Friday, September 30, 2011

A Year in Pictures

Two days ago, it was our one year anniversary of cruising.  WOW.  One whole year. Time sure does fly when you're having fun, doesn't it?  This has been one of the most incredible years of our entire lives and we are looking forward to what lies ahead.  Why don't you kick back and take a little trip down memory lane with us?

Windtraveler: A year in Pictures from Brittany Meyers on Vimeo.

*To view this in full screen, click the little expand symbol to the left of the Vimeo logo.

Brittany & Scott

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Bucket List

The sky's the limit for this girl!
The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.  - Oprah Winfrey

Due to some crazy technical difficulty in uploading my video slideshow to Youtube - I will not be posting our 1 year anniversary movie today.  All hope is not lost - but these things take time I guess.  So we'll just skip it for now.

We get lots of wonderful emails from fans and followers who look to us as inspiration to achieve their own dreams and goals, which I take as a pretty cool responsibility and a great honor.  Within many of these emails, there is a lot of talk about "bucket lists".  While I was sitting here quietly, sipping on my cup of tea I started thinking about the notion of a "bucket list" and what is left on mine.  While I never had an official "list", I have always had goals and dreams, and both Scott and I are a couple of the lucky ones who have been able to turn those dreams into realities.  Travelling the world, living other places, climbing mountains, achieving goals - you know - just making stuff happen for ourselves.  Obviously, living and cruising on a sailboat was one of the biggies for both of us.  But I am by no means finished.

Here are a few of the items still left on my bucket list:

  1. Learn how to surf.  I'm thinking a few months living in a place like Costa Rica with the sole purpose of learning to surf should do the trick.  Heck, maybe we'll do this when we start heading south again...
  2. Do an IronMan.  Scott has done three.  I've done a bunch of triathlons, and much to my surprise actually placed in most of them, probably because I trained with Scott and he's an incredible athlete.  Scott thought I could go pro with the right training (but I knew better).  Anyway - once I'm finished having babies, I'm going to train up for one of these.
  3. Travel someplace cool by RV.  I think driving a RV across, say, Africa (I am particularly enamored with Ethiopia) or maybe around Mexico for a few months sounds like a lot of fun.  If we can live in a boat, we most certainly could live in an RV for a time! 
  4. Be on HGTV.  I am obsessed with HGTV, I could watch it all day.   I realize this is ironic for someone who lives on a boat without a t.v.   But I am hell-bent on having them design a room in my future home one day.  Just you wait!
Those are my big goals at the moment.  I have no doubt I'll do them, all in good time...If there is one thing I have been blessed with, it's the ability to believe in my dreams!

What's on your bucket list?

Brittany & Scott

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In The Shade with ShadeTree Awnings

He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade. -Samuel Johnson

I'm not going to lie.  Our relationship with our ShadeTree awnings got off to a bit of a rocky start.  When we first received them we were...concerned.  They seemed huge.  We had ordered two awnings in total, one for the bow and one for the stern.  The boxes each measured 10x10x36 and the awnings inside weren't much smaller.  Already strapped for space, we were leery as to whether these were going to work out.

And it got worse (but it gets better - so don't stop here!).

First let me explain a few things:  it's important to note that the ShadeTree awnings are set up much like a tent, with collapsible tent poles and all.  They are "custom" made for your boat based on your measurements. Second, shade is absolutely necessary down here.  Having your boat covered can potentially lower the temperature in the cabin by eight to ten degrees, not to mention make your cockpit area bearable.  Life is much, much more comfortable ten degrees cooler down in the Southern Caribbean!

A few weeks ago, Scott and I made our first attempt at "operation awning".  We unfolded the one for the bow and got to work.  The directions were a little vague and left something to be desired.  We weren't sure which end of the awning to put forward and which to put aft.  The tent poles were different lengths and there was no way to tell what pole went where which led to us learning by trial and error.  It got frustrating to say the least.  It was also noon, unbelievably hot, and we hadn't had any lunch yet (have you ever been around a hungry pregnant lady?  Be afraid, be very afraid).  We threw our arms up and called it a day, bagging the awning back up while we cursed it.

I was devastated.

Then yesterday came and Scott and I knew we needed to do something about the temperature of our boat.  We could not take a hot cabin any longer.   The awnings were still sitting in the aft cabin and we thought that before we went giving up on them, we had to try again.  We un-bagged them both and this time we started with the 'main' awning (the one that covers the boom).  I don't know if it was a full moon the during our first attempt or what, but this time - it was a piece of cake.  A piece of cake, I tell you!  To set up both awnings took us a total of 45 minutes, which is just over 20 minutes an awning and nary a curse word was uttered.  We are so thrilled with the result - not only does the awning look sharp, but the cabin temperature is definitely cooler.  Put it this way, I'm not sweating typing this.  And typically, even typing on the boat makes me sweat.  No joke.

How do they measure up?  Here's my honest opinion.

  • Directions need some fine-tuning.  Marking which tent poles go in which pocket would help tremendously (some of the tent poles are different lengths).
  • They are not cheap.  We got a very good price on our awnings because of this blog, but even still they were an investment.  HOWEVER, I am a firm believer in "you get what you pay for".  Scott and I tried a regular old tarp before (very cheap) and the sun and wind ate it right up within three weeks.  
  • The tent poles don't float, so you must be very careful working with them so they don't fall overboard.
  • The tent pole "pockets" don't seem as sturdy as the rest of the awning - we think these might be the weak spot, but don't know as ours haven't been time-tested.
  • While they are compact, they are not small and you must allocate space for them.
  • The awning is clearly made out of top of the line, very durable material that will not be eaten by the sun (didn't know the sun could 'eat'? Trust me, the sun eats everything down here!).
  • Once assembled the awnings are tall enough to walk under making it almost completely non-invasive.
  • They come with these great additional bungee clips so you can "tweak" your awning and shape it "just right".  They are very easy to use and also marine-grade (like everything else).
  • Once you get the hang of it, they are relatively easy and intuitive to set up.
  • They make a difference.  Our cabin feels at least 10 degrees cooler than it did before.  Plus, the shape of the awnings funnels air through them so there seems to be more breeze around the boat.
  • The staff at Shadetree are incredibly friendly and responsive.  Our awnings arrived just three weeks after we ordered them (they'd be quicker in the US).
  • We can leave our hatches open when it rains!  No more open, close, open, close every time a little rain shower blows through (though I'm sure we'd still have to close them for a torrential downpour).
Looking forward
Looking aft
 Overall - we are thrilled with our awnings and they make life much, much cooler.  For more information on Shadetree awnings, go here.

Brittany & Scott

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Ways to Ensure You Will Enjoy Cruising

Rasmus underway.  Taken by our good friends on m/v Finally Fun.
Will you enjoy the cruising life?  

I'm not sure.  Some people love it, some people don't.  Unfortunately, you won't really know where you fall in the spectrum until you get out here yourself.  However, if you keep these ten things in mind - the transition should be a little easier. Here are the

Top 10 Ways to Ensure You Will Enjoy Cruising
  1. Be flexible.  If you are someone who likes things precisely your way, you are probably going to have a hard time on the water.  "Island time" is a very real phenomenon out here and things just don't happen like they do on land.  If you have a fit when Starbucks runs out of your favorite breakfast sandwich or are thrown into a tizzy when the cashier at the grocery store needs to do a price check, you're going to be given a real run for your money down here!  Get ready to 'go with the flow' - I mean, you're living on a boat, right?
  2. Be open-minded.  I'll never forget the time I heard some jerk on the VHF yell "This is an English speaking country!" when two Spanish cruisers were talking back and forth in their native tongue over the radio in the Bahamas. It was appalling and rude and I'd venture to guess life is a little bit miserable on that fool's boat.  There is no room for close-mindedness out here - so if you are one of those people, do us all a favor and stay home.  Just because you are from the USA (or Canada, or the UK, or Europe) doesn't mean the rest of the world has to act like they are too.
  3. Don't try to adhere to strict schedules.  If you like to make "plans" and have a well-detailed itinerary of your future cruising agenda complete with dates and ports of call, you are in for disappointment.  On the water you must always be prepared to change tacks and you need to be okay with that.  A loose itinerary is a good thing for guidance, but if you plan to rigidly stick to it, you're going to be one frustrated cruiser.  The beauty of this life is the uncertainty and spontaneity of it all, so embrace it!  Along the same vein - never ever try to 'beat' weather.  You (and perhaps your boat) will be the only things that get 'beat' if you play that game.
  4. Be self sufficient.  The most frustrated/unhappy cruisers we have met are those that aren't able to maintain their boats and/or who's boats are in poor cruising condition.  When things break, they are at a loss.  Nearly every time they make a passage, something fails - adding to the overwhelming list of things to fix.  If you are not prepared to fix these things, be ready to deal with a local who will not only charge you an arm and a leg, but might not even be able to solve your problem (oh, and you won't figure this out for two weeks).  Not everything can be fixed by you and eventually you will need to employ the skill of an expert, but being able to fix the small stuff on your own will help you tremendously.
  5. Enjoy moments of solitude.  Can't sit by yourself in peace and quite for an hour or two?  Well start meditating or else you will probably not enjoy passage-making.  Scott prefers to pass the time dreaming, sketching product ideas and tinkering with on-board projects and I am perfectly content to read or write for hours and hours on end.  Even if you plan on "coastal cruising" you will have to spend many days alone at sea and if you plan on crossing an ocean, you'll have to spend weeks upon weeks on your own.  Best to try to wrap your head around that!
  6. Find pleasure in sailing.  I think it goes without saying that if you dislike sailing, you will most likely dislike cruising.  Sailing requires work and patience - but it's fun.  Scott loves to tweak sails and adjust jib cars to shape the sails just right to squeeze another half knot out of them.  Learning these skills can be a great way to pass the time as well.  
  7. Enjoy the locals.  Scott and I aren't usually drawn to the mass throngs of 'cruiser' activities that are often available in certain ports (but there are a TON available to you if you are!  Beach parties, volleyball, group tours and excursions... etc).  While we definitely enjoy some of the social interaction - we'd much prefer to explore by ourselves or with a couple friends and have found that you meet and interact with more locals that way.  Some of our best memories are those random, authentic moments with locals, so we seek those out.
  8. Be comfortable.  Your boat is your home.  Make it livable;  make it cozy, pretty and comfortable.  This is particularly important for the husband who's wife is an unwilling/hesitant participant in their dream - if your boat isn't comfortable for her - trust me, you will be miserable and your cruising plans will be cut short.  That doesn't mean you have to go out and buy a top of the line boat, but make sure the boat you chose is comfortable and nice.  Similarly, if you buy a boat on Craigslist for $5,000 - you'd better be ready to fix things...a lot.
  9. Be confident in your abilities and your boat.  No, you don't need to leave with all sorts of boating certifications and you don't need to be a pro.  But you should know enough to be dangerous.  Understand the basics of sail trim, have a firm grasp on navigation and safety - but don't fret if you've never sailed 'offshore' before.  Everyone has to start somewhere!  In addition - have confidence in your boat!  After working on her for over a year, we knew our boat was a tried and tested blue water cruiser who could handle just about anything thrown her way.  This, in turn, made us more confident as cruisers.  You will learn a TON along the way - the learning curve is steep here and you will usually only make mistakes once!
  10. Have realistic expectations.  I think this is the most important of all.  Ever go to an over-hyped movie expecting you were going to see the best film of the year, only to be sorely disappointed?  Having inflated or unrealistic expectations is the quickest way to kill your cruising dream.  Be ready for the highest highs...and the lowest lows.  Be prepared for beautiful sunsets, raging storms and everything in between.  If your picture of cruising was formed by listening to a Jimmy Buffett album,  you're in for a big surprise!
While we are not the experts - if you keep these 10 things in check we think you'll have an easier time adjusting to a gypsy life at sea!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to Grenada!

After nearly four weeks in Trinidad, we are heading back to Grenada!

We have had a wonderful time here and met some fantastic people.  Because this visit was 95% work, it left us little time to explore but regardless, we had a blast staying with our good friends!  We plan to return in January or February when we haul the boat out before we fly home to have our baby, so we'll 
have plenty time to explore more by then when Scott isn't working 10 hours a day.

We must give a heartfelt shout-out to our hosts (and friends) Karly and Jason who so graciously let us stay with them for almost four weeks.  That is a LONG time for house guests!  Not only did they make us feel right at home, but (when time permitted) they showed us their beloved Trinidad and gave us a glimpse into their lives as expats.  We owe them one BIG TIME and are hoping to repay the favor
sometime in the future. Thanks guys - we love you!

In addition - we'd like to give a public shout-out to our wonderful friends Andy and Sharon on m/v Finally Fun who watched after our boat while we were gone. They flushed our watermaker weekly, took down our tarp when a nasty squall blew through, periodically checked our lines and, in general, kept our Rasmus safe and sound.  The cruising community is wonderful that way - and we are very,
very grateful for them! Thank you guys!

We plan to shove off either sometime this afternoon (depending on the engine part) or bright and early tomorrow morning at 5am for the passage to Grenada.  If all goes well, we should arrive back at Port Louis Marina sometime soon.  We are so looking forward to being reunited with our boat!  Check the Track Us page if you'd like to follow our path!

See you back in Grenada!

Brittany & Scott

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Words to Live By...

The other day I came across this wonderful quote from Sarah Ban Breathnach and wanted to share:

Friday, September 23, 2011

What has Scott been up to?

We found him - he's been up here!
A lot of you have asked us exactly what Scott has been up to these past few weeks...

Let me tell you - he has been busy! Unlike me, (who has been enjoying a life of leisure; reading, running, writing, growing a baby...etc) Scott has been working hard.  While I would love to help out with the work - a boat yard (which I am convinced is one of the top 10 most toxic environments in the world) is no place for a pregnant lady.

Scott gets up every day between 6 and 6:30 am to begin his day.  He catches a "maxi taxi" (a local Trini taxi/bus; really a minivan chock full of people) and makes his way down to Peake's Boat Yard in Chaguaramas - which is over an hour commute.  Once there, he works all day; doing woodwork, laying floors, taking measurements, painting, sanding, scraping, building and cleaning.  He leaves around 6:30 pm, catches another maxi...then another...then walks a half mile home (the whole commute can take as long as 2 hours depending on traffic!), where I am waiting to give him a big huge hug (even if he is stinky and sweaty).  Then, he wakes up and does it all over again.  He loves it.  Nobody enjoys a project like my Scott!

Here are some photos to prove that it's not all play over here!

Brittany & Scott

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Trinidad Main Market

I had the pleasure of visiting Port of Spain, Trinidad's main market on Saturday with our lovely hosts, Karly and Jason...  

It was by far the biggest market I've been to in all of the actually reminded me a lot of the markets in Africa.  You could buy everything from flip flops to cow's heads and everything in between.  Clothes, food, spices, plants, flowers, pig name it, it was there.  Be sure to check out all the pictures down to the end and check out my first stab at video making/editing!

Brittany & Scott

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grenada Sailing Festival

One major bonus that comes with being in Grenada for an extended period of time is the fact that we are going to be around for the Grenada Sailing Festival...  

This is supposedly one of the best events of the year in Grenada (second only to Carnival) and draws racers and boats from all over the world.  What's even better? The regatta is hosted by our beloved home port of Port Louis Marina so we will be at the heart of all the action.  As most of you know - Scott and I began our sailing careers as racers so this is going to be a ton of fun!  Scott will be racing - which he is SO excited about and since I'll be as big as a house by then,  I'll be cheering from the sidelines...unless anyone wants to take a pregnant woman on board as rail meat? Only joking.  That would be awful.  Hiking out not pregnant is painful.

If any of you racers out there want to get a taste of the Caribbean trade winds on a race boat - check out the crew board and see if you can get a position!

Brittany & Scott

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Best Aspects of Living on a Boat

In the last installment of Top 10 Tuesdays we gave you the ten things that drive us mental as live aboards.  But fear not friends - where there is a yin, there is a yang! This week we bring you the things we love best about living on a boat.  So, with no further ado - here are the:

Top 10 Best Aspects of Living on a Boat

  1. Cost of living.  Our boat is fully paid for.  We owe nothing to anyone and everything we have is ours and ours alone.  Our bills are minimal.  Right now, because we are at a marina, our expenses are significantly higher than if we were at anchor.  They are still, however, much less than our former "land based" bills!  All of our bills (slip, electricity, water, gas) combined are about $460 per month.  When we are on the move - our bills are considerably cheaper (we don't have slip fees, we make our own water, we replenish our batteries with solar power...etc - we do, however, have to buy diesel from time to time).  
  2. Living simply.  Living on a boat is a simpler life,  period.  We don't watch television.  We read.  We walk to the grocery store.  We take pleasure in daily chores and routines.  We cook simple meals.  We maintain our boat ourselves.  We don't rush from place to place.  We don't overextend ourselves.  We have no real timelines or deadlines. We love it.
  3. Less clutter.  I'm talking about minimalism!  Because our home is small by anyone's standards, we are forced to have less 'stuff'.  If something comes on the boat, something must go off to make room for it.  While this was challenging at first (I would not call myself a "minimalist" at all!), it is a fantastic way to live.  Filling your life and home with "stuff" is a symptom of our "more, more, more" society and really good marketing.  The perfect example of this (because it has become very relevant!) is babies and children.  Have you seen how much "stuff" people have for their kids nowadays?!  Home's are overtaken with it all.  It is literally mind boggling to me.  My friend's on boats?  Their babies don't even have an eighth of this stuff and are just as happy (if not more).  You too might find you live a fuller life, with less.
  4. More self-reliant.  When you live on a boat YOU are the electrician, the plumber, the carpenter, the mechanic and the handyman (or woman).  While these individuals are available in certain ports - if something happens at sea (and it will!) - you'd better be prepared to get right down to it and figure it out or learn to deal without.  Nigel Calder has something of a cruiser's bible that will help you greatly in your plight and get you started, but you'll learn a lot as you go (whether you like it or not).  While I've switched out a dampener plate, re-routed hoses and know what a butt-connector is; Scott has taken to this particularly well.  He is not only incredibly handy, but a skilled perfectionist too - meaning his work is almost always impeccable.  No "honey do" lists here!  There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction (and money saving!) in knowing you don't need to pick up the phone to get something done.
  5. Living green.  I will probably expand on this more in a later blog post - but this is one of the things I like best about living aboard.  While I have always been environmentally-conscious, I definitely didn't live a "green" life when I was on land.  I have found that living on a boat has made me much more conscious.  Not only do we use less resources like water, electricity, fuel, paper...etc, but we have discovered the incredible world of natural products as well!  Because we no longer have the stores we were used to in the USA to buy certain products like cleaning agents, we have had to improvise and have found the uses of things like vinegar (literally, can do anything), ammonia (laundry), essential oils (citronella, btw, is a natural bug repellent) and more.  Our lives are greener, and less toxic because of it.  Win/win!
  6. Sunrises and sunsets.  Life on a boat usually means you have at least one unobstructed horizon right outside your companionway.  Sunrises and sunsets just never get old - there is nothing like sipping a warm cup of tea in the cockpit while the sun is rising or enjoying a nice glass of pinot noir while the sun is setting.  The stars in the night's sky are icing on the cake - if Scott and I open our v-berth hatch, we have the most incredible view and can just lay on our backs and look up at the Universe's nightly beauty.
  7. Wildlife.  There is SO much wildlife to be seen!  Tropical birds, monkeys, iguanas, whales, tropical fish and (of course) dolphins can be daily sights to the cruising sailor.  
  8. Adventure in every day.  Whether it be a hike to a beautiful waterfall high up in the hills, a wild ride on a local bus, a trip to the market or a faulty duck valve in your marine head - there is sure to be at least one adventure a day!  Some adventures are good, some are not so good - but they almost always leave you with a good story.
  9. Freedom.  Knowing we control our own destiny every. single. day is incredibly liberating.  Sure, we both work - Scott on a boat, me on my computer.  But you know what?  It sure as heck beats sitting in traffic and going to an office every day!
  10. Being able to our home.  This is unanimously the best aspect of living aboard.  The fact that we travel with all our belongings around us is wonderful.  No need to pack bags, no need to worry if we forgot something.  We simply float around the world in our home and go wherever our little heart's desire.  All we need to do is point our bow in the right direction, trim our sails and away we go!
What do you love best about living aboard?  Of if you are not living aboard, what do you think you would love best?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Home is Wherever I'm with You

This is a sort of anthem for Scott and I.  I love this song.

Of course, I'm a little biased to our version by Ben Mahoney/Leap Productions.

Happy Monday!

Brittany & Scott

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Second Show Sunday

Because Sunday is the day of rest for so many (and stats are famously low on Sundays) I am going to post some blogs from long ago.

I realize some of you might have already read them - but most of you probably haven't. So grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and enjoy this blast from the past...because sometimes, things are better the second time around...
In lieu of our announcement - I though I'd repost this one. Perhaps we'll be more prepared for parenthood than we think?


Our 'baby'
Boats and Babies: I'm Thinking they are Very Similar

Here are the ways in which we think owning a boat is not unlike having a baby around:
  1. They keep you up at night - sometimes every hour on the hour.  A full night's sleep without having to check on them, tend to them, or fix them is VERY rare.
  2. They get you sick - from what we can tell, babies are sick all the time, thus getting their parents sick.  Boats aren't all that different.  Scott and I have been fighting some sniffily sneezy snotty nose cold pretty much since Chicago.
  3. The worry (OH the worry!) - always wondering, "Is this the best solution for______? Are we doing the right thing?  Is this normal?"  Constantly thumbing through books and searching in forums to find out if what you are doing is "right".  If you leave them, you are non-stop thinking/wondering/worrying about them.
  4. They need your constant attention - without it, they will fall into various states of disrepair and/or break.
  5. They smell funny at times - babies have poopy diapers, boats have bilges and holding tanks.  I'm not sure which odor is worse (because I've heard baby poop can be FOUL) but the smells on a boat, at times, can be pretty brutal.
  6. You must think of their future - planning ahead is the name of the game.
  7. They (and associated costs) are expensive - diapers and formula are to a baby what halyards and shackles are to a boat. 
  8. They bring great joy - and a lot of adventure.
  9. Yours is the best - enough said.
Brittany & Scott

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Time

I believe I am due for some beach time.  It's been too long.  Want to join me?

Brittany & Scott

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Journey is what *YOU* Make It

We get a lot of email from followers who are looking to sail off into their own horizons, to give life to their dreams.

Many of them ask us if we think they would be able to do it/enjoy it.  The first part is easy - if the boat is sound (meaning - at the very least - in good working order with adequate navigational equipment) and they are competent, of course they will be able.  The sailing part is pretty straightforward - watch weather closely, move when you can, maintain your boat and your gear and trim your sails properly.  As for the second question "will they enjoy it"?  That is a different story all together.

I've always subscribed to the notion that you make the bed you lie in.  If you are dissatisfied with your life - you have no one to blame but yourself.  I believe happiness is a choice; and a well-lived, happy life is a series of choices (and sacrifices).  I believe the same about sailing and living aboard.  So when someone asks me if I think they'll "enjoy" it - I always answer with an "It depends".  I have read blogs where one (or both) parties did nothing but complain about life on the water; they found it unnerving, unsettling, and entirely unfulfilling.  I have heard of couples so miserable and disillusioned with life at sea that they are forced to turn around mere months after they began, their boats and dreams going up for sale before they ever get beyond coastal waters.  And of course - there are the people like Scott and I.  People who love life at sea, people who embrace it and feel blessed and lucky to live it.  Where you will fall I don't know.

I can tell you it isn't easy.  It isn't always pretty.  And it's certainly not perfect.  Things break, weather gets bad, seas become unbearable and - from time to time - cabin fever sets in.  It can be unbearably hot,  incredibly uncomfortable, and frustrating in a way you've never known before.  It can be very isolating, and it's not unusual to go weeks (or longer) without talking to some of your loved ones on the home front (internet helps with this tremendously).  There are tremendous highs followed by tremendous lows.  It is a life of extremes.  The difference is - cruisers like Scott and I tend not to focus on the negative aspects of this life - we deal with them as par for the course - and then we focus on the positive.  We choose to see the good over the bad.

Scott and I had realistic expectations before we left and we understood that living our dream meant we were going to have to take the good with the bad and the ugly.  To us, the positives far outweigh the negatives and living life on our own terms, answering to nobody but ourselves is worth it.  We're not going to look back on our life and say "Man, I wish we did this when..." and, most important of all, we are going to be able to show our children that living a life less ordinary is possible.  That, if you want something bad enough, your dreams can come true.  Our lives will be living proof.

So... will you be happy?  Will you be fulfilled?  I can't answer that for you.  But, at the very least, you will be able to say you tried, which is more than a lot of people can say.  Happiness is a journey - not a destination.  And the journey is what you make it.

Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect.  It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.- Anonymous

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Words to Live By...

Which are you?  Food for thought.

Brittany & Scott

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thumbs Up!

This is our beautiful baby!
As a follow up to our big news-break yesterday...

Here in the Caribbean, people like to greet you with a nod and a thumbs up from time to time.  It's cool, it's casual and it's oh-so Caribbean.

We think our little baby will fit in just fine down here, don't you?  We are so in love with this little sea monkey we can't believe it!

We want to thank you for your outpouring of love and support - I cannot keep up with the oodles of email and messages of good wishes that keep flooding in from you guys! Thank you so much, you have no idea how happy your words make us feel!

Brittany & Scott

ps.  No, this blog isn't going to become a "pregnancy blog" - but, being that this is a huge, life-altering event, our little bundle of joy will certainly be a blog topic from time to time and we see no shame in that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baby on Board!

Yep, you read that correctly folks - Scott and I are with child.

You know what this means, right?  We will finally have someone small to hoist up the mast, clean the bilge, and get into all those nooks and crannies that big people like us just can't get into without looking freakish.  This is good, this is real good.

All kidding aside, this is not a joke.  I'm about 13 weeks pregnant and we couldn't be happier.  Scott's already bought the baby a few nautical-themed baby books (and started reading them to my stomach) and we're running through baby names like they are going out of style.  In addition, I am one of those "lucky" pregnant women who seems to have skated through the first trimester without a single pregnancy symptom (morning sickness what?!) and I feel like a million bucks.  Hip, hip, hooray!

So what does this mean for Windtraveler?

Well - there are a few things.   First of all, we will be staying in Grenada a lot longer than we had planned (Scott has work here up until January).  While we were originally thinking of having the baby  in Grenada - we have changed our tune and are going to deliver him/her stateside (I recently got health insurance so we are covered).  There are a number of reasons for this decision - but it was mainly nailed home when I had a rather unpleasant experience with the doctor down here (there are not many choices, unfortunately) and was strongly advised, by a nurse, to give birth in the states if possible.   So we will head back to the US of A in early 2012, have the little monkey in March, and we will stay in Chicago until September when we can resume our beloved cruising lifestyle... with a 6 month old.  Other than that hiatus, we have no plans to stop cruising.  In fact, it's been our dream to raise our family on a boat from day one.  We are both working now and making money, so our cruising kitty is being replenished and we are cruising in the "black" so to speak.

When we return to Rasmus (which will either be in Grenada or Trinidad, we are undecided), we plan to continue island hopping here in the Caribbean, and eventually continue southbound through the Panama Canal.  From there (depending on how the little peanut does on the boat) we'll either cross the Pacific or we'll head over to Baja, Mexico (I have a blind love affair with Baja; never been but the wannabe surfer in me continues to draw me to it) or maybe we'll hit up the San Blas Islands? Who knows?  We're going to play it by ear and fly by the seat of our pants, it's worked so well for us thus far.  We don't commit to things like "plans" very well anyway.  We'll just wait and see how the chips fall.  As long as we're moving, we're happy.

For all of you who are concerned and/or worried about boats and babies together, please don't be.  We've met LOTS of boats with babies on them and, to be honest, boat kids are nothing short of amazing.  My friend, Alicia, of s/v Sarabande (who had her absolutely adorable baby boy in St. Thomas about 9 months ago) had this awesome advice for me:
"Don't listen to the anti-boat-baby flack!  All a baby really needs (for the first 6 months anyway) are two loving parents and a pair of boobs.  It's ridiculous what people have been conned into thinking they 'need' to be good parents!"
So. Very. True.  I love it.  Alicia rocks, and so does her little boy (okay, and her husband Brian is pretty cool too.)

So, SURPRISE!  That's our big news.  It's been hard to keep this from you all for so long!  We are so excited, and hope you are too.  This little peanut is going to be coming in to one heck of a life!

Stick with us, kids, things are about to get real interesting around here!

Brittany & Scott

Monday, September 12, 2011

Markets in Trinidad...

...are surprisingly different than those in Grenada.

They are typically bigger and have more to offer than their Grenadian counterparts, which is no surprise considering Trinidad is just over 1,800 square miles larger than Grenada, but aside from their offerings, they are much more meticulously maintained.  The thing I love the most is how they hang the larger fruits from twine creating a beautiful back drop for the other fruits that are all stacked in perfect, shiny pyramids. Genius!  I don't know why I love this so much, but it certainly catches my eye every time we pass a fruit stand and just makes me want to take a picture (and buy some fruit!).  I think it looks so pretty and makes me want to take a big juicy bite out of one of those fresh, fragrant pineapples.

Brittany & Scott

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Second Show Sunday

Because Sunday is the day of rest for so many (and stats are famously low on Sundays) I am going to post some blogs from long ago.  I realize some of you might have already read them - but most of you probably haven't.  So grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and enjoy this blast from the past...because sometimes, things are better the second time around...


On Expectations

I mentioned some time ago in an earlier post that Scott and I have adjusted to the cruising life pretty seamlessly.  I'm not sure if this means we were prepared, highly adaptable or both...but one thing I do know is that expectations can make or break how you feel about something, someone, some place...etc.  I learned this lesson long ago and have found that setting unrealistic expectations is what causes unhappiness in so many people.

My life will be better if I get that next promotion...
I'll feel better about myself if I loose 10lbs...
I'll be happy when I make more money...
He'll "change" once we get married...*
If I move to a new place, I'll be happy...

The truth is, all of those are fallacies and on the other side is much of the same.  What is that whole "curse of the lottery" again?  "If you were miserable before, you'll be miserable after"? Yeah.  My point exactly.

I believe Scott and I set realistic expectations for this trip.  We knew it was going to be fun.  We knew it was going to be hard work.  We knew there would be trade-offs and sacrifices and we knew there would be tremendous gains.  We knew to prepare not only for the best of times, but the worst of times as well.  Knowing all this has really helped us keep smiling and happy through the ups and downs.  We are living in a very extreme world right now (which is perfect for me, as I'm what some might call an "extreme" person) and it would be silly to think of this lifestyle as an "endless vacation" (it is not) or all "tropical slushy rum drinks" in beachy cabanas (I mean, I have only had ONE tiny Painkiller this whole trip!).

We are a couple of the lucky ones, because what this trip is for us is the realization of both of our dreams.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Our trip doesn't 'begin' in Florida, the Bahamas or the Caribbean - it began over 2 years ago in Chicago!  And we have been loving every. single. minute of it (well, almost every minute).

Brittany & Scott

* Scott proofread this and said "Huh?...people are going to think you are talking about me!" - I am absolutely NOT doing a passive-aggressive cry for help here!  Ha!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trini Doubles

“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture."
- Mark Kurlansky

When people weren't warning us about the 'dangers' of traveling here, they were emphatically telling us that we simply had to eat "doubles", the unofficial culinary delight of Trinidad. When it comes to food (especially food that I don't have to cook) - we listen.

The other night Karly and Jason took us for an authentic Trini dining experience on the Savannah, which is reportedly the worlds largest roundabout. Covering 260 acres, the Savannah is Trinidad's largest public park and is popular with runners, cricketers, picnickers and (lucky us!) food vendors.

At night, the parking lot of the Savannah comes alive with ramshackle food stalls and trucks selling everything from roti to Buffalo wings, home-made soups to fresh-squeezed juices and, of course, doubles:  the definitive Trinidadian tour-de-flavor.

A "double" is a something like a soft-shell taco made of two pieces of fried flat bread ('bara'), filled with curried chickpeas ('chanaa') and topped with chutney. To say they are delicious would be an understatement. They are a perfect blend of sweet and savory and oh-so-yummy. Doubles are  typically eaten for breakfast (which is curious to me, being that the main ingredients are chickpeas and chutney), but are just as easily enjoyed as a late-night snack.

Eating them is a bit of an art but not unlike eating a runny soft-shell taco. You must gingerly grab the top piece of bread by two sides (making a sling of sorts) and try your best to keep the chanaa from spilling out.  Shove it in your mouth, take a bite and enjoy! It's a messy ordeal, but as far as I'm concerned: the messier the food, the better it is.  So dig in, get dirty and don't forget an extra napkin.
Doubles in the making
Mixing my delicious juice!
Karly getting some corn soup. 
Scott also got a "Peanut Punch" - another local trini favorite!
Brittany & Scott

Friday, September 09, 2011

Taking out the Trash

Think twice about plastic.  It stays around for a very long time.

Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

- Jacques Cousteau

A lot of you have inquired what we do with garbage aboard Rasmus.  First of all, it's important to note that we have never been away from land, and therefore a garbage facility, for more than 5 days.  While 5 days is by no means a "long time" when it comes to traveling by boat - it is long enough to accumulate some trash that can get downright nasty if left to it's own devices.

We have a very small garbage bin aboard Rasmus - it's about the size of one that you'd find in a bathroom.  We have a miniature garbage for a few reasons: 1) small grocery store bags fit perfectly as garbage bags 2) the bin takes up precious little space and 3) the smaller the bin, the less 'garbage' can accumulate and therefore stink.

The first challenge is to make our little bin go a long way.  That means only throwing away what we must throw away.  If something can be re-used, we re-use it or find out if someone else can (that peanut butter jar makes a great storage container for screws, rubber bands, clips, and other small things, fyi).  In addition,  when we are at sea, anything that is a natural food product (like tomato ends, cucumber peels, egg shells,  fruit rinds, moldy leftovers...etc) gets minced into little pieces and tossed overboard as soon as we are a two miles outside an anchorage.  This helps greatly to eliminate a lot of the nastiness of garbage and saves space as well.

The bulk of our trash consists of paper towels, tin cans, glass bottles and the occasional plastic jar or bag.  In order to keep the garbage "clean" - we rinse all cans/jars/bottles thoroughly and then crush the aluminum ones to take up as little space as possible.  While recycling facilities are not everywhere, many islands and cays do have them so we try to keep the glass separate in order to recycle them later.  But what to do with them in the interim?

When we were in the Exumas Land and Sea Park in the Bahamas (where it is prohibited to dispose of any garbage), we accumulated three small bags of garbage over the course of a week.  When full, we secured them tightly and either kept them in the forward chain locker or in the dinghy.  This eliminated any bugs or nasty odors in our boat and we tossed the bags when we went ashore where we could dispense our trash.  Almost every destination has some form of waste removal - most are free - and they are usually in the form of a dumpster near the dinghy dock or right in town so finding a place to dispose of your trash is not difficult, at least in the Caribbean.

But what about when you cross an ocean?

This is another beast all together because you might not reach landfall for 20-40 days (or more) depending on your boat.  Regardless of how lightly you tread and how little waste you generate, 20 days will garner some garbage.  Obviously Scott and I have yet to do this, but some research brought forth the following information...

Believe it or not, according to the US Coast Guard, it is legal to throw almost anything overboard once you get far enough offshore (past 25 miles).  Tin cans?  Not a problem.  Simply use your trusty can opener and remove the bottom (so it sinks and doesn't wash ashore somewhere) and toss it.  Aluminum is a naturally occurring element and will eventually turn into rust and dissolve into nothing (granted, it will take a long time).  Glass bottles?  Break the bottom off those as well (again, so they sink and do not wash ashore) and toss them.  They, too, will not harm the environment and perhaps in 1,000 years some child will pick up the remnants of your wine bottle as beach glass.  How about paper products?  Shred them and toss 'em over.  They too, will dissolve and leave no trace in less than 2 weeks.  And of course, any biodegradable food stuff can be thrown into the sea as well.  Yes - a lot of these items can take a very long time to biodegrade, but as long as you are in the middle of the Ocean and they sink, you should not be doing any environmental harm.  In fact, you might help build a little ecosystem (fish and coral love "stuff" which is why wrecks are often the best dive sites).

So what shouldn't you throw overboard?

Plastic and chemicals (such as your engine oil - so make sure you carry a few spare gallon jugs in which to store it) are HUGE no no's.  Those are two of the biggest culprits of marine degradation and if you don't believe me just do a little research about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Other things like cigarette butts, batteries, styrofoam and fishing line should stay in the boat as well.  Many people double bag their garbage and stow it, like we did, in a locker until they make landfill landfall.

Living aboard and having to dispose your own waste makes you very mindful of not only what you throw away, but what you purchase and bring aboard as well.   How you dispose of your waste is up to you - but be sure to be responsible and always remember to keep the environment around you in mind.

What tips do you have for stowing garbage while underway?

Brittany & Scott

Thursday, September 08, 2011


"We build too many walls and not enough bridges." 
- Isaac Newton

Trinidad is blowing our expectations out of the water.  So many cruisers (when we told them we were coming here) raised their eyebrows, shook their heads and muttered half sarcastic phrases like 'hope you make it back alive'.  Having lived in Tanzania, East Africa during a time when there were many 'travel warnings' advising people against travelling there and 'known sects' of Al Qaeda operating within the country, I learned a thing or two about the scare tactics of the media and just how much people like to blow things out of proportion.  Unfortunately, people love a good drama.  Yes, Trinidad has declared "Marshall Law" and has arrested over 1,000 people in the past month - but you know what?  Hiking to the waterfall, walking on the beach or strolling to a nearby roti stand to get some dinner you would never know it.  The people aren't taking to the streets in angry mobs and, according to many people who live here, it's business as usual (minus having to close early) while the cops get all the bad guys.

This country is beautiful - it has so much to offer, and so far, we love it!  Granted - having wonderful friends as hosts helps a lot!

Brittany & Scott

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rest & Relaxation

This is our room at the Chateau de Francis...

That is to say, this is our room in the lovely home of our friends, Karly and Jason. We met Karly and Jason on the Windjammer cruise we took a few weeks back, and the four of us became fast friends.  In fact, we got along with them so well it sort of felt like we've known them forever.  I guess that's why it wasn't so strange that (after knowing us for a week) they invited us to stay with them in their beautiful home in Trinidad for two weeks while Scott works here in the boatyard.  Grateful doesn't begin to describe it.

So this is my lair while they are all off working - I can chill out in here, listen to the birds chirping, feel the sun through the windows and read, work, write and relax.  Of course I am welcome to the rest of the house, but this room is just so perfect and calming, I enjoy it the most.

Brittany & Scott

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Things That Drive Us Mental

Scott, going 'mental'.  Not really, but it looks like it.
The thing that makes me laugh the hardest about our lifestyle is this overwhelming insistance 'outsiders' have on calling what we do a "permanent vacation"...
Sure, we live on a boat in the Caribbean.  Sure, we don't work for the 'man' in a cubicle that measures 3x4 (though we do, actually, work) and yes, we can do things like go to the beach, snorkel and swim in the ocean daily.  BUT (and this is a big BUT) , I would wager to bet that 80% of you who call what we do a "permanent vacation" and think of it as such, would be sorely disappointed by how little our life resembles, say, a week of R&R at a beach-side bungalow in St. Barths (ah, that would be nice).  Furthermore, I would wager that an equal number of you (after seeing how we "really" live) could not be paid to live the way we do.

Don't get me wrong - we LOVE it (otherwise we wouldn't be doing it) - but this 'lifestyle' is no walk in the park, and it most certainly is not a permanent vacation. Different lifestyle, yes.  But vacation?  Not at all.  For some reason, when someone says they live in the Caribbean, all problems are assumed null and void.  If I even hint at having a bad day, I am barraged with responses like, "But you live in the Caribbean, what could possibly be so bad?!?!"  Well, I am here to tell you that it ain't always paradise in paradise...

So - in an effort to "keep it real" and not show you everything through rose-colored glasses, here are the
Top 10 Things that (can) Drive us Mental as Live-Aboard's

  1. Flies and mosquitos.  At the moment, they are everywhere (it's the rainy season here).  There is nothing, nothing more annoying than drifting off to sleep only to hear the telltale buzzing of a mosquito that you know is going to be at you all night unless you kill it.  I have become the master mosquito killer of our duo.  Today, on the way to the bathroom (which is one small step for man, one giant swat for winged insects), I killed three blood-filled mosquitos and missed about 3 others.  The clincher? Yesterday, I killed a fly - a disgustingly huge fly - that was buzzing around my head while I was reading.  I grabbed the swatter and when I squished it, it busted open to expose hundreds of tiny, squirming maggots inside it.  I cannot make this up people.  It was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen, and even typing it out has me wanting to Lysol our entire boat and douse myself in bleach.  Ugh.
  2. The heat.  It is summer here.  Which means temperatures are in the high 90's pretty much every day.  The sun rises around 6:00am and it sets around 6:00pm and it is consistently, uncomfortably hot between those hours.  The sun is incredibly strong and shade is your best friend.  There have been days we have not left our boat because simply going outside is just too exhausting.  Another side effect of heat?  Sweat.  I have never been what you would call a "sweaty" person, but down here, it's sweat city and it's gross.  Did I mention we have no air conditioning?  Because we don't.  We have a few dinky, sub-par fans that have a life of their own and do little to quell the heat (read on for more on them).
  3. No refrigeration.  We've been dealing with this since the beginning - and we've been doing okay.  But we're starting to crack.  Mostly because of the aforementioned item and secondly because we are so limited by it.  We can't have leftovers and fresh food must be gobbled up quickly or else it goes bad.  We have no cold drinks and things like yogurt, most cheeses, milk (who the heck can have cereal with room temp UHT milk?  We cannot.) and more are just not part of our diet.  If we use 1/2 a can of spinach, the other half goes bad.  If we use 1/2 a can of condensed milk, the rest is wasted.  Thus, we are strongly considering removing ourselves from the "hard core" group of cruisers who lack refrigeration and going to the dark, cold side.
  4. Our holding tank.  When you flush your toilet, the contents mysteriously get whisked way into an intricate system of government run pipes and sewers where it eventually gets treated once, twice, three times and more and then, magically, gets reintroduced into the environment all polished and pretty.  And all you had to do to start that process was flush a toilet.  Unfortunately, things aren't that easy for us.  We hold only 12 gallons of "waste" at a time (that's about two days of two people going to the bathroom) - and then we need to do something about it.  At sea we pump it overboard, but in this marina - we obviously can't.  We used to have it pumped out every week and use the marina bathrooms for anything that was not number one.  Even that got tedious because our holding tank gets so full, so fast.  So now what do we do?  We pee in the bathroom sink.  Yep.  I admitted that.  Our holding tank stays empty, we don't have to walk to the marina bathrooms five times a day and it's easier for everyone.  Sorry - I warned you this wasn't going to be pretty.  This is the truth people.  No glossing over.
  5. Each other.  Spending 24/7 together takes it's toll on two people and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.  Just because we're young and in love does not mean we skip down the dock hand-in-hand and have tickle fights every night as we dream of future horizons.  Sorry.  Sometimes, it gets ugly - especially with two head-strong people.  We have disagreements, things get heated, and sometimes - we need to spend a day doing our own thing.  This lifestyle is not for the weak relationships, in fact - we have heard many a story of marriages and engagements falling apart at sea.  If you think of this lifestyle as a way to make your already rocky relationship better, you have another think coming!  Luckily, Scott and I are on firm ground as far as our relationship goes, but I might have thrown a bottle of sunscreen at him once (okay, and an empty coffee cup - relax, it was paper!).
  6. Cooking.  I know this is no surprise to any of you, because I am pretty vocal about my dislike of cooking, but someone still has to do it (and yes, Scott cooks too).  Those of you who follow our Facebook page might even notice I have been "kicking it up a notch" by cooking more involved meals.  Again, this doesn't mean I like it.  Cooking in a boat (for me) is difficult at best and always involves breaking a sweat because a) the stove/oven can heat up this place in no time and b) getting 'supplies' usually involves me on all fours, lifting floorboards, cushions and carpets to get at something.  Then I need to do it all again to get the rest of the ingredients.   Is it a deal-breaker?  Not at all.  A pain in the ass sometimes?  You bet.
  7. Tight quarters.  Our entire home is probably similar in size to your foyer.  The other day, we saw a private bathroom bigger than our entire living area.  While we love our boat and know that it is perfect for us, there are moments when we feel like we are going to burst at the seams.  Rasmus is by no means "roomy" and living in such tight quarters; especially when we combine #1 with #2 (and occasionally, #5), it can be downright unbearable and it's then that I hop online to and dream of boats in the 40 foot range.  Then, reality sinks in and I remember all the work we did to this boat and how much work - and money - a new boat would require and the bubble bursts.  Luckily, those times of desperation are few and far between - but trust me, if you are going to be living on a boat, you too will get size envy from time to time.
  8. Our fans.  We currently have these fans and they don't blow, they suck.  Big time.  They were great, we loved them and their three speed on-a-timer convenience - but now, just barely a year old, they are taking on lives of their own.  They must be coerced to work by gently tapping, hitting (and sometimes kicking) *just* the right way while tilted at *just* the right angle, and even then they work intermittently.  They are on the fritz, and when the weather is 89 and sunny every single day, this is not a good time to be fritzing.  We despise these fans.  Do NOT buy them.
  9. Feeling stuck.  At the moment, it is hurricane season and we're not moving much.  Scratch that - we're not moving at all, actually.  This irks us greatly because we LOVE to be on the move.  Staying in the same place for a very long time is not our style and we miss the wandering life.  While we enjoy the opportunity to explore this island, we sort of wish we were in cruising mode again.  We think Rasmus is growing roots or at the very least a heck of a lot of barnacles and sea life under her keel - neither of which she likes.  Speaking of, anyone want to come down and scrape them off?  That job also sucks.
  10. Sunscreen.  Sunscreen is a necessary evil in my opinion.  You have to wear it, lest you end up looking like Magda a la "Something about Mary", but it makes you feel greasy, slimy and disgusting.  Once you mix a little sweat in there, then you really feel ripe.  Go ahead, scratch your arm and then check under your nails after - I dare you.  You'll see a disgusting brown film underneath them and you're not sure if it's dead skin or dirt.  Yeah, it's gross.  They say the best inventions simply improve existing products and I'll tell you, sunscreen is one thing that is in DIRE need of a re-vamp.  We've tried them all; sprays, grease-free, sensitive skin, generic and top of the line.  They're all equally evil.  Surely there must be a better way of blocking the sun other than being cloaked from head to toe?  A way to douse myself in some sort of invisible shield?  Some sort of body wash that cleans and applies SPF?  Inventors, do you hear my plea?

So there you have it.  I told you I was going to be honest, and I told you it wasn't going to be the rosy view you are used to.  I was also going to mention all the boat work, chores and how often things break - but Scott actually enjoys fixing these things and he lives for "projects" so it doesn't make the list for us, but I think he is the exception (he can fix anything).  So... for all of you who look at us and think we're just lounging around in the sun drinking tropical slushy rum drinks, maybe this will help you to see that, though we are living our dream and living life on our own terms, it ain't always pretty.
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