Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach – Pass-a-Grille

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

Year one was in Utila Honduras where we went out for strawberry daiquiris at a local restaurant, but with a departure time of 7 am the next day to head over to Guatemala, we were still in bed by 10:30. Â Year two was spent over 1,000 miles from shore on the Atlantic Ocean, and even though I had huge plans for the day which included balloons, streamers, and a homemade meatloaf, an unexpected storm popped up and left us hunkered down for the day and eating a can of Progresso soup that night. Year three, Â a few months after arriving to Indiantown, was supposed to be a non event, but when our friends Mark and Hanna heard it was Matt’s birthday they wanted to have a few drinks after the work day which turned into a soiree with dinner and balloons, and Hanna and I losing track of our men for a few hours when the travel lift operator Alex stole them for a few shenanigans and we got the corner tv mount 65 inch perfect for any room.

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

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

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

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

Inn on the Beach - St. Pete

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

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

Deck of Blue Heron

sunset pass-a-grille

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

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

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

coffee on the deck

St. Pete Beach

Jessica on the beach

Matt on St. Pete Beach

water view St. Pete Beach

Atlantic surface analysis

Throwback Thursday: Birthday Celebrations on the High Seas

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

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

When we last left off on TT, just after leaving for our Atlantic crossing we had hit terrible storms just off the coast of Florida about an hour after the sun had gone down and weren’t even sure if we were up for that 3.000 mile journey anymore.  Deciding that it was most likely a freak incident that we would not experience again, we kept going.  It turns out that more storms were on their way for us, although luckily anything bad came during the day in full light and with lots of warning.

Getting as far north as Georgia, we turned our bow east and started making real miles offshore.  Or tried to at least.  Even though our nights were filled with thunderstorms which would always come a little too close for comfort without actually passing over us, our days were left with no wind and we were lucky to make 70 miles a day.  We tried to fill those days of bobbing around on glass calm seas by doing a little fishing, and did get a mahi on the line once.  It happened to outsmart us while bringing it onboard and escaped our grasp, but since we were only a week out I don’t think our fridge and freezer could have handled all that meat at the time.  There would be more chances.

Things out at sea were becoming a bit boring…until Matt’s birthday came upon us.  Just when I was looking forward to calm seas to throw the best at sea celebration I could….we were hit with another storm system.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday June 21, 2014

Some of you might be wondering how we’ve been getting our weather so far on this trip, probably actually feeling bad for us because we can’t seem to find winds to move us anywhere. The sad part is, we know exactly where they are. We just happen to not want to travel to those areas, mainly which are in the northern parts of the Atlantic, and you can refer back to my little freak out here to see why we’re so adamant about staying in the land of drifting versus following the route with more wind. As I said, we do know where the winds are, everyday, and that’s because we’ve been able to download forecast with Weather Fax, using our Single Sideband receiver. Similar to the single sideband radio, but we can only receive instead of transmit as well.

Every morning at 0800 UTC, Matt hooks up the SSB to my computer and fiddles with the dials until he can fine tune a station from Boston that transmits a fax audio signal to us for the next 24 and 48 hours*. The app on my computer deciphers the tone and turns it in into files that we can read, giving us a surface analysis of the entire Atlantic, as well as a separate wind and wave forecast. Each morning we read these forecast through the images, much the same way we’d look at the GRIB files through Passage Weather, to find out what the winds in our neck of the woods are going to be, and also tracking low pressure systems to make sure that we can stay out of their way. Here’s an example of both a surface analysis and a wind & wave forecast from our Weather Fax.** ***

Atlantic surface analysis

Atlantic wind & wave forecast

While keeping an eye on these images for the past few days we’ve noticed that a cold front is heading our way, which is going to bring us some stronger winds and unfortunately, probably some bigger waves with it too. We’re trying not to be near the center of it, but our file is telling us that we can expect 15-20 knot winds and waves at 2 meters. Treating it just like we always have our Passage Weather forecast, we’re interpreting that to mean the winds will actually be anywhere in the 20-30 knot range. To be fair to our Weather Fax though, it was showing data spread all the way across the Atlantic, and what we were experiencing was local weather which is very hard to pinpoint down to a few degrees of latitude and longitude when you’re looking at an entire ocean. But why is it that winds always seem to be higher than forecast when they’re stronger than we want them, but never when they’re forecast for 5-10?

We’ve started to see an increase a little bit tonight in both wind and waves, already reaching those predicted 15-20 knots, and seas going from less than 1 meter, up to the 1-2 range. The pressure is starting to drop on our electronic barometer, and although I am enjoying logging these miles while we finally push along at 4.5 knots, I have to wonder what the next day or two will bring. Hold on to your hats, it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

*There’s also a 96 hour forecast that we can receive and sometimes go through the trouble of getting later in the afternoon.

** If you’re interested in learning more about using Weather Fax, tips and tricks, or a schedule of broadcast frequencies and times, check out a great post that our friends Brian and Stephanie wrote while they were making their own Atlantic crossing last year, here.

*** We’re also very lucky to have my dad, who’s the best for helping us out with this, send us reports from Passage Weather via a text message on our Sat phone, so we have multiple sources to confirm forecasts.


Sunday June 22, 2014

I had one goal this morning when I woke up. Something that’s been in the works for weeks now, and that was supposed to be decorating the cabin with balloons and streamers for Matt’s 32nd birthday while he slept. All the necessary items were shipped to me weeks ago by Matt mom and all I had to do was display them. Waking up and looking around though, I realized it was going to be a lot easier said than done.

The low pressure system and cold front that we had been watching on our Weather Fax for the past few days and were beginning to feel the effects of last night, was now in full swing. When Matt woke me up at 8 am I stumbled out of bed and poked my head out the companionway to see gray skies and building seas. Winds were now steady at 25-30 knots and waves appeared to be in the 8-10 ft range. Carrying on at 3.5 knots under a triple reefed main alone, we were looking at a long and uncomfortable day ahead. Even though I was planning on spending most of my shift in the horizontal position on the open settee below, I was still strapped into my harness in case I had to run out into the cockpit for any reason. To make matters worse, I didn’t have a seasickness patch on. After doing two straight runs of them I was not willing to become cross-eyed and I was weary about putting another one on. That’s ok, this is now 10 days at sea, by body should be able to handle a little motion, right? Wrong.

This is how my four hour morning shift passed: Lay on the settee where I had a wrist-watch next to me, and after dreading each time the clock hit the quarter of the hour, I would roll myself off the settee and onto the floor. Slowly standing up I’d walk the few steps to the companionway and rest for a moment while my dizzy head gained itself and I could trust my body to walk again. I’d go up 2-3 steps while still keeping myself in the companionway, check the wind speed, check the sail, check for boats, and then rush back down the stairs and throw myself back on the settee for the next 12 minutes until I had to do it again. It looks like the balloons were going to have to wait another day.

The rest of the afternoon and evening followed the same suit. When Matt woke up I took a short nap. When I woke up we cuddled together on the settee and I kept apologizing about what a horrible birthday he must be having, as if I had any control over the situation. Matt, not being one to care about birthdays, laughed it off. His grand birthday dinner which was supposed to be meatloaf ended up being a can of Progresso soup that he had to heat up himself because I couldn’t be bothered to move. Happy birthday my love, I’m glad you were able to spend it taking care of me.

Matt on his birthday


Monday June 23, 2014

Today is day 13, and the madness is beginning to set in. Not because of our time at sea. Not because I have been almost two weeks from land. It is the damn sails and their consistent flapping. 10 knots of shifty wind behind us and they are flogging all over the place. Slamming in and slamming out. Every 5 damn seconds. I could even handle the snails pace of 2 knots we’re currently moving at if it weren’t for the racket going on above my head. It makes any kind of concentration impossible. Adding to the madness are the low but rolling swells that are passing through. Our limited speed is keeping us from riding on top of them, so we are left to bob between the crest and trough, constantly wallowing back and forth. My body can’t handle it. I can’t even take up the simple task of reading at the moment. You’d think that after 12 full days at sea it would be a non issue for me now. That any seasickness would be long gone due to the length of time we’ve already been out here. Granted though, the first 8-9 days were ‘at anchor’. How could my body grow accustomed to a bobbing sea that was never bobbing? Since the real motion hasn’t started until two or so days ago, I’m praying that I only have two more days left before we can be violently thrown about and I won’t even shrug a shoulder. I’m starting to miss being becalmed.

On a different note, a fun story that I forgot to mention yesterday on Matt’s birthday, and why we’re moving at just over 2 knots even though the wind hasn’t dwindled all the way out yet, is that we were hit with another surprise squall. Just when we were beginning to think that we were safe from them. It was late in the afternoon, and since it’s been cloudy for a few days now, we had to run the engine for an hour or so to charge the battery. Just as the winds were beginning to die down again and our speed was dropping, so it seemed like a win/win. I was hoping to be able to pencil in a 100 mile day, and the extra power from the engine was looking like it was going to get us there.

Just like our first night out from Miami, Matt was in the cockpit and I was down below when it came. It took me about 2.5 seconds to realize that something seemed wrong, and then about 10 more seconds to put my harness on and race up to the cockpit to see what it was. Once again Matt had the sheet for the headsail in his hands, which he was desperately trying to release slight tension on while trying to roll it in at the same time. Unlike last time though, between the two of us, we were able to gain control of the situation before I was going to spend another week making repairs to our genoa. With daylight on our side this time it wasn’t hard to see how many degrees we needed to fall off to put ourselves downwind and take pressure off the sails. The sheet to the headsail was passed to me, and still having it wrapped around the winch, without the full pressure on it now I was able to ease it little bits at a time while Matt furled it in from the other side of the cockpit.

Phew, crisis averted. But now, just as we were starting to let our guard down about squalls and thunderstorms, we don’t trust that we won’t be hit with one out of nowhere and have gone back to keeping minimal sail up, even in these 8-12 knot winds we’re now getting after the front.

rainbow after storm

spray foam insulation to v-berth

Spray Foam Insulation – V-berth & Forward Salon

Wednesday June 24, 2015

spray foam insulation kit

Over the weekend we were able to knock out the project of insulating the v-berth and the forward salon on Daze Off (you can read The Top 8 Ultimate Benefits Of Spray Foam Insulation, which is what we’d preferred).  When we bought the boat this is a project we were not expecting to do, but as anyone knows, plans to rebuild anything is always full of surprises.

We thought the boat was fully insulated and found out that wasn’t true when we began to rip out the ceiling in the forward salon.  All of the insulation there had been removed for what we’re assuming was a place for previous owners to hide drugs.  I guess that’s just one of the things you have to deal with when you buy an ex drug running boat.  The v-berth did have insulation…but it was only sheet insulation which we don’t quite trust because we wanted to prevent condensation from forming behind the foam and causing eventual corrosion. The overhead has spray foam insulation and we’d like to continue that throughout the boat. To find a good salon that suits your personal style and caters to your needs, one can view more here.

Serendipity didn’t have insulation, but after a quick look at this site we wanted to make sure this new boat does. Not only will it help keep us cool in the Caribbean while we have a blazing sun beating down on the shiny metal surface that is our boat, but once we get to the high latitudes we’ll need it to keep all heat possible inside the boat. Even when we were traveling down the ICW on Serendipity, the ambient air and water temperatures would sometime bring the inside temperatures into the low 50’s overnight. Getting ourselves into ice fields? I don’t even want to think about what it would be like inside the boat without insulation. (Although we will have a heater to keep us warm as well) When it comes to insulation you can contact for crawl space encapsulation here.

Having had a little experience with doing spray foam insulation ourselves from adding a little extra thickness to the existing insulation of Serendipity’s fridge (which you can read about here), Matt felt confident that he could cover the easily accessible areas of Daze Off himself.

Getting down to the primed aluminum hull, all Matt had to do was keep the nozzle 6 inches away from the surface he was covering and squeeze the trigger.  We had purchased a two part kit that had everything else ready to go for us.  The hoses that were bought from the local industrial hose suppliers were already attached to the canisters which means all you have to do is point and shoot.

He made sure to go slowly and also went lightly the first time because we didn’t know how much it would expand. We made the mistake with the fridge on Serendipity of spraying too much at first and it expanded so far that we were left with days of chiseling extra out.  This foam kit dries in one minute so it was easy to tell right away how much he needed to spray in one area.

v-berth with sheet insulation
primer on the aluminum hull
spray foam insulation to forward salon
spray foam in forward salon

When the salon was finished and we liked the results we removed the sheet insulation from the v-berth to be able to cover that area as well.  Covering the ceiling first we saved the overhead for last and ended up running out of foam.  Everything was covered but it wasn’t as thick on the overhead as the other areas.  It didn’t quite come out as far as the frames hung down.  Even though we’d bought enough foam to cover 200 board feet we ran just short.  Since we know we’ll eventually have to purchase another kit to cover the head, galley, and probably pilot house, we’ll come back and touch up the overhead of the v-berth.

Once the foam had fully dried we had to go back and uncover the frames so we’d still have a place to attach the furring strips to.  At first we were dreading the part since we remembered how miserable it was to chip out the extra foam on Serendipity, and then Matt had an idea.  Grabbing his Dremmel out he put on a long blade and ran it along the frame.  It worked perfectly!  With barely any work we were able to cut the foam off cleanly down to the aluminum frame.

Switching out this project back and forth since it can get a little tiring on the arms after awhile, we were able to do all the frames in just over an hour.  Now we are all set to start putting up furring strips and then the new ceiling!  She’s going to look so different with walls in again, I can’t wait to see the progress!

*You can spare us the lectures on how Matt wasn’t wearing a mask in this process.  We already had a stern talking to after posting a few photos on Facebook.  I will say that the kit we ordered is non-toxic and we also had all hatches open and a fan blowing.  It didn’t smell the best, but I don’t think we took any years off our lives.

tearing out sheet insulation
spray foam insulation to v-berth
cutting insulation from frame

The 22nd was Matt’s 33rd birthday, and even though he does not like to celebrate them we kind of forced a small party on him anyway.  Mark and Hanna had just gotten back from visiting family and when they found out it was his birthday they said we should all gather at the patio that night for a few drinks.  Not that hard since we’re there every night anyway for our dinner.  Hanna promised us a new mango drink she’d just invented made using fresh mangoes and an energy drink, and Mark said he’d have all the ingredients handy to make a few mojitos as well.  Having a plan of making a big pot of white chicken chili anyway, I invited them to eat with us too.

Since Matt still made us put in a full work day, we got down to the patio to shower just after 6 and just in time to watch a very large yacht pulling in the marina. It turns out it was a sunset cruise boat on it’s way down from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast and was pulling in for a spot to stay on their transit.  When they found out it was Matt’s birthday they invited him on board to snap a few photos behind the bar so we could pretend we had rented it out for his special night, but apparently that didn’t sound as fun to him as it did to me.  Finishing up the chili instead we gathered on the patio for dinner and drinks.

It was a fun and relaxing evening and I think Matt did get to enjoy some birthday antics when one of the yard guys, Alex, came and kidnapped him and Mark for a few hours where they went to a friends house and enjoyed some Coronas and billiards.  Hanna and I stayed back and mixed a few more mango/vodka/Monster drinks and enjoyed some girl time.

Our friends at the marina, Ellen and Scott, had also didn’t know about Matt’s birthday until the day of, so the next afternoon when we came down to the kitchen for lunch we found a bottle of Coca-Cola with a note that said ‘On your birthday you deserve to enjoy the real thing’.  A joke since we only buy the cheap $0.84 store brand soda at Walmart.  How sweet of them.  And funny.  I think overall it was a good birthday for Matt, considering we’re in a boat yard.  But when my birthday comes…I am getting out.

Princess of Naples
Matt, Hanna & Mark
Mango/Monster drink


Some Things Never Change

Sunday August 24, 2014


I have to say, there is some good that has come of us being stuck in Horta while we figure out what we want to do with this aluminum boat in Rhode Island. Had we not started looking at it we would have left for Gibraltar about 8 days ago, the weather window was perfect and we were otherwise ready to go. The downside about leaving then, however, is it would have put us at sea on my birthday. And even if it isn’t much, I like to celebrate my birthday.

Trying to make the best of what would have been a crappy situation had we gone, I was ready to kick back and enjoy the day with a bag of Skittles and a 2 liter of Publix Black Cherry soda, had we been on the water. I know, really big measures to take in the way of celebrations, but you only turn 32 once, and I figured, Why not live a little?

Since we are still in Horta though, I’m tucking those little treasures away and doing the best I can to celebrate on dry land. The earlier part of my birthday didn’t go so great when Matt and I decided to tackle the project of varnishing the galley. If we do get this new boat, Serendipity is going to be sold and that means she needs to be in tip top shape. And it also means this project we’ve been putting off should probably be completed sooner rather than later. I was left with the easy job of taping off everything next to the teak, it was my birthday after all, but somewhere along the way a few wakes were thrown our way when I was bent in positions with my head upside down, and I immediately went from zero to sick. Seeking refuge in the v-berth, I napped the next few hours away and swore I wouldn’t get out of bed the rest of the night.

Not being one to make a big fanfare for birthdays himself though, as you probably read on his own birthday, Matt was not going to let me put a rain check on this day and cash in my celebrating another night. If I was not up for going out tonight, I would not be going out at all. These marina charges are digging into our pocketbook and extra fanfare has to be kept to a minimum. Dragging myself out of bed I enjoyed a hot shower at the marina and put on one of my finest dresses to go out.

Knowing that we would actually be around for my birthday now, I had stalked a few of the restaurants in the area this past week to see which one looked most appealing. What I had settled on was a little place that didn’t look like they catered the best food, or even a Caipirinha, a local drink I’ve been dying to try, but it offer beautiful views of Porto Pim from their outdoor seating just next to the bay. Over the next hour or so, even though the weather was not on it’s best behavior, we enjoyed our table along with some beer and bread and cheese until our food came out. Both of us having ordered sandwiches, we were a little surprised when they came out open-faced. Eating my stacked tuna sandwich with garlic mayo proved….challenging. Poor Matt’s open-faced supposed pork sandwich turned out to be nothing more than packaged deli meat and cheese that we’d been buying ourselves at the local supermarket, thrown on a piece of bread. As I mentioned, we pretty much only came here for the views.

Porto Pim, Horta, Faial, Azores

Porto Pim, Horta, Azores

eating dinner by Porto Pim, Horta

bread and cheese appetizer

open faced tuna sandwich

eating my birthday dinner

dog on beach, Porto Pim, Horta

What beautiful views they were though. After our meal we went to wander the waterfront a little, this time from a vantage point we hadn’t seen yet. Off to our right there was what looked to be part of an old fort that sat on the water, complete with a few small towers and a large archway that led right out to a small beach. Stone slabs paved the way down to sand and water and we followed the side that was high and dry out to the sandy beach, unfortunately strewn with bits of garbage. Deciding that this was not the cleanest place to walk and wasn’t giving me the best views to look back to where we had been sitting and eating, I followed the stones out toward the bay where I waded in ankle deep water to be able to photograph the spot we had just been sitting.

Not the smartest idea, as Matt had already warned, since this area of stone and water was also covered with a slippery moss. I paid no mind to his warnings as there were important photographs to be taken. Two steps further out into the water and it didn’t matter how careful I was trying to be, there was no traction here. My feet went out from under me and before I even knew what was happening, I was face down in two inches of water after hearing a loud smack on my way down. Matt came running over as fast as he could, probably assuming the loud noise was my hip bone cracking on the stone, but that would have been a welcome scenario since I knew what actually caused it. What broke my fall on the way down was my brand new camera.

An older couple that had been sitting on a bench by the entrance to the area had also scurried over after they had seen me go down. Once I had righted myself and began walking back to dry land, the woman hurried over to me. ‘Oh honey, are you ok?’. Silence. ‘Do you speak English?’. More silence. I stood there completely mute and dumbfounded, disconcerted over the damage I might have just caused my camera. I couldn’t live with the fact that I might have just broken it. I’ve already gone through that torment once this year, and if it was not working anymore, I truly was shit out of luck. There would be no more replacement cameras in my future.

Matt wasn’t going to buy it for me. When I got my first Sony NEX in St. Augustine he told me to take good care of it because it was the only one I’d be getting. My current body was purchased for me by my parents after I threw a reverse psychology tantrum about having to shoot JPEG photos throughout Europe. ‘I’ll just have to photograph the world’s most amazing places with a point and shoot. It’s ok. Don’t worry about me. Photography was only turning into my biggest hobby’. Ok, truth be told, I wasn’t trying to get them to buy me a new camera, and when they offered, I told them they must absolutely make it a birthday and Christmas present combined. They didn’t listen. Just another random act of kindness from them because they love me and want me to be happy. Which simultaneously makes them terrible direction followers and the world’s best parents.

When I finally gained my voice back I let the woman know I was alright and assured Matt that I hadn’t broken any bones on the way down, and surprisingly nothing hurt. Or maybe that’s what I thought I said when the only thing that was actually coming out of my mouth was “My camera….oh god, my camera”. I took a few deep breaths as we moved to leave the place, trying to hold my tears back until we were at least on the street again.

Once we were out there it was time for the moment of truth. I slid the switch from Off to On and watched my display light up. I sucked in my breath. There was hope. I pressed the shutter button and heard a clicked and saw the image pop up on the display. Matt grabbed it out of my hands to look it over himself and also snapped a few photos. Everything looked to be in working order. Maybe I hadn’t just ruined my life after all. Time to let out a few tears of joy and then head back to the boat for an outfit change before hunting down that karaoke bar to properly finish out my birthday.

walking beach of Porto Pim, Horta

buildings overlooking Porto Pim

wet dress after falling in water

me & Ana Bianca

Celebrating Birthdays with our Miami Family

Sunday June 1, 2014

kids with bubble gun

So there was no avoiding taking the bus today. Not that we really mind, it’s not like we have a bustling schedule where we need to be anywhere as-fast-as-possible, but we’re always singled out for the crazy people to talk to. There must be some sort of kindness in our face that the rest of public transportees in Miami lack. These people have chosen wisely though, because we are always too polite to abruptly end the conversation and let them go off on whatever tangent they’ve pulled out for the day. Don’t worry though, the two hour ride between riding, transfers and walking to get ourselves to Key Biscayne was totally worth it. Today was Vance’s birthday, and we wanted to make sure we were there to celebrate.

Walking in the door right at two o’clock when it started and finding only Ivonne, Vance, and Vance’s daughter Jenny getting everything set up, they laughed and told us no one mentioned ‘Cuban time’ to us. By arriving on time we had arrived too early. Which was fine because it gave us a chance to help set up and take a small load off their hands. Before we knew it, all the other guests began to show up and we were situated at a table with Ana Bianca and Alfredo, stuffing our faces full of veggies and dip and washing them back with cold Yuenglings. We let them know of our new plan to wait for a good 4-5 day window of south winds and finally get out of dodge. It turns out they’re planning on taking I-65 down to the Virgin Islands instead of the thorny path, and a buddy boat alliance was formed since we both needed to make the same 500 miles east out of Miami. (We later found out though that they can go through the NW Channel of the Bahamas while we want to be above it, so the buddy boat plan didn’t work out)

When the air conditioning indoors became too much for Ana Bianca and I to bear since we’re not used to living our lives with it anymore, we moved outside to one of the shaded tables where we watched Jenny prep the grill and layer it with what looked like the most mouthwatering cuts of chicken I’d ever seen. Luckily I was able to snag the recipe of the marinade from her and will be trying it out on Serendipity sometime soon. Things got even better that when the chicken had finished cooking I didn’t even need to remove myself from the pool to get a few pieces, it was handed right over to me. Trust me, it did not disappoint. Jenny, you are my new grill master. (Sorry Justin, I’ve supposedly heard that you’re also a grill master, but I honestly didn’t see you do much of anything in that area today. The title remains with Jenny).

pool at Toti's

Jenny at grill

Ana Bianca at pool

Alfredo & Gracie

Shortly after, we made our way back inside.  There’s just no pleasing us girls, and soon we were craving our air conditioning again.  Plus all the delicious snacks that lay inside.  Going for seconds of shrimp cocktail and bacon jam (no, not together), I almost filled myself up to the point that when the cake came out and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Vance, I was tempted to pass on the carrot cake being placed in front of me.  A good rallying took me to accept it, and good thing I did because it was so delicious.  And after that I even had to snatch one of the last chocolate chip cookies before they ran out.  This party was full of food overload, but god do I miss those days where I just get to stuff my face.  They don’t happen too often on the boat, usually because that would mean sweating in a hot galley to prepare anything.  Yes, even the cold items.

birthday cake

me & Ana Bianca

kids blowing bubbles

While all the children, a whole gang of them under the age of 5, took their afternoon naps, us adults entertained ourselves out on the patio with glasses of Mt. Gay rum in our hands.  When the kids woke back up later in the evening though, the party got it’s second wind.  No longer content to only entertain among themselves, a collaboration between the children and adults began where some of the adults (mostly me) began acting like children and participating in their games.  There were races around the room on top of boogie boards, dancing to Disney’s ‘Frozen’ soundtrack, and Vance even joined in the childish games with me by whizzing the kids around the room in his motorized chair.  Of course no one could keep us kids away from playing with one of the family member’s labradoodle, Millie, and when we settled down just a little while later we were treated to one of the young boy’s a capella versions of a Disney song while standing on a table who proceeded to dive/crowd surf his way on to Matt’s lap directly after. Because of the current and and ongoing global situation, spending birthdays on these locations might still not be allowed. That’s why most would opt to celebrate on their own houses and backyards instead. As for the kids, their parents chose the best children’s outdoor playhouses which can be placed on their backyards so the kids can still have some fun and get their mind off the ongoing negativity.

Even though we were the first ones to arrive this morning, we were the last ones to shut the party down just shy after midnight.  Good thing Ana Bianca and Alfredo were willing to drive us back to the dinghy because I don’t even want to imagine the kind of bus people we might have encountered on the way back.  We’re starting to become a little sad that our departure date for the Med has been delayed, but as long as it has, we’re just so glad we now have a ‘second family’ in Miami to be able to spend our extra time with.

Matt with champagne

Ana Bianca, Milly & Jenny

Gracie and Millie

Matt holding the crowd surfer

Jessica with cheeseburger cake

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Friday March 14, 2014

Jessica with cheeseburger cake

You know those group messages you can do on Facebook?  Where you can add however many people you’d like but still keep the conversation private?  Well after our girls night out, the three of us started one to talk about how much fun we had, and that it needed to be done again….soon.  The only problem was that I would only catch parts of the conversation because, even though we get to sit by a gorgeous pool while we do it, Matt only has the patience to sit around while I get my internet fix for about 90 minutes every other day.  I know I can go back and read more of the conversation that I missed, but it’s easier just to read the last two posts and make assumptions.  Which is why when we were planning another get together, I caught the date/time, that I was to bring guacamole, and there would be a cheeseburger cake.  Um..ok?

Getting picked up by G again at the marina, he told us the cake was actually a birthday surprise for their friend Sandy that was joining our cookout that night.  She’s really into Jimmy Buffet and loves ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Ok, it all makes sense now.  Only I had to keep in mind, it was all a surprise.  Getting to the house and pouring myself a tall Fosters, I had to force myself to remember not to say anything about a cheeseburger cake as I was introduced to Sandy.  Not an easy feat.  I mean, it’s a cheeseburger cake, who can keep that to themselves for a few hours or not go off on a tangent about Jimmy Buffet, Key West, or ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ without raising suspicion?  Luckily before I could ruin the surprise, Jessica took me for another tour of Felicity and showed off their most recent work to her.

m/v Felicity side

m/v Felicity front

Jessica G. & cat

Jessica's patio

Not too long after that, Melody arrived and we were able to grill up the actual hamburgers for dinner.  A little tip..add some guacamole for one of the best burgers you’ve ever had.  When we were all sufficiently stuffed and could not even think about putting another bite of food in our mouths, cue the cake.  But that wasn’t all.  We also had ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise all cued up on the stereo, and Adam has his guitar out and strumming while the candles were lit and we went the whole nine yards with the theme.  I think Sandy was quite surprised.

cheeseburger cake

You know what comes after cake right?  Shots of tequila.  The two are quite synonyms with each other, don’t you think?  No?  Ok, maybe not.  But the bottle was placed in front of us girls by G and we couldn’t turn down the challenge.  In fact, we turned the tables on the guys and made such a big ordeal of it, with different photos and poses, that I’m sure all they were thinking was ‘Why did we even think this was a good idea? Take the damn shots already!’.

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See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil.  See what happens when you put girls and cameras together?

(I was secretly loving every minute of it.)

see no evil

There’s only one logical thing for girls to do after they take a shot of tequila.  Hula hoop.  I guess you could say we were the after dinner entertainment?

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Jessica & Jessica hula hooping

Exhausting ourselves with the great exercise that provided, and then pigging out on cheeseburger cake, we moved on to an activity that everyone could participate in.  Passing the guitar over to Chris, we requested songs and had him play as we all sang along.  Watch out Johnny Cash, us girls are creeping up on your heels with our version of Folsom Prison Blues.

Jessica & Chris

 Although it was starting to get late, we couldn’t let Melody leave without showing her the awesome moves that Jessica and I had picked up from her Wii dance game.  Although secretly, I just wanted to break out the moves to Will Smith’s ‘Wild Wild West’ again.  Consider it the cowgirl in me.  I am a born Texan after all.

dancing at Jessica's

Being able to spend another night with this great group of people?  I’m pretty sure that’s paradise.  Don’t discount the cheeseburgers though.

Vacilando and Felicity

Hollywood Beach walkway 1

Birthday Checklist: Swim in the Atlantic; Visit new Country, Continent, Hemisphere.

Saturday August 24, 2013

Hollywood Beach Florida

Yes.  I am one of those people that likes to make (somewhat of) a big deal out of my birthday.  Not only am I good at hijacking others’ birthdays, I’m pretty good at celebrating my own.  No sitting at home prattling off ‘Oh, it’s just another day of the year’ for me.  Like some people I know.  (Ahem, Matt!)  Although I usually don’t get turned down on things I want from my wonderful husband, it’s because I usually don’t ask for much either.  But on my birthday, I can.  The past few years has only resulted in Starbucks in the morning and a dinner out in the evening (see, I told you I don’t ask for much), but this year was looking like I wasn’t going to be able to do even that.  Because this year my birthday was starting with a 5 am flight out of Chicago, an 8 hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale, and then arriving to Lima Peru around 11 pm.  My best hopes were starting to look like a burger and a beer from an airport bar.  Then comes to the rescue, our good friend Ana Bianca.  Just a few days after we left the marina in Guatemala, she also left to go home for a few months.  Home being Miami Beach.  As in, just an hour’s drive from Ft. Lauderdale.  Since she couldn’t stand the thought of me being cooped up in three different airports all day on my birthday, she offered to drive up to take Matt and I out for the day.

Getting picked up from the airport by Ana Bianca and her boyfriend Alfredo, we whipped and whizzed through the city’s expressways as we made our way towards Hollywood Beach.  We were given a narrative along the drive that this was the happening place to be back in the 60’s, and much of the architecture hasn’t changed over the years.  Lining the sidewalks in town were many bars, restaurants, and cafes with Cuban and MiMo flare,  which are still frequently visited by people looking to get away strip malls filled with Starbucks’ and Outback Steakhouses.  We stopped the car for just a minute to visit one of those cafes where I could get my birthday frappuccino, and then continued on to the beach.

Strutting onto the sand we made a quick costume change into our suits at one of the beach front restaurants and left with some cold Coronas in our hands.  Spreading out the towels on the hot white sand, it felt nice to be back in a place with tropical blue waters glimmering in the distance.  Hell, if the waters are this nice in Southern Florida, maybe we can skip the $300 entrance fee to the Bahamas next year and stay in the good ol’ US of A for a bit instead.  Although I highly doubt the spearfishing would be as good, or even legal.  Sigh, so many compromises in life.  That’s a ways down the road though, and today was looking like a beautiful day at Hollywood Beach, so I was going to enjoy it to it’s fullest.  When the beers had been drained and our skin was fully sizzling, we made our way down to the water where we swam out until the sand dropped out beneath our feet and sat there treading water for the next forty-five minutes as we discussed everything from politics to cruising to new hackers that apparently can get into ships systems and steer them off course.  Good thing they’re probably not looking to move about little 34 ft yachts as they cross seas and oceans.

Having worked up an appetite we moved our party to a Cuban restaurant since I mentioned to Ana Bianca that all I really wanted for my birthday was a mojito and some ropa vieja.  Instead, we did something even better by turning it into a tapas meal where we let Alfredo, who’s Cuban, pick about four different items from the menu where we each put a little on our plates so we were able to try everything.  In the mix were: Mariquitas, which are crispy plantain chips; Yuca Frita, a cassava root that is boiled and then fried; Croquetas de Jamon, lightly breaded rolls with ham filling; and Masas de Cerdo, which was deep fried pork cubes served with sauteed onions, black beans, and rice.  Everything was absolutely amazing.  I don’t know why I haven’t gotten on the Cuban food bandwagon earlier.  Add a nice tall mojito to all that mouthwatering food and I was in heaven.  A perfect birthday with wonderful friends.  Thanks again for taking us out Alfredo and Ana Bianca, it was truly an incredible day!

Mamacita's Hollywood Beach

 Sitting on the beach in front of Mamacita’s Cuban Restaurant.

Ana Bianca and Alfredo

Ana Bianca and Alfredo took a quick dip before the beer drinking started, too.

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Like my new sandals?  Birthday gift from my mom.

view down Hollywood Beach

Not quite South Beach, but suits were noticeably skimpier here than we are used to seeing.

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Mamacita's Mojito


Hollywood Beach walkway 1

Hollywood Beach

Ana Bianca and Alfredo

Ana Bianca & Alfredo.  Aawwww!

Getting back to the airport, I hadn’t even changed out of my suit and my hair was a wet, salty mess.  Making our way through security I’m sure there were a few unapproving glances shot our way of ‘Did they really just come here from the beach?’.  Yes.  Yes we did.  What was even better was after we had gotten to our terminal and found a few people that had been on our morning flight from Chicago, sitting there waiting for the evening flight to Lima.  And you could tell they had been there All.Day.  I don’t even want to know the kinds of dirty looks we were probably getting from them behind our backs.  ‘We’ve been sitting in this terminal all day and they’re out frolicking at the beach?!’.  What can I say?  It was my birthday, I made things happen.  (Actually, Ana did.  Thanks again Ana!!)

Our flight to Lima was long and uncomfortable, and we were living with our cheap Spirit Airlines ticket consequences.  No leg room and the fear of falling asleep because if my head rolled even 20 degrees to the right I’d be getting to know my neighbor a little more than I wanted.  (Fun fact:  Matt will always make me take the center seat on an airplane or bus because he doesn’t like being in close proximity to strangers.  This applies even on my birthday.)  I was probably able to get a collective 30 minutes of sleep during our five hour flight and by the time we got to Lima I was surprised that I could even get coherent English words out of my mouth.  Which unfortunately was not going to help me in this part of the world.  Going through customs, the agent tried speaking to me in Spanish and I told him that I only knew a little, forcing him to switch to English.  He then not so politely informed me that if I was going to be visiting his country, it would be considerate of me to learn his language.  Thanks guy, that’s actually what I’ve been trying to do for the past four straight weeks, but Rosetta Stone hasn’t gotten me past colors or words for eating or running.  You know, the useful stuff.

It was now 10:30 at night and even though all we wanted to do was find a bed to crash in, we weren’t too keen on having to navigate a strange city so late at night.  I hadn’t even written down the address of the hostel we were planning on staying at.  Grabbing a very late dinner of Pizza Hut, we made the decision to spend the night in the airport.  No longer having access to the terminal where we might have been able to slide a few chairs together, since we had to exit that area to pick up our luggage, we relied on a post I had read in ‘Sleeping in Airports’, that Lima held only one spot off in a corner that was able to give resting travelers any kind of peace.  So, using our bags as pillows and shoving ear plugs in our ears to drown out the constant announcements over the speakers, we comfortably passed out in front of the bright lights of Radio Shack, ready to sleep off our long and exciting day.

sleeping in the airport


Candy Coated Raindrops

Friday June 22, 2012

When Matt and I woke up this morning on his 30th birthday we walked out of our bedroom and expected to see the whole living room and kitchen decorated with balloons, streamers and signs, just as his mom had done the previous year for his 29th birthday. She must have listened to pleads of ‘I don’t celebrate birthdays, please don’t do anything’ because the area was not adorned with a single balloon. We went through our morning routine getting ready to go to the boat so it was pretty quick with just pulling on a t-shirt and shorts over a swimsuit. Going into the bathroom to brush my teeth I saw there was a note on the counter wishing Matt a happy birthday and that his card was in the bathroom downstairs. I could already tell where this was going, but he was busy sitting on the floor of the living room making sure we had all the necessary componets to bring out the radar and get it installed over the weekend. I mentioned his birthday card was downstairs and he should go get it. Following him down the steps we walked into the basement bathroom to see that there were signs, streamers and about 30 balloons taped all over the small space as well as a card with gift enclosed. He had a good laugh and I personally think he would have been a little disappointed had he not gotten one streamer on his birthday. Walking back upstairs I had my birthday gift waiting for him on the counter and made him open it. Wrapped in Christmas paper (I wrapped it the night before and it was the first thing I came across) were a pair of Sperry Topsider loafers.  Something for him to wear on the trip besides sneakers and sandals since those aren’t his thing anyway.  There was a period of a few years where he wore a pair of Banana Republic loafers to do everything from hiking to mowing the lawn.  I think he was very appreciative of the gift since it’s nothing he would splurge on for himself.

 Packing up the car we headed out to the boat with a quick stop at West Marine to exchange for a smaller pair of shoes (apparently they run large) and food. Before going to the marina we pulled into the offices to see if they had the situation figured out yet of what mooring we would be at. The woman who had been working with Matt on the issue was not in the office at the moment but we were told she would call or email when she got in. When we pulled into the marina the sun was bright in the sky and winds were also gusting at a decent speed. Lugging the big box containing the radar we went over to the slip that had our boat and loaded everything below deck. Neither of us wanted to sit at the slip for very long as we always feel crowded and on display.  After the crew around the docks had gone to lunch and we were sure they wouldn’t see our attempt at a departure the engine was turned on and we began to undo the docklines.  Matt was behind the wheel backing us out and I was at the bow keeping one line around a cleat until we were clear of the docks.  Backing into the area that boats are normally launched into we cleared everything with no problem and were soon making our way into open water.  I did find out though that Matt had actually turned us in the opposite direction that he was originally trying for, it just happened that everything still worked out.  Good thing there will not be a lot of marina’s in our future or if there are hopefully we get a lot more practice moving around in small spaces first.  Once in the lake we didn’t even want to bother checking out the new mooring the marina was trying to put us at but headed straight towards the dunes instead.  Forecasts had been showing for some isolated storms to come through that day but the skies were looking clear.  When we did cross infront of the channel and were able to look out to the big lake there did appear to be some large puffy clouds covered in a pink haze far out on the horizon.  I’m guessing that was the storm that was coming our way but it still looked pretty far off.  Pulling into a spot between two powerboats enjoying the early afternoon we had our new anchor set up and ready to drop.  Matt stood up at the bow with the remote for the windlass  and I followed directions from behind the wheel of neutral and reverse.  The anchor dug into place very easily which was nice because for some reason in my head I remembered anchorings being a stressfull situation.  Maybe racing has just got me much more comfortable of what a boat can do before you’re in real danger.  Plus this time we were not surrounded by the jagged rocks of the breakers and that helps ease one’s mind.

Set in a stationary spot we didn’t feel like doing any real work and I wanted to get a better glace at what looked to be the storm clouds coming in.  Since we had the dinghy towing behind us we jumped in and motored to shore.  Trying to walk up the steep initial dune I didn’t plan on going very fast since lack of treadmill time this summer has left me a little out of shape but as soon as my bare feet hit the burning sand both of us were sprinting up to try and find a spot of shade at the top.  Peering over the dunes to Lake Michigan the clouds were not looming any closer than they had been almost an hour ago when viewing them from the channel.  Practicing my weather forecasting capabilities I predicted they would reach us in four to five hours.  Walking/sprinting up one more dune we found a nice spot in the shade and sat down to relax.  With no cooler and not much shade around us we only relaxed for a few minutes before getting restless and heading back to the dinghy on shore.  Dashing down the sand at top speed we both went right for the water to cool the burning soles of our feet where we spent a little time on a beached log before stepping back in the dinghy and reboarding Serendip.

With the storms still a few hours off and being protected from the wind we pulled the large bag containing the mail sail up on deck so we could attach it to the mast/boom and clear out a little space from the saloon.  Plus sails are good to have for, you know, sailing.  Having watched this multiple times now on Island Dream before every race I felt confident that I knew what I was doing.  Bringing the tack (forward part) of the sail up by the mast I put Matt on winching duties and asked if he was ready for me to start hanking the foot of the sail into the boom.  He replied that no, the head of the sail goes up first and then the foot is attached.  Confused as I was sure I had just watched this multiple times I explained my logic to him but was still denied.  Figuring that Mr. OCD was still more versed in everything sailing than I was I let it go and attach the halyard to the head of the sail and told him to start winching.  It hadn’t even gone ten feet up when he stopped and goes, ‘Wait…no, the foot of the sail does need to go on first’.  Mmmm hmmm.  So the toggles were slid through the boom and it was finally ready to go up the mast.  Other than a small issue of where I had inserted the toggles upsidedown where the battons were (sorry for all the nautical lingo for you non sailors) where the sail had to be lowered and then raised again the process was done pretty quickly and we were putting the sail cover on.  Yes.. one more lump of fabric out of the way.  Celebrating the small victory I sat with some crackers and a pop in the cockpit.  When Matt came back up after changing into his swimsuit I wanted to get my very rare ‘I told you so’ in so I looked at him and asked ‘So how’s that logic of yours working out?’.  Straight faced he looked right back at me and replied ‘How’s that piece of food in your teeth working out?’  Touche.

Because of all the labor that’s been poured into the boat for the past, oh 8 months?, neither of us were in a work oriented state that day and raising the main was enough to call it break time.  I had finally remembered to take the hammock we had purchased years ago for camping out of my car and bring it on the boat.  Wanting to see how it would work out Matt started pulling out yards of line to attach it to the mast and the forestay.  The first attempt left his butt repeatedly bumping into the hatch as he swung back and forth.  The second attempt gave about three inches of clearance but left a little squeak.. squeak.. squeak of the furling as he swayed in the breeze.  Knowing that adding a second person would take away any of the extra space between the hammock and the boat I decided to go for a swim instead.  Teetering over the side of the deck it took a lot of preparation to get ready for my first plunge of the year as it was not incessantly hot and I didn’t have Matt to push me in before I was ready.  After a few false starts I forced myself to take the leap before my mind caught up with my impulse.  The water was refreshingly cool and took a few moments to get use to.  Since we had rushed out of the house in the morning and I didn’t get a chance to clean up I used the opportunity to wash my hair (with eco friendly products), lathering up on deck and jumping back in to rinse.  When I was all clean I let my body just float around with the breezes for a few minutes before getting chilly and climbing back on board to nestle under my towel.  Trading places I took over the hammock while Matt sampled the water.  I don’t know if he was having the same issues I was in the hammock but the wind started forcefully swinging me back and forth at more than the rocking pace I was expecting and that coupled with the vertigo from floating in the water quickly sent me below deck to lie down before I could become even more sick than I was starting to feel.

The black sheep in the cloud family

Matt tackled a few more projects while I napped and only woke me for a few minutes to listen to a song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s playing on Pandora that I had been longing to hear.  Getting another hour of sleep in I woke up still a little groggy and went to the cockpit with a Pepsi to wake up a little more.  Just beginning to stretching out over the dunes were the clouds I had my eyes on earlier in the day.  At first they came over thin and wispy but soon became thicker and darker.  Right on time at just after four hours from I watched them from the top of the dunes.  Realizing we still needed to attach our equipment to whichever new mooring they assigned to us and it would not be fun to do with a storm rolling through we upped the anchor and crossed the lake to the mooring field in search of our new home, number 103.  Not ever paying attention to mooring numbers before except our old one of 35 we didn’t know what side to start on and ended up on the opposite end at 1A.  Strolling past the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s  we stopped even searching and just headed for the very end.  Swinging around from the outside and entering the field our eyes were peeled for numbers that might point out how close to 103 we were.  This area did not seem to follow any order as 99 and 108 were right next to each other.  Looking at all the vacant balls we could not find 103 anywhere.  Then we got smart and started searching ones with boats attached to them and sure enough 103 was already comfortably housing someone.  Knowing the offices were already closed for the night we left a quick voicemail for them to call us as soon as possible but knew we’d just have to pick a random spot for the night.  One of the issues with this is each  mooring ball is weighted down with different items and we needed to make sure we were on one strong enough to hold our 15,000 or so pounds.  Turning back to go to the area we had always been in the past we’d look at open areas and try to remember what size boats had been there or areas that would give us a lot of swing room in case we did end up at one too small for us.  Deliberating between two or three balls we finally landed on one that was closest to the open water of the lake and afforded the most swing room.  Matt boarded the dinghy will all the equipment and I circled around with Serendip until he finished and called me over.  I may have barreled into the spot a little too quickly but soon we were attached and safe enough for the night.

Checking the forecast though, that incoming storm was really closing in and we didn’t want to leave until we knew Serendipity would be safe for the night.  Since we were going to pick up fried chicken on the way home we opted instead to grab it before the storm came and bring it to the boat to eat.  Driving the 4-5 miles from the marina we pulled in to Lee’s Chicken which has amazing chicken and for so cheap.  I was really craving coleslaw and a biscuit so I ended up ordering a meal that came with three pieces of chicken and two sides plus a drink for under $6.  I don’t know why we don’t come here more often.  Getting our meals back to the boat we sat out and ate as a few boats from the yacht club started to pull out into the lake.  Most of them I recognized from Wednesday races and thought maybe there was a race being held that night.  Only around five in total were headed out so my guess was they were just getting practice in or Friday races were not popular at all.  Just after we finished eating I could see a haze on the other side of the lake near the dunes and it looked like the rain was finally coming.  Hanging out down below we let it pass over us.  The storm was quick and not very strong at all.  Once it was apparent the storm was gone I stuck my head out the companionway to see if the racers had come in but instead was treated to the sun poking out of the clouds and a brilliant full spectrum rainbow shining over the water.  I had never seen anything like it before, it was actually so bright that it made my eyes hurt.  Grabbing the camera and calling to Matt that he had to come see this we both stood in the cockpit taking it in.  We could make out the full rainbow from end to end in electric colors that also included blue, indigo and violet.  The lines between the colors were clear and concise and it looked like something that had painted onto the sky instead of nature made.  Neither of us could take our eyes away and continued to stare for ten more minutes until the colors slowly started to blend together.

Staying for just a little longer there was no dragging of the mooring and we felt confident that when we came back the next night our boat would still be there waiting for us.  Even though Matt does’t ‘celebrate’ birthdays I think he got a good one in.  Boats, fried chicken and rainbows sound like an ideal day to me.  Maybe I was trying to celebrate my birthday a few months early?  After all, mine will likely be spent in the Erie canal in a one stop light town.  Could be really fun or could be dismal.  We shall see. In any case I feel I have taken over enough of Matt’s to last until mine.  Did I mention we get to go home to pineapple upsidedown cake?