Defining the word paradise is a difficult thing. But for almost everyone, what I am looking at off the bow of Windancer IV is as close to paradise as it gets.
More than a week ago, Windancer's crew bid fond farewells to the Joakim family, who joined us for an amazing ten day BVI cruise that included a "never to be forgotten" New Years celebration at the famous Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. This family of sailing enthusiasts were seasoned veterans to the cruising experience having sailed south from Canada as a family on two occasions, most recently in the winter and spring of 2007 aboard Wildchild, their Catalina 42 Mark II.
Dave and Michelle, Caroline and Sabrina were the perfect fit for Windancer's MacKenzie clan. The kids played forever and the parents "soaked up" the perfect BVI weather. As all sailors, new and old, continue to learn, constantly in search of the "best beach or anchorage or snorkelling spot" that others are willing to share. Wildchild's crew heartily recommended a trip to the Spanish Virgin Islands, and that is where this tale begins.
We left some newfound friends from Edmonton who are atthe start of their dream, having just moved aboard Solitare, a Jenneaux 43DS just before Christmas 2008. We motorsailed in light winds to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and dropped the anchor in 30 feet off the main cruise ship docks. While dinghying into shore to have a quick fresh water swim and some reprovisioning, we were in awe as we passed Rising Son, a 400+ foot megayacht owned by Larry Ellision (goggle the yacht Rising Sun for details). It was really something.
The next morning we set off after breakfast for the small, uninhabited island of Culebrita in the Spanish Virgin Islands, located between the USVI and Puerto Rico. As we rounded the northern point, the perfect, crescent shaped, pure, sandy beach appeared. Four other boats shared this amazing PARADISE with us during the day, but as the sun began to sink into the western sky, the two larger vessels and one small one left the anchorage, obviously only intending to spend an amazing day on this perfect beach. Finally, the last vessel, a small 14' Boston Whaler departed the bay, likely heading back home to Puerto Rico. So here we are, the sun is minutes away from dropping behind the hills on Culebra, the shadows are long, and we float all alone in our own paradise.
The night air is warm, and gentle Easterly is keeping Windancer IV off the beach (which is a good thing since this is also a Sea Turtle Nesting Sanctuary). As I surveyed the crew moments ago, Ziggy was taking a late afternoon nap after getting skunked in a well played game of Crib with the captain, and Connor and Jenny were both reading in their cabins.
If this isn't PARADISE, I'm not sure what is. We'll see what tomorrow brings
15/01/2009, USVI and BVI.......
Time plays by different rules in the islands. You can't buy it, make it or save it. And time isn't money. Island time moves at its own pace and sometimes not at all. So it was on the day we anchored off Jost Van Dyke in the BVI. It had been nearly two years since our families had shared this cove, yet true to the Caribbean, it seemed no time had passed at all. John took the kids tubing. A large sea turtle surfaced behind the boat and we snorkelled for a look. Frosty blender drinks were the order of the day. We hiked to the turbulent tidal pools to get blasted by incoming waves. More frozen cocktails at the beach bar. And so it went...
We flew into St. Thomas, USVI the day before for a 10-day cruise aboard Windancer. On our previous trip, we travelled in tandem with Windancer aboard our vessel WildChild. This trip, it was all eight of us aboard Windancer. Being a monohull guy, I was eager to see how the big Cat would handle two full families - it turns out there was room to spare!
On every sailor's list is a New Year's Eve spent at Foxy's on Jost van Dyke. Thousands of sailors attend this event every year. The party seethed with Island rhythms until the wee hours, on shore and on boats in the packed anchorage. Weary from the day's events, we lost our captain for a time and found him napping on a "grassy knoll" during the height of the party, readying himself for the midnight hour!
Over the next 7 days, we meandered from island to island, fishing lines always deployed by Admiral Ziggy upon leaving port. We hadn't realized how dedicated a fisherman Ziggy had become, trolling with as many as three lines behind the boat! As a result, many sushi appetizers and fish dinners were enjoyed by all. Windancer has evolved into a fishing boat with a sailing problem!!
Connor and Jenny thrive on Windancer. Both kids know their way around the boat's systems, from starting engines to knowing which breaker turns on which gadget. Connor has learned to lasso a bollard like a rodeo star, when docking. Jenny inspired Caroline to help make a delicious fish dinner for us one evening - table set, all food carefully prepared. Let's hope Jenny has inspired Caroline to cook more at home!
The dark side to boat living is surely marine sanitation. At home, we flush and it ends there. Marine heads are not so...boring. Sabrina found that her toilet could "erupt" if not treated properly, causing what became known as a "poocano". Offshore holding tank discharges were as exciting to the kids as fireworks. There was also a related incident where a crew member, who shall remain nameless, was pelted with monkey poo, while hiking on St. John! Thankfully, Windancer has a watermaker, so hot showers are frequent!
In the end, our island time ran out. The trip ended as it started, at the luxury Yacht Haven Grande Marina in St. Thomas. Good-byes were difficult...the Mackenzie family were the perfect hosts. Two families had truly become one crew. So to the permanent crew of Windancer, we wish you fair winds and following seas. Avoid the cacafuego. KMR. Thanks for a great trip, guys!
12/01/2009, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI
Life's not so hard, when you're on the hard. Today Windancer IV was hauled out of the water in Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI and the bottom of the vessel was exposed to the air for the first time since before we took possession of her in April, 2008 - this is a good thing for a catamaran (I don't even want to discuss the reason why this is a good thing, if you figure it out, please send a note).
After maneuvering Windancer into possition at the travel lift, the operator raised the slings until the boat was held firm and sitting only a few inches higher in the water than normal. Connor and John jumped ashore from the port sugar scoop and we watched as our home was lifted into the air, moved over the dockyard and the small amount of algae growth was powerwashed off.
Then we wathced as Windancer was positioned in a spot in the yard adjacent to the water and power outlet - almost like being on the dock, except it's a lot harder if you jump off the bridge!
The kids love the concept of living up in the air!
11/01/2009, Sir Francis Drake Passage
While making the unconfortable upwind passage from St Thomas, and after losing a small Cero during the "hook removal" process, the crew of Windancer IV were blessed with a much larger, 2+ foot Cero.
Just prior to reaching the entrance to Sopers Hole at West End, Tortola, BVI, the main fishing rod "sang" as the fish took off. Connor was at the helm and slower the engines down while John reeled the catch of the day closer to the vessel.
After several jerks and stalls (a classic Cero-type move to lull you into thinking the fish is off the line), we successfully brought the fish aboard and securely into the cockpit.
As the penguins from Madagascar would say "It looks like sushi for lunch!"
07/01/2009, Charlotte's Armpit, St. Thomas
After an early morning motor-sail to Christmas Cove, and a brief, but amazing team snorkel over the new reef, we sailed back to where the trip began for our Toronto friends, Charlotte Amalie harbour in St. Thomas.
The Yacht Haven Grande Marina directed Windancer IV to temporary berth "Charlie" C-14, where we secured the lines and headed to the Fat Turtle restaurant for a final snack before their flight.
While "chief of security" Dave finalozed all the packing (and only forgot one of Caroline's sarongs), John supervised a final "fresh water" pool swim for Sabrina, Jenny and Connor (whose still planning his KMR tour) and the ladies ventured out for one last shopping excusion to the market.
Many hugs and smiles were shared before the Joakim "team" boarded the waiting 8 passenger golf cart (boy I can't get enough of this marina!) and were escorted to a waiting taxi to the airport. The wheels were up at 1600 and they were off, heading back to the great white north.
Thanks for sharing an amazing 10 days and Happy New Years and all the best for a healthy and happy 2009!
05/01/2009, Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI
No one ever said it was all blue skies and "fun and the sun...", but cooking can be a challenging experience. First mate Ziggy was excited about her new Curry recipe (from Curry aficionado Becky Werret from Chili Oyster), but the inclusion of raw onion chopping required additional hardware for the chef.
Sabrina watches in the background, sans the diving gear!
We have been in the Caribbean almost three weeks and it has been quite a while since I crafted a blog. Somehow, after seeing and doing so much in the Med and preparing for the greatest sailing experience of our collective lives, I just didn't have it in me to write. But today, the first day of 2009, gave me the gift of inspiration.
Let's go back a few weeks. We arrived in Rodney Bay, St Lucia after crossing 2800 nm in 20 days. I personally still find it almost unbelievable that we sailed across the ocean. We are now in a very small club of sailors who have shared in this sailing adventure. After a week of ARC celebrations and chilling out, we said good bye to Maris and headed up islands sailing to Antigua. On our first morning out after a rather bumpy evening, Bruce cast the lines with our new fishing lures. Having caught a few fish during the crossing but losing way more, we were determined to improve our success and had invested in lures and hooks. I am assuming that I am the only wife out there that asked her husband for fishing tackle for Christmas. Well, the investments (which arrived before December 25th) paid off and after 30 minutes, we landed a beautiful dorado. Nothing like a fish to start off the day.
We sailed for a total of 36 hours up to Antigua where we spent two days touring the island, meeting up with Johnnie and Kate, a N(not an)ARC boat who left a few days before us from Las Palmas and arrived a day after us in Antigua. Johnnie was transferred by his company in England to Australia and he and his wife are taking the slow route via sail. We also toured Nelson's Dockyard, where my brother was in heaven walking the grounds where Nelson himself made his home.
We left Antigua and sailed overnight to St Maarten, docking on the Dutch side in Simpson Bay where we took advantage of the large ships chandleries and restocked the boat with some much needed parts and reprovisioned our pantry. Along the way we also picked up some last minute Christmas gifts and Aunt Marlene found interesting Channukah gifts. We sailed our last overnighter from St Maarten to the BVI in howling winds on our starboard aft quarter which meant following seas and big winds. With just our genoa up and reefed we averaged 7knts and made great time into the BVI.
It felt like coming home as we came upon the Bitter End in the North Sound. We anchored off Leverick Bay where we spent Christmas Eve and day. The kids were delighted to see that Santa could find us after all this time away from home and dropped off some lovely gifts for the entire crew of Windancer. Taking advantage of the winds we sailed downwind to Cooper Island, again relishing in big winds with our gennaker up and making 8 knots the entire way. We tied up on a mooring ball, snorkeled and settled into a rousing game of Euchre only to be interrupted by a quick bump around 11pm. Running up on deck we were surprised to see that we had beached ourselves. It appears we had chafed through our lines, but Windancer simply turned to shore, glided past three boats, avoided the rocks, stayed clear of the dock and beached herself in the sand. We motored out, reattached a mooring line, threw out an anchor for good measure and returned to our game. The next morning we snorkeled in one of our favourite spots, the rock on the tip of the bay where we saw tremendous sea life including a 4 foot barracuda.
Leaving on the 26th we headed up to St Johns in the USVI, cleared customs, spent the afternoon and then sailed over to Christmas Cove for another afternoon of great snorkeling. We had another first that day, as Bruce landed two fish providing the crew with a sushi snack and fish dinner prepared by Connor in a citrus chilli sauce.
The morning of the 28th we saw off brother Bruce and family and spent the rest of the day cleaning up the boat as we got ready for our friends Dave, Michelle and daughters Caroline (13) and Sabrina (7) who joined us on the 29th. Sailors themselves who also took a sabbatical with their family and sailed the Caribbean for 8 months, we looked forward to sharing time back with them in the BVI. We rang in New Years in the infamous Foxy bar along with 2000 other happy sailors. We returned to the boat with feet smelling, in Connor's words, of urine and reefer (for all readers, please address to comments who will field all questions).
This morning, we brought up the anchor and sailed over to Tortolla. I cast out new lures and happily spied a 5 pound tuna snag on our line (this was the second fish in as many days). After an early morning in Soper's Hole picking up a few groceries we returned to Nanny Cay, the marina Windancer called home for three years while in charter. It was with a heavy heart that we saw B dock entirely empty as the Catamaran Company has temporarily moved up island. We all headed to the pool from where Dave, Connor and I donned our snorkeling gear and headed into the reef outside the marina.
This is where inspiration returned. Snorkelling the reef, we heard shouts and two young boys told us there were dolphins. (It seems John had seen them frolicking off the pier and many of the pool guests had ventured down to the beach to see the four dolphins including mother and baby.) I removed my mask and there, a mere 30ft away, saw the fins crest the water. After calling Connor and Dave, I watched in wonder. Dave, braver than me, snorkeled forward until he was 15 feet from them. They stopped to observe him and then continued on their way. It was unbelievable that we snorkeled with dolphins. I dream of seeing turtles and rays, but seeing dolphins while swimming seems almost inconceivable.
It is a moment I shall not forget and with hope, is a sign of the wonderful year ahead of us.
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy 2009, John, Ziggy, Connor and Jenny.
28/12/2008, Yacht haven Grande Marina, St. Thomas, USVI
We woke this morning to a perfect Caribbean sunrise in a beautiful bayin the lee of a small island off St. Thomas called Christmas Cove. The water was crystal clear and Marlene had one final snorkelling experience on the reef.
Jenny, Ariel and Connor just stayed on board and played in their cabin, cherishing their final monents together. Bruce cooked a fantastic pancake breakfast and completed the packing process - after almost 40 days aboard.
We motor-sailed and trolled (did I mention that Ziggy is now addicted to fishing - something she caught from her brother) and after just more than one hour we arrive in the bay in front of Charlotte Amalie, the capital and centre for activity in St. Thomas.
We ducked into Crown Bay Marina, took on some fuel and after a "not so great reception", headed back to Yacht Haven Grande Marina, the new place to be located in teh shadows of the massive cruise ships docked in St. Thomas.
We bid a fond farewell to our amazing crew members, Bruce "Skip" Walker, Marlene Elman and Ariel Elman-Walker who we the best crew (and family) a captain could ever ask for, assisting Windancer IV in her successful attempt at mid-Atlantic crossing.
We wish them a safe return home and our best wishes for a happy New Year!
Tales from our Atlantic crossing...........
I should have known that making a statement like "amazing winds" or "we found the trades" or " flying along pushing 10 knots (OK, I left that one out but we were - actually hitting 13.5 surfing down a wave!)", and something bad had to happen. Well here it is...
As Windancer IV was flying along in 20 knot winds, the first we've seen sustained for more than an hour so far on the trip, the crew was loving it. Opera singer/fellow crew member would break into song every time a new high was reached, 9.3, then 9.6.... then 10 - oh, how the show tunes were coming out like the dawn of a new day!
However life was not perfect. As we all know, after attending the "Tips for Downwind Sailing" seminar, the force on the sail and rig increases by a factor of two as the wind increases. So Force 1, 1x the force, Force 2, 2x the force, Force 3, 4x....
We also had a tough point of sail, almost directly downwind, with the genoa butterflied out to starboard and the full main on the port side. Unfortunately, with the nice breeze comes increased seas - maybe 2-3 m - nothing too exciting or uncomfortable, just surfing up one side and down the other - massive speed and very exciting. but the seas are rarely directly in tune with the winds, and sure enough we had a slightly quartering sea condition - so we would run up one side of the wave, then slide down the other with as much as a 30+ change in course as the boat skidded down the wall of water.
This uncontrollable change in course did however cause a number of unplanned mainsail gybes - shuttering the entire rig. CRASH. As Team Windancer assessed the situation, of course we had to have the largest gust of the day - topping 35 knots -and BOOOOOM. John was at the helm, calling for "all hands on deck" and we saw the damage - the top four feet of the mainsail, just above the first batten, was shredded. from the head to the first batten.
So, Marlene takes the helm, John, Bruce and Maris work together (like a well oiled machine), to lower and secure the damaged mainsail. unfurl the genoa, and back sailing downwind - no it's not a race but the bars in St. Lucia are calling our names! The downside isn't too bad, cruising along at 7 knots with just our full genoa - love that wind.
After a quick brainstorming session, the bosun chair is rigged and the Skipper is up the mast, removing the block and main halyard car to free the damaged section of the mainsail. Sail repair team Maris and Bruce fashion a quick fix to the leech line and cutting away the damaged section resulting in what now appears to be a Gaff or Square Rig design for our mainsail.
The concern over the first batten stitching taking the entire load of the mainsail will be solved by a continuous support line from the new new head of the mainsail, the first batten, down to each batten, therefore transferring the load while hoisting the main.
Sorry if I've been rambling, stilling talking myself through the whole procedure. We are not suffering at present, 7.3 knots (just surfed to 8.3 knots) with only the genoa.
No worries, no problems, not a concern. If the winds diminish, we may try the new mainsail design, or simply unfurl the genoa for some extra speed - for now we're more than fine.
During all the fun, Connor, Bruce, Marlene and Maris all pitched in with extra hands, tools and moral support, while the first mate was busy preparing a Curry feast - thanks to Becky's curry recipe.
Best wishes to all, fair winds and following seas, and first vessel to St. Lucia better have the ice ready and the drinks cold!!!!
Cheers, Crew of Windancer IV
28/12/2008, Mid-Atlantic Ocean ????
Tales from our Atlantic Crossing.......
The two Mar's - Maris & Marlene - made a great team, putting their reconstructive surgery skills to work on day 3. The gennaker snagged on the radar during a wind shift and after the flogging of the helmsman, the dining room table was swiftly transformed into a sail loft. In less than half an hour, the gennaker was rehoisted with barely a scar visible. Maris pays tribute to her mentor buddies at Di-Tech Sailmakers in Lavagna for their training.
27/12/2008, Middle of the Atlantic
Messages from our Atlantic crossing..........
Birthdays are big things aboard Windancer. The entire family has had their birthday's on board. We celebrate our birthdays in pairs. Mom had hers in the Belearics as we were comming into the Med on July the sixth. Mine was celebrated as we were comming out of the Med in the Belearics on the twenty-second of September. The other two crew/family members on board get a little more exciting place to celebrate their birthdays. Captain Johnny, A.K.A. Dad and Cruise Director/Medical Officer/Patient Jenny both celebrated birthdays on our Atlantic crossing. Even with the rocking of the boat and the smoltering heat Mom still works hard to continue the tradition. The tradition is that the birthday cake will be in whatever shape the birthday boy or girl chooses. Mom has out done herself on several ocasions with cake sculpting. The cakes include a mouse, a Dallas Cowboys star and a seven layer pyramid cake. Is that the dinner bell I hear? Got to run to eat a birthday dinner and a big slice of cake.
Jenny hit double digits and after a little birthday celebration with balloons and presents, Jenny had a special party. We were all invited to a swimming party, but not just any party. Best location in the world - middle of the Atlantic. We dropped the sails, towed a line and dove off the bow and floated back. Not too many little girls can say they celebrated their 10th Birthday at sea. We hope she remembers it forever.
Connor MacKenzie, Dinghy Captain, Windancer IV
Messages from our Atlantic crossing..........
What it Takes to Cross the Atlantic on Windancer IV
1 main sail
1 jain (genoa masking as a main)
1 very large sail repair bag
8 rips, 7 repairs
2 clogged heads
3 times up the mast
1 replaced masthead halyard block
1 mainsail car destroyed
13.2 kn top speed
1 open ocean dive to clear a fouled prop
1 man over board drill to rescue garbage in a bottle
1 message in a bottle tossed
1 lost bucket, boat hook, carpet and towel
2 birthday cakes
1 birthday swim
1 half way swim
1 group saltwater shower in our last 50 miles
5 additional avian crew bold enough to poop on the captains pillow
countless flying fish committing suicide on our deck
2 flying fish on the opera singers bed
1 flying fish on the captains pillow
1 mid ocean rendevous (with Chilli Oyster)
2 mid ocean transfers
6 games of Upwards, 5 games of Scrabble and 3 games of Oh Hell
24 novels, 3 of which were good
42 bottles of wine, all of which were good 120 lindt balls for lindt
oclocks 20 beer oclocks 0 spilled drinks
1 thrown cup of coffee
1 bottle of champagne for half way
5 dozen eggs
3 bunches of bananas all ripening on the same day
1 wahoo, 3 dorado
10 huge fish hooked and 10 lost
10 lost lures
8 dolphin shows
6 loads of laundery
220 litres of freshdrinking water
5 movie nights with popcorn
7 personalized dinner playlists
120 hours of homework
20 chocolate bars
4 time zones
6000 sit ups
10 days in our own personal snow globe with no vessel sightings
2 chats with non ARC boats
1 full moon
7 shooting stars
3000 nautical miles
16:10 made land fall December 13th
20 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes...
AND EIGHT CREW MEMBERS' LIVES FOREVER CHANGED
24/12/2008, Middle of the Atlantic
Happy Christmas Eve - Tales from our Atlantic crossing.....
We have 1750 miles to go and every day we wake up to a beautiful sunny day. Nothing is on the horizon, the crew is happy, the boat is
performing well and life is good, verrrry good. Okay, sure we could do
with some more wind, but who couldn't.
Mid afternoon, Felix, as he has now been christened flies onto our
spreader and then makes himself at home on our forward deck. Felix is a white crane about a foot tall and appears to be a land based bird who just flew too far. He has been with us all day and moves about the deck as we move forward or aft.
Then, as Ziggy was settling back to her card tournament with brother
Bruce and sister in law Marlene, she spots a dolphin fin. Ooops I take
that back, she spotted the fluke of a pilot whale. WHALE SIGHTING!!!!
This is my number one dream of the trip.
Not two hours later, just as Bruce resets the hooks on our port fishing rod and moments after John reset a hand line, we spy two Wahoo jumping through the water aiming directly for John's hook. BAAAM, we nail a 3+ ft Wahoo about 12 pounds.
Now, as we sit down for dinner, we are dining on the freshest sushi, and enjoying Wahoo in ginger and lime or breaded.
Life does not get any better. We have just passed Wine O'clock and
within the hour, we will be enjoying Lindt O'clock.
We are a little over a third of the way, and loving every minute of it.
All our best, Team Windancer and Ed the Iquana and Felix the Crane.
Ziggy MacKenzie, First Mate Windancer IV
23/12/2008, Simpsons Bay Marina, Sint Maarten, NV
We are completing the final provisioning while in the duty free paradise of Sint Maarten, the Dutch side offering the most amazing shopping we have seen in some time. Gotta love Cost-U-Less - thanks to Dave and Michelle for turning us on to this store - the Caribbean's version of a COSTCO!
Now Bruce "Skip" Walker and Captain John are sitting in Jimbo's Restaurant (great free wifi!) waiting for the girls and kids to return from a final shopping excursion to Phillipsburg - take it easy on the credit cards girls!
We were also delighted to see our good friend and North Atlnatic ARC crew member Steve Southwood aboard his Lagoon 420 this morning. Steve and Helen moved aboard Dignity in November and are now waiting for their kids (youngest "child" is 21 yrs!) to join them for the holidays before they begin the journey south to Antigua and onto the Tobago Cays and Grenada where we hope to meet them again - safe sailing.
Check out our catch on the way to Antigua - please don't curse us while our friends and family back home are shovelling snow!
18/12/2008, Mid-Atlantic Ocean
tales from our passage across the Atlantic....
A typical day begins with the sunrise. If you are the lucky person on watch from 5-8am, you can see the seas lighten and suddenly the waves that you up til then only felt, are visible. Then over your left shoulder the clouds pinken, turning yellow and red over the hour. Within the hour, you suddenly spy a flashlight size brilliant light and within 10 minutes the sun is up. And a new day dawns.
Since we have travelled over 15 degrees west, we have set our clocks back an hour and now, the skies lighten by 6ish. Fish lines are set while it is still dark. Up til this morning, we have had no luck, but today, we broke our dry spell. First a bite and then, we hooked our first small dorado which will be a lunch snack.
As the person coming off watch, I started the espresso coffee. Captain John is always up early and this morning he filleted the fish while I started on breakfast. Saturday is French Toast day. The gang slowly wanders into the galley and as each sits down, breakfast is served. We split dishes duty with the typical rule - if you cook, you dont clean.
The kids start homework around 9:30 and spend the next few hours doing math, English, writing their journal. When homework is done, then the rest of the day is free. Jenny and her cousin Ariel do crafts, draw, play games and generally just chat as only two 10-year old girls can. Connor typically has his head in a book as soon as homework is over.
The adults read, take turns on watch up on the bridge, adjust the sails and sometime during the day, head back for a nap.
Noon is a big moment for us, as it is at 12 that John uploads these emails out, sends our position to the ARC and downloads any incoming emails and weather reports from the ARC. Mail time is a treat and a lovely reminded that there are loads of people out there following our progress. We are 700 miles into our trip - one quarter of the way.
To maintain battery charge we run either our generator or one of our engines (revved but not in gear as that counts against your standing in the ARC positioning). When the generator runs, we make water, run a load of laundry if necessary and microwave any food as necessary.
Afternoons are more reading, game playing and just hanging out. Maris is a fabulous singer and can be found belting out showtunes from the bridge. From anyone else this would be annoying, but when you have a voice as lovely as hers, it is a delight. John spends time every afternoon calculating our position and adjusting our course, as necessary. Bruce and he also do any repairs required. Bruce heads back for a nap, but only after he teaches chart plotting to the kids. Marlene can been found reading, napping, doing homework with her daughter or supervising violin practice. Ziggy has her head in a book, spends hours staring at the fishing line or finishing an anklet for one of the crew members.
Typically if you are not on watch, you cook. We eat like kings on board - steak and potatoes, Thai stir fry, pasta carbonnara, chili, breakfast burritos. We open a bottle of wine with dinner and every dinner is not complete until we celebrate `Lindt-o clock`when each watch member chooses their favourite Lindor ball chocolate.
Connor stands watch from 6-8 and then then night watch schedule begins. And the next day it starts all over again. It is amazing how the time flies by and we can spend hours watching waves, the sky, hoping to catch a glimpse of dolphins or if really lucky, a whale.
Sun goes down, stars sparkle in the blackest sky and a new day dawns.
Authored by Ziggy MacKenzie, First Mate Windancer IV
(Note - Dolphins swimming under the bow behind Jenny and Ariel in the photo)
Windancer IV - crossing the starting line in las Palmas, Gran Canaria!
We are saying farewell to our favourite "opera singer" crewmate, Maris, as she departs via avion, no more sailing, and heads to see family and friends in the UK and Italy. I want to thank her dearly for all her help on the crossing and for showing all of us that singing can lighten the heart! Fond memories and our best wishes.... until we meet again...
Below is Maris' tribute to her crossing - a poem that was composed on her final day at sea.
By Maris Lyons,
Well here is our last evening on the deep blue seas
Far away from home, the land and the trees
No wheezing of chest, or snivelling of nose
No allergies to mention, at sea that's how it goes
It suits me, it seems, this big comfy armchair
She gently rocks and rolls, pushed forward by the air
Encouraged by her Captain and crew,5 Ads lead by John, and 3 minors by Connor
She sails like a dream, allowing comfort to all who are on her
She set off backed by a fanfare and a lovely gentle breeze
And the first few days passed by with relative ease
But then the weather changed, as if to keep us on our toes
And the wind blew up, bringing with it, our fair share of woes
The squalls that hit us, lead to a few accidental gibes
And these one week in, lead to our main sails demise
The main was replaced with an understudy called Jain
She came out of the Genoa ranks but made a damn good main
When she opened her window, we all laughed at the view
But in fact she was a super trouper through and through
Our Gennaker too, she took a rip or two
But she valiantly refurled and saw the journey through
The sail repair team attended her again and again
And after some stitches and glue, I`d say she deserves a ten
Our Captain John, a hero to us all in many ways
He was always there to prevent any alarms being raised
he would shoot up the mast and fillet fish with great finesse
Not to mention his cooking, which he did with great prowesse
To say that he was a kitchen control freak, would be an understatement
But we all benefitted from his compulsion and he was never complacent...
Sushi to die for, roast dinners and chilli to name but a few
We couldn`t lose any weight, but you have to give credit where it`s due
And introverted Ziggy, well she came out of her shell
and entertained us all with stories that boy could she tell
Apart from entertaining us with many a hilarious story
She too cooked delicious meals, and deserves her fair share of glory
What other boat sails in after a 20day trip
With fresh fruit and veg to spare - a perfectly provisioned ship
And then there was the Bruce Skip Walker dude
Who blinded us all with lessons and showered on deck in the nude
I now know the secret of being able to see another ship
And how to identify planets and stars - all thanks to Skip
And his fiery wife Marl would come out in the dead of night
And sit on the deck and chat to get over the fright
How I enjoyed many an hour whiled away with Mar
Be it the odd film, a grat chat, a sing song or cup of cha
And as for the jokes from Connor, and giggles from Ari and Jenny
It has been fun hanging out with you, I hope that this trip is one of many
Cast and crew of Windancer, you have made my dreams come true
To sail accross the Atlantic ocean and swim in the deep ocean blue
I couldn`t have shared it with a better group of people. This comes with a heartfelt THANK YOU!
14/12/2008, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
Windancer IV arrived safely in St. Lucia on 13-December-08 at 2142.
The celebration has begun - more blogs to follow....
09/12/2008, Ohhhhh so close - looking for land!!!
Name: Maris Angharad Lyons
Nickname: I've had a few over the years...Harri, Maz, Maza, Maritsa and Maryshka
Birthday: 16 July 1970
I was born in: Cardiff, Wales, UK
I currently live in: Cavi di Lavagna, Italy
When not sailing, I can be found: at the theatre, singing, dancing and prancing anywhere and everywhere, or swimming in the sea
I got into sailing: Uh did I have any choice? (Only kidding Dad!!) - Through birth! I was late, and my Mum was as good as induced to have me so that her Gynaecologist and my Dad could go off to do a race to St Malo! My Dad is a competitive racer and sailing instructor, I was named after the sea, and my earliest memories are of being with my sisters and parents and friends by the sea or on a boat.
Since then nothing much has changed! Except that nowadays most of my sailing is with my orange other half in the Caribbean and Italy, where the sun doth shine, and the chocolate flavoured sea of the Bristol Channel is replaced by the most exotic turquoise. I have been to many beautiful places by boat. It has to be the best way to see the world with your friends.
On the crossing, I am looking forward to...sitting on the deck on a cloudless night and being able to see nothing else apart from our boat, and the stars and the moon. Also looking forward to sharing some crazy stories with whoever I am on watch with, and to hopefully seeing some whales and dolphins en route, and I could go on and on...
On the crossing, I am dreading...being woken up in the morning when I am in a lovely deep sleep.
When not on watch, you can find me: singing on the bow, cooking, navigating, reading, lost in thought, listening to music
My favourite music is: Think Bright Lights; Broadway! Songs from the Shows, but I also love classical, opera (especially Puccini), and some of the modern trendy stuff too! Favourite bands are Coldplay, Queen, Meatloaf and Abba!
My favourite book is: Difficult. If I have to choose one, I'd have to say The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (I enjoy all his books), but I also love so many by Sebastian Faulks, particularly Birdsong, and then there is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and DH Lawrence, and oooh so many more. I do enjoy a good book!
My favourite colour is: YELLOW!
My favourite food is: Michellobello's home-made Satay Sauce Mmmmm
Since I am stuck on the boat for over two weeks, I am definitely bringing: Lots of chocolate, some books, and my mobile phone that has lots of photos and some funny messages saved on it.
Fun facts about yourself that you can share on a family blog: I lived in Russia and Hong Kong. I travelled around Central Asia (Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Dushanbe) for a bit and got stuck in Dushanbe and secretly slept for 3 nights on the floor of a stranger's garden shed! I watched The Ring Cycle performed by the Kirov and conducted by Gergiev from the flies of the Wales Millennium Centre, I was caught up in Moscow just before the collapse of the Soviet Union when the tanks were on Red Square, I didn't even know that the Russian language used a cyrillic alphabet when I signed up to do my degree in Russian, when I was on stage in the middle of a dance routine in 42nd Street and there were just 3 of us on stage, my skirt fell off as the spotlight came to me!
The first thing I will do when I get to St Lucia is...give my man a whopper of a kiss, down a few Pina Coladas and dive in the shower!
07/12/2008, Can't see land yet but were getting close!
Happy 10th Birthday Jenny
Lots of LOVE, Mom and Dad, and the entire crew of Windancer IV!
06/12/2008, Gettting closer to St. Lucia
Name: Ariel Hannah Hope Elman-Walker, Skip and Marlene's daughter and Connor and Jenny's cousin
Nickname: Ari, Punky
My birthday: 5 February 1998
I was born in Victoria, BC
I currently live in Virginia Beach, Virginia USA
When not sailing, I can be found attending Shelton Park ES in VaBeach, riding horses every Sunday, playing violin, cello and tennis.
I first got into sailing when my mom was 3 months pregnant, when she was the skipper of her parents' boat Yael (she won the race). At 2 ½ months old, I did the Swiftsure Race on my parents' boat ARTEMIS (but was too young to remember) and have sailed the Caribbean in WINDANCER three times.
On the crossing, I am looking forward to making bracelets with my cousin, doing (some) homework, playing violin and writing in my journal.
On the crossing, I am dreading having to learn navigation from my dad.
When not on watch, you can find me giggling, playing, avoiding homework, reading and sleeping.
My favourite music is pop and rock
My favourite books are by Judy Bloom, the Penderwick series, "Little Squire" and "Mystique the Dancing Horse"
My favourite colour is turquoise, like the Caribbean, but not quite as blue, more like a chameleon
My favourite food is Macaroni and Cheese.
Since I am stuck on a boat for over two weeks, I am definitely bringing bracelet making kit, a journal and books.
The first thing I will do when we get to St. Lucia is to sell my bracelets to the ARC 2008 participants
04/12/2008, Hopefully on the downhill portion of the Trans-Atlantic!
Name: Marlene Rose Elman, Ziggy and John's sister-in-law
Nickname: Mar, Mom, The Admiral
My birthday: 10 April 1963
I was born in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
I currently live in Virginia Beach, Virginia USA
When not sailing, I can be found happily tele-commuting for an arborist in Victoria, BC, volunteering as an Ombudsman at NATO HQ in Norfolk, VA, mothering, oops I mean driving daughter Ariel to various enriching activities, playing bridge, golfing, swimming, running, reading and keeping my husband Skip guessing!
I first got into sailing as crew (like it or not) for my parent's sailboat when I was 7. At last accepting that it was indeed good fun and a great way to meet great people I continued to crew in races in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Rhode Island and the Caribbean. Skip and I purchased our own boat, a San Juan 7.7, which became our floating tent for 8 years. I crewed aboard Spirit of Sydney, a 60ft steel hulled sloop around Cape Horn in 2005. Lucky for me, Zig and John have welcomed me aboard WINDANCER numerous times.
On the crossing, I am looking forward to riding high on the crest of the great swells and surfing down the back side. I'll be sleeping through the calm.
On the crossing, I am dreading nothing - it's all part of the experience.
When not on watch, you can find me organizing on-going schoolwork for the kids, cooking, laughing, playing, reading and did I mention sleeping.
My favourite music puts a smile on my face while I wail out the lyrics. I steer away from the country tearjerkers.
My favourite books are historic novels 'cause I know so little history.
My favourite colour is the one that coordinates be it yellow ochre, cobalt blue or puke beige.
My favourite food is a big bowl of cereal, or a big bowl of salad, or a big bowl of soup, or a big bowl of pasta... anything that comes in a big bowl.
Since I am stuck on a boat for over two weeks, I am definitely bringing my own pillow and those little eye covers they give away on overseas flights.
The first thing I will do when we get to St. Lucia is kiss the ground on which I land (then probably kiss my husband with dirty lips).
02/12/2008, Mid-Atlantic Ocean
Name: Bruce Alan Walker, Ziggy's brother
Nickname: Skip (not Skipper, that's John. I am more like the 12th or 13th Mate.
My birthday 28 October 1961
I was born in Montreal, PQ and grew up in Richmond, BC
I currently live in Virginia Beach, Virginia USA
When not sailing, I can be found working at NATO HQ in Norfolk, VA, being a father to Ariel and husband to Marlene, golfing, running and reading
I first got into sailing when helping my father, Bill, build a Mirror Dinghy when I was 8. I named it JENNY and raced it in the BC Juniors. I have since sailed and raced Windsurfers, 420s, 505s, Lasers and lots of different keelboats. I have a Royal Yacht Sqn Offshore Skipper's Qual, earned while teaching navigation and seamanship to the Royal Navy in 36ft sloops in southern England, France and the Channel Islands. I was First Mate on HMCS ORIOLE (103ft ketch) in the 1996 Victoria-Maui Race. I owned a San Juan 7.7 (ARTEMIS, Goddess of the Hunt) for 8 years. In 2007, I helped deliver an Oyster 48 halfway to Norfolk, USA from the BVI (the 'halfway' is another story altogether). Oh, by the way...I am a Commander in the Canadian Navy and have over 15 years of sea time in all types of ships from submarines to 25,000-ton tankers, have commanded 4 ships and hold a Command Qual for every type of ship from ORIOLE to Frigates and Destroyers to Tankers.
On the crossing, I am looking forward to sipping coffee at sunrise, hanging with my family and my sister Ziggy's family and reaffirming my love of the sea.
On the crossing, I am dreading rough weather. Not true storms - I have seen enough of those and they simply tend to focus the mind and body. I am more concerned with it being just a bit too cold or just a bit too rough for us to spend time on deck, enjoying the splendor that is the sea and sky and sharing the wind through our hair.
When not on watch, you can find me teaching navigation and 5th grade to Ariel, taking pictures, reading, writing a journal and sleeping - lots of sleeping.
My favourite music is Beethoven's Ninth, anything by Jimmy Buffet, Blue Rodeo 'Lost Together' and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young 'Southern Cross'. Jason Mraz rates highly too.
A fun fact people dont know about me is that I was fired from my very first job as a ice cream salesman with Dicky Dee's bicycle (aka a fridge on the front of a large bike ridden by a small kid). After 4 sales amounting to $1.20, I turned the corner, flipped the bike and landed in a ditch upside down with 200lbs of fridge on me and 5 inches of sludge below me. After a tow truck removed the bicycle, my boss fired me but only after letting me keep my earnings. I walked home 2 miles upon which time my sister and brother tied me to a dog chain and hosed me down.
My favourite books are 'Prayer for Owen Meany' by John Irving and 'Faith of My Fathers' by John McCain
My favourite colour is brunette, touch of highlights, dark eyes, tanned skin and a bright smile
My favourite food is a toss-up between Mexican and Sirloin, medium rare. Anything someone else made is usually really good too.
Since I am stuck on a boat for over two weeks, I am definitely bringing a couple of Sudoku books, Jimmy Cornell's 'Cruising Guide', Admiralty Manual of Navigation Vol II, IPod, and Ariel's homework. But please note that I hope I won't consider myself "stuck" on a boat, as this is a rare privilege to cross the Atlantic under sail after doing so over 30 times in Navy ships.
The first things I will do when we get to St. Lucia are, in order: hugging my family, swimming in the Caribbean and then sipping on one of Johnny Mac's famous slushy rum drinks...then I might take a shower.
30/11/2008, Middle of Atlantic
Name: Jennifer Elle Mackenzie
My birthday is 7 December 1998
I was born in Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I currently live aboard Windancer IV having previously moved from Mississauga (Toronto), Ontario, Canada in May, 2008.
When not sailing, I can be found doing gymnastics,playing with friends, cuddling with my love hound Gryffen and playing games
I first got into sailing when I was 6 years old when my parents put me into sailing camp to see if I like to sail. I am in WhiteSail 3. I have sailed on Zephyr, our Beneteau 323 on Lake Ontario.
On the crossing, I am looking forward to celebrating my 10th birthday.
On the crossing, I am dreading getting sick.
When not on watch, you can find me playing games, reading, playing with my cousin.
My favourite music is hip hop
My favourite books are by Roald Dalh
My favourite colour is any coulor that is light like baby blue
My favourite food is pasta
Since I am stuck on a boat for over two weeks, I am definitely bringing my D.S., books and cribbage board.
The first things I will do when we get to St. Lucia is have a nice warm shower with all the warm water I can use.
28/11/2008, Mid-Atlantic Ocean
Name: Connor Angus MacKenzie, although I answer to Connie, Conster, Booboos or whatever else my sister, Jenny, or my mom call me.
I was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at Wellsley Hospital on September 22, 1995 to my mom and dad, so I'm told. The DNA test results haven't come in.
I'm living aboard a Lagoon 440 named Windancer IV. She's not perfect but who is? But she is home.
When not sailing I am playing sports like football and hockey, biking with my friends, doing crazy stuff with Dustin like driving things down the stairs or sliding down the stairs, and last but not least, doing thing that though I don't mean it, get me into trouble.
I first got into sailing, well, never. To tell you the truth, I don't like sailing... I was only just yanking your chain. I got into Sailing in sailing camp when I was six. The more and more I sailed, the more I liked it. I started sailing optis with one other person in them, then optis alone, then 420's with 3 people while completing levels white-sail 1 and 2 and then a Laser Pico with 1 other person for level white-sail 3. I am currently in bronze 4 sailing 420's with 1 other person.
On the crossing I am looking forward to getting back into reading and learning the constellations from UB and washing less dishes.
On the crossing I am dreading Ariel's violin (I have nothing against Ariel's playing but I could do without the 7 A.M. tuning session)
When not on watch, you can find me reading, building something out of trash, playing games as a family and doing whatever comes to mind.
My favourite music is classic rock like Queen, Journey, Aerosmith and bands like that.
My favourite books are anything by Dan Brown, Clive Cusler or Tom Clancy.
My favourite color is navy blue like the Dallas Cowboys or Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys or Vancouver Canucks vintage jersey.
My favourite food is a medium rare steak with a double baked potato and Ontario picked corn in September.
A fun fact you don't know about me is that I dropped out of grade seven and are currently failing grade 8, and I like chess.
Since I am stuck on a boat for over two weeks, I am definitely bringing a womping stack of books, my ipod and my mini Rubik's cube.
The first things I will do when we get to St. Lucia is get off the dang boat, then I'll go from there.