We're a family of 5 from North Vancouver, Canada spending 2010 and 2011 sailing the Eastern Caribbean. We bought an ex-charter boat in St. Vincent and are slowly learning to relax, unwind from schedules, and enjoying the natural beauty and friendly people of the Grenadines. We don't have much of a plan other than to take our time to explore islands both to the south and north of us. As a family we fell in love with sailing in 2008 when, nearly on a whim, we bought our first boat, a 1976 Catalina 27. The following 3 summers were spent learning more about sailing by cruising around the BC Gulf Islands and South Coast. There were many lessons learned in those years, what works for families and what doesn't. We learned to take it slow and we learned that while there were many moments of frustration and hard work, none of it mattered when we got to a peaceful anchorage in which to explore, swim, relax and watch the stars.
We're not seasoned sailors or cruisers. The three years on our Catalina are about the extent of our sailing experience. However, one thing that we did learn was that, if you take it slowly, play it safe and take one step at a time, we could tackle our dream of a longer term cruise while the kids were still at an age to really benefit from it. 2010 rolled around and everything started to fall into place so we decided to go for it. And now here we are. Taking small steps, learning and enjoying our new lifestyle.
A bit about the crew.
Our youngest crew member, the high energy Aaron, is two and a half and pretty much learned to walk on a boat. He was 5 months old when we took our first ten day cruise through the Gulf Islands from Vancouver to Victoria and back. We took several trips early the following spring, when he was still pretty wobbly on his feet. Each time he set foot on land there was a big cheer and he'd go running up the beach thrilled to have full control of his legs again. And day by day he went from a wobbly toddler to a confident, jumping-down-steps, running-up-and-down-hills, climbing-over-driftwood toddler. This year he's very aware of beaches. As soon as we come around a headland making our way into a protected bay he spies the beach and lets out a big, "BEACH!". My money is on Aaron to be the first boy to be able to climb the mast.
Next up is Aidan, the eight year old scientist, philosopher, artist, contrarian, extreme food critic and master of hyperbole. Aidan claims to dislike pretty much everything, but then enthusiastically gets about doing all of it. He's also most happy if he knows that there is a bowl of cornflakes around. He too loves beaches and is discovering that, with an adult around (has a cautious streak), that he's starting to really enjoy snorkelling. Aidan is home schooling this year using the SelfDesign program. Some of his learning goals are to see animals in the wild that he's not seen before, to learn his times tables, to become a really good Lego builder, learn to cook and eat new healthy foods and to spend a lot of time swimming. Aidan has been in a French Immersion school for 3 years and has been told by his parents that he'll enjoy practicing his french in the French islands.
Our assistant navigator, head sail trimmer, chief Lego builder and star gazer is 11 year old Austin. Austin has boundless energy and keeps us on our toes. If we're having too slow of a day he makes sure that there's something going on. Austin is passionate about building stuff. His most commonly employed tool is Lego but he'll use anything if inspired. He's also studying microbiology (through books and DVDs), natural biology (as we explore the islands), and outer space. Tying together his interests in space and microbiology he has developed several theories about how life began and if it exists elsewhere in the universe (he's a firm believer that it does). Austin has been with the SelfDesign/Wondertree program for almost 2 years now. He's a great fit for this self-directed program as he loves to learn and has always been very clear about what he wants to learn about.
This adventure would not be possible and continues to be made possible by our co-captain, Carla. Carla was born and grew up in and around the Vancouver area and has always had a special relationship with the ocean. In her youth she spent several summers cruising the BC South Coast with friends Carla and Peter Vassilopoulos and learning to scuba dive. Nightly we are delighted by her experiments with local foods, spices and her new pressure cooker. Carla is finally getting to read (and finish!) some of the many books that's she's been trying to read ever since having kids. Having her family close and being able to share experiences like snorkelling with her kids and being able to have a daily swim are some of the things she's really enjoying about this trip. Her big goal right now is to relax and embrace "island time".
Skye rounds out the crew as our captain. Skye was born in Whitehorse, Yukon and has spent time living in several Canadian cities finally settling in North Vancouver. Skye is our fearless leader, starting each day with the intention for it to be the best day ever. He loves to research sailing gear and troubleshoot any problems ... and Singing Frog has obliged. Skye's done engine tweaking, course adjustments, reefing and trimming the sails. Skye misses having the type of weather reporting we've used while sailing the BC South coast, but is learning to go with the flow of wind and current in the beautiful, Eastern Caribbean. He enjoys reading and listening to music. After snorkelling the reefs, Skye and the boys hurry back to our Reef Identification books, to list the creatures and vegetation they saw.
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