Barbuda – paradise for everyone

Off to Barbuda! We have been particularly looking forward to this island. It is located just next to Antigua and we traveled there with a fleet of SEVEN kids boats. Indulge me as I list them, because boat names make me happy. in our fleet there was Dana de Mer, Blue Zulu, Emerald Bay, Sandy Cheeks, Pier Ina, Sta Vast and Itchy Foot, plus Bonaire were meeting us there. You could feel the excitement radiating from the kids. The winds were light and most of us got spinnakers or other light wind sails up – these are usually the most colourful sails and we were looking very pretty as we travelled across.

The approach is also exciting because the area is surrounded by bommis – isolated bits of coral reef that need to be avoided. The trick is maximising visibility, which you do by having strong sunlight directly overhead or behind you. We have marriage protectors on board, also known as bluetooth headsets that motorcyclists use – they enable us to communicate between the cockpit and the bow without raising our voices. So, as it is impossible to raise your voice without sounding angry or at least hearing a raised voice without interpreting it as angry. Our headsets allow us to have a conversation in normal voices and that is a lot nicer in potentially stressful situations. We might have looked a little like Madonna on tour, but the hour approach did not turn into an hour of shouting at each other.

As soon as we got there, kids were on paddle boards, in kayaks, using boogie boards as bikes to convene on the different boats. At one point, Tom from Bonaire fed six or seven boys pasta on Bonaire and Dana de Mer had a selection of girls on board. Blue Zulu were doing kids movies with popcorn and there was a sense of community.  All the adults convened on Blue Zulu, some paddled, some arrived by dinghy and some swam and we were having so much fun, we might have overstayed our welcome. Pat popped down and magically made spicy pasta for everyone. We might have felt a little sorry for the boat that was anchored solo in the bay when we started to arrive.

The next few days were much of the same bliss, everyone visiting each other and spending time together. There was amazing snorkelling and exploring ashore and almost everyone had a go jumping off the roof of Dana de Mer. Bonaire prepared the sailing dinghy and taught the kids to sail it. And there was a joint birthday party for Stella and Phoebe on the beach complete with a cake Anna decorated with the girls snorkelling and lobsters on the very professional BBQ pit assembled by Lindsey of Sandy Cheeks. Phoebe was creating elaborate stories with characters from the party. Poppy ran up to me and gushed that she and Teo married and bought a boat of their own to travel the world with their 15 kids!

Time flew by very quickly and all of a sudden, time was short to drop people at airports and make other appointments. We were all invited Sat Vast for sundowners and snacks and movies down below for the kids on the last night. It was such a feeling of bliss chatting and giggling with a wonderful and generous group of friends.  There were lots of giggles and grins and more than that we trade ideas and support when we need it. The level of friendship is heart warming.

Sta Vast moved to an anchorage outside the lagoon at Codrington, the capital of Barbuda and where we had to check out. As we arrived we saw Pier Ina again. We spent a couple of days anchored off an breath taking beach, which is 11 kilometres long! Even after a long walk, Katrien and I didn’t feel we made a dent in it. We spent some lovely time on this beach, building an epic sand castle, having a lovely picnic and one morning Simon took Elise and Teo ashore in the dinghy on their own for a swim. The main town of Codrington was across a lagoon from where we were anchored. The conditions while we were there were windy and crossing the lagoon in our own dinghies was going to be wet and wild. Pier Ina were smart and organised a water taxi to get across the lagoon and they generously included us so we had an e-ticket ride to Codrington. Once we got there it felt like a Wild West version of the Caribbean. There were goats at the customs office, horses on the street and chickens every where. We had a fun explore and great walk around the place and a wonderful grilled chicken dinner before we zipped back across the lagoon.

Barbuda, we will be back!

Antigua – fun in the sun!

Written by Jon:

First stop sailing from Guadeloupe to Antigua was English Harbour. On the south coast of the island, Nelson’s lair is famous on the island for being the base of the English fleet around the 1700s. An amazingly well protected dog-leg natural harbour where you could (and he did) hide a fleet of boats.

We dropped anchor after over an hour of trying to find a suitable location (it was very busy) in Freeman Bay and were immediately greeted by the shrieks and cheers of welcome from the two girls of ‘Emerald Bay’ – Poppy and Phoebe who we’d met and last seen the Cape Verdes. “Itchy Foot are here!”    think carefully when picking a boat name. Within minutes all the kids were in the water swimming around, saying hi to old friends and meeting new.

The next morning Vincent and I took the dinghy and the boys into the shore to check-in, which was annoyingly expensive in English Harbour, and take a look around the old fort buildings. Unfortunately much of the charm was lost to tourists so we retreated the boats and our anchorage. Mia had started to come down with a cold back in Guadeloupe during our river walk and now it was out in full force so, leaving her bed ridden with books, movies and plenty to drink we spent the afternoon playing on the beach and between the boats. Between the eight kids and the four paddle-boards and kayaks it was hard to keep track of who was where, but we managed to keep at least one pair of adult eyes counting heads – also Teo spends his time in a buoyancy aid when playing ‘half-accompanied’ around the water as he isn’t quite swimming indefinitely yet.

The reason for this gathering of friends was a plan to celebrate Phoebe’s 10th birthday in Barbuda (an island near Antigua) but with the weather bad for Barbuda we changed plans and headed for Nonsuch Bay on the east coast of Antigua for part of the festivities. Anchoring behind Green Island we were well protected and had our own personal island and beach for a party. A spontaneous pot-luck created an excellent menu as the adults caught-up the kids played together happily.

The next afternoon saw the arrival of Dana de Mer, bringing Jage and Hope our wonderful guides from Dominica and a grand total of four more kids – including their visiting friends. Kids were dragged around on inflatable rings behind speeding tenders, there was fishing, swimming and general fun times followed by a fairly quiet evening.


After a morning of boat school, the next afternoon was another party on the beach. Food was cooked, a fire was built and the twelve kids divided themselves into two groups, four boys and eight girls. Green Island is coved in hermit crabs of all sizes, the boys spent their time building a giant sand ‘arena’ and collecting all the biggest crabs to ‘battle in the arena of doom!’ – thankfully the crabs didn’t seem very interested in this plan. The girls however spent their time building the perfect home, complete with bedroom, kitchen and living room for ‘Shelly’, ‘Hermy’ and ‘Tiny’ the smallest and cutest little crab they could find.

With a break in the weather it was finally a good day to sail to Barbuda. The fleet left early and most of us managed to get up our spinnaker for a downwind run in 8-10kns of wind.


Whenever a group of boats are together, especially kids boats, there is always a ‘working channel’ on the VHF which becomes a bit of a chat room for the fleet. Our channel 8 was full of talk of fishing: Jage (Dana de Mer) caught a 90cm Wahoo but only managed to get 50cm of it onboard – the tail being taken by a hungry shark! He also caught two Barracuda, but they aren’t always safe to eat this far north so were released back into the sea. Itchy Foot, changing our fishing technique to follow the advice of Jage also managed to catch a Barracuda but released it back.

Next stop Barbuda.

Retrospective: The final week in Oslo

Saturday, February 27, 2016: T-4 days

We had a very sick Little Man and even though I feel like a guilty parent, he got lots of screen time and it probably turned out to be quite a lucky break as no one was bored. We ended up giving our sofa away on (I LOVED that sofa…) and then the people didn’t show up and we still had the sofa, which 1) pushed Mia over the edge and she tried to teach some manners using some choice words to message the people and 2) was good because Teo needed it. Oscar came to the rescue and he and Jon shifted the rest of the boxes and furniture to the storage unit while Mia dealt with the kitchen. They were locked out of one location which cost precious hours of their time, we were really racing the clock! A young couple came to pick up the stove and the fridge. Even though the only condition was that they would be self sufficient in the pick up, Jon and Oscar had to help them down the stairs. Another time sink! Mia was spending futile hours cleaning the kitchen. Even though the new owners would be demolishing in hours after they got the keys, the real estate sales contract requires the property to be white glove inspection ready.

Sunday, February 28, 2016: T-3 days

Reposted the sofa on and there goes the sofa, with a combination of “PHEW” and “OH NO”! Sick Teo gets moved to the folded up bed topper on the floor in the lounge. Despite his fever, he seems happy enough with the laptop and endless Dinosaur Train and DinoTrux. At 1400 the cleaners showed up and we had intended to be long gone by then, as in moved out… We actually thought we would have been on the beach roasting marshmellows with friends and saying tearful goodbyes. As it turned out, many people were away that weekend and we lacked the time to even plan the event, so luckily we were free to work away. We manically giggled at our over-optimistic planning intentions. At 1300 we had to start moving things out of one room at a time so the cleaners could clean them. We continued to chip away at the clean up and started packing our six bags with stuff bound for Itchy Foot at 10:30pm. How did it come to this?!

Monday, February 29, 2016: T-2 days

We finished the sorting and the packing at 4am and collapsed onto the bed topper on the floor with feverish Teo. We were up again at 6am to finish the cleaning we couldn’t do in the dark. Marianne, our next door neighbour was extremely sweet and brought us surprise waffles and coffee at 8am. What a treat and it was so heartwarming that she thought of us! The exchange of keys was at 10am and I was cursing and throwing the last cleaning supplies into the borrowed attic spaces as the doorbell rang. Jon was around the corner having another attic key made so we could retrieve the rest of our stuff (we would be handing over our only attic key and only just realised it). So we wandered around the house saying goodbye to the small details we loved, Teo’s room was especially hard. We had been working so hard, we hadn’t even thought to start saying goodbye. We were all in tears as we left.

Jon brought Teo to his last day of barnehage while I used Solvor’s shower. She was such a lovely neighbour and we really miss her. Teo still talks about her a lot. We had some lunch around the corner and I drove Jon out to his last day of work. They wanted him to have cake and speeches before he left. Mia dropped boxes off in various places and ran some errands before going to pick Teo up at barnehage for the very last time. It was so hard to hug these lovely people that loved Teo as a son and so there was more crying. It was so very emotional! Teo and Mia went to pick up Jon from work and went back to pick up the last of our things.

Solvor and Teo watched Madagascar so Jon and MIa could be quicker. We stopped by the library with six boxes of books, then stopped by Haley and Troll’s who made us a lovely journal with lots of letters of inspiration in it, what a lovely gift! We finally dropped off some more clothes and things at Marianne’s. Teo was in good hands with Solvor and they looked like partners in crime when we returned to pick him up. It was late when we finally got to Rits and Ove’s and they had kindly left us some dinner, wow we had forgotten to eat!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016: T-1 day

Teo was playing with Max and Mathea and Eva in the morning and it was lovely as Jon and Mia sorted a few things. We got a call that there was a mix up with the keya and we had to hurry back to try to sort it. It was lovely that Solvor was there doing a sort out herself and we kept each other company. As we were sorting the attic cages, it started to sleet and Teo and Solvor were in the paper bin jumping to make more space.

We had a car full of stuff and stopped at the recycle station, then went to the doctor for immunizations and then to the storage unit. Teo is pleased that Peligroso is guarding the space. He went to play with Eva in the afternoon.

We didn’t have enough room in the car we had from our car coop so we went to pick up a trailer only to find out we didn’t have a trailer hitch so we had to switch cars in the night. That was fun since we were only allowed to have one car checked out at a time, so we had to wait an hour in between. Tick tock.

We finally stopped by Karen and Lars’ unfortunately after their little man was asleep. Will really miss watching all these kids we know grow up! We brought a lot of Teo’s favorite toys and clothes and there was a great moment when we brought in our safe and also counted all our money in the jar from our sales. We hope they still want to speak to us as they had spent a lot of time clearing their space of stuff and they inherited a lot of ours. We really had hoped we would have time for at least a dinner with these lovely people but alas, we grossly underestimated our time. We had a late finish again, sorry again to Rita and Ove, we never did have a chance to drink bubbles with them as promised!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

SNOW, cold, wet, heavy SNOW, Norway also wanted to say “HADET”

T-6h/5h The last packing and sorting including Teo’s toys and the last of our clothes, and the last run to the storage unit.  

T-4h A visit to Telenor to attempt to switch to pay as you go contracts for our phones. Mia’s email was cut off and the woman would not accept a screenshot and no one at Agresso was answering phones as they were in an important meeting, or at lunch. The new SIM card had to activated while still in Norway and we were running out of time.

T-3h Yupp, that is our kitchen being thrown into a container in the street. We grabbed our bags from the attic and handed over a bottle of whiskey to our neighbour as a thank you for lending us the attic compartment that saved us in the last days. Troll pulled up just in time with just the right amount of empathy about the kitchen. Jon had a peek at the demolition site that had been our home and we were off.

T-2h We popped a bottle of bubbles in the car on the way to the airport. We have proof as Troll took video. It was really lovely of him to take time out to see us off. Six big bags are not a lot for sailing around for a year, but they are an awful lot to get into an airport train. But more importantly we didn’t leave Oslo without hugs of a good friend which is worth more than anything else. 

T-0 Take off!

Retrospective: The last month

T-1 Month:  February 2016

To finish-up a project and also get the most out of her owed vacation and flex-hours, Mia ended up working a week extra and it really interfered with the moving process. But the extra week or two of salary it gave us was worth it in the end. Jon was lucky enough to be granted unpaid sabbatical from work for 18 months, something quite rare in Telenor, and because of this he ended up working a few days a week right up until (and including) our exchange date. But with a very understanding boss at Telenor there was plenty of flexibility.

Mia has lived in Norway for 15 years, most of that time with a job which requires her to travel over-seas regaularly. There is one unofficial rule in Norway, which is that you never return to the country without a full allowance of alcohol under your arms (there are rumours that people have been stopped for not bringing enough back). Therefore, we had a booze mountain in the basement that had to be scaled. One solution immediately came to mind: a cocktail party! And with lots of wonderful friends showing up with clear instructions NOT to bring a bottle we drunkenly ticked another to-do from the list.

There was no way we’d manage to get rid of everything we owned, too many sentimental items, too far to take everything to the boat and no family houses nearby to hide stuff. So storage was required. After pricing several options Jon organised a 6sq. meter place outside of Oslo and hired some guys to help him move the first load of boxes.

Carina and Tommy, Mia’s cousins, came to visit from Sweden, they took one look at our progress and offered to take Teo home with them, allowing us to get on with what sorting. This was a HUGE help and very generous with their time as it was their anniversary, what would we do with out them? So we packed up their car with some of our stuff they liked the look of, including Teo, and off they went to Sweden. It was only the next day that we realised we’d sent Teo off without a passport and without a letter of consent from his parents!

With our house sold we’d be in the unusual situation of having a lot of equity floating around with no clear plan for what to do with it. Norway, being more than a little socialist, actually has a wealth tax (you are taxed on the money you have, in addition to the tax you paid when you earned it). So we setup an appointment with financial advisor and also Ove, a good friend and stock broker, was kind enough to help Jon discuss a financial plan.

This month also saw doctors appointments, for immunisations and prescription medicines to take with us. Teo and Mia share the same doctor and thankfully she was very helpful and understanding of our needs.

The list of small jobs we had to sort out during this month was almost endless, including changing postal addresses (thank you so much Karen and Lars for coming to our rescue), changing email addresses (never use your work email as your primary address for your normal life), arguing with the Norwegians about where we will be resident and the tax implications, health insurance, life insurance, pensions, child care benefits, credit cards, renewing Teo’s passport, etc. etc.

And then in the last week, it goes really busy!

Retrospective: The lead-up to leaving

T-5 Months: October 2015

Having found what we hoped would be a suitable boat in September we started to the process of selling our apartment. We didn’t want to sell too late in the year as the market is quite flat over winter so we had to get it ready quickly. Selling property is Norway is a fantastic process, the only real downside is that the bar is set incredibly high for how your property should be presented at the viewings.

We spent most of October getting ready for the ‘visning’ which in Norway is a two day showing of a property with the hope of selling it. The goal is to make it like a show home where potential buyers can picture their own things, so basically we spent three weeks of long days stripping the place of its/our personality.

In theory this would be the perfect time to sort through our belongings and decide what we wanted to store, sell or sail with. The reality was that the ‘sorting’ process was too time consuming and we simply had to get the place ready to view. The solution? We borrowed an attic storage cage from a neighbour and dumped everything upstairs to be sorted later. Not very elegant but we were ready for the photographer and the place looked great. The ‘visnings’ were very busy, with 50+ people over the space of two 1h showings.

At the end of the month, in the same week, we sold our house, became the owners of a Hallberg Rassy 39 in Palma de Mallorca, we put in our notice at work and Mia became a Norwegian citizen.

That week deserves its own blog post… watch this space!

T-4 Months: November 2015

Jon and Teo and Mia went down to Palma to visit Itchy Foot (formerly known as Pollux, that name HAD to go!) and spent a glorious week in the sun. Our new home is perfect for us :))) <3 Itchy Foot was based at RCNP (Real Club Nautico Palma) right in the heart of the city of Palma de Mallorca, with a new view of the cathedral. The marina was perfect for us, with excellent shower facilities a few steps from the boat and a short walk into town.

Teo loves zooming around on his Micro Scooter so we bought adult scooters and became the scooting family, we can cover a pretty long distance and even do our shopping. Our best ‘afternoon’ of scooting we’ve covered 10km (6 miles) and for short trips around the city they are perfect for helping us all travel at the same pace.

We also met our neighbours at RCNP (Real Club Nautico Palma) marina and made some friends 🙂  the marina has quite a lot of people who live aboard, it feels a little like Eastenders at times but everyone was very friendly and Mia’s fluency in German was incredibly useful. It was also nice to start exercising our Spanish again, rusty but quickly coming back.

Back in Oslo we spent our time making Christmas presents, cards and decorating for our last Jul at Maridalsveien 50. We also continued to make our preparations to move onto Itchy Foot in the new year. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow a second attic cage from another neighbour – giving us three storage units upstairs.

T-3 Months: December 2015

We continued to chip away at our belongings, sorting, boxing and mostly selling at this stage. We have a website called Finn (like ebay) in Norway which is good for selling some things, less good for others. Initially, Jon was sceptical about how much money we’d make and how much effort we should make to sell stuff but in the end it proved more than worth it. I think we were still in denial about quite how much work we had ahead of us and tackled a lot of the easy jobs first. And the month was busy so we didn’t have a lot of time to apply ourselves either…

Michael and David (Jon’s cousins) came to visit us in Oslo, we had lots of fun and laughs! Teo loves to play fight with them and and they love him so much I even heard them all being cats in the lounge one morning…  (if only we lived closer to each other!) Also Teo insisted on showing them the Opera House and we had a shadow photo shoot. We even bought a Christmas tree to decorate and the apartment was looking lovely and festive.

And the next weekend, Jon and Mia went to Helsinki for BB, a good friend’s, birthday while Grandma and Granddad came over and looked after Teo. Grandma and Granddad are super true fantastic heroes and we love and appreciate them to the moon and back. Teo did not mind at all when we left, we think he really just wants them all to himself <3

Then all three of us left for Christmas in the US quite early. First we went to Chesopiean Pt. in Virginia and saw Mia’s aunty Mossa, Oke and Lillemor. Mia’s brother, Mark & Daniele and John Adam came down and we had a lovely time together all of us for a few days.

We went to California a few days before Christmas and stayed for a little over two weeks but it never seems to be enough time! A few highlights are of course spending time together, Grandpa teaching Teo to putt, Mormor playing with magnetic trucks with Teo and took him out in the golf cart to see the wild life (both in and out of the clubhouse), NYE in Santa Barbara with Sarah & Jason and Kether & Joe and of course, the day before we left the Wright trio spent a full day at Disneyland.

T-2 Months: January 2016

We were mostly in denial, “we have plenty of time!” – even though it was becoming increasingly clear this wasn’t the case. Being Norway in winter it was very cold, especially in the attic and basement where we had to do much of our sorting of stuff. It was very hard to get motivated, feeling tired from the work done earlier for the visning and it felt like mountains of stuff caving in on us. When you sell a property in Norway you agree a price and a handover date in a binding contact – our handover date was set for the end of February which was rapidly approaching. But even armed with this information and with our move to the boat also within our grasp, we still found ourselves in the situation where one of us would wander upstairs, look at our cages of stuff for 20 minutes and then come back downstairs looking quite pale. One afternoon Teo went to visit his friend Ludvig for a couple of hours and that is when we actually managed to get started. Thanks Marie, I am pretty sure we would still be in the attic without you!

We had to start somewhere and so we started putting as much as possible up for sale on and quickly realise that getting rid of our stuff was going to be a full time job. It was hard to decide when we could part with stuff and dealing with a coordination of people agreeing to come and standing us up or changing the time or trying to barter. We preferred guys to girls (the guys would just show up when they said they would, for the most part and pay the agreed amount. It was really frustrating when you were even giving stuff away and people didn’t show up to collect things at the arranged time. Every time we sold something, the money went into a jar in the pantry.

Work got busy for both of us, probably they are realising we will be gone soon. Mia was running two projects and Jon was hiring to replace himself.

And it was flu season and we all were sick and in bed at some point that month.

Retrospective: Why go? Why now?

A short post describing why we wanted to sail away together. Much of this post was written 12 months ago.


Everyone has ups and downs. I have come to realize that when I am up I listen to and get a lot of energy from music. And when I reflect on the tough times it strikes me that the music is missing. I am not a musician, far from it, I get teased that I couldn’t hit a note to save my life…ha! But I have been missing the music for quite some time and it was breaking my heart to drop my son off at daycare when we really didn’t want to go, to leave him to spend all day doing a job that wasn’t inspiring me anymore. The job was great and so were my colleagues and I am convinced that the daycare is the very best one in the world – we are very lucky to live in Norway. BUT the music was missing in my life and even though I am quite a careful person, I can not willingly sit by and watch my life drain away while I watch. It’s time for chasing the music, to press the big reset button.

We felt that we were at a point where we all needed a change. Teo was just old enough to start remembering the adventure and Jon and I were simultaneously at the point where we needed a change at work, and socially, too. We also needed to go “right now” so that we wouldn’t lose our nerve, the stars seem to align to tell us to go.

Leaving the safety nest I have built up and resigning from the job I have done for the last 13 years has pushed my comfort zone and the result is I am listening to music pretty much constantly….aaaaahhhhh! Plus we have been talking about doing this with varying degrees of intensity for a decade.



I’m not really a sailor; I don’t get much enjoyment from the act of sailing, it’s not something I would choose to do for the weekend or evening. But. I do love the placid pace of life when travelling so slowly around the world. Something special happens to you when you decide that you’ll cross an ocean at barely faster than a brisk walk. Time slows and your days are filled with lots of ‘now’ moments. That is something a love.

I read an interesting article about four years ago about regret. A palliative nurse who counselled the dying in their last days revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. Here is the TLDR version:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content.

The tragedy of these regrets is that they are avoidable, maybe not to all of us and maybe not all the time, but for me and right now. Four years ago I realised I could do something about avoiding those future regrets.

The ‘why’ go was easy to answer. The ‘when’ to go was harder to answer. Clearly I needed a spreadsheet.

Take a spreadsheet, in the first column put years running out from when you left school until about 80 years in the future. Title each column to the right with the names of people in your life, starting with yourself, spouse, children, parents etc. Figure out what that person ‘should’ be doing for each year into the future – working, retired, school, college, etc. and write it in the relevant cell. Look for horizontal blocks of opportunity.

When I did this we found a few blocks of years or ‘opportunities’ which while they weren’t perfect for everyone, they were OK for most. But, more obvious were the blocks where being chasing a dream would come at a significant and potentially unacceptable cost, or indeed the more obvious good fortunes of health and wealth.

Four years ago we were in a window of opportunity which clearly wouldn’t last for long. Let’s go now.



Most of all I want to be with my mamma and pappa. If i can play all day with them and my friends, too that would be best. Oh yeah and I taught them to scoot, so we scoot a lot and go to the park and eat ice cream.






Living Aboard-iversary

Written by Mia on March 3rd:

Exactly a year ago, Troll drove us to the airport in Oslo with six bags full of things that survived the sorting/prioritizing process we completed leading to the move. We drank bubbles in the car with Troll taking video and on the flight to Palma we finally had a chance to exhale. A few hours later we were standing onboard Itchy Foot surrounded by our stuff. We have had ups and downs and lots of adventures and we have met incredible people and built wonderful friendships. We have pushed ourselves and learned new things and spent lots of time as a family. We have taken chances and have been rewarded. We crossed the Atlantic and we are just getting warmed up!

Yesterday, March 2nd which is the real anniversary, we spent the day sailing from Barbuda to Nevis. It was very windy and we had high seas, and we spent most of the day on deck chatting (albeit chatting and holding on). We summed up our year and discussed our future plans. Teo says he loves Itchy Foot especially the climbing and swinging opportunities as well as swimming off the back, adventures ashore and meeting all the other kids around living on boats but still doesn’t like beach landings and boat school isn’t always popular either. Jon loves living onboard and doesn’t feel done with the adventure yet, he especially likes spending time with the family and waking up next to Teo, but feels we waste too much time being frustrated with situations and should be better about seizing our opportunities, plus the boat maintenance takes so much time and he secretly hates fishing. Mia also loves Itchy Foot and the lifestyle and exploring new places especially when we spend time with our new friends, but wishes she was more competent at the sailing part of the adventures and struggles how much time the menial tasks take like dishes and packing and unpacking a day bag. We all agree we would like to grumble less and laugh more and we chalk that up to some good old fashioned expectation management. We miss our home and wonder what future homes might look like and we miss our friends, communicating with dodgy internet is a lot harder than we anticipated. At the moment we are borrowing some wifi from the Four Seasons in Nevis. We will use this time and this internet to post a few things we started writing a year ago. Please indulge us as we get a bit nostalgic. We can laugh about it now, hope you can, too! This morning we revisited photos from when we first arrived on a Itchy Foot, Teo exclaimed, “we have different faces!” I wonder what our observant one sees and what it means to him.

Since we were busy sailing all day on our boativersary, we have plans to celebrate our year aboard with our good friends on Sta Vast. They caught a tuna yesterday and we have some bubbles chilling in the fridge and the boys made a pineapple upside down cake that is in the oven.

Guadeloupe – food and friends

Written by Jon

Guadeloupe is another island we’ve already visited twice. The first visit was with Sta Vast and we stayed around the islands of Les Saints on the south west corner. The islands are picture postcard cute, scattered with colourful cottages, huts and houses where the variety of colours is only matched by the states of repair.

Unfortunately for cruisers on a tight budget (us) the majority of the well protected little bays are now covered with paid mooring buoys and anchoring is prohibited. Thankfully, we managed to find a nice little spot out of the wind on the quieter of the two islands, Terre de Bas. A green and largely uninhabited anchorage with only a couple of local boats and some nesting pelicans for company.

We enjoyed a relaxing few days in the comfy company of Sta Vast, splitting our time between boat school, swimming and taking long walks around this quiet little island so the kids could run and play.


After a few days together we parted ways once more, with Sta Vast heading to Guadeloupe proper and Itchy Foot heading back to Dominica for a birthday party which we described in the previous post. After a wonderful few days in Dominica we once again returned to Guadeloupe, this time skipping Les Saints and heading directly the west coast of the main island.

Being very much a part of France, legally, financially and socially, Guadeloupe is a great place to shop for food. So when sailing up the west coast we chose to make a ‘quick’ stop to shop outside one of the main towns. Not a normal place for yachts but there was space to anchor and tie up the dinghy in a dock giving us a few hours to shop in smallish ‘european’ supermarkets for relatively cheaply. As is always the way, shopping took longer than expected and that night we only had time to move a few miles up the coast and anchor in a beautiful little bay called Anse a la Barque.

The next morning we had a bit of a slow start and then sailed/motored the rest of the way to the top of the west coast to meet Sta Vast in Anse Deshaies – one of the most popular and attractive anchorages in Guadeloupe. Shortly after we managed to get safely anchored and gather our thoughts we had a lovely surprise when Blue Zulu dropped anchor beside us.  Mr and Mrs Blue Zulu are a lovely couple we met in the Cape Verde islands and are the boat with the 9 year old girl, Stella, who had a birthday party in Dominica. They also have a boy about a year older than Teo and all the kids get on very well. As the sun was soon to set we all headed ashore to complete customs ‘check-in’, followed by ice-cream and a play on the beach together. Rather than head back to our boats, as the kids were having so much fun (and the adults) we decided to grab excellent take-out pizza, some beer and have a candle-lit meal on the beach.

The next day, after boat school, we made a plan to follow a river gorge and walk up into the mountains with the kids. We’d read about the walk in one of the guide books and figured it would be fun to try. Within a few minutes of entering the gorge it really felt like we were in the middle of the jungle and with giant rocks to scramble over, fresh water pools to swim and rivers to jump over the kids had a wonderful afternoon hiking.

The next day was low-key, resting legs after the hiking. Pat from Blue Zulu saw a beach from a bus the day before so we jumped in our dinghy and went around the next bay. Miles of golden sand largely to ourselves. The only challenge was that the breakers were landing hard all along it so landing the dinghy wasn’t easy. The simple solution is often the best one, so everyone but the driver jumped out of the dinghy and swam ashore and were then ready to help ‘catch’ the surfing dinghy plus brave driver as they came in. In the end we all made it in safely and the kids spent a lovely afternoon playing in the crashing waves with only a few bangs, bruises and scrapes to show for the day.

The next morning we were up early for the sail across to Antigua. We were in the middle of lifting the anchor when I heard someone shout “Jon!” looking around I saw a very old friend, Nancy, from my first job in London some 20 years ago. She left the rat race 10+ years ago and has been sailing and working around the Caribbean since then. After a quick hug and a promise to meet up soon, we left for an almost perfect sail over to Antigua – flat sea, fine reach and 12 knots of wind.

Beautiful Dominica

Written by Mia:

This is the land of waterfalls, hot springs, jungle paths, snorkeling in champagne and very friendly people. We liked it so much, we went there twice!

We spent almost a week there with our good friends on Sta Vast. We wandered though the town of Roseau, visiting the library and a school yard where the kids played with the locals climbing trees and chatting together. They even lead us to a frozen yogurt shop, which made everyone cheer! One afternoon we went snorkeling in Champagne reef where we spotted tons of multicolored fish and the bubbles coming up through the coral are amazing and a little tickly. We have met a lot of friendly people in Dominica and the houses are mostly painted bright, cheerful colors, too. It is a wonderful place for an explore. We were also lucky enough to be there for a carnival parade, complete with guys on stilts, foam guns and beauty queens in plastic chairs in pickup truck beds. The kids loved it, especially since there were lots of sweets being handed out.

We went on a day trip where our guide, Armstrong, drove us to some kid friendly highlights of this wonderful island. He kept stopping along the way, picking things from the lush roadside. We got to sniff lemongrass, wild basil and coffee and we tasted cocoa beans and learned that nutmeg comes in a fruit that looks like a nectarine, cinnamon is just the bark of the tree and bananas are “like ladies” in that it takes nine months to produce fruit. On our first stop we walked through the jungle to the beautiful Emerald Pool with a waterfall at the top. We jumped in and later found out that a swim there makes you ten years younger, so hooray! We had lunch at a place that sort of reminded me of a diner you might see in the movies about the deep south. The next stop was at the Trois Pitons gorge where Jonny Depp jumped in the water in the 2nd Pirates movie. We did, too and swam through a narrow gorge to a series of waterfalls. Dominica has 365 rivers and lots of rain and waterfalls to fill them. The last stop of the day was Trafalgar Falls, where twin waterfalls roar. We climbed up the bigger of the two where the cold water from Freshwater lake mixes with volcanic water to make the perfect temperature “bath water”. On the walk back to the truck, we caught fireflies, magic!


When we returned to Dominica it was to attend a birthday party on Blue Zulu. A super fun day was had by all, especially with 11 kids on the boat and a new game of “musical jumps” where contestants dance on the side of the boat until the music stops and they then jump in the water, scoring points for style and timing- it was quite a hit! Dana de Mer, Bonaire and Laridae were all in attendance and the kids had a blast with each other. Jage and Hope lived in Dominica and were generous to share their secrets with us. We spent an afternoon at thermal baths place near Watton Waven that was a little slice of paradise! Also, one afternoon we hung out on Blue Zulu alternating between LEGO and dolls down below and just jumping off the back and swimming and surfing behind a dinghy. Spending time with great people chilling out with a bunch of kids giggling and splashing around – it’s really all we were dreaming about when we started out on this adventure. Somehow it is easier to relax on others’ boats because our to do list isn’t staring us in the face.


St Lucia – very old friends

Written by Mia:

We seem to just about manage to write a blog post per island stop we make. St Lucia was a really lovely stop for the Itchy Foot crew. When we were leaving Fort de France in Martinique after dropping off Clive, we were feeling blue. Everyone was very quiet, when suddenly Jon exclaimed ”Celtic Spirit! Can you believe there is another boat called the same thing as the boat we met on?” and then after checking the stats on AIS and confirming the rig configuration and the colour of the hull with binoculars, we were convinced it was indeed THE Celtic Spirit. We couldn’t hail them on the VHF but we did connect with them via FB and email so we found out it was the same Captain and First Mate and they would be in St. Lucia for a few days at the end of January and we were so excited.

As we left for St Lucia, we were saying goodbye to Sta Vast and we were sad as we have really bonded with those lovelies! I am sure that is not surprising to anyone reading this, since we gush and gush about them. Anyway, we were leaving in the morning wishing them a good trip to Dominica as we headed the other way to St Lucia, when they yelled “We are coming with you to St Lucia!!!” There was much cheering and dancing on Itchy Foot, and there might have even been a very off key version of “We’re so excited” but let’s not dwell on that.

So we set off to St Lucia flying high and we had a gorgeous crossing, with perfect wind, glorious sunshine, rather shallow turquoise water,  a lovely meal of home made chicken fingers and Roald Dahl audio books for entertainment. It was a wonderful day and as the light turned that golden colour that makes everything dramatic, we turned into Marigot Bay. This place screams, “take my picture!” and there were a few boats moving around including a party catamaran that was blaring “I feel good” and we were giggling. The next moment a dinghy came zinging out of the harbour with a James Bond flair, and all of a sudden Ansis was on Itchy Foot, helping us with lines and fenders and waving people off with a “That guy? He doesn’t even work here!” In a few minutes we were nestled in next to Celtic Spirit. We wasted no time and were soon sitting on their deck catching up with Michael, the owner,  and Geraldine, his girlfriend,  and Ansis, the first mate. What a treat! The first thing Teo did was check out the engine room and came up and complimented Michael on it, he was very impressed with all four engines. Michael complimented Teo on being a true sailor. In the evening they treated us to rum tasting and we all had a ball! Teo probably had more fun with the slingshot that Ansis and Michael gave him, but he was very well behaved and we had compliments.

The next day, Ansis came over on his paddle board and picked up Teo up to go snorkelling. He was just jumping around when they got back. Sta Vast arrived later in the day and tied up right next to us on the other side. It was so cozy to be surrounded by good friends. The kids were full of cheers of joy. Jon made a big pot of green thai curry and the adults came to dinner and the kids ate on Sta Vast, so there was in effect not a kids table but a instead a kids boat. It was a lovely evening! Marigot Bay marina comes with access to the resort’s pool and we made use of that several times. Katrien even treated me to a rum cocktail at the pool bar, such luxuries are few and far between for us and we hold them dear!

Simon hosted his 11th birthday at the local beach around the corner and we had a party, complete with bunting in the trees, bonfires for BBQ, cake and presents. Bonaire joined us and Sta Vast treated us all to a  fabulous day with yummy food, swimming and collecting coconuts and shells. Some locals came and helped us onto and off the beach with the dinghies and treated us to coconut and sugar cane. Jon made Simon a slingshot of his own and Ansis came with a palm frond hat that Simon loved!

Jon and Teo and I made a short trip down to see the Pitons, which are a pair of gorgeous mountains which are a symbol of St Lucia’s national pride. They are impressive and we had a great time snorkelling but for us the magic of St Lucia would have to be the people that we spent our time with.