Jessica, Ben & Hannes on Marianne

Everything is Changing

Tuesday June 2, 2015

The Sailing Conductors & Jessica

That seems to be my motto lately.  Serendipity is sold.  Big change.  We have at least moved her to a slip after sitting on the hard for the past 7 weeks.  Change.  Our boat yard buddies the Sailing Conductors are leaving us to begin their sail back to Germany and there’s a good chance we’ll never see them again.  Big change (for me….I love those guys!).  Our other friends Hanna and Mark will be out of here soon enough as well to begin their lives as cruisers and spend the season in Guatemala.  A change that I can thankfully at least put off for a few weeks.

And while all our friend’s lives are changing for the better and I am so happy for them, I have to look at our upcoming future, and honestly it makes me a little melancholy.  And a bit apprehensive.  Trust me, I am all for the renovation of Daze Off, I’m the one that pushed for it more when Matt was unsure.  I know it will be a great boat for us once it’s finished and we’re traveling again.  The only problem is, that is a long time from now and we have a very hard road ahead of us.

I want the new (to us) boat that we know every nut, bolt, and screw; and have also tailored it to exactly our taste, the only problem is I don’t want it 6-12 months from now….I want it tomorrow.  But as Scarlet O’Hare would say ‘I can’t think about that right now.  If I do, I’ll go crazy.  I’ll think about that tomorrow’..  Right now we do still have our good friends with us and I’d like to enjoy every moment of it possible.

Sunday we brought our whole group together at the marina for one more German night.  Now that we have one more addition from that country (Hanna), and we had been enforcing so many American things on them (with the exception of the cheap Costa Rican beer we’ve all been turned on to, thanks to Mark) I wanted to sample another treat from Deutschland.  The Königsberger Klopse Hannes made before was so good that I couldn’t wait for another delicious sample of something I had never tried before.

Gathering for the night and being told to bring nothing other than ourselves, I found out the meal of the night was to be stuffed peppers.  Something I never knew had German origins, but apparently they do.  (Or maybe Hungarian.  Close enough.)  Unlike last time, we had two new sets of hands which meant all I had to do was sit back and enjoy a few cold Becks.  Just after the sun had gone down, I think we tend to get distracted when all of us are together and meals take 2 hours to cook, we pushed two tables together and chowed down on appetizing German (Hungarian) stuffed peppers.

When the plates were cleaned away we brought out the wine and guitars.  Since Hannes now had 2 with him after having his grandfather’s refurbished in Nashville, one was handed over to me and I lamely tried to strum along even though I’ve now had almost three months to practice yet can not play the A chord Ben tried to teach me the first night we all hung out.  Eventually my duties turned into ‘flashlight holder’ and I sat perched at the end of my seat, making sure to illuminate the pages of whatever tune the guys were playing.

Mark, Hanna, & Ben

dinners on the patio

Matt & Jessica - MJ Sailing

stuffed pepper dinner

Captain Ben Bart

Jessica, Ben & Hannes

Tonight we said our final farewells to Ben & Hannes, which was incredibly hard to do.

This morning they left Indiantown bright and early with a newly decorated Marianne (thanks to Jack), with plans of anchoring in Stuart for the night before pushing on toward Fort Pierce where they’d do last minute provisions and wait for a weather window to head out into the Atlantic.  Plans were for Matt and I to head out and treat them to a nice dinner, a thank you for letting us take their place as sailing instructors to the Bahamas back in April when the original request had been for them.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Ben that afternoon that they were making it all the way out to Fort Pierce in one day and would in fit in our schedule to have dinner that night instead?  Well…we’re in the middle of packing up Serendipity to get everything that isn’t being sold with her onto Daze Off, which is still in storage at the moment.  Not to mention that I still wanted to turn this into a Fancy night out since I’d been promised one by Matt ever since we reached American soil again in March and so far had not happened.

A change in plans meant rushing a few more loads of goods to Daze Off as well as jumping into the shower and furiously towel drying my hair in time to still straighten it before we hopped in the van to head to Fort Pierce.  But….there was no way we could turn these guys down.  They’ve done so much for us in all our time together (and have given me so many free beers) that it was time for when they said “jump”, we said “how high?”.  Getting my hair and make-up done and throwing on a new dress, I was able to get in the Kia with just enough time to meet them at 7.

Getting lost in the vast rows of slips at the city’s marina, we eventually found the brightly painted Marianne and the guys.  True to his word, Hannes even wore his ‘sailor’s outfit’ for our last good-bye, something I’ve been asking him to put on ever since we were first placed next to each other in the work yard and I had been internet stalking them based on their website printed on the hull of their boat.

Walking up the short distance to Cobb’s Landing, a nice little restaurant on the waterfront, we sat down in time to hear not only live music coming from inside, but also that we came on a particular beer special night where all beers start at $0.50 at 7:00 and go up $0.50 on the half hour until they are full price.  With a huge selection in front of us we all ordered something different and followed it by a taste test where we’d pass our glasses around the table so we’d each get a sample of something new.

The food was heavenly and even though I had originally been weary of my choice of lobster & shrimp macaroni and cheese, it is now something I would drive all the way back up here just to enjoy. The four of us continued to sit outside and enjoy the music and cheap premium beer until the sun was going down and it was time for us to get on the road.  Luckily we didn’t have to say a teary goodbye at the restaurant since we were bringing the guys back to Indiantown with us so they could retrieve the magic bus. Of course the whole ride back was filled with jokes that Matt and I would chuck any plans of fixing up Daze Off and instead fly to the Netherlands where of course Matt has already found another ‘perfect boat’.  Placing us right next to Germany there’s no way we couldn’t be sailing buddies again in the future.

Dropping the guys off in front of the magic bus we gave them the biggest of hugs and wished them well on the rest of their journey as well as any future ventures.  I know we’ll still keep in close touch, but with them headed back to a land based life it’s much harder to say ‘Maybe we’ll bump into each other again on the water someday’.  Something I’ve been able to do with so many of my new friends and that I am so grateful for.  But in this case I don’t see it happening and that is incredibly saddening.  As I’ve told myself earlier.  “I can’t think about that right now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

Ben & Matt

Jessica, Ben & Hannes on Marianne

Ben, Hannes & Matt at Cobbs Landing

Cobb's Landing

Sailing Conductors & MJ Sailing

Serendipity Sold

Serendipity is Sold!

Friday May 29, 2015

Serendipity Sold

Wow, that has to be one of the shortest boat sales in history.  But Serendipity is now sold!  Six days from the time we first put her on the market to when we accepted an offer.  Ten days until payment was made and papers have been signed.

The amount of interest we’ve had on her ever since we listed her (even a little bit before, really) has been nothing short of baffling. When we published the post on the blog that she was now available and also linked to it on Facebook, emails with inquiries began flooding through our mailbox within hours and even the following day there were a few people that had started booking plane tickets down to Florida to come see her in person.

Much of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent solely on our computers, responding to to the many request for information, answering detailed questions about the boat, and snapping a few more photos of specific areas in question (i.e. thing that may have to be replaced in the next few years).  I have to admit, not only was it such a sense of accomplishment that we finally had Serendipity listed and it therefore meant that we had finished all our projects on her, but being given access to sit on my computer all day in our air conditioned boat (did I mention we broke down and bought a window A/C unit?) was soooo nice after this last push of work.  It’s funny though how we always want what we can’t have.  Two solid days in front of my computer and I was begging for boat work again.

It did take a few days to get things rolling on showing the boat in person, but this week was supposed to be full of visitors to take a gander at the ‘Dip to see if they wanted to take her off our hands.  We did have a few cases of ‘I’ll be out to look at her tomorrow’ followed by a message at 10 pm of ‘Ooops, I’m going to have to reschedule’, which means we’d spend a good part of the afternoon getting her in ‘show shape’ only to have nothing come of it.  Which was ok, I guess, since it meant less spot cleaning the next day as long as we could the areas mostly polished.

On Memorial Day we did two back to back showings. As usual the morning was a bit crazy with the both of us running around as if we were presenting our boat to the queen, and taking away any unsightly reminders that this boat was lived in and sometimes we could not find the picture perfect place for everything.

“What do I do with the bread? Normally we keep it out on the shelf next to the microwave, but we can’t show the boat with our bread sitting out!!”

“Throw it in the van!”

“What about Mazzii?  Do you think it will put anyone off that we keep the cremated remains of our dog in the vanity?”

“Throw it in the van!”

And so it went for a solid three hours.  The showings were great though, both parties looked to be interested and asked a lot of questions.  The first person we knew was looking at multiple boats in the area and that Serendipity would probably be at the top of their price range if they were seriously interested.  The second person however lived just on the other side of Florida near Fort Meyers, and at the moment we were the only boat on his list.  He came, he looked, we chatted about everything under the sun, and he told us he would be putting down an offer, which we requested be in writing.

Well the next day we did get an offer, along with the request that we deliver the boat to Charlotte Harbor (a free delivery being one of the bargaining chips we were using to try and sell her quickly), and after a few emails back and forth we accepted.  The money was wired today and now Serendipity is sold.

I still can’t believe how quickly it has all gone by. One minute we were getting ready to sell her, with doubts in our mind if it was the right thing to do, and the next minute she’s already on her way out.  I guess the fates have decided, and it’s that they want us to move onto a new boat.  We’re very excited for our new adventure but at the same time we’ll be incredibly sad to see Serendipity go.  For the last three years now she has been our home, our crusader, and our one sense of stability no matter where we go.

But, what’s done is done.  On to bigger and better things.  Not that we won’t always have the fondest place for the ‘Dip in our hearts.  We’ll always have the memories of her, and even though there were times we’d curse her and threaten to burn her down, that was just our adjusting to an unfamiliar life.  She really is the best boat anyone could ever ask for and I know her new owner will love her just as much as we do.


(* I dedicate this post to Ric, whom I know is so very excited to read that we have sold Serendipity)

the Indiantown gang

Guess Who Just Got Back Today?

Tuesday May 26, 2015

Sailing Conductors - Marianne

The boys are back in town!  Maybe they didn’t just get back today, per se, it was more like Saturday, but I’ve got to start condensing my posts so this is what you’re left with. Anyway, The Sailing Conductors (and Jack Mantis) are back in Indiantown!

After touring the US and Canada in their magic bus for the last five weeks they have made their way back to Marianne who has been so patiently waiting for them in storage.  I think she was beginning to feel neglected next to the bus, but she has been receiving nothing but love and care from the guys this week and now has no reason to complain. After hitting up cities like New Orleans, Chicago, DC, and playing shows in Nashville, Toronto, and NYC, Ben and Hannes ended their tour and we finally got our work yard buddies back.

Their stay here will be incredibly short since they have a weather window to begin their trek back to Germany which is all ready to come and go on them, and are trying to get Marianne back in the water as close to June 1st as possible.  From there they will make a stop in Bermuda if the mood suits, otherwise head straight for the Azores as their first stop.

To say I will miss them will be a huge understatement as we did spend almost every day together for a month, and having them gone on their road trip while I had to look over at the empty space next to us in the yard has been hard enough.  But while they are here we’re going to enjoy as much time together as possible.  To celebrate their first night back we had a braii at the patio which turned into us smushing as many tables as we could fit together in the kitchen since the mosquitoes are still out in full force and none of us could stand to be outside. When they go after Matt alone, it’s normal.  When they begin going after everyone in the party?  Time to move inside.

A new couple in the work yard that we’ve made friends with, Mark and Hanna, were there to honor the occasion as well and Hanna’s German came in handy as I’m sure the guys missed having someone new to speak their native tongue with. When the dishes were all cleared away it didn’t it didn’t take us long to force the guys to bring their instruments out and once again we were delighted with a live performance of Jack’s guitar and Ben’s cello.  I have so much fun with these guys, even just working on boat projects, but I think listening to their music is going to be one of the things I’ll miss the most once they are gone for good. patio at Indiantown Marina

dinner with the Sailing Conductors

Jack playing guitar

Since Matt and I have a boat we’re in the middle of trying to sell and the guys have a boat with a million and one projects that need to be finished in about a weeks time, we haven’t been able to spend as much of our time together as we did before.  One event we could not miss out on though was the final painting of the magic bus. If you don’t remember me mentioning it before, Jack is a well known graffiti artist in South Africa and it turns out his good buddy Seemsoe that has joined in the last week of their journey is pretty well known for the same thing in Germany.

Although Jack had taken over one side of the bus while hanging out in Brooklyn, painting his signature on one side, a group of hippies had taken over the other and left a paint job with a lot to be desired.  Since the guys are hoping to sell the bus before they make their way out of the US, this needed to change.

Wandering over after the sun had gone down and all of the yard staff left for the day, we walked up to find a wet bar set up with scrap pieces of wood, spray paint bottles scattered between ones of gin and tonic. Jack and Seemsoe were already busy choosing colors and getting Seemsoe’s name ready to go on the other side of Jack’s.

Over the next few hours the rest of our gang sat back and watched as the one side of the bus was transformed from something that was incredibly tacky into something that was incredibly amazing.  Things that you wouldn’t think would go together suddenly worked, and Jack also had some bright ideas (literally) up his sleeve, transforming the turn signal into one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen.

It was a great night among friends and really one of the first opportunities I’ve had to really catch up with the guys since they’ve been back. We all had fun hanging out once more and in the process, revamping their ride into something that will sell.  Which at the end of the night gave them a sudden change of heart and they decided that after all this they couldn’t let her go and they’re going to try and get their production company to ship her over to Germany so they can bring her on tour when they get back this fall.  So if you’re on the roads in Berlin later this year and you see this hot ride passing by, make sure to give them a honk and a wave for me.

Seemsoe painting.

Jack Mantis painting

Jack & Seemsoe painting

lighthouse blinker

the Indiantown gang

Seemsoe, Jess, & Jack




thunderstorms over the boat yard

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

contemplations in the boat yard


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.

Simone, Dan & Bobby

Muy Caliente

Wednesday April 22, 2015

Simone, Dan & Bobby

For almost every day of the week, the local saloon up the road has some kind of dinner special which is usually too good to pass up and draws a lot of cruisers and locals alike.  Monday it’s $0.50 sliders, Tuesday is dollar tacos, and Wednesday is $0.60 wings.  Add that to their happy hour of $1 drafts and it’s no surprise that everyone from the marina makes their way up there within a few days of arriving.

Having already done hot wing night with the Sailing Conductors, I was extremely cautious in my choice of sauce and went mild instead of hot or even muy caliente.  In a location with so many Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants you don’t want to mess with spice because they know how to do it right.  My mild wings were perfect for me and honestly I could have probably handled something a little stronger.  When Ben offered me one of his muy caliente wings I got it down without a problem and we began to have sneaking suspicions that there was only one sauce being used in the kitchen and being labeled with whichever multitude of spiciness that was requested.

After our new Aussie friends had been here only a couple of days, they also made their way out for wing night and I mentioned that the muy caliente spice was laughable and if they had any desire for something spicy it might still not fill their needs.  I was wrong.  When we saw them the next day they ranted on about how hot the wings actually were and everyone at the table was pouring sweat the entire time they were eating. Maybe the ‘one sauce for all’ incident was a one time thing and Ben and Hannes had lucked out on their batch not turning them into fire breathers.

Well, as you know, payback is a bitch and there was no way that Dan, Simone and Bobby were going to let another Wing Wednesday pass by without dragging me to the bar to eat a batch dripping wet in muy caliente sauce since I had forced them to do the same the previous week.  Still wanting to go easy on myself, I split my order up between this spicy she-devil when we arrived and a much more mild orange tequila flavor.

When the wings came I timidly took a bite into my first one and thought ‘This isn’t so bad…I think Ben was right, this is the same sauce that was on my mild wings’.  Then a few bites later the heat kicked in and beads of sweat were beginning to trickle down my forehead as well.  Finishing off my Yuengling I picked up my second hot wing and couldn’t even get all the way through it before I was grabbing an ice cold Corona from the beer bucket the Aussies had ordered.

Putting the remaining hot wings on hold for a few minutes I moved on to the orange tequila ones to give myself a break, only to find out that any food that went into my mouth burned like hell.  I couldn’t eat anything at the moment.  Eventually my mouth cooled enough that I was able to regain the use of my taste buds and finished the orange tequila wings while being able to somewhat enjoy them.  Then having a fresh cold beer by my side I went after the last three hot wings only to find out that you mouth numbs itself after 1-2 of them, and the third one wasn’t so hard to get down.

After wings we moved over to the pool tables when a few guys that work at the marina showed up and had already bought a few buckets to share with us.  Who can turn that down?  My billiard skills were put to the test where I failed horribly playing against Simone.  Three games later I had to walk away before I could embarrass myself any further, and all of us realized that our quick dinner out was actually quickly turning into closing down the bar.  So it goes when you have friends around.  Especially when you have to prove to them that you can eat the same killer hot wings that you had told them ‘weren’t really that bad’.

walking out of the marina

Jessica, Simone, Dan, Bobby & Matt

cheers to hot wings!

tasting a muy caliente wing

Simone playing pool

Jessica & Simone

Jack paints the bus

Jack Attack

Monday April 6, 2015

Hannes & Jack at the patio

There’s a new crew member in Indiantown to s/v Marianne and  the Magic Bus Paula (I think that’s what they named her?).  Wednesday night before we made our first attempt at the Bahamas and now that we’ve been back at the marina a few more days, we’ve had a chance to get to know and enjoy the offbeat-ness that is Jack Mantis.  A South African graffiti artist and musician.

Ben and Hannes met Jack awhile back when they sailed into Trinidad and recorded him playing an original song of his, Radiate.  Since then Jack has had a lot of recognition with that song and it’s a top hit with his group, the Jack Mantis Band.  At the moment he’s taking a break from his band to tour with the Sailing Conductors as they hit the US and Canada in the next few weeks and will help them as they record new artist and also catches some shots of his own, including playing in Times Square, to make an official video for Radiate including Ben and Hannes.  From there he’ll be sailing with the guys all the way back to Germany where he’ll meet back up with his band this fall for a European tour.

On Wednesday, his first night in after traveling for over 48 hours from Cape Town, we only gave him about two hours rest before having him unwrap his guitar from all the transportation packaging and play a few songs for us.  This guy is beyond talented, with some of the best guitar playing I have ever seen.

Saturday however, we watched him tap into his artistic graffiti side and help the guys to a little decorating to their modes of transportation.  After having driven down to West Palm Beach on Friday to pick up a very specific brand of spray paint, he was all set to give Marianne a new facelift when we found out the yard’s regulations against it.  Slightly defeated, they turned to decorating the bus instead.  Marianne may not be able to easily move to an out of the way area where spraying is not an issue, but Paula can!

Tucking her into the deep woods of the marina, Jack went about giving the hood a set of racing flames that eventually moved all the way up the front of the boat and even the mirrors.  When I asked what he was going to do with the sides he told me that instead of painting it all now it would get completed along the journey where inspiration from their different spots hit.  They’re also toying with the idea of making one side a large mural where other artists can claim a small spot to make their own art work.  I’m not sure what it will look like when it’s 100% finished, but already I can tell that it’s going to get a lot of attention on the roads.  Awesome job Jack!

s/v Marianne

Jack painting the bus

Jack paints the bus

The Magic Bus

Tonight there was an event hosted at the marina to showcase all the guys’ talent.  Since I think the patrons here were ready for something a little different than their weekly blind taste test on boxed wine, a music night was put together instead.  In the patio area was a sign up sheet to have pizza delivered, and if the guys played their instruments for the group for a little bit they would earn themselves a couple of free pies.

This party couldn’t have come at a better time for us because Matt and I will be leaving tomorrow for our Bahamas/Sailing Instructors trip, and just a day or two after that the guys will be on the road in their magic bus for their US and Canada tour.  It would be the last chance for all of us to hang out for the next six weeks so it was only fitting that a big celebration be in order.

It was really fun to get a chance to chat with a few new people in the marina, and even though I had to keep my laughter to a minimum because it was extremely painful due to my fractured rib I still sneaked a few good ones in while enjoying the company of our good friends for the last time in a long time.  The music was fantastic as usual and I was even able to capture a bit of it to put on video for you.

I’m going to miss all three of these guys (even Jack although we just met him) like crazy while they’re gone, but at least I know that soon enough they’ll be back and we can resume our normal shenanigans. Besides, how else am I going to get free pizza unless they earn it for me?

Matt & Jack at the patio

Hannes playing the uke

Sailing Conductors & Jack Mantis

Jessica bandaged up

All Dressed Up with No Place to Go

Friday April 3, 2015

Jessica bandaged up

We got jobs!! Â Ok, maybe not so much jobs as one paying gig, but hey, it still pays. Â The two of us are going to spend five days as sailing instructors. Â This story starts with a knock on our hull and is paused with me attaining a pretty nasty injury (all thanks to Houston personal injury attorney who helped in the right for a quick recovery), 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.

Sailing Conductors - Hannes & Ben

Haaaave You Met the Germans?

Sunday March 15, 2015

Sailing Conductors - Hannes & Ben

Hannes & Ben – The Sailing Conductors

“Have you met the Germans?  Such great guys, interesting story…”.  “Oh, there’s a couple of young German guys here, have you met them yet?”.  “You guys have to meet the Germans”.  This somehow seemed to be the most common phrase we’ve heard around the marina our first few days.  Apparently these two German guys seemed to be all the rage here and after a few days of sitting around we did eventually get a chance to meet them.

On Monday Serendipity was hauled and blocked, and while we were busy chatting up this nice fellow Paul at the patio while the boat was in transit we later found they moved us to a spot in the DIY yard that was conveniently right behind the bathrooms and right next to these legendary Germans.  In time we made our way over to the new spot and we could see they were elbow deep in grease while working on an engine that was sitting on the ground next to their boat, so we only exchanged a brief hello before I started bugging Matt to find a ladder for me so I could get up and into the ‘Dip.  I had to make a run into town for essentials, and by run I mean walk since we have no mode of transportation at the moment and it was already falling into the late afternoon.  If we’ve gathered one piece of advice here so far it’s that you don’t want to be wandering the streets of Indiantown after dark.

The next morning as we were just getting used to our routine of being on the hard again, having to get off the boat and climb down a ladder every time you need to use the bathroom, we saw the guys getting off their boat and into a car.  Exchanging pleasantries again they mentioned they were using a rental for the day to go hunt for a vehicle to purchase.  When we responded that it was on our list of things to do as well they invited us to join them but we declined since Matt wanted more time to research cars in the area and also wanted to dive into some jobs on Serendipity for the day.  That was the last we saw of the Germans until Friday night.

Having spoken with our new friend Paul a few more times, one on a much needed ride to Stuart to get ourselves to a decent hardware and grocery store, he gave us a slight background on the guys and told us they were looking for an RV to drive around the US with for a road trip, when he suggested they look into getting a school bus instead because of the convenience of having it easily fixed anywhere you go.  They took his advice and were in Tampa finding one the right size and price for themselves and also getting it insured.  So Friday night when I was sitting at the patio area with my computer and a glass of wine, I jumped to take a look at the school bus as it pulled into the parking lot.

Finally getting a proper introduction to our new neighbors in the work yard I found out the guys’ names were Ben and Hannes, and when I mentioned that we should all hang out soon to get to know each other since we seem to be the only young people in the yard and we kept hearing they had an interesting story to tell, Ben invited us to come to the patio the next night for a few drinks and we could all exchange stories.  I thought mine and Matt’s double Atlantic crossing last year was going to put us in the ‘very interesting’ category for storytelling, but I was so wrong.  These guys did in fact take the cake when it came to interesting.

Sailing Conductors school bus

Hannes & Matt grilling

patio of Indiantown Marina

Here’s how it all began:  Ben and Hannes had originally met in Berlin at SAE Institute for sound engineering but had gone their separate ways after finishing and didn’t see each other for a few years.  Ben then moved to Australia for more schooling and when he finished in 2011 he thought to himself, “Why fly back to Germany?…why not do something different and sail back there”.  But not only was it just about the sail, it was also going to be about making music along the way.  Getting back in touch with Hannes, he agreed to the plan and flew out to meet Ben and the Sailing Conductors were born.

“For the last four years, friends and music producers Captain Ben and Smutje Hannes have been sailing their 30 foot nutshell boat Marianne from Sydney to Berlin.  Their goal is to traverse the boarders between music and musicians to redefine the concept of ‘world music’ – on 5 continents, 35 countries, and with over 100 musicians.”

So what they do, and is the coolest concept ever, is go from country to country recording artists playing original work.  Sometimes they’ll have one person start from scratch…but the best part is that they will also introduce that original piece to another artist in another country and have them add their own flare to it.  So an acoustic guitar piece from South Africa will be blended with vocals from Brazil, and an orchestra in Indonesia.  Ben, playing the cello, and Hannes, playing bass, will occasionally add to the pieces as well.  What comes from it all it totally original and completely amazing pieces music that are truly a form of art.

They’ve put out one album already, AAA, and I was able to get my hands on a copy today.  I’m already head over heals for the second song on the track, ‘All That I’m Leaving Here’.  You can take a listen to it on their site here, as well as all the other songs on the album (scroll to the bottom of the page).  This won’t be the only album they put out though and they’re still busy recording artists for a new one.  It turns out their ‘RV’ trip across the US in their new school bus is to hit some major cities and find new artists to record.

Well, after that story, our double Atlantic crossing was put to shame compared to all that they’ve accomplished and all they still plan to.  But since we now knew of their musical talents there was no way we could let them escape the rest of the night without playing some tunes for us.  First it was just me running to get my guitar off Serendipity along with about 50 pages of songs I had wanted to learn to play but never learned.  Then Ben ran back to Marianne to grab his nylon string guitar and we ended up switching since the nylon strings were much easier on my fingers and from there I was given a good hour or two lesson.

I’m really not sure how long it was because somehow we ended up staying out until 5:30 am.  Once the beer was gone I brought out the gin from St. Martin and once the guitar lesson was over I began leafing through songs to force the guys to play for my delight.  Grabbing some of their own song books we rocked out the patio and probably upset just a few boaters at the dock as we probably did scream at the top of our lungs to ‘What’s Up’ by the 4 Non Blondes.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the patio as daylight was sneaking up on us and I suspect would could have very easily stayed to see the sun rise.  So it turns out everyone at the marina was right.  The Germans are great guys with a very interesting story.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of them as our time in the yard progresses, and not just because our boats are sitting right next to each other.

Hannes at the patio

Captain Ben on the guitar

Jessica, Hannes & Ben

Hannes & Ben playing guitar


Scarf turned into a headwrap….I sucked at it.



Daze Off 3

First Glances at Daze Off

Monday March 9, 2015

Daze Off 3

One of the moments we all have been waiting for….a first look in person at our new custom aluminum boat.  Daze Off.  No, that name will not be staying.

Since it has been a couple of months that I’ve written anything about her, let me do a little refresher on her basics.  Daze Off is a 37 ft custom aluminum boat with a deck house.  The make is a Trisalu and it’s a French design but was built in Quebec in 1983.  She has a 7′ draft but also a lifting centerboard so we can bring her down to 3’6″ when we need to.

The layout of the boat features the deckhouse as soon as you step in the companionway, and this area houses a nav station; a seating area with a table; a quarter berth; and a very large and deep storage locker.  Walking down a few more steps to the main salon you have the galley on the port side and a full head/shower to starboard.

Forward of these items is a settee on both port and starboard.  Not enough to lie down and comfortably sleep, but good for relaxing  and putting your legs up. Then there’s the v-berth, only this one has a twist.  It’s a pull down murphy style bed.  So when we’re ready to sleep we unhinge the ‘wall’ and bring that area down to rest on the settee cushions and it forms the top 1/3rd or so of your bed.  Kind of an interesting feature and we’ll see how much we like it since that is where we plan to sleep.  Although we do plan to convert the deckhouse into our main sitting area, so we don’t think it will be an issue if one person wants to go go bed before the other.

To see an old listing for her (in French) click here.  If not, here’s a few photos of her from the listing…from when she was still cruising back more than 10 years ago.





Notice how I said ‘when she was cruising more than 10 years ago’.  She has been sitting on the hard here in Indiantown ever since 2006, and has fallen into a bit of disrepair.  We knew when we bought her that she was going to be a complete fixer-upper and most likely a gut and rebuild, basically using the hull as an empty shell to begin from scratch.  A hull which incidentally, has holes in it.  Yup, first order of business on this new adventure is going to be to get some welding done on the bottom so at least she won’t sink when put in water.

But the first first order of business once we arrived at the marina was to go take a look at her.  We contacted the broker via email and since he knew that we should be arriving that day and he’d left the boat unlocked so we could get in and poke around her.  Getting directions from the marina office on what area she was sitting in inside the storage yard we took off, nervous, eager, and excited to finally lay our eyes on her in person.  So as soon as we walked up to her there was the initial thrill of finally seeing her face to face, followed by a slight wah wahhhh.  She is indeed a fixer-upper.

I think it was just the initial shock of seeing in person how dirty she is, but it shouldn’t matter because as we said we’re going to pull out and replace everything anyway.  The rust stained paint job on the hull shouldn’t be an issue either since we’d like to go back to a raw aluminum finish.  All the components we needed were there though at that’s all that mattered.

Oh wait…it didn’t have all the components.  It was very apparent and clear once we stepped foot on her that some very important items were missing.  Ones that we had full intentions of keeping.  Things such as the solenoid for the windlass; the regulator for the alternator; a very nice self tailing winch; all the blocks; and the plans for the boat which we had seen in photos when the boat was listed.  But the kicker, at least for me….the boat did not have a wheel.  It was just gone.  Removed.  No longer there.  We’re planning to switch to a tiller anyway, but seriously?  How does that not come with the boat upon purchase?!

In all honestly we can partially blame ourselves for this as we never asked for a list of items included when we purchased the boat.  So none of those things were promised to us…you just think they’d still be there.  Who’s going to have any use for them and why take them?  Oh well.  My rant for today.  They seem to be happening a bit more now, so I hope this returning to Florida to outfit a boat wasn’t a mistake.

She does have great potential though, that part is for sure.  We are still very much looking forward to not only designing a layout that fits our needs perfectly, but everything will be new.  Plus it will all be installed by us so we’ll know the complete history of this boat along with every single inch of her.  That part excites Matt the most but I do happen to get more excited about cosmetic type repairs…wood materials, fabric colors, a sleek and modern design.  What can I say..I’ll never be as into boats as most cruisers are.  I’m here for the lifestyle, not necessarily the sport or functionality.  Although I have grown to love, and always will, the option to travel with my home.

So now we have a real feel of what we’ve gotten ourselves into and the kind of work we have ahead of us.  A lot, in case you were wondering.  Like, a crap ton.  But we think it will be worth it.  As soon as I stepped below deck I could automatically envision myself sitting in the Caribbean on her a year from now as the sun shines through the hatches to her bright and open interior.  Spending evenings in the deckhouse watching the happenings of what’s going on around us and then cooking a meal in my newly renovated galley which will hopefully offer me a little extra counter space and keep me from using the steps to store items as I empty out the chill box.

In the meantime we have to get Serendipity cleaned up and ready to sell since we will not be having two boats in the work yard at the same time for $600/boat/month.  Hopefully after 2-4 weeks of that though we’ll have Serendipity in a slip and ready to sell, and begin tearing apart the new boat and start putting her back together.  Let the new adventure begin!

Daze Off 2

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Daze Off 9

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Daze Off 22