Update - Moving On

Dear Diary,

3 months ago today we shared that we were taking a big step back and re-evaluating everything.  I'm happy to share that we've completed our review and are fully entrenched in our next phase of life.

Since the last writing, we've traveled to Cambodia, Thailand, and Loas, boated up the Mekong river, rode a motorcycle from Iowa to Georgia, went to Disney 2 more times, gone camping in a canyon (twice), hung out on St. Simon's island, took a cruise to Cozumel (only to be re-routed to the Bahamas when we were 50 miles off shore from Mexico), and sold Ariel. Yes, we sold our beloved boat.  We held a giant ceremony to capture her spirit in a container, which we now have, and we will be releasing her spirit in our apartment very soon.

KJ and Dy have both been enrolled in school and that starts tomorrow morning.

Val has re-started her small business support services company (Forge Power LLC) and I've started a Life Coaching practice (XXXLifeCoaching.com)  that is focused on helping people achieve their goals.

Life is wonderful, and we are still having fun.  We do miss the boating life, but we learned that for our family, at this time, the dynamics just weren't right.  That's okay, we move on.  We don't live in the past, we live in the now.

There are many lessons from this adventure, and one of the best ones is an affirmation of something we realized in the pursuit of the goal: if it didn't work out, no big deal we would just pick up the pieces and make a new picture.  Please don't let the fear of failure or our inability to execute stop any reader of this blog from attempting a grand goal.... the worst that can happen is you don't achieve the goal, at least on that attempt. ;)

Our family has settled back in the fine city of Atlanta GA, in our own little place.  Our family and friends have been super, extending their homes, support, and love.

Well, that's about it diary... our lives are so incredible .... what shall be the next goal our family goes after???? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....


Curiouser and Curiouser!

Consulting an expert in finding our way
After a family discussion on what to do next, we decided to seek the help of an expert.... Alice.  So, we loaded up Rock and headed over to Disney in Orlando to seek an audience with her.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?", I asked Alice
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said Alice.
"I don’t much care where--" said I.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said Alice.

So very true.  With this sage advice, Val and I have decided to head over to Cambodia and Thailand for a few weeks while KJ and Dy spend some time with family.

We did also meet up with our other friends at Magic Kingdom too, Mickey and  Minnie Mouse.
The Sailboat Family with Mickey and Minnie
After declining their offer to stay at their house, we left Orlando and headed back up to Atlanta.

Time to prep for Cambodia!


Back to Atlanta to Re-Evaluate

Where to next?

As good fortune would have it, a wonderful boating couple (Allan and Marcia) were putting up their car for sale.

In a conversation with Marica, she shared that they were working to sell their car to someone whom wanted to take it to Haiti, but there had been many hoops and bumps in trying to make the deal happen.

Well, heck, maybe the universe had destined us to have this car.

So we shared with them our situation, and interest in the car.  Sure enough, the car was really intended for us.  If the Haiti deal hadn't been problematic, and been taking a few days, we would have missed this gem.  Plus, cash in hand talks a whole lot louder than maybes and hoops and schedules and cargo shippers and such. :)

Rock, our new transport mechanism
We bought Rock, KJ named the car that, a 1996 Nissan Pathfinder, and loaded up what we needed for a trip up to Atlanta, a 10 hour drive.

Rock, stuffed with stuff
The plan is to hang out with Aunt Jenny and Aunt II for a week or so, figure out how we want to proceed going forward, and then execute.


Pause and Re-Evaluate

Leaving the boat shoes on deck for another time

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” - T.S. Eliot

Dear Diary,

After spending a few days at Fort Pierce, Val and I have made the decision to hit the “Pause” button and re-evaluate our approach to traveling as a family. While there have been many wonderful moments, the overall net for the family and our family dynamics is that, at this time, it is best we adjust how we Expand and Explore the world. Many families have young children on a boat and are able to roam the world, but ours, it turns out, isn't of the right make up and temperament to make the journey safely and enjoyably at this point.

Our family has found out how far it can stretch as a unit, and in which ways. We will use this information to optimally expand and explore. We know how far we can go.

The Sailboat Family will continue its journey to see the world, but we will modify the approach. This will include more family adventures, including sails off to the Bahamas, journeys via different modes of transport, and trips of finite duration and fixed locations.

Ariel in her new slip
Ariel is being kept in Ft. Pierce, Florida at a nice marina. We will be buy a car, drive back to Atlanta, stay with family there, take stock of the situation, and then make our next move.

Excitement continues to build as we figure out how to Expand, Explore, and Enjoy this amazing world we live in, in ways that are the most suitable for us.

It has been an amazing 50 days ... I wouldn't trade them for the world.

We tried, it didn't work this way for us.  So we will "Pause", reflect, and try again. Not every adventure works on the first try. We will share our learnings once we've let all this set in.

I wonder where we will go next, and how........



Vero Beach FL to West Palm Beach FL : Day 1 : Computers and Ft. Peirce FL

Leg 3, Day 1
Vero Beach, FL to West Palm Beach, FL : Ft. Pierce

After a week at Vero Beach, it was time to move on.  The area is fantastic, but we need to make it down to West Palm Beach to make the jump to the Bahamas (West End).

Would we have a buzz or not? That was the big question.  We wouldn't know until an hour or so had passed.

Shaun, one of the dock hands at Vero Beach, helped us push off and I must say I did the backing out as an old pro.  We left without incident and made our way under the bridge.

Val began KJ's schooling stuff while Dy sat with me in the cockpit. Dy told me multiple times to stop Mommys boat and bring it back.  She really doesn't like leaving a place. The familiarity of some place is very important to her. We've begun to really understand that about her.

After an hour of motoring, no Buzz! Wahoo!!! 

2 hours in, no buzz. :)

After a few hours, Val got on the phone and called around; we decided that we would stop at Ft. Pierce.  We could stop there, at a marina, and home base a few days before the jump.    

We pulled in at Harbortown Marina, a nice big facility with walkable access to many boat stores.


Vessels Along The Way

SS Manatee in Jacksonville, FL
While making our way, we've seen some pretty interesting vessels.  Here are some of the photos we've taken so far of the more curious and/or interesting ones when we had a camera handy.

S/V Lollygag
Unmarked Blimp Flew Right Over Us In Jacksonville, FL
HUGE Trimaran
As we came into Vero Beach, we saw this one
Guy was poking along doing his own thing
And loud!
Home sweet home for someone


Vero Beach City Marina, Vero Beach Florida

Vero Beach City Marina, Vero Beach Florida
We had a super week staying at the Vero Beach City Marina.  Lots of walking and bus riding for us. There were 3 different playgrounds that we were able to enjoy, lots of restaurants, and the beautiful beach.

Number of bathrooms plus a family bathroom
Lot of washing machines at marina
Gas and Diesel at marina
Staff is friendly and helpful
Grassy area with covered pavillions on premises
Marina was not noisey anytime during our 7+ day stay
Captains room was clean, well apointed, and had lots of good local information in it with a good trading library
Free city buses with bus stop at marina
Vero beach is 1.2 miles away
2 playgrounds and 3 parks all walkable
Great dog park within 0.1 of a mile
Close to a number of reastaurants
Close to many financial institutions (Fidelity, Scottrade, and more)
Lots butique shopping opportunities (not our thing, but notable)
Ace Hardware is 0.5 miles away
PakMail ship center is 0.4 miles away
Island streets near marina are on a grid so it is easy to navigate
Very close to the Intercoastal Waterway

Number of dock carts is too few
Grocery store is 5 miles away (but is on the bus line requiring 0 bus transfers)
Marine store is 5 miles away (but is on the bus line requiring 0 bus transfers)
Walmart is 15 miles away (but is on the bus line and requires 1 bus transfer at main station)
Propane isn't reachable by foot or by bus line (even if you wanted to sneak it on the bus)
Can be congested at the channel turn in since channel turn in is at a bridge

Price of marina for a slip
Laundry is of average price

Ariel at the slip at the Vero Beach City Marina

Half of the Captain's Lounge at the marina

Dinghy Dock at the marina

Fuel Dock

KJ Jumped off this stump, the Jumping Stump, no less than 83,171 times

Plenty of washers and dryers at the Vero Beach City Marina
as well as a dollar bill changer! Wahoo!

Rock wedged into a tree
 KJ and I discussed how long ago that rock must have been put into the tree, given that the tree has now grown around it.  Some day KJ may return and still see that rock!

Multiple picnic tables at the marina

Vero Beach City Marina receives the Sailboat Family seal of approval.


Diaper Head

Diaper Head
So, your little sister finally gets out of diapers .... what do you do with all the left over diapers? Put them on your head!

KJ sporting the latest fashion of the waterway
We thought the whole Diaper head fashion show was over, but that night we not only found Dy sleeping next to her big sister, but KJ was wearing a diaper on her head again!

KJ wearing a diaper to bed
Wonderful memories, and now I've captured them on the Internet for KJ. I'm sure some day she will regret wearing this diaper on her head (and be mad at her dad for sharing these pictures!).


Quickie Snubber Line

Quickie Makeshift Snubber Line

Our main, number 1, anchor is equipped with 100 ft of 5/16 BBB chain.  Really good and really heavy, especially for our sized boat.

When setting the anchor, best practice is to pay out 4-7 lengths of your anchoring line to stay put.... but when you are in 3 feet of water, even 7 lengths results in only 21 feet.  No big deal other than with 100 ft of chain, that means we have all chain between us and our anchor making for a very jarring experience when the boat moves around.

So what does one do? You add a snubber line.

The first night of anchoring we made one that would suffice.  We simply tied some line between a link of chain and the cleat.  When the boat jerked around (due to current, wakes, or winds), all the jarring was removed as it was absorbed by the line. If the line were to break, we still had the chain itself connected to the boat.

Those 2 marks on the chain (yellow and white), indicate 40 feet of chain.


Vero Beach Farmers Market

Val, KJ, and Dy exploring the Vero Beach Farmers Market
During out stay in Vero Beach, we were fortunate enough to visit their out door farmers market.  The gathering of local produce and shops was quaint, and we were able to secure some good fresh fruits and vegetables at very reasonable prices.  One of the more interesting ones is the Bananamango. We've never had one and we sure look forward to trying it!

Under the eye of security
While visiting one of the vendors, we found we were under the scrutiny of a heavy, their security guy.  See the menacing looking dude in the white hat? He is on Mango theft watch. No, really ... he was the booth security.

About $10 later, we had a great assortment of stuff.


Provisioning via Miata

Totally full!
With Val's dad visiting, we had access to a vehicle! Score! Time to make a run and load up.  Funny thing was, Val's dad drives a Miata!

At Sam's Club
In another stoke of luck, Sam's Club happened to be having their "try us out" membership drive going on.  (note: After the hassle we went through with whomever was the person in charge of the check out lines, we don't plan on being members.  What an asshole.  Anyway, we sure did load up!)

Miata Trunk Loaded Up
We also swung by a Walmart to get a few other things Sam's Club didn't have.

Can't See Out The Back
And we were on our way! Setting up for our jump to the Bahamas, we had read and heard that certain things are hard to get over there. Once we run out of this stuff, we will be eating local!


PawPaw Visits!

KJ Doing a CandyBall at PawPaws Hotel

The past 2 days we've had some special visitors .... Val's Dad, Charlie, and his friend Barbara.  They were on their way down to West Palm Beach and were able to stop by for a couple of days and visit us in Vero Beach.

As is tradition, Pawpaw brought in treats and presents for the girls.

Pawpaw is a master at Barbie dresses
The big hit was the Barbie clothes and the Barbie movie.

The girls ended up spending almost all of Saturday with Pawpaw and Barbara while Val and I borrowed Pawpaw's car for a provisioning trip.

Barbara holds Dy while Dy looks anxiously on
as KJ prepares for her next CandyBall
We were so happy they could stop off and see us. The girls had an absolute blast and have been asking about when they will see Pawpaw and Barbara again.


Vero Beach Buses

KJ and Dy on the city bus
After a day of fun in the sun, plus walking more than 3 miles, what does one do in a new city without a car? Ride the FREE public bus!

Vero Beach has a wonderful bus system for folks to move about the area, and it is FREE. Yes, really free ... like cost nothing.  There is a donation box for those wanting to put money in (I did give a buck), but nothing is expected.

Known as the "Go Line", the Go Line Bus System has 14 routes throughout the county.  They run from 8am until 5pm, Monday through Friday, and reduced hours on Saturday.  Oh, they are free! (I love free).

KJ, Dy, and I headed out at 10AM to see where the bus went.  KJ brought along her field notebook to take notes of our finds.  We found a Publix, West Marine, a number of restaurants, and more.  The driver of the bus was a fantastic helpful guy who himself had lived aboard a boat at one point.  He and his wife docked at Vero Beach and decided they liked it so much they became residents.  We can't blame them. (Vero Beach is known as Velcro Beach because many folks get "stuck" here).

After riding the bus its entire loop, we got back to relay the findings to Val.  For lunch we all hopped back onto the bus and hit the local mall.  A fancy lunch at Chic-Fil-a was in store for us.

On the way back, Dy had an "accident" (read between the lines for a 3 year old being potty trained and wearing big girl panties).  Fortunately the very next stop of the bus we were on was WalMart, so we decided to hop off and not subject the rest of the passengers to Dy's freshly created aroma.  After a quick change, we did some light shopping and then got back on the bus to get back to the boat for a nap.

It was a great day all around.


Vero Beach, Florida

KJ, Dy, and Val enjoying Vero Beach, FL
First full day in Vero Beach.  The family decided that we needed some good beach time.  We walked from Vero Beach City Marina to Vero Beach (about 1.25 miles away) carrying all the tools of the beach trade (pails, shovels, sunscreen, and a towel).

Dy picking out Vero Beaches finest shells
KJ the master sand castle creator
Interestingly, Dy didn't want to get in the water.  She only wanted to play in the sand. KJ, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get in the water so she and I did go in and enjoy the surf.

The immediate area around the beach feels like it is geared more towards retirees than families, although there are lots of families here.  Many of the shops close down at 5, and a number of the food places are only open on certain days at certain times.  We found lots of neat little shops and confectioneries.  I'm sure we will try one or two!

Right off the beach is a nice park area with showers.  We just had to try out the playground here too.

KJ made a new friend
Great and tiring day.  Tomorrow we will explore the bus system.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 7 : BUZZZZZZING Ice Cream Leg Complete

Choices, Choices, Choices

Leg 2, Day 7
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Ice Cream! Leg 2 Complete

Today is testing day … will the buzzer sound or not?  With last nights strong winds, I ended up letting out 80 feet of chain, so today's anchor removal was more of a work out than usual. We had anchored in 6.5 feet of water.

As we took off, we held our breath and waited. No Sounds!  I enjoyed the morning coffee while Val got out KJ and Dy's school books.  30 minutes into reading a story about Nan's Cat that sat on the mat, BUZZ!!! The horrendous, hideous, grotesque, vulgar sounding ominous tone of death started again. The glances to one another were thrown and Val got back on the phone, this time to a Honda dealership.

While they talked, I decided “F-It”, and rather than dropping the RPM, if I'm going to hear the damn thing, I'm going to throttle up and get us to Vero Beach Marina sooner rather than later.  It was 25 miles away.

I pushed the throttle up to 4500 RPM, we hit 6.5 knots, and we buzzed for 3 hours straight! I envisioned all sorts of wonderful punishments I would have for the buzzer.

During our travels to Vero Beach, we did have some good winds along the way that came across the beam, so we put up the main sail and got an additional 0.5 knots.  It was nice to be sailing some, even if it was motor sailing.

As we approached Vero Beach Marina we encountered the largest percentage of rude powerboaters we had since starting the journey down the ICW.  These guys would blast past and create enormous wakes for us.  I will also note that nearly all of them fit the profile of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack, except they weren't funny … just assholes.

Docking was a bit tricky as the winds were blowing pretty good.  We had heard over the radio that there was a chance of thunderstorms, so the winds were probably at the head of that system.  I slowly walked the boat in, and the dock line handler from the marina told me that I had done better than most (extra $1 tip for that comment!) and that they've had a few folks hit really hard today.

Docked safely now, our first order of business was Ice Cream! Thank you Virtual Crew Members!
Dy enjoying chocolate chip

KJ enjoying "Superman" flavored ice cream

We will be here about a week; Val's dad will be coming out for a few days.

While we are in Vero Beach, Val will be replacing the main engine's thermostat. (one possible cause of the buzzer with no lights is that there is a very small piece of trash in the thermostat... just enough to trigger the buzzer but not the light …. this is what the mechanic and the Honda dealership shared).

Time to relax and explore Vero Beach.


Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach FL : Day 6 : Damn Buzzer!

Val begins to take things apart

Leg 2, Day 6
Jacksonville, FL to Vero Beach, FL : Damn Buzzer!

Anchor up and we were on our way nice and quite like. They day started like all others, but then “Buzz!” The damn engine buzzer went off again. We hadn't heard it since the very first day.

Val and I looked at each other, and we both looked for the pee. Yep, engine was peeing like it was supposed to. Maybe it was some glitch.

20 minutes goes by... “Buzz! Buzz!” Ugh. Then no more buzz.

Closer we got to a bridge, “Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!” UGH! POS! I became really worried the engine was about to die as we were going under a bridge, and the wind was right on our nose. Oh, what I wouldn't give to get back to those uneventful days.

Holding our breathes and praying to the Honda engine gods, our eyes opened wide and nothing came out of our mouths. We passed through the bridge with the horrendous Buzz sound but the engine kept going. Once we were clear of the bridge, Val and I went into diagnostic mode.

None of the engine indicator lights were on. Unlike day 1 when we could see the engine temperature light come on (because of the lack of cooling), all we got today was a buzz sound. With the engine still running, I back down the RPMs from 3500 to 2500 while we opened up the manuals to find out what would cause the buzz. Nothing of value in the SELOC manual. We decided to call 1 of our life lines.

On the phone to my sister I went. Her prowess as a master Googligriphier is legendary. She did some searching using Google and the most common culprit of the problem was water in the gas. That could certainly be it.

We kept plugging along, and I toyed with the throttle. Amazingly, if I kept the engine at below 2000 RPM, no buzz, I go above it BUZZZZ! (and it is a heinous vomit inducing buzz).

Ariel plodded along at a speed of 2.8 knots … about 3.25 MPH! Stress levels were high as we didn't know for sure if something was going wrong with the engine. We decided we would cut the day short and anchor up after cover about 27 miles. This would give mechanic Val some time to work on the problem while the sun is up.

After anchoring up, Val made reservations for us at the Vero Beach City Marina.... we should reach there tomorrow. Worst case, we spend the night there and find a mechanic. Best case, we fix our problem ourselves still go to the marina and enjoy a nice shower.

Val then called Dennis, the guy whom worked on Ariel while we were in Savannh. This guy was fantastic, and talked Val through what he thought the issues could be. He zeroed in to water in the system too. The guy is hundreds of miles away and not on the clock, yet he helped us. Thank you so much Dennis!!

After talking with Dennis, Val when into her mechanic mode and took out the water separator and the fuel filter.
Is there water in there?

New fuel filter going in
Once the pieces were replaced, we started it all up. It ran, but we didn't run it over 2000 RPM. That we will do tomorrow morning.

It was a full day indeed. So much to learn!