Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bottomless Mimosas! Cruisers Aground in JAX … It’s Not All Bad.

local food
Michael pours a generous mimosa and even
leaves a car
afe to do the job when he’s out of range.
Cruiser aground, temporarily, in Jacksonville, Florida.  We’re a month away from saying farewell to Five Points, our hurricane hole.  Time was running out for being served Sunday brunch.  Wayne was looking for a good cup o joe; I was looking for a nice meal to assuage my grumbling stomach.  Tapa That was well rated on both in Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon and Yelp.  Admittedly, it was the bottomless mimosas that sucked me in. 

local food
Lots of yummy Sunday brunch options on the TapaThat blackboard.
“Try the tostones!” advised the couples exiting Tapa That! when we entered.  They glowed with 
the satisfaction of the truly well fed.

“The huevos con choriso… I’ve had it, maybe … 20 times,” admitted the nattily dressed lady in leopard print, broad gold bangles and a black fedora with Jackie O sunglasses hugging the brim.  “And the beignets?  They will make you weep,” the self-described “recovering English teacher” dramatically declared.

local food
Tapa That testones. Oh yes!
Sadly, the beignets were not an option on our gluten-free diet. Michael graciously subbed out the flour tortillas with rice tortillas for the chicken quesadillas; we will definitely look into those for home-made wraps!  The daub of chipotle mayo added the perfect touch of light bite to quesadillas.  Delish!

We agree, the testones are fabulous.  Thin-sliced lightly crisped plantains are fine and good; it’s the garlic-drenched little black bean topping that does a savory dance upon the tongue.

tapa this jacksonville fl
Huevos con choriso accompanied with
a simple salad topped with
a spectacularly good balsamic drizzle.
 The huevos con choriso was light and surprisingly ungreasy. Good, though a bit too used to huevos rancheros, I missed the tortillas and beans.

We, too left full, but not too full, lazily loping our way back home, warmed by a great meal, enjoyable conversation, mimosas and the fall sunshine.

Yes, we miss our boat.  We are itching to break free and continue our adventures.  Meanwhile, it ain’t a bad place to be stuck a little while longer.

tapa this local food jax fl
Avo topped gluten-free quesadillas
with rice tortillas and tangy chipotle mayo.
Location Location
We’re in Jacksonville FL and our boat’s in Green Cove Springs, FL, until Nov 18th.  We returned back to our temporary landlocked abode, and worked on our get-ready-for-the South Pacific checklist.  (If anyone has a killer deal on an SSB modem or an unlocked sat phone, let us know!) Sometime in December our journey begins anew.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saving to Sail : Cruiser Kitty Rx

sailing to sail cruising kitty cruiser profile
Saving for Sail still incognito
while still holding down 9-5
and moonlighting to build
cruising kitty.
A cruiser kitty is not a cute, fuzzy animal.  Like a meow-meow cruiser kittys require regular feeding, though in the form of cash, or occasionally some other useful barter-- anything from food and libations to gear or services.  They can become very hungry beasts, ravenously gobbling up "boat bucks" ($1000+ expenses) with shocking rapidity!

Yes, dear Galley Wench Tale readers, I confess that in addition to offering some escapist entertainment and the periodic useful bit of useful info, my intent is not just to write for love, but also for more pragmatic sustenance.  As the Galley Wench, I am willing to work for food or whatever else we need to stay afloat.  

GWT Before.  Messy and where
would sponsor ads go?
Yet my blog was looking kind of tatty.  Graphically, it needed a little face-lift before I went a-wooing sponsors.  Time was running out -- our mailing address will soon evaporate and I was too embarrassed to approach sponsors looking too much like the little match girl.

Enter Melody, of Saving to Sail -- "One couple's tale of budgets, boats and keeping the dream alive." How can you not want to hire someone whose blog page beseeches,  "Subscribe or send wine"?  
cruising kitty
Who wouldn't want to hire the
writer of this blogsite subscription box?
from Saving to Sail.

For a very reasonable, pre-determined fee, Melody quickly cleaned up my blog.  Shortly after, I approached a prospective sponsor, and they said "Yes!"  My first!  Meanwhile, Melody gets a little closer to topping off her cruising kitty, too.

GWT After - sooo much easier on the eye,
and room to add sponsor ads.
Who is this mysterious woman who lives aboard and is cashing in by sharing her secrets to save up to sail away?  "Meet" Melody....

How did you get bit with the cruising bug? 
When I met my significant other 8 years ago, he just finished refitting his first sailboat. The first time I set foot on that boat, I was hooked. We were at a crossroads in our lives. We realized we were complacent, but not truly happy. We decided to move onto a sailboat and go cruising. It's been 2+ years and I haven't looked back! My significant other wrote a short e-book/novella chronicling our decision to move onto a boat "You Gotta Go To Know." 

Where do you most want to go? 
Everywhere. I really want to cross the Atlantic.  Get up to Ireland, down to Portugal and Spain, the Med. Sail to New Zealand. My list is a very long one... 

What's kept you from cruising more broadly? 
We've definitely had setbacks. Like they say, the definition of boat ownership is fixing your boat in exotic locations! Luckily we've been "stuck" in some pretty cool places, such as Solomons Island, MD, Charleston, St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach, Fort Lauderdale.... We've been actively cruising the East Coast and Chesapeake Bay for the past 2 years, but we want to go further. The main setback is my day job. I have to have constant wifi connectivity  8-10 hours straight daily. We're working on making enough money freelancing  on the side to sustain us for awhile so I can quit the day job. 

Why so incognito? 
I don't have a profile on the blog in case my co-workers stumble upon it. It's probably not good judgement to publicly announce your plans to quit while still working your job! :). Now, many of my readers know who I am because they follow us on our main sailing blog or have read our book. I also share posts on various forums and Facebook pages using my real name. On the blog - I'm only posting my side income to serve as inspiration to others on ways they can make extra money. But, by being "incognito", I'm missing out on some self-promotional opportunities on the blog.

What are you most looking forward to? 
I am excited about growing my client base. Hopefully soon will be able to ditch the 9-5 job (I work remotely for a company from the boat) and work strictly for myself. Eventually I'd like to transition to a more passive income stream, which would give us the freedom to do a lot more traveling than we're able to now. 

Who makes a good client, and what you can do for them? 
For me, a good client is one who pays. ;) Seriously though, I have two favorite kinds of clients. The first is the one who gives me full creative control and trusts me to do whatever I want - whether it be writing or web design, they trust me and like my style and let me just go nuts. Those are fun projects, although they can be challenging. My other favorite client is the one who knows exactly what they want and are able to communicate their needs precisely. While it may not be as fun as the first, I know exactly what their expectations are and can make it happen. It's all about balance, and I enjoy both. 
ive aboard
Saving to Sail's Cal 35' sailboat.  Melody and Chris
live aboard.

Can you share a client success story? 
Every time a client is happy, it's a success story to me! I love it when a client is truly happy with what I was able to do for them. Your blog is a great example of how a little can go a long way. A few tweaks here and there design-wise can make a big impact, and enhances the experience for your readers!

What advice do you have for others considering following in your footsteps? 

Don't let excuses hold you back from going after your dreams. 
We've been broke, we've been broken down, yet it's only in my moments of weakness that I've come to realize my strengths, and I can say without a doubt that this lifestyle has made me stronger emotionally and physically than I ever imagined I could be. I've accomplished more in the two years I've been on a boat than in my previous 20 years on land! The cruising community is also a very special group. The education and encouragement I've gotten from complete strangers is a testament to the lifestyle we live and just how good it can be for the soul.

Location Location (for Journey & Galley Wench Tales)
Temporarily land bound in Jacksonville, FL, USA.  Journey’s on the hard in Green Cove Springs (N29.58.9 W81.38.8) until hurricane season ends in November.  Then we'll finish up our pre-cruising provisioning, boat maintenance, repairs and upgrades and set sail for the South Pacific, through the Panama Canal.  Target date to set sail?  December "something" 2014.  Meanwhile, thanks Melody for being so fantastic to work with on giving my blog a much needed nip and tuck.  May you cruise to your desired destinations soon!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mahogany Birds (Killing Roaches)

cruising transitions
Yes, I used this.  Wasn't messin' around.  Cleaned my meat mallet
well before returning to galley service.  Tablet were for
long term preventative maintenance.
"Mahogany bird."  Lovely name, for such loathsome, creepy vermin, better known as the cockroach.  When it comes to killing roaches, there is no kinder, gentler side.  There is no live and let live.  Quite simply, I want them dead and gone.

In Florida these armor-tank like creatures abound.   They are the burly lounge lizards of the insect world, scuttling about under the cover of darkness.  

I will not miss these leggy neighbors, who startle me in the semi darkness or whose still writhing belly-up bodies greet me occasionally in the morning. 

cruising transitions
Naarby Jacksonville FL Memorial park at sunset.
Being temporarily land-bound isn't all bad.
I still remember my decades prior sunshine state encounters, turning on the bathroom light in the wee hours and seeing a palmetto bug (aka roach) about half the size of my hand on the counter.  "I didn't see that," I attempted to convince myself, turning the light off, then on.  It was gone, but I knew I didn't imagine it.  Not knowing where it went was worse than seeing it then knowing it was hiding, somewhere, ready to startle me when I'd least expect it (which is of course, any time) and making more roach babies in the mean time.

Thanks to our typical distance from land and judicious use of roach tablets and post-invasion bug-bomb, our boat's been relatively roach-free.  Click here for more about our boat bug eradication efforts.  Did I mention I miss our boat?  Soon, Journey....

cruising transitions
Oz - we're headed to the back
of the terrier's neck.
Location Location
We're in Jacksonville Florida for the moment, readying to head off into anchorages too far for featherless winged hitchhikers, though we may find a flying fish or two as we head out in December, South Pacific bound.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hurricane Gonzalo - Respecting Cruising Planning

cruising planning storm photo of Hurricane Gonzales
cutting a swath across the Caribbean.
Note Florida in the upper left.
Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Maarten, 20 boats sunk according to news reports. 

We were there in our sailboat late December nearly 2 years ago. Ditto Antigua , Nevis, St. Kitts, Virgin Islands.  Puerto Rico.  All slammed (view during Hurricane Gonzalo's visit from a luxury hotel in Antigua).  

When we were there, it was not hurricane season.  What a difference a few months makes.

We wish anyone in Gonzalo's path, safe passage.  We trust the cruising community in St. Maarten will do what it does best, and pitch in.  No matter how well we plan, we all still realize, there but for the grace of God, go I.

cruising life
Simpson's Lagoon Dec 2012, dinghies
@ cruiser's Boxing Day party.  Much calmer, then.
Location, Location.
Yes, we miss being on our boat.  Yes we are itching to be cruising again.  But here in Jacksonville, Florida, despite a little rain, thunder and lightening, our boat's safe and sound on the hard in nearby Green Cove Springs Marina,right now, where it will be for another month.  Yeah... our travel can wait.  We may be a little crazy, but when it comes to timing, we're pretty cautious.  Gonzalo is a relatively gentle hurricane, as far as hurricanes go.  Be it by planning or luck, we're grateful not to be in his path.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Going Off the Grid - Part 2 Guilty Pleasures: Nuts! (Cruising Provisioning)

cruising provisioning
We're squirreling away nuts from
the commissary already for our provisioning.

Cruising provisioning confession time.

Yeah yeah, I wasn't going to be one of those cruisers who complained about not being to eat the same stuff I ate in the United States.  But last year, cruising the BAHAMAS, we whined about paying $6-8 for bags of Fritos when we paid $3 for the same thing in the U.S.

And nuts.  We bought whole lotta nuts in the U.S. before we left; for the most part at very reasonable prices at JAX NAS -- a huge naval commissary.  We ran out a couple months before our cruising ended.  We alternately lamented over their untimely absence opened our wallets twice as wide as we normally would for, ironically, peanuts.

Part of our over-reliance on Fritos and nuts are because thanks to our need to stick to a gluten free diet, much of the native fare was off limits, especially when it comes to crunchy food.  

As far as we're concerned, the basic cruiser food groups consist of 

  • salty/crunchy
  • chocolately
  • bready and 
  • boozy
Okay, it's not really that bad, but....

  • In hot climates we are thirsty a lot and plain water gets kinda boring.  Beer, for the uninitiated to gluten-free food, is off limits.
  • While we're getting rocked sailing, the ease of hand-food is preferred, as opposed to eating two-handed with silverware off a sliding plate.  PBJ (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), our old cruising standby, isn't the same on gluten-free rice crackers, flax seed or corn tortilla rollups.
  • If we're a ways between landfall and grocery stores or open air markets. we rely more on non-perishable food.  
  • When it's humid and in the mid 80s or 90s, it's better not to heat the boat up to cook.
We do eat some healthy food underway, especially
  • hummus -- sometimes even home-made from dried chick peas, using veggies for dipping
  • tuna salad
  • fresh veg and fruit whenever we can
  • lots of water
  • and... nuts

The BAHAMAS fare was not that exciting from a culinary perspective.  The Galley Wench is curious to explore exotic new edibles; 

It will interesting to see what we encounter provisioning in Panama, in preparation for our month-long sail between landfall.  We're looking forward to French Polynesia, reuniting with our old gourmet friends Carrefour and Leader Price.  Rumor has it the produce through much our our route is plentiful.  We're also gearing up to catch more fish -- wish us luck on that please!  

3000 mile passage cruising planning
Panama to Marquesas is over 3,000 nautical miles - about
a month of open water sailing.  Careful cruising provisioning is key.
Image courtesy of
Meanwhile, we're stocking up on gluten-free ingredients and nuts and Fritos.  Our bag of nuts runneth over -- literally - the bottom burst out of our stash bag.  We just need to continue to squirrel more away for provisioning and not eat into our supply before we go (we lacked sufficient restraint in that department last year).

What would you want to make sure you bring along if it wasn't available or too hideously expensive for two years?

Location Location
Temporarily land bound in Jacksonville, FL, USA.  Journey’s on the hard in Green Cove Springs (N29.58.9 W81.38.8) until hurricane season ends in November.  Then we'll finish up our pre-cruising provisioning, boat maintenance, repairs and upgrades and set sail for the South Pacific, through the Panama Canal.  Target date to set sail?  December "something" 2014.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Going Off the Grid Prep - Part 1 (Cruising Planning)

cruising planning, cruising transitions, cruising life
We are traveling to another dimension,
a Journey into wondrous land
(click here for the iconic Twilight Zone
 intro I ripped this off from
Cruising Planning.... As the countdown to going off the grid approaches gentle controlled panic ensues.   Suddenly, there seems to be and inverse relationship between less time and getting our to-do list whacked down.  Like some weird Twilight Zone throwback scene, we're spinning, spinning, spinning.... 

Why the panic?

west marine
Flags, ships, slicing kit, weather radio,
airhorn, New Zealand/Australia
chart chip...
Love my West Marine employee discount.
> 6 weeks, November 18th 2014

  • All drydock work needs to be finished on our boat
    • sanding bottom and repaint anti-barnacle and bootstripe paint
    • buff cockpit
    • redo our rigging, which includes puling our main mast
    • complete v-drive fix
    • LOTs more...
  • we "splash" -- our boat goes back into the water

route planning south pacific
Plasticized world map we can write on and erase.
Great for mulling over various route options, visually.
> 2 months, December 1, 2014, we will

  • no longer have 24/7 reliable internet
  • no longer have a consistent phone connection
  • no longer have a mailing address we trust to directly receive packages 
  • complete basic medical maintenance consisting of at least 14 poked-and-prodded doctor and dentist appointments, then say goodbye to our brief stint of employer-paid US medical coverage
  • jettison all temporary landlubber possessions, purging
    • bed, couch, chair, kitchen table and barstools, desk, dresser, chest, 3 lamps, microwave, blender, toaster, coffeetable, vacuum cleaner, underutilized clothes
  • get the next vetted renter for the apartment we're in (to avoid a hefty broken lease penalty)
  • correctly time payoff and shutoff of all services rent, internet, power/water/sewer and trash pickup
  • return to full-time boat live-aboard in 150 square feet
  • reconfigure our fridge/freezer (prior to move on)
  • replace our missing galley countertop bottom (prior to move on)

cruising planning, cruising life, cruising activities
Lonely Planet Guides are great for finding inexpensive activities.
>  3 months, mid-December 2014, we'll

  • Complete all our food provisioning from the US  (that's as many non-perishables as we can possibly cram into our boat and not sink it)
  • Purchase everything else in our budget best purchased from the US to last us the next 2 years
  • Kiss my awesome West Marine employee discount goodbye
  • No longer own a 
    • car
    • bicycle
    • US phone service
  • Say goodbye to friends, family and everything we've become familiar with on land

cruising transitions
Mural in our temporary Jacksonville neighborhood
reminds us liftoff is approaching.
My boater's equivalent to "Did I remember to turn the bath water off?" is.... Did I remember to get and do everything that needed to be done before leaving "civilization" as we know it... for two years, give or take whatever adventures occur over the 8,000 mile journey we have planned at the speed of a fast walk (on water).

Once we take off... our life gets a lot simpler.  I can hardly wait!

Questions for You

  1. If you're a cruiser, what advice do you have, especially what might we not know we need to do until it's too late?
  2. If you're a cruiser wanna-be, does this give you a sense for prep?  What else do you most want to know?
  3. If there's no way in heck you'd ever do this in a million years, what did you find most interesting in reading about this?

Location Location
cruising life, cruising transitions
Our Pearson 365 sailboat on the hard
at Green Cove Springs, awaiting
a bottom job, the water and us.
Temporarily land bound in Jacksonville, FL, USA.  Journey’s on the hard in Green Cove Springs (N29.58.9 W81.38.8) until hurricane season ends in November.  Then we'll provision, do some boat maintenance, repairs and upgrades and set sail for the South Pacific, through the Panama Canal.