Sailing around Stromboli Volcano needs to be on every sailors bucket list!


Sailing around Stromboli

Sailing around Stromboli

Over the last few days I’ve seriously questioned myself as to whether I’ve died and have gone to heaven. My life has changed so much and it’s flowing so perfectly that I find it hard to believe that my life is truly my life.

Before we left the UK to start our around the world sailing adventure, I couldn’t have come close to speculating how unbelievably amazing it was going to start off. Every day I seem to be yelling out, ‘this is the best day of my life.’ Things seem to keep getting more and more spectacular. Let me talk you through our latest adventures…It almost seems too good to be true and that’s why I’m wondering if I am, perhaps, in heaven!

Sailing from Riposto, Sicily to Reggio, Calabria

We left our mooring at Riposto with an exciting passage plan that included viewing Sicily’s beautiful North West coastline, seeing the worlds most amazing Bronze statues on mainland Italy and then heading for Stromboli, a volcanic island located in the Aeolian Islands. Fortunately for us, we had two Italian crewmembers join us. Stefano, a friend we met a few weeks ago when first arriving in Sicily and his girlfriend’s daughter, Silvia.

Mooring up in Calabria in a commercial port

Stefano managed to get us a free short-stay mooring on the mainland to quickly stop off to see the Riace Bronze statues. As if on cue, a taxi drove up to our boat and offered to take us to the museum and back for a small fee. Considering that our 4-year-old daughters little legs don’t move too quickly, we opted to take the drivers offer. We could only stay at the mooring for a couple hours so we needed to be quick. Sailing around Stromboli

Sailing around Stromboli

The Riace Bronze Statues were the most remarkable statues I’ve ever seen!

My husband, daughter, cousin, Silvia and I were whisked off to the museum where the taxi driver made sure that we skipped the line and went straight in. I felt like royalty! Stefano stayed back on the boat to keep an eye on her. We literally moored up along a concrete standing where ships often moor. If we went to the marina we would have been charged and our travel to the museum time would have increased quite a bit. Silvia helped us to quickly find the exhibition and we watched a movie about the history of the statues. Then we entered an empty room that removed dust from us proving how valuable the bronze statues are.

Once the doors opened and the statues were in front of us, I was in absolute awe

Sienna yelled out, ‘You can see his willie!’ and then giggled for a while. After being a typical kid, she then started asking several questions like, where did they come from? How were they made? Why is a finger missing? What is the bit on his arm (location for a shield that wasn’t recovered) and on and on. She’s still to young to understand the significance of the statues, but she definitely demonstrated an appreciation for them. The Riace Bronze statues are the most amazing artifacts that I’ve ever seen. The detail was incredible considering that they’re super old. I felt a strong appreciation for the human body. To give you a little background on the statues, here’s a bit from Wikipedia (Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riace_bronzes)

The Riace bronzes (Italian Bronzi di Riace), also called the Riace Warriors, are two famous full-size Greek bronzes of naked bearded warriors, cast about 460–420 BC and found in the sea near Riace in 1972. The Bronzi are currently located at the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria, Italy.

The Bronzi are on display inside a microclimate room on top of an anti-seismic Carrara marbled platform. Along with the Bronzi, the room also contains two head sculptures: “la Testa del Filosofo” and “la Testa di Basilea”, which are also from the 5th century BC.

Although the Bronzi were rediscovered in 1972, they did not emerge from conservation until 1981. Their public display in Florence and Rome was the cultural event of that year in Italy, providing the cover story for numerous magazines. Now considered one of the symbols of Calabria, the bronzes were commemorated by a pair of Italian postage stamps and have also been widely reproduced.

The two bronze sculptures are simply known as “Statue A”, referring to the one portraying a younger warrior, and “Statue B”, indicating the more mature-looking of the two. Statue A is 203 centimeters tall while Statue B stands 196.5 centimeters tall.

Our time in Calabria was very short but boy did it pack a punch

After spending 15 minutes with the statues, we left the museum and our taxi driver headed back to the boat. We asked him to stop off at a bakery for some fresh bread so our driver made a diversion. He not only took us to the bakery, but he negotiated a discounted price for us. There was a lot of yelling back and forth and in the end we left with 3 loaves of fresh bread. Before leaving the hands of our taxi driver, he gave us a bottle of red wine and a bottle of white. We all said ‘grazie’ (thank you) and got back into the boat. Simon asked Stefano why the taxi driver gave us the wine and he replied that we paid a good amount for the trip and he was showing his appreciation. Again, I was feeling like royalty!

Next stop – sailing around Stromboli

Up in the cockpit, we all enjoyed a meal of leftovers from the night before. We gobbled down bruschetta, pasta with homemade red sauce, couscous with roasted vegetables and feta cheese and a green bean salad. As usual, I moo’d with delight throughout the whole meal. As us girlies quickly cleaned up, Simon and Stefano headed out the Straight of Messina (Silvia’s lives in Messina) towards the Aeolian Islands. The plan was to sail into the night and hit Stromboli around 3am. (Below is a cheesy shot of Simon and I as we pass one of the Aeolian islands)

Sailing Around Stromboli

Sailing Around Stromboli

Will we see some volcanic action or not?!

At 7:30, I put Sienna to bed and joined the rest of the crew up on deck. There was very little wind so we motored towards Stromboli. In the travel guides, I read that it’s often possible to see flare-ups from the active volcano, so I was anxious with anticipation. Would we see anything? Would it be too cloudy? What does a flare-up look like? Would we actually be able to see Lava? The sun went down and everyone peacefully sat in the cockpit quietly. My cousin, Loryn, read her Kindle. Silvia grabbed a blanket and curled up on the seat to get cozy. Simon and Stefano chilled out as we progressed towards the Aeolian Islands. Around 9pm I went down below to read. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep, but I woke at 3am and re-joined the crew. Thankfully, there was enough wind to sail around the island rather than having to motor. The sea was flat calm and the only noise you could hear was the flapping of the headsail struggling to stay full.

With massive anticipation, we all sat staring into the darkness admiring the dark outline of the volcano

Later on, we discovered that all of us where trying to will the volcano to do something! After 20 minutes or so, nothing happened. There were clouds at the top so we thought, perhaps we can’t see through them. And then something happened. The cloud base at the top of the volcano turned orange and a rumbling sounded through the air. Loryn and I yelled out, ‘Oh my gosh – look, look, look!!’ Stefano joined us in the view but poor Simon was downstairs grabbing something.

He missed the orange glow but heard the rumble

Another 10 minutes went by and then suddenly, a massive flare shut up, perhaps 50 meters, into the sky and lava spewed out of the mouth of the volcano. I couldn’t believe my eyes – I was watching a volcanic eruption from the absolutely serene surroundings of my boat. Furthermore, the backdrop was the Milky Way. The sky was blanketed with stars. I kept thinking, ‘how lucky can I be?!’ We saw a bit more activity and noticed the sun was on its way up.

I felt overwhelmed with gratitude

The volcano erupted and I was there to see it. My whole body felt energized with appreciation and awe. How many people get to see such a sight? I felt massively grateful. It didn’t take long for tiredness to set in! Feeling exhausted from the day and night’s events, I went back to bed. Upon waking up, I had no idea where we were! I noticed that we weren’t moving so assumed that Simon and Stefano must have anchored somewhere.

Where the heck are we?

I got out of bed, climbed out into the cockpit to discover Loryn, Simon and Stefano all sleeping out in the fresh air. I looked up and noticed a massive volcano towering far above the boat. We were moored right at the base of Stromboli! Words cannot adequately convey how I felt. Every cell in my body had a perma-grin. I couldn’t stop smiling and thinking, ‘wow – this is the most amazing thing ever!’

Sailing around Stromboli

Sailing around Stromboli

Stromboli by day was amazing too!

We pulled up the anchor and then circled the island in the daylight. We were able to see all the detail that we couldn’t see in the darkness of night. Three sides of the volcano were covered in greenery and one side was full of a smooth blackness. It was very apparent as to which way the lava flowed out! And unbelievable, we saw houses and people who live on the volcano. I just couldn’t believe that people would want to live there!

Could things get any better?

As if things couldn’t get better, we then enjoyed sailing past the island of Panarea to Salina island were we moored up in a marina. The whole crew disembarked with towels and toiletries. A shower was desperately needed for all! After enjoying a lovely, hot, shower Stefano directed us to a taxi and we were taken to the town of Malfa where we had an aperitif overlooking all the Aeolian Islands. The view was breathtaking. Amazingly breathtaking. We were able to look out and view all the islands we passed in the night. (From left to right – Stefano, Loryn, Silvia, Sienna, Me and Simon)

Sailing around Stromboli

Sailing around Stromboli

Seriously – am I in heaven and don’t know it?

We met some friends of Stefano and Silvia’s, while enjoying drinks. I had a Bloody Mary followed by a Mojito and accompanied with Sicilian cheese, dried tomatoes, olives and crotons. The view was spectacular and food and drink made my whole body smile.

Sailing around Stromboli

Sailing around Stromboli

At one point Stefano told me to stop smiling as my face was going to start to ache

Around 6pm, we left Salina Island and motored over to Lipari Island where Stefano treated us to a wonderful meal of pasta, fish and dessert. I don’t think I can be any more grateful for my new friends, my family aboard, the amazing sights and the incredible food. I’m totally in love with Italy and I’m not sure how I’m ever going to want to leave.

I wonder where we’ll be in a couple weeks time? Who knows 🙂

Read my next post: Are you looking for a deeper connection with others? This is what my Italian friends have taught me

My fears about homeschooling my 4-year-old daughter are completely gone after only 1 month!

Fears about homeschooling

Fears about homeschooling

When my husband and I decided to sell all our possessions, buy the largest boat we could afford and sail around the world we had mixed feelings. On the one hand, we were excited to finally live a dream that had been growing for over ten years. On the other hand, we both had several fears – me, more so than my husband! (Read on to hear about my fears about homeschooling…)

On a daily basis I felt sheer excitement AND absolute terror

When thinking of the sights we’d see, the ability to spend quality time with family and all the adventures we’d experience, I’d smile while feeling butterflies of anticipation in my stomach.

However, when thinking about safety issues associated with our trip, like pirates, diseases, lack of medical care and so forth I’d jump over to the other side of the spectrum and break out into cold sweats – especially if my mind thought of my daughter facing any sort of problem.

And on a practical, day-to-day, level I also found myself worrying about our decision to homeschool Sienna. Would we be able to provide her with an education on par, if not better, than the standard curriculum? Would she lose here ability to be sociable due to a lack of being with a continuous same-age peer group? Would she lose out on making early childhood friends?

To combat my fears about homeschooling I started to seek out other homeschooling parents

Whenever there’s fear, there’s usually a lack of knowledge. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know so the decision to homeschool was scary. The first thing I did was go to Amazon and purchase a few homeschooling books. I thought they’d give me a foundation as to why parents homeschool and how they do it.

After reading the first book I felt more relaxed and less fearful

And then after reading the three books I purchased, in addition to connecting online with homeschooling parents, I actually felt excited by the opportunity. If it hadn’t been for our plans to sail around the world, Sienna would have gone to school just like most kids do. I would have never researched homeschooling and probably wouldn’t have realized that I even had a choice in the matter.

I always thought homeschooling was done by hippie parents that were against the establishment, but I was wrong!

My research made me realized that parents all over the world have been, and still are, taking their children out of the mainstream school system. In America, over 2 million children are being homeschooled and in the UK it’s around 50,000 and increasing very quickly. And the reasons for opting out of school or taking kids out at some point along the line are wide-ranging.

There are parents like us that want to travel around the world and bring our child with us. And there are parents that feel the system is broken and failing to provide an adequate education. Many parents feel that the educational system doesn’t cater to their child’s needs. Perhaps their child needs to learn by experimentation rather than reading a book – and because the school doesn’t offer experimental learning, the child is labeled ‘stupid.’

If you spend just 10 minutes researching homeschooling on the Internet you’ll quickly read many stories that sound like this:

‘My child just wasn’t doing very well in school. The teachers said that he/she had learning difficulties or disruptive or the common one – ‘stupid.’ We knew that our child wasn’t ‘stupid’. After trying many things, we finally decided to take him/her out of school and educate our child ourselves. Since then, our child has blossomed!’ The story usually ends with some sort of amazing accolade that the child has recently received and parent remarks that ‘Homeschooling our child was the best thing we ever did.’

In all my research I haven’t found one story where homeschooling backfired. Yes, parents have issues and difficulties but overall, everyone I’ve come across hasn’t regretted their decision to homeschool.

But is it legal to take your child out of the school system?

At first, I was curious as to the red tape we would have to go through to qualify as homeschooling parents. I also wondered what hoops we’d have to jump to make sure the government/education system were happy with our plans.

Before leaving on our adventure, we were living in England. My husband called the local council, requested to speak to someone about homeschooling and was told that since our daughter wasn’t yet registered in the system we didn’t have to do anything. Yes – you read that correctly. The representative that my husband spoke to told us not to do anything but when and if we come back to England, if we don’t plan on homeschooling our daughter any longer, we simply need to register into the school system.

The law states that parents must provide an education for their children – it doesn’t state that the education must be provided by a school system. So from a legal perspective, if a parent want’s to educate their children, they’re clear to do so.

Furthermore, there’s no standard as to what you need to teach your child. Most homeschooling parents want the best for their children so they’ll research the curriculum for their child’s age and make sure that they cover things to a greater or lessor extent. When it comes to tests, there doesn’t need to be any tests! Tests are just a way for the system to quickly ascertain whether a child is keeping up.

The only tests that parents have to worry about are entrance exams for collage or university

So after researching and discussing things with other homeschooling parents, I felt better about our decision but I hadn’t yet experienced what life would be like as a homeschooling parent. It’s now been one month since we left on our sailing around the world adventure and I am 100% positive that we made the best decision possible regarding Sienna’s education.

Let me give you some examples as to how and what Sienna has been learning. Usually, during the morning after we eat our breakfast and while sipping our coffee, my husband or I work on letters and numbers with her. If she’s not in the mood, we just color, read a book or do a puzzle. No matter what we spend time learning something as Sienna is quite a morning person!

Fears about homeschooling

Fears about homeschooling

Thereafter, if we’re not sailing, we’ll go on an adventure. While sailing we’ll look up the fish or birds that we see in a book, talk about the ocean or have discussions about where we came from or where we’re going.

Regarding our adventures – they could take us to see animals in their natural habitat, visit an ancient capital city or go to the top of a volcano. In the last month we sat next to monkeys at the top of Gibraltar, walked around the Silent City of l-Imidina in Malta and most recently we went to the top of Mt Etna in Sicily. I’m actually sat on the boat right now looking up at the beautiful volcano right now!

In addition to our adventures, we’ve met amazing new friends along the way

And in many respects, I think our new friends have been just as important to Sienna’s education if not more important! We’ve learned first hand from locals about the language, history, sights, foods and much more. We’ve all learned a lot about how kind people are. Being on a boat and in a foreign environment can be unsettling but not when you reach out to meet new friends! I want to say that we’re teaching Sienna how to make friends of all ages, but in actuality, she is the one teaching us!

When we had to stop off in Algeria because a storm hit, the people of Algiers came aboard and were very serious. As soon as Sienna came up, the men with riffles quickly smiled and each took a turn holding and kissing her. All she did was come up on deck and smile! It didn’t take long for one of the immigration officials to join us for a coffee and teach Sienna about the Sahara dessert.

Fears about homeschooling

Fears about homeschooling

More recently, when we arrived in Sicily, she befriended a boatload of 6 Italians moored up next to us

Sienna smiled at a gentleman on the boat and he smiled back. Since that day, our boat and his boat have joined in the most amazing friendship ever. Us four on Britican and the six Italians (only one speaking English) have hung out almost every day for the last couple weeks.

We’ve gone out sailing, to dinner (twice), have had many evening meals on the boat, one BBQ, celebrated Sienna’s 4th birthday and have been taken on several sight-seeing expeditions by car. Furthermore, our new friends have spent endless hours helping us to fix a variety of things on our boat – mainly, the generator, which I’m happy to announce that it’s now fixed. And if that’s not enough, we’ve been showered with Sicilian gifts – wine, cannoli’s, sweets, cakes, breads, olive oil, liquors and even clothes!

While spending time with our friends, Sienna counts to ten in Italian, practices saying her Italian pleasantries and learns new words. The other night, boat Britican came up with animals to act out and the Italians had to guess and then tell us the Italian word for the animal. From age 4 to 70, we all had fun learning.

Fears about homeschooling

Fears about homeschooling

From a sociability perspective, I’m not worried in the slightest any more

Sienna makes friends with anyone of any age. When we visit a playground, she quickly joins other children and plays along. Last week, we spent quite a few days in one place and every day she played for a couple hours with a little boy about 2 years old. His parents owned the local restaurant and he sat in the corner playing quietly. When Sienna came in, he lit up and the two enjoyed time together.

I know that Sienna’s academic education will be incredible and now I’m starting to believe that her social skills will be quite advanced for her age. She’s learning about the beautiful world we live in and the amazing people that inhabit it. So, one month into our new adventure and I can’t imagine any other path for our daughter’s education.

Sailing to Catania in Sicily – dolphins and disasters included!


Slipping our lines in Syracuse, Sicily was very easy

We were moored on an outside pontoon so we simply had to remove and drop our lazy lines (ropes tied to anchors in front of the boat), pull in our stern lines and motor forward. For the first time, Loryn, my cousin, took the boat out. We were sailing to Catania in Sicily.

After getting into the open harbor, we raised our main sail and unfurled our genoa (front sail). The water was deep blue, the sun was shining and the smell in the air was fresh. Lucky for me, there were no swells so I didn’t feel any seasickness. (Read my article on ‘How to cure Seasickness – Top 10 Solutions’). The picture below is Syracuse as we leave the city behind us.

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Within a few minutes we were greeted by 3 dolphins that I named, Moe, Larry and Curly. They stayed and played with us for a few hours. Every time I thought they left I’d see them poke their head out or swim across the bow. I spent some time with them by laying down on the bow and holding my hand out waving. I’m sure they had a conversation with each other saying something like, ‘Here’s another realy crazy human!’ As with most animals, I love them and want to give them a hug!

And then the generator stopped working (again!)

What the heck (WTH)! We’ve worked on the generator for weeks now. I thought it was fixed. Simon tried turning it on a few times and it would start but die out quickly. His prognosis was air in the lines. Ho hum. We needed the generator to cook lunch. Loryn was concocting a warm meal so I was eager to eat it! Fortunately, we can turn our engine on and that will power up the oven. Lunch was great but I was annoyed that our generator was broke again.

The generator breaking wasn’t the worst thing that happened…

Just as we were getting into Catania waters, the wind started to blow and a little rain fell on us. There were some threatening clouds but what was amazingly more impressive was the mountain behind the clouds. To my utter delight we were sailing straight towards Europe’s most largest, and one of the worlds most active volcano’s, Mount Etna.

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

There in front of me was a volcano – an active volcano

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to see (and climb) a volcano. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to climb Mount Etna but just being next to it is amazing. I yelled over to Simon and Loryn, ‘Hey guys – not only are we sailing in Sicily but there’s a freaking volcano right in front of us!’

Then disaster struck – As we prepared to enter the port, I released our main sail but it didn’t come down!

Oh no – not again! On our way from Gibraltar to Malta we had to stop in the Tunisia port to send Simon up the 85’ mast to release our jammed main sail. While in Malta we paid 600 euros to get a special piece of metal created in addition to two new pulley wheels. We thought our problem was solved, but to our dismay we were right outside Catania with a jammed main.

Thankfully, the winds weren’t too bad – otherwise, we’d be in a potentially disastrous situation. You can’t enter a marina with a full sail in windy conditions – there’s no way to stop the boat. So…we got as close as we could to the shore, let out the anchor and prepared to send Simon up the 85’ mast. Fortunately, we’ve done this exercise before so it didn’t take too long to get the ropes sorted out. We hoisted Simon up with two ropes attached to him– the second was a safety line if the first failed.

Before sending Simon up the mast, we notified our new Italian friends that we’d be late arriving in Catania. Our friend Stefano offered to help us moor up and there was talk of going out for dinner so we didn’t want them waiting around for us. Who knew how long it was going take to get our sail down?!

Stefano phoned us back saying he got a rib and be out to help us within a ½ hour!

I was grateful for the call! Knowing that someone was coming to help us made me feel much more comfortable. However, in the mean time we had to solve the problem, so we hoisted Simon to the top of the mast. Yes, I was scared, but on the other hand, I knew what I was doing and I knew that it had to be done. And frankly, I couldn’t be too scared – I wasn’t the one going up the mast!!! Having Stefano on his way also made me feel as if there would be extra help if we needed it.

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

My cousin, Loryn, and I winched Simon to the top of the mast – you can see him in the above picture. Luckily, we have electronic winches so all I really had to do was push a button and ensure the winch worked properly. Simon yelled down that the main halyard (rope) was, indeed, jammed again. We sent up another rope to release the tension on the current halyard allowing Simon to release the jammed rope from the main sail. Loryn and I then dropped the sail – yippppie! It’s down.

While I started to slowly let Simon down, a rib of 4 men came out to greet us. It was Stefano, our other two friends Salvo and Mimmo in addition to one other. I was so grateful to see them. Yes, we managed to solve our problem alone but it felt so nice to know that we had friends to back us up. Heck, it was nice to know that we were in the middle of Sicily and we had friends.

Sailing to Catania in Sicily
Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Stefano boarded the boat and helped us easily moor up in Catania. I’m so thankful he was with us – the commercial port seemed very quiet and I don’t think we would have known where to go. Simon did a great job at lining us up along a concrete wall and it was so nice to turn the engine off and chill out. Looking around all I could see was 18-wheeler trucks and trailers in addition to some large fishing boats. I also noticed a marina near us but the boats were quite small.

In two hours we’re taking you out for Pizza!

Once our engine was off and we were secured, our friends Salvo and Mimmo arrived by car. Stefano helped us protect the ropes from chafing on the concrete (with cut-out plastic bottles) and we all cheered a sign of relief that our potentially disastrous situation was over. Everyone left and we tidied the boat, took showers and got ready to go out.

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

While we were cleaning up, Simon yelled down, ‘There’s a package here for you!’

‘What’s this?’ I asked. Simon handed me a package and said it was from Stefano. We took it down into our saloon and Loryn, Sienna and I opened it up. To our utter delight, we discovered 8 fresh cannoli’s.

Oh-my-gosh – could life get any better than this?

By far, these cannoli’s were the best cannoli’s we’ve ever consumed. The ricotta mixture was so smooth. There were chocolate chips AND candied fruit in the mixture. The shell was crisp and covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon. The ends where the cheese mixture was exposed had crushed pistachios (grown on the side of Mount Etna).

The four of us (Simon included) moo’ed like cows

We couldn’t stop saying, ‘mmmmmmmmm’ as the cannoli’s were incredible. We were all so thankful and couldn’t believe the kindness received from our new friends. Not only did we get cannoli’s but in a couple hours time we were all going out for pizza. Pinch me because I must be dreaming!

At 8pm we were given a box of Sicilian treats and whisked away to the best restaurant in Catania

We all piled into 2 cars and parked up in the city center. After a short walk, we waked into a restaurant, past a long line of people and were taken immediately upstairs to a beautifully laid table. I felt as if we were royalty!

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

Sailing to Catania in Sicily

After a bit of discussion, we all ordered pizzas. Stefano asked if we wanted starters but warned the pizzas were large. If only we knew that we could order a ½ pizza rather than a full one! Loryn and I each choose a pizza and then shared half with each other so we could sample different tastes. When the pizza’s came out we were astounded to see the size. I remarked that the pizza’s were big, even in American standards!

After a glass of sparkling wine and beautiful breads with dipping oil, we attempted to consume our pizza. I kept sneaking pieces of mine onto Stefano’s plate so that it looked like I ate something. The taste was exquisite. The half I ordered was simple with red sauce, pepperoni, olives and cheese. Loryn went for a vegetable option and the pizza was topped with zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and cheese.

Once again, we were moo-ing like cows

The night then continued with a walking tour of Catania. We saw the city center, several amazing churches, a square with a central pillar displaying an elephant, a water fountain powered by water from an unknown source, a manhole cover where people opened and fish from (flows with fresh water and has fish in it), a castle with a noticeable lava line (when lava flowed around it), the second University in Italy (ever), a market selling local foods and several eateries and bars all very busy at 11pm on a Sunday night!

As usual, I walked around saying, ‘wow’ or ‘holy smokes’ over and over again. The whole day and evening felt surreal. I just couldn’t believe how fortunate we were. Not only were we helped into Catania and greeted with goodies, but we were taken to see the real Catania with real Catanian’s. What a privilege.

Also, another part of me thought, ‘how are we ever going to top this?

How are we going to carry on around the world and experience life as amazing as this?’ I then told myself, ‘Just go with the flow, Kim. Just go with the flow…all will be revealed.’ I suppose my thoughts revealed a couple things:

  1. I’m still a bit uncomfortable not knowing what’s happening next. It’s not easy for me to live life going from day to day. I am a recovering control freak planner – I use to have a ‘to-do’ list and social calendar a mile long. And my business plans covered years. Not having an agenda, at all, is still unsettling for me!
  2. I have this belief popping up that life can’t get any better than this, but I need to remind myself that it can and it will! Each new experience has the ability to be fresh and amazing. Surely nothing will replace our experiences in Italy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have different and amazing experiences elsewhere.

So far, the journey has been incredible and we’re over a month into it. Read my article (Living the dream of sailing around the world – what do I make of month one?) to see my thoughts about living the dream one month on.

My next post is: Sailing around Stromboli Volcano needs to be on every sailors bucket list!

How to cure seasickness – Top 10 solutions


How to cure seasickness

The wind in your hair, the smell of the water and the sounds of waves hitting the hull of the boat are just a few reasons as to why I love sailing. My favorite moments during our sailing journeys are the times when I can lay down in the cockpit, feel the sun on my body and listen to nature propel us forward. I also love to spend time alone at night sitting under the moon with a great expanse of water in front of me. Many times I’ve felt absolute bliss while sailing.

Unfortunately, however, I suffer terribly from seasickness

Ever since I was a child I became sick on any mode of transport. When the family went for a trip longer than an hour I’d have to clutch my sick bag and wait until the contents of my stomach unloaded.

As I’ve grown older, my ability to ward off sickness for longer has increased. I no longer get sick in a car and when we’re sailing, my seasickness only seems to hit if there’s a swell. I can handle the boat going up and down but not up and down AND rocking side to side.

If you’ve never experienced seasickness let me give you an insight to how it feels

The getting sick part is not the worst aspect – it’s the lead up to getting sick that is most uncomfortable. At first I feel unsettled. It’s as if I get a dizzy spell and can’t recover from it. Then my stomach turns sour and my mouth starts to fill up with saliva. It’s as if my mouth thinks that I have food in it and my glands start to fill it with water.

I then have to spit the saliva out which is very embarrassing if there are others watching. This feeling of being unsettled, sour stomach and an overly hydrated mouth goes on for about a ½ hour until it comes to a final head and I puke. After I vomit I feel bit of relief but often the cycle starts over again and carries on until I get onto solid land.

Fortunately, however I’ve discovered a way to stop vomiting through the use of drugs

Throughout the years I’ve tried all sorts of things from eating ginger cookies, taking pills, staring at the horizon and simply trying to live through the sickness.

My love for sailing is so strong that I’m adamant that I’ll find a way to make peace with my debilitating affliction!

Ideally, I’m on a mission to rid myself of seasickness and ultimately, I’d prefer to do it in a drug-free manor. Considering that I now live on a boat full time, I don’t want to have to drug myself every time we move to a new location.

After researching the causes of seasickness it seems to me that there’s an issue caused between the brain and our inability to reconcile the horizon. Our body just isn’t happy – it’s confused. And in the confusion, our body unfortunately things we’re unwell. Can you believe that it goes to work to fight an infection? Our unconscious gets a trigger that say’s, ‘Okay body, there’s a problem. Let’s send out the forces to fix it.’

Well, we don’t need any forces to fix a problem! What we need is for our body to recognize what’s really going on and chill out. Unfortunately, however, our body goes to work to fight something and the result is seasickness.

My logical self wants to talk to my unconscious and set things right but as hard as I try, my seasickness fails to disappear. I must admit, however, that I definitely don’t get sick as easily as I did in the past so there’s hope for me yet!

And on a quirky side note, I have a feeling that it’s control freaks that experience seasickness. Yes – I admit I’m a recovering control freak and I still have tendencies. I think it’s our inability to go with the flow. I could be totally wrong, but hey I just thought I’d add it into the mix.

Anyway, below are the things I’ve tried thus far and my thoughts about each of them. My suggestion is to start with non-drug remedies and work yourself up to drugs if need be. Drugs can have undesirable side affects like sleepiness, dry mouth and/or vision impairment.

How to Cure Seasickness – Top 10 Solutions

1. Helming or distraction

Anyone that experiences carsickness knows that if they drive, they won’t get sick. In similar principle, it’s recommended to helm a boat if you’re feeling unwell. It allows you to anticipate the movement of the boat and focus on the horizon. This has never worked for me. By the time I feel unwell, the last thing I want to do is helm…and if I do start helming I start to worry about who is going to be the unfortunate recipient of my projectiles. Furthermore, if you’re sailing for any length of time, perhaps days, it’s not practical to helm the whole time.

If you’re starting to feel queasy and you’re okay to helm, go for it. It’s the first line of defense and who knows – it might just do the trick.

2. Ginger candy, cookies, biscuits and water or tea with fresh ginger

Ginger is a natural stomach settler so the reasoning behind consuming foods or teas with ginger is to help calm the stomach. Since I was a kid my parents forced ginger snaps down my throat. Needless to say, when I smell ginger I now want to puke so I think I had some sort of reverse conditioning going on there.

On a positive note, however, taking ginger pills have been effective for me. As long as the waters are not rough, I’ve taken them and felt fine going below decks.

If you’re new to the world of seasickness try these first. You can get ginger pills at any health food store. A word of caution, however; if you burp before the pill has broken down it’s possible for the ginger dust to fly out your nose. Not only is ginger powder in the nose unpleasant it’s a bit embarrassing if anyone see’s you expel it.

3. Affirmations are positive statements you can tell yourself to force your conscious and subconscious to follow orders

The most famous affirmation is, ‘Every day in every way I’m feeling better and better.’ The queen of affirmations is Louise Hay, so upon looking up ‘seasickness’ in her book, ‘Heal Your Body,’ this is what it says:

PROBLEM: Seasickness

PROBABLE CAUSE: Fear. Fear of death. Lack of control

NEW THOUGHT PATTERN: I am totally safe in the Universe. I am at peace everywhere. I trust life.

As a side note, I am full of fear. I’m afraid of everything but I also ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ One day, I hope I can stop being so afraid. Perhaps I’ll then rid myself of seasickness?

And on a serious note, I do believe in affirmations and I think they’re very helpful but when I get sick I usually can’t focus on saying or thinking anything other than how awful I feel.

How to cure seasickness

How to cure seasickness

4. Hypnosis for Vertigo & Motion Sickness by Giovanni Lordi

I found this hypnosis CD prior to leaving for our around the world sailing adventure. It’s almost an hour long so it took up quite a bit of time to listen to it. Before we left, I listened to it 8 times (on different days). Perhaps I had to listen more but I didn’t notice any change at all. Perhaps I’m just not susceptible to hypnosis? If hypnosis has worked for you in the past, it’s worth giving it a go. The audio download cost around £7/$10 and you can easily find it on Google.

5. Nevastic audio

this app I found on iTunes has been clinically proven to address the symptoms of nausea and vomiting related to motion sickness. It’s 27 minutes long and runs through a series of music tracks and noises. You must listen to it with headphones on as it works to balance out your ears or something like that. It did nothing for me; however, when my 3-year-old daughter became very seasick I forced her to listen to the music. I told her that by listening she’d feel much better and would stop puking. It worked instantly. I’m not sure if it was my positive suggestion or the music but a positive result was achieved. If you have children on board, I definitely suggest this app. I think I paid around £11 for it and downloaded it onto my iPhone.

How to cure seasickness

How to cure seasickness

6. Acupressure and Sea Bands

There’s a natural seasickness pressure point on your wrist. If you put three fingers lengthwise at the base of your wrist, the point to press is just below and in the middle of your arm. By massaging this area, you should feel some relief. All my life I’ve massaged that area and I feel it works but only temporarily. It doesn’t seem to stop the symptoms – perhaps it just delays them? Sea Bands are wristbands that have balls in them that put pressure on your anti-seasickness points. You can put them on and just leave them there. I gave them a go but found them to be terribly annoying. I now just massage my pressure points when I feel the need to do so. You can get the bands at a pharmacy and they’re very inexpensive. Many people swear by them so they’re worth a try.

7. Explorer Relieve Band Medical Device

The Relieve Band is similar to the acupressure bands however it sends an electrical current into your pressure point and if it’s working correctly it will make your palm or middle finger buzz a bit. The device looks like a watch and you wear it like a watch. It has 5 levels of electrical current strength – 1 through 5. The instant you feel unsettled, you need to start the electricity flowing and increase until the symptoms stop. The device costs around £80/$100 and it needs one of those small circular batteries. The battery only lasts 12 hours (at most) so there’s an on-going cost of new batteries.

I have not tried my Relieve Band yet. It’s my final option that’s drug free and I’m afraid it won’t work. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to have to keep taking drugs and I really don’t want that. My thoughts on the Relieve Band will be noted soon. I’ll have to give it a go – perhaps on my next journey in a couple days. The best place to find a Relief Band would be online or in a Chandlery.

8. Nelsons Travella (Homeopathic)

If you know about homeopathic remedies, this is a combination of: Apomorph, Staphisagria, Cocculus, Theridion, Petroleum, Tabacum & Nux vomica. I tried it after taking drugs when I was seriously desperate and nothing happened. I also gave it to my daughter but she puked it up again. I’m not sure if I can comment on the effectiveness of it or not. I often feel that many things work but only to a point. I found this remedy in a health food store. At least it’s something that is safe to give to children and it might be worth keeping in the First Aid kit for those with minor symptoms.

9. Stugeron/Cinnarizine

Okay – we’re going into the drugs now. The great thing about Cinnarizine is that it suppresses the vomiting response. A major worry with seasickness is dehydration – something to be avoided at all costs.

With Cinnarizine, you can prevent yourself from vomiting, losing all your liquids and becoming even sicker. The first time I took Stugeron I was as happy as a pig in mud however my happiness was short lived. For the first day I didn’t have any symptoms, but as the trip went on it felt as if the effects reduced day by day. Furthermore, the drug made me so lethargic and sleepy. I did my initial trial during a Force 10 storm so it’s important for me to note the severity of the weather. Overall, I was pleased that I didn’t vomit and as long as I kept my head down, I was okay.

For a one-day trip, I still use Stugeron and it’s effective. I definitely recommend it as it stops puking and if you’re really in a bad state, you can sleep until you get to port. In the UK, this drug can be purchased over the counter.

10. Scopoderm TTS/Scopolamine (hyoscine) INN Patches

Also called Transcop in Italy. I tested this out on a 7-day trip from Gibraltar to Malta. For the most part, it worked well. We hit a Force 8 storm and I had to lay down while the seas were very rough, but I didn’t puke and I felt okay.

These patches are great for people that have started to vomit. Giving pills won’t work as they usually won’t stay in the stomach long enough. While sailing from Malta to Sicily, I started puking 20 minutes out of port. I think it was nerves more than anything else – it was the first time my husband and I took the boat out without a skipper. Anyway, the puke cycle started and after the 2nd incident, I had my husband put the patch behind my ear and I laid down. The puking stopped and I felt better but not great. I managed to lay down for the bulk of the 6 hour trip but it wasn’t too bad.

A down side of these patches is that they last for 3-days but will come off if you shower. They also irritated my skin and left a red patch once removed. Further, when I put the patch on and laid down, it really messed up my vision. One of my pupils (black part of the eye) grew massive and the other eye pupil went very small. My vision was very impaired.

In the UK you need a prescription from a doctor to get the patches but I’m told that in Italy, you can purchase them over the counter. Further, I’ve been informed that in Australia you can’t purchase any anti-sickness drugs at all. I think a box of 5 costs around £10/$15.

In conclusion to 10 ways to cure seasickness

In conclusion, sailing is absolutely amazing and although seasickness can be an issue, it doesn’t have to prevent you from getting out there and enjoying the seas. Over 75% of the time I have very little effects and I only get super sick when the seas are very rough. There are several ways to combat the sickness, so if you’re going out for a sail, arm yourself with the appropriate solutions and give it a go.

If you’re interested in seeing how sick I get, watch the video here where I lived through a Force 10 storm: Sell Up and Sail Away Video 3 – Palma Mallorca to Gibraltar

Living the dream of sailing around the world – what do I make of month one?

Living the dream of saiilng

Living the dream of saiilng


Photo by Eneka Stewart Photography

It’s now been a full month since we left our homes on land and started living the dream of sailing aboard a 56’ yacht. My husband, 3-year-old daughter (almost 4 now!) and my cousin, Loryn, have travelled from Gibraltar to Malta, via Algeria and then onto Sicily. Since arriving in Sicily, we’ve been to Marzamemi and Syracuse.

Our next port of call is Catania. Originally our only reason to stop over in Catania was to get some repairs done, but we’ve made new friends that live there so I’m hoping the visit will be a social one too!

So, what do I make of our first month?

For the most part, I’ve been on a serious high. Each day I seem to blank out for a few seconds, perhaps forgetting where I am, and then I return to my present reality and think, ‘Someone just pinch me as this can’t be true. I truly am living in a dream-world!’

The new boat, the new and amazing sights and all the new smells are forcing me to be present much more than usual. I’m definitely not sleepwalking on automatic pilot through my days anymore. I think, however, every once in a while I have to blank out just so that I don’t explode with new stimulus. Hahaha – sounds funny, but everything is new and it’s taking a lot of attention.

I think the whirlwind is starting to slow down a bit, but just a bit

At first, everything was so new. Not only the country we were in, but the boat too. Everything was strange. There was no routine, no known comforts and very little that was familiar. At least now, we’re all starting to feel familiar with the boat – we know where most things are and we feel more settled.

For example, all our foods are stored in particular places. We know where to find water and the cupboard that holds the cereal. We also know how to use most things – the toilets, showers, water maker, washing machine and so forth.

Making coffee in the morning is no longer hit or miss. We know exactly how to make it in our special Italian coffee maker and how to create our individual desires…Sim takes a ½ cup of the coffee, a quarter of the cup with hot water and the other quarter with cold milk. Loryn and I take ½ coffee and ½ hot milk.

Aside from knowing where things are and how to use everything, we’re starting to develop a loose routine. We all wake up in the morning so that starts things off! Around 7:30 to 8:00am we’re all up drinking our coffee. Sienna is having her rice crispies, corn flakes, milk and honey combo while we’re eating our amazing creation from Loryn – beetroot, raw parsnip, raw carrot, apple and cinnamon salad. Who knew that raw parsnip tasted good?!

Around the breakfast table we discuss our plan for the day. If we’re leaving port, we’ll discuss the ETD (estimated time of departure), what needs to be done and who’s doing what. If we’re staying put, we’ll decide what we want to do and see. Usually there’s a bit of time for Loryn and I to do some typing and Simon to fiddle around on the boat. We also have an hour or so with Sienna doing numbers and letters or helping her with an educational app on the Ipad.

Regardless of what we do, the days seem to fly by. Every day I say, ‘Simon/Loryn – can you believe it’s 5pm already?’ and they responds, ‘No it’s not!!

No comprendeh – I don’t understand Italian!

And I must say that I’m even becoming more comfortable with being around non-English speaking people. At first I was afraid to approach foreigners for fear of them not know what I’m saying. Now I give it a go and usually I end up with the desired result. I’m discovering that anything done with a smile tends to end up with a positive result. Go figure!

Just yesterday, we sent a FB message to one of the new friends we made when first arriving in Sicily asking where the Supermarcado was. We met 6 Italians – only one could speak English. The woman, Nella, that we sent a message to did not speak much English but over FB and the Internet you can use translation buttons. Further, Nella was from the town we were in so we thought she’d be best to ask.

Not only did she tell us where the Supermarcado and marcado (market) were, but she took us to them! I must admit that it was difficult to spend a few hours with someone non-English speaking trying to chit-chat. Loryn and I would ask simple questions, like the name of a flower we wanted to know or to say that Italian drivers were insane.

Trying to sound Italian, I’d just add an ‘O’ to the end of words. I’d point to an insane driver and yell out, ‘Crazy-O’ or ‘Stupdid-O’. I know that I probably sounded like a complete nutter but it was the only thing I could think of to do.

Nella is so kind and so beautiful and we wanted to ask her so many questions. We wanted to get to know here more – perhaps find out what she does with her time, how she met the others and discover what she likes/dislikes…but it was such a struggle to say anything with much depth. I felt so terrible not knowing more words in Italian.

One of my email friends, David from Calabogie, Canada, sent me a few links to some translation apps. I must download one the next time I’m in a wifi area! We’ll see Nella again when we go to Catania so I’d like to make an effort to prepare something to say and ask. One thing is for certain, being around non-English speaking people forces you to FEEL rather than to HEAR.

I could feel that Nella is a beautiful person – so full of light and energy. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so conscious of feeling a persons energy before?! Does that make sense?

No matter what, however, we have the ability to get to know our non-English speaking friends on FaceBook. I can simply push ‘translate’ below their comments on FaceBook and low and behold, they’re changed to English. It’s an amazing world we live in – isn’t it!?

Life is more about now rather than the past or future

My life is so interesting right now that I don’t have time to think much of the past or future. I’m too busy enjoying and loving where I am that I’m very much in the present. I’m not sure if I’m use to living life this way?

Reflecting back, I think I spent quite a bit of time worrying about doing something wrong in the past or speculating about my future. To just enjoy life as it’s playing out is amazing. It’s so refreshing. It’s so different. It feels right, that’s for sure.

I have no idea where I’ll be in 5 days time, let alone where I’ll be in a month. I don’t know what country I’ll be in or what I’ll be doing. And you know what? It doesn’t really matter – I know that we’re going to see new sights, meet new friends and grow closer as a family.

Yes, I do have times when something breaks and I think, ‘Oh know, how are we going to afford to keep doing this?’ I do worry occasionally about the fact that we’re using our retirement funds to sail around the world, but overall, I push those thoughts aside and remind myself that the universe is looking after me!

Everything is going to turn out great…and the journey to get to great is going to be great. The time has come to let go and trust that life is playing out just as it should.

Perhaps it’s time to go from Doctor Kim or Chief Kim (see previous posts) to Guru Kim. Hehehe. Only joking. I just feel a bit more enlightened today than usual. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll think the sky is falling. Well…we’ll most likely be moored up under Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, so perhaps I should be careful about I write about. Hehehe.

So, that’s me for one month after taking the plunge to live the dream. So far, it’s been absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing. Wooooo wooooo!

And as for hubby, this is what he has to say for our first month living the dream of sailing around the world

Read my next article entitled, Sailing to Catania in Sicily – dolphins and disasters included!