Friday, May 27, 2016


We're nearly net-less, and on the free days we have we're exploring town, not blogging (sorry!) Posting intermittent pix to Life Afloat's facebook page, and will get a good update here after June 1, when we have 2 weeks in Portland.  Till then:

Underway in good weather, we do maintenance. Here Dan is polishing some of the brass plaques and awards that the ship has received.  

Keeping watch. 
It's just a blob in this photo -- sea turtles mating!

And the requisite sunset photo.

Mackerel skies and mare's tails make tall ships carry short sails...

Sure enough, here's the next day's weather. Windy and chilly; Dan and I alternated at the helm for 4 hours.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Adventure, Book 2, Begins

Saturday afternoon/evening we rejoin El Galeon for another summer touring ports in the US and Canada.  Having done this last year should have made it easier to pack this year. Knowing what to expect in some ways made it easier (don't forget a EU-US adapter to charge the phone! and a water bottle you can wear on your belt because you're going to be talking to visitors all day long! and even though it is sticky hot in Florida, remember you are going north so bring a hat and scarf for those cold night watches in the North Atlantic!) But it also made it more challenging, as we thought of small things to make our lives aboard easier. A fold-up organizer for a car trunk will help tame the chaos of the big undivided locker we have for personal possessions. A stash of high-protein energy bars will supplement the breakfast that is sometimes skimpy by American standards.

Dan convinced us that wheeled luggage would be helpful since his shoulder is still injured making lifting heavy objects inadvisable. It of course had to be collapsible because there's no where to store hard-sided bulky suitcases. We ended up with the two dark gray duffels in the photo, directly below our gray backpacks.  They are advertised to hold 3-5 days of packing each.  Um, huh??? We need to fit 3 months of clothing in each of these, for both warm and cold weather! All those lessons in simplifying that living on a small sailboat paid off, because everything fit.  But any wonder the US is considered a consumer culture? 3-5 days? The bright yellow duffle and green Army duffel hold a full set of foul-weather gear for each of us, plus pillow, sleeping bag, and sheet.

Some hilarity and creative stowage ensued when we had to pick up a large teak grating custom made for the ship -- it only fit in the largest rental we could get from Enterprise by setting it on an angle and tying it in with ropes. Testament to the rough seas the Galeon experienced on a previous voyage -- a big wave came up under the cutwater deck and knocked the previous grating up and out, to be claimed by the sea.

Every single scrap of food, personal care items from the bathroom, liquids that can't stand excessive heat, and valuables are off our boat, either given away or placed in storage; the fridge is turned off; and an assembly of friends and neighbors and marina staff are keeping an eye on Cinderella for us. Two-day road trip to North Carolina, then, let the adventure begin!

I've tried to put links to follow the ship, and see the summer schedule, in the box on the upper left corner of the blog.  Having some trouble with this link and this one for you to follow the ship. If neither one works for you, go to the marine traffic website and type "El Galeon Andalucia" in the search box in the upper right.  I'll blog when I can, where I can, but please be patient, especially with my sluggishness answering comments.

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If you're really curious, here's what I packed:

You need to understand the context; this list is for a 4-month tour of duty, traveling from Maryland (hot and humid) to Nova Scotia (chilly); working as a tour guide when in port and sailing every week to a new location. The big thing we haven't mentioned is storage. Alongside your bunk is your locker.  It is basically a big open hole as long as your bed and about 18" to 24" wide. No dividers or organizers, which can make your life awkward. I brought a collapsible car trunk organizer to help contain the mess. Also a mini tote for what might be "nightstand" gear -- wallet, glasses, cellphone, etc.  The bathroom is upstairs from the dorm so I also brought a small kit for your grooming supplies (there is a toothbrush rack next to the sink, but things like your razor, hairbrush, etc will live in your locker and you just bring them up to use them.) Also you'll want a towel for showering, big enough for whatever level of modesty you prefer. The actual list follows:

Jacket (mid-weight, wind resistant)
gray wool sweater
fleece sweatshirt
fleece long underwear
4 El Galeon uniform t-shirts
2 El Galeon uniform polo shirts
4 shorts (ended up only wearing 2)
2 khaki stretch jeans
2 lightweight khaki pants
3 off-duty t-shirts
orange Hawaiian shirt (for BBQ parties)
fancy shirt and pants for going out
long-sleeve sunblock shirt
yellow foulie rain jacket and navy foulie pants
red nylon shirt and black water shorts (for sleepwear)
tennis shoes
flip flops
hat, gloves, scarf
warm turtleneck shirt
Tilley sun hat
El Galeon ball cap
socks & underwear (one week's worth; hand wash underwear in the sink)
meds & vitamins
bathroom kit (toothbrush, deodorant, hand lotion, ship provides shampoo and body wash and toothpaste)
crew name tag and id
leatherman knife and rigging knife
phone & universal charger to go from European 220V to US 110
notebook and blank paper
small camera and charger
towel & pillowcase (the ship will give you sheets, pillowcase, and sleeping bag but I like my silky pillowcase)
decaf tea & energy bars
chapstick (for some reason they don't provide any, though they do provide sunscreen)
bedside organizer tote (about 6" x 6" x 9" with lots of pockets)
water bottle
laptop & charger

Monday, May 9, 2016

Looking Back on This Year's A to Z

During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I did it again this year.  My posts were loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I started with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout en Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Now that the dust has -- sort of -- settled and I've caught my breath, a few thoughts I had on this year's Challenge.

Like many things in my life, this was a lot of work, and a lot of fun. And, like last year, I wrote all my posts on-the-fly. This I can't figure out. I knew better, I knew that I had committed to participating again this year and I had months to work on pre-writing these, but it just didn't happen.  I needed the pressure of a deadline, it seemed, to both inspire me and to make what I was writing about timely. I had pre-planned my general topic for most of the letters, but that is about all. Must be a function of my personality style, as I mused in one of my posts.

The absolutely best benefit for me in doing this year's challenge was finding five other boat-related bloggers who were also AtoZ-ing. The social benefit of the AtoZ has been amazing -- I've already managed to meet up with one of these bloggers in "real life" and have plans to meet another next month; maybe someday my path will cross with all of them. There is absolutely no way I could have kept on track without the daily support and comments from them.  A big, BIG shout-out to (in alphabetical order):

(A sixth boat-blogger also participated, but Little Cunning Plan's AtoZ was informational about anxiety, generally as related to boating, and I didn't find the blog until toward the end of the challenge.)

The second-best benefit was finding the wild, wild variety of blogs out there, as other bloggers stopped by my blog or I stopped by theirs. I learned about old-fashioned printing presses and common themes of diversity in folk tales. I met an author each of whose characters did an AtoZ guest post, and a poet who posted a poem a day that ended with a word for the next day's letter.  As one blog led me to another, I read about people who were born enslaved and later were freed, musings about life lessons in India, a series of original recipes for easy to prepare comfort foods, interesting sites in Arizona.

My own writing got a push and I was delighted to see my stats for growing audience too, as we head out for our summer sail.  And speaking of stats:

Favorite one to write: J is for the Joneses

Overlooked, and wish it got more visibility: R is for Rebaselining

Most surprising (I didn't know it would go in this direction when I started writing it): L is for Leaving ... On A Jet Plane

If we're in a location with solid internet I'll probably play again next year.  Maybe maybe I'll get more of the posts written in advance so I have more time to visit other blogs.  (But given my track record, yeah, I doubt it).

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Annnnd In Other News ...

Other fun things have been happening for us in April that I didn't get to write about while I was blogging my way from A to Z! (image from here)

The A to Z blog challenge in April was fun and intense and I'll probably do it again next year if I'm somewhere with reliable internet, but, lots of other things were going on in our lives while I was busy AtoZ-ing. We rented a car to drive to West Palm Beach to visit friends, and to meet up IRL with a fellow boating blogger over the unlikely quest for a can opener with no moving parts. I think it was this post that started the conversation.  We learned that Dan had torn his rotator cuff (again!). Most likely this happened when we were hoisting the dinghy getting ready for our annual visit to Aruba last February, but he hadn't wanted to admit it for fear of impacting our diving trip. When we got back, though, and checked with the doctor it was confirmed. The size of the tear, 1 cm, is right on the dividing line -- any larger and surgery would be recommended, any smaller and physical therapy would be sufficient.  Of course, we opted to try the less-traumatic approach first, and he's spent the last month doing physical therapy to help strengthen it. Progress is slow, but it is happening.

Our minds are really a-swirl for our summer adventure on El Galeon Andalucia.  This year, we'll be participating in the Tall Ships Challenge again and touring the Great Lakes. We're looking forward to getting back to our old stomping grounds, and seeing some new-to-us cities in the region as well. We've got friends and family in several of the ports and are already planning meetups in Portland, Toronto, and Chicago.  And through the magic of the internet, you can follow us and the entire Challenge fleet on Vessel Tracker.  But just now, we're still in the getting ready stage. We have lists of logistics and items to pack.  We spent several hours researching and downloading metric units conversion apps and Spanish-English apps to our phones and ordering EU-US charging adapters.  Almost all the clothing we'll be taking with us has been laundered and packed.  We used the magic words "vacation override" at the pharmacy to get enough of our prescription meds to last the voyage. We've set up schedules with the friends and neighbors who will be keeping watch over our boat while we're gone, and taken down the headsail and bimini in case of high winds.  Monday with the rental car, all the valuables that we won't be taking with us, and anything that would be harmed by Florida's summer heat while we're away, will be moved to our secure storage unit. After all the getting-ready scramble, the actual work of sailing and tourguiding on the Galeon will feel like a vacation!