Monday, February 22, 2016

8. Work Hard, Play Hard

Just like the title says, it has been a week full of lots of hard work paired with some great times spent with friends.    
Upon our return to Abby we helped our friends aboard Soul Serenade shove off.  
Andrew & Jimmy have been long time Facebook friends but this was the first time we have meet.  We enjoyed comparing boats and refit stories, as we have similar models from the same maker and enjoyed some time out getting to know each other.  It is funny when you recognize the boat name before the people aboard :)

We re-categorize our “to do” list daily.  What absolutely must be done before leaving the states and what used to seem really important but now we no longer care if it ever gets done :)  When you are planning to leave the country for a very long time, there are so many things to do in preparation that you maybe wouldn’t do if it were just a short trip.  Spares need to be ordered and then stowed (when I’ve already filled most available spaces), the rig needs to be checked, all the little items that you put off- well it’s now time to do them because you won't have the convenience of a parts store or Walmart handy.  All the provisioning, I know people eat everywhere, but those items that you use daily and can’t be without, time to stock up.  Even the simple things like porting your cell number or making sure the mail is forwarded properly and making sure the banks know you are traveling because you won't be able to respond to their text message when they think there is fraud because your card was used in Chub Cay.  
My family thinks we’ve already left the country because I don’t even take a moment to call my momma!  But the peace of mind that we are gaining by not being rushed and tying up the loose ends is priceless.  
Here are a few of the views from this week.
Andrew took a ride up the mast to reinstall the wind instrument that an osprey thought looked like great nesting material.
Then worked on his yoga stretches while tweaking the storage in the aft lazerette.
We modified our new anchor roller for a custom fit.
    Out with the old, in with the new.
I thought I could be helpful with the new transmission install and oil change but clearly came out with more than I put in.
Not to mention trying to find homes for everything we brought back with us!

It wasn’t all work and no play.  
This marina is home to some great company and we have spent many hours getting to know our dock mates.  
The girls help by walking the new puppies while Matt & Bonnie are away at work.  And we’ve had some great get-togethers on our and other boats.
    About to try our first vegimite sandwich.
This weekend hosted a great farmers’ market where we enjoyed our first coconut water straight from the coconut.  And stocked up on some fresh produce which we promptly turned into cocktails.  
     Dad H- look at that olive bar.

One of the most used items I brought onboard, in my galley (kitchen), are these silicone lids my siste-in-law, Samantha, got for me.  I used them a bit at home but they have really earned their place on the boat.  I have no other lids, just these two sizes that fit everything from my smallest frying pan to my big sauté pan or even laying flat on the skillet if I’m warming something.  I even throw the big one in the bottom of the sink when I want my dish water to stay long enough to get the dishes done.  When I was thinking how thankful I was for these simple little tools, I was also reminded of the quilts Samantha made for each of us girls, specific to our favorite colors and personalities.  We use them often, as a lap cover when we are cold while sailing, an extra layer on our beds or as our picnic blanket when we do school on the lawn.  They were made with boat life in mind, such sweet and versatile gifts.  
And all week long we have been enjoying the home brewed beers Andrew’s brother, Richard, sent with us.  It was hard to share, but they have been a crowd favorite!  
So thanks, you two, for your perfect boat gifts.  We love you and can't wait to have you visit us on some tropical island!

Things learned this week:
Community.  We get so busy in our everyday life that we overlook the importance of community and thinking of something other than yourself.  We had a perfect stranger a few boats down who had made too much for dinner.  She heard us and our friends hanging on our boat and brought it to us for no other reason than she didn’t want it to go to waste and thought we might enjoy it.  That small gesture made such an impression on me.  It is hard to find time among the appointments and practices and daily grind to find time to engage in someone else’s life and allow them in yours, but when you can make others a priority you will find the reward is great.
Finding the balance.  We have been pushing so hard to make this dream come true, as do many in their own lives.  Sometimes we need to realize that it’s okay to clock out a little early if a friend stopped by to chat, even if it means a project is left undone.  And who cares if the dishes aren't done if I got to sit and hold my babies under the moon.  Hard work is necessary if you want to accomplish a goal but don't forget to enjoy the journey.
Not sure what to expect this week but stick around to see what pops up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

7. Jacksonville, Farewell For Now

    Pulling away from Jax with the last load of "must haves".

We aren't headed to the islands just yet but it’s all good!  
We’ve had an amazing last week in Jacksonville.  The girls both got to take their favorite dance classes and they were lucky enough to have lots of friend time.
    Why can't I just get a sweet smile?!
    Paige missed seeing one of her besties who was away at a cheer comp - love you, Olivia

Andrew & I had a red letter week!  It started the morning after we arrived with a phone call from St. Brennan's Isle (our mail service) that our Coast Guard Reinstatement of Documentation had arrived after only 6 days when they told us they had a 6 month backlog!  

The sewing of the sail was long and tedious but we got it done.  It wasn't particularly difficult, just a pain to wrestle with as it got bigger and bigger.  
    I get this close to the end of the last long interior stitch and run out of bobbin!
Now to attach all the hardware and see if she flies.  
One of the main reasons for our return was to liquidate most of Andrew’s tools and shop stuff which I thought would take all weekend, many Craigslist ads, and moving it a few items at a time.  We were lucky enough to have a one-check buyer come in early in the week and take it all, so that took that off our plate!  (Don't mention it to Andrew yet, it still a bit painful to see it all go)  Everything else had been listed previously with no interest but we were able to find a happy home for our remaining kite surfing gear that wouldn’t fit on the boat, extra parts we never installed, even an old flatbed truck that had been sitting in the driveway for 5 years. 
    Bye Big Red.
It was exactly what we needed!  And if that wasn't enough, we got a 2 year tenant on one of our properties that I had just listed while the current tenant is still in it!  AMAZING!  It seemed all the loose ends were coming together in perfect timing, we are truly blessed.  
So with all that going on, the week flew by.  Now we are all packed in and returning to our Abby in south FL.
    Too much stuff!

Things learned this week:
It is hard to downsize!  The struggle is real.  We are constantly torn between patting ourselves on the back with how little we are living with and complaining about where we will store all the crap we are bringing on board.  I’ll argue with Andrew about why he needs another screw driver but if it is my vacuum sealer, there is plenty of room :)
Even really excitingly awesome change is difficult sometimes.  I am surprisingly emotional as I walk through my house for presumably the last time for quite a while.  The beds all have sheets over them to keep the dust off, cabinets & shelves are empty, refrigerator cleaned out, trash emptied.  We are ready.  As I walk down the hall with all my favorite pictures up, where I stop at least once daily to admire my babies and have a moment of thankfulness, 
it seems to hit me hard that we are really doing it.  We are really leaving, everything is changing.  We are so excited, we've waited for this moment for years.  But I’d be lying if I said I haven't shed a few tears and Andrew woke up from a dream that the boat sank at the dock last night so I guess we are both manifesting in different ways.  But nothing could keep us from this adventure.  And when the girls can’t wait to get back to the boat, it just confirms we are doing the right thing for our family.

The lists of things to complete is getting shorter and shorter.  We’ll see what we can get done this week.
    Our wall of "to do"s at our home, luckily most items moved into the completed column.

A quick update on our friends from the last blog:  
After many hard days of mourning for the lose of their dog and an amazing, heartfelt tribute from Matt about how empty their boat felt without Goose, they decided to search for their next “baby”.
Sometimes one just isn't enough!  
    Meet Oyster & Pearl.  
Their cuteness is making it really hard for my girls to want to leave this marina :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

6. It's Not All Sunsets & Cocktails

    Cooley's Landing - Ft Lauderdale, FL

We’ve had such an amazing time in Ft Lauderdale.  Our beautiful sail from Lake Worth wrapped up with and exciting trip up the New River to our new marina home at Cooley’s Landing.  The shores were lined with amazing homes and equally amazing yachts.  The girls had a blast calling "dibs" on each of the houses they liked most.  The girls & I were thoroughly enjoying ourselves as Andrew white knuckled it to keep her in the channel and out of the path of approaching boats.  Nothing is more nerve racking than meeting a 100’ yacht at a hairpin curve on a channel about 40’ wide.  Luckily my boy executed it marvelously, we even got into our tricky slip with no issues.  
    School in Ft Lauderdale

The river traffic is unparalleled.  
We watch millions of dollars of boats be towed by our slip daily from the boat yards up river down to the ocean inlet.  
    They have tow boats on front and back to help them navigate the tight channel.
One of the larger vessels waked the marina so hard that one of the pilings we were tied to, collapsed.  That was way more excitement than we had expected during our first sundown.  All hands were on deck to carefully float us out and back into the next slip over, where we have settled in nicely.  

Ft Lauderdale offers lots of support to the cruising community via shops and resources - Sailorman-buy/sell/trade/consignment, McDonald’s Hardware-every fastner known to man & the largest West Marine in the states :)  
    Sailorman's mascot - Mockie
We have frequented the local marine parts shops stocking up on everything from new davits to lift our dinghy, a manual windlass to help lift the anchor, 160’ of new 5/16” chain for all new ground tackle, and trying to find a new anchor roller for our new to us Rocna 22, to name a few.  
It has been a productive week!

It hasn't all been hard work.  The girls have enjoyed all the various animal life that passes our way.  
    Guys pulling in blue crabs on the dock.
Lots of manatees, iguanas, ducks and dogs.  We’ve met lots of fellow cruisers and have enjoyed touring different kinds of boats and exchanging stories and plans.  We are a short walk up the river from a park that has had little festivals with entertainment each weekend and we’ve also taken advantage of some great restaurants within walking or dinghy distance.  
    Cloggers at the Arts Fest
    Sky representing for Scott Jones School of Dance when she was pulled on stage :)
    Went back to get a little stage time of our own.

Here is where our week takes a dive.  We headed out to dinner with some of our new friends, Matt & Bonnie and took their dog, Goose, along for the walk.  We had a great night chatting it up and enjoying an awesome local dive.  On our way home we stopped at a park that they have frequented to let Goose run.  He got away from the group, crossed the street and on his way back was hit by a car that was going too fast to notice he was there.  It was horrible, something I would have wished never for my girls to witness and experience.  Not only was losing Goose devastating but watching our new friends mourn the loss and not even knowing how best to comfort them was even harder.  It was a long night with lots of tears.  
And that’s all I have to say about that.
    We love you, Goose.
The next day we headed to the Museum of Science & Discovery to stay busy and distracted.  It was a great museum with lots of hands on activities for the whole family.  Sky even got to participate in a local survey of how senses affect a student’s ability to retain info learned at displays.  It was great to watch her little brain work!    
    Mad Scientists
Sending up smoke signals.    

It has been an amazing week that ended on a difficult note, but sometimes that's just how life is!

Things learned this week:
This is the new normal.  It has taken 6 weeks but I think we've found our groove.  As the projects wrap up and we move closer to what an average day will hold, everyone is seeming to thrive.  The only short-coming is that Sky could use a little more interaction :)  Anytime we meet someone new, she talks their leg off!  Can't wait to meet up with some kid boats.
We make a strong team.  Whether boat demands or life demands, we pull together to get through and make things happen.  Each one of us brings different strengths to the table but it's only as a team that we truly shine.

We are heading back to Jax for the last time this week.  We have lots of loose ends to tie up as quickly as possible.  Our first possible weather window to head to Bimini is forecasted for a week from Tuesday.  
Stay tuned to see if we can get it all done.