Dec 19, 2014

The Long Haul

   Leaving Boqueron with only one of our buddy boats was not what the original plan had been, but in boating there are always unexpected factors, like boat problems. We almost ended up leaving completely on our own, but buddy boat s/v Senara really pulled through and rigged up a way to work his throttle until he reached Salinas where he could get a proper fix.

   Most of the other boats in the bay left a few days earlier, at the beginning of the weather window, when boaters are actually supposed to leave. But with our boat documents being held in Mayaguez by the customs authorities, we had no choice but to wait until Monday when they would be open so we could get them back. Since we didn’t want to deal with these custom procedures at every port, we decided that once we left Boqueron we were going to try and make it as far as weather, and our stomachs permitted. How we alway end up doing these long crossings I have no idea, cruising is supposed to be about short hops and enjoying the ride, but we seem to always end up “pushing through” and going for the long jumps. 

   We left at dusk, since that’s how we boat best. Eben stresses less when we are all asleep, and because this way we don't have to entertain the girls or worry about them getting seasick if they are sleeping for most of the trip. Our ‘stop’ options were Salinas, Vieques, Culebra, or St Thomas. Multiple options depending on how many buckets of vomit we filled on this trip.

   The night was calm, the girls were passed out, and I even had it in me to give Eben a four hour sleep while I did ‘watch’. This is a rarity on our boat, usually Eben does the nights aided by Redbulls and meal replacement drinks. By morning we were motorsailing passed Salinas and all decided that we were doing well enough to continue on.

   We spent about an hour debating if we should’ve stopped there, or turn around and go back, since we had two friends giving us weather updates that said the waves were going to be building throughout the day, making the sail a lot less comfortable. But from what we were seeing, we stuck with our gut decision and pressed on. We had Vieques in our sights. Even though that means absolutely nothing in sailing. Even if you can see the island, you may still have many many hours ahead of you before you reach it. Sailing is slow.

   By nightfall, the girls were back in their slumber party positions, on the cockpit floor, and we were passing Sun Bay, Vieques. We were left debating our final destination, Culebra or St Thomas. It was a hard one, since we have a few friends in St Thomas right now, but we also had some shopping that we wanted to do. With Christmas around the corner, and wanting to haul out soon to repaint the bottom, staying in PR would be easiest. And we wanted to give Culebra a second try, because last time we were there it was flooded with bad memories because this is where we got Ciguatera.

   We decided on Culebra, which meant we would be reaching the bay at 2am. Not ideal to be entering a bay full of boats, half of which don’t use anchor lights. But we had no choice. We did it, without running aground or hitting any other boats. Once anchored I breathed a sigh of relief, relocated the girls from the cockpit floor to their beds below, and went and passed out. In 31 hours we motorsailed from tip to tip of Puerto Rico, with not even one incident of sea sickness. Looks like we may have located our sea legs afterall.

   On the schedule for the next couple of days, go check in again, yuck, go shopping, yay!, and discover this island a little better. We also have to decide how long we want to stay here, and where we want to celebrate Christmas.

Goodbye Boqueron

Vieques in sight

slumber party cockpit 

girls were well enough to watch movies down below. Don't mind the mess!

we threw this one back, it resembled too much the one that gave us ciguatera last year

happy to be back on still water in culebra!

Dec 17, 2014

Low Profile LowePro

   If you enjoy photography and are looking to add something to your Christmas wish list, or just want to spoil yourself and buy yourself an awesome gift, look no further.

   While we were back in Canada we spoiled ourselves with a new camera but we were missing one key piece that would make it so I would bring the camera everywhere with me. A proper carrying bag. We used to have this huge stinkin bag that carried our cameras, camcorder, and all the attachments, but it was such a burden that we never used it and always found ourselves wrapping our DSLR in a towel and putting it in a backpack. That was not ideal!

   So I went on the hunt for something better. My requirements were that it needed to be small, practical, and inconspicuous. I didn't want to look like a tourist with a big honkin camera and I didn't want to look to flashy, because those people get mugged!

   I found what I was looking for in the Lowepro 16L photo hatchback. It looks like a small day backpack, has plenty of room for other stuff needed on excursions (sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, iPad, etc), and has your camera and accessories nearly hidden in the backside (resting on your back) of the pack. And if ever you don't want that whole bag, the camera area pulls out and can be carried like a handbag. There were two colour options, bright orange and grey. I debated a bit, simply because orange is eben's favourite colour, but decide on grey because it's not as flashy. I contacted Lowepro, confirmed our camera fit in it (different cameras may require different bag sizes) and within a week we had one!

   I have found no downside to this bag and am so happy we have it. I find myself taking our camera out off the boat a lot more often. Which, for how much we spent on that camera we better use it to its worth!

Don't mind the dark spots, I was just wearing the backpack with a wet bathing suit

Dec 14, 2014

PR Customs Caution

  Just a quick post to caution all of you about the mistake we made at the PR customs, in the hopes that this headache does not happen to you someday.

   We motorsailed into Puerto Rico at this exact same time last year. We went through all the rigamarole of customs and immigrations with no issues at all. Got our cruising permit and were on our way to discover the island.

   After being here for 2 months, we got a work proposition from Live Different, in the Dominican Republic, and we took it. So from Culebra we said goodbye to all of our buddy boats, turned our boat around, and headed back to the DR. What we didn’t do, which was the mistake, is we DID NOT GIVE BACK OUR CRUISING PERMIT. We didn’t know that we should have, and we didn't think that we would be back here this year. So we did our regular phone call to let them know we were leaving, but had our cruising permit with us.

   Well…one year later (last week) we sailed back in to PR. We headed to Mayaguez to check in, thinking nothing of it. We were all in good moods and just expected this would be an hour out of our day, doing the necessary process. When we got there and told them we were checking in, they ask for all of our documentation and proceeded to tell us, “your cruising permit from last year is still active (for another 2 days), we can’t issue you another one”. “And because you are foreigners (Canadian) we can’t issue you successive cruising permits. You have to leave the country, with your boat, for two weeks, and then return and apply for one”.

   My eyes instantly welled up and I had to fight back full-on crying in the customs office. There was no way I was getting back on our boat and sailing the Mona passage again, and putting our girls through that again! I was in panic mode.

   It took talking with three different people, and explaining our situation (having kids on board, taking full responsibility for the mistake, etc) before they came up with a compromise. Not an awesome one, but one that is better than crossing the Mona again after just getting here. We now have to do a “formal” check-in and check-out at every port. This means we have to go to the customs office (which often means renting a car and driving to it), paying $20 to check-in, and leaving our boat documents with them. Then when we are ready to leave, we need to go back to the office, get our documents, and pay $20 to check out. If it were just the money it wouldn't be a big deal, but the inconvenience comes in having to go to the customs office each time, because when you get to some of the ports, the custom office is not even in that town, so you have to drive to the closest one, sometimes an hour away! 

   Needless to say we won’t be making many stops along the PR coast, and will most likely be b-lining it to the islands.

   So, if you are a foreigner, have a cruising permit, and are leaving PR and hope to return before or within 2 weeks of the expiration of your current permit, when you leave the country, GIVE BACK YOUR PERMIT. Or you will be stuck doing what we are. Not fun.

Dec 10, 2014

Sailors Without Sealegs

  56 hours is what it took us to go from Luperon, DR to Boqueron, PR. And that was motor sailing. We pretty much followed one of the sailing bible’s, A Gentlemen's guide to passages South, sailing waypoints and made a few adjustments to go with our weather and general plan. Our plan, to book it. Once we left the Luperon harbour we had no hopes of stopping anywhere to rest, we were just going to go for the long haul, rest free. And that’s what we did.

   This was our first “sailing” trip since back on our boat. After 8 months living on land in the DR, I can say that we all lost our sea-legs, if we ever had any to start with. During our two-and-a-half days of sailing the throw up was non stop, coming from one person or another. We had two sand buckets in the cockpit going on full rotation, getting tossed to who ever needed them most that minute.


                      Day 1       Day 2       Day 3
Arias                5               4               0
Ellia                 4               2               0
Genevieve       0               3               0
Eben               0                0               0  !!!!

   Eben was a rockstar! With the help of his scopolamine patch he didn’t get sick once. This was actually his best sailing trip ever. He was down below cooking, getting snacks, checking that no water was getting into our engine from our diesel mishap, and even doing the dishes! He was on fire, and got to play captain and Mr.Mom all at the same time. While I, on day 2, spent most of my time laying lifeless on the cockpit cushions.

We did, as our family always does when sailing, and brought out pillows, blankets, teddies, and set up our cockpit slumber party. For the duration of the entire trip we lived in the cockpit, only going down below if we needed anything and felt we had a strong enough stomach for it. We feel more comfortable having the whole family together in the cockpit. And all of our stomachs do better that way. At nap time and night time we make beds on the cockpit floor for the girls and go about our regular routine, just outdoors.

   The weather was extremely uneventful, which is what you want when sailing. But the slow rock is what got to us. That and having the wind on the nose the entire trip. We had some light rains on the first night but nothing consistent, just enough to move our cockpit slumber party into an actual bed down below.

   We had left Luperon with two buddy boats, but with different boat sizes and sailing plans, it didn’t take long that we were all dispersed along the DR coast. We had Morgan on Senara who was tacking back and forth trying to sail as much as possible. And making crazy stops in Cabarete just to be able to wave to his friends on the beach. And we had Tasha and Ryan on Hideaway that were sailing along fine until they needed to turn their engine on and realized that the stubborn thing was not cooperating. That is pretty much the area we lost radio contact with them all. We kept going towards our final destination, alone, and not really knowing what anyone else was doing.

   We were happy to see Boqueron and get settled back into our same anchor spot as last time. As soon as we got our boat in order, because no real cleaning goes on while we sail. Once we are done with something we throw it down below, to be cleaned at arrival port. Then we got ahold of some other sailors in the bay and got a ride to town (because when we hauled our dinghy out in the DR we saw why the one tube kept deflating, a huge patch repair was needed) to get online and see if our buddy boats had checked in anywhere. Ends up Hideway had to tuck in to Samana because of their engine issues, and Senara was still somewhere out there, sailing. We impatiently waited a day before seeing him in our harbour again!

   Other than all the motoring, and seasickness, and all the anxiety that that causes me, it was an all-around good trip. The shocker came the next day when we went to Mayaguez to check in and they told us to leave and sail back to the DR!

Goodbye DR

dolphin watching

There is an Ellia in there, hiding from the sun and the seasickness

Dora helped keep the sun off of us!

Ellia looking a little pale

she claimed her baby was seasick too

This is what life looks like while underway and everyone is sick.

The wahoo Eben caught, made for great sushi!

The sun was strong, so we built cockpit forts

By the end their smiles were coming back.

And they were loving their forts.

Puerto Rico in our sights. Hooray!

Dec 3, 2014

Crowdfunding for an EPIC Adventure

The Rickshaw Run across India in support of a non-profit rebuilding homes for the less fortunate

For FULL DETAILS please go to our CROWDFUNDING SITE HERE. (That link is also where you can see the video, donate, and "buy" interesting PERKS, to help us on this adventure!)

A Short Summary

   I have always wanted to see India, but it wasn’t that high on Eben’s must-see list. But then I came across the Rickshaw Run. In this race, which isn’t really a race at all, you and your team get into a rickshaw and cross India in the hopes of reaching the finish line. Not everyone completes it, and as the race rules state, if your rickshaw doesn’t break down every three days you are doing something wrong.
Eben would never turn down an adventure like this!
  We pride ourselves on living a life less ordinary and being open to opportunities that present themselves. The Rickshaw Run seems like an awesome adventure, this time, with “No Kids”. Thankfully the grandparents have offered to watch our girls during our two week hiatus to India. Because I don’t think they would do so well bouncing around the backseat of a rickshaw for that long.
  But after having spent the last six months working with Live Different, a Canadian non-profit that rebuilds homes for the less fortunate, in the Dominican Republic, we felt that doing this race was a little selfish. So we decided to use our Crowdfunding to help raise funds for our adventure as well as this amazing organization.

What We Need & What You Get

   This is how our crowdfunding will work: until our goal of $ 20,000 is reached 50%of the funds will be to aid us on our voyage and 50% to Live Different. Reaching our goal would mean that the costs for our adventure to India would be fully covered (for 2 people), and that two families in the Dominican Republic will receive new homes. Once we reach our goal ALL donations from that point on will be given to Live Different. We are not looking to personally profit from this crowdfunding. We are looking to raise money for this crazy Indian adventure and help a good cause, and many people in need.

The Great Cause

  As mentioned, the money fundraised will help cover some of the fees of our trip, but more importantly it will raise funds for a non-profit we worked with and trust, Live Different. Seeing their work first hand, and seeing the lives they have helped, was a life changing experience for us. We met families that lived in homes that we so rundown and leaky that it hurt our hearts. Many are still living without the basic necessities that every human deserves. But that can be changed.
  Live Different is a multi-faceted Canadian organization. One of their programs hosts groups of volunteers in the Dominican Republic, and a few other countries. The volunteers raise the funds and work hand-in-hand with local contractors to rebuild the homes of the less fortunate. It is an empowering environment for the volunteers, the families, the contractors, and the community. The volunteers are living, working, and learning, side by side the Dominicans. The program is creating work locally and giving a family a proper roof over their head. And it is also giving the volunteer a life-altering learning experience. Live Different strives to work organically with the community and making sure that their ripple effects are only positive ones. 
  They are a smaller organization, but the impact that they are making is extensive. Businesses like West Jet and Boston Pizza have noticed this organization and jumped on board with them, becoming loyal partners. It is because of their work and their transparency that we dedicated six months of our time to their organization, and even now that we are done working with them, we want to continue supporting them in any means possible. This crowdfunding is allowing us, and you, to do so.
Check out the "Gallery" on here to see some of the before/after pictures of some of the homes that we had a hand in building and our time with Live Different.

Stretch Goal

   Any and ALL money crowdfunded beyond our original set goal will be donated, 100% to Live Different, giving them the opportunity to build more homes for more families.

    Other Ways You Can Help

       If donating money is not a possibility you can still help us with our crowdfunding by SHARING and making some noise about our campaign. Our success comes from our community! Thanks for being part of it, and thanks for spreading the word! Share our crowdfunding link on your social media networks. Facebook, twitter, instagram, whatever. Share what we are doing with as many people as you can. And if you have any sort of contact with other media sources, like local newspapers, important people, philanthropists, share with them too. Thank you.

    Nov 27, 2014

    A Boater's Bikini-Ready Workout

       Dominicans are all about saying it how it is. Since returning to the boat I don't even know how many have told me that I look "strong" and "gordita" (chubby). For them this is a compliment, and sign of health, and they see no reason in holding back a comment like that. I, on the other hand, who after living 6 months in an all-inclusive, have seen my body at a better weight, and don't see my current state as quite "complimentary". So I will start working out, easing myself into it, and am hoping to see some good results soon. But living on a boat in itself is a workout.

       It only took me about three days back on the boat to start feeling my muscles ache. And I giggled when I thought up the "boater's workout". (Yes I laugh at my own jokes, Eben says I always find my own to be the funniest!) 

       So here it is, if you have no desire to run laps, do sit-ups, squats and lunges, just move on to a "workaboard" boat.

    Legs and Glutes
    -Pump up your dinghy. 50 pumps per leg. 3 x a day (if your dinghy is a deflatable like ours).

    -Drive your dinghy "cowboy style". This is a great feat in balance.

    This is cowboy-style.

    Back, Abs, and Legs
    -Manually transfer water into your tanks. 10 x 5gallon jugs per session.

    -Hand wash all your clothes and feel the burn in your arms as your spin out the water and ring out the garments. 3 sessions per week. 
    -Carry your groceries back to your boat.

    -Assist in sending someone up the mast. (Or better yet, go up the mast).

    -Jump in and scrub the bottom of your boat.
    -Walk, everywhere, to get everything.

    Captain Krill after scrubbing a boat bottom

    For Bonus Points
    -Carry a toddler around while you do all of this.

    I'm spent!

    Nov 22, 2014

    Shopping For A Cause: Invisible Children

       If you want to look through an amazing website for a good cause, check out Invisible Children's site. It is extensive. The site is beautifully made, the pictures are amazing, the information is endless, and the videos are extremely well done. I could spend hours on this site, learning about what this organization does and the cause they are fighting for.

       Invisible Children's single objective is to permanently end the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) conflict. This conflict has existed in East and Central Africa for nearly 30 years. This army has kidnapped over 30,000 children over the years, to strengthen their army, forcing the young boys to become soldiers and the girls to become sex slaves. The thought that that many children have been torn from their parents and forced into doing these kinds of things is sickening. They are just children. But this organization has been created to help. To bring them home, one at a time, and have the needed programs set up to help with their reintegration into their homes and society after the nightmares they have witnessed and taken part in.

       I can't even begin to cover the work that this organization does to help. They create innovating programs that protect the communities of central Africa, and lay the ground for lasting peace in post-conflict regions. How, you may ask? Well without going into too much detail (because if you check out their website you will see how extensive it really is) they have rehabilitation programs, psychosocial rehabilitation for the returnees of conflict, water programs for safe drinking water and better sanitation, Legacy scholarship which are merit-based scholarships for youth in affected areas, Schools for Schools program which builds and renovates schools, the Mend program providing vocational training in tailoring, finance, and personal development, a Savings and Loans program, Teachers Exchange, Mobile Cinema creating awareness in Africa, International awareness Events, Summits, Tours, Flyers, an Early Warning Network and a Come Home broadcast. And those are only very broad strokes and doesn't even cover all of their projects. I know I have not done them justice in simply listing off some of their programs, but if I were to go more in depth in to everything that they do, well this blog post would never end. And I would have to hire some web designers to make my blog look as good as their website, and I am too cheap to do that! I just wanted to peak your interest and have you click on the links that tempt you. This organization has its hands in a little bit of everything and every little bit helps. 

       They also have a shop, to help fund their programs. Let me tell you, the stuff they make and sell is amazing. It is all beautiful and well made. The shirt I have of theirs I find myself always reaching for. Eben has even asked me, "are you wearing that again!?" It is probably one of my most worn shirts, and I may have to get a few different styles if I don't want Eben getting sick of my wardrobe. Check them out, if not for shopping, then just stop in to their website and check out all the info they have to offer, it's impressive. And if you want to see where your money will be spent, well they have that posted as well, here. You can see it all. This is another great cause backed by great style.

    A little extra motivation in every tee