May 2012, Haïti: “île à vache”

Haïti, East Coast: Île à Vache, Bay Ferret

Ile à Vache was for us a milestone of our trip and immersed us all in long reflections, questions or misunderstandings.

comité d'accueilWhen you arrive at Île à Vache by boat you are first greeted by numerous canoes with young people, often too young, who come to offer multiple services in exchange of a small fee (hull, stainless steel cleaning, “guide services” for shore excursions, fruits, vegetables, fish, conch Lambi (big local shells, delicious), do our laundry etc). So far nothing unexpected and this first contact is even fun. While dropping the anchor quickly becomes an exercise in style, between the anchorage that does not work very well, all these canoes knocking on the hull hanging around the boat and all their occupants speak to us at the same time to propose their services. You can’t hear yourself think in here! But kids are happy thinking they will finally have some company.
Soon as is customary here (and the only way to free PlanetOcean from the 10 canoes moored with us), we choose the services of two guys to clean the hull ( largely needed) and do a bit of polish on the bridge. At Île à Vache labor market responds to the law of demand not supply, and if you don’t have jobs to offer then why coming to Île à Vache wonder the locals. Unless you had a load of donations to deliver on land?

To go to the market, you have to go to the neighboring village a few kilometers from here. The best and only means of transportation to get there are our legs and feet, as the locals. It will take 1 1/2 hours to walk there, and about the same for the return. Probably less if mosquitoes are part of the journey and make you speed up.

We were only 4 or 5 boats in the bay or we learned that 10, 15 years ago, dozens of boats used to arrive every day at Île à Vache who then looked like a shipyard.

The village consists of beautiful small houses always very well kept, arranged and decorated and it never felt poor. Even if there is no running water (there is a well in the village) or furniture, if the beds are very spartan (a mat per person) and no electricity. The kitchen comes down to a small braziers, dishes are done in a bowl and the shower at the beach in the sea. By cons there were two posts with sockets for charging cell phones (equipped with solar panel) and sponsored by Digicel (local mobile operator)!
Until then, you’d probably say: “nothing too disturbing”. And yet …

“Give me, give me, give me but especially to me, not my neighbor”

Philbert
We met Philbert (a boy of 9 years) thanks to the boat Begonia, an American family who had fallen in love with this young boy. Since they didn’t speak French, they had come to ask me to act as an interpreter with Philbert father. They wished to help Philbert to return to school because that’s what he was asking for. Well … He asked for money to go to school. So I advised them to meet with the school principal first to discuss it all and see if money would help and was the only problem. If that was really the case, then it would be safer to give the money to the school rather than to Philbert dad. Yes I admit, in this strange atmosphere I began to see evil intention a bit everywhere.

While I went to the school with Philbert and the American family, a fisherman mending his net calls me and asks me for money for his net. I explain that I’ve decided to help this child by paying his school books, uniform and a tutor to get back to level by the next school year so he could return to school. He then raised his eyes and told me that I’d better give him the money. Why did I bother helping these “destitute children.”!!

Another day, while we were moving heaven and earth to organize a cinema screening, we were only missing gas for the one generator we managed to find. The man in charge of buying us gas on the main island of Haiti (in exchange for a large tip for the fare) returned to the boat 2 hours before the screening with … Diesel! We explained that we needed gas, no diesel … He sighed, swore that we asked him diesel then concludes by asking a surplus tip. We opposed adding that apart from the mistake we were doing all this for the film projection for children and the inhabitants of the island. “I don’t give a damn about the children of Île à Vache, these are not my children, give me an extra tip.”
Thankfully we dug up a few gallons of gasoline on a neighboring boat, and our projection may have occurred to the delight of young and old. This screening session was all the more rewarding because for once there was no money involved. We simply shared our laughter, our emotions and had a good time together. We were finally all equal, no more social, color or age differences.!

We had heard that we could also give old sails to the “Association des Voiles d’île à vache”. We were about to do so when  fishermen explained us that the famous Wagner who was collecting the sails for the association was then solding them to fishermen, and we had to help stopping this traffic. The same Wagner had also installed an internet cafe in what should have been the village library (funded by a Canadian association!).

Everything is like that in bay Ferret. It’s every man for himself. Human relationships are so distorted at the end I felt that all played a role to always get a little bit more. But often I wondered how I would behave if I was in the same situation. Would I always show the same generosity? Would I always be well-disposed towards others or like them would I succumb and try to save my skin before the other? It is easy to be generous when you still have something to offer or eat in your plate every night.

During our stay a very large sailboat moored in the bay, fully loaded with gifts and donations for the orphanage of Île à Vache (overflowing with children since the last earthquake), for the association of sails of Île à Vache and the health dispensary. For 5 days they emptied their loads and distributed the surplus to the canoes docked at their hull (with onboard children, women or men). That’s when a group of fishermen returning from their fishing shouted to the canoes “Haitians remain worthy, stop begging”!
I then realized that my questions, my doubts, my paranoia was not the only fruit of my imagination. We were indeed witnesses the repercussions of humanitarian aid, here dehumanizing and alienating the population. We brutally lost our naive vision of charity often removing guilt feeling of the rich towards the poor.

The following days we wanted to continue to help Philbert but without giving him donations. Always giving things creates more needs, dependencies and begging. And anyway, all that we could offer Philbert was then collected by his father (as the toothbrush and toothpaste that we had given him the first day). So, until he finds his tutor, we set up a kind of “chain school” to teach him reading and writing in French (the oficial language although he hardly spoke it). The principle is simple: give an hour of our time to Philbert everyday to school him and then pass him to the next French ship before leaving Île à Vache, to take over and so on. This will only work if Philbert is motivated. At the same time if he really wants to go back to school it will take a lot of motivation. To help we offered him a method of learning to read with a note explaining our initiative.
During these daily lessons Noé and Camille fell in love with Philbert who had become a sort of big brother. Separations were painful. I hope with all my heart that this “chain school” works. We will keep you posted as soon as I can get news.
The presence of this young boy on board raised many questions from Noé that we could not always answers.
Where are Philbert’s mum and dad?
Dad is fishing.
Why does he stay all day long on his “floating board” with no food or drink and without playing? (one night I got Philbert onboard who had had nothing to drink or eat all day and was suffuring from dehydration with violent headaches!)
Because he did not go to school?
Why doesn’ he go to school?
Perhaps because he is a little left on his own, that nobody tells him to go to school.
But why does he not go fishing with his dad?
Perhaps also because from boats to boats he manages to collect gifts, food for his family. Etc. …..

I often wanted to leave the bay Ferret out of cowardice. Quickly weigh anchor and escape the role that is imposed on us: the white good Samaritan. Escape the delusions and questionings that this place gave rise to.

Fortunately there were still few encounters, such as Philbert, or even that of JeanJean and Rose Mina, a couple who ran the only local “restaurant”: the Kaliko Bar… With whom we shared recipes and with whom I learned to prepare Lambi conch.

Also Kiki who proudly took us for a tour of his village (without asking anything in return!), and took Noé for tours on his canoe. But it was very difficult to get out of that role imposed on us and that distorted our relationships with people.

  

The true human encounter, the real human exchange we witnessed was among children who despite culture and language barriers (haitiens children speak Creole), were able to play and laugh together, simply, naturally, without ulterior thoughts and unbiased.

               

The bay of Ferret in Île à Vache is undoubtedly very different from the rest of the island and from Haiti mainland.Thanks to the many boats anchored in the bay, the villagers receive lot of aids but perhaps at the expense of real human interactions and real encounters.

We left Île à Vache with the impression that we never found our place or have always refused that they wanted to assign us to.
To see more picture click here: Foto Album
paysage2
Planetocean

March 2012, Dominica the “little Savage”

March 2012
When I tried to imagine the Caribbean before going there,
I imagined dense and green forests, mosquito-infested, flowing on the beaches with coconut palms. Martinique, especially in the North, gave us a good overview of the lust green, but in Dominica we truly enjoyed a breathtaking nature.

We anchored in the north of the island (away from the tourist) were we also found a good and safe anchorage allowing us to leave the boat for the day and explore the land.

 

 

 

 

 

There we met again with “Rivière” a friend-boat that Noé and Camille are always delighted to see. The first excursion was on the Indian River, Tom and Noé followed our boat with their kayak.


    We then discovered a decor worthy of a movie set (many passages of “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed in Dominica), huge Mangle trees were rooted in the river drawing strange shapes.

As we approach, crabs hids and birds, the country emblematic green parrots (yet still invisible ), get suddenly silent. No doubt were are in the middle of a scene of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, smoothly gliding on the river that takes us always deeper in the dense forest!

The next day we left for another trek in the forest with a guide called Sam. A fount of knowledgethis Sam as he taught us a lot about the local flora and fauna and helped us discover the wonders of his country. Sam, thank you again for your generosity!
The program “Waitukubuli national trail“.
Its trees: Mangle, Bwa Blan, Lawye Kaka, Chatannyé, Loliv (not joking, see pictures)

 

Other plants of all kinds: Ferns (some of 10 meters high), lianas, Zel Mouche (means“wingfly”, Noé tested them, (see pictures), Epiphytes of all kinds.       

                    

 

 

And other animals such as multicolored lizards, giant ants and elephants !???Then Sam took us along wild rivers to find the ideal place for swimming in the clear and fresh waters of “Chaudière Pools“.
After all these days on the sea,what a joy to soak up the smell of the earth, feeling it’s strength and energy back into our feet and invading our bodies.

                       

We took advantage of this break in the “garden of the Lesser Antilles” to get a full dose of vitamins with delicious grapefruits, small bananas, papayas, gospoes, and mangoes picked right onthe tree!

        

We also had the opportunity to go into the Caribe Indian territory to organize cinema screenings in schools. Their the population was even more welcoming and so enthusiastic! Their laughter still echoes in our hearts.

 

“Dominica the little savage”, we already miss your fireworks of beauty and love!
Olivier & Stephanie

Farewell Martinique, the “flower island”

Thursday, March 15th.
We had to postpone our departure, until Camille is fully recovered from his flu followed by an ear infection and bronchitis. But this extra week allowed us to spend more time with our friends from Martinique and “friend-boat” such as Zouéla (boats aboard which Noé and Camille find friends to play with, hence the name “friend-boat “).
Today we are leaving Martinique. Cape north. It is almost as if the journey resumes, as if we cast off again.

Farewell Martinique.

Epidemic on board!!

Saturday, February 25th.
We are all set, ready to welcome on board my family. I’m so happy for the children too who will finally be able to share their new life. I hope My mum, dad and sister enjoy their stay.


Wednesday, February 29th

Vincent left us this afternoon. Noé was all moved, too emotional to come to say goodbye on the deck. We all have a heavy heart and this ball again that tightens our throat. Vincent shared our life, our daily ups and downs of this crazy adventure for two months. We had come to forget that one day he would leave to continue HIS crazy adventure to Peru. Goodbye Vincent and comeback to see us soon!
Tonight René complains of a sore throat, he has a sort of cold starting. Hum! … He thinks he caught it on the plane. That did not stop him from swimming with us in the crystal blue lagoon of Saline cove this afternoon. First time I see René swim!!

Thursday, March 1.

René doesn’t feel good at all. . He coughs a lot. It has a high fever and I find him very weak. I can not believe in a simple pharyngitis. I’m worried. Hum! … If tomorrow there is no improvement, I take him to the doctor.
It’s raining non-stop since last night. We anchored in Anse d’Arlet, but it’s raining so much that we can’t even see the shore. Everyone finds a pastime.The children are doing quite well with long sessions of Lego “constructions” or storytelling.


Friday, March 2, Anse d’Arlet.
Weather conditions seem to be improving. René has a slight fever but I find him very weak. He does not want to go and see a doctor, he prefers to rest. The rain has stops, sun is even shining, we take this opportunity to disembark and leave the boat a little more quiet for René to sleep. After a short tour of the market, the children have a tremendous time at the beach and proudly shows their aunt and grandmother the new progress they made in swimming.
Friday night .. Fanou complains of a headache and sore throat. She has a fever! I fear the flu epidemic!
Saturday, March 3rd, Anse Noire.

It is a “carnage” aboard PlanetOcean! While René slowly recovers, Camille is more than 41 degree Celsius fever since last night, this morning Noé woke up with a 39.5 °C and I, 39 °C.
No doubt, It is the flu!!
One of these flu that goes straight to your lungs and terraces you. That flue we always escaped from in France! GGGrrrrr! What a pity for Fanou and René. Olivier and Catherine seem to get through, thanks to their daily glass of Rhum!


Tuesday, March 6th.
Again this burning ball that tightens my throat, I can not breathe. No, it’s not because of this damn flu … It is the emotion. The emotion of the farewell. My parents are leaving with my sister … I do not know when I will see them again.
We chose to leave to this new life, but we often miss our loved ones and our family. You can not have everything and every choice has its advantages and disadvantages. It is not always easy to follow ones dreams. Through this blog, we try tobring eachof you closer to reduce a little this feeling of estrangement.

In this beautiful evening in the tropics, hot tears streaming down my cheeks. Tears of love, tears of life.

Stephanie

February 2012, back to Martinique

Le Marin, February  21-22nd
I admire the patience, tenacity, and skill of positivism of my captain. Sometimes mechanic, electrician, plumber, refrigeration or fiber glass engineer. He pampers, heals and repairs PlanetOcean that thanks to him, is getting a second life. I feel a bit powerless to these technical problems that have become Olivier’s daily problems.
But hey ..
Today we have a beautiful instrument panel, a brand new electrical charging circuit, the jib is fixed. We just have to change our batteries and Olivier will only have to blow into the sails.
Oh no !… Just as we thought we were out of trouble, one engine inverter port gets stuck again. Back in the engine room for Olivier who as to pull everything apart, lift the engine, release the jaws and put everything together. In total, it’s half a day in the engine room by 38 degrees with a gentle diesel fragrance.

Meanwhile, on land it is Carnival, another unique experience on the “Island of Flowers”. The week before the day of the ashes is punctuated by daily “vidés” (meaning “parades”) with a different theme each day.
                    

Black and red “vidé”, Pyjama “vidé” at 5am; Black and White Ghosts “vidé” on the last day which is the last parade during which we walk “vaval” (Mr. Carnival) in the streets that will be buried the same evening.
               

The parades were across the little town of Le Marin. A sound truck and a percussion group with a few hundred people (maybe thousand) disguised forming the “vidé”.
                  
But the atmosphere was at the rendezvous, warm, simple and of course very festive. The kids enjoyed it very much although the sound was too loud to the taste of Camille. Noé hallucinated seeing adults dressed this way, dancing, singing in the streets. A little shy at first, the atmosphere gradually took of him and he ended up joining the parade with me and dance to the rhythm of drums.
               

Stephanie

 

February 2012, Martinique – Le Marin

This long layover in Martinique was like a homecoming. We had our bearings and Olivier had stayed there two months when we bought PlanetOcean, 2 years ago.
Our first week in Martinique was the reunion of Noé with his great school-friend Anatole and for us with our friends from Bordeaux or Martinique.
Thanks to exceptional weather conditions we could visit the wild coves north of the island at the foot of Mount Pelée (funny name for a volcano now covered with dense rainforest). Anchoring in Anse à Voile, Anse Couleuvre and Anse Céron gave us the appearance of explorers.
               

Noé took advantage of the clear waters to do his first swim alone and to swim from the beach to the boat with his dad (and his buoys to reassure grandmothers!). This is also where I made ​​my first mask and snorkel exploration with him. It is so exciting to be able to share these underwater discoveries with my son. He applies himself to do the basic diving signs and shows us with excitement (and sometimes a bit of apprehension), schools of fish that pass around us. On the way back to the south, near the ancient capital of Martinique, St Pierre, dolphins came to us to say hello.
                 

February 2012- Santa Lucia

Santa Lucia,  February 16- 20th.
After a first technical stop (and rainy!) at the port of Le Marin and before the next work with the electrician we managed to escape and sail to Saint Lucia.

San Lucia, 5 hours of rough navigation leads us in the lagoon of Rodney Bay. The atmosphere here is very different from Martinique, more Anglo-Saxon (ex British colony requires). The people are more friendly but with a touch of just polite welcoming. I have come to prefer the much “boorish” attitude of Cape Verdeans, because that was more real, less coded, less touristy and when people were welcoming you, inviting you, it was very sincere.

From Rodney Bay we sail down the coast to La Soufrière. A caldera between two famous peaks of St. Lucia, emblem of their flag.
Here we put the anchor rear to the beach and tie the boat on to a coconut tree (the bottom falls at 40 meters in one go).

 

After lengthy negotiations with the boatmen (who come to see you to sell you boat trips vegetables or fruits), the guys who say they keep an eye on your dinghy at the dock when you land (besides you never know who really keeps it for real) or with the Chief taxis, we finally make an acceptable deal with a driver (we reduced the price from EC$250 required by the boatman, to EC$ 40 directly with the driver!) who will take us to the Caldera and the Botanical Garden.

It feels good to walk in the forest, feel the ground, roll in the mud and see green. I feel my roots growing again, fed with the power of land.
Since we live on the boat, I understand better the deep meaning of these expressions: “to be rooted, have feet on the ground etc”. It’s good also to walk with long strides and never trample on the deck. Solicit other muscles I began to forget their existence.

             
The Soufrière caldera is an ultra-touristic site, with sellers of trinkets “made in china”, guides with jaded speech punctuated with well-honed jokes as if pre-recorded. But between two groups of cruising ships passengers the site becomes almost empty, wild and more natural, more true. As between two representations. Guides relax a little, eat their lunch from the small bar that turns into a local canteen.

              
After walking among bubbling fumaroles and other volcanic lakes, we do a sort of cultural immersion and dive into the sulfurous volcano mud. We climb up a little stream of muddy water to get hot smearing of black mud, grainy smelling sulfur (IE rotten eggs flavor).
Then leave it to dry before going to a “splash” in the pool (with very dark and very hot water!), to try to wash … but mostly relax. Because at this point you’re so filthy, stinking, bubbling, you finally let go and you do not care of everything from your appearance, odor and you enjoy this wild feeling. I still see Camille’s face when he saw us covered with mud. First he did not like it at all and didn’t want to be spread. “They are not going well my parents! “. Noé on the contrary thought it was so great. It reminded him of his steam bath in Essaouira.

After a good shower with clear, cold water (to successfully get rid of our muddy patch) we leave the place exhausted, relaxed and hungry. Cheeks still red and with our new “rotten egg” fragrance we eat at the local canteen, smoked chicken and local oily bread (I promise it’s delicious, just don’t think of your diet!). Then we set off again to the botanical garden. Camille fell asleep in the taxi on the way and kept on sleeping on the counter ticket office of the Botanical Garden and in the arms of dad.

This garden is a marvel, a concentrate of all the tropical vegetation of the Caribbean. A sort of Eden garden with flamboyant flowers, colorful birds, palm trees of all sizes, coconut trees of all kinds, cinnamon tree , nutmeg tree, citrus, coffee, cocoa, mango, mangle, etc … The irony of it is that the majority of these plants were imported to the Caribbean from Africa, Pacific, Asia or Latin America.

                            

We decided to walk back to the harbor, to the locals surprise because they are not used to seeing tourists walk (like them) on roadsides. Off the beaten track, through the lush countryside, meetings are more natural and real. We exchange greetings when we meet people in the streets. And the locals honestly wish us a good stay and proudly invite us to make the most of their island.

We returned to the boat on background of sunset. Children are soothed as rejuvenated by this journey on land. A splash in the sea in the evening and the night will be divine.
       

The next day we sail back north, to the famous Marigot Bay. I discovered this wonderful wild bay that goes into the land, 15 years ago. At the time, there were only two shacks, one was a sort of bar and the other a “grocery shop”. We could anchor alone in the middle of the bay and lush vegetation; at night, lulled to sleep by the singing of frogs.
All that has changed. The bay is now overrun with boats, a marina and “duty free” tourist shops. The place is still beautiful, but has lost its magic .

The holidays are over, we return to Martinique to finish the work on PlanetOcean.

April 2012, Dominican Republic

San Martin, April 4th, 2012
Happy to finally leave St Martin, we lift the anchor to Dominican Republic. Not that St Martin is an unpleasant place but it was a stopover too technical for our taste (purchase of gear, engine repairs, water tank, fishing an old bike etc..).
Fortunately we were able to meet up again with our friend-boat “Rivière”, which allowed Noé to invite friends on board to celebrate his birthday. He chose to celebrate it on the 1st of April, because on his birthday he was still victim of a bad sore throat which has earned a trip to the doctor: “You must treat me doctor, and quickly because today I’m 5 “. Not that he wanted to put pressure on the doctor …

To join the Dominican Republic, we decided to go off Puerto Rico, without stopping. Not only because you can not stop everywhere, but it was also a choice not to put our feet into U.S. territory (especially to avoid answering questions such as: “Are you a terrorist? Have you bad intentions? ….)
We therefore arrive in Dom Rep after 4 days of very quiet sailing* (* translation: Captain rattles, it is too calm, we are lagging at 2-3 knots for 3 days. We almost have to blow into the spinnaker to keep it inflated). But it gave us the opportunity to take good showers on the trampoline and prepare Easter.

Before putting one foot on land, the Marina in Boca Chica relieves us of US$ 200 for visas, boating import fees, customs and service charges. Phew … We are feeling better! …   😉
Welcome to Dominican Republic!
We then let the boat to the buoy for a week and rent a car to reach our friends the Jaloux family in Las Terrenas, in the Samana Peninsula. This is the first time we leave the boat alone for so long and I admit it’s a little funny, like a child’s first day at school, we hope that she will not need us during our absence ….
I checked twice the chain and the anchor, but it’s especially the depth that worried me: when swimming to the rear of the boat to go up the ladder, I realized that I could touch the bottom! The rudder is at 50 cm from the bottom! Raoul, the head of the marina, reassures me: “it is low tide and there’s never a wave, no risk”. I didn’t tell Stephanie until we returned, just to be sure she wasn’t going to loose sleep over that.

Las Terrenas,
our first stay on land.
What a luxury to have the sea down the road and the pool next to the house .. A house?!
We had almost forgotten how it could be great too! The ceilings are high! But we aren’t rocked to sleep at night.
We explore the land and the beaches of Samana:
– with a fishing boat in the “Haïtises” to discover its caves, rock paintings and landscapes almost Asian like …


… – or with our small rented car through the pouring rain to meet fishermen for a BBQ on Playa Rincon (top 10 most beautiful beaches on the island! Even in the rain).
Fishermen prepare us a feast …
Menu: grilled fish, rice and beans, banana chips.
… during this time, despite the rain, the children also enjoy the beach and the river (the ultimate luxury to bathe in the sea and rinse in fresh waters ..)
On the way back, the rain is such that the path we took when we arrived had now turned into a torrent of mud.

Las Terrenas is also a haven for French expatriates settled there for decades. There is even a French school of 200 students. The supermarket sells Camembert, blue cheeses, French patisseries, croissants and baguettes.

Back to Boca Chica with Chloé Elliott, Audrey and Vincent, we find our boat intact and prepare for a trip of five days together to Isla Saona. We have just enough time to taste the joys and local customs of Boca Chica during the weekend: half of the boats on ponto are speedboats whose sound-system has nothing to envy to nightclubs. Most of them cast off to the sandbank situated at 200 meters from the marina to anchor for the day or for the evening on board and thoroughly enjoy boozes and loud music from the 80’s.
On the way to Saona Island, about 60 miles, we stop on Catalina Island for the night. This island looks like a large sandbank, which has tamed wild vegetation, beaches lined with coconut trees and “overgrown” with empty deckchairs. It was not until the next morning when we see a big cruising ship that we understand the use of long rows of loungers and palm trees … This is the landing point of hundreds of tourists who spend their day sipping Piña Colada in front of this splendid (crowded) scenery .
Arriving at Saona island, we find the same picture but at around 3pm the beach empties of its daily visitors and we are now all alone. The seasonals (many Haitians) kindly welcome us as travelers and offer us plenty of fresh coconuts. During the day speedboats and catamarans daily charters discharge their contents of roasting bodies on raked whitesand beaches. We are pleased to have “off-beat staggered”schedules that allow us to enjoy the deserted beach before the arrival or after the departure of the tourists; eating lobster and enjoying beautiful turquoise waters.

Boca Chica was our base for exploring Dominican Republic, but also the meeting place with other boaters giving us tips for Haiti and Cuba. We also met Jean-Philippe Moiseau a Haitian painter and sculptor who joined our action: Art-I-Stick Boat.
To our greatest luck we met Chantal Campos and Aurélie Tétue and their association Solaidom where we could organize a cinema session.

Of Dominican Republic we have seen a small part with a sample of the worst (driving on the roads and roundabouts of death) as the best (local people and landscapes). We much preferred the Playa de las Aguilas on Island Beata (huge deserted and wild bay) than the over exploited beaches designed to accommodate their “packs” of all-inclusive tourists.
The boat allows us to discover places inaccessible by land and change our perspective. We would have wanted to explore the north of the island by boat too… Maybe next time?

To see all the pictures follow this link: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjEj4BxD

Olivier

 

Transatlantic 22 january-6 february

January 22, 2012
Sunday, 3pm, the sky is grey, we leave the bay of Faja d’Agua on the island of Brava.
I can still hear the music played by the crew of MOMO (the ship of Norwegian street-art acrobat & musicians with whom we befriended) as they left the bay, leaving for their transatlantic. I can still hear the horn of Didi and Eva’s car to say goodbye and wish us good luck. Poignant. Aboard not a word … Our hearts are tight. We’re lost in our thoughts, everyone lives in his own way this great start and this new farewell.
Soon a kind of thick fog swallows the island that disappears like a dream. We barely see its outline. We force on our eyes not to lose it. We know it’s there and yet it is not anymore, leaving us alone at sea, facing the Atlantic Ocean which we hope to cross in 15 or 21 days.
The swell is still well formed, with waves of around 3-4 meters and the wind not too strong, just what we need (20 knots). I wonder what will happen during this crossing. How each of us will experience it. Noé sees the earth disappearing without apprehension. Camille wakes up from his nap, a little buffeted by the waves.
Here we are, at the beginning of our great TransAtlantic. I hope everything will be fine, without heavy weather.

January 26
Our captain is sick. All symptoms of a sort of food poisoning (although we all ate the same thing), unless it is the accumulation of tiredness coupled with heavy seas that gave him a form of seasickness … Vincent and I assure navigation day and night and I take care of Olivier bedridden. His condition is stable, but I prefer to keep an eye on him …. Hmmm …

January 27
Do not think about the finish .. Do not think about the 2000 miles that still separate us from the Caribbean sea. Think only of our route, alone counts today. Do not watch the amount of miles traveled, nor calculate what we still have to go when we make the point on the map.
Only the route counts, the cap, sail trim, the occupations of children to live peacefully this experience in a limited space. Break the spacial monotony to fully appreciate this Transatlantic.
We glide over the ocean and yet I sometimes feel as if we were not moving. I feel confined. Strange that marriage between freedom and incarceration. At first only my dreams could make me escape from the boat, taking me away from the constant movements and constant noises. And then came the abandonment, that moment when I stopped thinking about the arrival, the number of days at sea. That moment when I agreed to live mindfully this adventure just live and enjoy every moment. Then, and only then my living space expanded, my world became infinite. “Living our lives and forget where you are going,” was the only way for me to enjoy it.

January 28
Olivier is feeling better. Phew !… It was nothing too serious, indigestion and seasickness.
But the wind dropped and the boat crawls at 3 knots … and this is not to please our captain! He doesn’t want to sail for 3 weeks across the Atlantic. 😉 Well I understand, neither do we, for we might then be short of gas, fresh water and Noé could not see his friend Anatole who is on vacation in Martinique until February 11th. At the same time, apart from invoking Aeolus, tuning the sails to nab the breeze, setting the spinnaker, you can not do much more.
The kids are giving us a big lesson of life philosophy. It is not always easy for them either to live this constant promiscuity, in a boat that moves all the time without being able to go out running nor swimming. They never ask when we arrive and they simply enjoy everyday, every moment in great simplicity. When the weather is calm like today, they take the opportunity to play with us on the trampoline: rolls, somersaults etc..

January 30.
1000 miles from Cabo Verde … almost half of the transatlantic. Night shifts go by and none alike. Failing to sail under a starry sky, tonight we glide over a sea of ​​stars, illuminated by billions of phosphorescent plankton. Last night was so quiet that we almost felt anchored, the wind failed and PlanetOcean was crawling at 2 knots (which puts the captain in a bad mood!). And then there are nights like tonight. It’s colder and it rains. The wind turns constantly leaving me without a respite. We must steer to relieve the autopilot and as soon as we can breathe a little we get inside for some warmth. Then I take the opportunity to write you these lines in the middle of the night and the ocean.
Yesterday, while there was no wind we took the opportunity to cut our children (and captain)’ hair on the trampoline followed by a shower of sea water with a final rinse with fresh water (sun heated). Then we took out the spinnaker, to the delight of children who find it beautiful, even though Camille was “a little scared” as he says. Then we did some workshops (clay, comics etc.). In fine weather we install the small pool for children, wading with delight.

Today was Olivier’s birthday. Children made him a necklace as a gift and the wind was back which quickly brought back a large smile to the captain. We even got to eat outside!

February 2nd
The trade winds are well established, steady at 20-25 knots, and despite bad waves we are finally making our 8 knots average with peaks at 12 knots. The captain is smiling. For children, workshops are adapted depending on the swell and the number of flying fish that landed on the boat at night. Soon anatomy of fish will have no secrets to them…

I remember …
I remember this navigation from Puerto Da Furna up to Faja d’Agua on Brava island. Waves of 4-5 meters in the nose, shaking the boat like a washing machine. Camille said he was afraid and Noé complained starting to be seasick. So I sat outside on the bench “protected” from waves and wind with the children on my lap. I hugged my children to reassure them. We watched Olivier at the helm. We amused ourselves by counting the big waves and surf and laughed when the captain was a bit sprayed by big waves. And then it happened: The Big Wave! One in which PlanetOcean plunged. It went over the trampoline, the roof of the boat to come right over us! We were wet to the skin in a ¼ of a second. Camille and Noé utter a cry of surprise, paralyzed by fear and finally burst out laughing! The wave also flooded the boat … we’ll have to wipe and dry.

February 4th
PlanetOcean devour the miles. We just changed our landing point so that Noé can meet his school friends in Martinique. So we will not stop in Barbados … If we keep the same cruising speed we should be able to arrive around 6 or 7 February at the port of Le Marin in Martinique.
The end of the days begin to be a little difficult for the kids who need to unwind physically but the swell is too strong to go play on the trampoline. Fortunately our fish catches bring some fun, foam-pool sessions help to bring out the emotions and sheds in the boat (with the seat cushions) open new horizons.

February 5th
Before this transatlantic I must admit I never really thought I’d get used to the constant noise and sudden movements of the boat. I dreaded seasickness and those two or three weeks behind closed doors in the middle of the waves. After these 14 days at sea, and especially after letting go, forgetting myself and the arrival I feel better at sea. Now that I can better maneuver the beast, I am more confident. The captain too. To the point that I sometimes struggle to wake him up and get him out of his dreams.
The bad surprise this morning when we woke up was to see that our jib began to tear … It’s going to need a new beauty.
We should see the Martinique tomorrow … I want to arrive and I enjoy my last night shift, alone with Planet in the middle of the ocean. I cross off the first boat since we left …

February 6
10am we land! Off into the mist …
I had imagined that we would all be super excited at that moment .. but strangely no … and the atmosphere on board is a bit strange. We’re all a little pensive … we’ll have to land, get back to a different pace of life.
We sail along the south-East coast of Martinique. Children come to realize that the finish is close and they are now very excited to be able to go swimming and play in the sand. The green of the rainforest flash on the turquoise water.
A first mobile phone is revived .. and immediately it rings … “Orange. Welcome to O The etc. ..” OOhh Naannn!
15h We anchor in Le Marin! 15 days after our departure from Cabo Verde. These 15 days remain for me a great lesson in life, with nature, with time, with myself.

Stephanie

Canaria, Lanzarote

Have arrived in the Canary Islands few days ago. We made a stop of 3 days in Essaouira in Morocco in order to avoid a big storm and a sea becoming very strong. Then we got north of the Canary Islands by night and wanted to anchor in a cove of the beautiful island of Graciosa. But the wind decided otherwise and after a big fear that made us jump out of our bed in the middle of the night, we sailed through a storm to reach the next day the welcoming marina Rubicon in Playa Blanca on Lanzarote. Soon will we give you more detailed news of the last weeks at sea. Beautiful and strong emotions to tell you about!