Month: January 2016
Gorgeous Day in Florida
This morning the sun streamed into the open hatch in our berth, and welcomed us to a beautiful new day. We did a few things around the boat, and then hopped into the dinghy and made our way to the dinghy dock by the marina office. As we drew nearer we noticed that the docks were chock a block full and hardly a ‘parking spot’ was available because a marina swap meet was in session.
It’s always interesting to see what people have stowed away on their boats. We did get a perfectly good scuba tank for $25, which is a screaming deal.
Afterward we walked over to the park where a ‘Family Fest’ was going on. Booths were set up with games, face painting, information on various organizations, and hot dogs, cotton candy, pizza and snow cones all for free. The creatures felt like they had arrived at Pleasure Island (where Pinocchio went), and along with Danny they ate their fill.
The best part for me was holding and examining the animals that were there. A beautiful falcon..
The cutest 3 toed sloth, which made us miss Panama…
A crocodile too small for me to wrestle…
A friendly pelican named Betsy…
and many turtles and tortoises…
Afterward Danny dropped Mycah, Aidan and I off at a dock we figured was somewhere close to West Marine so we could return an item. I kissed him goodbye and off we went. It ended up that the dock was for all the crabbing companies, and was filled with stacks of crab crates and buoys. It was interesting to see.
Aidan gave Mycah another lesson in penny boarding, and we found an old school bus that deserved to be photographed.
When we were done with what we needed to do, we walked back to the marina and called Emma, asking her to come pick us up. She has become quite the ninja at driving the dinghy.
I made a nice big taco salad for dinner, and everyone is now content and snuggled in their berths. Tomorrow we will enjoy a warm, peaceful Sabbath.
It’s been a pretty uneventful couple of days. Yesterday morning we had wanted to take care of a couple things in town, and when we were about to go, it started to rain. We thought we’d wait till the rain stopped since we are on foot (and dinghy), but when 6pm rolled around it was still raining.
This morning the sun greeted us along with a cold breeze. It was wonderful to see blue skies, and the clouds were feathered and beautiful.
We had a some visitors around noon who showed up in kayaks, announcing ‘your home teachers are here.’ They are friends from church that had kayaked over from Sombrero Beach to see Tanda Malaika and visit for a few minutes. Danny broke out the guitars with them and they played some fantastic music together.
After they left we took the dinghy to the fuel dock to fill her up, and on the way passed some posts out in the water still standing from an abandoned pier, and perched on top of one of the posts was a beautiful big iguana.
After swimming over to it, he climbed on top to sun himself and looked so relaxed.
The creatures have been so much fun. They make me laugh as they come up with the funniest comments and gestures. They continue to work hard on school work and always get their chores done without needing to be asked. Last night I sat playing Skipbo with them, and found my mind wandering off to the days when they were little, and each year that followed as they progressed and grew into these incredible individuals who I am in awe of. I am so grateful to be a mother.
This morning the forecast called for a sunny day with showers late in the afternoon, and that’s exactly what we had.
While the sun was out the creatures and I grabbed buckets, brushes, ‘Bar keepers friend’, and diluted bleach in spray bottles, and got to work on deck.
We scrubbed and sprayed until Tanda Malaika looked beautifully clean, and then Aidan and Emma climbed into the dinghy to scrub green slimy grassy looking growth off the starboard hull.
We usually take care of this project down in the water, but since the ocean temperature is so cold here, they tried it from the dinghy, which proved to be quite difficult. They had difficulty holding on to Tanda Malaika as well as scrubbing at the same time. By the time they were done, their bodies, the dinghy and their brushes were so caked with the green hairy monster stuff (which doesn’t have a pleasant smell), that they took showers out on the stern. Jonathan and Mycah scrubbed port side, and also did a fantastic job.
This morning Mycah asked me if she could get me anything, and I playfully told her that she could make me a kabob. The next thing I knew, she handed me a kabob made with tootsie rolls and banana! What a nut…a creative one at that! Danny had fun chomping away on that.
In the late afternoon I dropped the creatures off at the dinghy dock so they could go to the skate park, and returned to make a salad for our pot luck get together at the church. Danny had been down for a nap for a couple of hours already, and after taking care of some things in the galley and salon, I went to check on him just as a huge downpour hit. It rained so hard, and looked absolutely beautiful across the water. I called Mycah and asked if I needed to go get them, but she said they had taken cover and were fine, so Danny and I prepared things for our outing and after a while set out in the dinghy to make our way over to the church through the crazy downpour. Just as we were about to make the last turn in to the dinghy dock we notice an older couple rowing, because their motor had died. We offered to tow them to their boat, which was clear past our boat and farther down in the mooring field. They were very appreciative, and we felt so grateful that we have a reliable dinghy and motor so that we can help people in need.
Once we arrived at their boat, they offered us rum, which we politely declined, and then set out back to the dinghy dock. The rain stopped and the sky looked so beautiful.
Our time at the church was really enjoyable, and afterward Danny, Mycah and a friend we met, played and sang on the ukes and guitars. They all sounded so good.
I received a text from our friends in St George where Jude is visiting, including a photo of her shooting. She is having a great time.
We have now returned home and a gentle rain is once again falling, and Tanda Malaika is moving slowly on the ripples of the water. It all creates the perfect environment to lay down, close our eyes and drift off to sleep. Perhaps tomorrow we will see a sunny day once again.
Bombing the boat.
Our sweet Kjira texted me today, and she is loving her job at Big Sky Ski Resort. One of the perks of her job is that she gets to snow board for a couple of hours every day, and she has become quite the boarding ninja. Yesterday she ‘flew’ down from the very top of the mountain.
Yesterday morning, the girls and I ran some errands while Jonathan and Aidan played at the skate park, and Danny finished up his battery projects on the boat. We caught a taxi and made a few stops, including dropping off the saw we had rented, and hitting the grocery store. It’s always an adventure grocery shopping with the creatures, but somehow amid our goofiness we get the job done.
When we returned to the dock, we loaded everything into the dinghy and made our way to Tanda Malaika.
While en route we thought of a marvelous idea…before putting all the groceries away, we thought it’d be a good opportunity to bomb the boat. When we purchased her we noticed the odd cockroach here and there, and placed traps and lay bait down. As time moved on, and especially after leaving the boat for a couple months when we were in Idaho, the little critters multiplied, and ever since we have been seeing them here and there far more often than we would like, even though we are careful to not have cardboard on the boat and have been removing all paper on packaging. When we reached Tanda Malaika and made the suggestion to Danny, we all got to work emptying every cupboard that had food or eating/serving utensils etc in it. We hauled it all out to the stern salon, left all cupboards, lazarettes and drawers open, and Danny set a bomb off in each hull as well as the main salon.
We took the dinghy in to shore and for two hours, sat at the skate park watching the creatures do tricks. Danny and I rode around for a minute too, and as always, Danny impressed me with his unending skills.
Once returning to Tanda Malaika, we opened her hatches and doors to air out the chemical smell, and then the work really began. Danny attacked every surface and crevice with the vacuum while Mycah, Jonathan and I washed out drawers, lazarettes, cupboards and shelves, and the twins washed every can in bleach water and dried them.
The entire place was turned completely upside down, but after several hours we were able to sit down and relax in the cleanest boat on the ocean. It was a huge job, but so worth it. I made lasagna and we watched ‘Grumpy old men’ together before resting our aching backs in bed for the night.
The sunset was so beautiful this morning, and it’s going to be a whopping 76 degrees today. Life is good, and we are so grateful for the experiences we share together in it.
Have I mentioned that my husband is a genius? Just as soon as he’s impressed me to the max, he does something even more amazing than ever before, and today once again he was mind blowing.
I’ve mentioned in the past that several months ago we ordered lithium-ion batteries, which is in part why we sailed to Florida. (To avoid crazy shipping costs it was worth our time to sail here to pick them up.) Lithionics is the company in Clearwater, Florida, where we ordered them from. We have been very impressed with the lithium ion batteries because they are far superior in power as well as ability to store energy, are much lighter in weight and are extremely durable. We own (2) 600 amp hour batteries, which replaced 3 lead acid batteries. All 3 lead acid batteries, were supposed to produce a total of 600 amp hours, and now with just 2 lithium ions we have 1200 amp hours. If you’re interested in reading more, go to http://lithionicsbattery.com/ or give Danny a call because he knows them inside and out.
Our day started with Danny doing his McGuiver thing and working in tiny spaces accomplishing great things. First we pulled apart the main salon to expose all areas where we had to run wires.
Then Danny pulled out the 3 old lead acid batteries.
We walked into town to rent an electric saw so he could make some changes to the battery locker for the new ones to fit.
I was close by his side the whole day, handing tools and cheering him on. Every once in a while a creature would pop up from out of nowhere.
I did help in preparing the cable, adding the connectors and shrink wrapping the ends. I love doing that shrinking thing with a lighter!
Finally it was time for Jonathan, Mycah and Danny to carry the 140 lb batteries to the battery locker and install them.
As time went on and the sun set, Danny broke out his head lamp and continued to work. We had turned all power to Tanda Malaika off so once the sun set, Danny was working in the dark.
Finally, after several hours of back breaking work, the moment of truth arrived, and Danny flipped switches and Bob’s your uncle! We had battery power! We are so excited, and so very proud of him. The installer was going to charge us $1000 to install them, and Danny was able to do the job beautifully.
That’s one more major project down! There are many more to go, and it’s all exciting and one big adventure.
Yesterday morning when the mechanic came to work on Tanda Malaika with Danny, I gathered up the laundry and spent until noon chatting with other cruisers in the laundromat. It pains me to spend $6 a load to wash and dry clothes, but when I’ve tried washing them by hand they never dry in these wet climates.
I met Captain Dan, a gentleman in his mid 60’s who is a professor of criminal law for an online college. Teaching online provides him $1800 a month and the freedom to cruise. He is a happy chap and owns a power boat which him and his girlfriend motored from New York to here in, at that point he decided he wanted to sell it and purchase a sailboat. His girlfriend doesn’t want to sail, so he kissed her goodbye and is continuing on as a sailor. I also met a young couple with a beautiful 5 month old baby boy. They want to raise him on the ocean, visiting many lands and people to teach him about the world hands on. Every time I made eye contact with the little guy he grinned from ear to ear.
After returning to Tanda Malaika, it wasn’t long before the mechanic left – having decided that the computer to our starboard engine was fried. Danny lay down for a nap and I took most of the creatures in the dinghy so the boys could board at the skate park, and Mycah and I jumped on the bikes and peddled over to Publix grocery store.
We kept telling ourselves to keep the cart light, because we were going to have to haul all the groceries back on the bikes, and we did reasonably well. I had the extra heavy stuff in my backpack on my back, then a huge insulated bag resting on the bikes bar between my legs and another in the basket by the handle bars. Mycah had a load too, and peddling against the ever increasing wind with our hoards was quite comical…but we did it with style!
As we reached the dock we passed Captain Jack, the little old an I met the other day that paints shells. I introduced him to the creatures, and after chatting for a second he gave me a special gift: One of the shells he painted. I was deeply touched, and gave him a big hug, thanking him sincerely. This world is filled with beautiful Angels, and Captain Jack is one of them.
I decided to make Sadza for dinner. The family loves it when I do, and it had been a while since we’d had it. Sadza is a meal we ate in South Africa, which the black people cook on their fires. A thick mixture is cooked from cornmeal, which when I was little, we would roll into a ball, and with it we would scoop up train wreck gravy. I also served pork chops with it. The gravy is made with garlic, onions and tomatoes.
Saute it in a pan with salt and pepper, adding a little tomato sauce.
When it’s all done you spoon some gravy over the sadza and eat it together with the pork chops. It’s quite delicious. I remember my mom eating it with us the same way she did with the black people on her farm when she was a little girl. We sat on newspaper on the floor with the food in the middle and ate with our hands, scooping gravy up with the sadza. The real treat comes after dinner when sweetened condensed milk is poured over the remaining sadza and eaten as dessert.
This morning we caught a taxi to church, and enjoyed wonderful meetings there among the tiny handful of people. Everyone wanted to hear our story, which always surprises me, because it seems so normal to us. After church the members enjoyed a meal together, and we were invited to attend a get together with everyone on Wednesday night.
This afternoon I was up in the salon playing Quidler with the creatures, when a house with a hot tub went floating by.
They meandered through the anchored boats, right past Tanda Malaika and out into the open ocean. The really strange thing about it, was that to all of us cruisers, it really didn’t seem that strange. Does that mean WE are strange? Our house floats, and so does theirs!
There is a full moon tonight. I failed miserably at trying to capture it in a photo, but the beautiful bright moonlight spreads out across the water and rippled over to where my toes touched the waters surface.
If I were a manatee in these waters, I would float all night in the light of the moon.
Danny and I returned the rental car at about midday after using it one more time to exchange a purchase we’d made yesterday. The radar showed some awesome looking storm clouds approaching us, and after returning to Tanda Malaika the wind really picked up. Little white caps formed in the marina and all the sailboats pulled hard against their moorings and anchors. I went out and sat at the bow and watched huge billowing clouds move across the sky. Feeling the wind on my face really made me yearn for open ocean. I look forward to the day when we pull up our lines and head out.
I threw some old bread off the stern and a huge flock of seagulls ascended noisily and devoured it.
I’ve decided that it’s time for Jude to come home. She’s been gone far too long now and things just aren’t the same around here. It’s so strange to only have 4 creatures on board, and trying to cook for only 6 people is a joke. I’m so used to cooking for large crowds and I just don’t quite know how to cook for so few. This evening for dinner I made brussel sprouts roasted in garlic and olive oil, and shepherds pie. I know Jude would have loved the shepherds pie.
Tonight as I look out over the anchorage, I love the way the anchor lights from all the sailboats shine against the darkening sky. It looks like we are in outer space.
I am grateful for each moment, and each beautiful scene.
Our road trip was so fun! As we made our way through the Everglades we noticed that the banks of the water way next to the highway was full of alligators. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Danny stopped the car and we jumped out with cameras in hand and ran over as close as we could get. It’s a good thing that a chain link fence was between me and the water, because I would most definitely have waded in as far as I could for a good shot. I told Danny that one of my bucket list items is to jump on an alligator or crocodiles back, wrap my arms around its snout and legs around its belly and hold on as long as I can. I would hope to have a few good scars to show for it. Unfortunately I’m going to have to wait for another day.
By the time we got done watching alligators and then worked our way through crazy traffic, the battery store was closed. Thanks to Danny’s free hotel room points he’s earned, we got a room at a little hotel called Coconut Cove. The kids were excited to see that they had a ‘heated’ pool, and ran down stairs to swim for a bit.
The creatures noticed that our balcony was right above the pool and had all sorts of fantastic ideas about bombing into it, but were thankfully disappointed when they realized that the shallow end was under our room. It wasn’t long before they were back up at the room because they were frozen stiff.
We woke up first thing this morning and made our way to Lithionics to pick up our batteries. Danny was so excited. We met in a conference room and they explained the system to us, and although most of it was way over my head, I found it fascinating. They each weigh 140lbs and fit nicely in our spiffy minivan. (I will write more on the batteries later)
The creatures and I had never been to a Krispy Kremes store, so Danny stopped by one. The hot donuts melted in our mouths. We loved watching them being made and glazed, all shiny and delicious.
On our way home we passed over beautiful bridges which connect all the Keys. The scenery was gorgeous.
The many shades of blue out on the water is so pretty, and made us long to be back at sea again.
Finally we reached Marathon Key where we call home right now.
The next trick was to load the batteries into the dinghy to bring them back to Tanda Malaika. Between Danny, Jonathan and Mycah’s rippling muscles, they got the job done.
The setting sun on the anchorage was gorgeous, and finally reaching our girl sitting quietly in the water was a beautiful thing.
Regardless of where it is at the time, there is simply no place like home.
Danny and I received word that the batteries are ready to be picked up, so we called the car rental place and arranged for a vehicle fit for a tribe. We tucked Tanda Malaika in and kissed her goodbye for a day or two, and set out on the grand adventure in a spiffy red minivan.
After a couple hours or so we reached the creatures in Miami, and scooped them up. It was so wonderful to see them! Tonya was so sweet to get Jude to the airport this morning and she has now arrived safely. We miss her so much but know she is going to have a blast and a half. Before we left, Danny asked me to please make sure he doesn’t speed, because cops are everywhere here in Florida. I looked at him with a grin and asked him if he was serious, because guaranteed, if I told him to slow down, he most certainly would not. He assured me he would. Well guess what….he didn’t. I think he has jet fuel for blood. He just can’t help it!
In the car we played the Skittles game. Everyone picks a color of skittle to be their color. Mine was green. You blindly take a skittle out of the bag and if it’s your color you can chew it. If it someone elses color you just keep it in your mouth and can’t chew them. Some times your mouth gets so full you feel like you’re going to gag, and it’s a relief to finally chew them all up! Try it. It’s fun and will send even a non diabetic into a diabetic coma.
The scenery has been so beautiful as we have driven. Beautiful blue skies with gorgeous wispy clouds and rich green grasses. It feels so good to be on a road trip. Danny is doing marvelously even though we haven’t driven in 3 months.
I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and write all about it!
Yesterday morning Danny and I took the dinghy to shore, hopped on our bikes and went to see what we could see.
There is a store that most cruisers really love, called West Marine, and we cycled to one of them to look around. While walking the isles, all of a sudden the things we hadn’t even considered before made their way to the NEEDS list. Not just wants, but needs! The isles are overflowing with beautiful brightly colored lines, shiny buckles and shackles, navigation equipment and FISH FINDERS and fishing gear, galley stuff, gadgets for organizing, toys, sailing clothing,etc. I’m convinced that the guy that just won the $1.6 billion lottery still wouldn’t have enough money to buy all he wants in that store. I think it’s best to stay out of places like that, because we are doing quite well with the abundance of things we have.
We also passed a free diving store filled with gorgeous spear guns in every size and color, as well as wet suits in all shades of green and blue camouflage to keep you hidden while hunting. Danny and I were like kids in a candy store, but left everything on the shelves where they belonged.
All our cycling and exploring made us hungry, so we stopped by a little Mediterranean Cafe for gyros. Our amazing waitress was Carol, an older lady who was friendly, energetic and full of awesome stories. Her Dad has had many sailboats, including a 99ft schooner that they sailed all over the world. She spoke of him treasure hunting, which is one of my dreams, and her wonderful memories from her childhood on the seas. It made me wonder what stories our children would be telling their grandchildren one day.
The creatures have texted several times, and it sounds like Jude’s legs are so much better today. They are having an absolute blast and a half with Tonya. She is spoiling them and getting a kick out of them too. Jude is excited to fly tomorrow.
We returned to the dinghy parking lot after locking our bikes up, and returned to Tanda Malaika through the cold wind.
When we woke this morning it was 54 degrees and now, three hours later it has warmed up to a whopping 59. The cold wind still hasn’t stopped blowing, bringing that 59 down to ridiculously cold. Danny turned the heat on in the boat this morning to try it out for interest sake, and it works beautifully. Good to know for when we hit Antarctica (or Florida next time).
It’s interesting to see what grows under boats in the different places we travel. In Central America, it was a bright green mossy growth that we scrubbed off the hulls, and here in Florida we see vessels weighed down with mussels. So far I don’t see any on Tanda Malaika, but most dinghy bottoms and docks are covered in them.
As soon as we reach warmer waters we will scrub away once again.
Who knows what today will bring, but it’s guaranteed to be an adventure for Danny and I. We love being together and have been getting lots done.