Fishing

A pious man explained to his followers: “It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. ‘Don’t be scared,’ I tell those fishes. ‘I am saving you from drowning.’ Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes.”

– Amy Tan, Saving Fish from Drowning

Lake Isabal, Guatemala Езерото Изабал, Гватемала

Lake Isabal, Guatemala
Езерото Изабал, Гватемала

Fishing- an ancient practice dating back to prehistoric times and still widely practiced today in small coastal communities throughout the world, is extremely important to us, aboard S/V Fata Morgana. It is a way to get precious proteins and fresh food while far away from the market, in the wild and off the grid. It’s a way to survive while at sea or near remote areas, where shopping for food is impossible.

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To fish while sailing Ivo uses the most popular and simple fishing technique- trolling- letting between 100 and 150 feet of line (depending on the weather and sea condition) baited with lures behind the boat, in an area clean of bubbles but close enough to the boat’s wake.

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Ivo has a bunch of different fishing rods and reels aboard but he usually uses the two biggest ones equipped with wire 1-2 feet leaders, which prevents the fish from cutting the line with their teeth. He has one 60lb line and one 80lb line connected to strong snap swivels, to allow a quick change of pre-rigged leaders.

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The hooks he usually uses are from 2/0 to 5/0 and he normally uses shallow or deep-diver plugs and spinners for lures- they imitate real fish. There are many ways to make your own lures out of all sorts of discarded materials like empty toothpaste containers and pieces of cloth or plastic etc. and they are as effective as the lures you get in the stores.

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Ivo attaches one fishing rod on each side of the boat in the two very convenient handles and he started tying them up with a line, after a huge barracuda took off with his best most expensive tackle one unlucky day.

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He usually catches fish when the speed of the boat is more than 3 and less than 7 knots.

Ivo caught a fish Иво хванал риба

Ivo caught a fish
Иво хванал риба

So far, Ivo has caught many tunies and bonitos, kingfish, mackerel, yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi (dorado), mahogany snapper and of course thousands of barracudas, which we no longer eat, even though they are tasty, because of ciguatera poisoning danger.

Ivo with a small Dorado Иво с дорадо

Ivo with a small Dorado
Иво с дорадо

 

The tunas, kingfish, mackerel, and dorado Ivo catches in deep waters away from shore, the snappers he catches in shallow 30-60 feet waters near the shore.

Ivo the fisherman Иво е голям рибач...

Ivo the fisherman
Иво е голям рибач…

Once he caught a shark and released it back in the water.

reef shark

reef shark

On many occasions sharks ate half or most of the fish hooked on Ivo’s hook before he could pull it out of the water.

Ivo with the huge King Mackerel half eaten by sharks.

Ivo with the huge King Mackerel half eaten by sharks.

The most fish Ivo caught around Mexico’s east coast.

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

Mira and her Birthday Gifts

Around Puerto Rico and Cuba he caught the most of our favorite mahogany snappers.

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата...

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish
Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата…

When at anchor, Ivo likes to go spearfishing with his spear gun or Hawaiian sling and sometimes catches groupers, snappers and lobsters.

Иво лови лангусти с харпун

Иво лови лангусти с харпун

Then, it’s his job the clean the fish. Head, middle bone, tail, guts, skin- everything goes back in the water, only the fillets are left.

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Mira prepares the fish.

When we bring a big 30-pound tuna aboard, Mira needs to prepare it at least 10 times in variety of ways.

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With tunas and tuna-family fish (bonitos, tunies etc.) and other red and pink meat fish Mira makes sushi maki rolls. A friend named Krasi, who lives in Italy and is a professional sushi shef thought her how to make it.

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The maki rolls are easy to make and extremely tasty if you have the correct ingredients. You can also improvise and substitute ingredients, like Mira has done plenty of times (like using regular not special sushi rice), but the result will not be the same.

Продукти за суши

Продукти за суши

To make her best sushi recipe, Mira uses Sushi Rice, Sheets of Seaweed, 2 tbs Vinegar and a Sushi Rolling Mat. For the Filling: Raw Tuna, Avocado, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and Roasted White Sesame Seeds.

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Another favorite tuna recipe is Curry Flavored Tuna, by another friend back in St Martin- Raphael. He though Mira how to cut stripes from the meat, roll them in curry powder and then very quickly sauté them in butter, so that the meat inside remains raw and only slightly cooked on the outside.

Туна с къри

Curry flavored tuna= Туна с къри

Yet another tasty tuna recipe is Baked Tuna in Tomato Sauce. Mira fries big chunks of the meat in butter and adds a can of tomato sauce, herbs and lots of garlic to simmer with the meat for 10-15 minutes. Great with white rice on the side.

туна с доматен сос и ориз

Tuna in tomato sauce-туна с доматен сос и ориз

The white fillet fish, like mahi mahi, mahogany snapper, even kingfish Mira would cut into steaks and throw on the BBQ with a bit of lemon-pepper salt for a quick roast- very quick!

Рибешки пържоли

Рибешки пържоли

Or bread them with egg-and-flower mixture. The breaded fish is Maya’s favorite fish recipe, because it tastes like chicken, and Maya doesn’t like fish much.

Панирано филе от снапър

Панирано филе от снапър

All you need for this is 2-3 eggs and a cup of flour with a bit of salt in it. Mira sometimes mixes the eggs and flower and makes a paste, then dips the fish steaks in it and fries them in butter or cooking oil until they become golden on the outside.

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The smaller fish Ivo brings speared from the reefs Mira fries with the skin and bones (only the scales and guts are removed). Lobsters she boils for a few minutes, not too long so they don’t get to hard and chewy.

Barracudas are said to be dangerous to eat, as they may use ciguatera poisoning. Yet, we have been eating the smaller barracudas in the Bahamas all the time without any problems.

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The only real danger of poisoning yourself is, if you eat any of the fish caught by Ivo and prepared by Mira without a cold beer on the side.

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Cheers!

∼∼∼

Biggest fish Ivo caught

Иво с риба тон

Иво с риба тон

ught- Tuna

 

Smallest fish came aboard and died in our kayak one night- Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo

Ballyhoo

Ugliest uneatable fish Ivo ever hooked- Remora

Remora

Remora

The most beautiful fish we ate (not tasty at all)- Angelfish

Иво с Angelfish

Иво с Angelfish

Our first big fish we caught and ate- shark

The shark we caught

The shark we caught

The smallest fishes we used to catch and eat a lot- grunts

Mira with fishes

Mira with fishes

The most dangerous fish we ate (very tasty)- Lionfish

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Lionfih-Риба Лъв

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Off The Grid

Off The Grid

by Mira Nencheva

This article has been published in OffGridQuest.com

The English word ‘free’ has two meanings. The goal of our adventures around the world by sailboat are to prove that if you are determined and crazy enough you can enjoy life, learn, and travel free.

Such unusual goal is achievable only by unusual means. In order to imagine how it is possible for a family to live and travel for an extended period of time across long distances on a very minimal budget and almost without participating in the so called ‘system’ you really have to forget about all those things which until now you considered ‘normal’ or ‘mandatory’ because they are neither. Some of these things for which you have to imagine alternatives are: school, permanent job, fixed income, monthly expenses, insurance and retirement. Today’s system is organized around these and other imposed conditions. But humanity existed long before they were forced upon us. Our quest is to defy borders, physical and metaphorical, to be independent, self-sufficient and free.

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One day we decided to buy a boat and sail around the world.

We left work, we left school, we sold our car, our house in Canada and everything in it, and in April 2013 we bought a 2001, 38-foot Leopard catamaran which we named Fata Morgana. She became our home, school, and vehicle.

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana

Of all means of long distance travel and transportation, sailing is the only one that doesn’t require fuel, only wind, and thus doesn’t pollute. We thought: „Тhe idea to travel between continents, to cross oceans and see the world using only nature’s elements is fantastic!“ And even though our boat has not one but two engines, we decided right at the start that we would only use them in emergency situations. Since then, we learned to sail tacking against the wind, lifting and dropping anchor on sail, and even pulling the boat with our kayak (we don’t have a dinghy anymore) with 0.5 knots per hour when the wind dies. But no engines.

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Once, when we were sailing along the remote shores of Lake Izabal, Guatemala’s biggest lake, the wind died completely and Ivo deployed the kayak and started pulling the boat, as he always does. An old indigenous fisherman saw us and with his dugout cayuco came to the rescue. “Do you have problem with the engine? Did you finish the fuel? Do you need help” he asked worried. “No, the engines are fine, we have plenty of fuel, and you can’t help a crazy person. Loco…”, I told him and pointed in the direction of Ivo, paddling, Fata Morgana looming behind him.

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It’s not just a question to save on fuel; it’s a sort of a principal enforced by law aboard Fata Morgana: not to turn the engines on, which sometimes drives everyone crazy. But it’s a fact: last time we fueled was 14 months ago, in November 2013 in Florida. Since then we sailed for many nautical miles, south to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and all of the Caribbean Islands down to Trinidad and Tobago, and back to Puerto Rico with our fuel tanks still full.

And we not only travel for free, but we liveaboard comfortably with no monthly bills. Before we left Florida we transformed Fata Morgana in a unique off-the-grid vessel.

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Two of the main problems cruisers have are electricity and fresh water. We solved these problems by investing in solar panels and a reverse osmosis desalinating machine (or a ‘watermaker’) which we installed and service ourselves. We built a fiberglass hard top above the cockpit and there we placed a field of Kyocera solar panels producing a total of 1 500 Watts pure solar electricity, which we store in 4 lithium batteries total of 700 A. By 9 a.m. our battery bank is usually full. We have more power than we can use. (We don’t have a generator aboard and we don’t turn on the engines to produce electricity.)

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The biggest electricity consumer aboard is the fridge and freezer using 12-15 A/h 24/7. When sailing, all the navigational electronics: the GPS, radar, VHF radio, AIS etc. use 15-20 A/h. All lights aboard are LED and consume very little electricity. The two electrical toilets take 16 A/h only while in use. The watermaker sucks 16 A/h and produces 16 gallons of pure drinkable freshwater per hour. We keep the 800-litters water tanks full at all times by turning on the watermaker for a few hours every 3-4 days. When it’s raining, we collect rainwater with a very efficient system of hoses coming down the sides of the hard top. We use the rainwater for laundry, which we do in buckets, by hand. Good thing in the Tropics we don’t wear too many clothes.

Maya did her laundry Мая простира прането

Maya did her laundry
Мая простира прането

Thus, we can drop anchor in the most remote lagoon for a week or a month or a year or two without having to visit the docks for fuel or water. We have never been more independent, enjoying some of the most pristine beautiful places of the world, spending money mostly for beer and ice cream.

Fata Morgana in Barbuda Фата Моргана в Барбуда

Fata Morgana in Barbuda
Фата Моргана в Барбуда

We never go to marinas, as anchorages everywhere are free. We have a sewing machine to mend the sails and all sorts of tools for all sorts of repairs. When visiting places, we walk sometimes great distances, as unfortunately we don’t have space for bicycles on the boat. Sometimes we hitchhike or take the bus. We catch and eat lots of fish and we cook aboard and make our own bread. We still have to spend money when something on the boat breaks and needs to be fixed or replaced, when a line snaps or the hulls need painting. Maintaining a boat can be very expensive, especially the first year, but we try to do even this as cheaply as possible, fixing everything we can ourselves. But besides this we don’t have much of the daily, weekly and monthly bills and expenses we used to have on land.

Ivo the fisherman Иво е голям рибач...

Ivo the fisherman
Иво е голям рибач…

But this way of life took some adjustment. We had to learn to do without a dishwasher, a washing machine, AC, TV, and Wi-Fi here and there now and then. The fridge is a box and in order to get to the stuff on the bottom, you first have to take out everything on the top. Ice is luxury, so is hot water. We take very quick cold water showers, unless we use one of those black plastic bags heated by the sun, which are great. We have reduced our consumption of everything, and we have cut most ties to the grid. We don’t even have a phone or a permanent address. Once, someone in an institution who tried unsuccessfully to fill up a form for us, told us: “It looks like you don’t exist!”

Ivo chilling on a palm tree

Ivo chilling on a palm tree

But we like it like this and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We are constantly learning. Living aboard a boat, traveling and seeing the world, using the energy of the wind in ordper to move across vast distances, harvesting the power of the sun to make electricity and with it freshwater, are some of the most valuable lessons for our 11-years-old daughter Maya educated outside of the school system. She knows a lot about clean renewable energy and conservation of natural resources, and her respect for the natural environment and our connection to it is profound. With the ties to the grid cut off we have come much closer to nature than ever before.

Maya Мая

Maya
Мая

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Boat School

I want to thank all the kids and parents who live and learn aboard sailboats for helping me with this article!

Boat School

by Mira Nencheva

“We are all schoolmasters, and our schoolhouse is the universe.”

-Henry Thoreau

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Our daughter Maya is 11-years-old. She doesn’t go to school.

Maya doesn’t go to school because we live aboard a sailboat and we constantly travel from one country to another. In November 2012 we left our old way of life and the world in which everything was familiar only to find ourselves in a world where we suddenly had to deal with many unexpected situations. One of the biggest unknowns of this new way of life was the kids’ school. To deny your children education is to rob them of a better future, people say. How will they find work or go to college? How will they continue their lives if they don’t have an education? This was the hardest question asked by parents, neighbors, friends and strangers on the road. This was the question I asked myself. Maybe we are making a grave mistake by stopping our kids from school?

We had heard of ‘homeschooling’ even ‘unschooling’ and we knew that we are not the only cruisers with kids who study outside of the school system. The thought that we would find a solution to this problem gave us hope.

Maya Мая

Maya in Virginia

It took me over a year collecting information, talking with other mothers and interviewing homeschooled cruising kids before being able to build our own education model. During this time, our son Viktor 17, who has always been educated in the public school system in Quebec Canada, decided to go back.  He returned to land-life and continued his high school there. It turned out that for children like Viktor, who have already started their education in the school system is difficult to transit to homeschooling on a boat, especially when they are at high school level and especially if they didn’t have any problems in the public school. For Maya- 6 years younger and at primary school level, the transition was much easier.

Maya Мая

Maya, Ile-des-Saintes

“A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.”
– George Santayana

To deprive a child from education is to deprive him/her from a future. We all agree on that. But we don’t all agree with the idea, that education can be obtained only in the system and only at school. And what education are we talking about?

Are we talking about the slow and painful process which temporarily fills the kids’ heads with facts until they pass the exam in order to obtain a document or a diploma that enables them to continue studying in colleges and universities, or enables them to find a well-paying job so that they can buy expensive things, or often simply substitutes toilet paper; or are we talking about a certain amount of knowledge that helps them understand and respect the world and themselves, to acquire positive values, to focus in a direction appealing to them, to develop as unique individuals capable of dealing with changes and obstacles, of calculating and taking risks, of reasoning and having their own opinions?

Maya Мая

Maya in Dominica

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”

-Albert Einstein

Education is important and essential but it is not necessary acquired in the classroom. In most countries in the world homeschooling is a legal option. The students are not required to go to school and can study at home. Their parents are not required to provide professional teachers for their homeschooled children. The only thing the parents are required to provide is adequate and efficient education- inside or outside of the school building. In some particular situations the parents have no choice because of certain circumstances like illness, remote location, or because they travel a lot, and cannot send the kids to school. But often the parents consciously choose homeschooling as an alternative to public school. On purpose. In most cases however, the parents are too busy with work and have no choice but to send the kids in the schools. Besides, it’s the normal thing to do…

Maya and Noial Мая и Нойял

Maya and Noial

“To attend chiefly to the desk or schoolhouse while we neglect the scenery in which it is placed is absurd. If we do not look out we shall find our find schoolhouse standing in a cow-yard at last.”

-Henry Thoreau

The school institution, very much like a factory, controls and represses the individual instead of encouraging creativity. In schools, as in factories, the rules and procedures are very strictly defined and have to be observed. Discipline is essential. But discipline stops creativity. The teachers are like factory workers and the students are the product. The standardized tests and exams are the quality control. The bell announces the beginning and the end of the school/work day. In such a scheme the students are meant to become the same and nothing original ever comes out of the factory. In schools individuality and creativity are often being suppressed so that the transition from today’s slaves to tomorrow’s slaves is achieved smoothly.

Maya Мая

Maya
Мая

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”

-Noam Chomski

The present system can only continue to exist if people strive to better themselves financially and buy more material things. The system, in order to survive the way it is, needs people who work all day every day most of their lives in order to consume the products which they produce. In the meantime they have no time for their own children. The role of the school and of the media today is to divert the attention of the young ones in the direction of consumerism, to mold them into a mass of ideal citizens and consumers. The want for new better expensive things: clothes, shoes, jewelery, cars, houses, etc. is not genetic but is being implemented (often not even on purpose, but subconsciously) in our children’s value system and worldviews since a very early age. Those who educate them have themselves been thus educated. This is now accepted as normal. But is it normal?

Maya Мая

Maya
Мая

“People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There’s no villain, no ‘mean guy’ who wants them to live meaningless lives, it’s just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless.”

-Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Is it normal that the school curriculum is prepared by a group of “experts” who decide in this given historical, political, economical and technological moment of time what is the best for our children and for the society?  Can they forecast what will happen in say 10-20 years when today’s students will be adults looking for a job? Most of the things we learn at school become irrelevant in a few years. How many of us work in the field of our studies? According to statistics not more than 10%. And how many of us remember most of the stuff we studied in primary and high school? Personally, I remember only fragments. In the classroom of my childhood we were 30 kids, all different individuals with different interests, ideas and capacity. But we were all forced to study the same thing. In this situation the natural reaction of many of us is blockage. We develop hatred towards certain subject; we even start hating the entire school. How many kids, honestly, love to go to school? Instead of being tortured with things that we hate and forget two days after the exam, instead of loosing our time in the classrooms we could have learned something important and interesting for us.

Maya Мая

Maya
Мая

 “Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”                

-Plato

The good news is that in many countries of the world: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, India, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and England homeschooling is a legal alternative to the compulsory education. In Bulgaria as well as in most African countries, Cuba, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Serbia and Swiss unfortunately children and parents still don’t have this option.

Where it is permitted, homeschooling is not complicated and it doesn’t even mean getting out of the system. Packages with manuals and other school materials are being distributed and the kids periodically take exams. Most homeschooled kids cover the same material as the kids in the public schools.

Мая

Мая

Boat School for Cruising Kids

“What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul.”                  

-Joseph Addison

While sailing in the Caribbean we met many cruising families whose kids were homeschoold and were doing great. In Grenada during the months from June to November an impressive community of boaters gathers to “hibernate” for the Hurricane Season. Many of these cruisers are families with kids, who travel and study aboard for years.  They all used different individual methods and systems for education. Before noon, the boat-kids were busy with their books and manuals for about 2-3 hours and in the afternoon they were busy exploring volcanoes, jungles and ancient forts, or surfing, sailing, swimming, snorkeling, and playing games. Do you think these kids are deprived of education?

Деца-пътешествници, които учат задочно на лодки и обиклят света с родителите си.

Деца-пътешествници, които учат задочно на лодки и обиклят света с родителите си.

 

 

 

Kieran Whitworth 15, from South Africa, S/V Avatar

Kieren travels with his parent and studies aboard S/V Avatar since 2012. Before that he used to go to a regular school in Cape Town for 8 years. He said he was doing great in school and liked having friends whom now he misses. ” Homeschool is lonely but on the other hand it made me more independent. It was hard saying good bye to my friends, but now we keep in touch thanks to internet.”

Кирън 15г.

Кирън 15г.

Kieran uses the American homeschooling system CALVERT which has instructional videos on its website. After the student subscribes for one year he receives books and other materials in the mail. Until the ninth school year the mother is responsible for grading the student; after that (after the second year of high school) there are exams to be done on line. The advantages of this popular American homeschool system are that it is accepted in most colleges in the USA and other countries, and is available for children throughout the world. The main disadvantage of is the price- between 1 000 and 2 000 dollars per year.

Кирън

Kieren

Kieren is planing to continue his studies in college after he graduates from homeschool- programming or electrical engineer.

Zoe 11 and Nina 7, from South Africa, S/V Iza

Like Kieren, Zoe and Nina also used CALVERT for two year while cruising. Zoe said, she liked homeschool because it was easy, except for math. She also loves sailing. Her favorite place of all is Brazil where she and her family sailed up the great Amazon river, saw pink dolphins beautiful beaches and met many friendly people. At the moment, the two sisters still liveaboard with their parents but have settled in Grenada where the parents now work. The girls go to the local public school. “My favorite subject is science, because I love to do experiments, said Zoe. I don’t like math. I also like history, I have always been fascinated with past events.”

Нина и Зое

Нина и Зое

Raphael 13 and Xavier 11 from Quebec, Canada, S/V Rêve d’Océan

Raphael and his brother Xavier study using the French homeschool program CNED (Centre national d’enseignement à distance) which is a public program of the Ministry of Education in France. But it is also an expensive program, unless it is subsidized by the government, for which there are certain conditions.

Рафаел и Ксавие

Рафаел и Ксавие

The boys prefer this way of studying better than going to school because, they say, it takes less time to do their school work. Raphael’s favorite subject is math and French is his least favorite subject. The brothers usually start school at 9 a.m. and are done by 11:30 a.m. every day from Monday to Friday.

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In their blog you can read (in French) more about how the kids (and their mother) adapted to homeschooling on the boat and how they successfully finished their first year of homeschool. To read click here.

Megan 12 and Mathew 14 from Canada, S/V Amelie 4

Меган

Меган

Megan is learning with the help of her mother ( a teacher) 3 hours a day, 5 days a week using a private Canadian homeschooling program The Phoenix Foundation Calgary which also follows the official Canadian curriculum. And she is doing fantastic. Before moving on the boat, Megan used to go to a regular school in Canada for 6 years. “I prefer homeschool because it allows me to concentrate better. I love the most science. I like to do experiments and to understand how everything works. It’s fascinating. I don’t like history.”, she says. But on the boat something unexpected always happens and sometimes it is hard to keep a strict timetable. Mathew who is autistic also does school work aboard- speech therapy and other. For him life at sea is true happiness, as he adores water.

Меган и Матю

Меган и Матю

In their blog you can find more information on homeschool aboard as well s the travel journal written by 12-years-old Megan. To read click here.

Mika 9, Gor 6 1/2 and Arbel 4 from Israel, S/V Del Max

The three kids traveling aboard S/V Del Max since one year and a half follow the school system and use the manuals sent to them by their aunt from Israel. Before the boat Mika and Gor went to school in Boston, USA where the family used to live for 5 years. The kids now can read and write both in English and Hebrew, and as soon as they return to Israel in a few months they will continue their studies in a public school.

Мика, Гор и Арбел учат с помощта на майка си на борда на катамарана Дел Макс

Мика, Гор и Арбел учат с помощта на майка си на борда на катамарана Дел Макс

One of their favorite educational resources is the website XtraMath.org. Mika loves to read, especially the Bible, which is written in a more difficult to read and understand archaic language, so it took her some time to get used to it. Gor likes to do math on his i-pad. The little Arbel also has his educational books and games, where he learns to read and do math. At age 4 he already knows by heart most of the flags of the world, especially the ones of the countries he has been to.

4-годишният Арбел знае на изуст флаговете на повечето държави по света.

4-годишният Арбел знае на изуст флаговете на повечето държави по света.

 

Maya 10 and Tyler 8 from USA, S/V Four Coconuts

Maya and Tyler are homeschoold for over one year now. Before that they were in a public school in America. They are also using CALVERT, and will e using it for two more years before moving back on land. Maya’s favorite subject is literature, she loves to read and write, and Tyler likes geography and his Gods of Greece books. Both hate math.

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“We’re going on our 3rd week now and I’m happy to say we’re between 2-3 hours/day of formal work. The neat part is incorporating our current location into the curriculum.  Example: For art this morning, I gave Tyler the option of 1) studying the postcard provided by our homeschooling program or 2) going to art galleries to study the work in person.  I was blown away when we went to the gallery and he sat down to study a sculpture book for 20 minutes without me suggesting it.” ,wrote their father.

Тайлър

Тайлър

You can read more on how the parents and the kids got used to this new way of schooling aboard the boat in their blog. To read click here.

 

We also met cruising families who didn’t use any particular system of education, but had their own methods.

Момичетата от катамарани Discovery и Day Dreamer

Момичетата от катамарани Discovery и Day Dreamer

 

Kate 14, Jack 6, JC 11, Jenna 8 from Canada, M/V Discovery

The four Alonso kids travel with their parents since one year and a half now aboard Discovery. They don’t use any particular program. Instead, they organize their own school materials according to each kid’s interests. “I like homeschooling a lot more. I have many homeschooled friends and we motivate each other. I like the fact that I can organize my time better.” said Kate. He favorite subject is music. She can play the piano, ukelele, clarinet and oboe, and she can also compose her own music. She has many music theory books and her cabin looks like an orchestra. She also like math. She doesn’t like to write.

Кейт учи с майка си  Автор на снимката- Джон Алонсо

Кейт учи с майка си
Автор на снимката- Джон Алонсо

“The kids were all in the public school system until we moved on the boat. The plan had been 1 year out, but we decided pretty quickly that we wanted to stay out multiple years. Not sure what that means. We are on our second year and depending on which family member you ask, we have 2-6 years left.

When we go back, my expectation is that they will go back to school, particularly the older ones for high school. However, depending on if I am working or not, I may keep the younger ones home schooling until high school

I don’t follow a set curriculum. I use a variety of methods and curriculum for each of them. Some subjects, particularly geography, history and science, we try to study together where it works. They are at unique levels for math and literature/ writing.

If we stay out 2 more years, Kate would do 11th and 12th grade back in the U.S. If we stay out longer, she graduates from boat school. I am actually planning her classes and studies for that possibility.

For the record, boat schooling all 4 kids, levels ranging from kindergarten to high school, is the hardest thing I’ve done. But wouldn’t trade it.”-shared Cate, Jack, JC and Jenna’s mother.

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Ted 12 and Robert 9 from Ireland, S/V Millport II

The boys follow loosely the United Kingdom curriculum, because it is easy to find information about it online. They try to cover mostly the requirements for math and English for each year. “If they show an interest in something outside of that we will focus on that instead for a week or two. An example would be when we had to dismantle and service our wind generator, then we spent a lot of time on how it works and followed it with other sources of power- good and bad. “, their mother explained.

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Ted, Robert and their dad doing some school work

Maxim-Émanuelle 14 and Tristan 12 from Canada, S/V La Jeannoise

Maxim-Émanuelle also prefer homeschool because it saves her time and it allows her to learn at her pace. She does school 7 days a week 3 hours a day. Her favorite subject is science. She loves chemistry- theory and practice. She also loves to write and translate. Maxim-Émanuelle is fluent in both English and French. Her hardest subject is math. ” I don’t follow any program. We bought manuals and books in Canada and I read them. I learn more on the boat than in school, especially in science. The boat is my main school instrument for learning.”, she said.

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The books I am using are the ones referred by teachers I met before leaving and/or books I found interesting when visiting libraries. I use as well the curriculum of my province which is Ontario, Canada to guide me and to ensure my kids are getting the same kind of knowledge they would get in a regular school as they must fit in the school system next September. I downloaded the documents available on the Ministry of Education’s website, at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca.I focus on math, French, English, science and history plus we do various projects on subject of interest to the kids. We are using encyclopedias we have aboard and internet is an illimited access of information. The kids also play music seriously. Tristan plays guitar and Maxim-Émanuelle plays piano.

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You can read more about this family’s sailing adventures in their blog (in french) which also has excellent photos. To read click here.

In Canada homeschooling requires that the student takes exams every two years in primary school and every year in secondary school in order to get a diploma. Also every province has different rules. But if a child it traveling outside of the country’s territory and skips a few years of school without doing any exams or even without following any particular program like in the case of Maxim-Émanuelle and Tristan, as well as all the other Canadian kids, Maya including, this child can return to school as soon as it is back in Canada and will be placed in the class level corresponding to his/her age without exams. (This also happens with the immigrant children from other countries even if they don’t speak English or French. They are placed in the class of their age group and quickly catch up.) The teachers then carefully observe the child and after the first semester, if the returning student is lacking any knowledge, he/she might be obligated to take an extra class, math for example.

Emma 15, Anna 13 and Sarah 11 from Alaska, S/V Day Dreamer

The girls from S/V Day Dreamer have never been in a public school, even though they used to live on land. Their parents’ convictions against the school system and the system in general are quite radical. They share the opinion that going to school and spending a large part of each day with only their peer group doesn’t represent the real world and, for many, may not be the best environment for learning. They don’t follow any particular program. The girls’ mother searches for school materials, much of which she finds online, that cover basic subjects but also hold an interest for her children.  Starting in the 9th year, she keeps track of high school grades in a document that is considered an official transcript in many American colleges. This way the girls will have the option of taking the GED and continuing their studies in college without a traditional diploma.  Most American colleges accept such students (98%), even give them priorities, as they are the ones who can think outside of the box and can bring cultural diversity to the campus.

According to the American Council on Education, the organization that represents and coordinates all types of higher education institutions in the U.S., a whopping 98% of all colleges and universities recognize and accept the GED in regards to their prospective students’ credentials.’ Source – www.examtoolkits.com/GED/college_ged.html

Unlike some countries (like France), the USA doesn’t actually have an ‘official curriculum’.

In Alaska, homeschoolers as young as 15 can begin supplementing their homeschool education with college classes so that by the time they graduate, they’ll be well on their way toward a college degree. ‘According to the American Council on Education, the organization that represents and coordinates all types of higher education institutions in the U.S., a whopping 98% of all colleges and universities recognize and accept the GED in regards to their prospective students’ credentials.‘ Source – www.examtoolkits.com/GED/college_ged.html

Ема, Анна и Сара

Emma, Anna, Sarah

“We have a certain amount of school work per day. As soon as we are done with school we can play. It can take us 2 hours or 5 hours.”, said Anna. She loves art and literature. Her favorite book is Lord of the Ring. “After 4 years on the boat I miss the snow and the ice…I’d like to go to college and to study either art or law. I love to argue and dad says I am good at it.” she adds.

Her sister, Sara, loves foreign languages and music. She is learning German and some boat kids taught her to play the ukelele.  She’s saxophone-sitting for a friend so started to play it too. She doesn’t like math or science, but has fun doing experiments.

Emma likes homeschooling on a boat because she can do lessons in the morning and go hang out with her friends nearly every afternoon.  She’s taught herself piano, ukelele and flute.  If they move back to land, she would like to take the opportunity to try high school.  She thrives around people and, because of her wide-range of training and experiences so far, her family thinks she’ll likely flourish in that environment.

Julia 13 and Carlos 11 from Germany and New Zealand, S/V Cool Change

Julia and Carlos do math, writing, reading and everything else following very loosely the American system CALVERT, using some of the books as well as other materials which their mother finds on line. She is convinced that the kids have to study only the things they are interested in, without pressure and at their own pace, no matter what level they are supposed to be in.

Юлия и Карлос

Julia and Carlos

“Whatever it is that draws you to homeschooling, I believe you have to keep one thing in mind, you as a teaching parent have to be conscious, disciplined and committed until your child is ready to take on this role and see it as their own responsibility. I want to teach my children that they learn every day, all day and see life itself as the school. Everyone is a teacher to us and if we can embrace each situation with our heart, challenges will turn into opportunities. There will be no mistakes only stepping stones on this journey to our own deeper understanding and living of life. The changes we want to see in this world we have to start in our own heart and home.”, says there mother

For more details on homeschooling aboard Cool Change you can read the following article on their blog. To read click here.

Maya’s Boat School Method

After over a year outside of the school system and after I spoke with these and many more kids and their parents, after our long conversations aboard S/V Day Dreamer and S/V Cool Change, and after I found the blog of Yacht Mollymawk where I read the most inspiring articles on boat-schooling and education in general, I finally understood which type of education would be best for Maya and for our convictions, worldviews and way of life.

Like many other kids, we decided that Maya will be learning the things she is interested in and things related to the geographic region we are at the time, as well as related to our way of life and the world around us, plus math. I organized a personal school program using free web sites and materials. The subjects are divided in: math, literature (reading and writing), Spanish language, and encyclopedia. After some time Maya can take exams in order to obtain a diploma  for the level she has reached in order for her to continue her studies in college if this is what she wants to do. But we still don’t know in which country she will do the exams; this also can be her choice.

Мая

Мая

Math

Math is not Maya’s favorite subject but this doesn’t mean that she is not doing great in math. Just sometimes it is hard to convince her to open the manual. The manual is a thick book for fifth grade we found in a book store in Trinidad. It is divided in sections and covers a lot of material which Maya will probably cover in two years. The sections include explanations, exercises and tests.

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Sometimes we do “fun math” organizing games and crafts or other fun activities. For example, when she was learning how to find the surface of rectangles I made up an activity where she had to first to find the surfaces of a few different rectangles using the formula and then to draw and cut the rectangles out of color papers. Then she made envelops and they all fit inside one another. She loved this activity and kept calculating and making envelops for days.

Sometimes when the material is more difficult she refuses to do math for a few days and then we slowly resume it 10-15 minutes per day, until the difficult becomes easy. The most important thing is not to hate the subject.

Мая учи на брега близо до котвеното в Чагарамас, Тринидад

Мая учи на брега близо до котвеното в Чагарамас, Тринидад

Literature

Maya writes and reads in English. For her writing theory we use another manual we found in the same book store in Trinidad, which I like because it teaches how to make sentences, paragraphs and various types of texts with examples and exercises.

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Maya likes to write compositions. Depending on the lesson she will write a paragraph or a text on a subject she chooses or from a choice of subjects I give her. Sometimes she will write about a place we have visited or an event. Sometimes she will transform an existing text or summarize the book she has just finished reading. Her favorite author is Road Dahl, who wrote Charlie and Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and others. She also likes her Geronimo Stilton collection of books (French and English).

When we get to a new anchorage we always visit the marina and check the book exchange. This is an awesome tradition- cruisers leave the books they have read and take books they haven’t. Thus we find some very nice reads and we don’t need to buy books.

Maya even wrote an article which got published in Caribbean Compass titled My School is Not a Building.

Мая се гордее с нейната статия във вестник Карибски Компас

Мая се гордее с нейната статия във вестник Карибски Компас

Spanish Language

The other subject we chose is Spanish Language, because we are sailing in a region with many Spanish-speaking peoples. Maya already speaks English, French and Bulgarian. So Spanish is the next logical one. We have so far visited Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and we are heading to Central and South America. In Guatemala Maya went to a local school for to months and in a very short time she got the bases for the language. Now we are continuing by reading short stories which I find on line as well as articles from news papers and magazines, or books. We recently found a manual history for fifth grade in the Salvation Army store in Puerto Rico for 50 cents- just in time when we were working on a project about the Mayan Civilization.

Учебник по история за пети клас в Пуерто Рико (на испански)

Учебник по история за пети клас в Пуерто Рико (на испански)

I can help Maya with Spanish because I am pretty fluent, after doing a minor in Spanish in Concordia University in Montreal. I don’t make her study grammar for now. We just read short texts in Spanish and slowly translate them and take out some of the new words. And the lessons are necessarily done on the boat. Once we were in a store and while Ivo was looking at boat parts we read an article in the local paper (this was in Puerto Rico) and took out the new words. But the best part is, that she has the opportunity to learn the language in a country where it is spoken. She can here it on the street, on the radio in the bus, she can read the signs in the stores and on the food packaging.

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Encyclopedia

And the last subject is Encyclopedia. We called it like this, because we are mainly using a big illustrated children’s encyclopedia we found discarded in Vancouver years ago. We divided this subject in History, Geography and Science. History is Maya’s favorite subject.

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She chooses the topic which interests her provided it is connected to the region we are in or to something that relates to our life. We started with Canadian history and Geography and continued with the Caribbean region, where we are right now. We have visited the Yucatan peninsula, the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Guatemala- the country with the largest percentage of Mayan descendants, so Maya started a project on the Mayan Civilization. She chose it mostly, because of the name, of course. We read and make plans of the lessons from an internet site which I find an invaluable free resource for primary school ducksters.com.

Плановете на уроци за цивилизацията на Маите

Плановете на уроци за цивилизацията на Маите

In science we have covered  oceans and seas, climate and meteorology, wind, clouds and air pressure- all things related to sailing. As a project she did an experiment- taking the readings for air pressure and temperature as well as the atmospheric conditions and observations in a table during one week, and then write the conclusions from her observations.

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In Barbados we visited two caves. Back on the boat we read the lesson on caves and were able to relate the information with the observations. In the Grenadines we swam with turtles. Back on the boat Julia brought a small book about ea turtles and the two girls read it and made a plan and a list of all the facts. In Montserrat, Martinique and Guadeloue we visited volcanoes; in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St Kitts and Cuba we visited colonial sites, forts and museums. Everywhere we go we go hiking in the forests and up the mountains, we visit galleries and museums, we snorkel in the reefs. These are the best lessons the kids can get. Maya is learning about different cultures, about their customs, music, food by visiting those cultures and experiencing them and she complements this new knowledge with reading about their history. The fat that we are meeting lots of people also plays a positive role for Maya’s education and for ours too. Every new person shares with us new information and new knowledge. Yes, the world is one big school and everyone in it is a teacher. The more we travel, the more people we meet, the more we learn. Even though Maya doesn’t learn the same things as the kids in schools, she learns things that she is interested in and she will not forget them.

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The traveling kids not only learn a lot about the world first hand, they also learn to care about this world. Children growing up on boats whose everyday life depends on the weather forecast, whose home (the boat) is moving thanks to the wind and is producing its own solar power, where freshwater is a precious commodity to be preserved and the garbage disposal is a complicated process, where space is limited and therefor consumerism is limited, these kids are a lot more informed and conscious about the environment and conservation.

Мая и Юлия

Мая и Юлия

Finally, the cruising boat-schooled kids acquire the values and worldviews of their parents, not of some random people in schools. Unfortunately, the parents of today are forced to abandon their kids in the schools in order to go to work and the time they spend with them is minimal. Being able to teach your own child should be every parent’s priority and it should be a pleasure.

Мира в ролята на учителка и Мая в ролята на ученичка

Мира в ролята на учителка и Мая в ролята на ученичка

Viktor has always been with us, no matter the hardships, and even though the time came for him to choose his own path, he left with a baggage of knowledge and ideas inherited by us, knowledge, ideas and convictions we keep teaching to Maya: to respect people and treat everyone equally, regardless of their race, religion or nationality; to preserve the environment; to respect all living creatures; to conserve the natural resources no matter the circumstances; to be content with little; to recycle as much as possible, including clothes and furniture; not to become slaves working for others in the system; to be independent and not to expect help from anyone- to follow their dreams and to realize them with their own efforts and capacity. 

Безплатна йога за деца живеещи на лодки в Гренада- вместо физическо

Безплатна йога за деца живеещи на лодки в Гренада- вместо физическо

Мая и Зои си организираха самички урок по изобразително изкуство

Мая и Зои си организираха самички урок по изобразително изкуство

Мая с приятелки в Антигуа

Мая с приятелки в Антигуа

Клуб на младият читател организиран от майките на децата в Гренада

Клуб на младият читател организиран от майките на децата в Гренада

Нойял, София и Мая в народни носии по време на националният празник на Гватемала

Нойял, София и Мая в народни носии по време на националният празник на Гватемала

Урок на тема "Изкуството и околната среда"

Урок на тема “Изкуството и околната среда”

Мая учи на кея в Тринидад

Мая учи на кея в Тринидад

List of Cruising Families Blogs

Not all cruising families write blogs.

Here are published the blogs of the cruising families we have met and interviewed, as well as blogs of families with boat-schooled children who we haven’t met yet. Links will be added continuously. If you are a cruising family with boat-schooled children, please contact me if you want your blog to be added to the list.

Yacht Mollymawk (most favorite ever)

Sailing Amélie

Sailing adventures on Cool Change 47

Marsden Family’s Great Adventure

La Jeannoise-Fr

Rêve d’Océan- Fr

Sailing Totem

Homeschool Ahoy

Нина, яхта Иза

Нина, яхта Иза

Free On Line Resources for Homeschooling

Here we will be adding free on line resources for homeschooling. If you want to share your experience with homeschooling and add a ling to the list, please contact me in the comments here or on our Facebook page The Life Nomadik.

studdyladder.com

ducksters.com

math-drills.com

homeschoolmath.net

commoncoresheets.com

superteacherworksheets.com

sciencekids.co.nz

famouspeoplelesson.com

discovery-education.com

mathisfun.com

xtramath.org

ontario education

 

 Thank you, to all kids and parents who helped me with this article!

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Neptune, Thank You For The Fish !

After three weeks in Fajardo the time came to sail west. We set sail for Ponce, only about 60 miles away. The east winds behind us at about 20 knots, Fata Morgana was doing 7-8 knots, sometimes even 9, surfing down the waves.

Slowly, a black cloud appeared behind us and started catching up on us. The wind died briefly before the squall hit- rain and wind over 30 knots. The sails were wing-on-wing and Ivo decided that we wouldn’t reef in advance. And just when the wind started whizzing, a fish took the lure. Ivo started bringing in the fish, so Maya an me had to reef the sails and to keep the boat close to the wind at about 2 knots speed. A bit of panic aboard, and screaming at each other, the normal stuff…

Ivo bringing in a fish. Иво вади риба.

Ivo bringing in a fish.
Иво вади риба.

The fish took out half the line and it took Ivo an eternity to bring it in. Heavy. This is a good sign. And even before it was close we could tell what kind of fish it was by the red fins and tail- Mahogany Snapper- our favorite- white juicy flesh.

Ivo the fisherman Иво е голям рибач...

Ivo the fisherman
Иво е голям рибач…

The squall passed, the rain stopped, only the sea continued to be nervous for a few more minutes, after the weather was calm again, yet Ivo was still busy with the fishing rod. Finally, he brought in the fish-exhausted, bloody, almost dead from the long battle (the fish, not Ivo). Maya brought the hook and the medical alcohol we use as anesthetic for the fish. The anesthetic we put in their gills, they calm down, fall asleep and never wake up…

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата...

Mira also wanted a picture with the fish
Мира също искаше да се снима с рибата…

All this happened about 200 meters from Cayo Santiago, also known as Isla de los Monos (The MOnkey Island), where we decided to stop for a day or two. We cleared the reef, furled the sails and dropped the hook.

Ivo fileting the fish Иво филира рибока

Ivo fileting the fish
Иво филира рибока

It was almost noon. Time for lunch. We had a big fish to fry. Ivo took care of it. A lonely dolphin who greeted us in the anchorage and a flock of about 6 frigatebirds shared the skin, guts, head and bones. We only kept the juicy filets.

 A frigatebird Фрегата


A frigatebird
Фрегата

During the course of the past one year and a half we caught about 10-12 of these snappers around Cuba, Mexico, The Bahamas and Puerto Rico and we tried different recipes: we barbequed them, we baked them in the oven with tomatoes and onions, we fried them. But we found that the tastiest is when I bread it with eggs and flower, served with white rice or mashed potatoes and cold beer. Even Maya who is very pretentious for food and usually doesn’t eat fish likes it this way and eats quite a bit (without beer). It became a tradition- every time we catch snapper I bread it. The other types of fish I prepare differently.

Snapper filets Филе от снапър

Snapper filets
Филе от снапър

Thus, we never know what will be the menu aboard Fata Morgana. Maybe breaded snapper, or sashimi, or mahi-mahi on the BBQ..? Whatever the Crazy One would spare. And we are always grateful to Him, provided it is NOT an ugly barracuda.

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Ivo enjoying the gifts of the sea

Neptune, thank you for the fish!

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Pig Roast and Bachata in Guavate

Another epic St Valentine’s weekend.

Beautiful Perto Rican girl dancing Bachata

Beautiful Puertorican girl dancing Bachata

There is a unique place in Puerto Rico and probably in the entire world named Guavate, a small mountain village where every Sunday a great crowd gathers. As early as 11 a.m. people from all corners of the island start to arrive blocking the road. Traffic, cars, people, musing booming, even in rainy weather. If you by any chance find yourself there, you might wonder what is this madness about? The answer is: it’s about the pigs.

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But we didn’t get there by chance. Our cruising friends whom we met for the first time in Ponce 6 months ago brought us here. “Would you like to experience some local culture: authentic music and food?”, wrote to us Greg and Michele, who have spent lots of time in Puerto Rico and know very well where, when, and what is happening. Of course we would like it! Sunday around noon they picked us up with a rental car at the ferry pier in Fajardo and after an hour and half long drive we got to Guavate, not far from Carite Forest Reserve.

Traffic, people, madness in Guavate

Traffic, people, madness in Guavate

Since forever the locals come to Guavate to feast on traditional pig roast. On both sides of the street there are dozens of small restaurants Lechoneras, where piglets are being roasted slowly on Sundays. In the two biggest restaurants El Rancho Nuevo  (The New Ranch) and El Rancho Original (The Original Ranch) there is a large dancing space where people dance under the sounds of merengue, salsa and bachata. The live music is deafening, there is no breaks. This is the spot where Anthony Bourdain, of No Reservations and Andrew Zimmern from Bizzare Foods on the TravelChannel came to sample the best of Puerto Rico.

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The Puertorican people like to organize family activities in the weekends. Everywhere on the island on beaches, parks and in restaurants they celebrate the end of the week without any other special occasion. The parties always include lots of food, drinks, loud music and dancing all day and all night. But in Guavate the situation is out of control.

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Bachata

We arrived around 2 p.m. It was raining, but no one seemed to notice. The roadside restaurants were already packed with people, 99% locals. We took our spots on a long line for food. While we were waiting, we watched a pig slowly getting roasted. Maya was appalled. “I saw a pig, half pig (the butt half) and I felt vegetarian. So I pretty much just ate a little portion of rice.”

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Besides pork, we had choice of many traditional Puertorican side dishes: juicy boiled yucca with a hint of garlic, yellow sweep potatoes, creamy and not too sweet, two types of fried plantains, yellow rice with black beans, blood sausages, and more. Everything was delicious and the price per portion was 8-9 US$, which included 3-4 side dishes and a beer. For 27 US$ we stuffed ourselves and we had one portion left for dinner (Maya’s portion).

We got a few Styrofoam boxes loaded with food and we made our own portions at the table.

We got a few Styrofoam boxes loaded with food and we made our own portions at the table.

After we lifted our satisfied faces from the dishes we gave up trying to have a conversation with our friends in the pauses between songs, and the only thing left to do was dancing.

Mira dancing with the local talent. This woman had some heartbreaking rear parts and she was not afraid to use them...

Mira dancing with the local talent. This woman had some heartbreaking rear parts and she was not afraid to use them…

Only Maya didn’t enjoy it. In her composition the next day she wrote:

I myself personally hate crowds and loud music. I felt lost and confused. Everything became a blur. The music was blasting as if I was standing under a rocket launching to space. As Greg said, my teeth started vibrating. A lot of people were dancing and so would I if the music was my type. I felt like shooting myself. But I liked the fact that normal people could have fun once in a while. I also liked the nice long car ride with a purple Gatorade in the middle, and the conversations we had with Greg and Michele. Amazing people.

Greg, Michele, Ivo and Maya at the table in Guavate

Greg, Michele, Ivo and Maya at the table in Guavate

But if you ask me, I would stay in Guavate and dance until the last song… For me this was the most authentic, the most fun, awesome experience in Puerto Rico. If you prefer to mix with the locals and not to see any other tourists, if the Latin American rhythms make your blood boil, if you like pork roast and are curious to try traditional local delicacies at very low prices, and if you have only one day to visit the island, you must choose Sunday (even if it’s raining) and go to Guavate.

Live music and dances in Guavate

Live music and dances in Guavate

 Michele and Mira dancing

Michele and Mira dancing

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A Woman Who Sails

This article has first appeared in February 2015 issue 233 of Caribbean Compass. You can find it on-line on pages 26-27.

 

Bev Cory aboard S/V Aseka

Bev Cory aboard S/V Aseka

A Woman Who Sails

by Mira Nencheva

After a few hours of uneventful sailing from Antigua to Guadeloupe, we arrive in Deshaies, the first bay on the northwest side of the island. We are excited to find our sailing buddies, Caryn and Mel aboard S/V Passages already there. Deshaies is a small charming fishermen village with a few restaurants along the shore, souvenir shops and a small boulangerie offering delicious French baguettes and pastries. We are greeted by the monotonous song of the bells from the bell tower of the small church etched against the dark evergreen mountain.

Desaies

Desaies

After checking-in, we decide to do a little river exploration and hike to a small waterfall not far from the village with our friends Mel and Caryn. We invite the crews of the two other boats in the anchorage, Mark and Tina aboard S/V Rainbow and Bev aboard S/V Aseka to come along. We are now an impressive group of cruisers walking through the forest looking for a waterfall.

Cruisers on a waterfall expedition

Cruisers on a waterfall expedition

Soon it is nothing but giant trees, roots like snakes, extravagant ferns and black butterflies. The morning sunlight can only pierce tiny shafts of white light through the holes of the forest roof disturbing the heavy humid shade of the canopy above. Trees and rocks and muck and more roots and the hush sound of the small river gurgling down among grey boulders covered with eternal moss. There are crabs rushing back to their dark holes in the soft ground, paranoid little lizards hiding behind branches, and further in the distance, a small pond with green tranquil water inviting us for a few minutes of chill-down.

Cruisiers in the pond

Cruisiers in the pond

The hike proves longer and harder than we have expected. Almost everyone is wearing flip-flops, as we thought it’s going to be a few minutes’ walk in the park. Instead, we are jumping over huge slippery boulders inside the stream for over an hour and still no waterfall. We start getting worried. Are we on the right path (if this can be called a path)? Frankly, I am also worried for our friends. What if someone trips over a slippery rock and breaks a leg? Mel is helping Caryn, Tina has Mark for assistance, and Ivo is taking care of Maya and me at the most difficult places: across boulders, fallen trees and fast-running water. But Bev, in her fifties, is on her own the entire time. Yet it doesn’t look like she needs any assistance at all. Cheerful, she skips form rock to rock with great energy, chatting with us all the time.

Mel and Caryn

Mel helping Caryn

– Bev, how come you are sailing around alone? I am curious.
– I just wanted to go sailing, that’s it. I have been sailing for 35 years now. It’s my life.

Bev

Bev

Beverly Cory-Bev was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Her father was a Construction Engineer and his job meant constantly moving from place to place, with the entire family. Bev went to 21 different schools in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, England, and Algeria by the time she was 19. She got used to traveling and she enjoyed the errant ways of her family; it became natural to her.

– One day, when I was 19, an old boyfriend I used to surf with, took me sailing. It turned out it’s a racing yacht and we went out racing! Suddenly I was pulling lines, cranking winches, packing a spinnaker. The crew thought I had experience. But I have never been on a sailboat before, I told them. The captain looked at me, I will never forget this moment, and said: You will. Next thing you know, I dumped the boyfriend, quit my job, and went sailing on an old Dutchman’s boat who needed a crew. He taught me everything about sailing. I was doing what I wanted to do.

After years of cruising around Australia, New Zealand, United States and the Caribbean, after two boats: one 36 Van de Stadt, which she built and one Tayana 37, and after a couple of lousy husbands (“My mum told me I wasn’t good at it – so don’t do it again (the husband thing)!”), Bev is now cruising alone on Aseka, a 2005 Maxim 380 catamaran built in Durbin. The design of the boat is ideal for singlehandling. All lines come in the cockpit so Bev can adjust the sails and reef easily while at the helm. She can also drop and lift anchor all by herself with the help of a windlass controlled from the cockpit.

– Lifting the anchor is the riskiest procedure, since I have to also flake the chain. I tend to stay clear of other boats when anchoring, so I don’t drift down on them as I clear my anchor.
I wait to be clear of boats when I hoist the sails.
I reef early.

So far, she hasn’t had any troubles sailing singlehanded and visiting places alone, but she needs to be extra careful. There are places where she won’t walk around alone, and places she prefers to sail to with crew, like Columbia, where Bev is heading soon.

– My longest solo passage was from Puerto Rico to Bonaire, 60 hours. At night I would sleep for 15 minutes, wake up, check everything, and sleep for 15 more minutes.

Sometimes, Bev invites friends or friends of friends to help with the longer and more difficult passages, but most of the time she prefers sailing alone.

Inside S/V Aseka

Inside S/V Aseka

– You do get used to being by yourself. I prefer not to have to rely on other people. Others don’t care about the boat like I do, It’s my life. When I have people over, they act as if they are on a holiday and it’s a big party. But this is not a charter boat and I am not their servant. They come to crew and they have to cover their expenses.

When Bev was 21, for 2 years she crewed on a private 3 masted square rigger Brigantine with 10 sails- the foremast alone had 27 lines. Traditionally rigged, there were no winches, just block and tackle. They sailed New Zealand then across to Australia. She was the sailing master, in charge of deck and sails.

When she was 23, Bev worked for 2 years as a deckhand on a prawn (shrimp) boat. She was the only woman on a commercial fishing vessel in that fleet. It took the other boats six months to accept her, constantly watching her.

– But when they finally did accept me I had so many big brothers it was ridiculous.
You do some crazy things when you are 20…

This included driving mining trucks in a uranium mine and being the first woman in Australia to work on an oil rig as a radio operator, which she did on and off for 2 years.

Later, Bev became ERP analyst setting up software systems for copper and gold mines throughout Australia, the Pacific, and Africa. She worked and lived in The Congo, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Zambia, and South Africa. When she wasn’t working she went backpacking.

But sailing was always what she wanted to do. She bought S/V Aseka when she was working in Burkina Faso. The name means ‘to prosper’ in the local Burkinable language.

– People think I am ‘strange’ for sailing solo. My mother thinks I am crazy. I think it’s crazier when inexperienced males try to tell me what to do.
You are asking me what the hardest thing is for a singlehanded cruising woman like me. The hardest thing is not having someone to go diving with.

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Finally we hear the muffled voice of a waterfall. The sound grows loud and heavy as if the fall is coming down for us. It’s a small cascade hidden in a canyon behind black rocks that rise suddenly, covered with abundant tropical vegetation. The long painful hike was worth it. We scramble through a deep pool and after one last vertical climb we reach the place where the water rushes down from its rock walls with great force and determination. We shower under its might holding on to our shorts.

Bev enjoying the small waterfall near Deshais

Bev enjoying the small waterfall near Deshais

I start thinking. I imagine myself alone on our boat, adjusting the sails, pulling the lines, reefing, dropping and lifting anchor while steering, fixing the engine… I am not too good with driving a dinghy by myself, let alone a boat. I have always relied on my husband for the more technical and physically challenging parts. I have always been just a “deck hand”, never the “sailing master”. I feel ashamed.

I admire Bev and she inspires me to learn more about our own boat, about sailing and navigating; to get more involved with the entire process of sailing.

If Bev can do it, I can do it. All women can.

Bev aboard S/V Aseka

Bev aboard S/V Aseka

 

 

You can see what TheLifeNomadik are doing and follow them on Facebook at The Life Nomadik

Other articles by Mira Nencheva published in Caribbean Compass (read on-line):

Three Reasons Why Not to Sail to Barbuda – issue 230 November, 2014 –  p.16-19 (front cover photo)

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger: One Year After the Attack  –  issue 230, November, 2014 – p. 26-27

Saba The Impossible Island – issue 231, December, 2014 – p.21-23

My School is Not a Building, by Maya – issue 231, December, 2014 – p.32

Dominica: Many Rivers to Cross  – issue 232, January, 2015 – p.21-23

Trinidad is Definitely for the Birds – issue 233, February, 2015 – p.21-22

A Woman Who Sails – issue 233, February, 2015 – p.26-27

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Run Barbados

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Ivo and Mel have been running in the mornings 2-3 times a week since we started cruising together with S/V Passages in Guadeloupe in August 2014. Keeping in shape is harder when living on a boat, as movement is restricted and one needs to be very determined and disciplined in order to remain active and healthy. But Ivo and Mel have not been jogging merely to keep in shape. They have been training. You see, Mel is an experienced marathon runner participating in 50 to 90 km marathons in African deserts and all over the world and he gave Ivo a great incentive for more serious running. So here we are sailing together from island to island, Ivo and Mel running up and down the hills everywhere.

Ivo and Mel running in Trinidad

Ivo and Mel running in Trinidad

One morning in Grenada, after a few weeks of this intensive training, Ivo had the most terrible dream, a horrible nightmare.

– We were running Mel and I, in a 25 kilometer marathon in Barbados and I was almost dead from exhaustion, but Mel was pulling me and dragging me by the hand, telling me: ”Come on Ivo, you can do it!” Then I woke up.

We laughed at the absurdity of the nightmare.
After Grenada we sail to Trinidad and spend there a couple of weeks, then on to Tobago. In Tobago we wait for favorable winds to cross north to Barbados, an island Ivo has been dreaming to visit since he was a kid, even though the weather hasn’t allow us to do so for a while. But the wind finally turns slightly from east-southeast and the two boats set sail for Barbados.

We are in Barbados!

We are in Barbados!

After one night and one day of joyful sailing, close to wind but at least not tacking, we arrive in Bridgetown, the main port of the island that stands alone on the edge of the Atlantic.
Barbados is an island 12 by 14 miles formed by the collision of two geological plates and volcanic eruptions, which makes it a unique land formation isolated from the rest of the Caribbean islands 90 NM to the east from St Vincent.
Once populated by Arawak and Carib Indians, who sailed the dangerous sea currents around Trinidad in their small dug-out canoes, Barbados remained unnoticed by Columbus and for a while was spared the great euphoria of the New World, until Portuguese sailors discovered the island en route to Brazil. They named it Barbados- “The Bearded Ones” after the bushy fig trees that grew on the island.
But the first ones to claim it were the English in 1625, when Captain John Powell landed on its shores. In 1639 the colonists established a House of Assembly in Jamestown making Barbados the third Parliamentary Democracy in the world. Followed the plantation period, as everywhere else in the Caribbean and the Americas. Three hundred years later slavery was abolished and in 1966 Barbados became an independent country, member of the Commonwealth with strong British tradition and heritage.

Bridgetown

Bridgetown

In Bridgetown port we are greeted by the customs and immigration officials who seem very nice, very welcoming and very relaxed people. The checking in procedures take some time as we have to wait for the customs people to show up, then we listen to the immigration officer’s many interesting stories, and then we have to fill by hand a bunch of documents, crew lists, and declarations. Which is what we cruisers do best. I’m not complaining.
Next, we sail from Bridgetown Port to the anchorage in front of Pebbles Beach- our new home for the next few days. It’s a rolly anchorage, even for us on the catamaran.

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The next day we walk around the town with Caryn and Mel admiring the canal surrounded by old colonial buildings, checking out some impressive duty-free shopping centers, and the guys sign up for an epic run. Ivo’s dream is about to come true!

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There is an organized marathon event every year in Barbados and we have arrived just in time for the Saturday 10-kilometer run. It’s all a very peculiar coincidence.

Run Barbados 2014

Run Barbados 2014

Run Barbados started in 1983 and since then has hosted world rated runners including runners form Africa, England, United States, the Caribbean every year. The event spans over three days with various distance runs: the POWERade Fun Mile and International Friendship Run on Friday, POWERade 10k and 3k runs on Saturday, half marathon (22.5km) and Run Barbados 5k on Sunday.
Our guys sign up for the Saturday 10k run. The organization of the event is beyond belief impeccable and the turnout is fantastic- hundreds of participants from around the world. Streets are blocked, police cars are stationed, reporters are awaiting, cameras are rolling. The signal is given and the herd of over three hundred runners charge Bay Street heading all the way to Spring Gardens Hwy and back.

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After only about half an hour the first runner crosses the finish line. Mel arrives after about 40 minutes, and Ivo is 10 minutes behind him. A truly proud moment.

Ivo and Mel

Ivo and Mel

Ivo has just become “the fastest Bulgarian in Barbados”. We celebrate with free fruits and Powerrade drinks on the beach.

Ivo after the Run

Ivo after the Run

The next days in Barbados we spend visiting some of the tourist attractions this unique island has to offer: the famous and very popular Harrison’s cave, the not-so-famous full with cockroaches, spiders and centipedes Cole’s cave, and beautiful Bathsheeba- a fishermen village on the east side with stunning rocky shoreline and beaches, famous among surfers.

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Tobago

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Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the southern Caribbean, northeast of the island of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada, outside the hurricane belt. Tobago has a land area of 300 km² and is approximately 40 km long and 10 km wide.

 

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Sailing to Tobago from Trinidad proves slower than we expected, heading northeast, very close to wind. We have calculated that if we leave on Thursday in the afternoon from Chacachacare and sail all night we should arrive in time on Friday and check-in before 4 p.m., as we thought there will be an overtime charge for late checking-in if we arrive after 4 p.m. or on the weekend. We are not sure if the overtime charge is 100 $US per boat, or per person, but it is an amount of money we would rather avoid paying. But we are sailing too slow and it looks like we will be late.

Maya aboard Fata Morgana

Maya aboard Fata Morgana

Our friends on S/V Passages, Mel and Caryn, who have been with us every day for the past 4 months and sailing about a mile behind us, agree on the VHF radio that we don’t have many options. We have to motor-sail the last 16 miles if we want to make it on time. The fuel will cost not more than 5$. Yet, Ivo doesn’t like the idea of motoring. A dark cloud of shame and misery envelopes him. Finally he tells me: “Do what you want…” Like an old dictator defeated by circumstances, yet proud, he cannot make the shameful decision and give the order. He wants me to do it. I turn on the engines. He sits alone on the bow of the boat, the farthest point away from the unbearable sound of the propellers, bursting from inside.It has been over one year now since we motored for so long, and it was because of a storm.

We get in the anchorage at Store Bay around 3 p.m., but we need to take a taxi and literally run to the Customs and then to Immigration in order to make it before 4. We do all this running like a small heard on the streets of Scarborough together with Mel and Caryn for the sheer amazement of the locals, only to realize at the end, that there isn’t any overtime fee when sailing between Trinidad and Tobago…The fee is when you are arriving from another country… Anyway…

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We spend only a few days in Tobago, a small island invaded by bamboo trees and vary loud annoying birds called Cocrico, Tobago’s national bird, which serenade us in the mornings. The first time we heard them we thought some weird construction machines are invading the shores.

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Here we found the most beautiful beach, not far from the anchorage at Store Bay- Pigeon Point. Pink sand and palm trees leaning over delicious blue water.

Ivo chilling on a palm tree

Ivo chilling on a palm tree

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We also share a car with our friends Mel and Caryn and tour the entire island, stopping here and there, visiting many fishermen villages, beaches and bays, a small waterfall, enjoying a nice day on the road, even though it is raining most of the time.

 

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Mel, Caryn, Mira, Maya and Ivo , Tobago waterfall

Mel, Caryn, Mira, Maya and Ivo , Tobago waterfall

Many fishermen in Tobago still use traditional long bamboo fishing poles, one hung from each side of their boats. They show us how to clean fish. We learn something every day…

 

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In Tobago, like in Trinidad, the bamboo imported from Asia during the colonial period, has invaded the entire island. Beautiful bamboo forests are everywhere and people use the tree for construction, art, and to make fishing poles and all sorts of other useful things.

Bamboo in Tobago

Bamboo in Tobago

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The economy of Tobago is heavily dependent on Trinidad’s booming natural gas and oil economy. Locally, tourism and fishing are most important.

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Tobago is a much smaller much quieter island than Trinidad and we appreciated its authentic Caribbean atmosphere and tranquility, friendly people, and beautiful nature.

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Our journey in Tobago ended with a nice dinner in the small beach restaurant near the anchorage, where Mel and Caryn invited us for dinner. They had too many of the local Trinidad and Tobago dollars left, and needed to liquidate them before leaving the country and heading to Barbados. We were happy to help with the liquidation of Mel and Caryn’s TT$ and enjoyed some local fish and beers. Thank you guys!

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Fun Things to See and Do in Trinidad

After visiting The Pitch Lake and The Sea Temple in Trinidad with our friends Mel and Caryn S/V Passages, we also shared a drive to the Northern Range and spent a day birdwatching near the Arima Valley.

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Asa Wright Nature Center and Lodge is a nature resort and scientific research station where we found ourselves surrounded by Yellowtails, Manakins and tiny hummingbirds of all colors coming to eat fresh fruits and to drink sugar water from the feeders. The place, 1, 500 acres of forested land, is so magnificent, we felt as if we were in the Garden of Eden.

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In the afternoon we managed to drive some more and arrive at the Caroni Swamp park in time for a guided tour of the large wetland of the Caroni river delta located on the west coast of Trinidad. Here tourists from around the world come to watch the Scarlet Ibis, Trinidad’s national bird.

Scarlet Ibis, Trinidad

Scarlet Ibis, Trinidad

The Scarlet Ibis resembles the American white ibis, but its remarkably brilliant scarlet coloration makes it unmistakable. It has protected status everywhere on the planet.

The motorboat we were in with a bunch of other tourists took us to a place where the birds come to sleep at night in the trees of a small island and we witnessed the most spectacular event: flocks of Scarlet Ibis flying in V-formations started to arrive just before sunset, and gradually the small green island in front of us became peppered with bright red birds, like rose blossoms.

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Another place we enjoyed visiting in Trinidad was the Bamboo Cathedral. Bamboo is an invasive species introduced on the island from Asia and it is now everywhere. Forests of bamboo.

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The locals use it for construction, for musical instruments, for carved souvenirs and for all sorts of things. For us driving around and walking surrounded by tall bamboo trees was another beautiful experience. And of course, Ivo had to prove he still had his monkey powers.

Ivo up in the Bamboo Cathedral

Ivo up in the Bamboo Cathedral

A few days later, we had the honor to visit a Christmas celebration with cruising and local friends in the Queen’s Park Oval– the largest cricket stadium ground in the West Indies, located in Port of Spain.

This stadium which the locals call “the Oval” has hosted more Test matches than any other ground in the Caribbean, including many World Series Cricket games in 1979 and matches of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Considered by many players, journalists and critics as one of the most picturesque cricket venues, the ground had hosted many first class tours as early as the 1897.
Here we listened to live music performed by local musicians, among which a steelpan band. Traditionally, steelpans have been built from used oil barrels with hummers. The history of the steelpan music is fascinating.

Steelpan Band, Trinidad

Steelpan Band, Trinidad

After the French Revolution French planters immigrated to Trinidad bringing along their slaves from Martinique, Saint Vincent, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Dominica, establishing a local community and importing the tradition of Carnival with them. The slaves could not take part in Carnival, so they formed their own celebration called Canboulay. The makeshift musical instruments which they used were made from bamboo sticks, frying pans, dustbin lids, bottles and spoons, and oil drums made by 55-gallon used oil barrels, as the oil industry on the island was picking up speed. The tradition of the steelpans developed and grew.

In 1951 the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO), formed to attend the Festival of Britain, was the first steelband whose instruments were all made from oil drums.

But our favorite musical event in Trinidad remains the piano-evening we organized at the marina in TTSA, Chaguaramas.

Every Monday at around 6 p.m., the cruisers from the anchorage gather on the patio of the marina for a potluck BBQ bringing tasty homemade delights to share. We loved this tradition and participated every time while in Trinidad.

Getting the BBQ ready

Getting the BBQ ready

But one particular Monday we had Stamen playing the piano for us. Stamen is another Bulgarian full-time sailor and cruiser aboard S/V Gaia, together with his wife Durita from Norway. He is also a professional piano and organ player whom we met in Trinidad and hope to meet again someday, some place. Stamen installed his electrical piano near the long table and played for the cruisers, about a dozen of us, all evening and well into the night, starting with some classical pieces: Beethoven, Mozart and Bah, and then on to old evergreen songs like Hotel California, Let it Be, and even some Christmas carols. He can play any tune as long as someone sings the first couple of notes, and he did. We were all singing in between eating and drinking, and we didn’t want the night to end.

Stamen, S/V Gaia

Stamen, S/V Gaia

Other places we enjoyed visiting in Trinidad were the big shopping centers, the cinema and the Saturday Market in Port of Spain, where early in the morning farmers are selling all sorts of produce, fish and meat at very low prices.

"Feet" Port of Spain, Trinidad, Saturday Market

“Feet” Port of Spain, Trinidad, Saturday Market

We also loved the local food and tried the best roti in town as well as the best doubles. Actually, only I loved them, Ivo and Maya were not so enthusiastic, especially about the doubles, which look like puke served in a piece of paper and are very spicy.

Mira getting a double

Mira getting a double

Maya was also very happy in the anchorage in Trinidad where she found a new friend, James S/V Margy, and would spend every minute with him, studying side by side in the morning outside on the terrace of the TTSA marina, riding a bike and playing videogames the rest of the time.

Maya's school in Trinidad

Maya’s school in Trinidad

Maya and James

Maya and James

Before we left Trinidad for Tobago, we sailed to Chacachacare, a small island just 8 miles from Venezuela. Chacachacare is an abandoned uninhabited island, once a leper colony, covered in dry tropical vegetation: Manchineel trees, cacti and aloes.

The Doctor's House

The Doctor’s House

We dropped anchor near the long pier in front of a building that was once a sanatorium and we explore the shores. There are a few abandoned ruins of buildings on the island reclaimed by nature: the Leper Asylum, the doctor’s house, the nun’s quarters and other houses, and exploring them is both exiting and dangerous. They even had a road, sections of which still can be found in the forest.

Mira at the steps of one of the ruins in Chacachacare

Mira at the steps of one of the abandoned buildings in Chacachacare

The island was abandoned by the 1980s when the nuns left their quarters and when the last leper that was on the island died in 1984. The colony had been abandoned since.

Today, Chacachacare remains uninhabited except for staff maintaining the Lighthouse still functioning on the island and the Hindu Temple founded in 1945 which continues to be functional with religious activities.

Pier

Pier and leper asylum

In 1999, Donald Trump visited Chacachacare during the Miss Universe contest and thought of having a casino and hotel built on the island, which never happened.

After Chacachacare, we left Trinidad, an island we enjoyed visiting so much, and sailed northeast to Tobago.

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The Whale Who Came To Say Hi

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This can happen to you when sailing from one place to another, slowly, gentle breeze, the sea surface almost flat, just a few ripples; then the wind dying completely and the boat drifting in some random direction carried by an almost imperceptible current, the sky clear and so bright it hurts your eyes, no land in view only barren sea, a great intense space empty and silent, and then…pffff… a long lazy slow-motion pfff, and you know it’s a whale, and your heart starts, and adrenalin hits you so violently you feel tiny needles in your arms and legs, and you know it’s a whale but you don’t see it, you missed it, so close to the boat, and you look with all your eyes and you scan the sea in all the directions and you know: next time he comes out for air you will see him for sure.

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There he is, coming slowly, like a delayed miracle, pffff, closer this time, just next to the boat, his dark back smooth and shiny, his wet eye looking at you. He circles the boat closer and closer, worried, why are you not sailing, why is the boat drifting like that, do you need help? The water is so clear and completely transparent that when he decides to pass under, just a few feet below the boat, you see every detail on his body. It is a young humpback whale; about thirty feet long, with dark back, a small dorsal fin, two white pectoral fins, and a powerful elegant tail. You are looking down as if suspended in the air. A whale is flowing beneath your feet.

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He decides to stay with the boat for a while, to make sure everything is OK, coming out for air every few minutes sometimes really close. Sometimes he swims on his side his white belly shining through the water, showing off, here I am, look what I can do, how are you, nice to meet you!

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