Thursday, June 25, 2015

Last day onboard

This morning we woke up to our last day onboard, which makes last night our last night on board. From now on we will be vagabonds for a while. Again...

Surprisingly enough, I am more worried about packing everything we own then I am about moving back to land, back to Israel, back to real life. 
Back to real life. 

A month ago we were still in the Bahamas. Enjoying the white sands and the beutiful beaches. Then we had to say goodbye to that all that. 

We had an amazing golf stream crossing (I must admit I was worried about that) and within 9 hours were back in the land of endless possibilities. Amazing. 
The contrast between the availability of everything in the US to the lack there of in the Bahamas, only 70 miles away is mind blowing. 
After crossing we slowly made our way up the ICW, a system of channels going 'inland' parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. Completely protected from the elements but full of bridges which slow you down. Some are fixed bridges we just went under, others open at certain hours and you have to wait for them, but the really cool ones are those who opened just for us, on demend. "Open sesame" you ask the bridge master, and amazingly enough, tragic stops, just for us...

Our first important destination was cape canaveral, where we finally reunited with our dear friends from Bendecida. 
Bendecida, a beutiful leopard 43 were our body boat from st. Lucia to Grenada and throughout the huricane season. 
When the season ended and we turned north, they (together with lucky 7) went west. 
We haven't seen them since and the reunion was as great as could be. 
We ended up spending 3 nights in the slip right next to them and went to visit the kennedy space center together. 
Happy times! 
Bendecida were sweet enough to come visit us here in st augustine over this weekend, just to say 'see you later' not goodbye...
Good luck our friends, with going back to land...

Fast forward ...
The boat is listed with a broker, looking good and all systems are go. 
Almost everything is off the boat now, but still needs to be loaded into the back of a car...
We have downsized our life into a 37 foot boat, and now we're about to squeez it into a minivan... Doable? 

We are lucky enough to be able to spend our last few days in St. Augustine with our friends Alan and Becky (Alan was the delivery captain who helped us deliver our first boat to road island and then to Puerto Rico and we have stayed good friends) 

Out plan is to clean her up and on Tuesday hit the road heading to Boston. We hope to visit some friends along the way, and of course back in Boston before we fly out and then...
We have a one way ticket to Israel...
Where we are still clueless as to where we're going to live or work...

Are you in Boston just before the 13th? Are you somewhere along the way? 
Are you back in Israel? 
Or are you still on your boat, still living what now even to us seams like a dream?

Where ever you are, may you keep smiling and may we soon meet!

- the (not so) Floating Eliases

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The visiting trilogy - Part 1 - The Tropen-Choshen visit

First of all I would like to apologize to our loyal reader E from Tzefat for having to wait so long for this one. Sorry.
The last couple of months flew by faster than any other part of our trip. Paraphrasing an old saying, I realize this trip is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes… And yes, with mixed emotions we are getting closer to the end of this trip, and to a new mysterious beginning. But this deserves a post of its own.
One thing that did happen when people finally realized it’s almost the end of our trip was that they finally decided to accept out long standing invitation, and actually come and visit! This is how we found our self with 3 back to back visits, each one special, amazing and exciting in its own way.
It all started with my parents, AKA Savta Lily and Saba Ilan, who thought of our schedule, looked at the calendar, connected the dots and announced they will come visit us in the beginning of April, which meant spending Passover together. Awesome! After checking our options we have decided the best place to meet them would be in Georgetown, Bahamas. That was supposed to give us enough time to cross the Mona Passage, explore a little bit of the Turks and Caicos and still make it to Georgetown in time. A couple of weeks after they’ve made their reservation, my sister Tamar (AKA Doda Tamar) started thinking of joining them. An amazing idea, except for the challenge the timing brought. Her husband had to work and could not join her. I assured her, that except for the flights we will do everything we can to make it easy for her, and then I had an idea… If I could tell my uncle in NYC, (Dod Yair) my only uncle, that Tamar is coming, maybe I can talk him and his wife to join us too, then, use him as the final push to get Tamar to come… It worked!!! Now all we had to do was find a place (on shore… of course) which will be able to comfortably accommodate this big tribe. Leave it to Oren and some good wifi connection, and the perfect house was found.
Tamar was the first one to arrive 3 days before the others. Her kids are 8.5 6 and 3 (Rony had her birthday during their visit) so they are the same age as ours.
The kids haven’t seen each other in almost 2 years, but seconds after I got them home from the airport it seemed like they were never apart. Throughout the 2 weeks it was amazing and heartwarming to see how close these cousins are.
First day was a bit cloudy and windy, but the following days were perfect to explore the boat, the dingy, and the near by Stocking Island.

 Itai, The oldest, was eager to check out the dingy and was so excited when Oren tought him how to drive!
Together we have discovered the sting ray feeding area on stocking islandOn the island, there is a small conch shack where they make (an excellent) fresh conch salad (John, you would have loved that!). turns out the keep all the leftover conch in a bucket anyone can come and take from and feed sting rays. sting rays have been on to this for quite some time now, and the spot has quite a few big and small rays just hovering around, waiting to be fed or just petted. For Omri that was no doubt the highlight of the visit! He would go back and forth again and again, feed them and pet them and look at them and seemed to never get bored. Even Roni was brave enough to swim with them and even pet them!

3 days after Tamar arrived, my parents and uncle made it to the island. For one thing, I think it was the first time ever my dad and his brother ever went on vacation together, which is by itself exciting enough. On top of that this big family reunion was amazing. My kids were so thrilled to see Savta and Saba and their cousins shared their grand parents and great uncle and aunt with no problems.
(It was amazing to see how Arbel addressed Yair in Hebrew, and then without hesitation addressed Laurel-Lee in English).
 Now that everyone was there we could start  preparing for the next big thing on the agenda – The Seder – The Passover dinner!
I was apparently out of the loop, but my dad talked his brother into bringing from NYC all the “kosher” Passover must haves, including Mattzah, gefillte fish and horse radish, and of course enough Hagadot to go around (The Hagada is the book we read during the Seder that tells the story of the exodus – how the people of Israel got out of Egypt and made it back to the holy land…)
Before we started cooking we had to go to the beach J

Happy times!
Everyone joined hand in preparing the dinner, and when Tamar mentioned she wished we had matzah balls to add to the soup I have decided it was do-able. All we needed was some Matazh meal which we didn't have, but we did have Matazh... so we put Yair and the kids on it, and a few minutes later we had ourselves enough matzah crumbs to make legit Matzha balls!

Oren was in charge of desert and with help from the kids made his famous Sorbet De Coco

Dinner was great, and fun! when we finally ran out of Matzah a few days later I helped the kids make their own no-rise matza! was fun! Even Guy got to taste some (over skype...)

The next days of the visit flew by quickly with fun filled days. We celebrated Roni's 3rd birthday, went to the beach, had Tamar and her kids sleep over on the boat and our kids sleep over at the house (Oren and I even had the boat all to ourselves one night :) And one day Tamar, Oren and I got to go scuba diving together! sweet!
Oren and my dad went fishing together, and even Savta Lily made it on board Del Max!

I was really hoping they would be able to come and have at least a taste of what our lives are like, and I am so regretful they all made it! With Yair and Laurel Lee joining the reunion, it was way above my dreams!
Thank you for coming! I know it's been a LONG way!
Before they left we celebrated 2 early birthdays together - My mom's who turned 77, and Mika, my amazing princess, who celebrated 9! Tamar made them a great birthday cake, and I think they were both very happy!
Happy birthday Mami, Happy birthday Mike!

Yair and Laurel-Lee left a few days earlier and got their own farewell party with home cooked Lobster tails.
a few weeks after returning to New York Yair suffered a stroke. He is doing well now and back to normal, but at those critical hours when we were so worried about him I cherished the precious time we had together. Be well Yair!!

Saying goodbye was hard. but knowing we will be seeing each other soon made it easier.

Le Shana HaBaa Be Yerushalaim (next year in Jerusalem)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Do you own the Del Max?

In an attempt to wave off the writers block I've been facing, I have decided to skip a few pending posts and go for a short updated one. 
Here goes:

When we met Rafiki for Te first time, back in Grenada, Robin told me about paradise island and the Atlantis resort and the crazy water park they host. 
Park enterance fees are high, and could come up to $500 for a family of five. BUT, he said, there's a way around it. If you stay at the crazy fancy Atlantis Marina, you get free access to the park and the amazing aquarium. Well worth it, he said. 
When we first met Rafiki, back in august 2013, we thought our trip was close to its end, ad we had no plans to get to the Bahamas or even go north. 
Or so we thought....
Almost a year later we found ourselves approaching Nassau, Bahamas. 
Never say never :)
Right before we got into the channel (and  et! 
When we checked in they gave us room keys that allowed access to the hotel, the park and the aquarium, and can be used for charges. gloriously  printed on the card we found 
M/V Del Max 
Oh my! 

The park was amazing, crazy water slides, including one that goes through a shark tank (!)
Amazing grounds and pools and lagoons filled with rays, sharks of all kinds, turtles, giagantic groupers, eals and tons of other fish. All displayed in the most amazing way we've ever seen in any aquarium we visited.

Mika braved every slide, and the boys enjoyed tubing and sliding on the smaller slides. 

Now you need to understand, the Atlantis Marine is home for some on the fanciest and craziest mega yachts we've seen. 
This is a typical view of the marina. 

When I went to pay for dinner the first night I gave my card to the cashier. It was a budget dinner, but as part of the complex I could charge it. 
Then to my surprise came what is probably the funniest conversation ever. 

Guy looking at the card: Are you guys staying on the Del Max?
(THE Del Max, i like the sound of it!)
Me: yes we are
Guy: do you OWN the Del Max?
Me(smiling) : yes we do. 
(Now all he sees out of the window all day are these crazy yachts, and here we are... Dressed like, well cruisers...I think I know what he's thinking)
Guy (daring to go ahead and ask everything he was ever curious about): may I ask what you do for a living? 
Me (smiling shily): well, at the moment, we're sailing The Del Max (told you I like the sound of it)
Guy (looking impressed and puzzled): may I ask, how much does the fuel cost for such a boat? 
Me: well, sir, The Del Max is a sail boat. And the wind... It is free. 
Guy (Full of hope for the future): I hope you have a wonderful stay here on paradise island. 
Oh yes we did ! 

The following day was renamed Mother's Day. Since we missed the original Mother's Day a couple of weeks ago, we (or Oren) have decided to designate the fun filled day as mine. Fun!!
I got cards from the kids and an early cocktail, a fun packed day and a fancy dinner (with leftovers to feed us a couple of days more)
An awesome day spent with my loved ones, who made me a mother. Bliss!

Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas out there. 

From the bridge of The Del Max,
This is first mate Darya signing off

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's all about the people

Robin, from Rafiki, told me once that when they left for the trip, they thought it would be all about the amazing places they were going to see and the beautiful beaches they were going to visit, but to his surprise, the most memorable experiences he'd had were with fellow cruisers.
I couldn't agree more.
Don't get me wrong, We have seen some amazing places, and some great beaches, no doubt about that. But the friendships we found, and the brotherhood (not to mention the sisterhood :) was unlike anything else.

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday, again... the first second birthday on the trip ( feel free to re-read this line)
First we went to the post office to pick up some mail. My friend Haim from back home has sent and then resent a package of books for us and it arrived right on my birthday! Haim and Gili, you're the best!

We never know what our birthdays are going to be like and can only hope to be able to celebrate them among friends. This year I feel extra lucky. We have managed to set up a rendezvous with 3 boats who've been with us since Grenada: Rafiki, With Ingrid and Robin, and Kathrine and Alex, 4 coconuts with Toutou and Dave, Maia and Tyler, and the amazing Endless Pleasure with Tim and Stephany, once our next door neighbors up in the Rhode Island marina and now running one of the greatest charter boats in the BVI.
Tim and Steph were kind enough to host the birthday bash (thank guys! and happy birthday Steph! Wish we were there) Ingrid made a domino shaped cake, a tribute to long nights of Rum and Dominos played together, and the kids had a blast playing together in and out of the water.
The official birthday party was also an un-official farewell party for us, as we were getting ready to start our way west towards Puerto Rico and then up to the Bahamas.
In the months we've spent together, sailing along side, on and off, we have become one big happy family. 
Saying goodbye was not easy. We miss you guys!

When we got back to Puerto Rico we had a great reunion with Ciro, Laura and Catalina, and were lucky enough to celebrate with them on Catalina's birthday. Happy Birhday, dear!

The Malatrasis even came to see us further south, when we were Anchored in Ponce! It was so great! 

We also had a surprise reunion in San Juan with our Friends, the Rabinoviches from Boston who were on a cruise which happened to stop in San Juan just when we were there! a nice reminder to how cold it is back home and what a good thing we did to escape :)

In PR we also ran into Fata Morgana, whom we've met in Grenada. These guys have decided to go completely 'off the grid', sold their dinghy, and are now moving around in a kayak. They don't use their engines unless it's an emergency, and if the wind dies, Ivo takes out the kayak and tows the big boat. Talk about being self sufficient!

And so we have realized that from each of our new friends we have learned something.
We sometimes "Do a Kevin" and raise our Anchor by hand, As Kevin from Lucky 7 always did,
When I get on a bus, I now, like Molly always does, greet everyone 'good morning', or 'good afternoon'When we refrain from starting our engines we are "Ivo-ing" and when we are lucky enough to find the right produce, we make our selves a "Salad-de-Toutou"...These things, and others, and the kind spirit is with us, even after saying goodbye.

Winnie the Pooh (A.A Millen) said it right: 'How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.' 

Fair winds my friends!
May we meet again!

Next stop: Bahamas! stay tuned

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Our grandma's visit (by Mika)

2 weeks ago our grandma Noa came for a visit. Me, Gur and Arbel were so excited!
Dad went to get her from the airport while me, Mom, Gur and Arbel went to the place that fixes outboard engines, to the  marina office, and cleaned the boat.
When dad finally came back with grandma I was so happy she was here, I jumped onto the dock with no shoes on just to hug her, because I have not seen her in a year and a half already.
When grandma came on to the boat we did a mini passage to Water Island. In the passage the boys, me, and grandma took out of the suitcase everything she had brought with her for us
Finally, we got to Water Island. As we waited for a man named Marvin to pick us up, I was sitting in area where my grandma couldn't see me and then she said "where is Mika?" And then I said. "BOO!!!" When I jumped out...

When we got to the house we played double. Every morning we would come and do school and after that go do something fun. Every night one of us would go sleep with her.
At the end of the week, grandma came to sleep on the boat. I shared a room with her. The next day we left to Caneel bay in St. John. After we ate lunch we went to the beach. Me grandma and dad went  snorkling. After I was in the water for a bit I was cold so we got out.

The next day we went to the underwater trail in Trunk bay. Once again I was cold so we got out.
After that we went to the BVI but they sent us away. The BVI sent us away because grandma didn't have a visa. We went back to Caneel bay and did a hike to the post office. After that we went to the beach. At the beach we met other people with kids, and me, Arbel and the kids made a deep hole. It was very fun!
The next day we went to Xmas cove to go for pizza to a boat named Pizza Pie, which was sort of a pizza place on the water, but they were closed... So we made ourselves 'pizza pie not pizza pie' .
The next day was our last day with grandma. For dinner we went to a restaurant.
The next day I woke up at six o'clock. I quickly dressed up so I could come with dad to the airport.
We waited on the boat for the plane to leave. As we saw it leaving we waved at it  and shouted "Bye Bye Grandma!"

I hope grandma would come again!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

(Yes I know, It's almost easter... Or Tou Beshvat... I'm behind...)

In the five years we lived in the states we never joined a Christmas celebration. I guess the fact that we lived in Newton, surrounded by many other Jewish families had a lot to do with that. So, we drove around and enjoyed all the Christmas lights, but the closest we got to experience the holiday was when Mika's good friend, Anna, invited her to help decorate their family tree in the last 2 years before we left. That was fun!

This year we have been hearing about Christmas since July... All of our cruiser friends celebrate Christmas, All were about to be away from their families for the holiday and all were making plans (yes as early as July) as for where they will be for Christmas,  how will they celebrate and who they will celebrate it with. We were naturally counted in with our buddy boats. They got to light Hanukkah candles on our boat, so why won't we celebrate Jesus's birthday?
Our buddy boats were Rafiki and Four Coconuts who have been sailing with us since Bequia, La Jeanoise and Picaro who joined further north, and 2 other boats, Reve d'ocean and Oseo also joined the party. We arrived in Antigua a couple of days earlier and mat up in Jolly bay. Robin from Rafiki found a great empty lot right on the beach, and the plan was to meet for some fun ball games, enjoy the beach and then have a pot luck lunch.
13 kids and 14 adults got together for one of the best days we've had on this trip!
Dinghy line up on the beach

No, There was no 'wear red' memo, and yet...
The games were lots of fun, hard to believe this too, but we actually played football for the first time ever. Lots of first that day :)

Mika and I used Chaya's recipe and braided A LOT of Challa

After a great lunch we started the game of secret Santa, In this game each person brings a wrapped gift and adds it to a pile in the middle of the circle, each one draws a number from a hat and in the order drafted each person can either choose a gift from the pile (the gifts are wrapped, so he doesn't know what he's getting) or steal a previously opened gift from another player.If someone stole your gift you can again either take a new one from the pile or steal from someone else... when some of the gifts are 3 sets of gloves and others are digital cameras the game can get pretty funny :)

The day came to an end with our very first beach bonfire. Marshmallows and all! Sweet!
Now as I said, this was our first ever Christmas, and so for all we know this is the traditional way to celebrate the holiday. Merry Christmas!

We spent a few more days in Antigua, before moving to Barbuda for New Year's eve. Before we left, the girls got together to celebrate Carol's 50th birthday. we have decided to make her wish come true and all went Zip-lining together! Scary at first (for me!) but I finally go the hang of it and by the end of the 12 lines even I really enjoyed it.
Happy Birthday Carol!
December 29th was a strange day for me. Exactly one year earlier we had our accident and lost our boat. On the one hand it was one of the hardest days ever. But on the other, it shifted our story in a way that wouldn't have happened otherwise. We have met amazing people thanks to the incident who stayed our good friends till this day and hopefully for many years. Those people, Brooks, Bill, Andrea, Don and Dotty wanted nothing in return for their amazing help, but told us we should pay it forward. I think this is the strongest message I took from that day, and we have been trying to pay it forward ever since.

For New Years Eve we arrived in Barbuda. Everyone told us what beautiful beaches Barbuda has, and although we only had one day to spend there we have decided to make the D-tour and see what it was about. New years day also marks our personal anniversary. 12 years! Never thought we'd celebrate it in such an amazing place!

The day was fun, Happy hour included bubbly as expected, but as cruiser's midnight is at 9pm the new year came a little earlier then expected.

Happy New Year to all, I hope you live up to your resolutions, spend time with good friends and loved ones, and have a great new 2015!