A Stylish Cruising Wardrobe FROM a Cruiser

If there is something I’ve learned from my time cruising (and now my two years in a work yard), it is that I am not meant for athletic wear.  Not all the time anyway.  I know the outfit d’jour of many ladies out on the water is some breathable blend of wicking and quick drying tops and bottoms, but honestly, I became tired of that quite quickly.  There were days I actually missed going to the office if for no other reason than to wear something nice.  Something that accentuated my body and made me feel stylish and womanly.  Since we’ve been preparing to depart once more, I have made it my mission to add more dressy and feminine pieces to my wardrobe, also trying to make them functional for the cruising lifestyle.  Luckily, I have had some really good help in this department.

A former cruiser herself and no stranger to the desparities of trying to dress yourself while living on a sailboat, Elizabeth Hynes has come up with a line of clothing that perfectly suits the traveling woman.  Clothes that are breathable, wrinkle free, compact, and most importantly, interchangeable. There was born one of my new favorite design lines.  Vacay Style.  Multiple collections named after far away destinations that lets you have a wardrobe full of endless looks all from just a few pieces.  The concept is you start with one collection, usually made of five outfits, pair it with two of your own essentials, such as a plain white top and a universal pair of paints, and voila!, you can now mix and match to your heart’s desire.  With many of the outfits being made of two pieces, you can match the top or bottom from that outfit with one of your essentials, or even between outfits in the collection.

Take the new St. Martin line for example, the most recent one I have been trying out.  From this five piece collection, along with two of your essentials, you can create 18 looks!

St Martin Collection - Vacay

Although the theme of picking two essentials as your mix and match additions is geared toward the suitcase traveler (saving you incredible amounts of space in your bag), I have found I have a large array of what could be my two essential items to mix and match, giving me endless possibilities for new outfits.  For this post’s sake though (and to show how you can make 18 outfits from only 7 pieces) I chose I white crew neck top, and a pair of light gray skinny jeans.  Below you’ll see how I’ve paired them with the five outfits in the collection.

Starting out we have the Ikat Dress.  At first glances it would look like a normal, albeit gorgeous, one piece dress.  And when worn together it does make for one stunning piece of artwork on your body, perfect for a dinner out or wandering the streets of Palm Beach (we all make it there at some point, right?), but it can also separate into two pieces, pairing with your essentials for a very different, casual chic look.  Before receiving the pieces I was worried that I would rarely get use from the skirt portion because I tend to live and travel in such warm climates. I thought I might be too hot and uncomfortable, but it turned out to be the exact opposite.  With slits on each side of the leg, the skirt is very ventilated while also keeping my legs covered from the sun.  I’ve found out that I’m actually cooler with it on than a pair of shorts!

Vacay Style Ikat dress

Vacay Style Ikat skirt white top

Vacay Style Ikat top and pants

Next is the convertible maxi dress.  A flash of bold in this outfit which starts out as a long and flowing strapless dress, but folded down and paired with a top, becomes an adorable maxi skirt.  I’ll admit, I was a little frightened by this pattern at first because I didn’t know if I could pull it off.  But as soon as I slipped it on and wore it down to our patio for dinner with friends, I received nothing but compliments.  It fits the body in all the right places without being too tight, and is extremely comfortable to wear.

Vacay Style St. Martin convertible dress 1

St. Martin convertible dress and white top

St. Martin convertible dress 2

One of the pieces that drew me to this collection the most is the wrap dress.  Very trendy, great for dressing up or dressing down, and of course perfect for pairing with multiple other pieces.  The real kicker on this outfit is the skirt can be hitched up and worn as a top!  An actual three-fer from this dress that looks just as beautiful separated as it does together.

St. Martin wrap dress

white top and St. Martin wrap skirt

St. Martin wrap skirt as top

St. Martin wrap dress top & pants

One of my favorite pieces of the collection, even if it is a little unconventional for boat life (at least, our ‘ always anchored out, take the dinghy in’ king of boat life), is the white lace dress.  It comes with a spaghetti strap slip to wear underneath, making  it the perfect roaming around outfit for when we do hit St. Barths, but if I just want to wear it to the beach, the slip comes off and it turns into an eyelet coverup.

Just as cute and ready to wear anywhere, beach or wandering the islands, is the Racer Back Dress.  Made of super comfy  and lightweight rayon jersey, this little piece will make you feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.  It makes a great coverup for throwing on over your swimsuit, or if you want to take it to another level you can knot the end by your waist and throw on a pair of shorts or pants underneath.

Vacay Style white lace dress

Vacay racerback

Here’s where it gets really interesting though!  In the St. Martin collection, you can even mix and match the pieces between themselves!

Vaycay Style Ikat top and blue skirt

St Martin convertible dress

wrap dress top & Ikat skirt

Suffice to say, I feel like I hit the jackpot when I got this capsule wardrobe.  The items are very stylish, just as I had wanted; versatile, which is incredibly important when I can only live on enough clothes to fit in a suitcase; wrinkle free, which means I don’t have to worry that I have no hanging locker for them in the boat; and so light, soft and breathable.  I love the fact they are so comfortable to wear.  I’m now able to actually dress myself up while still feeling like I’ve just pulled on my comfiest pair of lounge clothes. Vacay Style has been a total winner for me and should be at the top of the list for any cruising female that would like to get out of her spandex and feel a little sexy again.

(Buy any five pieces from any collection, and a 20% discount will automatically be applied to your shopping cart!)

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Watch Us Now on YouTube!

That’s right, we’re transitioning ourselves to be vloggers!  Waiting until the boat renovation is only a few short months from completion (I know, I know, we should have started earlier), we’ve finally taking the plunge into recording our lives through video as well as writing.  We’d had the idea for a long time, although honestly, after watching the countless hours our friends the Sailing Conductors put in to filming for their documentary series on Soundwave2Berlin, we didn’t think we could handle all the extra work at the moment that comes with bringing out a camera every time you go to do something.  At least, that is the lesson we took from observing our German friends.

With so many fellow boat workers, bloggers, and blog followers passing through our yard though, we’d always get the question of ‘Why don’t you two do videos?’, and we’d explain it away that it appeared to be just as big of a project as the boat we’re overhauling, and if we did decide to eventually do it, it would be way down the road once we were on the water again.  It wasn’t until our new friends Cat & Will of Monday Never came to spend a few days at the marina while selling their boat where we watched them film a few short clips here and there, and talked the logistics of it that it dawned on us that maybe a video series would be possible at the moment.

Another month or two of failed attempts to actually hit the record button on the camera while we were working, I gave myself a ‘publish by’ date for our first episode and finally started filming.  Only two weeks behind my self appointed date, I’ve kept that promise. Video-logging is a completely different world from Web-logging, and we’ll definitely be spending a little time learning the ropes as we continue to capture our lives in motion.

What does this mean for the blog?  Don’t worry, it’s not disappearing.  As we finish work on Daze Off, I’ll make sure to publish the same amount of posts featuring the work with the same (fairly) detailed explanations as I always have.  Once we’re on the water and travelling I will try to keep up with two posts a week on the blog, in addition to the 2-3 videos I hope to publish each month on YouTube.  Ambitious?  Definitely.  But at least it will keep us busy and we’ll never be able to complain about being bored again.  Partially what got us into this boat remodel in the first place.

We hope you enjoy our very first episode of Welcome to the Boat Graveyard.  If you like what you see, please subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss any future videos.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Stuck in Marina Rubicon

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It turns out there is a reason people don’t stay anchored in Isla de Lobos long, and the swell we kept hearing about decided to rear it’s nasty little head after 2 nights of staying there.  Only 3 miles away was our now favorite spot of Playa de Papagayo, and we were not sad at all to have to spend just a few hours getting back there.

It wasn’t hard spending our days laying out at the beach, and our evenings in the cockpit with a glass of wine, watching the volcanic rocks turn red around us.  We were still a few days away from being able to move ourselves to Gran Canaria when the ARC left, we didn’t want to be around there with that mass of boats, but it turns out we did have to move ourselves regardless of if we wanted to.

With a heavy storm on it’s way and our boat about to be pinned against a lee shore, we had no other option but to move ourselves to the fancy Marina Rubicon.  It’s kind of funny.  I remember not liking it a ton when we were originally there, maybe it was just being forced back into a marina when all we wanted to do was be at anchor; but now that I look back on it, it was a beautiful place to be!

You can find the original post here.

Friday November 21, 2014

Besteaver 18 in Marina Rubicon

Although we could have stayed in the Papagayo Peninsula forever, or at least until the madness that is the ARC leaves Las Palmas and we can move ourselves there, mother nature seemed to have other plans in mind. On Wednesday morning we were commenting how the wind was coming out of the south and kicking up a bit of swell, making things on Serendipity just a bit more uncomfortable than they had been even the few previous days. It became a bit of a game through the morning, to see how much we could tolerate. The only other option other than to put up with it would be to move ourselves to a marina and we were on a kick to see if we could go our whole time in the Canaries without having to enter one.

We were enjoying our second cup of coffee out in the cockpit, watching the waves coming our way starting to form cresting white tops, and both of us knew the game would be coming to an end as this was not only becoming unbearable, but possibly dangerous to stay. Calling Marina Rubicon on the VHF we asked if there were open slips and told them we were on our way and to expect us shortly. As Matt made his way up to the bow to raise the anchor it was diving in and out of the waves and splashing water all over him as I had to rev up the rpms just to get us moving far enough forward to bring it up. When I finally got the hand signal that I could start making my way to the marina I looked at the instruments in time to see the wind gusting over 40. Fully exposed to this as we were, we were grateful that we didn’t wait any longer than we had to try and get out of there.

Navigating the narrow entrance to the marina with waves now rolling on every side of us, we tucked into a slip just in time to watch the sky grow completely black and the winds really take off. Rains bucketed down and I had the satisfaction of enjoying this tremendous storm from somewhere safe now. When conditions settled down a little later we found our way up to the grocery store, something we were going to have to come to this side of town for in the next few days anyway, and stocked Serendipity back up with breads, meats, and even some cheap wine and sangria. For the rest of the night we let the rain rocket outside while the pressure dropped significantly, as we sat calmly at the dock enjoying a nice dinner and the use of internet. Hot showers followed which was almost, almost, worth the trip into the marina itself.

Conditions were not expected to improve the following day, in fact there were signs posted everywhere about the low pressure system moving through the area and mariners should take caution and put extra lines and fenders out to protect from possible damage. One night at the marina turned into two, and although we tried to enjoy our easy access to land again, nothing but dark skies and rain followed for another day, forcing us to sit on the boat, computers on lap, glasses full of sangria. Well, for me anyway.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

storm over Marina Rubicon

Today the clouds finally broke lose and let the sun out again. Being the guests who stay just until the moment of check-out, we used our morning for a nice leisurely walk back to the grocery store to stuff our bags with everything we couldn’t the day before, and take one last hot shower. It is a little sad that bad weather had to force us in here as the grounds actually look very nice for when you can get out and enjoy them. There’s a nice pool surrounded by lounge chairs, an outside market set up two days a week, and a lovely path that runs from the marina almost all the way to where we had been previously anchored. The marina is in fact set in a community, full of white washed condos and apartments, which is probably why the cost to stay here is twice as high as any marina we found in Portugal (or that you can find in the rest of the Canaries, so we hear).

We tried to get as much out of our sunny morning as we could, wandering all the paths and looking at the much more expensive and better kept yachts on the far side of the marina. Matt even found a Besteaver sitting in one of the slips. A certain type of aluminum boat that he’s been drooling over for a few years now. And not only that, but it happened to be the same exact one that he has multiple photos of downloaded to his computer, of this particular boat floating through icebergs in the Arctic. I think these photos are meant to show me what our aluminum boat might be capable of, although I still have little to no desire to see ice floating by me from the deck of my own boat. Stick me on ’18′ as crew or charter for a few weeks on a trip to the Arctic  though and that’s something I might be able to get into.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

Besteaver 18

paths around Marina Rubicon

paths around Marina Rubicon

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Throwback Thursday: Our Never Ending Atlantic Crossing: Aka We Bought a New Boat & We’re Headed Back to Florida

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

So how did we get ourselves in the mess we’re currently in?  Having spent ONE YEAR now working on this boat we spotted after just arriving to Ponta Delgada in the Azores.  Had we known the project was going to be this big or take this long, we may have reconsidered, had we had all that information while we were still on the east side of the Atlantic.  Cruise the Med in a perfectly good boat that we had just gotten across an ocean?  Or take a chance on a boat that had amazing potential, but also a few defects that we knew of which would needed to be addressed in addition to the complete face lift we wanted to give her.

In the end I’m sure you can tell what we decided since we’re not currently sitting in the Greek islands or floating though Malta, but this post will help to give a better explanation of how and why we made that choice.

*Let it be noted that we still love this boat and what it will eventually become. She’ll hopefully be as wonderful to us as we’ve tried to be to her, and I envision many great seasons on her once we finally get out of here. Just with a lot more effort than what  we originally thought.

You can find the original post here.

 

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So it looks like after all of our hard work to get ourselves from Miami to the Azores, we will not be sailing the azul waters of the Mediterranean this year. Or next. Maybe the year after that.

This is because we are now turning our butts around and hightailing it back to Florida. What?! I know, something about that state just has a certain pull on us. We also have something waiting for us there in the form of 37 feet of aluminum hull.

But I am getting way, way ahead of myself here, let me back up a moment. First just let me say that we love Serendipity. She’s been a great boat to us and we’ve never been openly seeking to get rid of her. I just happen to be married to a man that spends a fair amount of hours cruising Yacht World, just for fun and just to see what’s out there. A little pastime of his. I have blogging…he has researching boats for sale.

We’ve known since we bought her that Serendipity would not be our forever boat, but she fit the bill for what we were looking to do at the time. A young couple that could comfortably cruise around for a few years in 34 feet. In the back of our minds though, there’s always been what we want in our next boat. The next boat will have a bigger galley (me), preferably be an aluminum hull (Matt), have more general storage (me), and have a pilot house (Matt). Plus we both agreed that an extra 8 to 10 feet would be pretty nice, something we can grow into and maybe eventually start a family on. Nothing that we needed right away, but something to keep an eye out for in case it came along.

Well, it did. While sitting in Horta, just as we were about to cast off the lines to sail the remaining 1,200 miles to Gibraltar and really begin our European cruising, my ever searching hubby came across a 48 foot aluminum boat with a pilot house sitting back in Rhode Island for a very affordable price. Introducing the idea of this new boat to me, I was a little less than enthusiastic about not only giving up on Europe, which I’m dying to see, but crossing back over the Atlantic so we can get this new boat and probably have to spend a year working in restaurants or Bed Bath & Beyond to build up the kitty again. When I say it was affordable all I mean by that is we have the money to buy it, but it would have taken up just about all of it.

This would be however, our f-o-r-e-v-e-r boat. Worth the sacrifice in the end, so I told him to go ahead and put an offer on it. A little bit of a low ball offer, and I’m not sure what I was expecting from it, maybe a big ‘eff you!’ from the current owner, but imagine my surprise when the broker came back the next day stating our offer had been accepted.

But wait? Didn’t you just say that this new boat is 37 feet and sitting in Florida? Yes, I did. Keep following along, I promise I will explain everything and it will all make sense in the end.

With this 48 foot boat we were not going to have a survey done since it was recently purchased by it’s current owner and a full survey had just been done last October. We felt comfortable that this recent survey along with a disclosure agreement from the owner, as well as a flight from Matt to view it in person, would be enough for us. When the disclosure agreement came back though we found there was corrosion by the stern tube, information that was not on the listing and we had no prior knowledge of. The current owner had already had a quote done for repairs, and with this new cost added to it we didn’t know if it was still in our budget. It was something we wanted to mull over for a few days.

Thinking about it long and hard we decided that we’d go back to the owner and say that if they were willing to lower the price to cover half the cost of repairs we’d still take it. Unfortunately the owner was quite firm on the price, especially since our initial offer was already at the bottom of what he’d be willing to sell for. We were disappointed but at the same time could understand. We thanked him and moved on. It appeared as if the Mediterranean was still in our future, but now we were two weeks even further behind. Fall weather was coming along and those last 1,200 miles were not looking too appealing. Seeing there were very high winds sitting between us in Gibraltar, we decided to break up the trip and get ourselves to Sao Miguel, an Azorean island 150 miles east of Faial.

The trip was a quick 36 hours, but still gave Matt enough time to think about this new dream boat that he was letting slip through his fingers. As soon as we pulled up to the docks in Ponta Delgada and aquired an internet signal he was online with the broker stating that we’d take the boat, corrosion and all, for the originally agreed upon price. Au contraire….., things do not always work out the way we hope. During our little sail in the Azores, other potential buyers had gone to see this boat and new offers were coming in. We found ourselves in the middle of a bidding war, and even though we had upped our previous offer by 5k, we still lost in the end.

To say that Matt was let down would be a complete understatement. The next 48 were spent with him sulking about Serendipity, lamenting how he screwed it all up. The overcast skies and rain we were getting complemented his mood perfectly. So while he was going back to his favorite pastime of hunting new boats on Yacht World, his mood cheered a little when he found a 37 foot aluminum boat with a pilot house, sitting in Florida, with a very affordable price tag. He was so hopeful and excited when he looked at me with big saucer eyes, asking if he could put an offer on it, that there was no way I could turn him down. Just to see what we could get away with though, and I think part of me still hoping that we’d make it into the Med, we put in an extremely low offer of ten thousand less than the asking price.

This broker was very quick and efficient and within a few hours we had a counter offer splitting the difference between the two. The big saucer eyes turned me to again. I knew it was all over. Just like when Matt knew we’d be coming home with a cat the moment we walked into the rescue shelter in Georgia two years ago, I knew we’d be heading back to Florida with a new project boat on our hands.

Ok, now for the details! Our new boat is of French design, a custom built Trisalu 37, built in Quebec in 1983. It’s a shoal draft cutter that has a center board with a draft of 7′, but when raised we’ll be down to 3’6”. Something that will be great for the Caribbean. One of the things Matt likes best about it is the deck salon, and was a big selling point for us. There’s been recently replaced sails and engine, but there are definitely areas that need work as well. We’ll be going through and replacing all the wires and hoses, and transferring over some random items from Serendipity, like the water maker. To see a list of all her features, check the link here.

This new purchase is definitely going to be a project boat for us. As Matt likes to say, it’s basically going to be a gut and rebuild. But we’ll be able to make it exactly how we want it, so I think it will be worth all the time and the effort in the end.

So what does all this mean for Serendipity? She’ll be coming back to Florida with us where she’ll promptly be put up for sale. The plan is to get ourselves to the Canary Islands shortly, spend a few months exploring them, and then depart in December or January with a planned landfall of St. Martin. From there we’ll do a bit of quick island hopping on our way north, hopefully still making visits to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, skipping the Bahamas, and getting ourselves to the new boat sometime in March.

This is definitely a huge change in plans for us, which is why I told Matt that I’m never making plans again. They just never happen. So if you ask what we’re going to do when this new boat is ready to cruise, I really couldn’t tell you. We might hang around the Caribbean or we might do another Atlantic crossing, finally seeing Europe. I don’t think we’ll know until we’re out on the water and we’ll see how we feel at that point. I do know however that this extra time back in the States will allow us a visit out to my parents in Arizona (who I haven’t seen in almost two years!!), possibly a visit back to Michigan to see friends and family there, but best of all, a chance to cruise with our boating besties, Jackie and Ron of Skelton Crew, who should be arriving in Florida with their boat just as we’ll be getting ready to toss off our lines. And isn’t that worth going back for just in itself?

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Throwback Thursday: Touring Faial by Scooter

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

As soon as we set foot on land in Horta, we were in love.  This was our first taste of Europe, and even though we were still 800 miles from the mainland, this cute little town had touches of it all over.  There was a little wandering and Coca-Cola drinking our first evening in, and the next day was spent exploring the streets by foot on what has been nicknamed Blue Island.  Getting our bearings, finding the grocery store (and stocking up on Portuguese beer!) our afternoons were spent running errands or  just relaxing at the boat, and during our evenings we took in the events of Sea Week.  A yearly celebration that brings in hundreds to thousands of yachters and landlubbers alike.  The week ended with a great celebration of a full moon rising over the peak of Pico, and even a ‘fireworks’ celebration.

On this particular day we decided we’d like to see more than just the harbor where our boat was sitting.  Checking out a few local scooter rental shops, we picked one up for a 24 hour opportunity to tour the island.  Wow, seriously one of the best days we’ve ever had cruising.  I’d never seen so much diversity and beauty within such a small span of land.  If we  hadn’t been thinking about permanently setting down roots here before,  this day was very tempting to make it happen.  If we didn’t have such nomadic souls….

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday August 12, 2014

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Today we decided to splurge on a little treat for ourselves and rent a scooter to tour the island of Faial. Having done a bit of research the previous day and then visiting a few of the rental shops this morning, we found that prices were basically the same whether you were on the main strip or off on a little side street. 18€ for a half day, or 25€ for 24 hours. We chose the latter. As we found in Key West, provisioning trips to the store are much more fun with a scooter at your disposal.

With having done the research on getting the scooter itself, I had kind of forgotten to do research on what to see with it at our disposal. I had no idea how long it would take to drive around the whole island, if that’s what we decided to do, or how long we’d want to be out before we tired of joy riding, so I only picked one sightseeing stop and left it at that. From our 19 year old Imray guidebook, which I’m ashamed to admit is the only placed I looked for things to do in Faial, one item had stood out to me while reading it over and over again on our crossing, and that was the caldeira. The sunken crater left behind by Faials volcanic cone. Our guide book touted it with the best views on the island and a perfect place to hike, stroll, or even enjoy a picnic lunch. Should we only have time to fit one big sightseeing stop in, I wanted that to be it.

Gathering information from the tourist information office that morning, along with multiple maps and directions, as soon as we had the keys to our scooter, we were off on the road that would take us there. Little did I know that the views taking us there would be almost better than what we found at our destination. Taking the well paved and well traveled road that led east on the island, we wound and rose up hills while breathtaking views of the harbor and town unfolded below us and I was pestering and poking Matt to pull over to the side of the road so I could get photos. Pulling over to one grassy spot and standing in awe for five minutes while other motorist made way for us, we found an even better spot another mile or two up the road. This one even came equipped with statues and an overlook. I guess I’m not the only person who thought this view was worth taking in.

Matt renting scooter in Faial

overlooking Horta, Azores

scenic overlook to Horta, Azores

Now that we were beginning to climb in altitude and were no longer blocked by the hills surrounding us, the winds began to pick up to something fierce as we rode along. The light and airy tank that I had been sweating through down in town was now doing little to keep me warm, and my helmet, although securely attached, was now starting to blow back off my head, forcing me to hold on to the scooter with one hand and constantly readjust with the other. Passing out of the farmlands and green fields, we entered the forest part of Faial where large ceder trees sprouted around us and fresh earthy scents filled the air. Both of us were dumbstruck by this sudden change and diversity and beauty. Simultaneously our thoughts suddenly changed to, ‘Do you see any property for sale, because I think we need to move here’.

overlooking Pico, Azores

hydrangea filled road on Faial, Azores

The ceder forests gave way to more winding roads with stunning views of Sao Jorge and Pico, with green hillsides and blue hydrangeas leading the way. It was almost too much beauty to handle, it seemed like something out of a fairy tale. On we pressed though, closer to the caldeira, and further on in altitude and dropping temperatures. As we pulled into the parking lot full of tourists for the caldera I doubt it took me two seconds to grab my windbreaker out of my backpack and put it on. From there we wandered through a small tunnel that brought us out to a viewing platform for the caldera, full of plaques listing the history and different kinds of flora and fauna to be found in the area. It was a nice view, although a little crowded, and even though we were clad in flip-flops, we decided we wanted to walk the rim to the highest point for even better views.

Trotting down the dirt path and occasionally stepping over rocks and up sometimes muddy slopes, we made it to the top of the caldeira just in time to enjoy 60 seconds of a remarkable view before the clouds rolled in and draped us in fog. Taking in as much of the 360 degree view as possible, we noticed that we were quickly the only people left there and wondered if something nasty was moving in since all the other hikers had already made a hasty decent back down to the parking lot. We quickly joined them, bathed in sunshine once more at the bottom, and hopped back on the scooter to see what else we could gawk at that day.

The caldera sits right in the middle of the island and we chose to take a route north and then drive the remaining circle around the island back to Horta. For the most part we were on paved roads, although we did take one dirt path just off from the caldeira that would lead us out to civilization again. Of course it had to be an area that we were taking a somewhat steep decent, a blast in a rally car I’m sure, but not the best thing for rental scooters. Inching carefully forward it wasn’t until we were about 100 feet from level ground that we wiped out in the reddish soil. Luckily neither of us were badly hurt, although Matt did end up with a few new scrapes, and we’re pretty sure the ones on the bike had already been there. Soon enough though, we were back out on a main road, one that completed a higher elevated circumnavigation of the island.

caldera, Faial, Azores

caldera, Faial, Azores

As we were winding up the hill, passing under leafy green trees and gorgeous ocean views off to our side, I figured this was the perfect time to blurt out ‘Happy Anniversary!!’. I knew Matt wouldn’t have remembered this date. No, it’s not our wedding anniversary (although our 10 year is coming up this December, woohoo!), that one I’ve ingrained in his mind long ago. This was our two year cruising anniversary. It hadn’t even hit me until we had been out for an hour or two that morning, and even though it happened accidentally, what a perfect way to celebrate. Wow, to think of how far we’ve come in the past two years. From our familiar stomping grounds of Lake Michigan, all the way down the East Coast, touring the northern part of the Caribbean, and now all the way over here. And to think I had been ready to throw in the towel at 10 months. To keep going is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

seaside town in Faial, Azores

 

While making our gorgeous drive back to Horta through small villages and sea side towns, we passed a sign on the road that had a set of binoculars, meaning there was some kind of overlook or sightseeing attraction, and we thought, ‘Why not?, let’s check it out’. Just like on our way up to the caldeira, the road leading to this new spot almost looked better than what could have been waiting for us at the end. Resort buildings that were alluring but not over the top, more cedar lined streets, and old world stone buildings with bright blue shutters. What we found waiting for us at the end of the road was just icing on the cake.

If the cedar forest was varied from the quaint towns on the coast, we had just stepped on to Mars. The area the signs had been leading us to was the Vulcão dos Capelinhos or ‘Little Cape’, a monogenetic volcano (so Wikipedia tells me). I didn’t really know what it all meant at the time, all I knew is that it was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen and completely not at all what I was expecting. This area is part of a volcanic eruption that lasted from September 1957 until October 1958 that enlarged the area by 2.4km with volcanic ash. Over 2,000 people had to be evacuated, many moving to the US or Canada.

What’s left of the area now is desert and sand with backdrops of large sandy and rocky cliffs that range from golden beige to espresso brown to burnt red. There’s a lighthouse that overlooks all of it, and at the bottom of the road leading to the coast is a portioned off swimming area between large jagged rocks. Following the other groups of loiterers, we trekked up the steep sandy hill to the top of the barren landscape. The views only got better the higher we climbed, and we marched through the dust and stones to find one spot that looks north over the coast and a staggering colorful cave with lush green hills just behind it. I could have stared at that view all day without it ever getting old.

Lighthouse do Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Lighthouse at Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

Capelinhos, Faial, Azores

 If it wasn’t for the fact that it was turning into late afternoon and we still hadn’t eaten yet, our lunch still packed inside the scooter sitting in the parking lot, I probably would have. Back down the hot and dusty hills we went, the lack of food and water so far for the day finally catching up with me. Stumbling back to the scooter I kept repeating to myself ‘I’m going to die. Holy crap, I’m going to die. Feet don’t fail me now.’ I made it back to the scooter without collapsing and we rode the half mile down to the natural oceanic pools where we dug into our sandwiches and watched the families on holiday. Matt was lucky enough to have worn swim trunks out for the day and even took a dip in the refreshing water.

I think it’s safe to say that even having the highest of expectation of Faial, it continues to blow them all way. Around every corner is something new and unexpected and stunning. I’m not lying when I say I think I could put roots down here. Turn that scooter around I think I saw a place for sale next to the stone house with the blue shutters!

*I’ve only used a small portion of the photos from today in this post, make sure to stay tuned for Picturesque Faial to see more!

Matt diving into natural pool in Azores

family at natural pools, Faial, Azores

natural swimming areas, Faial, Azores

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Throwback Thursday: Fish On!

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week we happen to be on the road, or on the water doing a delivery actually, so the backstory will have to wait until I can get back to my computer with internet access.

You can find the original post here.

Monday July 14, 2014

I hate to admit to myself, but mostly you, how very easy it is to become incredibly lazy on a passage. The sad part is that it has nothing to do with fear of seasickness or of moving around the boat too much. It’s just your everyday garden variety of ‘It is so much easier to sit here and do absolutely nothing than to put effort into anything at all’. Which is probably why we’ve let ourselves drift along at this sad pace, achieving an average of 2.5 knots of speed. Today though, that had to change. It was time to bring out the spinny. I have to confess, it probably would have come out sooner had it not been for our dinghy blocking the forward hatch where we’d normally feed it out of the v-berth, but now we have to drag it back an extra five feet to feed it out of the other hatch. Either way, we finally got up the motivation today to give it a try.

It wasn’t even until late afternoon that we were able to give it a shot because of our sleep schedules. That’s the real kicker of these passages. By the time both of us are finally awake it’s normally two in the afternoon, and once we have the energy to actually do anything it’s already creeping past four or five. Which gives me a good two hours to be productive before it’s time to make dinner and then go to bed. So just like any other mostly lazy day, the spinnaker was not brought out until five in the afternoon.

*I should quickly mention that even though we’ve passed through about two time zones now, we have yet to change our clocks. Part of it is to do with keeping a schedule that allows Matt to be awake at the right times to download our weather, and the other part is, well, laziness. Whichever way you look at it though, it’s been leaving us with 4:30 am sunrises and 6:30 pm sunsets.

Just as the sun was starting to make it’s evening decent into the sky we were finally running the lines to the cockpit, hoping to get a good 2-3 hours of flying it before it was time for me to go to bed and it would need to be taken down. There is just no way that thing is worth messing around with in the dark.  Winds were currently holding at 6-8 knots, and although raising the spinnaker would not send us flying along, we thought it would be enough to hopefully kick us up to 3.5 knots. Something has to be better than nothing, right? I won’t call what happened next Murphy’s Law, but I’ll just call it Our Luck. We had just gotten the spinny raised and flying perfectly when the wind took a dip. Our 6-8 knots turned to 5-6, and then eventually 3-5. We kept it up for about 30 minutes, hoping a nice breeze would come by to fill it in, but it never did. So back down it came. It looks like we really will be completing this leg of the crossing at 2.5 knots.

 

Oh, I also had the shock of my life when I was on my shift last night and I heard a loud and expected clunk just feet from where I was sitting. I checked all the lines with a flashlight to make sure nothing had snapped, but I couldn’t see anything wrong. It wasn’t until I came back out during daylight that I was able to see fish scales sitting on the vinyl of the dodger. That must have been a pretty good jump! There was no body left on deck though, or trust me, Georgie would have found it.

fish scales on dodger

 

Tuesday July 15, 2014

Did this day actually exist in history? Because I don’t remember anything happening.

fish swimming next to boat

fish swimming next to boat

 

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Today was shaping up to be yet another forgettable day on Serendipity with only 550 miles under our keel since leaving Bermuda just over a week ago. I had my morning coffee, Matt was realizing a few things he messed up while working on boat projects yesterday (look, I did remember something!), and we were just settling into the cockpit and preparing to open our gift de jour. Having set it aside for a quick shower though, I went on deck to dry myself in the early afternoon sun when I noticed a familiar electric blue light passing through the water. “Matt”, I yelled to the back of the boat, “Our mahi is back”. Not the same one that escaped us before I’m sure, but one worth trying to catch nonetheless. Untying our hand reel from it’s normal stationary position at the stern, Matt brought it to the front of the boat as I tried to keep an eye on the large fish that was doing laps around our boat.

Conditions were once again incredibly calm as we drifted along on glass calm waters. As soon as I spotted the mahi was making it’s round from the back of the boat and toward us again, Matt threw the multi-colored lure in the water just in front of it. That fish didn’t even have time to think about what was happening, it just saw something land an inch from it’s face and went to nibble on it. We’d just caught our mahi! The question now was, could we keep it this time?

Without any time to prepare for actually catching a fish since I’d literally spotted it about 90 seconds earlier, we were in no way ready when we landed it. Matt began pulling it in toward the boat while I quickly ran to the back to grab the gaff. Food was beginning to get low and there was no way I was going to let this meal get away. Approaching Matt again with the sharp hook in my hand, he explained that he was going to hand the line over to me while he gaffed the fish and brought it on deck. Hearing about exhausting fights that other fishers have put up with while trying to bring in these powerful fish, I braced myself against the gunnel to keep myself from ending up in the water and getting dragged half way to Horta. Surprisingly though, there was no struggle.

At least, not until we got it on deck. Suddenly it began flexing it’s powerful muscles as it’s massive body started flipping all over the place. I had not been prepared for this and had no idea what to do next. I guess I assumed the gaff would kill it. Matt wasn’t quite sure what to do either and things were not handled well on either side. He began barking orders at me as I’m running around screaming ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!’. What makes matters even worse is that he can tend to get flustered in these kind of situations where he’s all anxious but can’t tell me what he wants. “Get me the…uh…you know…the…the thing!!”. “What effing thing?! I don’t know what you need!”. “It’s the…uh..just get me a hammer..quick!!”.

So I fly down the steps and into the aft cabin where we now have two bags full of Matt’s tools, and I can not find the hammer in either one. I am now beyond anxious and pissed myself. Stomping (quickly) back up the stairs I yell at him “Your effing hammer is not in the effing tool bag, you need to start putting your s&%t away!”*, as the mahi is partially listening to our heated conversation and partially fighting for it’s life. “Just get me the damn winch handle”, he called back, ready to end this in any way possible. Snatching a spare one out of our combing I ran it up to him, a few hard smacks to the head later, this fish was definitely not going anywhere.

Pulling out our fillet knife and the Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing, all the while trying to keep Georgie confined to the cockpit, we cleaned our first fish caught by anything other than a pole spear. I’m not counting those barracuda we threw back in the Bahamas, or, tear, that mackerel we mistook for one.  Most of it was bagged and frozen, but I can tell you one thing.  I am having fresh fish for dinner tonight.

*This conversation is actually kind of hilarious because a.) We normally never yell or swear at each other and b.) if we do, it’s Matt yelling at me to put my things away because I never do.

Matt with mahi

filleting mahi

fresh mahi fillets

 

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Throwback Thursday: Ringing in the New Year

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

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

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

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday January 1, 2014

Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

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

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

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

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

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

pool at Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

Matt & Jessica at Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

 The rat’s nest is starting to take shape.

Scuba at Paraiso, Isla Mujeres

Scuba, the resident diving instructor’s dog.

bar at Marina Paraiso, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

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

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

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

laying out at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

lounge chairs on Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

swimming at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

Jessica at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

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Throwback Thursday: Leaving on a Midnight Bus to Tikal

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

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

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

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

You can find the original post here.

Wednesday November 6, 2013

 

Tikal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Howler monkeys at Tikal from Jessica Johnson on Vimeo.

sunrise at Tikal

Our cloudy and foggy sunrise.

Sunrise over temple 2, Tikal

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

Elmari watching the sun rise

Elmari watching the sky get lighter.

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

Alfredo eating his sub

Alfredo was really, really excited about his sandwich.

sunrise at Tikal

group shot at Tikal

Group shot at the top of Temple Four.

sunbeam through the clouds at Tikal

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

 

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

sun calendar at Tikal

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

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

11.6.13 (9)

Mayan stone carvings at Tikal

Temple Two, Tikal

Temple 1, Tikal

Back of Temple 1, Tikal

structure at Tikal

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Serendipity for Sale

Serendipity 2

Serendipity Sold

(*Serendipity has been sold)

Getting ourselves ready to sell Serendipity is one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do.  Much harder than selling our house, cars, and all our personal belongings to begin our vagabond lifestyle.  She’s the perfect boat for us.  She’s a perfect boat in general.  Great for two people (or maybe even a family of three), easy to handle, and very safe and strongly built.  We can tell you from experience that she’s ocean worthy too.

We even spent the past few months contemplating our cruising life and seriously considering putting the ‘Dip back in the water, hightailing it to the Caribbean, and enjoying a few more years relaxing on her.  She’s the perfect boat for that and we would have been more than happy living on her amongst the palm trees for the foreseeable future. Why spend the next year throwing time, sweat, and money into a new project when we have a perfect boat at our disposal right now? But even though life is about the now it’s also about the future.  And our future has high latitudes and ice fields in it which means that an aluminum boat is the best way to go.

So with a fairly heavy heart we have spent the past two months getting her in impeccable shape for her new owners, whomever they may be.  The hull is shining like new, every cabinet, nook, and storage space has been scrubbed clean, and the bottom has just received a fresh coat of paint.  She is literally completely cruise ready, no more work necessary.  It’s 100% ready for new owners to move their belongings on and sail away. Heck, we just sailed across the Atlantic and back with her last year.

Serendipity 1

Serendipity 3

(New exterior photos coming soon, photos above taken in Jamaica in 2013)

 

Isn’t she pretty?  Sigh….if only we had the funds to keep both boats.

On to costs, that’s probably the biggest question and at the forefront of any minds that are considering purchasing her.

$62,000 USD

* She is currently sitting in Indiantown, Florida; approximately 10 miles east of Lake Okeechobee. We will consider delivering Serendipity along the East Coast of the US or Florida’s Gulf Coast with purchase.

Serendipity is a 1989 Sabre 34 Targa, and here are her dimensions:

  • Material: Fiberglass
  • LOA: 34 ft 2 in
  • Beam: 11 ft 2 in
  • LWL: 28 ft 3 in
  • Minimum draft: 4 ft 6 in
  • Maximum draft 4 ft 6 in
  • Displacement: 11,700 lbs
  • Ballast: 4,800 lbs

Engines

  • Maximum speed: 7 knots

Tanks

  • Fresh water tanks: 2 (55 gallons)
  • Fuel tanks: 1 (30 gallons)
  • Holding tanks: 1 (30 gallons)

Accommodations:

  • Number of single berths: 1
  • Number of double berths: 3
  • Number of cabins: 2
  • Number of heads: 1

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So now that you’ve gotten just a taste of what she looks like inside, let’s go over all her features section by section.

Galley

  • Grunert refrigeration (increased box insulation in 2011)
  • Regal two burner stove/oven converted to LPG
  • Sliding cover for extra counter space over stove
  • Two 6 lb aluminum LPG tanks installed in propane locker
  • Propane solenoid
  • Saltwater tap at sink
  • Whale foot pumps for fresh and salt water
  • Pressure water
  • Two bowl stainless sink
  • Pull out trash
  • Microwave in aft cabin
  • All Spartan bronze seakcocks (greased 2015)
  • All thru hull hoses were replaced in 2011

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Head

  • Raritan PHII head (new 2012)
  • 30 gallon holding tank
  • All hoses replaced with Trident in 2012
  • Shower sump box
  • Fan for wet locker
  • Whale foot pump for fresh water
  • Pressure water

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Drivetrain

  • Westerbeke 30b three 1989 with 1,750 hours
  • Transmission rebuilt in 2013
  • Cutlass bearing replaced in 2015
  • PSS dripless shaft seal 2013
  • Three blade feathering Maxprop
  • Shaft rope cutter
  • Hydronic bus heater
  • Dual Racor fuel filters
  • All hoses replaced in 2011

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Electrical

  • 475 watts of solar on bimini and davits (2011)
  • 1000 watt Xantrex Pro inverter (2011)
  • 450 amp hour 6 volt battery bank installed 2012
  • Bluesea 422 battery monitor system (2011)
  • Bluesea Automatic Charge Relay (2011)
  • Xantrex solar charge controller (2015)
  • Vetus 105 amp hour start battery installed 2015
  • All LED lights except aft cabin
  • Camfro fans in galley, head, settee and v-berth

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Electronics

  • Raymarine C95 chart plotter with North American Navionics charts (new 2012) in rotating Navpod
  • Raymarine RD418 Radar (new 2012)
  • Raymarine SPX 10 Autopilot (new 2012)
  • Raymarine type 1 linear drive (below deck autopilot) (new 2012)
  • Raymarine ST6002 autopilot head (new 2012)
  • Raymarine rudder position sensor (new 2012)
  • Standard Horizon Gx2100 VHF with AIS receiver (new 2012)
  • Raymarine ST60 wind, depth, and speed sensors (speed through water does not work)
  • Standard Horizon Ram3 mix in cockpit (just stopped working)
  • Vizio LED tv installed in cabin (2011)
  • Pioneer CD player with cockpit and cabin speakers

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Deck

  • Lewmar Concept 1 Windlass ( new 2011)
  • 175 ft ACCO 5/16″ G4 chain (new 2012)
  • Fortress anchor (new 2012)
  • 2 x 100′ 3/4″ 3 strand anchor rode
  • Large/strong cast double anchor roller
  • Garhauer rail midship cleats (new 2012)
  • Garhauer 1 1/4″ dinghy davits (new 2012)
  • 6 Stainless ports with tempered glass (all except cockpit which are OEM plastic)
  • Deadlights were replaced in 2013 with tempered glass and Dow 795
  • Dodger stainless frame
  • Bimini stainless frame
  • Amsteel/Dyneema lifelines installed 2012
  • West Marine Jacklines
  • Revere throwable and inflated lifesling (needs new mount)
  • Stainless stern ladder
  • 2 Bomar deck hatches (rebed in 2014)
  • Port side stainless jerry can holder
  • Lewmar wheel with elkhide cover
  • Stainless steel emergency rudder bracket and mount on transom
  • LED stern, bow, and anchor lights

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 Rigging

  • Solent stay added in 2013
  1. Wichard adjustable/removable turnbuckle
  2. Wichard 6056 folding padeye on deck
  3. Wichard 6056 folding padeye below deck fitting
  4. Wichard Mast Tang
  5. 1/4″ stainless rigging with Norseman fitting
  • All standing rigging replaced in September 2012
  • Most running rigging replaced in 2011
  • Hall Spars mast and boom
  • Garhauer adjustable genoa cars installed 2011
  • 2 Lewmar ST 43 winches as primaries
  • 4 Lewmar 16 on the cabin top and on mast
  • 9 Spinlock clutches added 2012
  • Mainsail, Spinnaker halyard, boom vang and topping lift control back in cockpit
  • Tack and clew reef lines back in cockpit for either 1st and 2nd or 2nd and 3rd reefs
  • 3.5″ Spinnaker pole used as bulletproof whisker pole (15.5′)
  • Harken roller furling
  • Harken traveler
  • Hydraulic backstay adjuster  (should be rebuilt soon)
  • North Sails Mainsail with three reef points (ok condition)
  • Dutchman mainsail handling system
  • North 120% genoa  (usable, but should be replaced)
  • Staysail with reef points (old)
  • Storm Jib (new never used)
  • North Sails asymmetrical spinnaker in North sock (very good)

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Solent stay attached to turnbuckle for storage

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Solent stay attached to deck and ready for use.

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Sabres are fantastic boats, but even so, not every Sabre is built equal.  Between the Targa model (which we own) and the Classic model, we’ll tell you why we think the Targa stands above. Let’s take a walking tour of Serendipity, shall we?

Sabre Targa vs the standard layout

The Targa is an aft cabin/head model-  This layout features many cruiser requirements over the standard Classic model.  The aft cabin creates a closed off storage area, which is how we use it, or you can have a large private sleeping cabin. A much better set-up than the open berth of the Classic layout.  Access while sailing to the aft head on the starboard side is also much easier, safer and drier, unlike the Classic, where one is dripping seawater from wet foul weather gear throughout the cabin on the way to the head!

The port and starboard longitudinal bulkheads that make-up the aft head and berth makes traversing the companionway steps very safe and secure with something to lean against the entire way down. She also has real companionway steps, not some thin ladder like most boats.  Behind the head, there is a hanging wet locker with a fan to help dry your foulies.  The Aft cabin has storage under the berth, under the microwave, and sliding door cabinets along the hull.

The L shaped galley puts the sink where it should be, over the center-line of the boat where the draining is best. This gives you a very large and usable refrigerator inboard of the sink, two storage drawers, a utensil drawer, pull out trash and great sliding storage along the hull.

The starboard side has a real navigation seat that doesn’t use a settee or berth cushion to just make due.  Along the hull is your circuit panel (with open spots for additional equipment), with Blue seas Vessel System Monitor (battery, A/C, bilge pump alarm and holding tank monitor), CD player, and VHF.  Below the navigation seat are your 4 6-volt batteries making 450 AH. The nav desk has top load storage, two drawers, and a cabinet door for excellent storage.

Moving forward, you have a U shaped settee on the port side and a straight settee on starboard.  Both have great storage below, behind, and above in the beautiful tambour teak sliding door cabinets.  The cushions are very comfortable with the fabric still in very good condition.  The folding table, as it came from Sabre, took up a lot of space and required you to slide through a narrow gap to gain access to the port settee.  We have modified the table to give a very open feeling and so much more floor space.  This is the way they should have been built!

The Achilles heel of most Sabres is the mast step’s drain clogging, rotting the beam that holds the mast, requiring an expensive and invasive repair.  Great news! The Targa model has a fiberglass mast step/pan that cannot rot like the others.  Serendipity also has a custom cast aluminum step allowing draining far superior to the original.

The inside tour ends with the V berth. Serendipity has plenty of clothes storage in a hanging locker to starboard and cabinets below the berth and to port.  The bed is 6″ of comfortable foam with a great ventilation from an overhead hatch and two ports.

What makes Serendipity special vs other Sabres?

  • Solent stay installed for a storm jib or staysail.
  • All lines including reefs brought back to cockpit.
  • Adjustable genoa line cars
  • Windlass with wired remote
  • Amsteel Lifelines
  • 475 watts of solar makes us power self-sufficient at anchor
  • Garhauer davits
  • Shallow draft of just 4′ 6″.  Keel was removed in 2013 to rebed and check for keel bolt issues.  Bolt was replaced with stainless due to corrosion.
  • All rigging replaced in late 2012 and chainplates were removed and resealed
  • A real below deck autopilot and not a toy wheel pilot
  • Refrigeration is already installed and is not just an icebox
  • 450 AH of batteries installed… try fitting that comfortably in most 34′ boats
  • Stainless steel ports and new tempered glass deadlights (they’ll never go foggy on you!)

 

So you can see why Serendipity is such a great boat and why we spent so long deciding if we should even sell her.  If we knew she could make it through ice fields there would be no need to!  But alas..we don’t want to attempt that, which means she needs to go on the market so we can begin outfitting our new (to us) aluminum boat.  We hope Serendipity goes to a great home and we know whomever purchases her will love her just as much as we do.

Again, we are asking for $62,000 USD while selling through owner.  We think this price is very competitive in the Sabre world.  There are currently others in the market…one at the moment for $69,000 which has none of our cruising features and older electronics; or the Classic models which are selling for $50,000 – $96,000 with what we think is (sorry!) a less logical layout and usually older equipment.  So to get the Targa model and in ready to cruise condition…we think this is a steal.

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Throwback Thursday: St. Augustine – The Cutest Little Town You Could Almost Shipwreck Your Boat In

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment brings us to the day that changed our cruising fates forever.  Where our plans for a circumnavigation turned into ‘Can we save our boat? Will we still have something to sail at the end of the day?’.  Testing our mental strength, we found out what happens when things go really wrong. But we came out the other side, stronger and wiser and with the knowledge to always trust your gut.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday November 29, 2012

11.29.12

With plans to get to the Bahamas ASAP, we almost made the three day journey outside straight from Cumberland Island to Lake Worth just so we’d be able to stock up the boat and leave as soon as the next weather window came.  We knew that St. Augustine, which was a 50 mile jump from channel to channel, was supposed to be a very pretty and historic town complete with another boat exchange shop, so I was able to talk Matt into a one day stay there before booking it to Lake Worth.  Basing our trips on daylight now, as we always have to do, we figured if we left with the sun in the morning we should have just enough time to get inside the inlet before it went down.  Plus the weather was calling for 15 knots from the north with only three foot waves or less, so it would be a nice downwind sail, perfect for Georgie’s first time out on the water.  Getting the anchor up thirty minutes before the sun rose, we fought a pretty nasty current going out the St. Mary’s Inlet which had us moving forward at a measly two knots, but as soon as we were free of the breakers and pointed south our speed shot back up and under headsail alone we were able to average 6-7 knots.  The sun was shinning and it was a beautiful day.  My mind was filled with thoughts of a hot shower and spaghetti dinner that night, and as we crossed into the Sunshine State my spirit lifted with the promise of soon to be warm weather and crystal clear seas.

Even though the waves were low it was not a flat ride, and since we’re not positive Georgie is 100% sure not to jump off the deck even in calm weather, we’ve already discussed that she’ll always be stowed away below while traveling.  Having left our new kitty under the warm covers of bed that morning we constantly went down to check on her to see how she was handling the rocking motion of the boat.  Each time we’d find her bundled under loads of blankets, either unaware that we were moving or so deep in sleep that she didn’t care.  Since she wasn’t getting sick or freaking out I was considering this initial voyage with her a success.  When we were only ten miles out from the St. Augustine Inlet we called the Municipal Marina and made reservations that night for a mooring ball, and with over an hour of sunlight left,  I was thinking that we’d just quickly ease ourselves in through the inlet and be relaxing inside the cabin thirty minutes after.

Our charts of the inlet only showed one green buoy, which was strange since the past few inlets we’d gone in and out of have buoys going out for miles, red and green placed together each mile along the way. Something else strange on the chart was that it didn’t show the depth anywhere in or near the channel.  Having Matt take a look he pulled out our resources and found that constant dredging and shifts are always changing the channel, so that’s why it’s not marked on charts, and entering it should be done visually by relying on the buoys in the water and using local knowledge.  Keeping my eye peeled for the green buoy listed on the chart (even though I wasn’t supposed to follow it anymore) I did not see it, but did catch sight of a red one off our port bow.  Changing course to take the red buoy on the port side, we finally spied a green next to it, Green 1 & Red 2, so I passed between them with no sight of other buoys in front of us towards the inlet.  Following the straight line that we had made between the initial buoys I began to get a little apprehensive when I still couldn’t see any others buoys and the depth began to fall from 25 ft to 15, so I hailed Tow Boat US over the VHF for verbal instructions on how to navigate the channel.

Coming back on the radio and being very helpful, he kept telling me that Red 4 was missing and I needed to find Red buoy 6 and hug it…but I still could not see anything in front of me.   Matt had even gone on the deck with binoculars without seeing any of the markers.  The sun was setting right in front of our eyes, reflecting off the water and blinding us to anything ahead, and breaking waves surrounded us on each side.  Both of us were getting very nervous and were about to about and turn around when we saw a red buoy ahead just off to starboard.  Hooray!!, we were on the right track after all!  Making a beeline for this new marker I still didn’t understand why the depths were not going up if we were supposedly getting closer to or in the channel.  Then, in the few seconds it took for my heart to jump into my throat when I realized something about this wasn’t right, there was a sudden and hard thud as the depth-sounder abruptly went from 13 ft to 4.  We had just hit bottom, and we hit it HARD.  And this wasn’t a drifting forward from deep to shallow water, it was a quick drop on to it.

Quickly throwing the engine into reverse and throttling hard we could not even move before the next wall of water picked us up and threw us down on the hard bottom again.  The stern swung to the side and now instead of running down with the waves, they were approaching us on our beam (bad news!).  It was only a few seconds from breaker to breaker and the next one that came did not lift us up but instead crashed on our side sending hundreds of gallons of water over our deck and into our cockpit.  It was here that the severity of the situation became real, as this is how boats are lost everyday at sea.  We had both been holding on tightly knowing that initial wave was coming and before the next one reached us we both had our life jackets on and were tethered in.  Matt took a hold of the wheel to point us into the waves and I jumped on the VHF to send out a distress call to the guy on Tow Boat US  I had been talking to on 18, and yelled out that we’d run aground and needed immediate assistance.  I let him know we were stuck in breaking waves and required him to come as soon as possible.

Still at the wheel, Matt was doing his best to move us forward and into deeper water.  The waves coming at Serendipity were eight foot breakers and they were completely having their way with us.  Every 10 seconds we’d be lifted up sixteen feet and then slammed down hard onto our keel.  It was like an earthquake inside the boat, and with each slam the whole boat would shake and shudder inside and out.  I was only used to running into soft sand but this felt like we were pounding down on cement.  My mind kept racing with what was happening.  Would we be able to make it out of this any moment basically unscathed?  Would we make it out, but with lots of damage? Or worst of all,Are we going to have to abandon ship and leave Serendipity behind?  Somehow in this I never feared at all for our safety.  Maybe it was because we had on our life jackets and were only a few hundred feet from shore, but I was never worried that we wouldn’t make it out.  Continually slamming up and down though without any sign that Serendipity was about to miraculously make it out, Matt gave me instructions to hit the Distress Signal on our VHF which sent out an alert to all boats in the area, and then after that he instructed me to put out a Mayday call to the Coast Guard.

Still trusting that Serendipity would get this through us I was calm and collected as I talked to the Coast Guard and explained what the situation was.  We had run aground in the inlet and there were breaking waves coming over us.  They took information as to: how many people were on board; did we have any medical conditions; were we taking on any water.  ”Two, no, no.”  While responding I was still bracing myself at the navigation station below, knees giving out underneath me from the force of each slam down onto the hard ground.  I had to wonder if they could hear it on their end as well, the sickening crash and shudder from the drop of each wave.  The  TV sitting on a swinging mount in the cabin had been wildly swinging back and forth this whole time, slamming into v-berth door and leaving indents.  I flinched with each hit, knowing it would leave permanent damage to the door, and then getting disgusted with myself for worrying about something so trivial at a time like this.  We were in danger and I was disturbed with the physical appearance of the boat.

While speaking with the Coast Guard I heard the engine shudder to a stop, but hadn’t even realized we weren’t crashing down on the keel any more.  We had drifted out of the breakers and into deeper water between the channel’s shoal and shore which in itself was good news, but in all the chaos, the sliding genoa car that holds the line for our jib lines had broken loose and wrapped around our prop leaving us dead in the water.  There was a strong current and smaller breaking waves still pushing us toward shore, and due to Matt’s quick thinking he dropped our anchor, a Rocna 25 Kg, which stuck immediately, kept us into place, and allowed us to face bow into the waves.  This wasvery important because not only would we have drifted to shore and shallow water again, but the breaking waves would have also likely turned us on our side and rolled the boat over if we were not able to keep ourselves facing into them (Typically, you only need breaking waves half the width of your boat to roll it over… these were larger  than the 5’6″ our boat would need).  If we didn’t have that Rocna, and it didn’t hold right away like it did, we would not have even had a chance to save our boat while waiting for help to come.  Getting back on the VHF with the Coast Guard I informed them our engine was not working due to a wrapped line around the prop and we were now adrift in deeper water.  With the wind coming from right where we needed to go, sailing out wasn’t an option.

Not having anything to keep him preoccupied now, Matt let his nerves start to get the best of him as he stumbled down the stairs, still assured in his mind that we were going to lose the boat and have to be evacuated.  Between short breaths he tore through the aft cabin pulling out our backpack and stuffed Georgie inside of it.  Going into our hanging locker in the head he grabbed our dry bag and started throwing in our laptops, important papers, passports, and anything else small and of value.  These were all smart things to do, but the look in his eyes was terrified as if to say ‘We’re not going to make it‘.  Calming him down the best I could I assured him that the three of us would make it out of this and that’s what was important.  Even if the boat was lost we’d still have each other.  Even though the chance of losing the boat was not what he wanted to hear this seemed to work a little and his breathing slowed down as he started to gain control again but I could tell his mind was still full of what ifs?.

Not knowing who/when/if anyone was still coming to rescue us since the Coast Guard Station was all the way up in Jacksonville, I was relieved to hear the voice of Tow Boat US come back on the radio and say he was moments away.  By now the sun had already set and pale pinks and blues were painting the coast of the Atlantic.  When I looked over to see the bright flashing lights of Tow Boat US my heart lifted as I could now see help was on the way.  Our Rocna was still holding us steady in ten feet of water, which is enough for our keel to clear the bottom, but now in the heavy breaking waves of the beach’s surf line, we figured that with this assistance we may still save our home.  Communicating through VHF he said he was going to trail a line with a bridle at the end and when it drifted close enough to it, Matt who was at the bow with a boat hook, would grab it and attach it to our cleats up front.  Once that was done we’d pull up the anchor and be on our way.  It sounded so effortless and I began to let myself relax in just the slightest.  We were going to be out of here in just a few minutes and leave this nightmare behind.

As the tow boat made it’s first pass we kept our eyes on the water for the yellow bridle that was to be our savior, but it was nowhere in sight.  When he called back on the VHF I replied that it hadn’t come by yet, but then I spotted it.  100 feet off our starboard side and not drifting any closer to us.  Calling this information back to him he said he’d make another pass.  Swinging around once more his boat passed a few hundred feet in front of us and as soon as he was even with our bow he shot back out into the deeper water.  Once more we watched the bridle pass this time 50 feet to our starboard side with no indication it would come any closer.  I didn’t get why he couldn’t pass any nearer to us or why he wouldn’t continue past our bow before heading back out as in my mind that would seem to put the lines within reach.  Then it occurred to me that he couldn’t do either of those because those large breakers we were stuck in, and by coming closer, he would be putting himself and his boat in danger which would be a lose/lose situation for everyone.  The optimism of getting pulled off was diminishing and for the first time I let myself get scared.  It was getting dark out, the tow boat couldn’t successfully get to us, and we might lose everything after all.  A lump formed in my throat as I tried to hold back tears.  All the confidence and repose was draining out of me and I was moments away from breaking down.

Just at the moment I was about to succumb to the fears building up inside of me, there was another voice on the radio.  Local search and rescue had been listening to the distress call and our interaction with the tow boat on how he was unable to get the line close enough to reach.  They were sending out one of their jet skis that could grab the line from the tow boat and bring it directly to us.  We were thrilled to hear this, but the waiting began again.  Matt was still stationed at the bow and I was in the cockpit.  Both of us would have to brace ourselves as the waves that were starting to grow again would throw our side up before coming back down.  We were now at a 50-60 degree angle to the waves and although they weren’t sending water in the cockpit it was a very uncomfortable ride.  As the sky turned the color of a blueberry I looked back to shore to see a Coast Guard search and rescue truck stationed on the beach 300 feet away with lights flashing, reflecting off the sand and water.  The waves built a higher, and as I’d start to get small rushes of water over the gunnel and into the cockpit, my heart began to beat faster.  I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to take this.

As my mind started to go into the darkest places of what might become of us we got a call on the radio that search and rescue had us in their sights.  Looking over our port side we saw their bright flashing lights and hopes lifted again.  Coming up to our boat to check on our physical (and probably mental) well being, they advised that instead of bringing the bridle to us they’d instead have us cleat off our own line that they would bring over to the tow line.  Knowing that time was a factor I started grabbing lines from the cockpit floor and unknowingly began to start handing out our reef line thinking it wasn’t attached to anything.  Having come back to the cockpit to feed the line to search and rescue, Matt caught my mistake and dove into the back lazarette for our double braided drogue line and handed it to me to untie.  Although it had been tied and stowed properly, it became a mess as it fell onto the cockpit floor while trying to get all 200 feet ready to hand out.  Using all my strength I heaved and pulled at the now wet line trying to work out kinks and knots.  When we had 3/4 of it  straight Matt took the line to the bow to cleat off and search and rescue made a pass to pick up the other end.  After two attempts the line was secured by them and they made their way back to Tow Boat US who was sitting safely off in the distance.

Keeping in contact through the VHF we discussed the next steps with Tow Boat US.  Once he had the lines secured, he would notify us when we were to take our anchor up, and once we were free, we’d call back to him and he’d tighten the line and begin the tow.  Everything went smoothly on his part and after working our windlass hard to pull ourselves to the anchor and get the Rocna up, which had dug itself in pretty deep, I was given the signal by Matt which I excitedly relayed on the radio and the towing process started.  Being walked through step by step from the tow boat I had the wheel cranked hard to starboard to get us facing the tow boat, and once we were pointed at the stern, I was told to keep it there.  We were now in pitch black and all I had to go by were the yellow and while lights shinning on the top of his boat.  Letting my eyes sneak to the chart several times I kept an eye on the depth, fearful of being pulled back into the shoals we had passed through earlier.  The tow boat captain was knowledgeable of the area though and brought us far to the south of the breakers before rounding to head back into the channel.  Every time we were about to make a turn he’d call it back to me on the radio and pass through very slowly so I’d constantly be able to position myself behind him.

Before I knew it we were through the channel and into the Matanzas Bay.  I let out a huge sigh and my tense body was finally able to relax.  We had made it through this.  Looking up into the town of St. Augustine the waterfront was covered in Christmas lights and it looked like something out of a fairy tale.  Letting myself get distracted by something other than the boat I took a few minutes to appreciate all the beauty around us.  As I sat there admiring the lights I heard movement in the water next to our stern and puffs of air escaping the blowholes of a pod of dolphins that came to surface next to us.  I couldn’t see them but they stayed there for a few minutes, as if they were surveying the situation and making sure we were ok.  Unhooking the tow lines our guide boat came up beside us to ‘hip tow’ us the rest of the way to the mooring ball we had made a reservation on for the night.  Secured in we began the paperwork and got the chance to chat with the guy who saved Serendipity.  Captain Justin Daily is the one who heard our initial questions about navigating the inlet and had already been on his way out to help guide us in before our distress call went out.  Through the whole ordeal he was calm, confident, polite and made it very easy to put our minds to rest of the whole situation.  Back at the mooring ball he was insistent on making sure we were alright and worked with us to make the bill as manageable as possible since we were not yet Tow Boat US members.  We could not have asked for a better person to help us out that night.

When all the paperwork was finished and the tow boat was gone we immediately had visitors from Hideaway who were at the mooring ball next to us and heard the whole thing go down on their radio.  Changing out of our soaking we clothes we jumped in their dinghy and after all of us checked in to the office we took advantage of the hot showers and walked across the street to get some food.  We relayed the whole story to them over drinks and a hot meal.  They assured us it probably wasn’t as bad as we anticipated and boats are much sturdier than we think they are.  Asking what our plans were next we could only tell them that we’d have to haul out to inspect the damage.  As far as what was after that, neither of us had a clue and agreed not to make any decisions that night.  If we had that night, we probably would have been two one-way tickets back to Michigan on our credit card.  It was a trying night and we were so thankful to have friends there waiting with open arms, give outside perspective, and remind us what we have to be thankful for.

In the end we made it out mostly in one piece.  We’re safe and although Serendipity will have permanent damage, hopefully it will be minor repairs that will have us back on our way in a matter of days.  She took a very bad pounding but through it all we never had any water coming in, steering was moving freely and besides some cosmetic issues to the interior plus all of our belongings scattered around her, she looks to be holding up pretty well.  Probably better than us at the moment.

Some very big thanks need to go out to all that got us and our home back to safety that night.  Thank you Justin Daily for coming to our rescue, before you even knew we needed you.  You braved breaking waves yourself and held our hand through the whole situation.  Your calmness and awareness let us know we were in good hands and and all of us (boat included) would be taken care of.  The community is lucky to have you around. Thank you to the local search and rescue team.  Without your assistance we may have never received the tow lines that pulled our boat to safety.  You were out to help us without a moments notice and without even being asked.  We appreciate it more than you know.  And lastly, thank you to Rocna Anchors.  Without your reliable anchor that we have trusted since the beginning of this trip, we surely would have lost our boat to the smashing waves of the inlet before rescue could make it out to us.  You make a remarkable product that all boaters would be wise to take advantage of.

If there was any lesson learned today, it’s to always follow your gut.  Both of us had a bad feeling about our entrance into the inlet but didn’t react in time to save ourselves a night full of heartache.  We should have circled back out right away and either re-evaluated the situation, waited for another boat to follow in, or just kept going down the coast until we found an inlet we were more comfortable with, even if that meant skipping St. Augustine all together.  So many people put themselves in bad situations and just get lucky that they come out of it fine.  ’It won’t happen to me‘ is a common phrase in people’s minds and always floated through ours as well.  From now on I have a feeling we’ll be over-cautious in many situations and we’ll be living by the adage ‘Better safe than sorry’.  Because now we know what ‘sorry’ feels like and it isn’t very good.  In fact, ‘sorry’ downright sucks.  Taking a look around though the bright holiday decorations, historic buildings, and friendly people will all help us get through this.  I’ve only seen a little bit of it, but St. Augustine really does look like the cutest little town you could almost shipwreck your boat in.

He’s a map showing where it all went wrong.

st augustine inlet

After talking to local Fire & Rescue I was sent a clip of a sailboat that ran aground in the same exact spot we did, just one year earlier.  They were not as lucky, the keel of their boat fell off causing them to capsize and sending two people into the water, both of whom were rescued.  Click here if you’d like to see it.  The water conditions were the same for both them and us, but  we had clear skies and a pretty sunset.  A sunset that partially caused our demise, but it was pretty nontheless.

 

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