Throwback Thursday: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Moving ourselves just up the coast from Miami, we found a nice little spot in Fort Lauderdale to drop our hook and made that our home for awhile.  I’m not sure if this was ever previously mentioned on the blog, but at this time we were in the middle of trying to purchase a trimaran in Guatemala to flip.  It had been at the marina we were staying at, although we’d never been able to go inside of it.  Long story short, between trying to contact the current owner and have it surveyed, things had been moving very slowly on this.  Although before we could get ourselves to the Bahamas we wanted the process completely wrapped up. Which meant that if the deal did go through, we needed to be near an airport that could quickly get us back there. Spoiler alert: the survey showed rotting and there would have been a lot more time and money spent into fixing this boat up than we were prepared to give.  (Huh….)

During our stay in Fort Lauderdale though, we were able to meet some new cruising friends that we’d been in long distance contact with for awhile, and I was even able to have a girls night out with the lovely Jessica G. of m/v Felicity and Melody of s/v Vacilando. We also happened to be in one space for so long again that Matt’s mom and stepdad jumped on the opportunity to come see us from Michigan since we were so close. Relatively speaking.  Here is the story of when we went to meet them at the airport.

You can find the original post here.

Monday March 17, 2014

sidewalk ends

Let me tell you a little story of a boy and a girl who went out for a walk one day and found out where the sidewalk ends. Could this ‘story’ be about Matt and Jessica you might ask? Ha, of course not. We would never be as stupid as to do these following things.

 

Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who lived and traveled in their sailboat. After dropping their anchor in a pretty little lake in a place called Fort Lauderdale, the boy received a call from his mother telling him that she and her husband would like to come visit. The boy and girl were very excited about this. So excited, that they decided to meet their family right at the airport when they arrived.

Having walked back from a few marine stores they had just visited a few days prior, the boy realized that the airport was less than a mile from there and thought the walk would be very doable. Was there a bus? Of course there was. But who can’t do with a little extra exercise every now and then. The girl didn’t mind walking too much, but was excited at the prospect of arriving at the airport quite early and using their fast internet connection. There were a few photos and a video she wanted to post online.

Leaving two hours before their families flight was due in, they figured it wouldn’t take them more than an hour to get there, the extra time, the girl willed, could be spent on her computer. The first part of the walk went very well. Following the main streets they had used before they continued forward into new territory and hopefully where the airport was. A few blocks later the girl noticed their four lane road with a median in the center appeared to be turning into an expressway. Based on the signs, it looked as if they would have to walk a half mile of that expressway to get to the airport. The boy could not believe there would not be a back way into the airport where a pedestrian could walk in. Turning down a side street they wandered on through the mass of car rental facilities.

The day was hot and both the boy and girl were beginning to sweat from the heat of the midday sun. The girl was starting to get blisters on her feet as she was only expecting a two mile walk and wore her sandals. Normally a two mile walk in them is not an issue, but she had a feeling they must be clocking mile three by now. As each street turned into a dead end she pleaded with the boy that they could jump on one of the airport shuttle buses and have a comfortable and safe ride the rest of the way. It did not look like the back roads were getting them any closer. The boy scoffed at this offer stating that it wouldn’t be proper for them to accept these services if they were not giving the car rental center their business. Fed up now, she explained that these back roads were getting them nowhere and they would have to walk on the shoulder of the expressway to reach their intended destination.

Tracking back over the asphalt they had just covered, they were now faced with an area where the sidewalk ended. Keeping as far away from traffic as possible, they trudged through the dirt and grass off the side of the expressway until they reached a bridge. With an entrance ramp at the top. Luckily it was mid afternoon on a Monday and traffic was light. Before they knew it they had crossed over the bridge and were back in grass shoulders. Just ahead was the exit for the airport, and although it looked almost a mile long in itself, they were happy to see it.

Kicking up dust with each step, they had finally reached an area where they could see the parking lot to the airport. There was only one problem. They couldn’t find a way into it. Looking further up the road, the expressway exit did not lead them directly to a tree lined entrance with a sidewalk or even soft grass to trample on. What laid ahead was the road curving into another expressway loop with more bridges. There were lots of cars up in that area, and they were all going quite fast. The boy and girl did not feel as comfortable taking on the expressway again.

Searching from left to right, they looked for any other way in. A fence had been running along the side of them for quite some time, and they hoped that further ahead, where a group of bushes were clustered, would be a break in the fence where they could walk into the parking lot. Hiking up the path a little further they saw the fence encircled the entire area. Talking about their options, the girl suggested a taxi to take them the rest of the way. Waiting for five minutes they did not see a single one pass by. They thought about backtracking and trying to catch a bus, but now they had eaten up all their extra time and they could not afford to be late. They were right there, the only thing keeping them out was a fence.

Hot, tired, sweaty, dirty, and after lots of contemplation, they decided to take the easiest option. Tucking behind a tall tree, the boy scaled the fence and beckoned for the girl to join him on the other side. Sticking her toes through the links, she managed to get to the top where sharp metal edges were meeting her. The plastic bottoms of her flip flops balanced  precariously on these pointy spikes while her arms held her steady on a tree branch. Taking a deep breath, she prepared herself for a terrible fall and jumped. Landing almost softly on the ground she took check of any damage to herself. There were a few scrapes on her hands and cuts on her ankles, but otherwise she was fine.

With the parking lot just in front of them, they had only one more obstacle to cross. Just ahead of them was a set of train tracks with low lying cars for items to be placed upon. Once again glancing left and right, the couple hopped over these cars. Free and clear on the other side, they ran into the parking lot to do their best job of blending in with all the other patrons that had arrived by car. They made it all the way inside and to the baggage claim to meet their family without a second glance from anyone.

Running to the restrooms, they took a few minutes to clean themselves up. Twigs were pulled from hair, dirt smudges wiped off of faces, and dust cleaned off of legs and feet. Getting back to the baggage claim just in time to meet up with the boy’s mother and stepfather, they asked how the boy and girl had gotten there that day. Smiling at each other the boy and girl replied, “You don’t even want to know”.

 

Let me repeat again, this story is not about us. I mean, who would be dumb enough to do that? Right?

 

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The Hidden Gem that is Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

The condo we’re staying at with my parents in Fort Lauderdale happens to be about one block from the Bonnet House.  While brainstorming up things to do with our time there, it obviously came up as a contender.  It’s supposed to be a beautiful house full of history, and lavish grounds to wander. I’m sure many visitors have spent long afternoons there doing just this.  We were almost some of them.  Until I took a look at their website and found that tours cost $20/person.  Even if you only wanted to walk the grounds you had to hand over $10.  A quick tram ride could get you through for $2.

As soon as we saw these prices though, Matt and I did not want to participate in any of it.  Not that my parents couldn’t or didn’t want to hand over this money for us all to have an afternoon out, they were more than happy to have this as a possibility for ‘Things to Do’ during our time here.  The thing was…I knew of a much better place for us to spend an afternoon.  One that happened to be completely free.

Last May when Matt and I had about a month to kill in Miami waiting on specific paperwork for the cat before we could make our Atlantic crossing to Europe, we spent a lot of time with our cruising friends Alfredo and Ana Bianca, and family of theirs that lived on Key Biscayne. One afternoon while visiting, where we had a little more time on our hands than they did, they sent us off on a pair of bicycles to check out a nice local beach called Crandon Park. With the exception of having a house to tour (and based on the photos, I’m not sure it would have been my style), these grounds were much more appealing.

Here is one thing I can not understand about this park.  Every time we have summer here; summer; winter; weekday; weekend; it is always empty.  A complete ghost town, which is surprising considering how beautiful it is. As we parked our car in the vacant lot, we walked the sidewalk leading up to the beach, making sure to stop for just a moment to take in one of my favorite perks of this park.  Situated on the south side of the beach is a bird sanctuary, with it’s own trails and sitting areas, this area used to be one of the leading zoos in the country back in the 1960’s.  Having previously hosted over 1,000 animals of over 380 species, it’s open air animal exhibits now sit empty, and the birds which currently reside there are allowed to roam free.

Such is the case of the ostentation of peacocks we found lining the fence as we arrived.  Very accustomed to visitors and handouts of food, they are not shy of people and it’s quite easy to get a close up view of them.  Saving a more thorough stroll of those grounds for just a little later, we instead made our way to the palm trees and shoreline. Passing by shaded picnic areas and charcoal grills, we left the pavement and slid off our shoes as we entered the warm mid day sand.

One thing Matt and I agreed of why we love this beach so much is that other than it’s magnificent turquoise colored waters and tall sprouting palm trees, for some reason it looks as if it would fit much better into the coast of North Carolina than Southern Florida. With the exception of a few high rises at the very far end of the beach, the area appears very secluded and not at all flashy.  Although I do love a good afternoon of people watching and viewing all the vibrantly colored life guard stations on South Beach…this area just seems cleaner and more uniform.  But in a good way.

The light yellow lifeguard stands pop out perfectly from the vivid waters behind them and the palm trees lining each side. It’s a quiet area, very peaceful.  Just a short drive from the major metropolis of Miami, yet you still have the sense of solitude.  At low tide there are shallow pools to wade in, and any time is perfect for diving into a novel without surrounding distractions.  I don’t know, I can’t describe it. Just a little slice of perfection in Southern Florida that we never seem to get enough time to spend in.

Such was the case this afternoon as we had no suits on us for swimming or umbrellas to shade us from the sweltering sun. We did make a quick run of the sanctuary where most of the birds seemed to be hiding on this particular day, but the iguanas were have the run of the grounds. Once we realized that we were approaching late afternoon we did make our way up to bustling South Beach to find a nice outdoor cafe for some lunch and people watching. Since we couldn’t make the most of Crandon Park, it did seem only the logical thing to do.

peacocks at Crandon Park

picnic area, Crandon Park

Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

my parents at Crandon Park

Matt & Jessica at Crandon Park

Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

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Off to the Coast!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

It’s vacation time again!  Just five weeks after returning from a week long escape in Stuart with Matt’s family, my parents have just flown in to take us away for a week to Fort Lauderdale. The rents are back for the second time this year and we couldn’t be happier to see them! And I’m sorry, but I do have to take a quick second and poke a little fun at them, as when I called them by this slang term in a post during their previous visit, they had no idea what it meant.  Funny.  I thought I was dating myself by using it.

Anyway….they arrived at the marina on Thanksgiving, but unfortunately a few hours later than all the festivities being held here that day.  We did manage to save them a few plates of turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, and even the keg hadn’t been tapped yet so there was still free cold beer to enjoy with our late lunch/early dinner. Having them stay at the only hotel Indiantown has to offer, we all met back up the next morning for breakfast and drove out to see my grandparents in Sebring.

Hopping back in the rental car after a nice afternoon and lunch spent with them (no way we were going to chance the van breaking down driving across the state), we set off for Fort Lauderdale and only had to make one stop at a questionable gas station in Clewston before pulling into our hotel just after the sun set. A little bit different than when we had all taken off to Fort Lauderdale in April, this time we were only a block from the beach, staying in a high rise with the Atlantic on one side and the ICW on the other. It was a balmy yet very windy night, although it was not stop us from taking a stroll down Beach Blvd.  Even in the dark and across the street we could see giant waves crashing against the shore, and before we even left I knew it would be necessary to change from my dress into jeans.  Not because of dropping temperatures, but because if I hadn’t I would have ended up with it over in my head. Trust me, it was doing a good job of trying in the parking lot upon our arrival.

Since I had underestimated the size of the city blocks here (or had only read street names with bridges), I had vastly misjudged our distance from Sunrise down to Las Olas Blvd, where all the happening bars and restaurants were, so instead of making it down there to possibly grab a drink we turned around and took the back roads back to the hotel where we were slightly blocked from the strong east winds. Not to let that hold us back from enjoying that beer together, we got in the car once more to do a little necessary grocery shopping at the Publix up the road and stocked ourselves up on some Dos XX and limes to get us through the next few days.  Ending the night in front of the tv, we were all exhausted after our recent traveling over the past few days, barley keeping our eyes open through an interesting reenactment of the Donner party.  You may joke, but I honestly would have been in bed an hour earlier if we hadn’t been watching it.

In the morning we took our sweet time getting ready, with really no place to be.  Sitting over coffee and each person person playing on their computer or tablet for bit (I may be a little ashamed to admit that I’ve been spending a bit too much time with our Instagram account lately, getting it going) we did force ourselves out for a daylight walk before lunch, walking across the draw bridge to watch the sailboats going south, and then out to the beach to stick our toes in the water.

Jessica and parents

Jessica & parents

Matt at draw bridge

sail boats under draw bridge

Fort Lauderdale

day at beach

We’ve been spending a few days just relaxing around the condo, getting the use of a full kitchen again, and even running some errands around town.  It’s never a bad day when your parents want to take you shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond to help you stock up your galley with gadgets and provide you with new bath towels since the ones you have are six years old.  Ick.  We also took an afternoon to go to the movie theater and see the newest Hunger Games.  We even ended up at one of those fancy movie theaters where they serve food and drinks during the show.  A literal dinner & a movie date.  We skipped on the food, but most of us did partake in an adult beverage.  Watching a movie on the big screen with an ice cold Sam Adams in my hand?  A pretty cool way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of going out for a beer, we also somewhat ran into some cruising friends here!  For the past two years we’ve been talking to and trying to meet up with Rebecca and Brian of Summertime Rolls.  There’s even been more than one occasion where we’ve missed each other by only a day or to.  Us getting to the Bahamas a day or two after they left; or them arriving to the Virgin Islands only a few days after we left. When they had seen on our Facebook page that we were in Ft. Lauderdale they let us know they happened to be just up the road!

Finding an Irish Pub one block up from us that had a very good happy hour, the four of us finally met and spent a good few hours talking about our past few years sailing.  Not only have we cruised so many of the same grounds, but our social circles consist of basically all the same people, so the conversations were endless. Definitely a bit of fun and unexpected serendipity thrown into our schedule.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of our time here holds for us.

drinks w. Summertime Rolls

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Throwback Thursday: Visiting That Place We Said We’d Never Go – Aka Miami

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Waiting so long for a weather window to get from Mexico to Florida, you’d think we’d be on the go again as soon as we arrived there.  Due to a little more bad weather though, and honestly, some sheer exhaustion from the passage over, we ended up taking a week pit stop in Key West.  Although most of the days we were content to sit on the boat relaxing, and listening to radio stations in English again, we did find a few chances to get out and explore.

One afternoon was spent taking a tour of the town by scooter. It turns out the island was a bit smaller than we had anticipated and the latter part of the day was using to scooter to make grocery runs, stocking up on necessities like Coca Cola and Kraft Mac’n’Cheese.  For days we didn’t feel like going to shore and getting yelled at by the guy at the dinghy dock for parking in front just so I could ask him a question, we brought Georgie to shore for a little terra firma and a chance to stretch her legs and explore.

Still wanting to get a move on, our next stop was Marathon, which unfortunately we were a little underwhelmed by. Boot Key Harbor was just a little too crowded for our taste, and we found ourselves anchored outside the bay instead.  With it’s amazing sunsets over Seven Mile Bridge though, it wasn’t a bad trade. Heading north again as soon as the weather allowed, we made a 24 hour passage to Coconut Grove, riding the Gulf Stream and encountering lots of ship traffic in the middle of the night.

Finally nestled in a place that we actually wanted to be in for awhile, I drug Matt out for a day to the one place he said he never wanted to go.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday March 1, 2013

3.1.14

“I can’t wait to get to Miami. Such a big city, all the lights, right on the water. I think it’s going to be really cool.”

“We’re not going to Miami”

“Why not? We’re going to have to pass right by it anyway. Oh! Maybe we can go to a nightclub there! Hmmmm, what will I have packed that’s kind of night-clubby? See, I told you there are times I will need heels.”

“First of all, we’re not going to Miami. Second, even if we did, we’re not going out to a night club there.”

“Why can’t we going to Miami?”

“Because it’s Miami. If there is one place in the world I do not want to hit on this trip, it’s Miami.”

 

That’s a conversation that took place two years ago between Matt and I while we were still sitting back in Michigan and planning this whole adventure out. Could you have guessed because of my nightclub comment? Ha, like I even think about those things now.

 

He was serious about it. If there was one place he never wanted to go…. I’m not sure if it was the idea of the crowds combined with the non-Manhattan like culture that he didn’t want to deal with? Or maybe a preconceived notion that everyone there would be fake and pretentious? I’m not sure, he never really went into his reasons. Just that it was never ever going to happen. And guess where we are now? That’s because I always get my way. (No, honestly, I just brought it up again as a stop along the way and he never said boo. Until we got here.)

So this morning we found ourselves at the Metro station in Coconut Grove, trying to figure out how to buy a day pass on the transit system and read the timetables and routes. We were getting ourselves to South Beach, but we were doing it poor man style. Which was probably apparent to anyone watching as I sat on the bench at the metrorail station, covering my feet in about sixteen bandages to ease the pain of the blisters I’d received the day before from walking miles in non broken in shoes. Classy were were..not. But at least you couldn’t tell that from far away.

As we stepped off our second bus that had brought us past the causeways and to the beach front, we had no idea to start or even what we were looking for. Of course I had wanted to do the Art Deco tour while we were there, a style of architectural style of the 20’s and 30’s featuring bold geometric shapes and bright colors, but the only information I had on me was a snapshot on my camera taken from a PDF on my computer screen. A now very small and hard to read photograph. Throwing away the plan of actually following a plan, we wandered until we found a beach walk and water. There didn’t seem to be any art deco buildings here, just mammoth hotels and waiters catering drinks between the pool and the beach.

Strolling the boardwalk on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning, we wound our way around until finally hitting Ocean Drive..and a Starbucks. Those gift cards my mom had just sent me back in Key West were still burning a hole in my pocket, and I dragged Matt through the door to get us a few iced coffees. Another establishment that Matt can’t stand. Now, according to him, we matched all the pretentious a-holes out on South Beach that day. (I still loved the gift cards mom, thank you!) I paid him no mind and just kept thinking ‘Oooh, free iced coffee!’

Stepping out on to Ocean Drive we were instantly greeted with the art deco buildings we had come to see, starting with the Betsy Ross hotel. From there we slowly looked at each passing building, not knowing the history of any of them because I forgot to print out all of the information I had just researched, but appreciating them nonetheless. Or at least one of us was.

“I hate the stucco. They’re not even built well.”

“They may not be built well, but at least they’re different.”

“But look at it. It doesn’t even look good.”

“It doesn’t have to look good, it just has to be different from what we see every day to make it special. I’m not saying these are the most beautiful buildings we’ve ever seen, I’m just pointing out that they’re something new and different for us to look at.”

 

Our tour down Ocean Drive didn’t last much longer. And don’t worry, if you’re thinking that Matt was being a jerk or ruining my day by complaining, I was just happy that he took me out there period. Again, this was one place he did not.want.to.go. So the fact that he still went, willingly, and just because I wanted to, well that’s love right there. And every time he gave something a repulsive look or made a loathsome comment, I just laughed instead and thought ‘Aaww, he really cares about me for being here’.

After a delicious lunch of ropa vieja at a Cuban restaurant we hit the sand to check out the gaggle of girls in small swimsuits that South Beach is supposed to be known for. Maybe it’s just not spring break yet, but there weren’t as many of the perfectly molded plastic women as we thought there would be out here. Isn’t this one of the plastic surgery capitals of the US? Maybe all those women had more procedures booked for today? We didn’t see them out on the beach. Just a bunch of natural all American girls. Ok, with some noticeable plastic surgery here and there.

Loitering on the beach until we returned to the spot we started out in the morning, we picked a spot on the boardwalk to relax in the shade and watch the people go by. It was, I have to admit, some of the best people watching we’ve been able to do in a long time. By the time a few more hours had gone by, we were both having a great time and I think Matt even forgot that he didn’t want to be here. I think some sun, sand, and waves (ok, and maybe a cold can of Mt. Dew) can have that effect on anyone. In fact, I may have just talked him into coming back tomorrow to lay out on the beach. I must have some pretty awesome powers of persuasion.

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The Only Original Wall That’s Staying Up

Just one last quick project before my parents come to sweep us off for a week of fun and relaxing in Fort Lauderdale (which I have been looking forward to for a long, long time).  Now that the area for the shower has been installed, epoxied, and painted, it’s time to close that area up with a bulkhead.  The only area in the whole boat that will be able to close itself off.  Future guests, be warned, that’s the only privacy you’ll get. It’s also the only area in the boat that is keeping a wall from the original boat.  It’s the one thing we’re keeping from ‘Daze Off’ other than a few screws that are in reusable condition.

The entire wall for the head isn’t staying, we hadn’t just removed it and set it aside until a later time where we could put it back up.  It’s only the back wall and the corner, which still needed a little work done to it even though it is staying.  For the new portion of the wall running down the hallway fore and aft we used a 3/4″ MDO plywood.  Like most of the others walls in the boat, we routed our v-grooves into the wood, except in this area they’re running vertical instead of horizontal. Once this was done and we had the board cut down to size, we attached it to the existing wall by using epoxy with a light sprinkling of colloidal silica mixed in.  Using a few sets of strategically placed clamps, we let it sit and cure overnight.

Getting the entire wall up was a few day process because of the need for the epoxy to cure and harden.  After the first and largest portion of the wall was in we added the smaller portion closer to the aft end of the boat.  Another night of letting that cure and we were ready to add the much smaller pieces of plywood that will go above and below the door (which will be made much later, out of cherry hardwood and plywood).  During the time these other areas were curing though, Matt had the daunting task of trying to add filler, using the glass bubbles this time, to not only fill the seam of where the existing wall and new wall matched up, but to also perfectly round the corner.  There had been a few small divots that would become extremely noticeable once the wood went from dark brown to white.  Over a few days of sanding and filling though, he was able to get a very smooth and even surface.

Using some of the leftover filler we also filled in a very noticeable mistake made with the router, and also the screw holes so they would not be visible (or even accessible) once the wall was painted.  Two coats of primer later and it was looking pretty good if I say so myself.*

I can not say how good it feels to be back in the world of projects where there is a visible difference at the end of every day.  Having a new wall up in the boat is definitely a visible difference.  I can’t wait to start building up the interior now!  But that will have to wait until we get back from our vacation.

installing bulkhead to head

faring the new bulkhead

new bulkhead

white wall for head

painted bulkhead

 

 

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We Are Not Crowdfunders, Nor Do We Lead a Luxurious Life

Last week I woke up to some news that made me extremely overjoyed and grateful.  The Daily Mail had come out with a list of their Ultimate Travel Photos of 2015, and we happened to be on it!  Listed under the caption it was said that our previous article on the site was one of their highest shared stories of the year. I was humbled and honored that so many people enjoyed our story and were rooting for us to set out and realize our dreams.

Scrolling through the remaining amazing travel photographs, and they were, I found myself at the comments.  And was stunned and hurt by what I saw.  The very first comment among all these magnificent images was ‘Oh don’t ya just love it when those pesky americans give up their jobs and raise enough money (crowd funding no less) to pursue their dreams..Well we all have dreams, we just don’t go begging online to strangers about it.’

Us?  Begging strangers for money so we could travel the world? That couldn’t be further from the truth! In order to live the life we do, we spent years saving up every penny we could and selling every possession we had in order to be able to leave everything behind to travel the world for a few years. Not only that, but while traveling we live as frugally as possible to make sure every dollar can go as far as possible.  We’ve never asked anyone for a single cent, and it made my blood boil to think that most people would assume the only way we could get to where we are was by the handouts of others. That it would be impossible for a couple in their 30’s to set out plans and goals, and to actually achieve them! It made me realized how grossly uninformed some people are about our lifestyle.

So let me just take a moment to dispel two large misconceptions the general public may have about us.  We are not crowdfunders, nor do we lead a luxurious life.

Atlantic Crossing December 3

Let me first talk about our lifestyle, but believe me, I’ll definitely get back to the crowdfunding. For most people who don’t know much about our cruising lifestyle, they make think we lead a life of uninterrupted bliss.  Uniformed days of sunny skies, tropical islands, swimming in the worlds clearest waters, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets with a good glass of wine in our hands; all the while never having any worries or having to lift a finger, other than to sail our beautiful yacht to our next amazing location in pristine conditions. I will state for the record that we have done all of the above.  Although to say that is all our life consists of would be substantially wrong.  That is our lives, but only a small portion of it.  Truth be told, I don’t think 90% of people could or would want to live our kind of life.

I won’t even get into the mess of what our current situation is, living in the construction zone of a boat remodel that has me walking 5 minutes to the marinas facilities every time I have to ‘go’, or washing my dishes from a 1.5 liter jug that I refill from a spicket 4-6 times a day. No, I’ll get into the enviable *bliss* we enjoy while traveling. Lets first talk about our living space.  Our last boat was 34 ft, and current one is 37.  That’s between 150 to 200 sq ft feet of living space.  And to be honest, not all of it is livable. Our kitchen and sitting space were all part of one room, the bathroom doesn’t even give you enough room to bend over in, and forget about having any foot space in bed.  If there’s more than one of you on board you’re constantly having to step aside for the other to pass, and if you want to have guests over you’d better feel very comfortable about letting others into your personal space.

Moving on to personal hygiene and upkeep, and it’s amazing how much of that went out the hatch as soon as we stepped foot on a boat.  Back in our land life we would start our mornings with a hot shower, I’d take the time to straighten my hair and put on makeup, and we’d both dress in our business attire before heading out the door for the daily grind. In our sailing life we spent the first year and a half taking our showers in the cockpit or swimming off the back of the boat.  Which was preferable because you wouldn’t even want to think about using up what precious fresh water you had on something as trivial as staying clean. That needs to be saved for drinking and getting the dishes clean enough to eat off again. Usually we try to only allow ourselves the use of 5 gallons a day so we don’t run out.

The t-shirts, board shorts, and cut offs we started to adorn ourselves in have to be lugged usually at least a mile in each direction to any kind of laundromat or cleaner we can find wherever we happen to drop anchor. Dresses? Rarely. Shoes with heels? Not a single pair has found it’s way on to the boat. Not only does my hair not get straightened or styled anymore, it usually goes directly from shower to ponytail.  On our passage back across the Atlantic last year we had such bad conditions that we averaged six days between showers. Cleanliness has almost become a form of when it becomes necessary instead of whenever you want.

bathing off back of boat

Matt dragging behind boat

Going out to restaurants (for us) is saved for rare and special occasions, and grocery shopping usually consists of walking miles in 90 degree heat and trying to fit two weeks of food and beverages into two backpacks. I make my meals in a galley that has about two feet of counter space and constantly switch around ingredients between pots and bowls while I try and make decent meals on a two burner stove. As my friend Michelle just likened it, she said “I feel like I’m trying to be Betty Crocker, making a meal in Barbie’s Dream House while using my Easy Bake Oven”.  It’s one step up from camping, but one step below an RV.  At least they’re not rocking back and forth while cooking, trying to keep their plates from sliding off the counters.

walking in Duncan Town

Sabre 34 Targa galley

Which brings me on to passages. About 30% of our lifestyle, but the thing that requires the most planning and preparation. We can’t just hop from one location to the next whenever we feel like. Sailors are only allowed to cruise an area by season, and even inside that area, may get held up for days or even weeks waiting for the right weather window.  The two weeks we planned to stay in Isla Mujeres Mexico before sailing to Florida turned into seven when fronts would constantly pass through the Gulf of Mexico.

Our entire schedule for the year was messed up and we ended up starting our Atlantic crossing from Miami, instead of St. Marten like we had originally hoped. So before we can go anywhere we have to think about distance, forecasts, hurricane season, and any other number of things. To just say, ‘I feel like heading from Mexico to Aruba.  Let’s leave tomorrow’.; does not happen. The weather can sometimes be our best friend and at other times be our worst enemy.

shelf cloud on Atlantic

Atlantic Crossing January 2

After just touching the tip of the iceberg of what living our lifestyle entails (I did not even get into the part about maintaining all the mechanical and electrical systems yourself), I’m ready to discuss crowdfunding. As I had mentioned above, we have not received a single penny for our journey that way.  Sure, there’s a couple hundred dollars that come in every year from family in the form of birthday or anniversary gifts, but we would have received them regardless if we were at land or sea. And knowing that I would have headed straight to the MAC counter at Macy’s before, I think they money is going to a much better purpose now. If anyone funded this trip, it was us. In the few years before we left, we stopped going out to eat or to the bars with our friends, inviting them to our house instead.  All of my clothes, even my business ones, became second hand from consignment shops.  Our yearly excursions to Chicago for a long weekend turned in to camping trips at the Sleeping Bear Dunes instead.  If we didn’t have to spend money on something, we didn’t. To say that we made sacrifices is the understatement of the century.

On the subject of crowdfunding though, I will not say that it is unquestionable as a means to bring in a little extra cash. We have friends that have Donate buttons on their website, and I know of others that use sites such as Patreon to bring in a little extra money for their travels. None of these people started their journeys by use of these income makers.  None of them went out begging saying, “I want to travel the world, give me money so I can!”. All of them started exactly as we did, by scraping and saving to make their dreams a reality.  Collaborations with these sites are only a means to keep their travels going, and this is after establishing themselves with content via writing, photos, and videos; which their followers want to continue to enjoy and will donate money to make it possible.

I’ve even considered using it for ourselves in the future when our funds begin to run low. It would not keep us going forever, and I’d be delusional to think it might.  But it may help extend our journey a few more months before we find a way to bring in a steady paycheck.  It’s all perfectly sensible when you think about it though.  If a person would spend a certain amount of money to buy a book or magazine, to go out to a movie or enjoy drinks out with a significant other; OR they could spend that same amount of money in the form of a donation to us and receive travel stories or photographs that bring them the same amount of enjoyment, they should be able to . No one is forcing them to give this money away, and if it’s not for you, that’s fine. Just don’t condemn it for others that do go this route.

saddleback dolphins

lighthouse on Faial Azores

In short, we love our nomadic lives, but they are quite different than the image that most might hold. We are not the trust fund babies that take our expansive floating home to non stop beautiful destinations in perfect weather where we visit fancy restaurants and spend our days shopping in boutique stores and sunning ourselves on pristine beaches. Although our life is full of picturesque moments and incredible adventures (which is what usually makes the blog or social media pages), we also put up with a lot of behind the scenes frustration that you wouldn’t know about unless you’re living this lifestyle or closely following the blog.

So Mr. Tangerine Dream, before you go off making assumptions about our travels and spouting them out over the internet, take a moment to see what our life actually entails.  How we got ourselves here, what our lifestyle actually consists of, and how we keep it going.  If you looked really closely, I’d bet you realize that it doesn’t come close to what you originally thought.

I do want to quickly mention that this post was not written as an outlet for me to whine or bitch, or even gain sympathy.  I love my life.  I know that it can be hard, or even insufferable at times, but I chose this for myself and, for myself, the joys and freedom far outweigh the other inconveniences we deal with. It has it’s ups and downs, but when it’s good, it’s heaven on earth.  Now that I’ve started this adventure, I could never see my life any other way.

Matt & Jessica The Baths

Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Big Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda

fire lanterns over Horta's harbor, Azores

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Help Send Matt to Antarctica!

Matt antarctica contest

Everyone needs dreams.  Traveling is mine.  I have specific areas I want to hit, sure, but as long as I keep moving I’m usually good.  Matt’s dreams tend to change from year to year.  Sailing the world was originally his idea, but by the time it rolled around for us to leave, he wanted to get into aviation and was ready to hang up his sailing pants.  Good thing I was desperate to keep my dream of traveling, even if it was on a sailboat, or we might not be out here right now.  (If you can’t tell, Matt obviously came back around to the whole sailing thing).

Even though some of Matt’s dreams change from time to time, there is one that has never escaped him.  Visiting Antarctica. Sure there’s the draw of adding yet another to your list of continents on your travels that most can’t say they have, but for him it’s so much more.  It’s exploring remote areas where few dare to venture. It’s viewing at an area of this earth that has barely been touched by man. It’s taking in the raw beauty of glaciers that have been there for eons, and for all the sea and land life that survives where no one else can.  I promise, every time we watch any Discovery Channel or National Geographic program pops up on this area, he instantly perks up.

So this is going to be a short post ended with a plea.  There is a contest through Oceanwide Expedition that Matt has the possibility of winning with your help.  If he does win, next February he’d be taking off on a once in a lifetime experience to Antarctica.  For 30 days he’d spend his time on the m/v Ortelius, departing from Bluff, New Zealand, and ending in Ushuaia, Argentina. Along the way he would be making stops at the Ross Ice shelf, the largest in Antarctica; The Dry Valleys, which have not seen rain in over a million years and are the closest thing you’ll ever see to the surface of Mars; a visit to Shackelton’s Hut; and also a stop at Peter’s Island. An uninhabited volcanic island and one of the most remote places on planet earth.

All you have to do is follow this link and click on the Vote button for him.  No forms to sign out, no email addresses to enter.  It’s that simple. If you’re feeling extra generous, make sure to share it on your Facebook page, Twitter account, or heck, even email it to you mother and tell her she’d be doing a good deed by voting for him.  The contest runs until February 29, 2016, so don’t worry if you’re not able to do it right this second.

Thank you so much to those of you who will (or have) vote(d) for Matt.  It means more to him than you’ll know.

ross ice shelf

Image taken from here.

oceanwide expeditions

Image taken from here.

peter island

Image taken from here.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: Speed, Squalls, Officers, and Ocluars – Our Crossing from Mexico to Florida

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Our time on Isla Mujeres was winding down, but we still tried to enjoy ourselves as much as possible while weather fronts were keeping us there.  Luckily the weather we were getting was still warm and sunny so we kept our outdoor activities up as much as possible.  Which one Sunday afternoon, on the way to the grocery store for regular provisions, led us to a local Mexican baseball game.  We couldn’t understand what was happening over the speakers, but it was still a fun game to watch, and it must have been an important one as the stadium ended up packed, everyone sitting elbow to elbow.

A few days later while we were doing our morning scan of Passage Weather to see if there would ever be a long enough window for our 375 mile passage, something popped up.  It wasn’t great, and even though I genuinely was enjoying our time in Isla, I knew we had a lot of traveling left to do for the year and we needed to get a move on.  Finding this possible forecast at 10 am, it meant leaving that afternoon and we still had to go through the process of checking out, provisioning, and all the good stuff that goes along with leaving a place you’ve settled in to. It was a little hairy, and definitely rushed, but late that afternoon we found ourselves sailing out away from Mexico and back to the US.

You can find the original post here.

Friday February 14, 2014

2.14.14

If you asked us about this passage within the first 22 hours of leaving, and if it was a good idea to have gone with the forecast we did, I would have patted myself on the back while saying in a singsong voice “I am so smart. This is the best passage, Matt is silly for thinking we could have waited for a better one”. Because really, the first 20 or so hours truly were bliss. After eeking out of the harbor in Isla Mujeres at 4:30 in the afternoon, we rounded a few shoals and rocks on the north side before hoisting the sails and killing the engine. Straight away we were pushing forward at 6.5 knots on a close reach without much rocking under the hull. Matt took his spot under the dodger and I settled in to the leeward side behind the wheel, eyes fixed to the north where all the sport fishing boats were returning with their day’s catch. So far we had been able to start out the passage with neither of us feeling sick immediately upon departure, which I attribute to a well timed scopolamine patch on my neck earlier in the day, and suffering through many weeks in a less than calm harbor which made these small waves feel kind of like being at anchor.

We ate separate dinners of sticky buns and stale Oreos, and the only moment of panic for the day was when I literally jumped out of my seat yelling “Oh my god!!”, which made Matt assume that the boat must be falling apart, but in reality, was only due to the fact that I’d just seen two dolphins surface not more than ten feet off our aft quarter, seemingly out of nowhere. Unfortunately they did not make a repeat appearance. Georgie had taken up a spot on Matt’s lap, the only time now that she’ll willingly try and force herself as close to us as possible. During passage she’s like velcro on one of the two of us, not daring to get out of the protection of our arms, but as soon as that anchor is down, you can be assured that she can’t even remember who we are.

2.14.14 (1)

 Protect me!!

2.14.14 (2)

 Goodbye Isla!

2.14.14 (3)

2.14.14 (4)

As night came upon us we fell into the Gulf Stream and began riding that baby to average speeds of 8 knots, all the while feeling the calmness as if we were motoring through a glass calm bay. I’m sure I’m overexagerating a little, but I don’t remember it feeling much worse than our slightly rocky harbor we’d just left.

To add to the smoothness in this first 22 hours, it didn’t even take me 5 minutes to fall asleep when I went below the first time, a feat that normally only takes place 20 minutes before Matt comes to wake me for my turn to go back out on watch. This time I was able to get up somewhat rested and happily occupied my time on shift by flipping through various albums we had finally set up to play through our stereo, and counting all the miles already ticking away behind us. Throughout my whole shift we kept that comfortable 8-8.5 knots, along with just the slightest rocking motion under our hull. Calculating that if we kept this pace up we’d actually get in by Thursday evening, which is a dangerous thing to do, getting one’s hopes up early in a passage that their time will be cut down, since it rarely ever works out that way.

At the time though, it seemed almost foolproof. It was 350 miles through the rhumb line, which due to wind direction, we wouldn’t be able to follow exactly but I assumed we’d only add an extra 20 miles max. 370 miles at 8 knots would put us there in 46.5 hours, add in the extra speed since we were really going closer to 9 knots now, add add a little cushion for when we probably slowed down to 7 at some point. But it sounds completely feasible, right? I mean, we’re riding the Gulf Stream, one of the most powerful currents in the world! Getting up for my second watch at 6 am I did the numbers again and found out that we’d already covered just under 100 miles in 13 hours. We were well on our way there.

I woke up to a light drizzle that went away just as quickly as it came, and left the sky with puffy clouds that lit up in bright pinks and oranges and even a partial rainbow between two of the clouds. What I didn’t quite catch on to at the time is that this was a red sky in morning; sailors take warning. And I should have. But the sky soon cleared into a brilliant blue and all I had to do was sit back and relax while enjoying my breakfast of 16 oz of Mexican Danone yogurt (best $1 purchase ever, by the way).

2.14.14 (5)

2.14.14 (6)

2.14.14 (7)

Even though we were starting out with a passage that was much more comfortable than 80% of the ones that we’re normally on, we quickly fell back into the routine of sleep or waiting for sleep. I always think that on a calm passage I might start doing something like scrubbing the floors out of boredom, but apparently I was not quite that bored yet. Sneaking in one quick nap when Matt got up for breakfast, I settled into the cockpit with a book to read, something I hadn’t been able to do on many previous passages so I still consider that progress, while Matt went back to bed. Which at this time in the afternoon could probably be considered a nap. I wasn’t kidding when I said all we do is sleep or wait for the next opportunity to sleep.

This is where the pleasurable 20 hours of our passage ends. While getting into my book once more I noticed the skies were growing dark but didn’t pay it too much mind since we’d had the light drizzle in the morning and I expected more of the same this afternoon. Off in the distance there were some very dark clouds, and out of the distance a few rumbles of thunder were reaching me, but since all of this was downwind of us I still continued not to pay it much mind. At least it wasn’t heading at us. Or so I thought. The further I got into my book the closer the rumbles came, and as I scanned the horizon I only saw clear skies ahead, all of the nasty stuff supposedly passing behind us according to the current wind direction. I buried my nose back in my book, not ready to wake Matt just yet since that would mean a reef in the headsail and a reduction in speed. I still had my sights set on a Thursday evening arrival in Key West.

As the thunder, and now lightning, started closing in on us, I knew it was time to finally take action. I woke Matt up to let him know we were surrounded by thunderstorms while simultaneously taking our small electronics and sticking them inside the microwave and oven to protect them against a lightning strike should one happen. Our handheld GPS, sat phone, and e-readers were placed in the microwave; computers, wrapped in padding, were slid into the oven. Watching the wind speed jump up from the high teens to the mid to high 20’s, we kept going back and forth on if we should roll in the headsail. These speeds it could definitely handle, but should they get worse… Finally when we saw rain on the horizon we decided to roll it in ‘Just until this blows over’. Throwing the bow into the wind I tried with all my might to pull in the line while Matt controlled the jib line from smacking around. My arms were no match for this wind and we ended up switching places and getting it rolled in just before the blinding sheets of rain hit us.

Taking cover under the dodger we watched the rain pelt us from what seemed like every direction, and then out of nowhere, a huge gust of wind came along and almost knocked us on our side but did not seem to be letting up. Scrambling into the companionway with Matt, we watched the wind speed jump into the 40’s and keep rising. 48..53..62. Yes, we topped out at winds of over 60 knots, by far the highest we’ve ever seen on a passage. We were getting pounded by a squall, but the funny part was, there was no sense of urgency for our safety. We’d had a double reefed main up ever since we left Isla, we usually do if we’re ever on an overnight passage, and the waves were only 1-3 feet, so we were by no means getting tossed around in high seas. If fact, the wind was so strong that it was basically blowing the caps of the waves into their troughs, almost smoothing out the seas. Serendipity was handling this like a champ, and the only issue we had was when the wind caught the piece of fabric that connects our dodger to our bimini and began ripping it apart at the zipper. We were able to catch one end and hang on to it before it could completely come apart and blow away.

The 50-60 knot winds only lasted about 30 seconds before subsiding back down into the 30’s. During this ‘lull’ I jumped back into the cockpit to secure lines that hadn’t been properly tied off, and finished unzipping the fabric connector so we could quickly stow it away. We had to wait out a few more somewhat strong blows into the 40’s along with driving sheets of rain….and then it was gone. Just like in the movies, the clouds disappeared, the sun came out, and all wind seemed to have left with the storm. We were literally left there scratching our heads as we watched the windex spin in circles, clueless of which direction to now point our bow. It was a good 20 minutes before we had any semblance of wind come our way again, in which time we watched the boom slide from one side of the boat to the other, trying to catch the wind each time it clocked around the boat.

Our speed had regrettably cut down to just over five knots and I had to set my sights for a Friday morning arrival now. Tracking our progress, I marked our position at 24 hours from our departure and found that we’d still managed to make about 180 miles in one day. Had we kept the same speed we were getting before the storm there would have been no question on if we’d hit the 200 mile mark, something Matt’s been aiming for ever since we started cruising and will keep striving for until the day he dies. That may require a different boat… We’d still put ourselves in a good position for one day out though, and I have a feeling that Serendipity will be hard pressed to get to those numbers again. The remaining hours of the day and into the wee morning hours of the next were spent dodging the thunderstorms that still had us boxed in, never coming closer, but always visible on the horizon.

2.14.14 (8)

2.14.14 (9)

Marking our progress once more at the 48 hour mark I’d found out that we’d done just about 120 miles, having kept true to the 5 knots, and sometimes under, that we had slowed down to the previous afternoon. When the sun had gone down and the full moon lit a trail behind us, it was quite visible that not only had we fallen out of the Gulf Stream, but we were probably now trying to fight it’s counter current. 3.5 knots was a struggle to keep, and when even three knots wasn’t happening any more, I begged and pleaded with Matt to let us put the engine on and motor until we were out of the counter current…if that ever happened. Remember those numbers I kept running through my head? Anything under 3-3.5 knots would mean certain nighttime arrival, which neither of us wanted, and I’ll be damned if I was about to spend another night out at sea if we could avoid it with a solution as simple as turning on the engine. Matt decided to go with the ‘wait and see’ option, but an hour later while I was snuggling into bed, I heard the engine roar to life and smiled as I fell asleep.

The last day of our crossing today, we were struggling to keep those 3.5 knots under power. During the last hour of my morning sleep shift I could hear Matt on the radio, and then shortly later, rustling through cabinets for paperwork. I tried to ignore him the best I could until 10 minutes later he came shaking my shoulder, telling me to get up because the Coast Guard had just radioed him and they were sending a launch to come board us. The boat was a mess and we probably stunk to high hell, but at this point we were so tired and worn out that we didn’t even care. They wanted to board us during a passage, this is what they were going to get. Another 15 minutes later, after we had both found clean clothes to put on along with a healthy dose of deodorant, we were watching the well outfitted tender pull alongside our boat while depositing two officers on it.

Having already been through this procedure while traveling down the ICW we already knew everything they were going to ask for and better yet, this time I actually knew where all of it was. While Matt kept one of the officers busy while filling out paperwork, I took the other one below where I produced life vests, flares, access to the bilge (no Cubans hiding in there, I promise!), and even the sticker about trash that we had been written up for the last time. There was only a slight snafu when Matt refused to give out his SSN, not finding necessary after showing both a drivers license and a passport and was about to ‘take it up with the captain’ when the second officer told the paperwork guy to let it go. The only thing we did have an issue with was that our boat documentation was now two weeks expired, it’s replacement supposedly waiting for us in Key West along with all of our other goodies. Getting let off with a written warning, I think they wanted us to show the new one when we did arrive at our destination (to whom, I have no idea), and then they were gone just as quickly as they had come.

A few hours after they left we realized we probably should try and clean ourselves up a little, lest any new officials in Key West have to put up with our stench. The only problem was, it was freezing out! I’m not kidding, somewhere along the way we picked up some cold water under our hull, and the breeze running across it was enough to have kept us in our foulies for half the trip just to stay warm. So taking a cockpit shower in that? I wanted to search for alternative methods. Matt braved the cold and forced himself under the hose for 90 seconds while he quickly lathered and rinsed. I was not so brave. Or maybe I was just smarter. I decided for a sink shower instead. Sticking my head under the faucet I was able to give my hair the three washes it now needed after not having cleaned it since Isla, all without soaking my body or having chilly winds blow over me. The rest of the body was done with a washcloth and soon I was back under my layers, feeling warm and clean and glad that I didn’t have to suffer through the brutal cold outside. That was until my left eye started getting a little blurry.

It’s not uncommon to get a Georgie hair stuck in there or have one of my contacts be placed inside out and irritate my eye. But wait a second…I wasn’t wearing my contacts. After 15 minutes of not being able to figure out what was in my eye, I finally went down to a mirror to inspect. If you had looked at me at this point it must have appeared that I was licking toads or on some other kind of drug because my pupil was dilated to full size. And immediately I knew exactly what had happened. While sticking my head under the faucet, the water had run over my scopolamine patch and brought the medication right into my eye. Having experienced a case similar to this once before in Manhattan where I had touched the patch and then touched my eye, I knew I was in for 24 hours of blindness in that eye and an adversity to bright lights. Oh joy, they perfect way to end what started out as the best passage ever. I will now be singing to myself “I am not so smart, this passage kind of sucks, I’m glad it’s almost over”.

scopolamine in eye

Ice cold winds continued to blow across the water as we slowly puttered in to the southernmost point in the United States, and back in to the land of plenty with only two hours of daylight left. The ride was a little rougher on us than we expected, but if I had to look back on it I’d say it’s not even necessarily due to boxed in thunderstorms or squalls along the way, but the snails pace we had to suffer through after they were all finished. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that nothing kills a sailor’s mood more than cutting his pace in half. From envisioned Thursday evening arrivals, pushed back to a Friday morning arrival, now coming in late Friday afternoon, this 72 hours was a very necessary passage for us, but I’m so happy to be back in the land of day hopping.

Key West Harbor

cruise ship in Key West

lats 2

 

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A Saturday Sail with s/v Selah

If there was one thing that kept me going during those torturous days of sanding and other painfully dull jobs that I had been complaining about not to long ago, it’s that our friends Bo and Allison had promised us a day out on their boat as soon as they arrived back to Stuart after finishing up jobs and other odd and end things. Back on Daze Off while my arm were growing numb and dust kept seeping into the corners of my mask, I could usually keep myself happy in my head with daydreams about a fresh breeze blowing through my hair while having a good conversation with my friends, and most importantly, a cold cocktail in my hands.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging out with these guys, but the promise of booze makes any outing infinitely better.

There were a few times that plans were made and then cancelled due to last minute things with work and family, but eventually they made it down to Florida, as as soon as their boat had it’s owners back for a few days to get it in ship shape, we were on our way. All of the 90 degree weather that had been bothering us for so much of the month had now decided to replace itself with off and on showers for the past few days, but we were not going to let that keep us from getting out on the water and having a good time. Walking down the dock in my new rain jacket and a set of Keds that had not yet been broken in and were tearing at the flesh of my heels, I quickly kicked them off and made myself at home as soon as we stepped aboard their 42 ft Brewer, Selah.

There were of course hugs to go around, as well as a tour of their boat to see how the layout differentiated from all the other Brewers we seem to have been spending time on in the last year.  They showed us their new fridge and freezer with pull out drawers as we stood there drooling over it, since we had found something very similar we almost purchased, only it wouldn’t fit in our space.  Time for 5-foot-itis to set in already. A few more spaces to tour, and we were ready to get this party underway.  Before we could head out to the open waters of the St. Lucie River though, we needed to swing by and pick up a few other boaters in the mooring yard.

New friends to Bo and Allison, Cameron and Dani are another set of young cruisers that are looking into the lifestyle of setting off into the sunset, and are currently living in Florida while trying out a new boat for them (long story).  We quickly rafted up to their 41′ Morgan with painted blue handrails and took a moment to tour it as well as play with their adorable cat and dog. Soon the 6 of us were piled on to Selah and were off again.  During the ride we had a nice presentation of fresh veggies and dip places in front of us, and after I returned to the cockpit after a quick trip below, I found a mimosa waiting for me as well.  Even with threatening clouds in the background, this day was off to a great start.

The sails may not have been attached to the boat yet, and no one felt like catching a bridge opening to get to a wider bay of water, so we just moved ourselves a mile up the river and dropped anchor off the side of the channel.  A better way to spend the day anyway, so this way no one had to watch out for other boats or shoaling, and we were able to just sit in the cockpit and enjoy each others company.

Bo

Jessica in Vineyard Vines

Bo grilling burgers

After having a fun little photoshoot on deck where I was able to show off some of the new gear we just received from Vineyard Vines, the grill was fired up and lunch was turning into a fancy affair with burgers made from grass fed beef and placed on a buttered bun. The mimosas had been finished off and we were moving on to ice cold beers as all of us talked about our sailing experiences in Florida and how thankfully this whole boat realized how overrated Marathon is. I told myself I would never bring it up again after our quick visit there, but yes, it is a floating trailer park.

As Bo and Allison get ready to depart for the Bahamas, we gave them our ‘not to miss’ list of places that we really liked while we were there, and they promised to make a list for us of their favorite places in the Abacos.  An area we have yet to hit in that island group. Dani and Cam are planning on sitting tight in Florida for just a little longer while they cruise while having the ability to work from their computers.  Lucky bastards.  Just joking, they’re a great couple and we may have been just a teensy bit jealous that they still have a paycheck coming in.  It does suck to watch your bank account dwindle down, and rebuilding a boat does not help.

We were lucky that the storms appeared to be passing all around us, but never over us.  And although we could have stayed out all night, (Which was my original hope.  Slumber party!) Matt and I had to get back to Indiantown for a Saturday BBQ they put on and we had signed ourselves up for as well as promised our presence to a few people.  While we were busy trying to get all our friends to come back with us, they were busy trying to get us to stay for the rest of the night.  With the promise of cold beer and a Hot’n’Ready pizza, it was a tough coin to flip.

Indiantown eventually won out, with only two of us attendees, and so it was time to drop Cam and Dani back off at their boat and bring Selah to her slip. We didn’t have the sun or even any sails for our day out, but it was exactly what we needed. I will say that I’m disappointed that this is the only time we’ll be able to get out and do this again because everyone but us will be moving on, although maybe that just means we’ll have to hunt Bo and Allison down somewhere in the Bahamas or Caribbean when we’re ready for a good long break from boat work.

Cam and Allison

Matt in Vineyard Vines

Jessica on St. Lucie River

rain on St. Lucie River

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Throwback Thursday: So Whadda Ya Wanna Know?

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

One of the last posts you’ll find on us in Isla Mujeres, I felt like I just couldn’t skip out on this Question and Answer post.  Personally, I’m having a fantastic time going back and reading my own answers to questions that were commonly asked to us…but looking at my answers from 2 years ago versus today. I’m thinking that next week I should write a follow up post on this, only answering the same questions with all of our extra countries and miles under our belt now.  Obviously some won’t apply because they pertain to Serendipity, which we no longer own.

I’d love to replace them with any new questions you have for us.  Have anything you’re wondering about our lifestyle or our journeys?  Let me know and I’ll try to include them for you!

You can find the original post here.

Friday February 7, 2014

palm trees in Isla Mujeres

A few months ago  we did an interview for Newly Salted, and along with answering some of the pre-made questions from the site I also decided to take into consideration what you, our readers, want to know from us. Unfortunately there were more questions asked than I anticipated and I decided to hold off on a few of them and add them to a second blog post based solely on questions that you’ve asked for us. Now that our days are consisting of either sitting on the boat or heading to the beach, nothing to write home about since I’ve already tried to squeeze a few posts out of it, what better time to get back to you on all those questions you asked?

 

What has been the most jaw dropping experience with an animal/fish/bird, ect?

I’m still waiting for it!! Between all of our other cruising friends, they have stories of whales, toucans, or even wombats. Ok, that one was on land and in a wild animal reserve. We’ve had a couple of interesting ones, such as the dolphins that followed us for quite awhile in Belize, and the black tip sharks that were circling our boat in the Bahamas, but I’d have to say that none of them were quite jaw dropping. I just want to know, where are my whales? Why do they seem so intent on avoiding us?

 

How long do you imagine you’ll cruise?

I guess the best answer would be, until the money runs out. We expect that will be somewhere between 3-4 years from now, although if we could keep our monthly expenses where they are at the moment, we just might be able to squeeze in another year or two.

 

What’s your favorite island?

Cuba. Hands down, no question. The funny part is, we only explored the tiniest sliver of what this place has to offer. Forget the gorgeous cays, snorkeling, and fishing that it offers, of which we did not have the chance to explore, just the land itself and the people are utterly amazing. Everyone we met was genuinely friendly and made us feel incredibly welcome. The terrain changes from sandy beaches to mountains and everything in between. Plus it it just so untouched and so different from any place we’ve ever been. Some of these islands in the Caribbean start to look the same, one easily swap-able for the next, but Cuba is the only one that completely stands alone.

 

Do you feel your boat is big enough for the two of you to live on?

Surprisingly, I do. I’ve felt this way for a long time, and even though Matt was suffering from ten-foot-itis awhile back (We’d be so much better off if we just had 10 more feet), he’s finally come around as well. We can do everything we need in here, such as cook decent meals in the galley (my cooking skills really are getting better from when we left), and just hang out while never feeling cramped or claustorphobic. It seems we’re rarely entertaining guests on our boat, so we don’t need the extra space for that, and until our family starts getting bigger, this 34 feet of boat is perfect for us. If we ever did get a larger boat though, my two requests would be for a separate shower stall in the head, and more distance between our sleeping quarters and the galley since I have a habit of waking up before Matt and I can’t even make myself a cup of coffee without causing too much noise and essentially rousing him out of bed as well. You laugh, but that’s the only alone time I get each day.

 

What is your favorite thing about sailing?

The sun on my face, a slight breeze through my hair, and getting into port. True blue sailors, we are not. I guess that’s just something you learn along the way. Or maybe it’s that passages are usually nothing like pleasure cruises on Lake Michigan.

 

 

So far, is there anyplace you’ve visited that is a must to go back to sometime?

Refer back to question 3. Cuba, you will see our faces again. Other than that, and keep in mind that Matt and I are fully admitted ‘city’ people, Manhattan. It was just a five day stop while traveling down the Hudson, trying to get ourselves out to the Atlantic, but it’s also been the source of many of our daydreams. You’ll find a number of our conversations that start with, ‘You know where I wish we were right now? Reading a book in Central Park, strolling down Broadway, spying on the boats and the Statue of Liberty at Battery Park’. Give us nature, or give us a metropolis.

 

 

What are some of the things that annoy you most about living on a 34 ft boat?

Surprisingly, not as much as there used to be. I’ve even made peace with the fact that all the contents of my chill box will make their way to the companionway steps while I’m rooting around for items in there, since when the chillbox is open, I have 50 sq inches of available counter space. There’s still little things that get on my nerves, like having to shower in the cockpit when it’s anything but hot out, finding a necessary tool in our completely unorganized tool bag, or pulling out 15 items first to get to my can of diced tomatoes lodged near the bilge.

But the most common annoyance I’ve been running into at the moment is trying to grab a USB charger for one of our various electrical items and finding a jumbled knot of cords. Which is actually an easy fix once I get around to it. I just need to force myself, or more accurately, find a way to run off to the store while Matt’s not looking since he thinks everything is going to break the budget*, and buy about five small sets of those Snapware containers to coil all the cords in and store them neatly away. (* I can kinda get where his logic is coming from. We don’t have any income coming in, so each month that we can save more money and be under budget, means more cruising in the long run)

 

How often are you at anchor vs in a marina?

We spent our whole hurricane season in Guatemala at a marina, but in that case it was just so cheap (approx $240/mo) and made it so much easier to get our long list of boat projects done that it was a no brainer. But otherwise, we prefer to be at anchor. The natural sway of the boat in the wind, the fresh breezes through the hatches, the privacy. Oh yeah, and the ability to escape crazy neighbors. We love being at anchor, and although the anchoring process used to make me nervous when we first started, it didn’t take us long to get a system down.

On Serendipity we have 160 ft of 5/16ths chain (plus extra rode on top of that), and a 55 lb Rocna. While coming into an anchorage we try to find a spot in 10-20 ft of water with a sand bottom (vs eel grass or coral), and then based on water depths and wind speed, approximate how much chain will be let out which then tells us what kind of swinging room we’ll need. After finding that spot we’ll point our bow into the wind, and while I’m at the helm I’ll slow ourselves down to a stop at which point Matt will let down the anchor until it hits bottom, and he’ll give me a hand signal to slowly put us in reverse. While I’m doing this, he’ll let out more chain to get us to about a 4:1 scope and then signal me to switch us to neutral. Once he’s sure that our anchor has dug in he’ll signal me once more to put the boat into reverse, and if we don’t seem to be dragging backward, signal me again to bring up the RPMs to make sure we really dig in. Then everything is shut off, Matt lets out a little more chain and sets the snubber, and we set our anchor alarm to alert us if the anchor drags.

This is all pretty basic Anchoring 101 information, but it’s surprising to us to see how many people our there don’t follow it. Just today we’ve watched two people barrel into the anchorage, dropping their chain while still moving forward. Or there are those that don’t take into account swing room and put themselves basically on top of you. I’ve appointed Matt the Anchor Disputer onboard, meaning he’s the one to tell people off when they get too close, since I don’t like that kind of confrontation. Then there are those who’s anchors are laughably small for their boat, except it’s not laughable because it’s actually dangerous. Don’t even get me started on those people….

*Quickly, I just want to apologize if all this recent anchoring talk has made me sound like an anchoring snob. But if other people around us aren’t doing it properly, it could possibly mean damage and/or destruction to our home. So yeah, it’s a sensitive subject to me.

 

How’s Georgie doing?

Oh yeah, that cat that we almost got rid of a few months ago because she couldn’t seem to stand living on the boat. She’s doing much better now, and I’m pretty sure she’s already forgotten what it’s like to be able to run around on land. Actually, not that we didn’t ever love her before, but now we look back on the situation and think ‘How could we have almost let her out of our lives?‘. Even though she’s going through an adolecent phase where she wants little to nothing to do with her parents, we are able to get some play and snuggle time in each day, and there are about five times each day where we go “Stop what you’re doing and look how cute Georgie looks right now!”. She’s having a ball here in Isla Mujeres where she’s able to watch the minnows off the side of the boat each day, we try and bring in the birds for her with leftover slices of bread, and we’ve even come up with a new game that she absolutely loves called Batting Practice where we (try to) toss animal crackers off the side of the boat and she bats them back at us with her paw. As far as most cats lives go, I think she’s living a pretty good one.

 

 

If you have any other questions you’d like to ask us, let us know!  Reply here in the comments, or give us a like over on Facebook and ask us there* (as well as check out our up to date happenings).  We really love hearing from you and answering the questions you want to know!

*P.S.  If you asked us a question before on Facebook and it did not get answered, please let me know!  I tried to go through my history to find them and came up with nothing.  So once again, sorry if it was not answered here, I blame both myself for not writing them down earlier, and my lack of computer knowledge.

 

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