In the entirety of things, I have a lot to be thankful for. We have two smart, adventurous, fun little girls that are up to any challenge. I have a husband who loves me, that makes me laugh, and treats me like a queen. And we live a life full of travel and happiness, everything I have always wanted. Thank you universe.
As the days of 2015 are dwindling away, and we are about to embark on a whole new year, I am realizing just how EPIC this last year has been. It gave us so many twists and turns that were unexpected and that we couldn’t have planned for. Just another reason why I am thankful, for having a family that is fluid, ok with living day by day (with a maximum 6 month loose plan), open to opportunities.
Of course there are days when I ask myself “what part of trapping myself on a sailboat with two kids did I think was a good idea?”, or when I cry myself ugly, or when I get so stressed that my hands break out and weird eczema. But thankfully for me, when I look back on the year these are not the memories that jump to mind first. The ones that flood me first bring a smile to my face.
If I write our year broken down into the twelve months, this is what it look likes:
– January: We bounced around the USVI and BVIs. We made new friends out of s/v Salty, who were more than gracious in always having us over, turning their sailboat into a playpen for 5 little ones. We finally got to meet Jody and Peter from Where the Coconuts Grow. Jody and I had built and online friendship (thanks to blogs) and this was the first time we met them face to face. Glad we did because they became awesome friends of ours. Then we got to spend the rest of the month with our “Ocean Family”, long time friends, from s/v Mirador. Spending time on the water with them had been in the books for years but this year it became a reality. It was so nice for Arias to have Eva around. And it was extra nice for us to have Joaquin and Marie, who have always felt like a little piece of home for us. Nearing the end of the month we got a quick visit from another sailing friend Jessica (MJ Sailing), whom we hadn’t seen in two years when our boats were all in Georgetown, Bahamas at the same time.
s/v Salty looking more like a daycare than a sailboat, thanks to all our mini hooligans.
Eva is Arias’ best friend, and also an amazing babysitter! (girls rashguards = Snapper Rock)
–February: Eben built dock boxes for us, majorly helping clean up the look of our boat (hiding a lot of our acquired stuff). We spent more time with Jody and Peter, and did a lot of sailing in the VIs. For the first time in years, sailing had become easy and enjoyable for us (close islands, calm water, being able to sail to new locations all while the girls were napping!). Then a long time dream came fruition when we met up with one of my besties and her amazing family, Brittany and family, from Windtraveler. Since our days beach lounging with our babies in the Bahamas, we had chatted about reuniting and cruising together, and 2 years later we got to. Our families had so much fun together, with our days looking like: sail a little, naptime, beach time, drink time, supper time, kid bedtime, more drink time. Happiness for all.
Eben and Peter provided many meals for us all.
There’s Windtraveler, with two more babies than when we saw them last!
–March: Started off the month with a surprise birthday party for me, thrown by Eben, who “rented” a floating bar for the event. It was pretty amazing to be surrounded by so many friends on my birthday. Being that we are so nomadic this is a rarity. We spent more time sailing around the islands with friends, and then we booked it up to Virgin Gorda, sailing through our only squall of the season, so that Eben could go help race the big boats. It was a dream of his, and the 180ft Super Yatch Parcifal made it happen. At the end of the month we welcomed Eben’s parents on to our boat. They came to relieve us of our parental duties so that we could go on a kid-free adventure.
A birthday surrounded by beautiful friends.
Of course we had to jump off of the floating bar for my birthday!
Racing a super yacht.
Many wonderful days with boat buddies for everyone.
–April: Eben and I went on the craziest adventure we have done together yet. We left our girls in the loving hands of their grandparents, on our boat, and we flew off to India to take part in the Rickshaw Run. We spent the next three weeks driving a three-wheeled motorized rickshaw from West to East of Northern India, with friends we made on the race Avi and Suk. It was so much fun, so insane, and such an experience, I can’t even explain it properly to give the trip justice. India holds a very special place in my heart thanks to that trip and those two guys. This was our first time sleeping away from the girls for more than 2 nights. We all survived it quite well.
Our rickshaw is the one on the right.
Doing this with Eben was such an amazing gift.
Another chai stop. We started calling ourselves “the Chai Committee” because we would not drive more than an hour without a stop!
We made it, with both rickshaws still intact, and all 4 of us still alive and well.
Us going to India also gave the girls some much needed quality time with their grand
–May: The whirlwind of craziness did not stop when we left India. When we got back to the boat, 3/4 of Eben’s family came to visit…all at once! It was great seeing all of their faces, getting to spend time with all of them, and pushing the limits of our boat and seeing how many families can we squish in there! It was nice being able to show them “our world” and our home, allowing them to witness first hand what our life is about. Two days after that lot left one of our Best Buddies Jon and his girlfriend, Julianna, came to spend their vacation time with us. We showed them around most of St John, USVI, and some of our favorite spots.
Uncle Jair tells a bedtime story to the kids, in our bed.
Aunty Jaala and Jordan babysit all the kids on the boat so the parents can go out on a double date.
Jon and Julianna. Nice purse Jon!
–June: We reunited with cruising buddies Windtraveler and Where the Coconuts Grow to go do some more discovering. We hit up The Baths, in the BVI, gorgeous. And then, with a few stops along the way headed all the way up to Anegada, where we got to see wild flamigos, baby sharks feeding, and Eben crash his kite into Asante! hahaha! Then we did the whole trip again, backwards, working our way back to St Thomas where Necesse, myself and the girls would stay for the next month on the hook while Eben went to Tanzania to be a guinea pig/tester for the Ngalawa race in Tanzania.
Eben and Peter goofing off with a remora.
How beautiful is this place, The Baths, BVI.
Pretty amazing to follow a flock of wild flamingos.
Arias loves to kiteboard with Eben.
The “kids table” at our beach potluck.
–July: For the first half of the month Eben, and our friend Ryan, were in Tanzania trying not to drown in a capsized Ngalawa. The girls and I were on the boat in Christmas cove, trying not to overdose on our time together. We had a few boats around us that would randomly stop in to make sure that my sanity was still intact! We did A LOT of beach time and A LOT of crafting to get us through the days. As soon as Eben got back to the boat he was straight to work, building our dodger from the frame up and attacking all of the wood on the boat, removing it, sanding and varnishing and re-installing.
Swimming off of the back of the boat.
Keeping busy on days when we didn’t feel like leaving the boat, we made foam fish with magnets on them.
Letting the “little crazies” off the boat to burn off some energy, wearing the capes we crafted them in the morning.
I love these ladies. Chatting with them totally helped me get through my solo parenting days. (sunglasses = polarized Peppers)
The MINI beach at Christmas Cove, USVI become our second home! (girls swimsuits = Snapper Rock, hat = SunBum)
Back to work, fixing up Necesse.
–August:Boat work, boat work, boat work. First we did the work in Christmas Cove, then we moved Necesse to a dock in St Thomas and did some more work there! While Eben was keeping himself busy the girls and I did lots of swimming and playing with our friends from s/v Argo; once we moved to the dock we did lots of island outings. Then we were invited by our island friends Dare and Leighann for a quick sail to Culebrita, which we gladly did, for a work break and to hang out with some new friends. We sailed back to St Thomas just in time to get a spot in the mangroves for the upcoming “possible hurricane”. This is where we perfected our skills of tying into the mangroves for a storm, and went over our safety and exit plan. The first storm didn’t pan out, but another followed shortly after which turned out to be Tropical Storm Erika. Eben stayed on board to keep an eye on our boat (or rather the boats tied up around us) and the girls and I went up to a friend’s house on the island to stay safe.
Keeping busy keeps this guy happy, luckily for him our boat needs a lot of work!
Swimming with the turtles in Christmas Cove.
We spent many hours at the library this month.
Necesse at a dock. This doesn’t happen often and this is the start of her longest stay at a dock, ever.
Culebrita was a great little getaway from the routine we had fallen into. (rashguard = SunUva)
Tying into the mangroves and prepping for the storms.
–September: We got to celebrate Eben’s birthday surrounded by our new island friends that had taken us in as part of their family. Life on the dock was a nice change for our family, letting us see another side of cruising (or rather non-cruising) life. Eben buckled down and worked ALL month, on our boat and helping others with their boats. Being on land was nice for accessibility of tools and products he needed. The girls and I spent all of our days enjoying our new friends Leighann and Adalie. They have become such close and amazing friends of ours and I am so grateful that not sailing south for hurricane season gave us the opportunity to meet them.
Our crew of ladies. (sunglasses = polarized Peppers)
Wandering the streets of Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, USVI.
–August: With our plan to go traveling towards the end of the year we needed to add to the bank account a little, so Eben kept on working, day in and day out. This meant us girls got more time to get to know St Thomas, and more time to spend on land with our friends. One of our bigger boat projects, we got FLOORING! This may seem like no big deal but it was something that I had been wanting and dreaming about ever since we got Necesse, 4 years ago. We ended the month in style, by going all out, our personal tradition, and making all of our halloween costumes.
It gets really hot on the dock, so we found lots of ways to stay cool. (hat = SunBum)
Eben helping on some other boats and making a little extra cash.
Day of the Dead, not just costumes it also became a school lesson for the origins of the “holiday”
– November: Island time, boat time, family time, work time, repeat, or all at once! We kept going with making money, cherishing friendships, and keeping the girls busy while on the boat at the dock, this forced me to get a little more creative. We had lots of fun day trips on St Thomas and managed from keeping everyone from getting cabin fever with the excessive heat on the boat. At the end of the month we got to celebrate Arias’ 6th birthday (a week early) since we knew that we would be on a plane to Tanzania for the actual day. On the 26th we boarded a plane from St Thomas and started on the many flights that would bring our family to Africa.
Our friend Leighann took some great family pics for us.
Arias wanted to help Eben clean our outboard.
Day trip with friends to a nearby island. (girls’ flexible sunglasses = Roshambo)
–December: We brought our whole family to Tanzania. Eben will be working with the Adventurists on the upcoming Ngalawa race, but this time on one of the follow boats, helping keep the racers safe. Bringing the family this far away, and paying $$ to do that, we figured we should stay a few months. This is where we will be bringing in the new year. So many things are different here, and our girls are adapting like pros. They have become seasoned travellers, bounding from beach to beach, and tons of new experience, with ease. We have adventured on a couple of islands, swam with whale sharks, got hands on with sea turtles, and made new friends. We are now in Stone Town, house sitting for a friend, and hanging out with our new friend Rhonda and her son Kai. She has been a wealth of knowledge and help, and has made us feel totally comfortable during our time in town. Even with all the traveling we have managed to recreate a holiday traditions, and have made ourselves a pretty awesome Christmas tree!
Making new friends, Paroli loved playing with the girls and did so 4 days out of the 7 we were in Pwani Mchangani.
This is the rooftop where we get to house sit for the next month. Beautiful.
A Christmas tree made of sticks and palm fronds.
After breaking our year down by the month it is clear that we can describe the year with three words: FAMILY, FRIENDS, and TRAVEL. These three elements are what made 2015 such an amazing year. Thank you to every one of you that were part of our year. Here is to an awesome 2016!