Monday, April 21, 2014

Survey..... to be or not to be that is the question...

The boat is being hauled out today in Costa Rica.  Chris flew down there for the quick half day survey.. UGH!  Anyway we know he needs to be there for this but he/we is/are really missing the family over the holiday weekend and really hates to be away.    The haul out was done at a facility not really made to do this.. but they have done it before and say they can.  OMG... close quarters.  They had to measure the keels to make sure they could fit on their platform.  We are talking Centimeters.  We found out that they only place to haul a boat our size out (47' x 26.1') in Central America is Panama, this place in Costa Rica and Acapulco Mexico.  There is a brand new facility being built in Quepos but isn't available until the middle of may and that is just too late for us to get this done.  This facility is an hour and a half north of Quepos, in a tidal estuary.  This means once you get in you have to wait until the next day to leave... and it is run by a gentlemen named Sammy that is about 70 - 80 years old, speaks fluent english and was a aircraft engineer.  Who knew.  This is what I love about the adventures.  You just never know the people you will meet.  So Fun.

SO.... YAY!!  So far so good... One leap for on delay.... One giant leap for the Tzortzis Family.  The survey turned out better than expected.  Everything looks really fantastic.  So on to the next challenge.  We will just keep plugging away and meeting challenge after challenge... or as they say, opportunities... until 2016...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions... Hmmm

When people first hear of the adventure we are about to take on ... you can see the wheels spinning in their minds about how insane and crazy (in both ways... literally and fun) we are.

There seems to be a come thread of questions that are asked so I thought I would try to answer as best as I can with my complete lack of real experience as of yet..... but by a lot of research and asking questions of the experts

Are you worried about Pirates?
This was probably my first main scare when I first started really looking into our trip and where is the safest place to sail with all of our kids.  So with much research and following a lot of blog from the cruising community we have discovered that the south pacific is one of the nicest and safest places to visit.  There have been no violent crimes commited amongst the cruising community and only a handful of petty theft against cruisers in the last 20 years.  Of course with all places you visit you have to be intelligent and make sure that you are aware of your surroundings and leave lights on when you leave and put your toys away so they are not a temptation.

Are you bringing weapons?
We are not going to bring weapons on our boat they just get confiscated when you enter into a new country by port authorities anyway.  What we will have on board is your basic stock of bear spray, wasp spray, taser and a few other legal items to enter in and out of countries... but as I said earlier there have been very little reported incidences amongst 12,000 cruisers over the last years.

Where are we going and how do you plan where to go?
First off, it is a lot of studying other cruisers and the times they recommend to depart.  Jimmy Cornell is the guru of circumnavigation and he has several books out that give you weather windows as to sailing in specific areas.  We will be following his advice and since we will be sailing we will follow the trade winds.  They have been blowing the same times of year in the same directions since before columbus so we are pretty sure of the general direction and time of year we need to be in each location to avoid stormy weather.

Are you afraid of storms, hurricanes and cyclones.... Oh my?
Um Yes!  We always respect the power of the ocean and will be taking every precaution available to avoid any storm.  If that means we have to stay put in an area that is what we will do. We are not out to set any records or accomplish any particular goals.  We have a general direction we would like to set out for but as all cruisers we are completely flexible in where we end up.  Safety is our main concern so if we end up in the sea of cortez for 2 years... so be it!

Will you have WiFi, email, telephone?
Yes to all of the above, just maybe not at the same time.  We will have an SSB Radio on board that we will be able to use to receive simple text emails and send out as well. We will also use this to get update weather information so we will know when is a good window to sail somewhere.  We will also have a Satellite phone that will reach all over the world for emergencies and if need be to talk to a weather forecaster for our long passages.  We will also have an Emergency Radio Beacon (2) one for the life raft and one for the boat that we will be able to send a signal out if need be.  As I said before we will have all the technology we need to call for assistance if the case arises but hopefully never will. We will also of course have all the navigational equipment, radar, charts paper and electronic.. that we will all be able to read.  Radar picks up squalls and storms.

How will you homeschool?
I believe at this point we will be using a system called Calvert Homeschool and they are a charter company that works with families cruising and have complete by grade yearly programs all laid out for the cruisers.  This program is not dependent on WiFi.  Since we won't have WiFi consistently, it really limits our choices of school programs.  We will enrich with a ton of marine biology, nature journaling, a lot of reading and journaling our trip and of course just the daily work and responsibilities of being a cruising kid... from navigation, diesel mechanics, currency of foreign countries, history and culture of the islands we will be visiting, there is no short comings of all the opportunities they will have to learn.

How will you handle medical issues?
After much research, Chris and I are both taking a wilderness survival course to help boost our first aide knowledge.  We will also take a complete medical kit prepared for cruisers that is filled with common and not so common issues that may come up.  We are also stocking up on Antibiotics for all 7 of us while we are out there.. We will purchase an emergency medical evacuation insurance that will cover both a parent and the injured child to be evacuated from anywhere.  Then for routine medical concerns or issues we will visit local clinics because they are the most aware of their environment and signs of toxins or problems that may have been caused by some thing on their islands...  "I told the witch doctor...." :@)  We have also got every known vaccine that we can for all the possible countries that we will be visiting.

What is our longest passage?
We plan on crossing the pacific... if we do it would take us around 3 weeks.  Hopefully we will catch a lot of fish :@0

How will you stock food?
Almost everywhere we go there will be someplace to purchase food. Up and down central america we will be spoiled with opportunity for some great food choices.  Once we set across then it will be more limited to my canning expertise and lots of Kimchi... hopefully the kids will like it and there won't be a fight.... I may even try sprouting, although I hear that other countries confiscate your seeds when you that may be short lived.. science for the kids at least.

Are the kids excited...?
Okay, they all say they are.  It is becoming real right now so we have a lot of emotional current running through our house and is being expressed in severe highs and lows.  They are all still excited and nervous but sometimes their faces really show the weight of what they are about to do.  They know it will be fun and exciting, but it will be so hard to leave all the good friends behind... at least it is only for a few years and they know they will come back with hopefully amazing experiences to share.

Last but not least....  ARE YOU CRAZY?
Well of course a little... who isn't that is trying to take off for a couple of years.  We have been following cruisers for the last 15 years and have been researching and practicing for this adventure for the last 10 years.  Chris is getting his captains license and I will be taking a few lessons and we will be practicing on the bay for a few months before we leave.  This includes all the family and running drills for storm tactics, man overboard and watches.  When you are sailing or making an overnight passage, someone has to be on watch at all times.

We are down sizing from 6 bedrooms (2800 sq ft) to 4 cabins and 400 sq ft... We will be living out of a small suitcase, and bringing with us school supplies, kindles, laptops, microscope, and a few games and toys.  Weight on the boat is a concern so we really are limited to small personal items.  The kids will have to learn how to use the toys of nature as their store....

We will be leaving our friends and family but hopefully the time will go by so fast and once in awhile we may be able to have a visitor if we know we will be staying in one place for a certain amount of time.  It is just hard because as I said before we have to respect the weather and the ocean and if we need to stay someplace we won't be able to meet our visitors on time.

We know this is a lot to expect from our kids but we also know that what they will learn from this experience will be priceless.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Overwhelmed or Overboard

Wow... I can understand why people say it is so difficult to get off the dock.  I am so overwhelmed and at times filled with so much anxiety that I feel like crying almost everyday. Don't get me wrong.  I am so excited about our trip and getting under way... its just the process of getting to that point that is too much to wrap my head around.  I'm spinning :@)

What have I been working on lately besides eating my Bon Bons? ... I have been getting the house ready to rent...Packing up the items we will not need, and also getting rid of most of what we never use.  Also,  painting the inside rooms and ceilings and we redid our front bathroom, added new can lighting in our back bedroom. We need to fix our bathroom and change out the carpets then I think we will be done.  I have been organizing medical files, and making sure all our immunizations are up to date including ones we may need IF we go to certain countries... Poor kids are getting poked right and left.  Then of course a diesel mechanics class, and an all day offshore class at the boat show.  Then I have been getting the homeschooling together, studying for my Ham Radio License, and getting the financing our our new boat,  the ups and downs and complications of buying the boat out of country and trying to get it here in time for us to fix up and use prior to leaving just to name a few... I don't know... I definitely have never drank more that I have recently, along with eating.  It is called stress and I am looking forward to leaving it at the dock on the bay when we sail off into the sunset.

This weekend is the strictly sail boat show in Oakland and it is always such a treat for Chris and I to attend.  Today I feel, after going thru many of the free seminars the last few years on sailing techniques, trip planning, relationships at sea, cruising with kids, how to provision, weather.... that I am definitely way more prepared and ready for our trip than I have been in the past.  It was very reassuring that I felt I know and understand much of what the experts where saying.  Don't get me wrong... I know there is still so much to learn but I definitely feel more confident and reassured about our trip.

The one thing they say is to make sure to start early in planning and preparing for a trip like this.  Chris and I have talked about doing this for 10 years now... and really started planning and looking into accomplishing this trip 3 years ago.  We thought we were ahead of the game and I am now realizing we waited to long to get many of the classes done that we need.  Wilderness first aide, sailing classes, offshore sailing, radio license tests, captains license tests..... ugh!  I know chris has way more pressure on his plate in terms of completing his Captains License and buying and selling our old BOATS>>. ugh... and maintaining his current job in good standing.  He is also traveling a ton with work and also for buying the new boat... I really don't know how he keeps sane through this process.  I feel like I have completely lost my mind most of the time and if you ask my what my name is... I may or may not be able to tell you depending on how my day is going.

Maybe the memory thing is a good sign, I can see why they say in sailing you are constantly learning something new, from navigation, to weather, to mechanics, to electronics to organization...   For me it is exhausting..... but in a good way.  Im tired already and haven't even really started.  Kudos to all the cruisers out there.  They are an amazing or crazy bunch, which ever way you look at it and I am excited to be included in this group soon.