Saturday, December 25, 2010

What do you do on Christmas day?

Waking up with the sun is the norm when you live on a boat, and so is going to sleep early. But this morning was different, not because we got up late, but because it was Christmas Day.

The day before we were playing with sails, raised the main sail again... practice makes perfect and the sail drop was a thing of beauty, no hangups and the whole family working like a well oiled machine.

Christmas Eve morning was also very beautiful... still as a lake and the mega yachts that had bumped us from our prized dock looking... well, Mega!

But this morning was normal in many ways, Doreen checking email with her first cup of coffee, the kids whipping up breakfast, but today there was more... prezies. Christmas on a boat is just as festive, but in much smaller ways. No tree but we have some decorations, presents are small too and more personal... apart from the money from family overseas, which is smart considering the cost of shipping.

What to do on Christmas Day?... easy, go to the beach. The wind blowing from the North East means that our favorite beach is off limits. You need to go by dingy and the swells make it impossible unless we get a west wind.

We checked out the beach across the road from Coupecoy... big swells had taken over, and the only choice was to hike a mile or so to Mullet Beach where the waves would be safer.

The crew surveying the situation.

Isabel taking the plunge.

Where'd the boys go?

We had so much fun getting thrown around by the waves and even Isabel made some bold moves. But, the price to pay for such frolicking with the beach is several pounds of sand stuck in your bathing suit.

Hiking back to the boat was really nice as the warm sun began it's dive back to the horizon. Fortunately, being in a swanky marina means a huge swimming pool to rinse out the sand and have even more fun.

Now... what about Christmas dinner?... We'll, our friend "Guy" was out fishing the day before and dropped off some fresh Mahi Mahi and Wahoo steaks, and we had just picked up some whole squid on the French side of the island "the legs for fishing and the bodies for grilling" so it's going to be a seafood Christmas on Odessa.

Merry Christmas everyone, we hope you have your own amazing day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shower Power, there's no room for modesty on a boat.

When we first lived full time on Odessa we had to take showers in the cockpit on the back of the boat with a garden hose. At first it was lots of fun, and even kinda cool. But, after six months it seemed to lose it’s luster. On sunny days it was nice, looking down at the fish swimming around the boat in crystal clear water. But on windy days it can be cold, and forget rainy days, way to cold. I remember there were times when it would rain for a week or more and the kids would not go out and spray themselves down with the cold hose. Three teens with out showers for more then a week, stuck on a boat with the hatches closed... not nice. Allan says we should just strip down and use the rain water and a bar of soap. But, that's men for ya and not feasible when you share a dock with others.

Showering outside does have it’s up side. On hot days it’s refreshing and it feels good to have a light breeze on your hot skin. The sunset and star filled skies at night can be so pleasing to the eye and soul, and getting clean in the open skies gives you that, "Cleanliness is close to Godliness feeling". 

When we went to Paris we had a “fancy-smancy” shower with “rain shower” heads and all the hot water you could wish for. It was very modern and looked like it came from the pages of a luxury home decor magazine. But, the picky seamen that we are, we missed the sun set and the starry night showers and couldn't wait to get back to them.
Now we're docked in a very luxurious, swanky dock were we cannot uses our outdoor on-deck shower. We must use the pool to get wet and then come into the boat and wash our hair and body in the galley sink. Shaving for girls and boys was a challenge but a small bowl is working just fine for now. 

I think in the near future I will be telling you how showering in the rain is working out and what type of soap works best. We can’t wait to be anchored off some quite beach with only the moonlight gazing at our nudeness as we bare all in the pursuit of cleanliness.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What is a home anyway?

Now that we're closer to our sailing goals, it's time to focus on living. Why did we embark on this adventure in the first place?, Are we making progress?, Have we learnt anything? These are the questions that roll around in my head when I find myself completely relaxed, usually gazing out over the lagoon with a fresh cup of coffee in hand or watching the kids set out on a new adventure.

These questions are often followed by, Are we going to make it?, Are we doing the right thing for the children?, What happens if we fall short? I think that these questions dominate our lives now because we're so much happier and healthier living on Odessa. When we lived in the rat race we were so busy trying to survive every day or caught up in the things we thought were important, that we didn't have time to even think about such fundamental concepts or even each other.

The answers are elusive and the questions serve to keep us on our toes, To be honest, I long for the day when we can be completely content, in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. That day may never come and I think that these questions are part of what makes us human, but for now we'll rely on faith... faith in ourselves and our ability to figure everything out.

I once read in an airline magazine, that as a husband and father you need only to provide three basics for your family, a roof over your head, food on the table, and an education. Once you are able to achieve these three fundamentals, everything else will fall into place. The article was about peoples inability to follow their dreams because of the brainwashing we all receive from birth. From the influence of our parents fears and insecurities, to modern societies need to keep people in the system earning a wage, buying goods and paying taxes. The cumulative effect is that we've become afraid to step into the unknown, even though we know that there is a good chance that we'd be happier humans living our dreams. But, unfortunately 99% of people stay in the routine defined for them by the series of events that are their everyday lives.

I'll be honest... the trip I was making was to inspect and hopefully buy Odessa and I still had a lot of doubt in my mind about "my" big adventure. The question that haunted me was, Am I doing the right thing for my family? The article simplified things for me and defined the "right thing" as being the three fundamentals, and this did make it easier to say "sold" when the time came.

One year later and I still agree with the author... all you need is a roof over your head, food on the table and an education. All of the other things, the conveniences, happiness and even health seem to fall into place naturally. Once you're disconnected from "society" and it's trappings or dabble in multiple societies, you find a way to maintain only the important additions to the three fundamentals... you find yourself happy, with a real home and far fewer trappings to worry about.

Now this doesn't require a boat, it could be a small holding in some far off land, even a camper in Alaska, and the three fundamentals cannot be considered geographical elements.  But it does require physically being outside the geographical boundaries of modern civilization. Space is at premium in the cosmopolitan cities of our modern world and therefor control is at it's highest. I can feel the changes taking place every time I'm in a major city, the draw of modern life, the influence of the trappings and the need to escape them before they lead me off the path and into the forrest.

This has been a long and necessary way of setting up this post. Because now that we have left the underworld of the boat yard, and accepted the graces of the modern society that we're trying to avoid. This epitome of social standing called Puerto Cupecoy is our new home, for now. Sure it's a pretty world, full of nice things, conveniences and the promise of a wonderful life, so the brochure says. However, we were lured here for very different reasons, cheap dockage, the need for water and electricity, the room to work on our sails and because there are very few places that we can go with our 8' 6" draft (depth of keel), and most of them are several thousand dollars a month. In other words we had no choice and accepted the offer of an introductory $450 per month dock fee with relief.

Even though there are no guarantees of this dock fee not increasing over time, we have already made plans to escape this trap as soon as possible. It took only two weeks for that feeling of stepping off the path to creep into our lives. Firstly, no internet, no showers, and the worrying part is that there is no motivation to solve these two fundamental insufficiencies, "mega yachts have their own internet and showers" is the response from the resort. This has been closely followed by apparent condo owner complaints about our having a couple of sail bags and lines on the gargantuan mega yacht dock where we are tied up, despite having permission to do so from the dock master. Even thought every condo on our side of the marina is empty, and the yachts in the main marina have anchors, chains and dirty cushions littered all over the place, we seem to be a target as a youngish family living aboard. We are tucked away out of sight, very quiet and you'd not know we were here unless you walk all the way out to the extreme edge of the property... however, this doesn't make us immune to the politics and positioning of modern day citizens in their desperation to feel important.

It turns out the Puerto Cupecoy with all of it's trimmings is exactly the world that we're trying to avoid, and geographically this certainly isn't our destination, but Odessa is a wonderful home full of promise and the ability to take us wherever we wish to go. My family is the happier than I could possibly hope for and I am pretty sure that one day we'll find the geographical element that not only completes our home, but gives us the confidence that everything will be alright.