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Marvellous Multifaceted Mammas

Have you ever stopped and wondered quite what marvellous creatures us Mammas are? The many dimensional, multi-faceted nature of us?

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Me with my Batt Pack – who is in the driving seat?!!

We give birth to our babes and from here on in the job description is ever changing, becoming deeper and broader as life marches on. We soon become experts on our new babes – the ones who know them best, as we tune into and learn their language. We have never before been taught ‘baby’ and it is an exhausting minefield of utter, bewildering, yumminess. We are the feeder, the burper, the waker of the baby who is still sleepy and the one trying to get the resolutely unsleepy baby asleep. Our CV expands as we become the laundry pro, expert at whitening whites with unmentionable stains. We change nappies almost more often than we do anything else, we wonder why we don’t have shares in Pampers and how on earth the women who came before us managed when the nappies had to be, horror of all horrors, washed! We tune into and can spot the difference between cries – hungry, sleepy, bored, cold, icky nappy, and we race to relieve the babe of the misfortune.

We learn patience, patience in abundance. Babies cry and sometimes they cry and cry and cry and you cry too as, having tried everything, you simply don’t know how to soothe them. There are times when our babes drink just that little bit too much milk and puke it all back up again. Your heart sinks as you know this will impact their sleep and of course your lack of sleep. Talking of which, we learn to live on the torturous edge of sleep, rarely better than just the wrong side of enough sleep. We are exhausted, depleted and we can’t think straight and yet there is no sick day option – life continues apace and you soldier on.

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You feel the full range of emotions as a Mamma, when you are in the depths remember the highs that await!

Our weightlifting role begins as soon as we are responsible for the Baby bag and the unlimited list of all that is required in there! Let alone holding the baby – who knew that  arms could ache so much holding such a little thing? Why were car seats made to be so awkward to lug around? We become adept at tricky jobs like opening the front door with your baby in the baby bjorn, food shopping in hand, they get grotty as you faff,  the panic in you rises, and somehow you maintain a steady hand as you get the key in the door with relief!

As our magical creatures grow we dive into the messy world of feeding – solid food, cutlery, spillages always, food up the walls, tomato soup all over your face spat out in force because they don’t want another mouthful. We pour our heart and soul into creating healthy, nutritious meals, we freeze the meals, labelling them carefully for the freezer, defrosting them with enthusiasm for the next meal. So much of this food is rejected we wonder why we bother, we try cheeky tricks like a spoonful of sweet yoghurt, then a spoonful of chowder – but babes catch on quick and soon the mouthfuls of chowder are spat at us too! We are chefs with no kitchen staff, often battling with the taste buds of our babes – “broccoli? You LOVE broccoli?!”.

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Ok so I think this feeding time was chocolate cake – rarely an issue with chocolate cake feeding!!

As our baby start to move around we hone our watchdog skills – we can avert disaster at several paces. We catch falling glasses, remove trip hazards, just in time, keep hands away from hot cups of tea. We develop Ninja senses that we never knew we had. We are impressed with our new senses but also exhausted from being in a constant high state of alert! We astonish ourselves with how many ‘No’s’ we can say – we never thought we would be that Mum who says no constantly or ‘Be careful’, ‘Don’t touch’, ‘Don’t run’ – all these limiting statements that we know clip our child’s wings – but never before have we been presented with so many potential life-threatening dangers for something that is so incredibly precious to us. With no qualifications we are also Chief Nurse, needed for every ailment, with responsibility to decide whether we can deal with it, or the pharmacist or the doctor. Always at the ready with a plaster (which some kids love and others consider the height of all evil), a cold press, vick, savlon, and of course a good old fashioned, miracle working cuddle.

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One of the joys of many kids is that they can cuddle each other too – makes my heart sing!

Then come the playdates and the constant attention and referee work that is required to monitor proceedings. If we have a friend over too, we will of course barely say anything to each other as we both try to navigate the quagmire of toddler relationships.

The Referee job continues apace, especially if we have more babies. In many cases it would be easier to install security cameras so you can press rewind and pause to see exactly what happened in the toddler dispute and interject fairly! To add to this role of Referee, we are also Judge and Jury – we have had no training in either role but the situation needs sorting fairly and yet rarely will your babes consider the solution to be fair. As they grow and begin to talk, our revelling in their new found communication skills is short lived as the questions begin. So many, never ending questions and you need the answers – you need more answers than Google “because I said so” is never good enough. Our teaching skills that we have been honing since the day of the birth are put to excellent use from here as you teach right and wrong, teach all subjects across the curriculum of life and fuel their fires. As their need to explore and adventure grows, we put on your Detective hat and explore with them. We are the chief Entertainment Officer and PA, expected to deliver fun classes, playdates and enriching 1-on-1 time, all the while knowing that our babes’ patience is short and if the entertainment isn’t up to the job, they will soon let us know about it!

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One of our family cycles, or rather me running behind the older 3 with baby Liberty in tow!

Oooooh did I mention that we are also the Personal Dresser of our children. When they are babies we lay the outfits out carefully, they are of course puked on fairly soon after so several outfit changes are needed per day. We are still 100% personal dresser for a while longer as we buy them their first shoes and  dress them as the cutest toddlers known to man. Then one day, some babes begin to reject our choices, deciding instead that the colour clash option is essential, their favourite jumper will be worn daily and their wellies will go with well, everything! We marvel at their growing independence but struggle with being sacked spontaneously from our personal dresser role!

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Testing the boundaries and having a whale of a time of it!

As they grow and go to school we become the taxi driver, back and forth between school and clubs and playdates. Our babes are often fractious at getting into the car, as are we considering the length of time it has often taken to get them out of the house! If they fall asleep enroute, they are also fractious when we get them out. School can seem like a rhum deal to them and another job of ours is to persuade them quite how wonderful school will be. Whilst we look forward to the headspace that school gives us, we dearly miss their company when we have been used to being by their side 24/7.

Now that is just a fraction of the many roles that we have – they bloom and blossom as our children grow, some roles take a back seat whilst others like become more intense. Of course there is no pay for this job of ours, infact it is a job that costs us a small fortune as we finance everything that our little ball of energy needs. Add to that no training, no days off, no financial bonuses, no tips, no reviews so you can each regularly make a new agreement as to how to better work things out.

We are the Marvellous Multifacted Mammas – and all that is before any life and dreams that we have for ourselves – that of course has to be fitted in around this mega Mamma job. What do we get in return? LOVE LOVE LOVE in abundance that enriches us beyond measure and a lifetime of fascinating, utterly beautiful, bonding growth. Those inky grey newborn baby eyes that dreamily gaze at us during the nighttime feeds; the way they light up when we walk into the room; the dreamy feeling of their arms around you when they hug you tight; the way they make us laugh our socks of with the funny things they say;  catching the first glimpse of each other at the end of the school day; the feeling we get when we make them roar with laughter; watching them bloom from babies to children, to teenagers and beyond; watching their independent, free spirits bloom; teaching them new talents and watching them grow with pride; the fact that they ground us utterly in the present moment and ignite our inner child; that general overwhelming feeling of love.

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This feeling – pause and soak it up whenever it comes your way Mammas!

Mamma you are an incredible force of nature and through the work you put into your babes, you are creating a brighter future for this beautiful world.  So every time you doubt yourself, you feel tired, you wonder how you are going to cope, please know that you have got this. You were born to do it. Promise me, you will pause for a while right now and truly HONOUR the amazing role that you have – BIG yourself up. There is no other job in the world that has less pay but is more rewarding. You are the LIGHT for your babe – you light the way for them and this is such a privilege. I celebrate all that you are and hope that you recognise the glorious impact you have and honour yourself wholly. You are a truly, utterly, marvellous human being!

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My rainbow tribe, born to create the future and make this world a better place!

Heavenly Qoya

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Qoya means Queen in Quechuan (an indigenous language used by shamans in South America).  This doesn’t refer to an emotionally distant, bejewelled figure who holds a position of inherited power, but instead, Queen that translates as “a female manifestation of higher consciousness.” The Qoya were the women in the communities – all the women – all revered for their powerful intuition. Unlike a Queen who rules over others, the Qoya Queen reclaims the right and personal authority to govern herself.

I have now had the honour of teaching 24 Qoya classes in Poole to over 50 women. There is a growing tribe of beautiful souls who feel that Qoya is a joyful part of their self care.  I devote my sincere love to each class I teach and learn so much every time. I am quite humbled by the feedback I have received and here are some of the highlights:

“It was so lovely to meet you all today…I was so apprehensive as it’s not something that I thought would be ‘me’ and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised… what a lovely group of ladies you are. I felt so emotional and so energised and happy afterwards. I can’t wait for next week now. “ J C

“Thank you so much for an amazing Friday morning. Such a heavenly way to start the weekend. I can’t wait until next Friday.” CP

“Phenomenal class today Dulcie, so powerful in shifting energies – it felt like coming home. Thank you thank you.” AH

“Amazing class Dulcie, it transformed my mindset within 30 seconds of the breathwork and helped me SO much today. Loved the music, loved the sea, loved the circle, love you. Thank you and thank Qoya for the simplicity of it’s miracle magic”. SL

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Each week is dedicated to a different theme and I get to play DJ and create a tailored playlist! We get under the skin of each theme, and each women creates an intention to devote their dancing to, with the idea that energy grows where energy goes. We open up our hearts, travelling the 6′ from our heads to our hearts and letting our hearts lead the way. We practice yoga as prayer whilst focusing on our intention with reverence. We explore the opposite of the theme – eg: Taking the theme of Sisterhood, what does it feel like in your body when you don’t feel connected to Sisterhood? In recognition that we are all made up of light and dark, we create a safe space to really honour, acknowledge and experience our darker feelings like sadness, frustration, jealousy, anger – we take them as a dance partner and move them through our body. Then we test one of the hypothesise of Qoya that, like wild animals, we can shake our selves back to centre, shake off those heavier feelings and restore our natural vitality. A fun choreographed dance brings us together in celebration. Then we have the pinnacle of the class, the chance to dance freely to a track that embodies the theme perfectly – eg: how does it feel in your body when you are connected to Sisterhood?  We dance those feelings to our heart’s desire. The class is drawn to a close with a share of the highlights whilst we stretch and discuss how we may incorporate the positives from the class into our life. We close with a well deserved rest in stillness, letting the essence of the class seep into our bones, before we leave feeling energised and uplifted.

So far in my Qoya classes this year we have danced for:

*Sisterhood – This was a special fund raising class where over £500 was donated to help fund the brain tumour treatment for my dear friend Debbie Smith. The night was magical and drew some beautiful souls. Huge thanks to James and Layla Gordon for gifting us the wonderful space at The Queens Hotel. “The circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we are weak and sing with us when we are strong” – Sark

*Courage – In this class we explored how it feels to have the courage to take a leap of faith! Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. Instead it means that you don’t let fear stop you. It takes courage to live the life you want.

*Gratitude – We explored feelings of Gratitude and how we can invite more of it into our lives. In this world where we are so often depleted, to pause a while and remember what you are truly grateful for is a source of joy. The moment you start acting as though life is a blessing, it starts feeling like one.

*The Gift of Presence – We considered that life is actually only available in the present moment. “Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware!” Thich Nhat Han. One of the glorious things about each Qoya class is that it grounds you in the present moment. You take this gift of presence into life after class and life is all the richer for it.

*Nurture your Inner Child – “Above all, never let age extinguish your inner child!” S Agna. Qoya is a fabulous space to let your inner child dance to her hearts content. She can fuel us with incredible energy and enthusiasm. How many times in your life have you been told to ‘grow up’ or not to ‘be silly’? How did that feel for you? Did you suppress a part of yourself in response? Our inner child never leaves us and deserves to be honoured and nurtured.

*Self Love – One of my favourite themes! We could all invite so much more self love into our lives. The relationship with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship that we have. Surely we owe ourselves the love that we so freely give to others? Then we serve from the saucer because our cup is filled to overflowing – giving from this space is easy and effortless. This class perfectly coincided with Valentine’s Day!

*Freedom – I believe that Freedom is being YOU without anyone’s permission. “The most important kind of freedom is to be who you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel and, in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large scale revolution until there is a personal revolution. It’s got to happen inside first” Jim Morrison. One of the key essences of Qoya is Freedom – the freedom to enjoy being in our bodies. This class was full to bursting as the theme struck a chord with many women!

*Connection – For the last 10 years Qoya has invited women to connect with themselves through movement, to have an embodied experience of their essence as wise, wild and free. From this place of connection with ourselves, we are more easily able to connect to others, to nature, to spirit, to life itself! “Connection is why we are here. It gives purpose and meaning to our lives” Brene Brown. This class coincided with International Women’s Day and the 15 year anniversary since my lovely Mamma died. It was no coincidence that they were on the same day – divine intervention!

*Perfectly Imperfect – Having a beautiful soul doesn’t mean you are pure, it is being able to consistently come back with a heart full of love and compassion, despite your human imperfections. In this class we celebrated ourselves as perfectly imperfect, recognising and accepting all our flaws as part of the wondrous whole being that we are.  “Just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person that you are”. Mandy Hale

*Embrace the Light – This class coincided with the Spring Equinox, the first day of Spring and the last of the 2019 Supermoons. There was light all around and we awoke our souls to it. “Live by the sun and love by the moon, for you must live in the light to embrace the shadows it so perfectly casts. Becca Lea

*Celebrate – “The more you celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate” Oprah Winfrey. This week coincided nicely with my birthday – 43 journeys around the sun – I was in celebratory mood! We danced to celebrate so many more aspects of our lives.

* Embrace the Unknown – By replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity, we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We danced for faith and trust in the unknown, understanding that we cannot predict the future and to believe that we are stepping into anything other than the unknown is a simply a veil of illusion. Uncertainty can be so uncomfortable but consider that when nothing is certain anything is possible!

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If you are interested in Qoya but not sure that it is for you, I am creating an Introduction to Qoya class – please come and try and then you will know whether or not it is for you! Please email me for details. I teach regular Qoya classes locally and you are more than welcome to come to any of these, just send me an email to save you a mat space. Classes are £10 per session. You need no prior experience in Qoya, Yoga or Dance. Regular classes are:

Every Thursday Morning 9.10-10.30 @ Parkstone Yacht Club, Poole

Every Friday Morning 9.30-11.00 @ The Yoga Studio, Poole

Monthly in the New Forest – please contact me @ dulciebatt@yahoo.co.uk for details.

Lastly these quotes are so apt for any Qoya dancer – if they resonate with you then it is a sign to come and try a class. Remember there is no way that you can do anything wrong in Qoya and the way you know you are doing it right is that it feels good!

“’Finding yourself’ is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten dollar bill in last winter’s coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. ‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got it’s hands on you.” Emily McDowell.

“I am SPIRIT and I am SEXUAL. I am WILD and I am GROUNDED. I am STILL and I am ALIVE. I am FIERCE and I am SOFT. I am STRONG and I am VULNERABLE. I am a MAMMA and I am FREE. I have NEEDS and I am INDEPENDENT. I am SHADOW and I am LOVE. I AM WOMAN. I AM WOMAN. I AM WOMAN. SO PROUD TO BE WOMAN.We think that we have to choose. The parts of who we are. So it can all fit into a tidy package. But if we take some, and reject the rest… We reject parts of who we are And we don’t get to be fully whole. Or fully FREE. Own it all beauties. Own it all and be proud.” Nicky Clinch

For me, Qoya is a continued journey of love and learning. You come to class as you are and leave as so much MORE of who you truly are. Every session lights up my soul and I feel utterly privileged to be able to teach this beautiful practice.

BattPack Sailing Log Days 17-20

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Keen crew at sunrise!

Day 17 – 11th December – 191 miles sailed in the last 24 hours – wow, a record day & just what we need at this point! 2 more days to go! 48 hours is still the longest passage prior to the Atlantic that I have ever done, but it seems small fry now and is all that lies between us and land!

Jago and Liberty were keen to do the sunrise shift this morning, so Jay woke them at 6am and they enjoyed the sunrise with him – snuggled up with hot chocolates! We had a peaceful day with great wind and we are galloping along still. We all have various aches and pains because our bodies need to move more than they have been able to! I have my trainers with me and am dreaming of arriving in St Lucia and running to launch my body into action again!

There is a huge and increasing amount of peculiar seaweed in the water, it looks gelatinous, almost like frog spawn. It is playing havoc with our fishing lines so we have given up for now.

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We sailed past vast areas of this seaweed which we now know to be Sargaso weed

The ARC sent out a message today saying that an ARC boat has lost it’s mast and only has enough fuel to cover 100 of the remaining 400 miles. They appealed to any boats close by to help by giving them any spare fuel. We aren’t anywhere near them to help but are wishing them well!

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Hot chocolate at sunrise

Day 18 – 12th December – The wind has died down so the motors are on for us to get to St Lucia as planned. It is doable, we are keeping the faith. We begin to plan what needs to be done on arrival and make a list- the first for nearly 3 weeks, prior to that we had prep lists coming out of our ears!!

It has felt properly hot for the first time today. The Gennaker was set to the starboard side for most of the day and we realise what a sun shade that has been for the boat! We have our last salt water shower which is pleasantly warm at 32 degrees – an increase in 7 degrees since we left Las Palmas. Sitting together, we enjoy our Penultimate Sunset at sea. The last before we see land. It strikes a chord in us all.

Our food rations have served us well. I make a French Onion soup for lunch with the last of the onions and Beef Pie for tonight. Homemade flapjack for pudding, yum! We have lots of tins left in our stock but the fresh food is practically gone. If we needed to survive on tinned food for the next few days then we could, but we are very glad that we don’t!

The last of our night watches tonight and I have my favourite – the sunrise shift. These watches have by and large been magic. Keeping watch whilst listening to music under a blanket of magnificent stars is a great way to while away the night hours. Catching up on sleep during the day has made it possible. There were a few livelier nights where the flybridge was an action station for sail changes etc but in the main, the nights have passed peacefully.

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Our Crew hard at work

Day 19 – December 13th – We launch into action – today is the day, we will have landed before the day is out! Much cleaning and boat prep to do, sorting washing (loads!) ready for the laundrette, tidying away the things that we needed for the crossing and getting out the things that we need for cruising eg: paddleboard! There is much excitement on the boat. We all work hard and treat ourselves to the first fresh water shower – a warm one too – divine!! We are a clean, mean floating machine!!

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With delight, Liberty spies land, Land Ahoy!

We see land! Liberty is the first to spot it, she squeals and shouts “Land Ahoy!” as loud as she can! We all leap up on deck and join in with the squeals and shouts – then we stare in wonder – land, beautiful land. We are so relieved, feel incredibly grateful and very happy indeed.

 

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Our last meal at sea in our newly scrubbed boat- land is about an hour away!

We are bedazzled by the lights as we near shore. We radio in our arrival and are met by the ARC team who welcome us with a basket of fruit, a bottle of rum and a rum punch for all! We jump off onto the pontoon and kiss it with delight!!

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A relieved crew up on deck as we arrive in St Lucia!

I ask each of our wonderful crew to sum up in a few words their experience of the last 3 weeks. Here goes:

Jason – Un unforgettable slice of wild and free family time!

Alex – Invaluable lessons learned, sea legs definitely earned. The journey of a lifetime, always follow the sunshine!

Dad – Land at Last!!

Rex – An adventure I will never ever forget!

Ruby – An exciting adventure that few get to experience. I am so glad that I am one of them!

Jago – One of the best experiences of my life!

Liberty – A fun and exciting adventure!

Dulcie – Wow, what a challenge with many beautiful moments amidst the very best of crew. We surrendered to the flow, and are feeling humbled by the whole affair and utterly euphoric at the sight of land!

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Oh yes!!

Day 20 – December 14th – The balloons are out & the birthday boy is delighted to have his birthday on arrival! The day begins with pressies and cards, followed by a delicious breakfast ashore. We clear customs and check in with the ARC office and then enjoy a pizza and ice cream lunch – heaven! Then we are free to set sail again – just out into the bay where there is an awesome Wibits water park. The kids have dreamed of swimming and we all indulge merrily! We return to the boat, hungry and happily tired and enjoy every mouthful of Rex’s birthday cake! The day is topped off with a meal ashore with Dad and Linda. What a day, everything feels novel and extra glorious after life at sea. Rex declares it to be the best birthday he has ever had!

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BattPack Sailing Log Days 13-16

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Rex’s fabulous drone shot – just look at that expanse of blue!

Day 13 – December 7th Rex and I did the 10:00-1:00 shift and it was lovely to share the shift with him. We talked about anything and everything under the starlit sky. We saw an incredible shooting star which shot right across the sky. The glorious peace is one of the most magical things about night shifts. That, the twinkling array of stars and the phosphorence which sparkles in the wake alongside out boat. It feels like there is magic all around.

We awoke to the glimmer of a Rainbow to the starboard side of our boat. She came in the wake of a couple of squalls, which hit the later night shifts. Today we are in between squalls and calm. In a moment of calm, Rex proposed that this was the most settled weather we would get and it was time to fly his drone and take some aerial footage of the boat. We had discussed him flying his beloved drone on a day where we were becalmed, yet that day hasn’t come and neither is it forecast. So, we agreed that a calm window today looked like the best bet. We were still doing 3-4kts and so landing the drone back on the boat (an essential) would be the dicey part. The plan was for Rex to aim it as best he could and Jay throw a blanket over to smother it when it got close, shutting off the motors on first contact. Rex got the drone flying with some concern about landing it on a moving target. He had previously only landed it on a stationary target in light winds. I held him steady as the boat was still rockin’ and rollin’ – his body was shaking with the nerves. He took the footage as best he could and then it was landing time. It was much harder than he thought and in the end a crash landing was all that was possible – the drone hit the fly deck, then skidded down the port side of the deck before coming to it’s final landing place right on the front edge of the port bow – it was scooped up just in time by Alex! Phew! Jubilation! The photographs are excellent and the video footage just amazing – nothing but BattPack, a whole lot of sea and sky – the vista is so vast that it appears as thought you can actually see the curvature of the Earth! Well done dear Rex and a special mention to how well you handled the stress darling boy!

It is Friday, or fri-yay as little Liberty calls it! Whenever we are onboard it is a particularly excellent day for the kids because a little pirate called Little Jonny Naughty hides sweets for them around the boat. He first came into play in 2008 when we bought our first boat BattCat. Jason’s Granny, the legendary Granny Batt came onboard and before we knew it there were gold coins hidden in the cabins – much to 3 and 4 year old Ruby and Rex’s delight! This started a tradition and the kids are thrilled that he still manages to find our boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! Liberty is convinced that the magical phosphorescence has something to do with it! Happily aboard with his sweetie treasure haul, Jago has just declared that “Life is brilliant!”

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The stunning rainbows on the voyage were a highlight

Day 14 – December 8th A peaceful day, not much wind but the calmest seas we have had. Not really ideal as we are all keen to get to St Lucia at this stage and despite enjoying the more relaxing motion, we want to increase speed! Our ETA is 5 days time – we expect to arrive by mid afternoon on Thursday 13th December. Just in time for Rex’s 14th birthday on the 14th December!

Jago’s tooth came out today – it has been hanging on a thread for a while! He wonders if the tooth fairy will find him in the middle of the ocean?!l

We have the 3rd shower of our trip this afternoon. Heavenly to be clean! Never again shall we take a luxurious daily hot shower or bath for granted – never!! We dream of the things that we shall enjoy in St Lucia – hot showers, pizza and ice-cream top the list! For tonight a Thai Curry will have to do!

157 miles covered in the last 24 hours. 5 more days to go…..!

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These darling kids were upbeat throughout the tip!

Day 15 – December 9th – I did the sunrise shift which passed smoothly until 05:50, when what looked like a bright green light, similar to a firework, shot out across the sky from behind the headsail and then petered out. All I could think was that it was a flare. I leapt out of my seat, took a note of our position, could see nothing more on the horizon and switched on the VHF to Ch 16 to listen out for an emergency call. I woke up Jay to see what else we could do. We shone a bright torch in the direction of the light, but could see nothing else. We sat and pondered what on earth it could be – apparently not a flare, they don’t come in green and they would travel with the wind whereas the arc of the green light I saw was across the wind. We wonder if any other ARC boats saw it? We will investigate more in St Lucia!

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Dolphin Magic

We were treated to a magnificent pod of dolphins this morning! At least 50 of them! They were so sociable and playful. They danced and leapt around our boat for a good hour! We sat on the bow, with our feet hanging over the edge, almost touching their bodies. What a delight to behold! We were all captivated. Dad played the harmonica throughout and we were whooping with joy! We had all been wishing to see a big pod since day one and our wish was granted! We have some incredible photos, videos and memories of this day!

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Front row seats for dolphin viewing!

We thought we had a big catch on both fishing lines this afternoon, but in both cases it was a large clump of heavy seaweed. If that is such hard work to pull in, then god knows what a fish would be like! Have lamented the lack of fish in the catch again, we had a surprise at dinner. Quite out of the blue, during our spaghetti Bolognese meal in the cockpit, a flying fish flew in, hit Liberty in the forehead, Jago on the arm and landed in the middle of the table. We were all so shocked, there were many screams and yelps as it flippered about speedily. After several attempts, Jay managed to pick up the slippery fellow and throw the startled fish back into the sea. Jago and Liberty both promptly collapsed in my arms, sobbing with shock! Bless them! Once they recovered, we all had a good laugh about it. Not many people have been whacked by a flying fish, which tried to leap into their dinner! Holy Moly!

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Our impressive seaweed catch!

We have 700 miles left to go. Some strong winds forecast, so a lumpy last few days looks likely. But St Lucia is an ever increasing reality!

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My gorgeous nephew Alex who was a total star throughout!

Day 16 – 10th December – We are galloping along! Great job because we absolutely need this pace to get to St Lucia in time for Rex’s 14th birthday on the 14th December.  The dear boy has been a total star onboard, but another day at sea for his celebrations simply isn’t top of his agenda and I am wholeheartedly with him!! He will make the best of whatever situation we are presented with, but certainly getting to St Lucia, eating pizza, swimming and enjoying a change of scenery will be just what the doctor ordered!!

184 miles in the last 24 hours- 535 left to go! We are on a direct course of 280 to St Lucia. The wind is high 25-30kts and the forecast remains as such for the next couple of days. The seas are huge again and after a couple of calm days, everyone is feeling dicky. We are down to the last few sea sickness tablets which are being rationed out according to need! Various squalls hit us and we race inside to escape the thundering rain. They only last a few minutes and soon the sun is drying everything out again.

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Rex and Ruby snuggled in on their nightwatch

The food supplies are drying up but we are still creating delicious meals each day. Our attempt at a Wagamama Cha Han tonight – less of the usual fresh vegetables, instead tinned asparagus and sweetcorn will have to do! With a douse of sweet chilli sauce, the crew will be happy!

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Galloping along with our Gennaker

BattPack Sailing Log Days 9-12

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Our first dolphin sighting

Day 9 –December 3rd I did the 1:00-4:00 shift and despite a handover from my dear Dad who said “There is nothing much going on up there tonight Dulce!”, it was a busy shift. Our AIS alarm kept going off with a message saying that there was a boat in close range that was a dangerous target. Despite close inspection, I could see nothing around the boat at all. I wondered if there was any possibility that it was a whale?! I knew of course that a whale couldn’t come up on the AIS alert, which is based on radio frequency. But by myself on deck, in the middle of the night with an alarm going off and an image of something described as a ‘dangerous target’ coming up underneath the boat, it did cross my mind! Then what looked like a star began to flash a bright torch again and again at our boat. It was another boat with just the steaming light but no navigation lights on – I signalled back to acknowledge that we had seen them & realised that our Sat Nav was so zoomed out that it looked like they were right underneath us!

We saw Dolphins today! Only 3 of them and just a brief visit but they swam super fast back and forth in front of our boat, much to our delight! How our spirits lifted at the sight of them! We then treated ourselves to a salt water shower and hair wash on the bow. Ooooh how luxurious to be clean! Never before have we noticed how radiant clean skin feels – something we simply take for granted at home.

As we sat drying in the sun, Jay and I had a lovely chat with dear Alex & Dad. Moments like these are to be treasured!

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Ruby drying happily in the sun

Day 10 – December 4th Halfway today! Halfway party begins. Yay! Good food all day and celebration!

We are now officially in the middle, one thousand five hundred miles from anywhere. Whoaaaaa. That is bonkers! I took a pano shot of the beautiful sunset tonight and sat a while on the flybridge soaking up the moment. We are truly in the middle of nowhere and yet the fact that we are here is momentous. I have never felt so tiny in all my life. I feel humbled by the vastness that stretches all around me. For the first time on this trip I feel at peace. I breathe it in. Here we are on our little boat, floating on a sea that is part of the Earth, which itself is spinning continuously around the Sun. What else can we do but surrender to Life’s flow?

As we start to get closer to the Caribbean there is increased likelihood of local squalls, which are unforecast and blow up quickly with the potential to cause havoc. Jay briefs the night watch crew about these squalls, so we are ready to take the right action when they occur. The wind is behind us so that is where we need to watch out. We have set up our Sat Nav with an additional Radar page, which can spot the squalls to give us time to take action. The plan is to point the boat so that the squall is directly behind us, call for help and reduce the sails if the wind is too strong.

Ruby, Liberty and I make flapjacks for a yummy afternoon snack. Then we create a feast for dinner to celebrate being half way! BBQ steak with sweet potatoe chips and veg. Scrum.

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Baking with Liberty

We call our family today to touch base. It is heavenly to speak with them all – we are missing them dearly. How incredible that our little sat phone can put us in voice contact with them – it comes at an extortionate price but it was truly worth it to hear their voices!

The seas are pretty horrid still as we have swell coming from across the boat and the wind is behind us. The motion of the boat is very confused. Sea legs come and sea legs go and we surrender to the flow.

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Our single, magical Sat Phone call to home!

Day 11 – December 5th I am on the sunrise shift and turn to face the back of the boat and watch the sunrise in its entirety. A real delight. Preceded by the sliver of the crescent moon appearing as a smile behind our boat.

Ok, so today is the day, the calmest sea that we have had so far and a mighty 5000 miles deep – time to swim!! We took the sails in entirely, but even so the forward momentum of the boat, just on these ‘calmer’ waves was 4kts! It was definitely a case of face and embrace your fear for each and every one of the crew. Jago was the most keen, which at 8 years old is impressive to say the least. Liberty on the other hand, had no interest in going in whatsoever and remained resolute. The rest of us, approached the opportunity gingerly. Jason led the charge, bless his soul, I have a vision of him sat at the stern, looking out at the sea and the loop rope that he had made to hold us, assessing how wise a prospect this was to invite his entire family to swim in the deepest seas we have ever encountered…. Then he was in, head under, vitalised! Jago was next and Jay stayed in the sea as the safety net. Jago was thrilled by the experience! Ruby and Rex followed suite and both whooped in jubilation at the exhilaration! Then, my turn….. having been a Jaws child (ie: saw the film as a youngster and have heard the der d, der d, der d der d der d der d music in my head when swimming into the unknown ever since), I never thought I would dare do this swim. I surprised myself by throwing care to the wind and actually relishing the moment! The most peculiar sensation was the amount of drag caused by the forward momentum of the boat, it was as thought the sea was trying to suck you in! My Dad was next and he dunked his head under and looked quite at home! Alex was last, saying that he “had put it off as long as he could” as he stepped down the ladder – his face said no but his body said yes and he was in! We sat drying in the sun and revelled in our encounter with the deep blue.

Swim Mid Atlantic – 5000 metres deep – not for the fainthearted!!

The wind blew up throughout the afternoon and we varied between our 2 sail configurations. We switch between twin headsails when the wind is directly behind us and our Gennaker which gives us a bit more leeway round to a broad reach. This sail combination has been perfect so far for any winds that we have experienced. We have covered 179 miles in the last 24 hours.

Rex spots the glimmer of a rainbow off the stern this afternoon and it slowly expands to the most incredible rainbow that we have ever seen. It is a full arc of magnificent intensity, it melts into the sea, almost looking like a full circle of glorious light! The kids are so excited, no-one can believe how gorgeous it is! Then a second arc develops above it. I am literally in heaven. Rex’s sunglasses have polarised lenses and they intensify the colours beautifully – I need these sunglasses in my life! Rainbows are a sign for me of love from above. Even more perfect today because on my watch last night, with my head in an excellent book called ‘The Universe has your Back’, I was reading about signs from the Universe and that you can ask for them to appear. Considering our current adventure, I wanted to know that the rest of the journey would go smoothly and we would arrive in St Lucia in one piece. So I declared out loud “Thank you, Universe, for offering me clarity. Show me my sign if I am moving in the right direction.” Lo and behold, the very next day I get the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious rainbow possible!! A definite blessing for us on this journey. Oh happy day!!

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With the rainbow, comes the rain and in this case our first squall. Having just seen the rainbow, we knew we would be alright despite the squall coming in thick and fast. Heavy rain, high winds and crazy seas. Squalls usually push through in about 15 minutes but in the wake of this one, strong winds remained throughout the night. It was my night off duty but the boys were up on deck in their full wet weather gear, braving the elements. Sails were reduced and the wind rarely blew above 30kts, but it was a helluva ride for the night.

Before bed, Jay checks the forecast and there is a message form the ARC saying that one of the boats has hit a whale, their rudder is damaged, they have steering issues and are taking on water. They issued a Pan Pan emergency call. What a shock for them all. They are pumping the bilges to stay on top of the water intake and another boat is in close proximity to them to be of assistance when & where required. Sending out blessings to them that they are all ok.

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Day 12 – Dec 6th I awoke at 6.00 to crazy sounds in our bunk, I was on immediate full alert as it certainly felt like the wind speed had got above 30kts and I wanted to let my nephew, who was doing the sunrise shift, know I was awake to help if he needed it. He was in control, pretty chilled and said he could handle it. What a dude! On my way back into the boat, my bare foot stepped on something slimy, urgggh, a flying fish – thank god it was a light step and slide vs heavy step and squish!!

I snuck back to my bunk and marvelled at the sounds that the crew sleep through. The best way to describe it is a high intensity crashing, clunking, sliding, bashing, whacking, snapping, slam dunking kinda ensemble!! Many noises that would ordinarily make you jump right out of your skin, we have become practically immune to. Earplugs help for sure, but the kids don’t use them and they have been sleeping like babes! Case in point, Jay and Rex have just emerged from their bunks and Jay said “Hey, that was a noisy night Rex eh?” and Rex replied “Was it……?!”

Alex and I were chatting today about how we had both underestimated how big a mental challenge this Atlantic crossing would be. There is a healthy mix of fun, fear, excitement, boredom, and vastness of sea which can either feel liberating or interminable! It is definitely a case of mind over matter. The days are long, the awkward motion is constant and we are within a microcosm of life. At the same time, we are cut off from our lives at home and miss the rest of our nearest and dearest. Whilst I had dreamed of this trip, I recognise that the dream is my creation of how I thought the trip would be. In many ways the dream lives on but much of the reality is different and I attempt to reconcile the two. Also, I recognise the element of the ‘grass is greener’. How I had longed for the escape on the sea and yet, at this stage, even the simple idea of going for a walk sounds like a heavenly proposition! Our bodies want to move, we are generally fast moving creatures and have necessarily had to slow right down on the boat. This brings with it both relief and also resistance. We are used to much doing and surrendering to much being. In general the overriding feeling is one of surrender. We are aware of it all and watching with interest, soaking up the many and varied joys aboard whilst knowing that life ashore is only days away.

Dad got his guitar out this afternoon and strummed through some classics as we sang along happily – all completely rooted in the present moment. I have such fond memories of singing along to him playing the guitar throughout my life. Just wonderful to share with my kids too.

174 miles covered in the last 24 hours.

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Snuggled with Jago on a night shift

BattPack Sailing Log Days 5-8

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One of many spectacular sunrises

Day 5 – 29th November – I wake at 4:00 for the sunrise shift. I listen to music throughout and the sunrise doesn’t disappoint! The sky shifts through a glorious ensemble of colours, from dark grey, to orange, yellow, then through pink, purple and blue! The rest of the crew join me about 8:00 for a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs.

The wind has been blowing over 20kts all night and we have covered 165 miles in the last 24 hours. Gaining good ground. We are now catching the Trade Winds as hoped and they continue to blow above 20kts. The waves have increased notably in height – it is a good job we have all got our sea legs. I think that mine have finally arrived today, thank god for that! Feeling nauseous for the whole passage was certainly not my plan!

It is day 5 and we have all decided that not another day can pass without a shower! Wet wipes have been our friend until now but this is officially the longest I have ever been without a shower or a bath and it is really not my thing!! I am craving full body cleanliness! The salt water hose is working again so we don our swimwear (a brave move given we have been in long sleeves and trousers until now) and head to the bow of the boat. God it felt good to wash my hair – all done with salt water, with a frugal dose of fresh water right at the end. The sun shone but did little to stop our bodies shivering in the wind!! How can we describe it? Utterly invigorating! We stopped to check ourselves as we washed, looking around us, thinking that we certainly haven’t done this before and it is something we won’t forget!! The towels felt delicious as we wrapped them around us and we sat and brushed our hair dry in the wind, which by the way is an excellent hair dryer!

Today is the first day that we are all barefoot. We are feeling the pull of the Caribbean! It will be time to move our clocks forward soon – how wonderful to be sailing through time zones!

We haven’t seen any marine wildlife yet, despite 8 pairs of keen eyes! We have seen 2 birds swooping low to check us out but no sea creatures. The fishing lines remain untouched and the wish for BBQ for dinner remains unanswered! The lines have just gone in again this afternoon – we are keeping the faith.

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Jago feeling brave enough for a cold salt water shower!

Day 6 – November 30th The wind blew up over night and continued into the day – circa 30kts. We are going across the swell so the conditions are more difficult to weather. It feels as though we are on a bizarre rollercoaster that simply won’t stop. The kids are dealing with it very well but the best way for me to stomach it is lying down. Even then with such a strange motion, my internal compass simply doesn’t know which way is up! We are going up and down big waves and being thrown continuously from side to side. Our insides are constantly compensating for the irregular shifts. This is not a motion that I am keen on. At all. It is akin to being trapped inside a washing machine.

We had a lovely family chat in the saloon after lunch. Everyone hunkering in, swapping stories and entertaining each other. This is the highlight of the day. Until we get the fishing lines out. We have caught something! Much excitement in the cockpit, then someone exclaims that it looks like a sea snake! Indeed it does, a long sea snake wiggling and fighting its way toward our boat. Alas it as a long piece of heavy rope! Dismay!! Vegetable pie for dinner it is then!!

Jason does a boat check and is mystified why our water tank has gone from 7/8 to 5/8 in 24 hours. Not good news and no-one understands how as we have all been so frugal. Jay manually checks the level of the water tank and checks for any leaks. It must have come from a tap not being turned off properly. We must all be vigilant going forward otherwise we will run out of water way before we get to land. Crikey!

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The dramatic sea snake aka old piece of rope catch!

Day 7 – December 1stI did the Sunrise shift and dear Ruby woke up to join me for the last hour, where we watched the multi-hued sky with pleasure. When Jason woke up, he took over at the helm and I grabbed another hour’s sleep. I awoke to the delightful smell of a fried breakfast. Utterly delicious and devoured by all. It is the first of December – advent calendars! Much delight amongst the kids!

Another ARC boat, which we had seen in the night, sailed up close to us and shouted their hello’s! It is comforting to know that there are other boats in the vicinity of this vast Ocean!

The winds are still high, between 20-30kts which is between a Force 6-7 and the sea is still churned up. Infact, that is exactly how I would describe my stomach too! By now, day 7, I should be at one with the motion of the waves. Alas, I am not and by mid-afternoon I decide to take another seasickness tablet – a different brand this time, which hopefully won’t make me feel so sleepy. Hurrah, I perk up and enjoy the latter half of the day far more than the former.

We head to the bow of the boat for a different perspective and find a flying fish that had flown onto the deck and got stranded. Poor thing died in it’s struggle and is inspected by our fascinated crew. So we have caught 1 fish, just not in the traditional sense!

Today marks the day, 1 year ago, that my dear Grandpa died. We have swapped our favourite stories of him all day and feast on a delicious meal of Beef Black Bean and a pudding of home baked chocolate shortbread. God bless his soul!

We have sailed a record 181miles in the last 24 hours. Yay!

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One of many flying fish visitors

Day 8 – December 2nd – Bliss! A night off from watches last night for me. On Dad’s recommendation I popped my earplugs in and got some decent sleep! What a world of difference that makes. We woke up to the sound of Jago & Liberty giggling in their bunk – both excited about day 2 of their advent calendars!

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We decided it was time to get a little more festive. The kids made a yummy gingerbread house which was made, decorated and demolished in an hour and a half! We bought some festive window gel gems and the kids stuck them onto the windows in their bunks. Jago and Liberty both decided to write Christmas stories – some very sweet creation going on! They are becoming increasingly inventive about how to while away the hours.

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It is safe to say that we are all pros at Uno now!

Alex is getting on so well with his cousins. He has brought a wonderful fresh dimension to the boat. Such a gorgeous boy and a total joy to have onboard. When he sits with the kids there is much merriment and some fabulous accents! Dad and Jago have been strumming away on their guitars together. We are all enjoying quality time with each other & are reminded how important it was to get the right balance of people on this adventure.

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Boys strumming sesh

There has been sunshine for most of the day, which we have all enjoyed. The wind has come off a bit and the seas are a bit more settled. We have covered a respectable 179 miles in the last 24 hours.

 

BattPack Sailing Log Days 1-4

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Sunshine on the busy Start Line

Day 1 – 25th November – We leave Las Palmas as part of a grand parade. We all dress in Rainbows and Dad plays the Rainbow song on his guitar whilst we sing along. The sun is shining on us and the boat is loaded with anticipation of what lies ahead. She is also loaded to the rafters with food – we have a very impressive net in the cockpit which is fully laden with fresh fruit and vegetables.
The start gun sounds at 12.30 and we are off! The first day is spent in the company of other boats but as the day draws to a close we realise it may be the last time we see any of them and any land until we get closer to St Lucia. Jay has made up a delicious pasta sauce in advance and we feast on a yummy prawn pasta. Liberty says she is tired, I take her to bed and she is promptly sick on her duvet. Urghhh! We have all been taking sea sickness tablets since a couple of hours before we set sail. The idea is to take them for a couple of days and avert the perils of sea sickness. Alas, with dear Liberty it didn’t work! Happily the sickness was shortlived and she went to sleep shortly after.

We divvied up the night watch – I did the 9.30-1.00am, I woke up my Dad and Nephew Alex for the 1.00-4.00am and they woke Jason for the 4.00-7.00am shift. The night passed fairly smoothly apart from the fact that Dad mistakenly locked a very cold Jason out of the boat so he couldn’t come in and make a much-needed mid-shift cuppa! Brrrrrr

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Laden with food!

Day 2 – 26th November – Oh my we are all sleepy! A combination of the anti-sickness tablets, sea air and night shifts has meant we all feel shattered. We rise for meals, take it in turns to doze in between, and repeat! We are all finding our sea legs. It apparently takes about 4 days for people to settle into life aboard doing 24/7 watches – we are in the adjustment period. By the afternoon we have more energy and set up our first afternoon of fishing. The best time is an hour before sunset. We have done much research into the best ways to catch fish – the most likely catch in the Atlantic is Mahe Mahe and Tuna. Alas no joy tonight! We shall resume our efforts again tomorrow.

Rex and Jago both cut their feet onboard today – a regular peril with boat life. There have been various knocks and bumps to as we adjust to the constantly bobbing motion. We all need to hold on wherever we move and it is easy to forget! As the day draws to a close, we are treated to a spectacular sunset where the sun literally melts into the sea – how does that happen?! Such a thing of great beauty!

I cook a meal of tasty beef with rice and veg and it is devoured enthusiastically by the crew! We settle in to watch another half hour of The Karate Kid and then we settle the little kids and the night shifts begin. Rex and Ruby take on their first night shift, holding the fort until 10.30pm. Jason takes over until 1, wakes me for the 1-4, for the last hour of which I am struggling to keep my eyes open, then Dad and Alex take the sunrise shift. We pass the odd container ship and occasional sail boat but largely the sea is ours. The boat is gaining good ground, winds of around 11 knots giving us a speed over ground of around 5.5 knots over night.

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One of many spectacular sunsets

Day 3 – 27th November – Waking to the sound of waves lapping the boat is now a comfort rather than disconcerting. For the most part, we have our sea legs. Liberty and Jago are running around the saloon and cockpit like little monkeys. We are greeted by beautiful sunshine this morning. The ocean looks a glorious deep blue and the sky is perfectly baby blue.

After breakfast, a brave few of the crew decide it is time to try the salt water shower. Do you know that the average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water per day? Onboard we have 8 litres per person per day and we are fortunate enough to have a boat with 900 litres of water storage, on our previous boat we had half that amount and much less is usual on a monohulls! It is a lesson in frugality. Water is a precious resource onboard. Where we can, we use salt water, which is of course in abundant supply! The salt water shower head needs fixing, so it is a bucket over the head, wash with soap and a frugal rinse down with a sponge of fresh water. The kids decide that baby wipes are the way to go for the next couple of days and when they might brave the shower!

Everyone on board has a job to do. It is important to keep crew focused. Today Jago is our rigging checker. Liberty is checking and turning the fruit and vegetables in our net in the cockpit. We divvy up the tasks so that everyone is involved and has purpose.

Rex says to me today, “It is so much nicer than I thought it would be Mummy, floating around in the middle of nowhere with nothing much to do!” We are all surrendering to the moment, winding down from the pace of our lives at home, recognising the benefits of physical and metaphorical space.
I kicked off the watches tonight, with Jago snuggled in beside me. He was in awe at the stars – you can literally see the whole milky way. A sight that neither of us have never enjoyed before. The night passed smoothly with Alex doing his first solo night watch and Rex and Ruby joining Jason for the sunrise shift!

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Jason braving the delights of a salt water shower!

Day 4 – 28th November – I awake to the smell of Eggy Bread – yum! The sun is shining and everyone is in high spirits! We are amazed to have sailed passed the Sahara desert to our left. We are coming up to the Cape Verde Islands and are steering West in advance of them. We have reached a milestone, we have sailed South until the butter melts (as was the case many moons ago when boats sailed the old trade routes) and now it is time to head towards the Caribbean.

The wind and waves pick up and we are reaching speeds of 13kts down the crest of the waves. It feels like we are surfing but in a 24 tonne boat! This is exhilarating sailing.

We baked today and all luxuriated in the warm chewy sultana squares – they seemed extra delicious at sea! Thank you Linda for the recipe!

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Ruby and Rex were amazing with their Jago and Liberty onboard

We are all already sharing so many more conversations than we do at home. There is so much time to simply hang out together with no distractions. We have all agreed that the passage will be device free. There is no Wifi but the kids still have games etc on their devices and it would be easy for them to slip into the habit of playing games on them intently! Instead we have an hour or so of DVD watching all together at the end of the day. The rest of the time we are interacting, playing card or other games, colouring, sewing, playing music (guitars and keyboard onboard) telling silly stories, cooking, reading books – a generous list of activities to pleasantly pass the time, whilst being connected to the present moment and each other. Tonight we play an enjoyable game of Stop The Bus, much loved by us all!

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Musical talents onboard

The sea temperature is slowly increasing from 25 degrees in the Canaries to 27. We debate who is brave enough to jump in and swim once the seas get a bit calmer!

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Keen crew with their Skipper