Behind the Scenes at Our Vineyard Vines Photo Shoot

Vineyard Vines initial photo

With so much going on with the boat and trying to keep up just with boat work post, I’d been putting this one on the back burner for months now, but I figured it was finally time to get it up.

For those of you who remember, back in February Matt and I went down to Miami for two days to participate in a photo shoot for the clothing company Vineyard Vines, with their summer theme of ‘Ever Sailor Has Their Story’.  Even though the shoot was in February, the catalog photos were not released to their site until May, so I had a few months to wait anyway before I had anything  to show.

Well, now that I’m only 4 weeks behind on keeping the blog  fully up to date, I think it’s time to get this post out for those of you who actually remembered we participated in this but never had the chance to see any of  the photos through either their catalog or Facebook promotions.

* * *

After our very relaxing and luxurious afternoon and evening in the Mandarin Oriental Miami, I made sure to slide between the sheets of our very nice king size bed before 11 pm in order to keep myself well rested for the next day.  With a 7:30 call time, it didn’t even matter that I would not be in charge of hair and make up before I arrived in the morning, I still didn’t want to show up looking like I just stepped off a three day passage from one of our boats. Getting up just after 6 am we packed up all our belongings, did a quick rinse in the showers, and made sure Georgie hadn’t lost herself in the couch again before heading down to the main floor for breakfast.

Basically breaking down the doors to the restaurant as they opened at 7, we opted to skip the $38/person buffet (even though the tab was being picked up) for omeletts and Belgium waffles. Big mistake.  Although we told our server we were in a huge rush, our food didn’t come for 20 minutes, leaving us only five minutes to scarf it down and throw our room number on the tab before running off to the conference room where we were meeting the Vineyard Vines team.  A sprint through the lobby and up a set of stairs, we found we were the first ones there. Waiting for a few minutes until one team member walked in, they said everyone was running a little late and so we decided to use those 10-15 minutes to run up to our room to grab our luggage, as well as Georgie, since it sounded like we’d be checking out of the hotel just after hair and makeup.

Getting back down with all of our bags, and a few strange looks from hotel patrons that just rode the elevator with a cat on a leash, we walked back into the conference room to find it bustling with stylist and production managers.  Making our rounds of introductions (“Hi Cat, meet Georgie the cat”), we were placed in chairs as the team got to work on us.  Matt had been instructed a few weeks before to let his hair and beard grow out a little to give him more of a salty sailor  look, so uneven ends were trimmed; while I settled in for the whole hair and makeup treatment. One woman went to work on my hair with a curling  iron to give me soft windswept curls, while another woman started on my makeup to give me a fresh, dewy, natural look.  Less than 30 minutes later we were being shuttled down to the lobby to check out of our room and get ready to leave for our first location.

It wasn’t until the valet was bringing our wreck of a van around that the team quickly mentioned it was time to get into our first outfits of the day.  Matt was handed a pair of floral chappies (swim trunks) with a gingham shirt, and I was given a striped string bikini with a pink gingham quick dry dress to slip over it.  Running back out from the restrooms into the lobby with our new uber preppy clothing on, we packed all our belongings in the van and followed the team in their Chevy Suburbans out to Key Biscayne where a chartered yacht was waiting to take us on the water for the first part of our shoot.

Getting to the marina (of which we’d actually been to before with our friend Ana Bianca, so we were able to recommend it to the production staff), we walked out to the docks to find a 57 ft yacht waiting for us, our pretend home. I should let it be known they originally contacted us wanting to shoot on our own boat….but there was no way that was possible.  So this pretend home of ours for the day?  HUGE upgrade.  Georgie felt right at ease in the marina and jumped on the yacht without a second thought, settling herself in the cushy cockpit with no regard to the 15 team members moving around alongside her.  For a few minutes, a set stylist gathered a few of the personal belongings we had brought with us to photograph, while another stylist pulled me aside to figure out jewelry.  While this was going on, other team members loaded up the cabin with clothing, cameras, and other equipment that would be necessary for time out on the water.

Before we knew it the lines were being tossed off, and Matt and I were told to relax while a hired captain brought us out of the marina channel and into Biscayne Bay.  The sky was a little overcast, and hopes were that it would not begin pouring rain down on us.  Getting to know the very friendly crew as we moved further out into the bay, it was fun chatting with them, and finding out more about what their jobs entailed and how the previous shoots of the week had gone.  With us being the very last shoot of this session, we got the scoop on the other sailing subjects, including our friend Johannes, whom we had dragged back from the Bahamas just a little early so he could participate.

When we did begin shooting it was all very casual and laid back.  A far cry from the very posed shots I was expecting, we were mostly told to go to a certain area of the boat and just kind of ‘do our thing’.  In my first outfit I stood near the aft deck where it went into the cockpit, and just kind of twirled around a backstay as I looked out on the water.  Matt was seated on the pushpit and was given a piece of rope to tie knots, and also look out on the water and smile and laugh like he was having the time of his life.  Each ‘session’ lasted less than five minutes, and then it was time for an outfit change.  I was told to keep my bikini on while I switched out my dress for a beach coverup, and Matt was sent below deck to change out of his chappies and into proper shorts.  Poor guy forgot to bring his boxers with him onto the yacht after our initial outfit change, and I think the girl styling him was in for a bit of a surprise when she went to properly tuck in his button down shirt.  After that point it was all verbal instructions instead of hands on assistance, at least from the waist down.

Vineyard Vines closeup page 1

Vineyard Vines on Facebook

Jessica VV coverup

The clothes kept changing and locations were moved around the deck and cockpit of the boat.  Some of the shots were individual, and others had both of us together.  We even managed to get Georgie in a few of the shots, as she was loving this luxe life on the water. After every session with the DSLR, a video camera was also brought out to capture the scene, all to be put together for an interview to be shown on the website with the clothing release.  One of the best parts for me is they paid close attention to our travels and tried to integrate as many things from our real life as possible into the shoot.  For me they incorporated my World Beer Tour, pulling out some Spanish beers for me to sip on the deck as I let the wind whip through my hair.  As far as Matt, they tried to recreate his big mahi catch during our Atlantic crossing, pulling out a 50 lb fish for him to pose with up on the bow.  I would have LOVED to capture these behind the scene moments with my own camera, but they were not allowed on set since the shoot was happening 3 months before the release of the clothing line.

fish comparison

Matt & Jess VV

We were having so much fun during the shoot and it did not feel like work at all.  Not one of those ‘You think modeling is glamorous, but it’s so hard’ things. Mostly it was just us on a boat, with the added bonus of having someone steer and handle the sails while we enjoyed the ride and looked pretty.  Apparently we did run into an issue though where the camera man told me I smile too much, but I honestly couldn’t find the right mix of facial expressions to look happy or content without a wide toothy grin showing.  Any time I *think* I’m pulling this look off, I’m told by Matt that I just look pissed off.  I guess I have to work on that more in the future.

There were certain times we did take control of the boat for specific photos or parts of the video.  I even steered us back for a few minutes, while being told by the videographer that ‘there’s no such thing as a bad point’.  So there we both stood, pointing at the chart plotter, pointing at buoys, and pointing at the Miami skyline.  If there’s no such thing as a bad point, I’m going to ride that pony until it’s dead.  I really had no idea what else to do in front of the camera other than, well, smile.  If anyone else has this mid-range look down, seriously, email me with instructions.  Taru?…..Elay?…

We ended the shoot that day with a location change to Monty’s Raw Bar next to Miami Marina.  This was to be our fancy shoot where we were gussied up in a few of the fanciest looks the line has to offer.  Hair and makeup went to work on us once more, combing out the knots in my hair and slathering Matt in sunscreen to give him that nice dewy look.  Customers of the bar sat and looked on as we were pampered, and multiple outfits were pulled off the rack and held up to us to figure out the best look for the shot.  I was handed a GORGEOUS linen dress with a beaded detail, along with a pair of Tory Birch heels (the first pair I’d worn in nearly 3 years), and Matt was given a sport coat and bow tie.

Escorting us to a section of the bar which overlooked the water, we were posed for this section of the photo shoot; elbow on the bar, sip your painkiller, give each other loving looks, ect.  I think part of the reason for the posing here though was the unbelievable amount of clips keeping us tight inside our clothing.  My dress was only slightly loose, so there were about two binder clips pinning the mid section tighter in the back, but Matt had clips running all the way up and down the back and arms of his sport jacket.  I’m surprised there were actually angles possible where you didn’t see them.

When this part of the shoot ended, before I could even slam the rest of my Painkiller (and Matt’s too for that matter), we were ushered once again to the restrooms to change back into a more relaxed outfit, and brought out on the boardwalk for the question and answer part of our interview.  Something I kind of knew was a possibility after paying attention to the release of their Spring line, but something Matt had no idea was coming.  I made sure to keep it this way so he wouldn’t think about it too much beforehand and get flustered.  At the end of the interview I think we were both happy with how it turned out. I think we did a good job of answering questions, and hopefully didn’t do too much mumbling or unprepared answers of “I personally believe that US Americans….”.

All in all, we had SO much fun participating in this shoot for Vineyard Vines.  The entire staff and crew were incredibly friendly and we had a wonderful time talking and joking with them between photos while just hanging out.  The clothes were fantastic, and except for the large yacht we could only wish was ours, they captured us perfectly as we spend our time on the boat and with each other.  Only in much better clothes than we normally wear.  Although don’t be surprised if you catch us in a lot more of their gear from here on out.

Make sure to check out any of their multiple stores nationwide, and tell them we sent you!  We don’t get anything from this, but after working with such an amazing company, we can only hope that you’ll give them a little of your support while staying stylish on the water.

Vineyard Vines closeup page 2

Vineyard Vines page 3

Vineyard Vines page 4

Vineyard Vines page  5

Also, check out the 90 second interview they put together on us from shots taken from the day!

 

*Just because I know you’re all wondering this, no, we did not get to keep the clothing when we were finished.  Not only did they probably put us in a few thousand dollars worth of outfits, but there is again the conundrum of releasing clothing to a person before the line is released through the company.  We were however paid in a hefty gift card, of which has now gone toward a lot of great clothing that you’ll be seeing me in once we start travelling again.

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Q&A Revisited

As I go back through my old posts each week as I pick out the next volume of Throwback Thursday, I get a little chuckle out of how much our lives, and we ourselves, change year to year. Our experiences, our expectations, and our thoughts on different aspects of cruising.  What my opinion was a few years ago has definitely changed on a few things, yet sometimes I nod my head and say to myself, ‘Yes, exactly!  I still feel that way!’.

Back in early 2014 I had done a question and answer post on some of the most popular question we get asked, and also a few specific ones posed to us on our Facebook page when I posted we were answering anything you wanted to ask.  Just for fun one evening I was going through that post again and the statements above really hit me.  Some things are so certain for us that they could be etched in stone, yet for other items we’ve either just had the opportunity to experience so much more since then, or our view as we’ve grown older has just shifted.

So, since I’ve been without my usual computer lately and I’ve needed a  post to go up without the ability of editing new photos or the luxury of easily typing on a keyboard (this post comes to you after about a week of sticking my fingers at a touch pad), I thought I’d go back and revisit those questions from 30 months ago to see just how much has changed in that time.

You can find the original post and answers here.

What has been the most jaw dropping experience with an animal/fish/bird, ect?

Wow, it took a few years, but we’ve finally begun having our animal experiences.  Now that I have a few to pick from, I’d have to say it was the time that Meinke whales were swimming right next to the boat a few hundred miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic.  Literally within touching distance from us, this pod spent a good 30 minutes watching us in the cockpit as we watched them. Coming in a not too distant second was the escort of saddleback dolphins we had on our way into Madeira.

Minke whale in North Atlantic

saddle back dolphins

 

How long do you imagine you’ll cruise?

Our answer used to be ‘until the money runs out’, but now I think it has turned into ‘as long as we’re still enjoying it’.  Sure, the money may run out before that happens, but I don’t think we have any plans of just up and leaving the lifestyle because of that.  

Now that this time is actually coming upon us, we’ve had to give some serious consideration to how we’ll fill the kitty again. One thing we’ve both agreed on is we have spent way too long in Florida and we plan to make our escape the first chance we get. We thought crewing as deckhands or stewards on the mega yachts of the Caribbean could be a good source of money (as hard as the work is), but we doubt they would let us bring Georgie along for days or weeks at a time. So the plan at the moment (although its apt to change) is to get ourselves to the USVIs where a work visa is not required, and see what kind of work we can pick up there.

Charlotte Amalie harbor

 

What’s your favorite island?

Madeira.  Not only did this place become a front runner as our favorite island, but it now tops the charts as our favorite all over destination as well. We came upon it after one of the slowest and draining passages we’ve ever made, but even if it had only been a day hop over, I doubt we could have been disappointed.  Arriving from the water are cliffs that plunge 700 directly to the water, yet terra cotta roofs line the hills between peaks and valleys.  The town of Funchal we stayed in was incredibly well kept and just stunning.  All of the sidewalks were patterned in black and white stone, while restaurants and bistros called out from each corner.  Nothing about this area felt commercial, and even the chain grocery stores still had their little charms.

There are parks galore, filled with flowers and benches, perfect for overlooking the sea.  Public transportation is very easy through their bus system, and even just sitting in the seat while staring at the views out your window as you circle the island is worth getting on alone.  Although there are also many resorts that cater to the higher class, everything feels very open and accessible. There are black sand beaches for laying out and numerous trails for hiking mountains and greenery.  Plus, it’s actually cheap!  Cheaper than being in the US!  We loved our time there and it was very hard for us to leave when we did eventually need to move on.

cliffs of Madeira

10.16.14 (11)

old town Funchal Madeira

Do you feel your boat is big enough for the two of you to live on?

The last time I answered this question we were on Serendipity, and at that time, she was enough for us. And as I mentioned in the post where we purchased Daze Off, we were never openly searching for a new boat, we just came across a deal that was too good to pass up. Or so it seemed at the time.  We never had any idea we’d be spending this long fixing her up.

With that being said, I’ll answer this question the best I can at the moment.  Our new boat is obviously not done, which means we are not out cruising on her yet, and therefore don’t know exactly how she’ll suit all our needs. The extra space is already very apparent though, and I think she’ll be the perfect floating home for us when we’re finished. Fingers crossed that’s not too far down the road though!

cleaning galley matt behind wheel

 

What is your favorite thing about sailing?

Sailing or cruising? We’ve found over the years they are actually two very different things.  We love crusing for the fact we get to bring our home with us, so wherever we find ourselves we always have everything we need. It also gives us a sense of stability to have this one constant in our lives no matter what part of the world we happen to be in. Imagine being in a new country every few weeks yet still getting to go home every night. It’s an amazing feeling.

As far as the sailing itself goes, I’m still going to stand by my old statement. (The sun on my face, a slight breeze through my hair, and getting into port. True blue sailors, we are not. I guess that’s just something you learn along the way. Or maybe it’s that passages are usually nothing like pleasure cruises on Lake Michigan.)

Passages are not always pleasurable, but sometimes you do get those perfect days. I do love sailing for those instances when the wind, waves, and current on your side. When you feel at one with nature and the empowerment of harnessing the wind to get you from one destination to the next.

The last thing, which I think hits both lists, is the opportunity to visit those rarely explored places that most people don’t see because they’re only accessible by water.

calm waters on Atlantic

 

 

So far, is there anyplace you’ve visited that is a must to go back to sometime?

The list keeps growing and growing.  We’ve found we tend to leave a piece of our hearts in so many of the places we visit. We’d love to go back to Cuba for it’s beauty and authenticity.  Guatemala had it’s rolling green mountains, friendly locals, and very affordable pricing. Bermuda was as picturesque as a postcard, and Horta had it’s European feel with stunning views overlooking Pico.

Maderia was still the most breathtaking landfall we’ve ever made and gave us the perfect mixture of city living and striking vistas. The Canary Islands held infinite amounts of diversity, and the Virgin Islands contain perfect tradewinds and quick and easy hops from island to island.

It would be hard for me to leave any of these of the list because I truly want to visit each and every one again in my future. I’m also looking forward to adding

approaching golfete

Horta's breakwater and Pico in the distance

sunset in Madeira

dunes at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

The Baths Virgin Gorda

 

What are some of the things that annoy you most about living on a 34 ft boat?

No longer in 34 feet!  And boy what a difference 3 ft in length and 12 inches in beam will do for space.  Since we did spend another year on Serendipity after writing the original answer though, I’ll add on to it.

(Old) Surprisingly, not as much as there used to be. I’ve even made peace with the fact that all the contents of my chill box will. make their way to the companionway steps while I’m rooting around for items in there, since when the chillbox is open, I have 50 sq inches of available counter space. There’s still little things that get on my nerves, like having to shower in the cockpit when it’s anything but hot out, finding a necessary tool in our completely unorganized tool bag, or pulling out 15 items first to get to my can of diced tomatoes lodged near the bilge.

Once I made peace with (most) of those qualms though, here were a few other things that still bothered me until we sold her.  This is a silly one, and I know I’m being girly about it, but the fact that all my clothes were shoved up in the v-berth in a couple of zippered camping bags used to drive me mad.  Not  only would I have to wedge myself into the space behind the door just to access that area, but I would have to unload so many things that were jammed into that open locker space just to get a bag out.  And if it happened to be dark out?  Forget about it.  Problems with water finding it’s way to the light on that side of the boat meant it was never on, and I’d have to literally use a head lamp just to  rummage through my bag of clothes just to find the item I was looking for.

On the new boat I looooove that I have a clothing cabinet out in the middle of the salon which is always flooded in daylight, and even if I have to pull out a few layers of clothes to reach what is in the back, it’s still a much easier job than I used to have.

Sabre 34 Targa galley

Sabre 34 Targa v-berth hanging locker

 

How often are you at anchor vs in a marina?

We anchor out whenever and wherever we can, but after leaving the Caribbean we found out that isn’t always possible.  Upon arriving in Bermuda for our 10 day stay there on our Atlantic crossing we were so happy there were spots to anchor out as we thought we’d be forced into an expensive marina. Once we got to the Azores though, there were literally no spots for  us to anchor in the towns we were visiting because the island groups is an archipelago in the middle of the ocean with no reefs, and water depths plunging from 30 ft to 600 ft in just a few seconds.  Because of that we were forced into a marina during our entire stays in Horta and Ponta Delgada, about 7 weeks total.  We thought we’d have the ability to anchor once we arrived to Madeira, but it turns out that charter boats take up the entire anchorage, and even though we tried our best, we couldn’t manage to find a spot that would keep us from swinging into them.  Another 3 weeks spent in a slip.

Arriving to the Canaries was our first sources of anchorages on that side of the pond, although from what we’ve read and heard, they’re quickly disappearing or being turned into mooring fields.  Luckily the only time we had to head into a slip there was to wait out a terrible storm where we needed the break walls of the marina to keep out the heavy swell.

Our entire time over  there we longed for the wide availability of anchorages the Caribbean holds, and truth be told, is part of the reason that crossing an ocean, again, was so tolerable to me after just having done it.  I knew what was waiting at the other end.  Crystal clear  waters over shallow sandy bottoms that allowed us the peace of swinging on the hook.

storm over Marina Rubicon

boats at anchor in Simpson Bay

Serendipity in Bahamas

How’s Georgie doing?

This question originally came about because we almost got rid of Georgie in Guatemala because she couldn’t seem to stand living on the boat. Once she had a taste of land life and freedom, it was like a prison sentence to get her back on the boat each night.  After a stint of us leaving her to be watched for six weeks in Guatemala by a friend, and beginning to travel on the boat once more, she was as happy as could be and it was like we had a brand new, cheerful cat in our lives.

Since we’ve been living on the hard for the past 15 months though, you can tell Georgie misses life on the water.  We let her outside every day on her leash and harness, where she’ll watch all the happenings in the work yard from the shade of the trees outlining us, and occasionally chase a random gecko that crosses her path.  Whenever we’re leaving for a few days though, we bring her to our friend Ellen’s boat in the water where she can not run fast enough to get on deck.  In short, I think she’s tolerating this pseudo life on land, but she’s just as excited to get back to the water as we are.

Georgie & rainbow

Georgie Daze Off

 

 

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Our $70/week grocery cart

Last week we came up in the news again in CNBC with an article and short video, looking more into the monetary side of our lifestyle.   How much did we used to make each year?, how much did we save for the trip?, and our approximate yearly budget.

One of the questions that came up was how we were able to amass the kind of savings we did in the short time we did.  My simple answer was: we chose to live frugally as soon as we knew this trip was going to happen. We stopped taking all kinds of vacations and trips, except for a weekend of camping every year for my birthday, and we cut out all unnecessary spending. Cable was cut back to just Netflix.  Dinners out with friends turned into dinners in with friends. My little shopping sprees at the mall turned into occasional visits to Plato’s Closet (a trendy second hand store if you’re not familiar with them).

One thing that has always worked to our advantage though, and still does today, is because of the fact that we are not really foodies, we’ve always been able to keep grocery costs low.  Or let me rephrase that. We do like food, and we even aappreciate well prepared meals, but we can just as easily go without them if need be.

Personally I can attribute lack of interest in extravagant foods to my life growing up. I’m not trying to throw my patents under the bus here, because I’m sure this is true for a lot of families,  but we never had real homecooked meals. With two working parents and an early dinner time (5:30), our meals were simple. Spaghetti with sauce from the can; burgers or pork chops on the grill; a hamloaf thawed cooked in the oven. Throw in a side of applesauce and a bag of microwave vegetables and dinner was complete. I never minded though. The food tasted good to me, and I always left the table with a full stomach.

Although Matt’s father prepared delicious time laboring works of art every night, he never got the food gene passed down to him. Most days he actually considers eating to be a waste of time and is still waiting for his complete daily nutrition to come in pill form.  Yet one more reason I will never get him to pick up a spatula. So, whenever we need a quick or easy way to cut our spending, food is the first thing to fall by the wayside.

Ever since we moved to Indiantown especially,  our days are so full of work and our bodies are so tired through every stage of the day, what we’re eating is usually the last thing on our mind. Don’t get me wrong, its not like we could satisfy ourselves with a bowl of gruel,  but all we really want or need at this point is something to fill up our stomachs that doesn’t taste too bad.

Let me walk you through an average day of our eating habits:

Breakfast is 90% of the time a bowl of cereal with a cup of coffee. Cream and sugar in mine, black for Matt. Once in a great while it could be a bowl of oatmeal, or if we’re out of both of those (our chosen grocery store is 20 miles away), toast.

Lunch is a ham or turkey sandwich with cheese, and some chips for snacking. On very rare occasions we might have a bowl of Kraft mac’n'cheese. Water or soda for a beverage.

Up to this point there is little to no variation to our daily eating habits. This is what goes in our stomachs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. At dinner I can get a little more creative, but still try to keep total costs of ingredients under $5/night.

Some of my go-to favorites here are still hamburgers and chips; spaghetti and a meat with homemade sauce; shredded chicken tacos; and grilled pork tenderloin with baked or mashed potatoes. Sounds pretty tasty still, right? And because I did use my previous 2.5 years of cruising free time on my hands to brush up on my skills in the kitchen, they usually are. You’re still able to do that with a $70/week grocery cart?, you may ask. Yup, and that is because we have lowered ourselves to shopping at Walmart.

Not only do we make our weekly trips there, but we buy store brand as much as possible. And as much as we dislike the corporation, our wallets do appreciate the visit there.  Check out their prices of a lot of staple items we purchase.

Milk: $3.50/gallon

Malt-o-Meal cereal: $4.50 for 32 oz.

Great Value brand coffee: $6.50 for 32 oz

Loaf of bread: $0.98

Lunch meat: $3.50 for one pound

Sliced cheese: $2.25/8 oz

Potato chips: $1.85 a bag

Boneless skinless chicken breasts:1.99/lb

Ground beef: $3.50/lb

Pork tenderloin:  $2.99/lb

Flour tortillas:  $2.00 for 20

Ice cream: 3.00/gallon

Oak Leaf wine: 3.50/bottle

2 liter of soda: $0.99 for RC Cola from our local Circle K

Drinking water: $0.35 per gallon at a local filling station

We snack very little, and treats for us usually include a bowl of ice cream for Matt, and a beer or wine for me. We’re simple people with simple needs, and it has really helped us keep costs down in many areas of our lives.

Although I still really enjoy a good meal every now and then and would love to be set free in a grocery store with no budget, I’m ok with basic at the moment when it comes to food. Basic keeps the dream going. It puts miles under our keel and new stamps in our passports. So if you ask me if I’d rather have a high end meal or spend an afternoon swimming with pigs in the Bahamas, its a no brainer for me to put my culinary needs second.

I’d like to know about you though? Are your meals on board extravagant or ordinary?  What’s your favorite meal to cook on board? And most importantly, what cheap meal tips do you have for me? Jessica cooking first meal on Daze Off eating my birthday dinner   *Just a side note thatI’m without an actual laptop for 3 weeks while mine is being serviced, so I apologize for the few or off topic posts that you’ll be seeing over the next few weeks. Its hard to type out a post on my little tablet, and almost impossible to edit photos to the degree I’d like.

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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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We Are Not Crowdfunders, Nor Do We Lead a Luxurious Life

Last week I woke up to some news that made me extremely overjoyed and grateful.  The Daily Mail had come out with a list of their Ultimate Travel Photos of 2015, and we happened to be on it!  Listed under the caption it was said that our previous article on the site was one of their highest shared stories of the year. I was humbled and honored that so many people enjoyed our story and were rooting for us to set out and realize our dreams.

Scrolling through the remaining amazing travel photographs, and they were, I found myself at the comments.  And was stunned and hurt by what I saw.  The very first comment among all these magnificent images was ‘Oh don’t ya just love it when those pesky americans give up their jobs and raise enough money (crowd funding no less) to pursue their dreams..Well we all have dreams, we just don’t go begging online to strangers about it.’

Us?  Begging strangers for money so we could travel the world? That couldn’t be further from the truth! In order to live the life we do, we spent years saving up every penny we could and selling every possession we had in order to be able to leave everything behind to travel the world for a few years. Not only that, but while traveling we live as frugally as possible to make sure every dollar can go as far as possible.  We’ve never asked anyone for a single cent, and it made my blood boil to think that most people would assume the only way we could get to where we are was by the handouts of others. That it would be impossible for a couple in their 30′s to set out plans and goals, and to actually achieve them! It made me realized how grossly uninformed some people are about our lifestyle.

So let me just take a moment to dispel two large misconceptions the general public may have about us.  We are not crowdfunders, nor do we lead a luxurious life.

Atlantic Crossing December 3

Let me first talk about our lifestyle, but believe me, I’ll definitely get back to the crowdfunding. For most people who don’t know much about our cruising lifestyle, they make think we lead a life of uninterrupted bliss.  Uniformed days of sunny skies, tropical islands, swimming in the worlds clearest waters, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets with a good glass of wine in our hands; all the while never having any worries or having to lift a finger, other than to sail our beautiful yacht to our next amazing location in pristine conditions. I will state for the record that we have done all of the above.  Although to say that is all our life consists of would be substantially wrong.  That is our lives, but only a small portion of it.  Truth be told, I don’t think 90% of people could or would want to live our kind of life.

I won’t even get into the mess of what our current situation is, living in the construction zone of a boat remodel that has me walking 5 minutes to the marinas facilities every time I have to ‘go’, or washing my dishes from a 1.5 liter jug that I refill from a spicket 4-6 times a day. No, I’ll get into the enviable *bliss* we enjoy while traveling. Lets first talk about our living space.  Our last boat was 34 ft, and current one is 37.  That’s between 150 to 200 sq ft feet of living space.  And to be honest, not all of it is livable. Our kitchen and sitting space were all part of one room, the bathroom doesn’t even give you enough room to bend over in, and forget about having any foot space in bed.  If there’s more than one of you on board you’re constantly having to step aside for the other to pass, and if you want to have guests over you’d better feel very comfortable about letting others into your personal space.

Moving on to personal hygiene and upkeep, and it’s amazing how much of that went out the hatch as soon as we stepped foot on a boat.  Back in our land life we would start our mornings with a hot shower, I’d take the time to straighten my hair and put on makeup, and we’d both dress in our business attire before heading out the door for the daily grind. In our sailing life we spent the first year and a half taking our showers in the cockpit or swimming off the back of the boat.  Which was preferable because you wouldn’t even want to think about using up what precious fresh water you had on something as trivial as staying clean. That needs to be saved for drinking and getting the dishes clean enough to eat off again. Usually we try to only allow ourselves the use of 5 gallons a day so we don’t run out.

The t-shirts, board shorts, and cut offs we started to adorn ourselves in have to be lugged usually at least a mile in each direction to any kind of laundromat or cleaner we can find wherever we happen to drop anchor. Dresses? Rarely. Shoes with heels? Not a single pair has found it’s way on to the boat. Not only does my hair not get straightened or styled anymore, it usually goes directly from shower to ponytail.  On our passage back across the Atlantic last year we had such bad conditions that we averaged six days between showers. Cleanliness has almost become a form of when it becomes necessary instead of whenever you want.

bathing off back of boat

Matt dragging behind boat

Going out to restaurants (for us) is saved for rare and special occasions, and grocery shopping usually consists of walking miles in 90 degree heat and trying to fit two weeks of food and beverages into two backpacks. I make my meals in a galley that has about two feet of counter space and constantly switch around ingredients between pots and bowls while I try and make decent meals on a two burner stove. As my friend Michelle just likened it, she said “I feel like I’m trying to be Betty Crocker, making a meal in Barbie’s Dream House while using my Easy Bake Oven”.  It’s one step up from camping, but one step below an RV.  At least they’re not rocking back and forth while cooking, trying to keep their plates from sliding off the counters.

walking in Duncan Town

Sabre 34 Targa galley

Which brings me on to passages. About 30% of our lifestyle, but the thing that requires the most planning and preparation. We can’t just hop from one location to the next whenever we feel like. Sailors are only allowed to cruise an area by season, and even inside that area, may get held up for days or even weeks waiting for the right weather window.  The two weeks we planned to stay in Isla Mujeres Mexico before sailing to Florida turned into seven when fronts would constantly pass through the Gulf of Mexico.

Our entire schedule for the year was messed up and we ended up starting our Atlantic crossing from Miami, instead of St. Marten like we had originally hoped. So before we can go anywhere we have to think about distance, forecasts, hurricane season, and any other number of things. To just say, ‘I feel like heading from Mexico to Aruba.  Let’s leave tomorrow’.; does not happen. The weather can sometimes be our best friend and at other times be our worst enemy.

shelf cloud on Atlantic

Atlantic Crossing January 2

After just touching the tip of the iceberg of what living our lifestyle entails (I did not even get into the part about maintaining all the mechanical and electrical systems yourself), I’m ready to discuss crowdfunding. As I had mentioned above, we have not received a single penny for our journey that way.  Sure, there’s a couple hundred dollars that come in every year from family in the form of birthday or anniversary gifts, but we would have received them regardless if we were at land or sea. And knowing that I would have headed straight to the MAC counter at Macy’s before, I think they money is going to a much better purpose now. If anyone funded this trip, it was us. In the few years before we left, we stopped going out to eat or to the bars with our friends, inviting them to our house instead.  All of my clothes, even my business ones, became second hand from consignment shops.  Our yearly excursions to Chicago for a long weekend turned in to camping trips at the Sleeping Bear Dunes instead.  If we didn’t have to spend money on something, we didn’t. To say that we made sacrifices is the understatement of the century.

On the subject of crowdfunding though, I will not say that it is unquestionable as a means to bring in a little extra cash. We have friends that have Donate buttons on their website, and I know of others that use sites such as Patreon to bring in a little extra money for their travels. None of these people started their journeys by use of these income makers.  None of them went out begging saying, “I want to travel the world, give me money so I can!”. All of them started exactly as we did, by scraping and saving to make their dreams a reality.  Collaborations with these sites are only a means to keep their travels going, and this is after establishing themselves with content via writing, photos, and videos; which their followers want to continue to enjoy and will donate money to make it possible.

I’ve even considered using it for ourselves in the future when our funds begin to run low. It would not keep us going forever, and I’d be delusional to think it might.  But it may help extend our journey a few more months before we find a way to bring in a steady paycheck.  It’s all perfectly sensible when you think about it though.  If a person would spend a certain amount of money to buy a book or magazine, to go out to a movie or enjoy drinks out with a significant other; OR they could spend that same amount of money in the form of a donation to us and receive travel stories or photographs that bring them the same amount of enjoyment, they should be able to . No one is forcing them to give this money away, and if it’s not for you, that’s fine. Just don’t condemn it for others that do go this route.

saddleback dolphins

lighthouse on Faial Azores

In short, we love our nomadic lives, but they are quite different than the image that most might hold. We are not the trust fund babies that take our expansive floating home to non stop beautiful destinations in perfect weather where we visit fancy restaurants and spend our days shopping in boutique stores and sunning ourselves on pristine beaches. Although our life is full of picturesque moments and incredible adventures (which is what usually makes the blog or social media pages), we also put up with a lot of behind the scenes frustration that you wouldn’t know about unless you’re living this lifestyle or closely following the blog.

So Mr. Tangerine Dream, before you go off making assumptions about our travels and spouting them out over the internet, take a moment to see what our life actually entails.  How we got ourselves here, what our lifestyle actually consists of, and how we keep it going.  If you looked really closely, I’d bet you realize that it doesn’t come close to what you originally thought.

I do want to quickly mention that this post was not written as an outlet for me to whine or bitch, or even gain sympathy.  I love my life.  I know that it can be hard, or even insufferable at times, but I chose this for myself and, for myself, the joys and freedom far outweigh the other inconveniences we deal with. It has it’s ups and downs, but when it’s good, it’s heaven on earth.  Now that I’ve started this adventure, I could never see my life any other way.

Matt & Jessica The Baths

Maho Beach, St. Maarten

Big Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda

fire lanterns over Horta's harbor, Azores

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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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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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The Stray Cats of Indiantown Marina

Saturday September 12, 2015

stray cat, Bandit

It’s pretty easy to say that I have a soft spot in my hearts for animals.  Maybe this also extends to a curiosity for all animals since you’re just as likely to find me chasing down a strange looking bug or lizard as you will cuddling up to a furry domestic animal, but it’s suffice to say they pique my curiosity and tug at my heartstrings. When we arrived to Indiantown Marina back in early March it didn’t take long for me to notice a few of the furry critters that were roaming the grounds.  Other than the abundance of lizards and geckos that you’ll constantly find running underfoot, there were also a few felines freely roaming the yard.  Pets without leashes?, we originally thought.  Sadly no, they were strays of the boat yard.

Only two of these cats were known to be around all the time although it wasn’t strange to see 2-3 others hiding in the tall grass of the storage yard every evening.  One of these regulars that could always be seen hanging around the service department in the work yard was called Rudder and although wasn’t technically a pet, is fed daily by one of the service guys.  The other, Sylvester, would always come into the patio and kitchen area every evening as the sun came down.  Much more familiar with people, he’d cozy right up on your lap and wait for a good scratching.

Although we found out that Sylvester is also a ‘cared for stray’, meaning that he also has someone at the yard who will feed him daily yet doesn’t quite claim him as their own, we also found out the sad story of his past.  Sylvester actually used to be a boat cat, ditched at the marina to suddenly fend for himself.  He seems to be quite content with his new life of freedom though, as long as there is always a full food bowl to come back to every night. Sylvester the cat

Sylvester.  Look at that heart on his butt!  :)

A few more months went by before we were introduced to the newest stray of the yard.  A black and white female that had apparently been around for awhile but whom we’d never seen.  This one was a bit more skiddish and it did not help that her first encounter with us was when Georgie’s leash escaped our grasp down by the patio one night and she tore after this new cat, ready to hunt down anything that roamed into her territory.

One thing that immediately struck us about this new female is that she didn’t have a tail.  Both of us assumed that there had been some kind of accident which caused her to lose it, until a few weeks later when someone had told us it was a specific breed that is born without a tail.  Matt goes, “Oh, I think those are called Lynxs”, and so became her name.  Lynx, the tail-less cat.  It turns out the breed is actually called Manx, but by then the first name had already stuck and we found no reason to change it.

In late July we saw two little kittens following Lynx around, most likely the reason she had been so absent our first few months there.  Taking care of a litter of small ones would probably not leave her much time to roam around freely.  Talking to our neighbor in the work yard we found out that Lynx and her kittens would usually seek shelter under his overturned dinghy next to his boat and he also fed her every day.  She was actually becoming so familiar with him that she would walk the stairs up to the cockpit of his boat every day for a feeding. The kittens, now around around 6 months old, have grown quite a bit and have also taken to eating from the free bowl of food our neighbor was providing them.

Knowing we had our own cat, a fact that’s hard to hide when we walk her up to the patio every morning for breakfast, asked if we wouldn’t mind taking care of ‘his cats’ as well while he was gone on a four week vacation.  Loading us up with food he left us with instructions and also let us know that Lynx appeared to be pregnant once again.  He was pretty sure the new kittens would be born during his absence. Lynx, Cairo, & Bandit Cairo & Bandit

Cairo & Lynx at dinner time. Cairo

Cairo.  Oh how I want this kitty!! Cairo & Lynx Bandit

Bandit.  The runt of the family.

For the past week and a half now we have been feeding the cats and they are becoming much more comfortable with us each day.  Waiting for us under the boat each morning when we get up, they quickly learned where their breakfast is coming from.  To say that I’ve already become attached to them is an understatement.  Cairo, the fluffy tailed kitten is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and her little sister Bandit is so ugly that it’s made her so adorably cute.  And just like her mommy, she’s a Manx cat as well with just a little stub of a tail.

Lynx has not only warmed up to us but is now craving our constant attention.  It took a few days to let us pet her, but now she’s basically a lap cat.  Always wanting to be pet and butting her head against our hands when we stop.  She’s a total lover.  Sometimes I even find her trotting right next to my side as I make the walk from our boat up to the bathrooms.  I would love nothing more than to keep her, and although Matt has taken quite a liking to her as well, he’s not ready to have a second cat on board.  Plus, Georgie would probably go nuts on her.

We already know these two don’t get along and there’s been a few times that Lynx has climbed the ladder up to our cockpit only to find Georgie ready to chase her right back down.  Or when the plexi doors are in place, the two will have a stare down until Lynx turns around and eventually leaves. I hate to say it, but Georgie is not tolerant of any other cats. It breaks my heart to know that we won’t be able to give any of these kitties a new home.  Which is why I’m going to ask for your help.

Lynx on Daze Off

Georgie chasing away Lynx

IMPORTANT

(Que sappy Sarah McLachlan music…)

If you’ve just been skimming the post up until this point and only looking at photos of cute cats, this is the part where I need your focus.  I need to find homes for these cats.  Unlike Rudder and Sylvester, there are not permanent marina employees to look after these three.  There is only our neighbor, until he goes in the water and leaves next month, and then Matt and I, most likely, until we are out of here as well.  And that’s if a few of the marina employees who don’t care for this family very much don’t catch them first and bring them to the Humane Society to be put down.

If you are in the Southern Florida area and are looking for a boat cat/house cat/apartment cat or know anyone who is, please let us know.  As much as it brings me joy every morning to come down from our boat and see them eagerly waiting for me, I know I can’t keep them and I would love to see them go to a good home.  Whether it be together or separate, they need someone who can properly look after them and give them everything they need and deserve.

My next solution is that if we can’t get them adopted, maybe we can at least get them spayed.  All three are females and this will unfortunately be a vicious cycle of new litters in the marina unless this problem is taken care of.  If anyone knows of a vet that would do this for us pro bono or for a discounted rate, PLEASE let us know.

My very last option/solution is for anyone out there who wishes they could take care of these cats but for one reason or another (location, allergies, whatever) can’t…is to sponsor one of these kitties.  By sending funds to our PayPal account we will have that cat spayed as well as given all of the necessary shots and provide that cat with two meals daily.  This would continue for as long as we are in the boat yard, but would work extra hard to get that cat adopted before we leave, having that process be much easier with an up to date health certificate.

(Contact us at admin@mjsailing.com  Subject: Stray Cats)

Please help us make these three cats as happy as our little Georgie.  It’s so worth the love they give you in return!

Georgie

*We believe that Lynx had her litter on September 9 when she disappeared for two full days.  Unfortunately, due to the large amounts of time she has been spending under our boat since then, we also believe that the litter did not make it due to either health reasons or an attack by raccoons.

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Giveaway Through Sailing B+A!

Jr captains

We meet so many cruisers through our journey that turn into great friends, and Bo and Allison of Sailing B+A happen to be two of those people.  A little background on this couple is they just got married in May, leaving to go cruising less than one week after their wedding.

Allison is just getting into sailing and would describe herself as more of an equestrian that has now traded saddles for sun, sand, and a life at sea.  Bo has a talent for videoboard production (big screens in stadiums) that he is now trading in for a tour around the world by sailboat.  Having left college at age 20 for a semester a sea, sailing is now deep in his blood and he’s been working toward leaving for a circumnavigation for the past 11 years.  With these two now together and with their dream boat, they’re ready to take on the world.

logo-SailingBA2

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How does their sailing adventure affect you?  Bo and Allison have started up Junior Captains, or a way to virtually take children on their sailing adventure with them, providing stories, lessons, and videos along the way.  Each landfall will mark an fun and intriguing lesson that each child can locate on their map, learn about the area, and participate with their own logbook activities.

Upon signing up each child receives a starter kit containing a world map, inflatable globe, custom logbook, and a Jr. Captain’s carrying bag.  Month by month their email box and mailbox will be filled with lessons, videos, and even postcards sent from Bo and Ali and based on their real life travels.  A perfect way to learn about the world without ever having to leave home!

Check out one of their testimonials featured on Instagram.

jr captains starter kit

This week only, Sailing B+A has partnered up with a few of sailing’s other favorites such as The Boat Galley and Voyaging With Kids for some great giveaways!  Here are the details…

 

1st Prize: A real life sailing trip + a free lifetime subscription to the Junior Captains program.  (We’ll take them sailing with us for a day, or pay for them to go on a day sail on a charter boat in the location of their choice if it isn’t feasible for them to sail wherever we are.) ($926 value)

2nd Prize: 1 year free subscription to the Junior Captains program + free copy of The Boat Galley Cookbook ($170 value)

3rd Prize: 3 months free subscription to the Junior Captains program + free copy of Voyaging with Kids ($61 value)

This contest begins Sunday Oct 18th, ends Sunday Oct 25th. Prizes will be awarded the following week.

All you need to do to enter is follow this link and answer one easy question!  And trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the chance of a day of sailing with Bo & Allison.  They are an extremely fun and easy going couple that we constantly bug to come see us every time they’re in town.  In fact, we’re hoping to go on our own overnight sail with them in just a few weeks!

*All photos courtesy of Sailing B+A

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Jessica’s World Beer Tour

Monday August 10, 2015

World Beer Tour header photo 2

It’s probably no big secret that I like to enjoy a beer every now and then.  I’m sure I’ve splashed it all over random posts, ‘Had a cold beer with friends’, ‘Sat back and enjoyed a cold beer on the boat’, but honestly, sometimes a nice cold beer is the next most refreshing thing to an ice cold water, at least in my mind.

Matt will tease me since he actually doesn’t care for the taste of beer, and even though we both shunned it in our early 20′s and only began drinking it when we were too poor to afford rum and vodka anymore, I’ve actually grown to quite enjoy the taste. That’s not to say that I don’t still love my wine or other mixed drinks, sometimes a gin & tonic is exactly what you need while watching the sun set in a pretty harbor, but beer definitely has it’s ranks up there.  And with all the hot climates we usually find ourselves in or after a long trek through a trail, along a beach, or even though a big city, sometimes you just want to sit down afterward and enjoy a refreshing cold beer.

Which is why I have taken it upon myself to start my very own World Beer Tour and try to sample as many different beers as possible from each country we visit.  The list isn’t as long as it could be if growing my tour were one of my only focuses for each stop and if our kitty was a little deeper, but I’ve managed to squeeze a few in from nearly every country we’ve stopped at.  Camera in hand, I snap a photo to document my success.

Through our 16 countries I’ve sampled about 45 different beers.  I only let it count toward my tour though if I’ve actually been to that country and try to drink that beer only when I’m in said country.  That Presidente I had in St. Maarten?  Doesn’t make the list yet because it’s actually brewed in the Dominican Republic and we haven’t been there yet.

I’ve started a page for my World Beer Tour as part of our About Us section and you can find my entire list here. (Some countries are still getting updated, it’s taking a long time to go back and find all my beer photos!)

Something came to mind though as I was working on finally getting around to publishing this page.  I live in a country of so many different beers yet I’ve only sampled a small few.  Just because I live in the US shouldn’t exclude it from my tour since you’d think there are no new beers for me to try here. Heck, I come from one of the Top 10 Beer Cities in the country. There’s just too many wonderful hop filled throughout this nation not to sample as many as I can and grow my tour including my home country. And this is the part where I’m going to ask for your help.

It turns out that when I ranted on about how poor our living conditions have been while we’re working on and simultaneously living on the boat, jokingly putting out a request for beer, some of you truly wanted to! I’ve received just a few messages and emails from readers asking if they can send some beer our way. Normally I would turn down this kind offer and thank the person for thinking of us….but this time I kind of want to accept.  I like beer.  And we’re living in Florida while remodeling a boat.  In the middle of summer.

So here is my challenge to you.  My birthday is coming up in 2 weeks and I would love to add some good ol’ US brews to my tour. The tricky part is, if I can, I’d like to sample ones I’ve never had before.  This shouldn’t be too hard as we live on a Miller High Life budget, but I’d like to get away from the Miller and Budweiser family that I’m used to drinking and try some unique and local beers.

Take for example my last visit to my parents in Arizona.  While we were out to eat one night I felt like trying something different and ordered a pear cider which I immediately Fell.In.Love with.  So much so that I forced my parents to ship back half of my belongings to Florida in a box just so I could smuggle some of these drinks in my suitcase.  This was because I’d found out they only distribute on the West Coast and there’s no way I’d be able to get it again back on the East Coast.

These are the kind of new and different beers I would like to add to my tour.  Beers I probably wouldn’t or couldn’t get on my own. Or really any beer you want to send I guess since I’d probably drink whatever you put down in front of me, haha. Ok, not really.

So if you were one of those people who had wanted to send a few cold drinks our way, here is your opportunity.  All packages can be sent to us at the marina, although I’d check with your local postal carrier to see what restrictions there are on sending alcohol.  I think liquor has to be shipped ground, but I don’t know about beer.  And don’t worry about sending a whole case, just one beer is fine.  Heck, if you can only pick up a 6 pk, keep the other 5 for yourself and smile while drinking them, knowing that just the one will make my day.  Or if it’s not convenient to send beer, feel free to send a gift card to Publix or Total Wines with a suggestion of what you’d like me to try.

All packages can be sent to:

Jessica Johnson  s/v Daze Off   16300 SW Famel Ave   Indiantown, FL 34956

To show my gratitude for receiving these new beers for my tour I’ll make sure to add your name to my tour, next to the beer received. And this will let you know I received and enjoyed it.  :)   Example:

United States

  • Ace Pear Cider – gift of Mike & Barb Gorman

Now just to leave your mouth watering as much as mine has been while getting my tour up, here’s some shots of my favorite beers around the world so far.

World Beer Tour - Grand Cayman - Caybrew

World Beer Tour - Barrilito - Mexico

Eclipse - Bahamas

World Beer Tour - Jamaica - Red Stripe

World Beer Tour - Super Bock - Portugal

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