Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thank You!

Before I loose my audience, I wanted to thank people who one way or another helped us accomplish our goal:

Karen and Earl Wilson, they managed to keep our mail in order, acted on our behalf for all the tedious tasks while we were out playing and kept me motivated to keep writing by offering constant feedback on the Blog posts. Karen also help me with my editing for the Articles I wrote for the local newspaper. It sure needed it!!

Sharlene Peters, she was my number one fan and supporter. She encouraged me to write and to publish. She would constantly supply me with useful advice on different topics; motherhood, writing, editing and photography. She had faith in me.

Richard and Melissa Chellemi, they open up their home in Costa Rica, modified theirs schedules and went all out for us. They took care of Matt when he was sick and fed us the most delicious Tuna I have ever tried!

John and Ginny Shasky they helped me edit the latest article for The Tubac Villager and John took the family pictures on board Endurance that I used for articles, web, blog and boat card.

Our family, friends and people I never met for writing to me with feedback on our blog, with encouragement and generous words of admiration; Nancy Bohman, Celeste Wisdom, Matt Dienes, Tod Harrison, to name a few.

The Tubac Villager for letting me share our experience with the community.

My Blog follower, you made it fun and challenging for me to write about our trip.
Our friends who put together the farewell party before we departed, they gave us the Kindle book that, at times, it was my only connection to the rest of the world.

Our Cruiser friends, for making our experience so much richer, for helping me endure the difficult times by being around, by sharing their frustrations, happiness, water toys and their wine…

My kids, for putting up with our gipsy life, they adjusted easily to the discomforts of a moving home, the lack of friends, the luck of THINGS, they followed safety instructions, they made this adventure so worthwhile.

My Husband who made it all possible, he planned it, he pushed for it, he made it happen, he took us safely away and brought us safely back.

My mother who made me feel safe and looked after from Heaven.

God for providing us with life, health, will, resources, Nature and all the people above!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A view from land

It has been a few weeks already. I want to hold on to all my memories tight, but the force of time and the need to move forward weaken my ability to grasp them. Places, people, sights, it all begins to fade into one flat vision. It’s “just something we did”. I know pretty soon people won’t ask much, I will have to bite my tongue not to brag about how brave, how lucky, and how strong we were. I will have to wait for opportunities to bring some remembrances to life and heavens forbid, I may even have to make the storms bigger and multiply the amount and sizes of the sharks we saw

Re-immersion into the “traditional” “old” “natural” “typical” “common” or however we call this lifestyle is like jumping into a running treadmill, no one stops it for us, we just have to jump in and keep running, no time to look back, no time to look down we can only hope it will slow down or we will get more in shape. There was a house to put back together, there were utilities to set up and there were festivities to plan; Samantha’s Birthday and Christmas.

It was nice to be back for the holidays, but I was not prepared for the chaos at the stores, physically and emotionally was a painful experience; crowded, messy, long lines, simply overwhelming. On the other hand, how nice it was to be “home” that morning after Christmas; the cold day, the tree lights twinkling to the music, the rug on the floor, the girls in their cozy robes, the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven and the freshly grounded coffee brewing. It was a traditional Christmas setting, no adjustments were necessary, no swimming or sliding down the mast for Santa.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Tubac Villager Article

The Tubac Villager is the local newspaper who published this in August  while we were still adventuring in Central America and our plans were to cross to the Atlantic Ocean. 

So many times we heard the saying “there is no better time than now”.   My husband; Matt Beemer, my daughters; Samantha and Trinidad, and I took it seriously.   Confronting all the fears and anxieties we jumped into a long-time dream; the dream to go sailing.

A weak economy and the age of our two little girls; Samantha 7 and Trinidad 5, is what it took for us to set sail. Finding the boat was a challenge, a very intense and emotional search, after all this was going to be our “new home”. We found the right boat in California; a Morgan 38 sailboat, equipped with some important gear and spacious enough to accommodate all of us with no real danger of suffocating each other.

On November the 10th, 2009, all of the contents of our home in Tubac, AZ were reduced to a pick up truck full of our most necessary belongings and things we couldn’t detach ourselves from, such as “Purple Baby” (Trinidad’s doll), “Beeni” (Samantha’s stuffed animal) and those that seemed important at that time, but later got in the way. We prepared for a month living aboard our new home; s/v “Endurance”, before leaving the safety and the comforts of a San Diego dock. On December 16th I woke up to the sunrise on Mexican waters. Matt, our captain, had taken the most difficult step of the adventure; he untied the lines!.

In the past six months we have sailed the entire Pacific coast of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and now Costa Rica. The adventure over all has been beyond our expectations.

We have seen nature at its best; incredible colors in the sky, full moon, sunrises and sunsets, the perfect combination of sand, palm trees and cobalt blue or turquoise green water, the amazing rock formations sculpted by wind, water and sometimes volcanic activity, the intimidating movements of the ocean, the beaches that glow at low tides, the mangroves that lure us into exploring, the spray of the break as the waves smash onto the rocks, the endless shades and sounds of the jungle and best of all, the sea life. Nothing could ever compare to the excitement of the girls when a school of dolphins come to play around the boat or when the whale blows, breaches or slaps its tale, or when a booby bird observes the world go by in the middle of the sea while resting on a turtle’s back. Nothing compares to the emotion of seeing a light show presented by the interaction of dolphins and bio luminescence at night or the girls’ giggles of seeing these microorganisms find their way into the bathroom and revealing themselves at the moment of flushing.

We have met people at their best; cruising families, couples, single handlers or groups of friends all looking to fulfill a dream, to test their endurance, to live differently. We are all eager to share our experiences, to help each other and naturally to enjoy a margarita during sunset. We have met the locals who with the little they have, opened up their doors, shared their food, toys and time to assist us.  

We have been socially and culturally immersed with the people; their traditions and lifestyle.  We have learned about their food; “tostilocos”, “mangos con chile”, “tacos de camaron en rajas” in Mexico, “Papusas” in el Salvador,  “Patacones”, “Casados” and “Gallo Pinto” in Costa Rica. Just to name a few. We have learned about their art, their dances, their ways to meet basic life demands; transportation, health, shelter, hygiene, work and education. I will never forget the impression on the girls’ faces when we had to fill a bucket with water to flush a toilet in Mexico, or Samantha’s, excitement when she was invited, along with Matt, by a local fisherman to go and lift the fishing nets at 6 in the morning or when she went around the tables of a restaurant selling mangoes or when Trinidad wanted to know how to say “May I have a tour of the house” in Spanish while visiting local children who lived in a house with dirt floor and tin walls. Experiences like these make me think that they will never take for granted the “luxuries” we have at home.

As much as I would like to pretend it’s all wonderful, as wonderful and easy as we planned, it is not. The sweet flavor of the adventure lasts until we are confronted with fear; fear of not having the money, fear of being isolated, fear of loosing our good health and, most importantly, the fear of death. We have been tested by the weather, by the tight spaces, by the solitude, by the inconveniences of unorganized and/or corrupted nations, by nature, by rough living, by mechanics, by technology, by our own bodies. Yes we have been tested.

 One moment of great concern was the night when Matt asked me to make sure our ditch bag was in place. It was night time, I remember well the motion of the ocean, I could see the shapes of the waves over Matt’s head and the speed we would reach while surfing down these enormous waves. I quickly prepared the bag with our survival items including chocolate and peanuts for a sweet distraction to disaster. However, I had plenty of confidence in Matt’s ability to maneuver wisely and faith that it was just not “our time”. Another one was the time we had to return to Mexico because there was water coming into the bilge.. ALARMS!! This could potentially put the boat under water or the time in Acapulco when we found that our dinghy (inflatable boat) was gone. Horrible feeling!. We did find it with the help of a marina employee, but had to pay a “rescue fee”, or the time when we were warned of a possible tsunami wave coming our way after the earthquake in Chile or the time Matt had to be hospitalized as a result of complications with parasites.  The worst moments of all have been the times we have had to say goodbye to friends to follow our own journey.

There are plenty of challenges in this lifestyle; not only having to deal with contingencies, such as weather, illnesses, unforeseen expenses etc., but those we assumed the moment we decided to buy a boat to travel overseas; space, provisioning, water, bathroom and sleeping arrangements.

Regarding space, it did not bother me to reduce a large walk-in closet to just a cubby, but it does bother me that at the moment of cooking, I must move all the ingredients to side B to get a bowl from under side A and then back to A to get the butter from under B.  The moment of real frustration comes when I realize I forgot something from under A.

Provisioning is always fun; fun to see what we can find at the local stores. All essentials are easily available; sugar, coffee, eggs, milk, flour with or without weevils, the difficulty is not finding food, but getting it into the boat while at anchorage. We must load the dinghy, push it through the break and jump in without getting the groceries or the kids too wet (they hate that) and without flipping the dinghy over the break (they hate that more). 

Making the water last is critical; “Endurance” can hold 100 gallons that must last from one port to the next one with potable water, not as easy as it sounds. Most typically, we ended up buying bottled water to refill the tanks. The rationalization of the use of the water can be difficult, but we have managed to conserve it by brushing our teeth without leaving the water running, by not using the shower as a SPA, in fact, we have learned to wash in salt water and spray a little fresh afterward, same procedure for washing clothes and dishes. In some instances we were unable to use the bay water due to its questionable cleanliness so we had to use only fresh or look for showers elsewhere.

 As far as the bathroom goes, I look forward to being able to flush a toilet with the minimal motion. Most marine toilets consist of a handle that must be pumped up and down at least 20 times to flush. It is a real work out! Plus there is always the issue that if someone leaves a valve open the boat would sink. I have walked into the bathroom (AKA “head”) and have been surprised by the “splash” my foot makes as I step into it. Oops!

The sleeping arrangements in our boat are disarrangements. We rotate beds according to weather conditions or who is on watch. No matter where we sleep, it is always uncomfortable to have to hold on while asleep when the seas are rough and the boat slams the waves or rolls furiously from side to side. On the other hand, nothing compares to the cradle motion when the seas are calm.

Most people have asked me about schooling for the girls; Samantha was in first grade when we left and Trinidad was not in school yet. I made sure I had enough material to continue a somewhat “formal education”. I purchased a few curricula on math, plus Samantha’s school gave me the books she was working with when we left. We finished 1st grade and are currently working on 2nd. Trinidad is working on kindergarten activities and she loves it as long as we don’t do “school”. We combine the book work with art, reading, practical life and first hand experiences in geography, history, language and natural science to hopefully, educate them well.

Our plans for the next few months are to explore the Pacific coast of Panama, go through the Panama Canal, and sail the Caribbean side all the way North to reach the coast of Texas. However, our plans tend to change with the weather and the circumstances. It’s all part of the adventure in which we decided to take part.

As I have written before in our website, we may experience fear and trepidations, but there is no worse than the one of not living our dreams. I feel extremely blessed to be here and grateful to all those who encourage and support us one way or another.

If you would like to follow our journey visit us in

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crossing the US-Mexico Border

On Friday the 10th at 7:05 PM,  we were presenting our documentation to the immigration officer at the US-Mexico border. I wanted so bad to tell this nice man in uniform about my feelings of pride with a statement like “we just did the craziest thing in the world”, but I knew it would not be taken the way I meant it. Instead, we limited ourselves to answer his questions with a very casual look on our faces. No big deal! We are coming from Mexico and we are heading home! 

After a short stop for dinner we drove to my mother-in-law's house; Karen Wilson where she and her husband Earl Wilson have been waiting for us for a while. The girls run to their arms. Their happiness was contagious. We sat and chatted for a while before going to bed with a glass of wine on our hands in a cozy and comfortable sofa. So cozy and comfortable it was that we have extended our stay at their house a few days giving us the chance to visit, go over paperwork delegated to Karen prior of our departure and that she is happy to hand back to us and given the girls the chance to receive a well deserved (or needed)  SPA treatment.

Thank you Karen and Earl for the hospitality!!

Packing the leftovers of a voyage

We are at our final destination, no more provisioning, no more radio calls, no more route plotting, no more fear of storms, no more anticipation to see who we’ll meet at our next anchorage. Endurance is stripping its sails, the deck is clear of all obstacles; no liferaft, no dinghy, no water jugs, no kayaks, no snorkeling gear, no shells drying, no flip flops left behind,  the covers are empty just barely a left over coffee, a pineapple, a beer in the fridge. Our friends are all gone, some went south and some went home. We had just finished packing the leftovers of a voyage, she is coming out of the water and we will let her rest for a while. 

She looks beautiful, she gave herself life by taken us as far as Panama and back, by delivering us safely to every port, by surviving every storm, swell, currents and the hits and bumps of floating logs, by sailing smooth through pods of dolphins, breaching whales and floating turtles, by looking always gallant as we moved forward. She gave herself life by being our home and by her ENDURANCE.
 It will be 7 hours before we cross the border and make just a memory of the most amazing experience of our life.