Saturday, April 25, 2015

Key West!

We continue to appreciate the days that are spent here in Boot Key. 

We went out for our 3rd teaching session with new boat friends. The winds were light, the waves flat and the sun hot! We had a great time and allowed the captain and first mate to run the show. We were there merely to offer guidance, an extra hand, support as needed. The confidence they developed from Day 1 to Day 3 was obvious! We plan to take Aletheia out tomorrow for Sailaway Sunday! I think she is excited!

Day sail lesson #3!
We took a much anticipated day trip to Key West on Friday and had a great time exploring the quaint town by foot. A bus trip on the Key West Transit system cost $4pp each way. A kapok tree greeted us as we stepped off the bus in the heart of downtown Key West. We brought snacks, water, lunch and sunscreen to last us through the day. We meandered up and down Duval Street, Whitehead Street, popping in and out of shops, mostly to enjoy the refreshing and welcoming air conditioning! We wandered passed Ernest Hemingway's Home and decided not to take a tour. We peeked over the brick wall to get a view. I bought a postcard. $13pp (cash only people!).

We explored the Truman Annex and the Harry S. Truman Little White House that he, along with several presidents frequented to conduct business as well as retreat from the stresses of Washington, DC. We bucket-listed the famous Southernmost Point buoy, which, turns out, it an old sewer junction that was dug up in the area and found too heavy and large to move (source: wikipedia). So, when life hands you lemons, you just paint it to look like a buoy! If you click on the link above, you can read about the actual location of the southernmost US point. Knowing that we have sailed from Southwest Harbor, Maine to just 50 miles north of the southernmost point in the continental US gives me goosebumps and puts a smile on my face. 

As the afternoon wore on under the baking sun, we continued to explore off the beaten path into Old Town Key West. We are drawn to the outskirts of new places, where tourists don't tend to explore and where the locals hang out. When we do this, we find the special places, meet the friendly locals and get a taste of local attractions. We fell upon the beautiful Key West Firehouse Museum. A proud and wonderful preservation of Key West history and lots of neat stories dating back to 1907.

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration was our evening destination. A nightly arts festival where local buskers, artists, psychics and one-man bands converge with tourists to provide talented entertainment. It was a great opportunity to people-watch while resting our tired feet. We must have walked nearly 10 miles around that island. And what day wouldn't be complete without a hand dipped key lime pie on a stick...OMG!

Here are some photos of our Key West excursion!
The Kapok Tree greeted us
A beautiful neighborhood annex also filled with $3M private homes
I love this mural

The Ernest Hemingway Home (over the fence photo)
The southernmost point hotel

Street art

Fire Alarm Box circa 1940

It was like a shoebox, built b/w two buildings

Fresh coconut water anyone?
Cheaper than going to the bar!
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sometimes I smell myself

The later into April we go, the hotter the temps and stiller the air becomes. This is our year without winter, without snow scrapers, without numb fingertips. Barely any clothing at all.

Our skin is brown, arm hair blonde like when we were kids. Sweat constantly beads on my chin and mustache. After a long day in the sun and a cool shower, I rub coconut oil into my skin to seal in Vitamin D. Sometimes I smell myself :)

We make friends easily here is Boot Key. We help out fellow cruisers at the drop of a hat. We seek out the best happy hours in town. We learn new crafts. We make plans to visit other cruisers' boats. To hear their stories. To share tales.

We take salt water rinses right from the boat when our skin is soaked in sunscreen. We swim to our friend's boat to chat about upcoming plans. We try to use the stove as little as possible. I sip my morning coffee in the cockpit as slowly as possible.

We pause for sunsets. We easily find time to read books. We never tire of seeing dolphins swimming through the harbor. The days are going by so quickly.

Here are some photos of our last week. It's a bit packed with info so take a pause...We've had some fun!
Dinner with my new friend, The Boat Galley!

Dinghy parking
Driving to the Dockside Bar
Dinner with our 2006 Bahamas friends, Mendocino Queen 
We took a land-based trip north to Tavernier and Islamorada to explore the local scene. The bus system in the Keys is fairly easy to use, but exact change is a must. It's $2.65pp each way. Once in Tavernier, we walked three miles to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center. It shows as one woman's passion for birds has turned into a safe harbor for rehabilitating wildlife. I highly recommend visiting if ever in the Keys. $5 donations are requested. Three sweltering miles back to the bus stop, a refreshing beer was in order. But before that, the bus had to break down as we awaited a rescue bus to take us southward. In Islamorada we visited the Islamorada Brewery & Tasting Room. From way up north in the Alaskan breweries to the Florida Keys, I've done my due diligence to visit as many tasting rooms as possible. It's the best way to get a taste of the local scene. And I heart beer! 

We polished off our day excursion with happy hour dinner and drinks, live music and another lovely sunset at Lorelei Cabana Bar & Restaurant. On our way back to Marathon, we witnessed the south-bound bus speed by us as we were casually walking to the bus stop. OOPS! The next bus would arrive 2 hours later...we thumbed it for about 1 hour and miraculously, a friendly local pulled over and drove us 35 miles south back to Marathon. We jammed to Fleetwood Mac the entire ride. Thanks again, Joe! My first hitchhiking experience was a complete success!
A wonderful donation-based rehabilitation center

A Peli-can't
A Peli-can
So happy to see this refreshing local establishment!
4 beers offered - all great summer sipping beers
Islamorada, FL
Welcome to Lorelei Cabana Bar & Restaurant!

Some other fun activities we've accomplished during our time in Marathon:
Hookah Snorkeling (aka SNUBA) at Sombrero Reef with friends on C-Soul:

And a HUGE thank you to Sunny who made new slipcovers for Aletheia's settee cushions. I picked out this fabric, took measurements and photos and gave Sunny the material. My wonderfully talented mother-in-law did an AMAZING job! What a difference a little color makes too!
Bright fabric ready to assemble
Old dull settee slipcovers
Getting excited to see how they fit
A beautiful fit!

I should have done this many moons ago! So pretty to see her rails shine! Who knew that Brasso & Flitz would be my new favorite cleaning brands!
Stanchion before
Stanchion after! 
Bow rail before
Bow rail after!
Love to all,
Jenn & Nate

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sailaway Sunday

We became teachers this weekend! We introduced ourselves to a couple who recently purchased and moved aboard their 37ft sailboat just two weeks ago. We were told they'd had no prior sailing experience so we thought "Hey, we know a thing or two about sailing. We could offer some advice, know-how and could help someone else!" We've been hoping for an opportunity to pay it forward as we've been given the same pay-it-forward treatment from many other gracious sailors and locals.

Sailaway Sunday is a weekly event that is open to boats in the harbor. You can choose to take your own boat out or crew on another participating sailing vessel. Last week we crewed on a monohull with 15 other sailboats. We figured this Sunday was just as good as any to sail away and throw a sailing lesson in there too. And so, we did!

The couple was more than eager to have some experienced sailors onboard so we began with some basic sailing terminology and walked through the boat, following halyards (lines that raise sails) and sheets (lines that control sails), practicing knots and walking through how we were going to head out from the harbor. It's always a good idea to have a plan in advance. This would be their first time out for a day sail! 

After warming up the motor we detached from the ball and let the owners steer the boat with Nate and I instructing from the sidelines. This was a anxious moment for the new owners, but once we started moving out the channel, jitters started to dissipate. 

It was a beautiful day of sailing with nearly 15 knots of wind and 1-2ft waves. We practiced tacking (sailing upwind), running (sailing downwind) and allowed them to get a feel for how their boat moves through the water. Throughout we talked about points of sail, feeling where the wind is coming from using your cheeks as a guide, finding a heading on the compass, but more importantly, watching the sails and adjust according to the wind. We sailed for about 2-3 hours, just enough to stretch the sails and build their confidence and sailing ability. Poor little puppy, Churchhill got seasick, but was on the mend when we returned to harbor. We made a successful run back to the mooring ball with high fives all around! We celebrated with an ice cold post-sail beer and you could feel their excitement (ours too!). 

The purpose of my post is to tell you how much fun it was to actually teach sailing. Sometimes you don't realize how much you actually know until you meet someone that knows less than you and you are able to offer knowledge - I surprised myself with how much I was able to share and explain simple sailing concepts with confidence. I was once a student who's head wobbled like a bobblehead doll absorbing instruction from a 2-day sailing class on Boulder Reservoir (many moons ago), from gentlemen racers on Lake Dillon and of course, from Nate. Yesterday, I became the teacher with my first student. Pretty great experience! Nate always tells me I'm more competent than I am confident. He's totally right, but in this case, I boosted my confidence two-fold by helping others learn to sail and walk away with a boost of empowerment. It's way more simpler to encourage other people, to realize their potential, to boost their confidence. Sometimes what we need to do is listen to our own inner voice that houses the same potential we encourage in others. I'm learning that about myself. That's a post for another day.

Didn't take many photos of the sail (because I was busy teaching!) but we rounded out the evening with a wonderful sunset bbq with the new sailboat owners and Barefoot Gal (creator of The Boat Galley!)

We continue to meet many wonderful people, enjoy meals and drinks with new friends, send well wishes to departing vessels, and welcome new boats with an offer to lend a hand or share harbor information. I taught my second yoga class today, this time in the pouring rain. Thankfully we were covered by the auditorium roof. You could barely hear my voice over the rain pounding on the roof. It was beautiful!

Tonight we're making homemade pizzas! I'm starving.

Love to All,
Nate & Jenn

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 12: Sunset Sunday

Mark your calendars for Sunday April 12th and let's watch the sunset together!

I joined a virtual event on Facebook called "Share a Sunset Sunday" from a fellow Women Who Sails group member. I thought it would be fun to extend the invitation on our blog about the upcoming Sunset Sunday on APRIL 12TH.

No matter where we are on this earth, we'll all be connected to the same setting sun regardless of timezones. Wherever you may be, whether through dark clouds, in a rainstorm, on top of a mountain, in your car (parked of course!), or on your back deck, take a sunset photo on April 12th and share it with the world!

It's easy to participate: search Facebook for "Share a Sunset Sunday". Click on the link and join the event! I've set a reminder on my calendar too. 

When you take your photo, post it on the Sunset Sunday Facebook event page and include your local time and city/state. 

This isn't a contest, just a cool way to view the setting sun from all over the world.

I've been practicing...