Friday, August 31, 2012

A Good Question...

Hunter S. Thompson is one of my favorite authors.  He's got lots of great quotes and books out there.  His most famous book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was turned into a rather lackluster film, as was another great novel of his The Rum Diary.  However, my personal favorite is Fear and Loathing in America (Gonzo Letters) which is a massive volume of personel letters written by Hunter himself (he, knowing his genius, carbon copied everything he ever wrote), from reeming out L.L Bean for false advertising to seething letters to politicians... from sarcastic ramblings to his publishers to rum-fueled diatribes to his 'lawyer' - these letters do not disappoint.  He is caustic, wickedly funny, politically fueled and perfectly irreverent.  I should warn you, his books are rife with foul language and some recreational drug use.  But we're all sailors, right?

Anyway, this is all besides the point.  The point of this post really is to ask the question:  Is your life a living adventure, or are you tucked securely into shore?

If you want more great quotes on pretty pictures, be sure to stop by our Tubmlr Page which I have had for some time, but am breathing new life into daily.  A new creative outlet for me...

Happy weekend everyone!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Awesome Sailing People: Q & A with Solor Sailor Emily Richmond

The other day I got an email in my inbox from a girl in Papua New Guinea. "...found your blog just now googling "sailing/cruising tanzania". writing from papua new guinea, where i'm at currently with my little yacht BOBBIE. thinking about doing a crossing of the indian ocean as far north as tanzania, and just noodling around to see if there was anyone out there who'd done it..." The email went on a bit more, but from that point I was hooked.  Who was this person?  She listed a website underneath her signature, and I clicked on it.  I have never been so excited to see another sailing blog.  The fact is, I don't really read too many sailing blogs.  But this one? This one is different.   She is a self-proclaimed "slack blogger", so you won't be getting a daily dose of her stuff, but she's all about quality and not quantity.   This girl blows my mind!

Meet Emily Richmond.  A 27 year old solo sailor with plans to circumnavigate.  She is smart, introspective, interesting and - oh yeah - she's currently living in a hut in the mountains of Papua New Guinea while filming an elusive tribe.  I was so excited reading about her and emailing back and forth with her, that I asked for an interview to which she obliged.  Please check her out.  This girl is going places people!  If you think we're inspiring, you haven't seen anything yet!

First of all, I think you are SO rad! Tell us a little about Emily Richmond. Who ARE you?? Where did you come from? What makes you tick?

Oh wow, that's nice of you to say! Y'all are amazing! - I'm 27, born in Florida, but lived in LA on and off since 2003. Went to film school  there and then worked as an interviewer/videographer for a fashion magazine for a bit.

You are a solo female sailing around the world. When did you first know this was something you wanted to do? What inspired you?

I didn't get into sailing till I was 20 (late bloomer!) but have pretty much just dived in headlong since then. I started just living on a houseboat during uni but then a dude on the sailboat next to me gave me Tania Aebi's MAIDEN VOYAGE, aka the gateway drug. It was intoxicating: I finished school and was southbound a few months later.

I see that you were "well schooled" in sailing, tell us about your sailing experience and how you got into it.

Yeah so that first sailboat was a little Coronado 25, the only thing I could really afford at the time (in that, they practically are giving those things away in So Cal - I think I paid like 900 bucks for mine). I had no clue how to sail and for some reason was really timid about asking people to show me. So I just read a bunch of books, rang a pal of mine from Florida and talked him into flying out. We packed up the boat with like literally the most basic stuff ever (maybe 1 handheld GPS, an old VHF, and a few charts) and took off. The first couple days were hellish as I had obviously waaaay oversold my experience level to this guy. I mean, we were literally just figuring everything out on our own. Anyways, we got through it, got it sorted and had a ball sailing down Baja. He had to head back to the states after about a month and I just sort of kept going. I ended up in southern Costa Rica some months later and knew that this was the life for me. Sold that boat there (for $3,500 amazingly) and headed home with a new plan hatching…

You're a lover of video and post a lot of great footage of you on your site. Did you study film? Do you have a background in editing?

I post a lot of terrible video on my site actually - but that's nice of you to say anyway. - Yeah, studied film producing at the University of Southern California. If you wanna make big time Hollywood movies that's pretty much the best school out there. But Hollywood's not really my thing….although a semester working (aka getting coffee) for Ben Affleck was oh so tempting. I'm more a Jacques Cousteau/Napoleon Chagnon fan these days…

I also see you're making a documentary about an elusive tribe in Papua New Guinea - how did you get that gig?
I was having some conversations with an anthropologist/expert on the tribe at the time when, weirdly, James Cameron (TITANTIC, AVATAR, etc) came to the island to film one of their fire-dancing rituals. Aside from that there's literally nothing published/recorded on these people (they're famously very secretive)…anyway, it's become a bit of a pet project for me as of late. I live about half my time up on a mountain ridge with them. I have a grass hut there - I eat, sleep, hunt, and wash with them. It's mind-stretching to say the least…

Tell us about your boat, Bobbie, and how you came to own her. 

BOBBIE is a Magellan 36. Built in '76, fiberglass hull, wooden spars. I got her in San Diego and for heaps less than she's worth. She's been good to me, and I love her so.

You inspire ME now. Who inspires YOU? Who is your sailing hero/heroine?

The fictional/non-fictional Tristan Jones is my personal fave. Tania Aebi's a legend obviously. But to be perfectly honest I think I more highly identify with the Margaret Mead, Beryl Markham, Amelia Earhart sort of vibes. I guess I'm a bit more into the adventuring rather than cruising lifestyle. Not much of a gearhead or much into sundowners with the gang. Much prefer to kind of keep to myself and off the major routes, living as closely with the people as possible, pushing myself to explore places that can be less than comfortable at times.

How do people - locals and cruisers - react to meeting a solo female sailor? Positively? Negatively? Have you been surprised?

Everyone's just mind-blowingly nice everywhere you go. Why is being nice not more popular in America? I don't get it - kindness is like the best high ever!

Is there a reason you sail solo as opposed to cruising with a friend and/or significant other?

It's just the way I dreamed it I guess. Sailing with someone else always seemed to just strike me as vacation, whereas solo sailing seemed like a bit of bravado to me….and I guess I'm into that. Then when I started putting this trip together there was also financial incentive to do it solo. It's still a relatively rare thing and when it comes to rounding up greenbacks it definitely helps to be solo if you want to attract funding. That said, I did have a dude I was falling madly deeply scarily in love with as I was about to depart. There was a brief discussion about him coming with but ultimately he stayed home. It can be a scary thing for some people, the reality of leaving everything behind….

What do you think sets solo sailors apart from regular sailors? Are they wired a little differently?

Hmm, yeah I do think they are a different breed. Not really sure what's different specifically, maybe a bit more headstrong? Who knows - the few solo sailors I do know are all coming at it from different angles, not really sure there's one unifying theme...

Give us the birds eye view of where you have been, and where you plan to go.

I like to go to the weird places. Spent some time down at Easter Island (hands down the most magical place on Earth!) then stopped in with the folks on Pitcairn Island for a bit. In Papua New Guinea at the moment, looking forward to stops in East Timor and Bali then likely over to East Africa for a good while...

Besides sails and super obvious stuff, what is the one piece of gear you have on your boat that you could not do without?

Sat phone/email. I can't imagine doing those long stretches without being able to phone home…

You were dismasted and without an engine at one point while at sea? What happened and what did  you do to get to safe harbor?

Yeah 600 miles from Easter Island. My forestay parted and ended up wrecking the top couple feet of mast. I ended up hoisting little handkerchief sails to the inner stays and inched my way through it. It was fine, actually bizarrely enjoyable…

What have you learned from traveling and sailing solo that you don't think you could have learned if you were traveling with someone else?

That most empowering of notions: Everything you need is within you.

What is your "mantra" - the saying/phrase/thing that keeps you going?

I always liked in NO DIRECTION HOME where that dude tells Dylan, "Remember, Bobby - no fear, no envy, no meanness." It's the best barometer I've found so far.

For more info about my new pal Emily and her rockin' boat, Bobbie, check out her blog.  She also Tweets.  Follow her.  Love her.  Be inspired by her!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Life in 34 Boxes or Less

I don't think I can quite articulate to you exactly how much work Scott did in the past week.  I'm not even sure if he can.  To put it simply, he "undid" what two of us did over the course of a week, in two days.  "One box at a time" he said to me on the phone in a daze, "one box at a time...  Although I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I knew that one box got me one step closer".

Before he left I told him not to worry about getting everything done, that we'd make a second trip to Trinidad to finish the job.  Scott, however, is the more frugal one in our relationship (thankfully) and he couldn't justify spending more money to come down when he could do it himself. "I'm going for it" he told me when he arrived, "I'm gonna get it all off. We're not making another special trip. I can do it." That might just be the trait that I love most about my husband, the fact that in the face of a seemingly impossible task, he only sees the possible.  He focuses, puts his nose to the grindstone, and makes magic happen.   And whats more, he does it right.  He doesn't take short cuts, he doesn't half-ass, he does it with his signature engineer's perfection and logic.  I will tell you right now I could not have done it.  To say I am impressed is an understatement.

The picture above shows Scott with 90% of our worldly belongings.  Not only did he box everything up with the preciseness of a packaging engineer, but he organized a shipper to collect the boxes, shrink wrap them to a palate and send them to Ft. Lauderdale where they will be stored until our arrival at the end of September.

Un-packing all of this should be a treat!  Looking very forward to moving onto Asante in the next month!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rasmus is Empty, My Heart is Heavy

September 28th, 2010.  The day Scott and I left Chicago on this journey.
Rasmus is now devoid of all our personal items.  Scott has been in Trinidad the past week working himself to the bone to get her cleared out.  All our clothes, our little trinkets, our personal touches and good luck charms are gone.  Everything that made her "ours" has been removed.  As many of you know, she is for sale and we have bought a new boat to continue our journey on.  This purging of our things needed to happen sooner or later, as hard and emotional as it was.

It felt so odd for me to be up here, while Scott took on the monstrous task of removing three years of our stuff from her.  If felt strange to be skyping with him about items that we should take with us, and items we should leave for her next owner.  I felt bad knowing that he was working to the bone from dawn till dusk to ready her*, with time working against him.  Worst of all, it felt so wrong that I was not there to say 'good bye' to our old girl.  I honestly don't know if I'll ever see her again, and the thought of this brings tears to my eyes.  I feel...guilty.  I feel like we've abandoned her.  Like we've got this great family dog who has been so wonderful and loyal, and we're moving into a new home that doesn't allow pets and so we're giving her away.  It's like that.

"I'm not going to lie" Scott told me the other day, "I had a good, long cry on board her today".  Scott is not prone to emotional outbursts, so this tells you a little something about the intense love we have for that boat.  I've even written about my uncertainty over whether we'll ever love another boat as much.  I honestly don't know.  What I do know is that she will forever be etched into our hearts as the most important boat of our lives.  She was the one that we took a leap of faith in, she was the one we put countless hours of work into and she was the one that we trusted, implicitly, with our lives.  She forgave us for our mistakes, was strong when we were not, and gave us the confidence to keep moving forward.  Not once did she disappoint us.  That's a pretty good track record for a boat.   She treated us well, taught us a lot and gave us memories that Scott and I will cherish forever.

She is now ready for her next owner, whomever that may be.  My one wish is that she goes to someone who deserves and appreciates such a fine boat, someone who will continue to take as good care of her as we did, who will sail her and, most importantly, love her just as we have.  The thought of someone neglecting such a thoroughbred after all we've done to her is heart-breaking to me.  We know the right person will come along when the time is right.  We know that Rasmus's journey, like our own, is far from over.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

* HUGE thank you's to our cruising family in Trinidad who helped Scott this week.  He could not have done it with out you:  Jason, Karly and sweet baby Lucy, John and Kathy of s/v Oceana, Ian of s/v Leila and the ever amazing and accommodating folks at Peake Yacht Services.  THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Lucky Life

Our buddy boat, s/v Earthling living large in Long Island
Back in the natal stages of this journey when we were in the Bahamas Scott and I, along with two friends, decided to do a little day drinking on a deserted beach.   The setting was spectacular: azure water stretched out endlessly before us as we looked upon our boats, the only two in the anchorage, bobbing gently in the ocean swell.  What was unique about this day was not the fact that we were day drinking on a beach (because that happened a lot in the Bahamas) but what transpired after...

Just as we popped the cork on our first bottle, a friendly local strolled up to us - as they often do - to say hello and offer his services as a local "jack of all trades".  "You wanna go fishn'?" he asked, "I gotta fishin' boat, all I need is some gas money an' I'll take ya to da best fishin' on de island!"  we thought about it, but declined.  After all, we had wine to drink. "How 'bout an island tour? I got a truck - I jus need gas money and I'll take ya on a tour of de island!" Again - we thought about it, but we were pretty comfy and said that we weren't going to make any aggressive plans to do much of anything that day.

We offered him a glass of wine.  "Sure" he said excitedly.  I poured him one which he promptly gulped down without pause.  He then plopped down on the sand next to us and talk turned to the Bahamas, life in the islands, and travel.  I offered him another glass, which he drank in it's entirety just as quickly as the first. "We're going to need more wine" I recall thinking to myself.

We were all in a jolly mood by this point and uncorked the second bottle.  "So where have you traveled?" we asked our new friend.  "Man, I ain't never been anywhere but a few islands in da Bahamas!" he replied in his sing-song Bahamian accent.  "You are all so lucky to have come from where you do..." he continued, "You are so lucky to be traveling all over on a boat...".  My slight buzz combined with the hot sun made me more introspective than usual.  "Gosh," I thought to myself, "we ARE so lucky.  We come from the best country in the world, we can do just about anything we want.  We are young, educated, well-traveled and, comparatively, have every opportunity available to us".  I mean, the four of us were living on boats and sailing around the Bahamas for heaven's sake!  "Lucky" didn't even begin to describe what we were.  I thought about our new friend, living his entire life on an island that was no larger than a city block without much access to higher education, career opportunities or the outside world...the differences in our lives were vast...

"I mean, you guys have no idea how lucky you are to be able to sail the ocean" he repeated, snapping me out of my own head, "You can be sailing along, see a bag floating in the water, pick it up and it can be a huge bag of cocaine that a drug boat ditched!"

Insert sound of record scratching.

What?!?!  Did he just say "bag of cocaine"??

"...if you were to find a big bag of cocaine, you would be millionaires forever!  You would be set for life!"  He was incredibly excited by this prospect, and what was even more amusing was the fact that he was 100% serious.

I think the four of us sat there with our heads cocked to the side and just blinked for a few moments before we burst out laughing.

Here I thought we were lucky because of the opportunities our lot in life bestowed upon us, but apparently, we were lucky because there was a chance - albeit a slight one - we would literally run into a big bag of cocaine somewhere out in the ocean and be able to live like Johnny Depp a la "Blow".

It goes to show, luck is in the eye of the beholder.  For some it might be their health, for others their opportunities and for a select few - it might even be happening upon a giant bag of cocaine on the ocean.

For the record, I think we'll just stick to sailing and bypass any mysterious floating bags we see...

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dreaming and Reality

Dream a little dream with me...

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac

Lots of stuff happening right now...Scott is in Trinidad with Rasmus (more on this later!), I'm working on a new blog design, sleep training* our amazing daughter and - oh yeah - there's a tropical storm headed toward Florida as we speak.

The storm has been named Isaac and he's got us on our toes because our new boat, Asante, is sitting pretty on some jack stands in Ft. Lauderdale.  I know the metaphor "sitting duck" might seem funny when a boat is actually out of water, but our boat is - quite literally - a sitting duck at the moment.  If 90-100 mph winds were to hit Ft. Lauderdale, our boat stands a chance of tipping over and falling onto the concrete.  I don't think I need to explain why a boat falling off jack stands is no bueno...

I called the yard earlier this week to discuss what should be done.  The conversation went like this:
Me:  "Hi there.  So I see we've got a tropical storm heading our way potentially..?"
Yard Guy: (curtly and matter-of-factly) "Yep.  Looks like it."
Me: " do you guys do for the boats in the yard in the event of a storm?"
Yard Guy: "Not much we can do."
[Awkward pause:  this was not the reaffirming type of answer I was looking for]
Me:  " don't, like, have any anchors for tie downs or anything?"
Yard Guy:  "Nope", he paused and I think he even might have even yawned as he threw in this next bit, "I mean, we've only had one boat fall over and that was with, ya know, 100 mile per hour winds..."
[I pointed out that by the time this storm reaches the US, they're predicting 90-100 mph winds...]
Yard Guy: "Yeah well..."(pause, as if he's thinking out loud)"...I don't think the storm will come this way, but you never know.  I'm no expert.  We just gotta hope for the best."
He did offer to take down our enclosure in the event of a direct hit, but mentioned if it broke in the process it wasn't his responsibility and after yet another awkward pause he added "I might add some more jack stands, but we'll see..."


Luckily, it looks like this storm is going to turn into a Gulf storm and head to the west coast of Florida rather than the east.  While I don't wish a hurricane on anyone, this new track is good news for our boat.  Storms, however, are by no means an exact science and tend to have their own distinct personalities so the weather predictions can be wrong.

In the mean time we'll, ya know, "hope for the best"!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

* If anyone out there has a baby, I STRONGLY urge you to read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child .  It is hands down the most useful parenting book I have read and I believe our Isla is a great napper, sleeper and baby because I followed the advice in this book.  Having a child who sleeps well is the key to a happy child and happy child = happy parent!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life Proof, Boat Proof?

It's quite a lofty claim, to call something "life proof".   I mean, "baby proof", "bullet proof" and "water proof" are all "proofs" I can wrap my head around - but "LIFE proof"?  Well, that is something else entirely.

Living on a boat, while great for the soul, is not always great for gadgets.  The salty air, the constant motion, and the propensity for life to occur at an angle mean stuff gets wet, corroded and doesn't always stay where it's supposed to.  I have an iPhone and I recently bought the LifeProof iPhone Case to help protect it in the hopes of elongating it's life at sea.

According to the company's website - this case promises four "proofs": water proof, dirt proof, snow proof and shock proof.  Meaning, I can take my phone to the beach and not worry about sand getting into all it's nooks and crannies, I can take it skiing with me and not worry about it freezing, it can fall off the table without detriment, and (here's the coolest bit) I can even take my iPhone swimming with me if I want.  Swimming! Crazy.

Prior to the LifeProof, I had an Otterbox Case which definitely did the job, but not nearly as well as the this new case (it is not 100% waterproof for one).  What I love about the Life Proof most is the fact that it is thin and does not double the size of your phone like so many of the earlier model cases.

So far, I'm digging this and while I don't know about "life" proof, it certainly seems to be pretty "boat" proof to me!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Big Chill: A Fundamental Difference Between Land and Sea

I often joke I have a master's degree in "chilling".  No television, no music, no distractions.  Just a good book and the birds chirping in the background is all I need to be content.  I can do nothing and I don't feel the slightest twinge of guilt about it.  I wasn't always like this, but after spending a couple years on a boat where you spend a fair amount of time alone with your thoughts in quiet peacefulness, I have, quite literally, mastered the art of chilling out.

I think this skill is one of many positive side effects of a life on the water where a day can pass without doing much of anything.  A while back I wrote how land life is inherently hectic.  I didn't think much about it since then until I looked around during this visit and noticed how so many people in my life simply cannot take a conscious time-out.  For some it's a choice and for others it's circumstance - but the end result is the same.  People too rushed and too busy to make time for themselves.  Most folks have to juggle work, social and familial commitments which create the "perfect storm" for hectic schedules and compelling distractions.  We run out of time. What's worse, we run out of quality time.   You don't have to abandon the rat race and live on a sailboat to get it.  Quality time can be stolen away in chunks.  It can be as simple as a walk around the block, the creation of a piece of art, a hand written letter or an uninterrupted heart-to-heart...It can be a yoga class, a warm bath, a personal meditation, or simple commitment to turn off the boob tube for an hour every night.  There ARE ways in which even the busiest of us can take pause and hit the refresh button.  Like everything else, it's about priorities.

In a world where toddlers have iPads, where teenagers spend more time texting than actually talking and where reality television has become the gold standard of entertainment - it might be wise to take stock of where you are at.  Live differently.  Make time.  Go outside.  Slow down and - while you're at it -  take a big, fat chill-pill.  You won't regret it.  Trust me, I have my masters.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Keel Hauling

Keelhauling:  It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it!
"Keelhauling" was a pretty brutal form of nautical punishment  According to Wikipedia:
'The sailor was tied to a line that looped beneath the vessel, thrown overboard on one side of the ship, and dragged under the ship's keel, either from one side of the ship to the other, or the length of the ship (from bow to stern). As the hull was usually covered in barnacles and other marine growth, if the offender was pulled quickly, keelhauling would typically result in serious cuts, loss of limbs and even decapitation. If the victim were dragged slowly, his weight might lower him sufficiently to miss the barnacles, but this method would frequently result in his drowning'.  
It is considered one of the eight worst ways to be executed, right up there with being drawn and quartered.  Given the choice, I'd walk the plank.

Anywho, we're doing a little 'hauling of our keel and hull as well - overhauling that is... And while it might be a little more expensive, it is far less torturous and the likelihood of loosing a limb is nill.

I wrote before about how our marine surveyor discovered moisture in our hull below the waterline and strongly suggested we peel the hull, which we did.  While there were no blisters to be found, we found some areas where the fiberglass had been poorly repaired (probably from damage due to going aground) and thus needed to be removed and re-applied.
Mission: Accomplished.

I just got word today that our hull is nice and dry and ready for painting.  Several of you wondered how we'll repaint our nice new bottom and we have decided to use an epoxy-based system as opposed to traditional gelcote (which was what was on there originally and is on most boats floating around these days).  There are several advantages to using an epoxy based system:
  1. Gelcote is porous and, over time, will allow moisture to penetrate.  Epoxy is a much better sealant.
  2. Gelcoat is very difficult to apply and it is almost impossible to get a nice, smooth finish.  Epoxy is easy to apply and provides a beautifully uniform surface.
We are using the Interlux Blister Repair and Prevention System on Asante.  The steps are as follows:

Nice to know that if we do any keelhauling in the near future, we'll have a nice smooth bottom to drag along!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cruising Swag: A Giveaway!

When Scott and I raced in Chicago, it was always cool to race on a boat that provided their crew with gear.  You know - shirts, hats, jackets, shorts - all with the name of the boat embroidered on them.  Average run of the mill boats don't provide crews with this sort of thing because it can get expensive, but the one-design and often professionally raced boats do.  We liked to call this gear "swag" - the term that pirates used for their booty and plunder.  There are a lot of racing sailors out there who, I am convinced, race only to add swag to their collections.  This fancy gear is like wearable bragging rights.

But I digress...

One of our blog followers runs a great site called and wanted to know if, in return for sponsorship, we'd be interested in some clothing emblazoned with our new boat's name: Asante. Were we interested in SWAG?!?  Heck yeah we were!  His site has all sorts of cool stuff from my absolute FAVORITE type of visors (the kind with the velcro on the back, so much better than the rest in my opinion and hard to find!), to performance polos, from great sailing totes to baby onesies...there are towels, welcome mats, ships bells and lots more.

We opted for two visors, one polo and one romper for little Isla.  They arrived last week and they are great, high quality items that we will definitely use on the boat. The visors I knew I'd love (because I currently own one), and the onesie is great but the polo is fantastic.  It is moisture wicking, quick drying and made of bamboo so it's super soft and light.  It will be great for the nights aboard when we find we need to spruce up a little (those are rare, mind you, but they happen!).

If you have a boater friend, spouse or relative you might consider buying them something from, because lets face it - racer, cruiser or pirate - a sailor loves his swag!

And now, we get to give away some swag to one lucky follower!! Whether or not you have a boat, you can enter to win* any single personalized item from under $50 by doing the following:
  1. SHARE this post either on Facebook, Google+, on your own personal blog or via email (don't forget to copy and/or 'tag' us so we know you did it)
  2. Comment on this post with the following:
    1.  How you shared us,
    2.  The piece of "swag" you'd like to swagger and
    3.  Your email address (so we can contact you if you win!)
Once you do those two things, you will be entered to win!  It's that easy!  I will announce the winner on Friday morning! is also on Facebook.  Go on over and LIKE 'em!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Changes in Latitudes...

As someone who can speak from experience, I have found this to be true!

Happy weekend!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homecoming and the Now

My handsome hubby comes home today. Can you believe it has been four weeks since Scott left?  I can't.  When we first came home to have Isla, this moment seemed an eternity away, a fuzzy spec on the horizon.  Scott returning from Grenada was a milestone for us because we knew that when he finished his work rotation, our time here on land would be coming to an end.  We are now on the home stretch of this visit, the slippery downward slope that occurs at then end of any significant hiatus where time seemingly goes into overdrive by passing even more quickly as the days become numbered.

The other day I took a fantastic yoga class where the teacher talked about the concept of time and how we are always moving from point A to point B, carving up our lives in digestible chunks.  Everything we do has a beginning and an end, it's how we humans create order in our lives. "But..." she continued, "it is just as important to pay close attention to the middle, the transitions - and be mindful that incredible things can happen in the 'in between' as well".  I am not talking about anything new here, being present in the "now" is not a new concept.  It is one, however, that becomes harder to master as the world around us becomes full of distraction. "We're living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, distraction, decoherence," says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace, and he's right.  It is hard to be present when we have a thousand and one responsibilities, when we have schedules to keep, when we have places to go and people to see.

This time home, this "transition", has been incredible for us.  "Don't you miss the boat?" people ask.  I always answer that, yes, of course we miss our boat and our life afloat - but this "visit" (even if it was 5 months!) was always a brief rest-stop in between adventures, it always had an expiration date.  That simple fact of impermanency made living on land a pure joy, a time to cherish, a time to take advantage of and appreciate because it was never going to last indefinitely.  I think that if we always look at our lives as constantly changing, if we are mindful that no condition is permanent - perhaps we would all live a little more 'in the present'.  If you knew exactly how many days you had left to live, would you live them differently?  How?  Would you love a little more? Would you exercise more patience and practice more compassion? Would you laugh a little harder and care a little less what others thought?  I think it's an interesting question.

The First thing to understand about the universe is that no condition is “good” or “bad.” It just is. So stop making value judgments. The second thing to know is that all conditions are temporary. Nothing stays the same, nothing remains static. Which way a thing changes depends on you.

Neale Donald Walsch

Scott comes home today which means we are mere weeks away from moving aboard our new boat and starting a new chapter in our lives.   Despite what it might seem to all of you out there in cyberspace, however, our journey never stopped.  We just changed tacks for a little while.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Friday, August 17, 2012

Deck Work

Our deck is now filled with this good stuff!
When we got the marine survey for our new boat, we were a little unhappy to find out that the results showed some moisture in her deck.  This is not an uncommon phenomenon but it can be a real pain in the butt if it's not dealt with properly.  A fiberglass boat's deck is often put together like a sandwich.  The part you walk on is the top piece of "bread", the coring in the middle is the "meat", and what you see from the interior is the other piece of "bread".  This 'core' is made from any number of materials and when moisture penetrates it - usually through a poorly bedded deck item like a stanchion, cleat or windlass - it creates weak spots that might not be obvious until too late because coring is famous for hiding and misleading leaks.

You would never have known our deck had moisture in it when you looked at her.  In fact, her deck looks pristine.  Walking around, we didn't feel any bubbles or soft spots or anything to indicate any problems. There were no obvious signs of leaks from the interior either.  Like anything though, sometimes issues lurk below the surface where the naked eye cannot see.  Enter:  the Moisture Meter.  The moisture meter works like a stud finder, but instead of finding studs, it gives moisture readings.  If it wasn't for our survey, we would never have known we had a soggy deck.  Point for technology!

Because Scott and I are not interested in DIY'ing with this boat (if you are just joining, start at the beginning of this blog and you'll see we did PLENTY of DIYing with our first boat!) we were able to negotiate the price of the boat down to compensate for this hefty repair.  As with anything boat, there are probably a trillion ways to fix this issue depending how much time and money you have.  The man we hired to do our work suggested fixing our deck from the inside rather than the outside and chose to replace the coring (the stuff between the outside and inside) with Divyincell H60.  It's got to be better than the plywood tiles that were in there before!

See the moisture up there?  This kind of moisture was prevalent in the bow and both gangways.
Wet and rotten wood removed.
Re-cored and re-glassed.
The interior is a construction zone!
The deck work is complete, and the interior cabinetry is now being put back in the boat.  Now onto the next projects!!  Sure feels good to know things are getting done while we're not there...

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Thursday, August 16, 2012

COPS: Ft. Lauderdale

An armed robber tried to avert capture by taking to the water from the beach right behind us! Fun!
A lot of people don't really like Ft. Lauderdale.  I'll admit it, I'm no Florida-phile, but Ft. Lauderdale is one of those places that make me cock my head to the side and chuckle.  It's so, so...weird.  Kinda glitzy yet kinda trashy with a healthy dose of Jersey Shore muted only by the innately slower pace of life in the lower latitudes.  If nothing else, it is a boater's paradise and a people-watchers heaven.

While we were sitting at breakfast along the beach the other day about twenty cop cars sped up from different directions and surrounded an area of beach just to the south of us.  "What the heck...?" we wondered aloud as our eggs fell from our forks.  More cop cars sped around the corner and came to screeching halts with the others.  If there was ever a question if your Florida tax dollars are going towards getting the "bad guys", let me assure you: they are! An episode of cops was literally unfolding before our eyes.  Neato! The waiters started coming out of the restaurant in curiosity and all the big-breasted and overly toasted runners and roller bladers* came to a sweaty halt to watch the scene unfold.

"They don't come out like this when someone drowns, right?" I asked the waiter.  "Nah" he replied casually  "a guy drowned last week and they just sent out one measly cop car".  We continued to stare at the beach wondering what the heck was going on.  Then the telltale sound of a helicopter blade could be heard as it swooped overhead.  "I'm guessing whoever it is, they either killed someone or have a gun" I speculated.  We all continued to ogle from the sidewalk to try and discern what was going on when two Miami-vice style speed boats stopped on the water. That's when we saw it.  A spec of a person flailing around in the ocean, struggling to swim.  The water police yanked the guy out of the water, cuffed him and off they went.  Dude tried to make a clean getaway by swimming to the Bahamas, except he overlooked one minor detail: he couldn't swim.  It made me laugh out loud.  Poor fella.

A very tan jogger came by and gave us the whole story because she saw the whole thing go down and was VERY excited about this fact.  Apparently the guy had robbed a woman at gunpoint, stolen her jeep, sped away and when the cops caught up to him (which didn't take long - tax dollars hard at work!), he ran into a bus stop, took out a palm tree and made a mad dash for the ocean. Gotta love adrenaline, or maybe it was the sunshine that got to his head?  Sunshine can do that, you know!

So yeah. Ft. Lauderdale is weird. But when I can see something like that transpire before 8am, all against the backdrop of a white sand beach and swaying palms - well, I also kind of dig it.

Pale invaders and tanned crusaders 
Are worshipping the sun 
On the corner of "walk" and "don't walk" 
Somewhere on US 1 
I'm back to livin' Floridays 
Blue skies and ultra-violet rays 
Lookin' for a better day.
-Jimmy Buffett, Floridays- 

Brittany, Scott & Isla

*Yeah, people still roller blade! Surprised me too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Placeholder

I've posted this before, and I love this quote.  I am now playing with the idea of creating more of these little snippets of inspiration imbedded in photos I have taken that I like.  As loyal followers know, I have always loved to start or finish off a blog with a relevant quote that brings home the message, so to speak. Stay tuned for more, we'll be posting them on our Facebook Page as well.

More updates to come soon!  Just got back from Fort Lauderdale last night and our boat is coming along swimmingly.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Saturday, August 11, 2012

To Peel or not to Peel?

I remember the first time my computer got a 'virus'.  It was my freshman year of college and the dawn of the computer age.  One day while typing away on page nine or ten of a fifteen page essay, the screen on my computer suddenly went black while white squiggly lines danced across it.  "What the...?" I said under my breath in confusion as I started frantically hitting keys.  A half hour later one of the "techie" guys on our floor confirmed it:  my computer had a virus.  "What do you MEAN my computer has a "virus"?!?" I asked accusingly.  I literally could not wrap my head around the fact that a piece of equipment could get 'sick'.  It just didn't make sense.

While I don't remember the first time I heard about boat blisters, I remember having a similar reaction.  "What!?!  Boat's get BLISTERS?!" I mean, that just seemed weird.

A "gelplane" for gelcote peeling
The short answer, is yes:  boats can get blisters.  Like a blister on your heel, a boat blister is a raised bubble filled with fluid.  They are certainly not uncommon, nor are they the end of the world, but you do want to take care of them for they have the potential to hurt you and, if left unattended, they only get worse.  Blisters on a boat (usually) occur below the waterline when the sneaky water molecule permeates the paint, gelcote and (ultimately) the fiberglass.  Water and fiberglass react, causing a little science project otherwise known as "osmosis", to occur on your hull.  I'm no expert, but from what I understand when fiberglass gets wet, it gets weak and you should fix it. To fix it you must remove all the layers of paint and gelcote in order to expose the fiberglass underneath.  There are a number of ways to do this; paying a professional to do it with a handheld powered planing tool is the more expensive (and significantly easier) one.

When we did the marine survey on our new boat, the surveyor uncovered some areas of moisture in both the deck and the keel.  While he saw no indication of blistering of the hull*, he strongly suggested we peel the bottom of the boat down to the fiberglass to see what we found.  The owner of the boat yard said the bottom looked okay, that we might be able to get away with sanding and a few more coats of bottom paint but he said there was definitely "something" going on.

Hmmm...what to do?

Peeling and repainting is not a cheap project (about $12K for a 44 foot boat), but luckily we negotiated the price of the boat down to compensate for this.  Never prone to skimping when it comes to caring for our boat(s); instead of "pocketing" the saved money, we decided to peel the hull.  Agressive?  Perhaps. While nary a blister was uncovered, there was an area of wet fiberglass in the keel that needs to be cut out, re-glassed (essentially built back up) and faired (smoothed out).  It was a good thing we peeled.  We now know exactly what we are dealing with and the 'problem' is easily fixed.

Now that the fiberglass is exposed, we let the boat "dry out" for about thirty days (our hull has very little moisture in it, so thirty should suffice) with periodic fresh water rinses in between to draw out moisture (yeah, seems counter-intuitive, but it works).  The yard will then do weekly checks with a moisture meter to determine the dryness of the hull.  Once the hull is dry, they will re-apply the gelcote and bottom paint.  If you paint your boat before you let a wet hull dry out properly, you will have a virtual blister party on your bottom.  No one wants a blister party on their bottom, no one.

Asante with her bottom peeled.
A closer look at her bottom.   Cheeky monkey!
Moral of the story:  a blister on the bottom of a boat isn't going to respond to a band-aid any more than a computer virus is going to respond to an antibiotic. 

Here's a more scientific and explanatory article on the blister issue for those interested.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

* Like bourbon and whiskey, not all boats with osmosis have blisters, but all boats with blisters have osmosis.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

An Olympic Sighting

I love the Olympic Games.  Love, love, LOVE them.  I love the sport, the stories, the someone who has been a competitive athlete most of her life, there is something so special about the camaraderie of a team, the spirit of competition, and the excitement of success.  With each event I watch my heart beats a little harder in familiar anticipation of the gun, my breath quickens as I recall the heightened nerves before a race, and my eyes well with tears at the tug-at-your-heartstrings tales of overcoming impossible odds and incredible triumph.

One such story is that of Kirani James, the Grenadian running sensation who won the Gold in the men's 400 meters during London's 2012 games, marking the first medal ever to be won for Grenada.  Kirani fever ran deep in Grenada while we were there.  His home town of Gouyave (now dubbed "Kirani town") is a favorite of ours, and when Kirani won the 2011World Championship in Korea, the island came alive with glory and support.  "Pride" does not even begin to describe what the locals feel for their champion.  He has put Grenada on the map. He has shown his island nation to the world.  He has achieved greatness and, no doubt, inspired a generation of Grenadian's to aim high and reach for the stars.

As I was watching the games last night, they did an informative side story about Kirani and his home nation of Grenada.  As I watched, I smiled as I saw familiar places and vistas, but imagine my surprise when I saw a familiar face! Sure enough, there on the television I see the unmistakable and beautiful smile of my most favorite market lady, Theresa.  The same woman who I saw and chatted with at least weekly.  I call her the "mayor of the market" and have always told her what a great face she has.  I mean, isn't her face great? She is going to trip when I show her that the above image of her was seen by millions of people around the world.  They don't get the NBC Olympic coverage down there so I'm sure she has no idea.

Theresa and I in February 2012

The Olympics never cease to amaze and inspire me.  Congrats to Kirani and to beautiful Grenada!  You've always been GOLD to us!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Monday, August 06, 2012


"Humans are suspended in this interesting place between man-made and organic. We have an almost instinctive impulse to revisit nature, to return to water, to seek balance with the world"
- Chelsea Stephen & Uto Iha

Freediving is a form of diving whence the diver attempts to achieve great depths on a single breath. There are no snorkels, no dive tanks and no breathing apparati to assist; just the power of the swimmer's lungs and stamina of their body.  My sister, Chelsea, who's passion for the ocean runs deeper than anyone I know, developed a love of freediving when she lived in the Bahamas.  Some of you who follow this blog and our Facebook Page closely might even know that she is also an artist...

This week in Portland, Oregon her artistic installation Freedive has opened and it is amazing.  An adamant subscriber of the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle" her labor of love is a true vision created by 751 plastic bottles, 674 glass bottles, and 31 gallons of water.  Her talent as a visionary and artist is incredible to me.  If any of you are in the Portland area this month, check it out at Good: A Gallery at 4325 N. Mississippi Ave.  If not, check out the pictures below and be sure to visit her Tumblr page to see her brilliance on a regular basis.

"Freedive is a mystifying underwater snapshot that will take your breath away. The immediate message is simple: with some attention our trash can be transformed into beautiful resources. Upon diving deeper, it's less about trash-to-treasure and more about the desire to return to a more natural order."

 Chelsea, I love you. You never cease to amaze and inspire me.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Depth Sounding, Old School...

My uncle Bob dropped off this pretty little relic of the past yesterday.  It might not look like much, but this device is a sounding lead and it was used for navigation by the ships of yesteryear to take bottom samples and, most importantly, take depth readings.  As with many early innovations, it is perfectly simple in it's design and execution: a three pound weight (or 'lead' as they are called) is attached to a line.  The weight (which has a hole on the underside to collect bottom samples) was then cast over the side of the boat by a "leadsman" and when it hit the bottom, he would yell out what depth read on the line.  Knots in the line mark certain depths in fathoms and "Mark twain" ('twain' being 'two' in Old English), for example, was the call for two fathoms (and the inspiration for the pen name of Samuel Clemens, himself a former Mississippi river pilot).  A lead much like the one pictured was what Columbus used to bring his ships to the shore of the new world.  A similar contraption made sure Magellan's ships didn't run aground.  This little pice of metal and line had quite a responsibility.

Items like this are a nice reminder that before we all became so reliant on technology and obsessed with gadgets, there was another way.  While I certainly benefit from and love technology, I do tend to think that the ease in which we do everything nowadays and our dependence on the push of a button is atrophying our minds to think in other ways...I think that's why I love cruising - because no matter how many gadgets you have, there will come a time when you must revert to some old school logic.  What do you think?

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Friday, August 03, 2012

Coffee, Anyone? The Aeropress Coffeemaker

On Rasmus, Scott and I were tea drinkers.  This was not by design (despite the fact that my mom is British and I was raised on tea), but by default.  We left with a French press and had planned on making delicious, fresh coffee to keep us up during those wee-hour night shifts and jump start our lazy mornings in sleepy anchorages, however that didn't last long.

The first (and only) time we used our French Press was on the Erie Canal.  I remember it well.  I don't remember the coffee, mind you, but what I do remember is the mess I had to clean up afterwards.  Those coffee grounds clung to that French Press for dear life and it took a tremendous amount of water to clean the contraption and rinse all of the rogue coffee grounds out of the sink.  On a boat where water is a precious commodity, I deemed at that moment that we would be tea drinkers.  And tea drinkers we were, until now.
I get a lot of emails from marketing companies and such offering us free products, gizmos and/or offering payment in return for blogging about their resorts or companies.  Most of the time, I don't accept (when I do, I tell you).  If the company or product is not something I have had personal experience with or would use myself, I politely decline.  But when the folks at Aerobie contacted me about their AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker I thought twice before I said "no thanks" - and I am so glad I did.  This thing is the BOMB!  French press, move over!  The AreoPress is in town!

Long story short, I am now a coffee making fool.  If you pay us a visit these days, you get a cuppa joe made by yours truly - I love it that much.  My dad is particularly fond of this arrangement, being that he loves coffee and I now love to make it.  It's easy, it requires no power, it takes up hardly any space, and it's goodReally good.  Perfect for the boat.

The Aeropress works similarly to a French Press, but without the mess.  You put the fine-ground coffee into the big plastic cylinder, set it atop a coffee mug, top off the plastic cylinder with boiling water, mix for 10 seconds and then push down the steaming contents with the plunger-type insert until you bottom out at the filter.  What results in the mug is one seriously tasty cup of coffee.  Depending on the coffee-to-water ratio, you can make espressos, lattes or whatever type of brew your heart desires.  The best part?  The used up coffee grounds just pop out of the bottom into a garbage can and one quick rinse later, you're good to go again.  It is so easy.  If my instructions baffle you, check out this Youtube Video on how to use it.

I can PROMISE you, this is one product that will make it on to the new boat.  As for my dad, he's now a total convert and has an AeroPress on order for his boat.  And now I have to run, dad is watching the olympics and has requested his "evening cup"!
And now for the giveaway! Aerobie will send an Aeropress to one of you fine followers!! Here's how you can register to win (c'mon you know the drill!):
  1. Comment on this post telling me why you love coffee (you will notice I have removed captcha and made it easy for you!)
  2. Share our blog with like-minded family and friends; you can do this one of two ways:
    1. Share us in your own blog in the form of a post or send a link to our blog in an email (make sure you copy us on the email so we know you did it and can enter you!)
    2. AND/OR Share our Facebook Page by clicking "SHARE" on the link to this post and commenting below it.(Don't forget to comment or else I might not see that you shared us!)
BONUS:  If you do all three (i.e. share by email, blog post and share our FB page, you will be entered three times and therefore increase your odds of winning!)

Once you do one of the above, you will be entered to win! I will draw the winner on Monday and I seriously cannot wait to get one of you guys this awesome coffeemaker - you will NOT be disappointed!

Happy Brewing!
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