Sejah and Ayutee

Sejah Joseph  (a few years ago)

Sejah Joseph
(a few years ago)

 

We met Sejah Joseph the day we arrived in St Kitts. He and a bunch of other local kids came to the pier near the boatyard at Sandy Point to check out the boat and the newcomers. We spent that first day with our new friends doing crazy jumps in the water, playing at the beach, rolling in the sand, and stuffing ourselves with mangos from a tree across the road while waiting to be hauled out for a bottom job.

 

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Sejah, Maya, Earnest, Rajji, Evo

Sejah, Maya, Earnest, Rajji, Evo

 

Earnest and Maya

Earnest and Maya

 

Maya and Earnest

Maya and Earnest

 

Maya and Earnest

Maya and Earnest

 

Maya and Earnest

Maya and Earnest

 

Earnest

Earnest

 

Under the mango tree. Earnest Maya and Rahim

Under the mango tree.
Earnest Maya and Rahim

 

Sejah

The next day Sejah, the guy I started telling you about, a tall boy the same age as Viktor, almost 17, with a deep subdued voice and tender melancholy eyes, brings us a bag of skinups, small sweet green fruits that are a lot of fun to eat trying to separate the mushy pulp from the big round seed rolling it inside your mouth with teeth and tongue. And from then on, for the next week and a half, Sejah became a part of our family.

Because Sejah had to stay home and take care of his little brother while his mom is at work, Viktor, sometimes together with Maya, would go to his place in the morning bringing his X-box and they would play video games for hours, until Sejah’s mom returns from work, at noon.

X-ox at Sejah's place

X-ox at Sejah’s place

Then, in the afternoons, while Evo is sanding and painting the hulls of the boat, Sejah would come to the boatyard and we would go for walks to the hills, or to the village, or at the beach, or in the forest, or to town in Basseterre.

 

In Basseterre with Sejah

In Basseterre with Sejah

And in the evenings, Sejah would help us wash the boat from the boatyard dust and then join us for diner and a movie.

 

Washing the boat. Maya and Sejah

Washing the boat.
Maya and Sejah

Thus, little by little, we got to know and love Sejah Joseph, and we couldn’t imagine a day in St Kitts without him.

Sejah lives with his mom and two of his eight siblings in a house not far from the boatyard up in the New Project, a small unpaved area at the foot of the hills in the outskirts of the village where the government has recently built a few rows of similar houses all painted in bright colors for people with limited means. It is a nice comfortable house, big enough for the four of them.

 

New Project housing development in St Kitts

New Project housing development in St Kitts

 

New Project houses

New Project houses

 

Sejah's house

Sejah’s house

 

Sejah and his pets, a bunny and a fighting fowl

Sejah and his pets, a bunny and a fighting fowl

– You want to see where we used to live before?, Sejah asks me one day and I detect a sort of enthusiasm in his voice as we walk down the road to his old place.

He brings me to a small ruined shack a few minutes away from his new home, on a ridge overlooking the sea. The place is completely abandoned, the wood rotten and moldy, all covered with weeds, reclaimed by nature.

Sejah at his old place

Sejah at his old place

– The kitchen was outside, under this tree. We had running water and the stove was there. The toilet was further that way but it is not there anymore.

Inside, two tiny rooms, one for Sejah and his brothers, and one for his mother and sisters. He shows me where his mom used to hang things on the walls, where he signed his name Sejah above his bed, and his brother’s posters and drawings still glued to the planks on the wall.

 

Sejah's old home

Sejah’s old home

 

Sejah Joseph

Sejah Joseph

 

Sejah in his childhood room

Sejah in his childhood room

 

Sejah in his room

Sejah in his room

– My father got shot and died many years ago, when I was little.

Ayutee

Sejah’s mother, Ayutee, a Rastafarian,  brought up her nine children, seven boys and two girls, alone, knitting hats and bags for a living. She would sell the hats and bags in town to the tourists from the cruise ships coming to visit the island. Only recently she started working for a regular salary through a government program cleaning and maintaing the local football field and thus could afford the new house. Her children, except Sejah and his 5-years-old brother from another father who lives in another village somewhere on the island, are grown up now and have their own homes. Some of her older sons have families and kids and her two daughters are studying abroad one to become a lawyer the other a doctor.

 

On the couch: Sejah and his 5-years-old brother. Pictures: His mom and his two sisters

On the couch: Sejah and his 5-years-old brother. Pictures: His mom and his two sisters

– I never left the country, never traveled anywhere, Ayutee tells me one day as I go to finally meet her. Because of the children, I had to take care of them. Only once I went to Nevis by boat (2 miles from St Kitts) to sell hats and bags there during a cultural festival. I was planing to go again the next year, but the boat sank a few weeks before I was supposed to go, and I got scared and did’t go. So, I never left the country. I am 52. I would love to travel some day, to go somewhere on a vacation, but I still have to take care of the little one and to pay for the house.

 

Ayutee

Ayutee

Ayutee loves her country St Kitts and Nevis, an independent twin-island federation with British tradition, the smallest sovereign state in the Americas in both area and population, today populated by descendants of African slaves brought to the island during the sugarcane and slave trade period in the 17th century. She says life now is much better than it was before, in the years after the independence (1983) and even before that, thanks to the many housing, employment, and other social programs implemented by the government, although there is still poverty and lots of crime especially in St Kitts, and the cost of living is very high while people don’t make a lot of money. But she wouldn’t live anywhere else. She still knits hats and bags and sells them to tourists in town on the weekends. She made one bag for me, the colors and size I chose, and one for Maya too. She finished our two bags in just a few hours. Now Maya goes everywhere with her new bag.

 

Sejah, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to leave St Kitts and travel, like us. Despite everything that happened to him in his life so far, his poor childhood, the death of his father and older brother, and some other unfortunate events, he has preserved his optimism and his ability to enjoy life and to dream.

– In my mind, I can do anything.

 

Sejah holding a photograph of his dead brother

Sejah holding a photograph of his dead brother

 

Sejah's younger brother

Sejah’s younger brother

 

Sejah with dreadlocks.  When he started high school he was forced to get a haircut.

Sejah with dreadlocks.
When he started high school he was forced to get a haircut.

We spend hours talking with Sejah about life in other countries, about sailing and traveling, about the world. He knows much about world history and geography thanks to Discovery Chanel and one day, we promised each other, we will meet again.

Some other time, some other place.

 

Sejah at the beach

Sejah at the beach

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St. Kits Marine Works: Welcome to The Boatyard

SKMW boatyard

SKMW boatyard

Every once in a while a boat has to come out of the water for repairs or survey, for storage during hurricane season, or a quick bottom job. But finding the perfect haul out yard can be a pain in the stern. Ultimately, some of the most important factors that determine our choice of a boatyard are: convenient location, good facilities and equipment, a team of professionals, and reasonable prices. But does such a place exist? Yes, and we found it.

As we sailed from Florida through the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, and the Leeward Islands looking for a place to haul out our boat, a 38 feet catamaran, in order to sand and paint the hulls, we have finally found one boatyard that has it all: St Kitts Marine Works.

 St Kitts Marine Works

Located on the southwest lee shore of the island of St Kitts, a few miles from St Marten, Antigua and Guadeloupe, and not too far from the BVI and Puerto Rico, SKMW lies at the heart of the Caribbean region providing the perfect strategic location for many mariners cruising in this area who wish to store their vessels for short or long term periods or during the hurricane season, between the months of June and December. The recently expanded boatyard, a 30-acre field, has plenty of space for vessels big and small. Each boat hauled out for storage is carefully secured and grounded with specially dugout keel holes, custom-made for each vessel. So far none of the storms that hit the island, including hurricane Earl in 2010 had caused any damage to the boats there.

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The boatyard is also conveniently located near a small dark-sand beach, a place to escape the Caribbean summer heat and make new local friends, and directly under Brimstone Hill Fortress, one of the most important forts in the Caribbean and UNESCO World Heritage Site populated by vervet monkeys. The small historical town of Sandy Point is within a walking distance and the capital Basseterre where you can find all types of marine materials and services specializing in boat-building and repairs, is only a 15-minute bus ride away.

Fta Morgana in SKMW boatyard.  Brimstone Hill on the background

Fata Morgana in SKMW boatyard.
Brimstone Hill on the background

Another main reason to choose SKMW is the big travelift, one of only three in the entire Caribbean region that can handle up to 150-ton boats with beam up to 35 feet, perfect for catamarans. And even though our 8-ton boat with 22 feet beam is not huge at all she almost doesn’t fit in the small travelifts getting scratches on the sides. But the big one at SKMW barely touches her. Man, that machine is mighty! Fata looks like a toy in the hands of a gentle giant when he picks her up and out of the water.

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The SKMW boatyard also has a crane for removing masts as well as all sorts of other heavy equipment and machinery for boat works.

But the best part of St Kitts Marine Works boatyard is the people who work there, a dedicated team of professionals, engineers, top quality technicians, and first class operators. The owner and director, Regiwell Francis, an expert in salvage and heavy equipment, is also a hardworking, hands-on, extremely knowledgeable and capable person, who will do anything in his power to help and accommodate your needs. Reggie is a great guy and this matters a lot. There is also a very good mechanic, a metalworking team, as well as a few boat repair specialists working full time in SKMW, and if you need any materials or services not provided on location, they will find them for you.

Regiwel

Regiwell Francis

And last but not least, the prices here are unbeatable. The SKMW prices are probably comparable to those in the Dominican Republic, only there they don’t have the facilities and equipment, the space and the specialists available in St Kitts Marine Works. For more information on rates click here.

SKMW boatyard, also featured in Chris Doyle’s cruising guide, is so far our favorite haul out facility. We had a very positive experience there (even Evo who worked 12 hours per day for a week sanding and painting agrees). All our needs were met with enthusiasm and generosity. We would recommend it to everyone.

SKMW boatyard

SKMW boatyard

Reggie has very ambitious plans to build an 80 slips marina where the dock currently is. The project is already developed and is all a matter of time now.

You can contact Reggie or Bruce at the boatyard if you have any questions or to make arrangements at (869) 662-8930 e-mail bentels@hotmail.com; or visit their website for more information at www.SKMW.net; or you can simply pop-up at the dock there, like we did. We were very pleasantly surprised that we could clear customs right there, in the boatyard, as we arrived. Thanks to Reggie, the place is now an official port of entry to St Kitts and you don’t have to go to Basseterre to clear in nor pay any port fees or per day per person fees, only 35 EC$ (the equivalent of 12 U.S. dollars).

Evo, Maya, Viktor and Fata Morgana

Evo, Maya, Viktor and Fata Morgana

We are also every grateful and happy and extremely proud to announce that St Kitts Marine Works boatyard became our sponsor, supporting us and our journey.

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Happy One Year of Sailing To Us

Mira, Evo, Maya and Viktor 1 year The Life Nomadik

Mira, Evo, Maya and Viktor
1 year The Life Nomadik

 

Our Sailing Journey is One Year Old Today

 

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One year ago, in July 2013, we took off from Florida aboard Fata Morgana, our new home and ocean vehicle.We headed south.

In the next twelve months we visited a dozen countries and over 50 islands.

 

Florida

Fort Jefferson, Florida

Fort Jefferson, Florida

Cuba

Cuban girls

Cuban girls

Mexico

Tourists at Tulum

Tourists at Tulum

Guatemala

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The Bahamas

Maya and Mira

Maya and Mira

Dominican Republic

Comparticion, last basecamp before Pico Duarte

Comparticion, last basecamp before Pico Duarte

Puerto Rico

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U.S. Virgin Islands

Water Island, Honeymoon Beach anchorage

Water Island, Honeymoon Beach anchorage

British Virgin Islands

The Baths, BVI

The Baths, BVI

Saba

Saba. View form Scout's Place bar and restaurant

Saba. View form Scout’s Place bar and restaurant

Sint Maarten

Evo's bottle, St Maarten

Evo’s bottle, Sint Maarten

Saint-Martin

Mira at Fort Saint-Louis, Marigot, overlooking the harbor, Saint-Martin

Mira at Fort Saint-Louis, Marigot, overlooking the harbor, Saint-Martin

St Barth

Anse de Flamand

Anse de Flamand

St Kitts&Navis

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

Our Journey

We met remarkable people and made many new friends.

Noial, Sofia, and Maya in traditional mayan costumes. The skirt is called corte and the top is gupil. Mayan women in Guatemala wear similar clothes.

Noial, Sofia, and Maya in traditional mayan costumes. The skirt is called corte and the top is gupil. Mayan women in Guatemala wear similar clothes.

We swam with dolphins

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And we swam with pigs

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We walked across spectacular forests and river canyons.

Maya walking through the jungle, Guatemala

Maya walking through the jungle, Guatemala

We jumped from waterfalls

Viktor Jumping from Agua Caliente waterfall, Guatemala

Viktor Jumping from Agua Caliente waterfall, Guatemala

We entered caves

Daeli and Ivo lightpainting in a cave, Guatemala

Daeli and Ivo lightpainting in a cave, Guatemala

We discovered new flavors and fragrances.

Mira, trying cashew fruit for a first time

Mira, trying cashew fruit for a first time. Saba

We snorkeled in coral gardens with tropical fishes in water like liquid glass.

Underwater sculpture of grand piano and mermaid, Bahamas

Underwater sculpture of grand piano and mermaid, Bahamas

We learned to surf

Maya

Maya

We got involved with many of the communities we visited, we volunteered and worked with the locals.

Near Finca Jocoro, Guatemala

Near Finca Jocoro, Guatemala

We met a whale

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And a sea turtle

A green sea-turtleheading back to the sea after laying her eggs.

A green sea-turtleheading back to the sea after laying her eggs.

We met howler monkeys

Black Howler Monkey

Black Howler Monkey

We saw flamingos

DSC_1797

 

We caught a lot of tasty fish

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

We lived the dream.

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We did all this while being very conscious about the fragile environment we enjoy so much.

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We sailed for over 3,700 nautical miles without polluting the air and the sea, almost not using the engines. fueling once every 6 months. We also used a kayak instead of a dinghy.

Mira "sailing" the kayak with an umbrella

Mira „sailing“ the kayak with an umbrella

We lived off-grid not paying electricity bills, water bills, mortgage, taxes, or any other bills thanks to our solar panels and watermaker.

Viktor and Ivo installing solar panels.

Viktor and Ivo installing solar panels.

Our average speed was 3.7 knots which makes us Slow Pokes Drifters, but we had to sail against waves and tradewind most of the time heading east-southeast, tacking constantly, but not turning the engines on, no matter what.

Evo pulling the boat with the kayak in deadcalm. The engines remained turned off...

Evo pulling the boat with the kayak in deadcalm. The engines remained turned off…

 

Thank You!

The people we met along the way, whom we befriended, who helped us and guided us, who shared our adventures and joys are the most treasured part of our journey. We thank you!

Friends Key West, Florida

Friends
Key West, Florida

Tyler, you started us sailing and helped us so much. Thank you, we love you!

 

Vanessa Linsley, you were not just our broker, you literally adopted us, guiding and helping us so much. Thank you!

 

Rich, you were there for us when we needed you most. Thank you!

David, Lori, Kashara and Dylan, we value so much your company and all the lessons you thought us about sailing and cruising even before we started. Thank you!

 

Dale, you were the best boatyard neighbor. Thank you for the books and the veggies!

 

Peter, you fixed our jib and thought us so much in our first days of sailing, thank you!

 

Sherry and Nate, you adopted our Baba Ganoush, best thing that could happen to her! And you gave us Agent Orange! You have no idea how much we appreciate this kayak, thank you!

 

Tony, Cherri, Stacie, Ryan, Joey, Rebecca, Miranda, Sky, we had so much fun with all you guys in Key West. Thank you!

 

Suzy Roebling, we learned so much about sea turtles thanks to you and we really enjoyed the coconuts. Thank you!

 

April and Harley from s/v El Karma, you gave us lures, helped us to fix our watermaker, and shared some great moments in Cuba with us. Thank you!

 

 Daeli, Joni, Elan, Lovam, Noial, and Spirit from s/v Friendship, you and your journey inspire us so much. We love you, we miss you and we hope we will see you again soon!

 

Joseph, Jana, Katchka, and Anichka s/v Blizzard, so grateful we met you guys and shared so many crazy adventures in Guatemala together!

 

Alice s/v Suricats, yoga in the morning with Joni and you was one of the best things in Rio Dulce anchorage. Thank you!

 

Angie and Marty, thank you for your hospitality!

 

 Scot, Stephanie, Riley, and Wren, s/v Kiawa, without you our journey in the Bahamas wouldn’t be the same!

 

Ben Rusi, s/v Christel, great meeting you in the Bahamas!

 

Susanne and Jan s/v Peter Pan,so good sharing a few moments with you!

 

Mary, Shane and Franklin, great meeting you all, you have amazing stories! Hope we meet again around Australia next year!

 

Kate and Rob, nice bumping into you, twice!

 

Gabriel and Jade, how awesome of you to take us surfing in the Dominican Republic and show us how it’s done! Thank you!

 

Joao, Nae, Maria, and Noel, s/v Dee, it was wonderful having friends along the way between Domincan Republic, Puerto Rico and St Maarten, and sharing so many moments (and a rental car)!

 

Ivan, Nikola, Peter, Nanny, we had the best time with you in the Bahamas and in Puerto Rico, good old friends. Thank you for your visit and for all the gifts!

 

Greg and Michelle s/v Semper Fi, great meeting you in Puerto Rico guys and sharing your amazing stories! Thank you for the tips, the T-shirts, and the hats!

 

Tom, you mad our stay in Water Island unforgettable, thank you!

 

Ilian and Bisi, it was so great meting you in Saba, hope we meet again!

 

Martine Dora and Raphael, happy to have met you in St Maarten, hope we see each other again, maybe in Tahiti? Raphael, thank you for the ride!

 

Line and Corentin, thank you for your company in St Kitts and for the music!

 

Sejah Joseph, thank you for being our friend and guide in St Kitts!

 

We also want to thank our Sponsors, all those companies and individuals who supported our journey. Thank you!

 

 

What’s Next?

Our plans are weather dependent and as fluid as the sea. If all is well, we will keep sailing south the Windward Islands, exploring some more interesting places, until we reach Tobago. From there we will sail west to Columbia, then Panama and across the canal to the South Pacific and Australia next year.

 

Follow our journey and LIKE us on Facebook to find out what will happen in our SECOND year of sailing. Everyone is welcome aboard!

Viktor, Maya, Mira

Viktor, Maya, Mira

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A Visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress

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Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical, cultural and architectural significance: a monument to the ingenuity of the British military engineers who designed it and to the skill, strength and endurance of the African slaves who built and maintained it. One of the best preserved historical fortifications in the Americas, it is located on the island of St. Kitts in the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean.

From Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

The Nomadiks in St Kitts

Waiting for a few days at the dock near Sandy Point where St Kitts Marine Works boatyard is to be hauled out for „a quick bottom job“, we fill our nothing-to-do days with chilling on the small beach near by, jumping from the pier and meeting new friends. Right where we are Brimstone Hill is looming above us so close we can see the Fortress form the boat.

St Kitts Marine Works boatyard. Brimstone Hill Fortress on the background

St Kitts Marine Works boatyard. Brimstone Hill Fortress on the background

We decide to go for a visit. It is a 20 minute walk from the boatyard to the foot of the hill and another 30-40 minutes hike up the hill to the Fortress. Tourists have to pay 10 dollars per person to visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress, expensive but worth it.

View from Brimstone Hill. Boatyard and dock in the distance

View from Brimstone Hill. Boatyard and dock in the distance

 

St Kitts. Historical Background

St. Christopher is the first Caribbean island to be permanently settled by both the English and the French shared between the two nations throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Africans were brought as slaves and a massive sugar production begun which together with the slave trade yielded a great wealth well worth defending. The construction of a vast network of fortified coastal defenses on the island of St Kitts started in 1690 and continued until 1790.

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The ideal site for the fortress was chosen atop a volcanic hill 800 feet high with steep and precipitous slopes standing near the southwest shore of the island, Brimstone Hill, often referred to as „the Gibraltar of the Caribbean“. The location of the Fortress presents panoramic vistas of forested mountains to the north, cultivated fields and picturesque small villages to the west, the historical township of Sandy Point to the south, and neighbouring Dutch, English and French islands across the Caribbean Sea.

Brimstone Hill

Brimstone Hill

The fortress was built using entirely local materials found on site. The walls of the structures were made from the hard volcanic rocks of the hill itself and the mortar to cement the stones was produced from the limestone covering much of the middle and lower slopes. The Fortress is virtually a man-made out growth of the natural hill.

 

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The Fortress

We are stunned at the scale and level of preservation of the Fortress designed by British Army engineers. It is an entire complex, like a small military village built on 38 acres of land on the flat top of the hill, one of the largest Caribbean fortresses, with many buildings, officer’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks, a citadel, two places of arms, and a cemetery.

Brimstone Hill Fortress

Brimstone Hill Fortress

This is the site of the historical battle between the British and French fighting over control of the sugar island. In January 1782 8,000 French troops attacked the island and besieged the Fortress. For one month 1,000 defenders from the Royal Scots and East Yorkshire Regiment fought valiantly before surrendering, allowed by the French to march out of the Fortress with full honor. Only a year later, the island was returned to the British after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1965 The Society for the Restoration of Brimstone Hill Fortress was found and major works contributed for the restoration and rebuilding of the Fortress, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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As we walk down the hill we come across a troupe of about 20 vervet monkeys. Brought to the island as pets during the slave trade period, they are now populating the hills and forests of St Kitts&Navis in great numbers. One of their popular hangouts is the Brimstone Hill Fortress.

Vervet monkeys St Kitts, Brimstone Hill

Vervet monkeys St Kitts, Brimstone Hill

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

Verevet Monkey, St Kitts

 

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St Barth, Where Agent Orange Had an Affair

St Barths, The Caribbean Monaco

Gustavia, City and harbor view

Gustavia, City and harbor view

The next island on our way is St Barthélemy,  only 20 miles southeast of St Martin. A French territory less than 10 square miles (25 square kilometers) with distinctly French language, cuisine and culture and some very nice beaches and luxurious villas and resorts. St Barths is the holiday destination and playground for the famous and the rich.

Dinghies at Guatavia Harbor, St Barths

Dinghies at Guatavia Harbor, St Barths

The population, about 9,000, is exclusively white descendants of French settlers and their very high standard of living is supported mainly by wealthy tourists. Strangely there are no black descendent of African slaves who make up the majority of local population on all the other Caribbean islands in the region.

Anse de Flamand

Anse de Flamand

We grab a mooring ball at Anse de Colombier, a small isolated lagoon on the northwestern part of the island accessible only by boat from the sea and by foot from the island. Locals come here to spend a day on the beach in seclusion via a narrow path.

Fata Morgana at Anse de Colombier

Fata Morgana at Anse de Colombier

We take the path from the beach and walk to the first quartier Anse de Flamands.

Evo and Maya

Evo and Maya

Mira

Mira

 

Maya

Maya

From here we walk all the way to Gustavia in the unbearable summer heat climbing some steep streets, and not a single car stops to pick us up. This has never happened before. Everywhere we have been hitchhiking, from Florida to the Bahama, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and all of the Antilles Islands until this one, people would stop and give us a lift. But not in St Barths. Here the drivers just turn their heads the other direction and we keep going. Which after all turns out to be a good thing, as only walking on foot one can fully experience the land. After about two hours we reach Gustavia.

St Barths,  view of the harbor

St Barths,
view of the harbor

Gustavia, the capital and the main port, is a small manicured town facing a large harbor full with luxury mega yachts. As you stroll around you will pass by some high-end designers shops, gourmet dining, and multimillion Euro villas. The height of tourism is New Year’s Eve, with celebrities and the wealthy converging on the island in yachts up to 550 ft in length for the occasion.

Gustavia

Gustavia

In the beginning of July, it is much quieter.

Shops Gustavia

Shops Gustavia

We walk around the town, to the fort overlooking Shell Beach, and then head back to our lagoon two hours away.

View of Shell Bech from Fort Karl

View of Shell Bech from Fort Karl

As we climb the last hills overlooking the lagoon we spot two young French-speaking girls fooling around in the water with our kayak, Agent Orange! We are horrified and so jealous. Behind our backs! We make a huge scene telling the frivolous girls to leave Agent Orange alone . They apologies with a sweet accent. Agent Orange is happy.

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Beer and Cheese in St Martin

Saba to Sint Maarten

After those few unforgettable days in Saba we set sail for Sint Maarten, 25 NM north. For the first time since I don’t remember when we are not tacking against the wind, we are not heading east towards the trades! We are almost on a beam reach and Fata is doing 6 to 8 knots! Way to go Fata! The wind is 20-22 knots and the waves are 5-6 feet but not against us for a change. It’s a nice sail.

Evo with tuna

Evo with tuna

We arrive in Philipsburg after only 4 hours of sailing, with a small tuna, about 20 pounds, we caught just outside the reefs. The kids are not too excited about the tuna, especially Maya. Now we’ll have to eat tuna for a month, she almost cries.

Evo and Maya eating black olives and feta cheese pizza at Domino's St Maarten

Evo and Maya eating black olives and feta cheese pizza at Domino’s St Maarten

Sint Maarten and Saint-Martin

Saint Martin is an island in the northeast Caribbean, 300 km (190 mi) east of Puerto Rico. The 87 square km (34 sq mi) island is divided roughly 60/40 between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is one of the smallest sea islands divided between two nations. The southern Dutch part comprises Sint Maarten and is one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The northern French part comprises the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and is an overseas collectivity of France. (from Wikipedia)

Mira at Fort Saint-Louis, Marigot, overlooking the harbor, Saint-Martin

Mira at Fort Saint-Louis, Marigot, overlooking the harbor, Saint-Martin

The unofficial story behind the relatively civilized division of the island in 1648 after some years of dispute between France and Holland goes like this:

Each country chose a walker, a French guy and a Dutch guy, put back to back in one end of the island, and made to walk in opposite directions along the shore. The line between the starting point and the point where they met became the border. The French ended up with a bigger chunk of the island because, they say, the French guy who was hydrating himself with wine while walking was less drunk and therefore faster walker than the Dutch guy who was drinking Jenever (Dutch Gin). The Dutch say, the French guy cheated, blaming him for running, which was against the rules.

Even though smaller in territory, the Dutch side is more popular than the French side, with its cheaper currency and duty-free shops. With a large international airport and a sea port for cruise ships, the main economy on the island is tourism.

Maho Beach, St Martin

Maho Beach, St Martin

After a few days at anchor in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten’s capital, we became bored with nothing interesting to see or do really. The place is noisy, crowded with tourists pouring from cruise ships almost daily. There are some hiking trails in the hills, but nothing like the ones on Saba. There are lots of beaches, most full with people, but nothing like the beaches in the Bahamas or the BVI.

Fata Morgana at Philipsburg anchorage

Fata Morgana at Philipsburg anchorage

Yet, there are a couple of good reasons making it worth stopping in Sint Maarten: the beer and the cheese.

 

Say Cheeeeeese!

Next to the marina in Philipsburg there is a place, like a museum or an art gallery, only there is no art in it but cheese. Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor Store. Hundreds of cheese varieties  coming straight from Amsterdam all presented in a big showroom. The best thing about it is that it’s cheap (and there are free samples!). We bought a few wheels of Gouda, 8 pounds for $30 cash each.

Gouda cheese, goes well with Presidente

Gouda cheese, goes well with Presidente

And there is the beer. Sint Maarten is a famous beer haven. Duty free shops sell Heineken, Corona and Presidente for less than 1 dollar the bottle. Every time we go someplace we always return on the boat hauling cases of Presidente, our favorite, stocking up for down the islands where one beer costs 4 -5 dollars.

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Life can be real good in the Caribbean, sitting in the cockpit, cool breeze, watching the sunset, sipping cold beer, eating cheese cubes…

Evo’s Green Heaven

Evo's bottle

Evo’s bottle

Evo's boat

Evo’s boat

 

Eo's airplane

Eo’s airplane

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Better Than Any Award. Liebster Award

The Nomination

A few weeks ago we got another sweet nomination for the Liebster Award by our fellow travelors, sailors, and bloggers the Homeschool Ahoy family. They have two beautiful blond little girls and a handsome lagoon 40, as well as the most awesome blog where you can read about their adventures on the seas.

We are deeply touched and grateful for this nomination. It means a lot to us, a gesture of appreciation for our way of life and efforts to share our journey through images and words. Thank you, guys, it is a great honor.

The Liebster Award

Someone had the genius idea to start this Liebster Award-thing which is nothing else but a way to discover, connect, and promote bloggers and blogs. We love it! This is the second time we have been nominated and I think soon we are about to win the prize!

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The Rules

1. Answer 10 questions

2. Nominate 5-10 blogs

3. Ask them 10 questions

 

 

 

 The Answers

    1. Introduce us to your live aboard family, how many in your crew and how old are they?

Hello everyone! We are another one of those crazy families living aboard a boat instead in a house, constantly traveling.

Evo, born in 1976 in Varna Bulgaria is the dad, skipper, fishing expert, and boat-fixer.

Mira, born same year same place, is the mom, cook, “teacher”, photographer, and blogger.

Viktor, born in 1997 in Varna, Bulgaria is the Big Brother, dish-washer, computer geek, and boat-keeper.

Maya, born in 2003 in Montreal, Canada, is the Little Sister, snorkeling and diving expert.

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

 

 

    2 .What sort of boat do you have and would you recommend it for other families hoping to live aboard?

Fata Morgana is a 38-foot catamaran Robertson & Caine Leopard built 12 years ago in South Africa, made heavy and sturdy, able to take some heavy weather and she did. She has enough space for the four of us and is very comfortable boat. I think a catamaran is a perfect choice for a family with kids and would strongly recommend it. Fata is our first boat ever and we feel lucky to have chosen her. (If you are curious about the name read more here). We bought the boat in Florida about one year ago and fixed and up-dated a bunch of things transforming her into our unique off-grid vessel. On the hardtop we built we installed 5 humongous solar panels producing 1,500 watts pure solar energy. It is enough to have our fridge, the biggest electricity consumer, turned on 24/7, and to produce as much freshwater as we need with our watermaker. Thus we don’t have to turn on the engines to make electricity (and we don’t have a generator), and we never have to buy freashwater. We are also strictly sailing, even when we enter and exit anchorages and drop and lift anchor, so we rarely fuel, about once or twice a year.  Thus, we are completely off-grid and independent and we hardly spend any many.

 

Fata Morgana from above

Fata Morgana from above

 

 3. How did you come to the decision to live aboard?

We had a friend whose dream was to live on a boat and sail around the world, he „infected“ us. But we have been nomads even before the boat. We used to work as long distance truck drivers, both Evo and me in a team, driving all over Canada and USA for about 7 years, with the kids in the bunk. Back then we were paid to travel and saved up enough to buy a boat and not work for a while. To live aboard a boat and sail around the world is the best decision we ever made.

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

 

    4. Where are you now and what are your sailing plans, if you have any, for the future?

Right now we are in St Kitts&Nevis (a small independent Caribbean island-country) after we covered over 3,700 nautical miles in our first year of sailing visiting Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, The Virgin islands, and, so far, half of the Caribbean islands. We will keep sailing south visiting the rest of the Windward Islands to Tobago. Then we are planning to stop in Columbia for a few months and travel inland there. From Columbia we will sail to Panama, the San Blas islands, and maybe visit Costa Rica and some other Central American countries by land. Next year, if all is well, we will be crossing the Pacific heading to French Polynesia and then Australia. But our plans are not too fixed and may change depending on circumstances.

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

 

 

5. What’s the best learning experience your kids have had since living aboard that you could pass on to other sailing families for them and their children?

The kids learned to appreciate the little we have and spend less. Less water, less electricity, less everything. They have become conscious about conserving the available resources (because they had no other choice). Now watching a film where someone is slowly washing dishes under running water sends them screaming Turn off the water!

Ivo and Vick taking a rain shower.

Ivo and Vick taking a rain shower.

 

 

6. What style of education do you prefer for your littlest crew members, are you homeschooling/world schooling/unschooling… or eclectic like me? Have they ever been or will they ever go to a traditional school?

Viktor is now almost 17. He has been in a public school in Canada up to his second year of high school. In the beginning of this trip we got all the books for his third high school year and he tried reading and studying alone and with my help. But it didn’t work; he is neither disciplined nor ambitious enough to do this, even though I tried pushing him a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Anyway, he decided he will go back to Canada and complete his high school education within the school system there as soon as he turns 18, and maybe go to college after that.

Maya, almost 11 now, completed second grade in a primary school in Canada and since we have been traveling she has been studying and learning math, science, language, arts using a software for i-pad, as well as a children’s encyclopedia and other books. For example, in science she learned about Ecosystems, Food Chains, Habitats, Weather and Weather Prediction, Gravity and Motion, Light Energy etc. using the i-pad app. Every day she decides what she wants to study and how much and it is all fun for her. I don’t have to push her, just help her from time to time. She also had the great opportunity to study for a few months in a local school with local kids while visiting Guatemala last year and learned a bit of Spanish.

But I believe both Viktor and Maya have learned and will learn a lot just by traveling and visiting so many new places and cultures, acquiring knowledge and experience kids in conventional schools will never have.

Noial, Kaila, Sofia, and Maya in front of El Relleno Primary School, Guatemala

Noial, Kaila, Sofia, and Maya in front of El Relleno Primary School, Guatemala

 

 

7. What’s your best memory from the last year?

Let me ask the crew.

Maya’s best memories are from Guatemala, because she had a best friend the entire time there, Noial.Viktor and Evo both loved the most climbing Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic, a two-day very challenging journey with a guide and mules to the top of the highest Caribbean mountain and back. Mine was hiking to a hidden cave full with human skulls in Sierra de las Minas in Guatemala guided by four local Queqchi Indians.

Viktor with the mules. Hiking to Pico Duarte

Viktor with the mules. Hiking to Pico Duarte

 

 

8. Name the most challenging experience you have had whilst living aboard and what did you do to overcome it?

We all had our personal challenges and we still have to overcome a lot of them. As a family, we need to respect and trust each other more and admit that we are different individuals with different needs and preferences. We need to learn to give each other more space and freedom at the same time working as a team. This is a challenge we still need to face and work on.

If I have to name one experience that was extremely challenging and life-changing, I will go with the storm in the Yucatán Chanel. To overcome it we had to accept the situation, face it, and ride the storm until the end, no other choice.

Our nomadik family with helmets and life jackets ready for action, Damajaqua Cascades

Our nomadik family with helmets and life jackets ready for action, Damajaqua Cascades

 

 

9. Will you always live aboard or is this just one of the many adventures you hope to share with your family?

We don’t know how long this living-aboard adventure will go on. We will keep going wherever the wind blows us for as long as we can or as long as we want to, whichever comes first. But it is not just 1-2 sabbatical years

kind of think. It is our new way of life and we hope we can keep going like this for many years.

Maya

Maya

 

 

10. What motivates you to blog and what tips can you offer fellow yachty bloggers?

Our blog is like a photo album and an adventure journal where I post pictures and stories chronologically as we go. It helps us remember. I love doing it even though it is very hard to update as we don’t have internet on the boat. Sometimes I have to sit on a bench in front of a bar with free Wi-Fi to do it. What motivates me? I need this blog; right now it is my only outlet where I can share my creativity. I don’t have blogging tips for fellow bloggers, just do what makes you happy and be yourself.

Viktor, Maya, Mira

Viktor, Maya, Mira

 

 

Our 10 Nominees

I have chosen 8 blogs based on the following criteria: They are all sailing families (like us) with kids at a school age.

s/v SeaChange

Smith Family Sailing

Diving Into Cruising

Our Life with Ceol Mor

The Excellent Adventure

Ghostsailors

s/v Perry

s/v Baccalieu

 

 

The 10 Questions

I really loved Homeschool Ahoy’s questions, so, with permission, I will just copy-paste most of them and add a few.

  1. Introduce us to your liveaboard family, how many in your crew and how old are they?

  2. What sort of boat do you have and would you recommend it for other families hoping to live aboard?

  3. Where are you now and what are your sailing plans, if you have any, for the future?

  4. How do you support yourself and your family while sailing and cruising? How do you pay for the whole thing?

  5. What’s the best learning experience your kids have had since living aboard that you could pass on to other sailing families for them and their children?

  6. What style of education do you prefer for your littlest crew members, are you homeschooling/world schooling/unschooling…? Have they ever been or will they ever go to a traditional school?

  7. Is living aboard and sailing an alternative way of life for you and your family, an escape form the system, or is it just a temporary adventure?

  8. Name the most challenging experience you have had whilst living aboard and what did you do to overcome it?

  9. Any big mistakes you have learned from that others may learn from too?

  10. What motivates you to blog and what tips can you offer fellow yachty bloggers?

 

 

 

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