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St. Barths

We had very happy Easter with family & friends as 4 very excited kids went scampering around a little beach in Deshais, Guadeloupe in search of Easter treats!

We then took our new crew of family Ward in search of volcanoes in Montserrat. Where not 1 but 3 volcanoes awaited us. We pulled up & anchored off Rendesvous bay after a 5 hour sail downwind. A poorly 2 year old didn’t stop family Ward enjoying the first cruise & their eldest Jack (5) fell quickly in with Lily, though they aren’t in love apparently.

A jump in to snorkel and explore the busy reef before sunset was the perfect end to a busy day. Slightly worried Lily would knock off her respiratory drive I had to keep reminding our part mermaid to breath…always useful.

Despite the bank holiday we were stunned to meet the Caribbean’s friendliest port authority & immigration team! Montserrat quite literally rocked.

Levels of organisation were high for team Ward & we’d even pre arranged a island tour with Joe Phillips. A local legend, who is obviously very passionate about his Island & the history of the world renowned volcano that wiped out 2/3 of the island and busy thriving communities during our lifetime. We made a trip into the exclusion zone and now deserted capital city of Plymouth which has been buried under a mountain of ash following successive eruptions over 20+ years. 4 story buildings, hotels, businesses, churches and the capital Plymouth have been engulfed since 1997. A whole golf course, roads and bridges were buried and swept into the ocean in a mudslide in 1997. Parts of the island have been extended hundreds of metres by the flow of material into the sea.

Joe’s before and after shots help set the scene & highlight the devastation & full force of nature. Scientists initially believed the dome formation & collapse cycles which see 2 container loads of lava produced every second would stop after 5 years. 20+ years later none of the criteria for rendering the volcano inactive have been met. The magma chamber is still growing despite no recent dome growth. The observatory was a particularly exciting visit for me. It reminded me that as a teenager I wanted to be a volcanologist! The last major dome callapse and eruption of the cauliflower shaped plumes of pyroclastic flow occurred in 2010. Travelling a 100km/hr the gases, rocks and firey hot debris destroyed everything in their path.

It was a surreal experience and great geography lesson when we could get Harry away from having his nose in his kindle. Pretty tricky to appreciate the sometimes subtle changes to the landscape if you’re a kid. Particularly hunting for glimpses of houses. Jack remained amazingly attentive as-long as he could but for the 2-5 year olds it was a big day!

A beach bar trip was a welcome end to the day before a quick wakeboard to burn off some energy. Just before sunset we decided to make the night sail downwind to St Barths. This approach seemed a lot fairer on the kids, especially as poor Jack was coming down with his brothers bug.

Pulling into Isle de Fortune for breakfast we were pretty happy with our night crossing call & so we’re the kids when they could bomb in for a snorkel with an array of fish, stingray, turtles and a reported nurse shark sighting. Poorly kids had a chilled day & made attempts to bounce back with a lot of hydration & calpol. A good night sleep for all was just what the doctor ordered.

Exploration of St Barths then commenced.

The kids have wandered around the streets of Gustavia with all its finery, they danced on tables over lunch in Nikki’s like any self respecting under 7s and chilled out at Shell beach, which is some feat as it seems to have its own climate 5degrees C above elsewhere on the Island. I may have used 1 of my self allowed 10 alcohol tickets for the year after nearly 3 months off the booze. But the couple of cocktails were worth it with great friends.

Whilst St Barths is mostly in full swing evidence of last year’s devastating hurricane season are still evident in corners of the island. As it is such a wealthy island the bounce back has been quick but a few hotels are yet to reopen & a walk to Toiny beach or Grande Cul de Sac reminds you that a lot of damage was done.

Captain Chris fitted in Hobie cat tours with the full rabble of kids off St Jean beach. Many a screech of delight was had. Wardy met up with “Serial divers” and passed the diving mantle onto Katie & myself promising us sights of spotted eagle rays, sharks and barracudas. We both got our dive back on after many years hiatus. Emmanuel was a fab instructor. An hours dive around the rocks off Gustavia gave us plenty to see and time to get our skills back up. The first of many more dives on this trip I hope.

Wardy had very kindly taken charge of the 4 kids for the morning as Chris was racing in Les Voiles St Barths. Whilst Katie & I did our dive, the kids spotted nurse sharks off the dock, skate boarded and caused mischief. None gave Ward the runaround as much as Theo -captain Chaos himself. My new favourite 2 year old. Wanting to fish gaze a bit more gravity got the better of him & he took a full dive off the dock quickly followed by Ward! Cheers came from the other 3 for great dives! The morning continued in a similar vein with a trip to the race village. The kids returned with dog poop on their flip flops due to some irresponsible dog owner….or was it?! Turns out Theo’s morning was epic! Wardy then continued Hasslehoff style rescue missions most of the afternoon as he dived in for various paraphernalia.

Flamingo float delights, croissants and ice creams sealed off a banging 10 days. The Wards will be well pleased with a shower,beds to themselves and escaping “Frau Brown” and her boat rules!! We’ve loved having you, miss you already & see you in Panama….

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel

The Butterfly

Chris’s parents have been staying with us this week so we’ve been on the move.

Wednesday saw Draper’s on masse check out & head off in a little squall around to Carlisle Bay for the night. A uneventful shake down hour motor to get Sue & Lawrie into the swing. The afternoon had crept up & we decided against arriving in Guadeloupe in the dark.

Last August when we pulled into Carlisle Bay I drank my weight in rose & there wasn’t another boat in sight. This time it’s a hell of a lot cooler & there are over a dozen boats here.

After giving himself a headache free diving to check the anchor Harry, & therefore I bowed out of snorkelling to source potential lobster dinner. We sent the in-laws & Lily with Daddy instead. A lion fish was culled but didn’t make it to the dinner table unfortunately!

Thursday saw us leave Antigua. As I woke us & rolled over I realised that vertigo was back again. I felt like I’d just jumped onto an upside down rollercoaster midride every time I turned to the left in bed! So after 8 months & during a moderate sail the boat was finally christened with vomit – great!!

Following 5 hours of reaching in 20-25knts we reached the chilled shores of Deshaies in Guadeloupe. It’s a small picturesque village not dissimilar from St.Anne in Martinique. It’s also apparently the location that UK programme “Death in Paradise” is filmed too (random fact).

Harry got stuck into sailing his new Rc model boat that was hand crafted by grandpa! Obligatory croissants were loaded & a trip to the botanical gardens was had. A 1km walk up a reasonable hill brought us to the beautifully kept botanical gardens. Touted as the gem of the region by other cruisers, everyone was kept entertained & Harry took up paparazzi duty.

By mid afternoon Friday we were on the move south along the west coast. The main aim was to chop up our trip to Les saintes over the weekend. We overnighted in a deep anchorage just off Rivière Sens beach in Basse Terre. After an unsuccessful Boulangerie trip & a painfully slow jog we were on our way to the Saintes in the morning with Lawrie enjoying some time on the helm.

Les Saintes are a quiet archipelago of islands to the south of Guadeloupe. We’d been told there is plenty of snorkelling & stunning beaches to explore. Our first stop just off Sucre Pain beach was as advised. Probably some of the best snorkelling we’ve had in a long time. As per usual no GoPro battery means I can only offer kids pics of what they saw!

Our morning trip into le Marigot was timed perfectly to get ourselves in the way of a Palm Sunday procession. The small town itself was enchanting with rustic french charm and a gentle buzz.

A short walk takes you across to the Atlantic side with sargassum covered beach of Grand Anse. Great if you want to be pounded by a shore break, otherwise the perfect location to pick up some drift wood or build a den….

Sunday afternoon rolled in & we snorkelled some more spotting an array of Caribbean Sea delights. Even a few bits of live coral would you believe!

Sundowners were rudely interrupted by a leak which occurred as we tried to re-pressurise & clean the water pump strainer. The main risk being electrical wires immediately adjacent to the leak…Some buckets, sponges & problem solving later & we were hopefully sorted.

Chris & I started the week off with a short run up to Napoleon fort. Fairly appropriate for a short couple! Stunning vistas rewarded even those who walked up the hill (ahem!) but sadly these pics will stay in my mind & weren’t caught on film.

We had a quick dip to rinse off whilst trying to avoid Barry the barracuda who was lurking beneath the boat. I shot out the water when I felt a fish brush my leg. Half an hour later I realised the hungry fish was highly likely to be my last pair of sunnies that were perched on my head when I jumped in…guess those frown lines will be getting deeper!

Despite Lily’s protests of “changing spots all the time” we soon cast off & began the 5 hour beat towards Marie Galant in champagne sailing conditions.

Anchoring up in St.Louis, Marie Galante we realised that whilst the town had the appearance of infrastructure & amenities including numerous car hire places, coffee shops etc. the town was sleepy or shut, presumably as it was Monday on a French island, but we did find a sleepy beach bar, so the others had rum was before sunset. Tuesday rolled round & the sleepy town never awoke. We did manage to call someone to loan us a car.

We visited 2 historic sites of sugar plantation attempted to explain the history behind sugar plantations & the concept of slavery to the bemused kids. Sugar cane & cattle were aplenty in Marie Galante.

The other small towns we came across were equally empty but with evidence of restaurants, bus routes, mechanics, a hospital, a hospitality college & even a stadium. To be honest it freaked me out slightly…maybe they heard we were coming or it was a week long enforced holiday. I’m guessing a faltering economy & lack of visitors is the real cause. Amongst closed businesses we did stumble across a beaut of a beach bar a plage fleuirrile. Sadly we missed the distillery trip though as it is only a morning affair 9-1pm only…since I’ve been pretty much dry since January I forget that rum in the morning is utterly acceptable here in the Caribbean.

Moving north up the intermittently rugged coast we were treated to the empty beaches of …,.and vieux fort. We anchored for another eve in an unspoilt bay. This ship was heading north in search of surf for the morning….

The trades seemed to have vanished this week & light airs on the nose meant the donkey was on. However, soon a white plume told us all was not well. A broken impeller was located & replaced. It looked like it had been in there a while…slightly odd as we’d just had an engine service & had thought they’d been replaced. Anyway it didn’t hold us up too much. A touch of wind filled in, we even flew the gennaker a few times as our heading eased off.

5 hours into the sail Harry took it upon himself to do a small piece of writing on dolphins, totally unprompted. Nearly as soon as he finished he seemed to get his reward. In a spooky turn of events a pod of dolphins was soon frolicking in our bow wave. Harry tells me Poseidon sent them…

We arrived in Port Louis on the Eastern inner corner of the “butterfly” just in time for Chris to get in the much anticipated surf! Not as big as when we were there at the start of the month but fun all the same. Another bonus of the otherwise empty anchorage was meeting a great kid boat “Little Wing”. The play dates with Seb & August we’re short but sweet & hopefully will keep the kids satiated until the weekend.

Family beach and surf time took up the rest our time in Port Louis and Sue & Lawrie squeezed a walk and explore in. We complete our speedy circumnavigation of Guadeloupe today as we head back to Deshais.

After a great week we’re having a glamour sail in 14-16knts with the purple beast unfurled in 120-40 TWA. A quick few gybes at the north west tip of Guadeloupe and into Deshais we go. We have a crew exchange on Saturday. Sue & Lawrie are off exploring & the family Ward are on for a trip to St. Barths!

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel

Spicy Ting!

Well the kids have thrown us back into life in Antigua. We’ve had sailing lessons, been skirfing, met new friends, old friends and had a cheeky trip round a superyacht and gatecrashed a few swimming pools. Lily has charmed all the locals around Falmouth harbour & has a new nickname of “Spicy Ting”. It suits the little diva to T…

We haven’t moved anchor in weeks as Chris has been away, but one really good thing about Antigua is slew of families in similar positions. We met some great kids & Mums based here for the season and have been busy!

Morag, an old colleague from Dorchester Physio days came to visit with her gorgeous 4 yr old James. They are exploring the Caribbean for 3 months before James starts school and despite a stroppy Harry for day 1, it was soo good to have them stay. Morag is someone who is the opitimy of the phrase “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”. She’s out here living life & making memories, whether it’s the path you choose or not you have to embrace it.

Having chatted until 2 in the morning catching up on the last 10 years, we headed to beach boot camp at Pigeon beach for a wake up. Lily then inducted James in the best spots to jump off the boat from. Despite continuing minging swell on anchor, James was right into boatlife.

English harbour & Nelsons dockyard were day 1’s exploration. Using ice creams to bribe a few walks we took in the sights. We then narrowly avoided wrestling tarpon to retrieve a precious toy car from Falmouth harbour, all in some vain attempt to placate a fractious 7 year old….arghhhhh.

Stingray city was an epic trip out & far more successful than Chris’s encounter in Melbourne when he trod on one at the moth worlds in 2015 & got the barb through his leg…. We sensibly performed the stingray shuffle, fed them when prodded by them & snorkelled around with them on a deserted patch of sand on the east coast. Lily wasn’t so keen on one mounting her face, but Harry & James thought they were cool.

Half moon bay was a pretty captivating spot for Friday. We slathered ourselves in mud at the far end of the beach & emerged silky smooth. The furthest end gave the greatest shelter from the current swell. We snorkelled around and James was thrilled with any fish we saw. On our way back to the boat we took a trip to the donkey sanctuary, which also houses cats & dogs. It was a young kids delight & we escaped without any extra pets and all toes in tact.

All 4 year olds need the chance to skirf right…?! That’s what Saturday brought, served up after turtle sightings off the stern of the boat. Otto the octopus was the best sight of our snorkel as he sloped off then propelled between rocks completely in camo.

Treating Morag to a total experience wouldn’t have been complete without a (Not quite) Broadway trip. On Saturday night we saw the local school (Island Academy) production of the Lion King- Lily never wanted it to end & the kids put on a great performance. Admittedly James was a little confused about where the Lions were.

Even in our not so busy lives on Fille de Joie we can manage even lazier Sunday mornings! Before the day ran away we got off to Nonsuch resort with the aim of taking a water taxi to Green Island. However, once we arrived bellies were hungry, the surroundings were picturesque & lunch was on offer after a kamikaze kayak with 3 kids. The kids expended some energy disturbing the pool peace with bombing, diving & jumping. We rushed back to English harbour to make sundowners with Chris’s parents who’d been settling into Antigua over the previous few days.

The view from Shirley heights is renowned & it didn’t disappoint, though on a Sunday you do have a few hundred other people to contend with, unlike the rest of the week. I love a steel pan band & it will always remind me of the kids time at Somersfield academy in Bermuda, no visit to Antigua is complete without taking in this night. A night cap was then had in Cloggy’s. Some top parenting ensued as Lily and James (or “Limes” as Harry insists on) fell asleep on a very comfy sofa right in front of the DJ. I had my first drink in nearly 3 months then we wrestled sleeping babies into the tender & home.

Suddenly Morag’s last day was upon us so after numerous frustrating attempts to swim with the turtles that were only 20ft from the boat, we had a chilled few hours & took in the Colonial views of English harbour from “Boom”.

10 years is a long time and there was trepidation on both parts about the visit, but it was awesome to have Morag & the fab James on the boat. Raising him on your own can be no easy feat, he is a credit to you & Paul. What a fantastic trip he’s having with his Mummy. We hope you enjoyed playing tourists as much as we did. Next time we might even move the boat! Safe travels to St.Lucia & maybe we’ll see you in Guadeloupe with our friends on Marie des Isles.

We swapped Morag for Chris who arrived home from Oman just in time for chilled 40th birthday celebrations with family, some local and some old friends!

Today it’s Election Day in Antigua, we’re clearing out, taking Sue & Lawrie to Guadeloupe before we head off to St.Barth’s for La Voile. We’ll miss our friends here & boot camp but time to get sailing.

Misadventures:

– Harry took his first accidental swim from the tender….”It’s not funny Mummy”.

– Non 4×4 hire car did not appreciate the unpaved roads & we may have got stuck once or twice.

– Toilet parts have not yet arrived! Pooooo eeyyyy.

– The generator needed jump starting & thankfully Pierina were on hand to help the first time and I didn’t electrocute myself after that.

– Watermaker was playing up, but changing both filters & putting some serious hours in & we’re back off rations.

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Antigua bound again

In preparation for Chris coming back after 2weeks away, Tom & I moved the good ship north to Rodney Bay from Marigot bay St.Lucia. The captain returned for a surf just off Pigeon Island while the kids & I did a small hike around the historical fort.

We then left St.Lucia behind and skipped 4 hours north across to Martinique for the night. This gave us an opportunity to stock up on our favourite French treats and hook up with Party of 5 and Nomadica. We wish Cheryl & Morgan all love on the arrival of their baby boy Gael Kai!!

A shitty problem delayed departure. We tried to source a part for our French cat in the French marina surrounded by a whole lot of other French cats. It wasn’t to be, but the loo needs fixing before we stink out next months guests, including Chris’s parents…

In a very cruisy 12-18knts and moderate sea we set off round the south east tip & north up the windward side of Martinique dodging lobster pots as we went. Beating up past Dominica we had to motor some of the way, but we did make 181nm in a little over 25hrs & got the chute up for the last hour and a half as our angle into port freed off. Would you believe we even caught a few fish!! But the Barry barracudas lived to swim another day as we aren’t keen to risk ciguatera.

We headed @ to Port Louis in Guadeloupe. It’s a slow fishing village with a long boardwalk perfectly poised on the beach to see the sand bottomed right hand point breaks which littered the coast. Surfers heaven! A place we’d stay for a month if we had the chance. We squeezed in a run, dawn surf and showers before heading out to Antigua. Chris had a evening flight to catch…

Another glamour sail, we reached across with gennaker in 10-18knts which felt like my idea of proper cruising! Falmouth harbour awaited us & the kids were fizzing to see friends from our hurricane camp and get their fish on!

Harry was over the moon to see his friends after 6 months anticipating his return here. He was rewarded by talking Ollie into taking him dirt biking followed by the best food we’ve eaten in 6 months.

Lily was equally thrilled to see her buddy Cade after a few years, & I his gorgeous Mum. Not forgetting cruising friends on Pierina who we outsourced maths homework to & generally keep mini- Draper’s highly entertained.

Having never visited Antigua in season, it’s a little bit of a culture shock & this is apparently a slow week….But it’s so good to be back here & I can’t tell you how good it is to see familiar faces. Despite a few rolly nights on anchor with an odd westerly, we’re hoping we’ll avoid a hurricane this time.

After a fantastic 10 days Tom headed back to the UK. So now we are 3 again. If you are @ in Antigua we’d love to catch up. For now I’m hoping I might swing a ride for race week somehow or other!

Misadventure:

-Someone pee’d the bed which meant full clean & dry of the 2 mattresses on the bed. Whilst re-anchoring 1 mattress flew off resulting in impromptu man-overboard practice…

-Is sharpening pencils some weird skill reserved for 5 yr olds??!

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel

St. Lucia flying solo

DSC_1885Been swinging around on a ball this past few weeks in St. Lucia and not sailing! It was blowing the dogs off chains for the majority of the time which scuppered plans to head to Martinique.

This blow did mean we had extra time to catch up with friends from Essex. A bumpy trip around to Rodney bay didn’t disappoint & the kids had a blast together at the water park and at our friend’s hotel. So lovely to catch up with the Pittuck’s.

Chris headed off to Florida on last week for a few sailing events to earn some pennies so he can keep cruising with his cocked crew of professionals onboard Fille de Joie! Sure he’s particularly missing the kids hanging on his every decision making word…

Having had 7 months to be ill I waited til the day he left to take myself down with some lurgy. The mothership was down for a few days. Harry up-skilled in his lunch prep & Mum care whilst our friends on party of 5 were luckily close by to help pick up the pieces and sorted me out with chicken soup! Even the local boat boys were concerned someone might have died apparently….bouncing back now fortunately.

Marigot Bay ,where we are based, is a picturesque transient spot for cruisers. Lots of charters hang out for a day or 2 and there’s a big through put. At the Capella resort there’s also a decent likelihood of the kids picking up friends around the pool. They’re becoming pros at introducing themselves to any kid and generally harrasing holidaymakers . Thinking I should take a few notes!

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As far as flying solo in a random Caribbean island goes this isn’t a bad spot. Whilst now on our own we’re in a spot really close to other boats which gives some added security. Obviously fog horn & radio are at the ready should we have any issues overnight.

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We did meet a bone fide UK primary school headmistress last week. Because we’re out on the road we don’t often meet people who think our lifestyle is a really crap idea…until now. She rattled me & all my initial insecurities about the kids bubbled to the surface. She was a older lady with a mildly scary demeanour. Her point of view didn’t seem to take into consideration what the kids might experience & learn experientially or socially, more the importance of the facts they should retain (timestables) and that Harry should be reading a greater breadth of genres (he’s read 5 novels this month). Her concerns were that the kids will be behind in the UK and not catch up. I have this fear too. In fact I have a recurring nightmare of facing a social services panel to explain myself. But you know what I’m done with it and I’m backing myself here, the kids are gaining.img_6135

I do remember a wonderful friend in Bermuda telling me that the kids would adapt to what we’re doing but that it doesn’t make it any less selfish. She is right. This is Chris & my dream, the kids are dragged along for the ride. Whilst I feel their are huge positives for them, the duration of our adventures will be a careful weighing up of benefit and opportunities for them against what they potentially miss out on. When we feel the scale has tipped, we’ll hot foot back into the mainstream somewhere (preferably with some sun).

But…. I wouldn’t take any of it back for a second. We’ve stepped outside the box. Whilst that means there will be compromises down the line I believe in our kids and I believe in this trip. If they don’t fit the right mould and find another path to pursue in the future with passion and kindness I will be super proud. Now fly off back to school headmistress and don’t scare any NQTs.

In other news we got out and explored the island with a great bunch of cruisers. Our friends on “See ya” were 2 of the kindest people you could ever meet. A Political asylum seeker originally from South Africa, Phil is a pretty interesting character with a heart of gold. I’m looking forward to reading his book “Asylum” which charts his story.

Our tour saw us take in the breath-taking lush rainforests, waterfalls and steep hillsides of this tear drop shaped volcanic island. We headed along the rugged coastline to the “Pitons” which are two ancient lava domes belonging to the Soufriere’s volcano. You can actually drive into the crater of the volcano. As you can imagine the sulphur springs and their bubbling pools smell delightful. Lily and I had a great time attempting to gain the elixir of youth from the mud baths. The Hazman obviously didn’t want to get dirty and was beginning to get my lurgy so didn’t join in the fun! We finished up our day poised on a cliff top at Dennery having sundowners before heading back to Marigot Bay.

Yesterday huge excitement ensued as our first official visitor arrived in the form of Tom, an actual adult with some chat. “Saunty” is Chris’s old 49er coach who has come to hang out for 10 days. Its 20 years since he sailed into the Caribbean with another friend Ollie Nuttall. It’s a renowned voyage in a 26ft monohull that was probably the original catalyst for our trip. Hopefully we might be able to find him some waves. Evidently he’s shy though…

Chris arrives back tomorrow and our plan is to finally make it back to Antigua for the 2nd March. A lot of north in the wind might make it a bit of a slog but all good to be on the move again.

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Back to the voyage

After a fantastic month in Steamboat Springs, Colorado indulging in powder days and a lot of family skiing we are back home & it feels good.

Having arrived back to the boat in Grenada Marine on Wednesday night we had a busy Thursday fixing, polishing, cleaning and getting the boat into the water. It’s testament to Will and this friendly, professional & reasonably priced yard, that we could rock up and haul in within 24hrs. Oh & they had paper straws in the bar-winning against plastic (www.aarvarkstraws.com).

We were also blessed that a boat family we’d met before was there fitting our their new boat. After a month with little kid contact (or kids that weren’t in need of new friends) Harry was in his element exploring the yard, the woods and kayaking with Teddy. We also stumbled across the O’Donnell’s with their 2 girls that were bundles of energy just like Lily. A beautiful welcome back to boat-life and we even got a brekkie package from the gorgeous Philippa & Ben!

We then left port on a Friday….not the done thing. Urban legends dictate that this is 100% a bad idea. We’d been backed into a marginal weather window! Chris’s flight to an event was brought forward 24hrs & the weather between now & the 13th looks utterly poop. Sometimes you just have to go…

Our intention was to make it the 13hrs odd to Bequia. But as we headed along we realised we’d be better off pulling an all nighter to St.Lucia rather than risk the worse weather later in the weekend.

Truth be told it totally sucked at times. Still not the southern ocean or racing to NZ in the Volvo, but in family cruising terms it got a tad fresh heading upwind. I emerged semi-naked as we got a hit by one squall & a few expletives were exchanged as we hoved to in 35knts & I froze my butt off. Soon after realising the radar was in fact reliable we did the sensible thing yanked the main down & motored upwind in a rough sea through a few more squalls…limited fun & always feels worse in the dark.

On the upside Harry snuck up on deck at one point (not permitted on a night sail) but he was concerned who would save me if I fell in…his sweet side coming out. He was pretty excited early in the passage that we’d finally caught a whopper fish. Sadly the whopper nearly stopped the boat, pulled his mammoth hook straight & left us for dust. The freezer is still empty.

Chris put in a trojan last shift to complete the 125nm into Marigot Bay, St.Lucia early this morning! The benefit of this place is that if you take a ball at Capella marina you can use the resort facilities-bonus. Today is definitely a lie by the pool kind of day.

We think our friends from Party of 5 just arrived….

We’re also looking forward to meeting up with fellow Essex girl (Charlotte) and family later this weekend. Then we head off to Martinique for a 40th birthday weather permitted. Quite the social we’re on.

This month a few visitors do start arriving, which is going to be great as Chris has a lot of time away sailing. But if anyone can teach, likes kids and wants to come visit the Caribbean in May then get in touch- I have a 5 week stretch solo!!!!

Chris Draper · Cruising with kids · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

The Honest One

So we aren’t sailing this week. We are missing our lovely boat though and we’ve been reflecting on the last 6 months of awesomeness. We are beyond lucky to have spent so much time together. Living the dream hasn’t been without its challenges and I’ve deliberated whether to write about the biggest one but here it is in all its honesty….!

The biggest challenge has been adjusting to our new roles…. I guess on land I was used to running the show while Chris put in big hours with the team on the AC campaign. I’d be doing the usual parenting thing like millions of other people – juggling and yes it was a whole lot less than others but it was juggling for me. Truth is I was super lucky and had a sweet life.

I took up running to fulfil a few of my own goals while Chris spearheaded his. I trained before Chris left the house, there was the 50 minute school run which was impressive on a tiny Island. I had a part time Physio job at an awesome clinic. I ran the over-scheduled kids all over the place to all manner of after school activities (ballet, sailing, CrossFit kids, swimming, Lego club, Aerial skills etc etc) and we had play dates and birthday parties in some stunning corners of Bermuda. I’d then fit in attempts at nourishing the kids souls with something they would eat (Ok that’s mostly anything white for Harry). I’d try in vain to get them to bed at a decent hour and yep I made attempts at studying on top of that.

Life was bursting full and super busy, just the way I like it. It was pretty much a challenge to get to the end of the day in one piece & I was always the hot mess at the school gates. What do they say…it takes a village.

Rocking on our own meant that if we wanted to spontaneously change our plans then we did (or I did on the kids behalf). We lived in frigging paradise with a whole posse of amazing families and badass women from the AC, from Bermuda, from school, work and with legendary neighbours round the corner! If we were super lucky we even got to see Chris!

Fast forward 6 months and suddenly there was no schedule. I hadn’t set myself some crazy arsed goal to achieve and we were all together 24/7, also the tribe of badass friends were gone! There was a new captain quite literally aboard the ship and he even wanted to have input on the food shop….

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The struggle of living aboard a stunning 40ft catamaran in the Caribbean was real!! Joking aside, it has been an adjustment. We both wanted to be 100% involved in the boat and not just the sailing. Obviously one of us may be SLIGHTLY more experienced than the other at racing boats, but I’m fairly sure there wasn’t an engine or water maker or an electric toilet on the AC50…

When we moved onboard I was fairly vocal (no surprises there) that we should do 1 for 1 of docking, anchoring, nav etc. We both had to learn new skills & I was adamant I didn’t want to be left behind. Chris wanted us both to get good at our own roles & in reality I know he wanted to feel 100% confident & in control of our life’s investment. So we had a stale-mate for a while & then I backed down and we fell into roles. Similar things happened with maintenance. I’m as happy to decipher a manual as well as the next cruiser. Funnily enough my vagina does not prevent me from processing the written word & getting stuck into problem solving. The two little people, however, have other ideas!!

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In reality for two of us to work on boat maintenance or sorting a water maker or whatever issue has arisen means that the kids are being left to their own devices & generally causing havoc. It doesn’t work. The goal driven girl in me, that is desperate to achieve something or learn struggles with this…

As frustrating as I’ve found it to admit I am slightly better equipped in the patience department for dealing with the kids and letting Chris deal with a boat issue without the distraction of the kids and obviously making sure everyone is appropriately fed and watered.

As for boat-schooling. I feel it is super important that our children get an influence from both of us on the education front. Inevitably if stuff is being fixed and there is always boat-work to be done, then school generally falls to me. In reality whilst it is a massive challenge, it is pretty rewarding to help your kids to learn, even if they are writing stories about poo! What an amazing opportunity to get….Because it’s me, my main fear is that I’ll fail at it and the kids will be the ones that pay the price! If Lily rocks back into school one day unable to read, that will be on me- yikes!

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Time to have a shift of mindset! We are a team in life and on this boat of ours. The adventure and journey itself are the goal Chris & I dreamed of. If that means I have to be put back in my box every so often, jog on & do the domesticity bit while Chris fixes stuff- so be it. From speaking to other cruisers this adjustment is most definitely not unique to our boat or life. Whatever the hell works for you on your boat and in your life is a-ok.

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Let’s face it when Chris is flying off to sailing events next year I better be able to put my money where my mouth is, step up & own the other half of the roles too….ummmmm.