Saturday, 1 July 2017

Happy Canada Day from Grenada!

The question we are asked most frequently is do we plan to sail back to Canada? 

Our response is usually "we'll see". Some interpret that response to mean that we don't like where we come from. Sure we have not stepped foot in Canada for two years since we left July 5, 2015. We want to show the girls the vast diversity of countries, cultures and people that exist on this blue marble. But so far no matter where we go, Canada still shines as one of the best countries in the world. 

We proudly fly our giant Canadian flag off the stern of Maple every day. Happy Canada Day!!!! 

(This picture is from Canada Day last year in Greece, crazy to think of how far we have come in 12 months. Thankfully Darryl has had a haircut or two since then too.)

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Gratitude!

Ah the Caribbean, it has not disappointed us with its warm, blue waters and plenty of sunshine.  We have already enjoyed a visit from wonderful friends from back home, which took us all from Barbados to the Grenadines and St. Lucia.

Yes, this picture is real!  Unbelievable colours and scenery!


Is this not what you think of when you think Caribbean?!

The girls are better than me at free diving, love seeing their confidence build in the water.

We have the best friends in the world who are willing to come all this way to visit us! 

Never can have too many sunset pictures.

We are beyond fortunate to be living this life!  Darryl and I have now travelled through 26 countries in our time together (hard to believe we have known each other now for 20 years!).  Twenty six countries that all offer different cultures, landscapes and experiences, but the one thing they all have in common are amazing people.  People from such different backgrounds, whether they are sailors or not, and all of them have stories and experiences they share with us that enrich our journey.

The tough part of the nomadic lifestyle is saying goodbye and not knowing whether our paths will cross again.  Since we have been over here in the Caribbean we are beyond fortunate to have met up again with four boats (s/v VA, Element, Rafael and Escapade) we knew prior to the crossing, plus two brothers who finally managed to hitch a ride across the Atlantic who we had met in Las Palmas.  As the saying goes, a cruiser's sailing plan is written in sand at low tide, so is bound to change.  So all the more miraculous it is when paths cross again with a fellow cruiser.

We never tire of meeting new people along the way.  Darryl literally lost me for three hours the other day when I got talking with a Canadian couple on their boat who have countless inspiring cruising stories.  We are now in Martinique and thanks to friends (s/v Escapade) we met in Las Palmas and have reconnected with here, we were introduced to a French couple who are scuba dive instructors and dive masters.  Despite the language barrier, (boy, do Darryl and I ever need to break out the Rosetta Stone and work on learning French again) we managed to enjoy three wonderful evenings with all of them.

We have countless examples of serendipity in our journey, but our experience yesterday was one I will never forget and demonstrates perfectly the generosity of those we meet!  Darryl had decided awhile ago he wanted to complete the first level of PADI dive training, but wanted to wait for the warm Caribbean waters to learn.  During the Atlantic crossing he completed all the course material and exams, but he was waiting until we were standing still for a bit in Grenada to complete the practical portion of the training.  I was on the fence about it as I was such a wimp when I first learned to snorkel (clearly I have a hang up that people are not meant to breath with their faces in water!) that I figured diving was way out of my league.

Bring things forward to yesterday, when the couple offered to take Darryl and I scuba diving just to get a taste of it!  They generously allowed us use of their equipment and took us one at a time for a dive.  They were so patient and calm, especially with me who played my usual mind games that I am going to die when required to breath with my mouth below the surface.  And next thing you know, I was fully submerged and touching the bottom (we are talking about only 3 meters here).  It was exhilarating to conquer that fear and best of all...LOVE it!  So I guess I need to catch up to Darryl and get some course work completed!!!

D taking a stab at this whole diving thing.
Check it out, I am not hyperventilating and clawing my way to the surface!

Whether it is conversing with a man on a beach who is trying to sell me a necklace (yes I bought it darn it!) but at the same time discuss the beauty the ocean offers us all, or through lots of charades and laughter to share a meal with other cruisers who generously share their time and expertise to help me conquer a fear and discover a new passion.  These encounters we continue to have is what keeps me excited to see who might stumble next into this journey of ours.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Photo Journal of Our Atlantic Crossing

The Preparations - Provisioning

So how do you prepare for a three to four week crossing for four adults and two children when you have no opportunity to run to the store for that forgotten ingredient?!  A lot of money, loads of trips to the stores to identify what we want (but thank goodness the major stores deliver!!!!), and plenty of creativity on where to store it all on the boat (nothing like using a spare shower stall to store produce).  The water line was getting lower and lower by the day.




Logo Painting

As though we didn't have anything else to do just prior to departure, Darryl was insistent that we leave our mark in Las Palmas.  It seems to be a tradition for departing boats to paint a logo on a rock or wall in the marina.  Despite our imminent departure date, Darryl and the girls managed to paint our logo on a rock to commemorate our first ocean crossing.





Departure Day

For as long as we have been planning the Atlantic Crossing, we have had January 10 as our intended departure date for some unknown reason.  However, for all of December and early January, we were experiencing highly unusual weather.  Usually at that time of year, the trade winds are well set in and everything is very predicable.  Instead, the weather was very unsettled and the winds coming from the opposite direction.  It was delaying loads of boats in leaving.  We kept our eye on January 10 but figured it likely would be a later departure date.  But sure enough as January 10 approached, the weather was changing and the winds were turning to the more usual NE direction.  And wouldn't you know it, we were all ready and left on January 10!!!  

So the morning of, we had our crew briefing and the raising of our crew flag and we were set to cast off the dock lines.



Things To Keep Us Occupied

So what do you do for three weeks when restricted to an 11.5 meter x 6 meter floating platform?  Surprisingly a lot!!!

First and foremost, the four adults rotated on a 2 hour watch schedule all day and night.  While Ella took the 1400 to 1600 watch every afternoon.  I could not be more proud of Ella for being committed to her watch.  The only watches she missed were on the first day when we were only a couple of hours out of Las Palmas and she wasn't feeling great, and the last day, with all the excitement the watch schedule went out the window.


Any excuse for a celebration, which on Maple involves food and the smallest bit of imbibing.  Crepes and cava to celebrate the halfway mark.  And sausages and beer to celebrate Australia Day!




Knitting (can't thank Sandra enough for her amazing patience!), dress up, cleaning (huge thanks to Jeff for cleaning the rust stains around all the stanchions), boat repairs (sadly no pictures of Darryl clinging for his life to the mast), and reading, reading and more reading....




School For All!  Darryl involved the girls in charting our course on the chart.  We did a unit on Christopher Columbus.  And even Jeff and Sandra got in on the action with Darryl teaching them how to splice rope and make soft shackles.  







Fishing!!!  We had a tough start after losing four lures, plus five catch and release of small tunas.  But our persistence paid off on Day 9 when we reeled in a beautiful 13kg yellow fin tuna.  So of course dinner that night was SUSHI!!!  Since our freezer was already full of meat purchased prior to departure and then the addition of the tuna, we did not fish for awhile.  

On the morning of Day 15 with prompting from Jeff we cast the lure once again.  And within an hour Jeff had reeled in a gorgeous dorado (aka: mahi mahi)!!!  








Lots of scenery that looks like this:



Where is all the evidence of all that amazing wildlife we experienced??  In video format of course and that takes WAY more effort to edit than throwing up a few pictures on a blog post.  So with enough nagging perhaps I can get Darryl do it, otherwise, we might all be waiting awhile before I figure out how the heck to edit out hours of video of boring seas for the 5 second blip of a whale breaching or dolphins playing in our bow waves.

Arrival

After 20 days out of sight of land, on Day 21 land was spotted!!!!  And after 21 days and 9.5 hours, we dropped anchor in the Caribbean after leaving from the Canary Islands.




The girls wasted no time jumping in the water, at the same time we watched the first sunset in the Caribbean on board Maple.  We have not been in the water since early October off the coast of Spain, so the white sand beaches and warm waters are glorious.




















How do you begin to thank two people who took four weeks in their lives to help us safely bring our home and family across an ocean?!  Any words seem inadequate, so I just hope Jeff and Sandra know how much gratitude we will forever have to them.  I could not imagine this experience without them being part of it.  Much love and thanks to you both!  xoxo


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Atlantic Crossing Day 22 - ANCHOR DOWN

At 1730 local time (2130 UTC) on Jan 31, 2017 our position was 13.15.66N, 59.38.74W.

The anchor is down and we have stopped moving for the first time in 21 days and 9.5 hours. We are anchored outside Port Charles on Barbados. We are not sure what to do with all the silence and stillness.

And wouldn't you know it the first sailboat we saw as we arrived in Port Charles was Canadian flagged no less who was just leaving. When we spoke with them on the VHF, Darryl realized he has actually been in email contact with the captain relating to rigging related questions. Yet another example of what a small world it is!!

Darryl has us all checked in to the country so tomorrow we will all venture off the boat for the first time, how incredible it will feel to have our feet on solid ground again. What an amazing journey it has been! Maple handled the crossing beautifully, big thanks to our auto helm who was a workhorse for the entire time. But most importantly thank you to the crew on Maple who worked tirelessly to bring us all safely across the Atlantic Ocean. I am still in awe that we just crossed an ocean!!!!

The girls wasted no time jumping into the water for a swim and play. Ella who is quite picky about water temperature gave the nod of approval to the temperature here. Jeff and Sandra soon followed them after.

We are all exhausted and looking forward to an uninterrupted night sleep before we sail further down the island to Carlisle Bay!


Love to all from,

Janet for
The Maple Crew

PS: Sorry for the delay in sending this out, but we had a hard time getting the modem to connect.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Atlantic Crossing Day 22 - LAST DAY!

At 1230 UTC on Jan 31, 2017 our position was 13.50.84N, 58.58.99W.

Land has been spotted!!!! Jeff and Sandra were the first to spot land this morning around 1100 UTC. We are now less than 50 miles to the north end of Barbados! We raised the spinnaker again for the first time in a few days to try to gain a couple of knots of speed in hope we can arrive at the customs dock by 1700 local time (2100 UTC) before they close. It will be tight but hopefully we can pull it off.

We will be in touch when we have arrived!


Love to all from,

Janet for
The Maple Crew

Monday, 30 January 2017

Atlantic Crossing Day 21

At 1600 UTC on Jan 30, 2017 our position was 14.46.40N, 57.12.51W.

At 1200 UTC today (Jan 30), we officially completed Day 20 of our Atlantic crossing with just 192 miles to go to reach the north of Barbados! The sight of land is tantalizingly close!!!

We are having one of our best days of sailing today, only had to wait 20 days. We have a full headsail and one reef in the main and are sailing at a beautiful angle with seas that are being relatively kind to us. Maple is loving the ride and handling it all so beautifully after this long journey.

This morning, we discovered our hard working tow generator had lost one propeller blade and the other was broken. I think the plastic blades after 20 days and the big seas we were surfing down the last two days had reached its breaking point, so to speak. Fortunately it came with two spare blades so she is happily back in the water keeping our batteries topped up beautifully in compliment with our solar panels. The only downside is this generator is no longer made so spare parts are no longer available for purchase. So we will have to find an alternative to getting new backup blades made for us. No doubt that will be an adventure in itself when it comes to sourcing boat parts with no fixed address.

The Maple Crew are all doing well!! We have enjoyed the journey but also looking forward to the destination. Perhaps our next update I can say "Land Ho"!!!!


Love to all from,

Janet for
The Maple Crew

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Atlantic Crossing Day 19

At 2200 UTC on Jan 28, 2017 our position was 14.53.31N, 52.21.39W.

We are now 450 miles from our destination and starting to look forward to our arrival!

After 19 days, we were overdue for some high winds and big, confused seas. So they arrived with vengeance today. As Sandra said, this is fine as long as it only lasts a day. So we have put that request in. The main sail made its first appearance after a long rest today and we made good speed all day but in uncomfortable seas. Tonight, the seas have sorted themselves out and we are back enjoying following seas with the head and main sails trimmed wing on wing as best we can manage on a catamaran. Wing on wing is a first for us on Maple thanks to Jeff guiding us through the set up. Now we will all need to be on our toes tonight during our watches to keep the balance right. (And yes, we do have a preventer on the boom for those who know what that means.)

Our latest casualty on board is our external hard drive that did not like being dropped and as such we have lost all our movies and music. Oh well, perhaps it will mean Iris will have to find other things to do. Shockingly Ella and Iris had their best day of playing together for the first time in 6 years they have known each other. Now let's see how long that lasts, I am not holding my breath.

Everyone is still doing well on board! The fresh food is quickly dwindling, we have already had to break out the canned fruit. We have all done an amazing job with meals, loads of variety. Although I am sure Jeff and Sandra are looking forward to a meal that doesn't involve hearing us nag Iris to finish her dinner. She is a master negotiator that one.


Love to all from,

Janet for
The Maple Crew