laundry 1

Hanging our Clean Laundry to Dry

Monday March 10, 2014

laundry 1

We’ve actually cleaned our clothes for the first time in a washer and dryer ever since…Grand Cayman back in June.  It seems like every place we’ve been to since, you hand someone all your dirty clothes, they tell you to come back tomorrow, and they hand them back to you all clean and freshly pressed.  It’s a pretty good system and I have not minded the folding that has to be done after just coming out of the dryer.  I’d say that we’d actually gotten spoiled in that little system, but I won’t lie, once we landed here in Fort Lauderdale, I was looking forward to taking the laundry in myself.  At least three hours of uninterrupted internet time.  I haven’t had a good connection since Isla, and I’m starting to think my friends and family believe I’m ignoring them when I don’t respond to their emails right away.  Nope.  Just don’t have much access or time anymore.

All was going well with the wash.  I stuffed everything we had into a few of the washers and went out to hang around on the docks where I could pick up a better internet signal.  40 minutes later I went back to switch the clothes over to the dryer and repeated the process with my computer.  Waiting an hour this time, I went back to pull out the clothes and found they were still a little damp.  Jessica had warned me about this, that the dryer might take two goes to get everything fully dry, and I was prepared for this.  Starting the cycle over once more, I went about other errands such as taking full advantage of the facilities and using the showers.  When that 40 minutes had lapsed I went back to find our clothes no drier than when I had left them.  The machines were just not working.

Taking out the damp heaps of clothes and shoving them back in the laundry bag, I brought them back to Serendipity where they would need at least a few hours hanging out on the lines.  Every single clothes pin was used and every inch of available lifeline was taken over as we had dozens of items of clothes blowing in the wind.  There was still so much left over that we took to hanging them in any space we could below deck as well.  I had to laugh at this situation, but Matt was so worried about our clean laundry blocking the pristine view of all these McMansions that surrounded us.  He was sure the police were going to be called and we’d be asked to leave.  That they wouldn’t take kindly to our type.  A few hours later the clothes dried, and the police never came.  We were safe for another day.

A quick update on our fast food diet.  If you’ll remember, I reported that we got so sick after eating Wendy’s once we arrived in Key West, after going months without fast food, that we vowed never to eat it again.  A new leaf had been turned.  It would only be fresh(er) food for us.  Well, I am now reporting that we are back to our old habits.  It turns out that when your only internet connection is coming from a McDonald’s or a Taco Bell, you force yourself to eat the food while you’re there, and each time it gets a little easier.  I wouldn’t say we’re quite addicted again, but it has become part of our diet a few times a week again, or when we’re out running errands and just need something to eat.

Now I get to the part your really going to hate us for.  Not only have we started eating it again, but we’ve started to hunt down certain establishments so we can get in almost every fast food chain while we’re still here in the states.  We’d already checked off: Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pollo Tropical ( a new one for us actually).  So when we were taking the bus out to Walmart today to do some provisioning I said to Matt, “You know what we haven’t had yet?  Long John Silver’s.  Doesn’t a hush puppy sound good?”  And I’ll be damned, not five minutes after I said that the bus passed by the iconic blue roof.  We ran inside and gobbled down fried fish and hush puppies with delight.  I know, we are sick, sick people

laundry 2

Hyatt Regency pool

Ladies Night at the Hyatt Regency

Saturday March 8, 2014

Hyatt Regency pool

Hi. You don’t know me, but my name is Jessica. I’m trying to get in touch with Jessica G., I think you know her? Could you send me her phone number, because I need to get in touch with her asap. Thanks, I hope we get the chance to meet someday.” That was my introduction to Melody P. of s/v Vacilando, as I sat at the Ft. Lauderdale airport back in September, realizing I needed to get my package from Jessica G. but had never bothered to get her phone number. Everyone is always on Facebook nowadays, right? Needless to say, at the time, Melody thought I might be some kind of crazy stalker and was not ready to give out personal information for one of her best friends. Of course she is a sweet girl that’s always willing to help out though, so instead she put through a message herself to Jessica G., informing her that I was trying to get in touch with her. Long story short, everything worked out with the package and I now had one more friend that I now talked to online and had the chance to meet up with in person. It’s a good thing my neurotic brain memorizes other people’s blog posts the same way it does other mostly useless information such as tv shows or movies, and I was able to pick out other members of Brittany’s crew from when she was here.

Getting picked up from Jessica at the marina (I’m going to start dropping the G now, you’ll have to manage on your own to keep us apart) we drove the few miles down the crowded beach side of A1A before making a few turns and getting just a little bit lost on the way to Melody’s boat. When we did find her, she was instant hugs and southern pleasure as she guided back from the road to her boat where I was given the full tour, as well as a chance to meet Chris and Jet, the other crew of Vacilando. We all enjoyed a few minutes out enjoying the late afternoon sun until we realized our stomachs were grumbling too loud to ignore any longer. Upon having overheard a conversation between the two about a really good sushi restaurant that opened up, but don’t let it’s strip mall exterior fool you, I began tossing out hints that I’d love to go there. Do you know how much I love sushi? A lot. Do you know how often I go to sushi restaurants. Never. Even more than his distaste for freshly caught, cooked but not deep fried fish, Matt won’t even look at sushi in any form. Back on land I was left to treating myself to California rolls from the deli counter at Meijer every couple of months as a little treat to myself.

Melody & Jet

Jet s/v Vacilando

Jet, the super dog.

Jessica on Vacilando

As we walked into the restaurant and stood in front of walls and walls with photos and prices, I tried to pretend I was a pro at this, when in reality, I didn’t even know what went in a California roll. Some cream cheese, avocado..fish? All I knew was that it was on the wall and I was ready to order it. Getting closer to the register there was a menu laid out with actual descriptions and the fish in this California roll was eel. Um, no thanks. It’s not that I would never be so daring as to try this at some point, it’s just that tonight I wanted a meal I knew I would enjoy. Rainbow roll it was, I have no problem with imitation crab.

Learning a few other things from these sushi pros in front of me as we sat at our table with enough food to feed an army, was the proper way to enjoy wasabi. Left to my own devices I had always taken just a small smear of it directly onto my roll. As I watched on with wonder, and soon imitated, I saw that it was a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce that the roll gets dunked into before eating. Very smart. I’m still learning the ratios though, and was surprised a few times as I took bites of my food and a tingling and burning sensation would run all the way up to my nose. The carbonated Coca-Cola I was drinking? Didn’t really help out a whole lot. I think I missed out on a lot of conversation because I was too busy pinching my nose and making bizarre faces. The rolls though, were in fact delicious. I don’t know the difference between a strip mall restaurant and a decadent $25/roll one, but it tasted like perfection to me.

sushi dinner

Pushing off for our main destination of the evening, we were going to be hanging poolside, or hut tub side I should say, at the Hyatt Regency, a hotel just off the marina where Jessica’s boyfriend works. I’d kept hearing about the pool and hot tub ever since we had arrived, but assuming it was at the marina and not the hotel, had never bothered to go in search for it. In the parking lot we actually did get a chance to run into G, Jessica’s boyfriend, and forced him into taking a few shots of us girls with my camera before we’d let him get back to work. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he had set us up in what we can only refer to as the ‘Tommy Hilfiger Prom Pose’, all of us girls lined up in red, white, and blue, the only thing missing was corsages from our wrists.

Jessica & Melody

Tommy Hilfiger prom pose

3.8.14 (6)

Do you know how many times I’ve been dreaming about hot tubs lately? Too many to comprehend since I don’t even live in that polar ice cap they refer to as Michigan anymore. But right next to our wishes of being able to stroll the streets of Manhattan again, soaking in a warm hot tub comes just after.

When Jessica led us out through the well manicured grounds and up to the hotel’s outdoor hot tub, I almost fell in it from shock. This wasn’t a hot tub, this was a mini pool! It took me all of .5 seconds to change into my suit and hop in. It was pure bliss. As Jessica said, we had the perfect trifecta going on. Hot water, working jets, and, hmmm, can’t remember that last one.

A little while later one of Jessica’s work friends joined us, and the four of us girls got lost in the hours of the evening as we sat under clear dark skies hidden by palm trees, warm water lapping against our legs, and the ability, for me at least, to get a little superficial girly talk in. Not getting an eye roll when I talk about the perfect layers for hair, or the best skin cream out there at the moment. These conversations are necessary for me every once in awhile.

We also talked about travel and my thoughts on a few of the places Matt and I had been to. I’m pretty sure that Melody is ready to throw off the lines on her boat and head off to Isla Mujeres after seeing my photos of the pristine beaches and seeing how low our cost of living was there. It seemed like all too soon that the beer had run dry and responsibilities were dragging everyone back to their homes. It was just a short walk back for me to the dinghy and then back to the ‘Dip where I had Matt waiting for me. The perfect man to come home to, but, it was kind of nice to ditch him for the girls for a few hours.

3.8.14 (7)

3.8.14 (8)

Jessica & Jessica

Six Degrees of Friends in Fort Lauderdale

Tuesday March 4, 2014

Jessica & Jessica

 Jessica power!

 

Tonight Matt and I met up with some friends in Fort Lauderdale that we hadn’t really ever met before. We didn’t find each other directly, through finding each other’s blogs, we were somewhat guided towards each other by a mutual cruising friend. You may vaguely remember a panicked Facebook post last summer where I needed someone in the Fort Lauderdale area that could hold on to a package for us for a few weeks. This was because while on a trip back to the States and subsequently a few weeks after that backpacking through South America, we realized we could not lug all our boat purchases with us through the southern hemisphere but did want to grab them on a layover in Ft. Lauderdale before heading back to Central America and the boat since we found out a 40 lb package would be $900 to ship! In stepped my friend Brittany who’d spent a good portion of time in Ft. Lauderdale, and hooked me up with her friend Jessica G. of m/v Felicity, who readily agreed to store our package for us until we could retrieve it.

 

I had only been able to spend about 5 minutes with Jessica while grabbing our stuff before our flight left that night, but I always said, if we get back this way, we will be getting together to share those drinks we never had a chance to before. Plus, being as sweet as she is, Jessica let us use her as a mailbox once more while we had a few things shipped to her address in FL while we were stuck in Mexico with no idea of when we’d get out. As soon as we got in last night I sent her a message to let her know we had arrived, and in between a few more Facebook conversations she not only set us up with a killer spot to be able to land our dinghy while we’re in town, but set us up with her boyfriend Gordon who ran us on errands of filling up our propane and stocking up on drinks before we got together that night at their house to hang out and celebrate Mardi Gras.

 

The four of us (me, Matt, Gordon, and G’s friend/co-worker Adam) spent 45 minutes in traffic to go the five miles to their house and surprisingly beat Jessica there, who only works a few miles further away herself. We took a few minutes to wander the grounds, admire their pool and 50 ft. Hatteras, and of course, crack open a cold beer. When Jessica walked through the door a few minutes later we greeted each other like long lost friends that hadn’t seen each other in months, which, I guess, we were? Even though we had literally spent less than five minutes talking to each other the first time we met, we dove into a conversation that didn’t let up until a few hours later when the guys said they were leaving to go get hot wings for dinner. I think they just wanted to escape overhearing bits of our girly chatter, but we were so into it that we barely noticed they were gone.

 

To add to the fun for the night, Jessica took me for a spin on her Dance Revolution game on her Wii where we spun around to Selena Gomez and rocked some smooth moves to Will Smith. We stuffed ourselves on the above mentioned hot wings, specialty Mardi Gras cake, and tried to get a decent photo of the two of us. Between our selfies and handing over the camera to Adam who was trying to get it to work in low light settings…we might have to wait for another occasion for that perfect shot.

 

For a group of people that we might never have had the chance of knowing, I’m so happy the way the world of cruising and blogging works, that we were put in each others paths and had the chance to get to know each other. Jessica and Gordon have already been a huge help to us here in Fort Lauderdale, and we can’t wait for the chance to spend more time with them.

 

Matt at Pier 66

Pier 66 Fort Lauderdale

cat drinking pool water

I guess when you’re thirsty…you’re thirsty.

Jessica & Gordon

Our wonderful hosts for the night, Jessica & Gordon

Jessica & Jessica

Trying to get a decent photo of us while handing the camera over to one of the guys.

Jessica & Jessica WWS

Representing Women Who Sail!  …. Or at least, trying to.

Jessica & Jessica, kisses

Jessica doesn’t seem to want my kisses.

Mardi Gras mask

palm trees lit up at night

Hard Rock Cafe Miami

From Bays to Lakes

Monday March 3, 2014

Miami proper

The sun was up, the engine was on, and we were ready to move ourselves from Dinner Key harbor, just south of Miami, up to Ft. Lauderdale, our last intended stop in the states. God I hope it’s the last stop. If we go any further north we’ll be backtracking on places we’ve already been last year. The Bahamas I can handle backtracking to, Last time I remember I studied everything before and even learned about law pointers to be careful, so  i thought about this and looked for more info for the future. The rest of Florida…meh, not so much. Though I would love a few nights in St. Augustine if it happened to be the next port north. With an easy inlet to enter this time.

Once again I was behind the wheel for the few miles of ICW which would lead us back out to the cut an into the Atlantic. Between the two of us we’ve worked out a little system where I’m on watch or behind the wheel for situations that requires acute observation, since Matt is a little more easily distracted than I, and then I’m still on watch unless I’m sleeping. No really, it took me until our Mexico-Florida crossing to realize this. If I am awake, it is assumed I am keeping a watch out for boats. Add that to all the navigating, the cooking, and the cleaning, and I think I might have to come up with some more blue jobs for Matt to earn his keep on this boat. It’s a good thing he knows how to trim the sails a hell of a lot better than I do, or else this operation could be a one woman show. Did I also mention I’m the one to check us into all the countries and deal with the officials? Ohhhh, right. Now I remember the reasons I tend to get almost anything I ask for, including forcing my better half to places he doesn’t want to go, like Miami.

Where was this story leading? Oh, yeah. So I was behind the wheel trying to get us out of the inlet at Miami when I came to a fork in the road. By turning right it gave me a short cut, taking me by all the unloading docks for the tankers. If I went straight a little bit further, I’d be able to go down the main part of the inlet and past all the pretty cruise ships. Maybe it was because I had already seen the boring tankers on my way in, but I wanted to see the pretty cruise ships. Passing the Miami proper skyline and the Hard Rock Cafe, I cut the wheel to join into the inlet and was greeted by pretty blue flashing lights. I had no reason to believe they were for me and assumed it might be a police escort for one of the five cruise ships getting ready to depart. I kept on my path, happily trotting along and taking in the view of the cruise ships, closer than we’d ever been to them before. The police officers waived at me, and I waved back.

Wait a second, they weren’t waiving at me, they were waiving at me. But what had I done? Was this just a routine check?, because we were about ready to pull out our Coast Guard boarding document and call them on harassment if they tried, well, harassing us. Pulling up along side me I could just make out the words ‘Turn around’. Ummm, ok? Is there construction? Nope, it was me. I was breaking all the rules, the dirty little rebel that I am. Turns out there’s a law against passing through an area like that if there was more than one cruise ship in port. For security reasons. I picked a day when they had five. Even more embarrassing is that I’m sure they were trying to hail us on the radio, but one of us hadn’t turned the radio on along with all of the other instruments.

Along with instructions of how to exit via the ‘shortcut’ that I had taken in, I received lots of slow talking and a few pitiful looks. I’m sure as they saw this wide eyed girl behind the wheel (out of embarrassment and nothing else) and thought to themselves, ‘Poor little lass, she wanted to see what it felt like to be behind the wheel of ship, but has no idea what she’s doing. Let’s hope they get that boat back to dock where it belongs and she can spend her afternoon on it sipping margaritas instead of trying to drive it.’   Ok, maybe that’s not what they were thinking.  But it is what their faces said.

It was fine.  Soon enough we were out of the cut and on our way up the 20 miles to the Port Everglades inlet, which Matt had promised me was only 10.  Maybe he had been glancing at Hannover?  No biggie, it just allowed me more time of seclusion on the water, laying out on deck and reading a book while ridding myself of tan lines at the same time.  It was another extremely calm day where the sails couldn’t even hold wind and we were reduced to motoring instead.  Before I had even realized that a few hours had passed by, we were quickly surrounded by masses of fishing boats just outside of Fort Lauderdale and I once more took position behind the wheel to dodge them and their erratic patterns as they cut back and forth in front of us.

Holding the wheel until it was time to wait for our first lift bridge in about a year, I passed it over to Matt and let him do the dance of trying to maintain no forward motion as the currents moved along beneath us.  He kept on the helm as I guided us just a little further up the ICW and to our new home of Lake Slyvia until we leave for the Bahamas.  Lake would be a generous term for this spot, it’s more like and extravagant pond, but the multi-million dollar mansions surrounding us along with the glass calm waters to rest in for a few days definitely made up for the small size.  It was anchors down at 4:00, and dinghy down at 4:30.  Next stop was finding internet to alert friends we had arrived, and I think a cold beer is on the list too.

Miami proper

Sailing by Miami Proper.

Hard Rock Cafe Miami

 Hard Rock Cafe Miami.

Bimini Super Fast

 Tell me again, how fast can I get to Bimini?

South Beach, Miami

3.1.14

Visiting that Place We Said We’d Never Go a.k.a. Miami

Saturday March 1, 2013

3.1.14

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

“We’re not going to Miami”

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

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

“Why can’t we going to Miami?”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

3.1.14 (1)

3.1.14 (2)

3.1.14 (3)

3.1.14 (4)

3.1.14 (5)

3.1.14 (6)

3.1.14 (7)

3.1.14 (8)

3.1.14 (9)

3.1.14 (10)

3.1.14 (11)

3.1.14 (12)

3.1.14 (13)