Friday, April 27, 2012

The end of an era.

Chocobo is sold and on April 25th we not only closed a sale transaction but also the most amazing adventure of our life. We shouldn’t get attached to material belongings but for 3 years, 7 months and 21 days we lived, ate, slept, laugh, cried and sheltered in this boat. She took us through 48 different countries, over 3 oceans and over 30500 nautical miles (56730 km) across the globe. We constantly took care of her and she took well care of us in return. How can anyone other than a concrete block be unemotional about this? We sure aren’t but nevertheless our journey ends now and Chocobo cannot come with us. Did I weep a little went I read the email we received from the agent stating that all the paperwork had been processed and Chocobo was officially sold? You bet I did and for a guy who was daring Somalian pirates in their own territory about a year ago; that’s embarrassing! Her new name is now “Escape Velocity” and Chocobo will now live only in our hearts and in the ones of all of you who followed and lived our adventures during the past four years.
I would like to write a great closing text for our journey but how can one describe in a paragraph how we felt and what we saw during 1329 days of intense travelling? Even if I was to give you only one world for each country we saw I would fill an entire paragraph. I guess this will have to wait for the book I’m hoping to complete within the next year. Yet in retrospective was it worth? Every single 114 825 600 seconds of it. Was it too expensive? Indeed it was but we don’t regret any of the 18 788 200 pennies we spent. What we lived in this trip is ours forever and as we all know the point was not get anywhere since we are now back exactly where we started but to imprint ourselves of the world out there and that we sure did. Danielle and I are not the same people we used to be. The world is not a quiet and totally safe place and if anything else we are now tougher people. We’ve learn to stand our ground especially from people who trying to rip us off or with officials trying to entangle us into rules based on a logic borrowed from another dimension. We saw the bad and the ugly for sure but also the good and the beautiful. The smile of a Peruvian woman is enough to make us forget Egypt. The peaceful atmosphere of a meal in the Chora on the island of Amorgos in Greece gives us the impression that time just stopped and the universe revolves around us. We learned so many things such as that sea lions have a fur and shed millions of hairs every nights especially when they lay in our cockpit. We know that Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu and that we can sit at a table in the central market and have a good local meal for just a few dollars. We know that the Pacific Ocean is impossibly huge. As a matter of fact, I can tell you that the ride from the Galapagos to the Marquesas in the Pacific was 3000M long but you’ll never really know how huge this is until you jump on a boat and cross it by yourself. This and many other things we now know. This may never directly be useful to us in the future but these sensations, odors, colors and all those feelings induced by the many places we saw are now part of who we are. Our views of the world are now more precise and are the ones of peoples who saw it firsthand.
Please meet the two new and very proud owners of Escape Velocity, Marce and Jack Schulz, two very nice peoples from Pittsburgh, PA who have been working for the last 20 years to reach the escape velocity, hence the name, necessary to quit their jobs, sell their house, jump on a boat and sail around the world! Yep, Chocobo has not seen the last of her oceans. Our dream comes to an end but their now begins and we are confident that our Chocobo will take them in places they can barely imagine. I invite you to follow their adventures on their blog at and to wish them fair wind and following seas for years to come.
So with the most amazing adventure one can expect in his or her life behind what’s ahead of us? Well we haven’t totally figured it out yet. The last few months have been so busy and so intense for us, with packing our stuff and preparing the boat that we couldn’t make out a perfect scenario for our future but we will find something soon and keep you posted. We know that a very large number of peoples are really curious to know how peoples end up after a trip around the world. For the time being we are moving to Montreal to stay at Danielle’s daughter’s place, Jessye, until we can find a place we call home. Everything we had fit in 24 boxes that we stored temporarily in a rented storage before shipping everything up north.
By the way, although Danielle and I have been together for 17 years, almost to the day, we actually got married just before we departed for our journey three and half years ago and this trip was officially our honeymoon. I don’t know if there is a Guinness record for the longest honeymoon in the world but I’m sure you’ll all agree that ours is one hard to beat!
By the way, although Danielle and I have been together for 17 years, almost to the day, we actually got married just before we departed for our journey three and half years ago and this trip was officially our honeymoon. I don’t know if there is a Guinness record for the longest honeymoon in the world but I’m sure you’ll all agree that ours is one hard to beat!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Arrived in the United States of America.

We arrived in Stuart, FL in the United States of America on April 9, 2012 from West End in the Bahamas after a passage of 75M (140 km) across the Gulf Stream separating Florida and the Bahamas. If everything goes as we hope with the sale of Chocobo, Stuart will be the last stop of our journey.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A different Bahamas

When we arrived at the small town of Spanish Wells on the island of Eleuthera it was to discover a quite a different Bahamas than what we saw in the past. As we see on the picture there is still was the white sand and the most beautiful water in the world as in the rest of the archipelago but there was also a village resembling closely enough to a normal suburb and contrasting substantially by its inhabitant’s wealth compared to south Bahamas or the Exumas chain. People here live in a sufficiently enviable level of comfort. But the most exotic difference, if we can say so, comes from the fact that Spanish Wells is mainly inhabited by native white Bahamians. To hear the colorful Bahamian accent when talking to a black person is normal, see expected, but it is quite a shock when it comes out of a white’s mouth!

But our stop in Spanish Wells was not really for relaxation but mostly to wait for the proper weather window to resume our sailing north through the Abacos. During the five days we spent in this village alongside the Garden of Eden we kept cleaning Chocobo and every day the dinghy was filled up with garbage or things to give away to town peoples who wanted them. More often than others we gave the stuff to workers coming to the island everyday to work since local inhabitants of this wealthy village really didn’t need our used stuff. In fact, it would have been us who would’ve needed to go through their garbages to find treasures! I also had to buy a bottle of propane and, with one and a half kilometer to walk, our little rolling cart was quite useful. Two days later we realized we could rent these golf carts that are very popular on the island. For $10.00 we wandered the village’s streets but after a bit more than an hour we had seen it all. Obviously, I couldn’t have thought to rent the cart the same day I went to buy the propane tank and saving me the long walk with the rolling cart!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


What is there to say about feet? Normally not much but as you can imagine on a boat things are different and the way we behave with our feet is no exception. As a general rule we are barefoot all the time while onboard. Reasons are simple; shoes are too dirty, we walk on our cockpit seats almost forty times per day and in the morning and evening the top deck is wet by dew. Walking with shoes would transform the boat into a sandy and muddy platform competing with construction sites for the first place in the filthy contest. Therefore on Chocobo as on every single sailboat on the water people are barefoot. But when thinking about it the vast majority of peoples, in the world, remove their shoes in their house or apartment so what does it make so special on boat? For instance, inside houses people keep their socks or wear slippers, my favorite being the ones in the shape of a football! On boat feet are bare as a born baby and this makes interesting situations when we start thinking about it.

For instance when we call a party on Chocobo guests are almost all the time other sailors. They leave their boat and jump in their commuting device, which is a dinghy, and come to our boat. Of course, wearing shoes in a dinghy is an even bigger no-no than on a boat as most dinghies leaks or always have a puddle of water in the bottom from waves splashing over the edge or from the daily rainy visit of Mother Nature. With all this the first thing we know is no matter how formal the meeting is onboard everybody is going to be barefoot. The good news is because no one wears any socks either there is no smell and the fact that we have our feet in the water all the time for a reason or another they are also clean and this certainly avoids further aggravations of the situation. Besides, there are clear advantages to that practice of feet nudity. This means no worries on what to wear for the party or having shoes that would fit the color of the dress, assuming sailors had the luxury to worry about such things. But the most significant advantage of coming to a ‘soirée’ barefoot is that we leave the party also barefoot. The tricky part in the departure is to actually go back to your dinghy. If the gathering is important, such as the time we had 19 people on board in Yemen, this makes quite a few dinghies attached on the side of the boat. Chances are that guests have to jump first on the closest dinghy by the steps, walk through it and eventually get to their own dinghy. This shouldn’t be a very big problem if it weren’t from the fact that sailors are not really well known to be easy on the bottle and consequently when comes the time for the dinghy gauntlet contest chances are that their motor faculties would be impaired. This usually end up in a spectacular acrobatic demonstration of flexibility not yet known from the drunken sailor himself and involving lots of water under the oh’s and the ah’s from the fortunate spectators mixed with a good share of laugh. In the end, as it is often the case in such situations, egos are more hurt than people. Although, very often everyone is very happy and even the ego remains intact. Actually, it did happen once that someone came aboard with his shoes and his first reflex was obviously to take them off when stepping on. But even he was not used to wear shoes on a boat and after a few drinks he left Chocobo with his shoes neatly sitting on our side deck.

But since everybody is barefoot all the time we could imagine that we wouldn’t have many shoes onboard but it’s not the case at all. The problem is that we sometimes have to go ashore and barefoot is not always a good idea when we need to walk two kilometers (one mile) to go to the supermarket for instance. If we exclude the fact that people often leave their shoes on the boat when coming ashore, the biggest question is always to decide what shoes we should wear to go ashore. Because we have to get in the dinghy and often beach it to reach the shore, and paired with the fact the dinghy is almost always wet as mentioned before, we cannot wear our shoes until we reach solid ground. Sandals are nice because they can take some water abuse in the dinghy but are not the best for very long walk. Walking shoes with socks are perfect to walk ashore but need to be put on on the beach and this requires that we rinse our feet with water, dry them with a towel then put on socks and shoes. This may sounds simple but try it without putting your feet in the sand and avoiding pouring water on your pants or shorts in the process! Of course having a gentleman to help you with that exercise always helps. There is also watershoes that can be quite useful is some situations but they are good to swim to a rocky shore than walk on the rocks and sand but cannot really be used otherwise. Finally we all, at least at the beginning of our trip, kept with us some more formal shoes imagining we would be able to have such a thing as a nice dinner in a fancy restaurant wearing clean, unwrinkled and freshly colored clothes. This my friends is just a dream for a sailor and dinners are always in the cheapest restaurant, wearing sun faded shirts and wrinkled shorts that most of time do not match and give you an exfoliation when you walk because they didn’t rinse properly due to limited fresh water onboard. We may look like homeless most of the time, which we are technically, but we do this in very exotic places!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rum and Cats

What do rum and cats have in common? They both are islands in southern Bahamas where we stopped on our way north. After a stop in Mayaguana we sailed north-west to Rum Cay where we stopped in 2009 at the beginning of our trip. The place is just a postal card picture and really makes us appreciate the chance we have to be here. Nothing much has changed other than the consequences of Hurricane Irene which hit the area last season taking a few roofs in her wake.

A stop in Rum Cay necessarily means to stop for a beer at Kaye’s Bar and Restaurant where Dolores greats her patrons with good beer and local stories. At 80’ Dolores has seen the beautiful and the ugly of her island and keeps a collection of guest books that have been running since the 70’s. We actually saw our own comments we wrote in 2009 and Dolores was very proud to show us when Jackie Onasis KennWhat do rum and cats have in common? They both are islands in southern Bahamas where we stopped on our way north. After a stop in Mayaguana we sailed north-west to Rum Cay where we stopped in 2009 at the beginning of our trip. The place is just a postal card picture and really makes us appreciate the chance we have to be here. Nothing much has changed other than the consequences of Hurricane Irene which hit the area last season taking a few roofs in her wake.edy came in ’81 and signed her book. Now she would be able to show the signature of the “famous” Chocobo who sailed the area this year! We had a good time that day, thanks to Dolores who kept us company. For some reasons there were almost nobody else visiting the island while we were there so it was not quite a party town but sure it was relaxing to simply be there. While sipping our beer we couldn’t miss to notice the pile of lumber and shingles piled on the side of the bar. Those were to repair the roof that was damaged by the hurricane. The funny thing about this was that to get all the material here Dolores had to get them shipped to her from outside the island hence significantly increasing the cost. This adds up to 50% import fees collected by the government. We thought taxes were high in Canada! What I don’t understand is how this government tax works exactly? You see, import taxes are what we call protectionism and are intended to favor local products instead of imported ones. But there is no such thing as a local product, other than beer maybe, in the Bahamas and virtually everything has to be imported. Consequently, such a high tax is basically preventing the whole country from any tangible development and gets all prices up. In English this is called “shooting yourself in the foot” but like many other “mysteries” we encountered in this trip the 50% import tax of the Bahamas probably has a sort of rational that only locals can understand!

Next stop was in Cat Island where we could enjoy a dead calm anchorage, at least for the first two days, and go visit the only obvious attraction in the area; The Hermitage. Built by father Jerome sometimes in the first half of the last century the building is quite interesting to visit. While walking the kilometer or so leading to the place we thought, by the sight of it, that we would get to a giant structure a reminder of castles and cathedrals of Europe while in fact the building seemed to have been made for the sole purpose of offering a shelter to Father Jerome and a place of worship and prayer. Quickly we realized that Father Jerome was probably a dwarf for his castle had doors five feet (1.5m) high and even Danielle seriously hit her head when coming out of the tiny chapel. Her head didn’t even hit the wooden door frame but the stone placed on top of it! Once bells and birds disappeared around her and she was able to think straight, we were able to go back to the boat. No permanent damage here only a momentary pain that she will remember for some time but not too long for the day before, we had reached an agreement with buyers for the sale of Chocobo. Thus we are enjoying our last moments with this boat that took us in the most wonderful places in the world. A page of our life is about to be turned but nostalgia is for passive peoples. We are actually looking forward to our next life that begins.

I just couldn’t pass on this one. One night as we were relaxing while watching episodes of “Buffy the vampire slayer” we had the visit of a moth. Nothing special about that but the fact that the thing had probably been irradiated by radioactive elements in its youth and was humongous as moth goes. I obviously could get a ruler and measure it precisely but my guess is that from wing to wing the monster moth was 7” (18cm) wide! I mean, it is not a regular zapper that you need to get rid of that sort of beast but a flame thrower! But of course, we had no intentions to harm the butterfly and it just went away a minute later probably annoyed by attracting too much attention and camera flashes. As we all know moths are not too fond of paparazzis and yet we posted its naked picture on internet!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Arrived in Bahamas.

We arrived at the island of Mayaguana in the Bahamas on March 4, 2012 from Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos after a passage of 55M (102 km). It was a short and smooth ride and after paying the $300.00 fees to cruise the Bahamas we were able to start enjoying what we consider being the most beautiful waters in the world.

Arrived and gone from Turks and Caicos.

We arrived at the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos on March 3rd, 2012 from St-Thomas in USVI after a passage of 478M (889 km) that took us 3 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes for a total average speed of 6.3 knots. We wanted originally to stay a few days in the Turks and Caicos but being at the mercy of weather windows we had to leave immediately early the next morning of our arrival. We had the chance to sail to Mayaguana in the Bahamas that day or to be forced to stay in Providenciales for at least a week until the weather settles. The problem was that the sand in Providenciales is so fine that the turquoise water is continually clouded by sand hence making the watermaker inoperable. One week without making water is more than what we can stand and we took the very short window we had to cross to the Bahamas but not without regrets

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Under the sun of St-Thomas.

We noticed that phenomenon last time we came to Charlotte Amalie on the island of St-Thomas in the US Virgin Islands; the sun is much stronger here. Although it is the very same ball of hydrogen under constant thermonuclear fusion we had in St-Martin only 100M south east from here it definitively doesn’t feel the same. When we walked from the dinghy dock to the US Customs and Border Protection office for our clearance the sun felt on us like a mace. After three years living under the tropics we thought we could stand the direct sun for a five minute walk but the rays was so strong that Danielle started to feel sick and was starting to suffer a heat stroke while I was trying on my side not to burn as well. Fortunately we got into the air conditioned office quickly and everything was fine after. I have no idea why the sun feels like that here but this little walk in Crematoria just brought back the memory of the same thing happening to us in 2009 under the same circumstances. I guess the very warm sun is one of the reasons why those titanic cruise ships brings their thousands of tourists every week on this island of the Caribbean.

Arrived in USVI (again).

We arrived in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St-Thomas in the US Virgin Islands from Marigot in St-Martin on February 22nd, 2012 after a passage of 107 nautical miles (199 km) that took us 21 hours for an average speed of 5.1 knots. Note that we underestimated the speed of Chocobo in this passage and we had to significantly slow down to avoid arriving in St-Thomas during the night and to reach Charlotte Amalie right after sunrise. Without slowing down our average speed would have been around 6.0 knots.

Don’t stop the carnival.

In his novel “Don’t stop the carnival” the author Herman Wouk compares the life of West-Indians with the day of the carnival. If memory serves he says that each day is a new day for these people. They can dance in the streets wearing feathers under the unbearably loud rhythm of the Caribbean music and not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow is another day. Well, if their life is like a daily carnival we actually had the chance to be in Marigot during the carnival and to assist to the great parade. The inhabitants of the small island had worked very hard to put together colorful costumes and proudly displayed their joy for that unique day. I don’t have much to say about that day so I’ll let a few pictures we took describe the parade.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How about that epiphany?

It is very common for people leaving on a long sailing trip to believe that such a voyage is so extraordinary that it necessarily has to change who we are and our vision of the world. Upon our return we won’t have to go back to the same mundane life we had in that insane system of society forced to us and we will be able, as a super grown person with a renewed perception of the world, to attack new challenges we’d never thought before. If we could do something so impressive then nothing will be too big for us. Other people don’t know where life is taken them and have the feeling of missing something inside and hope a trip of many years would fill that void. And one of the most common beliefs is that in our modern society we forgot how to live and people on the other end of the world still know; things are much better elsewhere and we need to go and learn how to do it for ourselves. We’ve met hundreds of boats during our voyage and everyone was hoping for something. Many were only sailing down the Caribbean and then going back home after, one family actually made it down to Grenada and flew back to Canada. They managed to write three books about it! When we arrived in the Mediterranean Sea this was the completion point for about ten of our friends who were completing their circumnavigation and when we crossed the Atlantic and actually completed ours we were sailing alongside tens of others achieving the same goal. Circumnavigating the globe is definitively something extraordinary but not unique.

So what everyone got in the end of it? Well, a lot but not what they expected. I am not a psychologist so I cannot give you a thorough and exact answer to that question but I can describe what we saw from the crews of those other boats who crossed our wake. The ones who wanted to find the meaning of life only came back as empty as they were. Peoples who had problems with themselves only carried their problems with them around the world and still had them when they came back. The ones messed up in their head came back as messed up as before but with less money in their pockets. People at the end of the world are not better, or worst for that matter, they simply live differently in some aspects of their lives. Some values they have are better than ours and some are worst. Nobody has the perfect answer to life, love and everything and to my opinion I prefer by far our state of living in Canada than anywhere else we saw in that trip. In other words, if you are not happy or don’t know how things work in your head then the answer is right where you are and you don’t need to go see how the rest of the world is as messed up as you are to find it. In my mind there is nothing to learn about yourself in a trip around the world that you cannot easily find out during your daily meditation in your car while commuting to work. A trip around the world is about having an extraordinary adventure in places very different than what you are used to. Eating pizza in all four corners of the word or tasting local beers in every country you go. Making love to your wife/husband in 50 different countries and over three oceans (try to beat that you wimps) and simply having the perseverance to go on, to move forward every day despite the constant boat break ups and everyone you deal with trying to scam you. It is about seeing landscapes and cities of amazing beauty and to step out of a bus, put your feet in a salar in Bolivia surrounded by 50 km of salt and say; Holly molly, that’s a hell of salt! It is about dropping the anchor in Allen Cay in the Bahamas and to be in awe before the beauty of the turquoise water and sandy islands around. It is about looking down in the Red Sea and seeing the bottom just to realize the water is 50 feet (17m) deep!

“In this trip our eyes have been so burnt by the magnificent beauties of the world that we are now blind of its ugliness’s.”

But if we don’t find any answers to our questions does that mean we haven’t change? Of course not. We are each and every of us changed in many aspects. For one thing we are now quite good in geography. If someone ask us about Port Vila we not only know that it is the capital city of Vanuatu but we also have a vivid image of its streets and central market but also of the 30th anniversary celebrations we saw during our passage in that country. This situation actually happened to us while in Morocco. We now know that people in the Caribbean are racists, that the food in Thailand is amazingly good, that Egyptians are despicable and that Peruvians are nice and very welcoming. We have learned to say “no” firmly but politely. Our vision of other cultures is changed and evolved greatly and we have a better idea of why things in this world are the way they are. But all this knowledge and wisdom are not features that fundamentally change someone. We are more knowledgeable but not smarter. People who were idiots before leaving the dock are now knowledgeable idiots and lost peoples are still lost but they know in what world they trying to find a meaning for their lives. One thing thought that we found in almost 100% of the sailor couples is that incredibly strong link between the two partners. Very rarely have we seen peoples so close to each other in their lives. If anything else, in a circumnavigation one learns to live with his/her life partner.

Finally, what about the life after? Again, I cannot say how we will end up yet but all other people we’ve met who had to return to a life with incomes basically returned to their original trades. Teachers are now teaching, fishermen are fishing, policemen are policing and engineers are back to engineering. How come they didn’t come up with a new and genuine way of life? The answer is actually quite simple. Our society is built on a frame and a structure that evolved for a long time hence it is very resilient and mostly very difficult to avoid. When we left sailing around the world we had to disconnect ourselves from that system and it was actually pretty difficult. It is amazing how many roots we have into the system without knowing it. This system is the only one in which we can make money and consequently we have to reintegrate the system, reconnect our inputs/outputs into the machine and go back to the artificial reality in which we all live (if you don’t understand that last sentence you need to watch the movie “The Matrix”). There are a few way to avoid that, at least partially; we can start a revolution that will completely change the way of life of our society or we can continue sailing and minimizing our contacts with the human race. Both options are not very lucrative and unless one can find a way to live on this planet without money the only option is to reintegrate the social dictatorship of our societies. Now with this in mind the question becomes what should we do? Do we go back into our previous jobs and work long weeks walled by carpeted panels and deal with the office politics or do we do something completely new? This question should be easy to answer after we changed all our lives by leaving on a boat but it becomes very different went we start counting the possible revenues. For all of us, the trade we chose in our past was chosen for a good reason; mostly because this is what we were good at and the fact is that we are still all good at it. This means that our previous trade is where we will make the most money and in which we will be the best at what we do. Of course, with the global vision we have now we could start a sort of international trading company or service but, for one thing, we will very unlikely make more money than our previous jobs. Also, unless one wants to start dealing weapons or spices there are not many international trades we can jump in especially at our age. So for all these reasons most people go back to their previous life but enriched by one of the most amazing adventure one can do in our modern age; we sailed round the world on a sailboat and this achievement will stay with us for the rest of our life.

Monday, February 20, 2012


There are few places we can say we’ve been many times for there are so many places to see in the world that there are no good reasons why would we would come back to the same place more than once or twice. Well, for us Marigot is one of those places we seem to come back recurrently. These are three pictures taken with that statue in front of the market in Marigot. I love these pictures because they show clearly how we physically evolve over the years! Another interesting point is that these pictures spread over eight years and if you enlarge the pictures, by clicking on them, you can see that the scratches on the paint of the statue we could see in 2004 are still there in 2012. In other words, the statue has never been repainted. It is almost pathetic that all I have to tell you is about the paint on a statue but the fact is that we are not doing much these days. We do small tasks on the boat, go to the “pâtisserie” to buy a baguette and get some internet, play games and watch movies. Every few days we change from Marigot to Grand Case and then back. We are simply comfortable here in St-Martin and we are dragging our feet. Also, Danielle needed to have some dental work done and we use this as an excuse to stay on the island longer. However, we won’t be able to stay here forever with Chocobo for sale and our need to go back to work at one point we will have to set sail toward the Virgin Islands and after that to the Bahamas. Meanwhile we just enjoy our time here and keep having fun to see how people often serve us in English even after we spoke to them in French! This must be our thick French Canadian accent that make them think we are trying to learn to speak French but still don’t master the pronunciation :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

MANTA-40 (1997)

$$$$ 249,900.000 $$$$$

With our adventure around the world coming to an end we have to do the heartbreaking move of putting Chocobo for sale. We are in the process of updating our “Boat” page with the most recent list of equipments and pictures. You can contact us by email :

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just having fun.

With the huge circumnavigation milestone behind us we are now simply taking life a bit easy in St-Martin which is a place easy to relax. Plenty of restaurants and stores to eat and find all those boat parts we needed for all the small repairs that were not fundamentally important but still needed to be done at one point and that’s pretty much all we’ve been doing; eating and boat projects. As someone said; the definition of The Cruising Life is boat repairs in exotic places. St-Martin is definitively a place to prove that statement!

As for the eating, Grand Case is the town to go and the place Danielle and I like the most is what we call “The BBQ place”. Basically, about four restaurants setup there BBQ grills in an outdoor square in front of their business and serve food to the many tourists visiting Grand Case. The town is well known for its expensive and fancy restaurants but our wallet forces our brains to systematically discard them and erase them from our reality and that’s why we always end up eating at the BBQ place where we can find reasonably priced meals and where they accept the US dollar at par with the Euro; this means a 35% discount just there! For about $10 we got a rack of ribs and side dishes perfectly grilled on charcoal put in a drum cut in half with a grill on top.

The picture we posted for our “We sailed around the world!” post was not the only one we took. We didn’t quite know what tone to give to that picture and in the end we took a serious one because of the importance of the event. However, Danielle was really in a happy mood that day and she had quite a different idea of how we should present our goal of a lifetime! But in the end, fortunately or not that is hard to say, my bland and serious attitude won in the choice of the picture but still the other pictures we took that day are worth showing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

We sailed around the world!

We did it! On Jan 4th, 2012 Danielle and I officially completed the circumnavigation of the Earth on board our 40ft sailing catamaran Chocobo by sailing across our own wake off shore of the island of St-Martin in the Caribbean where we sailed in 2009. To achieve that goal of a lifetime we sailed 29262 nautical miles (54427 km), travelled for 3 years, 3 months and 22 days or 1208 days, we visited 48 countries, crossed three oceans, sailed successfully though the most dangerous pirated infested waters, met the best and the worst of what humanity has to offer and leisured in the most beautiful scenery of the world. Although it is a major milestone in our journey it is not the end of our trip yet as we still have another six months or so of sailing in front of us. And for those interested in figures our trip so far cost us UD $179976.03 for a monthly average of US $4499.40. It was very expensive but was worth every penny!
Now it is time to celebrate!

Arrived in St-Martin (again).

We arrived at Grand Case on the island of St-Martin from Low Bay in Barbuda on January 4th, 2012 after a passage of 78 nautical miles (145 km) that took us 14 hours for an average speed of 5.6 knots. Our arrival in Grand Case marks the completion of our circumnavigation of the earth.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vacations in paradise.

If we had known how beautiful were the beaches of Antigua and especially of Barbuda when we sailed in the area at the beginning of our trip we would have taken the time to make a detour here instead of keeping sailing south. Kilometer long beaches of fine sand are there for the visitors’ enjoyment. After two years of fast pace sailing it feels very good just to stop and enjoy the beach, work a bit on the boat and swim with the fishes.

But Barbuda is not only the nicest beaches in the world but also one of the largest frigate bird sanctuaries in the world. Tens of thousands of this majestic bird nest in the wet lands formed by the huge lagoon in the middle of the island. During the mating period the males inflate their red throat to indicate to the females their availability and somehow to impress them. Apparently, for frigates size DOES matter! According to our guide once a female has made her choice things go pretty fast. After the necessary gene interchange ordeal the female will lay one egg but the male will be responsible to sit on it but the female will have to do all the work after to feed both the chick and the father. Well, being a father at home has to have its advantages isn’t it?

As I mentioned before we didn’t have any breakups during the Atlantic crossing and we were all proud of how sturdy Chocobo was and all but if nothing snapped during the last few weeks didn’t mean things were not breaking up! I had to climb on top of the mast to change a VHF radio antenna that died with a spectacular leap of death from the top of the mast right to the deck as we were leaving Arrecife in the Canaries. This was not a very urgent task so I procrastinated until we reached that side of the ocean to actually go up there. Climbing the mast is always an interesting experience. I have to sit on a sort of harness made of a wood plank that serves as a chair hence its name the bosun’s chair. The chair is attached to the main halyard (the rope used to raise the main sail) and Danielle winches me up using our electrical winch. This may sound simple in theory but for one thing the winch is not meant to pull up 86 kg (190 lbs) of muscles and water. All right, maybe a bit of fat too! Anyway, I’m too heavy for the winch and I have to pull myself up at the same time. In the movies we see men pulling themselves up single handed along a 100m of rope. Well, it is not that easy especially for a guy who worked in front of a computer all his life! At the top of the 15m (50ft) of mast I’m totally exhausted and then the work starts which means trying to do detail and precise work while the waves rock the boat. A small balancing of the boat isn’t a big deal at the deck level but at the end of a 15m pole there’s quite an amplification factor. Some people rode their dinghy beside Chocobo as I was at the top and even waved at us “Merry Christmas!” while their dreadful wakes slid toward us and when Chocobo started to roll I had to stop whatever I was doing and to hold the mast with both my arms wrapped around it while I swung like a metronome and withholding the urge I had to tell our lovely neighbors what I thought they should do with their Merry Christmas! Of course nothing was working as planned and I had to go up and down three times before the antenna was all set.

But while playing Tarzan with the mast I noticed that the T-ball attachment of the port shroud was almost cut all the way through. The shrouds are the stainless steel cables holding the mast in place. The picture here shows the cut in the 5/8” (16mm) T-Ball that actually attaches the shroud to the mast. If this last bit of steel that still remained had snapped during the crossing we would have lost the mast! We bought this shroud in Australia one and half year ago and they are supposed to be good for ten years. Luckily for us there was a good rigger in Falmouth, Antigua and we got a new shroud made in one day. Of course, I had to go up the mast twice again but at that point I was getting the trick and somehow my newly discovered muscles had developed and I was able to hoist myself much easier.

I just couldn’t pass showing you this picture of the “STAD AMSTERDAM” we saw in Falmouth, Antigua which is in my opinion the most beautiful tall ship in the world.