Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Almost Ready!

Things always take longer than expected. Especially on a boat!! We are, however, almost ready to go! Hooray!!!

Living at Cut's Edge Marina has been less than ideal. We have been here because it is easy for Andy to work on the boat here, and they had done the bottom job on Sassy II over the winter. There are two issues with living aboard here. Number one is the bugs. I've learned from the locals that they are called no-see-um, I'm not sure how to spell that one, but the pronounciation is exactly why they are such pests!! You don't see them until they've taken a big, painful bite out of you! They are about the size of a grain of pepper, they live in the mangrove trees that surround us here, and their bites leave big, itchy welts! They are noticable during the day, but watch out at dusk, you'll get 15 bites before you step off the boat. They swarm you!! The second issue here is that there are no facilities. They have an outdoor restroom with a toilet and sink, but only cold running water and no shower facilities. We have made due on the boat, with sponge baths, and the occasional use of other marina's facilities. It isn't ideal.

So I am more than ready to get this adventure underway!! I am both nervous and excited. I really don't know what to expect.

I have been getting a lot of sea-sickness advice from the seasoned sailors we've become friends with at Twin Dolphin Marina. Our friend Melinda donated a bottle of ginger pills to my cause. It has also been suggested that the electronic sea bands are well worth the investment, so we're going to get me a pair. My tendency towards sea-sickness will be our biggest obstacle, so we'll do whatever works to overcome it.

Henry was a little cranky for a few weeks as he has been teething, but all in all he has been a real trooper. It turns out that he had good reason to be a little cranky, as he cut his two bottom front teeth at once! They are through now, and he is getting more predictable. We took him for his four month checkup and immunization visit at a pediatrician here in Bradenton. The appointment went well. He barely noticed the shots, and giggled at the doctor while she wiggled his hips to check his joints. He is 17lbs, 6oz!!!! Quite a big boy! He sat up for her, and she was quite impressed, remarking that the reflex to support himself sitting normally develops at about six months of age. That's our boy! We're so proud.

So, hopefully we will set sail this week. We have said most of our goodbyes to our local friends, so it is time to go! I'll keep you posted!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Henry, my beautiful baby boy born January 14th, 2009.
It amazes me how all encompassing parenthood is. My life now revolves around the needs of this little person. My heart is filled with an overwhelming love that only a parent can know. I'm bursting with pride every day when Henry does the littlest of things. It is just an incredible experience. And tiring...
Henry was a quiet, content baby from the start. He has been quite remarkable, rolling over from front to back at 12 days old, sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, and his latest feat, sitting up unsupported just before he turned 4 months old! He is always on the move. He has been very alert from the beginning, and you can see him taking everything in...the wheels are always turning.
Andy and I took Henry to the "Ground Hog Day" celebration at QCYC (Queen City Yacht Club) in February when he was just a few weeks old. Inga, our sweet, retired Austrian friend at the club told us that she used to study infants for a living. She looked Henry over and announced that he would be "very intelligent and hard to raise". I'm sure she is quite right about the intelligent part, lets hope "hard to raise" is way off the mark! I guess it's too soon to tell.
I know that mothers always favour their babies, and think the world of them, but I believe that Henry would win the heart of anyone who spent time in his company. He is sweet, charming, and flashes a mischievous smile whenever he does something cheeky. At four months old he has personality to spare. I simply adore him. Let his pictures speak for themselves.

About Us

We are about to embark on a big adventure. I have never been a great journal keeper, always starting with great intentions and stalling along the way, but blogging seems to have extra appeal, and I'm hoping that I can keep up with this as our journey unfolds.

For those viewing this blog that are unfamiliar with us, a little background information seems prudent. Our crew consists of me, a 37 year old female and new mother, Andy, a 35 year old man who has the optimism and resourcefulness of no one I've ever known, Henry, our four month old son, and our furry crew, Charlie and Buddy, two Chihuahua crosses. Charlie is the adventurer, Buddy is the cowardly lion.

Our story began like this. I am from a small town in Ontario. Growing up in Peterborough I feel I led a rather sheltered life. I moved to Toronto when I was 31 with the wrong man, but figure everything happens for a reason... it was in Toronto that I met the right man. Andy was from another smallish town, Kitchener, and had moved to Toronto in his early twenties, hoping to find adventure. As luck or fate would have it, we found each other.

On December 5th, 2004 I broke up with Mr. Wrong. On December 7th Andy heard that I was single and asked me to go skating at Nathan Phillip's Square on my lunch hour from Queen St. Dental Care, where I was working as a receptionist. He worked in the garage of the same building washing cars for his own detailing company. We never got to skate that day, as it froze rain by lunchtime, but over a muffin and coffee at Starbucks we were both smitten. We moved in together almost immediately, and have not slowed down since. Andy will affectionately tell anyone who asks that I was the "girl who came over and never went home".

We married at Queen City Yacht Club, on Toronto Island in September 2007. We had purchased a Cal 3-30 Sailboat that spring and were new members at the club. The scenery is beautiful, and it was the perfect background for a perfect wedding day.

I found out that I was expecting a baby on the same day that Andy flew to Florida to look at a new boat. I called him at his stop over at the airport to give him the big news. He bought Sassy II, an Ericson 34 on that trip, and our fate was sealed. We were to be live aboard sailors!!

As a trial run to our new lifestyle, I quit my job at the dental office and we moved aboard in July 2008. I was 3 months pregnant at the time and felt like the Florida heat and humidity was going to kill me! Our first order of business was the purchase of a Cruise Air airconditioner. What a lifesaver!! So, with air conditioner in place, we spent the next four months living in the Florida sunshine. Andy working away each day at upgrading our ship, and me enjoying the easy life upon our air conditioned haven. I spent most of my pregnancy knitting baby clothes to daytime television, and venturing out for a swim, a walk, and a relaxing evening once the heat of the day broke.

We spent most of that four months at Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton, and thanks to Andy's outgoing nature and general friendliness, we met a lot of great people, and made a few close friends. The ones we have kept are William and Judy, a wonderful, warm and friendly couple from Tenessee who have been both great friends and surrogate parents to Andy and I in Florida, and the Hackney family, Tanya, Jay and their four wonderful children, who have been brave enough to move aboard their enormous catamaran in preparation for cruising as a family. Tanya has shared her hard earned wisdom about parenting with me, and Jay has been a good friend and like minded captain for Andy to discuss all things boating with.

We headed north to Toronto in November in preparation for the baby's due date of January 4th. I am quite skeptical about the safety of ultrasounds, and so with little testing done, we had no idea which sex our baby was. We wanted a healthy one first and foremost. The anticipation was intense!!

Christmas came and went...New Year's Day came and went...January 4th came and went....by January 13th I was very ready to stop being pregnant and start being a Mom! I was induced, and after 15 hours of labour and a c-section, we welcomed Henry James Oakes into the world at 3:32pm on January 14th.

Henry has been a constant joy. He was never a cryer, and has been a little angel since day one. Andy and I know just how lucky we are.

As was the plan from the start, we moved back aboard Sassy II the first week of April. Andy spent three weeks full of hard work upgrading systems, installing new sails, re-rigging the mast, and doing various other tasks to prepare Sassy II for her first big race. He had entered her into the Regata Del Sol Al Sol, a four day race to Mexico from St. Petersburg, Florida. The race and preparations leading up to it are quite a story in themselves, so I'll be sure to have Andy post his adventures in another entry.

So, after the race we (Andy) had a few more repairs and a lot of cleanup to do. This brings us to today. Here we are on Friday, May 15, 2009, preparing to embark on our first cruise. It will be a big one, leaving the west coast of Florida (we are currently in Palmetto) and cruising first south to the Florida Keys, and then turning to the east coast for a long cruise back to Toronto.

I have little experience, with only day sails on Lake Ontario and along the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico under my belt. It will be very interesting to see how well life at sea will agree with me. Especially with a four month old infant in tow! This is why I have begun this blog. I hope to record both the ins and outs of our trip, and the joys and trials of parenthood, as both are going to be huge adventures.

I haven't yet decided if this blog will for my own personal use to record this period in my life for posterity, or if I will share it with friends, family, and anyone else interested enough to read it. For now I will write when I can, and see where it takes me.