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

Marigot












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 “p√Ętisserie” 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

CHOCOBO IS FOR SALE!!!
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 :