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Posted on Feb 18, 2015 | 1 comment

Fun Family Time

The shows at the Miami Seaquarium were very fun!

The shows at the Miami Seaquarium were very fun!

Carter insisted that he wanted to get soaked by the orca!

Carter insisted that he wanted to get soaked by the orca!

Over the last few weeks in the midst of our preparations for leaving (getting so close!) both sets of our parents were able to come down and visit us. Having family around was great for all of us and taking a break out from our work was a much needed relief. My parents came down first at the end of January and took us to some of the more popular attractions in this area that we hadn’t gone to visit ourselves.

A beautiful day

A beautiful day

Our favorite one by far was an Everglades Air-boat ride. We took a one hour tour through the ‘glades and it was truly stunning. We spotted a few large alligators fairly early on the trip which Carter loved, but my favorite part was simply the feeling of solitude out on the water. With the wind rushing in my ears and the total feeling of gliding over the water, it was almost as if we were seeing a part of nature that had been preserved just for us in that moment. It was one of those moments in life when you get just a small glimpse of the majesty all around us.

The ship had characters from the Dreamworks movies that Carter got to meet.

The ship had characters from the Dreamworks movies that Carter got to meet.

Dan’s parents came down the week following mine and had the grand distinction of being the first overnight guests on the boat. We cleared out the aft head (aka storage closet), got a couple of blankets ready for Carter to be able to sleep in the main salon, and made up Carter’s bed in the aft cabin and we were ready to go. Overall, I think it went pretty well though 5 of us on the boat would have felt a lot tighter at anchor than it was on the dock. They slept on Horizon for 3 nights since the other 4 that they were hear, we all went on a cruise to Cozumel.

I think we'll be installing an ice rink on Horizon next...

I think we’ll be installing an ice rink on Horizon next…

Carter and Dan had a blast in the pools and hot tubs.

Carter and Dan had a blast in the pools and hot tubs.

Being on the Liberty of the Seas (2nd largest commercial cruise ship in the world) was quite the experience. Dan and I just kept talking about what their water makers must look like, how much electricity their generators had to produce, and what kind of galley storage they would need to supply us all with first and second breakfast, lunch, tea time, first and second dinner, and of course dessert. Let’s just say we spent a significant portion of our time at sea eating. Carter loved the kids area so much we practically had to bribe him to stay with us! We all had a great time and debated whether we should all just try hiding on the ship until they set sail again but in the end decided we should probably get off.

The kids all dressed up as pirates and paraded through the "Royal Promenade"

The kids all dressed up as pirates and paraded through the “Royal Promenade”

The hardest part of visits from the family is always the good-byes and this time was no different. It’s always heart breaking for us to hold Carter as he is crying about his grandparents leaving, wondering if we are really doing the right thing for him. We hope that the benefits of traveling as a family will outweigh the negatives, but these are the times that it is the hardest to convince ourselves of that. We’re hoping that the upcoming trip to the Bahamas and subsequent visit home will help us to have a little more clarity about the pros and cons.

A good lesson that we learned from our tourist time (and something that most cruising books talk about) is it really is worth it to go to a select few attractions in the areas you are visiting, even if you are on a budget. We probably never would have gone on an air-boat ride had my parents not taken us, but it was a fantastic experience that you can not have any where else. It is worth it to enhance your trip with the more iconic experiences of an area, so it is important to make space for those times in your budget. Hopefully we’ll be having more of the same in the near future!

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Posted on Dec 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Our First Year Aboard 2014

The year 2014 will go undoubtedly be ranked among the most significant of our lives. This was the year that all of our planning and saving culminated in moving 1,000 miles onto our own Irwin 37. Though at times we experienced incredible stress and frustration, there were far more moments of joy, excitement, and true wonder at our new life. We look back on this year with a great feeling of accomplishment, knowing that so many have never reached such a tangible realization of their dreams.

It is with that knowledge that we head into 2015, having faith that what is to come will be greater still. We hope that you will join us as we continue to Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on Dec 30, 2014 | 2 comments

Christmas Aboard

We don't have snow, but there's nothing wrong with a sand angel on Christmas day instead!

We don’t have snow, but there’s nothing wrong with a sand angel on Christmas day instead!

The weeks coming up to Christmas this year were a flurry of packages, Christmas cards and Skyping with family. As our first year on the boat and the first away from family, it was important to us to make Christmas special and establish a bit of our own flair. I had the idea that I would have a fabulous menu planned with all of our presents perfectly wrapped and under our “tree” on Christmas morning ready to go. It turns out I was a little over ambitious on the menu side for my first try (I’m sure I’m not the first person to find that out!), but we still had a great time complete with a visit to the beach!

Our table was piled high on Christmas Eve!

Our table was piled high on Christmas Eve!

One of the bigger challenges for us this year was trying to coordinate presents for Carter from the extended family. Because his birthday and Christmas are only about a month apart, finding enough gift ideas has always been an issue but this year it was especially so. Unfortunately, most gifts for his age range are space hogs featuring near life-size vehicles, sports equipment, and monstrous play sets. Seeing as how we are a little short on garage space, we had to a little more creative for him and us.

My sister Melissa got Carter a set of Ninja Turtle books. Now I just have to manage my time to read them.

My sister Melissa got Carter a set of Ninja Turtle books. Now I just have to find time to read them.

Luckily for us, his friends on Viatori introduced Carter to the wonderful world of Lego only a few weeks before his birthday. Legos are perfect for boat life since they can be endlessly rearranged in new ways and store into a fairly compact space. Five separate sets of Lego Junior later and a general bucket from Grandma means we are now a fully stocked Lego vessel. Carter also scored some new books, a few superhero costumes, and some new DVDs to add to the collection.

We got Carter a custom book called "The Little Boy Who Lost His Name". This is us reading it just before he finds out it is about him.

We got Carter a custom book called “The Little Boy Who Lost His Name”. This is us reading it just before he finds out it is about him.

Here is his face when he finally figured it out!

Here is his face when he finally figured it out!

Dan and I actually had quite the list ourselves of things that were luxuries for the boat/entertainment but perfect ideas for Christmas gifts. Here was the list we sent to the family:

  • Explorer Charts of the Bahamas
  • an Omnia stove-top oven
  • waterproof Bluetooth speakers for days on the beach
  • Handheld depth finder for our dinghy
  • collapsible strainer set
  • Underwater camera
  • Kick-stand case for the tablet
  • Bahamas courtesy flag and yellow Quarantine flag
  • The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew by Lin Pardey

Planning for our trip in the full sized charts is much easier than on a screen!

Planning for our trip in the full sized charts is much easier than on a screen!

While we missed the family, we still had a great day together and are already enjoying our new gifts. Another Christmas success!

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Posted on Dec 12, 2014 | 2 comments

Finding Home

Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.

Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.

In 10 years together, Dan and I have changed dwellings 9 times. If you don’t think that’s a lot, just ask Dan’s parents (a.k.a. the ones with the truck and trailer.) In fact, I would guess that it isn’t even much of a surprise to the extended family that they are asking once again, “So where do we send the Christmas cards this year?”

One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!

One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!

They say “Home is where your Heart is,” but it’s hard to put your heart into a house that you see as just another financial transaction that happens to also be where you live. While I could be content living pretty much anywhere, the decision making process was always more about profitability than personal preference. We ended up with houses that were livable but never really appealed as a life-long home.

Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan's kitchen masterpiece.

Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan’s kitchen masterpiece.

When we first started boat shopping, all of our old tendencies were at play. We made lists of attributes, scrutinized sea-worthy aspects, evaluated resale value, and estimated upgrade costs (boy were we naive! but that’s another story.) We spent hour after hour crunching numbers and looking at pictures; the boats all began to blur together. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but once we stepped onto our boat I knew. At lunch the day of our boat showings, I looked at Dan and said, “I know this sounds crazy, but that boat feels like home.”

We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our bed.

We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our v-berth.

Nine months later, I’m glad we made the decision to put up with our quirky bed that I can’t make properly and the ugly vinyl cushions. I’m glad because when the rain is hammering and I scramble down the companionway it’s like descending into a cozy cocoon of safety and warmth in the midst of the raging storm just above our heads. I’m thankful because each time we’ve moved, even though we are fighting through the mix of excitement and loneliness that comes with somewhere new, there is immense comfort in knowing that home has come with us. Finding home on a small moving object might be a little crazy, but maybe it just means we have found where we belong.

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Posted on Dec 6, 2014 | 0 comments

Far From Home for the Holidays

 

Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!

Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!

Being away from home is one of the biggest costs of this lifestyle and one that we took very seriously before making the decision to move away from a close family. Never has the distance been felt more acutely than going into this holiday season. Not only do we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this Thanksgiving also marked Carter’s fourth birthday and the first one not celebrated surrounded by extended family.

A veggie tray fit for a boat!

A veggie tray fit for a boat!

Luckily, we were able to spend Thanksgiving in boat style with our friends and boat kids on Viatori as well as a full fledged birthday party. Leah and I made the executive decision to allow Publix to do most of the Thanksgiving cooking for us, since a microwave and small boat oven collectively would have been quite the challenge/hassle to provide a full turkey dinner for 8, but it still turned out fantastic! Leah also saved the day by making brownies for Carter’s birthday since we had a surprise visit from a host of ant friends who decided they would like a taste of the Spiderman cake that we purchased for the occasion.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together.

On Friday, we all went to a fun place called Cool-de-sac in Hallandale Beach. The kids all got to play for a few hours doing crafts, tumbling on gym equipment and playing video games while Leah, Richard, Dan and I were able to enjoy a nice adult dinner. Kid free dinners are a pretty hot commodity when babysitting on a boat is a logistical issue we haven’t quite been brave enough to face yet. Needless to say, we all had a great time and Carter had a fantastic birthday!

Christmas doesn't quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we'll survive somehow...

Christmas doesn’t quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we’ll survive somehow…

With the Viatori crew getting ready to head back to Canada before Christmas however, we’ll be on our own for the big day. Carter and I have taken up the banner of proper Christmas decorating on a boat: cheap, small, and fire-hazard free! We spent a whole day making construction paper garland, snowflakes for the ports and a homemade glitter Christmas tree. I even picked up a plug-in scented like spruce for a little extra cozy effect. Being away from family on Christmas won’t be easy, but we’re working on making it ours.

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