of the sky, there where many hues of blues and greens and to our starboard side lay the lights of the city of Reykjavik, the most northern capital in the world. What a welcome to this magical island of ice and fire.