Advice Is Not Absolute

shipwreck Bahamas

Don’t worry, we won’t end up like this if we don’t take every piece of advice given.

If you’re a member of Facebook, chances are, you’re probably part of one of the million and one subgroups about sailing. I know I’m in at least six of them. I love these groups, they can be a wealth of information.  Any question you have about sailing or cruising, just post it in one of these groups and you will most likely have 10 responses within an hour. I’ve used them to ask questions in areas I’m not particularly knowledgeable about, or even go the opposite direction and dispense the knowledge I do have to others asking questions.

Any time I post a question in one of these groups I am extremely grateful to anyone who replies. I take into consideration any information given to me, even if my broad question provides answers that don’t apply to my situation personally. So if you have seen me in these groups and helped me out with a problem, or hell, even just liked the comment; thank you very much for taking the time from your schedule to lend me a hand or acknowledge that I need a little help.

With that being said though, there is one thing that sometimes happens while I’m reading the responses that will immediately raise my blood pressure and leave me wishing for a squishy ball to squeeze the hell out of.  It’s when people give advice as if it’s an absolute. As if it is either the only solution to my problem, or they know me so well that of course their answer is going to apply to me and my life.  Well guess what?  Advice is just that. Advice. And because it may work well for one person or even large groups, it does not mean it will apply to everyone.

I’ve never been one that likes being told what to do, so when I’ve gotten out of my 9-5 world and into something a little more freeing and without the same conformity, I DON’T like someone telling me ‘This is how it’s going to be’. I guess this makes me an outlier among outliers. I will fully admit that Matt and I are not your typical cruisers.  On average we’re 30 years younger, live on quite a different budget, and view different things as necessities.

Let me enlighten you with a few ‘helpful’ statements I’ve been given…and why they just don’t work for me. Plus, they’re all things I’ve heard multiple times.  The first one or even two times, yeah, I can let it go.  Although somewhere around the third or fourth time my eye will start twitching. And keep in mind, in the manner they were given, these were not suggestions.

  • People eat everywhere in the world.  Don’t waste your time and storage fully stocking up with provisions in the US.  Instead, buy your food in the Bahamas and support the local economy.

While I won’t argue with this statement itself, I will only say that it unfortunately doesn’t always fit into our lifestyle.  Provisions in the Bahamas are usually at least 50% more expensive than in the US.  We’re 34.  We don’t have a full retirement fund, social security, or pension.  While the idea is great, we have to be realistic.  And while we love to support the community when we can (like the fish fry we went to in Long Island), we can’t just shell out money like that.  Truth is, most cruisers out there don’t.  But the pretentious attitude of those that try to push it on others just irritates me.

  • Don’t even bother bringing dresses or anything fancy with you.  I can promise you will NEVER use them.

I may have left the city behind when we stepped foot on our boat to sail away in 2012, but I still like my fair share of glitz.  Are fancy dresses necessary in this lifestyle?  Absolutely not.  But I still like putting them on every once in awhile, even if it’s just to wander through the dirt roads of Belize.  I’ve actually recently come to the realization that I spent too much time in our first round of cruising in jean shorts and t-shirts because I thought I had to.  I miss dresses.  And you’ll be seeing me in them a lot more our second time out.  (Heels though?  No.  You’ll still always find me in sandals or flats).

  • You have to listen to Chris Parker before you plan on making any passages in the Caribbean.

Sorry, nothing against you Chris Parker, but I have never listened to a broadcast. It’s on waaaay to early in the morning for me, and I’ve had zero issues with other forecasting routes.  Passage Weather has always been our go-to when we have internet, showing me what’s going on in any particular area of the world. And those combined 11 weeks we spent out in the Atlantic were handled just fine using Weather Fax through our SSB.

  • You have to have cabinets in your salon to maximize storage.

Ok, maybe I haven’t heard this one yet, but I know it’s coming.  Because it suits us and our style better, we’ve decided to forego wall cabinets in our salon, and we’ll be fully relying on storage under the settee.  But because of the pilot house aspect of our new boat, we now have more storage than we know what do do with, and we like the clean lines of keeping our salon walls bare instead of putting up cabinets to gain a little extra storage.  It may not be typical or even sensible as far as maximizing boat space, but we like it.  Besides, this is our boat, and we’ll arrange it to how it suits us best.

 

Now I don’t want everyone to freak out and never give me advice or tips again.  As I’ve said, I LOVE the help and ideas I get from these Facebook groups.  And if you’re thinking to yourself “I hope it wasn’t when I told her she should do XX or YY that pissed her off”.  No, chances are extremely slim that any of these comments came from anyone who even follows this blog.  You’ve all been so valuable and I’m so happy to hear your thoughts and advice.

But I have to know…am I alone here?  Has anyone else had cases of where they were given a piece of advice as if they had no choice in the matter but to accept it?  I’d love to hear the ‘absolute’ advice that didn’t fit into your lifestyle.

 

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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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The Beginnings of Our Shower

Friday November 13, 2015

Jessica sanding

I remember when I thought the head would be a breeze to get through.  Throw up a few walls, add some cabinets, slap on a little paint and we’d be finished.  The hardest part would be the plumbing, and since that falls to Matt, all I would have to do for that project was be his gopher and that was fine by me.  I think he knows that day is coming though and has decided to punish me in advance.

True to form, this project did start with all Matt.  He looked at the space, figured out the best way to utilize it, and began taking the measurements to fit in the necessary pieces.  The head and cabinet would be in the forward part of the head and the sink and shower would be in it’s aft area.  That is the area we are throwing all of our focus right now.  It began the usual way of taking epoxied furring strips and mounting them to the aluminum frame attached to the hull, and making templates which were traced on to Eurolite boards and cut out.  These never fit exactly right the first time, so after 3 or 4 more trips out to the jigsaw for me, they were ready to mount.  Then it was supposed to be Matt’s turn.

And it was, for awhile.  He had the dull and tedious job of cutting out 6oz woven fiberglass cloth and then using epoxy to adhere it to the boards, making sure to feather out all air bubbles for a smooth finish.  I did my job of mixing the epoxy for him and then stood back while he did the work.  The next step after it had a few coats and ample time to dry was to fill in all the gaps between the boards.  Not only to keep water leaking in anywhere, since it is our shower, but also to give the boards added strength so they don’t flex and break.  My job was more or less the same, only this time I added filler to the epoxy. Day one of filler was colloidal silica.  And this is where the story gets ugly.  This is about the time I began to lose my sanity.

Not just for having to add it to the epoxy, no, that part is fine.  Aside from the fact of needing to wear a face mask because fine powders waft up in the air and into your nose and mouth if given the chance, it’s actually an easy and sometimes fun project.  We use food groups to base the consistency, usually aiming for either mayonnaise or peanut butter. The mental breakdowns began when it was time to start sanding off the excess.  And that is where I come in to the picture.  Not the brains of any of these projects, but just the brawn. The mindless, endless work that Matt can’t stand yet I am oh so good at.  Sometimes, you should just hide your talents.

So it fell on me that every time a filler would be added to any of these spaces, I would be sent in to smooth things out.  I spent 6 hours doing it the first day.  Sometimes standing, sometimes, squatting, but usually trying to keep my balance against the sloped wall behind me and not always succeeding. There were a few times I rode that thing like a slide, right into the casing for the centerboard three feet in front of me. Also, Florida decided never to let fall come in for it’s yearly visit, so temperatures inside the boat have been hovering around 90 degrees everyday.  That’s with the air conditioner on high.  I had to take to wearing sports bras and shorts just to survive the heat, and then suffer through the itch of having wedged myself against fiberglass all day.

The second day was slightly better as we moved from using colloidal silica as our filler, which makes surfaces rock hard and almost impossible to put a dent in while hand sanding, to using Q cells which are smaller glass bubbles and are much easier to work with.  Usually as a finishing faring compound where you don’t need the same strength you receive with colloidal silica, but mostly need to fill gaps.  It only took me 4 hours of work on this second day, and I thought I was out of the dog house.  That my punishment had been finished and we could now begin painting and maybe even throw up a pretty little vase.

No. We had two more rounds of filler with the Q cells.  Half way through the third day I questioned why I ever agreed to rebuild this boat.  By the fourth day I was ready to burn it down.  My only saving grace was a well deserved ice cold beer at the end of the day.  Which, coupled with all my labor through the day, had me ready to crawl in to bed each night by 8 pm.  I thought I could put this ugly business behind me when the filler was done after 4 days and we were ready to paint.  Usually a task that I handle, but as Matt began prepping all the brushes and rollers, he forgot that he was supposed to hand this project over to me and instead began right on it himself.  I did not feel a need to remind him.

Unbeknownst to me, this was another project that required sanding.  For every coat of primer and paint that went on (except the last one), the previous coat needed to be sanded down to a smooth finish so that we would not have the ripple effect leftover from the roller. And guess who got to do it every day?  This girl!!  But we have just put the last coat of paint on today and now I can happily go back to being Matt’s gopher.  I won’t even complain when he sends me up and down the steps 4 times in 10 minutes because he forgot something either inside the boat or out of it.  I swear!  I’ve seen the worst there is!

Did I have it coming?  Of course I did.  I’ve been working the cushy jobs for way too long while Matt labors away, both mentally and physically, while I just carry this or that around during the day, and occasionally pop my head up from the blog or Instagram to say “What?” while he’s doing all of the planning and research in our evening hours.  I hear this type of thing will happen again.  I hear this will not be the last time. And I know this project will once again fall to me. But I have survived it once, and I know I can do it again.  Probably once. Any more than that though, and this effing boat is getting burned down.

building boat shower

adding filler to cracks

sanding colloidal silica

Jessica sanding colloidal silica

painted shower

*That is only our first coat of primer…trust me, that’s not near finished!

** I love the fact that I posted a photo of me doing this terrible job of sanding on Facebook, and one of you awesome readers turned it into a black and white photo and said that it looks like a sad National Geographic photo!

sanding bw

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Our First Meal on Daze Off

Monday November 9, 2015

first beer on Daze Off

One of the first of many momentous occasions has happened on the new boat.  We’re now able to cook on her and have made our first meal!  Just in time too because eating down at the kitchen in the marina was beginning to become unbearable.  Ever since we arrived back to Indiantown after our mini vacay to Stuart, the marina has been chalk full of cruisers coming back to move their boats from storage You might be able to call me whiny or petty for having to put up with this, but it’s more than just the fact that I have to now share ‘my kitchen’ with other people.

Yes, it was kind of nice throughout the summer when we walked down to the patio area and were the only ones there.  Sitting down at a table in the screened in porch area we’d put the tv on to whatever channel we felt like watching (usually syndicated shows on FOX), and we pour a cold pop or beer and I’d run back and forth between the kitchen to the patio as I prepared my meal, with no cause to worry if I would be able to use the communal cutting board or measuring cups because I was the only one there to use them.

Then…people came. By this time another tv had been installed in the actual kitchen area, which also houses two little cafe tables, so we usually found ourselves in there since the later tables on the patio were for larger groups of cruisers that liked socializing at meal time.  Me…not so much at the moment.  There’s my work time during the day and then my me time at night, and with some stressful workdays lately, I’m kind of craving my me time.

Eating there still wasn’t a nuisance for awhile until little things began to eat at me and build up until the point I could no longer take.  Things (mostly) that were by no means anyone else’s fault, but only me being selfish that I couldn’t always have my way anymore.  I had to begin sharing.  Sharing the grill, which for some reason, one certain guy liked to keep at 600 degrees every night to cook his baked potato.  This resulted in multiple burned meals for me and one time even a burned hand. Now I also had to begin sharing all the meal prepping utensils I was used to having to myself, along with the counter space to prepare my meals. There were also other things, like having to wait in line to wash my dishes. I could no longer take up the sink for myself while Matt was showering and then retreat back to the boat as soon as we’d finished, but instead I’d now have to wait for six other groups of people to wash theirs first.  Again, just me being selfish…but I wasn’t loving this new routine.

One night last week we walked in to the kitchen around 6:00 pm to find that every table was full and all the counter space was being used by other people to prep their meals.  This was after an incredibly long and horrific day of sanding colliodal silica on the boat and I was not in the mood for any more hardships of any kind.  I swiftly turned around and drove right to the Subway up the road where I thankfully had a few gift cards and let the friendly crew there prepare our dinner where we enjoyed it back on the boat in peace.

The final straw came a few days later, after another torturous day of sanding which is quickly driving me to insanity, when I was at least excited about the fact that I didn’t have to prepare dinner that night because the leftover pizza I had made the previous night was sitting in the fridge.  All I had to do was heat it up. We made sure to head down to the kitchen after 7 when the other cruisers were heading back to their boats and maybe getting ready for bed, when I opened the fridge to find my pizza missing.  Someone had stolen it.  My homemade pizza.  It wasn’t even in a tempting delivery box, just a wrapped up cookie sheet. I wanted to loose it.  I wanted to cry and throw a tantrum, but instead I pouted in silence as I ate a bagel and watched The Big Bang Theory. I needed out.  I couldn’t force myself to do this dementia building boat work during the day and still deal with stupid s%*t in my off time.

I think Matt was getting a little tired of it as well, not quite as much as me though, and agreed that the sooner we could begin cooking and eating meals on our own boat the better off we would be.  There was a chance I might burn the marinas kitchen down soon if we didn’t.  So making the galley our biggest priority the past few weeks, we’ve finished up our new fridge enough to get it working (but there will still be some more small details to finish) and finding the right hose to connect our stove to the propane tanks out in our cockpit.  And people, that day has finally come.  A few days ago we tested out the fridge to find that it does work (yay!!) and enjoyed our first cold beers produced from it.  Once we knew it was keeping cold temperatures in we’ve stocked it full of goodies and had our first opportunity to cook a meal on board.  Beef stir fry.

This has become one of our favorite meals ever since I perfected the art of frying the veggies when we were back in Madeira, and I’ve even worked out making my own stir fry sauce that isn’t too bad if I say so myself.  Because there are so many preparatory steps and it’s best if you’re working with more than one burner, it’s not something we ever tried on the grill down at the patio.  But our first meal on the new boat?  I couldn’t think of anything better. And let me tell you; enjoying this meal that I cooked in my own space, even though it’s about 5x smaller than the kitchen, and then eating it without having to suffer through a football game on tv and then wait in line to do my dishes, has been nothing short of heaven. I may have even just gotten a little slice of my sanity back.

 

unfinished galley

using stove for the first time

cooking first meal

Jessica cooking first meal on Daze Off

beef stir fry

veggies for stir fry

first meal cooked on Daze Off

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The Little Van That Couldn’t

Friday October 2, 2015

Matt replacing alternator

Our group scene here around the marina has been pretty bland lately.  They say it should be getting busier any time now, but we’re still in that slow spot where you won’t see a new face for a week or more at a time.  While we kind of like how we mostly have the place to ourselves right now it also doesn’t help our social calendar that the only people we have to talk to are those who work at the marina and sometimes our friend Ellen when we can wrangle her off her boat.

That is why I was so incredibly excited when our friends Bo and Allison wrote stating they were coming to check on their boat in Stuart for a few days and would love to get together.  Even better…it would be on their boat.  Which is in the water with nice breezes rolling through and not a dusty work yard which we’re always reminded is 10° hotter than all of the surrounding towns. There was pizza and beer promised and even a pretty sunset over the water.  Yes, I was looking forward to this night.

Since we were going to be out and about anyway we left a few hours early to be able to fit a few errands into the day.  Things like stopping at Merritt Marine Supply for a crap ton of epoxy resin and hardener (we go through that stuff like water if you can’t tell); Harbor Freight (we also go through gloves like water); and an intended stop at Home Depot just before the marina to pick up another sheet of foam insulation for our fridge.  We were sure our trusty Kia Sedona would get us safely to all of our locations.  She’s been doing a good job of it since we picked her up for the low low price if $1,000 back in May.

So I like to blame what happened next on Matt.  Whenever we tell people about our sweet ride with dents in it’s side, no AC, and about three door handles missing (including mine from the inside) he always just laughs and says “Sure we could have gone with a slightly more expensive and more reliable van, but the great thing about this one is it was so cheap that if it ever breaks down on the side of the road we can just sign the title and leave it there. It probably wouldn’t even be worth the money to fix it.”  Well, our van felt like testing him out on that day.

As we were heading north on I-95, going from West Palm Beach to Stuart, a light that I hadn’t remembered seeing before went off on my dash.  It’s not unusual for lights to be showing there.  For some reason my Kia feels the need to remind me any time I have the auto-cruise button on.  There’s also been a check engine light on since we bought the vehicle, but the previous owner assured us to ‘Not worry, it’s not for anything big’. There had been plans to get it to an Auto Zone once upon a time to have that light diagnosed, but we’d always been to ashamed of the messy state of our van to let anyone see it.  However…the light that came on this afternoon was new.  Something red and having to do with our battery and leaving me questioning if I should pull over on the side of the expressway right then and there.

As Matt frantically leafed through our manual and I kept us going at extremely slow speeds in the right hand lane, we realized that the next exit happened to be the one we needed but it was still five miles away.  I just kept slowly plugging along until we departed the expressway for familiar grounds and I convinced Matt we should pull off into a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot to further diagnose the problem.  By the time we pulled up, a dark cloud that had literally been looming over us for the past 20 minutes finally opened up and sent a torrential downpour our way. I still wasn’t too worried about the van at that point so I saw it as a perfect excuse to run inside and enjoy a pumpkin spice iced coffee while we Googled the light further on our tablet.

My fall flavored bliss was quickly cut short when we found out that the light meant there was an issue with the charging system, most likely our alternator.  This also meant that we were still 20 miles from home and with no means to charge our battery along the way.  Not only was my perfect night of pizza, beer, and sunsets thrown out the window (and run over by my crappy Kia about 30 times), but it meant that we may not even be able to make it back to the marina under our own juice and could possibly have to call a tow truck to get us the rest of the way.

Once the rain eased up we jumped back in the van (since using windshield wipers was now a luxury that I didn’t have the battery power for), and Matt gave me instructions on what to do if the engine cut out on me along the way.  How it would switch to power steering and breaks and I might have to manhandle it to the side of the road.  I looked at my little noodle arms and then back at him as if to question ‘Then why the hell did you put me behind the wheel?”, but we were already on our way and there was no stopping now.  Not if we wanted to get the van started again.  Luckily it never came down to it and we pulled in next to our boat before I had to test my upper body strength.

The next morning we went back to look at our problem, and with the help of our volt meter did realize that there was in fact no power coming in and we would need to replace the alternator.  4 days later we had a brand new one shipped to us at the marina (for only $60) and Matt was able to spend hours and hours under the hot sun, taking apart the van and putting it back together.  If he could say one thing to Kia I’m sure it would be that they suck at putting their vehicles together.  It’s like the built everything around the engine because it’s almost impossible to be able to find room to remove any screws and bolts.  Even I had a hard time getting in there with my tiny hands.

Eventually we did get the new alternator in and while we were at it, also installed the AC compressor which we’ve been carrying around since May.  Yes, air conditioning!  Just in time for fall!

Matt replacing alternator

taking apart Kia

fixing our Kia

* Also, a big thank you to Bo and Allison who decided to come to us while we were stranded and even brought pizza and beer with them!  As well as a few other essentials like milk, cat litter, and pumpkin spice coffee creamer.

 

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Letting the Fates Decide (& Other Stuff)

Wednesday May 20, 2015

storms over Indiantown

The last I left you with our boat situation, we were trying to decide if we should keep Serendipity or if we should sell her and spend the next however long and who knows how much fixing up the quite beaten up Daze Off.  As far as weighing the pros and cons of each, things haven’t changed much.  We haven’t made a final decision on it all.

And that my friends, is why I’m letting the fates decide.  The big thing for us if we keep Serendipity is that we need to find a safe spot for hurricane season and get ourselves there in a reasonable time, meaning we’d want to leave Florida by early to mid-June.  There are some last minute things that would need to be taken care of here, but we think they could be done within a few weeks.

There would be no rushing down thousands of miles to Grenada, or even to Guatemala which we would LOVE to visit again, but more likely end up in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, where with a decent weather window we could make in a week or just over. Having to then rid ourselves of Daze Off, well, there is a story behind that, but it shouldn’t bee too difficult or time consuming.  There would be selling our new vehicle, getting some other paperwork squared away, but really nothing that would be keeping us here.

How might I be letting the fates decide our lives you might ask?  It’s actually quite simple.  We’re going to put Serendipity up for sale, by owner, for two weeks and see how she does on the market.  If there’s not so much as a nibble we’ll splash her and go.  If there’s a few interested parties we’ll re-evaluate.  And if there’s an offer…chances are we’ll take it as long as it hits a certain figure and then dive into work on Daze Off.  I figure this is the best way since it’s a decision neither of us can seem to make for ourselves and because we are actually so indecisive about the whole thing, I think we’ll be satisfied with whatever the universe throws at us. Problem solved.

What’s the other stuff?  I never really did get a chance to talk much about that new vehicle of ours.  She’s a beauty.  A 2004 Kia Sedona, without air conditioning and about three door handles missing.  We knew when we bought something we wanted it to be a minivan so we could pull out all the seats and fit 4×8 pieces of plywood in it, because heaven knows we’ll be buying plenty of those. Did I mention that every scrap of wood in Daze Off is going to be replaced if we keep her?

Truth be told we would have loved to purchase a Toyota Sienna but it was a bit out of the price range we wanted to pay.  We only needed something that will last us our six to nine months here without completely falling apart on us.  If we can eventually sell it again and get any kind of money back, that’s just a bonus.  We started with a budget of $2,000, and searching all over Fort Lauderdale and Miami we’d found a couple that looked as if they may be contenders.  The photos looked nice, mileage was low enough, and all the listings always said ‘great condition’.  Until we saw them in person or took them for a test drive.  I don’t know if any of them even would have got us back to Indiantown.

Then we came across our current one in Port St. Lucie.  Advertised for $1,500, she had 142,000 miles and the photos showed her in decent condition.  There was a bit of sun damage on the hood and it was no longer shiny, but that wouldn’t be a deal breaker for us. Going to see her in person we found out she drove well, but the check engine light was on and the owner couldn’t remember what was causing that.  “Nothing big”, he told us, “Whatever it is, it’s an easy fix, I remember that”.  Telling him we had to think about it we went back to Indiantown having our rental for another day and another van to look at in the morning.

Getting back to the ‘Dip that evening we received several text messages from the owner, stating that he would bring the price down to $1,100 and throw in a brand new compressor to fix the A/C.  We still didn’t know.  The next morning we got another text.  ‘$1,000 with compressor’.  Well you can’t turn down a deal like that. So running back out with our rental car we purchased her and then registered her to the state of Florida.  Which did require Matt to get a new drivers license here.  Hehe.  I love the Mackinac Bridge running over mine and I’ll be keeping my Michigan one as long as possible.

So there you have it.  A new vehicle, purchase and registered for pretty much what we earned on our sailing instructor gig.  Not a bad little arrangement.

That’s all for me today.  I’m about to get back outside and watch this incredible thunderstorm come in over the storage yard.  If I can handle all the mosquitoes that is.  They are out in such force right now that I have on long pants, socks, a long sleeve shirt, and a scarf covering my neck and entire face except for my eyes.  Sitting on the deck while enjoying a glass of wine along with the storm may be completely out of the question, but I still have a chance of capturing that perfect shot with my camera!

2004 Kia Sedona

putting plates on our new vehicle

our beat up Kia

thunderstorms over Florida

thunderstorms over the boat yard

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Contemplations

Tuesday May 5, 2015

contemplations in the boat yard

We’re back on Serendipity now after a fantastic week with my parents, but once again we’re being smacked in the face with reality.  No, not necessarily because we’re faced with boat work, this is no ‘woe is me for having to put forth efforts of labor’ so don’t cry for us just yet.  The reality we’re now faced with is we have a huge decision to make and we can’t run from it any longer.

The big question we’re now asking ourselves, and one we have to answer soon, is ‘Do we sell Serendipity? Or do we keep her?’.

And what you might be asking yourself now is..’Where is this coming from?  Hasn’t this been what they’ve been spending the past two months working toward?’.  Well….yes and no.

The more and more we get Serendipity ready to sell the more we’re questioning why we’re getting rid of her.  And the more and more we look at all the work that is going to have to go into Daze Off, we’re questioning if it’s the right decision to rebuild.  Let me go into each one in a little more detail.

 

First: Serendipity.  Let’s look at our past three years cruising on her.  She has taken us so many places and covered so many miles with us safely in tow.  About 15,000 nautical miles to be exact.  She’s weathered countless storms and always comes out the other side, none the worse for wear. She’s light, fast, incredibly easy for the two of us to handle, and has been a pleasure to sail.  We’ve had very few problems on her and if anything does arise it’s always a quick and easy fix.  How many boats out there can say that?

As if it wasn’t enough just to have a great cruising boat, we love spending our time on her.  The layout is perfect with double settees for port and starboard for us to lounge on, a v-berth that is comfortable enough to sleep with (if I were to wish for things I’d go for a king bed, but we’re on a boat, so let’s be realistic), and a galley that I have finally mastered and can cook quite a good meal in if I do say so myself.  The head is plenty big enough, although showers can still be a pain sometimes as I’ve found out in my unusual life.  It’s funny how one can easily forget some of those minor irritants after two months in a marina.

I’m sidetracking myself here. The point is Serendipity is extremely comfortable for the two of us to live on and there have rarely been times we’ve found ourselves saying “If only we had a different boat for one reason or another”.  To sail another few years on her in the Caribbean would be as simple as snapping our fingers.  She’s in perfect condition, there’s no work that needs to be done, we could go now and not think twice about it.

 

Second: Daze Off.  That boat, that hunk of metal, the money pit, and so many other names we’ve been affectionately referring to her as lately. The boat that we purchased sight unseen, without a survey, and traveled back across one healthy body of water to get to.  Not only is there a lot of time and money in our future going toward this particular boat, but there are so many unknowns!

Take the hull and keel for example.  Upon purchase we knew there were two definite holes from corrosion that would need to be welded.  Ok, we can handle that.  Although now we’ve been here a few weeks and have had more chances for closer inspection, we’ve found a few more, just adding to the fun.  Now we wonder how many more corrosion issues are hiding where we can’t see them and if we’ll get smacked with a huge bill from the welder as he starts the work.  How much will just this issue cost us?  $5,000?  $10,000?  We have no idea, and to be honest it’s kind of scary to pursue any further without that knowledge.

But let’s say that part all goes swimmingly and the only thing we have to worry about is refitting a boat.  It’s still refitting a boat…inside out and top to bottom.  We arrived with the notion that this whole rebuild would only take us 6-9 months, but now we’re looking at all the work and extending that further and further out.  12 months?  Maybe 18? It’s all such foreign territory to us.

Even if the welding and the time frame didn’t deter us…there’s the cost. Don’t get me wrong, if and when we fix up this boat it’s going to be done right.  The interior will be all new and very modern looking.  White wainscoting on the walls, cherry cabinets, and maybe maple for the sole.  There will be new recessed lights, fixtures, cushions, fabric…everything.  Plus the exterior will be outfitted with all new electronics and we’ll get even further into the digital world for all of our technology.  This boat’s gonna be plush. Pimp.  Whatever you want to call it, she gonna be lookin’ hella good when she’s done.

All of this comes at a cost though and although we’ll be doing all of the work ourselves (besides the welding), plus we know how to scour the internet for days and weeks if need be for good deals, it does all add up. The real question is, how much will it be at the end?  Will we have wasted a year of our time and the rest of our cruising kitty on a boat that is indeed beautiful, but now we either can’t afford to keep her or have to limit our remaining cruising time to 6-12 months because that’s all we’ll have left in the bank account?  We don’t know.  We hope it doesn’t come down to that and we don’t *think* it will, but again, we can’t be certain of it at this moment.

 

I’ve gone as far as to post this conundrum on my personal Facebook page and ask for my friend’s advice.  9 out of 10 people told us to get the heck out of dodge with Serendipity.  “You have a perfectly good boat, why get rid of her?”  “Refitting a boat is so much harder than you ever imagine it will be.” “Get back down to the Caribbean and hang out with me instead of working on a boat in Florida.”  Ok, that last one may have been biased and based on personal friendships instead of boats, but you get the idea.  Everyone is telling us to take the perfectly good boat and run.

So what will it be?  Honestly, I am 100% confused and undecided at the moment.  I’ve begun looking at marinas in Puerto Rico and it’s outlying cities that we can quickly get ourselves down to in time for hurricane season.  Then I think to all the possibilities Daze Off has and daydream about what a cruising life on her would be like.  Shortly after, I begin reading my guide books on the Eastern Caribbean and think of all the islands we haven’t seen yet that could be checked off in the next 9 months…only to revert to how much further we could travel in Daze Off. Getting to the Baltic Sea and tying up in Copenhagen or exploring the fjords of Norway. This boat could take us anywhere!

This is a decision we really need to make soon, but both of us are so incredibly torn. What’s logical and what’s right?  Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to this question.

 

*Editors note: Since this post is being published two months after the fact….you probably already know the route we chose.

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All Dressed Up with No Place to Go

Friday April 3, 2015

Jessica bandaged up

We got jobs!!  Ok, maybe not so much jobs as one paying gig, but hey, it still pays.  The two of us are going to spend five days as sailing instructors.  This story starts with a knock on our hull and is paused with me attaining a pretty nasty injury, but let’s go back to the beginning.

About a week and a half ago we got a knock on our hull early one morning as we were just making our coffee and popped our heads out to see Ben standing below.  He told us there was a couple that had just purchased a boat at Indiantown and were looking for a couple of experienced sailors to take them on a shakedown cruise with their new boat to the Bahamas.  At first they had gone to ask Ben and Hannes, since who in the marina hasn’t heard of the Germans that have sailed their boat all the way from Australia, but the guys are so busy getting ready for their American Tour that they don’t have the time to do it themselves.  Cue us as the next viable option.

Wandering down to the docks we got the full scoop on the situation.  Joni and Bob had just purchased a Brewer 42, and aside from only having taken ASCA course a few years ago, were a bit rusty on their sailing.  They were bringing the boat to the Bahamas and back and would love to have the company of a few experienced sailors along with them instead of paying the outrageous hourly charge of bringing a certified instructor.  Just someone to watch over as they did most of the work, give a few tips, and let them know if there was anything they weren’t doing correctly or could be doing better.

After mulling it over for a few hours, having another conversation with Joni, and agreeing on a set price to hire us for 5-6 days of sailing with them, we readily agreed.

This whole conversation actually happened a few weeks ago, and yesterday the Brewer was in Stuart with it’s rigging getting installed and about ready to go, so Matt and I traveled to the marina in the Jeep that Joni and Bob had left in Indiantown when they motored their boat to the coast.

Our plan over the next 5-6 days was to spend one day motoring down to Lake Worth where we would anchor and sleep until about 3 am, then leave out the inlet in the early hours of the morning and motor or sail to West End Bahamas, hopefully making in there in the early afternoon.  The following day would be a fun and relaxing day in the Bahamas to just hang out, and the morning after that we would leave to get ourselves back to Lake Worth and spend another day or so motoring back up to Stuart.  Job done.  Fun had by all.  Easy peasy.

Only, when we got out to the marina in Stuart at 11 am we were notified that the riggers were behind schedule because of a fire that had broken out the previous day at a biodiesel plant, causing explosions and shutting down everything within a mile radius…including the shop that was doing their rigging.  When the riggers were able to show up a few hours later we were all hopeful that even if we couldn’t get out that day the job would be finished that evening so we could get going first thing the next morning.  Running a few last minute errands and having a nice dinner in the cockpit we all settled in for the night and Matt and I lavished in all the room the v-berth offered and the fact that we had our own private bath.  This Brewer 42 was spacious and even Georgie was loving all the extra room to move around.

vberth of Brewer 42

Hinkley Marina

Hinkley Marina, Stuart

The next morning we enjoyed our coffee…and sat and waited and waited and waited for the riggers to show up again.  Trying to be as patient as possible, we kept sending messages to the company to see why the person that was supposed to arrive by 9 am wasn’t there by 10, then 11, then 12:30.  It wasn’t until we were sitting down to lunch that someone finally arrived, but we already knew by that point that any chance at departure the same day was completely shot.

Checking the weather forecast for the next few days we saw that the winds filled in somewhat heavily from the east and not only would this mean motoring straight into them, but into sloppy seas as well.  We put the trip on hold until things looked to settle down again in about four days.  I spent the next 30 minutes or so packing up most of our belongings again (crazy how scattered they can get after one night) and Matt went over a few areas of the boat with Bob of things that would be good to address before we leave since we now have the extra time.

I had just thrown all our items onto the dock along with a Pepsi for the road and was trying to angle myself to get on the dock as well.  The issue that we’d been having in this spot for the last 24 hours is the tides must have been ridiculously low due to the full moon because the deck of the boat was sitting about three feel below the cement dock we were tied against.  Getting on to the boat meant positioning yourself with a good hop, but every time you wanted to disembark you’d have to place your hands up on the dock and put your foot on a conduit pipe that was running the length of it while pushing yourself up onto your hands and knees on the dock. I, in my last attempt for the day, got a little cocky and thought I could do without the extra foot help up.

Big mistake!  Placing my hands on the dock I went to push myself up by arm strength alone, but when I realized that wasn’t going to work it was already too late to stop what was happening. Although I had already raised myself up a considerable amount it wasn’t enough to get me all the way up and instead just left me with more room to fall.  And not back onto the boat either.

Acting as a human Plinko chip I bounced off the dock, then the boat, and finally some barnacle covered pillars before crashing into the water below me. Coming up for air I grabbed the nearest thing to me, only to realized it was the pillars covered with razor sharp barnacles.  Luckily one of the guys working the rigging on the boat had seen this all go down and was also a liscensed EMT.  Having me hang on to a fender, he quickly fashioned a sling from some extra line, and between him and Matt pulling from above I was hauled out of the water and helped on the dock.  Soaking wet and a little bit in shock I just remember repeating “I’m ok…I’m ok..I’m ok”.  Looking down at my blood soaked foot I kind of laughed it off and mentioned I might need a shower.

The EMT mentioned to use lots of iodine on my cuts because of the nasty bacteria from the barnacles as well as whatever has been floating in the stagnant water here, we collected a quick medical kit from Joni before making our way to the washrooms where I was shoved into a hot shower, clothes and all. Everything was going fine for a moment as I washed and scrubbed and tried to make sense of every spot that the blood running down the drain might be coming from, until very suddenly I became light headed and had to sit down under the warm water.

This didn’t seem to be helping though as black spots still faded in and out of my vision, so I crawled onto the bathroom floor where I sprawled myself out on the cool tile and gained my sight back.  Matt took a full inspection of me and found that on my way down into the water I had sliced my elbow and one of my toes pretty badly on some barnacles.  He tended to those wounds until I felt like I could get myself back in the shower.  Same thing though, as soon as I got in an upright position I began to pass out again and once more had to sprawl myself on the floor.

In addition to the obvious cuts I also complained that my butt and my side were hurting pretty bad.  They weren’t bleeding however and it was deemed they were both just badly bruised.  Trying to sit myself up again though the pain in my side was so bad that I couldn’t make it up on my own.  It looked like I may have fractured a rib on one of the pillars during my fall.

By this point people were beginning to show up to the washroom to check on my status, including Joni and the general manager of the yard.  Since we knew that a doctor couldn’t do anything for a broken rib anyway we waived off any offers to be taken to the hospital and decided that lots of rest and maybe some Ibuprofen was all I really needed.  Instead of staying on the floor in the bathroom the general manager told me I could lay down in a conference room on the top floor of the office area, and once Matt had my cuts bandaged up we slowly moved ourselves there as I gently shuffled and tried not to move my midsection.

After a good 20 minutes on now carpeted flooring with the hope that I was over my dizzy spell, all I wanted was to get back to Serendipity and pass out on the settee for the rest of the afternoon.  With every minute my side was hurting more and more and I wanted to make sure I could get myself home while I was still mobile.  With a few grunts and tears I was pulled up off the floor once more and made the shuffle downstairs and out to the docks to say goodbye to Joni and Bob and to gather our things to bring back to the ‘Dip.

So now I’m back home, drugged up on Ibuprofen, and watching Titanic since this is one of the rare cases where Matt will actually let me play it without complaints.  Although the cut on my elbow was deep enough that it might have needed stitches, we just put a few butterfly bandages on it and we’ll see how it’s doing in a few days. We’re still hoping to leave on the Bahamas trip on Monday or Tuesday and I’m just hoping my ribs and cuts will have healed enough by that time that I can easily move around.

 

 

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Welcome back to ‘Merica!

Saturday March 7, 2015

lighthouse in Jupiter

Even though I knew this day has been coming for about the past six months now, I still can not believe that we are all the way back in Florida, making our way up the ICW to see our new boat.  Part of me is extremely excited to finally see her in person and get started on working on her.  The other part of me….kind of wants to turn around and high tail it back to the Caribbean. Not because I don’t want this new project of fixing up a boat, mind you, it’s because we’re now back in Florida doing it.  The place we can never seem to escape.

I had been soooo looking forward to getting back to the land of convenience for awhile now that I forgot everything that comes along with it.  For so long I had been eager to pick up a radio station once more that didn’t soley deal out tunes based on sailing or drinking or anything to do with the water (the only station we could clearly get in the Virgin Islands), but as soon as I picked one up outside of West Palm Beach I promptly regretted it. My ears were immediately assaulted with advertisements for personal injury lawyers, annoying auto insurance commercials, and purchases you absolutely must have to make your life better, because we all know that just by buying into it that’s exactly what will happen.  Objects bring happiness, right?

I instantly wanted to scream to all these people, “What are you listening to this waste for?!  Don’t you know that in the grand scheme of things, none of it matters?  That there is so much more to life than finding a way to blame someone else for your problem or watching some unknown’s musical performance on whatever reality tv show!”.  They are distractions, I know.  But trust me, there are much better ways to distract yourself.

I kid you not, I literally had to keep myself from turning the wheel 180 degrees and heading right back where we came from.  Life was pure and authentic in the Caribbean.  People knew what was really important.  And now we’re back in the land of superficiality for a bulk of the population.  Which, to be fair, could have been the same in some of the Atlantic islands we visited but since I wasn’t fluent in the language I was blissfully ignorant of it.

Well, that’s my rant for the day.  You might hear me complain a little bit but I did have a ball at Publix the other day having whatever my heart desired right at my fingertips.  So maybe convenience isn’t all bad.  I’ll just have to learn to tune out the rest of the crap.  Plus, it is nice to be back in a land of friendliness between strangers, even if it is fake and superficial. One thing that was beginning to drive us absolutely insane in the Atlantic islands was how no one would smile or say hi, and if you went into a shop you were greeted by someone who treated you like you just ruined their day by asking for help with something.  And don’t even get me started on common courtesy of making room for someone to pass on the sidewalks. Ugh!  Ok, rant really done this time, I promise.

So…we’re back on the ICW now!  Traveling north from the same area we departed to the Bahamas from back in March of 2013.  Yesterday was a day spent trekking a somewhat familiar route as we backtracked our way up to Stuart.  Leaving at the crack of dawn we put Serendipity’s engine to good use for the first time in a long time and logged endless miles through the narrow (to us now) canal system and under countless lift bridges.  After a good 9 hours on the water we dropped the hook in a nice little bay just across from Sunset Bay Marina.  It was so strange to slip back into our old routine of traveling during the day, relaxing in the evening, and prepping yourself to do it again the next day. Now we’re so used to ‘go go go, rest rest rest’.

Today was the trip up the St. Lucie River to our new home for who knows long at the Indiantown Marina.  The morning started out extremely foggy and actually delayed our departure for a few hours, and I can’t say that I was upset to crawl back under the warm covers and wait it out.  Just after 9 we got our butts in gear though and sipped on warm coffee while wearing our foulies out in the cockpit.

This journey only took 5 hours in which time we saw our very first alligator poking it’s eyes out of the water and transited one lock.  By late morning the fog began to lift and we felt rays of sun sneaking through the clouds here and there.  This to us was a good omen since arriving at Indiantown was going to give us our first glances at our new aluminum boat that we purchased sight unseen six months before.

Well, we’re here now, safely tied up to a dock at the marina, and yes, we did get our first glances at the new boat.  But to find out if the good omen of the sun or the bad omen of the fog won out as to what we found waiting for us, well, you’ll just have to tune in tomorrow to find out.

lift bridge on ICW

lift bridge on ICW

lighthouse in Jupiter Florida

Hobe Sound

plane over Serendipity

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An Aluminum Anniversary and a Little Blue Box

Tuesday December 16, 2014

wedding day

 

Today marks a very special day in the lives of Matt and I, as it is our 10 year wedding anniversary.  That’s right.  10 years have flown by since we were just a couple of love struck kids, wandering the streets of the Las Vegas Boulevard, high on life and a little drunk on the $0.50 margaritas sold at Harrah’s.

Today we sit in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, just as much in love as ever with a pretty good life behind us so far.  It should have been a perfect day for celebrating such a momentous occasion in our lives.  Matt had already done his husbandly duty of buying me a traditional 10 year wedding anniversary gift, something made from aluminum.  Aka, that hunk of metal that awaits us in Florida. There was also a little blue box awaiting me that night that I did not know about.  Something from Tiffany’s perhaps?  Hmmm…we’ll see.  But there was one thing else missing for us to be able to celebrate in a proper fashion and that was access to a credit card or cash.

Let me back up a few days here.  While preparing for our own departure across the Atlantic, hopefully this coming week, Matt and I had been doing the usual provisioning of food and boat necessities over the past few days.  Yesterday while at one of the marine stores here we were ready to drop a pretty hefty sum on a couple of essential items for the boat that we have not had easy access to since we were in Miami back in June.  Upon check-our card kept coming back declined and we assumed it was because we were right around that time of the month when money gets moved from one account to another and we had used up our allowance and needed to wait until today for it to fill itself again.  No big deal.

With the bit of remaining cash we had on us, we hit up the grocery store and bought some of the fundamental food items since we were already off the boat and we knew provisioning would take at least a few trips.  Handing over our last 20 Euro we came back to the boat stocked with UTC milk, cereal and lots of saltine crackers.

Once again we went to the marine store this morning and tried to walk away with our purchase only to find the card declined again.  Getting on the computer to finally check the situation we found that no money had been moved over and there was still only $30.00 sitting in our account.  Not enough for our boat based purchases but enough that we should be able to go out and enjoy a nice enough dinner for our anniversary.  Not wanting the card to be declined at the restaurant though, we decided to hit up an ATM to make sure we had the cash in hand.  Popping over to the first bank we could find we tried to pull out our remaining money only to be declined that transaction as well.

At this point we had zero cash, zero access to any debit or credit cards, and worst of all, no more real food on the boat.  There was a little bread but even the lunch meat was gone for making sandwiches.  Because of the time difference we couldn’t even try calling our credit card company until the middle of the afternoon our time.  As far as living high, or hell, even having a decent day, we were screwed.  Back at Serendipity we munched on PB&J’s for lunch and kept checking the weather now that we weren’t sure how long our departure from Gran Canaria would be delayed if we couldn’t get access to money for a few more days.

As evening fell and we were supposed to be going out to a nice restaurant to celebrate hitting a decade of wedded bliss, we were instead tearing apart the boat looking for any kind of food to hold us over until the next day.  Peeking into the rarely viewed food storage nooks under the settees I came across something that actually put a big smile on my face.  A little blue box…filled with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Something we hadn’t eaten in months and had been joking with Kit and Alex that we were desperately craving, not having spotted it being sold in any stores since Horta.  Dinner had been found.

I was fine with this choice of meal and was surprised to find that Matt was quite upset that we weren’t able to go out and celebrate.  If you remember, he doens’t put much emphasis on any kind of holiday and wouldn’t even know when his birthday came around unless I was there to remind him.  For some reason though, this is the one occasion in his mind that deserved special attention.  But I just had to laugh at the whole situation as we sat with our little bowls and glasses in front of us at the dinner table.  Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Pepsi.  This was so absolutely us.  And what a better way of celebrating ten years together than being completely who you are.

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*We found out the next day that a hold had been put on our card due to the large and ‘suspicious’ purchase we were trying to make at the marine store.  Apparently our credit card company had no idea we were outside of the US even though we always tell them this….and we just paid a $300 marina bill with that same card in Madeira six weeks ago!  With our new cash we were able to get all our necessary supplies and even stuff our faces at Montanditos one last time.  Fully stuff them.  And wash everything down with tinto verano.  Man I need to find that stuff in stores.

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