It’s All About Money: Sail Loot Podcast

Monday July 13, 2015

I’d have to say that about 70% of the emails we get in our inbox have something to do with money.  It may not be the sole subject of the email, but it usually comes up one way or another.  ”How do you afford this; What did you do to save; What does it cost to maintain this lifestyle”.  We don’t mind these questions, in fact we usually openly talk about our money.  Through our Cost of Cruising pages you can find out what we spend each month and year and where all of our money goes.

To take it one step further though and find out everything there is to know about us and money; starting from the beginning and going up until now, we were contacted by Teddy at Sail Loot to participate in a podcast talking about this subject. We talked about absolutely everything from when we bought our first boat, how we outfitted Serendipity to cruise, what gets covered in our monthly expenses, and how we try to save where we can.  If you’ve ever had a money related question for us, chances are it’s been answered in this interview.

Keep reading to see how our interview appeared on the Sail Loot website, including the podcast.  If you’d like to see the full thing on their site as well as check out more links relating to the discussion, make sure to check out the original post here. For even more podcast from other great cruisers talking about their finances, make sure to check out Sail Loot’s home page.

Thank you so much Teddy for taking the time to interview us, it was a pleasure talking with you!

Matt & Jessica The Baths

“Matt and Jessica decided that it was time to get off the couch and start experiencing life. How they would experience life was the first question. When they decided that sailing was the answer, all they had to do was learn how to sail, find a boat, and figure out how to find their sailing money. Easy enough, right?

They ended up taking some sailing lessons, and getting some sailing practice for about 2 years on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. Their sailing money came with a lot of hard work, some downsizing (of their possessions and their activities), and some budgeting to make sure that they wouldn’t blow through their cruising kitty while sailing across oceans.

Matt and Jessica started with a little bit of money saved up, “normal” jobs, and a dream. They took off with enough sailing money in the bank to cruise for about 4 to 5 years if they stuck to their budget. Enjoy listening to this episode of the Sail Loot Podcast for all of the details!”

A Few Things You’ll Learn About Matt and Jessica, MJ Sailing, and their Sailing Money In This Episode:

  • Their Hunter 240, their first trailerable sailboat.
  • Their jobs on land prior to taking off cruising.
  • How much they paid for all of their sailboats.
  • Their cruising budget.
  • How big their crusing kitty was before they left. You know, this directly relates to how long they planned on cruisng.
  • Where they’ve sailed so far.
  • Crossing the Atlantic…twice within the span of a year.
  • The Re-fit of their new sailboat, Daze Off (the current name).
  • Matt’s hobby.
  • Where they’re living while they re-fit Daze Off
  • How Matt and Jessica keep a low-cost lifestyle.
  • Going the “wrong way” around the Caribbean.
  • Jessica’s sailing money and frugal cruising tips.
  • And Much More!

Kimberly Joy lifestyle photo

Serendipity 3

Daze Off 2

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We’re on the Today Show!

Friday July 10, 2015

mj on today show

If you haven’t been following us through our Facebook page (and you totally should!) you may not know that we’ve been getting a bit of media coverage lately.  Or, going viral to put it bluntly.  We have been in news publications everywhere from the US to the Netherlands, even to China and Japan.

Some of you who do know all about our coverage and have seen us splashed about here and there may wonder yourselves where it all started.  Well….a few months ago I was contacted by a UK based news agency called Caters.  A woman in the office reached out to me and said that she had found our blog online and thought we had an interesting story.  Would we mind doing an interview for her that she would in turn try to sell to a magazine or be published by any news outlets?

I told her that I would be happy to, although honestly I didn’t expect much coverage to come of it.  We’ve been doing this for years without anyone taking (too) much interest and countless people before us have been doing exactly what we’re doing for generations.  This is the world I live in now and it seems like the least odd thing in the world to drop everything and sail into the sunset.  Where do you think I’ve made so many good friends in the past few years? We’re all doing the same thing!

So imagine my surprise when I woke up on June 24 and found an email from a reader who sent us a link saying that a story about us had been published in the Daily Mail*.  I didn’t know much about the Daily Mail, but I did know it was a big time publication in the UK.  Following the link, both Matt and I were stunned to find our story there, and already with so many comments and shares.

From there it went crazy.  We were contacted by Redbook Magazine and Business Insider for actual interviews or permission for use of our story, which we agreed to, but then we found that other sources were taking information based from the Daily Mail and our blog to write their own story.  We were catching fire and spreading fast.  It seemed like every country had their own story about us and we couldn’t even keep up with all the posts or links about ‘The Couple That Quit Their Jobs and Sold Everything to Sail The World’.  With their cat.  For some reason that seems to be one of the biggest points of the story.  I think Georgie is getting more fame than we are. (My cute little moggie)

Of course we began receiving a ton of emails from people who had just heard about us, mostly to wish us well and tell us what an inspiration people like us are, others asking how we afford this lifestyle (we saved, there’s no income here!), and a few more media and press requests.  One of the big ones that contacted us and there was no way we could say no to, was NBC’s Today Show.

Not just because, well, this is one of the most well known morning show’s in the US, but because of the segment they wanted to present us in.  The Secrets of Happiness. It wouldn’t be a segment only about us and going over what other articles had already talked about, but instead we would be part of a week long feature about happiness, and on our air date, placed with a few other people that took the road less traveled and left everything behind to find theirs.

It was great to think of our life in a new light and why we’ve found ourselves out here.  It’s not just getting away from the rat race and bills and rush hour traffic.  Although we may sometimes forget as this life becomes more normal than not, it’s a great reminder that we took that extra step to ensure our happiness.  Something we’ll always be able to look back on and smile and say, ‘I stepped outside of the box to make my dreams come true’.

Thank you to the Today Show for reminding us of why we’re out here and why we’ll continue to work hard to maintain a life that brings us such joy and happiness.

I’m not sure how to embed the video so I can show it on this post, but you can find the link to the online clip of it here.

 

There are so many other thank you’s I’d like to give out as well.  To all of our readers who have been with us for awhile, thank you for following along and I hope you’ve enjoyed all of our previous journeys as well as all the new ones to come.  To all of our new followers who have just found us through the Daily Mail, Today Show, or other sources, thank you for taking the time to seek us out, I hope you’ll stick around.  I know things may be boring at the moment as we’re fixing up our newest boat, but I promise lots of new adventures are just around the corner.

P.S.  I’ll always say it again and again, but thank you SO MUCH to my friend Kim for the beautiful photo shoot she captured of us in the Virgin Islands, producing probably the most popularly used photo of the two (and sometimes three) of us.

And thank you to her again for catching a great shot of us on her tv screen that I was able to use as my header photo.  :)

 

*Normally I wouldn’t do this, but for the record I just wanted to set one thing straight that wasn’t right in this article. When it talked about us being ready to abandon ship and jump in a life raft, I had meant that we were in a bad storm and were ready as in prepared for the worst, in case it came down to that. We both know that you never leave a floating ship.

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Yoga Onboard

Thursday February 5, 2015

yoga onboard

I am not a ‘Yogi’.  Neither a bear or a practitioner of yoga.  I always tell myself I’ve wanted to be.  It looks graceful and serene and I know it’s packed full of benefits that would be very useful to me.  But every time I tried to get into it, which always happened to be back on land incidentally, life always got in the way and it just never happened.  Moving onto a boat, I assumed it never would.

But this is where I’m very wrong.  It turns out that yoga can be done on a boat, and having tried my hand at both land and sea versions now, I actually prefer this one much better.  Possibly because the scenery of sitting outdoors in the elements helps to bring a feeling of peace and calm and at one with your surroundings.  I never quite found that on my bedroom floor.

I was introduced to this new boat yoga lifestyle when my friend Jessica G of m/v Felicity, quite the Yogi herself, turned me on to Yoga Onboard.  A very easy to follow guide of yoga poses ranging from simple to advanced, and all to be done on the deck or in the cockpit of your boat. In some cases you’ll even use parts of your boat to help you with the poses. This calendar style book, put together by the very talented Kim Hess, is about 75 pages of clear colored photos with how-to steps on each pose, and all printed on water resistant paper.  Very handy for those of us who live a life surrounded by it.

I still haven’t gotten into this as much as I should or even want to, but on the days I do I feel so relaxed and unwound.  My body feels better.  My mind feels better.  Any of life’s tensions just fall away.

Look at my calm ambiance, there’s hope for me to become a Yogi yet!  All joking aside though, doing even just a few of these poses a few times a week does pack major benefits for your mind and body.  Along with each pose shown in the book, Kim has also added the benefits from each pose so you can either target specific problems, or at least be aware of the benefits of what you’re doing.  Did you know that a Standing Forward Fold will massage the stomach, help with depression, tone the liver and lengthen hamstrings?

With the help of my friend Jody, who let me practice these poses on her boat and acted as my photographer for the day, I’m going to show you a few of my favorite poses and also  let you in on a few more.  Just to give you a taste of everything inside this delicious little book.

*All text below has been taken directly from Yoga Onboard by Kim Hess.

yoga onboard cover

 Cat Cow & Child’s Pose

yoga onboard child's pose

 A few good beginning poses to open up your session with are the Cat Cow Pose and Child’s Pose.

Cat Cow

Come to your hands and knees – wrists below shoulders, knees below hips, with a neutral spine

  1. Connect with your breath
  2. Inhale – lift the chin and sit bones, dropping the belly (cow pose).
  3. Exhale – tuck the chin and tailbone, rounding the back (cat pose).
  4. Repeat 3-5 times

Benefits: Opens the front and back of the torso, stimulates the spine and builds awareness of the connection between breath and movement.  

Child’s Pose

This is a great resting pose that can be done between more challenging asana.

Begin on your hands and knees.

  1. Widen your knees just enough to rest the torso gently between your thighs. 
  2. Place your sit bones on your heels, resting your forehead on the deck.
  3. Rest your hands either back by your feet or extended. Again, what feels good?
  4. Completely relax.

Benefits: Releases stress, increases circulation to the brain, elongates the back and spine and gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles.

 

Warrior I

yoga onboard Warrior I

  1. Begin in mountain pose (feet hip distance apart, shoulders relaxed and down, arms extended down at sides).  Step your right foot back.
  2. Both feet are flat with the front foot straight ahead and the back foot in a 45-60 degree angle.
  3. Bend your front knee, keeping the knee over or behind your ankle, taking the feet wider if necessary to allow the hips to lower adding strength to the pose.
  4. Both hips are facing forward, your heart is lifting and the shoulders are relaxed.
  5. Your arms can be on the hips, extended upward or using the lifelines for support.
  6. Switch sides.

Benefits: Relieves stiffness in shoulders and back, tones the legs and reduces fat around hips.

yoga onboard warrior pose

Tree Pose

yoga onboard tree pose

  1. Begin in mountain pose.
  2. Bring one foot to the ankle, calf, or inner thigh – avoid the knee area.
  3. Lengthen through the center of the body.
  4. Bring the hands to prayer.
  5. Breathe – then extend arms upward.
  6. Use the mast for alignment and support.
  7. Switch sides.

Benefits: Tones the leg muscles and gives one a sense of balance and poise.

yoga onboard tree pose

Sphinx Pose

yoga onboard sphinx pose

  1. Begin on your belly with your elbows directly under the shoulders.  Your palms are flat.
  2. Tuck your tailbone, lengthening the lower spine.
  3. Press into your elbows, creating length in the spine and space in the torso.
  4. Reach your heart forward as you bring your shoulder blades together.
  5. Eyes are looking straight ahead. Imagine the sphinx statues in Egypt.
  6. Relax the neck and facial muscles.

yoga onboard sphinx pose

yoga onboard sphinx pose

Legs Up Against the Lifelines

yoga onboard legs on lifelines

This is a great pose that can be done any time you want to relax.

  1. Begin by sitting very close to the to rail and roll over bringing your legs up onto the lifelines.
  2. The tighter your hamstrings are, the further from the toe rail your sit bones will be.
  3. Relax and breathe.
  4. After awhile, allow your legs to fall apart, letting gravity take over and giving your inner thighs a nice stretch.

This pose can also replace any forward folds for those with extremely tight hamstrings, giving them support while stretching, and keeping the lower back aligned and protected.

legs against lifelines pose

legs on lifeline pose

 

And these are only a small slice of what’s inside!  There’s a whole slew of other poses, but I don’t want to give away all of Kim’s great work on my blog.  But here’s other things you’ll find if you purchase the book for yourself: Standing Forward Fold; Triangle Pose; Heart & Back Openers; Head to Knee Pose; Firelog Pose; Boat Pose; Reclined Spinal Twist, and so many more.  Kim also incorporates using sail ties for stretches, and modifying a few of the sitting poses with cockpit variations.

If you would like to purchase this for yourself you can find it here on Amazon, and you have the option to buy her how-to DVD. Also, make sure to check out Kim’s website, Tropic Yoga.  You can also find the book and DVD on Kim’s website here.

So go ahead and try a few of these poses on your boat to find your inner Yogi.  Living on a boat is not always the romantic paradise that it’s chalked up to be, but when any stress arises, hopefully these poses can get you back there.  If anything it will at least be a good chance to take in a few deep breaths of that fresh ocean breeze around you and hopefully remind you of why you’re on a boat in the first place.

Namaste.

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Sailing Superstitions Part II

Thursday December 18, 2014

sailing superstitions

It’s that time again!  Time for a large passage and time to get back to the sailing superstitions that surround them.  If you remember, I did a post back in October of the sailing superstitions that we follow ourselves.  But while doing a little research on the topic I came across a few others that I found quite interesting.  And as we leave today on our 3,000 nautical mile passage from Las Palmas de Grand Canaria to either St. Martin or Antigua in the Caribbean, I leave you with a few more of the things we’ll try and stay away from just to keep luck on our side.

 

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!’.

 

 

 

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 fear 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 succumb 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

This is one we have yet to do…but will soon!

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What’s Your Most Exotic Sailing Location?

ESL 3

Having only been sailing on Serendipity for four years, just two of those as full time cruisers, we’ve mostly stuck to the east coast of the US and parts of the Caribbean. Although we’ve been to so many beautiful places and I count myself lucky almost every day that we’re out here living this lifestyle, there haven’t been many places on our list of travels so far that I would categorize as exotic or far flung. In my mind those areas described as unusual or excitingly strange tend to relate to isolated regions of beauty, normally a remote set of islands probably somewhere in the South Pacific. But we had never been any place that met that kind of criteria. At least in my mind at the time.

So when LOOK Insurance Services gave a list of their Top 5 Most Exotic Sailing Locations in the World and asked us to lend them a hand with what we thought our most exotic location was, one area shot straight to the front of my brain. I remembered that we now have been to an area of isolated beauty that’s unfamiliar, fascinating, and definitely romantic. The Atlantic Islands of Portugal.  Lying approximately 800 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal, they should be a top sailing destination for every cruiser and even fit into my mind’s criteria of exotic. Yes they are isolated, yes they are kind of far flung, and Yes, THEY ARE GORGEOUS!!

The specific Portuguese Atlantic Islands I’m including in my list the Azores Archipelago and the Madeira Island Group, and here are a few reasons of why we love them so much.

 

The sea life is amazing.

It never fails that no matter what port we’re in between any of these islands, there are always tours set up for whale watching, dolphin watching, and seal spotting. And with good reason too. They’re everywhere! Coming in to the ports of Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Azores, and Funchal, Madeira, we had pods and pods of dolphins leading the way in. To the point that I actually got sick of watching them, which should really be a felony, because really, how can one ever become sick of watching dolphins glide and jump through the water? Plus even though we arrived fairly late in the season, we actually spotted whales! Short finned pilot whales mostly, but for a couple that couldn’t even spot a single bald eagle while traveling up the Potomac where they’re supposedly hanging off every buoy, getting even one whale sighting in for us was huge.

ESL 2

 

The views from the water are staggering.

I have never been any place that has offered such great views of said place from the water in my life. When you come up on any of these islands from the water you’re normally greeted with sheer cliff drops into the water and rolling green hills of farm and/or white buildings with terracotta roofs flowing inland. It’s almost like stepping back in time to an era before resorts and hotels and super-malls blocking out any area of civilization, to when it was just nature and and the locals living off the land. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some resorts and hotels and mega malls tucked in here and there, but you can’t tell it from looking.  If we didn’t have to go through the trouble of getting in and out of a marina berth, I could honestly spend my days just cruising back and forth along the coastline.  If there was ever an area for daily pleasure cruises, this would be it. 

ESL 1.1

ESL 5

 

The climate is a perfect balance of warm and cool.

You’d think that with such a northern latitude, equivalent to where you’d find yourself in the US anyway, would have fairly cool days and much cooler nights. Not quite, as the Gulf Stream runs just close enough to the Azores leaving them in a subtropical climate all year meaning it is warm but not overly hot. Spending most of August and September in the Azores we’d experience highs in the mid to upper 70′s and low’s in the upper 60′s. Getting to Madeira even later in the season in October, approximately 600 nm south of the Azores, we experienced much of the same there. This meant that the days were warm, even hot sometimes when the sun was beating down on you, but it was never stifling and there were always pleasant sea breezes blowing off the harbor. The nights cooled down just enough that it reminded you fall might be around the corner, that perfect temperature where it’s nice to bundle up in a sweater but know you’ll be able to peel it off the next morning.

ESL 9

 

The landscapes are incredibly diverse

Think of basically any kind of landscape you’d like to see on a trip or vacation, and it’s likely you’ll be able to find it here. Large volcanoes towering out of the sea? Check. Deserts surrounded by beautiful jagged cliffs? Check. Opulent forests sprawling into rolling green hillsides? Check. Golden sandy beaches leading into clear (sub)tropical waters? Check. Isolated villages that look like they haven’t been touched in a hundred years, or large and upscale metropolitan cities? Check and check. At least one area in these islands, and usually multiple, will give you all of these and more. It’s literally the place that offers everything.

ESL 6

 

The cities are like something out of a storybook.

Do you remember the photos I shared from Picturesque Horta? How incredibly surreal and beautiful everything looked? Trust me, that wasn’t just for the cameras. Every direction you turn your head in these areas holds parks, markets, beautiful old world architecture or churches that have been standing for a hundred years, and all of them looked like they were set up to be part of a movie except it was actually real life.  There hasn’t been a single area in any town or village we’ve visited where ours jaws have not been on the floor due to their charm and grace.

ESL 12

ESL 10

 

Island hopping is easy and enjoyable*

Situated in an area with steady north to northeast tradewinds make moving east, west, or south between the islands incredibly easy. Granted, we did most of our traveling through here in the fall where the weather was a little stronger than normal, but plan your visit from mid-late spring through summer and you’ll find reliable 15-20 knot breezes under brilliant sunny skies to carry you from one destination to the next. In the Azores, the nine islands are clustered together in three groups meaning that most sails are within sunrise to sunset distance of each other, but never more than a day and a half apart. Getting between the Azores and Madeira is about a five day travel, but if you’re moving south you’ll have the wind and current at your back to push you smoothly along.

*Don’t base this on our own travels of the area where every weather forecast was wrong and we ended up with strong winds on our nose. That’s not the norm.

ESL 8

 

The cost of living is not very high

I may not categorize this with the extreme cheapness we were experiencing in Central America, but I’d say that our costs here are on par with, or even a little lower than what we were paying in the US.  Our main expenses were groceries and marina charges, and although I might have to consult our monthly costs, I think we’re on average below what we were in Florida.  We’d heard that Europe is expensive, and when we arrived here we were blown away with the cheap prices we’ve been finding everywhere.  I will say that we’ve heard Portugal has the lowest cost of living between countries in the EU, but to only have to pay 1€ for a bag of sandwich rolls, 1€ for a bag of potato chips, 1,25€ for a bag of coffee grounds, or 0,60€ per bottle of beer, we’ve been doing pretty good.

ESL 11

 

I could go on and on about the million other tiny reasons of why we fell so deeply in love with this area. The history, the cleanliness, the safety, plus it’s European flavor. Trust me, the cheap espressos, wine, and cheese have not gone unnoticed.  Plus all of the impromptu (and free) festivals, concerts, and other events always going on.

Needless to say, if the season and our Visas allowed us, we could spend months and even into years enjoying these island groups. Besides Guatemala, it’s the only place we’ve ever seriously considered buying property because we never wanted to leave.

Unfortunately they’re not on a highly traveled cruising route. The best way to get to the Azores is heading east across the Atlantic, although Madeira wouldn’t be too far out of the way for those making their way south upon leaving the Med. So if you ever find yourself with the opportunity to visit any of these islands, hop on that chance right away. I promise it will be something you’ll never regret.

But now that I’ve shared our favorite and most exotic sailing location with you, I’d like to know, what’s yours?

ESL 4

ESL 13

*I will note that if there is one big downside to cruising this area it’s that protected anchorages are very hard to come by. If you sail here be prepared to spend a majority of your time in a marina. The upside to this though is they usually cost a fraction of the price they do back in the States. Our 34 ft boat was usually 14€/night.

 

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Currently In….

Currently in 1

For anyone who’s traveled and tried to keep a blog about it, you know how hard it is to stay up to date with your posts. For anyone who hasn’t, trust me, it’s hard. Keeping busy with activities, finding time to write, and usually trying to hunt down an internet signal can pretty much guarantee that you’re not still in the same spot that you’re posting about.

I hate being behind and if it were up to me I’d always be posting within a week of when events happened. I had actually gotten myself back to that point near the end of our stay in Miami, but one ocean crossing plus writers block, plus a dying computer that now shuts down on me at least once every 30 minutes means I’m not as on top of things as I’d like to be. In fact, right now I’m in the horrible spot that I’m extremely far behind and we’re just about to cross an ocean again. Believe me, I spent hours the first time searching it for a McDonald’s with a wifi hot spot, but I just couldn’t find one.

Now that we’re coming up on our next Atlantic crossing (again), it’s time for my friend Jackie to step in and keep all of you updated with our exact whereabouts and well being from text messages sent from our satellite phone that she then posts on the blog. I’m warning you about this now because I don’t want you to be confused that we were on our way to the Canaries and all of a sudden we’re now crossing the Atlantic. I will get back to those posts as soon as I can, but for the moment they’ll be on hold until we hit land again.

As I said, I hate being more than a week or two behind and even though I have every intention of catching myself up as soon as possible, A.) I still won’t be posting from our current location for a long, long time, and B.) I’m sure it will happen again at some point down the road. To help you avoid confusion on where I’m writing about and where we actually are, I can help you with that in two ways. The first is by checking the top left corner of our blog. Awhile ago I started a section called ‘Currently In -’ that I try and update as soon as we get to a new place so that even if I’m behind on my posting you’ll always know where we are.

The second is to head over to our Facebook page and give us a Like. Getting a quick note up there is obviously much easier than getting a post up on the blog and I’m constantly updating it whenever internet access allows. So make sure to keep an eye on us there, see what we’ve been up to that day, and enjoy more photos that don’t make it onto the blog!

Currently in 2

MJ Sailing FB

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Sailing Superstitions

Wednesday October 22, 2014

SS

As we embark on our next journey from Madeira to the Canary Islands, I’d like to take a moment to talk about sailing superstitions. Let us not forget our last journey to get where we are from Sao Miguel Azores. I swear we did everything right and still had what I consider our worst overall passage to date. Maybe there was something out there I missed and need to pay closer attention to?

Most of the superstitions in the maritime world have been around quite awhile, and based on technology for the modern day seafarer versus our gadget-less ancestors, I can see why. Matt and I often joke that we would not be able to take this kind of trip if technology was even 30 years behind where it is today. Without our satellite phone, electronic navigation and charts, weather fax and even decent VHF radio signals, we would be completely lost. Celestial navigation? Hah, yeah right. Taking a position with a sextant? Nope. Basing our entrance to a tricky harbor on lining up with a building as a guide post that may not even be there anymore? No thanks.

We’ll be the first to admit that we heavily rely on all the tech that’s offered to us today, but it’s easy to see why the mariner’s of yesteryear based a lot of it on fate and superstitions. If I thought that keeping flowers off the boat or speaking to a red head before they spoke to me would give me any kind of control over the situation or guarantee me a good passage, I’d probably do them too. 

I think this quote on an article on Seafaring Superstitions sums up this theory perfectly.

You are a 19th Century mariner, living in the dank, dark quarters of a sailing ship, at the mercy of capricious wind and weather, six weeks from your last sighting of land. There is no marine weather forecast, no radio, no satellite communication; in fact no communication with the world as you knew it for periods ranging from months to years. You are virtually isolated from the rest of humanity. The captain is the absolute dictator; the ship is his kingdom. You and the rest of the crew are serfs. Small wonder you grasp at any support you can, whether real or imaginary.

LOOK Insurance is amassing the largest compilation of superstitions they can find and asked us to give our personal list of what we follow to avoid toil and trouble on the water. So here I will break into two sections, popular superstitions that we follow for particular reasons, and also little ones I’ve made up myself.

 

Well Known Superstitions

Never Leave for a Passage on a Friday

If we ever follow one superstition, this one would be it. This is supposed to be incredibly bad luck, and we’d probably laugh it off if not for all of our modern day fellow sailors I’ve read about that have done just this and encountered the worst storms they’ve ever seen or major damage to their vessel in one way or another. None of these sound worth tempting fate for, and even if we see that a weather window will give us a perfect opportunity to leave on a Friday, we won’t do it. We may try and find a sneaky way around it by leaving at 11:50 pm on a Thursday night, but never ever will will leave on a Friday for any jaunt of more than 100 miles. The first time we encountered this, before even really hearing about the superstition, was our first overnight trip on Serendipity, traveling across Lake Michigan from Muskegon to Milwaukee. Storms of epic proportions, especially for beginner sailors, dodging boats in the Chicago to Mac race, and total sleep deprivation.

We thought we could counteract this superstition, or at least worry about it on someone else’s boat, when we tried to join our friend Luis on his motor vessel last summer for a trip from Guatemala to the Bay Islands of Honduras, leaving on a Friday morning. The trip turned out to be ill fated from the beginning and was aborted before anything could really go wrong. So it stands, never leave for passage on a Friday.

This is an incredibly old superstition with religious background since it was written in the bible that Christ was crucified on a Friday. Other bad days to leave on due to religious affiliation are: December 31st (the day Judas hung himself), the first Monday in April (when Cain slew Able), and the second Monday in August (when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed). Huh. Who knew?

Don’t spit in the Ocean

Spitting in anyone’s face is just plain disrespectful, and Neptune is no exception. Not that we’re the kind of slack jawed yokels that can’t keep our drool in our mouth, we very rarely have any reason to spit, but on the occasions that we do, we keep it in the sink while on passage. While in harbor though is a completely different story, I trust our anchor to keep us safe even though some pretty nasty storms have been thrown at it, and I say ‘Spit away’. Just don’t ever ask me to take that chance while underway. Let’s face it, the ocean, although calm and soothing at times, can also be one crazy biotch. We’ve been back and forth at each others throats sometimes and although I consider us frenemies I’d like to stay on her good side here for the next couple of months, so don’t tell her I’m calling her names behind her back.

SS 2

Think these guys are superstitious about their races?

 

My Personal Made-up Superstitions

Do not trim your hair or nails while at sea

This is supposed to anger Neptune, although I have no idea why. I’d actually never heard this was a known superstition until now, although the funny thing is, I’ve already found it incredibly true. Without even knowing that this act was supposed to bring storms with it, I swear I’ve learned through my own practice that it will in fact do just that. I’m not exaggerating, every time we’ve had a storm while on passage I most likely trimmed or bit my nails the previous day. After noticing this trend on previous sails in the Caribbean I purposely tried it on our Atlantic crossing, and guess what?, we got a storm the next day. I will no longer even think of touching my nails now while on passage. In fact, I’ll actually freak out if I break a nail on accident. I’ve also found out that giving myself a pedicure within a few days of a passage brings storms. Truth is, I’ve noticed that the longer I go without putting pretty little colors on my piggies, the nicer our passages have been. So my nails will now be polish free until we reach the Caribbean.

Use Blistex lip balm for more wind and Carmex for less wind

Do you know where I got this one from? Yup, our Atlantic crossing. I’m not even sure what day into our crossing during my sleep deprived state that I was able to catch on to this little trick, and even if it’s just in my head, I promise it’s worked for me. The days we were in dead calms with barely 5 knots behind us carrying us along, if I put on my favorite Bistex lip balm the wind would pick up a little bit. Now maybe this meant just up to 8 knots where it wasn’t doing us a whole heck of a lot of good, but it was still something. Then on one day when we had one of our rare storms and I couldn’t find my Bistex, I turned to my Carmax instead. I’m not even joking, within an hour the winds died down at least 5-10 knots, which in my book is still soothing when you’re getting cannonballs of water exploding against your hull. I tried this trick again on our sail from the Azores to Madeira, and just and promised, if the winds threatened to stay above 30 I’d just swipe on my Carmex and they’d calm right down to mid 20′s.

SS 1

I’ve had a lot of fun writing this post, and in searching for a little more background on some of these maritime superstitions, I came across this quote:

Animals including particular birds were thought to bestow either bad or

good fortune. Swallows seen at sea signified good luck while curlews and

cormorants were bad luck. And killing a gull, dolphin or albatross was especially

troubling as these creatures were believed to hold the soul of deceased sailors.

All I want to know is….why would you kill any of these animals? Why??!! I hope that it is bad luck to kill a dolphin, you deserve to have your soul stolen if you do.

On another animal side note, who knew that black cats bring good luck at sea? Since Georgie is partially black, I wonder if she brings us partial good luck.

 

What sailing superstitions do you follow or have your made up? I’d also be curious to know, what ones do you blatantly disregard, and why?

Once you’ve thought of your answer, head over to LOOK Insurance and take their boating superstition survey!

racing on Muskegon Lake

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My Top 10 Favorite Galley Items

 

When we first set off from Lake Michigan two years ago, I had big dreams to always be in the galley prepping delicious meals and snacks with all of my newfound free time.  If you’ve been following for awhile, you might know that it was an ill fated dream initially, resulting in things like my previous signature orange spaghetti, or comments from friends of ‘Why don’t we do the cooking tonight?’ or ‘You just supply the drinks, we’ll take care of the food’.  My skills in the galley left a lot to be desired.

Luckily, after spending much of my time watching my friends that actually had cooking competence and slowly learning from them, I am proud to say that my culinary skills are much improved and I might even have a few dishes up my sleeve that you might actually want me to make for you.  Too bad we haven’t had any friends to cruise with lately so I can show off these techniques to more than just Matt and the gatito.

Another luckily for me, is back when I did have these big dreams but no expertise, I had at least outfitted our galley with all the items necessary to prepare some pretty kicka$$ items once the know-how came along, and others that always come out for everyday use. Some of them may have been gathering dust for awhile due to their lack of operation, but now all of them are in full rotation and I couldn’t be happier to have them onboard.   Here you have it, my top 10 favorite galley items.

AeroPress

Aerobie AeroPress   Ok, this is supposed to be in no particular order, but this one really is my favorite, and by far gets the most use. Every morning nowadays, and sometimes multiple times. You might be sick of me talking about it since I’ve already written two posts raving about it, but honestly, it’s just that good. The one thing I recommend each galley has if anyone aboard is a coffee drinker. It’s light, completely plastic, easy to clean, and makes the best coffee ever. Deciding on what present to add to your next birthday list? This should be on there.

Bodum electric water heater

Bodum Electric Water Heater   Even back when we were stuck with some not so fantastic coffee making options, one thing always helped, and it was having this handy little item to boil our water in. We don’t have any kind of kettle on board, so any water would have had to be heated in a sauce pan, and transfered over to the french press/Clever Dripper always resulted in a loss of most of it and sometimes burned fingers. We like this item because it’s quick (boils water in 2 minutes), safe (plastic exterior for no burns, and no rusting!), and doesn’t use up our propane. It’s not just for coffee/tea/coco though.  It also gets used to quickly heat up water to add to our solar shower when we don’t feel like waiting for the sun, or when I need a little hot water to help clean the dishes.  We use AC power to run it, but most of the time, that’s something we don’t have a problem sparing.

gripsticks

GRIPSTIC®  These were something my mother shipped to me while we were puttering down the ICW, and to be honest, not only had I never heard of them at the time, but I had no clue how to use them. Good thing I had my friend Stephanie nearby that came to the rescue with ‘Oh, I think I’ve seen a commercial for these before.’ Now they overrun our galley drawers because I can’t get enough of them. Simply put, they are like Chip Clips, but much more secure, and in every varying size you could need. We use them to close up chip bags, cereal, beans, coffee grounds… anything that comes in a non resealable bag. Just fold a portion of the bag over, slide the clip underneath with the colored plastic covering the top, and continue sliding until you’ve reached the other end of the bag. The best part is you never have to worry about them falling off. Shake the bag as many times as you want upside-down, there is nothing escaping out of there.

OXO Good Grips mixing bowl

OXO Good Grips Mixing Bowl    Another gift from my mother at the same time as the Gripstics, but this was was requested and much needed. I had already found out from our 3 months of cruising at that point how all of our dishes like to slide from one end of the galley to the other. This set comes with three bowls of various sizes, and each is coated with plastic on the bottom to keep it from moving around. Now if I ever find myself cooking in a rolly anchorage (probable) or while on passage at a 5 or 10° heel (hmmm, not as likely), I know that even though I might be hanging on to rails to keep my balance, at least all of my cooking ingredients are staying secure in their bowl.

snapware containers

Snapware Containers   I happened upon these containers as pure accident originally, because I had earned ‘points’ at my previous job and needed something practical for the boat to spend them on. Honestly, I never really even wanted them in the first place. I kept thinking to myself, ‘How boring, I don’t want to use my hard earned points on food storage containers, I want something fun’. But…these are some of my now favorite items in the galley. They’re what I keep my consistently stored items in, from flour to sugar to instant spuds. They always keep my items fresh and there’s never been an issue of moisture getting in. They’re easy to clean, and the separate colors of plastic rings let me easily remember what’s in each one at quick glance.

(I know that Lock & Lock containers are also a very popular choice, and we do have a nesting set of them. I’ll admit that the nesting aspect is very helpful for storage, but I can not tell you how many issues we’ve had of the little side handles almost snapping off when we’ve tried to open them.)

collapsible measuring cups

Collapsible Measuring Cups So…before we left on this trip I kind of got suckered into the ‘collapsible items movement’ that seemed to be the rage among every cruiser I’d read about, and boy was I glad I did. Obviously when you live in a small space you need your items to be small as well to fit in said space, but you also need them to be useful. Even if you never cooked or baked in your life on land, you’ll probably find yourself doing it much more on a boat because fast food restaurants are pretty sparse or even non-existent. Obviously cooking and baking leads to measuring, and who wants a big set of measuring cups taking up precious space in their galley? Not this girl! I love how these fold down to a fraction of their size, plus the fact that they’re silicone makes them super easy to clean.

cutting board

Cutting Board with Strainer   Every cook needs a cutting board and there are a few things that set this one apart for me.  One of them is that it fits perfectly over our sink.  I know this won’t apply to every boat, but for me it’s nice to have something large enough that  tip to tip, it hits the counter on each side and turns an otherwise unusable area into extra work space for me.  The other big draw is the strainer included.  Now whenever I chop vegetables or meat, all the extra scraps get whisked into one spot for easy disposal.

silicone tipped tongs

Silicone Tipped Tongs  I know, how lame, right? A pair of tongs. But I swear, after my spatula, this is the item that gets the number one use in my galley. I use these things for almost every meal I make. They transition from picking up my fried items out of the boiling hot oil in my skillet to quickly and easily flipping pieces of garlic bread in the oven to getting marinated pieces of chicken on and off the grill. They can also be used as salad tongs, or if you’re like Mr. Miyagi, you can even catch flies with them if you’re very skilled. Just kidding. Really though, I do love these things. The silicone part means they never get hot meaning I don’t accidentally burn myself or parts of the boat, and the pin at the end keeps them closed when not in use. Something very handy when drawer space is at a premium.

Scott's shop towel

Scott’s Shop Towels

I am a fully admitted paper towel Nazi. I’m not even ashamed of it, I wear that badge with pride. Because, as we’ve experienced, paper products in the Caribbean can be very expensive and I like to hoard the supply we’ve purchased in the US as much as possible. The great thing is, Scott’s Shop paper towels lets me do that. They are strong and tough, and even when I pass out only 1/4th of a sheet at any given meal, I think I’m still being generous in what I dole out.

We also use them for every kind of clean-up on the boat, and usually a half sheet at a time. I’ve been able to use just that about to wash out, clean, and dry Georgie’s litter box. Sometimes all they need is a little rinse, a good wringing, and just a little bit is good to go all day. I can clean the entire head, and well, only using one sheet. These are the towels that just don’t quit. 

silicone bread pan

Silicone Loaf Pan - This should be a pretty easy one to guess why. What do cruisers do in the Bahamas? They make their own bread. What is the most annoying part about baking bread? Having it stick to your pan where you then have a loaf with irregular chunks taken out of it, and a pan that you spend almost as much time cleaning as you put into making the bread itself. So what makes all of that much less painless? Silicone pans that eliminate sticking! Try them out, they really work.

 

There you have it, the items in my galley that I absolutely cannot live without! But now that I’ve shared mine, I want to know, what are yours?!

 

 

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The Liebster Award

MJ Sailing's Leibster Award

Do you know what I love? Question and answer posts. They’re so simple. No trying to find out how to make your day sound exhilarating or exciting when it hasn’t been, no trying to think of topics that could in any way be exciting (we actually tend to sit around more than we get out), and they give you a glimpse into our lives instead of trying to pick through the hundreds of blog post that are already published to look for the information you really want to know.

I’ve done just a couple of question and answer posts on here before, and I’ll embarrassingly admit that even though some of you were kind enough or curious enough to go on our Facebook page and ask those questions, a few times I may have been left a little short and had to make a few up myself. I know, how lame.  I had to ask myself my own questions in an interview.

So you can imagine my surprise, and my gratitude and pleasure, when we were nominated for the Liebster Award. Don’t worry, there’s no need for me to start thanking the academy yet. We’ve come a long way, but we still don’t have that kind of status yet. The Liebser Award exists only on the internet and is given from blogger to blogger. A fancy chain letter, if you will. Each blogger nominated for the award has the option to accept it or not, and if they do, they thank and link back to whom they were nominated, answer ten questions posed by that person, and pay it forward by nominating up to ten blogs of their own choice and asking those bloggers ten questions to answer.

Since I find it heartwarming that we were nominated, and now learning that the term Leibster comes from German roots meaning valued, endearing, sweetest, and kindness, I will be accepting this award.

Our nomination comes from Mark and Cindy of s/v Cream Puff (thank you for thinking of us!), and here are the 10 questions they have for us:

 

 

Meet the crew. Who are you? Each share something about the other (not on the blog).

We are Matt & Jessica, 32 years old, couple for 14 years, and married for almost 10. We started out sailing six years ago on Lake Michigan, and a year later, realized we wanted to sail off into the sunset, working very hard for the next three years to make it happen. So far we’ve been out cruising for two years, and have decided that we like this lifestyle enough that we’re going to try and stretch our dollar as far as it can go to ensure that it will be quite some time before we have to go back to the rat race that is our former life.

Jessica on Matt: Even though Matt’s pretty good about letting me watch chick flicks whenever I want without complaining (he usually just busies himself on his computer) there are a few of them that he can not stand to have playing if he’s anywhere around. I had to leave The Notebook at our hostel in Peru because he didn’t want it back on the boat.

Matt on Jessica: I don’t think she’ll actually ever learn to play the guitar that was given to her as a Christmas gift years ago. For two years now we’ve been dragging that thing around, and I’ve only seen her pull it out a handful of times.

(Jessica: I’m trying to change that! I really do want to force myself to get into the habit of constant practicing. Rock star status is still in my future!)

 

What advice would you give to a wannabe traveler just starting out?

The first year of cruising is probably going to be the hardest, but if you stick in there, chances are by the time you reach year two, you’ll realize it’s the best thing you could have done with your life. The first year is full of overwhelming transitions, and as it seemed for us, constant boat work and repairs, as well as traveling at lightning speed to cover LOTS of ground, which meant not a lot of time left over for just enjoying life.

By the second year you’ve got most of it figured out, or have at least figured out what you want from the lifestyle. Then the cruising you’ve always dreamed of can really begin. Still with those pesky boat repairs and maintenance. They may dwindle, but they never go way.

Matt & Jessica at Nazca LInes

Can you roll your tongue or wiggle the end?

Yes, we both can both roll our tongues! But only I (Jessica) can fold it in half from left to right, and only Matt can touch his tongue to his nose.

 

What is your favorite restaurant in the whole world?

Boondockers in Glen Arbor, MI. It wasn’t necessarily the food I went there for, although it did always have a live band playing on the weekends, who’s cover of Amie by Pure Prairie League could always steal my heart away. But I think part of the reason I love it so much is because if I was there, it meant I was having the time of my life. That I’d probably just come from climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes or kayaking down the Crystal River. It also meant that right after dinner I had a bonfire on the shores of Lake Michigan, curtained by a sky of stars to look forward to. Plus this restaurant did have a pretty good chicken tenders basket, and all the seasonal beers on tap.

Serendipity in Port Antionio

 

If you sail as a couple, who is really, and I mean really, the captain?

Even though it’s me (Jessica) on paper, it’s Matt on the boat. He knows much more about boats than I could ever possibly learn, or want to. We each have our strengths though, and if sailing the boat is his, then weather reading and preparation is mine. We’re both a little half and half on navigation, where he knows the rules of the road a little better (who has the right of way), but I think I have the edge in map reading.

If you’re wondering why I’m the captain on paper, just try sending a young female through customs and immigration and see how quickly she gets through it, and with how many smiles in return.

 

What are you favorite meals to cook while sailing?

While sailing? That would probably have to be Pop Tarts, since most of the time when we’re underway I can barley get myself below deck to use the head, let alone cook a meal as we’re getting tossed around. If you’ve followed some of our recent posts though, you’ll know that this trip has been incredibly flat and allowed me to move around the galley as if we were at anchor. That being said, passages still make me incredibly lazy, so my number one go to meal would have to be a naked burrito. Use one pan to cook up a few cups of rice, and another to heat up a can of chicken (adding some spices like chili powder, cumin, and garlic if I’m up to it), then add in a can of black beans to heat. Put all these into a bowl and top with salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and voila! A hearty, filling, and easy to prep meal.

 

Who’s idea was it to buy the boat, and how did they convince the other person?

If you refer to our About Us tab, you can get the full story, but buying the boat in general was a mutual decision. We never had the intentions of leaving our lives behind when the first boat was purchased, just something to keep us busy on the weekends and take advantage of the waters of Lake Michigan, instead of just admiring them from the sidelines.

West Harbor, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Our buddy boat armada in Port Antonio, Jamaica

 

Where is your dream destination?

Matt has always had a fascination with the areas that very few people have been to. Unfortunately, they also happen to be, in my opinion, in cold and inhospitable areas. Cape Horn, the Falklands, and the Baltic Sea. Why, Matt, why???!!! I think he likes isolated areas of beauty, but he at least agrees that should we ever make it to those areas, it will not be in Serendipity.

For me, I can’t say. I’ve never had my heart set on any one particular place, there’s so many different areas I’d like to see. But the Mediterranean is one of them, so I’m very excited that we’re on our way there now. I think I’d also like to see the islands of the South Pacific, but again, probably on a different boat than Serendipity.

 

Why did you pick sailing as a form of transportation or hobby (over an RV/camper for instance)?

Why does anyone get into sailing? From far away it’s exotic and alluring. The movies make it look so romantic. Have you seen that scene from Casino Royale where they’re taking their beautiful Spirit 54 into Venice, while James Bond is wearing a preppy pair of chino pants or a cardigan and Vesper has on her cute nautical stripes and tortoise shell sunglasses?

That’s the image that most non-sailors have of sailing. I know it was mine. And just like any advertisements out there, you think by buying into this product, that’s exactly how your life will be.

Vesper sailing

 This is the life I imagined for myself.  I’m getting…..closer.

 

Would you please describe your best sailing day ever?

Usually my best days of sailing involve flat seas, which doesn’t always make for the best sailing. According to people who actually enjoy the sport. There is one day however, that I think satisfies both, and it was sailing the Delaware Bay back when we were only a month or so into cruising. We had just met Brian and Stephanie on Rode Trip, our soon to be cruising buddies down the east coast and half of Caribbean, so it was nice to have someone else, just as young and new as us, making the same trip.

Even though waters on the Delaware Bay are touted to be some of the worst you might come across, we had a beautiful sunny day with only light waves on the water and 15-20 knots of wind in the air. The sails were perfectly trimmed, the ride was comfortable, and the current was pushing us along at up to 8 knots at some points. The scenery may not have been as perfect as some of our Bahamian cruises (still with Brian and Stephanie), but just something about that day holds a special place in my heart.

Read our full post on it here.

Comer Channel Bahamas

Cruising clear Bahamian waters with s/v Rode Trip.

 

I would like to nominate:

 

Skelton Crew – Jackie and Ron, our boating besties, about to set off from Lake Michigan in 2015.

Rode Trip – Brian and Stephanie, our first buddy boat, now also taking on the Mediterranean, in a new and larger boat.

Mondo Vacilando – Chris and Melody, sailing the east coast and Chesapeake while looking for their forever boat.

It’s a Necessity – Genevieve and Eben, along with Arias and Ellia. Cutest little philanthropic family sailing the Caribbean.

Turf to Surf – Ryan and Tasha. From cruising to a Clipper Race, to backpacking, these two cover every form of travel.

Tamarisk RTW – Jason and Piers. Two brothers taking on a circumnavigation on their Sundeer 56, and shoot some truly amazing photos along the way.

Sailing Chance – Kelley and Jason.  With one trip to the Bahamas under their belts, they have hopes of sailing all the way to Colombia one day to open a surf shop.

Sailing Journey – Drena and JR.  Replenishing the cruising kitty and sailing the Chesapeake until they can get back to the Bahamas and beyond.

Hannah and Kyle – British dancers turned backpackers who spent 10 months taking on Central and South America.

 Mr. & Mrs. Globetrot – Julia & Yuriy. Portrait & fashion photographers from Seattle that travel the world and capture the most beautiful parts of it in their breathtaking photos.

 

My questions for you:

Explain yourselves. Take that to mean however you wish.

When is the first time you ever set foot on a sailboat?

Where is the worst place, traveling or stationary, you’ve been with your boat? Not a city/country you visited, but a place you were physically on the boat.

If a genie granted you a lifetime supply of one kind of alcohol, what would you choose?

What’s the nicest thing the other person has done for you while traveling?

If you had the option to transport yourself anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

What did your family say when you told them you were going to up and leave everything in order to travel?

Do you think you’ve found the place you’d like to retire to?

What language do you think would be the most fun to speak, even if you have no plans to learn it?

Outside of the US, where has your most expensive meal been?

 

Opt out questions for our non sailing friends:

What was the most used non-electronic item you packed on your travels?

What was the worst mode of transportation you’ve had to endure?

 

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Trans-Atlantic Q&A

Wednesday August 20, 2014

Fort Lauderdale from the Gulf Stream

Three thousand four hundred miles.  I still can not believe we sailed that distance from Miami to where we sit now in Horta.  I still remember how daunting it all seemed for weeks, even months, before we left.  I spent way too much time over-thinking all the things that could possibly go wrong, and all the rest of my time with my head buried in the sand so I didn’t have to think about it at all.

Yet here we are two months after departing, and we made it across, all in one piece!  To all of you that have told us we’re an inspiration and make you feel like you might one day be able to complete the same passage, thank you so much for your kind words and positive thoughts.  I kind of still can’t believe we made it all the way across here ourselves!

For those of you asking, how did you do it?, rhetorically I’m right there with you.  I’m not sure how we did it either.  Especially for little ol’ moi, who’s not that particularly fond of sailing passages.  But for those of you who had real questions, you asked, and I’m answering!  Here are the most asked questions on our Trans-Atlantic crossing.*

 

Did you bring enough booze?

In short, yes. Unfortunately for me since I enjoy a good sundowner, we have a pretty strict ‘No drinking’ rule while on passage. Matt always wants us at the top of our game so that we can handle whatever might come up while we’re on the water, so getting tipsy is not in the cards. Plus, one good sized drink will pretty much get me there these days. That’s not to say I didn’t sneak in a glass of wine on day 39 though, since I needed a little something to look forward to at that point.

 

Since there is only 2 of you, how did you split up sleeping?

Ever since our first overnight passage on Lake Michigan we’ve been trying to find a sleep schedule that works best for us. We started out with 3-hour-on, 3-hour-off shifts way back when we where headed down teh east coast of the US, but mostly because at that time I didn’t want to be in charge of the sails for any period longer than 3 hours since I didn’t know how to properly trim them myself. The three hours allotted to sleep however was never long enough to fall fully asleep and feel properly rested, so we switched to 4-hour-on, 4-hour-off shifts in the past year, and they’ve worked out well for us.

Matt & Georgie sleeping on passage

 

Did you run into any storms? How did you deal with them?

Between our total 46 days of sailing from Miami to Horta we ran into 4, what I would call storms. The two we had way offshore, on Matt’s Birthday, and halfway between Bermuda and the Azores, were cold fronts passing through. Normally we’d get about 24 hours of winds in the 25-35 kt range, along with seas of 8-12 ft. These ones we actually didn’t worry about so much because we watched them on our Weather Fax and knew they were coming. They built slowly and gave us plenty of time to prepare for the worst part, battening everything down and reefing the sails.

Our 2 storms off the coast of Florida, however? Completely different story. They were both quick, ferocious, and came out of nowhere. The first one we didn’t even see coming until it was on top of us, winds going from 12 knots to 62 knots in a matter of seconds, and then sustaining itself in the mid 40′s for the next 2 hours. For the second one we were given about 30 minutes warning, a broadcast over our VHF that it was moving from inland out to sea. This storm was about 30-40 minutes of 45-50 knot winds and took down all sails and motored directly into it (as best we could) until it passed over.

 

Did anything break?

No. And we are so thankful for that. With that being said though, it’s kind of because we took the coward’s route.  Going south of Bermuda until we reached it and then taking the rhumb line from Bermuda to Horta. Even that didn’t quite work out though when we added an extra 400 nm to our trip by going from 37° North down to 33° North just to avoid a stationary front. While all other boats were taking the most popular route of following the Gulf Stream North until they reach 40° North and then heading East, following the trade winds and currents but also encountering many more storms and strong winds along the way, we stayed in the lower latitudes, hanging out in the Bermuda/Azores high where everything was calm.

storm clouds over the Gulf Stream

Did you ever worry about running out of important supplies? If so, which ones?

I’d say the only supply we were really worried about running out of was diesel which is why we never turned on the engine even though we spent days on end drifting through dead calms, sometimes only covering 35 nm in 24 hours. We only carried 45 gallons with us, and although we refilled in Bermuda, we didn’t want to find ourselves nearing the Azores, in desperate need to use the motor, and finding out we had no more fuel on our hands. We were pretty content to drift in those glass calm conditions though; cooking, reading books, watching movies; so it wasn’t all that bad.

How did you plan for food and water?

The water issue was fairly simple for us since we have an HRO Seafari watermaker on board. We made sure to keep one of our tanks full at all times in case of emergencies, otherwise we’d run the watermaker for 3-4 hours every three days or so to fill up the second tank.

The food took a little more thought and planning. Back in Miami I tried to estimate how long it would take us to reach Horta, ending on 30-35 days, worst case scenario. (Boy was I wrong) From there I planned out meals and how far each of them would get us. A batch of chili could feed us for two days, a homemade pizza would cover two days, naked burritos could go for 1-2, ect. I also planned for days that conditions would be too rough to cook and made sure we had cans of soup, ravioli, or things that could be simply heated up.

I won’t lie, things were looking pretty bleak in the end. Not only did the crossing take 46 days of sailing instead of 35, but we also had 10 unexpected days in Bermuda to feed ourselves through. Plus the only provisioning we did there was a 5 lb bag of rice since that’s about all we could afford. By the time we reached Horta there were still some bags of chicken or ground beef in the freezer to make entrees out of, but the snacks were just about gone and I’d sometimes find myself eating a single dill pickle spear to get myself through to the next meal.

calm day on the Atlantic Ocean

Going non-stop for so long, did you get to spend any time together as a couple?

This question kind of makes me chuckle because most of the time we’re getting asked the opposite question of ‘Didn’t you get completely sick of each other after spending so many days non-stop together?’. But Julie, who asked this question, totally gets the reality of it. The truth is, during this crossing it felt like we never got to see each other at all. Due to sleep schedules alone we were only awake together about 8 hours day. Add a few naps to that number since we never felt fully rested, and that number was much closer to 4 to 6 hours together a day. In our at-anchor life, we spend 14 to 16 hours together a day.

The truth of the matter is, it was actually incredibly lonely out there. Weeks on end with only four to five hours a day to share it with someone. There were so many times I felt like being selfish and waking Matt up before his sleep shift ended just so I could have the company. I was like that mother that pokes her sleeping child, just so it will wake up crying and she can then spend her time soothing it back to sleep. I never did, but I came close a few times.

Did you ever feel your insignificance as this small little spec during your crossing?

During our crossing I kept waiting for this poinient moment. The one where you realize how expansive this earth actually is, or what a small role you actually play in it. For all the deep philosophical questions to come to mind of Why are we here, Are we the only ones in this vast emptiness of space? and so on.

I never experienced these, but then again, maybe I never had the chance to feel cut off. Our boat was full of electronics, and we used them all the time. My afternoons were spent choosing from hundreds of downloads on my e-reader, nights were spent listening to downloaded podcasts. Every two days we’d send out a text message to family members via our satellite phone, and receive messages in return.

We were never cut off. Therefore, we never felt completely alone, utterly insignificant, or hell, even have time to ponder why we’re here.

 

*With a few last minute questions coming in, I’ll probably be posting a Part II.  Let me know if you have more questions and I’d be happy to answer them along with the ones I couldn’t get to in this post. And to the gentleman who asked what’s the most we’ve traveled in a day in all our days sailing, it was 176 miles while riding the beginning of the Gulf Stream from Isla Mujeres, Mexico toward Key West, Florida.  If only they could all be like that.

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