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Friday, April 06, 2012

Reflections (on the Sea)

Six weeks after leaving the comfort of our heavenly bungalow style abode with flush toilet in California, we have safely arrived in Antigua, Guatemala for Semana Santa and the famed sawdust carpets. It is so absolutely marvelous to be "home" and the sawdust carpets are every bit as enchanting as I'd hoped. You may recall that the kids and I lived here five years ago at the end of Soli's adoption. Read more about those adventures here

 The first chapter of our sailing adventure was a relative success, all things considered. We dropped our dear friends, the Culbecks, off at the airport in Guatemala City a few days ago. I’m happy to report that after a month of sharing 38 feet of sailboat amongst the 10 of us we still consider each other “dear friends”. I won’t lie; it wasn’t always pretty. 3.8 feet of personal space doesn’t leave a lot of "breathing room", if you know what I mean. There were plenty of melt-downs. I mean red-in-the-face, knock-down, drag-out, foot stomping, door slamming, hair pulling, mast climbing, teeth clenching, screaming, pouting, hitting, cussing, biting, spitting, crying, full-throttle freaking out melt-downs! 

And that was just me. 

Add to that, 6 kids in the throws of varying stages of puberty, and let me just was one spicy boat. Throw in 50 hour crossings with no land in sight, large quantities of barf, sweaty hot days, biting bugs, sub par refrigeration, the permanent smell of fish guts and absolutely no ice for beverages to numb the pain. In retrospect, it’s a miracle we survived it. 

But survive we did. And with our sense of humor mostly in tact. Thanks for cruising with us, Culbecks! Next year, let's just meet at the Ritz in Panama City and call it a day. Nah! Who needs breakfast buffets when you can eat rice? Again. Love you guys! 
Now. It’s always more entertaining to hear about the tribulations of any adventure, but there were plenty of highlights, too. Namely:
When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, you understand now why you came this way. (But then you barf.)
Sharing the magic of phosphorescent algae on a sunrise watch with an nine year old daughter. 
Jibing the genoa all by yourself. 
Scopolamine patches for sea sickness found at the bottom of the medicine bag. Expired in ’03. Still work. Gracias a Dios. 
Fireflies and Schnitzel sans kids at Manati, the German restaurant on Guanaja.  
Snorkeling with a five year old daughter and having her tell you through her snorkel, “Ahm, ook! Een Ajel Ish”. (Mom, look! Queen Angel Fish). Good work, Amma Onnie. 
Watching the sea pups climb to the TIPPY TOP of the mast (Do you have any idea how high that is?) and SLIDE down the head stay. (Actually, I couldn’t watch that. I just know it happened. I'm still not sure how I feel about it.)
That heavenly spit of land, Water Cay (so apropo), and walking the length of it, hand in hand, with your honey. South West Cays off of Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. 

Seeing the sparkle in the eyes of a five year old daughter as she sets sight on her beautiful birth country for the first time in memory. 
Telling the kids the story of “how I met your mother” while eating pizza at the very restaurant on the Rio Dulce where it all began 17 years ago. 

The beautiful sight of Guanaja on the horizon and dolphins on the bow after an all night  crossing.

Watching with pride as a 15 year old son and an 11 year old son thrive in this life on the sea and fall so naturally into their places as “son of a son of a sailor”. 

A freshly caught mahi-mahi and a thoroughly entertaining game of chess. A typical scene in our cock-pit whilst underway. 

 Is that fresh sushi? Yes it is. 

 Banana boats and a beach bon-fire on Vivarios. 

 Hand dumping the port holding tank. Oh, the joys... 

 A ginormous barracuda that we reeled in. But not before a shark had made lunch of the rear section. We felt like we were paying off the mafioso of the ocean, "Take the barracuda! Just don't harm the children!"

 Emerson keeping an eye for coral heads on the way in to Albuquerque Cays. 

 Anchor Drill. 

 Evie, so happy not to be barfing on this crossing. 

 Land Ho. Look at those happy faces. Glad to be on solid ground in San Andres. 

Sunrise watch with Soleil. 

 Dolphins off the bow. 

 They had such fun surfing the wake of our boat. 

 Cay and gorgeous waters off of Guanaja. 

 We call this Engine Yoga. 

 Guanaja settlement. AKA: The Cay

Charming neighborhood on "The Cay". 

Carver on his way up the mast.

We squeeze in home schooling whenever (and wherever) possible.

We're heading back to the boat and the Rio Dulce tomorrow with our new crew, The Cawrse's. Stay tuned...


The Best Family said...

loved this post and all of the photos!! so glad you made it to antigua safely. did you go back to santa rosa to visit? we went last year when we were there and saw juan jose, francisco, and domingo. it was like walking back in time. can't wait to see your next post!

the culbecks said...

Hi Guys,
We made it back to sunny Alaska and already miss the daily routine of sweet rice, engine checks, snorkeling, and adventure. Thanks so much for the incredible time. We are already looking forward to the next Stewbeck expedition.
Courtney, Darsie and the Sea Pups

Connie and Bill said...

We laughed, we cried, we loved it so much. Thanks for making dreams come true. Generations of daring folks have found this to be the life. It is hard, but worth it after all. Go Balance.