Throwback Thursday: Down By the Beach…Boyyy!!

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 had our perfect New Years in Isla Mujeres and then were ready to get ourselves moving to Florida and hopefully the Bahamas, but the weather had other plans for us.  It looks as if it may not have been the best decision to pass up a perfect weather window to Key West in order to celebrate the holidays with our friends, and we spent most of January paying for it.

A few terrible storms came through the harbor, and for the first and only time in our lives we had our anchor drag on us.  Good thing we caught it was happening just before we crashed into the boat behind us. Over the next few days it was a mess of making sure other boat’s didn’t drag into us (and one almost did) in these cold fronts that just did not want to leave us alone. In between a few bad blasts where we didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boat, we spent a day touring the town with a few new friends we were sharing the lagoon with and they introduced us to the best drink ever, the sangrita.

After another few weeks and the wind never changing in our favor, I was about to completely lose it, thinking that we would never get out of Mexico.  But once I realized that I could do nothing about the weather and should enjoy my days that I did have there, our stay took on a new light as I began to enjoy all the small things of sitting in a beautiful anchorage. Long drawn out mornings of coffee in the cockpit, and many afternoons spent at the beach.

You can find the original post here.

Sunday February 2, 2014

North Beach, Isla Mujeres

I’m so glad that I finally listened to my own advice and decided to enjoy however much time we have left here in Isla instead of whining and complaining that we’d never get out. Once I let go of all the frustration that we weren’t on schedule and we weren’t moving on and seeing new things, this place has taken on a whole new life and we’ve really come to start enjoying each day. Plus after seeing how low our spending was in January, we’ve kind of fallen in love with how beautiful, cheap, and relaxing this place is. We were even joking that we could probably double our time cruising by spending half the year here in Isla Mujeres and the other half in Rio Dulce, minus the marina (not that those even cost very much there).

In keeping with the Carpe Diem frame of mind, we’ve spent our past two afternoons at the beach just hanging out. I would say that it’s pretty sad and pathetic that we couldn’t actually move ourselves off Serendipity until after one in the afternoon, but at least yesterday we had a good reason. Due to some begging and pleading on my part and showing how well we did with our spending in January (seriously, have you seen these numbers?) I talked Matt into letting us go to BoBo’s after the beach for their happy hour. Packing up our trusty backpack with a blanket, some beers, and books, we found a spot that was a bit further down the beach than we had normally gone before. All the shady areas had already been snagged and we managed to find one little sliver of space under one of the palm trees that dots the beach. We also managed to find the spot with, I don’t know what else you’d call it, but a hippie drum circle. 50 feet behind us was a group of bohemians with their guitars, tambourines, drums, and oh yeah, ganja.

Since we had gotten out there so late in the afternoon we were easily able to fill just the few hours we were there with random people watching. I barely had a chance to crack open my book. Not only did we have the hippies behind us to keep us entertained for part of the day, but the tourists strolling the beach in front of us were pretty good too. Usually it was the little bits of conversation we caught which we found the most delightful, mostly the disgust of older American women to the partial nudity of the women on this beach. Between that, listening to some music, downing a beer, and a quick dip in the water, it was already time for happy hour to be starting at BoBo’s. While gathering all our things up and trying to dust the sand off my legs I realized this stuff is like glue and you basically need an exfoliant to get it off. I do miss my powdery sand from the shores of Lake Michigan, but you won’t hear me complaining about being stuck here, believe me.

At Bobo’s we must have been some of the first customers there since they don’t even open until their happy hour begins. Snatching a table outside on the street we each ordered ourselves up a pound of wings and a nice cold beer to wash them down with. When the wings came to our table shortly afterward, they.were.heaven. Seriously, is there anything better in this world than a plate of buffalo wings and a nice cold beer? You’d be hard pressed to find it. Back on Serendipity we were lazy and content, pretty sure that we would be becoming permanent residents of Mexico, and not minding it one bit.

Today we brought ourselves back out to the beach, right back to the same spot, with our same hippie friends sitting just behind us. Today they decided to up their game and had taken what looked like ratchet straps and secured them between two palm trees, making an area to tightrope walk. Well there goes my need for a book again today. Pop open a Barrelito, soak up some sun, and enjoy hippie tightrope walkers. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

Barrelito beer

laying out on North Beach

sun on North Beach

wiping off sand

Tecate Light

hot wings at Bobo's

sign at Bobo's

Matt on North Beach

hippie tightrope walkers sun on windsurfer

sunset in Isla Mujeres

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Sailing Superstitions Part II

We haven’t been out on the water in quite some time now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what my former life used to hold for me.  The one I’m working so desperately hard to get back to.  Days full of snorkeling, sunsets, sundowners, and a constant fresh breeze in my face. Gently swaying in harbor, long nights of stargazing and even the butterflies before a long passage.  Which also happens to remind me of the long list of sailing superstitions I would run through in my head before we weighed anchor.

Last year I had written a post on a few biggies out there. I had covered things like ‘Never set sail on Friday‘, ‘Don’t spit in the ocean‘, and even some personal ones we’ve developed along the way. Like certain brands of lip balm can slightly control the wind.  Personally, I’ve found out that if you want more wind, swipe on a little Blistex, and to calm it a little, dab on some Carmex.

In my previous post I barley even scratched the surface of the number of marine superstitions out there, and for your pleasure, I’ve dug up a few more good ones.  Can you tell me what superstitions you follow, whether traveling by land or by sea?

sunken ship

Whistle for Wind

You might think it would be nice to whistle a little tune and get a steady breeze in return, but apparently you’re not supposed to whistle at all on a boat. Whistling is said to challenge the wind itself (since I guess if you think about it, you always refer to the wind as whistling through the trees, ect) and if you do whistle on board it is said to bring a storm about. I am married to a perpetual whistler who doesn’t even know he’s doing it most of the time, and luckily we’ve only faced a handful of storms so far, so I think this one is bull. But that doesn’t mean you’ll hear me whistling any tunes across the Atlantic. No use trying to tempt fate.

 

Having a woman on board is bad luck

Well, this boat couldn’t really travel without me on it (have you read about Matt’s nil attention span while navigating?), so we kind of have to disregard this one. It’s said that this curse can be counteracted if said woman is naked, but as we found out from our sail into Port Antonio, Jamaica, this seemed to hold opposite of being true. I’m not even sure how this superstition came about, but I’m sure it was a bunch of drunken men sitting around a bottle of rum one night while their petticoated counterparts were dressed to the nines in corsets, stockings, gowns, frills, ect, and they thought ‘We need to put an end to this. I know….let’s tell them that they’ll bring good luck to the passage if they run around in the buff!’.

 

Untying knots to get more wind

Not all superstitions are bad luck, and if used properly, this one can help a sailor out.  Granted that they don’t take it too far. In nautical legend, it is said that knots have magical properties, including the ability to control the wind. Sailors believed in this so much that often times they would leave for passage with what were called wind-knots, where three separate knots were tied into a piece of rope.  By untying the first knot, winds would fill in to a gentle breeze to give the sailor an easy and comfortable passage.  Untying the second knot is said to make winds fill in enough to the point where reducing sail necessary, giving quite a fast and maybe a rough ride.  Untie the third knot….and you unleash the full fury of Poseidon and would be lucky to walk away from what comes at you.

 

Don’t bring bananas on board

This is one of the very first sailing superstitions we ever learned about, yet refuse to follow it. All along the east coast of the US we were always bringing bananas on board, making banana bread, and having nice leisurely motors down the ICW. Hmmm, I wonder if the fact that we weren’t doing any actual sailing while having bananas on board was key.

There’s a few reasons having bananas on board is bad luck, the most popular and well known reason is that one could slip on the peel and fall overboard. Sounds logical enough. But after researching a little more I found out that part of this angst came from back in the days of slave ships. Bananas being transported on these ships would give off a fermented gas which would become trapped below deck. Prisoners being kept in the hold would give in to this gas and die. It’s also said that a particular species of spider with a lethal bite would hide in banana bunches and bite crew members after being brought aboard, causing that person to die. So yeah, I can see why sailors may have looked down on this delicious fruit before realizing the scientific reasons for all of their crew members demise.

 

Renaming a boat

With two boats under our belts so far, we’ve yet to rename any of them so far. Our first boat came to us nameless, and even though we’ve heard this is just as bad as renaming a boat, we knew it would only be in our care for a few years before passing it on to a new owner and didn’t want to take away the opportunity for a dream name someone might have in mind. Serendipity was not our first choice of name when it came to our second boat, but it was good enough. Truth be told, we didn’t leave that one due to the fact of superstitions, but only because it would have been too much of a pain to change the name through the Coast Guard registration.

Why is it such bad luck to change the name of a boat? Legend has it that when a boat is named it has been enlivened and should be given the same respect as one would give to a person. To alter the name would bring disrespect to this being…unless you follow the proper steps to wipe the slate clean and start over again. There are many different ways to properly rename a boat, but usually end with a bottle of champagne being broken over it.  Hopefully it doesn’t have to be too good of champagne, because our kitty isn’t that deep.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: Ringing in the New Year

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 Isla Mujeres, I couldn’t think of a better place to ring in the New Year.  We love that little island off the coast of Cancun! We also had the benefit that our friends Luki and Elamri were still with us and there were good restaurants with cheap beer not far away. After having spent a few days in the lagoon, which sounds much more magical than it was, we were back out in the main bay of Isla.  With days full of going to the beach or sitting at anchor, watching the overloaded catamarans bring drunken tourists out to the hottest snorkeling spots, it was not taking us long to get back into island time.

Even though most of our days were spent with no more worries than to relax or if we were getting low on beer or cookies, New Years was still a nice occasion to get dressed up and go out.  I wish I could say I partied all night long, but it turns out that spending all your days in the sun and surf can take a lot out of a girl.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday January 1, 2014

Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

Since we left the Rio so much later than we expected, by about a month, and then had an extra week added to our time in Belize due to bad weather, Mexico was not where we were expecting to ring in the New Year. In fact, I had grand plans in my mind of meeting up with Brian and Stephanie in George Town Bahamas so we could celebrate it all together. With their timely departure for Panama coming up, it looked to be the only place we might ever have to cross paths again. But life, especially a cruisers, never quite goes as planned. I have to admit though, if we couldn’t buddy up Serendipity and Rode Trip in the Bahamas, staying with our other buddy boat Skebenga in Mexico was a very close second. We even threw out one very nice weather window to Florida to stay here and celebrate.

Our plans were not to be grand, just heading out to Marina Paraiso after dinner and enjoying a few beers and cocktails, and seeing if we could make it to the New Year. Luki and Elmari had already mentioned they’d probably be back at their boat long before midnight ever came, but I was hopeful that we’d run into our friend Rum/Ron (seriously, does anyone know how to spell his name) from Rio Dulce, one of the guys that watched Georgie.

It was lucky for me that Matt had been up until 3 or 4 am going into NYE so that he required a nap in the afternoon before going out. Why is this good you might ask? Because I was able to sneak out my flat iron to style my hair. As much as I love the thing, it sucks up about 20 amps while in use, and we’re still not quite at a place yet where we can easily spare it. I haven’t had a fancy cocktail hour in months though, and to me it was worth skipping watching a movie for the next night. By the time 7:00 rolled around and I was all dolled up, getting myself slightly sweaty while trying to prepare a quick dinner though, we were ready to hit the town for the night.

Luki and Elmari were already sitting at the bar when we got there, and we saddled up next to them at a table and enjoyed a couple of cold Pacifico’s (or in Matt’s case, Coke). The bar wasn’t quite as crowded as we thought it would be for NYE, about 10-15 people sitting at the actual bar, and then us and one other couple sitting at the tables just outside of it. Conditions weren’t quite perfect to be outside though, even though the night was warm, there were strong winds whipping through the grounds. The thing we found most strange was that the winds were coming from the east, and that’s where we were sitting protected from. Still, just like the Windy City, they managed to wrap their way around the buildings and find us, taking my perfectly glossy hair and turning it into the beginnings of a rat’s nest.

It was after only two beers and lots of good conversation that most of our group began getting tired and were ready to retreat back to our boats. Since it was a night for celebration, we decided to stay for one more drink, each ordering a fancy cocktail instead of the beers or pops we currently had in hand. Once again in a tribute to Brian and Stephanie, I ordered a gin & tonic, while Matt went with his old classic of Vodka Sour. I had been hoping to finally break out that bottle of champagne we’ve been carrying around in the ‘Dip since we left Michigan, the one that was supposed to celebrate Jackie’s 30th birthday in the Bahamas that we never got to meet up for, but instead the four of us made plans to enjoy a NYE part II the following week, after Skebenga’s company that was coming in the next day, left. It was 10:30 when we all made it back to our boats, and I was quick in bed after stripping off my party dress. Matt tried to wake me at midnight when fireworks began going off in every direction, but unfortunately, three drinks was enough to make me catatonic, and I could only stumble around for a minute to glance at them before falling back in bed.

pool at Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

Matt & Jessica at Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

 The rat’s nest is starting to take shape.

Scuba at Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

Scuba, the resident diving instructor’s dog.

bar at Marina Paraiso, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Today we decided to take it easy, as if our life has been anything else lately, and make another trip up to Playa Norte. Once again we prepared ourselves with a blanket, drinks and snacks. We exchanged our our e-readers for paperbacks, the digital SLR for a point and shoot, and were ready to leave all belongings unattended should the desire for an afternoon stroll or a frolic in the water come up. Once we entered the sandy passageway, we found that once again the area was packed with tourist and locals from the mainland enjoying their time off work. It was quite unintentional since we couldn’t find an open spot leading up to it, but we ended up at the same exact place that we had just a few days earlier. Taking shade under that same palm tree, we spread out our towel and unwound to the sounds of popular artist playing through the speakers of a nearby bar.

It was looking to be the perfect afternoon…until we smelled the poo. Just as my eyes were drifting shut, as this time I actually was planning on taking a nap, my nose went on high alert as it sensed a smell I’ve unfortunately had to clean out of our litter box many times. The strange thing was, one second it was there, the next second it was gone. I asked Matt if it had wafted past his nose as well, but he could smell nothing unusual. I ignored it and continued to relax. Every few minutes it arose though, and then departed just as quickly. At this point Matt had finally caught on to the scent as well, and although it seemed to be more pungent around me, kept asking if I wanted to move to a different area. Since I couldn’t see anything in eyesight that was available and I didn’t want to pack up all our belongings to search for another open area down the beach, I just went with it.

There were a few checks of all of our belongings just to make sure it was not in fact poo from our cat that we had inadvertently dragged to the beach with us, but quick nose to fabric searches of all of our belongings came up with nothing. I began eyeing the Pomeranian a few towels down. It seemed to be smirking at me. Finally when I was literally about to throw in our towel to find another area of open sand or possibly even evacuate back to the boat, a New Years miracle happened to us. A family of four that had rented out as many chairs and an umbrella for the day, decided to pack it in. Probably through the sheer luck that we were the closest people to them that were stuck in the sand, they offered up their lounges and umbrella to us, ‘since it was already paid through the rest of the day’. I greedily snatched up all our belongs before the offer could be replaced to anyone else. Then, while settling in to my new accommodations next to the other couple next to us in the sand that had been offered the other two seats, I heard some of the sweetest words in the English language. “We’re not going to finish the rest of our beer, would you like it? It’s still cold.” 2014, if you keep treating us like this, I think we may do very well together.

laying out at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

lounge chairs on Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

swimming at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

Jessica at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

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The Beginnings of Our Shower

Friday November 13, 2015

Jessica sanding

I remember when I thought the head would be a breeze to get through.  Throw up a few walls, add some cabinets, slap on a little paint and we’d be finished.  The hardest part would be the plumbing, and since that falls to Matt, all I would have to do for that project was be his gopher and that was fine by me.  I think he knows that day is coming though and has decided to punish me in advance.

True to form, this project did start with all Matt.  He looked at the space, figured out the best way to utilize it, and began taking the measurements to fit in the necessary pieces.  The head and cabinet would be in the forward part of the head and the sink and shower would be in it’s aft area.  That is the area we are throwing all of our focus right now.  It began the usual way of taking epoxied furring strips and mounting them to the aluminum frame attached to the hull, and making templates which were traced on to Eurolite boards and cut out.  These never fit exactly right the first time, so after 3 or 4 more trips out to the jigsaw for me, they were ready to mount.  Then it was supposed to be Matt’s turn.

And it was, for awhile.  He had the dull and tedious job of cutting out 6oz woven fiberglass cloth and then using epoxy to adhere it to the boards, making sure to feather out all air bubbles for a smooth finish.  I did my job of mixing the epoxy for him and then stood back while he did the work.  The next step after it had a few coats and ample time to dry was to fill in all the gaps between the boards.  Not only to keep water leaking in anywhere, since it is our shower, but also to give the boards added strength so they don’t flex and break.  My job was more or less the same, only this time I added filler to the epoxy. Day one of filler was colloidal silica.  And this is where the story gets ugly.  This is about the time I began to lose my sanity.

Not just for having to add it to the epoxy, no, that part is fine.  Aside from the fact of needing to wear a face mask because fine powders waft up in the air and into your nose and mouth if given the chance, it’s actually an easy and sometimes fun project.  We use food groups to base the consistency, usually aiming for either mayonnaise or peanut butter. The mental breakdowns began when it was time to start sanding off the excess.  And that is where I come in to the picture.  Not the brains of any of these projects, but just the brawn. The mindless, endless work that Matt can’t stand yet I am oh so good at.  Sometimes, you should just hide your talents.

So it fell on me that every time a filler would be added to any of these spaces, I would be sent in to smooth things out.  I spent 6 hours doing it the first day.  Sometimes standing, sometimes, squatting, but usually trying to keep my balance against the sloped wall behind me and not always succeeding. There were a few times I rode that thing like a slide, right into the casing for the centerboard three feet in front of me. Also, Florida decided never to let fall come in for it’s yearly visit, so temperatures inside the boat have been hovering around 90 degrees everyday.  That’s with the air conditioner on high.  I had to take to wearing sports bras and shorts just to survive the heat, and then suffer through the itch of having wedged myself against fiberglass all day.

The second day was slightly better as we moved from using colloidal silica as our filler, which makes surfaces rock hard and almost impossible to put a dent in while hand sanding, to using Q cells which are smaller glass bubbles and are much easier to work with.  Usually as a finishing faring compound where you don’t need the same strength you receive with colloidal silica, but mostly need to fill gaps.  It only took me 4 hours of work on this second day, and I thought I was out of the dog house.  That my punishment had been finished and we could now begin painting and maybe even throw up a pretty little vase.

No. We had two more rounds of filler with the Q cells.  Half way through the third day I questioned why I ever agreed to rebuild this boat.  By the fourth day I was ready to burn it down.  My only saving grace was a well deserved ice cold beer at the end of the day.  Which, coupled with all my labor through the day, had me ready to crawl in to bed each night by 8 pm.  I thought I could put this ugly business behind me when the filler was done after 4 days and we were ready to paint.  Usually a task that I handle, but as Matt began prepping all the brushes and rollers, he forgot that he was supposed to hand this project over to me and instead began right on it himself.  I did not feel a need to remind him.

Unbeknownst to me, this was another project that required sanding.  For every coat of primer and paint that went on (except the last one), the previous coat needed to be sanded down to a smooth finish so that we would not have the ripple effect leftover from the roller. And guess who got to do it every day?  This girl!!  But we have just put the last coat of paint on today and now I can happily go back to being Matt’s gopher.  I won’t even complain when he sends me up and down the steps 4 times in 10 minutes because he forgot something either inside the boat or out of it.  I swear!  I’ve seen the worst there is!

Did I have it coming?  Of course I did.  I’ve been working the cushy jobs for way too long while Matt labors away, both mentally and physically, while I just carry this or that around during the day, and occasionally pop my head up from the blog or Instagram to say “What?” while he’s doing all of the planning and research in our evening hours.  I hear this type of thing will happen again.  I hear this will not be the last time. And I know this project will once again fall to me. But I have survived it once, and I know I can do it again.  Probably once. Any more than that though, and this effing boat is getting burned down.

building boat shower

adding filler to cracks

sanding colloidal silica

Jessica sanding colloidal silica

painted shower

*That is only our first coat of primer…trust me, that’s not near finished!

** I love the fact that I posted a photo of me doing this terrible job of sanding on Facebook, and one of you awesome readers turned it into a black and white photo and said that it looks like a sad National Geographic photo!

sanding bw

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Our First Meal on Daze Off

Monday November 9, 2015

first beer on Daze Off

One of the first of many momentous occasions has happened on the new boat.  We’re now able to cook on her and have made our first meal!  Just in time too because eating down at the kitchen in the marina was beginning to become unbearable.  Ever since we arrived back to Indiantown after our mini vacay to Stuart, the marina has been chalk full of cruisers coming back to move their boats from storage You might be able to call me whiny or petty for having to put up with this, but it’s more than just the fact that I have to now share ‘my kitchen’ with other people.

Yes, it was kind of nice throughout the summer when we walked down to the patio area and were the only ones there.  Sitting down at a table in the screened in porch area we’d put the tv on to whatever channel we felt like watching (usually syndicated shows on FOX), and we pour a cold pop or beer and I’d run back and forth between the kitchen to the patio as I prepared my meal, with no cause to worry if I would be able to use the communal cutting board or measuring cups because I was the only one there to use them.

Then…people came. By this time another tv had been installed in the actual kitchen area, which also houses two little cafe tables, so we usually found ourselves in there since the later tables on the patio were for larger groups of cruisers that liked socializing at meal time.  Me…not so much at the moment.  There’s my work time during the day and then my me time at night, and with some stressful workdays lately, I’m kind of craving my me time.

Eating there still wasn’t a nuisance for awhile until little things began to eat at me and build up until the point I could no longer take.  Things (mostly) that were by no means anyone else’s fault, but only me being selfish that I couldn’t always have my way anymore.  I had to begin sharing.  Sharing the grill, which for some reason, one certain guy liked to keep at 600 degrees every night to cook his baked potato.  This resulted in multiple burned meals for me and one time even a burned hand. Now I also had to begin sharing all the meal prepping utensils I was used to having to myself, along with the counter space to prepare my meals. There were also other things, like having to wait in line to wash my dishes. I could no longer take up the sink for myself while Matt was showering and then retreat back to the boat as soon as we’d finished, but instead I’d now have to wait for six other groups of people to wash theirs first.  Again, just me being selfish…but I wasn’t loving this new routine.

One night last week we walked in to the kitchen around 6:00 pm to find that every table was full and all the counter space was being used by other people to prep their meals.  This was after an incredibly long and horrific day of sanding colliodal silica on the boat and I was not in the mood for any more hardships of any kind.  I swiftly turned around and drove right to the Subway up the road where I thankfully had a few gift cards and let the friendly crew there prepare our dinner where we enjoyed it back on the boat in peace.

The final straw came a few days later, after another torturous day of sanding which is quickly driving me to insanity, when I was at least excited about the fact that I didn’t have to prepare dinner that night because the leftover pizza I had made the previous night was sitting in the fridge.  All I had to do was heat it up. We made sure to head down to the kitchen after 7 when the other cruisers were heading back to their boats and maybe getting ready for bed, when I opened the fridge to find my pizza missing.  Someone had stolen it.  My homemade pizza.  It wasn’t even in a tempting delivery box, just a wrapped up cookie sheet. I wanted to loose it.  I wanted to cry and throw a tantrum, but instead I pouted in silence as I ate a bagel and watched The Big Bang Theory. I needed out.  I couldn’t force myself to do this dementia building boat work during the day and still deal with stupid s%*t in my off time.

I think Matt was getting a little tired of it as well, not quite as much as me though, and agreed that the sooner we could begin cooking and eating meals on our own boat the better off we would be.  There was a chance I might burn the marinas kitchen down soon if we didn’t.  So making the galley our biggest priority the past few weeks, we’ve finished up our new fridge enough to get it working (but there will still be some more small details to finish) and finding the right hose to connect our stove to the propane tanks out in our cockpit.  And people, that day has finally come.  A few days ago we tested out the fridge to find that it does work (yay!!) and enjoyed our first cold beers produced from it.  Once we knew it was keeping cold temperatures in we’ve stocked it full of goodies and had our first opportunity to cook a meal on board.  Beef stir fry.

This has become one of our favorite meals ever since I perfected the art of frying the veggies when we were back in Madeira, and I’ve even worked out making my own stir fry sauce that isn’t too bad if I say so myself.  Because there are so many preparatory steps and it’s best if you’re working with more than one burner, it’s not something we ever tried on the grill down at the patio.  But our first meal on the new boat?  I couldn’t think of anything better. And let me tell you; enjoying this meal that I cooked in my own space, even though it’s about 5x smaller than the kitchen, and then eating it without having to suffer through a football game on tv and then wait in line to do my dishes, has been nothing short of heaven. I may have even just gotten a little slice of my sanity back.

 

unfinished galley

using stove for the first time

cooking first meal

Jessica cooking first meal on Daze Off

beef stir fry

veggies for stir fry

first meal cooked on Daze Off

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Throwback Thursday: Feliz Navidad

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.

Where I last left you off we had just sailed from Belize to Mexico and decided to stop in Cozumel even though we had originally been planning to pass it by. Checking in there was much more of a breeze than we’d anticipated after hearing horror stories of what it can be like to clear in to Mexico. We spent a few days wandering this cruise ship island and enjoyed a few of the finer things in life like real groceries stores with thing we recognized and having meals of beer and tacos.

Trying to get to Isla Mujeres in time to reunite with our friends on Skebenga in time for the holidays, we had a quick overnight sail where we constantly had cruise ships on each side of us and a few that came a little too close for comfort. We ended up needing a full day to catch up on sleep from our overnighter, but the following day we were more than eager to get out and do a little snorkeling with Luki and Elmari. It was the perfect introduction to Mexico, but the fun was nowhere near done.  Christmas had been all planned out too, making sure to do it up Caribbean style with some time pool side and lobster for dinner.

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday December 25, 2013

decorations on Skebenga

If we had a crappy Christmas last year (and we did; think sitting alone in a boat yard on the hard, watching Rambo), this year’s made up for it ten fold.

We woke up to some overcast skies, and I wasn’t sure how our day lounging around the pool would go.   Fixing up some special holiday flavored coffee, I fooled around on the computer for awhile while watching the clouds break up and the sun came shining through.  We had a 1:00 reservation for the six of us at one of the marinas for lunch.  A few good hours were spent here, first sitting at the bar enjoying a few beers, then moving to the pool to soak up some sun, and finally moving to one of the tables to order lunch.  Even though the menu was full of delicious looking items, I went with the fish tacos.  The food was amazing and even came with three different kinds of salsas and sauces for topping.  Add a margarita on the rocks, and it was the perfect Mexican meal.

Dos Equis

Elmari at Paraiso

pool at paraiso

fish tacos at paraiso

sunglasses

 Keeping with our Mexican theme for the day, each group went back to their respective boats after lunch for a little siesta.   After everyone was fully rested we met up once more for dinner on Skebenga.  As is tradition with our little group, we started out with a few cocktails before any of the food came out.  Luki made his world famous mojitos, which would have been enough incentive on it’s own to come over.  We were also pleasantly surprised when we had a visitor stop over for a few minutes, another cruiser that was in Jamaica with us.  Lance of s/v EZ was also in Isla, and popped over for one drink before heading back to his boat for the night.  He told us that there was a window for him to leave the next morning to get all the way to the Bahamas, so he didn’t want to be out too late.  Knowing what a bad influence our group can be (Just stay for one more drink), I couldn’t argue with him.

Shortly after he left, we started in on our Christmas feast.  As if our lunch out wasn’t good enough.  A little grill was pulled out into the cockpit where seasoned and spiced lobsters were placed on it.  Each person got their own tail, accompanied by dipping sauces.  This wasn’t even our dinner though, it was an appetizer.  While dinner was cooking down below in the galley, we enjoyed a great sunset in the cabin while enjoying our shellfish and mojitos.

The rest of our night included steak, wine, and great conversation.  When Jan found out that Matt and I were hoping to do some traveling through South Africa one of the winters that our boat was being held in a marina in the Med, he offered us to come stay at his wildlife preserve.  Matt was completely stoked to hear this since after seeing the pyramids in Egypt (who knows if that will ever happen), going on safari is a close second.  Now I’m almost getting excited to get to the Med as quick as possible so we can start our travels through South Africa.

This Christmas turned out so much better than either of us could have imagined, and we’re so thankful to Luki and Elmari for letting us be a part of it.  It’s hard when you don’t get to see your family this time of year, but being with our cruising family was the next best thing.

dodger on Skebenga

Lance and Matt

grilling lobster

Turkish lamp

Jan on Skebenga

 

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Random Happenings in the Boat Yard

Wednesday November 4, 2015

sunset in boat yard

Here we are at another spot where the projects we’re working on are just so long and drawn out that I’m waiting to be able to do a full post on them, or they’ve been so small that they barely feel worth mentioning.

So until I can compile a full post one one of the six projects we’re working on at moment, or since I do want to quick show you other little things that have been taking up our time, check out some of the random happenings around Daze Off.

 

  • We’re getting our water tanks ready for use.

No plastic water tanks on this boat.  Just like everything else, they’re aluminum.  And just like everything else aluminum, there’s bit’s of corrosion or pitting.  To make them use-able we first had to get them completely cleaned out.  Matt went to work in there with a combination of tools (but mostly just a grinder) to get them all polished and pretty.  It created such a huge dust cloud that after two minutes we realized that we needed to contain this mess as much as possible and threw a tarp over him while he worked with a flashlight to guide him.

When that was done it was time to protect them and make sure that our drinking water will stay safe and pure.  We’ve decided to go the route of epoxy.  The first coat has to be sanded in to give a slightly rough surface for the epoxy to bond to, but any coats after that can be painted right in and act as a barrier/protector.

I won’t lie.  While he was under the tarp sweating like a pig and getting blinded by all the dust around him, I was sitting out in the cockpit in the afternoon sun and sipping on the remainder of our Madeira wine straight from the bottle.  Don’t worry, I had my work cut out for me too.  I had the job of putting the final coat of epoxy on after Matt did the initial one.  I know, my life is so rough.  Feel very bad for me.

Matt cleaning water tank

inside of water tank

  • We’re still working on the fridge.

I know that a lot of you are really excited to see our next post on the final stages of us building our own refrigerator, but it’s been a lot of slow steps and that post is still coming. But don’t worry, I have not forgotten about those of you that are in the middle of the same project or just about to start it.

I’ll let you in on a little sneak peak of what the past few days of work on have looked like though. At the moment we’re focused on the lid, getting it to fit properly in it’s space, and then priming and painting everything.  I don’t want to spoil too much for my next ‘Stage 3′ post on it (but maybe it would let me skip having to write it then? No…) so I’ll give a quick gist of it. to make sure the lid and the fridge come together perfectly where there are no odd or wavy gaps allowing cold air to escape or causing strange rattles, we spent more time with our newest hobby of filler.

Mixing Q cells into expoxy, we spread the thick goop over the lip of the insulation we had already cut down.  Placing a plastic garbage bag over the lid itself so it does not permanently adhere to the epoxy, we set it in it’s place to form a mold with the filler.  Pressing down on the lid forces all the excess out which we scrape off and allow the rest to dry. Then sanding down the remainder once it has dried, we give it a smooth surface, see how well the lid fits into place at that point, and then do it again if we are still finding gaps.  Needing 24 hours to dry and sand each time, this is a very lengthy process.

Once it finally finished, 4 coats and days later, I was finally able to start painting!  Which at least lets my mind think we are near finishing this project even though that is in fact quite far from the truth.  But at least it’s something to keep me distracted and covers the ugly fiberglass coated insulation in a coat of pure white promise.

work on fridge

painting fridge lid

  • Our Gumby Suits came in the mail!

Yes,  I know, that is not the technical name.  They are full immersion survival suits, but after looking at the photos below you can see how they got their nickname. The purpose for them is that if we ever have to abandon ship in cold waters, these suits (if worn properly) will keep you insulated from the cold temperatures and keep you from getting hypothermia.  Although we’ve only purchased them for when we get close to Arctic waters, of which we’re still nearly two years from arriving at, it’s suggested these be worn any time you might find yourself prolonged in waters under 84 degrees as hypothermia can begin to set in then as well.  These suits let you survive in those waters indefinitely and give you a much better chance of surviving cold waters.

Matt in survival suit Jessica in survival suit

  • Work has begun in the head

Very slowly mind you as this is another case of a lot of epoxy work and filler and even more time of waiting for it to dry and work with it again. I have a feeling this project will take quite awhile and I will be doing a full post on it soon, so at the moment I’ll give you a quick preview of what we’ve done so far.

We started with the basic project of templating our sheets of Eurolite to fit against the hull and become our wall.  Or in this case, our shower.  It has since been layered in fiberglass to give it extra strength and to make sure that no water penetrates inside and rots the wood. Once all of those boards were in place we’ve needed to fill any cracks and gaps with epoxy and filler to make those water tight as well.  The real pain in the butt has been sanding down the colloidal silica.  It takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Once we get to the Q cells though, it should make it much easier to smooth down the excess filler.

Matt fiberglassing shower

making floor in head

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Throwback Thursday: Racing Almost Skebenga

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.

For most of our time in Cay Caulker Belize, the weather was not agreeing with us.  Lots of overcast skies and rain which meant no reason to go to shore, and worse, no solar to power our electronic toys on the boat.  I actually had to take to reading Chapman’s for fun.  Those were some dark days.  Literally.

We did brave a few passing showers to make it off the boat and to one of the many restaurants on shore to celebrate our 9 year wedding anniversary.  Some local food was eaten, and even though we should have been paying attention to each other on this special day, we head our heads buried in our computers as it was our first opportunity to charge them and/or get internet in a long time. A few days later we were back on land for one last internet and weather check before departing and unfortunately received some bad news from back home that one of our grandparents had passed away.  It was not sudden, but it was still sad and made us even happier with our decision that we had gone home that summer to see all our family once again.

Then, it was time to leave Belize. After sitting in Guatemala at a marina for five months and then mostly traveling inside the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, this was our first real open water passage in a long time.  It started out a little rough, and there may have been a few jokes about trading in the boat for a RV, but we eventually made it up to Mexico all in one piece.  Minus working navigation lights at our bow and me fit to play a zombie in a movie, but all in one piece nonetheless.

You can find the original post here.

Friday December 20, 2013

beans, Cay Caulker, Belize

This photo has nothing to do with anything, I’m just running out of photos.

 

Yesterday finally gave us the opportunity to leave Cay Caulker and make our move to Mexico. Conditions out the window still looked slightly rough, but I was tired of sitting in one spot. It had finally gotten to the point that I would have taken an uncomfortable passage (read: not dangerous, just uncomfortable), over sitting still any longer. Plus we had finally gotten an email communication from Skebenga that they were leaving that day as well to head up to Cozumel. There was a little bit of security in knowing that we’d have a buddy boat out there with us. Now our only task was getting Serendipity out of the San Pedro cut at Ambergris Cay, a tricky little thing that we’d heard cautionary tales of from people who’d entered it coming down from Mexico. It has low lying reefs on both sides, a fun little turn in the middle, and apparently is a bitch to try and navigate in anything but calm seas.

Coming up on San Pedro I scanned the anchorage with my binoculars, searching for any sign of Skebenga. I didn’t see their steel hulled boat sitting with all the others, but I did see a few other boats traveling out on the water. One looked like it was headed toward the cut we were about to enter, so once more, I whipped out the binoculars in that direction. From what I could see, this boat had a white hull, dark blue sail covers, and double headsails, just like Skebenga. Handing over the binoculars to Matt, he took a look as well, but didn’t think it was them. We let the debate continue for the next 30 minutes as we watched this other boat, Almost Skebenga, we finally decided on, as they traversed the cut. All morning we had been debating if we should try it ourselves or not, how the weather would affect it, possibly make it harder. Once it was clear that Almost Skebenga was going for it, we watched with desperate intent.

Passing through the boundary of relatively calm water behind the reef, we stared on as they bobbed up and down like a teeter totter through the rough waves coming in, me becoming more panicked each minute. Should we save this for another day? Possibly when the waters were dead calm? But who knew when that day would be. Even though it was a bumpy ride, Almost Skebenga had made it out. If they could do it, so could we. Gathering our wits and triple checking the waypoints we plugged in to the chart plotter, we were ready to attempt this hair raising cut. It was decided that I should be put at the bow to try and guide us through any coral that we might accidentally get acquainted with, so strapping on a harness I clipped on the lifelines and made my way up front.

Before I had gotten up there, when we were back in the cockpit deciding on which person should take what role, I asked Matt, “So, say we should crash…who’s fault would it be? The helmsman or the bowman?” I was trying to save my skin of any burden placed on my shoulders. I did not get the answer I was hoping for. “If any accident happens, it’s the captain’s fault”. “I know maritime law, but I’m saying, in this boat, who would be to blame, you or me?” “The captain.” “So you’re trying to tell me that no matter what, if we crash this boat today, whether I’m at the helm or the bow, it’s going to be all my fault?” “Yup”. And with those words of encouragement I moved myself up front, satisfied by the fact that at least I wouldn’t have the guilt of miscalculating any turns should our hull puncture something hard that day.

It turns out my position at the bow was hardly doing anything for us, the water was choppy enough that I couldn’t clearly see through it, plus anything more than five feet out from the boat was basically just one large mirror, reflecting the clouds on it’s surface. I hoped the waypoints we picked up online were trustworthy. Matt seemed to be doing a good job navigating with them though, and soon we were in line with a large yellow buoy that marks the turn out of the cut. By this point we were also starting to turn into a teeter totter, our protection from the reef gone, and 5-6 foot waves rolling in at us. Normally I’d think this kind of thing would scare the crap out of me, but being right up where the action was turned out to be like a thrilling amusement park ride. Remember these waves from Stocking Island? Picture me standing at the bow going through them. We would shoot up into the air, and then the floor would come out from under us and we’d come crashing back down, a spray of warm sea water crashing over the deck.

As I held on to the head sail with both hands, I had to contain myself from whooping with joy at the sheer exhilaration of it, for fear of scaring Matt into thinking something was wrong. It was a short lived adventure though as, even without screams of delight, he thought I was a risk to myself being up there in those conditions. “JESSICA!!”, I heard a scream from the cockpit, “Get back here now!!!”. Prying myself away and crouching down to lower my center of gravity, I made my way back to the cockpit, my ride getting cut short before it was even finished.

Cay Caulker, Belize

restaurant, Cay Caulker, Belize

 We’d made it safely through the cut, and before we knew it, depths were dropping back into the hundreds of feet before our sounder couldn’t even read them anymore. Sails were raised and the engine was cut, ready to start our 200 miles to Isla Mujeres. If we averaged 4-5 knots, we’d be there just about 48 hours. Our start wasn’t great though, the winds coming directly out of the NE direction we needed to head. Tacking to the SE just to get some distance from shore, we kept an eye on Almost Skebenga, whom was headed the same direction, just a few miles ahead of us. Just like racing nameless boat on Lago Izabal, we followed all the same tacks until we realized one really long tack to the SE was needed to put us on a decent course to keeping us from having to do any tacks in the dark if we could help it. Almost Skebenga shot north and out of our sight as we made our way further out to sea.

I wouldn’t call conditions rough, but they were definitely uncomfortable enough that for the first time, both of us were feeling sick. I had put on a scopalmine patch before leaving, and was even attempting the ‘ear plug in one ear’ trick that was supposed to stave off seasickness, but the only thing it did was make me deaf to the sounds Matt was constantly trying to point out. We had a late lunch of cheesy onion bread and a dinner of Pop Tarts. It was enough effort just for one of us to make it down the companionway to grab something edible from the cupboards, and I was thankful I took 20 minutes that morning to stockpile snacks and canned foods in an easy access area. As the sun was setting we caught sight of Almost Skebenga again in the distance, and it looked like they were going to have to make another tack, while us now on a comfortable course, would totally catch them and kick their ass if they had to take time and run away from the shore.

Even though we were working with a double reefed main plus the headsail, and winds were steady around 20-25 knots, we must have had a pretty hefty current on our side since we were keeping a steady pace of 6.5-7 knots. When darkness grew, Matt decided to catch up on sleep with a short nap, and I kept watch, where an unexpected moon rise made me think that we were about to have a run in with a tanker, a sudden orange light on our port side that hadn’t been there moments before. I also watched us catch up to and pass Almost Skebenga as, just as predicted, they had to tack further away from shore.  When it was my turn to go down I had a surprisingly calm slumber, falling asleep almost immediately and staying that way.  This usually doesn’t happen until my second sleep shift where I pass out from sheer exhaustion.  Matt had somehow found a way to keep the boat from rocking violently back and forth as she normally does, and I was able to nestle into the crook of the boat.  Until I felt water dribbling down my back, but I was too tired to care at that point.

Today was met with the same kind of attitude from both of us as yesterday.  Neither of us was feeling great, and we wanted this passage to be over as quick as possible.  We tried to distract ourselves with talk about how a previous cruising couple just traded in their boat for a RV, and how that seemed to be the right way to go.  The two of us are constantly talking about the countries we’d like to visit and all the things we’d like to see inland, but how limiting it is trying to get there.  Putting the boat in a marina, finding transportation, getting lodging.  Yes, a RV is not a bad idea at all.  But we made a commitment to Serendipity, so we will stick with her.  Plus, you have to sometimes disregard the things you say about your contempt for your boat while on passage.  You’re not thinking clearly.

As the afternoon wore on and we were very sick of traveling and could think of nothing better than a anchorage to stop in, get a good night’s sleep, and regroup ourselves, we talked about our previous plans to go to Cozumel.  Yes, this would mean getting there in the dark, sometime between 7 and 9, but just like Great Inagua and Grand Cayman, there are no channels leading into a harbor.  Just a certain spot on the west side of the island used as a designated anchorage.  All we had to do was sail or motor up and drop anchor.  We also rationalized that 1.  As a cruise ship port, it would probably be much easier to check into the country there since usually they keep all the officials in one place.  As was the case in Nassau and Grand Cayman.  2.  Did we really only want to have one stop in Mexico?  Why not see at least two places, even if one of them might be extremely touristy.

Changing our course to come up on the west side of Cozumel instead of passing by it’s eastern side, moods instantly lifted.  Sure, if we just sucked it up we’d have been in Isla first thing in the morning, but again, this never sounds as intriguing when you’re on passage.  Sailing into the lee of the island just after 7, we lost all wind and our speed diminished to barely 5 knots.  Normally something we’d be quite happy to take, but after keeping a steady 7-8 knots all day (yup, that current just kept getting stronger), it felt like we were crawling along.  It was just past 9 when we made it into the anchorage, the bright lights from shore blinding our virgin eyes.  There were a few tense minutes while coming in where Matt was picking up three images on radar, but we couldn’t see them in the water.  It turns out they were boats at anchor, it’s just that none of them decided to have any kind of anchor light on.  Even though we were only a few hundred feet from a brightly lit shore, we couldn’t make them out until we were right upon them.  I know it’s not illegal to keep themselves from being lit in a marked anchorage, but this is seriously one of my biggest pet peeves.  It just seems like you’d want to make sure that you can be seen by any traveling vessels out there.

I was too tired to be any more upset than a scoff at them though, and we hurriedly put the boat back together so we could rest.  I forced myself awake long enough to make sandwiches for dinner before passing out in a wet bet with wet sheets.  Apparently we have a few leaks that this last passage has now brought to our attention, and everything on the port side of the boat is soaked.  Including our bed and every bit of clean laundry.  That doesn’t happen on RVs, right?  Can anyone tell me where I can sign up for one of those?

sunset in Mexico

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The 7 Best Ports in the US to Celebrate the Holidays

Christmas tree boat in Charleston

Image taken from here.

  There’s just something about the holidays.  There’s always a little cheer in the air and maybe an extra bounce in your step.  Maybe it has something to do with the bright lights or the fact that most people will take an extra second to smile and lend a hand when needed. There’s an extra reason to connect with friends and loved ones; and lots of activities to participate in or good food to dive in to.

No matter who you are, no matter where you are, it’s known as a time to get together with those you care about.  In a nomadic life like I live I can’t always make that part happen, but it still helps just to participate in any local festivities wherever I happen to be when the end of the year rolls around. It seems especially important while traveling away from home to keep some traditions alive.

I’ve talked to landlubbers and cruisers alike to see what harbor they like to drop their hook in when the holidays come around. Some of these areas are warm and will let you walk around in shorts and sandals, and others will have you bundling up for their chilly temperatures.  One thing is for sure though; all these ports go out of their way to make the holiday season extra special.  From lights, to enchanted walking trails; boat parades and pub tours; you won’t be able to escape the holiday spirit or the smile on your face giving you that rosy glow.

St. Augustine Nights of Lights

St. Augustine Nights of Lights.  Image taken from here.

 

Nights of Lights – St. Augustine Florida

It’s no surprise to anyone that has been following our blog for a few years that this spot would be on the list. Coming into a harbor beautifully lit up and appearing as if it belonged in an idyllic post card was one of the few things to save my sanity after we had been shipwrecked just outside this Florida inlet.

The entire city glows like a beacon in the dark, completely lit up with picturesque white lights. Streaming down from palm trees, around lampposts, and across trusses of buildings in the Oldest City in the US. Tour these lights by foot and stop off at any of the dozens of local shops, restaurants, and pubs when you need a rest and maybe a meal before getting back out again. Or enjoy a guided tour of the city and it’s lights by the Holly Jolly Holiday Trolly. On this ride, not only will you sing along with seasonal songs and view the lights with special glasses that give them an extra special twinkle, but you’ll also be served up homemade cookies and hot cider.

If you want to take your light viewing out on the water, make sure not to miss the Regatta of Lights. Scheduled on Saturday December 12th. This free event will take viewers to the waterfront of Matanzas Bay where vessels of all shapes and sizes deck themselves out with holiday lighting displays. Traveling between the Bridge of Lions and Castillo de San Marcos, you won’t want to miss any of the sailboat mast decorated as Christmas trees, and other elaborate themes.

For more information on the Regatta of Lights, click here.

Washington Harbour Ice Rink

Washington Harbour Ice Rink.  Image taken from here.

 

Georgetown GLOW – Washington D.C.

What a better way to experience the holiday spirit than in our nations capital, set in it’s oldest neighborhood. Already in it’s 4th year, this has become such a big event it has now been extended from a weekend promotion into a 10 day festival, going from December11th-20th..

This historic city on the Potomac offers quite the number activities throughout the month. Lace up your ice skates and take a spin on the Washington Harbor Ice Rink, the largest in the region. Once the sun goes down, take to the streets and experience the main event of Light Art Exhibition. Featuring five artists and their projects, their muse is light, and you may find it displayed in the form of animated projection on building facades or illuminated wire sculptures playing out a love story.

Even a day of shopping is anything but ordinary as a group of small and/or regional businesses compete for the best window display. As this is the 4th year, presentations are growing grander and more imaginative as each location vies for your vote through the city’s Facebook Page.

For more information on these events, click here.

newport beach boat parade

Newport Boat Parade.  Image taken from here.

 

Queen Mary Chill & Christmas Boat Parade – Los Angeles California

Think LA is all high rises and no community charm? So far from the truth! Just outside of this modern city you’re able to take a step back in time for an unforgettable Christmas experience. Throughout the month of December you can do just this by taking part in the Queen Mary Chill. This historic ship, with her maiden voyage in 1936, is transformed into a floating frozen celebration of events. Inside the Ice Kingdom – A Christmas Carol, ice carvers have turned a special space into a 13,000 sq ft winter wonderland where you follow Ebenezer Scrooge through the frozen streets of London in Charles Dickin’s classic tale of discovering the meaning of Christmas. Before stepping on shore again, make sure to hit up The Glacier Glide and feel the frosty air in your face as you whiz down from dizzying peaks in one of six lanes while ice tubing.

Once you’ve gotten your toes cold and nose red, head from Long Beach down to Newport Beach just in time to see their 107th Annual Christmas Boat Parade. For five nights between December 16th and December 20th, this harbor will light up the water. Anything that floats can enter, ranging from kayaks to mega yachts, and everything in between. Some boats produce carolers, some have automated scenes, and others have spent over $50,000 for the event in the past to make themselves best in show. Worried about where to find a seat? This tour winds through 14 miles of the harbor, giving viewers plenty of opportunities to find a place to gaze.

For more information on the Queen Mary Chill click here. For the Christmas Boat Parade click here.

Charleston Christmas lights

Lights of Charleston Bridge.  Image taken from here.

 

Charleston, South Carolina

We passed through this town, sadly a little too quickly, and it only took me one second to fall in love even though our stay had been combined with cloudy skies and falling temperatures we were not yet prepared to endure. Add a few Christmas lights and caroling though, and I would have put up with snow falling on my uninsulated and unheated boat just to enjoy the festivities. This charming and historic city boasts an abundance of holiday charm and goodwill.

Just strolling the streets you’ll be able to take in any of the 750 glowing displays of their Holiday Festival of Lights. When your legs tire out, sit down and enjoy a ride on their Old-Fashioned Carousel; or if you’re ready to keep moving, amble along their Enchanted Walking Trail. To bring out the real sailor in you, join in on their Holiday Pub Tour. During a 2.5 hour walking tour, you’ll gain a little knowledge of local history as well as some good cheer as this tour stops in 3-5 locations. Along with a few appetizers along the way, each stop offers you the opportunity to purchase any of the establishments hot holiday drinks or any number of local craft beers.

This is only a small taste of what Charleston has to offer around the holidays. For their full list of events, click here.

holiday_lights_friday_harbor_john_sinclair_1600700_0

San Juan Island Lights. Image taken from here.

 

Island Lights -San Juan Islands, Washington

A lot of the events listed above come from major cities, but sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Do you have wishes to combine mountainous scenery with holiday spirit? The San Juan Islands are the place for you. Located in the Pacific North West just NW of Seattle, this archipelago consists of 3 major islands and 23 smaller ones.

It may not have all the fuss of some of the other destinations, but you also don’t have to fight the crowds to enjoy your time here. Take in a more authentic holiday experience when visiting either Lopez, Orca, or San Juan Island. While taking in the stunning scenery that could alone leave one breathless, add the holiday spirit by visiting theater shows complete with music, galleries of precious and detailed ornaments, and a piano trio concert. Stroll the city streets and enjoy the brightly decorated buildings while maybe popping in to a local pub for a hot drink. Last but not least, don’t forget to welcome Santa’s arrival in to town on December 17 as he leads the holiday boat parade. Non local boats are encouraged to participate and even receive a free mooring on this special night.

For a list of events, click here.

St. Croix Christmas Carnival

St. Croix Christmas Carnival.  Image taken from here.

 

Crucian Christmas Carnival, St. Croix US Virgin Islands

Feel like celebrating Christmas in an entirely new way? Get out of the snow and surround yourself with white sand beaches and palm trees, yet still find that festive spirit. All you need to do is sail, motor, or fly your way down to St. Croix. Here you can join in on the Crucian Christmas Festival which spans from December into early January. Getting it’s start in 1952, this long running festival Incorporates modern day celebrations with long standing traditions which date back to the early 1800′s for the Crucians.

Let vivid colors saturate your eyes through the multiple Carnival Parades and have your ears be delighted through Latin music venues. From the Prince and Princess Show to St. Croix Carnival Queen, there’s never more than a few days between these parades through the streets. Also join in on food and art fairs as well as the opening of Main Village in Frederiksted on December 26th with plenty of food booths and music almost every night. This culmination of events will come to an end on January 2nd for the Adults Parade with dazzling but barely there costumes.

For a full list of Carnival events, click here.

Sarasota fireworks

Fireworks in Sarasota.  Image taken from here.

 

New Year’s Eve Fireworks – Marina Jack, Sarasota Florida

The season isn’t over yet until you’re ringing in the new year. Feel like going a little classy for yours this year’s celebration? Make a stop at Marina Jack in the heart of Sarasota. This swanky little area boasts a night full of events you won’t want to miss. Located in the heart of Sarasota, this marina is known for it’s multiple restaurants and ample water views. They’re doing it up right on this special night and have a host of events in all their areas. There’s live entertainment at their patio bar & grill as well as their piano bar, and a special four course meal with a champagne toast at midnight in their dining room.

If you’d like to get out on the water for a tour of the harbor, they also offer a 4 hour celebration cruise with live entertainment, an open bar, and a front row seat to the fireworks show. Or if you feel like making a casual evening of it, drop your anchor in the harbor and pour your own glass of champagne as you watch the lights explode above you from the comfort of your cockpit as the clock strikes midnight.

You can find their schedule of events here.

 

Any of these spots would make me feel incredibly lucky to be there to spend the holiday season.  I know there are many more locations worthy of making this list as well, but I could only give a small taste. I’d love to know your thoughts on where you enjoy spending the holidays, arriving by land or by sea. What areas do you think should be added for next year?

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Update on the Stray Cats of Indiantown Marina

Wednesday October 28, 2015

Cairo, calico cat

In case you’ve been curious about what has become of the stray cats of the marina that we’ve kind of been looking after…well, they’re still here!  And we’re still looking after them.

We’ve actually developed a bit of a routine with these three cats lately and it always starts with them waiting at the bottom of our stairs for us every morning.  I run to the van and unlock their container of food, where they follow me right to the door and wind between my ankles as Georgie watches curiously on her leash a few feet away.  Even shy and timid Bandit will come right up to me when it’s time for food, but still goes running five feet away when I reach out my hand to see if she’ll sniff it.  Then us three (me, Matt & Georgie) head off to breakfast at the patio while the cats eat theirs under the boat, and they’re always gone by the time we return 30 minutes later.

Into the late morning and early afternoon they’re still off hiding wherever they go to get their privacy.  Maybe they’re cat napping after getting up at sunrise and waiting for us to come down and feed them, but they should know our schedule now and be well aware of the fact that we like to sleep in.  No rising before 8:30 am. Just after lunch we might see a little movement from them, but not all the time.  It’s strange though because either we see absolutely no sign or they’re boarding our boat and looking for new places to settle in.  I get extremely giddy about this, but Matt thinks they’re becoming just a little too comfortable. I suppose I shouldn’t let myself get too attached since I know they’ll be out of our lives in about 6 months.

In the late afternoon just a few hours before sunset they become super active.  At least the kittens are.  Lynx kind of lays back and watches and Cairo and Bandit play around.  They love to bat at pebbles and pounce on pieces of grass.  They also wrestle with each other which is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.  Partially because Bandit makes this face while she’s trying to bite her sister, and somehow becomes even uglier than she already is.  Not in the way that it’s so ugly it’s cute like her normal face, but a This is going to haunt my dreams kind of ugly.  Poor thing.  It’s what makes me want her the most of the three.

On the subject of finding homes for these kitties, I have had a few inquires, but the prospects were unfortunately not close enough to come get them.  Anywhere from a 2 hour drive but no access to a car, to being half way around the world.  One day though, we’ll find something that works out.  The big issue now is trying to make sure no more litters of kitties come around that need adopting.

I’ve called the local humane society and found out that for $40 per cat I can get a spay, microchip and vaccinations.  Not a bad price!, really.  The only issue is catching the cats to bring them in for an appointment.  I doubt Lynx would be an issue as she is incredibly affectionate and often seeks me out each afternoon for scratching her chin and rubbing her belly.  I can’t *guarantee* that I’d be able to get her on any given day though, and the appointments are non-refundable.  Catching the other 2? Fuggedaboutit.  Bandit won’t come anywhere near me and Cairo will sometimes fall into a dead sleep nap under our boat, but that is the only time I’ve been able to touch her.  (But I did give her a belly rub the one time she did and it was fantastic!)

I did hear from the Humane Society that Animal Control sometimes goes around once a month to trap stray cats and spay them.  They’re next on my list to call, but I just keep hoping there’s no reason for them to come back and ‘take care’ of these cats later for any reason.  Like getting AC involved will somehow end up in their demise.

So that is where we are at now.  Still trying to get them spayed and still trying to find them homes.  I did just hear from someone that the office hear might have a cat trap.  So if I can learn how to set up the trap, get one of the kittens in there, and have this miraculously happen on a day I have an appointment at the Humane Society, we’ll be all set.  At least in preventing new litters.  Anyone have some tips for me?

cats in cockpit

Lynx nursing Cairo

manx cat, Bandit

Cairo

Lynx and Bandit

Lynx sleeping

Guess what we just found out the other day?  The litter that Lynx had back in September that she seemed to have abandoned after 2 days so we assumed they were dead?  Well, they’re not.  4 healthy and adorable kittens are now roaming around with their big sisters.  Only one manx of the bunch, a spitting image of it’s mother.  Click on the link below to see them playing in their safe haven behind our boat.

kittens

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