Monday, April 25, 2011

A Schcolnik Visit

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten - A quick message (at an internet cafe... with everyone waiting for me to go eat lunch on the boat) to let people know we have arrived in Saint Martin, the place from where Sebastian will launch his Atlantic crossing and where I will stay with the kids for the month of May prior to meeitng up with Sebastian in Lisbon once he arrives there by boat.  Beautiful place - will write more later.... for now wanted to share some pictures of the visit we had from the Schcolniks - Sebastian's cousin Enrique, wife Jane and kids... we hope you enjoy the pics as much as we enjoyed actually living it!  It was great to have people aboard to share our experience with us.  We are very thankful to them for making the effort and hope they had as good a trip as ours.

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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Back in the US!

Is it a girl or a fish??
Mastering Kayaking
Getting comfortable in the water
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – Here we are again in Charlotte Amalie parked at a marina awaiting the arrival of Sebastian’s cousin, Enrique and his family.  They are arriving tonight and we have spent the day in the boat cleaning and getting prepared.  It poured rain so it was the perfect day to be cleaning.
We have been lax in our internet postings due to no frequent internet connection, so I want to apologize.  Now, you’re getting two blog updates somewhat in a row.
The last week or so we have been in and out of the US and British Virgin Islands.  Everything is so close, it is very easy to island hop every day, so we have found ourselves waking up every morning in a new – and beautiful – anchorage.  Specifically for those who are interested, the places we visited, Jost Van Dyke (and the famous Foxy’s Bar), Marina Cay, the Baths in Virgin Gorda, Great Harbor (Peter Island), Norman Island (where we snorkel at the Indians and visited the Caves), Sloper’s Hole on Tortola – all in the BVIs and then Francis Bay, Christmas Cove on St. James Island in the US territories.  This is absolute paradise… although we still think the Bahamas beaches are the most pristine we’ve seen thus far.
We are looking forward to the next phase of the trip:  Sebastian’s Atlantic Crossing and my stay in St. Martin while he’s crossing.  It will be nice to have a change of pace and lifestyle and accomplish two of our goals:  Sebas crossing the Atlantic, of course, and my learning French.  The idea, as I have mentioned to many of you is to rent an apartment and also enroll the children in school so they can build on the foundations they have learned in French, but most importantly so they can hang out with kids their own age and have a bit of a school routine.  Thanks to my Dad who researched all the schools there and thanks to Gabriela who called the schools to find out if this proposition was even feasible for our family. The public schools in St. Martin were not the least bit interested in having my kids for 4-6 weeks at the tail end of the school year, but the private schools we called were.
We said “au revoir” to our French Canadian friends on “RomantaSea,” who are ultimately heading toward Grenada.  I can’t believe we were sailing together for 2 months straight!  What a fun time… and we hope to see them again somewhere in the Caribbean and perhaps back in Treasure Key, Bahamas where they live. “A bientot!”
The kids are thriving every day.  Yes, I must admit that some days the boat seems really small and we are on top of each other, but in general our trip is positive and the kids are growing in leaps and bounds.  Both kids are feeling more and more comfortable in the water.  Of course, since our last blog where I mentioned we had to convince Benjie to get his face wet and run some practice drills off the bow of the boat, he now cannot be stopped and wants to jump in all the time from everywhere.  Not only that, George, from “RomantaSea” taught him how to snorkel, so we can now finally go all together as a family.  Who knows why that is, that children always seem to learn better from others?  Thanks, George!
Both kids will soon replace me as “First Mate” (oh, darn!) as they learn to pull the ropes, tweak the sails and are eager to help when the Captain requests it.  They know when we approach land in the dinghy to grab the rope/”line”, jump off and reel us in…. they know once we have a couple of raindrops to run around the boat closing the hatches.  Both kids are even working on driving the dinghy… we start the motor for them and then they can drive on their own, with us in with them, of course… They can do it better than me, for sure.
Benjie also has become our official “Flag Boy.”  Whenever we see a boat with a flag from a different country (as every boat has a few flags:  a courtesy flag of the country you are visiting, a flag of the country where the boat is registered, and then perhaps a flag indicating where the crew is from), he runs to get the flag book to look up and inform us what country the flag comes from.  Begonia, for example, has a US flag for where we have her registered, but also an Argentian one for the Captain… and we actually have met a few people because of it). 
Sofia is our “Word Girl,” running to look up a word we all might not know… and she delights in being the one to be the first to know the definition.  As far as homeschooling, I have simplified as much as possible to make it more pleasurable.  It is better for both of us and she is doing very well.  She is also still very into fairies and we try to catch them every chance we get!  Each failure to catch one motivates Sofia to tweak her design and add new features to her fairy houses so that “next time she can catch one.”
Meanwhile, we continue to meet other kids once in a while and when we do, we make sure we stay so the kids can get a real good dose of playing.
So… not much more to tell… we will probably stay in the same general area and not venture too far, perhaps repeating some things we’ve seen, since we don’t have a lot of time with Sebastian’s cousin.
NEXT STOP:  St. Martin
Snorkeling is my thing!!
Visiting a lighthouse with our friend Joanne
Celebrating Katie's birthday in Honeymoon Beach
Begonia's crew
Argentinian Restorante in the Caribbean

Everybody getting more comfortable

Caves in BVI

Where is it?

Begonia's crew underwater
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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

From Culebra to St. Thomas

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands – The invitation read “Please Come and Celebrate Katy’s Birthday this Sunday – Honeymoon Bay, St. Thomas.”  The problem was… we were in Culebra, Puerto Rico! But that’s the benefit of living on a sailboat, your home and main means of transportation and having the flexibility to have fun events like this determine your next port of call!  We made it to Honeymoon Bay in time to give Katy a nice cake (I am getting better at baking on Begonia) and to shake our bones a little on the dance floor.  The “place” was literally a cart on wheels with someone selling (tons of) alcoholic beverages… and the “dance floor” was a little space someone designated on the sandy beach, with a guy in the back with a guitar playing Jimmy Buffet covers.  Honeymoon Bay is a haven for many children of the sixties and seventies who came here to St. Thomas when it still was a “virgin” island and they have not left since. Notes of patchouli were in the air.  (Not that there's anything wrong with patchouli.... I'm just trying to give you accurate imagery).
Since then we have visited Charlotte Amalie, the capital city, where I am writing from now.  This is a very different scene… lots of cruise ships and pleasure yachts.  Notes of Gucci, Versace, Louis Vitton in the air!
Back in Culebra we met two other families with lots of kids.  Needless to say our little ones were very happy to commiserate with others on their “same boat.” We ended up spending more time there than expected due to this reason.  Sofia and Benjie are getting a little tired of having just each other…. The little tiffs between them are getting a little more frequent and Sofia now has decided she “wants her own room.”
We have spent the last couple of days running “drills” for the children on the boat.  In the event they were to fall in the water we want them to know exactly what to do:  what does it feel like to fall in from the bow of Begonia (5 feet high), and if we’re at anchor, we discussed remaining calm and swimming to the bridle and/or anchor lines.  If we are running, we discussed remaining calm and floating on their back until we can come back and pick them up.  I was glad we did this…. Since if you can believe we’ve already been at sea 3 months and this is the first time.  Sofia feels very comfortable in the water and her personality is adventurous.  Benjie is more cautious and never liked getting water in his face.  You can imagine how difficult it was to convince him to jump – just once – off the bow to practice the drill.  And that was with me standing next to him and Sebastian in the water waiting for him. Now… the little guy is a fishie… once he jumped once, he could not stop… and now wants to do it every day.
We have met back up with our friends Joanne and George from RomantaSea and are travelling with them today.
Charlotte Amalie has been nice for a different scene than what we have been used to these past few months.  The city itself is very “Caribbean.”  You can imagine the pirates hanging out in the alleys of the town, which are now lines with jewelry store after jewelry store.  The people are extremely friendly.  The highlight was visiting the Jewish synagogue which is the oldest on the Western Hemisphere.  A two-day respite – but it’s time to move on.
NEXT STOP:  Christmas Cove, St. James Island, St. Thomas, USVI
Get the play on words?

The t-shirt was a creation of our dear friends "Los To"

Hats are a must... the sun is getting stronger the further south we go!

I thought the sign on this cart was hilarious.... every time we passed it, it was closed!

Here's Katy and a friend celebrating their birthdays in Christmas Cove.

Charlotte Amalie harbor

No one can stop him now!

Sofia, always the adventurous one, takes a dive....

Now getting fancy... jumping with Papa!

Good guard dog... makes us miss Martita

Big cruise ships, Charlotte Amalie

Street scenes of Charlotte Amalie

Sofia's rendition of the trip so far.... that's her a Benj snorkeling
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FOUNTAINE PAJOT ATHENA 38 CATAMARAN FOR SALE – After our wonderful experience, BEGONIA is ready for its next sailing family – with or without children!  Please contact for more information.