laundry 1

Hanging our Clean Laundry to Dry

Monday March 10, 2014

laundry 1

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

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

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

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

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

laundry 2

Jessica & Jessica

Six Degrees of Friends in Fort Lauderdale

Tuesday March 4, 2014

Jessica & Jessica

 Jessica power!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Matt at Pier 66

Pier 66 Fort Lauderdale

cat drinking pool water

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

Jessica & Gordon

Our wonderful hosts for the night, Jessica & Gordon

Jessica & Jessica

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

Jessica & Jessica WWS

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

Jessica & Jessica, kisses

Jessica doesn’t seem to want my kisses.

Mardi Gras mask

palm trees lit up at night

Hard Rock Cafe Miami

From Bays to Lakes

Monday March 3, 2014

Miami proper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami proper

Sailing by Miami Proper.

Hard Rock Cafe Miami

 Hard Rock Cafe Miami.

Bimini Super Fast

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

South Beach, Miami

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

Mo-ji-to!

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