I’m not sure when we’ll leave land? It could be in a few days or a week. It’s 2:50am and I woke with a spinning mind. There are many things to consider and complete.
Buying food is top of my list.
Once we get back into the Caribbean, cereal is over $10 a box, wine and beer is extortionate and niceties like crackers, cookies and snacks become luxuries rather than the norm. And of course meat costs more and in some areas it’s unrecognizable.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a small mini market freezer quickly deciding that meat was off the menu for the evening. In the Caribbean, in the more remote areas, you might find a freezer chest that has frozen meat labeled, ‘Chicken’ or ‘Beef’ but due to it’s frozen state you can’t identify what cuts are in the bag or if, indeed, it is the meat you intend to buy!
When I stocked the boat with food in the past I considered all sorts of possibilities. I’d walk the grocery isles and think, ‘I might need this or that…’ I might want to make a pie (not that I’ve ever made a pie before). Or I might want to bake bread – no…haven’t made it to the bread making stage yet!
Now, I instead only fill the boat up with items that we use regularly. My best advice for provisioning is to make a list of your top five to ten meals and buy the ingredients for those meals.
It makes sense doesn’t it?
So…we love chili con carne, chicken curry, pasta, a range of soups, one pot meals (casseroles, pies, and stews), BBQ and salads. Sourcing local produce is easy – you buy whatever looks in-season. For the most part, fruit and veg can be sourced at a reasonable price. Furthermore, considering it’s perishable storing it on the boat isn’t too easy. You can freeze or get dried fruit and veg but overall, it’s often the least expensive item to buy while cruising, so why stock it?
Finding a can of kidney beans, Tikka Masala curry paste or even salad dressing can be difficult and it’s most certainly more expensive than in the States. So it’s those unique items that I stock in our bilges. It’s also the special treats that I like to have hidden away in the recesses of the boat – my Pepperage Farm cookies, Cranberries (for when we have Turkey), Ranch Dressing for my salads and PF Chang’s Sesame Sauce.
And back on the topic of vegetables…
…what I’ve discovered is that you often can’t get things you’ve relied on in the past. For example, broccoli and cauliflower are a staple veg in the States. They are, however, not easily found in many remote places. And an item like parsnips might be a normal occurrence in your household, but certain countries, like Italy, don’t stock or eat them (they feed parsnips to the horses only!).
Once I remember going three months not being able to find celery – that was in the Mediterranean. And when we were more recently in Bermuda I remember finding a variety of amazing looking veg but soon put it back on the shelf when I looked at the price!
With vegetables I’ve realized that substitutes are rather easy, however. In other words, I often go to the market and simply pick out the veg I can find that is reasonably priced and looks in-season. I then add it to my favorite meals. In many instances you can’t tell that anything has changed!
I’ve said this time and time again…living the sailing/cruising life teaches you to be flexible.
And when I say ‘flexible’ I mean that you end up being flexible about getting to where you want to go, seeing what you want to see, meeting people you want to meet and finding ingredients for your upcoming galley creations!
Interestingly, I assumed that I knew about all the fruit and veg that existed in the world. To my amazement every time we enter a new country or island it’s not uncommon for me to find something new. There’s loads of produce that doesn’t travel well so it simply doesn’t get exported!
In Italy I remember trying my first prickly pear and enjoying a fig sandwich (yes – fig in-between two slices of bread). In the Caribbean I recall a market woman explaining how to cook breadfruit and telling me to try soursop. At first I was nervous about trying and cooking new items but after a while it became fun to determine where and how to use my new found range of vegetable options.
In addition to food, the other biggie on my mind has been my daughter, Sienna’s, homeschooling.
We’ve recently been informed that she’s dyslexic so I’ve had to really spend quite a bit of time researching materials that will best help her to learn. Dyslexia is a condition where the child has difficulties learning to read and write. The difficulties can also extend to Math and other areas of life.
Thankfully there’s a huge range of items on the market to help dyslexic’s learn. What I’ve discovered is that a multi-sensory approach works best. The teacher has to teach with visual, auditor and feeling-based methods. I’ve been able to source a few programs that have teacher workbooks and all the materials for the student.
In many ways I think that homeschooling Sienna might be in her best interest. Finding a school that specializes in dyslexia isn’t easy nor is it cheap. And most of the public (free) schools don’t have systems in place to easily cater to dyslexic children.
Homeschooling is a big task to undertake…and working with a child with a condition makes the weight heavier on my shoulders but I feel that I’m armed with the right resources and have some good connections with people that can help. It will be interesting to see how the process unfolds. My goal is to provide my daughter with an education that really enables her to want to learn and grow more and more. I want to provide here with the tools and skillset to be able to learn, explore, create and to ultimately allow her to figure out what she likes to do so she can go unleash her abilities on the world at large.
So…I’ve covered food and Sienna’s education.
I suppose the next thing on my mind taking up space is Christmas. I’ve ordered all of Sienna’s presents and have secretly placed them in the bilge. I’m hoping that none of the presents get lasting bilge smell! I’ve obtained the meat for our Christmas meal – I went for ham having just had turkey for Thanksgiving. In the next day or so I’ll grab a few items for Simon…and I think we’ll have at least one crew member with us so I’ll grab a couple little things for him to open.
And just this evening Simon and I went on a manhunt to find our Elf on the Shelf! We located him wrapped in red tissue paper in a ziplock bag under our forward berth bed. We had to move some sails and really hunt around but alas, our Elf named Noddy, will soon appear on Britican for the Christmas season.
Noddy is an interesting character.
We’re not sure if he has in issue with his geolocation settings because he can, from time to time, end up on a neighboring boat! Sienna has learned that when she can’t find Noddy immediately that he might be a boat or two down the pontoon or in the anchorage!
While finding Noddy we also found our Christmas decorations. Before we leave America we’ll put up anything that is suitable. We’ll decorate our small fake tree and then find a way to secure it while we sail! Both Simon and I feel that traditions are super important so we do our best to make the holidays a fun time on Britican.
What else is rumbling around in my head?
Well, there’s all my emails, video’s, sailing guide amendments/improvements/updates and new guides – the whole business side of SailingBritican.com that I have to consider.
We’ve been doing a vLog style video offering in addition to ‘how-to’ videos and my aim has been to publish one video every week. vLog videos show watchers what we get up to every week and it’s somewhat like a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. I love to make these kinds of videos but it’s hard to stop what we’re doing and take a clip! Oftentimes something really cool happens and I totally forget to take my camera out. And when I sit down to make a vLog video I never know if I have enough footage – or if it’s interesting enough. Hehehe.
This week I’m going to have to postpone my video production, however. I just can’t fit it in. To give you and idea of the time involved in making video’s, it takes me around two full days to put one together and that’s not including taking the video. The editing process is massive – I usually take around an hour of footage and reduce it to 10 to 30 minutes. And then there are voice overs and a whole slue of other things. I absolutely love making the video’s though…
And the final big thing on my mind is sort of an elephant in the room.
After 20 years of living in England I’ve had the opportunity to live back in my home country, America, for just over a year. It’s been so fantastic to drive on the correct side of the road, enjoy breakfast at IHOP, get anything and everything I want delivered within two days from Amazon, smell the smells of America and take in the amazing sights. I am ‘home’ in America and it’s going to be hard to leave once again.
And there’s all the amazing friends we’ve made in Charleston. We’ve met so many great people in the marina, at the resort and in the local area. Every time we see them we act like everything is ‘normal’ but we all know it’s almost time to part ways.
Most importantly, I’ve had my family around me.
My brother and his family in addition to my mom and step-dad live only four to five hours away. For 20 years I’ve had to spend around 24 hours to fly in and see them but for the past year we’ve been able to drive up to them. And just knowing that I can see my family anytime I want has been such a treat. We’ve probably visited over 20 times! And that’s not including our weeklong stays with my brother due to hurricane Mathew and Irma!
Last week for Thanksgiving my family and I stayed at my brothers. As always we had a great time. Interestingly, however, none of us talked about the fact that we’re sailing away from the States. None of us broach the subject of ‘when will we see each other next…’
The pain of leaving my family is big.
I’m feeling heartbreak, sadness and grief. After speaking with my friend, Pauleen, I’ve realized that I’ve been pushing away these strong feelings. My hope was that I could just ignore them until I’m sitting on some tropical beach and able to forget my pain.
But as Pauleen helped me to realize if I didn’t feel this pain it would mean that I didn’t have such a strong connection and love for my family. And having that strong connection and love is good. It’s very good!
A wise person once told me that there’s no good or bad – there’s only your perception.
The feelings I feel – the heartbreak, sadness and grief are there only because I care. And when realizing that, I feel like I can appreciate those feelings and allow them to be. I’m still sad but the sadness has a purpose rather than being something I want to ignore.
And just as a side note…Simon and I have talked about staying in the States. We’ve talked about stopping our sailing life. But when we envision doing something else we can’t see anything. In other words, we can’t imagine ourselves doing anything other than what we’re doing. Although it’s very difficult, at times, to do what we’re doing we do absolutely love to do it. And we have to push ourselves to do it.
Once again we’re going out of our comfort zone.
Sure, we know what to expect, more so than when we first left land, but it’s still hard. There are many unknowns. In fact, in some cases we now know enough to know that there are way more unknowns then when we first sailed. Ignorance truly is bliss.
Why do I share this with you?! Well, I want you to realize that it’s hard for us. Often people tell me how confident I am and I turn to look at them like they’re crazy. I’m not confident. I’m freaking scared to death half the time…but I’ve learned that it’s often by forcing ourselves into the unknown that we really feel fulfilled with life.
So…it’s almost 4:00am.
The tide has changed and I can hear the water push up against the stern. A Great Heron just squawked overhead. I can also hear the floor heaters (it’s cold here!) and the freezer pump (which I turned on yesterday). Simon is snoring and Sienna is moving around a bit. In a couple hours we’ll all be up doing our normal and not-so-normal routines.
Sienna will go to school for the last Tuesday (ever?), Simon and I will fix the outboard kill switch, finish waxing the boat, put the sails on, buy more food, cook meals for the voyage, prepare for the arrival of our newest crew member, and post this article. In the evening we’ll have some boat friends over to help Sienna decorate our tiny Christmas tree and it will be another great day of living life on a boat.
To read more about our preparations for leaving America, read and watch Soon to be sailing away (again). If you like reading about our life living on a boat, consider buying my book…