There have been many hurdles to overcome, decisions to be made and no doubt many still to come but below are but a few of the more important ones we have either worked our way through or are working our way through.
US Visa – As Australians arriving by private boat in US Waters we have to have a US Visa. As such, we have applied for a US B2 Tourist visa that will allow Pendana to say in US continental waters for a period of up to five years with visa waivers being issued by US Customs and Boarder Protection during our stay. Without these types of visas and the help from the US Embassy here in Australia this trip would not be possible.
Schooling – Schooling is of paramount importance to most parents and Claire and I are no different. To date, we have narrowed it down to two options which look like they will provide the perfect fit of rigorous education as well as provide the flexibility we need during certain passages.
One thing I am confronted with is people’s views about how the girls will be disadvantaged through not being able to socialize with peers of their own age. What I would say, is that there is no research whatsoever for this statement to be made and as such, we can only let time tell if our decision was right or wrong. Regardless both girls WILL meet children as they travel, they WILL form friendships and they WILL gain enormous understanding of life in different countries along the way.
I have always maintained that what counts in life is one’s ability to hold a conversation, be interested and engaged, be interesting, have perspective, understand how cultures vary, gain a sense of self and a clear understanding of where one fits in this world. What is not important is the size of one’s house, the cost of one’s car, the latest fashion trends or the features on Apple’s new product offering as these things are of zero value in the grand scheme of life.
We firmly believe that our girls will gain an insight and perspective in their lives and the world we live that no amount of textbooks or education could duplicate. As such, for the question of socialization I will leave that to one side for now and simply say that life has, and always will reward the brave and bold and while I am not sure if what we are doing is brave or not is sure as hell feels that way sometimes!
Animals – Three cats and one large dog. Bottom line is that our animals as part of the family so there is no choice, like it or not, they have to come. GPS tracking collars for the cats, tender boarding ramp for Caesar, lifejackets for all and bulk kitty litter will be the order of the day.
Customs and Quarantine – Claire is the Admiral in charge of country clearance requirements in and out and all quarantine matters (I am sure there is a book in this). This, as most would know, is a huge undertaking and I for one am pleased she has agreed to do this with the gusto required to take on such a challenge. She is now busily preparing Rabies shots for the animals, GPS tracking collars for the cats when in port and the three thousand other items required to ensure the animals are not subjected to any lengthy quarantine periods.
At this stage the plan is bond all animals on the boat until we reach Hawaii where, if we have completed all the paperwork correctly they will be accepted into the US 5-day quarantine program and where their paws will hit terra firm a for the first time in about three months.
Health & Fitness. How to stay healthy while living in confined quarters is a real issue. Sure one can go on long walks, go for a swim or jump into a gym when in port, but what about if one is at anchor for four months or traveling through the Inside Passage – how does one stay fit then?
I realize this is strange question coming from me, the king of candy and all things chocolate, but about five months ago I decided that my lack of health and increasing weight were growing in the wrong direction and as such, went to see my doctor. My doctor is just like Doc Martin (played by Martin Clunes) from the UK BBC program of the same name.
Anyway, my doctor delivers all messages in a brutal and pretty abrupt manner that would have most in tears. That being said, he is probably one of the best medical doctors around and as such, is highly sought after. So, in short, my visit to him and my statement of “Doc, it’s time to get healthy” came with the very predictable response and barrage of tests, akin to going ten rounds with Mike Tyson!
The long and the short of it is I have managed to lose 80 lb. with another 22 lb. to go and feel predictably, a whole lot better. Retirement is great but one must remain active. How does the expression go, use it or lose it!
Funnily enough my personal trainer (Roger, Ignite Performance Health & Fitness) is also not a very nice guy... and seems to get a little too much pleasure from my pain and, if I am not suffering enough, he turns up the heat to ensure my time with him is as miserable as possible. There have been times where I have wondered if, in fact, he is related to my very own Doc Martin. Nonetheless, Roger has agreed to visit the boat and write a program to ensure I stay on track which is superb. Who would have known that diet and exercise was the answer!
Claire is blessed with the cardiac fitness of an elite athlete…albeit a retired one and as such is in peak physical fitness to take on the trip and both Abi and Bianca are ready to go!
Boat and Medical Insurance – This was a nightmare trying to find a company who will insure us without requiring that we return to Australia every 12 months and was becoming a somewhat irritating process, until we discovered Pantaenius, a German, Lloyds of London underwriter who offered some very competitive and incredibly comprehensive policies. I am pleased to say that we will be signing up with Pantaenius for both our boat and medical insurance. For all those international sailors/passagemakers out there, I can’t recommend Pantaenius strongly enough and in particular their “Sailors Medical insurance Policy’ is incredibly comprehensive albeit a little pricey.
You can catch more from James and company over atwww.pendanablog.com.