Our Great Escape From the Work Yard to the Water

The day has finally arrived. After taking a junk boat sitting in the graveyard to do a complete overhaul on it, we’re now ready to move it to the water!

With rain like we’ve never seen before in south Florida, our launch was pushed back an extra few days as we scrambled to finish last minute projects in the work yard. With the exception of a little paint peeling off the bottom as it stuck to the jackstands, our launching went as smoothly as we could hope for and we are now peacefully floating in the water after gazing at it for two years.

A few more weeks of projects at the docks and we can finally get ourselves on the move!

Cheers from the WATER!!

Thank you SO MUCH to our Patrons. These charitable souls help keep us in the work yard, our camera equipment up to date, and the videos coming.
To join the Patreon ranks, please visit http://www.patreon.com/mjsailing

Thank you!,
Matt & Jessica


Music:
0:00 – Changes – Faul & Wad Ad vs Pnau
05:12 – Fast Forward – Ukiyo
08:36 – Let’s Go – Sebastian Florian feat Elizabeth
10:56 – Won’t Let Me Down – Andrew Applepie
Camera equipment used:
– Sony NEX 5T – http://amzn.to/2glc9zG
– Panasonic HDC – http://amzn.to/2lPlf9O

Editing software: Windows Movie Maker & Adobe Premier

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mattandjessicasailing

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/mattandjessicasailing

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It’s Not Our Boat, But We’ll Sail It!

We’re on the water and we’re going sailing! It’s not our boat, but that won’t stop us from using it.

Subscribe if you’d like to keep following our adventures, and if you enjoyed this episode, give us a thumbs up!

Driving out to Palm Beach, we met up with new friends Courtney and Jeremy of Sailing Teho to take their new-to-them boat out for a spin in the Atlantic. It was a great chance for Matt and I to get out on the water again, and for Jeremy and Courtney to have a boat-virtuoso help them diagnose a few issues they were running into.

It was a fabulous day where we were able to get the sails up for a few hours, take a hike around Peanut Island, and enjoy a spectacular sunset as we motored back to Lake Worth.

Cheers from the work yard!

Thank you SO MUCH to our Patrons. These charitable souls help keep us in the work yard, our camera equipment up to date, and the videos coming. To join the Patreon ranks, please visit http://www.patreon.com/mjsailing

Thank you!,
Matt & Jessica

Music:
00:01 – Spoiled Kids – Daniel Kadawatha
00:25 – Adventures – A Himitsu
02:53 – Waves – Joakim Karud
08:02 – I’m a Volcano – Martin Hall
10:10 – Infinity – Lemmino

Camera equipment used:
– Sony NEX 5T – http://amzn.to/2glc9zG
– Apple iPhone 5S – http://amzn.to/2iHRu7G

Editing software: Adobe Premier Pro

Website:
http://www.mjsailing.com

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mjsailing

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/mattandjessicasailing/

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Beach Days & Building Our Own Hard Dodger

Long days of boat work can really take their toll, so we played hookie one afternoon and headed out to the beach. With special reason though, it was our 12 year wedding anniversary! Watching surfers conquer the waves and enjoying the breezes, it was exactly the break we needed.
Our biggest boat project at the moment is building our own hard dogder, a task that has been spanning two months of work. There has been a lot of logistics and tedious work, but the finished product will be a great addition to our outdoor space.

Cheers from the work yard!

 

 

Thank you SO MUCH to our Patrons. These charitable souls help keep us in the work yard, our camera equipment up to date, and the videos coming. To join the Patreon ranks, please visit http://www.patreon.com/mjsailing

Thank you!,
Matt & Jessica

Music:
0:00 – Spoiled Kids – Daniel Kadawatha
0:21 – Ghettoblaster – Spence Mills
4:45 – Blueshift – Catas & Kasger
10:39 – Ghettoblaster – Spence Mills
11:19 – Nobody Like You – Katelyn Tarver

Camera equipment used:
– Sony NEX 5T – http://amzn.to/2glc9zG
– Apple iPhone 5S – http://amzn.to/2iHRu7G

Editing software: Windows Movie Maker

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mjsailing

Instagram:
http://www.instagram.com/mattandjessicasailing

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Naked Photos? I Don’t Want That

We’re back on the water!  If only it were on Daze Off, but sadly, she still isn’t even water tight.  Although we did have the chance to visit our friends Cati and Johannes on their new catamaran in Ft. Lauderdale for a night.  If you remember back to this spring, we spent a week hanging out with them in the marina before they sailed their boat Maverick back to Germany.  Once getting it there and taking care of some business, they flew back to Florida in October to begin a new start as a charter boat operator.

Preparing for their jump across to the Bahamas, they had just enough free time to squeeze us in for a night for a much needed break from boat work for all of us. Not only did it give Matt and I the opportunity to get Daze Off out of sight and mind for a few days, but it also gave Cati and Johannes an evening off from fixing boat parts to have guests over and perfect their hosting skills. (I think it was Matt and I that won out in this category)

Join us as we spend an evening in the water and under the stars, with entertaining moments including making our friends think we were giving them naked photos as a wedding gift, and have a long delicious German breakfast in the morning.

Enjoy!

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Behind the Scenes at Our Vineyard Vines Photo Shoot

Vineyard Vines initial photo

With so much going on with the boat and trying to keep up just with boat work post, I’d been putting this one on the back burner for months now, but I figured it was finally time to get it up.

For those of you who remember, back in February Matt and I went down to Miami for two days to participate in a photo shoot for the clothing company Vineyard Vines, with their summer theme of ‘Ever Sailor Has Their Story’.  Even though the shoot was in February, the catalog photos were not released to their site until May, so I had a few months to wait anyway before I had anything  to show.

Well, now that I’m only 4 weeks behind on keeping the blog  fully up to date, I think it’s time to get this post out for those of you who actually remembered we participated in this but never had the chance to see any of  the photos through either their catalog or Facebook promotions.

* * *

After our very relaxing and luxurious afternoon and evening in the Mandarin Oriental Miami, I made sure to slide between the sheets of our very nice king size bed before 11 pm in order to keep myself well rested for the next day.  With a 7:30 call time, it didn’t even matter that I would not be in charge of hair and make up before I arrived in the morning, I still didn’t want to show up looking like I just stepped off a three day passage from one of our boats. Getting up just after 6 am we packed up all our belongings, did a quick rinse in the showers, and made sure Georgie hadn’t lost herself in the couch again before heading down to the main floor for breakfast.

Basically breaking down the doors to the restaurant as they opened at 7, we opted to skip the $38/person buffet (even though the tab was being picked up) for omeletts and Belgium waffles. Big mistake.  Although we told our server we were in a huge rush, our food didn’t come for 20 minutes, leaving us only five minutes to scarf it down and throw our room number on the tab before running off to the conference room where we were meeting the Vineyard Vines team.  A sprint through the lobby and up a set of stairs, we found we were the first ones there. Waiting for a few minutes until one team member walked in, they said everyone was running a little late and so we decided to use those 10-15 minutes to run up to our room to grab our luggage, as well as Georgie, since it sounded like we’d be checking out of the hotel just after hair and makeup.

Getting back down with all of our bags, and a few strange looks from hotel patrons that just rode the elevator with a cat on a leash, we walked back into the conference room to find it bustling with stylist and production managers.  Making our rounds of introductions (“Hi Cat, meet Georgie the cat”), we were placed in chairs as the team got to work on us.  Matt had been instructed a few weeks before to let his hair and beard grow out a little to give him more of a salty sailor  look, so uneven ends were trimmed; while I settled in for the whole hair and makeup treatment. One woman went to work on my hair with a curling  iron to give me soft windswept curls, while another woman started on my makeup to give me a fresh, dewy, natural look.  Less than 30 minutes later we were being shuttled down to the lobby to check out of our room and get ready to leave for our first location.

It wasn’t until the valet was bringing our wreck of a van around that the team quickly mentioned it was time to get into our first outfits of the day.  Matt was handed a pair of floral chappies (swim trunks) with a gingham shirt, and I was given a striped string bikini with a pink gingham quick dry dress to slip over it.  Running back out from the restrooms into the lobby with our new uber preppy clothing on, we packed all our belongings in the van and followed the team in their Chevy Suburbans out to Key Biscayne where a chartered yacht was waiting to take us on the water for the first part of our shoot.

Getting to the marina (of which we’d actually been to before with our friend Ana Bianca, so we were able to recommend it to the production staff), we walked out to the docks to find a 57 ft yacht waiting for us, our pretend home. I should let it be known they originally contacted us wanting to shoot on our own boat….but there was no way that was possible.  So this pretend home of ours for the day?  HUGE upgrade.  Georgie felt right at ease in the marina and jumped on the yacht without a second thought, settling herself in the cushy cockpit with no regard to the 15 team members moving around alongside her.  For a few minutes, a set stylist gathered a few of the personal belongings we had brought with us to photograph, while another stylist pulled me aside to figure out jewelry.  While this was going on, other team members loaded up the cabin with clothing, cameras, and other equipment that would be necessary for time out on the water.

Before we knew it the lines were being tossed off, and Matt and I were told to relax while a hired captain brought us out of the marina channel and into Biscayne Bay.  The sky was a little overcast, and hopes were that it would not begin pouring rain down on us.  Getting to know the very friendly crew as we moved further out into the bay, it was fun chatting with them, and finding out more about what their jobs entailed and how the previous shoots of the week had gone.  With us being the very last shoot of this session, we got the scoop on the other sailing subjects, including our friend Johannes, whom we had dragged back from the Bahamas just a little early so he could participate.

When we did begin shooting it was all very casual and laid back.  A far cry from the very posed shots I was expecting, we were mostly told to go to a certain area of the boat and just kind of ‘do our thing’.  In my first outfit I stood near the aft deck where it went into the cockpit, and just kind of twirled around a backstay as I looked out on the water.  Matt was seated on the pushpit and was given a piece of rope to tie knots, and also look out on the water and smile and laugh like he was having the time of his life.  Each ‘session’ lasted less than five minutes, and then it was time for an outfit change.  I was told to keep my bikini on while I switched out my dress for a beach coverup, and Matt was sent below deck to change out of his chappies and into proper shorts.  Poor guy forgot to bring his boxers with him onto the yacht after our initial outfit change, and I think the girl styling him was in for a bit of a surprise when she went to properly tuck in his button down shirt.  After that point it was all verbal instructions instead of hands on assistance, at least from the waist down.

Vineyard Vines closeup page 1

Vineyard Vines on Facebook

Jessica VV coverup

The clothes kept changing and locations were moved around the deck and cockpit of the boat.  Some of the shots were individual, and others had both of us together.  We even managed to get Georgie in a few of the shots, as she was loving this luxe life on the water. After every session with the DSLR, a video camera was also brought out to capture the scene, all to be put together for an interview to be shown on the website with the clothing release.  One of the best parts for me is they paid close attention to our travels and tried to integrate as many things from our real life as possible into the shoot.  For me they incorporated my World Beer Tour, pulling out some Spanish beers for me to sip on the deck as I let the wind whip through my hair.  As far as Matt, they tried to recreate his big mahi catch during our Atlantic crossing, pulling out a 50 lb fish for him to pose with up on the bow.  I would have LOVED to capture these behind the scene moments with my own camera, but they were not allowed on set since the shoot was happening 3 months before the release of the clothing line.

fish comparison

Matt & Jess VV

We were having so much fun during the shoot and it did not feel like work at all.  Not one of those ‘You think modeling is glamorous, but it’s so hard’ things. Mostly it was just us on a boat, with the added bonus of having someone steer and handle the sails while we enjoyed the ride and looked pretty.  Apparently we did run into an issue though where the camera man told me I smile too much, but I honestly couldn’t find the right mix of facial expressions to look happy or content without a wide toothy grin showing.  Any time I *think* I’m pulling this look off, I’m told by Matt that I just look pissed off.  I guess I have to work on that more in the future.

There were certain times we did take control of the boat for specific photos or parts of the video.  I even steered us back for a few minutes, while being told by the videographer that ‘there’s no such thing as a bad point’.  So there we both stood, pointing at the chart plotter, pointing at buoys, and pointing at the Miami skyline.  If there’s no such thing as a bad point, I’m going to ride that pony until it’s dead.  I really had no idea what else to do in front of the camera other than, well, smile.  If anyone else has this mid-range look down, seriously, email me with instructions.  Taru?…..Elay?…

We ended the shoot that day with a location change to Monty’s Raw Bar next to Miami Marina.  This was to be our fancy shoot where we were gussied up in a few of the fanciest looks the line has to offer.  Hair and makeup went to work on us once more, combing out the knots in my hair and slathering Matt in sunscreen to give him that nice dewy look.  Customers of the bar sat and looked on as we were pampered, and multiple outfits were pulled off the rack and held up to us to figure out the best look for the shot.  I was handed a GORGEOUS linen dress with a beaded detail, along with a pair of Tory Birch heels (the first pair I’d worn in nearly 3 years), and Matt was given a sport coat and bow tie.

Escorting us to a section of the bar which overlooked the water, we were posed for this section of the photo shoot; elbow on the bar, sip your painkiller, give each other loving looks, ect.  I think part of the reason for the posing here though was the unbelievable amount of clips keeping us tight inside our clothing.  My dress was only slightly loose, so there were about two binder clips pinning the mid section tighter in the back, but Matt had clips running all the way up and down the back and arms of his sport jacket.  I’m surprised there were actually angles possible where you didn’t see them.

When this part of the shoot ended, before I could even slam the rest of my Painkiller (and Matt’s too for that matter), we were ushered once again to the restrooms to change back into a more relaxed outfit, and brought out on the boardwalk for the question and answer part of our interview.  Something I kind of knew was a possibility after paying attention to the release of their Spring line, but something Matt had no idea was coming.  I made sure to keep it this way so he wouldn’t think about it too much beforehand and get flustered.  At the end of the interview I think we were both happy with how it turned out. I think we did a good job of answering questions, and hopefully didn’t do too much mumbling or unprepared answers of “I personally believe that US Americans….”.

All in all, we had SO much fun participating in this shoot for Vineyard Vines.  The entire staff and crew were incredibly friendly and we had a wonderful time talking and joking with them between photos while just hanging out.  The clothes were fantastic, and except for the large yacht we could only wish was ours, they captured us perfectly as we spend our time on the boat and with each other.  Only in much better clothes than we normally wear.  Although don’t be surprised if you catch us in a lot more of their gear from here on out.

Make sure to check out any of their multiple stores nationwide, and tell them we sent you!  We don’t get anything from this, but after working with such an amazing company, we can only hope that you’ll give them a little of your support while staying stylish on the water.

Vineyard Vines closeup page 2

Vineyard Vines page 3

Vineyard Vines page 4

Vineyard Vines page  5

Also, check out the 90 second interview they put together on us from shots taken from the day!

 

*Just because I know you’re all wondering this, no, we did not get to keep the clothing when we were finished.  Not only did they probably put us in a few thousand dollars worth of outfits, but there is again the conundrum of releasing clothing to a person before the line is released through the company.  We were however paid in a hefty gift card, of which has now gone toward a lot of great clothing that you’ll be seeing me in once we start travelling again.

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A Night On the Town in St. Pete

Since we only had a two night stay in St. Pete, the original plan had been to keep things quiet and relaxing, just the two of us with no plans in the world for a few days of down time.  The only thing is…we happened to be within about 10 miles of my best girlfriend, Melody.  Someone I had been trying to see, unsucessfully, for the past two months.  More on this later, but Matt and I had been hired to do a boat delivery from Indiantown and ending in her very marina in St. Pete, but both attempts at the delivery had been cut short due to engine problems.  But because I have the best husband in the world, he agreed to let our ‘us’ time turn into ‘all of us’ time, even on his birthday, so that I could grab dinner and a few drinks with my best girl.

After having spent a pleasurable day lounging out on the beach, and even sneaking in a nap after, we (I) gussied up for the evening, me in a thrift store designer maxi dress, and Matt in his regular uniform of shorts and a t-shirt. As long as his beard and hair length don’t get away from him though, I’m always fine with this.  Of course there was a manditory pre-dinner beer out on our patio, with the smell of fresh flowers blooming next to us and floating through the air as we took in our gorgeous surroundings.  Have I mentioned yet how much we’re loving the Blue Heron room at Inn on the Beach?

BCBG dress

With plans to meet Melody at her marina since her vehicle had recently gone kaput, we took a look around what was to be the final delivery destination of the boat that we never quite got here.  Maybe there will be another attempt in a month or two once everything is ship shape on it again?  We didn’t have long to think about it before Melody came bounding out from the docks, where the three of us piled ourselves into the front two seats of the van and headed off for the downtown area of St. Pete.

Being quite familiar with the area, Melody had picked out a hip and cheap place for us called the 5 Buck Drinkery.  Walking up to it, Matt and I were surprised to find it in the middle of St. Pete’s restaurant district.  With a name like that, we had expected it to be a hole in the wall off some dark alley, but here we were in the heart of downtown.  Taking a few seats at a table outside, we browsed the menu of meals for under 5 bucks, and took advantage of the last hour of their happy hour specials.

five buck drinkery

Jessica and melody

After we had finished our cheap, greasy, yet extremely delicious meals, we tried to make plans of what to do next as the night was still young.  Once we had made the decision to get up and just wander a bit, I excused myself to use the ladies room, and when I arrived back at the table, I saw Matt and Melody busy posing with two parrots while a street entertainer was busy taking photos with them cuddling the winged color bombs.  Apparently I had gotten back to the table a little too quickly, because the original plan was to surprise me with the photos later and make me completely jealous I had missed it.  Mission accomplished without me even fully missing the event!

Matt & Melody parrots 1

Matt& Melody parrots 2

After a few laps around the restaurant district we were in, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves wandering toward the water and the swankier end of town.  Even though it was the middle of the weeks, groups of people strolled through the street, browsing through the shops or enjoying an evening drink at one of the many cafes or outdoor seating at the fancier restaurants.  Children walked around with gelato in one hand and their parent’s hand in the other, and we all realized what an opposite end of the spectrum this is from our normal day to day lives. After all, at the moment, Matt and I have to wash our dishes from a spicket and walk a few minutes outside every time we want to use the bathroom.

Agreeing that are lives are by no means fancy, but still much better in our own eyes, we skirted the waterline of a small enclosed anchorage, and slowly made our way to The Vinoy, a historic pink landmark hotel built in 1925. Passing through the lobby and and admiring their revival of the original style and furnishings, we took our own little tour of their pools, wandering up and down flights of stairs, past cascading waterfalls, and finally ended at their rooftop pool and restaurant area. It was agreed that all of us were in the mood for another drink, although this wasn’t the right location for it.  We had something with an even better view in mind.

restaurant area of St. Petersburg Florida

Jessica taking photo

anchorage in St. Pete

The Vinoy St. Pete

Matt & Jessica

Having walked by a hotel called The Birchwood on our walk earlier, I had spied a group of people on the roof and remarked what nice views must be up there.  Turns out there is a rooftop restaurant here called The Canopy, and it is a very popular spot in town to grab a drink or two.  Taking the elevator up to the top, we found out it was ladies night, so Melody and I took part in drinking fancy cocktails at a reduced rate, while Matt stuck with a normal and manly beer.

the canopy

 (Image taken from here)

Although it was getting dark and we knew we didn’t want to spend the next day nursing a hangover, we knew it wasn’t time to call it a night just yet.  With Melody’s husband Chris just getting out of work, we organized to meet up for one, or possibly more, drinks back at a pub we had passed earlier in the evening and much closer to where our van was parked.

When the four of us all met up and took a seat together, it was like time was on fast forward.  We blew through nearly two hours like it was nothing, with lots of laughing, joking, and catching up on the past 9 months since we had all last been together.  It was sad we only had this one night to spend together, and I kept joking that when we checked out of our room the next day, we were going to show up on their boat and crash it for a few days.  Georgie was in good hands back at the marina and its not like we have a specific schedule we have to stick to.

Unfortunately that’s only the case for the two of us, and it wouldn’t have worked out to unexpectedly intrude on our friend’s lives, as fun as we all thought it sounded at the time.  There will be more opportunities in the future though, of that I’m sure.  But if all four of us get our wish, one of the next get togethers we’ll have will be out on the water, with no jobs, boat work, or anything else in our schedule, other than to have a good time.

Matt's Birthday

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Inn on the Beach – Pass-a-Grille

 

Every year when Matt’s birthday comes around, in his mind, it is a day just like every other.  No reason to celebrate or do anything different, and if he were left to his own devices, nothing special would ever happen on that day. Although to me it is an important day, regardless if he realizes it, so whether he wants to celebrate it each year or not, I make him. Usually this was much easier when we were back home and there were a group of friends that needed a reason to get together for a few beers as much as I did, so this task was a planned event every year.  Since we’ve been cruising…its gotten a little harder to keep it up.

Year one was in Utila Honduras where we went out for strawberry daiquiris at a local restaurant, but with a departure time of 7 am the next day to head over to Guatemala, we were still in bed by 10:30.  Year two was spent over 1,000 miles from shore on the Atlantic Ocean, and even though I had huge plans for the day which included balloons, streamers, and a homemade meatloaf, an unexpected storm popped up and left us hunkered down for the day and eating a can of Progresso soup that night. Year three,  a few months after arriving to Indiantown, was supposed to be a non event, but when our friends Mark and Hanna heard it was Matt’s birthday they wanted to have a few drinks after the work day which turned into a soiree with dinner and balloons, and Hanna and I losing track of our men for a few hours when the travel lift operator Alex stole them for a few shenanigans.

This year I was going to be at a complete loss of what to do.  Still sitting in Indiantown, the yard has thinned out to only a few people, so there would be no dinner get-togethers.  A day at the beach was out due to the extreme heat (not to mention the toxic algae currently flowing through the area), and tickets to the local water park didn’t go on our ‘buy one get one free’ sale until fall. Then a huge bout of luck came my way.  I was contacted by a blog follower at Inn on the Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida who had been following our story and work in the yard for awhile.  They asked if we would like to get away from the boat yard and spend a few days at the Inn.  Scrolling through available days in their schedule, I saw that the time around Matt’s birthday was widely open, and booked a two night stay in one of their rooms overlooking Pass-a-Grille Beach.  We chose the Egret room, and it looks like we chose wisely as it did not disappoint.

The countdown to our vacation seemed to last forever, and all the while I was worried that I was going to build it up in my head so much during that time, that when I arrived, my dream vacation would be a letdown.  I’ll give you a little spoiler alert.  It was not. In fact, it was one of the best getaways I’ve ever had.  Think of a perfect hideaway on a pristine beach, just a 15 minute drive from the bustling and hip downtown St. Pete.

Hitting the town was the last thing on our minds though as we had just driven three hours across the state, in June without air conditioning no less, and all we wanted to do was relax.  No problem there.  Checking in to our room with the incredibly friendly staff, we were led to our newly renovated room where we took in a quick view from the balcony and the fresh ocean breeze in the air before plopping down on one of the most comfortable queen sized beds my body has ever touched. Only because we had spent the last 6 weeks working so hard on the boat, we allowed ourselves to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in a state of complete laziness.  The tv was flipped on, covers were pulled off the bed as we snuggled between the crisp white sheets, and Bud Lights were sipped as quickly as we could cool them down in the freezer.

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

A few hours later we pulled ourselves out of bed to make a run up the road for dinner (Chinese) and to stock ourselves up on a few gastronomical necessities for the next day, including danish for breakfast and some oh so tasty Sun Chips that were on sale at the supermarket.  Seriously the best kind of chips ever made.

As the sun began to sink lower in the sky on the longest day of the year, we took spots on our private patio (normally shared with the next room, although no one was there) and watched the sky turn different shades of gold and pink while soft beats of techno music played on Pandora in the background.

Deck of Blue Heron

sunset pass-a-grille

We let our laziness continue into the next morning and after eventually forcing ourselves out of what I’m coming to find out is one of the most comfortable beds in the world, I wandered down to the patio area where a coffee station is set up every morning, and poured us two steaming cups, making sure to add lots of cream and sugar to mine.  We enjoyed our morning coffee and danish out on our patio while once again listening to Pandora on our tablet (I am going to miss that SO MUCH once we leave the states again), and let our eyes wander down to the street where people were out for late morning strolls, or already showing up to the beach.

Knowing  that it did happen to be June, and we were in the middle of Florida, we didn’t want to wait too long before going  to the beach ourselves.  For our convenience, the Inn has a host of beach goodies at the disposal of their guests, so we were able to pull out a few beach chairs and umbrellas from their pile before walking across the street to the shore. Setting up shop just steps from our room, we marveled at the white sand under our feet and the tantalizing colors of the gulf only yards away from us.

It had been so long since we had seen such a pristine beach as this, vibrant colors and mostly untouched.  Yearning for the days of being back on the water and stumbling across this type of scene almost daily, it felt like a return to nirvana and a semblance of the lives we used to lead not that long ago.  Spending the day lounging in the sun and running out to the water to cool off seemed like everything we could hope for during our time away from Daze Off. Turns out all of our big fun was still in store for that night, as I finally, after moths of failed attempts, had the opportunity to meet up with one of my best friends, Melody, for a night on the town.

coffee on the deck

St. Pete Beach

Jessica on the beach

Matt on St. Pete Beach

water view St. Pete Beach

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A Night of Luxury in Miami

Tonight we were able get away from the boat and and all the work that comes with it, but not only that, we were able to experience a night at the complete other end of the spectrum from what our lives have been lately. From our normal routine of stepping over power cords every time I walk through my ‘home’, and washing dishes from a nearby spicket (we’re working on the galley counters at the moment); to staying in a suite overlooking Biscayne Bay and dining on refined cuisine on the waterfront overlooking downtown Miami, our 80 mile drive gave us a 180 degree change in lifestyle.

How did opportunity fall in our laps you might ask?  (Because you know there is no way we would treat ourselves to this.) That may just be the best part of it all.  Because if we thought our night tonight was incredible, the motive leading us here is pretty epic.  The entire reason we’ve been pulled away from the boat to come to Miami is to participate in a photo shoot for Vineyard Vines.  They’re a preppy clothing company that originated in Martha’s Vineyard, and it turns out that they’ve been following us for a few months after finding our Daily Mail article  and thought we would be a great fit for their summer catalog with a theme of ‘Every sailor has their story’.  Along with a few other athletes (cyclists, surfers, swimmers), they’ve gathered a few sailors to feature in their summer line of clothing, and we happened to be two of them!

This line of clothing, as well as the photos of us modeling a few of the pieces, won’t be out until mid-May, and since there’s a strict ‘no personal photos on set’ rule, I won’t be able to share the details of that part of our experience for a few more weeks, but I can tell you about the 5 star treatment we received during our time in Miami prior to the shoot.

Knowing that the prep for the shoot would begin around 7 am and we’d have a good 2 hour drive ahead of us (not considering traffic that may pop up), the company offered to let us stay the night prior in the Mandarin Oriental Miami, a 5 star hotel on Brickell Key, overlooking both Biscayne Bay and the downtown area.  Not only that, but just like the crew that flew down from CT to work the shoot, we were given the opportunity to eat at any of the fine dining restaurants inside the hotel for our meal while we were there.  To say that we were stoked even for these amenities alone, beside the added excitement of the shoot the day after, would be a bit of an understatement. As soon as check-in time arrived, we were going to be there to take full advantage of our night of luxury.

Since we’re still not high profile enough to have a car sent for us, that meant we needed to take the Kia minivan down.  Although she did have her (major) issues this past fall, we knew that this time she should get us there without a problem.  Except one.  We still had to show up in her.  To a hotel that only offers valet parking. Oh, and did we mention that Georgie was along for the shoot too?  So imagine us pulling up in our faded jalopy, dents in a few areas, and even a door handle missing from one side; to hand the keys over to someone whom I’m sure thought we mistook the employee entrance.  Either way, they were extremely nice to us and contained any puzzlement they may have had of why we thought we belonged there as we grabbed our overnight bags, Georgie, and her litter box.  A feat which kept our minds so occupied that we actually forgot to tip the guy.

Upon check in at the front desk, not only did my lacy dress and new sail bag help me feel a little bit more in place, but everyone was so enamoured with our cat on a leash that I’m not quite sure they ever noticed us.  A few minutes later we had our room keys in had and were told that they’d upgraded us to a larger room so Georgie could have more space to wander.  In this pet friendly hotel, it looks as if they really do take care of their guests needs. Taking the elevator up to the 14th floor and walking down the hallway to our room, we were greeted with a gorgeous suite which housed stunning views from our wraparound balcony.  Directly in front of us was downtown Miami and the bridge leading over to Brickell Key, and to our left was the beginning of Biscayne Bay.

Once we had picked our jaws up off the floor we took full advantage of the in-room espresso machine and walked around with tiny little drinks in our hands to fully take in the magnitude of this room. The bathroom, I’m not joking, was bigger than our boat.  The room itself had a king size bed, a large couch, and a desk and tv separating the two.  The best feature though was of course the outside, and since our little espressos only lasted us about 5 minutes, we stopped to make another round before enjoying the view out there and the cool breeze passing by.  Since we had unfortunately arrived late in the afternoon, it wasn’t possible to fill up our evening with too many activities, especially since we needed to save most of our energy for the next day.

Throwing on our swimsuits and retrieving Georgie after she had somehow magically managed to find a way inside the couch, we took a stroll by the pool and the large man made beach they had created at the breakwater to Biscayne Bay.  The clock was nearly striking 5 by this time though, and not only was the sun beginning it’s decent behind the skyscrapers of the city, but we had dinner reservations at 6:30.  Something I planned to get into full girly mode for.  Laying out on some beach chairs for about 20 minutes just to say that we soaked up a little sun, we were soon back in our suite and, you guessed it, enjoying more espresso.

Georgie at hotel

Matt at Madarin Oriental Miami

 room - Mandarin Oriental Miami

Mandarin Oriental pool

When dinner time did roll around I exited our room in a full Miami style crazy print maxi dress.  Our destination for the evening was La Mar, a Peruvian inspired restaurant that gazed out on the same waterfront view we had from our room, only 12 floors lower.  Opening up the drink menu it took me about two seconds to zero in on the Pisco Sour, a traditional drink in Peru which I only experienced once during our entire trip there while backpacking a few years ago.  The menu was a much tougher call, since many of the names were the familiar street vendor food we were used to consuming for $1/person.  Deciding on the Chaufa Aeropuerto, a cheap Chinese meal we were used to filling up on, I was not disappointed when La Mar’s version came out.  Fried rice, succulent shrimp, and spiced sausage all mixed together with a perfectly seasoned soy sauce, this meal made me feel like I could subside on nothing else for the rest of my life.

Enjoying a second Pisco Sour and the cool evening breezes rolling through, we wanted to stay out and enjoy the night as long as possible, but it seemed that all the espressos in the world weren’t enough to keep us alert and awake after the exhausting weeks we’ve spent working on the boat.  Signing the tab to the room, we made our way back upstairs where it was time for a little pampering session.  I enjoyed my first bath in years, and even Georgie received a shower since her new hobby seems to be rolling around in the dirt of the boatyard.  By 10:30 I was passed out in bed, a huge smile on my face, and butterflies in my stomach about our upcoming photo shoot.

La Mar at Madarin Oriental Miami

Miami at night

Matt and Georgie

As if I needed any more perks, this trip also gave me an excellent excuse to pack up my new sail bag from North37 Designs, as it made the perfect overnight bag for me.  Although this French company offers a wide variety of different sized and purposed luxury purses, bags, and duffels, my Sam Bag fit right into the category of easily and stylishly fitting every thing I could need for 36 hours away from the boat.

I haven’t owned it for long, but I’m already head over heels for it and I can tell that this will be a main staple in my outings when we’re once again out sailing.  Listed on their site as a ‘shopping bag’, I could see it coming in very handy for this purpose when we find ourselves in spots like the Azores where I would run out every couple of days to grab fresh bread, cheeses, and crisp fruits and veggies.  Not to mention how handy it will also come in for beach outings as it will perfectly fit a large towel, sunscreen, e-readers, and snacks and drinks for the day.

A few of the features I adore about my new sail bag is how sturdy and well built it is, as well as it’s exquisite architecture.  Each item is is a one of a kind product designed from previously flown sails.  And they genuinely mean it when they say one of a kind.  Once my bag shipped to me it disappeared from the website  since it was literally the only one they owned in that specific mix of sail, colors, and number. As a testimony that your item is unique, each product also comes with an authenticity label on the inside, with a backstory of your sail, including what type of sail the items was made from, where it has traveled, and even who the skipper of the vessel was.

Because I knew my bag was meant for a slightly rougher life than most landlubbers who may purchase them, I opted to go for a mylar sail which has a laminated coating and will let sand or other debris easily wipe or wash off.  The top is zippered to keep all my belongings where they’re supposed to be as I board our dinghy and boat, and the shoulder straps are extra thick, which means I won’t be cursing a non backpack style bag if I am walking around with it for a few hours.  All in all I think this North37 Design bag makes a great fit with our lifestyle and honestly, it feels kinda good to own something so pretty again.*

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 1

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 2

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 3

North 37 Design - Sam Bag - shot 4

*My Sam Bag was a sponsored gift from North37 Design, although all views and opinions are my own.

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Adventures of Ani

Ani riding bike

We absolutely love when we’re able to get a rare chance to meet up with old cruising friends again.  Something about reminiscing of days past when, not only were we cruising, but when we were still total newbies and figuring it all out.  We have a small and tight knit group of cruisers that we were lucky enough to call our close friends our first season out back in 2013, and on this evening we were lucky enough to meet up with two of them again.  Only…their crew had now grown to three.

Back when we had just gotten into the Bahamas and started exploring them in March ’13, we made a stop at Long Island and partook in some of the Easter festivities, including a fish fry being hosted by the water on Good Friday.  We were still clinging to our friends Brian and Stephanie that we had just been reunited with a few days earlier, but lo and behold, there appeared to be other young cruisers at this get together.  Shyly walking up and introducing ourselves, we made quick friends with this new couple, Ren and Ashley.  Through a few drinks we found out that they frequently visited Long Island for it’s proximity to Dean’s Blue Hole, one of the deepest in the world.  This happened to be very important to them as they are both freedivers and also make their living by not only competing professionally, but giving lessons through their company Evolve Freedving.

Through the next few months we spent a lot of time with Ren and Ashley, traveling the Bahamas and even sailing over to Jamaica together where we parted ways, for who knew how long.  Turns out three years was how long it took to bring us all back together as they were just outside Indiantown with their new boat, a trimaran named Jade.  Going out to see them as well as their new boat, we were also able to meet the newest crew member, Ani.  A bright a cheery two year old that was just a bump in Ashley’s stomach the last time we were all together.

It was a great reunion as we pulled into the marina and saw our long lost friends.  There was so much to catch up on and a new boat to take a tour of.  Having done a pretty good refit themselves, they knew exactly how we’re feeling right now and gave lots of encouragement as well as tips.

Then it was time to wake Ani up from her afternoon nap so she could meet mommy and daddy’s old friends.

Ren and Jamal

Sandpiper Marina

Matt on s/v Jade

Ani Chapman

When she came out to be introduced to us she was still a little tired and understandably shy.  As the adults sat around with wine and snacks though, she wandered the boat and became more talkative and bubbly as the evening went on.  Instead of hiding her face in Ashely’s lap she was now running around the deck and showing off her toys including a tricycle that she desperately wanted to take for a ride.

With Ren rustling up Ani and her bike, I grabbed my camera and followed along. Having gotten her very own camera for Christmas, she knew what to do and was more than happy to take my Sony NEX 5T off my hands ans snap a few shots with it.  I tried to take a moment to explain the auto focus properties to her, but as soon as she found the shutter button she was off and snapping.

For a two year old she was doing a very good job of keeping both her fingers out of view of the lens and cropping the photos she wanted to take.  Here’s a few examples of her work.

Ani's photo of Jessica

Ani's photo of Ren

Then it was time to get down to the real business of riding her bike around the parking lot.  With white blonde curls poking out of her helmet it was all I could do not to scoop her up and make a run for the van so I could keep this cuteness with me all the time.  I refrained though.  I don’t think I’d be very hard to track down and I am in no way equipped to handle a screaming two year old when it comes to bed time.  The nightmares from my babysitting days still haunt me.

Ani riding a bicycle  As the sun was already setting on us, it was a short bike ride and, after a few tears, we were back at the boat once more.  From then on Ani occupied herself with dolls and books and we were able to squeeze in a little more adult time with Ren and Ashley and their friends Tania and Jamal that were in the same marina (whom we’d also briefly met in Indiantown).

Before we knew it, dinner time had come and gone, Jade was filling up with new overnight guests, and Matt and I were far behind schedule to make stops at Harbor Freight and Home Depot before they closed.  Sadly we had to say goodbye as well as plan and wish for the next times our paths may cross again.  Our visit with the Jade crew was short, but it also warmed our hearts to see old friends as well as get the encouragement to keep pushing on and the motivation to get out sailing again.

With so many amazing memories with these two in our past, we can’t wait to make new ones in the future, with Ani running around and keeping us entertained as well.  It wouldn’t hurt if we could go back to starry nights and sandy beaches in the tropics instead of passing by each other in the States, so we’ll have to hurry our butts up so we can join them during parts of their Caribbean travels.

Ani swinging from companionway

 Make sure to follow more adventures of Ani through Instagram @evolvefreediving.

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A Visit From the Skelton Crew, and the Champagne that Went Bad

Jessica opening champagne

It’s not every day, I would assume, that you meet someone whose interests can be so aligned with your own.  Throw in the fact that this person found you via, the internet,  happens to be the same age as you, shares the same exact random thoughts as you, and even live within 30 miles of you to boot, is nothing short of astounding.  Yet this is how I met one of my best friends Jackie just over three years ago.

She happened to be a Lake Michigan sailor, just like me, who had plans to leave her life behind to cruise the Caribbean with her husband who has some obsessive compulsive tendencies, just like Matt.  From the very first time we met in person, participating in a Wednesday night race on Muskegon Lake, we instantly connected to the point we could finish each other’s sentences. Ever since that night we’ve had dreams of cruising the Caribbean together in our boats. Afternoons snorkeling, evening sundowners and dinners together, and night time bonfires. Fate appears to have something against our plans though, and for some reason keeps trying to squash our dream to sail together.

From the time Jackie and Ron were scheduled to come spend a week on our boat in the Bahamas, and we were delayed in Florida and stuck on the hard due to an accident; to our plans taking us to Europe when they were ready to begin their cruising, it was starting to look as if we’d never get our time together on the water.  Although this was disheartening, I had begun to think fate may have changed it’s mind when we purchased Daze Off, and had hoped to have her cruise ready just in time to intercept them at the end of the ICW.  That obviously has not happened.  As it turns out though, we will not be cruising with them for other reasons.

When Jackie and Ron left Muskegon Lake on the 4th of July, I began monitoring their progress south toward us, stood by to give advice when asked (and sometimes when not), and also lent a sympathetic ear when some of the not so glamorous realities of this lifestyle set in.  Admittedly I sometimes became a bit distracted with work on my own boat, but I always made sure to go back and read their blog posts to see what kind of adventures they were getting themselves into, and trying to catch them to chat on the occasions they had internet.

As their arrival date to south Florida approached I had the mixed feelings of being incredibly excited to see them, and also incredibly sad that we were not in cruise ready condition. For so long I had wanted nothing more than to throw off our lines and join them on a Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas.  As it turned out, this second part did not matter.  For as much as I wanted the four of us to be official boat buddies, the universe did not have it in store for us.

Since it has now been announced on their own blog and I am not putting out any spoiler alerts, is they have realized the cruising lifestyle is not for them.  An unforgettable experience, that’s for sure, but after many discussions on their part they realized that their joy lies in the purpose the daily routine that work brings, with the benefit of weekend pleasure cruising.  I can remember the slog that is putting on miles just to get south, sitting behind a wheel for hours on end with no real enjoyment, only making sure you didn’t stray off the magenta line, and I can’t say I blame them.  That part of cruising was not enjoyable for us either.  Matt was missing work, just like them, but luckily for both of us I was so determined not to go back to work that I made him stay the course until he fell into the routine of having no daily plan.

I kind of want to cry about the fact that we’re losing our first boat buddies, but I can’t.  This is what is right for them, and if anything, at least the world brought us together through cruising.  They’ll be lifelong friends that we’ll always cherish, and just because we may not be sharing the same anchorage does not mean we won’t stay in contact.

So when Hullabaloo pulled into Indiantown Marina where she’d be hauled the following day to be put into storage until she’ll be shipped north in the spring, it was still a reunion for the books. Full of hugs that went on for ages and diving right into a case of beer as we caught up with each other.  Taking up residence at one of the tables at the patio, we sat and talked for so long that it wasn’t until I realized my stomach’s growls were taking over the conversation and Matt and I had never had lunch.  Except it was almost time for dinner already!  Taking a short break, we agreed to shower, I was going to shove a few slices of peanut butter bread in my mouth, and we would reconvene for dinner an hour later on Hulabaloo.

As a special treat for this occasion, I had been saving a bottle of champagne for the past few months for their arrival.  A bottle I had swiped off the Free Table at the marina, but that is neither here nor there.  Although I should have realized that one should be very weary of free champagne.  As Ron stood on deck taking down sails, and Matt chatted away with him about boat projects, Jackie and I went on the offense in the cockpit trying to get this bottle of champagne open.  That plastic top was in there damn good.  Passing it back and forth to one another and breaking out towels and rags, we finally passed it on to one of the guys to loosen, and handed back to Jackie for the honor of popping it open.

Pouring it into one of the 8 gazillion Tervis tumblers that sit on their boat, we noticed right away that something seemed odd about this particular bottle.  It’s contents were along an amber line of coloring.  Not to be deterred from free champagne though, I tilted my glass back to drink up.  And in doing so, learned there was probably a reason of why it was on the free table.  It tasted like a bad batch of fermented apple juice.  Both Matt and Ron dumped their glasses overboard after we did the initial toast, (Cheers!, I got you rotten champagne! So glad you’re here!’), and Jackie was polite enough to finish what was in her glass before passing the remainder of the bottle to me.

champagne that went bad

Jackie opening champagne

Jessica opening champagne

Jessica & Jackie

I asked Ron to take a photo of Jackie and I.  This is what I got.

 

It was determined that this gift was not a success, but also that none of us had enough beer to get us through the rest of the night.  So while Jackie got to work starting on the meat for a taco dinner, Ron and I made the run up to the local IGA to pick up a couple cold cases of beer.

Through the next few hours we went through nearly both cases of beer, and even Matt was getting into throwing a few back.  Ron brought out his guitar, and even though I had been promising for the past few years that I’d be ready to play with him when we got to Florida, all I could conger up was the ability to sing along to a few tunes.

I sampled a few of the alcohols they picked up at the St. Augustine Distillery, and Jackie forced around a bottle of cherry soaked rum.  Like that would have been hard to turn down anyway.  We only had one night together, and we were going to do it up right.  It may not have been what we’d all originally imagined a year ago, or even six months ago, when I’m sure all four of us thought we’d be on our way to the Bahamas together.  It doesn’t mean that can never happen though.  By this time next year we might actually have a boat in the water and ready for company.  And I can think of no one else we’d rather save our quarter berth for as our first guests.

Jackie cooking dinner

Ron on computer

Ron playing guitar

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