Blog updates

Homeschooling seems popular now!

I’m sorry to hear all the schools have mostly closed at home (and globally) and I hope you are all balancing the working from home, childcare and homeschooling triple job syndrome!

Times table tests at the chart table

All I can say is welcome to homeschooling… It does get easier I promise once you all have adjusted to it. My top tips are;

1. Be easy on yourself and lower any perfectionist aspirations. For young children a bit of maths, English and reading each day is a great week. Anything on top is a bonus!

2. Less is more. Plenty of breaks works well for everyone, you included. Fighting for two hours on spellings or maths is not productive. 15-20 mins bursts on times tables, workbooks or spellings followed by 5 mins Lego breaks work wonders for us. We only do school in the mornings, it’s simply too hot otherwise.

3. Use what you’ve got. We’ve got iguanas living by the fuel dock bins so we are studying them and researching all about them. The boys are fascinated and happily write long lists of interesting facts about them (yet moan unbelievably if they have to write sentences in their journals).

Do they like watermelon or orange best?

The nearest family boat to us were studying Greeks last week, so we all joined in and dressed up for a Greek symposium organised (and researched by the kids). School doesn’t have to be (just) working indoors on workbooks. Learning is all around you. The more experiential the better.

4. Have fun, laugh and join in. We all took part in learning about saving coral reefs and turtles today and all had a go at drawing turtles too. You’re never too old to learn too and you become a great role model in the process.

5. Reward charts do work. We have stickers earned for doing certain things each day (eg time tables, English, reading etc). Depending on the number of stars earned during the week the rewards change e.g. food treat for 20 stars, 30 mins of cartoons for 30 stars etc. It works a treat. Keep it simple and don’t change the goal posts.

6. If you miss a day or have a bad day with the kids, stop, start something else (painting or baking with them, or a board game with dice – it’s all got numbers/measurement or coordination in it).

Start again the next day, clean slate. Don’t carry the guilt, it’s too heavy and does no good! Talk to others in the same situation (email/Skype whatever), you are not alone and can laugh about it and get their tips and help.

I’ll stop at six points but could waffle on….just think you have internet and WiFi the whole time. You have resources at your finger tips. We live off-grid mostly so I can’t advise on the best websites to use as I can’t rely on having access to any of them. I swear by the Schofield and Sims workbooks (bought before we left on Amazon or Schofield&Sims website) as they help ‘teach’ and not just be workbooks to complete. Also long division teaching seems to have changed a lot since I last did it…..

More importantly, now you are all doing homeschooling you will become experts and please send me your tips too! I am not a teacher or an expert and I am open for any idea that works!

Hugo giving his iguana presentation to his friends yacht.
Learning about coral reefs with friends

Still in Bonaire… and we maybe for some time

With countries and borders shut in all possible sailing directions, there is no sailing for us unless we want to be stuck out at sea permanently. Not an option I would consider with small children onboard if we all wanted to remain sane! However we remain healthy and well and are loving our enforced stay on the stunningly beautiful Dutch island of Bonaire. It’s even more gorgeous when you go below water and experience the breathtaking coral reefs.

The island remains COVID free currently and with a small population and a complete shutdown of social gatherings or enterprises, they are taking no chances. This is both understandable and we respect the safety rules.

We have hired a truck so we can hike and explore the dirt track roads along the island when possible. The salt mining and tiny old slave huts were a great educational visit.

White mountains of salt
Tiny slave huts for the old salt works

We’ve even managed to rent a windsurfing board to teach the boys and they are loving it in this bath-temperature aquamarine water.

Felix (6) windsurfing!
Blues of the ocean and sky

Chloe has fitted in perfectly to our slightly surreal life currently and is a godsend helping with the boys. Of all places to be stuck at least the scenery and setting is stunning. Wish you were all here with us (and hoping you all remain healthy and well).

Chloe enjoying Bonaire

Stuck in Bonaire?

It looks like the COVID-19 will affect us like everyone else. Having sailed 3 nights/4 days to get to Bonaire from Antigua we arrived safely only to hear the news that Panama is closed. That’s where we are heading. It’s amazing how much changes in four days when you are off grid with no news.

So it looks like we might be in Bonaire for awhile, or sail to Columbia and get stuck there instead. But we can’t get to the Pacific without going through Panama, so we will join the waiting game of what happens next.

But if all places to be stuck, this is certainly a rather beautiful one and we are not complaining.

The island is a bit of a ghost town as it’s used to having two cruise liners arriving daily in season, and currently they are banned. Restaurants are shutting and things are closing as there are few tourists here. But the beaches, coral and fish remain and the water is stunning here. We shall explore (after home schooling..)

Montserrat

From Antigua we sailed south to visit Montserrat. We sailed through the volcanic exclusion zone and gawped at Montserrat and the ex-capital covered in ash. The volcano is still erupting with plumes of steam rising off the top as we passed.

It’s an eerie sight seeing roofs emerging out of piles of ash and a church spire appearing to be poking out of the ground. The smell of sulphur engulfed us and we soon turned the boat around and headed west to Bonaire.

Hiking on Antigua

The coastline is stunning on Antigua and it was great to walk up to Shirley Heights and enjoy the view down to our anchorage with our friends aboard Alisara.

The rock formations, cacti and sea colours were all spectacular.

It was a superb walk with wonderful company.

Children all enjoying the walk

With an additional day before we sail to the ABC islands we hiked with Chloe to Pidgeon beach and enjoyed land-time before our next 500nm sailing passage.

Family photo for once!
Climbing to the top

Chloe arrives!

Huge excitement aboard as Chloe joins our sailing adventure. We celebrated with a beach bbq leaving party with four other sailing families, nothing like meeting everyone all at once!

Chloe was impressed with the yachts in the harbour and did wonder if she might have her own en-suite on one of them instead!!

Mega yacht ogling

Our yacht happily at anchor off Galeon beach, English harbour, Antigua.

Optimist sailing lessons in Antigua

Between Grandad sadly leaving and waiting for Chloe to arrive we’ve made a home at anchor in English harbour in Antigua.

with Grandad in Nelson’s dockyard

Surrounded by our sailing family friends aboard Alisara, Pacific Pearl and Oyster Moon it’s been a delight.

Super yacht heaven

We’ve joined the local yacht club and the boys are having opi lessons each day, which they love.

The boys are off!

There is something about a six-year old sailing around on his own in an optimist surrounded by super mega yachts, which is slightly scary!

The Falmouth and English harbour marinas are full of the largest boats you can imagine, some of the biggest sailing yachts on the planet.

Eos the largest yacht in the world
Just a tad bigger than ours…

The J class boats are all assembling for the forthcoming races and at the other end of the scale the transatlantic rowers having been coming in. The last duo are due in soon and we hope to watch them finish.

Alisara kindly got us an invite to see a racing J class which was amazing. Look no guard rails…!

Check this steering wheel out!

Caught a fish!

Finally, it’s only taken nine months but we’ve finally caught our first fish and it’s a big one! It’s a large barracuda which we unfortunately can’t eat (it eats reef fish so more risk of ciguatera) so back it went. But Felix the fisherman was delighted (it was his chosen lure).

Proud fisherman

Well done boys!

Lessons on hurricanes, erosion and wildlife

There is nothing like learning the impact of weather when you can see it first hand.

The devastation caused by the hurricane last year on Barbuda was total. The container that Felix is looking in the photo below was picked up by the wind from the airport four miles away and dumped in the lagoon – it’s full of engines/transformers (not exactly lightweight).

As a result the beaches are stunningly empty, wild and beautiful. Any previous buildings were flattened and the hotel has fallen into the sea.

Unfortunately there are worrying white sticks marking out development to come. This is much to the outrage of the local collective principle of community owned land. So these vast beaches might be millionaires private homes in due course. Robert de Niro is buying up large sections and ditto others. I hope the locals win and long may it remain the wild beauty it is.

Inside the beach lies a large sea water lagoon where an amazing colony of great frigate birds live. It was great to see them, puffed up red chests together with their fluffy white young chicks.

Barbuda heaven

We collected Grandad from the airport (in a dinghy!) and sailed to Barbuda. If beaches are your thing then this island is the most stunning place on the planet. 16km of uninterrupted white sand and aquamarine sea.

I have run out of adjectives to do the colours justice but let me say it’s breathtaking.

We enjoyed the beaches, lobster bbq’s and the boys did some surfing too.