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.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

parenting on board.

Having kids is challenging in the best of circumstances. But when you choose to sail away from your support system, consistent schedule of activities, all hell can break loose. On land, we had friends with whom we had playdates, story time at the library, free events going on at the park districts, swimming at the YMCA at least once a week, etc. Life revolved around a very organized schedule of activities. The weekends were always more flexible but we tried to balance being out having adventures with just chilling out after a week of busyness. Then, we uprooted this whole shebang and moved onto our boat. We spent hours on end on the go, day after day for several months. We left all our family and friends as well as our rote schedule. Now we are flexible based on what Josh’s needs are in terms of projects or repairs. The m.o. aboard Interlude has very much been divide and conquer since we’ve been living afloat. The demands of upkeep and repairs can get insurmountable and since that is Josh’s area of expertise, the corraling and entertaining of Fozel often falls to me. So, we sometimes go to the park. We sometimes go to the beach. We sometimes go on random walks or ride our bikes. We sometimes go to storytime at the Book Center. The biggest mistake I made was not taking the time to get plugged into the local kid scene though. Partly because I didn’t think we’d be here anywhere near this long. And partly because we didn’t have a car. The bus only gets you so many places and if it’s more than 3 stops away, forget about it with Fozel.

And now I’m kicking myself. It’s been a missed opportunity on all fronts. Sure, we’ve had wonderful mornings and afternoons at the beach or park or ice cream shop. I just feel like I’ve been letting him down in the socialization and education aspects. It’s a lot of responsibility making sure he’s getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, nourishing food, and rest. Add in making sure he’s getting socialized, educated and having enough attention/one-on-one time with us, and it can be overwhelming. The days just don’t seem long enough. I see that there are families that are doing this with multiple kids and it makes me want to go back home and give up. How?? Fozel’s needs alone are a full time job. And even there I feel like I’m failing him. I don’t know the solution of parenting, obviously. It’s hard any way you slice it. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, which is my best. Teaching him, comforting him, playing with him, and most importantly, loving him.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


It’s been awhile since I updated the blog and surprise! We are still in Florida. In Vero Beach, to be exact. Since I last wrote we got the new dinghy, got it registered here in the state of Florida, we provisioned up again (we had begun to eat some of the meals I was going to prepare during our time in the Bahamas), Josh got the exhaust system fixed, the water pump switch fixed, and we even had a weather window that was looking good. We planned to leave the Tuesday before last. We wanted to pull into a slip for the final night before departure and were making plans to head to Lake Worth and cross on Thursday or Friday. Unfortunately, Josh injured his back hoisting the dinghy motor aboard (this always gets stowed on the back railing and the dinghy itself is stored on the forward deck upside down). He spent Monday in the ER finding out it was spasms and 2 bulging discs. Plans have been scrapped for now.

He had an MRI and xray on Tuesday and then will see a physical therapist on Thursday. Hopefully, the prognosis will be good and we can start again thinking about going to the Bahamas. It’s been a long time in the works and I would love to make it this season, even if only for a short while. I want to let Fozel run down the long powdery white deserted beaches and hunt shells while we swim in the bathwater warm surf. It just doesn’t feel right to come this far and be this close and not do it at least for a short while, right??

(See Fozel on the port side? Haha! We were playing outside on the deck with a tub full of water and cars and then it evolved into him letting them drive down the side and chasing them back toward the cockpit. He was very into it.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

indispensable things.

We met up with some power boating friends a few weeks ago (Hi Bill and Molly!) and got to talking about our indispensable items on the boat. They had very specific items they couldn’t live without but I hadn’t really given it that much thought. Once I did, I came up with a few things. In no particular order here they are:

Headlamps (especially with a red light function). Great for so many things. Our kitchen area is a bit dark so I pull one on as I prep and cook dinner. It’s particularly helpful for checking things in the oven as it doesn’t have an interior light. We use them when we check the anchor at night, when we crawl in bed to read, when we stand watch in the cockpit at night, and when we are walking through an unfamiliar marina after dark and especially when we are dinghying back to the boat after sundown.

Travel chargers (what you’d use in your car). When we are not plugged into a power source at a dock we use direct current. We use the multiple DC outlets (of which there are currently 6) to charge all our electronics except my laptop because Apple doesn’t make a DC charger (darn them!).

Reusable water bottles. This is a “duh” kind of thing but we don’t drink from open cups except at meal time or at the very least when we are at anchor. Too many opportunities for spills especially when you have a small person aboard. The Hydroflask brand is a favorite of ours. If you can get your hands on ice, they'll help you keep your drink cold for hours and hours and hours.

Travel mugs. We both have Hydroflasks and absolutely love them. We have coffee cup lids for them that snapped closed (making them all but impossible to spill even if you toss it in your messenger bag and tote it around all day). They keep coffee and tea and the like hot for an entire day. No joke. We’ve had hot liquids still be more than lukewarm 12 hours later. They’re pricey but worth the investment for us.

Aim and flame lighters. We don’t have a fancy brand we like or anything. We just use the cheapy ones from the dollar store. They make lighting the stove and oven less of a hair losing experience than using a cigarette lighter.

Wet wipes. I don’t know if I would have thought of buying them if we didn’t have a toddler. They’re great for quick wipe downs of him, any surface, and can clean spots out of clothes like a champion. I also love to toss a pack into my purse for any outing. They lower the ick factor in lots of situations.

Small skillet and small spatula (scraping type, not flipping). I’ve mentioned these before but they’ve become my staple. The skillet is from TJ Maxx and the spatula is by OXO. The skillet is nonstick and is perfect for eggs in the morning and heating up leftovers at lunch. Easy cleanup and compact. The spatula is the most reached for item in my silverware drawer hands down. It’s smallish but not tiny and is great for all kinds of cooking and baking.

Sunglasses. We live and die by daylight. So, polarized sunglasses are a must. They’re better at protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays and they make visibility at sea 100 times better—especially when it comes to spotting dolphins!

Active Captain. It’s Yelp! for boater. You can find reviews of marinas, anchorages and hazards along the way. It integrates with Garmin BlueCharts mapping technology we use on the iPad seamlessly and has kept us off more shoals than we care to count. It’s truly crowdsourcing at it’s best.

Kindles. We are both pretty avid readers. Being able to carry thousands of books in one device that is extremely efficient in battery usage is a Godsend.

I’m a big believer in living as you would on land if you undergo a cruiser life. What I mean to say is that it’s not some giant camping trip and you should have the creature comforts that you would want on land to make you your most comfortable if possible. With that in mind, these are our most loved creature comforts:

Quick drying hair towel. I’ve had 2 of these for a decade. For a person with long hair, they cut my air drying time in half. I hate to travel without them on land or on water. They run about $20 and are well worth the money. They dry quickly on the lifelines and are slightly larger than the size of a hand towel.

Art supplies. Yes they take up space. But as a creative type, having them makes me happy. I brought paper, fancy pens, a lovely set of watercolors, nice colored pencils, adult coloring books, and of course papers of various types. Between Fozel and myself, we have been putting them through the paces and it’s great for me to have something to do with my hands that also helps me unwind.

Bialetti coffee maker. We love coffee and this little stove top number is one of our favorite items from home. It makes 1 thermos at a time, is 3 fairly small pieces to clean and frankly, is kind of cute to look at. I’ve stopped drinking coffee because I ran out of decaf and I thought I would just give it up but when I’m brewing Josh’s thermos every morning that heavenly smell wafting from the Bialetti makes me regret it!

Exercise gear. We both have all our exercise clothing plus I’ve gathered some essential exercise equipment I’m so glad I didn’t leave behind. A kettlebell, jump rope, ankle weights, a set of 5 pound hand weights, a suspension trainer and resistance bands go a long way to keep me sane. Have I mentioned how much I love working out?!

Crocs. Yes, they’re ugly as sin BUT they are comfortable, they breathe and they make the best boat shoes (in place of slippers). Josh and Lucas wear theirs out in public *gasp* but mine are strictly on board or in the marina. They double as shower shoes and get the job done for just kicking around above or below deck. We’ve absolutely lived in them since we left. Actually, we lived in them before we left and I can’t think of $20 better spent for our comfort.