Month: February 2016

Back to 10 on Tanda Malaika

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It has been an exciting day. This morning we had church while Bernadine and Gary flew into Miami from Idaho, then caught the Keys Shuttle down to us here in Key Largo. Emma and I took the dinghy in and picked them up and it is so good to have them with us. Since the ocean is a bit choppy today we took big black garbage bags with us to put their luggage in, and it’s a good thing we did. The ride back to the boat was quite a wet one and being the shield maiden that I am, I sacrificed my body and took the worst of it. Bernadine squealed and laughed the entire way to Tanda Malaika.

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The creatures were so excited, and so is our sweet Momma. It feels good to all be under one roof again. Now that Jan and Daddy are no longer with us, us 3 girls are the entire Nel Family…seems so strange.

Bernadine and Gary brought us all sorts of wonderful things, including (among other things), a fun new game and a huge bag of those delicious addicting Cadbury Easter Eggs.

This afternoon Danny gave us all a lesson in navigation and chart plotting. He is so smart in so many things.


Bernadine spent much of the day out in the stern salon, because she kept getting motion sick. This evening she is doing much better, and has done splendidly in keeping dinner down too.

We all enjoyed the sunset together and sat and chatted for a bit, and now are ready to snuggle down for the night.

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Tomorrow Danny will replace the starboard alternator and if we get done in time we will begin our passage to Bahamas. If not, we will leave on Tuesday morning. Life is good and we are so excited to see what tomorrow brings…it’s guaranteed to be an adventure.


Finally done with Haul Out

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It’s been a busy couple of days! We drove the rental van to Miami and spent the night close to where we had to pick the parts up yesterday morning. The Miami skyline is quite impressive and the traffic is insane. (especially when you’re used to the lack of traffic on the ocean)


We walked to the beach and and enjoyed the feeling of sand under our toes. Miami is a beautiful city with so many interesting alley ways.

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As expected, it took longer to get the parts, partly because the bearings needed to be spruced up. By the time we got back to the boat yard in Key Largo, the guys were busy on another boat and said they’d get back to ours first thing in the morning. We grabbed all the laundry off the boat and headed to a laundromat. 4 loads later we dragged ourselves into our hotel room where I fell asleep almost instantly after a wonderful hot shower.

This morning we left the hotel at 7:30am and arrived at the boat yard ready to work hard. It was wonderful to see Tanda Malaika but she looked so out of place sitting on the hard.

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We decided that since her hull was fully accessible, we would scrub all rust stains and any other marks off of her – including the big tire mark on her port side from when they hauled her out. In the past, I’ve had a difficult time getting old rust stains off, but have found a liquid that is MAGIC! This stuff get everything off…except the tire marks.


Everyone got busy with watered down bleach, as well as vinegar spray bottles and started scrubbing, and Jude and Aidan discovered that ‘Bar Keepers Friend’ got the tire marks off.

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By the time we were done, Tanda Malaika looked better than ever before. The new parts were installed and Danny also fixed the water pump, and the lift arrived just after high tide to take her back to the water.

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It is so nerve wracking to watch our home lifted up and moved across a boat yard. We all held our breath until she was safely in the water once more.

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Mycah found a pan of bottom paint and got creative. Little did they know that bottom paint in next to impossible to get off! Mommy and Jonathan still have blue paint on them.


Once we were finally set, the tide had dropped enough to make it impossible for us to set out in the crazy shallow waters, so here we are, tied up to the dock and ready for tomorrows high tide. Danny has been back in the engine room working on the starboard alternator, and the creatures have been getting settled back in their berths.


Key Largo is such an interesting town. It is said that it is a drinking town with a fishing problem. In fact, there is such a huge ‘need’ for bars that the only Denny’s in the nation with a full bar is found here.


We are all going to sleep SO well tonight, finally back on the water – even if it is tied to a dock.



Day #1 of Haul Out

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This morning we woke up and stowed things away on Tanda Malaika, getting her ready for haul out. Since we are operating on one engine in heavy winds, a tow boat came to tow us  to the lift. The main reason for this – aside from strong winds, is that there is a very narrow channel that a vessel can go down to the lift, and if you deviate from that channel every so slightly, you’d be grounded. If both our engines were working we would have been fine, but we didn’t want to take the chance, and the towing service was free since we are members of BoatUS.

The tow boat arrived and we tied a bridle up to the bow.

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The widest boat that the lift can take is 28ft, and Tanda Malaika is 25ft wide. The extra 3ft may seem like a lot, but when you’re pulling her into the slip with concrete on either side, it sure feels like a tight squeeze. We all felt so anxious – even nauseous, knowing that her 12 ton body (excluding all our stuff on her) was about to be lifted up.

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We each grabbed lines, threw lines and fended her off the concrete. At one point she rubbed up again a black tire, which is far better than concrete, but now has a nice big tire mark on her side. We’ll just lovingly scrub her clean.


Two thick straps were lowered down from the lift into the water, and Danny slowly moved her forward over the straps while we held her tight on the sides. I read on the straps and the label showed that they can each hold 66000 lbs. The workers assured me that they had lifted barges which are much heavier than Tanda Malaika.

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Finally the really nerve racking time came, and they lifted her up, then drove the lift down so that she was over a large concrete area. I think we all held our breath the entire time.

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The mechanic and Danny got to work undoing the sail drives to try figure out what the problem is, and soon found that fishing line had wrapped around the propeller shaft and melted into a solid mass. It had broken the seal to the sail drive and destroyed a bearing!


We had ordered the parts for sail drive seals, but not new bearings, so Tanda Malaika has to stay out of the water tonight, while we rented a minivan and have driven to Miami to get the parts at the Volvo engine dealer. We will return with them tomorrow so our girl can be fixed and put back in the water where she belongs.

We feel bad not being with Tanda Malaika tonight. It feel like she has gone in for surgery and I’m not there to support her. Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly and life on the sea as we know it, will continue.

Still waiting

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We were supposed to have Tanda Malaika hauled out yesterday morning, but the parts hadn’t arrived, and this morning the winds were too strong. So, the plan is that tomorrow morning at 8:30am a towboat will come and help guide us in because the winds will continue to blow like crazy.

In the mean time we have kept busy by relaxing and doing school work, etc.  Aidan caught a fish this morning. and then let it go again.


Mommy has been trying to teach me how to crochet. I know how to knit, but crocheting is another story!


This morning Mommy woke up seasick due to the constant waves in the night. I gave her Bonine, and she sat at the stern salon table until it kicked in and made her really sleepy. After a good nap she was all better and good to go again.


Jude continues to impress us with her climbing skills. I think she’s ready for coconut trees now! She climbed up as high as the radar, which is pretty far up there.

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This afternoon Danny and a few others worked on the ropes holding the trampoline in place. They did a great job.

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I grilled some pork chops and zucchini out on the braai for dinner,  and we enjoyed a sunset meal on the stern.


Afterward we lay on the tramp and watched the sky darken and stars appear. Mycah spotted a green glow in the water, and when we looked out, we saw many many of them. Some would start out as a fluorescent green spot and then slowly dissipate while others would stay florescent green and spin around in large groups. I couldn’t capture a photo of it, but it was magical. Mycah read up that they were fireworms, and the females excrete a fluorescent green mucus to attract males. The swarms we saw were the males. The ocean never ceases to amaze me.We are surrounded by incredible beauty.


Marathon to Key Largo

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Last night the Smith Family joined us on Tanda Malaika. They have 4 beautiful little children who were very excited to be on board. Everyone got to bed at a reasonable hour, knowing that 4:30am would come quickly. I tossed and turned all night and at about 3:45am finally fell asleep – just to wake up to the alarm 45 minutes later. The 4 little creatures were fast asleep in the big bed that is made by lowering the main salon table.


Danny worked on a few things on the boat, including the starboard engine, and just as the sunrise showed its beautiful self, we motored out of Marathon Marina.


We rounded the corner to head out to the deep blue water and breathed in the coolness of the new day.


As the morning evolved and people slowly woke up and came topside, we quickly saw that my Mom and our guest, Nichole, were very seasick. My poor Mom looked so green, so I medicated her which knocked her out, and she fell asleep for several hours.


When she awoke she was a new woman and no longer felt sick. We passed a gorgeous reef named Alligator Reef, where there was a lighthouse surrounded by a stunning shade of turquoise blue water.

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The midget creatures danced on the trampoline and others fell asleep draped over Jude and Mycah. We spotted a couple of giant turtles, who quickly turned and dove down deep as we sailed by. It was fun to watch Jude and Mycah relaxing on the sugar scoop steps while we were underway.

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After about 10 1/2 hours we finally pulled into Key Largo and dropped anchor.


Emma and Danny took the Smith family in the dinghy to land close to where their car was parked, while I made a big taco salad for dinner. When they returned we all sat at the stern salon and ate our full.


Danny and I took the dinghy out after dinner to find where we need to take Tanda Malaika tomorrow for haul out. I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous for it. Our poor girl sits so comfy in the water and she is so big, I just don’t want her to be damaged.


I am so tired, and am going to hit the sack early tonight. It’s been a good day, and I am grateful to be moving along. Being out in the open water felt so good!



Prep day

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Today was the day to prepare for tomorrows departure. We went to the grocery store and stocked up on a few things, and also loaded all the diesel cans in the dinghy again to go fill them up.

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It’s been so fun taking Mommy around with us. She does so well with the boating routine.

Danny was very busy all day, installing the inverter. Now with it installed, DC is converted to AC, allowing us to use outlets without shore power or the generator running.

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Our work is finally done here in Marathon, and we are ready to move on to the next adventure. Very early tomorrow morning we will pull up lines from the mooring ball and head out through Sister Creek, and out into open ocean. It looks like the wind will be right on our nose, so we will have to tack clear out for a while and then turn and tack in to Key Largo. We’ll have the fishing lines out and hope to catch some fish.

There is a family of 6 who are interested in the cruising life, that will sail with us to Key Largo. They are currently living in an RV and touring the US. It’ll be fun to show them how Tanda Malaika feels under sail. So, tonight we have 14 people all comfortably tucked into bed and excited for tomorrows passage.

They’re Home!!!

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It’s been an exciting day! We knew that my Mom and Jude would arrive around 1:30 or 2pm, so we tried to get a bunch of things done this morning. We pulled out all the diesel cans so we could fill them in preparation for setting out.


I baked a couple loaves of french bread and Emma and I made lemon bars together. Ever since Danny bought me some baking stones for the oven, things have been cooking faster and so much more evenly. My french bread use to come out looking ugly and pale and had patches of uncooked dough. Now, they cook through beautifully and don’t look too bad. Since baking is one of my passions (breads especially), this is a BIG deal for me!


At one point bottle nosed dolphins surrounded Tanda Malaika. They swam around starboard side for a while then moved to the bow. We went out to watch them and just when I grabbed my camera, they moved on. They are such beautiful creatures.

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When it was time to take the dinghy in to the dock to pick Mommy and Jude up, the three creatures went in to get her. We didn’t know how much luggage they’d have, and didn’t want to overload the dinghy. Jonathan was working for a gentleman in town to make some money.


Finally, they returned, and I gave my sweet Mom and huge hug and then wrapped my arms around Jude and just didn’t want to let go. I told her she is grounded from ever leaving the boat ever again. It is SO good to have Jude back, and to have Ouma on Tanda Malaika again.


As the afternoon moved on, Jude and Aidan took a nap in the hammock. I couldn’t believe that they both fit, buy they did comfortably, and got some Z’s.

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While I cooked some Mahi Mahi on the grill, Danny replaced our light bulbs with LED bulbs, and what a huge difference in our lighting, plus we are saving energy. It’s amazing that that much difference can be found in these little bulbs.


The sunset was beautiful tonight, and now as everyone has gone to their berths to snuggle down, it feels so good to know that they are warm and comfortable in their beds in our cozy home on the sea. It’s been a good day.


Working hard

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Aidan and I carried the two propane tanks over to Chevron, and were met by a little Jamaican man named George. As we sat with him while filling tanks, he asked if Aidan was my son and when I told him he was, he went on and on about how we look so much alike. I told him I have 11 children, and he chuckled at the small family we have and told us he has 32 children. It’s not everyday that I run across someone who has more creatures than I do! He told us that he doesn’t even remember a couple of their mothers and isn’t quite sure how many mothers there are, but was proud to say that he’s never paid a cent in child support. At that point I had a hard time biting my tongue, but somehow managed, and even left him in one piece. What a guy!


It was Mycah and Aidan’s turn to do laundry, so that’s all taken care of too now. People have asked how we do laundry on a boat. When we are close to a marina or town, we take the dinghy in and do it at the laundromat. If we are out on the ocean or away at anchor, we hand wash the clothes and hang them out to dry. We haven’t tried this yet, but some sailors throw their clothes in a mesh bag, drag it behind the boat for a bit, them bring it on board to rinse with fresh water and hang it up.


Danny has been busy with more projects on Tanda Malaika. He screwed a fishing rod rack into the ceiling of the stern salon. It looks so good, and we won’t have to scrub rust stains from hooks of the deck anymore.


Emma and I spent some time pulling old caulking. Some of it was cracked in places which causes leaking. It was quite the job, but with flat head screwdrivers and knives as our tools, we were successful.

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Once it was all removed, I applied marine grade 4000 to patch it all up again.


My hands were covered in a sticky, white mess, but came clean with acetone.

Aside from all these projects, we have continued to have fun. I found a boat named Danny Boy, and Aidan has continued to get some good boarding and tubing in.

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We are excited for Jude and my sweet Momma to arrive in about 3 hours, and the plan after that is to leave Marathon early Sunday morning and head to Key Largo. On Monday, Tanda Malaika will be lifted with a sling and her sail drive seals will be replaced. We are praying that that will be all that needs to be done, and then she will be placed back in the water that evening. We’ll hang around for a day or two and slowly make our way to Miami to pick up my sister and brother in law later in the week. Exciting times!




Exciting times

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As always, life on Tanda Malaika has been fun and exciting. The Yamaha company came and used our floating home for their photo shoot. They were here for over an hour while we stayed inside and out of sight.

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Our sweet friends, the Hartzells, came over for dinner for their last meal in Marathon. We love them dearly and will miss them, but are excited for them to see their family again. The guitars were once again brought out and we listened to beautiful music for a while. I’m sure many people in the marina could hear  and enjoyed it too. Danny and Hal played music from The Beatles, Niel Diamond, The Eagles, Beach Boys and lots more.

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This morning some people came over that we met at church on Sunday. They wanted to see the boat and talk about what life is like living on a boat full time. Denise and Theodore had a good time walking around Tanda Malaika and learning about how things run.


We enjoyed sitting and chatting with them for a while, and watched a beautiful storm blow in. When the rain stopped Emma taxied them back to the dock.

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Her and I caught a ride with them to the Post Office to mail off the title for Time Out. Jude’s beautiful Catalina has finally sold. It’s a bitter sweet thing because we love Time Out and have had so much fun sailing her. We also stopped by Home Depot to buy some dowels, because I am going to make a Biltong Box  (South African jerky), so that we can make some on the boat.

Once we returned, I found Danny in the forward lazarette where the generator is, and he was changing oil and filters.

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He realized he was short on filters, so Mycah and I went into town and hit a couple different parts stores to find the correct filters. Danny does such a wonderful job at keeping everything running in tip top shape. Our taxi driver told us a couple funny stories. He asked if we heard about the drama with the homeless man last night. When we told him we hadn’t, he said that a homeless man stole a backhoe, drove it to 7 mile bridge and started moving huge boulders with the bucket on it and lay them across the road and blocked off 7 mile bridge. The police whisked him away. He also said that there is a homeless man that comes to Marathon every year for the entire summer. He is a medical doctor in Miami, and spends every summer as a bum. What interesting characters!

We are so excited because on Friday, Jude and my Mom will be arriving. It will be wonderful to have Jude home, and so fun to have my Mom. She will stay for a couple months. On the 28th, my sister and her husband, Gary, will also arrive, and sail with us to the Bahamas. We are in for some really fun times with them all. We are waiting for one more package to arrive till we can sail up to where we’ll be hauling the boat out to replace sail drive seals, and although Marathon has been a wonderful place to visit and get things done, we are so excited to raise the sails and feel Tanda Malaika move out over the water.


Fun weekend

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Update on my bruising from colliding with the dock: I’m really quite proud of this bruise…the color is fading but is still fantastic!


We’ve had an action packed weekend, and have spent every minute of it together as a family. Everything from beach time, the twin skateboarding down a cool hill they found, to a valentines party at the church, and finally church today followed by a meal together.

Mycah took some fun photos of Aidan and Emma skating on their long boards.

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Emma got a bit nervous when she started gaining too much speed…can you tell by the look on her face??

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For Aidan, the faster the better!

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At the valentines party we played some games. Danny and I were contestants in the ‘Newly Wed’ game and he knew the correct answer for every question asked about me. He also had to read me a poem in a romantic way, and got down on one knee, gave me flowers, placed his hand on his heart and read the poem. What a guy!

The creatures had to feed each other donuts on a string without using their hands while eat. Jonathan won by taking the entire doughnut into his mouth in one big gulp.

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Today when we shared our meal together I baked pink dinner rolls since it’s Valentines.

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I am so in love with my Valentine. Danny is the absolute most wonderful companion ever created and I am so grateful to be his wife. I hope that one day I can be as compassionate, loving, thoughtful, and filled with empathy and charity as he is. He is my hero. My sweet Darling. I love spending every day with him.