Mission Demolition: Pilot House

Wednesday October 21, 2015

Matt taking apart pilot house

The good thing about getting back from vacation at  10 am on Monday was that we still hadn’t gotten out of vacation mode yet and were not quite ready to jump back into work.  As soon as Matt’s family had pulled away in their car we were passed out in our bed and recovering from all the activity of the past week.  If we thought working on a boat was taxing, we forgot what sitting in the sun all day and drinking beer all night can do for one’s energy.

The bad thing about getting back was that we still had no access to a working vehicle.  We’d deducted that a new radiator needed to be put in the Kia, and once more we were stuck waiting until it arrived in the mail.  Not so bad when we were waiting for the alternator to come because we’d just picked up a fresh supply of groceries and still had all of our majorly used tools inside the van parked next to us.  This time we had done a full clean out of the van before we were going on vacation so that we were not only not leaving precious and expensive tools inside a van that might look tempting to someone walking by it on the street overnight, but also because we didn’t want Matt’s family to know exactly how much chaos we were living in.  I’m not sure that part worked.

Long story short, just about everything was in our storage unit up the road.  Yes we still had our minor tools such as screw drivers and drills.  Yes, we could have walked up the road to retrieve what we needed.  But that table saw was not light and those sheets of Eurolight were not easy to carry for more than a few steps at a time.  For the next few days we were left with only the things we had right in front of us.

That’s when a project that we had been somewhat dreading and putting off for some time came front and center as one of our only options of what we had the ability to work on.  Rip apart the pilot house so that we could install the foam insulation to the frame.  Truth be told this project needed to be done soon anyway.  The shelf life of the spray once it’s been opened is about 30 days and we had just sprayed the galley three weeks before.  Not wanting to take the chance we’d loose $300 worth of foam because it might go bad on us before we could use it, we decided it was time.  The only part of the boat that wasn’t yet in shambles would now be reduced to a pile of rubble.

pilot house - Trisalu 37

pilot house - Trisalu 37

Matt reorganizing

Matt disassembling storage


Although I had been pushing for this project for quite some time now, because although Matt doesn’t always agree with me on this, I do believe in saving money.  (Or at least not wasting it.  Beer is not a waste of money!) Anyway, I had been dreading it at the same time because it meant we were losing any bit of use-able storage space we had left on the boat.  We have been able to move our clothes to their new cabinets, but everything else sits up in the pilot house.  All of our toiletries, parts we’ve purchased but haven’t been able to install yet. Books, tool bags, food from the Canary Islands we still haven’t eaten yet.

Ok, maybe I’m getting a little over dramatic here, but I was sad to not only lose the last area that some resemblance of a finished boat, but I was also losing any bit of organization or sanity I had left. Which is a little laughable since I’m the one who can normally live in complete chaos and not bat an eye, but for some reason this got to me.  Yet I could only stand by and watch as it was torn down piece by piece.  Sometimes you have to move back to move forward.

Stay tuned for when we tear apart the starboard side and add the insulation.

demolition of pilot house

demolition of pilot house

bare hull of pilot houses

Matt in storage area

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Throwback Thursday: Goodbye Guatemala

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.

November was a bit of a low month for us in the Rio.  Not long after our trip out with Nacho and his friends, we moved the boat out of our slip at Tortugal Marina and enjoyed being on the hook once more.  Not only for the tranquility of it but also to escape a certain neighbor we’d been having issues with.

It was finally time to go though.  After waiting out winds for a week and a half and then quickly replacing an alternator bracket when it broke on us, we were ready to go.  Time to get moving again and time to fill our sails with wind.  On to the Cays of Belize and eventually Mexico where we hoped to meet back up with our friends Luki and Elmari. The best part of it all, was that after arriving in Guatemala with the thought that I was done traveling via sailboat, the excitement once more took over me and I couldn’t wait to get back on the water.

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday December 3, 2013

12.3.13 (1)

This morning we were up with the sun, only to find out that most of the other boats in the bay had already gotten out before us. I swear, I didn’t even think I was sleeping that hard, but I heard no engines running or anchors being weighed. Our only hope is they don’t get to the agent’s office in Livingston before us and clog up his day with paperwork, forcing our departure back until late afternoon. It didn’t matter to me though. Once again, we were moving. And the best part of the Rio was yet to come. The rocky cliffs, the immobilizing thick jungle, and being deposited into the Amatique Bay, leading out the the Gulf of Honduras and Caribbean Sea. We were about to be set free once more.

Reaching the town of Livingston about half past eight in the morning, we dropped the anchor off to the side from the flow of traffic and put the dinghy down to get ourselves to shore. None of the other boats from last nights anchorage were resting in the same place, which means they must had checked out previously, going back up the river for the night and heading back down to catch this mornings high tide. We had contemplated that as well, but since we want to arrive at our destination tomorrow morning, a mid afternoon low tide departure will suit us just fine. We tentatively powered the dinghy up toward shore, scanning the horizon between all the shouting children that were pointing for a spot to go, until we saw the older Rastafarian man that had kept an eye on our dink when we first arrived here, and mentally reminded ourselves to save at least $5 before we spent the rest of our Guatemalan cash so we could tip him when we left.

Rounding the somewhat familiar streets, we walked up the steps to the agent’s office and found out that even though it wasn’t quite 9 am yet, the door was open. Raul, the agent we were used to working with, wasn’t there, but in his seat was a younger man of around 15-20. Maybe his son or a nephew? Just as friendly and outgoing as Raul though, this new guy mentioned Raul would be in shortly and that he could get our paperwork started in the meantime. Going over the fees, he told us what we could expect to pay to check out, and that we should be back in an hour to collect our zarpe. Other than that, we were free to roam the town.

I had been able to sneak my laptop in my bag with me, along with all the necessary boat papers that had to make their way in, and after walking through a few of the backstreets and realizing we didn’t have a need (or want really) for any of the goodies in the thrift shops on the main street, we decided to stop for breakfast at a brightly blue colored restaurant, taking seats in the shade on a covered patio. Proud of myself for speaking only in Spanish, I was able to order a coffee along with some delicious sounding coconut bread and jam I keep hearing about, and procure the password to their wifi signal. While I was doing last minute Facebook updates and assuring both our parents that they we may be out of internet range for the next week and they should not alert the authorities about us if we’re not heard from in the next two days, Matt did some last checks on his email and the weather.

Before we knew it, our hour was up and we were back in Raul’s office, shaking his hand and getting our zarpe, the whole process already completed for us. Man I love dealing with an agent. One stop shopping. What we did realize after checking out though, is that it cost us a good deal less than we thought it would, and we were still left with 300 Q, or about $40, in our pockets. I looked at the pretty sundresses billowing in the wind while resting on mannequins, but Matt just shook his head no. I already have too many dresses, and they never get worn. True. So instead we hiked up the hill to the bank and exchanged our Guatemalan cash for US and began our descent back to the dinghy.

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Getting to Serendipity once more it was still about three hours before our slack tide, but the waters looked so calm that we didn’t think going out against a small opposing current would be a big deal.  The dinghy was quickly hauled up on deck and secured and before we knew it we were motoring out through the bar, following our previous tracks from our entrance back in June, and my heart in my throat until we hit steady depths of 12 feet again, although we only saw under 7 ft once or twice.  The winds were on our nose just enough that we were able to motorsail with the mainsail up, sacrificing just a little speed so that we could point high enough that we didn’t run ashore on the point of land in Guatemala that hooks out at the end of Amatique Bay.

For hours we cruised on like this until just an hour before the sunset when we were able to point more north, prepping ourselves to sneak into the inner channel between mainland Belize and it’s outlying cays.  We found a coordinate that allowed us to take open waters for a great portion of the southern point, and then duck in with ample safety once we reach it in the dark.  Matt took a nap to prepare himself for the first night shift, and when he woke up I heated the chili I had prepared the night before.  Seas were mostly calm and I didn’t even get sick below deck which I was very thankful for.

I have to say, our first day back out, and everything was perfect.  Oh right, except for that one issue.  The issue of a bolt shearing off on the engine, one of three that holds in the new alternator bracket we just had fabricated.  And what’s that?  Oh yeah, we’re in the middle of a channel.  In the dark.  With the wind still on our nose.  Having a running engine is kind of an important thing.  Matt shut the whole thing off for a few moments as we bobbed around, losing all forward momentum, making sure the issue didn’t look like it was going to get worse.  We could survive with 2 out of three bolts, but if either of the others went, we would be fu@%ed.  Thinking quick, he took some wire and wound the bracket on tighter, but now the rest of the passage will consist of 30 minute engine checks to make sure it’s all still running smoothly.  Dear god, do not let anything happen until after my night shift.  I don’t think I could handle sailing through this channel while left to my own devices right now.

Gulf of Honduras at sunset

mountains of Belize at sunset


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Bathtub Reef Beach

Saturday October 17, 2015

Bathtub Reef

There must be something about the water that keeps drawing us back in.  I have to remind myself of this every time (previously) that I’d had it up to my neck with cruising and living on a boat and would long for nothing more than an apartment in the high rise of a big city with my feet firmly planted on the ground.  Yet the water always drags me back and anytime I’m away for too long I find myself needing to dip my toes in and stare off into the horizon.

Which is likely why we found ourselves with Matt’s family spending another whole day at the shore as part of a vacation for all of us.  Luckily they must have the same draw to the water as we do and is probably why Matt and I were so lucky to grow up by the shores of Lake Michigan. So when yesterday came and there was the question of ‘What do we do with our day?’, all of us were ready to hit the beach.

Packing a cooler and all of Travis’ fishing gear since he had been getting a lot of good tips on shoreline fishing, we made our way to the Jensen Beach area to lay out our towels and relax in the sun.  Once again we were nearly the only people on this slice of sand.  It could have been nice and relaxing, but most of us had forgotten to bring any other forms of entertainment such as books, magazines, or music; and people watching was out as well.  Cracking open a pre-lunch beer, Matt and I split it while watching Travis’ fishing pole clunk down into the sand every time he tried walking away from it.  It was pretty soon agreed, we needed to go back to Bathtub Reef Beach.

Jensen Beach

Jensen Beach 2

After visiting a local diner for lunch while still carrying around salt in our hair and sand on our legs, we traveled back out to Hutchinson Island and turned into the now familiar drive at the Marriott to follow the road to our destination. Just as before, we pulled into the parking lot to find it nearly full.  There would be plenty of people watching here today.

Now don’t laugh at me when I say this, but none of us had been ready to do anything more than wade into the water until we got to this protected little tub. There have been a multitude of shark attacks in the area lately and we at least wanted to make it a little harder for them if they wanted to target us.  Not only having to get past the reef and into the tub, but now choosing our ankles among many instead of few.  Without now being the only option of human food around though, we were ready to go crazy in the water.

Walking out to the reef to do a little fishing we were awed to see schools of hundreds of fish riding each cresting wave toward us.  We were sure there would be fresh snapper on the grill that night until the lifeguard blew the whistle at us and said we needed to move further down the beach and away from people.  A possible blessing in disguise.

Down the point and around a corner were all these beautiful rocks that ran along the waters edge.  Grabbing our soft cooler and all the fishing gear we walked over the thousands of seashells strewn in front of us and took shelter in front of one of these large boulders.  Submerged under high tide, we were able to sneak in once it had fallen and situated ourselves on the still wet and worn away edges along the water.  With the waves crashing up and only just touching our toes, it was an excellent little spot to loose yourself to the day.  The perfect way to spend vacation time.  Away from the city, away from the high rises, but instead just sitting at the waters edge. With the water lapping at my toes as I stared off into the horizon.

Fishing at Bathtub Reef beach

Bathtub Reef Beach

Bathtub Reef Beach

(Above photos courtesy of Matt’s mom)

Bathtub Reef Beach Florida

Bathtub Reef Beach Stuart

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Throwback Thursday: Guy Co (& Jessica)

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.

Still in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala, we had now been left behind by all of our cruising buddies.  Ana Bianca and Alfredo had made their way back to Miami and their off season work; and Luki and Elmari were on their way to Mexico to pick up family for the holidays.  Things were starting to feel a little lonely around the marina.

Before we could get too bummed out though, we received a message from Nacho that he would be at their river house, and although his wife and daughters were back in Guatemala City with other obligations, would we like to join him and his father out on their boat for the day?  Also, his friend Jean Louis that I had already met in Antigua was going to be in the area with their other mutual friend Nico, whom also had a weekend house on the Rio.  After a day speeding around on Hula Girl, Nico had invited the lot of us over for dinner at his place.

It kind of sounded like a guys day out to me, but how could I refuse the offer to come along?  It sounded so fun!  And trust me, this is a day to go down in the record books.  And not just because I most likely drank bat piss at one point.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday November 16, 2013

at Nico's

I swear I’m just one of the guys.

Part I: Un Almuerzo de Langostas

Wherever we go, it seems like good friends are never far away. Although we had to say goodbye to Luki and Elmari on Thursday, which was incredibly sad although we do plan on meeting up with them again in Belize or Mexico, we happened to be sticking around the Rio long enough from another visit from our friend Nacho. With one catch. All the girls were back in Guate City, keeping busy with things like dates with long distance boyfriends or riding competitions, so it was just going to be Nacho coming. Along with his dad, and friends; Jean Louis and Nico. So it was essentially to be a guys weekend. And Jessica. Which is totally fine, since I essentially consider myself one of the guys anyway.

After doing a little bit of communication by means of VHF radio this morning, Nacho sent his lancha to our marina this morning to have us brought out to their river home. When we arrived, Hula Girl was once again being stocked up with soda and beer, ready to start another Saturday on the water. We were also introduced to Nacho’s father, Javier, who thankfully spoke English, because Matt and I wondered if this might turn into a day of charades, something we would have been fine with, but this made things a little easier. Nico and Jean Louis were out duck hunting for the day and were to meet back up with us at Nico’s river house that evening for dinner, so it would just be a small group out on the boat.

Before we knew it the five of us were rushing down the river and into the Golfete, Matt and I getting way too comfortable with these 20 knots speeds, and I’m sure when we take Serendipity down this path shortly it will feel like we’re moving at a standstill. Just like the last time we were taking ourselves into the bay, we made a stop in Livingston for a few provisions and I was given a tip that some of the shops here sell the local beer, Bravah, for 2Q, or $0.25 a can. Did you hear that Matt? We are doing our beer stocking here before we leave!! As soon as the deck hand, Randy, arrived back with the cold cans of beer, I popped one open and watched as a few local kids shyly wandered over asking for spare change. Randy handed them whatever leftover money he had and they excitedly scampered off to buy themselves a cold Coke.

Hurican 1 & 2

Livingston Guatemala

Guatemalan children

Crossing the bar at Livingston, I noticed how we were able to just gun it across the shoals, while other cruisers (like us) who were eager to depart, had to wait for the high tide to come in so they could get at least six feet under their keel. The bay was once again calm and I kept my fingers crossed that it would stay that way for the next week or so, since we’re hoping to make our own departure within that time. Hula Girl found her familiar spot and dropped hook in five feet of brackish salinated water. We barely had time to get ourselves secure before a lancha was headed our way with lunch. Which, let me explain on this.

Since Annica and Maria and Camila were all back in Guatemala City, there had been no one to prepare a tasty little spread for us to enjoy on the boat. Nacho had made a few calls while we were temporarily provisioning in Livingston to have some fresh lobster brought out to Hula Girl, apparently there is a (lobster) farm near the point where we’d anchored the boat. As the kid came out to us we spied a large bucket filled to the brim with lobster inside. Nacho began talking and negotiating with the boy, a scale was hung to weigh the lobster, and before we knew it we had 12 glistening lobsters in our possession. Nacho turned to Matt and I to mention the boy would be back shortly with some tortillas and fried yucca, and that “I’m sorry none of the women were here to prepare us a tasty lunch, so we will just have to survive”. On lobster.

Since Matt and I are somewhat versed in cooking lobster, after all the ones we caught in the Bahamas, we offered to clean and prepare them. First we ripped off the antennas to stick up the lobster’s…you know, maybe I’ll just skip how we cleaned them. Anyway, by the time we had five of them prepared and ready to go on the grill, slathered with a little oil, our tortillas and fried yucca had been shuttled out to us and we were ready to get this lunch going. After the lobsters had gone on the grill and turned a brilliant red we each made ourselves a plate and dug in without any care or even need for utensils. ‘Surviving’ has never tasted so good.

Lunch was followed by a relaxing swim, partially to ward off the early afternoon heat, and partially to cleanse our sticky, lobster laden fingers. When it was time to raise hook we headed back toward the slowly wilting sun, dragging fishing poles for fun, and getting ready to rally ourselves for the evening ahead.

las langostas

Matt with Caribbean lobster

And that’s just one of the small ones.

cleaning lobster Lobster, get ready to meet your maker.  And then get ready to meet the grill.

lobster on grill

‘Let’s put another langosta on the barbie!’

Javier fishing Randy

Part II: Punta Monos

While speeding back up the Rio and watching the sun slip behind the last few hazy clouds of the day, we had a strange phenomenon, something we hadn’t experienced since in Bogota. We got chilly. That’s right, this little town of seemingly endless heat and humidity had actually cooled down enough after the sun had gone down to bring a chill through the air. We honestly never thought we’d see the day where goosebumps would appear on our skin while we were in the Rio Dulce.

Wrapped up in a towel to fight off the cold, we brought Hula Girl to dock in front of Nico’s river house which was just at the end of the Golfete. Him and Jean-Louis were still out duck hunting, but we were just dropping off the remaining lobsters so they could be used for dinner if the duck hunt wasn’t successful. From the text messages we had been let in on earlier, so far it wasn’t.

Pulling into Nacho’s house just as the moon was rising, we were told his lancha would bring us back to the marina to give us time to rest and clean up before dinner that evening. I had just enough time to get a shower and a cup of coffee in before getting a call back on the VHF, notifying us that the lancha was back on it’s way to pick us up. As soon as we arrived back at his place, Nacho was ready to go (Javier was staying behind), and he traded places with the lancha’s driver as we flew toward Nico’s place. (Funny side note, all of the guys had literally flown in from the city for the weekend. Nacho and Javier on a rented plane, and Jean-Louis and Nico on his helicopter. Not a bad life.)

sunset on Rio Dulce

Nico's River home

sunset on the Rio Dulce

As we pulled up in front of the home we noticed the ‘big’ boat was back, which meant that Nico and Jean-Louis were there now as well. It appeared that both men had just gotten back and were in the process of showering and making themselves presentable after spending 12 hours cooped up in duck blinds. It turns out that later in the afternoon, they had been successful. We busied ourselves by the bar behind the open air seating area and as Nacho was taking orders I had a sudden nostelgia for our days on Rode Trip while nestled in the Ragged Islands of the Bahamas and Stephanie would prepare us gin and tonics as a pre-dinner cocktail. I never really drank them before that, and I certainly haven’t had one since then, but for some reason I really wanted one at that moment. Nacho scanned the bar and came across a few kinds of gin, but we ended up pulling out the Hendricks, something that I guess is pretty top shelf although I would have no idea since I’m not normally a gin drinker.

As soon as each of us had a nice cold G&T in our hands we went to sit on the couches just in time for Jean-Louis to come in. I already knew him a little bit from my girls weekend in there when Nacho and Annica joined us we enjoyed both amazing wine and views from Jean-Louis’s home in Antigua. I introduced him and Matt and let them talk about sailing since Jean-Louis also has a history in it, while I helped myself to some crackers on the table. I was probably mid face-stuff when Nico, our host wandered in. Another set of introductions was made and while we complimented him on what we had seen of the house so far, we ask for a tour of the rest of it. The area we had been sitting in had the kitchen, dining room, a seating area, and things like bathrooms and pantries. All of it was open air (ok, not the bathrooms or the pantry) and all of it was beautiful. Next we were taken up the stairs which housed one more open air sitting area and two bedrooms.

Scaling the stairs with my G&T in hand I thought it was strange that my hand had become wet, I didn’t remember sloshing my drink on the way up. I couldn’t have been too tipsy, it was my first drink of the night after all. When we stepped onto the landing at the top Nico looked up and made a comment about a few bats that had nested themselves there, complaining that they had taken a tinkle, pointing to a wet spot on the floor that I had just passed by. Oh, so that wasn’t gin on my hand. It was bat piss. I laughed it off, but Nico promptly led me into one of the bedrooms ensuites so I could wash my hands. He then asked if I wanted a fresh G&T since we no longer knew how ‘fresh’ mine was anymore, but I just waved him off. A little bat pee in my drink? That’s fine, I can handle it.

Next we left the main living area for the private ones. Apparently Jean-Louis is such a frequent guest here at Punta Monos that he has his own cabin here, a spacious room with a four poster bed and an ensuite bathroom. His cabin is even named Monkey Cabin, very fitting seeing as he owns the Monoloco (crazy monkey) chain of restaurants in Guatemala City and Antigua. Nico showed us his cabin which was a very similar layout, only much bigger. Then we were taken on the walkway to a sunning platform and bar area on the water, and finally to the monkey viewing area hidden deep in the trees. I guess howler monkeys are very popular in this area, and Nico had set up an area to watch them in the morning. It’s how the place also got it’s name, Monkey Point, and I was pretty determined to force my welcome there until at least 4 am when the monkeys came out.

Nacho w. Hendricks

 Nacho looks pretty comfortable behind that bar.  I think he’s done this before.

guest room at Punto Monos

I can be ready to move in on Tuesday!!

upstairs open air seating at Nico's

Back down in the main living area we hung out by the grill and swung around in hammock like chairs and freshening our G&Ts while watching Nico start dinner, placing the remaining lobsters on the grill after they had been cleaned and seasoned.  When the table was set and we sat ourselves to dinner I couldn’t help but look at the lobster and steak and salad on my plate and realized that I have never eaten as well as I have in Guatemala.  Then again, I guess it’s all about who you know.  And we seem to know the right people.

Dinner was nothing short of divine and I tried to savor every bite on my plate.  I did happen to make the mistake of getting up mid meal to use the water closet and came back to find my plate had been cleared away.  Before I even had the chance to try the lobster brains, something that Javier had been preaching about all day as the best part of the lobster.  I guess I’ll just have to save that for next time.

Nico grilling

 Nico manning the grill.

surf and turf A little surf and turf for dinner.


Because of the incredibly early morning that he and Jean-Louis had, Nico excused himself shortly after dinner to retire to his cabin for the rest of the night.  Matt and I gave him our most sincere thanks for inviting us into his home for the evening.  It’s sad that we had only met him just before we’re leaving the country, but we were happy just to have the opportunity.  If we had left with Skebenga as originally intended, we wouldn’t have even been here tonight.

The remaining four of us hung around the dinner table, finishing off the bottle of wine that was served with dinner and continued to get inebriated on top shelf gin.  While Matt and Nacho sat on one side of the table talking about, I’m not sure what exactly, I got into a conversation with Jean-Louis about things I had found out about him after the first time we met by doing a little internet stalking.  Like the fact that he started a company called Urban Reclamation that employs Guatemalans and reuses vinyl from billboards and turn it into useful items like totes, messenger bags, and even tee shirts.  It turns out he had just made a stop at the factory the day before and had a few business card holders that he gave me.  They’re so cool looking and our boat cards are going to look awesome in there.  I only wish the items were available to buy online because I’ve already drooling over the unique messenger bags and girl purses but can’t get my hands on one.  Do you hear me Jean-Louis, you need to sell these items online!  People will buy them!!

Before we knew it the clock had gone well past midnight and I’m pretty sure we all were ‘fully drunk’.  A new quote from one of my friends that sounds 100 times better when slightly slurred and with a Spanish accent.  As still determined as I was to stay and see the monkeys, Nacho and Matt and I piled back into the lancha to make our ways home for the night.  Although I’m sad that we didn’t leave with Skebenga since we have some last minute things to finish up in the Rio and we’ll be traveling on our own again instead of an amazing buddy boat group, I’m fully glad that we stayed long enough to spend this day with Nacho, Javier, Jean-Louis and Nico.  Fully happy, and…fully drunk.

Jean-Louis and Jessica

 Fun time with hats for me and Jean-Louis.

Punta Monos


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Our Vacation to Stuart

Wednesday October 14, 2015

Boardwalk of Stuart Florida

This week we’re very excited and very lucky, because Matt’s family is visiting us from Michigan.  Since we had never made it back there this past summer, although we totally should have, they came down to us instead.  A perfect little treat and also a much needed break away from boat work.  Having rented a two bedroom house for all of us to occupy in Stuart, just so we could go back to the boat and do some work during their visit if we wanted, we quickly realized that the boat was the last thing we wanted to see and packed our bags for the full week assuming there would be no reason to come back.

Giving them the grand tour of Daze Off (get your own personalized video tour here) we then had lunch at what is quickly becoming my favorite restaurant in Indiantown, and told them that after grabbing a few last minute thing from the boat we’d forgotten, that we’d meet them in Stuart.  All seemed well and good as we turned east on 76 with a week full of carefree fun on our minds.  Our Kia had other plans for us.

I’m not sure if it’s just deciding to test Matt and his statement of “We can just ditch this cheap van on the side of the road if it gives us too many problems”, and wanted to see how many times it could break down on us before he stayed true to his word. Just two minutes down the road the temperature levels were spiking and there was smoke pouring out of our hood.  Quickly pulling over we tightened a few hose clamps from where we’d just finished replacing the alternator and called it good.  We’d inspect it more once we arrived in Stuart.  All we had to do was get there first.

Our Kia was not so optimistic.  Another five minutes down the road the temperature levels were through the roof and just as I was looking for a side street to pull over on the engine cut out on me.  I had just enough acceleration left to use the manual steering and brakes to pull us into the driveway of a local Thoroughbred Park.  Putting a message in to Matt’s brother Travis over FB since we didn’t have anyone’s # (hey, we work through emails) we let them know they’d have to come back for us, and then went about calling a tow truck to get the van back to the marina.  First calling a guy and then cancelling because we didn’t know if he was covered by our roadside assistance, we got in touch with our insurance company who told us the closest truck was still 90 minutes away.

This is how the timeline went for the rest of the day.

4:30  Placed message to Matt’s family and called initial tow truck.

4:45 Cancel first tow truck and call insurance company

5:00 Matt’s family shows up and we begin to wait.

5:30  Insurance company calls and tells us tow truck driver has cancelled on them and they need to find us a new one.

6:00 Receive a call from insurance company.  They have found a new driver, although he is 90 minutes away.

6:30 Those two beers I had at lunch are really getting at me.  Talk Matt’s stepdad into driving me back to the marina so I can pee and also grab my camera battery charger which I’d left behind.  Also make a stop at Circle K for beer.  We’ll be needing it soon enough.

7:15 Get back to the broken down Kia with no sign of the tow truck showing up.

8:00 Get an automated call from our insurance company stating our help should have arrived by now.  Has it?

8:30 I’ve had enough of this s%*t.  We’re getting eaten alive and so the 5 of us sit smooshed in Matt’s family’s Cadillac along with all their luggage.  Just as I’m putting in a call to our insurance company I get a call from the tow truck driver stating he’s five minutes away.  Finally.

8:45 Tow truck arrives and puts the Kia on his bed.  We follow him back to the marina where he drops it off next to the boat.  We lock her up and don’t look back as we pile back in the Cadillac.  This can wait until our vacation is over.

10:00 Arrive at the Walmart in Stuart.  We’re all famished and need food stat.  Grabbing a few of the reduced price rotisserie chickens, some sides, and more beer.

11:00 Pull into the very cute rental home and claim our bedroom.  Luggage is tossed on the floor and I dive into a much needed beer.  We flip on the tv and drown our troubles in alcohol and greasy food.  Welcome to vacation.

Kia broken down

checking under hood

waiting for tow

Kia getting towed

The next day ended up being much better.  I think the universe felt bad for how our vacation began and wanted to make up for it.

For anyone who has visited the Stuart Florida area, you’ll know that it has a ton to offer and will probably be surprised that in the 7 months we’ve been living in Indiantown, we’ve never been off US-1 on our visits in.  I know.  Shame on us.  There *was* that one time I wanted to seek out a beach when Matt let me off on my own to run errands for an afternoon, but then the meet up for a Craig’s List purchased in a neighboring town was moved up about an hour and I ran out of time.  Because if I had actually made it out to the shore that day you can be damn sure I would have dragged Matt back out with me at some point.

Getting in the Cadillac in the late morning just for a drive to see what was around, sans a fishing pole jutting out next to my head this time, we kept following the signs for Beaches until we crossed a few bridges and found ourselves on Hutchinson Island. Picking one of the random and numerous signs with an umbrella and an arrow on it, we pulled into a mostly empty parking lot and followed the sandy trail out to the water.  Wow.  It was breathtaking.  I had no idea these colors of water existed on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Since this was only supposed to be an exploration day we had not brought our swim suits, towels, or really any essentials for a day at the beach.  So instead Travis hiked his shorts up Steve Urkel style to wade in the water while I ran to and fro across the sand yelling “This is sooooo gorgeous!!!”.  Really though, you can’t blame me.  Wouldn’t you be doing the same thing if you’d just spent the past five weeks working daily on a boat and then being greeted with a view like this?

trail to Hutchinson Island Beach

Hutchinson Island Beach, FL

Jessica & Travis, Hutchinson Island Beach

Travis & Matt at Hutchinson Island Beach

Since we had let ourselves fully enjoy our morning with about three cups of coffee and lounging, just this one stop had already put us past lunch time.  Matt’s mom having read wonderful things about the downtown Stuart area and it’s restaurants, we made our way there to see if we could rustle up some grub.  It turn out that yes, there are in fact a lot of nice restaurants to choose from.  You’ll just pay out of your a$$ to eat there.  If it were dinner we probably wouldn’t have minded the splurge but all we were looking for was to make our stomachs stop growling and we didn’t want to pay $12 a burger to do so.

The good new was, just as we were about to jump back in the car and make our way out to a Burger King or McDonalds, we found a really nice pizza joint with some great prices.  Sold by the slice the servings were huge and we added some garlic knots on top for the perfect lunch.  It was so big that half of us couldn’t even finish our one slice and may have groaned that we’re ‘never eating again’.

downtown Stuart Florida

Boardwalk, Stuart Florida

Our day of investigating what Stuart had to offer was long from over though.  Wanting to check out another beach we made a quick pit stop back at the rental house for all our beach gear since it was on the way.  Then it was back over the bridges and over the ICW until we were on Hutchinson Island once more.  This time on our way to Bathtub Reef Beach though.

Something I had actually researched before and found highly reviewed on Trip Advisor, I had originally brushed it aside because the photos were horrible and it did not look like anything special.  If only I had done a Google search in addition.  Fortunately Matt’s mom had also taken a look and probably had seen more to it than I had a my first glance.  She mentioned it was a place she wanted to take a look at and we’re so happy she did.

The beach itself was not as secluded as our little area closer to Jensen Beach, but the reef part was perfect.  It left a few sandbars and other areas that went as deep as 6 ft before shoaling again near the reef a few hundred feet out from shore.  Basically it was a big protected swimming pool.  Except for the jellyfish we were sharing the water with that day, but we just kept a close eye out for them. Oh yes, and one shark feeding on a school of fish that caused the lifeguard to blow his whistle and order everyone out of the water.  Luckily we had already gotten our swimming in for the day by that point.

For the rest of the afternoon we sat on our towels soaking up the sun or walking the shore line and hunting shells.  We found that if you walked further north up the beach you could find secluded areas in front of the private homes and also some beautiful rock formations along the water.  Even though it was only the beginning of our trip we all knew we’d be back here at least one more time.  It was a little slice of heaven that’s been hiding right under our eyes this whole time we’ve living here.  How could we not know about it?

Oh, and did I mention they let you bring alcohol on the beach? Now we know where we’ll be bringing all of our cruising friends for a day at the beach once they get down to Florida.

Bathtub Reef Beach, Hutchinson Island, Stuart Florida

Bathtub Reef Beach, Hutchinson Island, Stuart Florida

Jessica on Bathtub Reef Beach, Hutchinson Island, Stuart Florida


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Building our Refrigerator Box: Stage 2

Wednesday October 7, 2015

building refrigerator box

The last I had left you with stage one progress on our refrigeration box is that we’d measured and cut all the pieces of marine plywood, nailed them into place, and then filled the cracks with colloidal silica.  Doesn’t sound like too much work but did take us the better part of a few days.  Things still felt like they were flying along though since having large items constructed and taking up space in your galley is a constant reminder you’ve finished something.

The next step after the box itself was set up and water tight was to insulate it.  Instead of using the same spray foam we’ve been lining our hull with, or the same kind of stuff we spent hours chipping out of the old fridge, we used polyisocyanurate foam.  Which is a fancy way of saying that we bought the big sheets of foam insulation from Home Depot.  Overall we’re looking for a depth of 3″ of foam insulating our refrigerator.  This made it an easy choice to get the 3/4″ sheets instead of 1/2″, ensuring we’d only have to do 4 layers vs 6.  Less work for the same job = much better in my book.

Once the huge 4×8 sheets were dragged back to the boat we needed to cut them to size to fit in the box we’d just built.  After Matt had done a little research on the subject he’d found out that staggering the joints is the best way.  This means that instead of cutting 4 sheets of insulation the same exact size for the bottom and then measuring for one side, cutting 4 sheets the exact size, and moving to the next; you do one full layer around before starting the next.  So each layer for the bottom should be 3/4″ smaller on each side than the previous one.

Although it sounds like this should be one of the easiest steps in the process it was actually one of the hardest and most time consuming.  For each layer and each side in that layer we needed to take measurements (with two sides being odd shaped pentagons), mark and trace those measurements onto a sheet of the insulation, try and cut as straight of a line as possible with the knife on our Leatherman, and then squeeze it into it’s new spot in the box.  Usually with a few adjustments to be made.  Sometimes with the whole thing needing to be redone if we didn’t get the angle of the pentagon right.  It was a pain in the butt.

When we had 3″ of insulation all the way around we had to begin to shape the freezer as it’s own separate part of the box. Cutting two sheets to make a divider, we then built up the freezer space from the bottom and sides to make it smaller but with double the insulation.  In the end the space was bigger than we thought, bigger than we had in Serendipity, and something we should easily be able to fit a half gallon of ice cream in.

After that we ran foil tape around all the edges to seal off all the porous foam and making sure no water could get inside.  Another pain in the butt project but mostly just because it was so time consuming.  At one point we decided to save it for an after dinner activity where we worked on this tedious task while sipping Miller High Life and watching Archer on Matt’s tablet.

The next day was the fun step of putting all of the 24 pieces in to make sure they fit.  Which they did!  Bad part though was we forgot that we were supposed to stop 3″ from the top to make allowances for the lid.  Ooops!  Luckily the Dremel was on hand and ready for the project.

To permanently attach the sheets together we used two methods.  The very first layer which was being attached to the epoxied wood was stuck in place with a thick batch of colloidal silica.  We clamped the insulation to the wood, placed other long sheets of foam inside as a bracing system that would push the two together from the inside and left it overnight to dry.  The next day we finished adding the remaining layers with a gap filling insulation foam.  Once again it was left overnight to dry and the next day we filled all the remaining cracks with another thick layer of colloidal silica.

clamping sheet insulation for fridge box

clamps holding foam in

Whew.  I’m tired just reliving those steps.  But we’re not done yet for stage 2!

Since we couldn’t just paint the inside layer of sheet foam and call it good (although by this time I wish we could have) we needed a solid surface in there.  We decided to use fiberglass bathroom paneling. Turning it around we made sure the bubbly side was facing the insulation and the smooth side was out.  This was attached with colloidal silica and also had all the seams filled with a thick layer.  Another overnight of drying and then everything was ready to sand down and be given a coat of primer.

fiberglassed inside of fridge

building a refrigerator box for a boat

inside of our fridge box

Seriously, I’m getting exhausted here reliving all these steps.  And to think we’re still near nowhere near being done!  Those of you who have written stating that you’re about to start your own project like this are lucky you told me or I probably would end the post here, just attached a few more photos and call it good.  Sheesh.  If we were smart we would have purchased multiple dorm fridges instead and added more solar to cover the charge.  I’m sure it would have been cheaper and much less heartache in the end.

Buuuut, we’re stubborn.  And so are you people that want to do this yourself.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ok, onto the lid.  This also required four layers of sheet insulation to equal the 3″ total we need for the top layer of insulation.  The *easiest* way to do this would have been just a simple rectangle to open and close over the areas, but it would not have made it very easy to open and shut in the end.  We needed three of the four sides to be at an angle. So, a little extra work now will save us a lot of hassle in the future.  We had been so proud of ourselves when we whipped together the lid for the fridge area in just a matter of a few hours, all measured, glued, and angles cut.  Only to find we cut the angle the opposite direction we were supposed to.

Another oops.  And other trip in to Home Depot to get an extra sheet of insulation so we could try again. One attempt later and we had it right.  From there it was set aside so Matt could begin multiple layers of fiberglass on it.

The very last step in this stage two of building our refrigerator box was to create the holes that will allow the cold air to flow from the freezer where the evaporator will sit and into the fridge.  In theory, once we have everything hooked up there will be a thermostat in the fridge area that reads the temperature.  Once it gets above a certain point a fan will kick on in the freezer and begin flowing cold air from the freezer to the fridge via the tube in the bottom.  Any warm air will circulate from the tube in the top of the fridge back into the freezer to be cooled down once again.

We also placed two shims inside the freezer for the evaporator to attach to which will then keep a 1/2″ distance between it and the wall of the freezer.

hoses leading from freezer to fridge

There you have all the work that went into stage 2.  Really, really should have bought those dorm fridges instead.  Stay tuned for stage 3 where we hopefully get this up and running!

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Throwback Thursday: Leaving on a Midnight Bus to Tikal

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.

Ever since we got back to Serendipity and the Rio after our backpacking adventures in South America, things have been pretty low key.  There were a few boat projects to pay attention to, where to head next after we leave Guatemala, and reuniting with our marina buddies for dinners in the ranchito once again.

We’ve also been filling up our days with visits from our friends Nacho and Annica that live in Guatemala City, but have a weekend house on the Rio. They have a 35 ft power boat they like to take us for spins down the river on as well (on a few occasions).  We have no complaints when they do as these days are full of fun, food, and great company.

The best part of November so far though had been that our friend Ana Bianca was back in the Rio to check on her boat after spending a few months home in Miami.  It was also our first chance to meet her boyfriend Alfredo, whom we’d heard so much about over the summer.  With the 6 of us together (also Luki and Elmari of s/v Skebenga) we knew we wanted to do something extremely memorable and figured that visiting the Mayan ruins of Tikal would be the perfect thing for us.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday November 6, 2013



With our whole group together including the crews of Serendipity, Skebenga, and Kajaya, we decided we needed to do something special. Monumental. What better way to achieve this than visiting Mayan ruins? Tikal is a set of structures and temples built by the Mayans during a period from 200 to 900 AD and remain one of the best preserved sites of Mayan ruins in the world. Not to mention the largest. They spread out over 6.2 square miles with about 5 main temples and thousands of other smaller structures.

Getting there is not the most difficult thing in the world, but not the easiest either. For most visitors it means a bus ride to the town of Flores from one of the major vendors, and then another shuttle bus to the site of the ruins. All of this plus seeing the ruins usually means turning it into an overnight trip since it’s preferable to be at least in Flores the night before, because one of the big draws of these ruins, as if you needed another, is watching the sun rise while sitting at the top of one of the temples, overlooking the vast canopy of trees below you. Most of our group didn’t want to turn this even into an overnight trip, but none of us wanted to miss out on the sunrise either. This left only one thing for us to do. We hired a private driver to haul our asses there in the middle of the night.

Upon hearing that, even for those that have already gotten to Flores at a reasonable time the previous day, you want to be to the entrance of the site no later than 4:30 am so that you can walk through the jungle and to the sunrise viewing temple with enough time to get to the top before the sun rises at 5:30. For us to get ourselves there in time for all this to work out, it meant that we needed to be leaving Rio Dulce no later than midnight. Leaving Ana Bianca to work out all the details, our group tried to catch a few hours of sleep after dinner before lugging ourselves to the marina restaurant just after 11 to be shuttled into town by the marina’s lancha. Already exhausted, the six of us crawled into the van, each couple claiming a row, and laid our heads down to try and catch a few more hours of sleep.

We soon found this proved useless as our driver was trying to stick to our tight schedule and would take the hairpin turns of the road out of town at breakneck speeds. As soon as you found yourself drifting off your neck would jerk sharply to the side, or one of the million speed bumps would send you airborne for a split second before you came crashing down again. Throughout the four hour drive we chatted among ourselves and sent questioning looks around when we found our driver also did not break for animals. Most of the stray dogs along the way were pretty good at getting out of the road before we could reach them, but we definitely know there was at least one that got a gentle tap, and a cat that we’re pretty sure didn’t make it.

Just outside the entrance to the National Park, we picked up our private tour guide, a necessity if you want to enter the park before the normal hours of 6 am (there’s an additional fee to enter for the sunrise). When we finally pulled into a parking spot before we started the trail into the ruins and hopped out of the van, ready to start our adventure. I don’t know why I had assumed our guide would come handy with a big spotlight or flashlights for everyone, but I was quite happy to find out that Matt had brought a headlamp along for us. Everyone else was smart enough to bring their own light source, so as our guide led us through the dirt path on the pitch black trails, I tried to follow as close as I could behind him, with Matt just behind me, his headlamp shinning just far enough to cover a few steps in front of my feet.

Although we couldn’t see anything that wasn’t right in front of us, we could tell we were surrounded by mamouth trees. When we reached somewhat of an opening, our guide shone his flashlight off to the side and illuminated the outline of one of the temples. It was amazing to see such a structure of that magnitude, buried in the jungle, just a few hundred feet away from us. We couldn’t wait to catch it on our way back when it would be fully lit with sun. As we passed, our guide told us that this was referred to as ‘Temple One’, since this was the first temple that was stumbled upon when this site was first rediscovered back in the 1840′s. Not too much farther up we passed Temple Two, while making our way to Temple Four, the tallest, where we would be watching the sun rise. When we arrived there I was just a little disappointed to find that we wouldn’t be climbing the original steps of the structure, as I had through, but instead made our way up a wooden staircase recently added on the side.

Any depression I had came to a dead halt as soon as we reached the top. I was standing on top of history, and a feeling of awe washed over me as I thought of the people who had stood where I stood, hundreds of years before me. The sky had lightened just enough that I could make out the vast canopy of trees below us as we inched our way onto the temple. Our guide told us that the best seats in the house were as far up as we could get ourselves, so the six of us marched up a small flight of steps before perching our butts down on the stone. There were already a few other groups of people there, barely visible through the dark, and we tried not to make much noise as we settled in. Our guide told us to stay quiet, and enjoy the show that was about to begin.

The fates were not 100% on our side this day as we realized, as the sky began to light itself more and more, that a waved of clouds had rolled in since our walk from the parking lot, and our sunrise was going to be slow and gray instead of instant and blinding. It was still an interesting sight, watching the sky slowly get lighter and illuminating the outlines of Temples One, Two and Three off in the distance. I had resigned myself to accepting what I could of the day when the ‘show’ our guide had been talking about started. All through the jungles of Tikal are groups of howler monkeys, and they like to make their presence known just as the jungle is waking up for the day. Apparently their also littered throughout the Rio, but in all our time there I’d never seen or heard them.

This being my first encounter, it turned out not to be in any what what I had been expecting. Usually when one thinks of monkeys and the sounds they make, they imagine the ‘Oooh, oooh, oooh’ sound. Howler monkeys, not even close to this. I don’t even know how to describe their sounds, except to say that it felt like we were on the set of a horror movie. Off in the distance through the trees, a noise would puncture the silence of almost a low moaning noise. Except, it’s not even really a moaning sound. It’s more like a long forced breath that grows and resonates as it fills the emptiness. It truly is very creepy, and I have to wonder what the Mayans thought of it when the first settled this land. If it were me, I would have assumed there were demons living in the jungle and hightailed it in the opposite direction.


Howler monkeys at Tikal from Jessica Johnson on Vimeo.

sunrise at Tikal

Our cloudy and foggy sunrise.

Sunrise over temple 2, Tikal

Temples One, Two, and Three showing in the background.

Elmari watching the sun rise

Elmari watching the sky get lighter.

After the monkeys had finished their show and the sun had risen behind the clouds, we wondered how long we had to wait before it was acceptable to break these special moments of silence. The moments that, just thirty minutes earlier, Matt had been perturbed by when camera shutters and beeping options had shattered the silence, and then managed himself to produce a noisy ‘click click click click click’ with a panoramic shot of the scene not even ten minutes after loudly groaning for everyone else to ‘Jesus Christ people, be quiet!’. The reason we were all so anxious to veer off the quiet whispers and camera clicks now was that most of us hadn’t eaten in twelve hours and we were ready to break out our lunch. After people started finally moving around more we felt comfortable searching through our bags and not holding back as plastic crinkled and paper wrappers crumpled, all of us delving into the submarine sandwiches we had brought. And just to add to the enjoyment of dining atop an eleven hundred year old structure, Matt and I added two distinctive ‘Psssssts!!’ as our aluminum cans of Pepsi pierced open.

Alfredo eating his sub

Alfredo was really, really excited about his sandwich.

sunrise at Tikal

group shot at Tikal

Group shot at the top of Temple Four.

sunbeam through the clouds at Tikal

This shot makes me think of aliens sending a spotlight through the clouds, haha.


We stayed on the steps for awhile after we finished our meals, taking in the scene before us, before bouncing back down the stairs, a feat much easier than climbing them in the first place. From there our guide led us around the grounds, stopping at the larger structures and giving us an explanation of what they were used for. We saw the temple that was used as their sundial/calendar, where if looking at it from the center, the sun would allaign with the left side on the summer solstice, and the right side at the winter solstice. I wondered how anyone could make out the sun at these low points with the dense jungle growing just behind it, until we were told that back when this land was utilized by the Mayans, they had cleared out all the trees and it was nothing but wide open spaces throughout the grounds.

sun calendar at Tikal

After a little more walking and touring we were led back to the grounds that housed Temples One and Two. Here we were given a brief speech from our guide about the history of these two structures, and then told to wander free for awhile. I was hoping that we’d be able to climb these colossal structures, but they were off limits and we could only view from the ground. There were some slightly smaller areas off to the side though that we did have free reign of, and for the next 30 minutes we climbed dozens of stone steps, poked our heads into dark spaces we weren’t allowed to enter, and admired Mayan carvings that remained in portions of the stone. By now the sun was high in the sky and had broken free of the clouds. Sitting perched on the highest point I could find, I looked down through blue skies as members from other tour groups wandered into our patch of history, climbing the steps and poking their heads into the dark spaces were weren’t allowed to enter. Our cue to leave.

Walking back through the dirt paths, now fully illuminated, we craned our necks to look up at the giant cedar and mahogany trees towering above us, sights that we weren’t able to appreciate on our way in. Before we could pile ourselves back into the van for the long ride home we made one last stop at the concession stand and souviner shop at the entrance to the grounds. While the rest of our group busied themselves by ordering espressos and buying hand woven hammocks, Matt and I had the energy for neither. Awake now for over 24 hours straight, we sprawled ourselves out on the cement ground, so close to sleep, with only enough energy to push ourselves up once more for the three hundred foot walk to the van when it was time to leave.

11.6.13 (9)

Mayan stone carvings at Tikal

Temple Two, Tikal

Temple 1, Tikal

Back of Temple 1, Tikal

structure at Tikal

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Video Walk Through of Daze Off – 4 Months into Restoration

Monday October 12, 2015

Matt relaxing in forward salon

Today is one of those rare occasions that the boat is as spotless as we can get it.  This is because Matt’s family is here to come sweep us away for a week of fun in Stuart, and we wanted to make sure Daze Off was impeccable for their tour.  Or, as much as a boat under construction can be.

And since our boat is finally in show off condition I thought it was as good of a time as any to do a walk through to show you the progress we’ve made since starting and also explain what we have left to do.  The other month I put up a quick video of when we first purchased the boat and she was still sitting in storage, and wow, the difference between the two is amazing.

From when we first moved on to her to begin our complete restoration, inside and out, this video is always a good reminder that progress is happening and it actually is possible that one day we will be out cruising again instead of sitting in a hot and dusty work yard.  The thought of those days are what keeps me going, but visual reminders of our progress always help too.  I love flipping back and forth between the two videos to see what we’ve been able to tear down and build back up so far.

At that time I also promised that I would begin working on more videos to show you and I do like to keep my word (most of the time). So here we are, a full walk though and explanation of our work on Daze Off, four months into our progress.  Enjoy!

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The Little Van That Couldn’t

Friday October 2, 2015

Matt replacing alternator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt replacing alternator

taking apart Kia

fixing our Kia

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


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Throwback Thursday: A Slice of Culture

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.

After leaving Peru for our next backpacking stop of Colombia, we spent our time in two of it’s major cities before having to fly back to Guatemala where Serendipity was awaiting.  There was still plenty to keep our plates full though.  From our 54 hour bus ride between Colombia and Peru where we took on armed guards to protects us against gurillas that had robbed the two buses ahead of us, to a drunken night wandering the streets of Bogota while meeting up with one of our backpacking friends from Peru.  We enjoyed Botota for a few days although Matt had come down with terrible food poisoning that left him sick in our hostel for 3 days straight.

After Bogota we bused it to the town of Medeillin, known for being the city of eternal summer and also fostering ex-drug lord Pablo Escobar.  We tried to take in as many of the sights as possible by riding the cable cars high above the town and visiting the botanical gardens and checking out the Botero Sculpture Park in the heart of town.  It seems like our backpacking adventure through South America passed us by way to fast, but we still have a million memories from our time there.  Plus if given the chance, I know we’d be back in a heartbeat.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday September 18, 2013


It was kind of nice having a forced hiatus from backpacking for just a few days. A little time away from the past few weeks of sightseeing, activities, and even the drinking. But after 48 hours of watching reruns of Friends and The Big Bang Theory (those were the only shows offered in English), we realized we needed to get out. The unsavory tablets were working well enough on Matt’s stomach that we thought we might be able to get him out of the hostel for just a few hours. The destination for the day? The historic center of Bogota.

Armed with our over-sized map once more, we stepped onto a collectivo that we were sure would take us at least close to the area we wanted to go this time, with plans to abort if necessary. ‘Ok, we need to stay on Calle 7 until we get to Carrera 13. If the bus diverts past Calle 10, we get off.’ The good thing about the streets here is they are all ascending numbers of Calles and Carreras, so you’re always relatively sure of how far away you are from something. When we did incidentally have to get off at Calle 10, we knew it was only three blocks down back to where we wanted to be on 7. No Martin Luther King Blvds to get lost on here.

My main goal for the day was soley to see the church in the large city square, but as we got off the bus the sky became overcast and a light drizzle fell on us and I didn’t know how long we’d want to be outside for. We have not had one sunny day in Bogota yet and even though we are surrounded by all the modern buildings that both of us had been slightly yearning for since we left the states, I was momentarily left yearning for the sunny beaches and good friends we left in Mancora. But ever since the salad there made Matt sick, the place gets a big black X in his book. He should have listened to me when I told him to get the ceviche…

Upon entering the square we were greeted with about a hundred rickshaws that seemed to be having some kind of protest or rally. Again, because of the language barrier, they could have been there to celebrate Larry’s 50th birthday and I would have had no way of knowing. We tried wandering around the square for a bit while appreciating the architecture, but the rickshaw drivers also had horns they would not stop blowing. Apparently they were very excited about Larry’s 50th. After close to 15 minutes of this we left for quieter side streets.

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Even though we had the luxury of sitting around for the past two days with constant internet access, I had not done much research on the area and so we just walked up and down each street unsure of what we would find. The rain was continuing on and off, and during one rainy session we ducked into an art museum. The art here was focusing mostly on a Colombian artist, Botero, who I had not been familiar with but whom Matt told me was very famous. I guess he had a thing for drawing and painting very voluptuous people. Room after room there were paintings and sketches in this style, and a large focus was on nude women at the beach or in bed, or sometimes, even in the kitchen. I think Sir Mix-a-Lot would have been very impressed.

There were prints from other famous artists as well, and some of our time was also spent enjoying the works of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, and Chagall. Which are always nice to admire because, as Julia Robert’s character says in Notting Hill, “Happiness isn’t happiness without a violin playing goat”.

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 We tried our hands at one more museum as well, one on the history of Colombia and Bogota, but everything was in Spanish. Most of it was more than my basic knowledge could piece together and soon it just became annoying trying to figure out what each item meant. I think a grand total of 15 minutes was spent in that museum. The staff may have thought that we’d gotten ourselves lost since we wandered back by the entrance so quickly, trying to point us back to where the exhibits, and us trying to motion that, no, we wanted to leave. At least I got a few cool postcards with the entrance fee. You can expect to get it in about three months Huong!

Having completed a giant circle of the area, we ended up back in the main square where most of the rickshaw drivers had finally departed. And I was hoping to get back there in time for cake….

Taking one more turn down a side street that would point us in the direction of our hostel, even though there was no way we would be walking the 60 blocks back, we knew it was our last day in Bogota and wanted to see as much as we could. The rain had other plans for us though. At this point we were wet, we were cold, and we were hungry. That is exactly when we saw the golden arches of McDonald’s shine down on us like a beacon. And I was finally able to get my Mc Whopper. I mean, Big Mac.

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 They have llamas!!

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