Monday, March 19, 2018

provisioning round 2

After a mostly successful run at provisioning a month ago we are getting close to being ready! At least from my standpoint. 

This season’s menu is made up of these fine recipes:
Burrito casserole with tvp 
Tuna Macaroni
Chicken taquitos
Pepperoni pizza
Kielbasa, potatoes and onions

There are some familiar faces up there and for good reason. We know we like them and mostly the aren’t too time consuming. And then there are some new additions to our board. Last year we did hot dogs and this year I want to give kielbasa a shot. Josh’s mom makes the kielbasa/potato/onion combo (she also usually does bell peppers too) and has for years and it’s easy and tasty. It’s all stove top. The only really time consuming part is the dicing part of it. I don’t even peel my potatoes, just scrub them. Pizza is also a family favorite. The Cuban black beans and coconut rice is a dish I’ve been making for several years and I have no idea how this didn’t end up on the list last year! Easy, so tasty, and quick. Another standout is the burrito casserole. This one was actually a fluke. Several weeks ago I was trying to empty out my stores but also needed to grocery shop pretty bad and I also needed to feed my crew. So, I adapted a recipe that called for beef and made my own tvp taco meat and made this dish. It is also very very easy and a ridiculous amount of tasty.  The lentils and rice as well as Tuna macaroni are returning players and give us some variety. There are a few wild cards I have high hopes for. The Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta as well as the Chicken stuffing green bean casserole. The stuffing recipe in particular isn’t much to look at but I think it’ll be a good blend. Plus we are doing a few more vegetarian recipes this time with the Sweet Potato Curry, Crunchy Black Bean Tacos, Roasted Sweet Potato and caramelized onion wraps plus the TVP burrito casserole I already mentioned.

Another thing that is worthy of note is the fact that I tried to incorporate vegetables into the main dish. That way Fozel gets his veggies every meal and I’m not scrambling to come up with a veggie. I don’t actually have much room for canned or jarred fruits this season so the fruit is going to be tricky. Apples and citrus do relatively well but beyond that I am at a loss. I may end up buying some jarred things as well, but I will have to find some nonexistent space for them!

If there is one little tidbit from this season that I am observing this season already, it’s that black beans are going to be our star player this year. Somehow we have way more stuff (though this year I provisioned for 4 months whereas last I did only 3). Good thing we like 'em. I’ll report back if any of them are major fails and see if I can turn them around. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

reflections on season 1 provisioning.

The time is coming for me to restock our stores for the months we plan to spend in the Bahamas. Last year we did just fine. Honestly, we ate out more than I initially thought we would so we had enough and then some. Now, with that said, I feel like I made some mistakes. I planned that we would have 14 recipes that we would eat every two weeks. Mostly I was happy but a few recipes were just meh and a few more time/energy intensive than I wanted. It was very warm most evening so the last thing I wanted to do was be stuck in front of a hot stove/oven for very long. Here’s a run down of what worked and what didn’t. 

Chicken white bean and rice one pot—this was a play on chicken and rice with the cream of mushroom and chicken soup casserole I grew up on. It was okay. It didn’t take too much effort but the flavor just wasn’t too exciting. When I provisioned I could only get my hands on fat free cream soups and I am telling you we could taste the difference! I relied on canned chicken for all of these recipes and I don't know if that also affected the outcome or not. Canned chicken by nature isn't the most exciting texture or flavor (read:mostly just tastes like salt).

One Pot Chicken fajita rice soup—this turned out to be quite delicious but soup wasn’t the best solution for such hot climes and I found myself with half a jar of roasted red peppers every two weeks that would inevitably spoil before the next time I made the dish so the food waste aspect was frustrating. Also, why don’t jarred peppers last longer?!

Majurada lentils and rice with crispy onions—this dish remains one of the most delicious vegetarian friendly dishes I’ve ever made. I fantasize about eating this dish. But it did take a fair amount of time to cook. The onions are very very caramelized and it must be done low and slow. I also did not do the crispy onion step. It was still fantastic without it.

Buffalo chicken baked ziti—this was a hit with Josh but too spicy for Fozel. It was supposed to be made similar to a mac and cheese on the stovetop and then baked. After the first time making it, we skipped the baking with no ill effects. 

Chana Masala—a solid dish. I’d make it again for sure. The one comment I had is that it’s more of a wintery dish and I did not feel wintery in the Bahamas.

Tuna noodle casserole—glorified mac and cheese with a can of tuna and a can of peas. Always a winner in our house.

Chicken noodle casserole—as far as I could tell, a mediocre variation of a pot pie wannabe and chicken noodle imposter. I think a big lesson I learned is that I just don’t care for those No Yolk egg noodles. The texture is too firm for me and after eating the Reames frozen noodles growing up, that’s all I really want in my chicken noodle dishes. Another thing I think I did that may have affected both this dish is that I used the low fat version of the cream of chicken. Not enough creaminess and not enough salt. Just bland. 

Chicken baked ziti—this was okay and was made infinitely better when I could get my hands on some fresh produce. Once we added broccoli and another time peas. Canned peas weren’t too bad in it either. This dish is pretty much ziti noodles with canned chicken, Alfredo, some Parmesan cheese and whatever else I thought to throw in. It always came together quick and made plenty of leftovers for lunches. 

Chicken taquitos—this recipe was a conglomeration of about 3 different recipes. It made me feel very like my mom when I cooked this dish because every time it was different and every time we thought, “oooh that’s good! Let’s remember what we put in it” which of course we never did. But it was so easy. Tortilla shells, canned chicken, usually cream cheese and shredded cheese (whichever we had the most of...usually a Mexican blend), often black beans, sometimes some diced onion, a can of corn and sometimes a can of diced green chilies. I rolled the mixture up in the tortillas and then sprayed them with cooking spray in a 9 x 13 and baked until the tops were crispy. We served them with plain Greek yogurt (which we have totally replaced sour cream with forever) and salsa. Major thumbs up every single time.

Pizza—I have a great Greek yogurt and self rising flour recipe for the crust we like and we did canned sauce, pepperoni and sometimes caramelized onion. The dough is healthier than any other I’ve tried and pretty good. Full of protein! Fozel will never turn down pizza.

Refried bean polenta skillet with fried eggs—this simple recipe is an easy protein powerhouse. It used polenta, refried beans, cheese, salsa, eggs and whatever you like to garnish. It’s easy and pretty flavorful. I made my polenta from scratch which is very time consuming so I would either prep that portion the day before or morning of or just buy the quick polenta in a tube (which the recipe actually called for…somehow I thought I was making my life easier by making my own but I was clearly misguided).

Lentil bolognese—this was a bust. I had a hard time getting the lentils the right texture and we just didn’t like the flavor profile even though I futzed with it every time we made it. Several weeks in I tried to swap out the lentils and made it with tvp. It was better but then it just became pasta with a meat like sauce.

Black bean and sweet potato tacos/quesadillas—This ended up being tacos more often than not and we really liked them. This was a versatile recipe that we added to here and there based on our moods. It required dicing sweet potatoes which took some time. You could probably roast the potatoes and get a creamier texture but we sautéed ours on the stovetop. The spices it called for were chili powder and cumin in addition to salt. We added some smoked salt once and oregano and onion powder another. I also sautéed onions and added them in. I think most dishes could benefit from a little more onion.

Hot dogs and macaroni—no brainer winner. Hot dogs keep forever and we just cooked up a veggie on the side. It didn’t make me feel like super mom but everyone was happy. 

Lessons learned after last season: sticking with something you’ve made before may be best. Pasta and rice are really wonderful ways to make a meal stretch. You’ll get tired of canned chicken and tuna eventually. I somehow had an insane amount of diced tomatoes leftover in my pantry that we are STILL eating through. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

top 20 things we are not looking forward to on the boat.

Now that we are back at the boat I am reminded of all the ways life as a cruiser isn’t all sunsets and dolphins diving alongside the bow of your boat. There are plenty of things we aren’t so fond of and these are some of them. Not to say that the good doesn't still outweigh the not so good, but I want to put it in perspective for those that think we are on an eternal vacation.

  1. Boat friends come and go. We LOVE our boat friends. We love meeting new ones and reconnecting with old ones BUT it can be hard to leave them behind. Josh is very good about keeping tabs on them for us and if possible, we meet up with them when happen to be in the same vicinity.
  2. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean. This is not fun. No way around it. You’re pretty much cleaning something every day and sometimes the spaces aren’t all that easy to access or fit into. You wipe down the kitchen counter a thousand times a day and the floor in the head whenever you work up the gumption to pull up the grate that just barely is able to be pulled up in the tiny closed off room that is the bathroom when you’re standing on tiptoes perched on the toilet itself. Today I sat down on the settee and dust clouds plumed out of it. I was horrified then resigned. Another thing I have to figure out how to clean on a more regular basis without the use of a vacuum. Oh goody! Just one of those things that is eerily similar to land life. Ours is a battle of keeping mildew off of everything. It’s an endless task and I’m not even talking about the outside of the boat too. There is a whole other set of cleaning chops required undertake it. Actually, in the summers in Racine I was fairly fond of it because it allowed me to be outside and get cooled off at the same time.
  3. The smell. Boat smell is something between an old library book and musty laundry. It smells like damp wood and sleep. And even if you leave that sucker open like every single day for months on end as we do, if you close it up for 4 hours to go get groceries and have dinner, I swear it’s back with a vengeance in just those 4 hours. Like, how?! And when you get it in your nose, it never comes out. You smell that odor for days after leaving the boat.
  4. A wet rag. The further south you are and the later in the season it is, the worse it is. Everything we own is always slightly damp. There is no way around it. Even if your boat is brand new and doesn’t have leaks, it’s inevitable. And that damp? You guessed it, smells like the boat. Like musty sleepy wood. I’ve taken to Febreezing everything but I think I might hate the smell of Febreeze more? We wash our laundry and dry it but then I wonder "why?" since in hours time it’ll be limp and slightly wet again.
  5. Lack of wifi and cellular service. While unplugging is a very very nice thing in many respects, it can also pose some problems. When the weather is crummy and we are stuck inside, having wifi eases the burden. It can distract us and a restless toddler when we’ve played every game and pretended all the things we can think of. It also makes communication with family pretty stinky.
  6. Laundry. Not going to lie, we do our fair share of rewearing clothes (no undies, of course!) because laundry even at it’s easiest can be vexing. It can be expensive and is always awkward to manage. We are often needing to do other things while on shore and lugging around a big ol’ bag of socks and undies isn’t always cool/fun/easy. 
  7. Who needs some space? For all the virtues of small living I can count, a lack of space is not one of them. There is virtually no privacy on our 36’ sailboat. When you are together 24/7 sometimes it gets a little tight. When Josh needs to change the engine oil or I need a breather from the chaos or the weather is crummy, it gets a little touch and go.
  8. Hidden things. You know how in your house when you’re out of conditioner or dish soap you just go to your pantry or bathroom closet and just pull out another bottle and go on your merry way? It is very rarely that easy on the boat. Most items you might need (some of which you use on a regular basis) can require dismantling some piece of furniture or emptying out some locker or cabinet. Do you have to pull apart your couch to get to a can of diced tomatoes? No?
  9. Water water everywhere but is there a drop to drink? We constantly monitor our water usage. We are either in a mooring field or anchored and refilling the water tanks requires some physical labor to successfully complete. We have two 6 gallon jugs we take to shore and fill and schlep back and forth. As you might imagine, when they’re full, they are very heavy. Those days I don’t worry about getting my workout in!
  10. Grocery shopping is a task. While I do still love the task in general (the planning, the listing, the actual shopping and improvising on the spot at the grocery store when they don’t have what I need), doing the whole process on a boat is tricky. With a toddler in tow and either walking or taking transit we have to do our best. First we have to think creatively on how to get the most of what we need back with us. How much can you carry in one trip? Me, I am known to be a “no bag left behind” kind of girl. But, again, when you have a 3 year old, that is tough. Into the dinghy, up the boat ladder, down the steep companionway steps and then you have to put it all away. That part is a way less exciting and fun version of Jenga. Balancing, organizing, and stowing cold stuff in the fridge (which is basically is an icebox with less flat horizontal space and more slanted ones) is a sweat fest in itself. I end up doing 99% of the cooking just because I put everything exactly where I wanted it and getting to some ingredients can be a Herculean task.
  11. Split time much of the time. With the exception of some weekend days, we spend way more time apart than I would like or have expected. Usually Fozel and I do our thing (which involves one of a few things including: playground, beach, library or story time) while Josh does the maintenance and errand or drives the boat if we are in transit. In the case of being on the move, Fozel and I play below and if we come above my goal is to just keep him from distracting the driver. It gets tiresome and since I don't have the mechanical know-how (or the time to learn the skills) we can't exactly switch  We take this 24/7 thing to a real extreme on the boat.
  12. Pooping just isn’t the same. There I said it. It’s the stinky little secret of boating. We have a wonderful toilet that Josh installed, don't get me wrong. It’s not like we’re perched on a bucket or anything, but who wouldn’t prefer one plumbed that doesn’t require pumping and has a funny smell no matter what you do? 
  13. Mosquitos and the like. Mostly the mosquitos haven't been too bad. There were a few places where we ran into them, but the real blight are No See Ums. They are actually the very worst buggers I can possibly imagine. This season we are going to try Skin So Soft (it's one of the common deterrents) and whatever else we can get our hands on. They're half the size of a mosquito (thus the name), bite you and the unending scratching never ceases. Seriously. I am a grown adult who has rubbed her skin raw on many occasions because I CAN NOT STOP scratching. Even after they've become raw they still itch. Why???
  14. Raindrops keep falling on my head. Literally. And it's not awesome. This is probably my number one gripe. When you own a boat, it's bound to leak (or so says Josh). As long as the leak is from above the waterline and not below you're in the clear. Ours has a few doozies. Like 2ish that are a real pain in the you-know-what because, surprise, they're over our berths. Super fun when it's raining and you're me and you're trying to sleep and all you can think about is whether or not you're going to wake up to wet spots on your bed. They are the bane of my existence.
  15. Noises on. During the day in any anchorage or mooring field energy needs must be met and batteries must be charged. Several hours each day here and there a midrange hum can be heard. Mostly it's just background noise but when it's your turn to run your generators, the volume can interfere with being able to carry on a conversation or think. At night, noises keep you safe. I've woken on at  least one occasion when a noise was absent and was able to diagnose a problem (the bilge pump had stopped working and it's absence of noise woke me). Or another time we heard airhorns from another nearby boat. When we went above it was found that a powerboat's anchor had come loose from the seabed and was drifting amongst the boats (that one was extremely scary). I hear every knock and bang and clang and splash. I lay away at night listening for the familiar and not so familiar noises and alert the sleeping captain when something sounds out of whack.
  16. Knowing my culinary limits. I miss having a kitchen. One with ample counter space and all of the gadgets a person could want. Let's just say I have learned my limits--nothing pureed, nothing spiraled, nothing that requires too much kneading or frying. It does force me to be more creative in skirting these challenges and for that I am thankful. 
  17. Going along with this is lack of freshness. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Maybe I'm missing something but we have a very difficult time eating fresh on a budget when you don't visit a grocery stores in any kind of regular way. Some fruits and some vegetables are hardy and we eat those but I feel like we are missing out on fresh produce in a big way. In Florida we do okay early in the season because the humidity allows me to keep much of our produce in a hanging net but as it gets warmer everything turns much quicker.
  18. Doing our part. I know I shouldn't complain about water conservation. The greedy consumerist part of me really misses washing dishes in a sink full of soapy water. Or having a legit shower every day. We are on an every 3-5 day shower schedule and let me tell you, it isn't pretty or luxurious in any way. And baths? What are those?
  19. And you know what? I can't even think 2 more things we dislike about this life. Every day is a challenge in its own way and that's good. We are together and healthy and that's huge. So while it may seem like I've complained soooo much for someone living this unbelievable dream of ours, it just goes to show that no life is perfect.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

top 20 things we are most looking forward to on the boat.

This lifestyle is full of amazing things. Places to see, things to do and eat (more importantly), and people to meet. After years of dreaming of this life, it’s so much better (and sometimes so much worse, but that’s a post for another time) than we ever dreamed. Life is beautiful on a boat and these things are why. It’s really hard to pick just 20 but these are the things we are looking forward to getting back to most. 
  1. Boat friends. Hands down one of my absolute favorite things. Josh might say I’m introverted but once we make a connection, I have a hard time letting go of friends we’ve made. One of our favorite boat persons is actually still in Vero Beach (a series of unfortunate events has left him there for about 11 months trying to solve some problems on his boat) and we are seriously discussing buddy boating with him over to the Bahamas (Hi John! We can’t wait to see you!). Over the months we were on the move, meeting people in similar and also some in very different circumstances has brought us great joy. Fozel would agree, especially if they have kids. 
  2. There are places we might never otherwise see. This is a no-brainer. Who doesn’t love seeing gorgeous new scenery? It can be challenging to get the lay of the land or figure out how to get what you need (provisions, laundry facilities, showers, etc), but at the end of most days we do NOT regret the change of scenery we constantly experience. 
  3. Experiencing the local “thing”. In the states this has been less pronounced but it still clings to every community we have been through. Whether it’s the signing tree where you leave a totem or some other local tradition, it’s always something interesting. Each place has it's history, lore, and culture and we love to celebrate it.
  4. Food. Some of you are wondering why this isn’t number one on the list, I’m betting. If you know us at all, you know we live to eat. We have happy food dances to prove it. I must say that trying the local specialty anywhere we go is always one of my “must do” items. We’ve had street vendor hot dogs in NYC and conch fritters in Green Turtle Cay. We hear there is a pretty rad pig roast to be had on great Guana Cay and I can only assume there is more goodness to be had. Seeing, smelling, and tasting the cuisine of every locale is always, always, ALWAYS a highlight of our travels.
  5. Utter independence is a real thing, yo. When we are on the boat, we literally answer to no one. We come and go as we please, period. The wind and the weather DO affect our lives but other than that, we go when and where we please. 
  6. Home is where the heart is. I’m dreading getting back and do all the stowing and provisioning. Putting on the sails and hoisting the dodger/Bimini doesn’t make me jump with joy, buuuut there is something about our boat. She’s home and we know her. Her creaks and groans and the whoosh of her bilge pump. It’s like a settling house and everything about her is familiar after 5 years (!) of owning her. We can sense when something sounds out of whack by ear and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing her so well.
  7. 24/7 together time. This one is a bit of a head-scratcher for some of you, but since Fozel has come into our lives, we spend almost all our time together. It’s good, it’s bad and sometimes it gets ugly, but it’s ours. Watching him grow has been the most amazing blessing and makes me a little wistful he’s growing so fast. Every day it is something new and let me tell you, lately there have been some real gems. I'm so grateful that I've been able to stay home with him from day one. These past three years have created a strong bond amongst us. Sometimes we drive each other a little crazy, but what family doesn't experience this?
  8. Life unplugged. I wish there was more of this, says the girl who is literally writing this as Internet content (facepalm). When we get places where there is no Internet or very limited Internet, I get happier. It’s like there is a direct correlation between the amount of distractions and my contentment. It is important for us to be able to check in when we reach destinations, yes, but when none of us is looking at a screen life is so much better. We are more engaged and observant and more in tune with each other and the world around us.
  9. Blooming where you’re planted is a thing. When we reach a place we will be for a bit of time, we try to engage in it. We get out and see what it’s all about. We try to find kids or where the kids go, at least and whatever else may be hiding in plain sight. We make each place home and this last season, those homes happened to be Virginia Beach, Charleston, and Vero Beach. We spent time getting the lay of the land and trying to make some roots, however briefly they may have lasted. 
  10. Fresh air and endless summer. Winter in much of the country is miserable. We LIKE being outside. We aren’t hunker down and watch Netflix all day kind of people (this may or may not have to do with having a toddler). We don’t like snow and ice and frigid temps. What we do like is sleeping with hatches open every day, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner al fresco, and being active outside. This time of year Florida and the Bahamas are perfect for this kind of lifestyle. We go for walks, runs, bike rides and just chill at the beach and park. Vitamin D for the win. 
  11. Boat life=self-reliance. Do you like doing things your way? Getting to constantly problem solve in a variety of realms? Yes? You might just be a born cruiser. We love it and hate some days. It saves us money in some respects. Plus, it keeps us sharp. Josh is happiest when he's taking something apart. He needs to be fully engaged in something and having a boat requires his attention more than I think either of us expected. He seems happiest when he's working on a project. This lifestyle is all about learning on your feet whether it be weather predicting or navigation there is plenty to do yourself. 
  12. Simplicity is our zen. Boat life has many moving parts. It also is more simple than you might think. We are self contained in many ways and so we don’t find ourselves as swept up in drama too much. It’s easy to avoid the fray of the rushing around and media-sold idea of needing more things. We like living simply. We take pleasure in the little things. We have less stuff and do less stuff. We often walk to get groceries or take transit and we just don’t over complicate our lives. 
  13. A chance to focus on varied interests. While I still find this very challenging with a toddler as the center of my universe, I will say that we have begun to have opportunities to do some of the things we like to do and often get sidetracked from on land like such as putzing around in the engine room, watercolor painting, reading, playing games, writing, taking photos, and the like. 
  14. Quiet. While this is another one that is often best observed early in the morning or late in the evening before and after a toddler is asleep, but goodness is it nice. The silence in most anchorages is heavy and warm. A perfect way to unwind without distractions. 
  15. Cost of living, what’s that? Our boat is paid for in full so we pay very little to live day to day. If we stay in a marina, of course we pay for that as well as insurance, groceries and any other luxuries we choose plus repairs but other than that, our overhead is much lower than it ever has been. 
  16. It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. It’s no secret we love cocktail hour. With our schedule, that sometimes starts at 3 o’clock and we aren’t even mad about it. We love to have people over to share a sip (whether it be boozy or not) and socialize. It’s tough with a toddler, believe me but we’ve had many a night with some new and well-salted friends over for an afternoon drink or nightcap to discuss many of the ins and out of this lifestyle. We regale each other of our mishaps on and off the water and give and get advice from old hands and newbies like our selves. We don’t get fancy but we do have fun. There's often music too (played with whatever instruments we all have aboard or something recorded).
  17. Sunrise, sunset and the like. At least once a day we get the pleasure of watching the sky light up with the glorious colors of nature. Not many people have the luxury of enjoying them the way we do. We can sit and wonder at the "rainbow sky" together. And nature? We see so many different creatures in our lifestyle. Lizards, fish, insects, manatees, dolphins, birds, and other sea life galore. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to learn/teach Fozel about all these creatures. 
  18. Being like snails. This is kind of two-fold. We move much more slowly on a day to day basis as well as physically. Our boat can only cover about 50 miles a day so we move considerably slower than the more common mode of transport. It gives us a chance to look around at our surroundings and actually see things. Also like snails, we move around with our home. We have all of the comforts of our home wherever we may go no matter how foreign it may feel to us. 
  19. Being the captain of your own ship. We are on our own path, moving forward towards our own destiny and that feels really good and freeing and also scary sometimes. Being the captain of your own ship of dreams requires faith, some luck and lots of planning. It doesn’t matter what the dream is, taking the first step is a magical thing to do to fulfill your dreams. 
  20. The never ending search for the next adventure. Enough said!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

all okay.

With all the recent hurricane hoopla, I'm betting some of you have wondered if we're safe. The answer, is yes. A resounding yes, as we are currently back in the midwest. It's been a long road from there to here with lots of adventures in between, but we are well. Interlude's condition is a-okay. She's currently on the hard in Green Cove Springs, Florida being looked in on periodically by a local so we get updates as this weather has been less than wonderful. We'll continue to get updates as Maria makes its way north. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have been affected by any and all of the hurricanes that have been shredding any and everything in their paths.

When last I left you, we were looking for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas. Been awhile, huh? While I didn't actively post here, I wrote every day about our progress before that and every day afterwards. I had big plans to post every detail of the crossing as well as the fun we had and hiccups we faced while in the Bahamas when we returned, but truthfully, it was a whirlwind. Due to some trouble with bad fuel, we got back to Vero Beach a little later than expected, had visitors within a few days, then sent Fozel off with my folks so we could prepare Interlude for going on the hard. Within a day or two, we were on the move again, motoring north on the Intracoastal Waterway. We spent the next week underway every day from sun up to sun down to get her to Green Cove Springs as soon as possible. Then we spent a few more days getting her all stripped down. It was tiring but in the end it all got finished quickly because some of us were obsessed with finishing and being reunited with our baby. We traveled back to Illinois, spent a week, then left on an epic 6 week road trip. Mind you, I was writing about all of this every. single. day. Seriously. Only 15 minutes, but I was documenting it.  Part of the way through the trip, we made a stop in San Francisco. And our car got broken into. All of our stuff, including laptops, where said writing had been saved in word docs, was stolen.

Pretty much all of our stuff has been replaced and here I sit again. This time, everything is getting backed up onto a thumb drive or hard drive. Lesson learned. I'll be spending the rest of summer/fall trying to piece together some semblance of a narrative of our crossing, what we did, where we went in the Bahamas, and the road trip that followed when we returned back. For posterity, right?

For now the plan is to spend the rest of hurricane season in Illinois with our families and head east to see my brother as well as our two best friends who both happen to reside in Maine. Then back to Interlude we will go for another season.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

shifting sands and changing plans.

We have come so very far. Over 3,000 miles over 7 months time. It’s been fun and challenging and arduous. It’s been full of victories and full of setbacks. It’s been, in short, life.

Now, here we sit on the precipice of the next step. We are a mere 60 miles from the Bahamas and already our plans have morphed. The weather window had seemed favorable for a Friday crossing, and so we struck out at 5:30 am yesterday morning. Fozel was asleep below as we eased out of the anchorage and followed the daymarkers to the mouth of the inlet. It was choppier than I had anticipated. There wasn’t much traffic to speak of besides a few fishing rigs speeding past us, and a tug warning us of the impending arrival of a giant shipping vessel. We hugged the south side of the channel and crept out as she passed us on her port. And once we were out of her prop wash zone, we held our breath. I was behind the helm, gripping the wheel tighter than I meant to.

The tug captain had wished us luck in the four foot seas complete with white caps before the freighter had even made the mouth of the channel, but somehow I had thought four foot waves would be nothing. We just needed to get clear of the entrance to Lake Worth and see how it would feel for ourselves. The wind was coming a bit more from the east than we would have liked, and the waves were coming willy nilly. Sometimes rolling us from starboard to port and sometimes dipping Interlude’s bowsprit in the crest of a wave and then crashing spray across her decks. Everything below that wasn’t wedged in somewhere rolled and crashed to the cabin sole, somehow not even disturbing Fozel who was curled up in the very forward outboard corner of his berth.

Before long, it was too much. We hadn’t made it much beyond the last red buoy when the unending roller coaster of riding the trough of every other wave and then crashing awkwardly down onto the crest of the following one was too much to bear. Josh and I both knew it wasn’t a sustainable way to travel for the 12 hour trip. And so, we decided to be patient and wait. We have waited this long, what’s a few more days? Sometimes, the best laid plans aren’t meant to be. We motored back to the anchorage we had been tucked into and dropped the hook. And so, we will try another day. All signs point to Monday, but as with everything in life, changes are inevitable and often imminent. We’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

on the road again.

We spent some time in Vero Beach. There were a number of reasons for that.  We did a little bit of work on the boat, rebuilt the exhaust system, installed an outboard crane, replaced the dinghy.  We rested and recovered, from back injuries which lead to the installation of the outboard crane. We also just loved it there. The City Marina has a nice facility.  We met new friends that quickly became old friends. We visited with family that lives in the area. We waited for the right weather to head south.  

Yesterday was the day that we finally were able to pry ourselves free from the comfort and familiarity that we had grown to love. Shortly before 9 AM, we slipped the mooring line free and headed south.  It is easy to understand why that place has the nickname "Velcro Beach" among cruisers. This is typically the time of year that people are heading north, but we still have a month and half before hurricane season officially starts, so we are going to head over to the Bahamas and try our hand at exploring the Abacos.  

One of the main goals since we started dreaming about buying a boat and sailing off across the horizon has been to find clear water and white sandy beaches. The Bahamas promise that and more. As we sit in our second anchorage south of Vero Beach, rolling in the swells, it feels like we are travelers once more. Each day ahead will be a new destination until the water is clear and we find somewhere else that we love to set the anchor.