Sunday, September 30, 2012

In Limbo

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale earlier this afternoon.  It's weird, but on our last stretch of highway as Scott and I sat in silence while Isla napped and the miles passed beneath us I said, "You know...For some reason, I'm not excited".  Totally unfazed by my confession, he simply replied, "Yeah, I kinda know what you mean".

The truth is Scott and I are in a sort of limbo at the moment.  Sure, we might have arrived at our end destination for this particular road trip, but we are in no way "home".  I am typing this entry from the soft, lumpy bed of a cheap motel where we are staying for an undetermined length of time and our boat and new "home" - one that we are only vaguely familiar with having been on it only twice - is not ready for us.  The sense of "homecoming" is lost and everything feels a bit anti-climactic.  We've got an SUV full of stuff that we can't unpack, our baby is sleeping on the floor of the motel closet, our new boat is a construction zone and we're eating take out (again) while CNN drones on quietly in the background.  Glamourous this is not.

I'm not writing to complain, but rather as a reminder that when you choose to live like we do there will be moments where things feel plain weird.  That old yin/yang thing again.  Sure, we get to travel to beautiful islands and see amazing things, but we also get to sleep in semi-questionable efficiency motels with the "fringe of society" folk.  We knew this would happen.  It was inevitable that there would be an adjustment period to get back into the swing of things.  So much has changed.   In a way, we're back at square one.  Like the new kid on the first day of school, we need to get the lay of the land and ease ourselves into our new life.  It'll happen, it's just going to take a little time.

In the meantime, it's really good to know that a) we have a baby who will sleep anywhere (point for the sleep schedule!), b) Mexican fast food (i.e. not Taco Bell) is plentiful, cheap and really good down here and c) as far as I can tell, this motel - while it might have an undistinguishable odor - does not have bed bugs.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Notes from Road

Road tripping really is a lot like cruising.  There's an inherent feeling of being free, the excitement of not knowing what lies around the next corner, lots of quiet time for contemplation, breathtaking panoramas and defaulting to crap food and bad coffee.  While I know that this little road trip of ours is by no means epic, it's been nice little jaunt so far.  If you've been following our Facebook Page, you've seen most of the updates - if not, I'll sum up our notes from the road here:
  • Windfarms are creepy.  I'm all for green energy - but windfarms are super eerie.  Sorry, they are.  We drove through hundreds upon hundreds (maybe thousands?) of turbines in Indiana and it felt very...otherworldly.  They loom over you - hundreds of feet tall - with their giant blades the size of three semi-trucks all spinning slowly in unison, and the whole scene is reminiscent of a sci-fi horror film.  
  • Pigeon Forge, TN is bizarre.  If Vegas and Disneyworld were to have a child, it would be Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  I'm not sure what we expected at the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, but we didn't expect a veritable explosion of "attractions".  Want to go to a Hatfield and McCoy dinner show in a venue shaped like a giant, caricature of a smokey mountain hillbilly house?  You can!  How about  a "Titanic Experience" in a giant replica of the ship, iceberg and all, with water dramatically spurting out of it?  No problem!  You're in real luck if you're a fan of Dolly Parton and roller coasters because Dollyworld Theme Park is here too!  If all else fails, you can always hit up Ripley's Believe it Or Not, the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Lumberjack Show or one of their hundred or so mini-golf courses.  You won't find anything "authentic", but if you want about a million corny things to do in a square mile, Pigeon Forge is your place.
  • The Great Smokey Mountains do not disappoint. Seriously.  Purple mountain majesties for sure.  We did two short hikes while we were there; one to a waterfall and one to the tippy top of the Smokey's and the drive through the park is just stunning.  Isla is a baby who  is (thankfully) totally awed and subdued by just about anything outdoors, so she ate all this right up!
  • When road tripping with a baby, be prepared to do some seat climbing.  My new nickname is "catwoman".  I can climb from the front to the back and visa versa like Catherine Zeta Jones between laser beams in the movie Entrapment.  
  • McDonalds coffee is the worst.  Lured by their offer of a free small coffee, we gave the golden arches a shot at being our 'on the road' coffee provider.  Blech!! It's no wonder their giving it away.  Now instead of thinking about that woman who burned her crotch with scalding hot Micky D's coffee and sued, I will now think of how bad that cup of coffee probably was.  Oh well, could be worse I suppose.

We are currently in Hilton Head, South Carolina where we are staying for the day to spend time with Scott's incredibly generous godparents.  We hit the road again tomorrow morning and will be staying with more family just outside Jacksonville, Florida after a wander through Savannah, Georgia.  I also want to send a very gracious "thank you" to the many of you have offered us a place to crash along the way - we really appreciate it!  I have not had much time on the computer so have not been able to respond to your very kind offers, but I will get back to you in the next few days or so.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I have never, ever been good at saying goodbye which is ironic because I have come and gone quite a bit in my life.  This time, however, it seems to be harder than the others. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but my emotional and sentimental self has been kicked into overdrive.  It might be the simple fact that we have been here so long, or because I know how much our little girl enjoys being with her grandparents and (probably more likely) how much they enjoy her.  Maybe it's all the wonderful moments we got to spend with friends and family or maybe it's just jacked-up motherhood hormones?  Whatever it is - this goodbye is tough.  But let's face it, a thirty-three year old has no business being back in the nest.  We've got our own life to live and oceans to roam!

As surreal as it feels, we leave today bound for Florida.  We have a new boat waiting for us and big plans for her.  Thank you, mom and dad, for everything.  For the laughter, the support but most of all, thank you for making the first six months of our little Isla's life the best six months any little girl could ever ask for.  We will miss you!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Monday, September 24, 2012

Road Trippin'

The other day I found a Google Map Scott printed out of driving directions to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  This struck me as hysterical.  "Take a right and drive 473 miles".  Most people use Google maps for directions to a friend's new house or to find their way in an unfamiliar city.  Not us, we're going to follow those directions 1,500 miles to Florida*.  Funny.

Some people might think we're insane taking our six month old baby girl on a 1,500 mile road trip and while I must admit I had some reservations at first, I'm now totally okay with it.  So what if our car is a '94 Ford Explorer on it's last legs?  I mean, we've got to get there one way or another, right?  Scott, ever the planner and expert navigator, has mapped out our trip to happen over the course of 4 or 5 days with driving times of no more than 6 hours per day and scenic stops throughout.  The big highlights are going to be driving through the Smoky Mountains and visiting "Uncle Al" and his lovely wife, Willa, in Hilton Head for a couple of days.  Fun stuff.

We're excited.  The fact of the matter is that even though we're not on our boat, we're about to embark on a little adventure.  We don't know exactly what lies ahead, we're not certain where we'll end up every night, and there are sure to be peaks and valleys along the way but we have returned to our roaming and roving lifestyle and that feels pretty good...butterflies in the tummy good.

Filling up the tank, cranking up the tunes, and hitting the open road on the hunt for adventure is a quintessentially American thing to do.  Few things elicit the freedom that the road trip evokes.  It is, in fact, a little like cruising.  After all, cruising sailboats are just glorified RV's right?

Yee haw! We hit the open road tomorrow morning!  If you want to keep up with all the action and see pictures and updates of our trip, stop by our Facebook Page where I will be posting daily!

Brittany, Scott and Isla

* Yes, we have "real" maps and an atlas as well.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Playing Doctor

The sea is an incredibly healthy environment, seemingly free from allergens, viruses, bacteria and germs.  Scott and I suffered from not even a single sniffle once we shoved off from Chicago in 2010.  It wasn't until we came back for this extended visit that I was plagued with a severe head cold right off the plane and allergies I never knew I had surfaced once summer reached full-bloom.  Turns out, the fresh "sea air" really is good for you.

That said, the sea can also be a very scary environment if and when you do get sick or hurt offshore.  Medical facilities may be days or weeks away, and when you do reach care, it can sometimes be less than ideal*.  Not to mention, living on a boat is a fairly "extreme" way to live and there are all sorts of horrible calamities that can occur; from burns, cuts, and severed fingers, to broken bones, lacerations and hypothermia.  Before Scott and I left in 2010 on Rasmus, we were gifted the Marine 3000 Offshore Medical Kit.  It is literally chalk FULL of great medical applications and can treat everything from burns to fractures.  We have yet to open it (thank God) but it gives us peace of mind to know that we have something to turn to if we need it.

Now that we have a baby, our health (and hers!) has taken priority so this time around I decided to go a step further and stock up on some antibiotics.  We visited our pediatrician, told him our plans and were prescribed the following for Isla:
  1. Epi Pen Junior:  Because Isla is so young and hasn't started on solid foods yet, we don't know if she has any allergies.  The epi-pen can be a lifesaver if we discover suddenly that she suffers from anaphylaxis due to a severe food allergy or insect bite/sting.
  2. Azithromycin:  This is a general antibiotic that would be able to treat most ailments that might affect Isla, the most common being ear infections. 
  3. Orapred Dissolving Tablets: Orapred is a steroid that is used to treat skin, respiratory and allergic inflammations (among other things).
Furthermore, I went and got a physical and was prescribed the following antibiotics for Scott and me:
  1. Epi Pen: Despite the fact that Scott and I do not suffer any severe allergies we think this is a good thing to have on board for guests or "just in case".  We have a pack of two.
  2. Ciproflaxin:  This is the quintessential "traveler's antibiotic".  "Cipro" is used to treat many infections from abdominal to respiratory, the most famous treatment being for "traveler's diarrhea".  We have enough for three to four courses of this.
  3. Amoxocillin: Another great all-around antibiotic used to treat everything from strep to salmonella. We have enough for three to four courses of this.
Scott and I are not big into taking drugs, and we'll probably never need any of the above but it is nice to know we will have them on hand in case we or anyone else we know need treatment.  Of course we will consult with a doctor before taking anything. 

In addition to the one provided in our medical kit, we also plan to have an offshore medical book on board for reference.  We have ordered Advanced First Aid Afloat for our marine library.

While we don't ever want to play doctor, it's nice to know we can if we have to.  How do you handle first aid aboard?

Brittany, Scott & Isla

*But not always!  Tropical places are ideal for treating tropical diseases and oftentimes the care is much, MUCH cheaper in the islands and abroad than it would be here in the US.  When I lived in Africa and came down with dysentary, I was hospitalized for two days and given treatment.  The entire ordeal cost less than $200 out of pocket at the time. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Settee Conversion

In about a week, this will be a single sette
Scott and I mentioned how we were not interested in a 'project boat' this time around, but the fact is - any boat you buy, whether it be straight out of the mold or twenty five years old, will be 'project boat' at some level.  No boat will have everything you are looking for and you'll inevitably want to change/add/modify a few things as time goes on.  While we have a pretty solid list of to-do's for Asante (more on this later), one of the more unique projects underway is the conversion of our two starboard side seats into one settee.

I'm sure there are cruisers who love the two seat layout (which is common on so many boat designs) and there are probably benefits to this design for some.  In my opinion, however, this setup is a complete waste of space that would be much better utilized as a full settee.  First of all, a settee provides a little more seating room, and second (and most important) it also provides an extra sea berth or bunk.  When we first looked at Asante, we did not like this layout one bit and almost considered walking away based on this small cosmetic fact alone.  The pros, however, outweighed the cons and we knew the conversion from two seats to one was something we could easily outsource to a yacht carpenter.  Which is what we did, and Juan has been doing some great work for us since we took ownership.
Yes, that is an air conditioning unit you see.  Our new boat has AC.  Insane.
The project is well underway and should be complete in about a week.  I'm going to have to order a new cushion to fit the modified design, but I'm very happy we'll have a nice place for crew to nap while underway!  I'll post pics of the finished settee once completed!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Are Those Who Dream Dreams...

"Do you have any idea how smart you are?" started my dad, "you guys are doing it right.  And thoughtfully.  You are following your dreams.  There is so much power in that.  It's so easy for you to listen to others who say you should be doing something else."  He's proud of us.  He loves what we are doing.  In a way it's his dream too...

His words made me think though; sure we have had plenty of people tell us we're "crazy", we've even had a few friends say "rather you than me", but no one has told us we should be doing something else.   Not to our faces at least.  I guess it's implied in the world around us; people aren't "supposed" to do things like skip the career track and take off for a life at sea on a boat.  People aren't "supposed" to find a way to live outside the status quo and avoid working for 'the man'.  We were supposed to settle down after college, get jobs, grow in those jobs, buy a house, have some kids, continue working and growing, maybe buy a new car every five years and take a much needed vacation once or twice a year.  That's what we "should" be doing according to the general consensus I guess.  It's funny though, not a single person has said this to us.  In fact, most people think it's pretty darn amazing what we are doing and while they might not want this life for themselves, they're incredibly supportive of us.  Why?  Because at the end of the day, I think people like to see people following their dreams.

I know not everyone's families are as supportive of skirting the "real world" as Scott's and mine, but there is still a lot of positive energy out there for people who want to follow their dreams.  Like a current in an ocean, there's a ribbon of strength flowing through the Universe for dreamers who are lucky enough to tap into it.  You might have to swim a little upstream to find it, and it might not always be easy - but the support is out there if you actively look for it.  At the end of the day, you cannot sit and wait for your dreams to come to you, you must work hard to bring them to the surface for air.  They are fragile, they are vulnerable and they can be fleeting.

I don't know if Scott and I are "smart", we're not doing this for any other reason than it's been our lifelong dream and we think this is the very best way to live our life.  This is the path we have chosen; it feels right and we're going to continue on it until it doesn't feel right any more.  Sure, we're following our dream, but in the process our dream has become our life.  Pretty cool how that works.

They say that good things come to those who wait, but maybe it should read: good things come to those who follow their dreams?  While there is something to be said for patience, waiting for something to come to you gives you an excuse to sit and do nothing when there are SO many great things to be done.  I say don't wait, I say go for it!  You're dream might just become your life too.

Monday, September 17, 2012

End of Season

Summer is definitely coming to an end up here in Chicago; there is that familiar nip in the air that signals fall is approaching, the sun is setting earlier, pants and sleeves are making more frequent appearances in the wardrobe, and the pumpkin spice latte is now being served at Starbucks.  The other night during dinner al fresco, a flock of geese honked overhead as they started their migration south just as we were discussing how positively wonderful it has been to be home with my family, and how hard it will be to leave.  Kind of appropriate I guess. One blog follower said it best, "Fly home (north) to hatch the goslings, then head south when they're strong enough to make the trip. Sounds about right...".  That said, the weather was beautiful this weekend and we spent some quality time shoreside: a picnic on the beach with friends one day and a long, lazy sail on the next*.  Time on the water, in our opinion, is always time well spent.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

* And yes, you might notice Isla wore the same outfit both days.  Turns out I'm not the kind of mom that likes to doll her little girl up every day.  Waste of effort in my opinion.  If it's clean, it stays on.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Friday

A nice reminder during this time of so many unknowns...  Be sure to visit our Tumblr Page for more inspiration and wisdom on pretty pictures.  Feel free to share these photos, however PLEASE keep our web address in tact as these are our images, edited and copyrighted by Windtraveler.

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making Lists & Checking Them Twice

It's not Christmas, but the time has come for making lists.  We are moving to Florida in twelve days.  Twelve days.  Hard to believe that we are here at this point after having been temporary landlubbers for a whopping seven months.  Crazy.

We have doctor's appointments to schedule, last minute visits with friends to squeeze in, belongings to pack and all sorts of logistical minutia to figure out.  Asante is still getting work done, and because we are installing our new watermaker ourselves, we're not going to know where we want to install the thru-hulls until we do a dry fit of the system which means we'll be living in a hotel room for a few days.  We've got to book that and make sure they have a crib for Isla. This baby can roll from one end of the room to the other.  She's also begun the process of crawling...yikes.

Road tripping is a new beast as well because it's no longer just Scott and I.  We've got a baby to contend with who needs her regularly scheduled feedings, naps and 6pm bedtime.  Driving from Chicago to Florida should be...interesting.  Unlike doing things they way we used to and just letting the chips fall where they may, we're going to need to map everything, drive no more than 6-8 hours a day and pre-book hotels so that we can ensure a crib gets in the room.  Did I mention Isla is not a fan of being restricted in a car seat?  Fun stuff.

Then there is the boat.  Not only do we have to "move" aboard and unpack what will probably turn out to be forty boxes...but how we 'baby proof' it?  What stuff do we bring?  What do we leave behind?  How are we going to make sure she stays contained in the v-berth during her slumber times?  How will she handle living/napping/sleeping in a mini-construction zone?  Rest assured, we'll let you know!

It's a surreal feeling when you come to a date that has just been hanging out in front of you for months and months; when one life chapter ends, and another begins.  They're not always cut and dry, life chapters, and you don't always know when one begins and another ends - but this one is one of the distinct ones.  This is definite.  There is an end and a beginning.  Clear as Christmas day.

We're excited, anxious and very busy.  It won't all be perfect, we won't tick everything off our growing to-do list to but we'll make it happen as we always do.

If only we could borrow Santa, a few elves and his sleigh!

The countdown begins...

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rasmus Is Sold

They say the two happiest day's in a boat owners life are the day he buys his boat, and the day he sells it.  While I can confirm this is pretty accurate, the latter is bittersweet.  It is the closing of a door, but the type that allows for another to be opened.  It is a relief, for sure, to no longer own two boats.  It is wonderful to have Rasmus off our heaping plate of "things to think about" (and pay for!).  It is sad, however, to officially say goodbye to her; the boat that, literally, set sail to our dreams.

I will be posting more on the details of the selling process; how we did it, what we did wrong and what we'll do differently when we do it again, but the bottom line is: She is sold.  She has a new wide-eyed and excited owner who I am pretty certain will take as good care of her as we did, and who will benefit greatly from the same patience, strength and tenacity with which she taught us.

Scott and I consider ourselves very lucky to have sold her so fast in this market (in Trinidad no less!).  The very day we announced she was for sale, a blog follower reached out and we have been in negotiations with him ever since.  The entire process had some ups and downs, but the deal was finalized yesterday.  That is under 50 days if you're counting.  Not too shabby.

While officially we worked without a broker - we absolutely could not have sold her without the guidance, support and expertise of our good friend and veteran boat broker Allen Schiller.  If ever you are in the market for a broker (whether buying or selling), this is your guy.  He won't work for free for you like he did for us, but he'll work as hard and with as much heart.  This deal would NOT have happened without him, that I know for sure.  So Allen, I know you are reading:  We owe you BIG TIME buddy!! Thank you, from the bottom of our bilge...

If there was ever a question about what Scott and I can accomplish, let's just consider what we have done in the last five months: decided to buy a bigger boat, made three big trips to Florida and South Carolina to look a boats, bought a new boat in Florida, put our old boat on the market in Trinidad, removed all our stuff from her, shipped it all to Florida and sold her.  Oh yeah, and we had a super awesome little baby girl. We make things happen.

In other news, it looks like Scott, Isla and I will be road tripping down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in about two weeks to officially move aboard Asante and begin our new life on her.  We have no idea how long we'll be there (or if we'll make it, we'll be driving a 20 year old Ford Explorer!), but it feels good to be moving forward and beginning a new chapter...

Fair winds and following seas, Rasmus.  We'll miss you!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

Friday, September 07, 2012

Banking for Travelers

Image found here.
"Did you know we have been charged $60 in the last three months for debit card use?" Scott asked me over the phone last summer.  I winced.  I did not.  Apparently I wasn't watching our finances as closely as I should have been. Whoopsie.

Upon further inspection, we discovered lots more hidden fees and charges being applied to us from Chase Bank.  While I eventually got many of the charges and fees waived, I discovered that as long as we were using the card abroad, we were still going to be charged for every ATM withdrawal and every foreign purchase on our debit card.  This had to change.

According to my research, there is virtually no way to escape all fees associated with banking and travel abroad unless you go with cash enough to cover your expenses which is not recommended for obvious reasons.  So what do you do?  According to this great article - the first way to avoid excessive fees is to use credit cards for big purchases and debit cards for cash.  But what are the best banks and cards to use?

Well, I don't know if it's the best system, but here is what Scott and I are doing:

Credit Cards: We have a Capital One credit card for big purchases.  Typically, when you use a US credit card outside of the US, you will be charged in the foreign currency.   The cost to convert the foreign currency to the card's "home" currency is usually 1% (or $1 for every $100).  Some banks add a surcharge on top of that 1% just for fun.  Capital One does not.  Bills are easily paid online nowadays so the hassel of a paper trail is gone.  Insert sound of money falling into a piggy bank.

Debit Cards for Purchases: Using a debit card abroad for purchases can also be very expensive and add up over time with most Visa or MasterCard branded cards charging 1%-3% the cost of the purchase.  That said, we will be using our debit card only to withdraw cash and not to make purchases since we've got the good ole Capital One Card.

Debit Cards for ATM's: While I understand we pay for the convenience of being able to get money whenever and wherever, ATM fees abroad are often criminal and absurd. Most charge a flat fee (between $1-$5) for using a non-bank affiliated ATM (on TOP of what the foreign bank charges!), plus an additional "conversion" surcharge anywhere between 1%-3% of the total.  After learning that there was virtually no way to eliminate the fees we were being charged by Chase, Scott and I have decided to move our accounts over to Charles Schwab (thanks to the advice of some great blog followers!).  The checking account we selected requires no minimum balance and the only stipulation is that we have a Charles Schwab brokerage account (there is no minimum balance here either and there is no requirement to do anything with this account).  The main reason we selected Charles Schwab, however, is the fact that they charge no ATM fees anywhere in the world*.  Yeah, let me repeat that:  NO ATM FEES...ANYWHERE!  That is...amazing.

Savings: I will also have a savings account with Charles Schwab that my mom and/or dad will be tied to.  That way, if for any reason we need someone to deposit our checks or do any stateside banking for us - they are authorized to do so.  Because most of our accounts are going to be linked (my personal checking/savings, Scott's personal checking and our joint checking) we will be able to move money back and forth between these accounts and pay bills online with ease.

We have also kept one account with Bank of America, who are part of the Global ATM Alliance and have a pretty extensive network of affiliate banks around the world (the most important for the moment being Scotiabank, which is virtually all over the Caribbean).  This is just to have more options, because options are good.

While we know we are not going to avoid the greedy banks completely, it sure feels good to know we have a pretty good system to stay on top of it and avoid most fees associated with traveling abroad.  I'll be watching our accounts much more closely now!

Is there a better way?  How do you bank abroad?  We'd love to hear your thoughts!

* They actually do charge the fees upfront, but reimburse the account at the end of the month.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Logistical Nightmare

"You do realize we are moving in a couple weeks, right?" Scott said to me yesterday as we were sitting in the kitchen, sipping on coffee and coconut water and working on really important things, like the re-design of this blog.  "I mean, we have nothing ready and a lot to do" he went on to say.  If I were an ostrich, I would have stuck my head in the sand right then and there.   You see, I have been riding in first class on the procrastination train for quite some time now and it's been pretty dang comfy.

I guess you could say we're a little overwhelmed.  We've been here before.  This time, though, the scenario is different.  We have a new boat, we have thirty-four boxes of our stuff being shipped from Trinidad to Ft. Lauderdale that we have to ensure gets to the boat somehow, we have an old boat we're in the process of selling, we have projects to coordinate on the new boat, and gear to order and install.  We have to change over our bank accounts because Chase is charging us up the wahzoo for foreign use, and Bank of America is fee-friendlier.  We have to pack up our life here in boxes and bags and figure out a cost-effective way to get it all down south.  Then, when we get to Ft. Lauderdale we have to find a cheap hotel to live in for a week or so while we install thru hulls for our new watermaker because the yard we are at does not allow live-aboards.  Once we've done that, we have to find a slip or marina* where we're going to live on the boat once we put her in the water for a yet-to-be-determined length of time while we finish up projects and installations to make Asante blue-water ready.  Oh, and we need to unpack all those damn boxes all while maintaining Isla's coveted nap schedule 'cause a baby's gotta sleep!

Did I mention we're up against a clock?  Scott has to report to Grenada for an eight week work rotation on s/v Diamant at the end of November.

Which leads us to our next round of logistics....

The way we see it we have two options.  One is that Scott assemble's a crew of buddies to sail Asante down to Grenada in "delivery mode" (i.e. non-stop, a 3 week trip) so that Isla and I can live aboard and see Scott once or twice a week.  This, however, means we don't have much time to get Asante ready.  The "Plan B" if we don't have enough time for "Plan A" is for me and Isla to be nomads.  We'll stay on the boat in Florida a couple weeks, rent a place in Grenada for a couple weeks, spend Christmas in Florida with my family for a couple weeks and come home for a couple weeks.  I prefer plan A.

Enter logistics round three...

Then there is the question of what happens after he completes his next work rotation which ends mid January if "Plan A" doesn't transpire.  Assuming we keep the boat in Florida, do we sail straight for the Caribbean and continue where we left off?  Or do we head over to the Bahamas and cruise those easy and familiar grounds for a while before making a bee-line for the windwards and leewards?  We just don't know.  Too many variables and unknowns at this point.  The whole thing reminds me of one of those choose your adventure type books.  "If you do x, go to page 18...if you do y, turn to page 24..."


See what we're dealing with over here?

None of this stuff is impossible, but it is a lot when all heaped together.  We'll figure it out.  We always do.  But at the moment, we're in the midst of a logistical nightmare and all I want to do is ignore it and see if it will magically work itself out.  Which I know it won't.  The Motivation Train, however, is right around the corner and there's a seat on board with my name on it!

Brittany, Scott & Isla

* Anyone down there in the Ft. Lauderdale area have/know of a slip we could use?  Know of any monthly-rate slips we could use?  This would be a huge help to us!  Email us at: windtraveler09 (at)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Not All Cockpits are Created Equal

Good times and good peeps in the cockpit of Rasmus!
While there were many reasons we chose our new boat, one of the biggest reasons was her positively ginormous cockpit.  While some people refer to the cockpit area of a sailboat as a strictly outside space, the cockpit of a live-aboard cruising boat can be more like a living room if you play your cards right.

We've gotten a few emails lately asking us our opinion on the matter; all with the final question: "how important is the cockpit?"  In our experience, very.  We spend a lot of time in our cockpit both underway and at anchor.  I'm not the mathlete of our duo, but Scott estimates about 70% of our time is spent there.  They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  There are aft cockpits, center cockpits, wide sterns and canoe sterns, huge cockpits and tiny cockpits...there are pilot houses, two-tier cockpits, enclosed and exposed cockpits...some have dodgers, others have biminis and some have full enclosures...the list goes on.  Every boat is different and no two cockpits are the same.  The way we see it, there are two factors that really contribute to the comfort factor of a cockpit in the equatorial climates:  size and protection from the elements.

A nice, roomy cockpit that can provide you with enough space to stretch out - and lay down in - is a huge bonus.  Sleeping in the cockpit is a treat from time to time (can you say 'siesta'?), not to mention that fact that it is where you will do 90% of your entertaining (Scott and I did a lot of this, anyone recall my killer sangria??).  The more space you have, the bigger the party!  Additionally, a cockpit with large combings that you can lean against is another plus - we loved that we could lean our backs agains the cockpit combing of Rasmus - we were not only comfortable, but felt very secure and safe!

We loved our cockpit "walls" on Rasmus.  Every seat was comfy!
Protection from the elements adds another level of comfort.  There are different degrees of coverage, from spray hoods, to dodgers to full-enclosures.  After having sailed extensively on boats with and without them, the full enclosure is something that Scott and I have grown to love.  I cannot tell you how nice it is to remain dry in what would otherwise be a very wet passage, or escape the relentless tropical sun on a very hot day.  Furthermore, with an enclosure the living space of a sailboat increases significantly, regardless of the weather outside.  We have always looked at our cockpit as another room, not just a place to sit while underway.

Because of the reasons above, a large, comfortable, enclose-able (center) cockpit was one of our "non-negotiable's" during this last boat search .  While we looked at a lot of great boats that would have served us well (an Amel 46, a Vagabond 42, a Bristol 45.5,  a Stevens 47, two Whitby 42's, a Moody 47 and an Amphritrite 43) we kept going back to the Brewer 44 because her cockpit trumped all the rest.

Bottom line: the cockpit is where you will want to be most of the time; it offers the best breeze, the best view, the greatest ambiance and it's infinitely more pleasant than sitting down below - so make sure you chose wisely and consider the "comfort factor" of your cockpit (after you make sure it's safe, has good access to lines, adequate scupper drains, and all that other good stuff, of course!).
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