News: Outrunning Winter

What’s Happening

Winter is bearing down on us (now in Massachusetts). The Canadian government’s department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada managed, through some vendetta, mandate, or hardly-plausible incompetence, to force this LGBT couple into an overstay in Charleston, SC following hurricane Matthew in 2016, and then strand us in Halifax, Nova Scotia until winter conditions threatened our actual survival. Now, to save our home, our lives, and stay together we need to outrun winter by going south. USA has, without question, granted us entry. We are now in a safe country that let us come in from the sea, stay together, have the same rights and safety as others, BUT we still need to get south and winter is gaining on us!


Start spreading the news! We’re on our way to New York City, November 21, 2017
Video – from Halifax to New Bedford, MA, November 19, 2017
In From the Sea, November 09, 2017
We’re making a break for it, November 06, 2017
We’re on our way home!, October 27, 2017
We Have Got to Go!, October 24, 2017
Sitting Ducks and Weather Windows, October 20, 2017
Elena’s letter to Americans, October 17, 2017
PM’s office forwards the letter to IRCC, October 11, 2017
Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, October 09, 2017
Travel Document “Might” Have Been Issued, September 29, 2017
The Latest Letter to CBC, September 15, 2017
Stranded in Nova Scotia, August 08, 2017
Arrived! July 12, 2017
Halifax or Bust, June 29, 2017
Absurdity Abounds – Lack of Travel Document, May 19, 2017


Start spreading the news! We’re on our way to New York City

November 21, 2017
Our next sort-of weather window is opening up in the afternoon of Wednesday, November 22. It’s not perfect, but it’s looking like our last and only chance to get outta here. Our tracking will go live on https://share.garmin.com/flower an hour before we let slip our lines and head back to sea. Our plan is to hide from the Atlantic’s wrath for as long as possible, by sneaking WSW down Long Island Sound, toward the North entrance of the East River. We are planning to enter the East River and sail right through The Big Apple, (with the pride flags flying high!) starting around 1 pm EST, Saturday, November 25.


Video – From Halifax to New Bedford


In From the Sea

November 09, 2017
Meg and I can hardly find words after what happened. We expected anything but this – we were cleared in and welcomed back to USA without question. Everything was done for us; paperwork, cruising license issued from far away Charleston, even. Nothing has ever been this easy! We still find it hard to believe that we have a land to walk on – we were prepared to head for the open sea, in the worst case scenario. But we didn’t have to, all our fears were for naught. We are now in a beautiful town, and have wandered its streets and met some of its beautiful American souls already this evening.

We will stay in New Bedford for a few days – to let yet more storms pass and see this wondrous historic New England. After which we’ll keep heading South, this time without fear, following the American coast. Thank you, America!

Elena and Meg, Cape Cod, November 12, 2017


We are Making a Break for it

November 06, 2017
The weather window that we’ve waited for so many weeks is here. We will leave Cape Sable island and head for Nantucket sound tomorrow morning. Both of us feel excited to finally have the chance to head South, to warmth and safety. We should be able to know what this chance will turn out to be – us heading into the open ocean or for the safety of land – as soon as we reach the coast of USA and contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.


We’re on our way home!

October 27, 2017

We don’t know where that is, or if it even matters, as long as we are together, we are free, we can own our lives and we can have our dreams. We don’t know if we’ll be allowed to land in America. We don’t know if we’ll be allowed to land anywhere, but we think we will. We have met good people of the world. We know that love conquers all, and that we are powerless, and life worthless, if we let our freedom and dreams be taken from us.

This is all about loving ourselves, loving each other, loving every moment of life and never letting anyone devalue, denigrate, destroy, or take a single heartbeat of it away from you. We have taken back our lives! It’s why we are sailing, it is the only way we know (for now) how to be together and own our lives. We want everyone we inspire, reach, touch even shake-up, to take back their lives, and live every heartbeat, and live it well!

It really is NOT about sailing, or the boat, or the bugs-in-your-teeth adventure, or daring nature and surviving, so with winter on the way – we are too!

The weather window that will get us to the southernmost hidey-hole of Nova Scotia (that’s an inlet, bay or geographic feature that offers some protection and respite from the full wrath of the sea) is still open. We are making a break for it!

At high noon, Saturday, October 28 (that’s 18 hours from now) we let slip our moorings and head for the open North Atlantic. We’ll be flying the colors! A pride flag from each spreader so you can spot us from shore or a webcam as we bid a fond “See you later! Fare thee well!” to our temporary Halifax home at the Armdale Yacht Club and the province of Nova Scotia (which we fell in love with).

Our satellite tracking and communications page is going LIVE. You can follow us at:

While we are stationary, our tracking data is not displayed, just to be on the safe side, BUT the mapshare is still active for communication.

https://share.garmin.com/flower

This is where we will be posting log entries, observations, and a blog of sorts via satellite. You can send text messages to us through the page at the link (above).


We have got to go!

October 24, 2017

Saturday morning, October 28… we’re busting out! Staying is suicide. We’re going to take advantage of a 36 hour weather window (if computer models don’t change by then) starting Saturday morn through Sunday afternoon. Only place we can get to, in that time, is a hidey-hole on the southern extremity of Nova Scotia: Cape Sable. Models have an absolute killer gale slamming the Fundy/Gulf of Maine region on Monday, Oct. 31. Our plan is to hide at anchor, and wait for the first window (48 hour min) that’ll get us to Nantucket Sound and an American port of entry. No idea if USA will allow us the safety of their coast and waterways, or send us back into the winter North Atlantic. No acknowledgment of the predicament that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Canada placed us in by the department or its Minister, the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, as of yet.


Bars on Those ‘Weather Windows’

October 20, 2017

Weather windows are just not happening. Global warming is a double edged sword in our case: the highly energetic and prolonged blast of warm air from the south-west is keeping our northern gulag unseasonably warm, but it is also making it absolutely impossible to go south.

GRIB chart of SW winds

Global warming fuels a stable, and highly energetic weather pattern of strong SW winds.

We are sitting ducks. Winter will come. With Elena stateless, and inadmissible to USA, and not a peep from IRCC since the Prime Minister’s office forwarded our letter to The Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, ten days ago. We are, at least, hoping to ride the first blast of winter (an arctic outflow, should it happen that way) south to the gulf stream, somewhere mid-Atlantic, and then hang on tight crossing the violent convergence of cold and warm air masses. At least that’s the theory, and it’s a long-shot, but so far, it’s all we’ve got.


Elena’s Letter to Americans

October 17, 2017

Dear Americans!

I am Elena, the Russian who fled her homeland by sailboat to be with the woman I love.

Ten years after Meg and I stepped onto the shores of Canada’s west coast, I reach out to you for help.

I am writing to you because I know now that you, amazing people of America, exist and that you can do the impossible. When you learned about how we have fought for our love, and then, reached out to us, Meg and I came to know your passion, your zest for life, your yearning to experience, to dream the unimaginable. You may not know this, but your letters, your words, have touched me in the deepest way. Americans have shown me that the world is not the awful place that we are made to think it is, but that it is filled with beautiful people who are making life a bit better every moment of their day. Your words also showed me that people – even though they have never seen each other – CAN be connected, can feel, can trust each other, can support each other and open up to each other without fear. I discovered that we are connected, and that we are very much alike. You, American people who reached out to me, and I, are so very much alike. You yearn to be free, to stand up for yourselves, and so do I. You have a dream, and so do I, and I want to have the right to have a dream.

Although Meg is Canadian, and Canada is where we thought we would have a home, Meg and I went about it all wrong. We were reaching out to the wrong people, right from the very beginning. All along, it was America that supported us, Americans who appreciated what we have done to be together. It was you, the American people, who made us feel great, acknowledged and welcomed. Now Meg and I need your help in order to stay alive.

While Meg and I journeyed from Russia, the world became our teacher and our home. We no longer can live without feeling the wind in our hair, without knowing that the day will belong to us, and that we can point the boat, and our lives, in any direction we want. What keeps us from being free, is that even now, a decade since we landed, I am nothing but an immigrant in Canada. I am denied the same rights as others, and Meg has become a second class citizen by falling in love with me and by refusing to part. For a decade now, Meg and I have been unable to chart a course and plan our lives. The latest blow, dealt to us by the Canadian government, was taking a year and six application attempts to issue me a very limited refugee travel document. This stranded us in USA, and forced me and Meg to overstay in 2016. We are now on the east coast of Canada, trying to find a way to save our sailboat – which became our home, to stay together and to escape the deadly winter weather in the Canadian North Atlantic.

At this late time of year, sailing down the American East Coast and it’s waterways, is the only safe way south. Meg and I want to request entry at an American port without the fear of being arrested, parted, or forced back to the high seas. We ask USA – the American people – to grant us access to your East Coast and it’s waterways so that we can safely proceed south. We would cherish the privilege to once again land in your country, for any period of time. It would thrill us to connect to our American soulmates, to tour USA, to tell you our story of love and the fight for it, and empower anyone who listens, to do the same. We need your coast to save our lives, but we want your welcome, to finally come in from the sea.

Elena Ivanova


PM’s office forwards the letter to IRCC

October 11, 2017

The office of the Prime Minister of Canada has informed us that it has forwarded our letter to the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, for his information and consideration.

Open Letter to The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

October 09, 2017.

Dear Prime Minister:

Eleven years ago a LGBT, Russian refugee and her Canadian partner fled by sailboat to Canada’s west coast to be together. They are still fighting to stay together. The Russian is still stateless. Recently, the couple’s lives were placed in grave danger by your government’s department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

We are Elena and Meg, that couple. We are in desperate need of refuge and safe passage on our sailboat, from Halifax, Canada, through USA, to warmer waters to save our vessel (also our home) and our lives. Unfortunately, in 2016, IRCC knowingly stranded us in Charleston, South Carolina, rendering us inadmissible to USA.

In July 2017, to alleviate our illegal position in USA, we undertook a life-threatening, non-stop, 2000 km, offshore sailboat-run to Halifax (with Elena denied documents and facing arrest if blown ashore). In Halifax, IRCC continued to deny Elena the human right of movement, and Meg refused to leave her partner of 11 years. For nearly three months, IRCC knew we were trapped in Halifax on our light, tropical sailboat while winter conditions in the North Atlantic became increasingly more deadly. Finally, following six applications over the course of one year, IRCC — possibly spooked by a reporter demanding answers — issued Elena a refugee travel document in a matter of hours. We have a hard time seeing this behaviour as anything but contemptuous.

Despite Elena receiving a Canadian refugee travel document, our lives, our home and vessel are still in grave danger due to our US inadmissibility and egregious delay in Halifax, both caused by IRCC. At this late time of year, passage through American waters and canals, with the right to land, is the only feasible way to safety for an under-powered sailing vessel of this type and size.

We respect USA, its people and its laws. We refuse to let the Canadian government force us into future illegal acts to save our lives and home. Because your department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada placed us in this life-threatening predicament, it is the responsibility of the Canadian Government to rectify it.

With the onset of winter in Nova Scotia, we either give up our freedom, rights, home and dreams, that we have fought so hard for over the last 11 years, or we endevour a 2800 km, non-stop, high-seas passage to Bahamas. Given the time of year and our loss of access to USA, this is a run which will very likely result in our deaths.

Over the 11 years that Elena has been stateless — including nearly six years with her application for citizenship still in process — we have received significant media attention in USA and the world. As we head into the open Atlantic, and uncertainty, we will share with the public, our satellite tracking and log entries. If our satellite feed should go dark, those who have been inspired by what we have done to be together, may want answers from Canada.

Sincerely,
Elena Ivanova
Morgan (Meg) Stone


Travel Document “Might” Have Been Issued

September 29, 2017. Halifax, NS.

We received an astonished phone call from Member of Parliament, Andy Fillmore’s office, saying that the Travel Document was “in the mail”.

Connections of connections of connections got wind of this guano, and it hit the air circulation unit in Ottawa.

Could have been a reporter (or publisher), could have been a member of the rat pack, could have been a former minister, could have been my billionairess sister or her celebrity partner… someone with enough clout to threaten the fortress.

Canada is all about connections and who you know, or can get to know.

The fact that “they” as in: they that say a travel document takes a minimum of 20 business days to process, took only a FEW HOURS! and the MP’s office was ringing us right away. Let’s just say, “someone” really wanted us to know they issued the bloody travel document, and maybe to shut-up to the press already!

As for the press… well, we’ve been pretty seriously f*cked. The travel document is just one log in the jamb. We’d kinda like to know why we got f*cked. We’d like other f*cked refugees, immigrants, heck, even f*cked Canadians to know how they can get f*cked, and how to (or even if they can) get unf*cked.

If it takes years, thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees, reckless and life threatening hoop jumping, a media circus, and finally someone whose voice can penetrate the fortress — like it has in our case, to dislodge this one little twig in a mighty beaver* dam of contempt — we want them to know that.

*Beaver: large dam-building, flow-impeding rodent, with powerful jaws and very sharp teeth. Canada’s national symbol. Loves to destroy Maple* trees.

*Maple leaf: Canada’s flag and emblem.

So, that’s the travel document: check! They won’t have our blood on their hands when we freeze to death in Halifax, die at sea trying to escape winter, or get arrested in USA.

But still… there is the question of citizenship: eh hem, Elena’s been stateless for ELEVEN years already, and she applied for citizenship SIX bloody years ago! Yeah, like what the f*ck is up with that? If she had a passport, like a human being, this travel document crap wouldn’t be an issue! Maybe, therein lies the answer: with rights and citizenship, the fortress has less chain to jerk Elena around with.

Also, the travel document game stranded us in USA (as they — CIC, Passport Canada, IRCC, QWERTY or whatever they call themselves this time) bloody well knew, and probably engineered. We were told by Passport Canada to violate US law, to NOT report our situation to US authorities, to NOT ask America for help. This game has, in the very least, made us inadmissible to USA.

Now, here’s the kicker, there’s a couple thousand nautical miles of USA between Halifax (which is in the first throws of winter and deadly sea conditions) and any country we ARE admissible to. We sailed to Halifax, non-stop, offshore, with Elena stripped of documents in the middle of SUMMER. We got to Halifax in mid July. A day later, Passport Canada — seeing that we jumped a nearly impossible hoop and made it to Canada alive — secreted the travel document fee into an account they claimed they didn’t have access to; and then, said nothing, withheld necessary documents, and made it impossible to re-apply for THREE MONTHS.

With all the media attention, they obviously knew we were trapped in Halifax with winter on its way! Finally, with deteriorating conditions in the North Atlantic becoming seriously life threatening, someone shouts over the fortress wall, and running scared, they issue a travel document in a few hours? I mean: 120 days of craven bullshit, on just the 5th attempt, and then, on number six (don’t really know, they never actually officially rejected or communicated with Elena on number 5) they stamp out a travel document in a few hours. WTF?!

Sailing season for small, fiberglass, sailboats in the North Atlantic is OVER. Ocean-crossing season ended many weeks ago. AND they rendered us inadmissible to USA back in 2016. Don’t need a travel document to go deep Atlantic in winter and get killed. AND the travel document won’t give us access to the US coast which is the ONLY safe way South now. Anyone think they didn’t know that? Anyone at all? Let’s have a show of hands… uh huh, I thought so.

Where does that leave us? Let’s see… we can hop from bay to nook, dodging gales, ice and freezing rain to reach the coast of Maine. Then we can skulk around, not say anything, and hope we don’t get caught violating US law on our way South, and get thrown in jail.

OR we can clear into USA, with the newly minted travel document, and then, lie to US officials about having been stranded, illegal, and undocumented in their country, and hope they don’t find out and throw us in jail.

OR we can get to a US port of entry, tell them the TRUTH, and ask them for safe harbor. Hopefully, the worst that can happen — in this case — is that they deny entry. Then the North Atlantic in winter becomes our problem — at least it’s just nature, and not some psychopathic vendetta against us. It’s all about taking back our lives! The Canadian government will not break us by forcing us into illegal acts which strip us of our last shreds of dignity.

And here’s the thing: We will NOT be afraid! We will NOT be broken! And we will NOT go quietly!

The Latest Letter to CBC

September 15, 2017. Halifax, NS.

CBC is The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is Canada’s public broadcaster, but nothing like BBC, PBS or NPR. The CBC is both commercial and a government mouthpiece, most like Russia’s Channel 1.

MEG: An update:

Nothing has changed. Elena is still stateless and stripped of any travel docs. IRCC is still playing some kind of game; haven’t returned her application documents, which would enable her to make renewal attempt number 6. We’re still trapped in Halifax’s harbor. Winter is still on the way. We’re still determined not to be killed, separated, or lose our vessel/home, and thus, will still leave for the high seas by the end of September.

Even after dismissing Elena’s concerns publicly, in the press, as paranoid, and assuring reporter Fram Dinshaw that “What she really needs is a travel document,’ said Fillmore, adding that the turnaround time is about 20 days.” in an article printed, Aug 17 (almost 30 days ago) – there has been ZERO communication between IRCC and Elena.

As it is clear that we have been targeted by some government vendetta or mandate, we will, before the end of this month:
* Wrap up a series of interviews with NPR (six hours, so far)
* Send an open letter to President Trump asking for safe harbor in USA
* Issue a press release outlining the events leading to this LGBT couple’s need to flee Canada for high-seas exile, USA, or our graves.
* Load fishing gear, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fuel to last at least one year adrift.
* Say our good-byes.

We want the world to know how Canada treats its invisible refugees: LGBT people are invisible by their need to survive. We want Canadians to know that they become second-class citizens and lose the rights, freedoms, safety and dignity they took for granted, if and when they fall in love with an immigrant/refugee. We want to show our friends, our fans, and the family we’ve made on our journey, that they CAN stand up to bullies, that being f*ckable doesn’t mean they have to get f*cked, that they CAN love each other and love themselves, that they can be with whomever they want, and that they can take back their lives.

If our NPR interviews, our open letter to President Trump and Americans for safe harbor, our press releases, our web sites, our books, or our fans… don’t generate either a Canadian Refugee Travel document, safe harbor in USA or some other country that recognizes LGBT rights, and our satellite feed somehow goes dark ‘out there’ it’s not a defeat. It’s a victory! No matter what, it’s a victory! It’s a victory for life. A victory for dignity. A victory for everyone who dares to take back their lives!

No matter what, we have truly lived, and we have lived well!

And THAT, more than anything, is probably why Canada wants to hurt us.


Stranded in Nova Scotia

August 8, 2017. Halifax, NS.

The continuous, 9-month saga of trying to renew my Canadian Refugee Travel Document is nowhere near it’s resolution. Without explanation, Canada continues to deny me the basic human right of the freedom of movement (of travel). Meg and I are now trapped in Nova Scotia, with me stripped of documents.

Meg and I will not give in. If my Travel Document will not be renewed in time (before winter comes to Nova Scotia and storms ravage the Atlantic) I will not part with Meg and our home – the boat. We will stay together. The plan A is to load on rice and vitamins and sail South, to the part of Atlantic, called Sargasso sea (the doldrums), where we would not be killed by storms. Perhaps then, with enough media attention, things will change for Meg and I and we will be allowed access to safety and rights and can come in from the sea.

This is not a joke! The nightmare with Immigration Canada has lasted for a decade for Meg and I and we refuse to give up now.

This is Meg’s latest correspondence with CBC that describes our current situation:

MEG: We’re still in emergency-measures mode, and our suspicion of Elena being targeted by IRCC isn’t easing. We’re definitely on the losing side of whatever game (or optics mandate) is feeding us to the lions, so we’re not optimistic… haven’t been for years.To ensure our survival and save our home, freedom, and last shreds of dignity, our plans are to load rice (carbohydrates) and vitamins and make a run for the Atlantic doldrums (before the climate in Halifax traps us) to live adrift on the high seas through the winter. It’ll buy some time, and we’ll stay connected with humanity (and the media) via satellite.

REPORTER: What’s your absolute latest departure date? Was the plan always to leave at some point, or had you considered possibly sticking around Nova Scotia for the winter?

MEG: The plan was always to leave, we aren’t prisoners, we aren’t criminals – we refuse to be victims. This yacht won’t survive the winter here. We are terribly adverse to giving it up, (our home, our dreams), and be forced into internal exile; especially after what has happened to us over the last decade, and what we went through to save our lives and be together.At least, adrift — a thousand miles from land — we are safe.

Balancing the multiple threats of tropical storms, drifting ice, arctic outflows, and storms out of the Gulf Stream convergence zone, our escape window closes at the end of September. We will be out of here by then, with or without documents.


Arrived!

July 12, 2017. Halifax, NS.

Elena and Meg, Charleston to Halifax

And here we are – in Halifax. It feels surreal to be on a boat that doesn’t thrash on the waves, but is completely still, tied to a dock.

Meg and I had no problems with customs. The two officers were very accommodating and understanding: meaning Meg and I are safely and legally in Canada! We now are getting used to the feeling of land, safety, having people around and lots of Canadian flags everywhere. Land is great indeed! The 13 days at sea were tedious, dismal and at times terrifying, but it is already a memory. What we have now is wonderful – the air is warm, there are people around us, beautiful forest and the town beyond somewhere.

For those of you who wondered what Atlantic waters — around here — look and feel like – here it is.

It is solid fog. Visibility – 30, 50 meters. Water temperature 11°C, air temperature 10°C.

Here are also a few snapshots of our first glimpses of Nova Scotia.

Entering inlet – fog is left behind

Inlet shore – warm air smells with spruce buds

See a short video of our trip from Charleston to Halifax.


Halifax or Bust

June 29, 2017. Charleston, SC.

Dear friends,

Meg and I proceed with our journey. We are parting with beautiful Charleston, South Carolina — which we fell in love with — and heading for the open ocean, and, with luck, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Our very-much approximate date of arrival in Halifax is anywhere between July 8 and July 12.

And we are off!

Elena and Meg

Elena and Meg, Charleston to Halifax run


Absurdity Abounds – Lack of Travel Document

May 19, 2017, Charleston, SC

We are simply overwhelmed by the support, encouragement, movie deals, book options and coffee invitations we’ve received. Thank you, so much! But we need to get safe before we can start down that road.

At the moment I am an undocumented individual, due to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada incompetence. Unless something changes in the next few weeks, we will be forced into a 2000 km, non-stop sail to Halifax, Canada, on the off-chance they might renew my refugee travel document after 4 failed attempts (the fifth is pending).

Canadian refugee travel document

Refugees in Canada, can renew their refugee travel document (yes, 10 years later, I am only a permanent resident in Canada) only from within Canada. Unfortunately, IRCC told me otherwise, until the 3rd rejection of my application. By the time they decided to tell me they got it wrong, and that in fact, refugee travel document will only be issued to people physically within Canada, my document had expired, leaving me completely stripped of my ability to travel. Had I known this before the travel document I was renewing expired, we could have flown to Canada instead of sailing, way offshore, non-stop, in international waters, 2000 km to Halifax just to roll the dice on another renewal attempt.

Still, Meg and I will do whatever it takes to be together and live life on our own terms. It might be a pretty extreme voyage for the chance at a rather limited document, but compared to what we’ve been through, this is just another step toward owning our lives!