The Striped Dolphins

By: Gherty Walling

On the 22-hour trip we took we saw about 30 striped dolphins!!!!! It was so cool. One of the many reasons why it was so cool was because they would jump all the way out of the water! Dad took that picture on his phone. Quinn said it looks like the cover of a magazine. The first time we saw them there were about 20 and they were coming right at us. At some point almost all of them jumped at once and it was amazing to see. Some of them would come up to the bow and jump there and one came right next to the boat and went under the water and we could still see it. Then while it was swimming it jumped out of the water! Right next to us, and it was only about three feet away from me. Others would jump out of the water and then swim under the boat, it was amazing. Dad and Che got the VIP experience on the bow. As Che said there were so many dolphins up there and we missed it. But that isn’t all the second time there two dolphins. It was still really cool because they would come up to the bow and just play. Everyone but mom was on the bow that time. Then two more dolphins came but left before the first ones. The first ones stayed for a couple more minutes then left to get their friends. After that some more came and jumped along the bow. Also, along the sides. Mom was down below but she still saw them right next to the windows. All in all, it was awesome and amazing!

Stay tuned, Bye

Tough love in Menorca

I am constantly reminded that what we are doing is by our choosing and not a holiday or vacation but still a gift. Its hard to explain at times but deeply satisfying because it’s with my family and not given but earned.

We took an easy trip across the Med 22 hours from Puerto Roda De Barà, Spain back to the Balerics in Mahon, Menorca. The sea was flat, the wind was nil, the ships were plenty. Kelly and I took three hour watches throughout the night while the children slept, dodging heavy ship traffic from Barcelona to the rest of the world with dolphins jumping all around us, Portuguese man-of-war by the millions on the surface and an easy beautiful passage to get started again. Dawn broke with a lovely 15 knot breeze just forward of the port beam and we sailed fast and fun over breakfast to Mahon and our favorite bay, Cala Teulera, surrounded by a thousand years of castle walls, lookout towers and long abandoned steps leading to the sea. Idyllic Mediterranean Spain. Perfect.

We entered the bay and anchored in a very tight safe spot in sand with only 4 other boats. Spain, Sweden, Germany, France and the USA in the house. What a wonderful feeling again to be surrounded by like minded diverse sailors. This is really one of my favorite parts of cruising. Everybody has been everywhere, and experienced their own storms, triumphs, lows and highs. It’s what binds us and I love it immensely. Old and young, families and naked Germans, all sailing and drinking deeply from this…whatever you want to call it.

Safely anchored in the Cala we decided to regroup and rest. The water was very cold but Kelly and I swam, and shampooed. All good. A great boat lasagna and a movie followed as the breeze turned to wind which turned to strong wind and further into a howling gale. We expected this. Our forecast said it would come. Our plan to haul ass to the Balerics before the next Mistral came smashing down from the Gulf of Lion in France was well founded and worked out well.

We had time to fight with the generator, fight with the bilge pump, install the water heater I had shipped from the US because of electrical issues, fight with the internet relay, you know, vacation….on your hands and knees with a headlamp and bloody knuckles.

It got windy….like, when will the locust swarm and zombies get here windy. 40 knots and angry. We reasoned that A: we are in the best sheltered bay in Menorca, B: if the anchor has held for a day then why would it let go on day 2? C: just because it will get even windier and the waves are crashing outside the bay where we had just been at nearly 20 feet what should we worry about? How about we have 3 children aboard, the gusts are spinning our 30,000 pound boat in a 150 foot arch jerking wildly? How about sleeping is only because of exhaustion waiting for the sound you don’t recognize that signals you have broken loose from anchor and will slam into your neighbors wrapping chain and anchors only to find the rocky lee shore before dawn? Standby….The wind died to leave the bay flat as glass. There are many cliches to describe this moment. Everybody knew what was coming though. Just when?

A strange horn sounded at 4:45AM, Kelly said something and I rolled to look out the port next to bed. SHIT!!! (Edited for PG). A catamaran that came into the anchorage late in the afternoon to shelter had broken loose and was drifting fast through the anchorage directly toward us. Dark boat, lights out. Our French neighbor, Michelle, was on deck blowing a horn to alert the skipper of the dragging boat to ensure he was awake and was not going to take us all out, tangling chain, anchors and boats to the rocky lee.

The English skipper of the cat shot onto deck half naked in the 50 degree howling gale and powered up, reeled in his anchor and spent the next 2 hours trying to reset his tackle in the dark, 40 knot winds swinging and stymieing his attempts. Thankfully the sky was lightening as the sunrise was approaching. He never could reset and motored off to the main harbor hopefully to get safe and rest. We’ll not know until we see him again but a real catastrophe was averted by a hair. All morning was spent on anchor watch swinging and howling in full foulies, eventually with a beer in hand, until finally I had rationalized that 36 hours of hell pounding hadn’t upset our anchor holding so we would be fine. Slowly all day the wind abated while the massive seas exploded over the rocky shore just over the bay.

Kelly and I had deep talks, mainly sharing our pride that our kids never were scared, watched The Phantom Menace (for May the 4th “Star Wars Day”) and went to bed. Just another day as a salty boat kid. Quinn mentioned that it was rather windy! We discussed what in hell we are doing and why. And we, as usual, shared that although this is often uncomfortable and occasionally terrifying, this is it. It’s what we’re doing. And unquestionably our family is the better for it.

The wind abated, as it will, and we had a lovely sundowner, as we will, with our neighbors on S/V Frida -German Ralph and his Kiwi wife Nina (and their 2 salty cats) and our French neighbor Michelle with the horn from S/V Velvet. Our kids played in their catamaran with cats and cards while we exchanged stories, a drink and destination info. Michelle and his wife are headed to Scotland, Ralph and Nina to New Zealand, Madame Geneva to Croatia. Amazing.

It seems a calm night resets all anxieties and stress. We’ll be here again (Menorca maybe but gut wrenching anxiety most definitely) but that’s it. That’s what we’re doing. For some reason.

The kids fed Juan, our trusty seagull who visits our transom hourly to see if we have any fish. We named him that because he’s Spanish. And because he’s the only….Juan, who visits.

A couple days of boat fixing then onto Sardinia because I hear nothing ever goes wrong there…..time to eat Kelly’s eggplant Parm. On a calm cool night.

Stay tuned. Much love.

The Voyage

While Mom and Dad were finishing up the little details, Quinn, Gherty, and I were catching animals and enslaving them in a blue bucket. We caught ten shrimp, two crabs, and one fish. What fun! We were going to leave in ten or fifteen minutes, so we had to hurry up and let them go. The best spot was around the gate to the dock, but we had to climb, and jump around the gate because Dad had the key, and we didn’t want to ask him because he was always fixing something. And when someone asked Dad for something in the middle of him doing work, he gives them the look like they just took the pin out of the grenade and asked him to hold it. We decided it was time to go and we emptied the bucket and folded up our nets. Mom and Dad were working on fixing a little raft boat that we had for emergencies. We took off and started our long adventure. It took a total of 22 hours, and 12 minutes. I don’t know that for sure, but I am pretty sure that it was around that. Three hours in, we saw giant tuna fish jumping from the water. They were at least a hundred pounds, and their scales reflected the sun into my eyes. We only saw two, but it was still super cool. Unfortunately, Gherty didn’t get to see them. We had something to eat for lunch, nothing special. We read some books and played some games.  I started reading the Kane chronicles again, but my device died. I forgot to mention we had tablets that we could read on. I went up to the cockpit and enjoyed the wind and the sea (and the horrible music that was playing over and over AND OVER again). Two hours later, Dad called us to come upstairs. We saw something that we didn’t expect to see. There were Portuguese man-o-war on the right and the left side of our boat. They were super small but there were thousands of them every were. I expected to just see them for a short time, but they were still there an hour later. It was dinner time, but it was cereal and granola. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. We went to go watch a show, but Quinn didn’t want to. Instead he read up in the cockpit and went to bed. Right when we were about the press play, Dad said hey guys come see this. We went up and Dad told us to go to the transom. There was bio-luminescence. Bio-luminescence is a light made from living creatures. And the creatures were Portuguese man-o-war. Surprise, we were riding right over them and causing them to illuminate. I don’t think they were Portuguese man-o-war, but Dad said they were. From what I learned you can’t trust your parents on everything (take that back you should cause they raised you from a little drooling baby). It turns out I had an allergic reaction while I slept, and it was not pretty. I will not elaborate on all the details, but I made do with the problem. The morning was a blast. I bumped my head, tripped over Quinn’s cloths, hit my elbow on the handle of the door, and what my luck when I banged my head on a hasp. A hasp is a lock, a very hard, annoying, stupid, no good, little lock. We hit our heads on it some many times, I can’t count how many. It hurts but it helps (why do I feel like the hasp is getting more attention than any other subject?). OK, we had more cereal, and finally got to our destination. Mom was asleep, and good ole Dad had droopy eyes. We sailed into a bay called Cala Teulera and anchored in a sandy place so the anchor would stay in. We stayed on the boat for the rest of the day, which was super boring. Quinn and I got into a big fight, I got pencils thrown at me. And Quinn got yelled at. (Woof, what a wonderful time to end the day) We made up and everything was good. We ate dinner, watched a movie about a box that could wipe human society off of the face of the earth, and went to bed. The next day, I started to write this new blog, while getting ice thrown at me by Quinn. This is where I leave you.

The First Sail

quinn and momBy: Quinn Walling

Before we left, Mom and Dad went to the grocery store while we waited for two hours (we hadn’t eaten breakfast yet and there was no food on the boat)! When they got home, they had about five bags (No joke)! After we ate, Che and I caught some sea critters on the dock and put them in a bucket, then it was time to go! We got the boat ready for departure and took off! The boat ride was very long and eventful with animals everywhere! in the water at one point there were Portuguese Man-o-wars, another point there were tiny dolphins that jumped fully out of the water, tuna fish jumping, and regular size dolphin fins in the water! The whole boat ride was 22 hours. While on the boat ride I started and finished reading a 557-page book curled up in my blanket (because it was freezing)! After I finished the book, I was bored, and I still had about four hours to go and I couldn’t sleep. I managed to read 70 pages of a new book. When we got there, we had dinner on the boat and settled down. We are now finished, and this is the end of our first sail!

22 Hours of Sailing

ghertyby Gherty

As you can see by the title, we spent 22 hours sailing here. By the way here is Cala Teulera, Menorca. But before we got here, we saw some really cool dolphins that would jump all the way out of the water!!! They were called Short-Beaked Common Dolphins. They were also really small. Also, we saw man-o-wars for hours just floating by with their bubble sails up. It was awesome, there were probably millions of them. And in the night and day we would run over them but in the night,  they would glow green and it was so cool to see. I didn’t know until then that man-o-wars were florescent. We also saw some other dolphins that you will most likely recognize, Bottlenose Dolphins! The first time I didn’t see but Mom, Dad, and Che saw was tuna. They saw them jumping a few times but that was it. Other than that it was pretty quiet out there. It was never rough as far as I know. But let me tell you its really hard to watch a movie while all you can hear is the boat creaking. Mom and Dad took turns watching and driving while we slept. I’d say we had the better part of the deal. When we got here people were racing kayaks. I think they were training because someone was yelling at them while they were paddling. We’ve been here once before but it’s still beautiful. There are forts on either side of us and a lookout tower. Also hills all around us and mini beaches. Also, a huge rock wall and a boat house at the end of it. There are also caves in the hills and some of them are huge. The water is turquoise and sparkling and it is so cool. But its also freezing! Dad had to jump in the water to save their quilt. Anyways we’ll be staying here a little longer because it’s getting really windy.

Stay tuned, Bye!

Five Day Delay

cheBy Che walling

The last trip we stayed at an apartment that was right in front of a cool place where there was a market. Around the door was the name of the place but I don’t remember what is was called; also, above the doorway there were these little doors that at 12:00 would open and a song would play. As I recall when we stayed there, we had a good time. Most unfortunately our boat was delayed for some reason, so we had to find a place to stay for the time being. Mom was looking for some where to stay and she found the exact same place we stayed when we left last summer.  We had a little drive to get to our destination. I think we stayed there for five days (I am not completely sure) but in those five days, we explored Roman ruins, saw giants, and walked to many places that were amazing to see. I had my scooter, and Gherty and Quinn had their toe-crushing rip sticks (which by the way I had to learn that from horrible experience). One time we were looking for a place to eat and we found something that we did not expect at all. Dad wanted to check out a Japanese restaurant that was surrounded with big, small, and medium fish tanks.

There was clown fish, puffer fish, an eel, koi fish, angel fish, a big catfish, whatever fish Dory is from Finding Nemo, etc. Mom was convinced it was a restaurant where they plucked fish out of their tanks and cooked them, but Dad disagreed with Mom’s opinion. What a sad life for a fish to know you have been caught and soon it will be your time to join the fish in fishy heaven. Never seeing the world, never seeing the other fishes that, that sad unfortunate fish will never see. That is how nature works. And that’s how a cookie crumbles.  There was a clown fish stuck in a glass tube, which now that I think about it reminds me of Finding Nemo when he escaped. We asked someone about the stuck fish and they said he can get in and out of the glass tube. Mom and Dad had a few more drinks, and we were bored watching them sip and went outside in the night to play. Lucky for us there was a playground right in front of the restaurant. We had fun ,but all fun must come to a end and soon we had to go.

One of those days, we were walking along a sidewalk and we stumbled into a tiny party with people that were playing trumpets, and other instruments of the sorts. There was a slanted hill that we played on while Mom and Dad danced to the music. We walked some more, and we passed a church that was super big and inside there were chapels with gold leaf and all other sorts of amazing things. We lit some candles for our loved ones. We stayed there for a while, listening to the priest talking. The next couple days were basically the same routine, and we had a ton of fun exploring, and seeing new places. There were the good times and the bad times, but all in all we had a lot of fun and enjoyed spending time together.

Roman Ruins

spoutBy: Gherty Walling

There are so many roman ruins here in Tarragona you couldn’t believe it! Not even a block from our apartment there’s a ruin.

Also, there’s a big 20-foot column in the middle of a town square and next to a big cathedral there was a big crumbled building that was being redone. Also, at every ruin we’ve seen there’s posters that show an app that shows what it looked like before. There was no color left on the ruins but in the app, you could see how colorful it was. It was fun rip sticking around town and seeing the ruins, but it was also tiring for everyone but mom and dad. They never seemed exhausted from walking. What was also cool was all the architecture on the ruins. There were monsters, people, and different designs all carved into the ruins. Also, so many gargoyles on the sides shaped as dragons. They had holes in their mouths for rain. Some looked like they were built for lots of rain. Also,  there were these doors at a cathedral that were meant for people on horseback and carriages, they were at least ten feet high. With knockers about six feet high and maybe eight for the carriages. One more ruin was the huge theater next to the sea! It was seriously huge; I think we have a picture of it. It was all stone with a lot of steps that I think were seats. I saw the area that was the stage and I think backstage. There was no roof and little walls so we could see inside from up top. But we couldn’t go in it because it was Sunday, so it was closed.

IMG_7747                                                                                   Stay tuned, Bye!

Tarragona: Some Days on Land!

IMG_7737By: Quinn Walling

We have been on land for some time now (because the boat was not fixed yet), and here, I will tell you a few of our adventures! So, here’s one: We have been living at a place by a square for five days (four nights), and it has been a good stay. A day, or two, or three ago we went on a walk (about four miles) Gherty and I were rip sticking, and we got hungry, so we all went to a Turkish restaurant to eat (I didn’t eat because I had just eaten four good pizza slices). Once we ate, I saw a cool hill just to the right of the restaurant. We all went to that hill (it looked less menacing as we got closer), when we got there Gherty and I stood with our rip sticks at the top looking down this big, big, hill! Gherty ended up going first, she whizzed down the hill at about 25 M.P.H.! I went after her, and I was SO scared! When I went, I could feel the adrenaline in my veins! It was SO scary! I whizzed down the hill faster than Gherty! After, we felt awesome, I even said, “You aren’t a rip sticker until you do that jump!”. We then played around a bit until it was time to go. That was pretty much it for that one, and that’s all I’m telling you guys for now! Well actually, one more thing, thanks for reading this blog, and all that! Bye! Stay tuned!

This is the end of this story! That’s all folks!

Quinn’s Blog: The First Two Days

quinnBy Quinn Walling
So, on the first day we woke up, had breakfast, and slowly we started to get ready. We packed for a few hours, then it was time to go! We got in the car and started to go to the airport; it was a long car ride. On the way we went to Leon’s for lunch. Once we got to the airport, it took half an hour for us to get through security. Then, we finally got to the boarding gate (which was B-something, I think), Mom and Dad went to a bar, while we would wait until the plane was ready, then tell them.  Once we got there, we waited for us to board the plane (which took about thirty minutes). We boarded the plane with Mom and Dad and got to our seats (I sat next to Gherty, and Che. Mom and Dad set separately from each other, and us). The kids (Che, Gherty, and I) played video games and read books until the plane ride was over (it took two hours). We got out of the plane and got to our next boarding gate. The plane would leave in two hours, and we were all hungry, so, we went to the Delta sky club. After eating, we talked to other people and did that kind of stuff until our plane was ready. We then got on the plane and watched movies until the plane ride was over. Once it was over, we got our bags from baggage claim, and rented a car. We drove to the place where our boat was, then realized it was still being worked on. Dad ended up helping the workers while Mom, Gherty, Che and I ate lunch at a pizza place. After that we went to a great candy store, it was so good!  Because we couldn’t go on the boat, we got a hotel and stayed the night. Now it is 4:25 PM and we just ate lunch. I guess that’s all. Expect more from us! Stay tuned.

Sometimes you need a rubber Viking helmet

We have been banging around Germany and Switzerland for several weeks now. Our backs are getting used to the heavy packs and our legs are shrugging off miles long hikes. Sure, the unplanned 9 mile (uphill both ways) slog in the Black Forest and occasional running to catch trains with full packs up crowded stairs are still met with slight resistance by the children. But we are backpackers now. Dirty, calloused, worldly, indefatigable…you know, hardcore.

So in the tradition of our hardcore predecessors we decided to get a hotel suite in Munich, unload our heavy packs and get some rest! Not to imply that it was all cushy. Kelly and I both took turns hand washing everyone’s laundry in the shower and hanging wet clothes on the radiator to dry. We declined room service as well as hotel cuisine…..you know, hardcore. Immediately upon entering the rooms Gherty, Che and Quinn excitedly discovered the complimentary robes, slippers, shoehorns and COMBS! What easy entertainment. TVs never glowed, e-readers stayed dark that evening. Instead they spontaneously put on a hairstyle fashion show dipping into hair gel and sink water returning each time to be judged and admired with ever more ridiculous hairstyles. A very funny introduction to Munich.

We decided to use Munchen as a 5 night home base so as to travel light on day trips and really dig into a place more so than before. Still as usual we had no plans per se. The first day we did our typical “let’s just find the city center and figure it out from there”. Of course, in keeping with our serendipitous luck we literally staggered into a massive festival in the center of town. There were 3 large stages spaced throughout. Beer and pastries rained from the heavens, a German rockabilly band thumped Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson and Elvis (really quite faithfully except for the thick German banter between songs)! “Fasching” means simply “German Carnival”. Far removed from Fort a France, Martinique where we Carnival-ed last year or Mardi Gras in NOLA where I have heard Kelly and I celebrated before that although we can neither verify nor deny that one.

Fasching was fun. We should have been tipped off when we started seeing grown men in purple stuffed animal costumes blocks before the party grounds but we’ve seen quite a bit in this trip and barely noticed. Once in the mix we bought all manner of silly decorative adornment. Gherty, chose a rubber Viking helmet because….sometimes you need a rubber Viking helmet. We partied like locals til we were out of steam. Another great day we had no plans for.

Munich is big and interesting. The weather slowly turned from unseasonably sunny and mild to GERMAN cold, rainy, grey and howling wind. Day trips on foot were ugly and hard earned. Oddly the kids seemed to lose their zest for looking at old buildings…imagine that?!

So Kelly and I read through the guide book and decided on a day in Nuremberg. Why not. A lovely city with a notable history we got cold, and a bit damp, and colder, and wet, and very cold and very wet. Basically we spent the day ducking into an Irish pub, a taco joint, used the bathroom at Starbucks, crossed the Hangman’s Bridge and finally in the pouring rain moments from saying “Uncle” in German and fleeing back to the train station we found a tiny bar called La Bas that has maybe seating for 15 and was jammed full. Upon poking my dripping wet head through the door to see if we were welcome the room hushed. The owner asked me some detailed question about politics or biochemistry in German and I replied “5?”. He quickly asked 3 locals to move from one of the 2 tables, they obliged smiling as I bashfully “danka shurned” em and 5 wet cold aliens were invited to eat and drink in the warm hospitable local gay bar. Hey, we travel for experience and experience we have in spades. The food was local and fantastic. The “Volk” were super friendly and we were rejuvenated and very full.

Back in Munchen we took clearing weather for a day at the zoo. The kids had been troopers of late and we figured a day entirely for them was in order. A good one for us all brought us back to life and ready for travel.

Farewell Deutschland. Danka for all the surprises. I’m writing this traveling backwards at 175 mph on a bullet train to Belgium. A couple days in Bruges awaits because, well, we don’t know anything about it.

Stay tuned.

Much Love.