America 2016

Hi

So we carried on with nice things like cinemas, ice creams, museums and playing in the icy water of the Atlantic. Went to a gun show, used the library a lot and played around in different parks. All while I also carried on schooling the kids on my own while Chris carried on with the flying.
Then we made plans for half term and good friends of our, Kathy and Chris with Toby, James best friend would come over and see us. It would be a surprise for our kids. But before that we moved house once more. Only around the corner with plenty of beds and bigger garden.
Oh, the joy when there was a knock on the door one afternoon and outside was a big cardboard box….and out popped Toby. They couldn’t believe it! It was screaming and jumping, repeating his name over and over again….fantastic! And off they disappeared in the garden.

Had great couple of days with them, Chris took the boys to space center while we girls went shopping. Perfect.
Of course the time came and they had to leave…..the sorrow and tears, for all of us…only to then also find out that a very good friend of ours had died in Uk….and we couldn’t afford to go to the funeral.

Chris passed his flying test, whoop whoop and that’s when we went out to celebrate. The only time we did go out…and now he was a commercial pilot, how amazing…
Our stay in St. Augustine was coming to a end, went to alligator farm, met up with a friend and her kids for the last time, the cleaning and packing started. We ended up with 9 bags in the car plus 3 body boards and kids squeezed on top of it all. Good byes were said to Ann, the rental lady next door who became a good friend to us and our drive to Miami started.

Our journey to Panama went well and we came back to a very tidy and clean boat. Alice friend Chloe and her parents came over to welcome us back and it was nice to feel the heat and humidity of Panama again. Unpacking 9 bags was a nightmare and the boys horrendously big neuff guns took up so much space in the boat.
Then it was back to reality, to fix the bloody generator, school and anything else that was playing up. Chloe was over a lot to play and we also met THE Eric Bauhaus who writes sailing books and who’s book about San Blas sailing you wouldn’t be without! A very nice guy and his daughter came over and played as well.
More shopping, few beach days, more kids around which was great and they all played around on our or Roberto’s boat. Chris carried on slaving over the beast that wouldn’t start and when it did decide to start it didn’t give out electricity, aaarrrggghhhh!

Anyway, all done finally and it was time to take the scary leap from marina and get back to anchor…
to trust the anchor, to feel the boat again…lovely.x

san Augustine- America Christmas 2015

Hi

Our flight from panama to Miami went very well, little did we know what a hassel we would have with the car rental. We were passed from one car rental to another until we finally found out that we had booked with Alamo. We were told somebody else but that was just the start….
As it was payed for with my card they had me as a main driver but we had booked a second driver. No? Just one driver. Ok we want second driver. Can’t do it or we can but they were asking stupid money. Ok, change the main driver to Chris. Can’t do it. Honestly, 4 hours later we gave up. Got the car, upgraded as we moaned about it and off we went into Miami rush hour traffic me in the driving seat. What a lovely feeling, driving after such a long time. As it was late we drove for a couple hours and had a night in a hotel.
Next day we arrived in San Augustine which was to be our home for the next 10 weeks. So exiting. We had rented a 2 bed apartment on the beach on Anastasia Island, tv in each room and a heated pool. As the date was 16.12 and Christmas near with no presents yet we thought that doing the shop online would be the thing to do….oh no, that went wrong as well. Amazon lost our shopping, don’t ask how and the other few things we wanted couldn’t be delivered in time….so Chris had to do few trips to shops over the next few days but of course the selection was poor.
Anyway, Chris started his flying lessons and Christmas came with presents and the full English roast dinner. Champagne and pool, hot and relaxing, perfect.
We joined the library as well before Christmas and we met this lovely woman called Madeline, that whole thing was the next thing that ended in disaster…
Got talking to her and her daughter, little Aria at the library and I mentioned that the rent was so expensive…no problem, she said. I can rent my other half of the house out at a very cheap price, just around the corner, come and have a look. Ok, why not. So off we went and the house was perfect, a bit messy but she said it will be all ok for January. Well why not. Aria played with Alice, trampoline and tree house. So child friendly, local area, other kids, perfect! Or so we thought, didn’t know she was bonkers! So we moved in there on New Years Eve and had a fantastic new year with her and Aria at the beach. Great firework display that went on for 30min. music and dance.
All settled, Chris back flying, school started and I don’t know where it all went wrong. Anything I said she took it the wrong way around, never mind, let’s ignore that. Charlie’s birthday was coming up so ordering the cake, buying more presents and told Madeline to invite few people around. It turned out to be a great party, another 6-7 kids, all got on very well, music, games and in the evening the glow sticks. So simple and perfect. Very happy for Charlie.
So the next few days it got worse, Chris said she must be bipolar and googled it in and she fit the bill. She was scary, never knew which way the conversation would go, I started to worry about opening my mouth which takes a lot as I talk for the world but this was not worth it. I tried to keep calm, not get drawn in to another argument but when she called Alice bratty that was it for me. We drove to the flight school that evening, me crying the whole way, kids upset and said to Chris that we got to get out. That night she unplugged the wifi.
Following morning we went out to all rental places but had no much luck. Eventually from one number to another we got hold of Ann, our angel who had a place until end of January. Great, we’ll take it. Closer to down town on Vilano beach. So went back and mad Madeline had now locked the door. Jeez, what now? Lucky she is stupid enough to leave the back door unlocked. Went in and she came flying down the stairs and told us to get out. She had taken the boys bed away from upstairs and cleared our stuff from the bathroom. We had payed the months rent, no hope to get that back. Chris went to the police station only to find out she had been there already….they did the crazy sign, all they could do. So we packed everything within the hour, everything in the car and left. Great feeling being out but sad that we didn’t have chance to say goodbye to Aria and Alice was upset. Madelines mother lived there as well and she never came out from her bedroom because she was scared, very sad. Lovely lady. As I went upstairs to tell her we are leaving I cried. Scared for her…shame it ended like that as it could have been just a hoot, I still can’t badmouth her to much as when she was nice she was super company. Who know, sick or just plain mad, we will never know!

So we arrived to Vilano beach into a 2 bed house, upstairs for the boys, tv in every room and a very nice area. And so the next chapter of our life started. Much more settled.
x

Portobello, black Christ festival- October 2015

So off we sailed to portobello again a day before James birthday. Met up with a lovely couple called Margie and Peter, Peter being like Peter Pan. Totally amazing with kids! Oh the stories and things he comes up with. Love them dearly.
So the black Christ festival is about everybody coming to portobello to ask for forgiveness of the black Christ. There is a legend to it, check it out but basically people, mostly criminals walk and crawl from far to show remorse for their sins. Knees are bloody, as they are crawling, somebody might drip hot candle wax on the person as they crawl to really make it painful, some cry, pray and some really do some good shows of all of it….some is genuine, some fake but it’s all a bit of a carnival feeling to it. The colour is purple so we made an effort to wear that. It was busy and interesting and glad we made the effort. Learnt a lot of history, legend and had fun as well.
This day is the same day as James birthday, bless him, so it was also all about cake, presents and fun.
Back to Linton and then our last trip of the season to San blas.
Back to all the usual places but the wind was changing direction again ready for the dry season to start and hurricane season officially over. So our usually nice, calm spots was now open to waives and with the last heavy down pours of rain a lot of rubbish was washed to shore, yak!
Sat at Green island and didn’t leave the boat for 5 days as so rough, rainy and cold. Yes, I’m a wimp! A slightest feel of chill and I wrap up and moan…..
Had other few boats around us so nice to have company in case things got difficult which it did on the 5th day as we woke up and we realised that we were dragging. Duh! After 5 days, can’t be but yes. So re anchor and re anchor again. Another boat dragged as well and ended up on the reef wich was awful to watch but nothing we could do at that moment as the rain came down side ways and the wind blew 45 knt. Lucky all over in a short time and then Chris to the rescue with a dinghy half full of water.
Another boat came in and ended up on the reef 3 times trying to anchor so it wasn’t an easy time.
But we had some good company, dinner parties and a laugh.
So it was time to say goodbye to San blas and head back yet again to Linton and lucky we did….
As we were there in anchor and I will never forget that day. The day is called Black Friday as in America you can buy everything but not pay tax on it. It’s also my mums birthday. We also found out that the loan we wanted didn’t go through, the generator packed up again AND the main engine died…..I mean WHAT??? I just cried, and cried. Looked like a frog. So disappointed that our America trip was not happening, can’t charge, can’t go anywhere, how much is it all going to cost etc….
We were pushed into the marina by couple of dinghys to plug into a borrowed generator and started to check out how bad everything was, bloody swans!
As it was, the engine wasn’t to bad, just the water pump but the generator was a bit more. Oh well, we decided to go to states anyway after we counted, re checked the finances and decided we can do it. So booked tickets, Christmas in America and all happy days, for a moment. Moody Finn was put to sleep yet again and off we went.
And what an adventure we have had here. Totally loved being in a house, drive a car, music, Internet and so many choices in food shopping. The use of library, cinema trips and museums but more of that later….

Panama, San blas (August-December) -2015

So back we came to our darling boat, with the luggage and a food shop you wouldn’t belivie. We restocked everything and the job to find a home to all the food and stuff from UK was a marathon job that took 24h. I hate bags lying around a small, cramped place so it has to get done now, preferably yesterday. Knackered from Heath and jet lag, washed out so it was only a matter of time before somebody got ill. The first one was of course Chris. Upset tummy, like really bad, he had his own toilet to use…..to be then followed by Charlie who was puking his brains up, to then me with upset tummy, to Alice puking and finally James with upset tummy. What a palaver…..
Got the boat ship shaped again after all that and rewarded us with a pizza night in the rainforest. Fab, Heather, the lady have a house in the middle of the rainforest with a proper wood burning oven and as we drove through we saw howler monkeys. Beautiful. The pizzas were thin and crispy, just the way I like it and the kids had a go at it as well.
I then did a last stock up trip to sabanitas, a bus journey of 1 1/2h. Me and kids. What could go wrong? Everything! It started to rain so all windows closed and it got very hot….followed by all three children puking, baby wipes, nappy sacks, water….it was awful. Can’t take them anywhere, sick in buses, sick on the boat….luckily they are all pro pukers so no mess! Phew!
So ready to go to San blas again, should have known something great was in store for us again as the now fixed generator was a bit slow, engine smoked a bit much and batteries not holding charge as good as they should…..but off we went back to Chichime. Our little outboard that had given us a little trouble decided to die, oh well, take the big one. No….didn’t want to live either….so here we are, between a lot of little beautiful islands and no working engine for the dinghy. So we had to row everywhere. At least the boys learnt to do it. But from there onwards we had to choose carefully where to anchor so we were close enough to land. So we visited many places, snorkelled, picked sea urchins and sand dollars and eventually we were back at green island. Our days there were spent barbecuing, burning our sorted rubbish, walking around and finding treasure, watching the hummingbirds and hermit crabs. Funny things, hermit crabs. They change shell as they need a bigger one but we saw the super modern one who was strutting his stuff very proudly….his shell was a plastic coke bottle cap. So funny!
After 4 weeks back to Isla Linton. Stock up on food and catching up with friend.
We also had a very nasty incident with a dog. On our way with a lot of other people for another pizza night and Alice and her friend Chloe run ahead. The next thing James is running and screaming that a dog bit Alice……ok, ok, let’s not panic. Holy shit, the dog had grabbed her around her neck where the marks were visibly showing, no blood drawn but Alice was hysterical, of course. The dog is Chloe’s family but is being looked after on the yard by the yard manager. He doesn’t like cuddles so we think she went over to give a cuddle, she knows the dog, we know the dog so why did she do it? Followed her friend? Anyway we were lucky beyond belief, we informed what happened but the dog still goes around free…..just thinking of it gives me absolute fright!

We then sailed to portobello again to see the black Christ festival. Interesting as it’s the patron saint for criminals…..

Summer -2015 in uk

We stayed for 7 weeks in Europe around various houses, locations and countries. We moved house 6 times and it was hard work. A big thank you to everybody who put up with this gypsie family, not easy as 5 of us….
First we stayed around Amanda and Clive, good friend and Alice’s godparents. It was a busy time catching up, hair and dental appointments and our first Sunday roast since we left Colombia! We also went to legoland with Amanda and thankfully she had saved some vouchers as I have no idea how people can afford it. Stupidly expensive but a great day and as everybody is in school the place was quite empty. Bonus for homeschoolers!
We then moved to Susan’s in Chorleywood for a week, black horse pub around the corner and the village day where we saw a lot of friends and people from school. To then end up around Louisa’s for a bbq and the boys for a sleepover cross the road around Kathys….happy days! We also went to willows farm, one of my favourite places for a day out and thanks to Mel who gave me vouchers I got in a lot cheaper. UK felt very expensive after a year in Colombia and the prises are just crazy.
We then moved over to Mike and Hazels, parents to our friend Simon where I re packed for me and the kids to go to Finland for 2 weeks. Haven’t been there for 3 years so looking forward to it.
A busy time there trying to see a lot of relatives, cousins and friends. The weather was great, water tasted nice, a fun engament party with food from heaven and saw my cousins Kim and Lotta.stayed up three nights, of catching up, laughing and drinking…needless to say I looked a bit worn out after that. Enjoyed the sauna where Alice’s comment was” it’s a very nice bbq!”and just sitting with mum in the end of the day with a glas of wine and a chat. The time went far to fast and I could have stayed there another couple of weeks. Anyway, time to pack again and back to UK. But only for one night as now we were all heading to Bournemouth to meet Ineke and Mike, our sailing friends we met in Colombia. Stayed there for 6 days but between that we went all the way down to Jurassic coast to meet up with James best friend from school, Calum who lives now in Abu Dhabi. They were so happy to see each other. We looked for fossils, had a bbq and explored the area with them. Very interesting, to see how people holiday in a cold Britain…..hellbent on sitting on a pebbled beach with the wind blowing and water freezing cold…..again the two days went fast and time to head back to Mike and Inekes. Sitting in the garden, drinking wine, going for long forest walks and picking blueberries. It was also James friend Toby’s birthday coming up so Chris drove halfway home to meet Toby and his dad Chris and the boys to be together for a birthday treat.
We stayed another night and then back up to Chorleywood and Mike and Hazels place for 3 days AND pack up again and this time we moved to Kathys and house, so you can imagine the late nights, war games and I padding that was going on…not us, the boys, Toby and Alice!!!
So the days rolled on, met Tamla for a bbq and Charlie for a sleepover with his friend Alfie, the boys had couple of days of football camp,met up with Helen and Archie,Tim and Kate with their two boys. And then we moved again, for the last time to Tamlas house. They went on holiday, we fed the animals,happy days.
I also took the kids in to London for a day to Buckingham palace. What an amazing place. So beautiful and well organised. Would definitely go again! Saw the banquet room which is just huge to beautiful staircases and ceilings…..
And then it was all over, back to packing again but this time for Panama. We were looking forward to go. Absolutely knackered but we had had some fun! Sure!
So sayonara London and hola Panama!

San blas 2015

After only couple of days it was time to move on, so many islands to see so we did a 3h hop to Holandes cays. Caught a kingfish on the way and carefully edged us in to the anchoring spot we chosen, next to an island called Banedup. We were the only boat there and loved it. Wondered why we were the only boat but it was a tiny anchoring spot. The wind had died, sveltering hot sun so off to explore a new island. Saw hummingbirds, picked lots of shells and wallowed in the turquoise water. Kids swimming naked and pure bliss with no other people around. Like it!!! Little did we know what a disaster waited for us the next day….
So following day we started with school and beach and then get the generator going to make water. It’s a beast of a machine, actually both are, the generator and the watermaker. The solar panels and the wind generator is usually enough to generate power but we need it on to make water so a very important part of the boat. Press the button and voila! No? Try again….no….it churned, spluttered and coughed and died. Bloody nooooo……Chris frantically probed, pushed and swore and no, it died! Saltwater had got into wrong place…..bloody caputt. Ok, end of San blas sailing, gutted, I think I even cried a little. So typical, when you find a spot of your own it then goes wrong! Unfair! Ok the next step is to check how much water we have left….one full tank out of two and 75l of emergency water that we store in plastic containers on deck. So we have water roughly for 5 days….although you can stretch it by only using it for drinking. So cooking food, saltwater, washing up, saltwater,wash, saltwater with a tiny amount of fresh for rinsing in the end an so on. But we still had to go, in case we had to wait for the right weatherwindow. So next day we left and motored for few hours to west side of Holandes cays, an island called waisaladup. Had a swim, it rained and we were cold, yes that happens sometimes as well, freezing. And straight the following day we sailed for 4h to an island called Chichime.
Very busy anchorage but we got in. Couple of kuna huts and kids around. Nice place, just not on your own. Went ashore and saw a little monkey and a kitten with the Kunas and the monkey was riding on the back of the kitten, funny!
Couple of days later we went for the day sail to Isla Linton. Heard that there is a marina there where we could leave the boat when we were going to UK. A windy day and the perfect sail and arrived in 6h. In time for a beer or two…
We ended up spending nearly two weeks there in anchor. Not a lot to do, couple of beaches we could go to with the dinghy, collected a lot of rain water for washing and cooking, Alice met a new friend called Chloe, did school, collected more rainwater and did few trips to the historic town called Portobello.
Where the Pirates and the Spanish use to hang out, where 3/4 quarter of the gold from Peru went throug the old customs house, where the black Christ is displayed in the church…..an anchorage that gives you goosebumps, that you can imagine 500 years ago….absolutely fascinating! I’m not going to bore you with the detailed history but you should check it out.
And where Alice had her 3rd birthday with cupcakes and a ringoride behind the dinghy to a nearby beach with see through green water, leaf cutter ants and beautiful snorkelling…..
Finally the time came to get back in to Isla Linton marina and prepare the boat for our flight back to UK for 7 weeks. We were all looking forward to it, to see friends, to pop back to Finland where we haven’t been for 3 years and sleep in a house with a bed and not to worry about anchor or water…..

San blas

The green island is beautiful. Nobody lives there so it’s got a Robinson Crusoe feeling to it. You can walk around it, it also have a nice shallow sandy area on one side of it which is perfect to wallow in, the water is clear and warm. You see lots of starfish, Rays and hermit crabs. On the island there is also a makeshift kuna shelter which gets use by the Kunas on their travel between the islands. They are amazing sailors and go far in they ulus or canoes. Spent our days swimming, exploring, catching fish and watching the sun go down. It was calm and beautiful and ended up being our favourite island of them all.
But as always, time to move to the next place. Coco bandero cays. Only on hour away. Only one boat there. Excellent….well we should have wondered why there was no more boats. It was awfully rolly. We rolled and rolled and not nice but we manage. Off to explore another sandy island.
Next day we woke up to dark skies and loud thunder so stayed onboard. Little did we know that when rainy season starts its nothing but thunder and lightning and lightning always attracts to tall object…..like masts. More of that later. (This is now mid May-2015) that very night hell broke loose. The Lightning was something I have never seen before. It is black as black can be as no light pollution and then light as in day time for seconds on end. And the thunder….we were in the middle of it. The wind picks up, the boat shifts, you know the boat have change its position and hope and pray that the anchor is well in. Needless to say I didn’t sleep but dear husband snored his head off. To scared to even sit outside and watch it as it was like straight from a horror movie, you know, black one second and light next and then you see something scarrryyyy……oooooh! So I just hunkered down and you guessed it, prayed again……
In the morning it continued to rain so it was school and movies. We were a little to close to land as we changed direction with the wind so I couldn’t relax at all. I decided that we leave as soon as we can before I have nervous break down due to lack of sleep and also decided that I don’t like these set of islands, to rolly. So next day we went back to Nargana to stock up and on the same whim back to our dear Green island where there was only 4 boats! Yes, 4. Comes to May the official cruising season is finished and rainy season starts. So you only get the long term live on boards around. Excellent, perfect, I think I like this season…..