A mere 2 weeks into our cruising season and so much is happening, I’m all ready to make a short post. This is going to have more photos than words but will include a bit of an update on our Victron/Solar upgrade, Jacks school (big changes), and our stops thus far.
We left Montenegro on 30th of April – 22 – right on time! We considered stopping in Albania but decided to press on for a couple of reasons. Primarily, we were so excited to get to Greece, we didn’t want to delay, and we planned to meet up with friends who had a similar ETA in Corfu as we did. We arrived on 1 May and hit the ground running, clearing into customs and dining on our first authentic Greek meal. Amazing!
The next day we met the other friends from Porto MNE and walked the old town, meandered in and out of shops, visited a local veggie market (one of my favorite things to do) and enjoyed a most amazing meal. Fish spas are an interesting thing here and, having never done it before, we all decided to give it a try. Jack LOVED it and felt like he was really treating the fish to something special. I was initially enthusiastic but quickly backed down when I saw the near frenzy the fish went into when the toes approached the water. While we all loved the result of silky-smooth feet, we had mixed reviews on whether we would do it again. Jack was by far and away the most likely and wanted to use his own money to go back the next day. Saying so long to Moray and Debbie on Sol Purpose, We, Kim and Steve on Mimpi (our buddy boat), and us, decided to rent a car and explore the island.
We enjoyed the “Old Fort”, the “New Fort” and the incredible architecture spanning many hundreds of years and several occupants. The most prominent architecture in this area would have to be from the time of Venetian Rule (400 years) and it was they who re-built the forts as evidenced by the iconic Venetian Lion at the gate.
At the marina in Corfu, we continued to use the shore power because we have been having constant trouble with 1 of the 10 batteries which are connected and running in parallel with each other. Due to limitations within the system, if one battery misbehaves, the entire system can shut down. Alec tried to get them to balance for days at the dock but finally, Lloyd suggested simply disconnecting the troublemaker and operating with the 9 remaining. Having made that modification, we left the marina with fingers crossed that we would have some final success. And success we had! While I’m still not thrilled with the customer service of Victron or the installer we had, the product is amazing. We have been at anchor for over 1 week now and we have moved to our 3rd anchorage and in that time, we have only used the generator on 1 occasion and for 4 hours. Even that was not totally necessary, and we could have totally recharged our batteries in 2-3 hours. We continued to operate the generator only to make fresh water and we even performed power intense activities such as launching the dinghy and storing it 3 times. The solar power coming in during the day, while not completely meeting our power needs, is providing enough so that we could operate for a week with only a couple of hours generator usage to replenish. This is an enormous improvement over our time last year whereby we rarely even ran the boat without the generator due to the high electrical requirements underway, and at the anchorage we used the generator every day – not all day- but for easily 5-8 hours depending on the heat.
Jack’s school… This is a biggie folks! (Insert Deep breath)
We have been boat-schooling Jack exclusively for 3 years. We have used whatever resources we could get our hands on and, following a rough idea of what his peers were learning, we tried to significantly add to that curriculum a world view of US events. We have worked to, where possible, present a well-researched approach to any historical information, often finding 3 or more sources for the same historical event. I can’t tell you how this has contributed to our own education and world view as a family, and we have enjoyed it immensely. That is not to say it has always been easy, but the challenge has been worth the reward – for me anyway. But one of the challenges that Jack has had is that he wants me to be his “mom” and cheerleader, not his teacher. He takes my feedback incredibly personally and no matter how I try to temper input with honest praise, he only hears that he has in some way disappointed me. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
So, Jack has requested that we consider Florida Virtual School. We are incredibly fortunate to have this resource at our disposal, and having spent a few months on it, I’m surprised we didn’t do this sooner. While we had nearly finished the work that I had planned for the year, it was a good time to give the Florida Virtual School a shot. Jack signed up for 4 classes. The art class was a shortened class – and he is already finished with it. He loved it and interacted incredibly well with his talented art teacher. Mrs. Bass worked with Jacks current love of art to bring out his own creativity. We are so very much looking forward to next year and taking more art and elective classes. He also signed up for Social Studies, Language Arts (the very class we struggled with feedback in) and Science with Mrs. DiLorenzo. He loves her!!! The classes are a combination of independent study/ tests and quizzes, written work, lectures (though I don’t think he is attending these) and a few times a semester, a discussion-based assessment with the teacher. Jack participated in just such an assessment last week while we were in Paxos. Since we had the appointment scheduled, the rest of our day revolved around that meeting. We brought the wifi router with us and we found a nice, quiet café at which to have lunch and we enjoyed dessert while Jack had his meeting with Mrs. DiLorenzo. She really knows how to put him at ease and Jack doesn’t even know he is being evaluated while they are casually chatting about the things he has learned. Rather than dread the meeting, Jack was truly looking forward to seeing his teacher. Given that he has only known Montessori and boat school, this is a big relief to us.
One of the things I love about this lifestyle is how incredibly independent all the boat kids are. They are very comfortable problem solving, finding their way in shops and restaurants navigating foreign languages and cultures. They run wild and free in marinas without a care in the world. And I love it and support it. But when it comes to school – I admit – I hold too tightly. I have done since the first days of this little experiment and I’m doing it still. So, this is a challenge. Insert second deep breath…. Jack has asked me to trust that he and his teacher have this handled and I’m working to do just that. Working on it – not totally there… but closer. He is nearing the end of the 16-week class, and he tells me he is doing well. So, we shall see. Assuming this goes to plan, I see no reason why we can’t continue this again when we get to Turkey in late October. This coursework doesn’t take as much time as we used to do in school together so it should offer us the opportunity to do more off boat travel. Who knows? But to Mrs. Bass and Mrs. DiLorenzo – thank you very much for your work and efforts. You are such wonderful teachers; I’m humbled by you and grateful to you for your talent and time.
Finally, in only 2 short weeks we have seen so much gorgeous wildlife! Dolphins, mating turtles (not a good shot but you get the picture) and something out of Hitchcocks “The Birds”.
Well, that’s about it for now. Currently we are at an anchorage near Lefkada, Greece. We will be here for a week or more then head to Cephalonia and Ithaka- following in Homers and also St. Paul’s steps…