Thursday, February 23, 2017

That Time We Were Models: Our Shoot with Vineyard Vines

When I opened my (very neglected) inbox and found an email among the unopened hordes entitled "Vineyard Vines Photoshoot" my interest was piqued. I clicked the message and discovered it was from one of their producers, Kerry, asking if we'd like to be featured in their next catalog as part of their "Real People, Real Good Life" campaign.

Um, YEAH!! 

But there were a few things I needed to clarify; namely 1) Scott is ridiculously busy with our business and often not available for a full day so we needed to really hammer down a date and timing and 2) [scrunches up nose] Did she know we had three (*kinda* crazy) kids ages four and under who would most likely have to be present for the shoot and could very well make said shoot end up...well, nuts?

Her response? WE WANT ALL OF YOU!!

Hooray! So I messaged Scott asking whether or not he'd like to partake and braced myself for some flack as Scott is usually not the most enthused about offers like these being that he's the more private of our duo, but I was happily surprised when he came back with "Sure! Sounds fun!"

Game on, Vineyard Vines. Game on!

***

Vineyard Vines, if you have not heard of it, is a Connecticut-based clothing brand that has a full-blown cult following. Their style is preppy and "east coast"; their look decidedly "yachty". People are obsessed with them and for good reason; the clothes are comfortable, well-made, and stylish. The styles are vibrant, fun, and classy... Seriously, check them out - soooo nice. It's not a surprise after having worked with this great company now; the people behind it (who we met at the shoot at least) are incredible.

I communicated a lot with the producers about what they wanted, and had to request that our shoot include a two hour break for the girls to nap (beauty sleep!) as well as blue M&Ms and coconut water in our trailer. I went full diva because, well, I was going to be a model (flips hair). Okay, joking. I did not pull a Beyonce, but I did request that nap time be respected under the preface that nobody wants pictures of my motley crew if we are under-slept! They happily obliged and before we knew it - the day had come.

***

We have never modeled in our lives so had no real idea what to expect (although Scott does a mean "blue steel"). The Vineyard Vines crew flew down en-masse with a crew of about fifteen (maybe a few more?) and at least as many humongous duffles full of clothes, shoes and accessories. Our shoot was to take place in three phases: phase one would be us sailing to the beautiful Peter Island, phase two would take us on the beach at Peter Island Beach club and then finally, phase three, in the luxury villa at the top of Peter Island.

A producer and photographer came to our boat at 7:30am to give us the clothes we were to wear and the general run down of what they wanted. "Just be yourselves," they said, "We have seen your pics. We just want you to be yourselves." Super! Easy enough. The photographer stayed on the boat with us while the producer followed in a chase boat getting video. We sailed as we do, the girls happily playing about, chilled out and very curious with our new crew member, but lucky for all of us, the wind was great, the sail was peaceful and we got to Peter Island for naps. "I cannot believe how well-behaved your girls are" the photographer told us as we docked. "Kids in NYC, they'd never be able to sit like these girls did for two hours without a device or toys. You guys rock!" I took the compliment because, let's be honest, our kids can be downright unruly and rude at times (they are four and two, after all). Thankfully today, they were not those things and they slayed a few hearts. Phew.

After naps we headed to the beach with several other models where we raced the sun to get some shots, because if there is one thing you need for great photos, it's light. We got some fun shots on the beach but, unfortunately, the girls weren't exactly wanting to cooperate with what the photogs had in mind. "Walk in a line from tallest to shortest down the beach" was one request that was absolutely not going to happen with our crew. I joked that the twins basically killed our dreams of being professional models because they simply could not take direction! Luckily the crew, by this time, had fallen in love with our girls so all was forgiven and they let us just do our thing. I think the shots they got turned out pretty good.

Finally, we ended at one of the Villas atop Peter Island where the shoot was to wrap up. OH. MY. GOSH. Peter Island Resort is truly amazing. Just spectacular. If you are looking for an exclusive and incredible place to vacation, this place has you covered. Our villa was top notch. We were greeted by our friend Alec and his gorgeous girlfriend Elsa (who the girls ADORE because: 'Elsa'!) when we arrived. "Welcome to our humble home" he joked as he wrapped his arm around Elsa, "Can I get you a drink?" We got a few more frantic pics as the sun was setting, sipped some wine, had some laughs and then - it was a wrap!

***

The day was better than we could have imagined and we had a total blast. The people at Vineyard Vines - from the photographers to the make up people to the higher's up - are so. much. fun. They were all nice, relaxed, and *so* easy to work with. They doted on and adored the girls (which our kids ate right up!) and we now have these incredible pictures and this wonderful memory filed under "awesome opportunities we were given". We really cannot thank them enough.

If you want to check out the profiles of the other awesome BVI locals and friends in the shoot, check them out here: Real People, Real Good Life.

***

Thank you, Vineyard Vines, for choosing us to work with! We had SO much fun and we love you guys!

And now, for the pics...

First, some behind the scenes shots:
We did raise the sails, but this is leaving the harbor and we were really hoping to dodge the squall. Luckily we did!

One of the producers showing the girls the gear. They loved him.
There were no trailers at this shoot, but big power catamarans. So many clothes, shoes and accessories. And snacks ;)
The "look book" they also had all of the pics of the models (ours included) from Instagram and whatnot, as well as our profiles and outfits.
These shadows were getting in the way of the shoot!
Trying hard to get in some final shots while daylight was still good.

They put on a cartoon for the girls and made them popcorn, it was about 5pm and the wheels were coming off the bus.
We are completely fake laughing here. It seemed appropriate.


Now, for the catalog shots:





We are also on the website:


And Haven and I are on the little mailer that goes out:

And here are some more shots that didn't make it into the catalog:









Monday, February 13, 2017

We Bought a New Boat: But Why? The Method Behind our Madness (and a photo tour!)


"This boat is going to change our lives!" I exclaimed as we stepped on board the Tayana 48 that we would put an offer on less than 12 hours later.  Scott looked at me with wide eyes, "Um, I think you're putting a lot of pressure on this boat..." he started tentatively. While, yes, I probably was putting an undue amount of weight on the effect of a boat on our life, but I truly stood by what I said and I repeated myself: "Scott, this boat is literally going to change. our. life." He shrugged and shook his head as we continued lifting up floorboards and digging through cupboards.

But I knew it: this was the one.

I'd been eyeing her on Yachtworld for about five months and looked at the listing no fewer than 200 times, memorizing the specs and committing to memory every square inch of her.

She was absolutely beautiful, checked off just about every item on our "wish list" (more on this later) and, gosh darn it, she was going to change life as we knew it. I could feel it.

***

The bottom line is this: while Asante was working for us, she wasn't really working for us. Because of our two cabin configuration, and the fact that Isla slept more or less in the main cabin (on a make shift bunk that is smaller than a toddler bed) meant that once bedtime hit at 7:30pm, our boat was in shut-down mode. At anchor this arrangement was better - as our cockpit became a veritable outdoor living room and extension of our home. However, at the dock the cockpit simply does not get utilized as much due to the fact that a) there is a remarkable lack of breeze at our marina and b) being so close to your neighbor doesn't have quite the same appeal as sitting on deck being surrounded by open water. "Something about being in a marina makes a boat feel smaller" my friend Carly wrote as we chatted about it. And I 100% agreed. It most certainly does make a boat feel smaller....And since we will be living aboard at a marina for the foreseeable future, something needed to change. Not being able to cook, converse or do pretty much anything other than whisper and go our separate ways was taking its toll on our life in more ways than one.

Scott and I are what I like to call a "perfectly imperfect" pair. Okay, fine, we're downright volatile at times (I mentioned how I'd be honesty bombing you, right?) Don't get me wrong, we are an amazing team in both boating and parenting and we can accomplish a lot more together than alone, but our union is far from perfect which may or may not surprise you. Part of this is due to conflicting personalities and stubborn natures, part of it is simply this "season of life"...The last two years have found us drifting farther and farther apart. With three kids, two of them being twins, and the purchase of a new business, we have both been up to our eyeballs in everything but each other. I tend to the kids and housework, Scott runs our business. For the most part, we pass like ships in the night and can go days without really speaking about anything other than work or kids. We have not had a "date night" in years.

What is the point of me telling you all this? Well, we needed a change and we figured, why not buy another boat to fix our problems? Ha! Just kidding, that was not our thought process at all. BUT...we did have some serious discussions about our future, we both made a commitment to work on our marriage by carving out some together time and we both decided that, yes, a bigger boat *might just* give us the space to be a little more comfortable, provide the means for a little more quality time, and allow us more privacy together. Running a business and raising three very boisterous young daughters in a two-bedroom boat was getting tight at best, stressful at worst - and more breathing room was in order.

***

"What do you think about flying to the east coast for a day to look at that boat I sent to you earlier?" I asked Scott over Whatsapp one day this summer while we were home at my mom's house. To my great surprise, he replied "Sure" (Scott is for sure the more pragmatic of our duo). And so it was; we had a 48 hour window between us coming home from Michigan and Scott heading back to Tortola to make it happen. It was rushed, it was nuts, but we did it and with Isla in tow (you have never seen a little kid more excited about getting her own "big girl room"!). We covered three states and saw four boats in less than 24 hours. The Tayana 48 - the one that I knew was 'it' and the one I was certain would shine above the others - was last to be seen.

When stepped aboard s/v Legato on that gray, overcast day in Connecticut it just felt right. Excitement swelled up in my belly and I took a quick deep breath to keep it at bay. "Don't fall in love, don't fall in love, don't fall in love" I kept telling myself, "Asante could definitely work for one more season if this isn't the one...Do. Not. Fall. In.  Love. With. This. Boat." But, as we all know, matters of the heart are simply not controlled with the head (oh, if only it were that easy!) We both knew it, though. I don't dare say she was "perfect" but she was pretty dang close. She felt instantly like 'home'. I found it no coincidence that a copy of one of my all-time favorite books, "Don't Stop the Carnival", happened to be laying on what would soon become my side of the bed.

***

The next morning as we were rushing out of our hotel to catch our flight home, I got a call from our broker (and longtime friend), Allen Schiller (best. broker. ever), letting us know that if we wanted the boat, we needed to move fast. One offer had come in and been denied earlier in the week, and another couple had a second viewing right after we did and were most likely putting together an offer as well. My gut told me she was going to go, and she was going to go quickly.  I wanted it to be us. After a quick talk with Scott and Isla at our sleepy terminal in Hartford, Connecticut, we agreed to go for it. "Let's do it," I texted Allen, "Let's put in an offer". By the time we landed in Chicago, we were under contract.

And thank god for it! Mere hours after we had a deal, another offer came in for 5K more than ours. Hours later! Talk about lucky. Timing truly is everything. Thankfully the owner was a man of good character and continued to honor our deal, but it was pretty incredible to think we were so close to losing this boat that is now our beloved 'home sweet home'. Sometimes, you need to move fast.

***
She arrived a week before Christmas (Plug for fantastic human: if you need a delivery captain, look no further than the incredible Andrew Burton! He is not only professional and accomplished, but an awesome person to boot. As if that's not enough, the boat was impeccable when we took her over, he and his crew deep-cleaned her head to toe!) and we began the crazy process of moving from one boat to another. It was... nuts. There's really no other way to describe it. Moving house (or boat, rather) while simultaneously trying to make Christmas "magical" for our three kids was exhausting and stressful. Scott was working all hours trying to finalize the new online booking system for our business (much easier said than done!) and I was doing Christmas crafts, buying presents, and doing all the other stuff necessary to keep our home(s) in order. We pushed on and persisted, and in the end felt very lucky that our situation was about as ideal as could be: our new boat was docked next to Asante, we had plenty of time to move our personal effects from A to B, we purged a LOT of accumulated junk, and so many friends and family came to our aid to help us with the move and with the girls. All in all, we had it pretty awesome. Despite these perks, moving is no fun. Moving with three little kids nipping at your heels? 9th circle of Hell. PERIOD.

I digress...

So how are we doing in our new boat?

In a word: Amazing.

We love her. I think I say how much I love her to Scott every single day. She has, indeed, been life-changing, just as I imagined her to be.

Her name has a musical connotation and means "in a smooth flowing manner, without breaks between notes." In Italian, Legato means: tied together. I think it's a pretty nice name for a family boat, and we have no plans to change it. Partly because the name is not terrible, mostly because we're lazy. Her perks are great: she is much more roomy than our last boat and the addition of the third cabin has been everything we imagined it would be. WE HAVE THREE BEDROOMS!!! Isla has her own room now and she is positively ecstatic about it. The twins share the bunk room (although, despite having two beds they opt to both sleep together on the top bunk - how adorable is that?) and everyone has their own little space now. The addition of not only one, but TWO stand-up separate showers has also been life-changing; prior to this boat the girls and I would shower off the back deck with a cold water hose, and Scott would have to walk to the marina showers (no where near as often as necessary, mind you!) Not that big of an issue, and at the time it certainly didn't seem like a deal breaker - but being able to take warm showers on our boat and not on-deck has been truly AMAZING. The list of features that we love (centerline queen aft berth, an aft cabin that is large and spacious, a nav station that doubles as a desk...etc.) goes on and on...we love this boat. Love her.

***

So what were our other desires when boat shopping this time around? We wanted a monohull under 50 feet, largely for cost reasons but also because if we wanted a ton of space we'd get a condo. We like living "cozy" and we wanted to get the smallest boat that would give our family the space it needed to be comfortable. 48 feet worked out to be just right for us. Small enough to go anywhere and still be manageable, but big enough to give our growing family of five some individual space. We wanted three cabins, an in-boom roller furling main, great sailing performance (she is a dream to sail!) at least one separate stand up shower stall, two heads, an ample aft deck swim step, center cockpit configuration, cutter rig, and not a 'fixer upper'. While this boat has done the Caribbean 1500 a few times, it's not at all set up for long-term live-aboard cruising which actually suited us fine. We are staying local for the next few years and while we eventually plan to cast off again, that's a ways away for us. By the time we get ready to shove off, there will be gear that is even better suited for long-term cruising than there is today. Off-grid systems and electronics get better and more efficient every year, so when our time to go approaches - we'll start adding things like solar power, water maker, davits and whatever else we think we need. For now, we're perfectly set up to be weekend warriors here in the beautiful Virgin Islands.

And now, for the picture tour. We will start aft and then work our way up!

This is our aft cabin. It is a dream. We love the headroom, the extra storage, and the centerline queen bed.

Quite possibly the biggest upgrade of all, the aft head with a separate stand up shower. It is heaven!

Looking forward from our bedroom door (we have a door now!)

Our saloon. We still need to add some personal touches like family photos and such, but it feels very comfortable and homey.

One thing I LOVE about this boat? It's so bright! Natural light is a must for me in a home of any sort, and we love that we get lots of it here.

Another big upgrade! A desk! I write here, Scott works here and the chair is extra space for a friend to sit when people come over.

Looking aft to our bedroom from the saloon. Our walk-thru galley is a dream.

The twins bunk room. Two beds and plenty of space to store their goodies, especially since they both sleep up top together. Scott and I designed the bedrail using L-brackets and starboard. Works like a charm!

This is where the twins sleep, together. They sometimes sleep on opposite ends, sometimes snuggled up, but always together up here. Their choice!

This is the forward head directly across from the twins' room. Also has a stand up shower. Love!!!

Isla's room. This is her little sanctuary. She truly loves it and all three will play up here together in the morning.  Books, books and more books!

Looking aft from the front end. Our home sweet home!! We love her SO much!

Here's the layout of our boat to help further the visual tour. Hope you enjoyed!
OUR OLD BOAT, S/V ASANTE (BREWER 44) IS NOW FOR SALE. 
EMAIL US IF YOUR ARE INTERESTED WINDTRAVELER09 at GMAIL.COM 
STAY TUNED FOR A FULL LISTING WITH PRICE, PICTURES and SPECS.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Newsflash: Our Kids are Not as Perfect as they Seem on Instagram

I had had it up to HERE with my kids. It was 4:30pm, I had played referee, broken up fights, dealt with unruly tantrums, yelled at the top of my lungs, cooked two dinners, cleaned the boat over and over and over again, picked up toys, broken up more fights... and I. Was. Done. I walked down the dock with two girls happily running ahead of me and one lagging behind and I had defeat written all over face and body. I was tired, I was angry, I desperately wanted a break... A nice man stopped to politely let Mira pass (the lagger behinder of our posse), at which point she scowled at him, planted her feet firmly on the pavement, crossed her arms and yelled, "NO!" Aren't they charming, I thought? I looked up to the sky in frustration. Why are my kids such jerks sometimes!?! Sigh. "I'm sorry," I told the gentleman wearily, "She is a stubborn little child." I stood, waiting for Mira and as the man passed me he said casually, "She doesn't seem stubborn on your blog..."

I wasn't quite sure how to take the comment as there was no follow up conversation after that, I believe more than anything it was an honest observation. But it got me to thinking, "She doesn't seem stubborn on my blog but...isn't it understood that my kids are ages four and two and, at the end of the day, normal kids with 'asshole tendencies'?" (Yes, I'm sorry to swear but toddlers definitely can have asshole tendencies and if yours do not, well...congratulations). After some thought I came to the conclusion that maybe based on our Facebook and Instagram accounts, our pretty pictures and sweet updates of our goings-ons, people really did think our life and kids are perfect and, well, I am here to tell you loud and clear: OUR LIFE AND KIDS ARE NOT PERFECT.

***

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for our life and I love our kids more than I can possibly articulate, but should you ever meet them, you must remember that what I share in photos and blogs are snippets of time, and - yes - mostly happy times (of which there are many!) but do not expect them to be adorable little robot children who will run when you call and hug when you bend down to greet them. I mean, sometimes they do that, and sometimes they are absolute angels...but sometimes Haven will look you straight in the eye when you give her a friendly "Hello!" and say, "I. Don't. Like. You" with clipped, perfect articulation just to drive the point home. Sometimes Mira will stick her tongue out you as you wave to her and Isla might just have a little "diva" moment if you ask for a high-five. Believe me, we are working on squishing these bad habits (behavior charts for the win!) but in the meantime, understand that our girls are not always happy, smiling, perfect creatures doing adorable things in beautiful locations. PLEASE do not be fooled into thinking that our girls are any different than other kids simply because we live on a boat in the islands. For example, I have Googled the following over the last few weeks: "Am I screwing up my kids?" "Are my kids jerks?" "How to deal with a "spirited" child?" (Good LORD how do you deal with a spirited child!?!) "Do I yell too much?" and "Tactics of the Super Nanny" No real conclusions have been reached based on these rather futile searches, but what I did discover during these forays into the interwebs was a bunch of other moms on the same page as I; confused, a little lost and worrying that we might be dropping the ball.

But we are not dropping the ball, and I know that. We're doing a lot of stuff right and we're doing some stuff wrong. It's inevitable. This is parenting and nobody, NOBODY gets it right all the time. I have my mommy strengths; an extremely affectionate nature, very patient (to a point), and an instinctual aversion to helicoptering (to name a few)...and I have my parental weaknesses: a temper, a need to 'control', and an almost OCD-like need for order (kind of hard with three tots!). These traits (along with many more from both Scott and me) will play out in our children's lives in one way or another. Some will have positive consequences, some will have negative consequences some will just be. Our parents screwed things up, their parents screwed things up before them and our great-grandparents before that... the cycle goes back to the beginning of time. But with every generation, we learn, we tweak, we change tacks and do our best. We do our best. We have all turned out okay (well, most of us anyway) and our kids (most likely) will follow suit and do the same. They will not be perfect, but they will be okay.

***

Social media in a lot of ways is a wonderful thing; it's brought me a tremendous amount of satisfaction, joy, friendship and community to my life. But there is a yin to the yang and I think the one-sided nature of it is part of that. We share the prettiest pics, the happiest times and everyone's life looks pretty damn awesome. But the truth is, no one knows what is really going on behind the curtain and things are not always what they seem. We have our struggles just like anyone else. They might not be the same struggles you have, but there are bumps in the road none the less. Our marriage is far from perfect (have your read about the divorce rate for parents of twins? YIKES!), Scott has very little work/life balance, we run a business that is constantly eating away at family time (there's no such thing as time "off" when you own a biz), we live a very public life that can be open to scrutiny (both outspoken and covert) and we have three children ages four and under. Two of them are two year old twins. (It. Is. Intense). It's not easy and it is a lot of work. But along with all that are all the positives. We own our own business. We live on a gorgeous tropical island. We just bought a beautiful new boat. We have three healthy children who are the loves of our lives. We have wonderful friends. We have a loving family. We meet interesting people every single day. Our girls have a wonderful, adoring community around them. We spend 90% of our awake time outside, in nature. We have so, so, so much....We are very lucky. When I am sharing our happy moments, I am just that: Happy. I am grateful and it's my nature to see the positive in things in life rather than dwell on the negative. But there is negative, make no mistake. Just because you don't see it, does not mean it's absent.

***

So when you scroll through our blog and our Instagram account, or when you toggle through my Facebook posts, please remember: we might not be in the exact same boat, but in one way shape or form, we are all in the same boat, somehow, someway, it all evens out in the wash. Where you might thrive, I might struggle. Where I struggle you might thrive. And it might not be so obvious based on the tiny percentage of our life that I share. So if and when you meet our (adorable, spirited, slightly feral, strong-willed, beautiful, wild and precocious) little girls and they are less than charming to you, my sincerest apologies. And if you meet them and they are the wonderful little creatures I prefer to highlight and chronicle every day, know you caught us on a good day.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The North Swell Rolls in, and I am Grateful


“The waves broke and spread their waters swiftly over the shore. One after another they massed themselves and fell; the spray tossed itself back with the energy of their fall. The waves were steeped deep-blue save for a pattern of diamond-pointed light on their backs which rippled as the backs of great horses ripple with muscles as they move. The waves fell; withdrew and fell again, like the thud of a great beast stamping.” 

―Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Tortola is known more for sailing than surfing... for the most part the trade winds blow out of the east, our waters are (fairly) protected by an archipelago of beautiful islands, and waves on the north shore are mediocre at best most of the time. It's why our beaches are so popular and perfect; they are calm and serene... perfect for swimming and lounging. Great for kids to play and splash. Perfect for paddle boarding and just kicking back... Until a north swell, rolls in, that is. Then Tortola becomes a surfers paradise and people come from around the world to surf here. When I asked my friend Aaron (a big wave surfer who live's on Hawaii's North Shore), if it really got that good here he replied, "Oh Brittany ... when it goes off - it goes OFF. It's a world-class wave".

So when there was talk that a North swell would be rolling in (they always know when it's coming due to weather patterns up north) - the biggest in eight years - I started getting excited. Partly because it's something different (yay, waves!), and partly because I am both in love with and awed by the power of the ocean (remember my review of The Wave?). If you have never had the pleasure of standing next to a beach where six to ten foot waves are crashing, let me tell you, it's incredible. The fury with which the sea hurtles itself toward land is one of the most humbling experiences to behold. The sound it makes when it crashes is almost deafening, you actually need to yell a bit to speak over it, and to see that same wave gently recede away back to the ocean...well, these magnificently and perfectly chaotic natural occurrences serve as a reminder about our place in this world. Quieting my mind is not something that comes naturally to me, but I am in my most meditative state when watching waves crash into the shore, one after another, after another... There is tremendous peace in the chaos of it all.

I am always up for a little adventure with our girls and when my dear friend Meg asked if we wanted to go "wave sighting" - I jumped. I had been thinking the exact same thing when she messaged me. We all piled into my car, cameras and kids in tow, and embarked on a spontaneous 'round the island' wave-hunting adventure. We hit all the major bays on the North side, starting in Apple and finishing in Josiah's. The drive, despite a couple fussy kids from time to time and the crazy island drivers who give me heart palpitations at every corner, was spectacular. Every turn offered a new view and I must have said, "I love it here SO much!" ten times. To live in a visually spectacular place is important to me, and holy moly, do we live in a visually spectacular place.

We stopped outside Bomba Shack and that's where we first saw the massive waves rolling in. The beaches had already all been closed because of this massive swell and the red "Do Not Swim" flags were flying in the stiff breeze. We drove along further and caught a glimpse of a "seaspraybow" - a rainbow created by the large amount of spray coming off the top of the waves glistening in the sunlight - the girls (expert rainbow spotters, in fact) were the first to see it from their view from the back seat. Pure beauty. We drove on further along the coastline, a couple waves crashing onto my car, up to the ridge road, where we continued our tour around hair-pin turns, up steep climbs and down swift slopes...we drove and drove, stopping to take pics, to tell the girls to take it in, to revel in the immense beauty of our adopted island, Tortola. The waves were roaring, powerful and magnificent from every angle. With every crash they screamed the sheer energy the ocean beholds. She can be calm, but she can be fierce. She is a force to be reckoned with.

Our final destination was in East End, in Josiah's bay. We were hoping to see surfers on the water but they weren't out this morning. The waves - we were told by some female surfers on a yoga/surf retreat that we'd just met - we're "too gnarly" in the bays we visited. Something about the period between them and the direction of the wind. We settled down at the beach, watching quietly and decided to get some snacks at Naomi's Place, a little snack shack right there on the beach.

If there is one thing that is quintessentially Caribbean to me, it is the local eatery run by a beautiful West Indian mama cooking her heart out. Naomi did not disappoint...her restaurant, a handful of tables with shell chimes dangling from every window, is as picturesque as can be. The kitchen is open and would pass no FDA test in the US, but it doesn't matter. It feels more like you are in her home than in a restaurant, and patience is the name of the game. Pots, pans and cooking utensils are everywhere and there is order in the disarray. Naomi, with her gentle demeanor and warm smile makes it that much lovelier. She shuffles around in the kitchen, tending casually to bubbling pots and spitting frying pans, her timing as natural and effortless as that of the waves to the shore.

As we waited for our food, the girls checked out Naomi's shell collection and played barefoot in the sand outside her place, we brought no toys and they were perfectly content to explore and play using their minds.  The tingling of shell chimes blowing in the wind combined with the dull roar of crashing waves and the tinny background drone of Naomi's alarm clock radio set the scene. I looked around, surrounded by people I love, and felt a humongous wave of gratitude wash over me. What began as a little spontaneous island adventure had shaken my senses, awakened my creativity and reminded me all that I love about island life.

And my God, do I love island life. For all the challenges and struggles it presents, the beauty it brings forth - for me, my family - is worth it all. Like the waves crashing into the shore, there is magnificence in the chaos.

“[The waves] move across a faint horizon, the rush of love and the surge of grief, the respite of peace and then fear again, the heart that beats and then lies still, the rise and fall and rise and fall of all of it, the incoming and the outgoing, the infinite procession of life. And the ocean wraps the earth, a reminder. The mysteries come forward in waves.” 

―Susan Casey, The Wave







Saturday, December 24, 2016

Twas the Night Before Christmas: Nautical Style

It's Christmas Eve!! I have SO much to write about and SO much to share, but time has not allowed...so those things will have to wait - suffice it to say that life has been insanely hectic (we have a new boat and moved aboard three days before Christmas!) and amazing (we have a new boat and it's Christmas!) I am prepping for a weekend of festivities so cannot give you all the details just yet but for now, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and share this oldie but goodie re-write of an old classic I wrote a few years back...

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the boat, 
not a creature was stirring, not even a roach.
The dry bags were hung on the davits with care, 
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their berth, 
while visions of snorkeling filled them with mirth.
And mama in her ponytail and I in my headlamp, 
had just dropped the 'hook in a new harbor "camp".

When out on the deck there arose such a clatter, 
I sprang from the nav station to see what was the matter.
To the aft cabin I flew like a flash, 
grabbed my machete and opened the hatch.

The full moonlight sparkled and danced on the ocean, 
while our boat gently rocked with a side to side motion.
When what to my sun-tired eyes should appear, 
but a flying pirogue pulled by eight tiny deer.
With a laughing old helmsman singin' a Caribbean shtick, 
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than dolphins, his coursers they came, 
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Dasher! Now Dancer! 
Now Prancer! Now Vixen!
On Comet! On Cupid!
On Donner! On Blitzen!
From the top of the mast all the way to the clew!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away you!"

As sea birds before a wild hurricane fly, 
when met with an obstacle, take to the sky.
Over twinkling anchor lights 'round the harbor they flew
with a boat full of parts and St. Nicholas, too. 

When suddenly I heard on the cabin-top roof 
the prancing and pawing of each tiny hoof.
As I clicked off my headlamp and was turning around, 
down the companionway stairs came St. Nick with a bound!

Hawaiian shirt, bermuda shorts and waternut in hand,
his feet and his face were all covered in sand.
A sack full of provisions he had slung on his hub
and he looked like a man just returned from Sam's Club.

His eyes, how they sparkled!  His wrinkles, how cheery!
His cheeks were all sunburned, his nose was all peely!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a sail, 
the ends of his beard housed a braid, like a tail.
The stump of his Cuban cast a faint yellow glow,
but the Old Salt, he knew better than to smoke down below.
His face was all weathered, and he had a big tum, 
from a lifetime of rays and plenty of fun. 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old Salt
and I knew right away this was not an assault.
A wink of his eye and a swig of his rum, 
soon gave me to know he was nothing but fun.

He spoke not a word, but got to work down below
And serviced our systems with the speed of a pro!
He cleaned up our terminals and replaced an old hose, 
After halving my "to-do" list, up the companionway he rose.

He jumped into his boat, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all went like a nautical missile.
But I heard him exclaim as he sailed through the night
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

© original adaptation written by Brittany Meyers, property of Windtraveler.net

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Few of Our Favorite Things: 2016 Christmas Edition

© Tom Wang | Dreamstime.com - Santa Claus sitting on beach chairs. Christmas holiday concept.
It's the most wonderful time of the year! But for many, it can be super stressful. Christmas is not all about presents (for our girls we are sticking to the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" gift giving plan to keep it simple and not make it all about "stuff"), but it is about the spirit of giving and, let's face it, getting and giving presents is so much fun! Some folks, however, are tricky to buy for and others (like me!) get stumped and need some inspiration for ideas. For those of you who can identify with one or both of those scenarios, this post is for you. I have compiled this list of tried and true products that we LOVE and use regularly if not daily.  Another bonus? Many of these items are under $50 and won't break the bank.

If you'd like to check out last year's list, here are some more ideas for the saltiest sailors in your circle.



Micro Scooter - These Swiss-designed scooters are THE BEST. Period. Our girls rip around the marina like little pros and to see their skill and confidence develop and soar has been amazing. Micro scooters are very well constructed and super durable, but the best part is how intuitive they are. You don't "steer" by using your arms, but rather leaning your body right and left, honing large motor coordination skills. We use ours every day and they are a huge hit with the other kids around the marina - in fact I think several are getting them for Christmas as a direct result of seeing ours!

The Wagon Store Folding Sport Wagon - We. LOVE. THIS. WAGON. The twins are getting quite independent these days and no longer like to sit in their stroller to stay contained, but when we hit the beach here I don't want to lug all our gear and I still like to have a way to contain the kids. Enter: this wagon. I did a ton of research on all things "wagon" and this brand consistently had the best reviews. It is collapsible and can easily be stowed on deck or in the back of a car, and it also doubles for fun when all the marina kids pull each other around in it!

Magna-Tiles Set - We have loved these for years. When it comes to toys for our girls, we look for things that are a) quality b) educational and c) easy to store. Magna tiles fit all criteria beautifully. Our girls have spent hours upon hours creating palaces, homes, cars and creations with our set. A toy that is super engaging and brain developing? YES.

Books - One thing we do not limit on our boat is books for the kids. All three of our girls LOVE books and "reading ". Some of our favorite are the Berenstain Bears, Usborne lift the flap books, Julia Donaldson books, Tod Parr books and any book that helps drive home important lessons. I will be doing an additional post on our favorite children's books soon because reading is something that is very important to our family.

Bronwen Jewelry - I have sang this jeweler praise for years now. I absolutely LOVE her stuff and if I could afford to buy it all, I would. Her handcrafted pieces are made for active women. I wear my waterweave bracelets every single day and they still look like new despite daily swimming.  I seriously cannot stress how much I love her simple, stylish work.

Wallaroo Tahiti Fedora - I love hats and have an obscene number of them. Gotta protect the skin! I have been on the hunt for a good fedora-type sun hat for over a year and I finally found them in the Wallaroo Tahiti fedora. Super well made, doesn't loose shape, and fits like a dream. I have two, one with the turquoise band and one with a taupe band and they go with just about any outfit I own. Also great for bad hair days (of which I have many!)

SCOUT Daytripper Tote - I discovered this company last year and I am not looking back. We have SO many of the SCOUT products on our boat it was hard to narrow down what to highlight, but this tote takes the cake. I have two (blue striped and the black and white pictured) and I use them every single day. They are big enough to carry all the gear I tote around for three tots, but not so big it feels like a burden. Plus, they are waterproof and do not stain! Any spills or nastiness that gets on the bag wipes right off. There are so many different colors and styles to chose from that it will be hard to select just one!

LSpace Women's Bikini Separates - Bikinis are my weakness and I have WAY too many. But, hey, I live on a boat in an island and pretty much live in swimwear. I found this brand a few months ago and holy moly, I LOVE them. They look so good on, are very well made, and all the pieces can be mixed and matched. Super cute.



Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag - I have never known Scott without this messenger bag, he has had his that long. Now that he is a bonafide businessman (albeit one that wears board shorts all day) he needed to dig this bag out as his briefcase. It goes with him everywhere and the bags are super strong, water proof and last FOREVER.

Buff Adult UV Headwear - No red necks around here! Working day in and day out in the sun means we need to protect ourselves before it gets the best of us and sometimes, sunscreen doesn't cut it. These versatile head scarves are great to keep the sun off your neck and can also be worn a bunch of different ways. They have these for both men and women and they are also great for anyone who runs, skis or does just about anything active.

Klein Canvas Zipper Tool Bags - I got Scott this set of tool bags on a whim way back in 2010 when we left on our first boat. He LOVES them. They take a real beating and have stood the test of time. Scott loves that his tools are organized and if he needs something, he just brings out one small bag instead of a huge bulky tool case. One bag holds "every day" tools (the ones we use most), another holds all his wrenches, another all the screw drivers, and so on.

O'Neill Santa Cruz Boardshort - Scott has several pairs of these and they are super comfortable, look great on, and fit well. He's very picky when it comes to how clothes fit so if the board shorts pass the Scott test, they are legit!



USB Essential Oil Ultrasonic LED Diffuser - I love diffusing essential oils in our boat for both scent and health. This little diffuser is the perfect size for our boat and runs off a USB power chord. It has a nice light option and various time settings. Add a little water, a few drops of essential oil, and your home will smell lovely!

SCOUT Hang-10 Storage Bin - I mentioned this company above and we have no fewer than five of these bins on our boat. They are foldable, super sturdy and look so much nicer than any other collapsible bin I have found. They are great for organizing toys, clothes and just about anything. Also, they are 'wipe clean' so will almost never get stained or dirty.

Cacala 100% Cotton Pestemal Turkish Towel - Yes, these are here again. We love these towels so much that it's hard to make a list of things we use and not include Turkish towels. They are thin, absorbent, quick to dry, easy to wash, take up a fraction of the space of a traditional towel and are so versatile. We use ours as bath towels, beach towels, sarongs, picnic blankets and fort-makers. They are awesome.

Sound Monkey Rugged Bluetooth Speaker - We love music and now we bring it wherever we go! This bluetooth speaker is super durable and the perfect size for on the go. It's waterproof and dustproof and has great sound - at full volume it can really get the party started!




MIRA 1 Liter Stainless Steel Coffee Pot & French Press - Many of you recall how much I love my Aeropress, and I still do love that. But these days, I drink a LOT of coffee and making one cup at a time is not efficient. I got this stainless steel model and I absolutely LOVE it. It makes one liter of delicious coffee and looks pretty on the counter to boot!

5 Piece Mini Utensil Set - Regular sized spatula sets take up a ton of room on a boat - this little set is the perfect size and I love the versatility of all the pieces. Another product that is used every single day on our boat.

Magic Bullet Express Mixing Set - I am on  a major smoothie kick these days and every day I have a vitamin and protein packed smoothie for lunch. This little mixer is what I use! We've had ours for over four years and it's still going strong! Super efficient and just the right size for one serving, the Magic Bullet is one powerful little gadget. I also use mine to make dressings, dips and salsas. Bonus is that it's super small and takes up very little space.

Copco 16-Ounce Reusable To Go Mug - Now that I am driving the girls to school three days a week, and since I rarely get to take a sip of my coffee until well after it is poured, I use this cup daily to not only keep my bev nice and warm, but also to be able to take it to go.

***

So there you have it! A few of our favorite things that I hope make the Holiday Season shine just a little bit brighter for you and your loved ones. Merry Christmas!


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