The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron






Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Z's Birthday afloat

Year two and Zander is celebrating his second birthday on the boat. He is officially a teenager? How did that happen? He celebrated with a somewhat uneventful day since we left Man and traveled to North Wales with a rolly sea. For the first time since being in the UK we had one of those passages where you don't do much but read, watch a movie or try to sleep. Being productive was just not an option!

In Ireland the kids got a hand me down old crab trap from a local who was upgrading his traps. At anchor they drop it and have fun pulling up all sorts of things; fish, shrimp, and crabs. On Z's birthday the three kids took the dinghy out to pull up the trap and found their first lobster. They were pretty excited about that! Among Z's gifts were a huge Swiss chocolate bar, an IOU to a professional soccer game at some point in the future, and a Scottish Rugby shirt. The kids are getting to used slimmer Birthday and Christmas gifts as we remind them, being out here is your gift (and space and shopping opportunities are at a premium)!

Moving south; back through Islay, Belfast, and Isle of Man

We have been steadily moving south, timing the tides and at times sailing with GPS speeds of over 10 knots. I could get used to these speeds! We've also done many predawn departures and we can do about 40 miles before the kids even wake up! Several times they have only woken up to the drop of the anchor chain after we've done a full 30-40 mile passage.

Belfast was super interesting! Very different from southern Ireland with all the single lane roads and small villages. The North is definitely the industrial part of Ireland and I can see why England did not want to give it up! We did a black taxi ride in Belfast, viewing the murals and "peace wall" that still divides the Catholics and Protestant parts of Belfast. Although there has been peace in Belfast since 2002, they still close the gates between the two neighborhoods every night at 6pm and keep it closed through the weekend. Murals on both sides depict martyrs lost, political injustices and historically significant events in the history of Belfast, but also worldwide. Throughout the centuries the English didn't treat the Irish very well (an understatement), and the Catholic Irish were treated pathetically. Surprisingly, the Catholics didn't even get to vote until after the civil rights movement in the US. While I'm pretty sure we got a biased tour (our driver was shot by Protestant terrorists in the 80's), it was eye opening nonetheless. The taxi ride was the most interesting part of our visit to Belfast, but we also spent hours at the Titanic Museum. Belfast boasts the largest Titanic Museum in the world and the great ship, as well as both the sister ships, were built in the Belfast boatyards. The Titanic went down about 300 miles from Cape Race, the point of land we left Newfoundland from. Local boats from Trepassey (our home for three days while we waited out the weather to leave North America) responded to the Titanic distress calls. We traveled the same ice corridor the Titanic did, although we were four months later in the year and there was significantly less ice. The museum was well done and we now are all experts in all things Titanic.

From Belfast we did a fast motor sail to the Isle of Man. We left at 4am, motored with a tide assist and covered the 40 miles in record time, getting in at about 9am with a full day to explore. We've been fortunate with our sailing in the UK and Ireland, but we still need to fill the diesel tanks every so often. We also use diesel to heat the cabin, and it is an efficient heater, which we use only an hour or so a day, but we do still use diesel. If you rent a car you will notice that fuel is expensive here, as well as in the rest of Europe. It is highly taxed and has always been more expensive than in the states. We only made one jerry jug trip to the gas station before we learned that if you fill up, not at the fuel dock, but where the fisherman fill up, you don't pay any of the road taxes and diesel is comparable to what we pay in the states. This was definitely a good find!

The Isle of Man was one of those places that was on our route, a made a convenient place to stop, but we knew very little about. Sometimes those turn out to be the most interesting places. The Isle of Man is an independent territory of the UK. They have their own capital, language and even print their own money, although the British pound is also taken. For us, it was kind of hidden gem in the Irish Sea since we had no expectations. There are more castles dating back to the 13th century and the kids love castles, so of course we explored those. They had a museum that was fascinating and really well presented, so all of us really enjoyed it. When you know next to nothing about an area, any museum is interesting, but in this case we were all impressed by the interactive displays and a museum that can keep three kids interested, spanning the ages of 5-13, as well as the adults for over three hours has got to be good! The island has been inhabited by the Celt's since at least 500 BC and monks brought Christianity with them around 1000 ad, which they used to convert the pagan Celts. During Nordic expansion it was invaded by Vikings. The Vikings brought mainly men to the island, so when they took Celtic wives some of the Nordic culture integrated into the Celtic culture, but mainly the Celtic culture and language dominated because the mothers handed it down and it was the mothers tongue that remained most intact. Later the English took it over (can't remember the era, maybe 1500's) and it became an Earldom and stayed in one family for centuries. Now the Manx people are fiercely independent and very proud of their traditions and culture. The local kids even learn Manx in school, which I can't imagine will serve them too well later in life, but they are determined to keep the language alive and it is admirable.

After three days in Man, we are now working our way down the southern portion of the Irish Sea. We are headed towards the English Channel with a passage across to Brest, France in the next week.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Skye 57 degrees N - officially headed home

The Islands of Scotland are amazing! I wish we could stay up here longer, visit further north, see the Shetland's or the Orkney's, but they are just a little too far out of our grasp. On another cruise, in another life, when we don't have kids aboard. While the kids have been great about seeing one scenic fjord or little loch after another, they only appreciate the scenery so long. They are longing for a little more action. Zander is dreaming of going to a rugby game in England and Porter and Ana are looking forward to visiting High Clear Castle (the set for Downton Abbey, which we have become huge fans of), among other stops we are hoping to make. For now though they have been troopers about visiting old castles, exploring abbeys from centuries ago, climbing peaks and paddling along shorelines. Oh yeah, and sailing! The sailing has been remarkably good and we have been lucky to have some south winds as we headed north and we expect to have some northerlies as we head south. Perfect timing! Timing is important up here with wicked tide rips rushing through island groups. We've been timing those and have had, at times, up to a 3 knot assist in current. The waters have been mostly flat as we cruise along towering cliffs, castles in ruins as well as a few refurbished and lived in, and quaint little villages. Scotland is a superb cruising ground and even late in the season, we've seen quite a few other local boats out here with us.

On the Island of Skye, our most northern point, we went into postcard picture Loch Scavaig, anchoring close enough to a waterfall that we were lulled to sleep at night with the sound of cascading water. The second day we climbed up to an alpine lake with the Cuillin Mountain range as our backdrop. While not the tallest range in Scotland, it is most certainly the most dramatic and we were not disappointed. The anchorage was small and a fair weather anchorage, but we checked the weather and had the anchorage to ourselves for a time. This will definitely be a top ten anchorage spot for us. In the evening we harvested mussels and had ourselves a feast. We went a shore hoping to have a peat beach fire, but picture perfect comes with a price and the bugs drove us off the beach. We beat a fast retreat and fortunately the bugs didn't bother us on the boat.

We visited a couple other locations on Skye and then at 57 degrees N, we turned the boat around and we are now officially headed for home, albeit via a very circuitous route. We are looking forward to all our Southerly ports, but it is definitely with a heavy heart that we turn from this very majestic cruising ground. While we cruised Mexico and the Caribbean you have this sense that you may be back at some point, in cruising Northern Scotland, I can say with some certainty, that we will probably not be back this way by boat, and this makes me more than a little sad. I for one, have really loved my time here.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

More views of the West Coast of Scotland

another random castle along our sail

Porter paddling to shore to explore

on watch, it is cold here!

more island sights of Scotland




Isle of Skye

collecting mussels
Skye







village on Skye, with obligatory distillery 

more views of Skye


Porter bringing sail down


200 year old Abbey


Friday, September 18, 2015

Edinburgh

Our plans have changed again, as they will. Locals advised us to skip Loch Ness by boat because it was overrated, expensive to navigate through the multiple locks and time consuming to actually get to Loch Ness. So, we took their advice and decided to do some inland travel by train. We toured the highlands and inland lochs, watching the beautiful scenery go by from the window of a train. On the positive side we were able to get all the way to Edinburgh, which was not on our original travel itinerary. The city is truly one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen and one of the oldest in Europe. We find visiting urban centers with kids isn't always super relaxing. We'd like to just poke around, wander through shops, visit museums, actually take the time to read informational plaques or sit in a cafes and people watch. With the ages of our kids, and the simple fact that there are 5 of us trying to wander, it isn't quite as much fun for us, or for them. Edinburgh, in particular, begs to be explored by nook and cranny. So we did what we usually do in urban centers and planned to visit a monument the kids would like in the morning, in this case it was Edinburgh Castle and the military Museum, and then we split up and one of us gets half of a day to wander on their own and the other either wanders doing kid friendly things; watching street performers, listening to street music, but usually eventually ends up heading back to the hotel early. We then meet for a late dinner and the adult that wasn't "blessed" to spend all day with the kids gets a chance to do some adult friendly things in the evening on their own. It isn't ideal, but it works for us and we often meet a few more locals when we are exploring alone. I'm sure this is why the tropics appeal to so many cruisers with kids; everyone is happy on a beach and swimming!

Edinburgh Castle is the top tourist draw in all of Scotland, so we had to share it with a few thousand other people, but it was pretty spectacular all the same. The kids alternated between "hanging" with the guide and learning a few facts and running around exploring on their own. Porter loved the Great Hall with the display of swords and suits of armor and predictably, Ana liked the crown jewels. They bought plastic swords and used the whole castle as their playground. I figured if they sell plastic swords in the gift shop, then they need to expect kids will use them. Zander was mortified, but Kena and Porter had a blast!

Michael drew the short straw and I got to spend an afternoon by myself. I hiked a hill behind the city and got a full view of Edinburgh. I visited the house of parliament, the royal palace and the national gallery all at a speed walk. I also had a short time to shop on the royal mile for a few Christmas presents. It was a blissful few hours on my own. I returned to the hotel to a scene of all three kids playing besiege the castle walls and Michael very ready to have a break.

We only spent two nights in Edinburgh. It is a lovely city, but the English pound is still so strong and our dollar doesn't go very far. In three days we spent almost a fourth of our monthly income. The UK is great, but our wallets will like the rest of Europe better when we can go back to the Euro which is almost equal with the US dollar, or at least as low as it has been in decades.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Shots of Ireland



Just another castle 

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cliffs of Moher

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Signal tower from the Napoleonic era

getting into the dinghy is not an easy feat with 15' tides


Sheep tram we hopped a ride in to cross to Dursey Island




never a shortage of stone walls

15 foot tidal ranges make for interesting boarding


napping in the heather


white sand beach in Ireland

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

arrival in Scotland

We cruised several of the islands off the Connemara Coast in Ireland including Inishbofin and Clare. These are highlighted in the cruising guide as some of the best islands to visit by sailboat. Both islands were scenic with rocky headlands protecting beautiful white sand beaches rivalling those in the tropics. The hillsides were dotted with sheep, covered with wild flowers and carpeted in heather. We saw peat harvested on Inishbofin and experienced Gaelic football and Hurling in all its glory as the championship games were televised and the whole island of Clare seemed to come out to watch. After a few days of hiking and biking we put my parents on a ferry and got the boat ready to cross to Scotland. Ana spent almost 11 weeks with my parents this summer, both with and without us, and she was particularly bummed to see them leave. She wailed on the stern until the ferry was completely out of sight. It was nice to have them share a little of our voyage with us. I think every time they visit they feel a little less like we are taking their grandkids and sailing off the end of the earth.

To sail to Scotland we got up at 2am to minimize the sea time for the kids, anticipating about a 30 hour passage. We motored past the northwestern portion of Ireland and when the wind piped up we were able to sail the last 12 hours or so into Scotland. The current forecast is for another week of 15-25 knot winds from the south, so as long as we are headed north, we should have good wind. Hopefully, at some point the wind will clock around and we can sail south, otherwise we may be wintering in the north of Scotland! We had originally planned to sail all the way around northern Scotland, but we've decided, since it is so late in the season, and since the weather has been so unpredictable, we may only go as far north as Loch Ness or the Isle of Skye and then move back down through the Irish Sea. This will also minimize our travel in the English Channel and save a few days of sailing against the West wind in the Channel on our way to France.

We entered Scotland on the Island of Islay. This part of the country is known for it's whiskey distilleries and we felt obligated to tour a few. One in Bowmore used the waste cooling water to heat the community pool and hot tub. Hot tub heated by whiskey, how cool is that! We had to visit that one! In Port Ellen, on the same island, Porter befriended a group of about 10 other hooligans and they took over the town; they made Porter look like an alter boy! In comparison, Porter appeared cautious, quiet and risk adverse. Love that he is making friends and learning a little about other cultures, I just hope he survives the interaction.

At the moment we are looking at tidal charts and planning our route up to the Caledonia Canal and Loch Ness. It takes about two days to go through all the canals and get to Loch Ness and then two more days to return. I suggested it may be easier to rent a car and visit the area by car, but I was quickly out voted. The boys of the boat definitely want to take the boat up all the way up, regardless of the time motoring through small waterways. They are excited to search for the elusive Nessie.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Ireland September 7

Every place we have visited since leaving the tropics claims to be having unseasonably cool temperatures this summer; Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, St. Pierre and now Ireland. While we are now in September and we should expect some cooler climes, Ireland has also had a really pathetic summer (according to all the locals) as seems to be the trend we are seeing. You don't necessarily come to Ireland and the UK for the weather, but we haven't been out of our thermals and fleece yet! That said, we have still enjoyed our stay here and although it is cool, we have avoided rain on most occasions. We visited the Aran Islands and the quaint villages, forts and endless stone walls. No shortage of stone walls in this part of the country! With our boat tucked snuggly in the gated city marina of Galway we rented a car and visited the Southwest coast of the country including the Cliffs of Moher (along with every other tourist it seemed). With the 200 meter sheer cliffs, the iconic image of Ireland was amazing, but taking three kids to walk along vertical cliffs in 20 knot winds and sheet rain and a million other people was anything but relaxing. With a death grip on the kids we took a short walk did the compulsory trip through the visitor center and then called it a day. We tagged it, but I don't necessarily ever need to go back! Afterward we spent three days touring the Beara Peninsula; driving along scenic single land country roads through beautiful country, hiking through the heather to antiquities like signal towers from the Napoleonic age and taking a 30 year old sheep tram across a tidal rip to Dursey Island were among some of our favorite experiences. We stayed in small B&B's, ate way too many Irish breakfasts and drank our way through the pubs tasting whiskeys, our fair share of guiness and ciders. With a combined background in Maine, Alaska and Oregon, the old country was anything but wild, but it was lovely and we certainly enjoyed our time touring by car. Mike tackled all the driving on the other side of the road, and there were a few white knuckled moments on some of the small roads, but we felt we were successful returning the car with both mirrors intact! A small feat. Dang they have small roads here, and nobody has even heard of a shoulder!

We are now back on the boat, with my parents squeezed aboard for a few days, and we are heading north along the West Coast. Inishmaan, Inishbofin and Claire Island are on the itinerary for the next few days. Mike and I are taking advantage of grandparent babysitting and heading out at night to listen to the sounds of Ireland whenever we can. From small 3-4 table pubs to larger establishments there is music everywhere. Occasionally it is just one or two people jamming, but often the entire bar gets involved and everyone ends up singing Irish folksong's.

Schooling has been pretty laid back through the summer, but we are going to start back up this coming week. Ana starts kindergarten, which should be interesting. While she has been doing her "homework" all year, it will be interesting to have three kids to home school on a more structured schedule. I hope I survive this next chapter! On the less structured side of home schooling we have been embracing Irish Literature with readings from Yeats and Joyce to name a few. Porter loves the limericks and is filling his journal with his creations. Although when I told him I wanted a few for the blog and they couldn't have the words; butt, crack or fart in them, he suddenly had writers block. He's quite creative with a certain vocabulary set! Below are a couple of his more appropriate attempts:

There once was a boy named Porter
He had a mental disorder
He hit his head
On the edge of the bed
And woke up on the Irish Border

The once was a man named Papa
He liked to drink Mocha Frappa
He went to Starbucks
And said, this sucks
And went back to drinking Grappa.