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!
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.
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…
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.
Enjoying an evening with friends.
Even though Dan and I have moved a lot in the last few years, our trip down the ICW was the first time that we moved our whole “house” with us. It was surreal to climb down onto a different dock and find ourselves in a place that we didn’t know. New neighborhood, new dock-mates, new stores and restaurants to find. We knew coming into cruising that moving frequently was going to become part of our lives, but I’m not sure that we really had understood what that would mean until this move.
Our friend Bill invited us to go fishing with him on many occasions.
The part that I think was the most surprising to us was how sad we where at leaving our old neighbors in Lantana. Though it was a realtively small marina, the community there was very tight-knit. You could find live-aboards enjoying drinks together on each other’s boats almost any night of the week in addition to group gatherings at the marina clubhouse many weekends. Invitations to go out on the water together were common place and always made for a good time.
The ladies of the marina were in love with Carter.
We had always read that the cruising life made for fast friends and faster goodbyes, but I think we underestimated what that meant. We’ve quickly learned that everyone has a story to tell and when you share such a large part of your lives in common, the friendships that form defy traditional time lines. The only consolation to leaving so soon is the knowledge that in mobile community of so few individuals, we’re likely to run into our friends again in the future. We look forward to meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones in the future, but also know that leaving will always be a little bitter sweet.
Carter and Dan love to fish together!
Last week Dan and I finally made time to get to the driver’s bureau to get our official Florida driver’s licenses. Along with that came the ability for him to finally get a Florida-resident fishing license, something he’s been wanting to do since we first moved down. Now we can start making a dent in the bout with Davy Jones!
Our first attempts were with our friends Bill and Mary on their fishing trawler, the Mary Gannon. We spent two beautiful Saturdays with them out on the ocean hunting for Mahi but unfortunately weren’t able to land any fish for dinner. We certainly wouldn’t consider our time wasted however, with the excellent company and great weather we had both days.
The water was like glass!
Our first catch was claimed by Carter on the docks near our boat. He and Dan were finishing up fishing before dinner when suddenly Carter yelled, “Daddy, where’s my bobber?” Dan assumed that Carter’s line had just gotten tangled around the dock but as he reached for the pole, he realized that there was a fish on! In fact, it was too big for Carter’s Spiderman fishing pole to reel in so I had to find the lobster net to get Carter’s first catch onto the dock.
Carter’s very first fish
Carter was unbelievably excited at catching his first fish ever, as is only proper for a little boy. He was running around the docks grinning from ear to ear, telling every passerby his fish tale. He was supremely disappointed to learn that we would not be gutting and eating his lovely catfish but releasing it back into the water. I guess he was looking forward to the sweet taste of victory.
Dan going up the mast for the first time after borrowing a neighbor’s block and tackle.
Over the last 3 years of planning, Dan and I have talked with multiple cruisers in person and through email, getting A Little Help from our Friends. Everyone we talked to was more than willing to help us in whatever way they could. It’s only logical that we would see the same kind of spirit in the community once we started living aboard, but to be honest we have been awed by the help we’ve received in these first few weeks aboard. It’s amazing how magnanimous people can be towards complete strangers simply because we are now part of the boating community.
As I mentioned in The First Move, Dan and I received our first taste of the friendliness of boaters as we were entering the marina in Stuart. Since we were coming in after hours, there were no marina employees available to help us pull in but we got expert help from other boaters instead. I honestly don’t know if we would’ve made it into our slip safely without the help of Jim and Sandra on Alpha Lady and Gary and Georgette on Two G’s. As we all started introducing ourselves, Georgette brought her cats out and Sandra mentioned that she had been looking for a new cat since their last one had passed a year before. We instantly brought out our cat, Nala, who we had been looking to find a new home for since we had accepted Dan’s new job. She was a good cat, but 2 dogs, a cat, and a 3 year old on a boat was just too much for me to handle. Sandra and Jim instantly fell in love with her and told us that if we were really serious, to bring her over to their boat later that night with whatever cat paraphernalia we wanted to get rid of.
We were serious and after grabbing dinner and talking to Carter about the situation, brought Nala over to Alpha Lady (a beautiful 61 foot 1981 Hatteras). Nala would certainly be living in luxury here. Jim and Sandra invited us to stay for drinks and I’m glad they did. After the stress of the day, we were nearing the end of our rope. In fact, if it weren’t for the ability to relax with them and laugh off the crazy events of our car that morning and our difficult parking I believe that we may have thrown in the towel that night. Luckily, we’re still moving and were treated to even more kindness by others through out the next week that we stayed in Stuart.
Gary and Georgette on Two G’s were incredibly helpful to us as well. They were parked in the slip directly next door and generously offered their help on multiple occasions. We decided after Friday night on Alpha Lady that we would stay in the Stuart marina until we could hire a captain to help us move the rest of the way to Lantana. However, that left us with the problem that we had no car to get Dan to work on Monday. We had spent Thursday night dropping off our Jeep in Lantana since we believed we would only be in Stuart for one night and we left our Scion in Indiantown. Gary and Georgette graciously offered us the use of their car to go pick up our Scion so that we didn’t have to rent a car for the day. Multiple times during the week Gary helped me to load and unload Carter and the dogs while Dan was at work and even went snorkeling to help me find my keys that I dropped next to the dock! That’s way above the typical neighborly friendliness that I’ve been accustomed to in the past!
Dan was able to help our neighbor in Lantana park his boat as others had done for us in Stuart.
We are very happy to be a part of a community that looks out for each other and was so quick to include us. We hope to be able to “pay it forward” to others in the future.
We’re heading into unknown territory.
5…4…3…2…1… We are now in the final week before moving to Florida. The stress and excitement are mingled into a crazy jumble of emotions as we prepare to leave our friends and family and also embark on the next stage of our adventure. I think the mix is the most evident in Carter, who asks every morning “are we going to the beach today Mommy?” but then has been in a rotten mood the last few days, overly concerned that we’ll forget his toys. We’ll be glad to have everything settle down again in a few weeks (hopefully!)
To be completely honest, I think all the hustle has obscured the reality of what’s happening. Knowing how hard and long we’ve worked towards this goal means that I logically see how great it’s going to be for our family, so I just keep telling myself that as I’m sorting through huge piles of junk that have accumulated after being together for 10 years.
We have tried to make a conscious effort to be present in the last few days we’re here, not just stressed, grateful for the path that has brought us this far. We know that everything will work itself out in time, but once these days are gone we can’t get them back. Because our families will be far away, this is most likely our true “sending off” even though we won’t be casting the dock lines for a few more months. We are blessed that our families are so supportive of our dream, even though we know they aren’t happy to see us leave.
Thanks to everyone for the well wishes as we get ready to head South. We hope some of you will look us up the next time you are in Palm Beach!