Often, a reader will read one of my articles and email me some questions. Many want to know how to buy a sailboat, where to visit while sailing, what it’s like to sail around with children aboard, practical maintenance questions and some are interested in selling up and sailing away like we have. Below I have questions answered about some common sailing fears.
One lovely reader named Malissa, who’s following a similar path as us, sent the following questions. Rather than answer them over email I let her know that several others probably have similar questions. Malissa is in the process of selling her business and starting to look for the sailboat that will become a new home. Laid out below are some excellent questions and the best answers I could come up with based on my current experience.
If you have a helpful answer, please leave it in the comment area below OR if you have a question, please feel free to email me directly on Kim@SailingBritican.com
Question: The fear of looking out and not seeing land – did you fear long passages?
Answer: Before doing a long passage or a night sail, I only had experience of coastal navigation. We usually sailed using line of sight and frequented the same marinas/harbors over and over again. Ever since buying Britican, however, things have changed.
When we took possession of our new boat, we sailed her from Palma Mallorca to mainland Spain and then onto Gibraltar. The trip took 3 days and there were times where I couldn’t see land. Furthermore, when sailing at night, I often couldn’t see much of anything
I was expecting to be scared, but I actually felt peaceful. Not seeing land didn’t scare me and I enjoyed sailing under the moon. You don’t know how you’ll feel until you do things. For me, the whole experience felt liberating.
At the beginning of this year I did, however, feel that crossing the Atlantic would be too much for me. My main concern was seasickness. Now that I don’t get too sick anymore, I’m looking forward to a 18 – 25 day non-stop sail. Not seeing land excites me more than anything now.
Question: Our ship helped a boat full of Cubans while on a cruise ship in Florida. I know you are suppose to help boats, but staying away would seem a better option if we had this happen to us on a little boat. Your thoughts?
Answer: Before leaving on our trip from Gibraltar to Malta – over 850 miles over the top of North Africa, the skipper we hired to help us warned us of seeing illegal immigrants. He instructed us that the best thing we can do is quickly inform the Coast Guard and then head in the opposite direction. A boatload of desperate people can swamp a boat. Furthermore, you don’t know what condition the people will be in. The immigrants could be in such a state where they could harm the boat or us.
Thus far I’ve heard only one report of illegal immigrants heading north from Africa. The Coast Guard sent out a message over the VHF asking for boaters to call them if the boat was spotted. We never saw anything.
Question: We were at a dead stop in the middle of the ocean with nothing around. A bit freaky…did you ever feel this?
Answer: If our boat comes to a dead stop through lack of wind, we usually turn the engine on and motor forward. However, we’ve had a few times where we jumped off the back of the boat and went for a swim. In the Med, the wind blows big time and then it’s stops big time. I’m very used to being in the middle of nowhere with no wind.
Question: Do you ever get a bit worried looking out at sea out thinking what is under all that water under your boat?
Answer: YES! I wonder all the time what’s under our boat. There are loads of whales in the Med and I often wonder if they’re right below us. Further, I do get seriously freaked out when we swim in the middle of the sea. I jump off, feel nervous and swim quickly back to the ladder. When there’s a 100 meters of water below you, there must be all sorts.
One time I remember my husband and daughter swimming off the back of the back of the boat (see pictures below of our sail from Sami, Kefalonia to Zakinthos – you’ll see a fender floating behind the boat. As a safety percausion we tie a fender to a long rope – if the wind picks up and pushes the boat, the swimmers can grab onto the fender). Anyway…the wind came to a complete stop. As Simon and Sienna were swimming, my cousin and I watched a swordfish jump out of the water twice (no photo – sorry!). I didn’t want to frighten my daughter so we kept our excitement to a minimum. Since then, I’ve been even more curious about what’s under the boat!
Question: I know you have your website and articles to keep you busy. Do you recommend having a little project? My husband and I were laughing as we were overlooking the vast ocean and chatting about sailing questioning what does one do to keep busy? I know I read lots of your articles about maintaining the boat and such. Coming from so much work in America, do you recommend a little hobby? I know I am looking forward to teaching my boys like you have done with Sienna.
Answer: That’s a good question. Now that we’ve been sailing around all summer I think I could go either way. I’m definitely happy to have my little project as it gives me an excuse to go to a coffee shop and have some alone time when we’re near land. It also keeps my brain engaged in a business like manor. However, saying all that, I could very easily drop my website and article writing. I have to really push hard to find the time to write and update my website.
Never in a million years did I think we’d be so busy. We’re always meeting new people, going on amazing adventures and feeling quite tired by the end of the day. And the boat always needs to be cleaned or maintained. One word of warning – get ready to clean, clean and clean. I have no idea where the dust comes from, but the boat is always dirty. I vacuum every day and wash the floors often. And when I’m not cleaning the inside, the outside always needs some attention – clean the teak, wash the GRP or get the rust of the metal work. Whenever we enter a marina we spend hours using fresh water to get the salt water off.
And then there’s provisioning and cooking – who would think that buying food and cooking would be so complicated?! Often it’s hard to find a good supermarket. When you do find one, there’s often a very limited supply of veggies. Meat is almost always sold at a butcher so once you get our veggies, pasta, rice and bread, you have to hunt down the local butcher. It often takes hours.
Meal times take up loads of time too – preparing seems to take a while and of course, we’re doing dishes by hand so that takes a while. The only thing that seems to go quickly is eating! Check out my ‘Britican Galley’ area as I’m uploading easy recipes as we go along.
Question: Lastly, I loved Florida, but we were there during the hottest most humid month of the year. Do you run into weather that is not that comfortable? I know when we were by the water it was cooler, but what do you do if and when it is so hot and humid? The cat we would get would have A/C…do you run yours often??
Answer: Another very good question. Until recently, life aboard has been comfortable. Currently, however, it’s 37 C or around 97 F. Since we’re on the water there’s almost always a breeze. That being said, there have been a few nights were I’ve slept in the cockpit or in the saloon as it get’s more of a breeze. We do have air conditioning but the amount of power it takes to run it is very high. Further, we’d have to run the generator at the same time and although out generator is quiet it’s still annoying.
And then there’s the maintenance…There’s a high risk of illness if the air con isn’t cleaned out regularly and properly. I’ve never been a fan of air conditioning. When I take my daughter, Sienna, around the towns for a walk, I do however find stores that have air where I can enjoy a few moments of coolness!
I might be wrong about this, but I think if you’re on a week holiday you might want to run the air. If you’re sailing around the world, I feel as if it’s an unnecessary cost. And by being on the boat all the time, you tend to acclimatize. I’m sure others might feel totally different.
Any more questions? Let me know. Email me at Kim@SailingBritican.com or if you have different answers to mine above, please contribute – leave your responses in the comment box below!
Also – if you are on Facebook, would you mind ‘Liking’ my Sailing Britican page? By doing so you’ll get an update as to when I post a new article and I often post pictures and updates as to where we are and what we’re doing. Go to this page and hit the ‘Like’ button: https://www.facebook.com/SailingBritican
In the past 4 months we’ve visited around 10 marinas spanning from Gibraltar on the west of the Mediterranean to Kos, Greece on the east. Thus far, Syracuse, Sicily was the very worst marina – having the highest fees and the most disgusting facilities. How hard is it to supply soap to wash your hands and a toilet seat to sit on?
And if you asked me my favorite marina before today, it would be a toss up between Riposto Marina, Sicily and Gouvia Marina near Corfu Town.
That being said, my new favorite marina is now Kos Marina in Kos Town, Greece
We originally went to Kos to pick friends up from the airport and ended up frequenting the marina for two further stints. Over each of those 3 – 4 day stints, we had repairs completed, learned important maintenance techniques, enjoyed great food from the marina café, provisioned the boat with groceries from the Marina supermarket and had the most powerful showers to date. Furthermore, we were able to enjoy the beaches, ruins, restaurants and shops located right outside of the marina walls.
The one and only thing that wasn’t that great was the smell of the facilities
The smell was a cross between sewage and mold. It wasn’t nice but it was tolerable. Let me move on with more details for you…
Kos Marina Greece Review – In Detail
Once outside the coastline of Kos Town, we called channel 77 to speak with a Kos Marina attendant. When approaching the marina there’s a huge banner requesting that berth requests are made over the VHF.
We started to panic as a regatta was in for the weekend and wondered if they’d find space for us. After a bit of discussion, the attendants offered us a place along the wall – it was all that was left.
The cost to tie on along the side was 94 euros for us – we’re a 56’ sailboat. When mooring side-on, the boat takes up much more space than it would if it goes stern-to. We were told that the following day, when spaces became available we could go stern-to with a cost of 52 euros.
I later learned that it was possible to book a space at Kos Marina so if you want to make sure you have a place, please call as the marina certainly fills up over the weekends.
While entering the marina, an attendant on a boat takes you to your berth spot and another attendant is on the jetty helping to take your lines and give you a lazy line, if available. The attendant’s are all brilliant – they direct you and if you need help turning, they’ll use their boat to move you around.
After being in Kos Marina over a few weekends I noticed that many charter boats come and go so the attendants must be accustom to very novice sailors.
I was extremely pleased with the kindness offered – all the attendants bombed around the marina working very hard but they always had time to wave or smile at me when I put my laundry out on the bow or passed them on a jetty.
My husband did our paperwork in the office (pictured above) each time and he said the staff were all pleasant and helpful. He explained, “I wouldn’t say that Kos Marina was top-notch for customer service but it was very good.”
Upon the approach to Kos Marina you can see a boardwalk strip with beaches along the coast to the right and restaurants and beaches to the left. There’s also a beautiful castle ruin that stands in front of the town marina. Unlike other Greek islands, the feel isn’t particularly Greek. A few mosque towers can be seen from the sea.
The marina itself is very well kept. The grass is green, the little square with shops looks lovely and all the pontoons are kept very well maintained.
Comfort of Mooring
The marina wall truly protected the boats. The only time we moved is when the marina attendant’s went speeding by on their tender to help other boats – and that was only during the day.
Over the weekend it was noisier than during the week. Live music plays throughout the town on various nights. And it seems as if every night around 9 or 10pm there’s a very short firework display from a nearby restaurant.
Overall, we had no problem with the noise – by 11pm it was quiet. You can’t hear the traffic nor the passers-by. In the morning I was woken once by a ferry beeping their horn but that’s quite acceptable.
General Atmosphere on the Pontoon
We stayed on ‘B’ and ‘C’ pontoon over the course of three visits and every time we felt very comfortable. The workers all smiled and said ‘hi’ or ‘yassas’. Other boaters were eager to chat and swap stories. We met people from Israel, America, Italy, Canada, South Africa and Britain – a real mix of backgrounds.
Facilities on the Jetty
There’s water, electricity and wifi on the pontoons. Everything worked for us. It’s a key card system so you preload money on the keycard and use it up over time. We did have one incident where the card was faulty and didn’t work – the office staff sorted it out quickly and that was that.
The wifi didn’t work very well at all. I tried on several occasions but the load times took forever. I opted to enjoy a beverage at the marina café instead where the wifi was excellent.
Facilities on Land
The marina has it all…Great showers, great bathrooms, grocery store, café, restaurant, 2 small chandleries and more.
Distance to Facilities
If you’re on the wall it’s quite a hike to get to the marina offices and then into the town. Otherwise, it’s quite a compact marina only taking a few minutes to get to the facilities.
By far, the Kos Marina shower stalls are the most private and roomiest! When entering the showers, a separate area, you’ll find 6 doors all containing a shower, sink, counter, changing area and ample places to hang your towel, wash bag and clothes. Further, there’s a hair dryer in most of the rooms and an electrical outlet for your own devices.
Unfortunately, however, it does not smell nice. I discovered that the shower furthest to the right, in the women’s showers, smelled the worst. My suggestion is to use the showers to the left.
Also, none of the showerheads are attached to the wall. They’re all dangling so you need to hold the head as you wash.
The showers seem a bit outdated but overall the facilities are very clean. Every time I went to use the showers or toilets there was an attendant cleaning them.
They all worked fine however be careful if you let a child into the showers or toilets. The door locks are a bit fiddly. I managed to get myself stuck in one of the showers for a couple minutes, as I couldn’t get the door unlocked.
Never did I find a toilet without toilet paper or a soap dispenser without soap. Whoever maintains the facilities is doing a great job.
Within the marina there’s the ‘Marina Café’, which I frequented every day for wifi. The drinks are cold, the salads are excellent and the special Marina Café crepe is fantastic – it’s a savoury crepe with cheese, bacon, chicken and cream in it!
When ordering a drink, you also get sliced apples, bananas and potato chips which was always a nice treat. The staff at the café were all super kind and very helpful. My daughter loved all of them and felt very comfortable asking for something or paying the bill.
Aside from the café, there was a restaurant that I did not try out. With so many restaurants outside the marina we ventured out most nights. We did, however, buy many of our groceries from the marina supermarket. And I’m very pleased to announce that the prices from the store where normal – not hiked up because it’s a marina shop.
I went to the marina supermarket and purchased everything I could. Anything that I couldn’t get I walked to AB Supermarket, a few blocks back from the main road.
Also – inside the marina offices you’ll find a room filled with books, a computer and areas to sit. It’s nice an air conditioned so a perfect spot to read emails or just take a break from the heat. You can leave finished books on the bookshelves and take whatever books you want – it’s a book exchange.
We dropped off a few pilot books that we won’t be using and I picked up a book by Victoria Hislop entitled, ‘The Thread.’ And my daughter found a ‘Tom and Jerry’ DVD that kept her quiet for some time!
Repairs, maintenance and servicing
One thing, or shall I say person, that made our stay in Kos even better was a guy named Pierre. Upon a recommendation from a friend in England, we were told to contact him. Pierre was able to help us fix our boiler, but little did we know that he was going to help us with much more.
During our visits to Kos marina, Pierre helped us change our broken boiler, VHF aerial, aft shower tap, outdoor speakers, davits, electric toilet pump and busted door.
In addition, he put us in touch with someone that fixed our DVD player, another person that helped us upgrade our GPS maps, and another that taught me how to fix the teak deck (replace the black stuff between the teak wood). And Pierre took the time himself to bring me the necessary products to clean the rust off the metal work and showed me how to do it.
If you’re going to Kos Marina and you need any help, I definitely recommend Pierre. When you moor up just ask for him and someone will give you his number or instruct you on where to find him. His prices were very reasonable and he made sure that everything was done properly. Further, he will tell you exactly what he thinks which can be a breathe of fresh air when dealing with boat repairs/maintenance.
Some thoughts on Kos Town
I don’t think I’d recommend my friends and family to take a long vacation in Kos Town itself. It’s quite a party place – its very busy with teenagers and party go-ers. I did see loads of families but I’m not sure it’s the best place for a nice relaxing family get-away. The beaches near the marina were okay – some were dirty, you had to pay 5 euros for a chair and they were rocky and full of seaweed. I believe that beaches further up the coast are better.
The restaurants were all very good. There’s an excellent bakery near the castle with great ice cream too! And speaking of the castle, there are ruins all over the town of Kos. Everywhere you walk, you come across something old! Below is a video I took as my daughter and I were walking back to the boat. It shows an ancient agora, or meeting place.
No matter who you are, if you’re passing near Kos by boat I highly suggest a couple nights in the great town. You can anchor right outside the marina for free, depending on weather conditions, or tie up in the wonderful Kos Marina.
To see some images of Kos – especially Kos Castle, read my article ‘Sailing Vacation – What’s it like to sail around for a week or two?‘ Scroll down to the bottom to check out my gallery of images.
Have you stayed at Kos Marina before? If yes, is there anything I missed?
Could there be a better place than Sicily to make fresh pasta sauce?
This morning when I (it’s Loryn here writing this!) was asking for ideas on what everyone would like to eat, it was inevitable that some sort of Italian dish would present itself.
We needed to go to the grocery store and soon since our rental car was being picked up in 2 hrs. Our little excursion turned out harder than it should have been. We received directions from the one and only English speaking person in the marina that made it seem like the store was very close and easy to find, but that store was no where to be found.
Simon and I drove back and forth, turned right instead of left, looked down side streets and asked directions from residents that only spoke Italian.
We knew the word ‘supermarcado’ in Italian but that was it
One person sent us back the way we came with no store in sight. Then the next person sent us back the other way. We were beginning to think there was no store, so we went to plan B, drive to the next town.
When arriving in the next town we searched many different streets just hoping the word ‘supermarcado’ would jump out.
Finally I yelled out, “it’s there right there!” I never felt so relieved to know we had made it. Now the question was, “will we know what we are buying since everything is in Italian?”
Fresh fruits and veggies were a piece of cake but other items were a bit difficult. All I knew was I needed items for a homemade pasta sauce to be served over stuffed pasta shells. As I was thinking of all the ingredients I needed a worker walked past me carrying a whole tray of fresh ricotta cheese.
My stomach began to dance in happiness
In the produce section of most Italian stores, a worker gets a bag for you and ask how many you would like of any item and then bags it for you. The attendant then puts a price on the bag making it easy for checking out. It was a nice change from the do-it-yourself approach I’m used to back home. All fresh ingredients I got for the sauce, except for the tomatoes I needed.
Just need some local tomatoes now!
As we drove off I asked Simon to stop at a roadside stand selling fresh veggies to see if we could score some killer tomatoes. Wouldn’t you know we found one right off the bat that had beautiful tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. That’s when I knew this sauce was going to be great, fresh ingredients from the southern part of Sicily. It’s a very simple but delicious sauce that I hope you enjoy. Oh and feel free to add any meats of your preference to jazz it up a bit.
Pasta Sauce in Sicily (video)
Get more information on the Britcan Galley Italian Blend, (recipes and videos too)! And go hear to read about the Stuffed Pasta Shells recipe.
Introducing the Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends for sailors.
Use one tablespoon in stocks, stews, soups, sauces. Sprinkle on meats, fish, poultry and pasta. Blend in marinades and salad dressings or butter and cheese spreads. Professionally blended to take the guesswork out of what herbs and spices go best with what dishes, 1 Tablespoon will turn a mediocre meal into a gourmet one. (Skip reading and go straight to buying – purchase some Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends click link and a new window will open)
Here’s the reason why these herb and spice blends are a must for sailors:
The meals taste excellent! Instead of just making a bland meal, the Britican Galley herbs and spice blends help to add a great depth of flavor. The turn a mediocre meal into a gourmet one.
They take up very little space. Instead of having a limited range of several spices you can have a variety of blends that cover almost all types of meals.
The containers are plastic so there’s no risk of a glass breakage.
They stack easily.
Using the blends makes meal preparation faster (rather than try to measure out ¼ teaspoon of this and a ½ teaspoon of that, you just have to add 1 tablespoon of a blend and you’re done! Or, you can just sprinkle the amount you want right from the jar).
They’re healthy! Herbs and spices have a long history of providing numerous health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, easing digestion, and many more…
The blends have no salt, MSG, or any chemicals. They’re all 100% natural herbs and spices making them great for people, like us, that want to avoid nasties.
See the full range at here: Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends (click link and a new window will open)
So…aside for being easy to store, the blends make food preparation easier, meals tastier and eating healthier!
And they’re not just for boaters or novice cooks like me.
Anyone interested in the benefits from herb and spice blends can use them – whether you’re in a home, trailer, camping or sailing. I and several people all over the world have used and enjoyed them.
In our shop, you’ll find six individual blends and one ‘gift package’ offering the complete set at a reduced price.
So, in our online shop, you’ll find the following six Britican Galley Blends:
– Italian Blend
– Greek Blend
– Chicken Blend
– Herbs de Provence
– Beef Blend
– Seafood Blend
– And…the Britican Galley Gift Set holding all 6 blends
Visit the shop here: Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends (click link and a new window will open)
But it’s not just blends that we’re offering!
In the Britican Galley section (menu item above), my family, guests and visitors have all helped to share recipes. Some of the recipes include the Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends and others, like Carole’s Eggless Cake, the Admirals Bruschetta and Simon’s Spaghetti Carbonara do not.
We set up Britican’s Galley to provide you with recipes, video’s, stories, and an insight as to what’s cooking, and going on, aboard Britican. Whenever possible, I pull out my iPhone video camera and record any guests while cooking in our Kitchen. On some occasions I even record myself!
Thus far we’ve had my cousin, husband, an Italian Admiral, an ex-special forces guy, my daughters friends and a variety of others helping or bringing food to our galley.
To view the blends, visit the Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends area and click on the blend of your choice. To view the recipes, scroll through our Britican Galley area of this website.
What’s the story behind these spices? Who makes them?
Here’s our galley and saloon. This is a stock photo of when the boat was brand new. I wish our boat looked this clean now!
What is cooking in Britican’s Galley? Well…it’s more than just food!
In October 2013 my husband and I decided to sell all our possessions and purchase an eleven year old sailboat. I was fed up with ‘normal’ life. I wasn’t happy in so many ways – I worked too much, I ate fast processed foods, my time with my, then, 3 year old daughter was limited and when I did spend time with her it wasn’t quality time. Furthermore, I felt as if my health was declining.
I lived on stress and I could feel it eating away at me
Once we made our decision to sell up and sail away, I took quite a bit of time thinking about the new life I was about to create. Aside from wanting to spend quality time with my family, I wanted to start eating healthy home cooked meals using local produce. I was fed up with eating tomatoes that didn’t taste like anything and I knew the processed foods were taking a toll on all of us.
Before leaving, I asked a nutritionist to meet with my husband, daughter and me (Read this Oh crap – Are we healthy enough to sail around the world?). I was embarrassed about how unhealthy we were and ashamed at myself for the foods I was giving my daughter (pizza, pasta, fish fingers, kid’s ready meals).
Immediately after our nutritional meeting and several months before setting sail, I set out to change the way we ate
I threw away sugar filled cereals, reduced the amount of bread and pasta we were eating and focused on eating meat, fish and vegetables. Both my husband and I went from take-aways, restaurant meals and ready meals to a much healthier diet.
I knew that we couldn’t sustain a processed food lifestyle while at sea nor did I want to!
As fate would have it, my cousin Loryn (pictured on the left above) decided to join us for the first several months of our adventure. Loryn not only loves to cook but she loves to eat homegrown and homemade food. In her hometown of Cassadaga, NY she has a substantial sized vegetable garden. When I told her about our diet change, she was eager to help us out. I sighed in relief.
Selling everything we own, purchasing a boat and dealing with all the courses we had to take (First Aid, Diesel engines, Freezers/Fridges/Air conditioning, VHF Radio, Sailing courses, etc.) in addition to getting my head around homeschooling was a heavy load.
With Loryn with us and helping out on the food side of things, I had one less thing to worry about!
Before Loryn flew over to join us on our adventure, I asked her to pick up some of my mom’s spice blends for the boat. My mom, Barb, has successfully sold herb and spice blends for the past 20 years. She sells them online and at Farmer’s Markets and food and wine exhibitions.
In the past, my grandmother, Loryn and I would all spend a weekend at exhibitions like the New York Food & Wine show helping my mom. The picture shows my Grandmother (no longer with us), my Mom and me at the NY State Wine and Food Festival several years ago.
Knowing that we had limited space on the boat, and my private supplies of mom’s blends were running low, I asked Loryn to bring 6 of my favorite blends over. I asked for Chicken Blend, Italian Blend, Beef Blend, Herbs de Provence Blend, Greek Blend and Seafood Blend.
Although my mom is the best cook I know, unfortunately, I didn’t take time to learn from the master. Other than knowing that rosemary goes good with lamb and oregano can be used in Italian dishes I have no clue what herbs and spices go with what dishes.
In the past, every time I attempted to cook from a recipe, I’d go out and buy all the necessary herbs and spices. Over time my cabinet was clogged with a wide range of spices I didn’t know how to use. Every few years, I went through and cleaned out all the barely used jars based on expiration dates.
When mom started her company I was saved!
Not only did I did I reduce the area needed in my spice cabinets but I finally didn’t have to worry about what herbs and spices went with what types of dishes. For example, to make chicken soup, all I have to do was throw in chicken, vegetables, some stock and 1 tablespoon of mom’s ‘Chicken Blend.’ Or, if I make a chicken casserole, or anything to do with chicken, I just sprinkle on my mom’s chicken blend.
Mom’s blends took the guesswork out of seasoning all my meals, but I didn’t realize the value of them until I gave up my habit of processed foods
I didn’t realize the value of them until I was more or less ‘forced’ to use them
Prior to leaving on our sailing adventure, I thought more and more about mom’s blends and realized that they’re absolutely perfect for sailboats! Furthermore, I thought they’d make an excellent addition to the shop so I’ve rebranded them Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends. Please buy your selection here: Britican Galley Herb & Spice Blends
About the Sailing Britican Store In 2013, Kim Brown and her husband Simon sold the company, house, car and all their possessions and said ‘screw-it’ to the rat race. They decided to instead go in search for an alternative life upon the seas. Their mission was to find more fulfillment in life, get back to nature, eat good food and truly enjoy family life. The Brown’s put their money into a sailboat, learned how to become homeschoolers and took their, at the time 3 ½ year old daughter, on what has already become a trip of a lifetime. The Brown’s have not retired. They, like most people need to make an income so the family is providing free educational information about selling up and sailing away in addition to sourcing and selling nautical items in their online shop. If you’re happy with the abundance of free information provided on SailingBritican.com and know someone that would value one of the items for sale in their shop, please support their cause! If one family can say no to the rat race, find more fulfillment and earn an income, perhaps many more can do the same.
Visit the Sailing Britican Shop.
Furthermore, you can find Sailing Britican on Patreon, a website created to help content creators reward fans in return for financial support. Follow the link below.
After four months of having people around us and sailing around the Mediterranean on our 56’ Oyster yacht, my husband, Simon, my daughter, Sienna (Age 4 – pictured in the middle of the girls above), and I finally found ourselves alone.
At first things felt exciting, scary and just downright weird
Up until that moment we had various friends and family join us on the journey. For the first time EVER we were all alone. How would we cope? What would we do with ourselves?
As fate would have it, the day after all our guests left us, we received an email from a sailboat, named ‘Why Knot.’ We met them not long ago – a wonderful family from South Africa. At the time the family had 2 other awesome guests with them – Paul and Dale.
Apparently, sailboat ‘Why Knot’ looked at our locator on our website and noticed that we were in the same area – they asked if we wanted to meet up.
Of course we wanted to meet up! We didn’t know how to be alone!
After one day of just the three of us, we headed over to Turkey to meet up with the awesome crew of ‘Why Knot.’ When we met, the crew consisted of Captain Garth, First Mate Elaine and two deck hands named Tanna (age 11) and Sienna (age 9). The Sienna from ‘Why Knot’ was aptly renamed, ‘Older Sienna’ and our Sienna was called ‘Little Sienna.’
The friends they had aboard previously, Paul and Dale, were back in South Africa and the crew were now expecting new friends to fly in.
As expected, we had a great time and decided to stick together for a while
As Garth and Elaine were expecting new guests, we offered to take ‘Older Sienna’ and Tanna with us overnight, making it easier to collect the new arrivals. One thing led to another and before we knew it, our family of three grew by two!
We left Garth and Elaine in Turkey to pick up their friends and the girls went with us back to Greece to settle in a quiet picturesque bay. When it came to making dinner, we needed to find something that would be liked by all. Hmmmm, what do a bunch of girls like?
Simon asked ‘Older Sienna’ and Tanna, ‘Do you two like spaghetti Carbonara?’ They responded, ‘What’s that?’
After a bit of discussion and explaining, the girls agreed that it would be something they’d like to try. ‘Older Sienna’ offered to help Simon in the galley and of course, ‘Little Sienna’ wanted to be with ‘Older Sienna.’
I yelled out, do you mind if I video you guys cooking? And Simon reluctantly agreed to do it! (Better him than me…but don’t tell him I said that.)
So…here is our special evening where we had Tanna and Sienna Zoutendyk from sailboat ‘Why Knot’ with us. The girls had so much fun together and the fun carried on – every night for 5 nights we had one or both of the girls sleep over. We’ve been so blessed to have met the Zoutendyk family and their friends. Having them moored up near us has made our travels through Greece not only fun but memorable too. I hope they’ll be friends for life!
And what about the Spaghetti Carbonara? Well…the girls from ‘Why Knot’ had two helpings!
As a side note…we’ve been able to find Philadelphia Cream Cheese everywhere in the Med, however bacon is impossible to find in Sicily. If you can’t find bacon, sometimes you can find something called ‘Lardons’ or bacon chunks. If all else fails, you can use ham!
Our ten days with friends aboard Britican came to an end recently. We were fortunate to have Steve, Becks and Megan Stubbs (age 11) with us for some Greek island hopping in the Dodecanese region (map below). For them it was a sailing vacation. For us, it was an opportunity to share our new lifestyle with loved ones.
The Stubbs family has been our first family aboard Britican for a sailing vacation
And for them, it’s the first time they’ve spent longer than a couple days aboard a boat. Previous vacations included camping, renting a French villa or staying at a hotel for a fortnight. If it wasn’t for us going on our grand adventure, I’m not sure if they’d ever consider a sailing vacation?
So, now that their time with us is over, I wonder what they’re thoughts are?
Was it what they expected? Did they like it better than other vacations and is it something they’ll want to do again? What did they like the most and what did they dislike? Or did any of them discover that 10 days aboard our floating home wasn’t for them?
Carry on reading to find out what we did over the 10 days and also discover the Stubbs family thoughts…
Before I get started – some background on taking a sailing vacation
Making the decision to enjoy a sailing holiday isn’t something that’s taken lightly. Several people worry about seasickness. Others worry about what is involved and how to go about planning a sailing excursion. And I’m sure several people happen onto sailing holidays simply because a friend or friends invite them to the experience, like we have invited the Stubbs family.
There are several options for anyone or family interested in a sailing holiday. On one extreme, you can personally hire a boat and sail it to wherever you want to go. Often very little training is required – it depends where in the world you want to go and your past experience. When we first chartered a boat my husband went on a weekend sailing course and that’s all that was needed for us to hire a 35’ sailboat in the Ionian Islands, Greece.
On the other hand, you can have a boat sailed for you by a professional or you can join other parties on larger boats. And there are options in between! Perhaps you want to sail but are less confident when it comes to leaving and entering a mooring. If you join a flotilla there’s a crew, on land, helping to slip lines and then showing you were to go and helping to get you tied down or your anchor set at your next destination.
To get an idea about boat rentals, the leading boat rental platform is Zizoo.com – check out the website to do a search on locations and dates. You can hire a boat only or order a skipper too!
Anyway, let me paint a picture for you as to what a sailing vacation can be like
I’ll walk you through the 10 days that the Stubbs family spent with us.
Day 1: Arriving in Kos, Greece
A few weeks before our friends booked flights, we told them to check the prices on two locations – Kos or Rhodes. The flights to Kos worked best, so they booked flights while we headed from Athens towards the Dodecanese islands. Having 3 weeks to get to Kos was plenty of time.
Two days before their arrival we entered Kos marina and spent our time cleaning the boat, doing laundry and preparing for our friends. Not before long it was hours before we’d be greeting them. After 4 months of not seeing our friends, we saw a taxi arrive at pontoon ‘B’ and I heard my husband, Simon, yell out, ‘I think they’re here!’ My daughter who stayed up late until 10:30 pm jumped off the boat and ran as fast as she could. Stopping 2 feet away from Megan, Sienna looked at her best friend with absolute happiness. Simon said, ‘Sienna, it’s okay – give Megs a hug!’ The two girls hugged and then there were loads of hugs and smiles going around.
As the sun was setting behind the marina, we walked the Stubbs’s onto the boat leaving their luggage on the aft deck. Sienna was so excited that she wanted to give everyone a tour. And there was a surprise in Megan’s room – Sienna put up streamers and a picture of her and Megs that was taken last summer.
Steve and Becks were shown their room and then we all sat in the cockpit enjoying some wine and beer chatting about all sorts. We couldn’t help but recount many of our sailing stories. Our desire to share our experiences with close friends was unstoppable.
The two girls went to bed and the adults stayed up until 1am. Tomorrow our sailing adventures would start, so we helped Steve and Becks get their bags into their room and we said goodnight.
Day 2: Palionisou (harbor), Kalymnos (island), Greece (country)
We all woke around 8am, ate some cereal and leisurely prepared the boat to leave Kos. We stowed things away, tidied up, closed windows and hatches, readied the lines and put the cushions in the cockpit.
Previous to our friends arrival we were experiencing the Malteme, a weather pattern in the Med that blows very windy from the north and northeast. Thankfully, the Malteme was over and calmer winds were on the cards.
Upon leaving the docks at Kos, attendants helped us remove our lines. We then exited the marina, coiled our warps (ropes), put our fenders away and then turned into wind to pull the mainsail up. I took Steve up to the mast with me and explained how to raise the mainsail – I pointed out the main halyard, hooked it to a winch and then started raising it. I indicated what I was watching out for – the sail needs to go up between two sets of guiding ropes and all the reefing lines needed to go up without getting tangled.
It wasn’t long before we pulled out the forward sail – the genoa. After a few minutes of work, the engine was turned off and we were sailing to our fist destination. On the way we chatted, enjoyed some fresh cut cucumber and carrot sticks and took in the sites. I was so happy to have my bestie (and her hubby) with me! And of course, Sienna was thrilled to have her bestie too!
By 11am, we were on our way to Palionisou on the island of Kalymnos. The winds were mild and the sail was easy going – a great way for our visitors to start off.
Our sail was so calm and peaceful so I decided to serve lunch as we slowly made our way forward. We enjoyed a Greek Salad, fresh Bread, Taziki, Hummus and lunchmeats. Everyone enjoyed the light lunch over more wonderful conversation.
After a few hours, we furled in the genoa, dropped the mainsail and entered the harbor of Palionisou. Our first mooring was ‘easy’ as there were several mooring buoys available to tie onto. Rather than having to back into a tight space along a quayside, we simply needed to run a warp from the bow of the boat to the buoy and then back to the boat. Mooring buoys are floating balls that are attached to cement blocks on the oceans floor that act like anchors.
Steve and I used the thing I call, ‘the pokey stick’ to reach down off the bow, pull the buoy upright and thread one of our warps through a metal hoop at the top. We then took the warp back onto the same side of the boat and repeated with another warp on the other side of the bow. By having two warps you can rest assured that if one rope fails another is holding the boat fastened.
Fastening ourselves took ten minutes or so and then we had a few jobs to do before jumping into the beautiful blue water. We put the sail cover on, tidied all the ropes and cleaned up the cockpit.
It didn’t take long for Steve, Becks, Megan and Sienna to jump off the back of the boat! With 10 meters below us, you could see the ocean floor as the water was crystal clear. Steve and Megan put goggles on and went exploring. I took the time to tidy up the saloon but it wasn’t long before I was jumping into the sea to reduce my core temperature!
That evening, we took our tender to Taverna Ilias and were greeted very kindly by a Greek husband and wife duo. When I heard that everything was home cooked and they had mousaka (traditional beef mince based dish), stuffed peppers and tomatoes and dolmades (mince and rice mixture wrapped with vine leaves) on the menu I had a difficult decision to make! Becks and I decided on mousaka and we were both very happy about our decision.
So we all sat on a balcony overlooking a beautiful bay dotted with about 10 yachts. Every one was full of smiles and eager to carry on with the trip.
Day 3: Alindas, Leros, Greece
The next morning, we took our time enjoying the morning. Steve did some exercises on the boat. Becks sat up in the cockpit enjoying a bit of reading and I made some bacon and eggs for everyone.
There’s nothing like bacon and eggs on a boat! They seem to taste more amazing than they do at home.
After dawdling around for a while, Steve and I pulled off our mooring lines from the buoy and we headed back out into the Sea. Our next destination was an island called Leros.
During our sail, we chatted, read our books, took naps and simply enjoyed the passing scenery. There’s very little to do while sailing but to take in the views surrounding you.
When we made it to Alindas on the island of Leros we looked for a space to tie a rope unto the rock face. The set-up was to anchor your boat, back up towards the rock face and then tie a rope from the stern of the boat to a fastener on the rocks. By doing so it prevents the boat from swinging and more boats can anchor in the same area.
After a quick look around we couldn’t find any places where we felt comfortable so we simply dropped our anchor a bit further out in the bay. The views were lovely. Along the side of us, we had a variety of sail and motorboats tied to the rock face. Above the rocks we discovered a little village dotted with tavernas, windmills and Greek homes. And at the very top of the mountain was a castle and several windmills. When I saw the view, I thought, ‘well, you don’t see that every day.’
After a swim, we ate a lovely fresh lunch: Greek salad, potato salad and a pasta salad in addition to some meats and cheeses. Of course, we also enjoyed some fresh bread.
Simon and Steve took the girls into the village by boat and Becks and I lazed about in the cockpit reading, chatting and even taking a bit of a nap. Normally, I would get off the boat and go for a walk around the village but I didn’t feel like doing much of anything and so I didn’t!
The great thing about sailing is that you can do as little or as much as you want. There are days when we don’t feel like going anywhere, so we don’t. On other days, we not only want to go somewhere, but we want to get off on land and go exploring, so we do.
Later that afternoon Simon and Steve had a little back flip competition off the side of the boat and everyone did some snorkel. There were several shells found – all added to the collection building up in a big white bowl.
Aside from swimming, the girls enjoyed doing crafts in the saloon and ended the day with a movie and cookies. No matter how hard we tried to slow down the days, they were over in a blink of an eye.
Holding tight on the anchor, we all went to bed and enjoyed a lovely night’s sleep. In the morning, I woke up just after 5am and wrote this article: Leaving the rat race to sail around the world…is enlightenment on the cards too?
The morning was so amazingly peaceful. I was awake before the sun came up and anticipated a beautiful ball of fire rising in the east – I wasn’t disappointed. To my delight, I noticed that Steve and Becks were also up. They too woke up to enjoy the delights of a morning sunrise.
And not before long, we off to yet another destination. Megan helped me get the anchor up and off went to the island of Leipsoi.
Day 4: Lera Leipsoi, Leipsoi, Greece
After a quick 3-hour sail we arrived in a cute little bay off the cost of Leipsoi. With quite a bit of wind blowing, we found a patch of sand to lay our anchor into. The wind was blowing hard so we quickly discovered whether our anchor was set or not – it was! We moored up next to a Turkish Gullet and enjoyed the view of several other boaters.
In the distance we could see a tiny harbor behind a rock wall and it looked as if there was at least one taverna. There wasn’t much on land. Perhaps a few homes and one restaurant? The rest was rocky land.
With the wind blowing so much, none of us wanted to go swimming. We all chilled out doing our own things for a while. Some of us laying in the sun. Others playing games. We ate some snacks, enjoyed some quiet time and really soaked up the experience.
I was so happy to have my friend Becks with me. It’s a funny thing with good friends – you can go months and even years without seeing them, but when you do, you automatically feel as if you’ve never been separated. Becks and I would chat about serious things and then we’d giggle about silly stuff. It was wonderful to have the time to just sit next to each other and not talk at all!
During the day, Simon and Steve took the girls ashore to explore. Once again, Becks and I opted on staying on the boat. We just didn’t feel like doing much! When the crew came back, I noticed a beautiful necklace made of volcanic stone around Megan’s neck. ‘Where did you get that beautiful piece,’ I asked?
Simon and Steve stopped off at a beautiful café bar/restaurant that had an adjoining jewelry shop. The guys were so impressed with the venue that they said we must go to dinner there in the evening.
It wasn’t long before all six of us were showered and boarding the dingy to enjoy a meal off the boat. The guys were right about the restaurant – it was definitely impressive. It wasn’t very Greek. In fact, I would have thought I was in the Caribbean if I didn’t know any better.
There was the white and blues common to Greece, but then there were thousands of colored pieces of fabric hanging from the open-air ceiling. And there were also thousands of dried bamboo handing too – the light clatter was a sweet music! Additionally, there were beautiful colors in the bushes and flowers. It was a little paradise tucked away on a quiet area of Leipsoi.
While at the restaurant we ordered salads for starters and then a variety of meals. I asked the friendly waiter what he recommended and ended up getting a fresh warm tuna salad with greens and herbs from the garden surrounding the estate. I wish I could explain what was in the salad is it was so tasty, but I honestly couldn’t make out anything other than Tuna! It was gorgeous.
We all enjoyed our meals, allowed the girls to play on the beach and then headed back to the boat to retire for the evening.
It was another perfect day.
Day 5: Skala, Patmos, Greece
Needing provisions, or groceries, we had to find a location with a supermarket. The closest big town was Patmos, so we enjoyed a lovely sail to the harbor of Skala. We put our anchor down and reversed into the town quay.
Hearing the loud scooters, trucks and beach go-ers pass by was a stark difference to the tranquil bays we’ve previously been mooring in. We tied off to the quayside, pulled out our passerel, or gangplank, and put our sail cover on. I was impressed to see that Becks offered to climb up on the boom and pack the sail in! How brave was she? When all was sorted, we headed to the beach. With a very quick walk, we were on a small little beach lined with a few café bars.
Simon stayed back on the boat to exercise our stopcocks – a monthly maintenance task, while my daughter and I joined our friends on the beach. After enjoying a cold coke and a chat we all took turns to swim and/or watch the girls enjoy themselves in the water or pouring sand all over themselves.
At one point, Steve looked at me and said, ‘I don’t like it here.’ Instantly, I knew what he was talking about. Skala is loud, dusty and filled with locals and tourists crowding the streets. It’s a nice place if you haven’t grown accustomed to quiet, natural harbors.
That being said, the village is super cute, there are several boutique shops and towering above the town is the monastery where St Paul wrote Revelations. Furthermore, within 5 km there are some spectacular beaches. We’ve previously been to Patmos and enjoyed the sites. It’s well worth a visit.
In the evening, we enjoyed a lovely meal on board and made plans to get up early, buy our groceries and then head to Xerokambos. We received a text from sailing friends that they were in the area.
A few weeks back, we met a lovely South African couple and their two children, Sienna (9) and Tanna (11). The girls played with our Sienna and had a great time. They also had two guests with them – their friends Paul and Dale. When we first met we had a great time chatting. And it was so nice to see the girls run around having fun with each other.
Day 6: Xerokambos, Leros, Greece
So in the morning, we did our shopping – got bread, meat, veggies and lots of snacks. We then prepared the boat, slipped our lines and headed for Xerokambos. It was a new bay for us so I was excited to see what we’d find.
Our sail was quite turbulent! The sea was rough and there was too much wind to allow our full sails out. We had to put a reef in and furl the front sail in. Nevertheless, Simon and Steve found someone they could race and the whole boat went flying ahead.
My little ‘to-do’ journey book was blow overboard but luckily Becks saved my book. We all sat up on deck holding on tight.
Soon, we were in Xerokambos where the bay protected us from the winds. We found several moorning buoys and Steve and I tied us on. We noticed our friends aboard ‘Why Knot’ quickly and were waving ‘hello’.
My daughter was excited to introduce Megan to her friends. Within a few minutes, the girls Tanna and Sienna were aboard our boat and to break the ice I invited them all to make crafts. Becks brought out some colored paper and a craft pack filled with feathers, charms, popsicle sticks and foam shapes.
The girls spent hours creating all sorts of pictures. Thereafter there was swimming and Simon rigged up the tube on back of our tender. All the girls had a go. You could hear laughter throughout the bay! In the end, all of us eventually ended up on ‘Why Knot’s’ beautiful Catamaran for dinner.
So the four adults from our boat got together with the four adults from ‘Why Knot’ to enjoy an evening of food, discussion and laughter. And the four kids played until they dropped – they went swimming, played in the canoe, played hide and seek and eventually became too tired to move anymore. In the end the girls all cuddled together to watch a DVD on a laptop.
The evening was precious! How often do you find yourself in a foreign country mixing with people from other nations while swinging around a mooring buoy in a quiet little bay? Everyone in the sailing community is so kind and making new friends – even if you have friends with you – is something that happens easily.
That evening, Megan slept over on ‘Why Knot’s’ boat with ‘Big Sienna’ and Tanna came over to sleep on our boat with ‘Little Sienna’. In such a short amount of time, we all felt like family.
Having such a lovely time with the crew on ‘Why Knot,’ we made plans to all meet up in the next bay together. We recommended the bay with a fantastic Taverna Ilias – the one we enjoyed on our first day out.
Day 7: Palionisou, Kalymnos
After a day of sailing, we picked up a mooring buoy and settled into the familiar bay. There was more crafts, swimming, tubing, snorkeling, shell-finding and back-flipping fun.
For dinner we all met up at Taverna Ilias – all 12 of us! The girls all sat at one end of the table and the crew of Britican and ‘Why Knot’ mixed in with each other. Within a few minutes of taking our seats, the ‘Why Knot’ crew fell to the floor shouting ‘Dead Ant’ while kicking their arms and legs.
We just looked at them like they were nuts. After they picked themselves off the floor, I asked, ‘what the heck was that for?’
Garth, ‘Why Knots’ captain explained that ‘Dead Ant’ is a game. Whoever is last to drop to the floor and do the ‘Dead Ant’ motion is ‘on’ meaning that they have to be the person that calls ‘Dead Ant’ next. When you’re ‘on’ you need to find the most inopportune time to make the call and everyone needs to drop down, yelling ‘Dead Ant’ while flailing around on the floor.
What a great game! We all laughed and the restaurant owner had a sign of relief after she realized that it wasn’t her restaurant that freaked everyone out. We ordered beers, wine and homemade Greek meals like mousaka, dolmades, pork in the oven and stuffed tomatoes.
We shared stories about all sorts. Paul, a ‘Why Knot’ crewmember told a funny story about a skit done over the VHF radio. It was all about saying ‘over’ over and over again. Normally, you say your message and then end with ‘over’ to allow the other person to respond. Paul was retelling the skit saying things like, ‘I just fell over, over.’ And then the response was ‘did you fall over, over, over?’ We laughed into the evening and finally made it home only to crash on our beds.
Day 8: Pserimos, Pserimos
We spent the morning watching a crazy boat leaving their mooring buoy, almost hit us, run aground and then back into Tavern Ilias dock. Watching the incompetence of other boaters usually has high entertainment value. As long as we don’t get hit in the process, there’s always something to keep you entertained.
We sailed to the next bay – one recommended by ‘Why Knot’ and anchored outside the quayside. After 4pm when all the day boats had come and gone we would be allowed to dock.
While waiting to moor on the dock we watched three of the day boats pull up other boat anchors. It became quite stressful as boats started to come into the harbor wanting to moor on the quayside. There were only 4 spaces and already 3 boats were lining up to back in.
Imagine all these day boats trying to leave and getting stuck and then all these sailboats vying for a spot on the dock. After an hour, all the day boats were gone and the sailboats were safely secured. ‘Why Knot’ came in and got a space after the ferry left.
Wanting to return the favor for ‘Why Knot’ having us over for dinner, I invited the crew onto our boat for a range of salads and snacks. It would be the last night that Steve, Becks and Megan would see ‘Why Knot’ so we enjoyed our time together. Megan slept on ‘Why Knots’ boat and Tanna slept on ours. It was great to see the kids have so much fun together.
Day 9: Kos, Kos
That morning, we all gathered on quayside and said our ‘good bye’s’. We took a group shot and then hugs and kisses went around to everyone.
Our plan was to head back to Kos to spend the rest of the time exploring the island before the Stubbs’s had to fly home to England.
After leaving Pserimos we hit a bay not far for a swim and a spot of lunch. While everyone was swimming, I made a potato salad with bacon, pasta ribbons with pesto and a fruit salad. The food was greatly appreciated after so much swimming.
Sadly, we arrived back in Kos Marina where we moored the boat until the Stubbs family left us. We had time to walk around Kos Town, grab an ice cream, and find Hippocrates 2000 year old tree. It was nice walking around for a while but I found the area to be very crowded. None of us were use to seeing so many people!
Day 10: Kos, Kos
For the Stubbs family last day, we all went to the see the Castle and walk around the many ruins – click on the pictures to see an enlarged image. We went for a swim in the sea and enjoyed foods from the bakery. It was nice to see the sights but knowing that our time was coming to an end I couldn’t help but feel teary eyed.
The 10 days that the Stubbs family spent with us were precious. We had time to enjoy each others company, time to appreciate simple things – good food, good friends, good swimming.
I will hold onto the memories of our time together forever. And hopefully, we can do it all again next year. Same people, same boat – different location!
But what did the Stubbs family think about their holiday? Good question… Read below to see comments left by Becks.
And hopefully, this sailing holiday example gives you an indication about how incredible awesome sailing can be. Are you ready to book a sailing vacation now?!
On May 3rd 2014 my daughter turned 4 years old. If we were back in England, she’d be starting school in September. I think it’s far too young for children to start school but nonetheless it plays on my mind that Sienna won’t be following the same path as her friends.
As a mother, I don’t want her to be labeled as ‘one of those kids.’
And I am slightly worried that she’ll either be too smart or not smart enough, if and when, we eventually introduce her to the school system. However, on the flip side, I’ve grown so comfortable about the idea that I’m eager to get started. I love the whole idea of teaching her many subjects based on her current interests.
I’m happy to say that in the four short months we’ve been sailing around the Mediterranean, I’ve seen Sienna’s skill-set explode
Not only can she count to 10 easily but she can do it in three languages. She’s no longer shy about meeting new kids or joining in with others regardless as to whether they speak English or not. Her vocabulary astounds me – just yesterday she asked me to explain ‘photosythesis’ and told me that we’re on earth because ‘gravity’ keeps us here. And her desire to learn and ask questions is amazing.
But until recently, I haven’t put too much thought into homeschooling
In fact, the question of how I’m homeschooling my daughter hasn’t even come up. My husband and I encountered a massive learning curve – we sold our house, purchased a 56’ sailboat and handed our land-based life in for one on the sea. Aside from figuring out how to sail the boat, we’ve had to learn about engines, repairs, moving between countries, and dealing with massive change. It hasn’t been easy but it’s been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done…and we’ve only just started.
It’s August now, four months after we started on our epic around the world voyage, and one month before Sienna would be joining her peers at school. We’re moored up in Kos, a Greek island very close to Turkey and the idea of schooling keeps niggling at me. I put a post up on my Facebook thread asking friends from my hometown (NY) and England about the curriculum I should be looking at. Within minutes I had loads of resources, great ideas and fantastic support.
Coming from New York State, I was told to look up the NYS Common Core Learning Standards from P – 12 and several of my British friends outlined the key components in England. Fortunately I also had some teacher friends offer to send me worksheets and guidelines.
Thus far on our journey, I’ve simply offered explanations to Sienna when she enquired about something
We already read books and I’ve downloaded several educational iPad apps. She’ll work on letters, numbers, reading, math and I have a few great sciences apps – they allow here to mix, freeze, spin, and burn things to create new elements or potions. Further, I found several apps about ocean conservation as I felt the topic was apt for what we’re doing.
Aside from that, if I see a book on Greek gods or something kid friendly helping her to learn more from the area we’re in, I’ll grab it. In Malta I found a couple great coloring story books (about Malta) and in Greece we have a mythology sticker books and a fantastic ancient Greek encyclopedia that we flip through ever week.
Today, however, I decided to make a concerted effort to test out the whole concept of theme-based education
Rather than separate learning elements into subjects the goal is to combine a variety of subjects using one theme. Let me explain what I did to give you and idea.
A big of background first…
As my husband, Sienna and I were walking around Kos Town yesterday, Sienna tried to pull a leaf off a tree. I quickly said to her that “trees have feelings! They can’t talk, but if they did they’d say, ‘hey – don’t pull my leaves off!’” I then asked Sienna how she would feel if I came up to her and pulled her finger off. After a long giggle Sienna started asking questions about trees.
Her first question was, ‘why do we have trees?’
Like a game of tennis, my husband, Simon, and I went back and forth explaining the benefit of trees. I explained that they help keep our air clean and Simon mentioned all the creatures that use trees as a home. And on we went.
Knowing that Sienna was interested in trees, I went online and found this great 3 page write-up on trees for young kids
The write-up also came with a worksheet allowing us to fill in the blanks to describe the parts of a tree (roots, trunk, branches, twigs, leaves, crown). View the write-up here: Teaching children about Trees
So, I read the write-up as Sienna coloured the tree on the worksheet. So far we already have had quite a few subjects coming in – reading, colors, nature, ecosystems, writing, science. I was actually surprised when Sienna was able to name all the parts of the tree without my help! While she told me what they were, I filled in their names. And when I said that the paper we were writing on was made from tree pulp, she said, “I already know that mom!’
After reading about the benefits of trees and their parts, I then copied her arm and fingers making a tree trunk and branches. We cut out the outline, pasted it onto a sheet of paper and then I found a template of small leaves that Sienna could cut out and paste onto the branches. (This is where I got the idea from – Homeschooling Tree Craft)
While she was cutting the leaves and using the glue stick to fasten them on the paper, I pulled out our jar of Maple Syrup and said, ‘Sienna – this is maple syrup. It’s made from the sap or the juice of a tree!’
Excitedly, she wanted to try it. I then gave her a little spoonful and said, once you’re done adding the leaves to your tree, lets make some pancakes and you can put the syrup on them and enjoy one of the most amazing delights of a tree!
Not knowing how to make pancakes, but having an idea, I mixed some flour, eggs, milk and oil. This goes to show how pathetic my cooking skills are! My intention was to make a crepe but it ended up being slightly thicker than a crepe and much smaller than an American pancake. Regardless, it tasted great and Sienna had a little lesson on cooking too.
Once we were filled up on pancakes with syrup from a tree, Simon asked Sienna to walk around Kos with him finding as many different leaves as they could. The leaves had to be on the ground and each one had to be different – that was the challenge.
The duo are out on their walk now freeing me up to write this article!
I’m sure I’ll get better at theme based education over time, however I feel that it was a great first attempt. Not only did I have fun doing it, but it seems like we all have a greater appreciation for trees now.
One thing I’ve discovered quite quickly on our travels is that using our oven has a few setbacks. It’s so funny because you just don’t know what you don’t know. As our travels unfold I’m learning so many things on the go. Let me explain the setbacks to using an oven and then tell you why Sailboat Nepenthe eggless cake helps to eliminate not only eggs…but the use of the oven!
The setbacks to using an oven aboard a sailboat
1. It’s too hot! I’m sure this sounds like common sense but it’s often hard to realise how hot a boat galley can get. When the temperatures are soaring and you feel like a lovely moist cake be aware that the whole boat heats up even more than it already is. If you have air conditioning, thats a solution, but what I’ve discovered is that using the oven in hot climates makes the temperature even more unbearable.
2. It uses a lot of energy! We have an electric cooker rather than gas and boy does it suck the juice. The oven drains our batteries very quickly. In fact, I rarely use the oven without the generator running.
3. It’s loud. To use the oven, I need to run the generator. While running the generator everyone has to listen to an annoying engine running. Imagine being in a beautiful bay looking out over the sea, while the smell of a fresh cake bakes, only to have the humming of the generator sounding in the background? It kind of ruins the moment.
The solution? Bake a cake on the stovetop in a frying pan!
Thanks to our lucky stars, we met the most wonderful couple outside Corfu Town aboard Sailboat Nepenthe – Jim and Carole. We’ve been so fortunate to see them several times over the past couple months and have learned an incredible amount from them. Read my article, Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!
One of the many things that Carole taught me was to avoid using the oven. She never uses hers. And she also explained that it can be tricky getting fresh eggs while in the Pacific so she’s had to learn how to make due without them. One of her signature dishes is an Eggless Cake! My family have been fortunate to test it out three times now… We’ve had an upside-down fruit cake with guava, another with peaches and a chocolate version. The picture at the top of the page is Carole cutting one of her cakes on our table. Sailboat Nepenthe and Sailboat Horizons joined us on Britican to celebrate the 4th of July. We were all anchored right outside the East side of the Corinth Canal in Greece.
There are never any left overs when we get a Sailboat Nepenthe’s Eggless Cake
So…whether you’re sailing in a hot climate, don’t like eggs, or want to try baking a cake in a frying pan, this is the recipe to use…
Give it a go and let me know what you think. Every time we make it, we try something new. Last time it was chocolate chips!
My life, since starting our around-the-world sailing adventure, seems to be playing out in very definitive chapters. Looking back, I have a chapter on saying ‘screw it to my life and trading it in for a new one,’ a chapter on how we managed to sell up and sail away (video), another chapter on sailing our new boat on an epic voyage from Gibraltar to Malta (Our first sailing adventure). Then there’s the Sicily chapters – containing several amazing experiences. And Greece will be broken into a few chapters. There’s the Ionian Sea, Corinth Bay/Canal and Aegean mixed with our new American friends, new South African friends and visitors from England.
Note: To read through my journey from the beginning, start on the first page of my Journey Archives
When looking at my life in its entirety, I certainly had chapters all along. Perhaps every year was a different chapter or every job or boyfriend. Each university I went to was a chapter (I went to 3!) and being pregnant was, of course, a chapter. Overall, however the chapters in my life were long and often had blank pages between new chapters.
Life now is on a serious adrenaline rush
Literally, one chapter finishes and I spend 5 minutes wondering ‘what’s next,’ only to discover the start of the next chapter unfolding right before my eyes.
A couple weeks ago, a chapter ended when my cousin Loryn left Britican
She was with us from the very start. She flew to London and then headed to Gibraltar with us. She was a part of every experience, voyage and learning lesson. Loryn was there for every laugh, every tear and every amazing adventure. When she left I felt a bit lost and afraid of change. I couldn’t stop crying for a while – I was crying because I was happy for all that we shared and crying for the fact that she wouldn’t be with us anymore.
The day Loryn left, my best friend and her family, flew in from England for ten days
What perfect timing! We spent our time travelling around the Dodecanese Islands relaxing, swimming and eating lovely food. It was yet another chapter although it was very short. I had a brilliant time with my friend and enjoyed seeing both of our families enjoy each other.
My visitors helped me to transition from Loryn leaving to my family and I being alone on the boat.
It’s hard to explain but I felt as if I wanted time to stop for a bit
Everything seemed to be changing and I didn’t like how quickly the chapters were ending. I was, and am still, slightly afraid of what’s next.
One hour after our friends left for the airport, and I was still teary eyed, we found ourselves sitting with an Israeli family. We sat up late chatting about sailing, the troubles in Israel, and life in general. We explained how we said, ‘Screw-it,’ to our lives and traded it in for a new life on the seas. The family expressed their interest to do the same. Currently, they sail through the summer season (cruising and racing) and work during the winter…
…but I get the feeling it won’t be long before they’re on their own sailing around the world journey
Our new friends run a business in Israel making sailboat sails. In fact, they work for the largest international sail maker in the world. Ironically, we need new sails. One thing led to another and we start talking about sails. We’ve been in the process of remotely getting quotes from a variety of sail makers but having the ability to chat with someone that personally designs them has been such a treat!
Over the last couple days, I’ve spent time with Easy (isn’t that a brilliant name!?) as he’s shown me designs he’s made up for our genoa (front sail). I’ve seen the 3D specs and looked at the sails from every perspective.
I’ve also learned about using the sails properly and what works best in various wind conditions and why
Furthermore, we’ve discussed crossing the Atlantic and what’s involved in the journey. Easy has crossed before so he pulled out his photos to share his journey with me. Furthermore, I received a lesson on how to fillet a fish! Apparently, Easy and his crewmembers ate fish the whole way across the Atlantic.
Easy and his wife, both life-long sailors and racers, offered to take us out on our boat to show us how to use our other sails. We have 6 sails stuffed in our haul and have no idea how to use any of them. I’d really like to pull out our genica and spinnaker to see what they look like, but haven’t a clue as to how we set them up.
We were fortunate to spend an evening dining at a tavern with Easy and his family. My daughter played with his daughter while his wife, son and Simon and I chatted about all sorts.
There seems to be a kinship that I keep finding, again and again, with other sailors
We discussed how there are no walls, no boundaries, in the sailing community. Everyone is out to help every other sailor. Yes, we’re from American or from Isreal but there’s something larger that we belong to. It’s as if we belong to the world – just as everyone else does. Perhaps, however, when out on the sea, you realize it more? You realize that we’re all Earthlings and we’re all the same. Read more on this here: There are no walls in the sailing community
Easy, his wife and two of his children will be leaving Kos soon heading for Santorini and Crete. We’ll be heading in the same direction so we’ve already discussed meeting up in various places.
And then it dawned on me that another chapter has opened
Life is flowing in such a wonderful way. I’m not sure why I ever worry as it’s totally unnecessary. The message of living in the moment keeps ringing clear. And knowing to trust that as one chapter closes another begins – my job is to just let life happen. Just go with the flow and the flow will carry me along this most amazing journey.
Of course, I’ll fall off the ‘living in the now’ wagon time and time again but sailing is definitely helping me to be more present and to trust life
I can’t control anything so all that’s left is for me to just trust.
It’s rather exiting knowing that I have so many exciting chapters ahead! What’s next?
The next article is: What is cooking in Britican’s Galley?
It’s 5:54 am and I’m sat in the cockpit of my sailboat. The roosters are crowing and there are a few dogs barking. There’s a low murmur of the crickets. I can hear waves hit the shore and the boat rattle slightly as the calm waters cause tiny movements. The halyards slightly caress the mast and a passing ferry can be heard in the far distance. Soft snores come from two of the bedrooms below.
The smells of the Mediterranean permeate the boat
The scents of local trees, the herb, sage, and last nights grill at the taverna lace the air. Although the temperature is mild, the smell and feel of the air indicate that it’s going to be another hot day.
My family and our guests are anchored off a wonderful Greek island near Turkey
There’s a castle high on the hill with an adjacent hill lined with very old windmills. Lower down the hills is a village with more windmills. Around ten sail and motorboats are near us all lined up with an anchor in the sea and a landline tying them to the shore. There are boats anchored and islands further out dotting the sea.
We are slowly swinging on our anchor
I’m getting a 60-degree view without turning my head waiting for the sun’s rays to hit a hillside or for the sun to make an appearance. Early mornings are so precious. They’re so special and I’m not sure why I’ve spent all these years sleeping through them? As I look around, I think to myself, ‘Perhaps it’s time to start a routine of waking early and going to bed early?’
As I ponder this new sleep and waking routine my thoughts open up to all sorts of options
Heck, I can do anything I want to do. If I want to wake at 5am, take 5 naps a day and sleep for 3 hours a night I could give it a go. And if and when that no longer suits me, I can change again. I suppose that I’ve always had the freedom to choose my sleep habits, or anything for that matter, but the pressure of working, general life and exhaustion seemed to require a daily 12-hour respite.
I then expanded my thoughts even more
Changing my sleeping hours is something I can alter allowing me to enjoy the peacefulness and serenity of the mornings…and what else? What else can I choose to change? Hmmmmm?
Selling up and sailing away has not only taking me out of the rat race but it’s also removed me from what is considered ‘normal’ living distractions. I no longer have access to the news nor am I able to get caught up in my previous social-circle dramas. My mind isn’t flooded with advertisements or over stimulating television programs and movies. I no longer experience traffic jams, road-rage or people failing to cope with life. And for the most part, the weather can’t give me cause to complain; the daily forecast is usually warm and sunny. From a work perspective, I’m so far removed from office politics and what a relief that is!
I no longer feel as if I need to fit into ‘normal’ life
I have this newfound freedom that has cleared my mind and allowed me to choose different ways to think and live. It’s as if I’ve cleared some space where I can be free of day-to-day stimulus and think about the more meaningful things in my life. Waking up to a magical dawn and sleeping routines is just one example.
Just yesterday we were sailing from one island to another. The waves were a bit rough and I knew that if I went below decks or tried to read I wouldn’t cope for very long. I’ve gotten much better with managing my seasickness but I don’t ever push my luck!
I sat on one of the very back seats on the boat and simply looked out at the water
My thoughts didn’t stop but they slowed way down and seemed to be very simple. On further reflection, my thoughts don’t seem to spiral as much anymore. A thought comes in, I look at it and then it goes. Another thought comes in, I look at it and it goes.
Previously, I’d think a charged thought like, ‘I wonder if the article I wrote for XYZ magazine was good enough,’ ‘or, I wonder if I am a good enough mom right now,’ or ‘I can’t believe the crisis in X country – why isn’t anyone doing anything?’ and then I’d be off thinking of past failures and possible future disappointments or even world destruction.
My past and future thinking mechanism seems to be working correctly for the first time ever
Of course I think of my past. Often, I reflect on summer holidays with my family. I compare where I was to where I am now. Reminders of past events pop in all the time, however, instead of getting stuck into a thought they seem to pass through me. Same with thinking of my future. I’ll consider what we’re going to do for, lets say, Christmas, ponder a few options and then let the thought go. I don’t spiral into a thought and get caught up in it. There’s very little worry or fear present. I don’t worry about where we’re going or when we’ll get there. My fears and worries about life are not completely gone, but they’re not the way the used to be. Heck, I was afraid of everything.
I wonder if this all makes sense?
I seem to be in the present and when past and future thoughts come, they simply come and go. When I lived in my old life, I spent most of my energy thinking of my past or worrying about my future. I’m not sure if I knew what the present was!
I used to be so caught up with being successful, looking pretty and being a ‘good’ mom/wife/friend/employer/etc.
Now, none of those thoughts entertain my mind. None of those things apply to who I am anymore. Now, I look out at the blue water and feel gratitude, think about what I’ll make for lunch or what activity Sienna, hubby and I can do when we moor up. We never know where we’ll be in a couple days. Things change often and we all just go with the flow.
Wise people often suggest that silent meditation is used to quiet the mind and find enlightenment
I’ve tried for years, to both meditate and find enlightenment, and sitting alone with my thoughts caused me to think even more…and to get sucked more into whatever was bothering me.
I suppose, however, I’ve now found my form of meditation. It’s not by sitting cross-legged, chanting OMMMM and watching my thoughts bubble to the surface. It’s by sailing on the seas and living the lifestyle of a somewhat simple traveller – it’s by living the life of my dreams. I feel so removed from the things I didn’t like (gossip, news, politics, broken systems – banks, healthcare, education, bad food, depressing weather, etc.) and so close to the things I love (family, friends, local fresh non-processed foods, days spent sailing, nights spent star-gazing, new people, new sights and amazing memories).
Some people might say I’m escaping or hiding from life yet I feel like I’m, for the first time, really living life
By removing myself from what most people call ‘normalcy’ I can look back at it and realize how caught up I was by things that didn’t make me happy.
Success no longer equates to making loads of money – rather, the word ‘success’ means that I’m fulfilled
And for me to be fulfilled, I don’t need a car, loads of designer clothes, expensive haircuts or the largest TV screen. I don’t even need a 6-bedroom house! For me to be successful, I actually don’t need much money at all.
What I do need is room to think my own thoughts, time to contemplate what I really enjoy and don’t and then the balls to say, ‘I’m going to go after what makes my heart sing.’ With this attitude it makes both my journey and destination remarkable.
One final remark: I’m not advocating that everyone sells their house, buys a boat and sails around the world. I am however, suggesting that if you’re not currently fulfilled with life, you don’t have to keep living the life you’re living. It’s possible that the ‘normal’ life doesn’t necessarily suit you and it’s time to find out what does. I’ve made massive changes in my life and yes it scared the crap out of me…but WOW, it was worth it.
Enough said. Time to pull up the anchor and head for our next destination. I wonder what new experiences will greet us today?
Next article: Sailing around the world journey – one chapter ends and another starts (again, and again…)