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Mico Verde

Seattle
March 21, 2008

We've been on the road a lot in the past month and a half. Checkout a few photos here:

RTW Trip Gallery

Singapore
February 10, 2008

Yesterday we sent our exit mail:

After a good, long rest in Singapore, the end is nigh for the monkeys. As many of you may know, after a long season in the sun last year we've decided to call it a day.

 

In the past month we've been wrapping up shop here and have been busy sending many boxes back to the States by sea – we're very proud of them for sailing both ways! We also decided to try our hand at selling the boat ourselves and like many things in life it was a mixed bag. In the end we did find our dream buyer and those of you still in SE Asia may be seeing more of Mico sans us in the near term.

 

Around the time of the holidays we also starting planning out in earnest the next phase of our lives. For Steph it meant applying to schools for an MBA and for Woj it was time to get back to the office. Steph studied hard in December and made a great score on the GMAT so the world's her oyster. Woj fired up the contacts list and started hitting the digital pavement for a job.

 

We've always dreamed about being expats in a far-away land and putting some roots down before returning to life back in the U.S. Last month, Woj was invited to interview for a week in Beijing with Microsoft. There was also some very brief sightseeing but most of the time was on the firing range. Things went quite well considering he'd not had an interview for nearly eight years. After a week of negotiations we've accepted MSFT's offer, and will be relocating to Beijing full-time in early April. All we need to do now is find a place to live.

 

In the meantime – we are so outta here. This week, determined to get all the way around the world by any means necessary, we booked RTW tickets online. Starting next week we'll fly to Bangkok and then we're on to Cairo – Madrid – Dublin – NYC – Seattle and Santa Barbara before heading west again to China.

 

For all the sailors out there – we consider ourselves extremely privileged to have shared some of the most beautiful places on Earth with all of you. It's because of all of you that we made it as far as we did. I KNOW there is a ton of truth to this paragraph since while Steph was proof-reading it she burst into tears. :)

Singapore
February 9, 2008

(Wojo) I've always found the Canadian backpacker practice of putting a huge maple leaf on a pack lame and quite sad. I've even met Americans recently who display, albeit more diminutive, the Maple Leaf on their packs -- which is even worse. As my wife would say "... be the first American who someone doesn't think is a jerk!"

I recently found a great blog entry from a Canadian author from "World Hum" on the subject, included below. It really struck a chord with me because this past season, more than all those put together, there was so much idiotic nationalism every time there were more than five boats in an anchorage in Indonesia. Why? I don't have an exact answer (will try to have Carrot add her comments soon too) but I think it stemmed mostly from frustration people felt from having so many boats competing for resources in small areas. Also -- I know I will get some flame mails about this -- I blame mostly the New Zealand and Aussie boats for starting up most of the nationalist ickyness.

I say this because 99% of the time when someone came over to introduce themselves, only then to tell me how much they hate US foreign policy or "what the problem with Americans is," they were either from NZ or Aussie. Where this chip on their shoulders came from I honestly don't know. In my opinion, most of this was just stress in the case of the Aussies -- while some boats had made extensive blue water trips in the past, others were very far from home on their first real cruising season. We saw a lot of this separation anxiety in our first season in Mexico as well. For us, it seemed like season two, in that we'd already come 1300 miles by the time we reached sunny Mexico.

(Steph) This was, indeed, the first time in almost four years of cruising that we encountered yachts traveling almost exclusively with other yachts from the same countries. It might have had something to do with the sheer numbers of boats involved with the Sail Indonesia rally -- over 120. When it's impossible to meet everyone at the party, you just hang out in the corner with those you already know.

I'm not sure if any particular group caused the nationalist trend, but I did notice quite a lot of animosity directed towards us from Australians. And we weren't the only Americans who noticed. I don't know -- maybe when our European friends first left Europe they liked to give American cruisers an earful, until they finally realized we're not so bad and actually made friends with some of them. We didn't meet any Europeans until the Marquesas, at which point they'd sailed 30,000+ miles and didn't seem to care where we came from. Maybe Australians like to push the envelope and see how far they can go in potentially insulting a person. One notable thing is that almost everyone who confronted us were older than us, probably in their early 60s. Younger Australians we met usually didn't give a hoot where we were from, as long as we liked to have fun.

Anyway, regarding the flag on the backpack -- this is probably grossly over-simplifying the reason why Canadians do it, but I was always under the impression it was because they didn't want to be mistaken as Americans. I don't know if it's because they genuinely want every person who sees them to immediately be able to identify their country, or if it's because they think some harm will come to them if they are mistaken for American. I can tell you this, though -- in any country English is not the first language, people don't automatically assume you're American because they can't recognize accents. I've been mistaken for Australian or English several times.

(Wojo) Actually people from the more northern parts of the UK always think Carrot is Irish because, as they say "... she has the map of Ireland on her chin.'' :)

"About That Canadian Flag on my Backpack"

image"I have a confession to make: There is a Canadian flag on my backpack. It’s not one of those postage stamp or business card-sized ones, either. As you can see in the photo, it’s closer to a large index card, or even a compact paperback. I super-glued it into place on my new pack when I was 20 years old, for no greater reason than that everyone else was doing it, and until recently I’ve never thought twice about it. Now, though, the times—and travel trends—are a-changing.

With Samuel Johnson’s famous definition of patriotism as “the last refuge of a scoundrel” ringing in my ears, I shame-facedly lean my pack face-first against walls in train stations. I pull the drawstrings down tight so the flag is obscured. I nod and smile in hostel common rooms while my bunkmates agree, less eloquently than Johnson, that patriotic gestures—and flags on backpacks, in particular—are totally lame.

In retrospect, in fact, it may never have been cool to put a maple leaf on your backpack. Rocker Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip and arbiter of all things both Canadian and cool, was calling flags on backpacks “nationalism gone astray” as early as 1993. He recently gained an ally in Jason Wilson, the series editor of the Best American Travel Writing anthologies. In this year’s foreword, Wilson calls the practice “sad.”

In my case, the most embarrassing thing about the situation is my own embarrassment. I don’t have any particular attachment to the flags-on-backpacks school of thought, so I don’t defend the practice. But on the other hand, I don’t have anything against it either, so I’m not going to risk defacing my pack trying to get the patch off. Meanwhile, my backpack has a lifetime warranty and isn’t showing any sign of slowing down after six years of steady use. I suppose this is one travel trend I’ll just have to try and ride out.

Posted by Eva Holland • 12.12.07"

Beijing, China
January 21-25, 2008

(Steph) We spent a few days in China last week, the first time for both of us. We had heard good things (friendly people, great food) and bad things (bad hygiene, pollution), but were excited to see a new place after three months in safe, sterile Singapore. We arrived on Monday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and ventured out on the streets to find a restaurant for dinner. We walked amongst a bunch of people on the streets who were all bundled up in knee-length and hooded quilted coats. We looked on in envy; despite trying to prepare for the cold, we didn't come close. The highest the temperature ever reached was -2 degrees Celsius (about 28 degrees Fahrenheit), and it was windy!

Woj and Steph at the Great Wall of China.

We were on the look out for a hotpot restaurant. We'd both only had hotpot once, at our friend Denise's home in Seattle. We thought it would be fun to do the authentic thing. We found a restaurant within a 10-minute walk of our hotel. We piled into the hot, steaming restaurant and somehow managed to communicate that we'd like a table. The hostess managed to communicate to us that we were on the waiting list. We settled into the waiting area and watched how the locals do it. Hotpot consists of a big, boiling vat of broth that is set in the middle of the table. You order a number of items that come raw to the table, and you drop items into the broth as you would like to eat them. After a little time, you fish out your items with chopsticks and then eat them hot and steaming, accompanied by a number of condiments and sauces.

READ MORE!

 

Republic of Singapore
January 6, 2008

Our faithful three readers recently asked us about the two and a half month lapse in updates and the sale of the boat. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by since we've been in Singapore ...

The last week of October we motored up the Johor straight on a very squally day and nearly anchored before turning the corner for the marina. The staff was very helpful getting us sorted, except for the radio operator who informed us that we needed to back into our slip (which happily was not true). Raffles marina is a nice place to spend a month just taking it [very] easy and getting fired up to move on again.

The marina eight docks (A-H) in a "reasonably" protected spot behind a breakwall. There's nearly always a little roll in the marina I believe more from the passing super tankers in the straits than the weather. Contrary to popular opinion the marina never reached full capacity even during the height of the Indonesia Rally invasion. Cruisers were getting really stressed out about getting turned away (no one did in the end AFAIK) and were relaying booking confirmations back and forth across the equator for the two weeks before arrival. Some people claimed they were ignored by the marina staff when emails were not sent. The staff countered, during the final "gala" dinner at Raffles that the mails had been filtered out as Spam. Personally I don't think anyone would ever be completely turned away here. At the very least you could get a spot on one of the three massive linear docks used by the super-yachts.

READ MORE!

 

Singapore
December 20, 2007

Note for anyone looking for our Indonesia logs -- they're now in the Journals.

From the archives of the 2007 cruising year: just found this video we shot while crossing the Gulf of Carpenteria of False Killer Whales.

Singapore
November 27, 2007

We are fortunate to have the best friends in the world. Not only did they forsake their own families to visit during Thanksgiving (and brave the wilds of air travel) but they came nearly half way around the world.

 

For a full recap of our voyage through Indonesia in 2007 please see our Journals pages.

 

 

 

SV Mico Verde