Meeting some Great Kids

Written by Mia:

We have mentioned the lovely friends we have been making along the way and how these people have been making all the difference with their support and generosity. And now we have also been lucky enough to start meeting more boats with kids. Teo has had a ball!

A marinera is Spanish for the person who works for a marina who does lots of different jobs around the place but often meets boats at their designated spaces and takes lines and takes lines to help incoming boats get the boat moored safely. One morning the very friendly marinera was waiting across from our slot and asked Teo to help him catch lines for the incoming boat. Teo was full of proud smiles and then the icing on that cake was the four (and a half) year old that was on that boat.

The boys spent the next few days dividing their time pretty evenly between Lego on Itchy Foot and playing on their boat – Go Beyond. Teo slowly began to remember his Norsk as his new friend was Norwegian. We went to the beach one day all together as well and shared dinner together. The energy that kids have when they are in the company of other kids is different and so is their communication. Sini and I were talking a lot about this when she was on board and Teo should be doing a lot of his learning through play and an important element of that is interaction with other kids. We were so happy to see him together with a new friend and he was very sad when we said goodbye.

Thankfully, this time it was only a few days before we made some new friends! it is SO nice to be in the company of other cruisers. We were anchored off the lovely La Graciosa and we woke up to a new neighbour in the bay. A Belgian flagged yacht, Sta Vast was anchored close by and we knew they had young crew members on board. They had taken contact with us a week or two earlier saying that they are on the same rally and were hoping to meet up. This was a match made in heaven for Teo, a boy aged 10 and a girl aged 8. We were so excited to meet them that we quickly got Nemo in the water and went over to say hi. The kids were fast friends, there was more Lego  and even a zombie battle complete with its own theme song.

The weather in the anchorage turned bad and we were forced to move but we all went to the same marina down the coast so we could spend more time together. There was school in the morning and lots of playing in the afternoon. One day we went for a long walk altogether to find out we all have lots to chat about. There was even a sleepover on Itchy Foot with pasta, movies and popcorn and pancakes the next morning. Everyone was giggling and playing. Later, there were crafts and Teo’s ”favorite meal ever” on Sta Vast. This means there were also two sets of parents who got to have dates! I don’t think anyone even noticed all the rain we had.

Boat kid friendships are quick, probably because you never know when you might meet new small humans and also because you never know how long you will all be in the same place. it also doesn’t seem like age or gender matters as much as it does in ‘the real world’. We have been reading about the sailing kids community and have been missing it most of the summer so far, so it was a real joy to experience first hand. We are looking forward to getting to Santa Cruz to see our new friends again and also to meet more boats with kids. There are several more boats we have been in contact with whom we look forward to meeting.

One of the main reasons for choosing to cross over to the Caribbean was in search of finding more playmates for Teo. So far, so good.

Day 7: Muggy motoring

The sunshine faded, the wind died and we are motoring to Cape Verde. It is sticky and feels like it was trying to rain. We are missing the sailing, but happy the sea is relatively flat.

It’s been a quiet afternoon with some naps, some reading and some boat jobs. We finished reading the Little Prince and Jon started in on recaulking the decks. Teo did another good school session, I think it helps that he know the other kids, like Simon and Elisa on Sta Vast are doing some school, too. Slowly we are trying to get him to remember his Norwegian, too. Today his prize was a little Police vehicle he assembled himself from Stewart and Anne. These things are magic, we haven’t heard one “are we nearly there yet” yet.

More tuna steaks for dinner with incredible mash potatoes so Teo gobbled them up -you guessed it, Kevin did the cooking! It was wonderful! The night watches were uneventful, especially since we were motoring the whole way. We had pretty much constant drizzle the whole way and we turned on radar to check for squalls.

We spent the morning making a courtesy flag for Cape Verde. We arrived safely.



Itchy Foot LOVES visitors!

Written by Mia:

We got a great message a couple of weeks ago that went something like this, “ Hey Jon, Mia and Teo, we are sitting here in our stilongs (long underwear) watching the rain and we are dreaming of a visit. Where are you on the weekend of 27-30th of October?” We got SO excited that Gunnar and Mona and Nikolaj wanted to come and visit! It is no little undertaking either with lots of flights and schedules and uncertainty, but it all worked out and we had a wonderful time together!

We sat on deck from our mooring on the end of a pontoon in Marina Lanzarote and watched their plane land.  A short hour later they were on board and we bigs were chatting like we saw each other last week and the boys were playing with Lego down below. We went exploring in the town of Arrecife on the Saturday, complete with a trip to the playground, lunch outside and short trip to the beach. We were talking about time and timing and realised that we had a boat-iversary and that it was almost exactly or actually exactly a year ago that we had the VERY EXCITING WEEK that included selling the house, becoming the owners of the boat and Mia quitting her job. Mona and Gunnar bought us a bottle of Moet and we toasted it and added the cork to the one from when we changed the name. How lovely that they were here! They really spoiled us withs stuff from Norway, Godiva, meals out and treats, very generous guests!

On Sunday we went out for a short sail to let Itchy Foot show off. Nikolaj was very excited about the foam on the water, Mona pulled lines like a boss and Gunnar was first to jump in the water for a swim when we anchored. It was a great day, the only bummer was that Mona had to leave us to get back in time for work on Monday. She jumped ashore as soon as we tied up. We got to keep Gunnar and Nikolaj until Monday morning, which meant the boys got a good run around when we got back to the marina. That made everyone happy! There were some tears when we put the boys in the taxi on Monday. We were SO happy to see them and really appreciate the effort they made to come out here to stay with us for a few days!

On the subject of making an effort, the Itchy Foot crew are feeling very blessed to have people we love make an effort to come and see us! Grandma and Granddad will be arriving in Santa Cruz about the same time as we do! We have been really looking forward to seeing them. About a week later, Jon’s cousins and Teo’s favourite play boxing mates, Michael and David are also coming to see us in Santa Cruz, as well. Again, it is really lovely they are willing to make the effort.

And in the last couple days we have been bouncing with delight as we got news that dear friends are coming to celebrate the New Year with us in Martinique. Fiona is coming all the way from Sydney and Clive from Oslo, these are big distances and complicated itineraries!! We are giggling reading the emails that bounce back and forth during the planning process, there is talk of frocks and champagne and tuxedo clad swimmers carrying ‘Milk Tray’ with painters in teeth. I CANNOT WAIT! This is just the motivation we need to gear up for our crossing.

Day 6: Sunshine

Another 140 nautical miles clocked and we are happy with the sailing, the wind is better than expected and the sea has calmed down. We can eat meals without holding on to everything on the table… ahhhh it’s the little things! The sun was lovely in the afternoon and everyone was smiling. We are trying to ration electricity so the sunshine was very welcome to the solar panels.

We contacted a fishing boat that came into view (the first one we have seen since we lost sight of our friends) and he was doing circles around us, but he told us “I see you. Everything fine. Have a nice voyage. Ciao” Teo heard it and said “what a strange fellow”.

The night watches were fine, even if we had some squalls with rain, there was also quite a lot of time to see the stars! And this morning we had banana pancakes thanks to Tina, yum yum! Everyone was hungry for lunch, too, because Jon baked bread for us – this boat smells FABULOUS. Thanks to Julia for the tips of measuring the ingredients into bags so you can just add the water and oil.

Tina and Mia did some strength exercises on the aft deck, working on those Barbados bods. This should become a daily routine. The balance exercises of yoga are extra challenging!

Teo is doing school lessons and he is doing really well. We did some reading, writing and then he drew in his journal, a page per day! And as a treat Kevin is teaching him to solve sudoku puzzles. He seems to be getting hang of it. Yesterday his passage present was a very cool reuseable notepad from Grandma and Granddad. He loves it and is practicing drawing stars. And he told us a joke that we should share, “Why did the parrot cross the kitchen? To get to the chicken.”


Day 5: Bruises

We clocked another 150 nautical miles and that is the good news! The bad news is that we were sailing a lot closer to the wind and we got thrown around quite a lot. This disturbs sleep, costs everyone energy and gives lots of bruises. The best place to be is bed and there have been lots more naps. The weather in general was grey which included wet spells, so the calmer seas and sunshine this morning are much appreciated.

Night watches are extra dark with the moon and stars behind cloud cover. But we are seeing our first ARC boats on the plotter and that perks up the interest. Tina had a dream with beautiful blue water, sunny conditions and dolphins, we decided it’s a premonition, so we’re looking forward to that!

Tina and Teo have been creative, hope you enjoy the picture as much as we do!

Day 4: Next country, please

We did 150 miles and that is our best yet. We got some practice changing the configuration of our sails as the wind kept shifting. We even got the pole on the other side yesterday and this morning we stowed the pole away. We have changed course.

Even though we had three checks before leaving, we think there might be a small crack in one of the spreaders and so our new plan is to stop in the Cape Verde islands to check it out and fix it if necessary. We will most likely have a long walk and a beer ashore too. We should be there in three days, and then we can add a new country to our lists. The stop will probably cost us two days plus the time we spend there. Since the weather forecasts show very little wind further along, a couple of days pause might be a really good thing! We will make the most of the stop, so aside from the spreader and potentially the generator (it would be really nice to have that working again!) our list includes having showers, filling water, cleaning the boat and buying a few extra fresh things. You might notice the water luxuries theme to our wish list. We really should have bought that water maker!

The weather is grey and the seas are rocky rolly but the crew still remain smiley and I dare say we are eating better than any of the other boats! The last of the tuna is now in the freezer, we plan to grill it on the beach in Barbados.

Day 3: French toast and yoga

Day 3:

We are finding a good rhythm here aboard a Itchy Foot with mostly 2 hour watches and sharing cooking and cleaning duties. It is amazing and satisfying how the day is consumed with the simple stuff.

Kevin won some serious chef points with Teo as he gobbled up the tuna steak dinner last night and French toast with real maple syrup for lunch today, all without any prompting. Usually meals require some reminders. Tuna salad is on the menu for dinner tonight, that fish was BIG!

We had a bit of a wind lull yesterday and it was a mostly quiet night, too. We have unfortunately lost our buddy boats who motored through the night. The wind picked up at about 5am just after a squall. We scrambled around a bit to put the Bimini up in the dark. Right after that we had a dolphin visit, but we could only hear them as it was a very dark night. In the morning they came back to show off their jumping skills at dawn. It is breathtaking to watch them and it never grows old!

Other daily stuff includes Teo doing a little school and Tina and Mia trying out their yoga on the foredeck. We couldn’t have a better view for it, 360 degree blue sea! No need to visualize the boat or the waves here.

Day 2: light winds, heavy fish

We don’t have lots of extra space on board so we have to make the most of what we have. We spent some time sorting out solutions for storing things that were lying around and noticed the fridge needed attention because it was defrosting itself. Ideally it should have been done before we filled it up with provisions but the to do list was long and it didn’t make the cut. Water is another important issue for this passage and Jon put together a water budget so we are sure we have enough to make it to Barbados. Kevin is offering up his shampoo water allowance and the girls are eager to trade. Plus, We are making attempts to wash dishes in salt water. On the whiteboard is a schedule for who is on watch when, who is charge of lunch and dinner and who is Mum for the day (the one who cleans, makes sure people pick up after each other and reminds everyone to drink water).

Kevin is making progress learning to use the sextant to figure our location (Jon teases him that we have GPS), so far it has mostly been settings, but he has promised to teach us how to use it. However first on the teaching list, is chess, but only if Mia can locate the missing pieces that ended up in the clear IKEA bag of LEGO…

Tina and Teo read for hours out of his General Knowledge book and then she taught us Ubongo, a puzzle game, which had us giggling and singing and counting in Spanish, hopefully this will be a regular occurrence! It’s fun to play puzzle games, we also have a new edition, River Crossing.

Night watches were uneventful and quite dark under the cloud cover. Orion came out to play for a bit but the moon hid behind the clouds mostly. We did however see lots of phosphorescent algae and the sea sparkled-gorgeous!

It was a quiet morning and Tina made banana bread, yum the boat smelled amazing! And not only was the coffee made but also porridge with pumpkin seeds and goji berries! Kevin and Jon pulled in a giant tuna, we think it was a “Skipjack Tuna”. There was a lot of action for a while and in the end, we have eight one-inch tuna steaks for dinner and that is after our sushi for lunch.

The wind has died on us and we were sailing mostly on broad reach this morning, and we are full winged now with just enough wind to sail by. We decided not to put the spinnaker up today, and we are looking forward to the wind that is on our forecast tomorrow.

Teo says, “so there are presents on this trip to the Caribbean and that’s cool, Over” and “the way to be cute is to eat lots of pasta of course” so now we know that.

Day 1: almost missed the start line

The official rules started we needed to leave our marina berth at 10:15, So of course we left at 10:45. Too busy giving and receiving knuffles (hugs to those who don’t speak Dutch). Leaving Santa Cruz we had fog horns blasting us out and friends from Bright Eyes waving from the dock.

In the excitement of leaving in the company of 30 other boats we almost missed the start line, only just sneaking past the officials boat for close up photo opportunities.

Giving that our departure date was fixed months ago we had lovely weather for the first 24 hours. Just enough wind from the right direction has sent us towards our initial goal of 200-300 miles NW of Cape Verdes. Mia stubbed her toe and wants to stop for medical evacuation.

Dinner was Mexican themed, thanks to having avocados which needed to be used and the night watches were pleasant and uneventful. Jon and Mia feel completely rested, which has never happened on a passage before, thanks to our excellent crew.

Quote from Teo, while sitting on the foredeck relaxing in the sun with Tina “This is life, isn’t it.”

140 miles down, 2450 to go.

Getting ready to go

Written by Mia:

We have been preparing a blog post about maintenance and haven’t posted it because we thought it sounded an awful lot like complaining. Along the way, we have worked on the water pump, the decks, the fridge and freezer and all the annual stuff you do to keep the boat happy. We wrote a lot about the arch and solar panel installation as well. But nothing really prepared us for the three weeks of preparation we are wrapping up for this Atlantic crossing.

We started with our own list of things that need doing, for example checking what sails we have and the state of each, also getting preventers working so that we are ready for our down-wind sailing. Itchy Foot needed a few extra safety installations including new navigation lights (including the ones up the mast) and upgrades for the life raft and grab bag. We now have AIS to tracking boats and being tracked as well as a satellite phone and a solution to get weather forecasts. All of these things are time consuming to source and often turn into drawn out projects to install and get up and running, especially where cables are involved. The generator was acting funny on the way to Lanzarote and that needed some attention, and we wanted someone to give us an expert opinion on the state of the rigging.

Then there were all the things to do to make sure the boat is a comfy home for our little family and the crew joining us. It took a few days to juggle our things and find creative storing solutions so that everyone has some space of their own. A place for everything and everything in its place is definitely the way on a boat. Now I understand how important it is that the tupperware nests inside other tupperware! Also, nothing should be stored anywhere it can do damage to the boat, for example near a sea cock or anything with electrical wiring.

We have been going to seminars packed with helpful tips for sailing and preparation. You could feel the excitement and tension and everyone went through their own mental check lists. It has been really intense and there is a palpable sense of activity as we near the date of departure. It feels like everyone has had moments of ”Are we ready?”, “Will we be ready in time?” and “Oh my God, how on Earth will we ever get it all done!?”

But luckily in amongst it all, we have had the pleasure of amazing company. Jon’s parents visited for a week and we got to see some of this beautiful place, like our trip up El Teide not to mention all wonderful meals we shared. It is always a treat to spend time together and of course they spent time with Teo so we could get some things checked off our list. It was lovely and very helpful. We were all in tears when they left. And the same when Michael and David came for the weekend. It was SO lovely of them to come and see us and of course Teo was over the moon, too. The visit was short but sweet and we miss them so!

The sense of community has been incredible! Not only have their been really lovely casual chats over a cup of tea or glass of wine, but there have been great events arranged by the rally organisers like a craft session and a potluck, and trips to a museum and up El Teide. And other stuff organised on the side like a Ladies night, Yoga for kids and a session to learn from a professional cartoonist. All this has been giving us a great opportunity to spend time with friends and make new ones. The kids are getting along so well (it takes them about 5 minutes to find something in common and become friends ). You see them running around together visiting each others’ boats and it makes everyone smile.

There is so much to write and so little time so I will have to be brief, but of course our most rewarding time is the time we spend with our friends. A few days after we got here J-Squared got here too and we love spending time with them, it is always such a pleasure! We came home from dinner with Jon’s parents and there was a note “Hello! End of Dock” and we figured it out and all bounced down there to say hello! StaVast are here too and the kids are like the three muskateers, going from one boat to the other and we bigs are loving the time we spend together too! And Bright Eyes got here a few nights ago and are here on the same pontoon and we have been catching up. Itchy Foot also welcomed some new family members, too. Kevin and Tina joined us on Saturday. There have been so many things to do and they have just jumped right in! Kevin and Jon have been doing boat jobs like checking sails and securing water and diesel cans on the deck. Tina and I have been provisioning and cooking, we even borrowed a kitchen and cooked NINE meals for the passage. They have been working SO hard. I don’t know what we would do without these wonderfu people in our lives, we are so very, very lucky! 

We are leaving on Saturday and you can track us. My plan is to write some more along the way and see if there is internet to share it with you over there 🙂

We have also enjoyed spending time with friends.