Tuesday 5th October 2010

From Feş, we decided to go with an organised trip inland to see the other sights of Morocco. We talked to the people at the back packer's hostel and they recommended two drivers, brothers, who had taken people for various inland tours with good reports. We arranged for Bakali #1 and Bakali #2 to take “Connect4” and “Tiger”, and the next morning we were picked up in two old Mercedes Benz cars and driven inland.

The trip was exciting, and as we drove we saw the beauty and contrasts of the Moroccan countryside. We stopped at a small village for lunch and Bakali #1 lead us to a street-side eatery where we were treated to lunch Moroccan style. In the middle of the cluster of small outdoor shops was a butcher's shop with all the dead animals hanging out the front on hooks. To the right there were a couple of men cooking meat of sorts on open grills and to the left, in the corner was a man cooking vegetables 'Tangine' style over coals. Not knowing what was best to order we decided to pick some freshly cooked meat off the grill and to order a tangine of vegetables from the other table. We sat down and were brought out some bread and nice, hot Moroccan mint tea, and soon our meal was brought out. The tangine vegetables were fantastic and tasted so fresh and flavoursome. The meat was cooked to perfection and also had so much flavour; even if it was goat! Yes, Goat – a fact we only learned afterwards. Perhaps we wouldn't have ordered the meat had we known it wasn't beef, but at the end of the day, the meat was as good as any we'd ordered and so succulent. We discovered the meat was goat, when half way through lunch, another delivery of freshly killed and bled goats were brought and hung on hooks out the front of the butcher shop, not 3m from our table. Their heads were still attached and you could see their severed wind pipes hanging from under their chins. Chelsea was a little shocked at seeing the goats - their heads watching her in accusation as she ate. This one we had to talk through with her as she threatened to become a vegetarian.

In Australia, we're used to seeing our meat on polystyrene trays, with nice sterile shrink wrap coverings and fancy labels. Here, as in most parts of the world, the meat is just hung out the front of the butcher's shop and is served fresh. Sometimes you might look at it and feel a little upset at the audacity of displaying the dead meat in such a confronting way, but that's just how it's done here. While we might have been taken aback at seeing the dead goats with their heads still attached, this was nothing compared to the shock we saw when we were first walking through the souks in the old part of the Fes medina and saw a freshly severed camel's head fixed above the doorway of the butcher's shop. Here in Morocco, as we later learned, a freshly hung camel's head indicates a butcher's shop of high class. If that's not bad enough by western standards, there were crates of squawking chickens in cages at various souks, where once purchased they would be promptly 'dispatched' then handed over to the waiting customer.

Leaving the medina, we were amused to see a man riding home on his scooter holding a couple of fresh chickens upside down by the feet. After lunch, we were back in the car to continue our drive to Erg Chebbi and the beginning of the Sahara desert. As we drove along, on the fringe of the desert we saw children running towards our car, holding what looked like small dogs. Bakali stopped the car and we got out to see the children, curious to see what it was they were holding. These “dogs” were small fox like creatures with huge ears that make them look more like they haven't quite grown in the correct proportions yet. The children go out and catch these animals, then domesticate them as pets.

Unfortunately, by the time we got to Erg Chebbi, it was nearly 9:00pm, way past dark and although they had the camels out and ready, we were in no fit state to trek off on a camel safari.

It had been our understanding that we would arrive in Erg Chebbi mid afternoon, in time for a sunset camel trek out into the desert. The kids were way past tired, we were all very hungry and in all honesty, all we wanted was to get dinner and some sleep. We had a bit of an argument with the camel tour people and told Bakali that it wasn't acceptable to expect that we could travel all day, then commence a two hour camel trek in the dark. Let's face it, what would we see of the Sahara in the dark? This camel trek was to be the highlight of our trip inland, so we didn't want to compromise on it. The operator was asking if we wanted to stay a night in their hotel instead of doing the camel trek. We tried to explain that we wanted to stay the night, and still do the camel trek the next afternoon. He seemed perplexed at our insistence that it was too late to be doing a sunset camel tour at 9:00pm. In the end, we stayed at the hotel for the night and decided to tackle the camel trek the next afternoon.

The next day dawned bright and warm and the Sahara enticed us with its allure. We couldn't wait to get out into the desert and experience the Sahara. We had breakfast and sat on the dunes at the beginning of the Sahara, enjoying the quiet and having a chat with Neil and Ronel. Nick and I played with the vortex in the sad dunes and then we all went off to visit a neighbouring village. Bakali showed us around the Mali village and we were entertained by some of their musicians as we drank tea and relaxed. Although we couldn't quite get the whole story, the people in this village came from Mali in Africa many generations ago. Perhaps they came of their own free will, perhaps they were slaves, we'll never know.

All we know is that they're here and have settled into Moroccan life very well. They're a cheerful and happy people and we thoroughly enjoyed watching them sing and dance and put on a show for us. From the Mali village, we drove into a Berber town called Merzouga for lunch. We ordered a meal between the two families and were surprised at the quantity of food we were served. There was no way we could eat it all, although we tried. The food was once again superb and when we got the bill it worked out to less than EUR5.00 per person. I love Morocco! While we were waiting for lunch to be served, Nick, Emile and Peter played in the dusty main street with Nick's vortex. It wasn't long before half a dozen young local boys joined them, oblivious to the fact that neither could speak the other's language; oblivious to the social gap that existed between them. Wherever we travel, it's always amazing how the children simply play with each other, share toys and enjoy each other's company without any requirements or issues. We sincerely hope that this will be something that our kids take to heart and into their attitudes for the rest of their lives.

Back at Erg Chebbi, we packed some overnight bags before mounting our camels and marching out into the Sahara. The Sahara is a beautiful, awe inspiring vastness that seems to stretch onto infinity. The smells, the symmetry, the feeling of isolation is overwhelming. As you rise over each sand dune, you look out to the horizon and for as far as you can see, there's only more sand dunes, rising gracefully from their orange counterparts in various geometric patterns, spines casting shadows across the sides of the dunes, occasionally interspersed with a small bush or grass – the only indication that there is any life in this world. Unlike the Australian outback which is predominantly dry, despite it's appearance, the Sahara has plenty of water and for the most part not more than one to two meters below the surface. The Berber people, the original Moroccan inhabitants, have existed for centuries on this subterranean water source.

That night as we sat cross legged around a small table and enjoyed a magnificent chicken tangine dinner, we were awestruck by the brilliant beauty and tranquillity of the Sahara. Later that night, Chelsea and I decided to take our sleeping mats and bedding outside of the tent so that we could sleep under the stars. As we lay there we watched millions of stars slowly rise then move across our sky as they have done for thousands and thousands of years past. As this time-immortal light show serenaded us, we were reminded of how small we are in this galaxy and indeed universe that we call home. Here we are, sleeping under the stars, in a corner of the Sahara, in the corner of the African continent, on a minor planet attached to a minor star, at the far edge of a minor galaxy, fringed by thousands of other galaxies much larger than ours. Within this minor world, we live aboard a small yacht that we are sailing from one side of the world to the other.

We live here briefly and then we're gone. But we're loved … and that makes all the difference. We layed together and watched the stars, and talked quietly about life, until we too succumbed and slipped into a peaceful sleep, and the world continued on around us.

The next day we awoke fresh and early and climbed a nearby sand dune to watch the sun rise over the Sahara. The views were spectacular, and as the sun rose, it took your breath away. Life is so good.

After a short camel trek back to where we started, we showered and had breakfast before getting back in the cars. We drove through more amazing countryside and saw beautiful towns, each similar to the last, but each uniquely different. In some towns the women wore black coverings from head to toe, while in the next town the women wore white coverings. Each as modest as the other, however each different. Our drive took us through Erfoud and the Todra gorge, before stopping in Ouazazate for the night. Our driver knew all the best places to stop for photographs, then also knew just when to leave, before we got asked to pay.

After another banquet and a night's rest, we were back on the road. We stopped at a little town that is famous for being one of the sets in the movie “Gladiator”. We'd hoped to see Russell Crow here, but Bakali #1 was quick to say that while we couldn't see Russell Crow due to other filming commitments, he could offer us the genuine Russell Mohammed Krow, a friend of his who would pose for photographs at a fraction of the price. After driving up and over the Atlas Mountains, we finished our official tour at Marrakesh and said goodbye to Bakali #1 and Bakali #2. Chelsea and Nick gave two friendship bracelets to our driver, Bakali #1, for his two children as a parting gift they'd made.

At Marrakesh we scouted around and found a hotel then after a quick shower we headed off into the famous Djemaa el-Fna, a square that comes alive at night with food stalls, street sellers, performers and touts. We wandered around the square, soaking in the vibrancy of the place, enjoying the food vendors calling to us with friendly banter that their stall sold the freshest of food and was better than their competitor's next door, a topic quickly refuted by the competitor next door as we walked past. Cheryl, being a soft target due to her passive personality, was set upon by two ladies selling henna tattoos. They asked her if she would like a tattoo, and no sooner had they asked, than one grabbed her arm and started putting a design on the back of her hand while the other talked to her.

This creation started on the back of her hand and quickly grew in size as it worked its way up her arm, getting larger (and no doubt more expensive) as it went. We tried to tell the 'artists' that we didn't really want one, but they replied “it is only a gift”. No sooner than we'd managed to retrieve Cheryl's arm and stop them continuing their artwork than they started on the “A small gift for our work” line. I dug in my pockets an pulled out approximately 17 dirhams in small coins, something I'd had prepared for such an occasion. I held out my hand to give the lady my 'gift' and she looked saying “This is not a gift … this tattoo is worth 500 dirhams … here, give me 350 dirhams because you are a good friend”. I argued that as we didn't ask for the tattoo and didn't really want it, we were only prepared to offer the 17 dirham 'gift'. The arguing started and in the end I told her this was her final chance to take my 'gift' before I put it back in my pocket and we walked away. With a final outburst of how little the 'gift' was, she grabbed the coins out of my hand and we left quickly. (By the way, we later discovered that 17 dirhams was actually VERY generous for the cheap “orange” henna that these ladies had used!)

As we walked around, we saw fortune tellers, henna tattooists and even a street-fight style boxing match. We stopped to watch the boxing match for a little while, but no sooner had we arrived than we were set upon by a guy cap in hand, asking for money to watch the fight. I gave him 10 dirham, and he immediately asked for more. I declined and waved him away and he left. We watched the fight for a round, then ducked off before the guy came back asking for more money. Half way around our walk, the two henna ladies that had sucked Cheryl in earlier called out to her from their stall. Cheryl pulled up her sleeve and showed them their earlier work. Realising she was the lady they scammed earlier, they quietly retreated back into their stall and let us past without another word.

The next morning we went back to the square to see the snake charmers. We'd read so much about the snake charmers of Marrakech and were looking forward so seeing the snakes dancing out of the basket. Sad to say though, we were disappointed; very disappointed. We walked up to watch one snake catcher, who was sitting on a blanket with a couple of snakes. The snakes seemed oblivious to him blowing his cheap whistle, and he had to beat them with a stick to make them stand up – the nearest they got to “dancing”. We'd been there no more than 30 seconds, when his off-sider came up to us, tray in hand, asking for money for watching the snakes. I put in 10 dirhams and figured that we'd get to watch him put on a bit of a show. Well, although we watched some more, there wasn't much more happening. I took a few photographs and was shocked when the 'money collector' walked to Cheryl and asked for more money from her, for her video camera. I explained that she was with me, but he still insisted on her paying some money for her videoing. I told him I wasn't paying anymore, and was a little miffed when he went and stood in front of Cheryl to block her from videoing. We thought this was a pretty low trick, so after telling him so, we walked off to find a better snake charmer.

As we walked around, we saw another snake charmer, so we stopped to view him from a distance. In the square, it appears that if you get to close, they scalp you for money, before they even start the show. Figuring we were safe at the 20m range, we watched as a couple of the snakes made a bolt from the mat, hoping for freedom. Bystanders scattered amid squeals as the snake charmers dashed after the escaping creatures. I took a few photos with my big lens and was glad we weren't too close; some of the snakes were getting pretty aggressive with the handlers, as they were caught. I was just about to walk off, figuring we'd seen enough, when one of the snake charmers assistants came over asking for money for my “photographs”. I put 10 dirhams into his tin and he scowled at me insisting “this is nothing”.

I told him it was generous considering there was never a show. He repeated that my offering was nothing, and insisted that I should pay at least 50 dirhams. Getting fed up with this blatant grab for money, I calmly reached into his tin and removed my 10 dirhams, pocketed it, then started walking off. This action had quiet an effect on him, and he came roaring after me, using every English swear word he could muster. I turned on him and he insisted that I delete my photographs. I flipped over my camera, called up the last photo taken and showed him as I deleted it. I then turned and walked away, with this low life swearing and abusing me. Cheryl, who'd got quite upset with his profanities, turned on him herself and told him he was an embarrassment to Moroccan people and that he should be ashamed of his behaviour. Wow, that put him in his place – in a country predominantly Muslim, I'm sure he's not used to having a woman address him in such a manner. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

Later in the morning we saw a nicer couple of henna tattooists who were quite happy to chat, let us brows through their photo album of designs, and agree on a price rather than trying to suck us into a “great deal”. Cheryl, Chelsea and Nick each got a black henna tattoo. Nick chose a very “manly” dragon on his arm, while Cheryl and Chelsea both went for a traditional arabic floral design on their ankles. Emile & Peter also chose to get scorpions on their arms, and the lovely lady even threw in a free tattoo for Ronel. Cheryl accidentally smudged part of her design before it had dried and offered the lady a few extra dirham if she would fix it for her. She flatly refused payment and happily applied the extra henna.

Talk about a contrast! These two delightful women gave us hope that not all the people of Marakesh were dishonest rip-off merchants. On the whole, our experience of Moroccan people was fantastic. They were usually genuinely helpful, friendly, generous, and honest. But Marakesh, like big cities and tourist centres anywhere, bring out the worst in people!

Back on board “Connect4” it was nice to relax and unpack. You know, going away is great, but coming home is always comfortable. “Connect4” really is home to us, and it was nice to be back home.

Friday 8th October 2010

Today was a special day, our anniversary. Even though we're on the other side of the world, we still wanted to make it a special night, so the four of us got dressed up in our best shore clothes and went out to dinner at a nice French restaurant in Mohamedia. The waiter didn't speak a word of English, and the menu was only in French, but we managed to take his advice and we ordered a beautiful meal of seafood.

Sunday 10th October 2010

The night of the 10th of October, 2010 will always stand out in our memory. 10/10/10 was a bad night. There had been forecast 30knot winds, so everyone in the anchorage was battening down for a bit of a blow. Around 11:30pm, the wind picked up and “Connect 4” started getting buffeted about. I got up to check her lines and make sure she was still secure, then returned to bed only to be woken up a few hours later by some serious winds blowing through the marina. As I stood on deck, I had to lean hard into the wind to stop being blown backwards. Although we were alongside the pontoon, I decided to run another bow line from the outside bow, forward to the dock, to ensure we were as secure as possible. It was wet, cold and very windy and as I was tying off the additional bow line, Laetitia from the French catamaran “Zephyr”, who were tied on the pontoon finger at right angles to ours, came running down the pontoon screaming “The pontoon is breaking!” As we turned to look, we heard the scream of twisting metal and watched in horror as the whole pontoon detached itself, three boats in tow, and started making its way towards “Connect4”. In a world moving in slow motion, we watched helplessly as the side of “Zephyr” crashed into the front port bow of “Connect4” grinding deeply into the gelcoat and flaking the fibreglass as it threatened to break our mooring lines and send us backwards into the other boats. “Zephyr” started her engines and applied full reverse in an effort to reduce the force she was applying to the front of our boat, while we quickly put fenders between the two boats and assessed the best course of action. It was clear that we had to get her off the front of “Connect4” and quickly. As people came out to help, I quickly assigned crews to take ropes from “Zephyr” and the damaged pontoon around the marina and up to the wall some 50m away. This in itself was risky as “Zephyr” was still reversing at full power, her twin engines churning the water next to the stricken pontoon. As we climbed across to the damaged semi-submerged pontoon, we were wading in knee deep water and many of the timber boards on the pontoon were slipping away under foot making it hazardous to move around. In addition, it was dark and the rain and cold were numbing and the pontoons were bouncing up and down threatening to break free at instant. The concrete reinforced pillars of the marina wall were our best option to secure the pontoon to so that it couldn't drag and damage other boats in its path. With the help of countless other cruisers who left their own boats and came out to help we finally man handled three heavy lines ashore and with brute strength, pulled the pontoon and “Zephyr” away from our boat, securing them as best as we could. The other two fingers, while they didn't break as badly as this first finger, twisted so much that the boats on one finger were only a metre away from the boats on the adjacent finger; and people alighting their boats were having to scramble along the edge of the pontoon fingers which had turned almost 90 degrees in the storm.

When the winds abated a little, a few hours later, we released “Zephyr” from her stricken pontoon and rafted her up against “Connect4” as there was concern that one of the steel pylons that was meant to hold the floating pontoon in place was bent on such an angle that when the tide receded, it would likely have punched a hole in Zephyr's hull. It was later confirmed by another cruiser that the winds peaked at 70 knots. The next day the damage was amazing. The steel on the finger was torn and the bollards holding the pontoon in place were bent at all sorts of unusual angles.

Gerry onboard “West by North” , who'd had a fair bit of experience in fibre glassing, came over to help assess and supervise the repairs on “Connect4”. On closer inspection we discovered that in addition to losing a fair amount of gel coat, “Connect4” had been holed and from inside the forward hold we could see daylight clear through. Christophe from “Zephyr” and myself, under the watchful eye of Gerry, were the workers and we worked diligently to repair “Connect4”. Three layers of fibreglass were laid up on the inside of her hull and we applied a fair amount of resin on the outside, making her stronger than she was before. For now we've taped up the outside to stop water getting in between the gel coat and the glass and we'll get the final touch ups done in the Canary Islands.

Sunday 17th October 2010

After watching the GRIB (weather) files for suitable winds to leave Mohammedia in, we decided Sunday was the best opportunity. Many boats in the marina, like us, had been waiting and watching for over a week for the right weather that would let us sail the 430NM to the Canary Islands. According to my Passage Planner software, in the month of October we could expect 87% of the days to be prevailing northerlies – sadly, the reality of it was that most days had been southerlies! Finally with a favourable forecast, and Cheryl insisting that with the wind or without the wind, we were departing. We checked out of Morocco and on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning with smooth seas and a perfect north easterly wind we set off on our first proper sail in the Atlantic.

We sailed in loose company with about 5 other boats and it was a joy to be sailing in the Atlantic, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, like the sun on your skin, beautiful clear blue skies with fluffy white “Simpsons” clouds and a new destination. I've come to enjoy the thrill that goes with heading out to a new destination. There's something so exciting about checking out of a country or leaving an island, heading out to some new place. It's hard to put it into words, but it's a bit like the feeling you get when you're in your car about to head off on a holiday.

Perhaps it's the anticipation of a new adventure, or just the release of leaving some place old, but everytime we set off on a journey like this, I get a quiet excitement in my belly that reminds me that I'm actually alive and truly doing it – living my dream. Beyond all the responsibilities that go with ensuring “Connect4” and her crew are safe and prepared, Beyond ensuring the waypoints and the route is correct and safe, beyond ensuring that I've done my best to pick good weather and tides and anchorages and hiding holes, this excitement of setting out on a sail to a new destination is always an excitement simmering deep inside me.

So after 23 days in Mohammedia, only 13 days more than our most generous estimate of how many days we would stay, we were off.

Beyond”, a New Zealand boat that was close by us, took some great photographs of us as we sailed down the Moroccan coast past Casablanca. Our bright spinnaker flying proudly and making us all smile.

It's a funny thing about spinnakers, almost all sails are typically prim, proper and white, but I think when the designers first created spinnakers it was like they decided to have some fun and get creative with colours. I think there's nothing quite like seeing a brightly coloured spinnaker flying proudly off the bow of a yacht as it moves gracefully through the water.

We sailed for approximately three days in generally nice north easterly winds, having to resort to starting the engine only for the last 36 hours when the wind died off to less than three knots and the seas glassed off completely. The trip wasn't without incident though and I was saddened to pull in the fishing line one evening to find that my nice new lure was missing. This loss was further bittered by what seemed like a constant stream of radio calls from other yachts on the morning “Rum Runners” net heralding their mighty Tuna and Mahi Mahi catches.

We arrived in Playa Francesa bay on the island of Isla Graciosa around 2:30pm Thursday 21st October, a little tired from the continual watches, but in good spirits and happy with our sail. We'd been informed that morning, that the yachts in Playa Francesca were getting together for a beach party starting at 3:00pm. Not having much food in the pantry, and with our fridges almost empty, Cheryl quickly got creative and set to baking an amazing date and walnut cake, while simultaneously helping us anchor and then pack away “Connect4” after her trip.

After a quick clean up, we went ashore and enjoyed catching up with some old friends, some new friends and some friends that we'd only heard on the SSB radio. We played a few games of Bocce and shared a dinner before relaxing as the sun set and everyone talked about their travels and their coming plans.

Playa Francesa is a wonderful place full of cruisers and cruising kids. While boats continuously come and go, there's been around 20 boat kids in the bay at any one time – more than we've seen in any one place before. The kids have never been more zealous and pro active in getting their school work completed early so that when 1:30pm comes they can race off to the beach to play in the afternoon.

One evening while the adults were on the beach enjoying sundowners, and the children were playing in the dunes, they all got together and asked if they could sleep on the beach for the night. After a hasty convening of the parents it was agreed that they could all sleep on the beach so long as a couple of responsible adults were prepared to stay with them. After a degree of cajoling

Thursday 28th October 2010

Today our normally quiet “sun-downers” on the beach turned into something a little more exciting. We went ashore, along with most of the other yachts, for our traditional drinks, chat and nibbles. We were just chatting and enjoying the sunset as we wound down from the day when one of my friends, shirt in hand, came wandering down through the sand dunes and collapsed on the beach looking exhausted. A few people went over to see what happened, so I didn't race over, but a few minutes later when he still hadn't moved, I went over to check. My mate, a fellow yachtsman, was lying in the sand barely conscious and looking very pale. His skin was cold to touch and he had a very ashen colour about him. While he was still conscious, his breathing was very shallow and his heart rate was very high but weak and hard to detect. On closer inspection I noted he had no blood flow to his extremities and I couldn't detect a pulse in his wrist at all. Clearly he was in shock and his body was in self preservation mode.

The story was that he'd got up early that morning, and it being a nice warm day, he decided to go out for a hike up the volcano rim after breakfast for an hour or two. Once at the top of the volcano rim, he then decided to walk a little further and summit another couple of mountains that were on the island. He walked and walked and it wasn't until he started feeling weak that he realised he'd been out walking in the heat of the day for over five hours without any food or liquids. He wasn't feeling too good at this point in time, so decided to start walking back to the beach. Unfortunately without water, he became very dehydrated and struggled with cramps and the likes. He collapsed a couple of times on the way back to the beach, but each time he got up again and kept walking – realising that if he was going to get help, getting to the beach was the only way he was going to get it. When he made it to the beach he collapsed and remained there, unable to move.

With this information, I tried to get some electrolytes and fluids into him. We gave him some small quantities of water, then some electrolyte solution, all the while hoping he would keep them down. Cheryl quickly dingied back to “Connect4” for me and brought ashore some blankets and my trauma kit. Another yacht also brought back a BP cuff and stethoscope so I could monitor his pulse and blood pressure. As we gave him some fluids, I was praying that he would keep them down and he would respond quickly. If he'd been unable to hold any fluids down then the next option would have had to be via IV saline. While I've practised putting in a few IV lines, finding a vein would be hard with him being so dehydrated. Fortunately, despite a few moments when it looked like he wouldn't, he kept the little fluids we gave him down and over the next hour we got more electrolyte, glucose and fluids in as he lay on the beach, wrapped in our warm blankets. Slowly his blood pressure came up and his pulse became stronger and more even. Then the pain of circulation recommencing started. His legs in particular throbbed and ached as the circulation gradually started flowing back into the limbs.

Fortunately, we got to him in time and within a couple of hours he was feeling much better, however it was a close call. The following night we celebrated his 61st birthday with him. I liked the comment that one cruising wife said: “It's always the same … these solo male sailors always forget to look after themselves because they don't have a wife nagging them – have you got water? Have you got food?”

Saturday 30th October 2010

We pulled anchor and with a sad farewell to Gracioca we left our little anchorage and motor sailed the short distance to Areciffe on the island of Lanzarote. We anchored in Puerto de Naos and spent our days wisely purchasing spares, food and parts for “Connect4” in order to get her ready for the big Atlantic crossing.

Sunday 31th October 2010

Apparently when you're in the northern part of the world, October 31st is Halloween. This is a strange thing to us Australians who typically only celebrate an event when there's a public holiday associated it. Halloween isn't the sort of event that our family would chose to celebrate – I mean I really don't see the interest in celebrating a night when all the dead spirits are

meant to come alive again and run amok in the streets, come on! Having said that, we didn't want our kids to miss out on some fun, so we decided that we would celebrate a new family day - “C4 Day”. “C4 Day” as it will now be now known in our family is set aside on the 31st of October as a family day and a day to remember why we are doing what we're doing. “C4 day” is a day of family fun and celebrating what a great family we have. We've decided that even after we come back “home”, October 31st will be a day set aside for our family. Most of the other cruisers were having a party on the beach tonight, so since we were invited, we all go dressed up and went ashore to join in the party. We all had fun on the beach until the rain came and we had to pack up and race back to the boat.