We thought folks may be interested in the story of how Oyai and her crew got from Martinique to the Mediterranean. Well, get comfortable, because it's a bit of a long story (not really).
Lucky us! We have a whole year of sabbatical to play with. So if we are going to sail around the Atlantic, that means chasing the sun and avoiding hurricane season. Luckily, there is a well-travelled route that sailors take to do just that, and it goes something like this... high-tail it out of the Caribbean in May to avoid hurricanes, and head north, then east to follow the prevailing winds. Call at the Azores because its in your path on the way to Europe, then continue to where you want to go (UK, North Europe, the Med, wherever). Then, in the fall when Europe starts getting a little chilly, head south to the Canary Islands and wait until hurricane season is over. Then sail back to the Caribbean around December. This all sounded pretty dreamy to us, so that's our overall plan.
The trip from the Caribbean to Europe can be colder and stormier than the trade wind trip in the opposite direction, so our family decided that all of us would only do the return trip to the Caribbean together. For the first crossing (west to east) Stu would hire a professional skipper and find some adventurous friends to get the boat where it needed to go. Our experience with offshore sailing was pretty limited, so this seemed like the right call. Luckily, we knew a skipper by the name of Xander who is a local Comox Valley friend and he was able to fit the trip into his schedule - amazing! We also recruited two long-time friends that we used to whitewater kayak with a lot: Chuck and Mark. Xander would see us safely to the Azores, then he had to fly home. This meant that another friend and crew member, Aaron, would fly in to help us get the boat to Gibraltar. This left Stu as a somewhat reluctant skipper after we all had 17 whole days of offshore sailing under our belts.
This is the intrepid crew of 4 minutes before we shoved off from Le Marin in Martinique. From left to right is Mark, Stu, Chuck and Xander. You may notice the original name of the boat "Oya". Well, when we tried to register that name with Transport Canada, they wouldn't let us use it (maybe there was already another Oya). So, being overly practical, we simply added an "I" and "Oyai" was born! It seemed like the easiest solution because "I's" were easy to add to the name plates :)