28 June 2013

Guest Blog: Lani's first post

Simpson Bay, St. Martin

The first stop and beginning of our life aboard is Saint Martin, a mid-sized island at the top of the leeward island chain which is half Dutch and half French. The Dutch half to the south is a bustling area containing the airport, the major ports, and most of the marine businesses, as well as the under-belly (as my brother calls it). This is where Paul landed with his father, my brother, and our friend Chris after crossing from Tortola. I arrived the following day with the kids and we commenced a flurry of spending, installing, and provisioning to get this ex-charter boat prepared to house and propel us for the next year or more. 

It was on this dock that we met out first cruising friends. The first friends you meet while cruising become outsized in your memory and imprint on the rest of your journey. I see it as a stroke of immense good luck that we stumbled onto a great family to hold this title on this trip. Just two boats farther along the dock is a monohull called Samantha that houses a British woman, a Dutch man and their two daughters 11 and 9 years old. They had been living and raising their children in Portugal when they decided to get a boat and try cruising. They spent three years traveling and living aboard and after an Atlantic crossing, landed in St. Martin. Their business in Portugal ran into trouble and they were forced to stop cruising and set up in St. Martin. Being Dutch, the father had a visa and no trouble finding work in the marine industry. They've been here for a year and are moving onto land to prepare for the girls starting school in September after three years of home schooling. Along with lining up in age with my girls, this family was inspiring and informative. Jane showed me were to find all the things I would need to set up and stock up a boat, offered great advice on homeschooling, and took us to a couple of great local beaches for cooling off after a day of boat work. 

The dock we were on was loaded with people outfitting boats with the idea of getting far away and fast. This time of the year most people have left or are leaving Saint Martin. The hurricane season is a threat and the daily rains make it generally uncomfortable even without a hurricane. At the end of the dock was a 30ish man from New Zealand who had bought a boat online, flown in to take ownership, and was preparing to sale it back to New Zealand to sell it for a profit. He was single-handing this brand-new, used boat across the Caribbean and then across the pacific and planning to make it back by November to get out of the way of their hurricane season. He was far more adventurous that I am and I suppose that's proven by his career as a sky diving instructor. Unfortunately, he suffered a sky diving accident 18 months ago and is now permanently in a wheelchair. As he said every time I skeptically questioned his plans, "What could possibly go wrong?" What indeed. Be safe, John.

Along with making some new friends we accomplished a few other things in our time here. 

1. I learned how to make fried plantains: a HUGE success! I'd seen them sold on the roadside for a week before I got up the nerve to buy them. Turns out it's the easiest thing in the world, and the kids ate a pile of them.

2. We had our lifeboat re-packed and got to see it opened up for, hopefully, the only time in our lives. The kids were most interested in the provisions included in the kite, which consists mainly of margarine and soy protein. Yes, they brought it home and tasted it. No, I declined.

3. We peeled off the old name (Powder Days) and applied our own name to this boat. We are long-time resisters of the pun name and thought that seas puns had been our least favorite. We were wrong.

4. I found the first item for my "Gross things in the Caribbean collection." Aside from the canned cheese, the food here has been surprisingly diverse. I've found great markets (thanks to Jane) and am fully stocked with mango pickle, French cheeses, and a full pantry of baking supplies. 
5. Jade found the thing she likes best. Snorkeling. The moment we pulled on her new mask and snorkel she laid down in the surf, put her face in the water, and spent the next 30 minutes studying the sand and the shells. It only got better from there.

27 June 2013


Finally we got away from Simpson bay!  Two days ago  I woke up and heard my dad calling every body up and awake.  I jumped out of bed and ran up onto the deck to see what was going on.  My dad was saying, "All hands on deck! We're leaving!" that announcement was greeted with much enthusiasm and jumping around by my sisters although I was too tired to do much of that.

A few minutes later the engines were on, lifejackets were on and the boat was moving!  I stood by the starboard side and used one of the starboard fenders to fend us off of the pilings.  Next my job was to stand on the trampoline and untie the bow lines, coiling them up as I went.

The sea was rough. I watched a wave come up over our bow. I was already drenched from head to tow from a big wave that had loomed over my mom and I before coming down with a gigantic splash!  My harness and tether strain as I walked to the other side of the cockpit.  I heard a big crash from inside the salon!  I winced as another plate flew across the room and smashed on the floor under the table.  Uh-Oh! That wasn't a plate that had broken, that was the antique shell the scientist the next boat over had given us!

Ugh! Our boat was a mess! Well at least we got here I told myself, and here wasn't very impressive, although I guess just seeing solid land before me was a relief after endless sea and waves for 5 hours.  That night we went out to dinner and all of us still felt the boat rocking underneath us although the dock was perfectly stable.  After that sooo fun experience we ended up in Oyster Pond st. Martin, just another harbor for me to see.

Oyster Pond

24 June 2013


We've been in st. Martin for over a week and I'm kind of tired of it. We were supposed to leave for Ille Forshue yestarday but we had an unfortunate problem with the engines so we are waiting for an engine part to come, so we probably won't be leaving for a couple more days.

The inside of an engine is probably not what you might be expecting. It is a series of metal pipes and tubes sticking out of a rectangular plat wih pipe sized circular holes in it. At the top of these pipes small fires are ignited making the tubes an pipes go up and down. The pipes and tubes produce so much energy while doing this it can propel the propeller which pushes the boat. Our problem is that the rectangular plate I which the pipes go up and down in, is cracked! Since this plate is vital to making the engine function we need to wait here for a new head or plate as I've been calling it, to arrive.                               

Jade's Cabin

Here's three things in Jade's cabin.

20 June 2013

Fathers Day

Its fathers day and were baking cup cakes.My dad is taking a break from all the projects right now. He is sitting and eating breakfast that my uncle made for him my uncle would never make breakfast  for anyone but it was fathers day so he made breakfast    for my dad. Today my dad wanted to investigate the engins on our boat i didn't really want to do that but it was fathers day. I'm going to give my dad a kite for fathers day right now its in my room. My uncle is face timing my grandma. Were going to go to the beach in the after noon i'm still thinking about the engin thing i wish i could think of a way to get out of it well i'll have to think harder. well i thought a little more and i came up with something,i can say that i'm hungry and my dad will probably let me go.

17 June 2013

Awesome Beaches

           We have only been in st. Martin for a little while but we have already seen a number of great beaches. The first beach we went to was a little beach in front of a resort, we had anchored the dinghy right off of it and we had swum in.
         The second beach we went to was right near a big ship-reck and we learned how to snorkel there.
          The third one was the best of all. The water was super blue and there were no rocks on the ocean floor. The waves reached high and low and we surfed them to the shore.

13 June 2013

Drawing Dafne

I made a lot of pictures while my dad was working on the boat today. I did some drawings. I took pictures of them on my bed, which is in the port bow (left, front of the boat).

This is the sugar scoop. The sugar scoop is at the end of the boat, in the back which is called the stern.

This is our grill, which we use to cook food (unless it's rainy, like today).

We have a ladder, which is also on the stern. We use it to get on the dock.

The ocean.

And, this is my new water bottle.

11 June 2013

We're Here


  We've arrived in st. Martin and are docked at the marina. We are one full day into are trip by now and I'm very excited about what is to come!
          In the photo above I am at a restaurant in named Skip Jacks and I am holding a Caribbean lobster, and as you can see the Caribbean kind don't have pinchers, so you can hold them very easily. Another difference between main lobster and Caribbean lobster is that when main lobster are relatively scuttling, Caribbean lobster are very, very lazy.
          This morning we went to the beach and it was beautiful! The water was a clear turquoise and the sand a pure white. With the sun shining overhead it was really, really fun.