ATLANTIC CROSSING PART 2
Here is the second half of my Atlantic Crossing daily journal…
Also, check out our YouTube video of the crossing!
Monday, Dec 9 – I made French toast for breakfast, and then we called our niece Beka on the satellite phone to wish her a Happy Birthday! There were sandwiches for lunch and then time spent laying out on the flybridge, reading books, journaling, coloring, having a peaceful day! Being out surrounded by the ocean is crazy surreal. The vastness of it is so overwhelming. The daytime is my favorite part. I love the blue sky contrasted against the deeper blue color of the ocean. It all just seems to go on and on forever. I also love seeing flying fish and random birds cruising around. I find all kinds of fun animals in the clouds when I lay back and look up at the sky. I used to do the same thing when I was a kid. It’s so lovely to be that carefree again. Out here, I feel like I can breathe. I can take big, full deep breaths that fill up my lungs with the freshest and cleanest air. I talk to God with zero distractions (other than the needs of kids & Brett sometimes!) I still have my worries though. I worry most that we are running low on food and I continually find myself creating recipes in my head with what we have left. We have plenty; I don’t know why I’m so worried about us going hungry! Maybe it was all the planning and feeling safe with that plan. Then we added days and I feared we didn’t have enough extra food. But then I will stop worrying about that and I start to daydream of returning to The Woodlands. I already know I’ve changed so much just being away two months. I can’t imagine all that we will see and do in the next ten months. I miss really simple things – like going to VillaSport and simple conveniences, but I know that will return before I know it. For the time being, I am going to enjoy all that we have here. I love dancing and listening to music on the flybridge. I love the closeness we have with the kids- albeit I’m ready for a break. I feel smothered but I also don’t mind it…. until I do. If that makes sense. Corbin has been extra clingy but I’m embracing it. I adore his little voice, dimples, freckles and tender heart. Ellie has been super sweet to me- there hasn’t been any preteen feistiness we were dealing with at home. I’ve enjoyed coloring and journaling with her. She’s so fun, cute and a natural leader. I tell her I want to be like her when I grow up. Bam is the perfect boat mate- always willing to lend a hand and is excited to help with anything and everything involving the boat. He loves to make knots with a rope and is our “Brett the Builder.” He’s just so adorable and fun. He enjoys participating in night watches. I know he loves me, and I love him so much! I love my kids. They are my everything. I don’t want to sound like its all butterflies and roses everyday – life is not perfect. The sibling rivalry, whining and arguing is the norm around here too. But, I know this experience is broadening them in ways we could never have at home. They are living on the Atlantic Ocean! I mean what the what?!? To see the sunsets, stars, moon, fish, dolphins have been the highlight reel of this passage. The negatives have been the seasickness, nerves getting riled up from being in small space for so long, annoyances of boat issues and living with seven people, etc. Honestly, none of that matters- the engines work! And that’s all I care about for real! See how simple life can get? I hope I take some of that simple home with me. I’ve cooked a ton, and I hope it’s a trend that sticks. We need to eat healthy meals at home and stop the fast food nonsense (I wish it weren’t so easy to get fast food back home).Chick-Fil-A is our weekly norm and its nice to get away from it, but gosh…it sure sounds delicious for a number one with waffle fries and a Dr. Pepper! Time has gone slow- almost too slow for my liking. It’s painful at times! Every day it feels like we still have a million days left to go. Yet on other days, it feels like there will never be enough time. For today, I’m loving lying in the sun. Vitamin D and sun rays feel good! Then my thoughts are interrupted – Fish on!! A huge marlin that measured 7 feet long, 58lbs! Wow, what a sight! The kids and I felt a little sad as it flailed around and slowly died. We used alcohol to kill it. That feels less brutal than bludgening it, but it still feels sad. I reassure myself it’s okay because we are going to eat the fish. I’m doing night watch from 7-11 pm tonight. The moon behind us is gorgeous. I can’t stop looking over my shoulder. I am happy….
Tuesday, Dec 10 – Today was a doozie. Oh my, my. I woke up tired. Irritated and annoyed with everything. You know? One of THOSE days. A huge squall scared me. The boat was tossed about a bit, up and down, over and over. I felt so nauseous and was ready to be ON LAND! At that moment, I was so over it all. I put on my big XXL t-shirt that my friend, Mason (aka Hon), gave me as a going away gift. He knew one day I’d be over it! LOL. Then the evening came, and things were better. There was another beautiful sunset and somehow, that washed away so much stress and anxiety. Daddy made beef stroganoff and I watched Cat in the Hat with Corbin. Then I slept on the couch tonight. It was better. There was less creaking and more airflow. I slept a few hours. Dal and Alex faithfully participate in their designated night watches. Dal is typically midnight to 4am and Alex is 4am-8am. They are comforting and kind with my nervous night walks! I check on them, check on the boat, make sure we are not sinking and lie back down! I am probably annoying the heck out of them, but fortunately they have been nothing but sweet and empathetic towards me!
Wednesday, Dec 11 – I took a sturgeon, and it knocked me out for the afternoon. It’s a sea sickness drug that Dal recommended. It’s popular in the UK, I had never heard of it. I found a supply of them at the Farmacia located near the Las Palmas marina. Then I laid on the bow for a bit. I’ve been reading a funny book, More Ketchup than Salsa. We were fortunate to meet the author in Las Palmas, a family friend connection – Joe Cawley, and he left us a signed copy! It was a fantastic read and kept me entertained! Check it out on amazon –
Daddy made pancakes for breakfast and fresh mahi-mahi for lunch. Alex made egg noodles carbonara for dinner. Today the sky was full of an incredible full moon. It lights up the entire ocean. It’s mesmerizing to watch the rollers come and pass under us. It is cathartic to stare at and focus on the sounds of the rollers. The ocean is a marvelous wonder. On a side note, we caught lots of fish today! Maybe we won’t starve after all, hee hee!
Thursday, Dec 12– Breakfast tacos! Then, for lunch, Dal made baked beans potato and eggs. Then I spent some time reading on the flybridge most of the morning and afternoon. FIN WHALES! DOLPHINS! FISH ON!! A TUNA!! Another MARLIN! More DOLPHINS! FLYING FISH. A BIRD! Do you see a pattern? What a fun day of sightseeing! Concerns are still prevalent regarding fuel usage and that is worrying me. Then DATE NIGHT on the flybridge! The kids served us rigatoni dinner (Alex helped cook!), fruit dessert bowl and a cappuccino! It was so lovely and sweet. There were even conversation questions on the table that was so thoughtful and cute. What a special treat tonight! The kids were really excited and loved serving us. The moon is full too and the entire sea is lit up! I think today has been one of the best days at sea.
Friday, Dec 13– Oh My Goodness! ORCA WHALES TODAY!!!! What an absolutely fantastic day. It was incredible and I have no words at all. WOW! Orca! They surfaced and came towards the boat, under it and back and forth. They did flips under the water where we could see their bellies. It was so beautiful and amazing. We had been hoping to see them and there they were! I so want more!! I love, love, love moments like that! Such moments are what we dreamed about when we were first deciding to take this great leap and head out on this adventure. To live this dream, I am just so humbled, thankful and happy. Then, after we all managed to calm down, we had lunch: mini cheese toast and tomato soup. I’m making chicken, veggies & quinoa for dinner. Again we are moving the clocks back an hour. We passed another Lagoon, within 1 mile of it! So crazy! I couldn’t help but wonder what they had seen and where they were going. Were they as excited as we are? Would the Orca visit them as well? I hope so. They weren’t on AIS and I tried to radio them but they didn’t respond which disappointed me a bit. Later we played Family Feud and Brett watched Zoolander while I did a night watch. I had brought a few DVDS and a portable dvd machine. Brett made fun of me and said I was “10 years behind the times” but the DVD player was actually one thing that worked for us! We are so technologically challenged! The moon was again so magnificent! So full and bright and it lit up the entire sea! I swear, it’s like something out of a movie only the best of Hollywood can’t reproduce the true beauty and splendor of this place. Later, I called my sis, Mishelle. It was so good to hear her voice and chat. I sure do miss my family. I knew this would be the hardest part of us leaving. Every day feels like we still have a million hours to go. It is a long way across the ocean at an average of 7.5 knots. Even knowing we only have one more full day, I still feel like it’s forever. I’m ready to see land and feel solid ground beneath my feet again. I will kiss the ground when we land!
Saturday, Dec 14 – We had toast for breakfast then noodles and fruit for lunch. I spent some of the mornings lying on the flybridge reading. Then we saw dolphins! I love them so much. No matter what you are feeling, they always manage to lift your mood – such magnificent creatures. For dinner, I made beef/rice/veggies. It was a delightful last meal around the outdoor table. We played Dobble and a card game. I then taught Dal and Alex how to 2-step. We had an entertaining dance party before bed. I wish we had gotten the dance party on video. Soooooo ready for St.Lucia!! Praying I get a good night’s sleep!
Sunday, Dec 15– Last night I slept so so. Maybe it was the anticipation and excitement of actually seeing land soon? I got up and made breakfast tacos. Yummy! Only 67.5 miles left. I can’t believe the day is finally here!! The anticipation has my stomach in knots! I’m standing on the lookout! Land where are you????
…and finally. Land Ahoy! I’m flooded with so much emotion and a fantastic sense of accomplishment.
What an unbelievable experience. As I reflect, …these are my thoughts.
All the anxiety and worry! Each day I had to take my thoughts captive because they would go crazy if I allowed them to roam freely! Throughout each day, I would pray and ask for God’s protection and his help to stop thinking these things, to help calm my fears and trepidations. Here are some examples of my crazy, almost constant thoughts:
- The boat hitting a cargo box that had fallen from some ship. It would make a huge hole, and we’d sink.
- Night watch, fearing the person would fall asleep, and we would hit some empty floating sailboat (heard of 2 abandoned sailboats floating in our path).
- Medical emergency fears – heart attack, blocked bowel, emergency appendix rupture, eardrum rupture, dehydration with diarrhea, cutting finger off with Cutco knives, extreme migraine, infection. The constant worry of how would get help and would it come in time.
- One of the kids falling off the boat – drowning.
- Slip and fall – concussed.
- PIRATES, this thought was a constant battle (I really shouldn’t have watched captain Phillips! LOL)
- Rouge wave capsizing us.
- Boat fire.
- Boat alarms, mechanical failure.
- Running out of fuel.
But, by the grace of God, we made it and it was one of the greatest moments of our lives. Crossing the Atlantic was a huge feat for all of us! Battling seasickness, fears (see list above!), and mental attitude (choosing to be positive or negative) was a constant struggle for 16 days. The boat never felt claustrophobic but the anticipation of being on land was beyond intense. I felt cabin fever and the kids had days of restlessness. I’m so very proud of the kids. They did great overall – besides Ellie’s seasickness and the occasional sibling rivalry/pestering – they are so resilient and adaptable. Tears come to my eyes when I realize just how proud of them I am. I know this experience will make them more capable teens/adults. They have experienced an intense journey and I know they are more self-confident and brave as a result. Brett and I bickered a lot – a lot. I suppose that comes with two people in a tight setting with stressful emotions and three clingy kids. But I’m so proud of him too…I love his attention to detail and leadership abilities. I’m thankful for my family and to God for watching over us and keeping us safe.
My favorite quote of the entire trip is from Ellie. A few days ago, she told me, “My favorite part of this experience is everyone being together, sitting around talking and playing games, not distracted on their phones.” I think that’s my favorite part of the adventure too; family time – puzzles, movies, journaling, dolphin sightings, laying out, cooking, cleaning up, bedtime prayers, dinner time around the table. All of these got me through and have been the best part of the entire trip. Out on the open ocean, there are no distractions like we get at home – the constant phone calls, texts, emails, and daily rat race. At home, we are always running around all day, every day. We are getting a break from it all and I LOVE IT! I am embracing it. It is a gift that I will not take for granted. I pray when we are back home that we find a way to recapture what we saw in these days floating on the sea, crossing this vast expanse.
I keep asking God, “What do you want me to learn on this passage?” So far, I keep realizing the importance of contentment and staying present in the moment – to be content with where I am. At home, I wanted the adventure and escape to hurry up and get here. In Las Palmas I wanted the boat fixed and us on our way to cross the Atlantic. During the passage, I want to be on land. It’s time just to enjoy the present!!!!! It passes so quickly. Just as fast as a squall would come with rain, wind and waves – it would be past us and be over with before you knew it. Life is like that too. The good times, bad times, fun times, suffering times- they all come and go. Stop looking forward to the next thing. Enjoy right now! AND, I learned to depend more on God and trust him more. All of my fears and he protected us. I must remember that he controls all and no matter what comes, it’s his will and all will be as he wishes. There is always so much peace in that realization.
We made it!!!! We did it! It took us 16.5 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean! What a crazy surreal experience!
- Orcas! Check out our YouTube video to see the exciting display!
- Daily Dolphins! Marlins! Tuna! Fin Whales! Flying Fish!
- Rainbows- we saw soooo many rainbows!
- The most bright, beautiful stars, sunsets and moon!
- Family dinners around the table.
- No boat troubles.
- Calm(ish) seas,
- Brett coloring my hair – so, so funny!
- Dinner date on the flybridge with three adorable waiters!
- Teaching our British crew Dal & Alex how to two-step to Freight Train by Aaron Watson!
- Severe sea sickness.
- Cabin fever.
- Heat and severe body odor! (FYI – don’t decide to try natural charcoal deodorant while making a passage).
- Less than 1000 steps a day!
- Seasickness! Seasickness and seasickness!
- Constant and unspoken fears (by me) of pirates, extreme medical emergencies, running out of fuel, or sinking. Those thoughts were hard to ignore but I did the best I could!
Crossing the finish line and being greeted by The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) was so incredible. I cried tears of joy and relief. I couldn’t hold it all in. Doing this with a “community” made the trip all the better. I’m so grateful for the help that we had – such amazing people. When we arrived, we immediately found an ARC boat, Mokara, and shared drinks and dinner with them to celebrate. It’s surreal seeing boats and cruisers here in St. Lucia that were just docked next to us a few weeks ago in Las Palmas. What an adventure! Still so much emotion but overall, gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for. All that we have seen, done, experienced. I’m happy that I faced my fears and got to live these moments that time will never take from me!