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Cruising to Calm
" I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same as 'making a life'." Maya Angelou. This is the story of the Brown family adventure. We have pulled roots in NY and are taking our two kids ages 4 & 1 on a five year cruise. This is our story
Good bye
06/27/2008, Antigua

It is the night before our departure and I am sad. I would gladly stay here for the entire hurricane season. Ben's riding school is having a summer camp, temo sports is having a tennis camp and then there is the yacht club and all of the various activities there.
However, if we do not like where we are down island I will have no qualms about coming back up , hanging out for the season and then making our way over to Panama from here. This is a place I could settle and raise our children for a while.
Instead of feeling bummed I should be grateful to have had such a fantastic time. Cruising is about saying good byes and this is a tough one. I hope to see them again somewhere down the road.
I just love Antigua, it gives me calm and a sense of security that I find in few places. There is a wonderful cast of characters here and each bring a little bit of crazy to the table making this place AWESOME. The community has welcomed us with open arms, we could not have asked for more or better.
That's all for now.
Next report will be from Guadaloupe.

There are two new posts.

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07/17/2008 | Marilyn Gallo
What fun it is to read of your adventures, zany and otherwise! You give me great pleasure, as well as assure me that all is well.
Love, Gram
And so it goes....
06/27/2008, Falmouth, Antigua

We really are going to leave Antigua. I swear!!!
It's just that our social calender has been quite full.
Some of the activities that keep us occupied over the last couple of weeks.
I am not a good enough writer to describe what a magical time we have had in Antigua but I will it goes....
Let's see, Thursday's are always family night at the yacht club. A couple of weeks ago, kids had running relays and a very competitive tug of war. I hung usually just hang out with Justine and Roo laughing like a school kid. The yacht club also supplies sailing dingies and a beautiful wooden Hershoff type boat for people to use for free on family night and we have been known to take the wooden boat out for a sail around the harbor. It is always a wonderful evening. The kids are occupied and supervised by three babysitters hired by the yacht club, so the adults can relax and hang out. Dinner served for the kids is usually a shepherds pie. Ben and Sam are usually running on empty by the end of the evening, which is 8:00 and drop into bed.
Going back a few weeks:
Last Friday was a boat day because it rained most of the day but that was ok because we got some much needed projects done and the kids seemed happy to just chill out.
Saturday morning Ben and I had school. I find that homeschooling is much more productive when we leave the boat. I have been taking Ben to a little coffee shop in the morning. I have ice coffee and he has a hot chocolate and we do school work. Ben has a lot more focus and believe it or not he is less distracted. Otis likes it because he does not have to create 'errands' to do with Sam. So whenever possible I will take Ben off the boat to school, I wish we had thought of it sooner.
After school we came back, ate lunch and went to the beach. The 'girls'(Justine and Roo and their five kids) were there so it was fun. We have a running date of 2:30 on the beach.
I feel as if I have known Justine and Roo my entire life there is a comfort and honesty level there that is usually reserved for old friends but which we have slipped nicely into. It is not unusual to laugh so hard when I am with them that I can barely breathe. Justine has wonderfully colorful, outrageous stories full of and eccentric cast of characters coupled with the fact that she is a vivid and descriptive storyteller. I will often think of something she said while I am making dinner or something a later in the day and start laughing again. Think low key, 'Ab Fab does the Tropics'. Justine's antics and facial expressions often remind me of Patsy. Sadly, they are both leaving next week for England which totally bums me out. However, the upside of their departure is that if they were staying we would probably never leave. There is nothing in the world like hanging out with your girlfriends. These women are so supportive that you just feel great after hanging out with them PLUS they are TRULY Hilarious!!! I may have only know them for a short while but I feel truly and profoundly blessed to have found them. They have given me a much needed rejuvenation.
Anyway, on the beach that afternoon we devised a plan to go to Half Moon Bay the following day.. Justine had just sold her 1988 Land Rover and was turning over possession Monday so we had to do a road trip, naturally. We loaded the car up on Sunday afternoon with kids, bbq stuff and bombed over. We built a fire on the beach and made hot dogs, chilled, played and relaxed. There is a little rock cliff on one side of the beach that has mud/clay which people use to exfoliate and moisturize their skin. I don't think it did much for me but I did have anxiety walking along the cliff with the waves crashing all around. I actually think it aged me. Anyway....
While we were lounging at Half Moon, Jus and Roo started talking about pulling the kids out of school the following day and doing the same thing on another beach. I suddenly had the idea to load up the boat and go to Green Island for the night. So the kids skipped school and we went for a little vacation on Green Island. It was GREAT fun. There were seven kids total ranging in age from 11-Sam and they all had a blast. We went to the beach, snorkeled, watched the kids play off the back of the boat and kicked back. Strangely enough when we first pulled into the Green island anchorage it was teaming with jellyfish and there was a shark swimming around the boat. The jellyfish were a little concerning, however people seemed to be swimming around us. That night we opted instead for a trip to the beach as opposed to swimming off the boat....nothing like seven children stung to bits by jellyfish to put a damper on the evening! We watched the sunset from the beach and just chatted away. Dinner was burgers, pot salad and green salad. Then kids then chilled out in front of Willy Wonka(old one).
We came back Wed and again had Thursday yacht club. All our friends were there and we are never for want of talking to people. It is a gregarious crowd and all the kids play really well. I will really miss these evenings.
However, that night at about two in the morning a nasty squall moved through. We knew that there was going to be some bad weather so we moved closer to the head of the harbor, but we NEVER expected the squall we had. Suddenly, we had 51kts of wind with HUGE bolts of lightening striking all around us. We started the engines just in case we dragged and waited out the storm. Incredibly enough the kids never woke up. I have never seen a storm like this before with lightening striking as often as and as close. We did anchor watch for the rest of the night as the winds continued to consistently blow 35. The following morning we were both exhausted. When Jol, the English Harbor radio announcer came over the radio for the 9:00am broadcast, he announced that 51 kts of wind had been logged and Sojanna, a large sailboat in English Harbor, had been struck by lightening. The boat that was directly behind us was also struck and incurred some serious damage done to their electrical system....incredible that we were unharmed. We had weather moving in calling for higher squalls that Sunday so rather than doing watch all night we paid for a mooring. I hate paying for moorings but anchor watch ain't all that much fun either!
While here we have run into many old friends and made many new ones. However, a friend from our past named Joe who is now married and has a daughter stopped dead in his tracks when he saw us. It has been fun catching up with him and sharing who is doing what stories. He invited us to his annual summer solstice party at his house. We had been looking forward to going. A plan was devised that we would stay with Jus and Roo who live just down the street from him, and hire a babyitter. That Saturday O was nervous about leaving the boat after all the powerful squalls. He decided to stay which bummed me out but I went with the girls and had a BLAST. Jus picked me up and had forgotten to mention the terrifying, take your life into your own hands, drive up. The drive was so steep I thought the car was going to flip backward. The road is narrow so that if another car is coming from the opposite direction you have to reverse back, one slip and you are crashing over the edge of a cliff! I could barely breath on the ride up and certainly could not look over the side
Once I got to their house the views over Falmouth, Montserrat and Guadalupe were just magnificent.
After getting everyone settled we made our way to Joe's. Joe's house is NOT TO BE BELIEVED! It is the type of home you would see on one of those 'fabulous getaways of the rich' shows. The party was catered, had a full bar and a really cool band called Itchy Feet played. Strangely enough, I knew a lot of people there plus Jus, Roo and I were always reconnecting to gab. I have not had that much fun at a party in I can't remember. We all danced, chatted and laughed. I woke up the next morning still laughing. It was kind of funny when we first arrived we were greeted by Joe's wife whom I had not met. As Jus and Roo were saying hello they made introductions, there was a little silence and Jus blurts out ' Don't worry, she was invited'. It was funny.....nothing like being totally put on the spot!
In anticipation of our departure Jus took me into St. John's Monday to provision. I hate provisioning but the store was really nice and Justine who is leaving Friday and did not need to shop was chatting away which made it more fun than the usual pile food into the cart while managing two kids. However, when I got back to the boat and was unpacking, I was surprised by the quantity of some of my items. I think I was talking and listening to Jus more than really shopping....will we really eat THAT much bologna or English sausages???
After the provision we treated ourselves to lunch at the Sticky Wicket which overlooks the cricket field(20/20 actually). I felt terribly/terribly posh looking out over the beautiful green lawn and stands. I don't understand the game at all and know that it does run on,but the fields look so civilized. Plus, I have just the hat to wear to such an event....they do wear hats to those don't they??!
On the downside, the kids have picked up nasty colds. Granted a cold has been going around but they couldn't kick theirs so Tuesday we took them to the Dr. Her nurse is an American woman that I had met at Joe's party. She looked over the kids medical records for me and advised me as to what they would need for shots.I thought Sam might be behind but he only needs one booster shot and that's it until he is five. I will get those done in Grenada.
Both of the kids are so happy here. They really do have a nice group of friends. Jus has three girls, Lolly(11), Izzy(7) and Tiger Lily(5) each with their own unique and vibrant personality. Roo has Chloe 6,(who Ben has a definite soft spot for) and Jaygo, 5. The kids have become their own little tribe. Ben is heartbroken to be leaving.
I think O is anxious to get back out there. He has enjoyed his time here but feels the need to move on. Ben actually asked me today why we can;t sell the boat and stay here. Those questions need to be directed at Dad for the moment.
Gotta run as we are going to a beach party for Jus and Roos departure. We are leaving on Saturday for points south.

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This and That

It is time to start thinking about pulling anchor and leaving Antigua which totally bums me out, but hurricane season is upon us.
O and I have starting to make a little place for ourselves in the community here. These last couple of months cruising I was starting to feel as if we were just checking countries and places off our list in a hurry to get to the next place. I was always a visitor which I tired of. I think it's important to stop, chill, make friends and relax. When we began our journey, that is how I envisioned our trip, becoming part of different communities along the way. I would rather pick a few places and spend quality time there than hit lots of places capturing none, running through the showers without getting wet. I think the kids benefit from other cultures and Ots and I have some sembalnce of normality. Antigua is perfect because it is always changing yet it stays the same. People come and go, everyone has a story and they are all pretty damn social. Things have slowed WAY down and there are just a smattering of restaurants open yet there still seems to be a lot happening.
Ben has a nice community of about fifteen friends that he sees everyday. While I was away Otis was adopted by the expat 'mummy' group that gathers daily on the beach so the kids can play and the adults hang out and chat(lime daquiri's being the drink of choice). The woman are all very funny and there is a real sense of community among them, most of their husbands work on yachts so the women rely on each other a great deal, playing round robin with dinner etc. They got a kick out of O and him them. He filled me in on all the gossip, must read books, schedules..etc.
Update: Sorry I just had to take a break and clean excrement out of the bathroom where it had exploded after Ben dropped his spiderman in the head and tried to flush it. Not one of the perks of living on a boat.
So, let's see. Before I went North I was working with the Yacht Club organizing a weekly family night. Essentially, two child care people are hired to do crafts and games with the kids, dinner is served and adults socialize. I had to leave before the first one but it is getting a positive response.
This weekend is 'Green Island Weekend' sponsored again, by the yacht club. I am unsure of what it entails but it is family orientated so there will be kids activities, bbq's and social hour. It is a three day event and we are very much looking forward to it.
So life is great for us. This time has truly been one of the happiest times for me thus far on the boat.
Going home made me realize how truly lucky I am to have this time with my family. It made me appreciate the boat and our lives so much more. I had no desire to move back to the States at all what so ever. I love where we are, who we are, what we value and and everything in between and there is not one thing I would change....(except maybe ripped abs and skinny thighs but that goes without saying!).

Did I mention that it is hotter than the hinges of hell here during the day??? Not to worry, our beach has shade so again, all is good.

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06/15/2008 | amre
jenny once again i cannot find your have not been on skype and I am thinking of you round the clock is your dad and how did everything go didnt call...I hope all is well ....I miss you terrible now that I saw you and please call me you all rie rie
06/26/2008 | kirsten
Hi Jen
Replied to both your mails and Jack sent one to Ben, I have also posted a previous blog...but nothing seems to be getting through.
Hope all ok

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