Month: January 2016

So quiet…

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Having no creatures around leaves Tanda Malaika a little too quiet.

Yesterday Danny and I rented a couple of bicycles and peddled to KMart – the only store of its kind on Marathon Key, and picked up a few things we’ve been needing for some time. With bags hanging on our handle bars, in our baskets and my backpack full, we peddled home.

Tonya sent me this photo, saying that she is loving having the creatures there with her. I know they are thoroughly enjoying their time too.


She took Jude to the doctor where she was diagnosed with Impetigo. A bacterial infection caused most likely by bug bites in Mexico. Jude got a shot in the rear end and is now on antibiotics, and should be all fixed up in no time at all.

While the creatures have been gone I have been on an organizing streak. I have cleaned out the Navigation station, the shelves in the salon, some kitchen cupboards, the fishing gear and the games shelf. It’s amazing to me how much we have in our homes that we don’t need. It piles up because we think we’ll use it sometime soon, then years pass and it’s all still there with more piled on top. Living on a boat provides the perfect opportunity to dejunk and keep things simple. I love it. I love throwing things away or donating them.

I also love having this time with my sweet Darling. Danny is the best companion and friend any woman could ever wish for. I am a blessed woman.

Jude asked me to send her pictures of sailboats while she’s gone, and here’s the one I sent her this morning.


The sky was so beautiful with bright feathery clouds. The air is cool and a soft wind is still blowing.


Glimpse of sunshine

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Yesterday we found out that the sun does actually shine in Florida, and it was beautiful! The first order of business was to get Jude to a doctor to advise us on what to do for her blisters, which were still so itchy all over her legs. The blisters resemble those that one would get from poison ivy. No Dermatology offices were open, and the next best thing was a clinic in Big Pine Key, so we piled into Tonya’s car and drove down there to find out that that clinic had closed (even though online it said it was open).  Driving over 7 mile bridge was beautiful with the brilliant blue skies and gorgeous, calm waters. The old 7 mile bridge ran parallel to the one we were on, and I imagined my Dad riding his Harley down that exact highway when he did his ride to Key West and back, from Idaho Falls. He rode solo for over 7000 miles.

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We pulled in to a Walgreens and I spoke with the Pharmacist, showing her Jude’s blisters and explained the situation, and she recommended a concoction of a couple cremes, which we tried and have seen some good progress for the first time. The creatures loved being in Walgreens! It was the first fancy US store they’d seen in a while, and came away with lots of candy.


When we returned to Tanda Malaika, Danny told us that the marina office had radioed him, saying they had a mooring ball for us to tie up to. With all hands on deck, we handed Tonya the boat hook and Jude and I each grabbed a line, and we set off to mooring ball ‘W8’ to moor. With Danny at the helm, Tanda Malaika lined up perfectly and Tonya, taking her job seriously and doing a great job, caught the line on her first try and Jude and I hooked us up.

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We are so grateful that a mooring ball had become available, because a huge storm with crazy winds was expected to arrive soon. When Danny and I went in to the marina office to do the paperwork, we dropped Jonathan, Mycah and the twins off to spend some time at the skate park.


Late in the afternoon, everyone prepared their boats for the storm, closing hatches, tying things down, raising dinghy’s, and throwing extra anchors out. The rain arrived in a fantastic downpour, and once again everything was power washed clean.


In the night the wind blew over 35 knots, tornado warnings were issued, and it rained hard. I woke several times as Danny climbed back into bed and watched the weather patterns on his ipad, and this morning when I woke at 6am, I found out that he had not slept at all. He had been watching over our home and family all through the night while everyone slept soundly. He takes such good care of us.

Tonya has to return to Fort Lauderdale today, and invited all the creatures to join her so she can show them a little more of Florida. They, of course jumped at the chance. Jude is flying out of Miami on Wednesday to spend some time with friends of ours in St George, Utah, and Tonya will return with the other 4 creatures after taking her to the airport. She’s such an Angel to help us out. This morning in the rain and wind, we loaded into the dinghy, with backpacks in big black garbage bags, and took the wet ride in to the dinghy dock.


It was rough saying ‘see you later’ to my sweet Jude. She is not only wonderful to have around because of her sailing knowledge, but she adds so much light and goodness to every day of life. I am going to miss her so much. I will also miss the other 4 creatures but am so glad they are going to have fun with Aunt Tonya, and I know I’ll see them in a couple of days.

Tanda Malaika is going to be so quiet. Danny and I will keep busy with boat work, and loving each others company.

Beautiful morning

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Yesterday morning our beautiful friend/adopted sister, Tonya, drove all the way from Fort Lauderdale to be with us. Danny and some of the creatures and I were busy reanchoring when she arrived, so we sent the twins in the dinghy to pick her up. It has been so wonderful to have her with us. We have already talked, cried, laughed and played games, and we still have another awesome day to look forward to with her today!


I feel so bad for Jude, because not only is she dealing with a sprained ankle, but over the last 4 days she has developed itchy blisters allover her legs. We don’t know what caused it, possibly ‘swimmers itch’, but Jude has more self control than anyone I know. Somehow she is for the most part, able to not scratch. We are going to try find a Dermatologist to look at her to today.

It blew and rained hard for a while yesterday, and looked so beautiful as the rain pelted down over the water. We stayed inside and I tried out a new French Bread recipe, which according to the tribe, is a keeper. Last night I grated fresh garlic and spread it on the French Bread with softened butter, and we ate it up with spaghetti.

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An installer came on board for a while and spent time with Danny calculating what we use in a day, so we know what size solar system to install. He will be helping to install our batteries as soon as the system for them is calculated and designed.

Jonathan and the twins volunteered to take all the laundry in the dinghy and go into the marina and do it. They were gone for quite some time, and eventually I received a phone call from Emma, saying they had run out of gas on their way home. Luckily we keep an extra tank of gas tucked away in the forward dinghy locker, so they were able to funnel it in and continue on home. What great creatures.

This morning I awoke to watch the sunrise, and it was calm and beautiful.


Hopefully today will be a little dryer so we can dry Tanda Malaika out and enjoy some sunshine. I am so grateful for another day of life.



Anchor issues

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I feel like we are back in Cape Town. The wind has been blowing and is expected to blow all day today.

Yesterday we all piled into the dinghy and rode in to the marina office.


This has to be the most organized marina ever. I suppose they’d have to be to handle the hundreds of boats here. Even their dinghy parking is organized. There are designated areas for hard dinghy’s and others for soft.

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There is a gentleman with the crappy job of having to drive around and pump out peoples black water tanks. When he passed me today, he waved with a huge smile on his face, so it must not be too bad.


Just outside of the marina there is a skate park, where the creatures took their boards to.


Jude came away with a sprained ankle, and has been icing and elevating it since yesterday. This morning her skin is gorgeous shades of blue, purple and pink.

We walked down the main road to check the ‘neighborhood’ out, and found a little farmers market. Being back here in the US has reminded us of how expensive cost of living is. We bought about 1/5 the amount of produce for the same price as we did in Central America.


On our way back to Tanda Malaika, we dinghy-ed around the marina looking at boats and fuel docks, buildings etc. When ever all 7 of us are in our dinghy, we get big smiles and friendly waves from sailors around us. We mostly see couples or single riders in them, and I’m sure we look like a clown car.

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When we reached Tanda Malaika we realized that the wind had changed direction and swung her around in the opposite direction that we had been in, and that combined with the drastically low tide which dropped unusually low, we were grounded.

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We could clearly see the grass and anemones under us in the shallow water. Catamarans are built to be able to be grounded safely, in fact some people purposefully ground themselves so that while the tide is low they can do work under their boats. We noticed a not so fortunate soul who is not in a cat, that was leaning far to the side and had to be towed off. Luckily the ground is soft and not rocky. When the tide came up late in the night, we pulled up anchor and moved Tanda Malaika to a deeper spot, and set our anchor alarm (drag queen) on my phone. The alarm was supposed to sound if we dragged more that 100ft, and when I woke up at 6am I noticed that we had dragged and were once again grounded in a different spot. I had ‘do not disturb’ on, on my phone and I think the alarm didn’t sound so as not to disturb me! Somehow we managed to drag without hitting any other boats or the rocky shoreline. Daddy and Jan must have been watching over us.

So here we are, once again waiting for the tide to rise so that we can try anchor out in deeper water again. The wind is blowing 25 mph and it’s raining, but I have no doubt that the Tanda Malaika crew will succeed this time! Danny and I have looked at different anchors, and have decided that the Delta anchor that came with the boat is not the ideal one, and will be purchasing one more suitable for our size boat. Life is good, and we are loving the adventures.



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A little after 7am I finally braved the freezing cold and went out on deck to fire up the engines. Jonathan was awake and raised the anchor for me and we set off for Marathon Key. I told Danny to stay in bed since yesterday I took an almost two hour break from the cold while he was at the helm. Six hours later, right at the point that I felt like my insides were as cold as my outsides, we approached Marathon Key and Danny surfaced to take over. There were many shoals and shallow coral patches which we had to meander through and into an inlet that shelters us from waves and wind. We tried several times to anchor but failed miserably and moved on to an open (less protected) anchorage to anchor. Jude and Emma were following behind at a snails pace in the dinghy, and as they came closer to Tanda Malaika, got pulled over by fish and game for not having life jackets on board. Jude seemed quite proud of that fact that she was pulled over for the first time, and that it was in a dinghy! We now have a $90 fine to pay into the frigged state of Florida.

The anchorage we are in is filled with 100’s of boats.  More boats than we’ve seen in an anchorage thus far, and unlike other places we’ve been, there is hardly a soul in sight because of the cold.

Jonathan came scrambling down to our berth and said, ‘mom, beluga whales!’ We knew right away that he actually meant manatees, though given the outdoor temperature we may as well be in the arctic with belugas! Jude grabbed her GoPro and jumped in clothes and all.

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At first her cannonball, scared them away, but after a couple of minutes they surface a few yards away. She swam over to them and squealed with excitement and yelled, ‘can someone please google whether these will bite me!’ I assured her that the worst they’d do is give her a giant hickey. Before I knew it, Emma and Mycah joined her, and then a few minutes later, Jonathan joined them. They gasped at the coldness of the water but soon became numb and didn’t feel it as intensely.

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Mycah took some underwater shots…


After a good half an hour in the water, the creatures decided they were frozen to the point of feeling like they couldn’t quite breathe properly, and I met them at the stern with some fresh towels. They quickly showered , drank hot chocolate and are now looking at their photos with delight. We hope to see many more of these gentle creatures while we are here, and if so, many more pictures will follow.

Leaving Key West for Marathon Key

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This morning when I woke up, it was pouring with rain outside and the wind was howling. I knew that when everyone woke up they’d love something warm in their tummy’s, so I cooked pancakes and bacon and served everyone in bed. I also made a few batches of fresh granola, knowing that the baking would heat the boat up nicely.


The company we bought our batteries through seem to have a great product but pathetic customer service. They gave us the number for an installer, who actually installs in homes, not boats, so Danny found an installation company in Marathon Key. We decided to get things ready to head that way, and while Danny and Jonathan went to get us checked out, Jude went up the mast to fix the lines on the stack pack.

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The wind was blowing and it was so ridiculously cold, but she wanted to stay up there and swing for a while. After she’d been up there for some time, I yelled up, “hows it going” and she replied, “well, I’m going to try spit my gum out to see if I can hit the water.” I was thinking she was going to reply with a plan of attack on the stack pack, but obviously she had more important things on her mind. Aidan, Emma and I watched as she spat far with all her might (into the mind) and landed her gum about 10ft out away from the boat and into the water. She makes me so proud. What a nut.

Earlier on, her and I were in the galley and she was painting, and this is how our conversation went.

Jude: I think I’m an imperfectionist.

Me: Yeah? Why do think that?

Jude: Because I really love imperfect things. I don’t like new clothes, I love imperfections in nature and my art and everything around me.

Me: I like that.

Jude: The world is not a perfect place and people need to accept that and love it.

I’d never heard anyone call themselves an imperfectionist before, and think it’s interesting that an individual as perfect as Jude, loves imperfections so much. Perhaps that is what makes her so perfect.

We set sail from Key West, leaving behind a wind blown, freezing and gray mooring field, and raised the main and unfurled the jib.


We had about 50 miles to do, and sailed 30 of the 50 before dropping anchor. Everyone up at the helm were so frozen, and we don’t like entering new anchorages in the dark, so we figured we’d stop for the night and continue in the morning. I made a big pot of chunky beef stew and garlic bread to warm everyone up, and now with full bellies Tanda Malaika’s 7 crew members are snuggled down in their warm beds. We are so grateful for our home, and the protection she offers us.

Freezing in Key West

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We’ve decided that Key West is a little too cold…well, maybe a lot too cold. Today was a whopping 66 degrees, which is a temperature we haven’t felt for quite a while. I love exploring new places, but today while on a cold dinghy ride in to do laundry, I heard myself saying, “this is such a miserable place!” I’m usually much more positive than that, but at the time felt so freaking cold.

Last night we all piled in the dinghy and docked in a secure area, then made our way into town. As we walked we commented on how beautiful the homes are, with their quaint designs and colors. Gorgeous churches stand tall on many of the corners, and many shops and restaurants are creatively decorated.

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We all felt overwhelmed with the amount of stores and also of the many people that crowded the sidewalks. We have grown so use to and love the small towns in Central America.

Everywhere we looked, were chickens and roosters roaming freely. Some of them had such beautiful coloring, and this brown and white speckled one pooped on Danny’s shoulder as it watched us from a tin roof.

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This morning we took a taxi to the customs and immigration office, where we had to check in. All seven of us had to be there, which is different from the places we’ve been thus far. We also got laundry done, which we desperately needed to do. It’s amazing how quickly one can go through a couple rolls of quarters.

As we were all here freezing in the boat this evening, Danny mentioned that he felt like Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches like his mom used to make when it was cold outside. So, Jude, Danny and I hopped into the dinghy and tried to get as close to the grocery store as possible, and came away with supplies for Danny’s requested meal. Mycah and Jonathan were in charge of the grilled cheese sandwiches while I worked on the soup, and we all enjoyed the deliciousness and warmth.

Hopefully tomorrow the temperatures will rise and the cold wind will go away, but if not, we will enjoy ourselves anyway. It is after all, one constant, grand adventure.

Isla Mujeres to Key West, Florida

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You know it’s been a calm sail when we finally drop anchor and none of us girls have dreadlocks.

We estimated that it would take us about 2 1/2 days to get here, and we ‘landed’ after 44 hours, having sailed 342 nautical miles (410.4 land miles). Tanda Malaika is a dream to sail, and takes such good care of us.

We left Isla Mujeres around noon on Friday, and the ocean was so incredibly calm. It was like a giant lake.


This of course means no wind for sailing, so we raised the sails and motor sailed out to find wind. Our hope was to catch a ride with the Trade winds, and also to ride the swift current all the way to Key West. While motor sailing on the calm seas, it was so smooth that I felt like we were floating, and finally just before sunset, we harnessed the Trade Winds and took flight.


It was interesting to be in such a busy shipping lane, because over the entire passage we constantly watched giant cargo ships cruise by and it was especially busy as we passed Cuba. We have the AIS system (Automatic  Identification System), which transmits vessel position, SOG and COG (speed and course over ground), ship name, size and next port of call. Ships over 300 gross tonnage are required to install AIS, but many smart sailors also do for safety sake. When a ship icon shows up on our navigation screen, if we touch it, it pulls up all the info I mentioned and looking at its direction, one can quick tell if you’re on a collision course and when exactly that collision would take place. Sailboats have right of way when under sail, but it is wise to keep a close watch just in case someone is not paying attention. Every time we saw a cargo ship on this sail, we watched them change their heading to steer clear of us.

Danny caught a small tuna on that first day, but threw it back since it was so small.


We decided to take 2 hour watches through the night, and liked it so much more than 3 hour watches. That third hour is always a tough one to stay awake through.

On Saturday at about 6:30am I set both fishing lines, dragging brightly colored lures quite a ways behind the boat. As the day went on, Jude, Mycah and I did lunges and wall sits out on deck, and relaxed, chatted and read the rest of the day. We always have someone at the helm, even during the day time, and just rotate through the family. At one point Jonathan and Aidan were at the helm, and Aidan looked over at the fishing rod, noticing it bent in that beautiful arch that says dinner is on the end of the line, and as Jonathan came to tell Danny and I he checked our other line to find we had a fish on it too. I got to work turning Tanda Malaika into irons to slow us down while Danny did his ninja fisherman thing and brought in 2 beautiful Mahi Mahi (Durado).

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Danny quickly filleted them and I set aside one for dinner and one for the freezer. I served fresh Mahi Mahi, couscous and salad for dinner, and everybody loved it.

The sunset was once again spectacular, and a dark, star filled sky spread out over us.



Bio-luminescence sparkled brightly, as if to imitate the sky, and once in a while I saw a shooting star streak across then disappear. At one point as I stood out on the bow in the darkness, I thought I heard the exhale of a dolphin below me, before it disappeared once again into the depths. This place, this beauty out on the ocean, is the most peaceful place in the world, where I stand speechless and in awe at the details of His creations. It is also here, that I feel my Dad and my brother standing either side of me.

This morning in the very early hours I watched as we left the Gulf of Mexico and entered the Straights of Florida. Danny and I took watch again from about 5am on because we needed to start meandering through buoys, crap pots and reef while nearing Key West. A welcome committee greeted us as we entered the mooring field, and all the creatures gathered ready with boat hook and line to pick up the mooring ball. We have such awesome crew.



So here we are. Sitting in the calm waters in Key West. Danny and I took the dinghy in to check in, and on Monday we all have to go to the court house to meet with customs and immigration.


Our adopted sister/aunt, Tonya, will meet us here and stay for a sleep over tonight. We are excited to spend time with her, and most likely somewhere around Tuesday we’ll sail farther north for a bit before heading back into the Bahamas. As Danny always says, “we have no plan and we’re sticking to it!”



Leaving Mexico

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In preparation to leave this beautiful little island, yesterday we made our final rounds. Mycah and Aidan went to the grocery store with me for some provisions, and we had to walk through hundreds of students all dressed in uniform, since school started up again today.


It reminded me of my school days in South Africa, and the uniforms we were there.

Aidan and Mycah were amazed at the size of the cabbages in the produce section. They were about the size of basketballs.


The creatures set out to explore one last time while we did a few things on the boat. Danny has hurt his lower back and has had to rest it a bit, but after a while we took the dinghy and met them in town.

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The creatures were ranting and raving about crepes they’d eaten with ‘special’ cheese and nutella in the middle, and wanted Danny and I to try them. It’s a good thing we only paid 25 pesos ($1.50), because neither of us could figure out why on earth they liked them so much.

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We had to grab one last ice cream come so we could leave with a good taste in our mouths. I have decided that the best combination of flavors are Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello.


On our dinghy ride back to Tanda Malaika, we enjoyed one more breathtaking sunset. The colors were so rich and warm and cast a gorgeous glow across the water.


Today we will set sail for the Florida keys, which should take us about 2.2 days. According to the weather we should have 8-20 knot winds and gentle swells. We are all itching to get back on the road! Though marina life has its perks, being under sail is where these sailors are most happy. Once we install our new lithium ion batteries in Florida, we won’t have to be in a marina again if we don’t want to, which will save us the cost. Life is good, and we are grateful for it.

On to the next adventures for this tribe!!!


Farewell to the Nells

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Our last couple of days with the Nell family have continued to be wonderful. Their youngest son, Glade, turned 13, and wanted pizza for dinner. Marci found a place to order from that makes amazing pizza and garlic twists that were to die for.


Danny and I had to catch a ferry in to Cancun to take care of paperwork, and I have decided that Cancun is just too big of a city for me. Small, sparsely inhabited islands are the perfect pace.


Thousands of people scurried back and forth, and cars and taxi’s flew by. The air smelled like exhaust and stale air, and people seemed stressed and preoccupied…so different to what we’ve been living in.

We returned andmeandered through Isla Mujeres once more, admiring the brightly colored streets, homes and stores, and breathed in the beauty of the ocean.



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The sunsets have been spectacular every night as we’ve looked out over the marina. Masts stand tall and proud on their vessels, and Frigate birds rests on the lines of a schooner. Tanda Malaika always looks beautiful silhouetted against the burned orange of the sunset.



Today after the Nell’s left, the creatures moped around for a bit and then our neighbor, Mindy, came over and said she absolutely loves our kids and wants to take them all to lunch.


While they were all gone, Danny cleaned out the lazarette that we keep all the engine juices in, and then we took the opportunity to go on a date. We loaded into the ‘car’ and drove over to a place close by and tied off at a dock.


The ground was deep with beautiful, white beach sand, and we sunk our bare feet into it and enjoyed each others company.


I am so lucky to have such a wonderful husband, who takes my breath away on a regular basis, and loves me so deeply.

This evening we are sitting looking out over the water, as Mycah sings to us on the ukulele. The only sounds aside from her song, are a gentle lapping  of water against the shore, and the occasional rustling of palm fronds in the breeze. A warm, soft, inviting glow is filtering through Tanda Malaikas windows, calling us to come in to be rocked to sleep once again.