Family-made Commercial Videos for .is

As our sailing season comes to an end this winter we settle into a berth in South Brittany, France and to continue promoting our sailing-sponsor we will be making short and witty commercials such as these two, enjoy and share them as you wish.

As we sailed between England and France Captain Jay had the idea of using this children’s rhyme for a witty video promoting .is, “I see London, I see France, I see .is underpants.”

This video came about when we actually returned one late night to the marina where we were keeping Messenger to find out that our card to enter the secure gates didn’t work. We were astounded when Luna said she could fit through the gates. We thought she would get her head stuck but she fit right through. This is where the story to this video came about.

Have you visited our new website?

www.coconuts.is

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Iceland, our winter berth and birth

“Visited by only the most intrepid yachts, a passage to Iceland offers an experience difficult to match anywhere else in the world.” 

Our passage to Iceland was epic, riddled with highs and lows.

Iceland feels like it is centrally isolated.

Sitting right between America and Europe it feels central, a stepping stone in our journey across the Atlantic ocean.

Hovering right bellow the Arctic circle it feels isolated, a vastly unpopulated island of stark beauty, an island of ice and fire, of mighty glaciers, live volcanoes, hissing geysers and boiling lakes and rivers.

Iceland feels uniquely isolated as well as centrally located in the globe.

We picked Iceland as the birthing grounds for our next crew member, the extreme contrast to our last birth in the Caribbean appealed to us. Extreme dualities have naturally played out through our lives, so it feels natural to be here in Iceland to traer a la luz our next crew member.

We sailed into Reykjavík harbor in mid-October of 2014. We spent the first four months there in Reykjavík and are now in the northwest smaller town of Ísafjör∂ur. So we have experienced Iceland’s capital city, it’s majestic and vast country side and it’s quaint small town life in the westfjords.

The European-like, fast-paced and modern city life of Reykjavík surprised us. The amount of wealth, new cars, well dressed shopping-craze citizens, expensive restaurants, and the two-hour limit children’s birthday parties were all a big surprise.

The beauty of its countryside was expected. The expansive open landscapes completely covered in white snow this time of the year. It’s grand towering mountains which look as if they have been painted onto the blue sky. It’s rivers partly frozen but still running due to the waters warmer temperature from geothermal activity. All these things we had envisioned but perhaps didn’t expect for it to be as breathtakingly beautiful as it is, truly majestic.

The quiet slow-paced and snow covered streets of the smaller town of Ísafjör∂ur are what we envisioned it being like in Iceland and I suppose the vast majority is this way.

The Icelander is an educated bilingual person. It’s surprising how nearly everyone speaks very good English and many speak Danish and many other languages as well. Family is very important to the Icelander, they have large families, having up to four children is not rare at all, therefore we feel pretty normal here, at least in that regard.

Our two eldest daughters, ages 9 and 8, have been attending public school here in Iceland and for unschooled (non-curriculum based) children they have loved the school here. The educational system in Iceland has been a nice surprise. It is not heavily academic but rather very hands-on allowing the children to learn practical real-life skills suca as cooking, carpentry, sowing/knitting, library/research, community behavior, social behavior, exercise/health/swimming and even chess.

And finally birth in Iceland. On this topic we had no idea what to expect but thankfully birth in Iceland is viewed as a natural physiological process for women to go through. Icelanders believe women’s bodies still work, natural birth is the norm and all births are attended by midwives. Obstetricians are only involved in births if there are complications needing medical intervention. Home births in Reykjavík are gaining in popularity and in numbers but outside of the capital there are less home births, non in Ísafjör∂ur for example. Water births are very common in home births and in hospitals maybe only 10% are in water but they do have pools in hospitals which is great. But of course unattended home births are rare but we have been allowed and supported by midwives to do it our way, which has been wonderful. We formed a lovely relationship with a midwife who specializes in home births in Reykjavík who has been helping us with the necessary paper work as well as loaning us a birthing pool and helping us acquire all the special things we will need for the birth. Now that we are about a 6 hour drive away from Reykjavík, she has put us in touch with another midwife in Ísafjör∂ur who will help us announce the birth to the system once the baby is born so that we can get a birth certificate. I was even fortunate enough to attend a lecture by the world renown Ina May Gaskin, the mother of midwifery, who happened to come to Reykjavík for a lecture.

So yes, we like Iceland, we like it very much, a great place for this nomadic family to stop at and have a birth, a great country with great people to share our lives with for a short time. No regrets on picking Iceland to winter with our boat and as a birthing place, no regrets at all.

Christmas in Iceland

Unless you were born in Iceland or spent a holiday season in this island near the Arctic Circle you would not have experienced the unique traditions and beliefs surrounding Christmas in Iceland.

While children around the world believe in Santa Claus, who by the way is referred to as the Coca Cola Santa Claus here, Icelandic children believe in the Yule Lads, Gryla and the Christmas Cat. Rather than being visited by only one Santa children in Iceland are visited by 13 Santa’s called Yule Lads, one by one every night starting 13 nights before Christmas. Children place a shoe on the window sill in their bedroom and if they were good the Yule Lads will leave a present in the shoe and if they were bad he will leave them a potato. These 13 Yule Lads are all brothers and sons of Gryla, they are trolls portrayed as a dysfunctional family who all live together in a dark and damp cave in the middle of the highlands of Iceland. Their pet is an over-grown cat with sharp teeth who will eat children if their parents don’t give them a new piece of clothing or outfit during Christmas, a brilliant way to get children to appreciate clothes and not only toys as presents.

The first to arrive on the night of December 12th is Stekkjarstaur – the Sheep Worrier, he got his name from trying to suckle on sheep when visiting farmhouses back in the day to quench his thirst from his long walk through the country. These days he has to settle for cow’s milk rather than sheep’s milk from modern kitchens. Children leave him a glass of milk which makes things easier for him now days.

The second to visit on December 13th is Giljagaur – Gully Gawk, the biggest, tallest and strongest of the Yule Lads. He also loves milk but prefers cows milk, especially the creamy froth from the top of fresh warm milk. I wonder if children warm and froth milk for him?

The third on December 14th is Stúfur – Stubby, the smallest of the yule lads, his short legs make walking in soft snow a nightmare for him. Children usually leave a stool for him to be able to reach their shoe in the window sill.

The fourth on December 15th is Pvörusleikir – Spoon Licker, as a child he was always sucking his thumb, so he turned his attention to spoons which is how he got his name. It is a good day for baking a cake or cookies and not washing the spoon but leaving it on the window sill next to the shoe.

The fifth on December 16th is Pottasleikir – Pot Licker, quick-witted and single-minded his preference of course is licking pots clean, so that evening pots and pans are left unwashed.

The sixth on December 17th is Askasleikir – Bowl Licker, the last of the lickers, he liked licking askur, or traditional wooden bowl with a hinged lid used to keep the food warm and protect it from household pets. He has not been himself since askurs have stopped being used, he doesn’t know what to make of new plates but nevertheless he still licks them so it’s a good excuse on this day not to do the dishes.

The seventh on December 18th is Hurdaskellir – Door Slammer, this loud and boisterous lad is said to be a frustrated percussionist, he will slam the door when he leaves just for the fun of waking up everyone in the house.

The eighth on December 19th is Skyrgámur – Skyr Glutton, Skyr is an Icelandic dairy product, like greek yogurt but better! So now you know what he likes and how he got his name.

The ninth on December 20th is Bjúgnakraekir – Sausage Stealer, Bjúga is a type of sausage he finds irresistible, in olden times they were large sausages six times the size of todays hot dog. He has adjusted to these vacuum packed hot dogs so children make sure there are plenty for him at home that night.

The tenth on December 21st is Gluggagaegir – Window Peeper, he likes peeping in windows in the chance that a child sees him he will make funny faces in the hope of scaring them. So parents usually close the curtains if they have really small children.

The eleventh on December 22nd is Gáttapefur – Door Sniffer, when his big nose gets a whiff of all the delicacies being prepared during these days of Christmas, he is guided by his highly developed sense of smell towards kitchen doors. His favorite is laufabraud, or leaf bread, a flour and water based dough, flattened into thin pancake like circles on which very intricate designs are made by cutting out pieces and then deep-fried, making a crispy and sweet cookie like treat.

The twelfth on December 23rd is Ketkrókur – Meat Hook, he is a big, self-confident carnivorous lad. Smoked leg of land is believed to be his favorite.

The thirteenth (and last) on December 24th is Kertasníkir – Candle Beggar, before the advent of electricity candles were made of tallow (animal fat) which is what Candle Beggar seamed to have a liking for. These days he can’t eat the candles any more but still enjoys collecting them so children leave one for him to take.

Iceland

Welcome to the edge of the inhabitable earth, located just bellow the arctic circle this island’s nature does some pretty unusual things, like putting ice and volcanoes next to each other and shortening the number of seasons to just two: light and dark. As I discover Iceland I begin to understand why the Vikings wanted to keep this island of ice and fire to themselves. Iceland is more unique and amazing than I envisioned it being. On the early morning we arrived by sailboat, when it was still dark, the aurora borealis welcomed us by displaying the most spectacular solar display I have ever witnessed. It covered half of the sky on our port side from bow to stern in an undulating arch form with hues of greens, blues and white. Conditions have to be just right for an aurora to happen, we have been here for 2 weeks now and have not seen it again, so we were extremely lucky to have seen it the one night we happen to arrive.

The geothermal activity is more vast than I imagined. There are pools all over the country, in every city and town. Here in Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital city, there are as many pools as there are StarBucks in big cities in the US. Each place doesn’t have just one pool, it has many different pools, there is an olympic swimming pool and a handful of jacuzzis each one with different temperatures, 38˙C/110˙F, 40˙C/104˙F, 42˙C/107˙F, and 44˙C/111˙F; some with massage jets and others without. The pool house we go to even has a salt water pool at 40˙C/104˙F and a large play pool for children with a giant water slide and an aquatic obstacle course. All of the pools are outdoors which makes for an interesting and intense experience moving from one pool to the other, walking in a bathing suit in freezing temperatures but while you are inside the pools you feel very warm and relaxed as you smell the natural healing minerals that are in the water. Some Islanders go to the pools daily and don’t shower at home since it is actually much cheaper to pay for a yearly membership to the pools than to shower at home. There are lockers and showers and you actually have to shower before entering the pools. The same underground forces that create its volcanoes also create the geothermal steam for Iceland’s radiators and super-heated water for showers and pools, with out a puff of smoke or smog. All power comes pollution-free from nature, electricity is generated by thundering rivers of melting ice.

The public schools are truly admirable. Our daughters were accepted into 3rd and 4th grade without any questioning, prior school records, tests, nothing. They simply said, “it is our obligation and desire to have them for as long as they want and need to”. The school is free but not only admission and tuition, all materials and school books as well, the only thing we need to pay for are lunches. The facilities are amazing, state of the art, modern and super clean; so much so that children are not allowed to wear their shoes inside the entire school, they run and slide around the slick floors with socks, they are always skating. The classes are mostly hands-on and not so academic heavy. They have cooking, sowing, music, art, chess, swimming, sports, library, religion, nature, socialize, community, social studies, math, English and Islandic as a second language, the later as a special class to international students. For unschooled children who are used to sleeping in and running their own daily schedule and interests, they are delighted and do not mind to wake up and walk to school in freezing weather while still dark. On Sundays they say “tomorrow is a school day, yay!”. If a Viking were to reappear today in Reykjavik he could strike up a conversation with any Icelander, their language has remained virtually unchanged for over a thousand years. They have the world’s highest literacy rate, a perfect 100% .

In Iceland you are looking at the true colors of the sky, sun, moon, clouds, rainbows and northern lights, because you are seeing them in the purest air on earth. And because of the gulf stream Iceland in the dead of winter can be warmer than NYC over 2000 miles to the south. In 930 Iceland established the world’s oldest active legislature while America discovered democracy 846 years later and 200 years before Chaucer, Iceland’s fishermen and farmers were already composing rich folk sagas and manuscripts. What has never happened in Iceland is that it’s people have never fought a war. One can feel the peace, security and friendliness just walking the streets.

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