Tuesday, February 26, 2013


A big tanker crossing across our bow, reminding us
of the law of mass tonnage.

Believe it or not, we finally left Yap.  I have a few pictures and stories I’ve yet to tell, but for the most part, we’ve moved on.  We had a really rough passage to Palau where I got a jump start on my new diet…it’s called “purge and fast...then purge again.”  We had 25 knot winds (which is actually good, made for a fast ride) and 10-12 foot seas.  It’s those 10-12 foot seas that seem to get me every time.  For some reason I still can’t explain, I chose this passage to go all natural on everyone.  My normal sea sick medicine gives me an enormous headache, so I decided to drink the ginger tea, chew on the husk of a baby coconut (yet another use for the mighty coconut), stare at the horizon, keep busy, etc.  It didn’t work.  Just ask Andy.  He had to do all the cooking, dishes, and taking care of everything else…again.

But that’s all behind us now…we are in beautiful Palau and having a great time.  There are endless places to explore both on land and in the water.  Our first stop was the grocery store, which overwhelmed us.  It’s almost like being home.  You can’t find everything you want, but there’s so much more than what we’ve had that it seems like we’re walking into a Harris Teeter.  Everything seems fresher and brighter and tastier.  We actually had certified Angus beef the other night for the first time in who knows how long with fresh brussel sprouts and garlic bread.  It was wonderful.

Not the gourmet counter, but it sure beats what we're used to!

We’ve seen some Japanese guns from WWII, explored a few caves, snorkeled some neat little coves…  but we have plenty of time.  It looks like we’re going to be here for at least 6 months, maybe a year while we figure out where we’re going next.  That’s right….a long time.  So all of those friends we have that told us they were going to fly out to visit us in exotic places and have yet to leave their home state…here’s your chance!  It’s only 36 hours and $2,000 away!  

In all seriousness, we do need to sit down and figure out where we’re going from here.  Since this was never on our list of places to go, we’ve kind of gotten ourselves in a little pickle.  We could go west to the Philippines.  We could go south to Indonesia.  We could backtrack a bit and then head south to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, then Australia.  Each has their own pros and cons and we just need to make up our mind.  Little Jake is going to be seriously disappointed if we don’t go to Australia (as will some of our family I think).  Andy will be disappointed if we don’t go to Rajat Impat (sp?) for some diving.  And I am trying to figure out how to get us to the Caribbean in this decade.  So we have some work to do.    We’ve given ourselves a year so we can have time to get distracted by the sheer beauty of this place and the friendliness of it’s people; locals, ex-pats, and cruisers.  No matter what we decide, I think it’s going to be a good year....

Some of Andy's pictures from his cave dive this morning....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homeschooling aboard s/v Savannah

After three years of experimenting, worrying and occasionally patting myself on the back, I think it’s time to evaluate Savannah Academy.

It’s one of the things that actually keeps many women from cruising…. home-schooling.  I was nervous as I could be and in the beginning I had more questions than answers.  How stringent should I be?  What is this un-schooling thing?  Should I buy a curriculum?  Am I supposed to make it all up?  What if I miss something?  What if he turns out stupid?  I decided, given my personality and the million other things we had to worry about, the best thing to do would be to buy one of the schools in a box type things and go from there.  Calvert Home-schooling has graduated many cruisers so we decided it was a good place to start.  Jake was just in Kindergarten so I knew that if it didn’t work we had plenty of time to work things out.  We tried it for a while and I found it to be too rigid and many times irrelevant ( learning his address and phone number for example….ummm.  Sailing Vessel Savannah, Channel 16?), which was rather surprising given my type A personality and the need to check lots of boxes.  Eventually, we donated the whole box to a local community in Mexico and just focused on basic reading, writing, and math while I went about finding another approach. 

Our second go round was based on the book The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise.  This is sort of a ‘how to’ on Classical Education.  I love the way it’s laid out and it provides several different choices/suggestions/resources for curriculums.  While I never really followed this guide to a ‘T” (it, too is very rigid), it addressed all the things that I was concerned with.  Specifically, I liked the way it laid out History and the different phases of education.  It just made sense to me.

So today, we do a combination of many different curriculums, all loosely based on the Classical Education concept.  We use The History of the World, as suggested by the book and Jake absolutely loves it.  We (I) like Math U See and we use Spelling Workout books for Spelling.  For reading, we started with Hooked on Phonics, but since we’ve finished those through second grade, we now read whatever books we have on board, trying when we can to link them to our history lessons or something pertaining to wherever we may be geographically.  Writing is all over the place, but we use Handwriting Without Tears to fill in the blanks.  We use Susan Wise’s book on Langugae/Grammer (we’re on book 2 at the moment) and so far, I’m impressed with the results. 

We’re much freer with our schedule than I ever thought we would be.  I find that we spend about 2 – 3 hours a day (depending on the attitude of the student and patience of the teacher) on the basic subjects; math, reading, writing, spelling, grammer, history, science.  Science gets the least amount of attention, as I really believe we cover that day to day via our hikes, snorkels, sailing, etc.   If we pull into a harbor and see kids…we take every chance we can get to play.  If we are underway and the seas are too rough, we ditch school until the conditions get better.  When we got to Tahiti, we took a “Tahiti Break.”  This summer when we went to the east coast of the US, we took a “summer break.”  I find that we are able to stick to our plans most when we’re in a place where we have sort of “settled down.”   Our typical day is for Jake and I to “do school” in the a.m. while Andy goes diving.  In the afternoon, we do boat projects, go shopping, hiking or whatever.  One day a week, we usually take a break and go hiking or sight seeing as a whole family.  Sometimes I have Jake write about our trip, sometimes I don’t.  I find if I connect all the fun things to school, he no longer thinks they’re fun.

We’ve run into attitude problems along the way…we’ve developed a system.  Andy and I have a mantra:  We will not raise an idiot.  If Jake doesn’t want to learn from me (nice cozy atmosphere in our underwear joking and laughing), he can learn from daddy (sit up straight, put on a shirt, “I’m timing you!”).  If daddy can’t motivate, we’ll put him in school where ever we are at the time.  If that doesn’t work…. we go home.  Mommy and daddy get jobs, Jake goes to school.  We’ve found we rarely get past putting a shirt on for daddy.  The threat alone usually does the trick.

While I’m 100% positive that he’s thriving in this atmosphere, as I said above, I do find that he isn’t always as enthusiastic as I had hoped.  And while we have a plan, I find that I get extremely sad when he doesn’t want to learn.  I think many of us mom’s who have followed other cruising kid blogs over the years envision our kids sweetly skipping through town picking up strange languages, politely sitting down with elders asking intriguing questions, begging to make the grocery list and add up the cost, while fitting in time to learn a new instrument or skill like carving or basket weaving.  Well, that just doesn’t happen.  So the less you beat yourself up about it (as a mom and teacher), the better the day goes.  There are times when you can squint really hard, have a beer and convince yourself it’s happening, but more often than not, you’re better off just trying to find out how to make learning fun while still getting the job done and not killing anyone.  At the end of the day, somehow, through all the fussing and fighting, you find out they really did learn that language (at least hello, goodbye, and cheers!), and while they may not have learned how to carve a shark out of a breadfruit tree, they did learn how to climb the coconut tree and provide you with a tasty coconut to go with your rum. 

I find that as a home-schooling mom (on the ocean or on land), you just need to cut yourself some slack.  Whether you’re un-schooling, or you keep the strictest of schedules, the point is you’re together and you’re both learning and NO ONE cares more about their education than you.  ...that can’t be a bad thing.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Splash....she's back in the water.

Savannah is safe and sound back in the water.  What a relief.  We repaired a few spots, put 5 coats of paint on her, and flipped our chain.  She’s mighty pretty!  

For those coming this way that are a little curious as to the details...here they are.  We were charged $500 to go in and out of the water (the prices on their wall say differently, so not sure if we got a deal or if that was old info), $150 for two days hydro-blasting, their guy did the work.  We were there from Tuesday p.m. - Saturday a.m. and were able to do our own work.  They may have been able to do it for us, but we didn't ask.  There are bathroom facilities (i.e. toilet, sink, shower), but only Andy slept on the boat.  Jake and I got a hotel room out in town.  Andy would have come with us, but we thought it best security wise for him to stay as there is no fence or gate.  They do have a security guard but either he was really sneaky or he didn't stick around too much.  We wanted to be dropped in the water on a Saturday and they came in free of charge, even though they don't normally work on Saturday.  They say they have hauled out four monohulls although we didn't see any stands.  I'm not sure how they did it, but according to them, it's possible.  We were the first catamaran and all in all, it was a pretty good experience....better than ok.  Not great because well, it's an old rail and our hearts were beating pretty fast.

We found a one legged grasshopper.
It hasn’t been all work and no play.  Before we hauled her out, we spent some time hiking and celebrating.  There are a few trails around here and we’ve enjoyed trying to make our way through them.  We got lost a few times and survived a few mean dogs (and Andy has some sort of rash, resembling poison ivy) but all in all we had some nice adventures.  There were some traditional stone paths as well as some really nice views.

LOTS of steep stone staircases.

We celebrated my birthday with the other boats here as well as our friends on shore.  One of the danish guys on Mie was having a birthday too so we doubled up and had a few parties.  Vincent was able to get the local men’s house here for us to have a barbeque and everyone came to celebrate. 

Andy had some help with the grill.

Casper and Rasmis from Denmark, onboard Mie.

Three different countries represented on that bench!  Yap, Phillipines,
and Denmark.

Trevor and Jake had some deep conversations...

It’s been a nice stay here in Yap, but we’re ready to move on now.  We’ll fuel up with diesel on Monday and try to check out soon.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy Birthday to me! ...and Savannah

I had an exciting birthday this year.  We hauled Savannah out, here in Yap.  I can’t tell you how nervous I was.  First off, it’s a railroad type device that goes down into the water and then pulls the boat out.  I’ve never seen that done, so having no experience, I’m automatically nervous.  Secondly, it’s not wide enough for us, so we were going up sideways.  And third, we’re in a place where they’ve only hauled out four sailboats…ever.  There are fourths, fifths and sixths (no insurance – us or Yap in general for example), but you get the idea.

We had lots of volunteers to help us and Andy had done some very careful planning on exactly how we were going to get this thing done.  With the winds blowing while trying to get into some tight spaces combined with people from four different countries (and languages) helping, communication was key.   We had a few missteps along the way, but they weren’t major.  In the end, it all went pretty smoothly.  So we’re up out of the water now.  She’s been hydro-blasted and Andy and Jake are in the process of sanding now.  Hopefully we’ll start painting tomorrow and we’ll be back in the water by the weekend.
Happy Birthday to me!

Andy's measurements were spot on for not running into the wall!