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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Limbo Isn't Too Bad

Kayaking: a 1-minute video of a nearby creek
teeming with wildlife.
Working on our "what next"—which is still unresolved—doesn't keep us from enjoying where we are. Currently, that's still housesitting in Fort Pierce, Florida. Since my only boat is now a kayak, please join me for a virtual spin (watch the video) on the nearest kayak-able waterway, 10 Mile Creek Preserve.

Oaks, palms, mangroves . . . there was a terrific variety of trees and shrubs in such a short stretch.

The launch was free with a short carry and an easy take-off.

These sculptural oak limbs offer a home for ferns and orchids.

Ten Mile Creek Preserve is a branch of the St. Lucie River waterway. There's little current and enough shelter that there's little wind, making for an easy paddle. The water's so calm you're dissecting a mirror of the sky view as you glide along.

There were some hints that fall is fast approaching—besides a later sunrise and earlier sunset. I teased Wayne, Mr. Not-an-earlyriser the other day because he couldn't understand how he got up before sunrise. 

"What's going on?" he asked.

Fall, I told him.

Swamp apples fading to black with autumn leaves starting.

Where there are oaks, there are acorns.

More fall color.

As for the wildlife . . . (if you haven't already) watch the video! It's less than a minute long.

My kayaking tour guide buddy, Tom with Go Kayaking Tours would be proud of me. I deliberately slowed down and got quiet to see what I could see.

Spoiler alert! While I didn't see any 'gators, I saw the mudslides and matted vegetation they leave in their wake and heard their grunts. Those alligator grunts weren't as scary as the ones in this Everglades recording from the National Park Service. If that doesn't make chills run up your spine, I'm not sure what will!

I plowed through the first band of these plants that grew all the way across the creek
but turned around when I hit the second.

Coming soon: what a bioluminescent kayak is like.

Shiva, from her hiding place behind the couch;
our wildlife back at the ranch, chez Julene's.




Friday, August 27, 2021

Now What?

 

Our Hirsch Gulfstar 45 sailboat, s/v Gallivant is officially sold. We are going land-based, for now.
Two days ago our boat sale became official—title in the new owner's name, full payment for it deposited into our account. It felt like . . . just another day. 

Maybe it's because we haven't handed over the keys, we mused. 
S/V Gallivant leaving Fort Pierce City Marina,
with Chip Cramer, our broker as captain.
Yesterday, Wayne did the boat turnover (how all the systems work) with our broker, Chip, over a day sail from Fort Pierce to Stuart Florida—the official handing over of the keys. 
Our broker, Chip, this image pilfered from his employer's website, S&J Yachts.
It still felt like . . . just another day. Okay, in the land of hurricanes and lightning storms we are relieved we are no longer own or inhabitant a high point on the water.
Rolf waves from the bow as Gallivant heads out of the Fort Pierce marina.
Our Sunnier neighbor Rolf was ecstatic to go along for the ride from Fort Pierce to Stuart.

Fort Pierce City Marina, S/V Gallivant's former slip since ~Memorial weekend.
It's often said of boats, the two best days are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. Gallivant treated us well and is a beautiful boat purchased from dear friends who loved her and spared no expense on upgrades. However, we never got over our big boat anxiety and decided to quit while the boat market was hot and regroup.
My only boat now: a green sit-on-top kayak. Here I'm on a kayak trip my buddy and tour guide extraordinaire Tom of  Go Kayaking Tours put together on Florida's Crystal River. Chris and Courtney also along for the ride.
We haven't had a physical address for more than seven months since mid-2012. Sure, we've found ways to get our mail handled, by friends and rellies, deliveries direct to when and where we are, or general delivery. But outside of a few months here and there, the only home base we've shared since 2012 . . . is each other.
Me and Wayne on Flamingo Cay, the Bahamas, April 2021.
Meanwhile, we're still house- (and kitty) sitting at our friend Julene's place in Sunnier Palms (yeah, I know that sounds like a made-up name but it really is a place) Fort Pierce, Florida.
Shiva, the ragdoll kitty we're watching for Julene. Isn't she freaking adorable when she's asleep?
Shiva keeps up too busy laughing to get too anxious while we sort out our future.

Location Location
We're in Fort Pierce, Florida.  Technically, we are homeless, but with the boat sale proceeds sitting in our bank, we know we won't stay homeless for long.

Once Julene comes back, we'll finally take that trip north we planned for this summer. If luck is with us, we'll get to see the autumn leaves turn, and be back in Florida before the frost hits, only as residents instead of snowbirds. Meanwhile, until our plans firm up, we're still living out of suitcases. All the rest of our possessions fit in eight dock cart loads, and are currently in a small storage area until we settle. Stay posted and we'll update you when the news is more definitive.

I suspect before a year's passed, we'll get another boat (besides my kayak), just not as a live-aboard. Our voting and mailing address will truly be our own, and on land—a true home base to return to. And home will still remain more where we are together, than where we are in the world at that moment.





Thursday, August 12, 2021

Sold—Our Gulfstar Hirsch 45 Sailboat

Sold!

Not 100% official as there's still closing paperwork, which is expected to take another 1-2 weeks.

More soon.

Location Location

We are currently house-sitting in the same town where we are selling our boat,  S/V Gallivant, in Fort Pierce. Florida. Our boat is in the City Marina, Florida at 27 27.039N 16 21.19W. 


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Stupid Cat Tricks


Shiva, a 15-week old Rag Doll kitten
we're cat-sitting for in rare form.
(15-second video)

Who knew that less than $3 laser pen from Walmart could provide hours of entertainment so funny I damned near wet my pants? 

We're currently house (and kitty)-sitting for our friend Julene in Sunnier Palms, Fort Pierce Florida, in the same park we hung out in while boat-shopping. 

Julene (seated right) and her friend Wendy (seated left) in Philly
while Wayne and I mind the fort—and Julene's kitty.

While our boat sits in the Fort Pierce City Marina docks bearing a For Sale sign, we don't want to stray too far from the area. 
S/V Gallivant, in Fort Pierce, looking for someone to take her on new adventures.

We like to give the boat a little primping and cleaning before showings, want to be on hand for any prospective buyer questions that might require us to be present, and someday soon we expect a sea trial—in fact we have an out-of-town offer and that big showtime is this coming week.

Fingers crossed all goes well with this coming weeks for our boat sale.
Photo by 
Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Besides, it's hurricane season and we're holding off stripping s/v Gallivant naked of her sails before a sea trial, even though the marina prefers it this time of year. We're close to the marina—a 20-minute drive—and would get enough notice to take them down if we're in the path of a hurricane.

We're hoping Gallivant will never need to weather anything like this, though
it is hurricane season in Florida until November.

Photo by 
Ray Bilcliff from Pexels

Shiva amuses us with what we call stupid cat tricks, but she's a clever furry tyke who's stolen our hearts as she graduates from biting and scratching for attention to mewling and head-bonks. 

Shiva "helping" with the mail in her best attorney-advisor mode.

We're grateful to Julene and the Sunnier gang for welcoming us (and especially John who showed us how to torment our loaner kitty with laser-light) while we figure out our what-next, which could very well be right here. Shiva-kitty wins the prize, though, for providing the purrfect here-and-now distraction to keep us from worrying about our future.
Shiva in boneless-kitty mode, in one of her precious mellower moments.
 Location Location
Harvesting pineapple from Sunnier. There's more.
The hacksaw wasn't needed as the pineapples twist right off when ripe.
We're in Fort Pierce, Florida. Instead of sailing to along the eastern seaboard this summer or to the tropics in November, we're in the tropics right here and now. Our fondest memories and some of our closest friends are a result of our cruising. I'm sure our boating days (and I will post a video when I create it of the terrific 3-day kayaking trip I took with my buddy Tom and the gang of Go Kayaking Tours) are far from over, while we prepare for this bye.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Surreal Sunset—You'll Never Guess What Caused It

Sunset, Eleuthera, Governor's Harbour mid-April 2021
Sunsets are our favorite shared moments when cruising. It's time to take a deep breath, release the worries of the day, sip a refreshing drink, hold hands and let Mother Nature bring on the show. IMHO, as a connoisseur of sunsets, there is no better place to see a sunset than over the water.

We were hoping for a glimpse of a green flash,  which occurs when the atmosphere causes the light from the Sun to separate, or refract, into different frequencies. Viewing them is a balancing act as it's unsafe to stare at a setting sun, and yet green flashes are fleeting; they last only a second or two.

We're among the lucky—we've seen green flashes—more than once. However, that eve, like nearly every night on our 2021 Bahamas trip,  cloud banks on the horizon obliterated the possibility.

Yet what we saw instead was magnificent in its own right, evoking a sense that felt more planetary, seeing this from another world than an everyday sunset on our own humble little blue marble of a planet. 

La Soufrière, St. Vincent photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

We thought it was La Soufrière, St. Vincent's actively erupting volcano, about 1200 miles away.

Nope. Instead, it came from a source at least four times as far—dust from the Sahara Desert. It's an annual Bahamas atmospheric invasion, blanketing the skies in a milky whiteness; those particles amplifying the sunset's colors.

I remember the 2012 summer we first started cruising and my surprise at the vivid red sunset we saw in the San Juans, lit by particles from wildfires in Russia, over 4,000 miles away.

In yesterday's news. New Yorkers were suffering from air quality issues due to the U.S. West Coast: California and Oregon fires, over 3,000 miles away.

Both the weather and the Coronavirus pandemic are stark reminders of our interconnectedness, whether we like it or not.

Location Location

Herons, egrets, pelicans and pigeons are prolific in Fort Pierce City Marina,
where s/v Gallivant is docked.

We are currently house-sitting in the same town where we are selling our boat, Fort Pierce (Marina), Florida at 27 27.039N 16 21.19W. This post is a retrospective of our time in Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, the Bahamas in April of 2021. My logbook is on the boat, so I will update this post with our lat/long for Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera when I can check our logbooks.

I'll give an update on what's happening where we currently are in my next post.



Friday, July 9, 2021

Update on Our Boat Sale

Now is not the time for us to leap.
We're taking in the view and sitting tight until the place and time are right.
Photo by Karol Stefański on Unsplash

Back when I used to work in corporate America (Hewlett-Packard), I remember when our group was a person short and we were driving our manager crazy about it.

"Why do you keep asking me about where I'm at on the hiring process?" she asked, perplexed and exasperated. She tended to keep her plans close to the vest. "I'm still trying to figure out what skills I'm trying to bring to our team."

We explained even knowing that helped. That having some idea of whether we were covering for a week, a month, or much longer made a difference on how we went about it. We took away it would be a while so we needed to own the cover, not just band-aid it. Five months later, our manager made a great hire.

In a sense, when it comes to this blog, I am a bit like that manager from my days of yore. When it comes to selling a boat, I too play it close to the vest. But at some point, radio silence needs to be broken.
Selling our sailboat isn't this dramatic
but we're still feeling stuck between two worlds.
Photo by Michael Shannon on Unsplash
We're still in limbo.

We got an appealing offer a few weeks ago, sight unseen.  The buyer was so interested in closing quickly, he was willing to accept our recent survey (from a very reputable surveyor—yay Ceal!) and even the haulout. 

We were excited but nervous. 

Excited because . . .
Oooh. Ahhh. The excitement of an attractive offer on our sailboat!
Photo by Jordan Ling on Unsplash
Getting an offer with few contingencies meant we could move on with our life. We envisioned taking that summer trip up the east coast by car or camper since we weren't doing it by boat.
We didn't want to be more than a day or so away from the boat, in case we needed to be on tap to answer questions and potentially captain a sea trial. We're reluctant to make any offers on a place to live until our boat sells.

Nervous because . . . 
Yes, I definitely bit my nails to the quick waiting to hear back
after our sailboat showing.
Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash.
What buyer is willing to make a sight-unseen offer with so few contingencies—even in a tight boat market? Though we've heard boat inventories are still about a third of what is considered normal and we don't see much comparable to our boat on the market.

Yet despite photos and a walk-through video, there's nothing like the real thing. He came, he stepped aboard, he didn't like the layout and reneged his offer—the boat-seller equivalent of a mail-order bride whose groom decides she's not his type and bows out before the wedding but after the invitations were drawn up and ready to pop in the mail. No sea trial necessary; just . . . no.
We felt . . . jilted. You know . . . Love me. Love my sailboat. Love me not.
Then again, we were jilted by someone we didn't know and who didn't know us. Weird.
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

We were bummed. 

A few days ago tropical storm-hurricane-tropical storm Elsa passed by. We understand this is not the time of year Florida is the top where-to-visit pick, even for boat buyers. After all, we tried to buy remotely before we realized we needed to go to Florida and spend some time looking, after seeing what else was out there online, across the country. But we also know that across the country, there's not much else out there as nice as our boat in its category. We're willing to wait for the right buyer, even if it means living in limbo longer, and not spending the time we'd hoped to spend exploring the eastern seaboard this summer.

Interest is picking up on our boat. It's just a matter of time. We got kinda spoiled on our previous boat sales, which took only a few weeks from when we posted them for sale.
We've still got as much time as it takes to sell our sailboat—within reason.
It will take finding the right buyer to take her on the adventure she deserves.
Photo by 
Jordan Benton from Pexels

For those of you (still) hanging in there, wondering what the heck we're up to—thank you! 
Thank you added to
Photo by 
Jordan Benton from Pexels
Until I have something solid to report, would you like to see . . .
For example, the story behind this place, just outside Nassau, Bahamas is fascinating in a sordid way.
  • more flashbacks from the Bahamas? I do have some good stuff I've yet to publish. Or 
  • would you prefer to learn what we do to keep from climbing the walls while we wait—like the awesome 3-day kayaking trip I took? Or 
  • What makes Fort Pierce quirky?
  • More about my book on our travels? Click here if you want to get on the list to be notified of when it's releasing.
  • not much unless another no-news month goes by just so you still know we're alive?
Want to learn about where I was to get this recent photo?
Location Location

Our boat is at Fort Pierce City Marina, 27 27.039N 16 21.19W. We'll be house-sitting, nearby.


Monday, June 7, 2021

Major Pivot

Plans and decisions don't always align. Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

Have you ever hovered on the precipice of a major decision, wondering if the path you planned is the right one?

Not a life-and-death decision, but still a difficult one. Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

We did, but we plunged ahead anyway. At one point, Wayne pondered aloud, "Are we doing this because it's what we really want to do, or because it fits some image of what others expect us to do?" We tried to convince ourselves it was the former. 

The Backstory: How did we get here?

S/V Gallivant, a Gulfstar 45, sailing the Bahamas Grand Banks February 2021.
Photo courtesy Christine of s/v
Scintilla.
Late summer 2020 we decided on "COVID plan #27"—buying a sailboat to return to the Caribbean. We sold the trawler we'd lived aboard since 2017. 

Our Puget Trawler, M/V Serendipity, at Princess Louisa Inlet, British Columbia, Canada.
Sold, to buy our sailboat.

We bought an RV to move us and everything we owned to Florida to find a sailboat. 

"The Beast" our RV before it got hit.
Here it's parked at BLM land, in Torrey Utah, near Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park; one of the many stunning places we saw on our cross-country RV trip
as we headed to Florida to buy our sailboat.

Along the way, another driver whose interpretation of merge was overly assertive slammed our RV into a guardrail. Everyone walked and drove away, and her generous insurance company gave us two years to turn the RV over to collect a check.

We arrived in Florida, parked our RV in Fort Pierce and started boat shopping in earnest.

Decisions, Decisions: What Boat to Get?

S/V Journey, our boat from 2012 to 2017—a Pearson 365. At 36 1/2 feet it was just right for the two of us but too small for all but Wayne's dad and his wife Gunnel, both intrepid sailors, to join us.

Wayne wanted go with what we knew, and buy another tried-and-true, affordable Pearson, like the 36 1/2 Pearson 365 ketch we took through 31 countries, across the Pacific and sold in Australia

I wanted a bigger boat because when I asked our friends and family who said they wanted to join us if they'd be willing to do without having their own closed-door cabin, most said no. I also wasn't ready to recommit to another 3-5 years with no home base and 150 square feet of living space.

Gulfstar 45s like our s/v Gallivant are designed with a captain's quarters and a guest room;
each with doors that can close for privacy.
Wayne reluctantly agreed to a bigger boat. 

Because boating is a COVID-safe activity, the boat market went crazy and inventory was at an all-time low. We put in an offer on a larger Pearson, but I was concerned it was too much of a fixer. Then our friends Don and Maryann decided they wanted to sell their sailboat and get a trawler and asked: "if we knew anyone interested." Of course, we bit. Then we got cold feet. Then we came around, but we were still nervous about whether this was the move for us.

We Buy the Boat & Go

Taking the plunge. Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

We signed the papers. We sold our bicycles, loaded everything from the RV onto our new-to-us-boat. With a lump in our throats, we bid the RV goodbye as we turned it in for our insurance check. By the time we left the parking lot, it was already gone. We sold my car, and off we went to the Bahamas with plans to sail the US eastern seaboard this summer then head to the Caribbean this fall.
My Prius and our RV, before we determined the towing it wouldn't work.
I drove it cross-country, then sold it, as well as the bikes you see on the back of the RV.

Back to the Beautiful Balmy Bahamas: The Same Only Different

This is not Photoshopped. The Bahamas water really is this clear and blue.
This photo shot from Gallivant in the Bahamas earlier this year.

I posted photos and videos of how well our sailboat sailed, of the Bahamas' clear aqua waters, of luxuriating in the warm weather while our friends in the Pacific Northwest froze. 


In Georgetown's Elizabeth Harbour, with only 125 boats versus the usual 300-600, there was plenty of room to anchor. We were often the first dinghy at the town dock when previously getting to the dock might mean getting past triple-parked dinghies.

Elizabeth Harbour, the Bahamas, near Georgetown in "the height of the season" April 2021
—drastically fewer boats.
While we buddy-boated with our friends on Scintilla, none of our friends from Jacksonville left Florida. There were no bonding cruiser potlucks on the beach from years of yore. High winds kept us from making it back to the Raggeds, and friends who did, told us Duncantown's population shrank from 70 to 20. I'd hoped to see Marjorie in Duncantown again, but her shop no longer existed.

Our friends Chris and Chris' boat, s/v Scintilla at Warderick Wells, Bahamas.
Gallivant is parked further in the background.

We also spent a lot of time hunkered aboard in 20-knot-plus winds. We didn't like it much but our wind generator loved it; it did a great job of keeping our boat powered up.

We always wanted to spend more time there and less time getting there, and this time we did that a bit more, especially taking our time in the Georgetown area and in Eleuthera. 

The Journey vs the Destination

It took us over a month at sea to sail from the Galapagos to the French Marquesas in Journey.
But we've decided we're done with passages for a while.

We came back a bit earlier than planned, to give ourselves more time to spend exploring the US East Coast. 
We've always liked arriving more than sailing, which may seem odd for a couple who's sailed halfway around the world. Although we spent 31 days sailing from Galapagos to the French Marquesas in our Pearson, we found ourselves dreading overnight passages. This time we did only one overnight passage, and we didn't want to do more. 

We started rethinking whether we wanted to sail to the Caribbean again, which would require some multi-day overnight passages or a very slow trip down island-hopping. Wayne still pined a return to New Zealand (by air, not boat), though I doubted New Zealand would booking from American early enough for us to go there in our winter/their summer November-ish 2021.

We Noticed We Were Dragging Our Feet

Once we got to St. Augustine, we stalled on or progress up the eastern seaboard. Over the years, I've learned to recognize that not to decide is in itself a decision—one that begs for soul-searching. 

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Sunrise, Hatchett Bay, Eleuthera, our first time there in 2014.

We named our boat Gallivant, which is defined as traveling for pleasure because that is what we wanted to do. So w
e asked ourselves, were we having fun? Was the fun-to-suck-ratio more fun or more suck? 

Other than the stress of boat-shopping, we thoroughly enjoyed our winter in Fort Pierce—more than we did our time aboard. I craved more stability, routine, a normal toilet, a shower that didn't require a bilge pump, the ability to participate in video conferences without killing my internet access, a stationary address. Wayne missed the RV couch—simple pleasures most folks we know take for granted.

Pivot Time

We turned around and headed back south to Fort Pierce. We found marina space, contacted a broker, and listed our boat (here's our listing).

We are working on where we'll live once the boat sells. Even if we get an offer right away, it's still at least a 6-week to 2-month process before offers, surveys, haul-outs, insurance verification, etc. reach the point of the final sale. Worst case, while we figure out where to call home, we'll still travel the east coast this summer—by car or camper or RV and just rent an apartment somewhere. 

This is where we stayed when we boat-shopped and may be where we'll call home.

I know I will miss seeing the sun rise and set over the water and the starry sky far from city lights too much to give up boating forever. I am sure our boating days and adventures are far from over, whether we join friends on their boats, charter, or buy something trailer-able. Our goal is to spend less time on the journey and more time enjoying the destination. 

I still have some great stories to share from our Bahamas trip, but for the last few and the next few weeks, my focus is on making our transition. 

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Takeaways

For those of you who find yourselves struggling with those big life decisions, give yourself some grace, then look into your hearts with unstinting candor and come to terms with what it will take to be happy. Be true to yourself. The only wrong decisions are the ones that you refuse to move on from.

Any hey, if you want to trade places and give sailing and cruising a try, we know about a great sailboat ready to go right now! Here's a 1-minute tour (click the "video" tab if this link doesn't take you to the video).

Location Location

Dana and Wayne aboard Gallivant in Fort Pierce City Marina.
Photo courtesy Rolf.

We're at Fort Pierce City Marina, Fort Pierce Florida, 27 27.039N 80 18.219W, until our boat sells. 
Wish us luck. And we wish you a most excellent summer!