Monday, December 30, 2013

Is it all worth it?

Our keel. Hint: It's supposed to all be the color of the
bottom paint (black), without the chunk taken out of it.
Matt finally got a chance to dive on the boat to see the damage caused by the anchor chain during our St. Augustine adventure. This is the unhappy state of the keel. Apparently, the chain wrapped itself around the back of the keel and was acting just like a saw across the fiberglass. Did I mention that this all happened just a couple weeks after we were put back in the water? So we'll have to haul out again and fix it, at a not insignificant cost for the haul out. At least we think that this time on the hard will be more straightforward since we won't have all the projects that appeared during the last haul out. Yeah, what could go wrong?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Great Guana Cay

Every morning in the Abacos, volunteer cruisers and local businesses in the area put on a VHF radio "net" on Channel 68 that provides information to cruisers about events and activities. Just like your favorite radio station, if you listen to it for any length of time, you get to know the personalities of many of the participants. Cheerful Troy from Dive Guana is one of the most helpful contributors, providing information about weather and sea conditions. Nippers' famous Sunday pig roast is another perennial announcement ("Nippers! Nippers! Nippers!"). Both are based on Great Guana Cay, and since we'd never been there before, decided to give it a  try.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Shhh...ixnay on the aconbay talk ('cause the pigs might hear)

I'm pretty sure that pigs would be walking around with the cockroaches during a nuclear winter. They are resilient as heck. Just throw them on a deserted, nearly barren tropical island and somehow they find something to eat and a way to spawn. The pigs on No Name Cay, with piglets in tow, came running when they heard our approaching motor, having learned that people in boats bring food. We have heard that they have adapted to eating crabs and decimated the crab populations on some islands. They could tell that Matt loves bacon and gave him a wide berth.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Bahamas again

We arrived in Bahamian waters on Sunday after a very fast passage and have been making our way down to Marsh Harbour. This is our third time bringing s/v Perry to The Bahamas and it definitely feels more familiar and comfortable than it did that first time.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas on the boat...let's try this again

Last year, we had our first Christmas on the boat but we didn't decorate (or even give gifts until about a week later) because all our stuff was still packed up in a moving/storage pod. With all the boat work delays, Conrad, Mark and I didn't even get to the boat until Christmas Eve. We were still happy to be together but there was a distinct lack of holiday flair.

This year, we broke out our box of ornaments and added some homemade snowflakes and garlands to the mix. No tree, but plenty of gingerbread from our decorating party with the kids from Cascadura. The boys are happy and that's all that matters.

With our new anchor chain delivered to us and installed, we were planning to leave Sunday for the Bahamas, if the stars align. We may not have internet for a few days so we'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bright shiny objects

Since we arrived a week ago, there has always been something going on in West Palm Beach. This past weekend was the Marathon and accompanying races. Here are some shots from the West Palm Beach Farmer's Market: warm red velvet donuts and chocolate croissants. Need I say more?

Jellies and fish made of plastic water bottles.
Think pets, not bacon. This pig had pink painted toenails.
You can rent these near our anchorage.

We also went to the Kids' Holiday Fest, which was chock full of crafty holiday activities, bouncy houses and kids performing impressive Capoeira.
Under where?
We are waiting to hear about getting our anchor chain replaced (it is getting rusty even though it has been used for less than a year; other cruisers who have 10-year old chains aren't seeing much rust so we know something's not right). If we can get the chain delivered here, we will plan to leave for the Bahamas from West Palm. Otherwise, we will have to head down to Ft. Lauderdale at some point. It might be hard to leave this place though.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Not neutering them yet, but...squirrel!

The facilities at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina have numerous signs sternly advising boaters that pets are not allowed in the showers nor allowed on the furniture, underscoring the fact that many cruisers consider their pets to be their children. Of course, kids (at least ours) and pets DO have a lot of similarities. In the small confines of the boat, we have noticed some behaviors that remind us of this. When Mark feels seasick, he refuses to take the 1/2 tablet of Stugeron, even though it helps him feel better, because he hates the taste. So after he refused it even in a spoonful of syrup, I buried it in a piece of cheese and fed it to him. He noticed it and, though he didn't spit it out, refused it the second time. This next time, I had to wheedle him into taking a tablet crushed up into sugar syrup with a cheese chaser.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Have you left your comfort zone today?

At the entrance of an awesome park in St. Augustine: "Travel
the Universe on the wings of your imagination."
Just when Matt and I start to get a little complacent (I mean, it's been ages since we have had the windlass stop working while our anchor was halfway up or down), the universe slaps us right down. After getting beat up just coming in, the anchorage in St. Augustine handed us our ass these last couple of days.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tow Boat U.S. to the rescue (that got your attention, didn't it)

The mother of all horseshoe crab shells.

We did receive help from Tow Boat U.S as we approached the entrance to the harbor at St. Augustine, but not in the way you might think.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in St. Marys, Georgia

We generally love living aboard, but being away from family and friends can be hard. Holidays have a way of bringing those feelings front and center. This Thanksgiving, even though we're apart from family, we are fortunate to be spending time with cruisers from all over.
Every year, the small town of St. Marys, with the proprietors of the Riverview Hotel as the driving force, opens its arms to cruisers who are Thanksgiving orphans. Volunteer townsfolk cook turkey and ham and cruisers bring the side dishes. In addition to the big feast, there are activities every day leading up to Thanksgiving. Locals give rides to the grocery store, propane shop and the laundry. The food is great and the company is even better. Man, can some of these cruisers cook.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cumberland Island, Georgia

Cumberland Island is an otherworldly place that is accessible only by boat (there are ferries that service this National Seashore). The forest is green with enormous ground palms and hanging mosses.  Matt and I kept expecting dinosaurs or Sleestaks to appear around the next bend. Park Ranger Rene Noe gave one of the best tours we have ever had, punctuating her talk with tidbits gained from her many years of living on the island as a ranger. She included a memorable dramatic re-enactment of the meeting between James Oglethorpe and Chief Tomochichi, enlisting half of our tour group. We learned that most of Cumberland Island was owned privately by the Carnegies for a long time and a few of the Carnegie descendants still own property on the island.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Charleston, the Fall Installment

Back in Charleston.  Back in the fountain.  In November.  Silly boys.

Matt mentioned several times that our trip from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Charleston should be windless, smooth and flat. So of course it was like a washing machine (Matt's reading over my shoulder and saying it wasn't that bad, but he's wrong), and we all felt sick for the first half of Day 1. He has a knack for saying, "If this wind holds, we'll be in __________ by _______" and then having the wind promptly die. But the seas calmed down and the rest of our motor-sail (mostly motor) was pleasant.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hope floats, but we don't (at least for a few more days)

Huddled around a space heater lent to
us by another boat in the yard
A year after buying our boat, we have come full circle as we sit out of the water in a boatyard. When we purchased Perry, she was hauled out in the Bahamas.  As we approach the end of week 2 of our estimated 1-week haul-out, we can reflect on the past year of boat ownership: we have been to the Bahamas and back twice (4 times for Matt), sailed the eastern seaboard to Cape Cod and done approximately 14,703 repairs.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Death by a thousand cuts

After a much too exciting arrival, we have settled into boat fixes and life at the boatyard. It can be depressing to spend time at what is essentially a big boat hospital. However, we are well aware that things could have been much worse.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

She's a brick house . . . boat

Our boat is literally filled with concrete in the keels and overbuilt in general. So she is heavy and sturdy but not necessarily speedy. However, it's one thing to know that your boat is not built for speed. It is another to be constantly reminded of it over two days.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hampton, VA - Mad boater friendly

Our anchorage in Hampton. Our swing radius brings us
within ten feet of some of the boats docked nearby.

Look familiar? If we had been here earlier, maybe
we would have been on the cover of the visitor's guide.
Hampton goes out of its way to welcome boaters. In addition to the free internet that some progressive cities provide, the city marina offers $1 hot showers (including complimentary hair dryers and flat irons), the use of free bicycles, and fresh herbs for the taking.  This year they even organized a "Snowbird Rendezvous" which attracted a large number of boats. We heard about it too late so didn't get to participate in the free meals and booze they were dispensing, but Matt attended a few of the seminars while I stayed with the kids. Not quite sure how they financed it, but we did see one officer writing 4 speeding tickets in the course of 1 hour. So watch it if you arrive by car instead of boat.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Annapolis to Solomons Island

Tilted chairs at the closed up bar are a sure sign the summer season is over.
We had our visit to (and departure from) Annapolis all planned out because we are such awesome planners (I'm pretty sure we can use the word awesome even though we have probably less than a 1-in-3 success rate). Although pretty much nothing worked out the way we thought it would, we are much better off because of it. This is in spite of nearly a week of solid rain and chilly weather in a roll-y anchorage.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Here I come to save the day (sung like Mighty Mouse or Andy Kaufmann, your choice)

After getting questions from the kids on when we were heading back south (almost every other day- all summer long) we finally got back to Annapolis so that they could have their Lego battle with the Mighty, Mighty Zach. Once the battle ended ("We made peace," said Mark), we sailed with our friends Cindy and Doug and their two kids, Zach and Naia, on Majestic to visit some areas around Annapolis that we missed during our race up North to visit family.

After a quiet (and shallow) evening in the very secluded Granary Creek, we headed over to the more populated area of St Michaels.  As we took the dinghy to shore, we saw the boat pictured above heeled over a bit. That would be normal for a monohull except that this one was anchored. Apparently the owner had spotted her friends' boats and headed directly for them, realizing too late that there was a very shallow area in between. Her boat was aground enough that it wasn't going anywhere without assistance. Mistakes in boating can be hard to hide.
We headed over to see if they needed help, not really expecting to be able to do much with a modest dinghy crammed full with four adults and four kids. Doug and Matt grabbed a couple of halyards and used our dinghy to pull the sailboat sideways. This pulled the boat way over while the owner gunned the engine. After a couple of tries, the sailboat finally broke loose and the halyards sprang back to the sailboat. I was mildly surprised that everyone stayed in both boats and there was no major injury or damage. Matt did have a bit of rope burn but he injures himself regularly doing far more mundane things, so I consider it a win.

We had minor flashbacks to a previous episode of ill-conceived endeavors. But it was a happy ending and it was exciting for the kids, who wanted to save someone else immediately. Matt asked whether he could make a "women drivers" joke and I reminded him how he was driving when we hit our bottom. We will be hauling out in Beaufort to fix the damage from that little accident.
St. Michaels is a charming town with the best Maritime Museum we have visited so far. Cindy wrote about their visit a few months ago during an intense heat wave. Our weather was much more pleasant and we almost had the place to ourselves.  With warmth but no wind, we motored back to Annapolis where our nice spot in Back Creek had been taken.  Dozens of boat are arriving each day in anticipation of the upcoming boat show, so we've been forced to anchor out in the much more rolly main anchorage. 
The morning after we arrived back in Annapolis, the kids almost got to rescue someone else.   A sea plane was circling overhead and about to land.  A boat came by and said they were supposed to tow the sea plane to a  nearby dock but their dinghy was having engine trouble so  could we help them out? Sure!  Sounds like fun.  So we lowered our dinghy and headed over. Unfortunately, after landing, the plane decided "I don't need no stinkin' dinghy", zipped down the main fairway and docked itself.  Of well, it was still cool to see.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Baltimore, MD

At the National Aquarium, we were watching the dolphins frolicking together in the underwater observatory when all of a sudden one of the dolphins peed directly in front of the window, leaving a long yellow stream. The group of young adults next to us collectively groaned. "Did that dolphin just pee?" asked one woman. Her male companion said, "Yeah! I mean, that's just disrespectful. We didn't need to see that." The woman said, "Wow! I didn't know dolphins peed!" Nice to know the aquarium is meeting its objectives of educating the public.

Monday, September 23, 2013

To a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Or, to a boat owner, every problem requires a complex solution. Matt is getting really efficient at taking things apart and fixing them. We have had a long string of these taking-apart-and-fixing episodes. So much so that when the running lights stopped working at the start of our overnight passage from NY to Cape May (NJ), Matt had the electrical switch panel cover taken out and had tested all the connections in less than 15 minutes. When nothing got the lights running again, and just before he brought out the snips to cut all the zip ties holding the wiring bundles together, he finally stepped back, thought for a second and realized that there was a separate breaker for the running lights that was off for some reason. After turning the breaker on, the lights started working. To be fair, while he was in the guts of the wiring he did find a loose connection, which could have been the original cause of the breaker tripping.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New York, NY

Arriving in New York City after spending a month in sleepy Cape Cod was a bit of a shock to our systems. Fortunately we were able to ease into it a bit by anchoring in Port Washington, which is just outside of the vortex of downtown.  Port Washington is probably the most boater-friendly anchorage we have encountered.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mainsails R Not Us

One of the reasons we wanted to live aboard with our two kids was to seek adventure. Yesterday was one of the days that we accomplished that goal.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Detour to Point Judith, RI

After a rolly night at anchor, we left Cuttyhunk for Block Island, which is normally an all-day sail. The winds were forecasted to be 20 knots at the high end. As we sailed along, we happily encountered the forecasted 20-knot winds. Then they crept higher. As they pushed into the high 20s with gusts into the 30s, Matt put a reef in the main sail.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy cake day, Matt!

I don't think this lighthouse is the Edgartown is the smallest one in the U.S. but it is the smallest one we have seen. We held true to our pledge not to pay to climb any more lighthouses. It was a pretty easy decision because it just didn't seem worth it to pay $5 a person to climb the tiny tower when we have been to the top of some of the highest.  When it comes to lighthouses, size does matter, apparently.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Oak Bluffs (Martha's Vineyard)

Today we took the bus up to Oak Bluffs. It has a real-life old-timey carousel where you try to grab the brass ring for a free ride, just like in The Catcher in the Rye. We figured we would let the kids ride it once and then we'd move on to something else. Matt paid to go on the ride because he wasn't sure the boys would be able to reach the rings. Well, we didn't have to worry about Conrad and Mark missing any rings. They had no trouble at all.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Martha's Vineyard

Edgartown is another town packed with great restaurants, galleries and ice-cream shops on every corner, albeit with a distinctly high-end flavor. If it wasn't for the fact that even at 4:30pm every other person on the crowded street was busy shoveling ice cream down their throats, we'd wonder how all the shops managed to stay in business.  Tempted by the ice cream, but refusing to give in, Matt went into a bakery and was standing in line to buy something unhealthy and yummy for dessert. The woman in front of him tried to order a salad and the twenty-something behind the counter said, "I'm sorry, we stopped serving lunch at 4:00" It was 4:08 and all the salad and other lunch items were still sitting out. Matt thought, "Really?" to himself and walked out. He didn't feel like patronizing the shop after that nonsense.  At least he didn't pull out an M-16 like Michael Douglas.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Here comes the sun

Conrad and Mark practiced faces. This is "scared."
You can see more at
After a serious boat rinsing yesterday, the sun finally came out today. Our solar panels made some ground on charging the batteries but they aren't going gangbusters like they were when we had the summer/equatorial sun.  We'll take that as our cue to start thinking about heading south.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

50 shades of gray (weather)

The only other sailboat left in the anchorage.
There were a few hours of sunlight this morning, so we spent some time on the beach. We saw thousands of these periwinkles in the tidal pools on the beach. They're a delicacy in Great Britain and other places but these were so tiny it seems like you would need to be pretty desperate to snack on them. Apparently when they're sold as street food, they give you a pin to get the meat out. We also played monkey in the middle, which is a funny game when the kids can neither catch nor throw very well. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rain, rain, go away

Rainy day + new game from cousin Charlie = instant addiction
We have been living on the boat for over 8 months and, after 4 days of little to no sunshine, we had to for the first time turn on the generator to charge our battery bank. That's a pretty good run for our solar panels. But on the other hand, we feel like we have somehow failed.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Nice artists and scofflaws

As we were motoring over to the causeway near Matt's cousin's vacation home to be picked up, a catamaran that was anchored near us in Bassett's Harbor waved us over. It was actually one of the models that we were considering purchasing. The captain said hello and told us that his companions on board had done some nice drawings of our boat and that they wanted to give us one. We didn't have time to talk long because Matt's parents were waiting to pick us up so they were nice enough to drop off a cool chalk drawing while we were gone. The photo probably doesn't do it justice. The artist, Erinn McCusker, runs a studio that teaches art, including private lessons.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm not talkin' about daysailing. I'm talkin' about sharkin'!

My awesome friend Lory hooked us up with Ocearch and we, including Matt's parents who are visiting from Chicago, spent a few hours aboard. The Ocearch folks are like rock stars around here. The team is super-friendly and the entire crew (including the scientists onboard) appear to be charismatic, photogenic, and knowledgeable. The great whites couldn't have picked better ambassadors.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gotta get your beef shield

That was the song that Conrad and Mark were singing on our sail from Provincetown back to Bassett's Bay. "Gotta get your beef shield! Gotta get your beef shield!" There was a dance too. It was a mix of hip hop and Elaine on Seinfeld. Their energy cannot be contained. At the end Mark said, "We hope you enjoyed the show. Visit"

Friday, August 23, 2013

P-Town Carnival Parade

We went to the Provincetown Carnival parade yesterday. This year's theme was Vegas, baby. It's a good thing they gave away beads and beach balls or the boys would have given up and gone home (and we would have been okay with that). We waited over an hour for the parade to start and then stood through an hour and a half of the slowest parade ever during the cloudy and partly rainy afternoon.