Wednesday 24 June 2015


Well, it’s finally posted! Now, let’s just pretend that this was posted at the beginning of May, right after we arrived in the Marquesas so everybody take your time machines and read this as if we had just finished the crossing!

!!!WE DID IT!!! We did our longest crossing yet (and probably the longest crossing we will ever do): 19 and a half days from the Galapagos to the Marquesas! This blog will not be about land but about life when you are literally floating amid the waves of the biggest ocean on Earth for weeks!

Before you do a long crossing, there is quite a bit of preparation to do ahead of time. I really take “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best” seriously. I pictured in my head that the worst that could happen to us is we flip completely over (but, if we did, we would come right back up after) so I prepared my room for that! We never actually got even remotely close to the sail touching the water but I’m glad to see that I can prepare my room for that kind of condition. During the preparation stage, it can be stressful but once we get out on the open ocean, we become like rasta men say: “Hey mon, what were we fighting about mon?”!

I was actually very surprised. I thought that being out of sight of land for a long time would freak me out a lot because I would worry about storms, high winds and something happening to the boat like a fire or a leak but actually it did the opposite; it relieved me of my worries. After I realized that the way things were going on the crossing, there was about a 5% chance those things would happen.

Now, if somebody asked whether I like it better at anchor or out on the ocean, I would honestly say I like it better at anchor but if I was measuring this on a seesaw, the difference would be almost not noticeable. When your’e out at sea, you can do anything and I mean anything. You can scream as loudly as you want (which my dad is not a big fan of) and not a single soul either than your family will hear you! You can blast the music on your speakers as loudly as you can and no neighbours can come to complain. Even if the entire continent of Asia blew up, you would have absolutely no clue! 

You may wonder how we hand steer the boat for 3 weeks without stopping and the answer is: we don’t. Thanks to our friend “Auto” the autopilot, we just enter our course into “Auto” and the boat will just keep going on that course until we change it. It’s very efficient because that way, we can just relax and do our normal things while “Auto” drives us all the way there (but at anytime, we can always hand steer ourselves). As my dad phrases it, “I find that Auto has more patience than me”! Still, at least one person always has to stay in the cockpit though to make sure “Auto” doesn’t go off course and the autopilot still can fail if it is stressed too much in heavy winds or storms. That is why we have “Auto #2” just as a backup because if it fails, we would have to steer the whole way there which would not be fun. Of course, some boats do do that because either they don’t have an autopilot or their autopilot breaks (which is what happened to one of our friend’s on the same crossing). 
Dad raising the second headsail
About school underway, that went actually pretty normally. I was surprised that I was able to do all my subjects without ever feeling seasick at all! Of course, it was sometimes extremely frustrating in the swell and wind because my textbooks wouldn’t stay on the pages I needed them on. I did lose one handout in the wind! Despite all of that, I still managed to do school everyday except one which now that I look back at, I actually feel pretty accomplished. My dad did an exceptional job at getting us there safely, my mom did an amazing job at cooking three meals a day despite the challenges with the rocking, Matthew did an excellent job at finding new hobbies either than swimming and I feel I did a pretty good job at school everyday including weekends.

School only took up about half to two-thirds of the day so I definitely did other things to keep me busy during the day because you can’t just say, “I’m a bit bored, I think I’ll just go for a walk around town,”! I always like the quote “Music saves my soul” but on this crossing I truly believe that movies saved my soul! Thank goodness for a hundred thousand movies out there because almost every night is movie night on long crossings! I also enjoyed practicing guitar (I am working on my first song: “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young), making dozens of elastic bracelets to give to the local kids around the South Pacific, playing so many games of I-Pad Monopoly until I was able to beat my dad and lots of other stuff I can’t remember right now!

We obviously put out our fishing lines to see what there really was out there in as far as we could tell, the vast nothingness. Sadly, we only landed one small dorado fish (mahi mahi). We had actually hooked about 10 fish but all of them got away or we threw them back because they were too small (when they were still alive). The most impressive ones we hooked were about 6 and half foot sailfish and about a 5 foot marlin! The way we had arranged our lines is we attached a bungee cord with an empty pop can to the line and when a fish would grab on, the line would stress the bungee cord which would make the pop can bang against the deck alerting us there was a fish so we could go pull in the line. When we caught the sailfish, it went a bit differently than that though! The pop can went insane for about half a second and then we heard the fishing line being unwounded extremely fast and then WHAM! snap went about a quarter of the line, including our lucky lure which we had caught all our other fish with! We were looking frantically everywhere and then in the distance, we saw it “tail walking” (jumping out of the water but keeping it’s fin on the water making it look like it was walking on water), probably trying to get the lure out of its mouth!

Either than the fish, we also saw some other, not-good-to-eat animals such as dolphins, whales and birds. I had thought that 10 days from the nearest land, birds wouldn’t be around but that was obviously wrong because I saw birds every single day on our crossing. They weren’t even big birds, they were little blackbird sized birds coming for some offshore fishing!

One day, the same day we caught our mahi mahi, we got a spectacular dolphin show! There were about 20 5ft long dolphins splashing at the bow with a surprise pilot whale friend with them. It was very, very odd that one pilot whale was, first of all swimming amid all of these dolphins and, second of all, was also swimming right next to the boat. 

You might think that all the good stuff happens during the day which is partly true because you can definitely see things better during the day but when you see things at night, now that is special. One time, my dad saw dolphins when it was a full moon (which sounded really cool) but when we had our dolphin show it was a new moon. It’s true that we didn’t actually see the dolphins themselves but the phosphorescence (plankton that glow green in the water at night) outlined them so we could see where they were moving and the spray that came out when they breathed!

A hitch hiking Galapagos night seagull
sitting on our solar panels!

Also, on the first few nights, we saw some Galapagos night seagulls. The Galapagos night seagulls look exactly like normal seagulls except they have red eyes which let them see at night so they can fish! That time, there was a moon so we could kind of see them flying but the coolest part is that there were many of them so they were communicating back and forth making ticking noises.

I don’t think the animals are the most breath taking things on night watch though. I think the stars are. The only light pollution within hundreds of miles was our navigation instruments (which is very minimal light) so no stars are hiding. You look up and everything you see looks like a diamond. There is no way I could count all of them but I would guess there are probably 100 million or more! You can even see the milky way which you know is countless miles away because the stars are extremely hard to see. You see them for a second but then you don’t a second later but you know from that one second that there are more stars in that milky way than people on Earth!

I know that I am saying, “beautiful this, beautiful that” a lot in this blog but it’s not beautiful sunsets and stars and dolphins all day everyday on a 19 and a half day crossing. Everything takes longer when your’e moving. It takes two minutes to put on pants instead of 10 seconds. It takes five minutes instead of one to get up, go downstairs, get your notebook and come back up. 

Life in the kitchen on a moving boat, well... that needs a whole paragraph just to itself. I know I didn’t cook so I’m definitely not taking credit for that but I did do dishes sometimes so I have some experience in a moving kitchen. First of all, I can’t stack the dishes on the side of the sink like I always do because in the waves, they will just crash clang and it will end in disaster. I have to put them on one of our countless life saving anti-skid pads. In science this year, I learned that a stable structure is wider at the base than at the top and I think that washing dishes was the situation I thought I would least need that tip. Turns out, it was very useful because spreading my legs wide like the yoga warrior pose was the only way to stay standing. 

I hope you did not mistake my words as complaints because that is certainly not what they were meant to be. In fact, I think we were extremely lucky at how well the passage went. Some of our friends were not so lucky and had some bigger issues but if I start telling the stories, none of you will ever want to cross an ocean and I don’t want to eliminate that option for you. Yes, the continual swell we had was hair-ripping-frustrating at times and we didn’t have much luck with fishing but we had no serious injuries or illnesses, no storms, no boat problems (either than a minor laundry machine issue), we made pretty good time and let’s face it: we had A LOT of fun! 

For those of you who are wondering, when we stepped foot on land, oh yes, did it ever feel like the ground was moving! 

P.S: You can all come back the the actual date now:) 

1 comment:

  1. OK Meg, I think I've figured out how to do this. I love your writing so much that when I read it, I have SO many gasps of awe and questions and laughter to share that I have to challenge my brain to remember what they all are by the end. So THIS time I'm reading the blog on my phone and am going to type my reply on my computer AS I read so that I don't forget all my questions and comments for you : )

    First of all, I can TOTALLY see you saying, "Hey mon, what were we fighting about mon?" ha haaaaaaa! I love how sailing life has brought out the passive free spirited Jamaican in you ; )

    Now if you could please teach ME how to organize my room in preparation for being turned upside down because some days I feel like that's actually what's happened to it. Or at least that's how it LOOKS some days.

    One of the things I enjoy most about your writing and your mom's writing is the way you are so honest about your thoughts, fears, excitement. Here we are over here, us landlubbers, thinking all sorts of, "Oh dear!"thoughts but trusting inherently in your mom and dad's skills, the skills they've taught you kids and of course in God. So we pray, we smile and we wait for the next blog. However to read that here YOU had the SAME thoughts ... that makes us feel a little bit more normal ; )

    Which brings me to another thought ... when all of this is said and done and you are a grown and beautiful young lady with a family of your own, I'm curious what sailing adventures you'll take on. Will you and your husband and your own children circumvent the world? ; )

    "Even if the entire continent of Asia blew up, you would have absolutely no clue!" .. Ahhhh but you make me want to learn to swim and sail ... sigh ... happy thoughts : )

    The photo you attached of your dad raising the second headsail ... what a BEAUTIFUL sail!!!!!!!!

    I'm just TRYING to imagine hooking a 6 and a half foot fish!!!!! And the part about the birds amazed me, too!!!!! Now I'm curious to find out what kind of birds they were and how far they fly on average in one shot. They must have some swimming capabilities as well, perhaps? To rest when they get weary and there's nothing else to rest on? Otherwise brave birds! Even at that, STILL brave birds!

    The Galapagos red eyes were very crazy cool! Nothing I'd ever expect to see! Isn't it fascinating all the things you see that you didn't know existed!

    When you talk of the stars, that is one of the other things in your blogs that TRULY makes me yearn to be there with you. I'm not a good swimmer at all, despite several attempts at lessons. I seem to have an innate fear that I'm unable to conquer. Just the same, the thought of seeing all the dolphins and wildlife and clear night skies ... sigh ... it makes me want to TRY again to learn to swim : )

    Meg, keep writing! I love when you and your mom take turns writing because, as previously mentioned repeatedly, you are both phenomenal and should REALLY make a book out of all these blogs once you return! IF you return ; )

    With SO much love from way up north!!!!

    Crystal, Lorne and Takayla