Tag Archives: home school

Diving with Sharks! Fakarava, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Fakarava

June 7th, 2018:

Southwest of Kauehi is the atoll of Fakarava. Fakarava South is well known in the diving world for one of the most amazing shark drift dives. We were super excited to be heading there to freedive it and snorkel. We entered through the south pass with La Cigale directly behind us. Looking back, I’m unsure why, but we decide to take the east channel through to get to the anchorage/mooring area. It was only 3 meters at one point, which is plenty deep, but no room for error. As we motored against a strong 4 kt current, it looked like the reef was going to reach our keel at any second and we weren’t moving past it very fast. We made it, though on pins and needles the whole time.

We arrived on Tuesday to find that the anchorage was “empty”. There were only 4 other boats there and 2 free moorings were available. We grabbed one, but unfortunately the other one was too close to the other boat for La Cigale to grab, so they braved the anchoring within all of the coral littered bottom. This normally very crowded anchorage had emptied out due to the supply ship that arrives in North Fakarava on Wednesdays. Most of the cruisers all head up there on Tuesday to be there first thing in the morning on Wednesday for fresh produce. I wish I could say that we couldn’t have planned it better, but we didn’t plan it that way at all.

As we settled in, it didn’t take long to realize that this place was chalk full of reef sharks. Just looking off of our boat down 35 ft to the bottom, we could see sharks circling around. For the first time, they weren’t just black tip reef sharks either. We could see Grey reef sharks and White Tip reef sharks as well. We slowly lowered ourselves into the water for a closer look. Yep, they were all over and “friendly”. At one point I was able to attract a total of 9 sharks near the boat by splashing around on the surface. They were curious, but that’s as far as it went. We quickly realized we weren’t on their menu.

Over the next few days, we snorkeled/free-dived the south pass. You do this by taking the dingy to the outside of the pass, and timed with the incoming tide/current, you drift back into the atoll, watching all of the sharks, Grouper, and other sea creatures along the way. There is a section called “the wall of sharks” , in which the sharks tend to congregate in huge masses. Over the course of 5 days I think we did the drift dive 8 times! Christian put a little video together of it. See it here on our YouTube Channel.

A week zoomed by. A portion of the kid boats we met in the Galapagos arrived here around the same time as well. We met up with SV Alondra, another kid boat from Canada, and a few other kid boats we hadn’t met yet. Edith on SV Alondra is a Marine Biologist and was very generous to put together a few boat school biology classes. She pulled out a few of her props for a lesson on Marine Mammals and again, on another day, her microscopes for a lesson on Plankton.

As our time in South Fakarava neared its end we had been out for nearly 3 weeks without reprovisioning. It was time to head up to “town”, Rotoava, in North Fakarava for a re-supply.

We had a great sail off the hook and back on again in the north end after dodging pearl farm buoys. See our swinging video here.

We anchored off of the town along with other cruiser friends. We first went to find some groceries. We were lucky to find that there were eggs available at the Fakarava Yacht Services facility. They also had wifi and coffee, both were not great , but did the trick. a coconut crab Ellamae and Megan off of SV Raftkin.Haley (Raftkin) and Nina

We spent a few days there, getting wifi, eating really good croissants, and doing a little SUP yoga and video with the ladies.The crew off of SV Today stopping over to say hello. They have a ocean plastic awareness program called “eat less plastic” in which they are promoting through their sailing voyage.

saying “fair winds” to Alondra.

We finally were ready to head out to the next atoll, Toau. There was just one issue, the wind switched to the north, the direction we wanted to head in. Video and photos to be posted on our Toau post, up next.

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Kauehi, Tuamotus – French Polynesia

Tuamotus: Kauehi 1st of 3 Atolls visited May 31 – June 6th, 2018

As we left Nuku Hiva, not even an hour out, we caught a huge Wahoo! We hand reeled it all of the way into the stern and it shook itself loose.

Our passage from the Marquesas to the Tuomotus took 5 days. We probably could have done it in 4 days if we had left earlier in the morning, but we didn’t. After the first night it was clear that if we kept up the good speeds we would arrive to Kauehi South Pass entrance way to early in the morning. We didn’t want to be anywhere too close to that atoll in the dark, so we actually had to slow ourselves down at one point to make sure we didn’t arrive to early in the morning.

Kauehi was out first atoll we’ve ever been to. We were told by many people that it was one of the best In the Tuamotus. Our friends on SV Summer and SV Dol Selene were there already, waiting for our arrival. We ended up timing it just right . We arrived at the pass entrance at 11am. It was low tide and turning , but current hadn’t switched yet. We were still able to sail in without any Hic-ups. We were prepared for the worst. I was on the bow looking for coral heads and the girls were up in the ratlines doing the same. We had about 3 kts current against us, but the water was flat and we were able to move through just fine under sail.

One of the draws to Kauehi, is its relatively easy pass entrance and a well charted zone to navigate in and through to both the south east anchorage and the village. When sailing through Atolls, you have to plan your timing through the passes, for the current can be very strong and standing waves can occur. You also have to watch out extremely carefully for coral heads. Some are charted in up to date navigation plotters, but not all. As we sailed through the pass we were surprised how clear the water was and how a coral head 20 feet down looked like it was 10 feet down. We were going to have to get use to that!

We sailed all the way into the south east anchorage and onto the hook successfully avoiding all coral heads. That was exiting! We were happy to make landfall, greeted by our neighbors, and go for our first crystal clear Tuamotus Atoll plunge.

Kauehi turned out to be one of our favorite places so far. Clear, warm water to snorkel in, easy to hop on our SUPs and go for a good paddle, our first close encounters with larger black tip reef sharks, good cruising friends and beach bar-b-ques. A few more of the boats we knew arrived with kids (SV La Cigale and SV Counting Stars), so our kids were extremely happy about that too!

Over a period of about 5 days, we made daily trips to the bommies (coral heads) to snorkel, morning SUP and swim exercise, morning boat schooling and boat to boat social hours. What more could you ask for?!

SV Counting Stars in the Sunrise. The boys heading off to freedive some Bommies (coral heads).Leo and Christian played while Laurel and Josie played. Adult play dates!Ellamae paddles the Xterraboard over to other kid boats many play dates over on La Cigale. Bonfires, hermit crab collecting and releasing, and potlucks on the beach .sourdough loafs and sourdough pancakes!

and many amazing sunsets 🌅.

Next stop, Fakarava Atoll!

Up, up, and away!

After our crossing from Mazatlan to La Paz, our time spent in La Paz was relatively short. It was time to start making our way up, up, and away from the hurricanes before the hurricane season (June – November).  We’d planned on staying there as long as it took for me to do all of the online and other required work for my next travel nursing assignment during the summer. A few days of wifi at the Big Sur coffee shop was all I really needed and a day to re-provision. We got a little waylaid with celebrating Mike’s (SV Easy) Birthday and meeting a new kid boat called SV Secret Water. There were a few other boats we wanted to visit with too (SV Tribe, Waponi Woo, Orion, Bertie, Adventurer, just to name a few).  Oh the sailing social  life and how it ALWAYS makes you change your “plans”.Taj fearlessly jumping off the piling.

“new kids on the dock” Umbrella movement in La Paz.

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By our 5th day in La Paz we felt the itch to continue on, but the pull to stay. I think this will be a common feeling as we continue to sail the world and meet amazing people in amazing places. Alas, we chose to leave with a “see ya later” instead of a “good-bye”.

The first week of making our way north, up the Sea of Cortez was faster than our journey up last season. Now that I had work lined up with pre-work classes and assessments schedule in San Diego for June 23, we had somewhat of a time schedule. Mike on SV Easy continued to buddy boat with us. He had already been up to Puerto Enscondido as well, so he was onboard with shorter stops up to that point. Our stops were indeed brief, depending on the wind and water conditions. If there were anchorages or animals we hadn’t seen, we’d take some time exploring, but otherwise we didn’t lag too much until we got up to Bahia de Conception.

First stop, Isla Espirito Santo/Isla Partida. We sailed all but an hour of our 10 hour day to Bahia Ensenada Grande. We got out the hammock  for a swing and dip in the water while we were becalmed, waiting for wind.

 S/V Easy

The anchorage at Ensenada Grande was spectacular! There we five boats after Easy and Shawnigan had anchored. The Mobula Rays, jumping everywhere, sounded like we were in the midst of a pirate ship battle field. The slaps and splashes from their jumping dance of courtship, feeding, or communication surrounded and echoed off the steep burnt red sandstone and sedimentary cliffs of the anchorage. This was the moment that  we felt the magic of the Sea of Cortez return.

After a relaxing morning aboard, with an abbreviated boat-school day, we took a fieldtrip to hike across the island to the other side. Along the way we explored the many different geological features the island had to offer. Various igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary formations all in one place! It was perfect timing for Ellamae’s science block of her curriculum.

Two nights at Ensenada Grande and we were off to Isla San Francisquito, but first a quick swim with the sea lions at Los Islotes before the wind picked up.

We anchored in the southwest side of the island in 58 feet of water with just enough scope for a few ohour “lunch stop”. SV Easy anchored just behind us. We new our window for swimming would be narrow before the wind picked up, so we made sure to be ready to play and ready to leave. The visibility was not the greatest and the sea lions were not in their most playful state, but we did get to swim and play around with them for a while. The kids had a blast! To watch their excitement and comfortable interaction with the sea lions was priceless. As we predicted, the wind filled in after 1.5 hours of being there. We quickly rowed back to the  boat and sailed off to Isla San Francisco (Francisquito).Screenshot (3)Screenshot (4)Me, Josie, bliss.Screenshot (7)Taj and the 3 Sea Lions.Screenshot (9)Nina looking down at me with camera in hand and the Sea Lion.Screenshot (11)Screenshot (12)Ellamae (9) about 8 feet down, looking for sea lions to swim with, relaxed and in her element.

Isla San Francisco was just as pristine as it was the previous year. The white sandy beach surrounded by crystal clear azure water makes this anchorage most picturesque. We stayed two nights here in order to hike to the top of the hill and to spear fish.  Taj caught some fish himself, just off the boat with a fishing pole. Mostly catch and release puffer fish, but he did manage to catch a trigger fish. Yummy GrouperMike, paddling to shore.Isla San Francisquito

Nina And Ellamae beat us to the top.

  Mike looking ahead at the steep incline toward to top. Christian with Taj on his shoulders not far behind.

From Isla San Francisco we sailed straight to Punta San Telmo (2519.866 N, -11057.684 W) . The anchorage more of your “roadside anchorage”, but it did offer enough protection from the south south westerly winds.  Mike did an awesome job setting his anchor under sail for the first time. This wasn’t the only “first time” among us, we finally busted out the flopper stopper for the first time. We were getting quite of a wrap around swell from the south. Mike already had his flopper stopper out within an hour of anchoring. He was rocking notably much less than we were. I somehow finally convinced Christian to set up the Magma flopper stopper. It came with our boat when we bought it in 2012, but we had never used it. As we sat anchored much more comfortably, we both laughed and agreed that we shouldn’t have waited so long.  We hiked on shore a bit and settled in for a nice evening in an empty anchorage.  Not too long after a lovely sunrise, we set sail for Bahia San Marte. S/V Easy sailing off the hook!

Bahia San Marte was pretty sweet. We sailed off and back on the hook, as did Mike.  The cliffs that surrounded us were majestic. The cliffs looked rock climbable (hint to anyone looking for new amazing places to climb). Mike took his paddle board and we rowed the dinghy over to them to check out a cave that was highly recommended in the Shawn and Heather Sea of Cortez: A Cruiser’s Guidebook.  It was pretty cool. This was just the beginning of Baja’s cave exploring for the crew aboard SV Shawnigan.              Mike making is way back from the very back of the cave.

The next day we sailed off and back on the hook again to Agua Verde. One of our favorite places so far, in large part due to the quaint village where you can restock on some provisions as well as purchase fresh goat milk (seasonal) and goat cheese directly out of the farmer’s house. The local tienda, or little store, offers fresh fruit and veggies and other essentials. They rearranged it since the last time we were there to hold more products. Everyone in the village was very welcoming. Side note, there are petroglyphs in the area that was visited last year, but we didn’t this time around. See our post from last year for details here.  As per usual with our anchorage visits, we swam around to cool down and discover the underwater ecosystem around us. We found a little underwater cave/arch with sea fans and beautiful light. Nina and I dove through first and with time, Ellamae dove through her first underwater tunnel! The same day, Taj dove down to 10 feet! Our kids are turning in to fish!Shopping at the local tienda in Agua Verde.

Hammock life

 

 

Screenshot (16)Taj on his 10 foot dive.Screenshot (19)Relaxing in the cockpit after a swim.Screenshot (18)Taj on his kayak in Agua Verde.

Isla Monserrate was calling our name. We hadn’t been there before, the wind at the time wasn’t unfavorable, so why not? The sail there was great. We were in the swing of anchoring under sail, so we did it whenever we could. Mike was getting in the groove of it as well. We settled into the anchorage in time for lunch. Christian was having a bout of low energy, crummy feeling from his Lyme disease, so I took Ellamae and Taj to shore to explore along with Mike while Nina stayed onboard with Christian.  The wind picked up more than we were hoping for that evening. It was offshore, but it put a damper on exploring the underwater realm.Screenshot (20)Our 2 boats, Easy and Shawnigan, sitting pretty in the deserted anchorage.

Thankfully the next morning, Christian woke up feeling better. We set for a 10 mile sail for Bahia Candeleros. Another great day of sailing off and back on to the hook. We found ourselves anchoring in Candeleros with only a few with other boats, one of which was our friend John on SV Summer. Candeleros is known for its beachfront resort with day passes and wifi access. Word on the street says that they have gotten progressively uptight about letting cruisers come in and use the facilities. We chose to bypass these amenities this year. Truth be told, even if we wanted to partake in the resort luxuries, the wind was howling out of the west and straight into the anchorage. Needless to say, we were not leaving the boat for any reason, except to swim when there was not any wind during the early daytime hours.  In the morning, we did snorkel. The water was quite chilly, about 68F. The visibility was about 20 feet, so not optimal either, but we still enjoyed swimming with a huge group of the fasinating Mobula rays. 2 nights in Candeleros was enough for us this time around. Next stop… Loreto!Overnight anchorages overview map: From top left to right: Ensenada Grande, Isla San Francisco. Bottom row left to right: Punta San Telmo, San Marte, Monserrate (picture above), then Candeleros.

More Photos:Screenshot (13)Ellamae and Taj up close and personal.Screenshot (15)Hawlkfish

 

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La Cruz to Chacala

Now that I’m finally getting back on track with posting, we will be leaving cell and wifi reception. I will do my best to plan my posts out a bit. I’m still a few weeks behind, as e left La Cruz on April 24th, but it’s better than months behind.

We finally made it out of La Cruz and started making our way North. We first dropped Ellamae off at the airport in Puerto Vallarta to go spend time with her biological father, Jason. That same afternoon we sailed off the hook to Punta de Mita to get us further out of the Banderas Bay. First thing the next morning, after breakfast we set sail, actually motored for a few hours, around the point and headed North for a 30 mile day. Mike on SV Easy  was buddy boating with us. The wind didn’t pick up for about 3 hours, but the weather was beautiful. We saw tons of sea turtles and enjoyed a pleasant sail north.

We’d been to Chacala before and arrived in the mid afternoon. Just enough time to hit up the surf spot! Just what the doctor ordered.  That night we had Mike over for dinner and and a good nights sleep was had by all.

The next day included school, checking in with the port captain, more surfing, and beach time.

Then more surfing and a hike to the extinct volcano crater, and more beach time the next day. We met a fellow Nor Cal family and spent some time with them. The mother owns a house there and rents out bungalow through Airbnb

Chacala is beautiful and we wished we could have stayed longer. Hopefully on the way back down.

Boatschooling on SV Shawnigan – if only I knew then what I know now…

What a difference a year makes. I clearly remember the stress and overwhelming feelings we had six months or maybe even a year before we started homeschooling our children in January 2015. We had questions like “what are the legalities of homeschooling?” “What “program” do we choose”? “Do we even have an option of a program to choose?” “How are we, not being trained professionals in child education, going to be able to teach our children by ourselves?” “What if we miss something?” “How will our children get socialization?” “Will they have issues getting in to college?” I think these are all pretty normal thoughts of aspiring homeschooler educators. The truth is, if you are having these thoughts, that in itself means that you are going to do just fine. As long as you LOVE and CARE for your child’s education, the homeschooling will come together! 

I will start with the legality part first. Every state has different requirements. Google “(your state) and homeschool requirements (or laws)”. If you are traveling and don’t have a permanent address or are looking for a permanent address you may want to research which state’s requirements fit your family’s needs best and then apply for an address in that state.  Most states have you fill out an Affidavit, stating that you have some sort of education going on in some form. Again, every state is different and I’m referring to the United States. I am unsure about other countries and what they require.

Ok, now that the legal part is over, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. There are many styles of homeschooling to choose from:

Very structured programs, such as Calvert and Online Classes. With Calvert you buy a curriculum and it comes with a bunch of books, assignments and deadlines to fax or mail the completed work and exams by. This may work for you if you like to be told exactly what to do and when it’s due by. The people I’ve interviewed that do this have children who prefer to sit in front of books and work through them. One thing to consider is that Calvert can be expensive, especially on a cruising budget. You need online access or at least fax and mailing options in order to send and receive the school work. There are also online courses to enroll in, like college online classes, but you need internet access, and many require exact times to attend class. 

Private School/Charter School associated programs have a curriculum for you to follow and people to check in with as a resource. Each may have their own requirements as for how much work to turn in and how often to check in. So again, depending on the requirements of that particular program, access to online, email, costs, etc., this option may be a good fit. 

DIY (do it yourself) type, where you basically create your own curriculum and get your own supplies and report to yourselves. This may be a very liberating option for the eager, self driven parent/educator. 

Unschooling is a newer way and good option for parents who are very creative. The parent creates learning experiences based on the child’s natural passions and interests. To really do it correctly, for lack of a better word, the parent takes careful attention to their child’s interest and makes a fun way of expanding their knowledge based on that.  This way of teaching feels a lot less or possibly nothing like “school” which is why it’s called “unschooling”.  For those unsure about this as an actual way of schooling, I suggest looking it up further. Just to be clear, unschooling is not letting your child sit at home to play video games all day because that’s what their passion is.  If done diligently,  or perhaps eloquently is a better word, it can be a very effective way of education. 

The combo teaching style. A little bit of everything or bits and pieces from a few might work for your family. This is similar to DIY, but you have more options added to it. I call this the “Happy Medium” schooling. 

And last, but certainly not least is World Schooling. I’m not quite sure where to fit this one in, because I believe it’s more of a process/addition to schooling rather than a specific style. I’m guessing it might fit best under unschooling , DIY and combo. With world schooling you use the world to teach. Learning through experiencing culture, geography, history, science, arts, economics etc. can be very effective and enjoyable. The world has a lot to offer for education. As a family traveling all over this may be a great option. 

Choosing which style of schooling to follow can feel overwhelming. Before choosing a style, know that as a parent and teacher you know your child best. Try a program that you think fits their personality. If you have multiple kids with multiple learning styles you may want to do different styles with each one. The key part is loving and really getting to know your child. The rest will fall in to place. I highly suggest this book called, The Heart Of Learning, by Lawrence Williams, EdD. It is from the Oak Meadow Waldorf curriculum, but it speaks to everyone and education style. I just read it this last summer and I wish I had read it before my kids were born! 

Also, know that you can always start a program and decide that it’s not a good fit and try a different method anytime. That’s one of the best parts about homeschooling.  Each of your children can get focused, individualized education with you as their educator. And they can feel loved and supported through the process and all the challenges. 

What we do for homeschooling on our boat, S/V Shawnigan, has transformed a bit over the last two years. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. What I mean by this, is that the longer we have worked with our children in the school setting, the more we learned about their learning styles and what works for them. Christian and I work together as a team. I do the planning and we both implement. We can do this since we are sailing and neither of us are working at the moment. 

When we started in January 2015, we started out using a more DIY style of schooling with a Waldorf curriculum to guide us. We had been enrolled in a Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf inspired school prior to homeschooling, so this seemed to be the right way to go. We found that the DIY was too hard to do while sailing with limited access to resources and books. It took a lot of preparation and we can only hold so many books aboard our 40 foot boat. As a family of 5, the youngest as a toddler, and sailing off the shores of California and Mexico, I will admit, we struggled with it. The good thing is that our kids are strong and resilient. They still learned what they needed and gained a lot of new knowledge we didn’t expect them to learn, even if it wasn’t the best style for our family. Key point here: don’t be afraid to choose a “wrong” style, children are usually more flexible than us adults are. They will be fine!

Starting this new school year (September 2017) we found a Waldorf inspired Charter School, The Wise-Academy, from our hometown to work with. We love the structure and material it provides. They use the Oak Meadow Waldorf curriculum and supplies. We were in the US visiting and working during this last summer, so we were able to sign up for it and get all the supplies and support we needed to start. We make contact with a support teacher via email or Skype as needed and required. We can even contact and send a few copies of our completed work with our IridiumGo Satphone email. We also use the World Schooling aspect to education. This is a no brainer for us, as we are sailing the world with our kids. Unschooling is a constant… life always offers educational experiences, so why hold back if your child is interested. 

As for socialization, there are many resources out there in the world now to organize homeschool kids getting together with other homeschool kids. Extracurricular activities are an option as well. As a sailing family you might have more concerns about this subject. Our kids meet up with other sailing kids quite frequently! There are a lot of families out in the world sailing and boatschooling. Sometimes there are older kids, sometimes younger, and sometimes only adults. There are a lot of benefits to having a wide range of ages that they might be limited to at times. Our 14 year old can play with 3-6 year olds, 6-11 year olds just fine, then hop in a normal adult conversation if that’s what’s available. The cruising kid community is great in that aspect, it makes these kids very diverse in their social skills. 

Finally, LOVE LOVE and LOVE your child. They will get the most out of all of this when you show love and support. Make learning enjoyable. Make them want to learn because they actually enjoy the process of learning. As they get older teach them how to teach themselves, it will take them a lot further in life. Most homeschooled kids are very successful, because they were taught to take initiative and know how to teach themselves. Colleges are starting to realize this in homeschooled scholars and are actually more inclined to accept their enrollment over the average “straight out of high school” applicants.  

We are so happy that we are boatschooling our kids. At times it is a challenge, and we aren’t perfect, but we work through it together and lovingly. We feel so much more connected to our kids and have seen wonderful results thus far. We highly suggest taking the responsibility of your children’s education, it’s worth every minute. 

~Josie Lauducci RN-NIC (and homeschool parent/educator 😃)

The local La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) orphanage came to socialize with the sailing kids at Marina La Cruz.

Our kids love to read. We choose not to have a TV, so we sit around reading or playing games at night. A good group of sailing boatschooling kids that organized an afternoon of various “tag” games.

An example of Ellamae’s 3rd grade science assignment. Making a wind index.

An example of Nina’s 8th grade English assignments. 

Local Mexican Tribal Culture, blessing the fishing fleets for the year. 

The La Cruz Cruising Kids Club learning how to run a restaurant at the local Jardin del Pulpo (Octopus’Garden)

Very highly recommended book to read before homeschooling or even before parenting 😉!

For more useful links click here or see our blog menu for boatschooling links.