Saturday, June 24, 2017

Crossing an ocean

Crossing an ocean
By Anneleize Strauss
Days lile these make you forget about the bad ones.

Day 3
23.17.587 N 
65.29.303 W
470 miles to first waypoint

Well, despite the fact that I spent the first day throwing my guts up and the second day not eating anything, I feel much better now. It’s like I usually tell people when they ask about the sailing and seasickness. I’m sick for about the first two days and then I feel much better. I just have to get into the motion of the boat.
Mind you, the first day was horrible. I didn’t eat at all or drink water because it wouldn’t stay down, and the less there is in your stomach the less there is to come up, right? No, not really. It’s a very horrible feeling, and I don’t recommend it for anyone. When I was younger, I couldn’t control myself very well, and I would lie in the cockpit, moaning and crying and feeling miserable. Now, however, I just do that inside my head so I don’t bother Dad.
We’ve been doing some good mileage though; the first day was a lot of wind so we were averaging 7-8 knots of speed per hour with about 18 to 20 knots of wind. We should be crossing out of the tropical degrees soon, not too happy about that. By the way, the tropical degrees are 27 west, so after you pass out of those lines on the chart, well, brrr. I’ll miss the warm sea, that’s for sure.
There have been a few lines of Sargasso following the currents, but its thinning out considerably. The ARC will be starting in a few days so I’m sure there will be some other boats heading the same direction as us. I’m going to go back outside now, to sit in the wind a bit. –AS

Still the same day, its May 4th by the way
Its afternoon now, about 5.30 and we have had a nice day, Dad just finished up some boiled cabbage in the pressure cooker, yum. I have a very strong hankering for some roti, which lord knows I’ll be hard pressed to find out here. I finished reading our current Jacky Faber to Dad, it being the second one, and now if I can just remember where exactly I put the damn third one we can continue. I actually felt well enough today to change into clean clothes, and it feels nice because after 3 days in the same shirt, well… I’ll just stop myself there. We have a rotation of 3 hour watches between the two of us during the night time, and during the day time, it’s just whoever is the most tired sleeps and the other one reads outside or just sits. I’m off to my bunk now to my book, more later. –AS

Day 4 (technically, as it is 2.30am you know)
24.55.735 N 
5th of May
I am rather tired, and it’s becoming quite bothersome. Now some people, coughArdencough, can have good reason to stay up til 2.30 at a party or something fun like that. But when you actually have to stay up, looking for ships, well, I keep nodding off.

The moon was a very pleasing golden color earlier, before it set and left me all alone with only the darkness of the clouds and the faint bio-luminescence in the wake of the boat. I was thinking on my reading of the Jacky Faber’s to Dad, and how I do delight in the telling of it, so much so at times, that I simply froth at the mouth or become so overexcited that I have to stop and just laugh for a while. I suppose madness is a part of exhaustion, and perhaps a slight edge of boredom? Who can tell? We have 382 miles to our first waypoint left, and hopefully the wind direction will shift as we haven’t varied from our course of 65 west and we do need to shift quite a bit east to bypass that first milestone. I find myself anticipating our arrival with much… anticipation? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge journey, but I miss my mom, as all children are wont to do, not that I really consider myself   a child much anymore, and I picture tying up to the dock in Flores, and simply flopping down on the cement like a sack of bricks. Breathing in, and smelling green, and earth, and feeling steady land under me. Ah well. It seems the wind has begun to pick up a bit, so I shall go and observe outside for a while. By-the-bye darlings… -AS

More of Day 4 though at a much more reasonable hour
26.02.495 N 
64.50.369 W
I’ve had the song ‘Renegades’ by X Ambassadors stuck in my head all day thanks to Kieran’s playlist, but it’s better than Wrecking Ball and don’t even get me started cause I will give you a whole list of ‘em, count on it. The boat smells yummy, as I have been using our abundance of pears to make a pear crumble.
 Now Stanley I do apologize, but seeing as you are in Washington DC and I am in the Atlantic, well, it just wasn’t destined to work out. Also the fact that you are a sausage dog, and I’m sure there are more than enough pears to satisfy your hunger might have something to do with it as well.
 We also seem to have a lot of mangoes. Like a serious amount. You don’t even want to know how many. I’m experimenting with drying them in the sun and I am eager to know how it’ll turn out because that could be a use for them, besides the delicious mango chutney I make. It’s divine. –AS

Almost the 6th but not yet
26.43.392 N  
64.28.257 W
10.30 p.m. ish

Just to make it perfectly clear to those landlubbers and persons not affiliated with the sea in any way, those numbers up there are latitude and longitude, and they are simply there because it makes this whole thing look rather important. Also if you wanted to know where we were exactly at the point that I wrote this, you can go right ahead and google the coordinates. I am on watch again, as it seems to be the only time I actually become interested in being inside. If you have sailed long distance at all or even just overnight passages, have you ever noticed that when it’s your turn to be on watch, you tend to nod off all the time, and the second you get off watch and into your bunk, it’s like your brain goes sorry no sleep for you! I’m not the only one this happens to, right? I marked our progress on the paper chart and we’ve finally started to shift more eastward. This is good as we were more or less on a direct line to Bermuda, and the wind has now shifted more favorably to the south east and we’ve broken past the 65 degree line. We have another 270 miles to our first waypoint, and then I think Dad said the next one is 1300 miles. Oh boy. Well the miles do tick by, and we do not lack for things to do. I shall now excuse myself to venture outside and attempt to stay awake. –AS

Day 5
28.19.545 N 
63.13.705 W
It smells so good in here! Dad is making chicken and rice and gravy and roast vegetables. Also it’s Saturday.
We both look frazzled at this point
We are getting jostled around a bit, but that’s nothing new. Tomorrow is supposed to be much less wind, so Dad is hoping to bring our 2 plantain trees out on deck for a bit of sun.
His Majesty the plantain

Back again. I have realized that it takes a good deal of equilibrium, grace, skill, and a body for movement not to bruise yourself whilst doing dishes. This I did realize through trial and yes, a few bruises. I don’t mind doing the dishes when we are in port or at anchor, but it just aint fun out here. There are about 152 miles to our waypoint, and that is nice. I believe we started with 720, so we’ve done quite well. I had a few TEDTALKS stored on my iPad so Dad and I were watching them, which was a nice respite from the usual, which is sit and do nothing. How scintillating. I find the days aren’t so hard; it’s the nights that sneak up and kick you in the pants. You can be just fine for your first hour or so, but then you start to fall asleep, and you have to find ways to keep awake, like reading or writing. It’s more difficult when it gets colder because your natural reaction is to curl up and reserve body heat, which then leads to… you guessed it, sleep. –AS

Day 7
31.17.950 N 
59.45.455 W
No writing yesterday. It was quite jerky and I couldn’t spend more than a minute inside before I started to feel bad. Oh well. It was definitely colder yesterday, as evidenced by the cloud bank that sat on the horizon yesterday afternoon. I think it’s that cold front coming off the East Coast. Whatever it is, I don’t mind so much grinning and bearing it, as it is giving us very good winds and we are really plowing along. As you can see above, we have finally broken the 60 degree mark and are moving steadily east. I set the GPS to our last waypoint, it being right in Flores harbor, and joy! We only have 1476 miles to go. Now I know that seems like a lot but right at this moment I don’t care, because it’s only so many days and so many miles and I simply can’t wait! Dad has been doing all of the cooking and pretty much all the cleaning as well, and I feel kind of bad, but just about any time I get in the kitchen, well it’s basically a washing machine and it’s not fun getting repeatedly slammed into walls and things, as I’ve no doubt previously mentioned. However, I am going to fry up some eggplant and mince, to make moussaka later.

I was just outside, and saw a little black bird, possibly a petrel, flying up and over the swells. He made me feel marginally better about the distance still to go and how far we’ve already come.
(If you are Deliberating the meaning of marginally, it means a little bit) –AS

Day 7
32.37.081 N 
57.04.226 W
If you are wondering whether 4 and a half hours is a long time to be on watch, then you are correct, but the truth of the matter is I really wasn’t tired, and I figured why not let Dad sleep longer if I could still be awake? So at 3.30 in the morning when I was due to get off my watch, I didn’t, I kept on going, listening to music, and reading a book. Eventually it started to get lighter and lighter until I finally didn’t need my headlamp anymore. At 5 am I decided I had been awake long enough. I was yawning and could barely keep my eyes open long enough to write in the log book and then collapse gratefully into bed. I think that’s by far the longest watch I’ve ever done. Now 4 and a half hours doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you get woken up at 12.30 in the pitch dark, and you sit shivering in the cold in your fleece and scarf, well, the time doesn’t exactly fly. But I had my book to keep me company; a new one I picked up in Culebra, called Orange is the new Black, which I’m sure most people have seen the TV series on Netflix or whatever, but I’m slightly old fashioned, I generally prefer the book more. Anyway, we have now officially been sailing a week. 7 whole days out here, and still quite a few more to go. In another week, Mom and Jabez will start driving down to the port to look for us, that would make it the 16th by which time I think we’ll be about two or three hundred miles out still, depending. Hey, maybe we’re lucky and get there on the 16th, who knows? 1317 miles to go and counting…
Day 8 or is it 9?(10 May 2017)
33.38.391 N 
54.18.645 W  
He went straight into the pan and then Dad ate him. Blehh
We have officially done 1000 miles, only another 1000 to go! This morning’s sunrise was glorious, and the only one so far that I have been 100 percent conscious for, truth be told. Generally I am so tired by that time that I’m either asleep or pretty damn close.
Not very appealing
About a half hour later there was a bank of grey clouds rolling in from the South West and I stood up to check and on our port stern there was a ship, about half a mile off. I watched him for a while, and when I saw that he was getting mighty close I woke Dad. We sat and watched, and pondered on where he was going,
Yes he is very close
because he was certainly in a hurry to get there. As he got closer and closer we realized he wasn’t passing behind us. Honest to god, he pulled up next to us and slowed down a bit. I had tried hailing them on channel 16 earlier, thanking them for making way, and there had been no response, and of course as soon as they got close enough Dad called them by name, and the captain responded with only ‘I see you’. He was hanging out there about 200 or 300 feet off our port side. I think the captain and crew were probably a little bored and thought it might be fun to cruise with us a bit. He hung around for maybe 10 minutes, and then powered his engine back up. It was a strange sight, no doubt, this little sailboat and this huge squarish shaped car ferry, cause that’s what it was, a large car ferry, kind of like a cardboard box in looks, pitching through the swells. It’s the first time I can remember a ship coming that close. It was called Arabian Seas and it was probably on its way to the Suez for car delivery. I was tempted to ask them for a weather forecast, but I had the feeling they weren’t all that chatty. Ah well. My feet were freezing so I went inside and put a blanket on and promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, the engine was running, and joy of joys, there was hot water! You see the way it works on our boat is that when we are on the hard (meaning our boat is hauled out of the water and put up so we can paint the bottom and work on it) or connected to shore power in a marina we have a water heater, but we don’t make enough power just us to use it normally, so if you want hot water for dishes you boil a kettle and for showers generally you use salt water with a rinse of fresh. However, when we run the engine, the water sits near it and heats up, so we can use it for delicious showers. Also we have water pressure that we switch on and off, for obvious conservation reasons, so for this morning it was on. Lord, it was sinfully good, to have hot running water to wash my hair. Another thing I’m looking forward to in Flores is the bathtub. I haven’t had one since we left in January. As for hot showers, well those are also few and far between. One of the arts of boat living is the salt water shower, which I have mastered having the longest hair aboard. My brother used to be a contender, til he cut his hair, though the funny thing is now that he has short hair, he washes it more than I do. Now it’s just Dad and me, and since our hair is relatively similar in thickness, we both wash it the same way. –AS

Day 9
34.16.370 N 
51.24.628 W
The wind left us at 1 am this morning. Dad woke me up and we sat outside and then it shifted and shifted until it was from the North West and between 4 and 6 knots. After an eternity of flapping sails, Dad started the engine, and we started moving again, but at a much slower rate of 4.5 knots compared to 6.5 and 7.0. I was unhappy because we had slowed down, but we chugged along and after Dad went down to sleep, I sat and watched the sky, which was clear as day. The moon was up and round and very bright, its light making the ocean shimmer like quicksilver. I sat and read until the moon went down and the sun came up and when I couldn’t keep my eyes open another second, I woke Dad up.
Dad at the wheel
When I woke, the engine was still running and the sun was high in the sky. The sea was still almost like glass, there was so little wind yet it still managed to bounce me around when I went down to make breakfast. Thanks be to god it wasn’t another burrito. I swear on all that’s holy, if I have to eat a burrito again for breakfast I will puke. I can hear you say, aw it’s not that bad, but if you eat the same thing for 7 days in a row you too will be sick of it. We spent the afternoon reading and motoring along, and at about 3 we got wind again. We have put the spinnaker out and are goose winged sailing almost directly downwind.
Goosed winged and making time!
(For the non-sailors that means our boom with the main sail is put out perpendicular to the boat and we set up a spinnaker pole which is kind of like a smaller secondary boom that holds the head sail to the opposite side as the main sail.) Hopefully, (knock on wood) we can keep the wind. In other news we have 1017 miles to go and have almost broken the 50 degree line. We are so close!! I’m getting more and more excited… -AS
Beautifully moving
Day 10
35.23.499 N 
48.22.104 W
10 days at sea. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a lot. Of course, last night I came downstairs to read for a bit and my book fell out of my hand and I couldn’t keep my eyes open after 2 minutes! I guess the exhaustion was just catching up with me from the rest of the trip. Oh well, it had to happen sometime! Great news, 855 miles to go! Now the real countdown begins, as every day the miles tick down, like a clock til we get there. We have about 18 knots of wind still from the South West, but are back on the port tack, though our spinnaker pole is still up.
Nice day with blue water
With this wind we are doing an average of 8.0 knots, even with a reef in the headsail. I was sitting on the high side of the boat earlier when a nice wave saw an opportunity and took it, managing to soak my fleece pants. Luckily however, a few minutes before, I had decided I was too cold and put on my wet weather jacket, which is waterproof, so my fleece jacket, scarf and t shirt were dry. I’ve hung my pants in the bathroom, in the hopes that they’ll dry, but we shall see. So far, my nights have been strange. Whenever I’m asleep I have the most vivid and weird dreams, with people running in and out of them, and when sleeping in the middle bunk, here on the couch in the galley, which has been set up with memory foam, so you can’t roll, the sheets work their way around my body, and I wake up feeling like I’m being strangled. It’s not the nicest way to rest, trust me.

Alright we’ve had the log update for the day, now we are going to talk about Weevils. Yes, the bugs.

So if you’ve ever lived on a boat in the tropics, you probably know all about weevils, but if you haven’t, it’ll be my pleasure to enlighten you. Weevils are little black bugs that live in grain, and rice, and hatch when it’s warm enough. Now, some of this grain is made into pasta, with the eggs still in it. Also, just so you know, you have eaten weevil eggs before. They are in all pastas, rice, grains; they just don’t hatch unless it’s warm enough. If you leave the pasta, they will hatch. And let me tell you how not fun it is to pull out a bag of pasta or open a container of rice and see black bugs crawling around in there. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Day 12
36.23.015 N  43.09.087 W
Yesterday, to put it simply, was hellish. The barometer dropped 5 points, and then another 5, and before we knew it we were in the middle of a howling gale. First the horizon behind us got hazy, then a huge bank of clouds rolled in, bringing with it 30+ knots of wind, gusting to 40 at time, monstrous swells that were terrifying I can’t even explain it, and sheeting rain. Dad had to hand steer for hours because the autopilot just couldn’t handle it. We were surfing down those waves, going 9 and 10 knots, the sails reefed and reefed again, shivering even in our wet weather gear, long johns and jackets, the cold seeping into everything. I stayed outside with Dad because I knew the company was wanted. We both wore harnesses and clipped in even though it was daylight. I do NOT want to think about someone going over the side in those conditions. It was a very, very long day, but on the bright side we had a large pod of dolphins come and play in our rather frothy bow wave. There must have been at least 20 to 25 of them, showing off, surfing with us, and jumping clean out of the water. There were even mothers and children, I saw. It was a bright spot for me, laughing and watching them. One thing I hadn’t counted on was being lonely. I had Dad and he is wonderful, but I felt like they came along to give me some cheer. Imagine that, one pod of dolphins finding their way to us 735 miles from Flores. I couldn’t get my camera out to take photos of them or the canyon-like swells because rain and cameras generally don’t mix. Let me tell you though, those waves, with those waves I understood what people were talking about when the say the North Atlantic has big waves. You look and see them rolling in front of you, breaking next to you and you get this feeling of apprehension, and it’s not a good feeling. Towards dark, I went down to try and grab some sleep, knowing I’d need it later in the evening. After maybe an hour of hearing the winds roaring through the rigging, Dad called my name. Now there are times when you can tell that it is important, and this was definitely one of those times. I hurried into my gear, not caring that it was freezing and damp, shrugged on my harness and went outside. The swells were rolling us around and the wind was screaming. We needed to do a sail change. I got on the wheel, while Dad went on deck to try and get the head sail to furl. See, because it’s a brand new head sail, when we sail with a lot of wind, the part that’s furled tightens up, so when we try to furl the rest we run out of sheet line and there is still an amount of sail out. I turned us into the wind, and felt the icy spray on my face, squinting past the deck lights which were pouring forth light; I saw the moon start to rise, round and orangey-red. The wind started blowing harder and Dad was still on deck. The mainsail was all the way furled and it was just the stubborn head sail. The boat viciously rolled and I couldn’t see Dad. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and ice cold fear ran through my blood. My mind immediately started going through the scenarios. What if he fell over the side, how will I find him? What if he gets hurt? Finally I saw him hanging on the rails at the bow, fixing the head sail sheet lines, and a sense of relief coursed through me. He started coming back to the cockpit. “Dad,” I called out, “I’m gonna be sick”. “It’s fine,” he said. I curled up on the bench in the back, my hand clenched around the steering wheel even after Dad locked it all the way to starboard. We sat there. We were successfully Hove To. (For those who don’t know, Hove To is when the wind is too strong, or you are too tired or something, you pull in all but the barest scrap of sail, lock your wheel, and just drift) I went below, having controlled my roiling stomach, and stripped out of the wet weather gear, and crawled into bed. I spent a very long night there, being bounced by the waves, listening to make sure nothing was wrong. Dad immediately fell asleep which I can’t blame him for, he’d been up half the previous night, and then the whole day. He slept almost through. I kept waking up every few hours, and just lay there, worrying. Dawn came and the only casualty was a lost sail bag for the storm sail, which was laying on the fore-deck. No doubt it filled up with water and ripped off. Dad brought the tie back to the cockpit later. We got under way and I was so thankful we were safe. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared. All in all, we drifted 10 miles back South during the night. Not too bad. Today was quiet which was fine by me. We have 592 miles to go and once again I can’t wait! I have no doubt Mom was watching that storm on the weather sites, and worrying about us. Its ok Mom, we’re safe and absolutely ecstatic to be out of that storm! See you soon. –AS

Day 13
37.21.417 N  40.49.825 W
Well the weather gods decided to take the wind away. We’ve been running the engine since last night. The wind has been between nonexistent and 6 knots, not nearly enough to make a difference. We are currently moving at a measly 3.4 knots, but the seas are very calm and Dad is resting. God knows he needs it, we both do. It’s rather hard to look fabulous after nearly two weeks at sea, though I do my utmost best, sin of pride and all. Both our eyes are bloodshot, and since the barometer has moved up to 1030, which is marked as very dry, well, so are my eyes. Lovely. The downside of the doldrums is we’re not really making enough progress for my voraciousness to achieve our goal. True, we only have 471 miles to go, but with no wind in sight, they are dragging by. The sun came out today and I took advantage of it, stretching out like a contented cat, relishing the warmth after these past few days of rain and storms, and delighted to be out of my damp wet weather gear wherein I had been coexisting for 48 hours. Dolphins graced our presence, this time in much calmer seas.
The best shot I have
I did get my camera out this time, and watched them playing. They were quite naughty, as I would wait with my finger on the button for one of them to pass into the lens, and when they did, I would get off a passable shot, and then there would be a perfect opportunity, like a clean jump or a fine fin slicing the water, but of course my camera was pointed the other direction. The scoundrels, they did it on purpose. See, go to sea for two weeks and you start to believe the dolphins are playing tricks on you. Oh boy. It was a nice day, a day of relaxing, but long nonetheless. In the evening, there wasn’t a breath of wind, the sea was clear as glass, and we could see all manner of jellyfish, including tons of Portuguese-Man-Of-War and box jellyfish, neither of which I’m too fond of, myself having been stung by the first one and Dad by the second a few years ago. There was also a great deal of red plankton in the water and we wondered over it. I know we are getting closer to whale grounds, they are very partial to the area around Faial and Pico, so maybe the plankton was on its way there, traveling with the currents. I was standing on the bow looking down into the water and seeing darkness, and it was disconcerting. To know that there is nothing beneath you for a good few kilometers… Well, let’s not go there, shall we? –AS

The sky is clear, there are no clouds tonight. The stars look like millions and millions of fireflies twinkling up above. The sea is calm, and dark, and there is faint phosphorescence in the small waves of our wake. It’s a pity it can’t be caught on camera; it really is the most beautiful thing you can imagine. –AS

Day 14
38.01.382 N  38.29.730 W
Two weeks at sea. Not bad. We’ve got 353 miles to go owing to the loss of wind yesterday, but we got a nice breeze today pushing us at 6 knots so we have made some mileage. If we keep this wind it should be about two and a half, maybe three days til we get there. I’m getting quite nervous! The sea has changed color a bit, for most of the journey it’s been a deep cerulean blue, but now its greener, like a shiny emerald.
The dolphins came again, and played, but these looked more like bottlenose, and after they left, I took a short nap in the sun, so relaxing, and was woken by Dad calling my name. Well whatta ya know, whales! There were two or three, I think, and they stayed under the water til we passed, smart of them, and resurfaced behind us. We got a look at some dorsal fin and a few spouts. Today was nice, with the wind. Granted yesterday was nice as well, but it’s good to have the wind again, pushing us to our final destination.
A molten sunset, urging us on our way

Outside, behind the boat, is our wake and the phosphorescence is amazing. It’s like a trail of light green, a comets tail of little sparkling stars, shimmering like tiny green diamonds. I tried to take a photo, but the light is too little, it’s more something you experience and it’s hard to explain or show someone who hasn’t seen it. During my watch, I sat outside in the back, behind the steering wheel, listening to music on my iPod, and just staring behind the boat, watching the sky shining in the water, the line beneath the boat from the speed of water passing by our keel, feeling strange, as if this is a gift for me and me alone, and knowing no one else is awake and I am alone out here with only the wind, sky and sea as company. Deep thoughts, yes, but what an amazing sight, to sit beneath the stars and revel in the brisk breeze and be thankful   –AS

Day 15(17 May 2017 by now)
38.41.835 N  35.26.593 W
Another day bringing us closer to home. I cleaned up the boat a bit, considering how it felt like we were wallowing, walking past things on the floor, not making beds, that sort of thing. I suppose after so long, you become a bit zombified, and it is just habit for your eyes to glaze over. But it feels much better to have a clean boat now. We are making very good time and at this speed should arrive early on the 19th so another full day and two nights. That’s really not so bad. I keep expecting it to all be a dream, that we are this close, like I’ll wake up and we’ll still have 1800 miles to go. So I keep telling myself
 “Don’t over think it. Just take it one day at a time, nice and easy, relax. We’re almost there. Only 203 miles to go.”
 Oh man, I’m fairly bouncing up and down with excitement. I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait! I’m picturing coming in, tying up and flopping down onto the dock, or better yet the concrete, and just NOT MOVING. I wonder how long it will take for my body to get accustomed to not rolling back and forth. That’ll be interesting, I’ll wager.

Day 16(18 May 2017)
39.27.688 N  31.58.208 W
Abracadabra has become quite anxious in her race to get closer to Flores. I don’t think we’ve gone under 6.5 knots all day. Last night the dolphins came back and were surfing the waves next to the boat, making little torpedo wakes behind them. The first time I saw one of them it scared the crap outta me cause I thought it was a shark or something big. Silly me. It was kind of magical, seeing these trails of light from beneath the animals. Well the excitement is palpable aboard this here barky now, us being 37 miles from Lajes, the main port, and our destination… I hope. See the swell is coming from the South and when it’s like that it really isn’t comfy in the marina, so hopefully, it will settle down the closer we get. The sun went down about a half hour ago and one of the reasons I’m so excited is ‘cause I can see the flash from the lighthouse already! In the book it says it only goes 27 miles, but what’s another 10 between friends, eh? There’s another boat out here, a fisherman I’m pretty sure, he’s only got a small light, low to the water. If the swell won’t cut out, we’ll head for Faja Grande, on the North West side of the island. Normally, it’s the worst bay (and the only one besides Lajes) to anchor in, what with the wind direction and the swell, but it might be good enough for us. I really hope we can go into the harbor though, it would be so much easier.
Land at last!!
Guess I’ve gotten soft.
Throughout this entire journey, this odyssey, I learned so much, about responsibility, about trust and having faith that, yes, we will get there, no you won’t die from exhaustion, and yes, it was the most amazing experience. I am so lucky and honored to have done this with my Dad, the two of us, crossing an ocean.
Land smelled like rain and fresh water and soil and cows. Amazing after so long at sea.
Who would’ve thought? I just now realize that, yes, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have crossed an ocean, and we did it together.  

We arrived in the port of Lajes das Flores on May 19th 2017, at 9.00 am in the morning after 16 days and 18 hours, covering 2200 miles across an ocean. It was an experience I’ll never forget and at times I can’t believe I really made it. Thank you Dad, my watch buddy, my cabbage making man, you are my hero. I love you.

To my mom and brother, thank you for the opportunity. I know it wasn’t really your choice, but sometimes life decides to take things into it’s own hands and our worlds and plans might change, but as is most times the case, usually it makes you a richer person. I love you both.
To all my friends who sent me messages wishing me luck and to be safe: I love you guys, you helped get me through the trip.

And finally to my home, my one and only, the beautiful boat that is S/Y ABRACADABRA, you got me through the storm, and across an freaking ocean! I love you, you’re everything. Thank you.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

So generally I can crank a blog out just like that. Once I was so into the spirit of writing that I just kept going and my parents were clearing their throats like ‘Ahem, Anneleize, I think you should finish up with that now’, and my fingers were just doing a little dance, and I do believe I typed a full 5 pages that day. But we aren’t here to discuss my typing prowess at all!

This is my blog, and even though I was supposed to be keeping it up when we were in America last year, I didn’t. For me, the fun part was recounting our adventures on the boat, with our Israeli friends, cruising up the chain, and when we were staying in Colorado, it just wasn’t the same for me. There’s something magical about exploring new places, well, for me at least, like feeling that new feel, going places you’ve never been, seeing things you’ve only dreamed about!
 Ok, ok, gotta slow down here.
 I mean, I wouldn’t want a massive horde of people reading this (don’t you just love modesty and exaggeration), and then going, hey that sounds amazing, let’s go! Not that I don’t wish there were more children my age on boats, because believe me, I really do, I just like the fact that there aren’t too many people like me. I am a unique person, naturally.

Before you become bored to death with my incessant babble, I will begin the real story that you all visited my blog to read.

              THE BLOG TO END ALL BLOGS is what I’m calling it.

Very few people actually know what it means to live on a boat. It’s such a small space to share with so many people and it does get cramped after a certain amount of time. However it has its upsides. You generally get to know whoever lives with you VERY, VERY well. You become tight-knit, close and pretty possessive of what you would classify as your people.

But enough of that….

On to the good stuff.

This blog is about St. Croix, which some people may not know. St. Croix is part of the US Virgin Islands, and about 35 miles away from the rest of the Virgin Islands. The island is amazing, but as is the norm with most places, the people make it so much more. We first arrived in St. Croix about 3 weeks ago, after I met a girl called Arden on a boat near us in Honeymoon Bay, St. Thomas.
Arden, trying out a different type of LED poi 

The fire child has graduated to a fire queen.
She quickly convinced us that we NEEDED to come to St. Croix, and since we hadn’t done any real sailing in almost a year, we did. We arrived in Frederiksted, on the west side, in the total darkness, and dropped the hook. We quickly went to sleep because it had been a long day. Well, long for Dad, considering every time we start sailing I get drowsy as a side effect of sea sickness so I basically am no fun, I just sleep. The next morning I woke up and could honestly not believe my eyes. I mean sure, I’m in the Caribbean, but St. Croix looked downright heavenly. The water was this ice blue color, and the sand on the beaches was a goldeny, inviting color. I quickly realized that I liked St. Croix VERY much. Arden took me ashore and introduced me to Pi, who owns Teres Veho, a popular beach bar where we hang out all the time, and her son Q, who helps in the kitchen and is an avid, nay, fanatical bicyclist. I also met Nash, from Kenosha, Wisconsin who helps around and is a really nice guy. His mom and sisters come to the beach too and are of course the sweetest people. The only other ‘boat kid’ here in Frederiksted is Kieran, a South African teen who I’ve been trying to teach Afrikaans to again, since he can understand it but not really speak it.
The naturally fabulous leprechaun,
Needless to say, a common interest, that being South Africa has made us besties in a short time. Kieran also does LED poi, and is quite proficient at it. And of course, there is the fabulous Arden, of the fair house of Astin, she of the fire dancing.
What fun
Yes, she is very, very good at the fire dancing and is absolutely one of a kind. She has a pet, but of course if you wanna have drama you gotta go all the way. Bert is… interesting. Bert also happens to be a ball python who resides on Arden’s boat as the ‘ships cat’ as it were. A natural scene might be for Arden or her 6 year old sister Riley to walk around with Bert around their neck. Although Bert does have a rather calming effect on me, so that’s good. We did sail up to Trellis Bay on Tortola for a short ‘holiday’, Arden’s parents being musicians, they had a gig in Trellis playing for the Full Moon Party there, and we tagged along.
Fire was a big part of the Full Moon Party.
There I got to experience how much fun it is to sometimes just be a regular teenager, one who can dance and laugh and generally just be happy, and I really enjoyed it. From there we went to Eustatia Island, above Prickly Pear, off Virgin Gorda in the BVI’s and we had a few days of R&R, considering the ferry driver in Trellis either had a bad day or a very malicious streak in him, as he came so close to the boat, at such a high speed that his wake (the waves from the back of the boat) came into our cockpit. For those of you who don’t know, there are 5 FEET from the waterline of our boat into the cockpit. Some people… I ask you! After some nice days in Eustatia, wherein I got to enjoy the 3 meters of water and the nice warm sun, we hauled up anchor and headed back to St. Croix, partly because we loved it so much there, partly because we promised Kieran and his mom, Fiona, that we would come see the St. Patricks Day Parade in Christiaansted. And go we did. It was… interesting, to say the least.
The streets were packed and there was many a skimpy green costume.
There was a lot of loud thumping bass on the floats, and a considerable amount of loud, sun burnt, drunk tourists. Oh yeah, and EVERYBODY was wearing green. Except me of course, I was keeping up that time honored tradition of being strange and different. I wore RED. *several gasps from the audience*. Yes ‘tis true. After that debacle, we sailed for Frederiksted, it being only 15 miles or so around the corner. After we had made it 3 miles, the US Coast Guard decided that now was a perfectly good time to do a safety inspection. Hmmm. Let me think about it. The seas are big, we are rolling considerably, you have a aluminum/rubber boat, which looks VERY hard, and you want to board us NOW. What a great idea! Yeah, high five for that amount of sensible thought. Then as they started to pull in closer after announcing their intention on the loudspeaker, I ran down to my bunk and grabbed my phone, as I recall hearing that if the authorities are ever giving you crap, you should video tape them. So that’s just what I did. I got my phone and I started videoing them with a huge smile on my face and they pretty much realized that if they made even one tiny mistake, well I had their butts in a bag, so to speak. Dad had previously told them that he’d worked really hard on our boat and he didn’t want her hurt, and couldn’t they just wait till we were around the corner, where it was less rolly? That combined with the fact that I was videoing them made them think better of their idea and they left to go bother someone else. We made it through the seemingly endless sheets of rain, from which we got good wholesome drinking water and arrived back in dear old Frederiksted.

 A couple of days later and Arden and I were doing our thing, selling some jewelry on the beach to some cruise shippers.

 And finally Arden and Kieran did some fire dancing
Like fire and ice, Arden and Kieran stun the crowds with their 'duet'.
whilst Stell and Jarad played their gig with Junie Bomba, a local percussionist whose family had tried to come in from Ghana, but were refused, owing to our dear new president’s ban on Muslims entering the country. This is the Virgin Islands. And it’s 2017, not the 1940’s for God’s sake. We shouldn’t treat people differently just because of their beliefs. We’re not Nazi’s and I’m sure as hell not going to treat someone differently because of their skin color, or their religion or any of that. It is my opinion that Donald Trump has made a big mistake, and that I sincerely hope that the people who voted for him are getting exactly what they wanted. That is all I have to say on that. It was a nice night and I had fun, I danced, I laughed, I had some of the most delicious cake ever, courtesy of Q, who simply never ceases to amaze me. It was late when we left and I honestly didn’t care at all because the number one rule in life is: NEVER NOT BE HAVING FUN.

I hope you enjoyed my blog, and I will do my best to continue writing and in doing so keep you all well informed of my adventures as Anneleize Strauss, adventurer and world class gypsy. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Baloo and Dominica

Our boat on a flat calm

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”         ― John Lennon

Just to let the readers know, this blog was written a month ago and I have not had sufficient internet to post it before now.
Thanks and happy reading.

So here we are in Dominica, another Caribbean island, in the way that everyone speaks a lilting kind of English, has a laid back Rasta attitude, and is generally friendly. We have been here for just about 5 days now, and I am enjoying it, despite the fact that:

    A.  It is quite dirty
    B.  There is no place to really throw away trash, ergo the dirtiness
    C.  The local kids are SUPER pushy

Having Baloo here is awesome, of course. So far, one of the highlights of being here is:
Yesterday we loaded our dinghy with about 2 to 3 weeks of laundry and headed for the river. Now, make no mistake, there are two rivers here. One is super clean, has two pools for washing clothes and showering, the other looks like a swamp mixed with a nuclear waste dumping ground. The water is all murky and stagnant. Funny thing is, you just walk down the street a few blocks and you get to the other river, which is the exact opposite. So anyway, Dad spoke with an elderly local lady who said the clean river is where people go to wash their clothes, many of them not having washing machines. We took our buckets, and scrub brushes, soap and hair washing stuff, put it on our dolly, and went to the river. Now, I am not a big one on doing laundry, seeing as I always forget which settings are the right ones on the machine. Also I am not too good at hand-washing things, because we never have enough fresh water on the boat. Tell me, have you ever washed your clothes in a river, scrubbing them clean on a rock, wringing them out, and watching those clear drops fall like shards of glass,  and then drying your things out on bushes? Only a few of you probably have, the majority being yachties like us. The thing is, it’s such an experience you wouldn’t ever have in normal life. We dumped our entire bag of clothes into the bottom pool, the shallowest one, and set up our buckets for soaking. Dip in soap, scrub with brush, dip again, and chuck to the left so it can lie against the wall of rocks and all the soap would get pushed out by the water flowing downstream. Then, wring, wring, throw onto the rocks. Jabez picks them up, and sets them over the bushes. After a fashion, everything is done and we change into our suits and head to the higher pool, armed with shampoo, conditioner and soap. This pool is deeper, about waist deep, and cold. That was the first time I’ve washed my hair entirely in fresh water, since we got back to the boat 3 and a half months ago. On our boat you wash your hair in salt water, and rinse with salt water, then a fresh water rinse from a spray bottle. For those of you who have lawns, and use horrible and nasty pesticides like Roundup (don’t use it) think of those spray bottles. On the boat we have one of those and that is what you get to rinse with. It is filled with fresh water, not roundup though. It was a bit awkward, showering in that pool, seeing as there was a school right next door and children watching us from over the wall. They wash that way, but it is a bit of a spectacle if ‘strangers’ do it. After we were thoroughly refreshed, we headed back to the boat and hung everything up. Our boat was transformed into one giant laundry line. It looked like a second hand clothing shop, things flapping this way and that. Lunch was a help yourself deal, though there was nice fresh bread that Mom made the day before. In the afternoon, around 2ish, Igal, Matar, Telem, and the Nogster a.k.a Noga, came by and asked if we wanted to come ashore with them. We agreed, grabbed our shoes, kites and the rugby ball and went ashore. They are a family from Israel, 4 kids, living on their boat for the past 4 years; they crossed the Atlantic in February, and have been in Martinique since then. We met them, by total embarrassment. What happened was this:

Hmmm. You think there's room for a couple more?
The second day we were in Martinique, we saw some kids playing off the back of a boat with an American flag. We watched them go to another boat, a catamaran, and join some other kids. So we went over, and through much shyness and some stilted conversation, we went to the beach together.
I'm totally innocent here! Really!

Our faithful George

 Both boats were from Israel, and were speaking to each other in Hebrew, and since we didn’t know any Hebrew, YET, it took a while to get the conversation going. 
That is how we met Noga, age 11, a real little firecracker, and one of my youngest best friends.

 She is a mischievous one when teamed up with my brother, so watch what you drink. The two of them once slipped fart powder into Telem’s drink, but he figured something was wrong after a sip, especially when they were watching him like a hawk. Jabez calls Telem, age 14 now, Pastry Boy because, in Portugal, there is a suburb of Lisbon called Belem, which sells the best Portuguese Pastis de Nata in the world, you know, for Portugal.
Here I am burying the poor guy. Ah well.

At least he's enjoying it.

Anyway he and Jabez immediately became tight, after they figured out they like the same video games, i.e Pixel Dungeon, Dungeon Quest. Now we call them the Pixel Twins, because if you are looking for them, they are probably going to have their heads down, pixelating.

Matar and me working on an art piece made of glass

 Next is Matar, age 15, another of my best friends and part time confidante. Also, he reads a lot so I get tons of good recommendations on books.
Noga, me, Matar (a.k.a Drac), and Jabez

 Finally Dolev, 17, our guru for anything IT. Also not afraid to take a dip at times. Taking a dip usually involves pushing someone into the water and then cannonballing next to them. Michal and Igal are the parents and they all live on Baloo, the name of their sailboat.
Telem, Jabez, Noga, and me.

 So anyway, that’s that story.


We were heading to a field, next to ANOTHER school. A big field this was, Master Yoda agrees. We set up our kites, a gift from our friend James (best. present. ever) and were immediately overwhelmed by local kids asking things ranging from, “Can I fly your kite?” to “Where are you from?” to “Is your kite for sale?” You see, kites are a luxury item here, and I don’t think many people have that luxury. Jabez’s kite looks like a kite surfers, all fabric and string.

 Mine on the other hand is what you might think one would look like, with plastic pieces in it, so I am a little worried about how long it will last if it keeps nose-diving into the ground every time the wind drops.
Quite graceful, dontcha think?

 It’s also light and easy to get in the air but more difficult to keep there, because it turns more easily. Jabez’s kite is  easier to control up in the air, but can still whap you kind of hard when it comes down. You can even lie on the ground and fly it. We took a break and played a bit of rugby and tackling. I poured water on my face because it felt so hot you could fry a steak on it. At 6.30ish we headed back, because the sky was darkening. We had a quick stop off at the river to cool our faces and then went back. No one was at our boat so we went to Baloo, and ended up eating there, pita pizzas of our own creation. After a very exhausting day, we returned home and conked out.  

Throughout the entire time we were with this beautiful family, I was never once bored, nor could none of us come up with something to do. There were always genius ideas and some not so genius ideas. There was always laughter, smiles, jokes and fun. There were pokes and bothers, inside jokes, tickling, and very little sadness. I had 3 of the best months of my life with them. I just want to say thank you. I really enjoyed our time together.

P.S. There are some photos missing here of our friends, but I cant load them. Another time, another blog.
xx Anneleize

Monday, March 28, 2016

 The greater the difficulty the greater the glory
(Cicero, 106 – 43 BC)

We left St. Vincent quite early, around 6ish. The town was still asleep, only a few roosters were attempting to rouse people. We tied down George (our dinghy) and headed for the open sea and the 53 miles to St. Lucia, our resting place for the night.
Bye bye St.Vincent

God effect


 Rodney Bay, the main bay for boats in St. Lucia, is on the northwestern side of the island, making for a protected area for weary yachts people to take a well-deserved break. It was 30 miles across the channel between the two islands, and 20 up the St. Lucia coast. We set out, wishing great, green St. Vincent a warm farewell. Whilst waiting for Dad’s dental crown to be mailed from France, we moved north, up the coast of St. Vincent, and stopped in a small anchorage called Petit Byahaut.
The Headland of Petit Byahaut

Beautiful beach, with the remains of a tent camp.

Just stunning

To our back

 It was a tiny heaven, ensconced by two large headlands and surrounded by crystal clear waters; we tied a rope from our stern to a tree on shore and relaxed in paradise.
Little brother fixing the stern line for us to a tree


I just love my life.


 Jabez and I swam ashore to a black sand beach and sat on the stove-like sand, trying not to roast ourselves on the fiery beach. After a while we decided to go check out a cave, a bay and a half away, known as… wait for it… The Bat Cave! So we took our dinghy, and our GoPro camera, and set off. Once at this so called Bat cave, we tied ol’ Georgie to a handy mooring and hopped into the water. Above the entrance were very interesting geological formations in the rock, like a kind of wavy pattern.
Into the depths we plunge

 Large underwater boulders guarded the entry to the passage way and it grew steadily darker as we progressed, swimming, deeper into the cave. Finally we were in the back of the cave and there was a squeaking and chirping noise above our heads that wasn’t quite deafening, but pretty darn close. At one point, I took my mask off to look up and got this wave of bat fertilizer. The only time I smelled something this bad was when I was at my grandparents in South Africa and their neighbors spread guano on their flowerbeds. We couldn’t open the windows for a week! Anyway, we saw the bats flying back and forth on the ceiling and then a pinprick of light to the left. We swam in that direction, trying not to get smashed against the narrow walls of the tunnel. After 3 meters, the bottom dropped down and all I could see was just an opening, of clear, deep blue water and the walls of the underwater tunnel going downward. We came out of the cave and into the ocean, then doubled back to the dinghy again. I think it was more fun swimming there than back. If you stop in St. Vincent, do yourself a favor, swim through the bat cave, and enjoy it, but don’t disturb the bats!

Back to our passage from St. Vincent to Martinique….

The funny thing is just about every short passage we do, once we set out, I get really tired. Dad says it’s a side effect of being seasick, but I don’t get seasick anymore. HA!! Take that, person who decided people should get seasick. (I don’t know who you are, but I will look for you, I will find you and I will slap you in the face!) Well, I was kind of in limbo between sleep and not sleep and at one point heard Dad calling Mom shouting, “whale, whale!” But I really couldn’t be bothered to haul myself out of the lovely soft bed. Too bad for me, because it wasn’t a whale, it was a massive turtle as big as our cockpit. For those of you who don’t know, that is freaky big. Later, I researched the largest species of turtle and found out it is the Leatherback turtle, genus Dermochelys Coriacea, named that because it doesn’t have a bony shell, instead it is covered by skin and oily flesh, that has hardened to form a kind of shell-ish. Eww. Oh well. After an hour or so I kicked my butt out of bed (well, who else was going to do it?) and went outside.

On our way, St. Lucia in the distance.

The Grand Pitons

Piton Anse

 I took the steering wheel and sailed the boat until we were within 2 miles of the Grand Pitons, sailing the channel between St. Vincent and St. Lucia. Majestic peaks soaring into the clouds, green rainforests covering much of the island, I can understand why it is one of the most visited islands for tourists, but it always seemed a bit bland to me. I don’t know why, just a feeling. We pulled into Rodney Bay and had the hook down, holding fast and the grill going before 5 o clock. After a dinner of chicken on the grill and couscous we hit the sack. Once again we rose early after a decent night’s sleep and started up the last 20 miles to Martinique. Jabez started hand steering for the first 5 miles or so,
Yeah, thats right pretty boy, smile.

Arr Captain!

 while I went downstairs and took an half an hour nap. After that refreshing reposo I took the wheel and set a record on the speed for that trip, 7.8 knots and nobody topped it.
Although there are times when I dont like to be wakened 
Really beating into it.
Nicely heeled over
Its not all smooth sailing in light winds!
 We were sailing about 60 degrees off the wind, and gaining nice headway. At about 13 miles to go, everyone was outside in the cockpit, and I was steering, when Dad said, “Look, look!” I turned to look off the bow, and saw this massive splash 200 meters off. I was a bit disappointed, but then it breached again, clear out of the water! A pilot whale, we determined, though not a huge one, but still, not something you see every day, and not something you forget easily.

We arrived in St. Anne, Martinique, after 3 or 4 hours of good sailing, and dropped the anchor. Jabez and I donned our swim gear and snorkels, and Dad handed us some cable ties to mark the chain. You know, it’s really kinda hard to pull yourself foot by foot, 4 meters down in the water having to come up every 40 seconds or so to breathe. Later in the day Mom and Dad took Bear Necessities, our optimist sailing dinghy, to shore to clear us into France. They returned loaded down with the bountiful yumminess that was two fresh baguettes, creamy brie and goat cheese, cold salamis, and a pot of pate de vollaile. This is Anneleize signing off for now.
Viva la vida loca