Saturday, April 19, 2014

AMARA's 2014 Sailing Schedule

I had a chance yesterday to update AMARA's 2014 Sailing Schedule.   Take a moment and check out where AMARA plans to be sailing over the next year by clicking on "Our Route" at the top of the page.  I can't believe how much ground...err...ocean AMARA will be covering.  It will be so fun to visit all the countries and islands that we plan on seeing during this voyage.  After typing up the schedule, it seems like it will be forever before AMARA makes it to the Caribbean in December.  However, December will be here soon enough and there is so much to see in between.

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Since Lily and I aren't joining the crew just yet, Sue sent me some photos of how they are celebrating their Easter weekend in Brisbane.  The menu for Saturday night included fish pie and hot cross buns.  A perfect dinner to celebrate Easter.
The rest of the photos are of AMARA under construction.  Sue has been busy cleaning out cabinets and swapping out old cans of food with new cans of food.  Martin and David are busy swapping out the Eplex system (all the electrical units that keep AMARA moving forward).  Sue reports that it all seems to be going well.  From the pictures, it makes me secretly happy that I'm not there having to deal with the mess!

All 9 of the Eplex modules that had to be replaced.  
These do not come cheap, so let's hope we don't have to replace the new ones for a long time!
The headliners down...AGAIN! They had to be taken down so that the guys can get up into the ceiling to replace an Eplex module. 
Martin working on the now infamous Eplex System.
I love this picture of David with his head up in the ceiling.  This is a typical photo of him.
David is usually coming out of some hole or stuck in some nook or cranny in the boat fixing something.  

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I spoke to Martin this morning as he was on his way to church.  He reported that John and Tamrika arrived safely and have already gone in to check out Brisbane.  In fact, while they were walking around the city, they were lucky enough to see Kate Middleton and Prince William who are currently visiting Australia.  Can I tell you how jealous I am right now?

Martin says that they went to the grocery store last night and brought home 5 grocery carts "trolleys" worth of food.  I am now content knowing that Martin won't starve.  Since provisioning is done and the electrical system is now up and working, Martin says that they will be ready to pull up anchor on Monday and start the first leg of this journey.  I feel bad that I am not there for this part but Lily and I will be there soon enough.
Lot's of provisioning!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Easter weekend!  I am just settling down to watch The Ten Commandments... it never gets old.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hot Meals and A New Crew!

Sue has arrived and a hot meal is finally on the menu!
I received an email early this morning from Sue with a photo of Martin enjoying his first hot meal in 2 weeks.  She was letting me know that Martin is finally off PBJ's and canned beans thanks to her being back in the kitchen.  FINALLY I can rest easy knowing that he is being taken care of by our sweet Sue.  A hot meal and a tall glass of water is all that man needs to be happy.  Plus a little greenery as a centerpiece is starting to make AMARA look like home again.  It also looks like Sue even brought Martin some easter treats.  Those were probably meant for me. :)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Meet Our New Crew!

We have the luxury now of having more crew join us on certain legs of our voyage while we sail AMARA back to the Caribbean.  After a few presentations that we gave around town about our sailing adventures,  Martin and I had lots of people come up to us and ask if they could volunteer to help crew.  Martin and I were overwhelmed by the inquiries.  After a few dinners and conversations (and me sizing people up to make sure they weren't bonkers), we now have more crew that will be joining us on various legs of our journey! We are super excited that we get to share some of our adventures with other folks from Utah.  For the first leg (Brisbane, Australia to Sorong, Indonesia), John and Tamrika will be joining us.  They are in the air, as I type, on their way to meet Martin in Brisbane.

John and Tamrika are the owners of the famous Blue Plate Diner (featured on Food Network's, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" hosted by Guy Fieri) in Sugar House—a suburb of Salt Lake City.  John is not only a foodie, but he is also a fellow sailor and lover of the ocean.  So, now Sue has someone to swap recipes with in the kitchen, and Martin has people that will finally want to stop with him and David at every single dive spot from Brisbane to Indonesia. AMARA is now set!
I made an early morning run to the Blue Plate Diner today.  
The timing couldn't have been more perfect for John and Tamrika to join us on this leg of the voyage.  To say the least, we are pretty psyched to have them on AMARA to mix things up a little bit.  We can always use more company.  The other added bonus is that more people will be available for watches—which is always welcomed when doing long legs.

Early this morning I was FaceTiming with Martin (he was going to bed on a Thursday, while I was just waking up on a Thursday...go figure the confusion in that!) and he asked me if I had purchased all the items that he had requested for me to send with John and Tamrika when they arrive on Saturday in Brisbane.  Then he mentioned, "You know, they are taking off this morning."  I was like, "What?  They are leaving today?"  For some reason, I thought they were leaving Friday, not Thursday!  I quickly blew Martin kisses over the phone and wrapped up the conversation.  Then I called John to see if I could make a run over to the diner to drop off the items that Martin needed.  I had to scramble!
John with my bag of goodies to take to Martin.
Luckily, John was at the diner (Tamrika was up at the University of Utah wrapping up some paperwork for her doctorate) and I was able to meet John with the items that Martin had requested.  Plus, I threw in my foul weather gear and my new swanky wetsuit (Both mine and Martin's wetsuits had slipped off our back deck 3 days before we arrived in Brisbane in November.  They were never recovered.)

I'll be sure to post some more photos of John AND Tamrika throughout the course of our journey.  That way you can get to know Tamrika as well.  She is just as great as John!

Martin hopes to get AMARA ready to go so that they can set sail early next week to start the first leg of a very long journey.  My plans are still pending but I am hoping to meet up with AMARA and crew in the next few weeks in Cairns, Australia.  I am getting antsy to join the group and hope that I can get things wrapped up here in Utah so that I can join in on all the fun aboard AMARA.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Making a Splash and Other Updates

AMARA going back in the water.
Martin is in Australia while I remain in Utah.  We decided that he go ahead and get AMARA ready in Brisbane while Lily and I wait a little longer until we join up with him and the crew.  So, this past week, Martin has been working on AMARA in the boatyard for long hours getting her ready for the water.  Luckily our crew, David and Sue, will be joining Martin this next weekend and I feel comforted knowing that Martin will finally have a good home cooked meal prepared by Sue.  Yahoo!  It will be nice to know that Sue will be there to finally feed him a proper meal.  Martin, being the frugal man that he is, has been eating all the canned goods that he and his crew bought (before Sue's supervision) in France a year ago.  I think it has been a lot of beans and more beans.  

Another great thing about David and Sue coming is that David will be there to help Martin troubleshoot all the problems that AMARA has had due to her sitting in the boatyard, on the hard, for the past 4 months.  I feel a great sense of relief knowing that they will soon be there to offer him help... and a little company.  

Martin sent me an email today about the latest happenings with AMARA.  I thought I would share the email with our readers.  

In Martin's words:

"AMARA was supposed to be well protected here in Brisbane while we were home in Utah for the holidays.  Instead, she had a rough time of it. 

The temperature here reached 43.9 celsius, which is just over 111 degrees Fahrenheit and she sat sweating it out on the black asphalt.  She also endured a hailstorm with golfball to orange-sized hail blowing in winds of 60 mph.  In several places she looks like she has been through some type of military action with scars to match the story.

The worst of it was she had to endure another storm which caused a lightening strike to a nearby boat.  AMARA happens 
to have the tallest mast here in the boatyard.  Although I haven’t been up the mast yet to check, I don’t think Amara 
got a direct hit.  However she did perform some Benjamin Franklin type experiments with static electricity.   Nine of her 
electronic control modules were wiped out.  Fortunately, some of our other crucial electronics were off the boat for 
servicing at the time of the storm.  We are currently waiting for replacement modules from France.

The other thing that occurred was that AMARA, being a rather large girl and hard to move, got parked fairly close to the boat cleaning station for the other boats.  As a result she was covered in a black grime.  Every nook and cranny was filled with muck.   We even had to sand her teak deck to help recover her shine.  Now after 3 wash downs, she is starting to recover.  

In spite of the recent endurance challenges, AMARA has been successfully launched and she still floats.  She is happy to be back in the water where she belongs, and today she gets to wear some of her sails again and looks respectable for her crew who will arrive this weekend."
The famous electrical system on AMARA that got fried in the electrical storm.
I know that I promised an itinerary, which I will work on and get posted in the next few days.  It looks to be one fun sail!  Check back in a few days and I will get it posted.  

Right now I just feel assured knowing that AMARA is back where she belongs... in the water.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gearing Up

{The packing has begun!}
Tap, tap, tap... Is this thing on?

Sorry.  So sorry... It's been way too long.  I've missed you all.  I never meant to be away for so long but life has a way of gulping you up.  Then every time I opened my laptop to give you all an update, I would go blank.

What I can tell you is that we are getting ready, I mean REALLY ready to board AMARA at the end of this month.  We are excited, nervous, feeling overwhelmed and organized.  Bags are getting packed, Amazon has been continually dropping off packages at our front door, and tourist visa's are getting applied for.  We are gearing up fast and honestly, I still don't know if I'll be ready.

I swore, SWORE to myself that I was not going to pack as many clothes as I brought last time.  Somehow though, the pile is getting higher and higher.  I mean, no one is really going to see me, and those that will, could care less, and yet I still keep adding to my pile.  I need an intervention.

Martin has been pretty much stuck in his office day in and day out writing out our sailing itinerary, applying for cruising permits, securing crew and making sure our boat insurance is current.  All of which take a lot of time.  I can't wait to get back on the boat just so we can have a normal conversation again.  Time together on the boat really kept us close and in sync.  Being home keeps us going in different directions.  All of which is to be expected, seeing that Martin does have to go to work and I have my own responsibilities going on around me.  But boy, it will be nice for us to step back onto AMARA's deck.

Check back soon and I will be posting our new itinerary.  WE ARE GOING PLACES!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Swallowing the Anchor

"Swallowing the anchor" is "sailorspeak" for leaving the sea behind and becoming land dwellers.  That is just what we are these days and it's hard to believe that just two weeks ago we left AMARA behind in Brisbane to explore the world without her.  

Before I jump ahead of myself, I should tell you that getting AMARA up on to "the hard" (aka taking AMARA on to land) was no easy feat.  AMARA ended up being the biggest boat that the boatyard had ever pulled out from the water and onto the hard (figures—just our luck).  So what should have just been a quick one hour chore to get her out of the water, turned into three.  In fact, at one point the manager of the yard came over and told Martin that we were going to need to find another location to leave AMARA.  They weren't going to be able to get her out of the water.
This machine has inflatable bladders that slip under AMARA and lift her out of the water.
An up close shot of the bladders inflating underneath AMARA.
Just about the time we were told that we were going to need to go somewhere else, the gentleman holding the remote control that works the machine pictured above, literally yanked AMARA out from the water.
Here he is with the remote that is controlling the tractor 
and is lifting AMARA from the water.
AMARA just leaving the water.  We were holding our breath the entire time.  
White knuckles all the way!
Once they pulled AMARA out, they put her through a boat wash and got off all the grit and grime from 10 months of being in the water.

Next, in the spring, she'll be repainted on the bottom with anti-foul paint.  This will bring her back to her good ol' self.  
AMARA settled in her new home in Brisbane, Australia.
Right after we got AMARA settled in her new home in Brisbane, we hugged and hugged AND hugged David and Sue and said our "goodbyes" to them.  
It was hard to say goodbye to this little one.
Although they started off as crew for AMARA, they quickly became a part of our family.  It was so hard to see them drive away and soon after they left I turned into a puddle of tears.  We had grown to rely on them in so many ways.  Most of all we had grown to love them.  It all seemed so final when they drove away.  They are missed.  

*  *  * 
Once we pulled ourselves together Martin, Lily and I took off for Sydney.
Our view from our hotel room in Sydney.
It was a little drizzly the day we arrived, but we couldn't have asked for a better view from our hotel room.  It looked out over the harbor and on to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  It was breathtaking.  This was something that grew to become a signal to me throughout our trip.  I said to myself repeatedly throughout our trip that,  "Once we get to Sydney, we will have officially made it!  I WILL HAVE DONE IT!"  So seeing the sight of Sydney Harbor brought tears to my eyes knowing that we had done it!  Martin and I had actually fulfilled one of our dreams to sail the Pacific ocean.
Strolling across the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Martin's dream was to sail in Sydney Harbor, which he was able to make happen.  During our voyage through the South Pacific, we had made good friends with another owner of a Lagoon 560—Pan Dei (same as AMARA).  The owners of Pan Dei had sailed her to Sydney.  Martin was able to get out on Pan Dei and sail around Sydney harbor with them.  A dream come true for Martin.
Martin's view of the harbor from Pan Dei
As for my dream... Mine was to end our voyage in Sydney and see the fireworks on New Year's eve in Sydney harbor. What we didn't plan for was that we got to Australia 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  Which was fine, but that meant hanging out in Australia for two months until New Year's eve.  Martin and I had planned a month-long trip to New Zealand to explore this beautiful country.  However, once we got to Brisbane (almost a month ahead of schedule), Martin and I could feel our feet getting itchy for home.  

Although I was sad that we would miss out on New Year's in the Sydney Harbor, I was pretty antsy to get home.  Plus, we knew that we would be back in Australia at the end of March. So we could explore New Zealand then, before we started getting AMARA ready for the next leg of our trip (and you thought we were done with all this!).  
Lily getting a little "R and R" at the hotel in Sydney
Thinking my dreams of seeing fireworks in Sydney harbor were crushed, I hadn't planned on the surprise just out our hotel bedroom window.  The first night we were in Sydney, low and behold... there were fireworks!
So, I got my fireworks!  I couldn't have been more elated to see the fireworks that I had longed for for so long.  Little did I know that every night the fireworks would go off behind the Sydney Opera House.  Martin and I enjoyed every bit of it every night from our hotel window.
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Now?  Now we are home.  Back in Utah.  Back to the cold.  Back to school.  Back to normal...  I still have piles of clothes to unpack, and I feel like the pile is getting bigger, rather than smaller.  Then there is the matter of cooking.  I miss Sue.  I mean, I miss Sue regardless of her cooking, but I really miss her beautifully prepared meals that I grew so used to having every day.  Now I walk in the kitchen and forget why I am standing there in the first place.  

Martin and I are having a bit of a hard time adjusting back to life.  For example, we had our cable hooked up for a week and hadn't even turned on the television.  We grew so accustomed to using our time in different ways that we just forgot that television was even an option.  Martin has gone back to his office and is quickly getting back into the thick of working.  I am busily unpacking, getting caught up on hundreds of emails, getting Lily back in school, getting the house in order and trying to figure out all this Christmas shopping and decorating that seems to be coming faster than ever this year.  
Our little Lily back in Utah all snuggly and warm from the cold.
It does feel good to be home, but I can also say that I miss AMARA and all the adventures that she brought to our family this past year.  I feel like Martin and I were closer than ever and we really learned to rely on one another.  This adventure really made our relationship stronger.  Although the adventures will soon resume in March, it still feels surreal that we are home and at how quickly we fell back into the daily grind of life.  It's almost as if we never left.  

So, what is in the future for us and our sailing adventures?  First, Martin has an adventure coming up in December that will deserve another post (so stay tuned)—let's just say... Antarctica for starters.  Then, come March, we will pack up and head back to Brisbane and back to AMARA.  Our plan is to sail her around the Great Barrier Reef, and on up to Darwin.  From there, we will head to South Africa eventually getting AMARA back to the Caribbean.  The trip should take us around 4-5 months and believe it or not, I am already getting excited to get back and finish our goal of getting AMARA back to the Caribbean.  As I explained in an earlier post, Lily and I will be coming and going and will not be doing any of the long passages.  We will be there for the majority of the trip, but not all of it.  Martin, on the other hand, will be sailing her full-time.  

As for this blog, I will continue writing what we are up to with AMARA from time to time.   I have a final video of our trip in the works that I will post shortly.   So be sure to check back every so often if you are interested in seeing it and what we have been up to AND what adventures we have in the works (because there are a few).  I'll also continue to post more regularly on my personal blog, here.

In closing, I have to say that this has been a wonderful time for our family.  One that will remain etched in our memories for years to come. 

Martin and I would like to thank all of you that have followed our adventure right alongside us.  We enjoyed all of your thoughts and emails and wish that the internet was working well enough that we could have responded to every one of you.  Please know that your support was so appreciated by us and we will treasure all your kind comments and emails for years to come.   I also hope that all of you  have the same opportunity to follow your dreams.  It's worth it.  So get out there and make it happen!

Until our next adventure, we wish you all fair winds and calm seas in your life.
"You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."     —Christopher Columbus