Throwback Thursday: La-Ho!

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.

We knew we would be leaving Fort Lauderdale shortly and most likely not visiting again for a very long time.  This meant a night of sad good byes with the good friends we had made during our time there.  One part of cruising that I never enjoy.

When we thought we were ready to up anchor and become Bahamas bound, we found out that we’d be stuck at anchor for at least one more day when our running lights wouldn’t come on and we came to the realization this would be a much easier fix in the US than in the islands.  Plus, we didn’t want to be out in the dark until that fix could be made. The next night though, the anchor was properly up and we were on our way out of the US. It was a long and hard fight this time across the Gulf Stream, which was running very wide and a good speed, which drastically diminished our pointing and speed.

After a much longer passage than we’d anticipated, we pulled into Bimini with enough time to still check ourselves in and make our way to the beach for a little relaxing.  Plus an extra bonus for us, we had new friends, Kim and Jereme of Lahowind, that had arrived the same day we did!

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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Cleaning Out our Daggerboard Slots

open daggerboard slot

Did you know that our boat came with daggerboards?  Originally, that is.  We don’t have them anymore which is unfortunate, because these two stabalizing boards that once came down the aft end of our boat would have made downwind passages so much more comfortable.  No rocking back and forth in the waves, but instead riding them like it was on rails.

The daggerboards are meant to be used both upwind and downwnd.  When sailing upwind you would lower the centerboard and lower the leeward daggerboard to help keep the boat on it’s intended course.  Once you’re running downwind you raise the centerboard to bring the control aft and help prevent broaching.  With the centerboard in the upright position you lower both daggerboards to give stability and help the boat steer straight.  Something that would have been nice to be able to do, but now we can’t.

Trisalu plans

Trisalu 37 with daggerboards

We don’t know the history of what happened to the original boards which were in place, but we do know this.  Most of the time, daggerboards are built of plywood and fiberglass.  This is because they hang lower in the water than the keel and are more likely to come into contact with something in the water.  In case this does happen you want them to be able to break cleanly away from the boat so there is no further or long term damage.  We’re assuming this is what happened sometime in the history of Daze Off.

What we do know is that at some point, for some reason or another, they were removed from the boat and the owner at the time took pieces of teak, approximately 4″x4″, coated over them with epoxy, and called it good.  We also know that this was not a secure fix and eventually water leaked into the area.  The wet wood against the aluminum helped to cause corrosion in the area.  Because there is no way to get inside this slim area that runs 4″ by 5′, our only real option is to bring our welder back to properly seal over this area.

I shouldn’t say it would be impossible to do, but much more work that it’s worth, even though we would love to have them for our travels. The back area is a waterproof bulkhead separating the lazarette.  If we did want to put all the effort into properly welding the area to be able to put new daggerboards in we’d have to cut open the cockpit, remove engine, and go through a number of extra steps that are unfortunately not worth our time and energy.

Before we can have our welder come out to close the area off, Matt had the unfortunate task of trying to remove the teak and clean the area out.  Much easier said than done as those boards were shoved up there something fierce, and we’ve been using everything we had in our arsenal to get them out.  First it was small things like a hammer and chisel, or a hammer and our pry bar, but those barely put a dent in to teak.  Eventually we were able to track someone down in the yard that had a reciprocating saw, which allowed Matt to get the depth he needed in there to really break the wood up.  Once he had that, everything began to cleanly fall out.

We’ve just given the area a power wash and it should be good to go for our welder the next time we get him out here.  One more project knocked out!

Matt scraping daggerboard slots

daggerboard slot

Welded patches above are from the boat’s original Saildrive, which was removed and replaced with a normal prop shaft when the boat was re-powered with a Yanmar engine.

taking chisel to daggerboard slots

cleaning with reciprocating saw

 

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Going Bare: Stripping the Paint Off our Aluminum Hull

scraping paint from aluminum

Awhile back when we were de-naming our boat by trying different methods to remove paint and see if it was what we wanted for the final product, there was a debate on if we did in fact want to go down to bare metal or just remove the top layer and repaint with a fresh white coat.  And if we did decide to remove all the way down, what would be the best way to do it?

One of the first things we tried was to try an 80 grit flap disc to see how much of the paint it would remove, and how quickly.  We already had all the tools necessary for this, so we didn’t lose much by spending one hour one afternoon to see what it could do.  The second option of removing the paint would be with a strong chemical stripper, and that we would have to go out and purchase.  If you haven’t met us, we don’t like to spend money on things that aren’t necessary.  But since we were 90% sure that a bare hull was the route we wanted to go, it was worth it to buy a quart of the stuff just to test it out.

Working a small patch by the bow on the port side, we found out the instructions were completely inaccurate when it said that paint would be ready to come off in 5-10 minutes.  After believing this is how it was supposed to work and ready to give up on that as an option after 3 tries, we waited a few months until temperatures had cooled down just a little and left it on for 20 minutes to see what it would do.  Turns out that was the trick and using the chemical stripper became a very viable option.

Having done only one small strip though, we still didn’t know if we would like the entire boat bare.  I think I was initially more for it than Matt, although his big worry was that we would take all the paint off only to find out that a previous owner had put it there for a reason.  As in, there were many uneven spots that had to be fared and covered so they wouldn’t be noticeable.  Stripping off just a little more, and just a little more, we eventually got to a point where it would be too much work to replace it with a chrome primer, barrier coat, and paint would have been too much work.  A decision had to be made.  In the end we decided to take our chances with the bare metal as we kind of liked how it was looking, plus once it’s finished we’ll have the added bonus of forgetting all about it.  No worries about scratching the paint in our future.

Our test coats of paint removal were done with Klean-Strip Aircraft Paint Remover, but once we knew this was the route we wanted to take, Matt did a little searching online and found a good deal on gallons of Rust-oleum Aircraft Remover and we switched over to that. From that point on it became a goal to get as much of the paint off as soon as possible.  We had originally discussed it as a task to be done when we were stuck between other projects, or only an hour or two a day so we didn’t wear ourselves out.  Turns out though, our drive to complete just one project was far greater than the need to spread it out, and we were able to do the whole boat in under two weeks. (The two sides split up with the visit from my parents.)

paint on aluminum boat

chemical stripper to remove paint

paint coming off hull

Through a little bit of practice, we found a method that worked very well for us.  Overall it took 2-3 rounds of applying the remover before we were down to bare metal.  First I would go through with a chip brush and a metal pan filled with the remover, since it was one of the few items the chemicals wouldn’t eat through.  Wearing a full face mask, gloves and long sleeves, I’d go through and paint on a very thick coat to a section about five feet long, and all the way top to bottom.  Sometimes an unfortunate drop would come in contact with an exposed area of my skin that happened to sneak out of it’s clothing, but the good thing with this is that water neutralizes the chemical, and with a few seconds under the hose I’d be good as new again.

Waiting for 20 minutes to let the stripper set in, you could actually begin to see the paint bubble and flake in some areas as the chemicals did their job.  With a 2″ paint scraper, Matt would then go through to take off the first round of paint.  I can’t remember what the names of the existing coats were, but there was a white top coat, a yellow barrier coat I’m guessing, and a peach primer.  In some areas he would get all the way down to bare metal, and sometimes he’d only get down to the barrier coat.  I really liked the times he was able to get down to the primer.  That is because as soon as he finished his first round of scraping, I’d be right behind him applying another coat.

The second coat didn’t need as much time to set in, sometimes only 5 minutes we we had removed almost everything already, or maybe 10 minutes where he’d just been able to get the surface coat off.  I really liked it when we were down to just yellow, because it was my muscle that went through and did the second round of scraping. Luckily I have a husband with some pretty good pipes and a lot of determination, so by the time it got to me there wasn’t a lot of work left.  At least, nothing that my arms couldn’t handle.  I easily scrapped off the yellow coat, and usually the peach coat as well.  If things were extremely stuck on there though, we’d just brush on a third coat of paint remover.

taking paint off aluminum hull

taking paint off aluminum hull

chemical paint stripper

It was quite an accomplishment when all the paint was off, but as you can see from the photos, the scrape marks from the paint were still very visible as there were just the smallest amounts left. Before we’re completely finished with the hull there will still be a few steps left, but right away we wanted to get an initial sanding done.  Just like we’d tried before on the stern, Matt went though the hull with 100 grit flip discs this time to take off any remaining paint and give the slightest shine to it at the moment.  Before we can call ourselves good on this project though, he’ll have to go through again with a 150 and then 220 grit, and finally an acid wash to brighten the hull and overall even the tone.

While he was getting quite the workout on this project, I had the not so muscle straining, although very much detailed project of removing paint from the toe rails.  All the little areas where I have to get in there with chisels and small scrappers. It hasn’t been as much of a pain in the butt project as I thought it would be though.  4 partial days of work on it and I was able to get enough paint off for Matt to come in with a grinder and give them a good shine.

With the headache we thought the task of removing the paint would be, the whole process turned out to be much easier, cheaper, and even quicker than we thought.  2 gallons and 2 quarts later and we have a bare metal boat.  Now we’re very happy the marina doesn’t allow soda blasting and we didn’t put a lot of money toward that when it turns out it wasn’t necessary.  An actual win for us on a project!

taking paint off toe rail

removing paint from toe rail

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Throwback Thursday: Miami Beach & Calle Ocho

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.

While we were in Fort Lauderdale we had a great time with Matt’s family, filling up our days at museums and even visiting a race track to see the kind of life our former adopted greyhound used to hold before she came into our home.

Just after they left we had a chance to visit with another kind of family of ours.  The one we formed in our marina in Guatemala where we formed our own little dinner club with a few of our neighbors and friends there.  Somehow it happened that every member of that party, with the exception of Luis (The Most Interesting Man in the World), happened to be in South Florida at the same time.  Such a strange coincidence since we’d all parted ways in Guatemala 6 months earlier.

Staying at the home of our friend Alfredo’s family in Key Biscayne, our group had the chance to come together once more for a reunion of our dinner club. It was supposed to only be a one night affair, but since the boat was anchored in such a safe spot and we left Georgie with more food or water than she could ever go through in 48 hours, we decided to keep the party going and used our next day to explore a few new parts of Miami.

You can find the original post here.

Monday March 31, 2014

Dinner Club

That place that was on the top of Matt’s list of where he never wanted to visit? Yup, we’re back there. Again. Except today had a lot more in store for us than just a stroll down the boardwalk or some good old fashioned people watching. Our day started early and went all night long.

Just as ready as we were getting ready to leave the DeLaro household this morning, those cute little ankle biters that guard the door tore out of the house and led to an early morning Chasing of the Dogs. Luki must be some kind of animal whisperer and he was able to scoop up one of the unsuspecting fluff balls and used it to lure the other one back home, as if it were running with a sausage dangling in front of it’s nose. Once they were secured back in the house we piled all six of us into the family golf cart to bumble down to Alfredo’s sister’s house for breakfast.  Even though my late night of mixing beer, wine, and RumChada had me barely able to get down a muffin in the morning (apparently even just a little bit of each will do that to you), it was great getting to know Alfredo’s sister and brother in law a little better, and we even had the chance to meet his dad who was full of questions for Matt and Luki about what it was like to sail around the world.  More of those questions were aimed toward Luki since I don’t think we’ve covered near as much ground as they have, but we were still able to throw in a few Caribbean crossings here and there.  

On the way back the keys to the golf card were handed to me, and it didn’t even take 5 minutes for me to almost kill all of us while running a red light at a major intersection.  The braking was just a little bit different than I was used to, and trying to pump on them would have put me right at a stop in the middle of the intersection.  I did manage to keep us alive long enough to get to the marina where Kajaya is anchored, and then pass back the keys to someone who knew what they were doing while we toured the rest of Key Biscayne.  All I can say is this place has some money.  If I thought the McMansions on Lake Sylvia were big, I was blown away by what was going up here.  We toured all the ritzy neighborhoods and even saw the house where Scarface was filmed.

running of the dogs

group at marina

scarface house

Back at the house it was a quick energy burst with a fill up of pop (they had Coke, and Pepsi) before splitting into two actual cars to hit up Miami beach.  I’m sure the golf cart would have made it just fine, but only if I was at the helm.  It’s obvious I’m the only one who knows how to handle that thing.

We parked right in front of Ana Bianca & Alfredo’s old apartment which was just a few blocks from the beach.  Even though I live on a boat, I’m always on the water, and always near a beach, I envied the fact that they used to stroll down the street with a coffee in hand to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, or with a cooler full of beers in the afternoon, ready to take in the scene.  Surf and turf.  That’s the way to do it.

The six of us searched about the same number of bike stands before we finally came across one that had enough for all of us to ride.  With 30 minutes purchased, we hopped on those bad boys and pedaled the boardwalk of Miami Beach, an area that I’m now becoming quite familiar with.  I’m tell you, there’s just something about this place that keeps drawing me back.

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bicycling in south beach

 We found time in the afternoon to do a little strolling of the streets as well.  Apparently there’s a big shopping district that Matt and I missed the first time around and I had no problem this time running in and out of H&M and Forever 21, trying to find new bikinis or outfits at deeply discounted prices.  Matt wasn’t in the shops with me, I had the credit card, and everything was fair game.  Surprisingly I walked out of every store empty handed which is a sign that Matt’s just rubbing off on me too much.  It was slightly satisfying to walk up to him though and proudly say “I bought nothing“.

When everyone had gotten their shopping in and we enjoyed a sweet afternoon treat of custard, we piled back into the cars for a tour of Little Havana, or Calle Ocho as it’s also known.  It’s an area of Miami that’s full of Cuban restaurants, shops, and markets.  They even have a McDonald’s there that serves rice and beans as a side because it’s so popularly requested.

On the grand tour we walked by a park full of old men playing dominoes, and an area of statues and monuments with tribute to Cuba.  Since we were missing our great Cuban friend Luis, the last and only missing member of the Dinner Club, we thought it would be nice to get a group photo of all of us that we could send to him back in Guatemala.  Asking the first random guy we saw walking down the street, we soon found this was not a wise choice.  Because this man was a Cuban.  That wanted to give us all a lesson on Cuba.  Six people who had all actually been to Cuba, and one that was of Cuba heritage.  We humored him for a little bit and sang along to the songs he was trying to teach us while he simultaneously made a grasshopper from palm fronds.  20 minutes and no photo later, we finally pulled another guy off the street to take our picture, allowing our ‘Cuban Tour Guide’ to be in it with us.

Having lost most of the afternoon now and still needing to get back to Key Biscayne for dinner at Alfredo’s sister’s, we took in just a little bit more of Little Havana, stopping at one of the restaurants for real Cuban coffee, super strong and super delicious, and ham and cheese croquetas.  Mmmm, just like I remembered them.  Since we were in the area we popped into a market to pick up some meat and veggies for dinner and then made our way back to the island for a costume change before dinner since the clouds had come in bringing a huge temperature drop with them.

Calle Ocho memorial

3.31.14 (8)

 Our night was rounded out with another family dinner, although not quite as big or with as many family members as the night before.  It was great though, sitting pool side of the complex where Alfredo’s sister Ivonne and husband Vance live where Luki got the brie (BBQ) ready, and Mimi (his mother) showed up with some freshly made peach daiquiris.  We sampled the mahi that Kajaya caught on their Gulf Stream passage from Isla Mujeres, and talked about the whens on where we’ll see each other next since we know that this can’t be it for our group.  I’m so happy that Matt and I decided to stay another night and can’t even imagine all that we would have missed had we gone home early.

It’s going to be a hard thing to leave tomorrow morning and go back to the boat where it will just be the two of us again for the foreseeable future as we move along to the Bahamas.  I am really, really going to miss these people as they truly have become family to us.  Long live the Guatemalan Dinner Club, you will always have a special place in our hearts.

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Matt & Jessica & Luki

Ana Bianca & Alfredo

 

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Styling while Sailing

styling while sailing

A strange thing has been happening to Matt and I lately, and it’s that we’ve been receiving a lot of emails lately from companies wanting us to review their products.  Strangely, they rarely boat related as I would have expected, considering that’s what our lives vastly revolve around.  Instead, the majority of requests have been coming from clothing companies.  I might have attributed this to the fact we both recently made the list for Sexiest Male and Female travelers of 2015 (thanks again Megan!) and were now on a list for top models (kidding!), although we’d been contacted by these companies long before those lists were ever published.

Although I personally get much more excited about fashion over boat parts, we still do not say yes to every company that contacts us, as we feel that we only like to stand behind companies that we believe in their products. Two of the companies that we did say yes to produce items are clothing based, but I believe they do have a good functionality in a sailors life, and that is why I agreed to give them a try.

The first company is Mizzen + Main, who produces high quality, yet very functional clothing for men.  Using advanced performance fabrics, you receive all the style of a regular dress shirt that has the added behavior of your favorite athletic gear. Let me list a few of it’s benefits for you:

  • Moisture wicking
  • Four way stretch
  • Wrinkle free
  • Machine washable

For a guy like Matt who leads the life that we do, this shirt is absolutely perfect for him. We’re usually in such warm and humid climates that he prefers to wear no top at all when possible, and quickly sweats through any cotton shirt he puts on when we need or want to run to town. It’s a breeze to keep clean and does not even need to go in a dryer.  Slip it on to a hanger and it’s dry and good to go in 16 minutes.

The shirt Matt received is from the Leeward collection of Mizzen + Main. This style comes with a structured fit and has remarkable quick dry properties, which will be fantastic for when we are back on the water (or when we get caught in Florida’s rainy season again).  Matt loves this shirt for it’s fit and comfort, and I love it for it’s style and wrinkle free properties.  We do have an iron on board, but it’s rare that it ever comes out. This shirt can be stuffed in the back of a cabinet and still come out completely wrinkle free. Trust me, I’ve watched it happen.

This shirt has definitely become a staple in Matt’s wardrobe and I can easily see why it’s received so many great reviews. I know we think highly of it’s but it’s also quickly raising as a favorite with glowing reviews from Men’s Fitness, The New York Times, and Esquire as well.  And I have to believe they have a lot more access to men’s clothing than we do, so if they love it too, you know it’s good.

M+M Homepage

Mizzen + Main

Mizzen + Main Leeward collection

Mizzen + Main

The other company we agreed to work with is a brand new venture out of Melbourne Australia, specializing in leggings. There are many things to love about Pins to Kill, but the number one thing that enticed me is you are able to create your own custom leggings!  How cool is that? Although there are a number of fascinating established designs on the site to choose from, the site encourages their customers to create their own custom patterns by uploading photos or artwork.

I wanted something that would easily get the point across of what my lifestyle is all about, and had the text ‘Sail the World’ printed down the leg.  There are so many other options running through my head though….anchors on a blue background, wave type patterns, or boats with palm trees.  The option are literally endless! It was hard to come up with only one. And whatever you can come up with, they’ll make them for you.

I love them because they are just so smart and efficient for boat life.  Another wrinkle free option of clothing for my life, full of comfort and flexibility. They take up very little space in my already small cabinet, and can easily transition from passages, to lounging, to exploring.  After getting several wears out of them already, I’ve noticed they don’t pinch or strain like other leggings I own, and still keep me very warm when the temperatures begin to drop at night. Plus they’re another quick drying item where I don’t have to worry too much about dinghy butt (the splashed of water that come over the dinghy and soak your behind) like I do when I’m wearing cotton or denim. A big plus in my book.

The founder of Pins to Kill, Linda, is making sure that her products are making it to the far reaches of the universe in every form of activity possible.  They’ve been featured on dancers, mountain hikers, fitness professionals, and now sailors.  There is a fantastic collections of her leggings featured on all these women on her Instagram account, @pinstokill.  Take a look at some of her fantastic creations, and then make sure to create something of your own!

Pins to Kill

Pins 2 Kill

Pins2Kill

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Our Own Private Champage Cruise

sunset cruise in Ft. Lauderdale

Weeks before my parents arrived, I received an email from my mom asking if we would be interested in taking a sunset cruise during our time in Fort Lauderdale. I was ecstatic to hear this, but also a little surprised as it can be hard to get my parents out for boat rides sometimes.  Especially ones that lead to the ocean. Maybe it was because they knew we could book it the day of, making sure to watch weather conditions; maybe it was because they knew a company that caters to tourist probably wouldn’t go out in some of the conditions Matt and I have been forced to endure; or maybe it was because they must have known how much we’re missing our time on the water and wanted to give us a little piece of that back.  Because my parents are awesome like that.

For awhile during our vacation it looked like we may not actually be able to get out on this excursion that I’d now been looking forward to for weeks.  When we first arrived to Fort Lauderdale the winds were extremely strong, the seas were high enough to be bouncy, and even if the cruises were still running the ride would most likely be very uncomfortable.  Once the winds died down the rain started up, and every day was a guess of when the showers would be in and for how long.  This was not the November we were expecting in Florida, and it seemed we were stuck in summer-like weather patterns.

It took until almost our last day before leaving for us to make this happen.  The morning and afternoon had all been off and on rain showers, although the evening looked promising. Visiting in the mid afternoon, just to get a feel for the area so we didn’t rush ourselves later, we purchased tickets and took a look at the boat.  This part of the day was still sunny and they’d just come in from taking a group snorkeling and swimming the reefs just outside the inlet.  Who knew those even existed in Fort Lauderdale? The office mentioned they go out rain or shine, and if we showed up to go, they would take us.

The late afternoon was quite questionable, but my favorite site of Passage Weather showed that precipitation would be gone, waves would be non existent, and winds would be very little.  That sounded just fine to me.  I didn’t need a thrill ride of a sunset tour, I just needed a good sunset and a full glass of champagne.  And if the clouds indeed clear up, I’d be promised 2 out of 2. Luckily the universe did take a little pity on me and the clouds did part just in time for our departure from the condo.

Arriving at the Spirit of Fort Lauderdale, we found another surprise.  We were the only ones to sign up for that evenings cruise.  We had the whole catamaran to ourselves! I was hoping that meant each person on board each received their own bottle of champagne, but that request was quickly smashed down.  (It’s ok, there was still Dos XX in the fridge for when I got back…)  We had Captain Mike and Jason on duty that night, and as soon as they finished with the required safety speech, the dock lines where thrown off and we had the music pumping out of the speakers to whatever station we wanted.  Since we had full run of the place.

The crew members quickly became our talking buddies, and we turned the cruise into a big hangout session instead of us by ourselves and them by themselves. Gliding down the ICW and closer to the inlet the sun was already dipping and the sky was radiating different colors of yellow and pink. As we passed by mega yachts and mega mansions, Mike and Jason were able to give us the history or some background on a lot of these boats and homes

my family at a sunset cruise

ICW Ft. Lauderdale

waterfront house in Ft. Lauderdale

One of the best parts of the trip for me, how lame is this, was coming up to the 17th St. Causeway and not having to lift a finger to get under it.  No hailing the bridge tender, no controlling the boat so I could time our approach just perfectly, and no watching for oncoming traffic to avoid.  I was able to just sit back and watch the waterfront restaurants begin to light up their decks, or finally get a good look at all these ridiculously large yachts we were passing by.

On the other side of the bridge we found ourselves right upon the inlet to the Atlantic and it was time to raise the sails.  Another thing I did not have to lift a finger for.  By this time the sun was fully down and we were surrounded by a soft pink lighting behind us, and a deepening blue as we made our way out into open waters.  A slight chop was coming through, and I joined my parents on the trampoline up by the bow, and rode the small waves like a ride until a few began splashing up underneath us and trying to soak our pants.

going under 17th St. bridge

dad under bridge

raising the mainsail

sunset cruise Fort Lauderdale

Spirit of Fort Lauderdale

It turned out that the little wind I had been watching earlier turned out to be much too small to fill our sails. Getting out into open water, we sailed close hauled for a bit as we slightly bobbed around in the small swells.  The sail that didn’t want to stay full was smacking back and forth a bit, and very much reminded me of our sail from Miami to Bermuda.

Once the sky began to turn black, the consensus on board was that without much sailing happening there wasn’t a lot of reason to stay out in the Atlantic just to run up the clock.  There could still be touring done inside the canals.  Turning the boat around we had a slightly more comfortable and half a knot faster sail back inside the waterway. As soon as we were inside and the sails were lowered it was time for the champagne to come out.

Giving a big toast between ourselves and to our crew, we had a fantastic run for the last little bit of our cruise.  With my full glass of champagne, we all stood out on deck and watched the bright lights of the city shining down on us.  As a special treat, and since we had a little extra time, we made a run down a side canal to take a look at a few of the waterfront homes and took a little shock in realizing that most people did not put blinds into their living rooms or kitchens.  And I have to say, a few of the meals I was able to see prepared looked really delicious.

Before we knew it we were sliding back into our slip at the marina and it was time to trade in our sailing hat for a land based one.  Cruisers living on dirt once again.  It was a great experience to get there once again, and if anything it’s going to give me more drive to work even harder on our boat to get here back out as soon as possible.  But of course this night would not have been as special without my wonderful parents, for taking us on this cruise and enjoying their company while we were out.  We were also blessed with a fantastic crew that made the experience incredibly enjoyable and made it feel as if we were out on the water with any number of new cruising friends we make along the way.  The perfect way to wrap up another fantastic visit from my family.

Ft. Lauderdale inlet

17th St. bridge at night

champagne cruise Spirit of Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale canals

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Throwback Thursday: Where the Sidewalk Ends

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.

Moving ourselves just up the coast from Miami, we found a nice little spot in Fort Lauderdale to drop our hook and made that our home for awhile.  I’m not sure if this was ever previously mentioned on the blog, but at this time we were in the middle of trying to purchase a trimaran in Guatemala to flip.  It had been at the marina we were staying at, although we’d never been able to go inside of it.  Long story short, between trying to contact the current owner and have it surveyed, things had been moving very slowly on this.  Although before we could get ourselves to the Bahamas we wanted the process completely wrapped up. Which meant that if the deal did go through, we needed to be near an airport that could quickly get us back there. Spoiler alert: the survey showed rotting and there would have been a lot more time and money spent into fixing this boat up than we were prepared to give.  (Huh….)

During our stay in Fort Lauderdale though, we were able to meet some new cruising friends that we’d been in long distance contact with for awhile, and I was even able to have a girls night out with the lovely Jessica G. of m/v Felicity and Melody of s/v Vacilando. We also happened to be in one space for so long again that Matt’s mom and stepdad jumped on the opportunity to come see us from Michigan since we were so close. Relatively speaking.  Here is the story of when we went to meet them at the airport.

You can find the original post here.

Monday March 17, 2014

sidewalk ends

Let me tell you a little story of a boy and a girl who went out for a walk one day and found out where the sidewalk ends. Could this ‘story’ be about Matt and Jessica you might ask? Ha, of course not. We would never be as stupid as to do these following things.

 

Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who lived and traveled in their sailboat. After dropping their anchor in a pretty little lake in a place called Fort Lauderdale, the boy received a call from his mother telling him that she and her husband would like to come visit. The boy and girl were very excited about this. So excited, that they decided to meet their family right at the airport when they arrived.

Having walked back from a few marine stores they had just visited a few days prior, the boy realized that the airport was less than a mile from there and thought the walk would be very doable. Was there a bus? Of course there was. But who can’t do with a little extra exercise every now and then. The girl didn’t mind walking too much, but was excited at the prospect of arriving at the airport quite early and using their fast internet connection. There were a few photos and a video she wanted to post online.

Leaving two hours before their families flight was due in, they figured it wouldn’t take them more than an hour to get there, the extra time, the girl willed, could be spent on her computer. The first part of the walk went very well. Following the main streets they had used before they continued forward into new territory and hopefully where the airport was. A few blocks later the girl noticed their four lane road with a median in the center appeared to be turning into an expressway. Based on the signs, it looked as if they would have to walk a half mile of that expressway to get to the airport. The boy could not believe there would not be a back way into the airport where a pedestrian could walk in. Turning down a side street they wandered on through the mass of car rental facilities.

The day was hot and both the boy and girl were beginning to sweat from the heat of the midday sun. The girl was starting to get blisters on her feet as she was only expecting a two mile walk and wore her sandals. Normally a two mile walk in them is not an issue, but she had a feeling they must be clocking mile three by now. As each street turned into a dead end she pleaded with the boy that they could jump on one of the airport shuttle buses and have a comfortable and safe ride the rest of the way. It did not look like the back roads were getting them any closer. The boy scoffed at this offer stating that it wouldn’t be proper for them to accept these services if they were not giving the car rental center their business. Fed up now, she explained that these back roads were getting them nowhere and they would have to walk on the shoulder of the expressway to reach their intended destination.

Tracking back over the asphalt they had just covered, they were now faced with an area where the sidewalk ended. Keeping as far away from traffic as possible, they trudged through the dirt and grass off the side of the expressway until they reached a bridge. With an entrance ramp at the top. Luckily it was mid afternoon on a Monday and traffic was light. Before they knew it they had crossed over the bridge and were back in grass shoulders. Just ahead was the exit for the airport, and although it looked almost a mile long in itself, they were happy to see it.

Kicking up dust with each step, they had finally reached an area where they could see the parking lot to the airport. There was only one problem. They couldn’t find a way into it. Looking further up the road, the expressway exit did not lead them directly to a tree lined entrance with a sidewalk or even soft grass to trample on. What laid ahead was the road curving into another expressway loop with more bridges. There were lots of cars up in that area, and they were all going quite fast. The boy and girl did not feel as comfortable taking on the expressway again.

Searching from left to right, they looked for any other way in. A fence had been running along the side of them for quite some time, and they hoped that further ahead, where a group of bushes were clustered, would be a break in the fence where they could walk into the parking lot. Hiking up the path a little further they saw the fence encircled the entire area. Talking about their options, the girl suggested a taxi to take them the rest of the way. Waiting for five minutes they did not see a single one pass by. They thought about backtracking and trying to catch a bus, but now they had eaten up all their extra time and they could not afford to be late. They were right there, the only thing keeping them out was a fence.

Hot, tired, sweaty, dirty, and after lots of contemplation, they decided to take the easiest option. Tucking behind a tall tree, the boy scaled the fence and beckoned for the girl to join him on the other side. Sticking her toes through the links, she managed to get to the top where sharp metal edges were meeting her. The plastic bottoms of her flip flops balanced  precariously on these pointy spikes while her arms held her steady on a tree branch. Taking a deep breath, she prepared herself for a terrible fall and jumped. Landing almost softly on the ground she took check of any damage to herself. There were a few scrapes on her hands and cuts on her ankles, but otherwise she was fine.

With the parking lot just in front of them, they had only one more obstacle to cross. Just ahead of them was a set of train tracks with low lying cars for items to be placed upon. Once again glancing left and right, the couple hopped over these cars. Free and clear on the other side, they ran into the parking lot to do their best job of blending in with all the other patrons that had arrived by car. They made it all the way inside and to the baggage claim to meet their family without a second glance from anyone.

Running to the restrooms, they took a few minutes to clean themselves up. Twigs were pulled from hair, dirt smudges wiped off of faces, and dust cleaned off of legs and feet. Getting back to the baggage claim just in time to meet up with the boy’s mother and stepfather, they asked how the boy and girl had gotten there that day. Smiling at each other the boy and girl replied, “You don’t even want to know”.

 

Let me repeat again, this story is not about us. I mean, who would be dumb enough to do that? Right?

 

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The Hidden Gem that is Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

The condo we’re staying at with my parents in Fort Lauderdale happens to be about one block from the Bonnet House.  While brainstorming up things to do with our time there, it obviously came up as a contender.  It’s supposed to be a beautiful house full of history, and lavish grounds to wander. I’m sure many visitors have spent long afternoons there doing just this.  We were almost some of them.  Until I took a look at their website and found that tours cost $20/person.  Even if you only wanted to walk the grounds you had to hand over $10.  A quick tram ride could get you through for $2.

As soon as we saw these prices though, Matt and I did not want to participate in any of it.  Not that my parents couldn’t or didn’t want to hand over this money for us all to have an afternoon out, they were more than happy to have this as a possibility for ‘Things to Do’ during our time here.  The thing was…I knew of a much better place for us to spend an afternoon.  One that happened to be completely free.

Last May when Matt and I had about a month to kill in Miami waiting on specific paperwork for the cat before we could make our Atlantic crossing to Europe, we spent a lot of time with our cruising friends Alfredo and Ana Bianca, and family of theirs that lived on Key Biscayne. One afternoon while visiting, where we had a little more time on our hands than they did, they sent us off on a pair of bicycles to check out a nice local beach called Crandon Park. With the exception of having a house to tour (and based on the photos, I’m not sure it would have been my style), these grounds were much more appealing.

Here is one thing I can not understand about this park.  Every time we have summer here; summer; winter; weekday; weekend; it is always empty.  A complete ghost town, which is surprising considering how beautiful it is. As we parked our car in the vacant lot, we walked the sidewalk leading up to the beach, making sure to stop for just a moment to take in one of my favorite perks of this park.  Situated on the south side of the beach is a bird sanctuary, with it’s own trails and sitting areas, this area used to be one of the leading zoos in the country back in the 1960′s.  Having previously hosted over 1,000 animals of over 380 species, it’s open air animal exhibits now sit empty, and the birds which currently reside there are allowed to roam free.

Such is the case of the ostentation of peacocks we found lining the fence as we arrived.  Very accustomed to visitors and handouts of food, they are not shy of people and it’s quite easy to get a close up view of them.  Saving a more thorough stroll of those grounds for just a little later, we instead made our way to the palm trees and shoreline. Passing by shaded picnic areas and charcoal grills, we left the pavement and slid off our shoes as we entered the warm mid day sand.

One thing Matt and I agreed of why we love this beach so much is that other than it’s magnificent turquoise colored waters and tall sprouting palm trees, for some reason it looks as if it would fit much better into the coast of North Carolina than Southern Florida. With the exception of a few high rises at the very far end of the beach, the area appears very secluded and not at all flashy.  Although I do love a good afternoon of people watching and viewing all the vibrantly colored life guard stations on South Beach…this area just seems cleaner and more uniform.  But in a good way.

The light yellow lifeguard stands pop out perfectly from the vivid waters behind them and the palm trees lining each side. It’s a quiet area, very peaceful.  Just a short drive from the major metropolis of Miami, yet you still have the sense of solitude.  At low tide there are shallow pools to wade in, and any time is perfect for diving into a novel without surrounding distractions.  I don’t know, I can’t describe it. Just a little slice of perfection in Southern Florida that we never seem to get enough time to spend in.

Such was the case this afternoon as we had no suits on us for swimming or umbrellas to shade us from the sweltering sun. We did make a quick run of the sanctuary where most of the birds seemed to be hiding on this particular day, but the iguanas were have the run of the grounds. Once we realized that we were approaching late afternoon we did make our way up to bustling South Beach to find a nice outdoor cafe for some lunch and people watching. Since we couldn’t make the most of Crandon Park, it did seem only the logical thing to do.

peacocks at Crandon Park

picnic area, Crandon Park

Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

my parents at Crandon Park

Matt & Jessica at Crandon Park

Crandon Park, Key Biscayne

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Off to the Coast!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

It’s vacation time again!  Just five weeks after returning from a week long escape in Stuart with Matt’s family, my parents have just flown in to take us away for a week to Fort Lauderdale. The rents are back for the second time this year and we couldn’t be happier to see them! And I’m sorry, but I do have to take a quick second and poke a little fun at them, as when I called them by this slang term in a post during their previous visit, they had no idea what it meant.  Funny.  I thought I was dating myself by using it.

Anyway….they arrived at the marina on Thanksgiving, but unfortunately a few hours later than all the festivities being held here that day.  We did manage to save them a few plates of turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, and even the keg hadn’t been tapped yet so there was still free cold beer to enjoy with our late lunch/early dinner. Having them stay at the only hotel Indiantown has to offer, we all met back up the next morning for breakfast and drove out to see my grandparents in Sebring.

Hopping back in the rental car after a nice afternoon and lunch spent with them (no way we were going to chance the van breaking down driving across the state), we set off for Fort Lauderdale and only had to make one stop at a questionable gas station in Clewston before pulling into our hotel just after the sun set. A little bit different than when we had all taken off to Fort Lauderdale in April, this time we were only a block from the beach, staying in a high rise with the Atlantic on one side and the ICW on the other. It was a balmy yet very windy night, although it was not stop us from taking a stroll down Beach Blvd.  Even in the dark and across the street we could see giant waves crashing against the shore, and before we even left I knew it would be necessary to change from my dress into jeans.  Not because of dropping temperatures, but because if I hadn’t I would have ended up with it over in my head. Trust me, it was doing a good job of trying in the parking lot upon our arrival.

Since I had underestimated the size of the city blocks here (or had only read street names with bridges), I had vastly misjudged our distance from Sunrise down to Las Olas Blvd, where all the happening bars and restaurants were, so instead of making it down there to possibly grab a drink we turned around and took the back roads back to the hotel where we were slightly blocked from the strong east winds. Not to let that hold us back from enjoying that beer together, we got in the car once more to do a little necessary grocery shopping at the Publix up the road and stocked ourselves up on some Dos XX and limes to get us through the next few days.  Ending the night in front of the tv, we were all exhausted after our recent traveling over the past few days, barley keeping our eyes open through an interesting reenactment of the Donner party.  You may joke, but I honestly would have been in bed an hour earlier if we hadn’t been watching it.

In the morning we took our sweet time getting ready, with really no place to be.  Sitting over coffee and each person person playing on their computer or tablet for bit (I may be a little ashamed to admit that I’ve been spending a bit too much time with our Instagram account lately, getting it going) we did force ourselves out for a daylight walk before lunch, walking across the draw bridge to watch the sailboats going south, and then out to the beach to stick our toes in the water.

Jessica and parents

Jessica & parents

Matt at draw bridge

sail boats under draw bridge

Fort Lauderdale

day at beach

We’ve been spending a few days just relaxing around the condo, getting the use of a full kitchen again, and even running some errands around town.  It’s never a bad day when your parents want to take you shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond to help you stock up your galley with gadgets and provide you with new bath towels since the ones you have are six years old.  Ick.  We also took an afternoon to go to the movie theater and see the newest Hunger Games.  We even ended up at one of those fancy movie theaters where they serve food and drinks during the show.  A literal dinner & a movie date.  We skipped on the food, but most of us did partake in an adult beverage.  Watching a movie on the big screen with an ice cold Sam Adams in my hand?  A pretty cool way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of going out for a beer, we also somewhat ran into some cruising friends here!  For the past two years we’ve been talking to and trying to meet up with Rebecca and Brian of Summertime Rolls.  There’s even been more than one occasion where we’ve missed each other by only a day or to.  Us getting to the Bahamas a day or two after they left; or them arriving to the Virgin Islands only a few days after we left. When they had seen on our Facebook page that we were in Ft. Lauderdale they let us know they happened to be just up the road!

Finding an Irish Pub one block up from us that had a very good happy hour, the four of us finally met and spent a good few hours talking about our past few years sailing.  Not only have we cruised so many of the same grounds, but our social circles consist of basically all the same people, so the conversations were endless. Definitely a bit of fun and unexpected serendipity thrown into our schedule.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of our time here holds for us.

drinks w. Summertime Rolls

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Throwback Thursday: Visiting That Place We Said We’d Never Go – Aka Miami

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.

Waiting so long for a weather window to get from Mexico to Florida, you’d think we’d be on the go again as soon as we arrived there.  Due to a little more bad weather though, and honestly, some sheer exhaustion from the passage over, we ended up taking a week pit stop in Key West.  Although most of the days we were content to sit on the boat relaxing, and listening to radio stations in English again, we did find a few chances to get out and explore.

One afternoon was spent taking a tour of the town by scooter. It turns out the island was a bit smaller than we had anticipated and the latter part of the day was using to scooter to make grocery runs, stocking up on necessities like Coca Cola and Kraft Mac’n'Cheese.  For days we didn’t feel like going to shore and getting yelled at by the guy at the dinghy dock for parking in front just so I could ask him a question, we brought Georgie to shore for a little terra firma and a chance to stretch her legs and explore.

Still wanting to get a move on, our next stop was Marathon, which unfortunately we were a little underwhelmed by. Boot Key Harbor was just a little too crowded for our taste, and we found ourselves anchored outside the bay instead.  With it’s amazing sunsets over Seven Mile Bridge though, it wasn’t a bad trade. Heading north again as soon as the weather allowed, we made a 24 hour passage to Coconut Grove, riding the Gulf Stream and encountering lots of ship traffic in the middle of the night.

Finally nestled in a place that we actually wanted to be in for awhile, I drug Matt out for a day to the one place he said he never wanted to go.

You can find the original post here.

Saturday March 1, 2013

3.1.14

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

“We’re not going to Miami”

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

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

“Why can’t we going to Miami?”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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