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The Cold Prevails

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 | 0 comments

Just in case we thought Spring had finally arrived, Winter decided to set us straight. Forcefully.

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Forest of Snow

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To view the rest of our flickr albums visit flickr.com/followthehorizon.

Review: Mahina Expeditions Seminar

Posted on Feb 27, 2014 | 0 comments

Sunrise on Lake Michigan

We got to the seminar a little earlier than we planned…

 

For the last couple of years, Dan and I had been planning to attend a Mahina Expeditions Offshore Cruising Seminar at Strictly Sail Chicago. We believed that the information we would obtain would be exceptionally helpful to us in preparing for our time cruising, however we wanted to wait until the year that we intended to start so that the information would stay as fresh in our minds as possible. This year we finally decided to pony up our $300, arrange for a babysitter, and spend the whole day in the company of John and Amanda Neal.

So, was it worth the price? I’d say “yes” with a few caveats. First of all, the seminar was extremely well done. The Neals have had more experience on the water than most couples in the world and the do an excellent job of imparting their knowledge to others. On the flip side, one day is not enough…period. We knew that it would be a lot of information in a short amount of time, but by the end of the day I literally left with a headache, feeling partially brain dead. For anyone who might be slightly (or more than slightly) on the A.D.D. side, this may not be the best way to process the information for you.

Luckily, they’ve written the companion manual (included in the course) to have all of the information and much more so we have been able to reference it and process everything slowly over the last few weeks. They sell the Offshore Cruising Companion on their website www.mahina.com*. I can unequivocally recommend this book, even at the $50 price point. An unbelievable amount of useful information is contained in the book, everything from recommended equipment lists (with specific brands and prices) to how to clear into a country properly to dealing with fears and uncertainty about cruising. I believe that it is one of the best resources available in sheer volume of topics covered, and they’re covered well.

An unexpected benefit of the seminar was the number of field experts we were able to meet and talk with during the breaks throughout the day. John and Amanda were readily available to answer individual questions and their colleague Pete McGonagle was very informative about the current boat market as a broker and fellow cruiser. George Day of Blue Water Sailing, Nigel Calder (highly respected mechanical and diesel engine author), and Paul and Sheryl Shard of the Distant Shores TV show also stopped by to add their expertise.

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We won a West Marine gift card for being the nearest to leaving on our cruise…or maybe just because we were the surprise “youngsters” in the room!

If I were to say one thing about this course, it would be that I wish we wouldn’t have waited so long to take it. Because we have already spent so many hours researching a good portion of the topics ourselves, a lot of the information was no longer new to us. Especially because the manual so thoroughly covers the topics, we could have taken the seminar a year or two ago and then used the manual as review once we actually got closer to “go time”. We recommend the same for others who want to get the highest value from the course.

 *We are not currently affiliated with Mahina Expeditions in any way. We just think their book is worth sharing!

The Most Magical Place on Earth

Posted on Feb 14, 2014 | 0 comments

In the midst of all of our recent planning and prepping, Dan, Carter and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World with my parents for 4 days in January. Even though we are generally not “big crowd” kind of people, we all had a ton of fun at Disney, especially the little guy. Between 3 straight days of meeting Mickey Mouse, going on safaris, roller coasters, and Carter’s excursion as a member of the Pirates’ League we got the full Disney experience!

Carter looking out of the bus window

He can’t wait to get to the park!

The first night we were in Orlando, we visited Downtown Disney just a short ferry ride from our hotel at the Old Key West Resort.

Downtown Disney at night

Carter and Michele with Lego Woody and Buzz Lightyear

Day 1: Epcot. Still the least fun for little kids, regardless of Disney marketing promising otherwise. The wildlife was certainly friendly enough though!

Epcot golf ball over the lake

Female Mallard Stare Down Very Close

This duck followed us around for a while looking for food. No fear here!

Dan and Carter in a Great White Shark

The Living Seas area was definitely the best part of the park for kids.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom. We hadn’t been to this park before, but this was the favorite day for Dan and I. Probably because of the more “natural” feel of everything.

The family in front of the Lion King Tree of Life

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Day 3: The Magic Kingdom. You can’t quite beat it for sheer magic factor.

The whole family with Mickey Mouse

We visited Mickey all three days at Disney, but the one at the Magic Kingdom was the best. He really talked and his mouth even moved naturally! Carter was literally freaked out and had to have Dan for backup before he would talk back. You can see he is still giving Mickey the eye: I’m watching you, mouse.

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We took Carter to a special experience called The Pirates League. Above is him pre-pirate, and below you see him as Roger Bloodshot the Fierce.

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Carter in face paint pretending to sleep.

That is one happy pirate.

*Don’t forget to check out our flickr page to see the rest of our Disney pictures.