Thursday, December 18, 2014

Workin 9 to 5

After leaving Daytona/Ponce Inlet on December 12th, we hugged the Florida coast and arrived 12 hours ahead of schedule into Lake Sylvia, near Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) early Sunday morning. Ft. Lauderdale has been one of our major neon sign destinations since leaving Halifax and everywhere else that reminded us of warmer weather. Although it's been 5 days since our arrival, it's still a bit surreal to know and I keep repeating myself: "we've made it", "we're actually here" and "I can't believe we've made it this far!" after many moons, constant motion and some 2,000+ Nautical Miles, we're actually here!

I suppose the world works in mysterious ways. Since our arrival we got jobs for the entire week aboard a 130ft IAG private yacht. We were asked if we wanted to make a little extra cash this week so we said "why not!" It's not every day you get to work on a boat of this beauty and size. Whoa, is this boat spectacular! It's beyond anything I could imagine owning myself. It sure is pretty inside and out. Pictures never seem to do justice when you're standing inside a floating mansion, but here are some below. Nate is doing more hands-on, technical engineering work (considered "blue boat" projects) while I dance around beautiful woodwork and furniture, swiffering, making beds and dusting ("pink" boat projects). Most cruisers will agree that boat projects tend to fall into two categories: "Blue" or "Pink" projects. I take on the pink projects with rubber gloves and pride, and although some are dirty and hands-on like cleaning teak decks, I have no desire in tinkering with technical, complex "Blue" projects like engine rooms, bilges, electrical systems, etc. I have a handyman for that and he is learning from the yacht's technical engineer, our sailing friend G.R. I cleaned a yoga studio for three years so this yacht's got nothing I can't clean! 

It's weird getting up in the morning for work. Making breakfast, getting into the dinghy to commute the 10 minute row. It's a lovely way to get to work. We wave to other cruisers onboard as we row by, most days with the current in our favor. It's an opportunity we decided to pursue to boost the cruising kitty, try something new and meet new people in the process. This gig may lead to other opportunities for Nate's resume.

My awesome sister came for a visit. Well, mostly to help her dad move from Ft. Lauderdale to Denver after 20+ familiar years in the same condo, with the same views, same routine. It must have been hard for her dad to pack up his former life for a new one. I know exactly how scared and unsure he must be feeling. I give him lots of credit in bravery and courage. My heart broke open when I ran into my sister's arms and reunited after only 4 months of not seeing eachother. We spent an evening at Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour catching up, enjoying our guiltless calories. Back in the day, our family would drive an hour from West Palm Beach just to enjoy homemade ice cream at this landmark establishment. It was fun to relive some memories!

The weather has been lovely! We're talking about sailing somewhere new for my birthday for a couple days and plan to stay in FLL for a while enjoying the warm sun and multitude of palm trees. It's nice to not be in transit mode for the moment. 

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season, although it sure doesn't feel like the holidays here with tanktops and warm weather. Far from complaining about the warmth, but snow and Christmas go together like peas and carrots.

After looking at some of the photos below, there will be more posts about my first sail repair, dolphin experience and meeting up with old friends after 8 years! Until then, we've found ourselves workin for the man. 
Pre-departure from Daytona Beach: repairing the foresail with dental floss 
Nate in sight of Cape Canaveral (about 3 miles offshore)
Catching some Zzzz's

Reunited aboard Felicity after 8 years
Sunday Funday!
Girls Night Out at Jaxson's
The office's main entrance
I love this vessel sink!
Pretty stairs!
Care to come for a dinner party?!
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tree Hugger

After 5 long days of sailing from Beaufort, NC (just over roughly 400NM, merely stating our distance proudly, non-gloating), we entered Ponce de Leon Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach. A few hours prior to our entrance, I spoke with Sea Tow (over VHF) to collect local knowledge on entering the Inlet. Comments from Active Captain highly suggest to ask for clarification before entering, and by golly, that's just what we did! We entered the inlet Monday evening, just after sunset, which isn't recommended for an unfamiliar area, but we got out the spotlight to locate the shoal markers, instructed to leave heavily to starboard. Not heavily enough, we gently ran aground. Being his intuitive self and by no means having both vision, Nate turned us from whence we came and I dropped the hook in 13ft of water. Stopped. After. 5. days. of. constant. movement.

Tuesday morning we got escorted into Lighthouse Boatyard and we were happy clams to see the boatyard, dock hands and my most favorite, palm trees! This is our first time paying for a dock and well worth it ($1.75/ft=$63, showers, new friends and internet included)! As Nate took my hand and led me onto the dock, I steadily landed my feet and ran to the nearest palm tree. I'm now known in the boatyard as "Jenn, the Tree Hugger"! It's a name I believe I've earned.

During a long and rough passage, no cleaning of any kind gets done. Our cabin was astruned after 5 days; books, cans, clothing in every corner, Wyatt peed and pooped inside because we couldn't get him into the cockpit, and our souls were in desperate need of multiple hot showers. Once tied to the dock, putting the boat back in order and cleaning it with boiling water+Pine Sol was more than satisfying, opening the v-berth hatch and portholes let fresh, warm sea air circulate the space and unlimited shower access gave us a new sense of purpose. I'm not kidding!

We've made great friends at the boatyard, had a boat party aboard Aletheia and repaired a couple items onboard. We'll resew, using waxed dental floss, a portion of our foresail that ripped during our passage and plan to get underway Friday morning towards Ft. Lauderdale, one of our major destinations!

First official palm tree!
Fresh Little Tunny - gave us 3-4 meals
Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

Big pelican!
My studio
A butterfly landed on my finger
Our newest crew member and Wyatt, his biggest fan
Another favorite spot (still and quiet)
Love to All,
Nate & Jenn

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Shedding Winter Blues

Beaufort, NC - we continue to have a great visit in this little southern small town. It's been a while since I've written about our travels and I'm excited to catch up! Finally bringing on some warmer temperatures, we've felt more motivated to explore our surroundings and go "outside"! This past Sunday, we reached our 3-month official sailing anniversary since leaving Halifax, NS - a landmark celebration indeed!

We spent a crisp and windy Thanksgiving Day sailing down the ICW towards Adams Creek, about a 40M day. Once at anchor right outside the ICW channel, a small storm blew through leaving a vibrant rainbow in its path- a sure sign of natural and unmistakable beauty. We both missed our families this Thanksgiving Day. Although relaxing and special, I would have liked a little noise and the ability to bake my apple pie. But...thanks to my sister and mama, we kept the family tradition alive and they baked my tradition caramel apple pie which I always gift to Dan - my kind-hearted, fun-loving cousin. I think he really liked it and hopefully he shared a bite with others!
Safely docked in Belhaven, NC
I just love this photo! A sunny and cold morning in the cockpit on our way to Elizabeth City, NC
A familiar cold sight along the ICW
Homemade smell - our oven bakes really well too!

We arrived into Beaufort on a breezy, but warm Black Friday after our final days sailing and motor-sailing down the ICW to MM200! Beaufort is our last stop through the ICW. From here we'll go outside the ditch due South. We've come across some great moments while in Beaufort so here's a quick update:

After anchoring in Taylor's Creek, we immediately came ashore to find laundry and public showers (two recurring necessities of our lifestyle) after being without for eight days. Checking out the local scene, I walked into the North Carolina Maritime Museum to inquire about these invaluable services. Seeing my desperation and greasy hair, boy, did I talk to the right gal! Turns out the sailing community is around every corner! After providing her number to a complete stranger, in case we didn't find what we needed, our dear friend, Dianne, opened her home to us for a delayering-of-skin shower, a washing machine, evening cocktails, among escorting us around town to provision during our stay, and even introduced us to some of the museum's cool hidden gems - including the Maritime Museum Watercraft Center, where we got complimentary wood scraps for the stove, and the Maritime Museum Cetacean Research Center. The biologist that works at the research center deserves a medal for his passion or at least a bigger building to house and build his masterpieces of whale skeletons - I think I could have hung out with him all day and talked about porpoises and sperm whales!
Pirate Blackbeard frequents the Maritime Museum
Beautiful maritime library at the museum!
A very large, rare sperm whale tooth from Scotland!
A skeleton of a beached whale
A beautiful, but small studio
Being newer to the cruising community, it seems only natural that veteran cruisers are always waiting in the wings to help us newbies out. It's happenstance that we cross eachothers' path, but seems all too common when you're living in this environment. Dianne saw an opportunity (or maybe the look in my puppy dog eyes), knew our desires, and offered a kind heart and cruising hand, fulfilling our needs without asking for anything in return. Although, I believe we gave her something in return - time and human connection. As we swapped stories in her living room, sipping red wine after a life-altering shower, she openly shared and warmly reminisced about her 8-year cruising career, aboard Cloud 9 with her late husband, with a continued glow on her face. She was able to talk about things she hadn't thought about for a long time and was proud of every moment she experienced with him. By being forward and unashamed of asking for what we need, we've met the friendly locals, openly sharing about our travels and receiving some unexpected opportunities. It's good to be a social butterfly, you never know who you'll meet!

We took a sunset row down Taylor's Creek, amidst the vacant pirate ship, and tied up on Carrot Island upon the Rachel Carson Estuarian Reserve where we were hopeful to see the popular wild horses. Of the claimed 33 horses on Carrot Island, we saw one! She was beautiful and I call that a success. Wyatt and myself were able to see our first wild horse. Check!
Trails on the Rachel Carson Reserve - the outer loop usually muddy due to tides
My personal driver
Lots of Sniffing
Rachel Carson Estuarian Reserve
See the white spot on the horse's bridge?!
We hired a diver from Discovery Diving Co to unravel our anchor chain from an undiscovered 500-lb anchor at the bottom of Taylor's Creek! Turns out our anchor was free as a bird, but our anchor chain thought otherwise. Thankfully, the heavily aged anchor and wrapped chain kept us set for 3 days before we were able to free our boat and re-anchor. It took the diver 5 minutes to unhook the chain and costs us $50. But, the excitement he got from finding this discovery will allow him to bring his diving students back to the site to pull up the anchor. Glad we could help out!
Thanks Andrew for the fix!
Barnacle-encrusted wine bottles from down under!
Nate was in Beaufort during his 2-week stay aboard Heretic back in December 2006. He was really excited to hit up Backstreet Pub, a place both he and dear friend Rupp were quite fond of!
Friday night on the town @ Backstreet Pub
Backstreet Pub
Provisioning Day
Laundry Day
Warm, luscious afternoon run!
Fresh seafood run
Remember these rings we used to make?! Its not much, but it's festive!
Downtown Beaufort
Haven't seen one of these around CO. This bar was also a non-smoking bar!
After all the unexpected cold fronts we've been handed and priceless wood burning fires, we begin to shed our winter attitudes and layers, seeing real temperatures averaging 60-68 degrees, sitting in the cockpit at night to connect with family under shooting stars, and I've finally been able to run in a tank top (woohoo!). As the internal butterflies take flight about offshore and overnight sailing as my biggest setback, I put my trust in our ability to navigate, Nate's expertise as well as the distance we've already accomplished. We are lightly seasoned. We're getting mentally and physically closer to our Miami-bound destination and we're looking forward to the journey (and arrival!).

Love to All,
Nate & Jenn

Monday, November 24, 2014

My poor wife

She puts up with so much.

We are almost exclusively a sailboat, which is just the way I like it. It is remarkable to me how many "sail"boats out here on the water spend a significant portion of their time motorboating around. We have shamed many a boat on our travels into at least unrolling a jib and motorsailing. Not only do we enjoy sailing, we have a boat that is intended to sail, and not motor.

The ICW route involves a lot of motoring, as we cruise down these narrow canals and try to stay out of the way of all the other boats going much faster than us. We are putting our awesome little generator through the ringer, giving it much more work than it was intended for. The most recent canal was 20 miles long, so we started at dawn (about 7:00 around here) and cruised at 2.5 knots (about 2.8 mph, a normal/relaxed walking pace) until 4:30, just before sunset. As long as you channel your inner Huck Finn, and can enjoy lounging on a boat looking at the scenery, it's great. Unfortunately there appears to be some cold weather pattern on the east coast (perhaps you've seen the news from Buffalo, NY?) that makes it hard to relax and lounge. Bundling up in all our ski clothes doesn't really cut it for an idyllic water trip.

Then last night we tied up to a free dock in Belhaven, NC, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately the sea gulls also like it, so the poop is everywhere and gross. We moved to a different slip that was a little cleaner than the first one. During the night a storm (perhaps even a squall, Sipsey) blew through and we started rocking and jerking at the dock lines. About 1:00 am I woke up, listening to the halyards slap on the mast, even though we've tied them away to prevent that, and feeling the movement of the boat and the other noises, labeling and categorizing all of them. Eventually there was a thump I didn't recognize, and didn't like, so I got up to investigate further. Obviously it was raining at this point as well, because why not?

On deck I could immediately tell we had lost our bow-line, and were not being held in the slip properly. I got a flashlight, but never ended up using it because there was enough ambient light from the town of Belhaven to see. The rest of the dock lines appeared to be good, and were holding us without the bow line. The thump was the stern bumping the piling every 20 seconds or so with a big gust/wave combination, since the boat had rotated out of position without the bow line. I asked Jenn to get up and help me.

We put on our foulies (full rain pants and jackets) and sailing gloves and went to work out a solution. The bow line was still attached to the boat, so I hauled it in to prepare to reattach it to the dock piling. Jenn and I pulled on one of the spring lines as hard as we could, to pull the boat upwind towards the dock. When we got close enough, I hopped off with the bow line while Jenn held the boat as best she could against the wind. I put a wrap around the closest piling I could, to take the pressure off her line, and we could rest for a moment. We hauled the boat in again, she got onto the dock, and with the two of us we could make a quick dash to the next piling where we made the final attachment of the bow-line where it originally was. Some adjusting of all the lines, and about 2:00 we were finished, happily back where we started. We added a second bow line. We think there wasn't enough tail on the clove hitch we originally tied, and when the wind picked up it pulled through. It held perfectly the second time, with a little more tail.

The boat has a very jerky movement when tied to a dock in unsettled weather. We aren't necessarily facing into the wind, and there isn't enough space to let the boat roll with the waves. Living on a boat, we've gotten used to the way she moves, and having it stop part way through a roll is awkward. Fortunately we were able to fall back asleep. This morning the boat was filled with wet clothes hanging to dry, and I made coffee for my long-suffering wife.

Today it's warm, and kind of sunny, and we feel mostly human!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Balmy Day!

Thanks Elizabeth City and the Mariner's Wharf for your wonderful hospitality!

Anyone coming down the Dismal Swamp route or road-tripping for that matter, must stop through this little town for some good old fashion, well mannered, genteel-natured folks.

Thanks to the Elizabeth City Welcome Center for the use of the free beach cruisers to provision our galley, for the cleanliness of your warm and clean facilities and printing off some documents for us.

Thumpers, a great local bar made us feel at home with cheap beers to keep the wallet fat, good food, and a place to keep warm while still having a "night out on the town"!

SoHo Organic Market - an awesome organic grocer with a ridiculous beer selection that we spent a while perusing. In addition to actually buying groceries, we picked up a new Top Dog IPA, Shipyard Pumpkin Smash (Jenn's weakness) and Black Radish Farm Ale. It's going to be a fun trip down the ICW!

It's a beautiful, 46 degree day as we untie our lines, with less than 5 layers on, and sail down the Pasquotank River into Albemarle Sound over the next couple days. Hope everyone is staying warm out there! You know we are!

Many thanks for the complementary slip!

Our grocery-getters!
Discovered on my run...someone likes the letter "O"
Outside a Baptist church
This is how we roll in Elizabeth City
Love to All,
Nate & Jenn