21 November 2013 | St Lucia
Sunny and Warm
In the Beginning...
Ahoy ! If you don't already know us please let me introduce ourselves: we are Marie-Claude, Mark, Matthew and Meghan and we would like to share with you all our experiences onboard our beloved Amélie . We hope to have many trips and opportunities to explore new cultures and open our children's eyes to the world . As a family we hope that these experience will ultimitely bring us closer.
Amélie is a worthy vessel. She is an Amel Super Maramu 53. She is a solid blue water cruiser, a ketch, built in France in 1994. We (the 4Ms) are a family from Canada who hope to be as worthy sailors as she is. We have been talking about buying a boat and sailing it around on and off for the last 15 years. Mark and I have sailed since the early 1990s and in one way or another have been preparing for boat ownership from the beginning. In the next few blogs I hope tell you more about each of us but first......
When we tell people around where we live (in Alberta) that we like to sail we very often get the same incredulous looks, the same raised eyebrows and not long into the conversation the big question almost always comes up: "But what about all the storms?".
I get it. I've been there. I have watched, wide eyed at the movie screen, clutching pillows while people get swallowed up by the giant waves into the deep dark seas amidst thunder and lightning. I have heard the stories and listened to the countless songs about loved ones not coming back, forever lost to the sea. I realise how reckless it may seem to people who have not been with us every step of the way, following our progress and our preparation in the last fifteen years (and really... who has?!) ...but here's the thing that may not be obvious: we are not taking this decision lightly, we have been preparing for this journey for a long time. Like every good Boy Scout or Girl Guide, we have been taking the "BE PREPARED" approach for all aspects of this venture MOST OF ALL about safety.
I just want to take a few minutes to go over this topic a little bit more, so if you've heard me say it all before, don't be shy and just skip the next 3 paragraphs or wait for the next blog which will be about something else surely.... I just really want to address the "safety issue" once and for all:
Fear is a healthy thing, especially when we are taking about mother nature. It is precisely because of my initial (and ongoing) fear that I have been motivated from the start to look into what all the dangers are "out there" in the big blue oceans of the world. Now, like most of you here on dry land, I'd like to think that I have learned what to do to protect myself or my family if there was to be a tornado or an earthquake or even a fire in my house. Like you, I hope that I never have to face these situations, but I feel I am prepared never-the- less. "Expect the worse but hope for the best" right? Mark and I have often talked about the "worse case scenario" out at sea and about what "Storm Tactics" we would use in every case. Storm tactics are all of the options that sailors have and what we can do in various circumstances in order to survive the worse. The "worse" being an unexpected/unexplained large storm which descends upon us even after we have taken all precautions.
Of course we will take all precautions to avoid being in this situation in the first place ! This is where we have some amount of CONTROL...unlike a person sitting in their home, in spring time in the US Mid-West, watching TV, unsuspecting that a Force 5 tornado is heading their way...and unable to do anything but flee or hide out in the basement once it hits......we CAN do so much more to ensure that we are not in the path of such destruction in the first place. That is the beauty of it, we can "move our home"! Nowadays there are tremendous tools to help us be forewarned of any dangerous weather patterns. The satellite information we can receive, on top of our own knowledge of clouds and how to predict weather , the years of data collection which enable us to make predictions on the best "weather windows" to plan a crossing in... and perhaps the most important one: not having a schedule, not being in a hurry. From everything that I have read, the great majority of people who were lost at sea were in some sort of hurry. They may have been racing, or promised someone they would meet them at a certain destination by a certain date, or maybe they felt they had to go NOW before the money ran out, or really wanted to make it in time for that event on the "other side of the pond".....or.....they simply were too proud or too stubborn to turn around and wait for a safer time to leave.
Mark and I have talked about this alot. We have our cherished children to think about and we can't be irresponsible. We will NOT be heading out on any big crossings until we are certain that it is safe to do so. Jimmy Cornell's books (google him) are some of many great resources we are using and Mark has been studying his books and made all kinds of tables with the best weather windows (months) for each of our big crossings. Both Mark and I have sailed with and learned from experienced sailors who have hundreds of thousand of miles and decades of sailing behind them, these people have been around the world countless times, to the Antarctic, around Cape Horn in South America, and because they have never been in a hurry, because they have been prepared and because they understood and respected the weather they have NEVER faced a life threatening condition at sea in all those years. This is our goal.