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Cruising Cross Country

We recently took to the highway for a leisurely road trip to spend some treasured time with each other, friends and family.

Our road trip route!

Over the course of two weeks, eight states, and 3,375 miles, we took the opportunity to build upon a trip that initially started as a visit to Carolina Beach, NC for our family reunion. First, we noticed that the Volvo Ocean Race was scheduled to be in Miami just a week before and with Charleston being an ideal middle point between the two, we were set to make a an extended trip of it. Sprinkle in visits with some of our cruising family and other close friends along the way, Matt’s birthday and our anniversary, and we had all the makings of a memorable road trip ahead. While each day was its own adventure, here are some of the highlights.
  • Spent an evening with great friends from Dallas, The Breens, who now live in Clermont, FL. They’re a solid family we connected with at Allaso Ranch (our church’s incredible kid’s camp). We admire their take on life and sense of adventure and now make it a priority to see them anytime we’re nearby.
  • Turned into Tampa for lunch stop, as our good friend Crystal happened to be in town for the day, visiting the local office of her agency 22Squared. Seafood at Jackson’s Bistro, overlooking the canals of Hillsborough Bay, made the sunny and breezy afternoon as good as the company.
  • Kept our eyes peeled as we drove through Alligator Alley in the Everglades on our way to Ft. Lauderdale but didn’t spot any live ones.
  • Enjoyed several nights in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, including one at anchor aboard s/v Morning Glory under the glowing lights of downtown Miami with part of our cruising family, Ted and Mili, cheering on Puma in the VOR. Lots more about our VOR adventures in the post below this one.

 Relaxing aboard s/v Morning Glory

  • Did a little dream shopping, stopping to look at two potential “next cruising boats” and gave up all objectivity by pretty much falling in love with one (a tragically emotional move in scouting boats). But no offers yet as were waiting until our little skipper arrives before making any major moves toward our next cruising plan.

 Could this be the next one?

  • Caught up with our cruising friends from Honu Lele, who’ve since moved to St. Augustine, FL. They introduced us to a local favorite, the Gypsy Cab restaurant, showed us where their new home will be soon built and worked on persuading us to move to St. Aug. (it wasn’t a hard sell).
The St. Augustine lighthouse
  • Returned, at a month shy of a year, to a city that captured our hearts (and stomachs) – the always charming Charleston. We made a “babymoon” of our stay in this beloved city with dinner at Coast and strolls about the town. The next morning we were treated to an exclusive tour of Historic Charleston by Laura Wichmann Hipp, whom we met when we sailed in last summer. As before, it was hard to leave. It seems our anchor always sets the deepest here.

Overlooking the Battery Wall of Charleston Harbor

  • Joined the rest of the Butcher/Carlson clan for a family reunion in Carolina Beach, NC. With Matt’s parents and brother in from Idaho, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins from Minnesota, it made a for a fun-filled week. Boat trips, fishing tourneys, golf, swimming, family banter and laughter around every meal and Mexican Train till you drop made the time fly. The time was further punctuated by a good ole low country boil and a thoughtful and lively group baby shower (for us, Matt’s brother Jeff and his wife Mel, and Matt’s cousin Steve and his wife, Edie).

 Boatin’ with Cousin Jimmy

  • Appreciated an easy drive back with complimentary hotel stays along the way, thanks to rewards points earned from Matt’s recent business travel.
As is often the case when you’re having loads of fun, you look up and wonder where the time went. We had a blast and couldn’t believe how quickly the time flew by.
Transitioning to Terra Firma

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of transition and travel.

Our home for a week at Herrington Harbor in MD

Last we left you, we were in Solmons Island, MD. We’re now some 1200 miles away in Texas! And a lot has happened along the way.

After sailing out of Solomons Island, we headed up to Annapolis to prep and store Kaleo while she awaits new owners.

Kaleo resting in her berth

Maryland’s unseasonable heat wave of 95°+ days helped quell our heavy hearts as we spent a week in the marina and yacht yard:

  • Unpacking our belongings from Kaleo, continually surprised by the sheer amount of storage we had aboard. Then packing it into boxes, duffel bags, and all of our Sailor Bags. In fact, halfway through the process we called Enterprise to upgrade our rental to a CARGO VAN. Fortunately they had one and we filled it up.

This is just a portion of our gear ready to be moved to the van

  • Loading the cargo van which took 13 trips from boat to van by way of dock carts. (Of course our slip was one of the farthest from the parking lot.)
  • Polishing every inch of stainless steel on the exterior and treating what felt like acres of teak on the interior

Matt polishing the stainless till it was gleaming

  • Cooking the last of our fridge food and enjoying a few meals out. Lunch at Umai Sushi was our favorite.


  • Emptying and winterizing the holding and water tanks
  • Filling the diesel tank, adding stabilizer, and changing all the fluids in Mr. Beeker (the Westerbeke engine)
  • Winterizing the watermaker, generator, A/C, fresh water system and toilet
  • Removing, cleaning and packing the head sail and all associated lines
  • Washing the deck and polishing the topsides with one of Matt’s favorite boat tools, the Shurhold Dual Action Polisher.
  • Making a few final trips to West Marine for polish, antifreeze, replacement hardware, and well, just for the fun of it
  • Meeting with our broker from Annapolis Yacht Sales to go over the details of Kaleo and to have it formally listed as a brokerage yacht

Sunday, the day before our scheduled haul out, we watched a final church service ( aboard, loaded a few last things into the van and drove into D.C. to stay with our close friends, the Johnstons. They moved to Virginia from Texas while we were away and it was a special treat to be nearby. They graciously let us stay in their home and even stayed up late to catch up despite it being a school night.

Heading back to the Harbor

On Monday morning, we drove back to Herrington Harbor to watch Kaleo be lifted from the water, power washed and placed in the rows of other land-bound vessels. We chose to keep her “on the hard” because it offers better storm protection, easier survey for prospective buyers and less maintenance than if sitting in the water.

Backing in and lining up for the lift

Washing off the East Coast muck

After Kaleo was secured on her stands, Matt went to work on polishing the hull, getting rid of the “ICW smile” (a brown stain from the muddy water) and giving every winterized system a final check. He polished the last part of the hull just as the skies opened up.

Matt polishing the day away

With the packing, prepping and polishing wrapped up, we paused to reflect on the amazing journey just completed and gave thanks to our little ship that carried, protected and taught us so much.

And with the rumble of thunderstorms above us, we drove away with the rain accompanying our tears.

It was a blessing to sail aboard our floating home, build lifelong relationships and see part of the world in such a unique way. We now have cruising in our blood. And while we have just wrapped up one adventure, we both wholeheartedly agreed that, Lord willing, it won’t be our last.

 Kaleo awaiting her next adventure

There isn’t much to report from our drive back to Texas, other than a cargo van corners like an semi-truck and guzzles gas like an airplane. By far the delight of the drive was pulling into the driveway for a warm welcome from family.

Going forward, this blog will be less about our cruising adventures and more on our cruising reflections and future dreams. THANK YOU for joining us as virtual crew along this journey. And we’d be honored if you’d stay on as we transition into land-based sailors for awhile.


Visiting Family in Carolina Beach

We had a wonderful week+ stay at the “Ritz Carlson!” On Saturday, Kaleo glided into a guest slip at Auntie Linda’s condo on Carolina Beach where we would spend the next nine days lounging, learning lots of new ways to slay sea creatures (thanks Jim!), and soaking up treasured time with the family.

It was an action-packed visit culminating in a festive 4th of July celebration. We were well taken care of by auntie and cousins as we:

  • Learned the art of scratch’n for clams! Despite the pouring rain, it was well worth hearing the distinct “clink” of clam shells against the rake tine and filling a bucket with a healthy haul of over 100. We picked out the best, tossed some back to mature, shared with neighbors and cooked up the rest for a delish dinner. (Jim and Sarah sautéed them in a white wine, fresh basil, diced tomato, and minced garlic sauce!)

Our first clamming excursion. (channeling American Gothic)

Scratch’n for clams in the rain


  • Toured the Carolina Beach area with Auntie Linda as our guide. From Carolina Beach’s basin, pier and boardwalk, down through Kure Beach, and into Fort Fisher State Park, we loved spending time on this beautiful island that is uniquely situated between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.

Matty and Auntie Linda strolling around Fort Fisher

  • Spent a few hours dockside each day fishing for flounder. By mid-week it became a full-on family derby vying for the top spot on the leaderboard. While Matt reeled in two, they weren’t large enough to legally keep and by the time we left there were no other contenders.

Flounder derby catch

  • Lounged in and by the pool chatting with all the neighbors and keeping cool in the warm Carolina sun

Auntie Linda’s pool overlooking the ICW

  • Took a roadtrip to explore Raleigh/Durham. It’s a fun set of cities where we met up with a friend for lunch, stocked up on treasures from Trader Joe’s, and enjoyed a sushi dinner downtown before returning to the slower pace of beach life.
  • Walked to the Carolina Beach boardwalk on Wednesday morning and indulged in a renowned Britt’s Donut. Okay, two. Each. Voted the second best hometown donut in the nation, this local shop lived up to the hype.

Beach breakfast at Britt’s

  • Stopped into Taste of Olive, a unique experiential shop offering fresh cold pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars where we tasted dozens of flavors ranging from Cinnamon Pear and Luscious Lavender to Outrageous Oregano and Boldly Butter.

Inside The Taste of Olive

  • Spent an evening with cousins Steve and Edie where we BBQed dinner, toured their neighborhood by golf cart, and caught up on everyone’s adventures.
  • Headed out on a spearfishing expedition but the ocean was too rough to make the journey. En route we took a wave over the bow of Jim’s boat which inadvertently inflating our offshore life jackets. Turns out they function properly and were up and ready to save us in no time.

They work!

  • Wrapped up our stay with a 4th of July neighborhood pig roast (Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, and Carolina BBQ styles) with every side imaginable, fishing, swimming and watching the fireworks from the water.

Happy Independence Day!

Thanks Auntie Linda for opening your home to us and Jim and Sarah for all the fishing and cooking lessons. We loved getting to spend time with you guys and the visit is one of the highlights of our trip.

N 34° 20.70  / W  77° 53. 37

A Week in Waiting

The blog and Kaleo have been pretty quiet the past week while Christie flew to Houston to reprovision on family time and a few things that aren’t readily available out here.

She left on Sunday morning and after another Bahamas church service (just as long but without the shouting), I returned to an empty hull. All our stuff was there but the warmth, energy, and emotion that fills Kaleo was noticeably missing.

Knowing that a ship without its Admiral is like having a compass that doesn’t point north, the Texas Navy stepped up to help me through the week. From breakfast on “SYL” to dinners aboard “Morning Glory”, I certainly wasn’t lacking for wonderful and filling meals.

This week highlighted the bonds made while cruising as each boat we’ve spent time with supported, encouraged, and anticipated Christie’s return with me. I am continually amazed by how much everyone cares for each other and will stop at nothing to lend a hand, cook a meal or bring a smile to your face.

While counting down the hours until Christie’s return, I:

  • Enjoyed ice cream at the laundromat a few too many times
  • Crossed some boat projects off the list like replacing the toilet pump, preparing for the watermaker install, wiring water tank monitors and reorganizing the lazzerette
  • Hiked to some ruins on a nearby cay with Ted and Mili and unsuccessfully searched for caves on another cay

The ruins of a kitchen on Crab Cay

Hiking the ruins on Crab Cay

  • Finished two books and slept in a few days
  • Gorged myself on manicotti during “Italian night” aboard “Pipe Muh Bligh”
  • Crafted, with the help of Ted and Mili, a spray shield for the dinghy to help keep us dry on high wind days
  • Met and hung out with Rusty’s brother Jim and his two daughters, who were all a fun addition to the Navy. The girls kicked transom at Mexican Train and Jimmy, in chorus with Troy, serenaded us all with sailor songs on the guitar

Troy and Jimmy playing sailor songs

  • Appreciated the gracious nightly invites to dinner aboard “Morning Glory”
  • Attended “boat church” aboard “MG” with the entire Texas Navy where we sang worship songs, spent time in prayer and watched a service

“Boat Church” aboard Morning Glory

“Boat Church” parking lot

  • Helped Mili on “MG” sew an anchor riding sail, which when hoisted on Kaleo should reduce swinging at anchor

Matt and Mili working on the anchor riding sail

  • Took full advantage of Skype by getting to talk with Christie a few times each day

While in Texas, Christie told me of her quest to stock-up on some of our favorite foods, boat parts, pampering and pick up a few requests for the Navy. Coming from a close-knit Italian family, most of their time was centered around meals of grand proportion with lots of conversation and laughter. One night (as most) the family got together at Christie’s parents’ house for a full-on Bubba Gump-style Shrimp Fest featuring boiled, grilled, and kabobed shrimp with every combination of zucchini, carrots, garlic, pineapple, potatoes, chicken, sausage and more. Breaks from these culinary feasts included road tripping to Dallas with her Mom and Nana to visit friends, dine at her favorite restaurants, and, in her words, “get put back together” at a few salons.

A round of reprovisioning

When I met her at the airport, the porter happily handed off the 3 giant bags and 1 box, weighing in at 50 lbs each. I was impressed that Christie was able to pack everything so efficiently and then get the freight down to George Town. “SYL” was kind enough to help with the pickup by staging their big boat near the dinghy dock to save us from the 30 minute dinghy ride with all the extra weight. We jumped on board, unloaded the dinghy and were back anchored in Red Shanks before dark.

It was announced on the radio upon pulling in that “the Texas Navy would like to welcome the return of Admiral Christie,” and we all (myself especially) were ecstatic that she was home.

Looking Forward While Celebrating 2010

As we look forward to what 2011 has in store for us, we reflected on our blessed-beyond-belief 2010. This has been a year of big changes, new beginnings and celebrations galore.

Looking forward to a walk like this soon

The first part of our year was filled with starting more projects than we finished on Kaleo, learning as much as we could aboard, as well as through Seven Seas University courses, and spending a few freezing weekends planning for warmer weather projects.

Spring brought warmer weather, some great sailing in Galveston Bay, the wedding of our dear friends, Amy & Jeph, and Christie’s parents’ 35th wedding anniversary in April.

May was a landmark month as we became officially debt free, gaining financial freedom. We also moved from our 1,400 square foot townhome to a 650 square foot studio apartment to better prepare for our life aboard Kaleo. And, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary at The Joule, were we stayed on our wedding night. Of course, we spent a few weekends completing some boat projects along the way.

With the Texas summer heat came lots of family and friends visiting the boat, marina BBQ’s, and more boat projects. And in June, the “Cyclin’ Sailors” geared up for our 4th annual Urban Assault Race in Austin!

The Fourth of July was shared with the Wilborns by sailing and watching incredible fireworks shows while anchored out in the bay. Then, we jetted to Coeur D’ Alene, ID to celebrate the newest Butchers, as Matt’s brother Jeff married his bride, Meloney. We topped off the trip to the Northwest with an incredible experience of sleeping 50′ off the ground in the boughs of a giant, old Washington Red Cedar Tree at Cedar Creek Treehouse and touring Mt. Rainier National Park. Of course, we spent a few weekends completing some boat projects along the way.

While the summer heat continued to bake us, we enjoyed a shakedown cruise to Galveston with the Kryzaks and a sailing weekend with The Powers. Of course, we spent a few weekends completing some boat projects along the way.

The fall brought a trip to Minneapolis to celebrate Grandma Butcher’s 90th birthday, visit with family and to Trader Joe’s to stock up on our favorite snacks. The realization that we were now within one month of tossing the docklines helped us get a lot of boat projects wrapped up almost every weekend.

October was a big month as Matt took his leave of absence from work, Christie resigned from her job, we moved out of our land home and aboard Kaleo full-time, sold a car and put another one in storage along with our belongings. We soaked up treasured time with loved ones and were given three outstanding Bon Voyage parties. We also got to celebrate the marriage of Ben and Carly (Matt’s cousin) and spent time with family in San Diego. Of course, we managed another trip to Trader Joe’s for more provisions.

November 8th marked the beginning of our cruising life. Before leaving the dock, we met up with some cruising mentors, The Sittons, and celebrated Christie’s birthday with family and a dear friend, Crystal, aboard. The month was filled with a host of new experiences – from adjusting to life aboard to overcoming unknown challenges and navigating new waters to connecting with new friends along the way. We topped it off with a roadtrip from Mississippi to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with family.

The year wrapped up by crossing the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and into Florida. It was on those passages that we learned to love the open ocean, more fully appreciate warm days and spent time digging our toes into our first white sandy beach. Christmas with shared with family and friends in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida and we were back home aboard Kaleo on New Year’s Eve.

We welcomed the new decade with the most unusual of celebrations for us at this time of year. The clock struck midnight as we pushed two carts down the isles of a 24-hour Walmart. We laughed and shared a little “Happy New Year” smooch in the canned goods aisle and continued provisioning in preparation for the Bahamas and beyond. Yes, really. Oh, the cruising life ;o).

Thank you for joining us as virtual crew along this adventure. It means a lot to us. We wish you peace, blessings and togetherness in your new year!

We’re ready for 2011 and believe the best is yet to come. God has even more amazing things He wants to do in and through our lives so we’re straining to what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Finding Our Pace in the New Year

Happy New Year! We wrapped up the decade by spending the past couple weeks with family and friends in Dallas, Houston, Crowley, LA and Clermont, FL. It was a whirlwind of visits to their beautiful and warm Christmas-adorned homes, our favorite restaurants, pampering appointments that helped transform us from salty sailors to our recognizable selves, and provisioning trips at every type of store from Target and Whole Foods to West Marine and Elliott’s Hardware. All those business trips paid off in miles for the ideal, direct flights that allowed us to be close to loved ones and bring the maximum amount of gear back with us (both in number of boxes and weight!).

There’s no missing our airport pick-up. Thanks Maurice!

Playing Cornhole Toss with the Breens and a few new friends

Returning to the boat and getting back into cruising mode punctuated just how different the pace of life is out here versus on land. While cruising, we typically do one or two things a day that take all day. Transiting from one place to another may take all day, if not longer. Sometimes we add in grocery shopping or laundry if we’re docked, but not often both in the same day. And exploring a new place will certainly take a full day on its own. While on land, we seem to do over forty things a day, everyday. Staying up as late as it takes to get it all in.

After just two months of cruising, we were surprised by how much we were affected by this intense pace that in our former land life, we could have run circles around.

Yesterday is when it all caught up with us. After getting several months worth of provisions organized and stowed away, we drafted an aggressive transit plan from our Christmas dockage to the Florida Keys with the goal of catching up with our cruising friends and making the crossing to the Bahamas by week’s end. While we felt a little worn out, we were motivated to get going so we set out for the Gulf.

After a late start waiting on bridges (Florida has strict bridge opening schedules) and two groundings, our ambition was trumped by exhaustion. While it was absolutely worth traveling back to the “real world” for Christmas, the pace had gotten the best of us so we made the prudent decision to anchor nearby in Sarasota and get some rest. We’ve dusted ourselves off and are now en route south to Fort Myers.

As we’ve learned over the past couple months, plans are always subject to change so we’ll continue on our course to the Bahamas as weather and our cruising pace permit.

N 27° 07.16 / W 82° 28.06

Family Fun & Exploring Ocean Springs

The past week has been FILLED with everything from giving thanks with family and feasting on all our favorite holiday dishes to exploring and enjoying almost every nook and corner of Ocean Springs, MS.

Here are some highlights:

  • Made a rental car road trip back to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with family

Louisiana marsh from the road

Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s

  • Decided to spend a few extra days there to help Christie’s mom and Nana put up Christmas decorations, run some errands, and just relax with loved ones

Mom and I putting out the Christmas lights

  • With our rental loaded down with fresh foods, Thanksgiving leftovers! and other provisions, we returned to Ocean Springs with a cold front right on our tail
  • While waiting for the weather to pass, our marina neighbor, and new friend Gene, was generous enough to play tour guide and took us exploring all over Ocean Springs, Biloxi, and D’Iberville
  • We were introduced to the BEST shrimp and crab po-boys along the Gulf Coast at Ole Biloxi Schooner (a local fav and now ours!)
  • Picked up Gene’s favorite baguettes at Le Bakery (with the air smelling so amazing that you could taste the french bread and pastries)
  • Took a tour of Back Bay and learned all about the damage and reconstruction since Hurricane Katrina
  • Received three Mississippi seafood recipe books as an early Christmas present from Gene (thanks!)
  • Stopped by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (fascinating character, incredible depictions of nature)
  • Had Gene over for dinner and reviewed the next leg of our route through Florida on the charts he’s lending us (thanks for all the advice and tips!)

We love this beach

  • Meandered all over town, stopping along the way to enjoy a good old fashioned buttered pecan milkshake at Lovelace Drugstore on Washington Street (Ocean Spring’s “Main Street”), picked up pecans that had fallen from neighborhood trees (we must have at least 3 lbs onboard), and played at the beach.
  • Discovered that the first restaurant we dined at in the marina, Harbor Landing, had closed. We heard they were selling to the city for office space but we are hoping someone reopens it for others to enjoy. It was a gem along our route.

Some pretty tasty milkshakes and malts are made here

Ultimately, we learned that connecting with friendly folks like Gene are what makes the difference between just being tourists in a new place and truly becoming part of the community for a little while. We have so enjoyed this charming town and are grateful to have spent some extended time here. Tomorrow, we untie from our slip and get back underway toward our next anchorage at Daulphin Island, AL.

Giving Thanks

In all aspects of our life, we are blessed beyond measure and are deeply humbled by the life the Lord has created for us.

Specifically, we’re thankful for:

  • Our salvation and for each new day that God allows us to become better Christians
  • A sound marriage that’s growing even stronger by the day
  • The time we’ve been given on this adventure to learn more about each other and experience the world around us
  • For starting a new Thanksgiving tradition of reading Psalm 107 to anchor us in true appreciation
  • Our AMAZING family who are so much fun to be around, have taught us kindness, love and generosity, and who lift us up daily to reach our dreams
  • Our close friends that we consider family
  • Modern technology that helps us stay connected with our loved ones
  • Our careers that have helped provide for this dream and for Mvelopes for helping us manage those finances
  • The challenges and trials that force us to become more God and self-reliant
  • Psalm 91 and the peace it provides (Thanks, Marli)
  • The inner diesel mechanic in all of our friends
  • Fellow cruisers out there – past, present, and future – that we are learning from and being inspired by
  • For all of you, for joining us as virtual crew along this journey and for your uplifting encouragement and well wishes. Wishing you many blessings today and always.
It’s Go Time!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, all in effort for tomorrow morning. The must-do preparations have been crossed off the list (either completed or deemed not truly a must-do) and we’ve enjoyed some treasured time with family and friends.

Kaleo staged for departure

Tomorrow morning, we set sail on the dream we’ve been pursuing for the past few years. We’re going into it with a lot of excitement, a little trepidation, and genuine wonder. But above all, we are thankful. First, to the Lord for a dream becoming a reality, to our families for all of their help and for lifting us up to reach this dream, to our friends for their encouragement and to our marina neighbors, who have become friends, for their advice, tool swaps, and making the marina feel like home.

To help us remember what has been a blur and to share with you what’s been going on since we left Dallas, here are a few highlights:

  • Our friend, Maurice, joined Matt aboard for a week to finish re-wiring the boat, mark the anchor chain, rig the reef lines, make a fender board, etc.
  • Survived some cuts, bangs and bruises as we worked in every nook and cranny of Kaleo
  • Installed a hot water heater (Kaleo now has almost all the luxuries of a modern home, just on a much smaller scale)
  • Finished loading and organizing provisions aboard
  • Spent a rainy night discovering a leaky gasket in the v-berth hatch (poor Matt awoke to water slowly drip, drip, dripping on his forehead)
  • Sold Christie’s car and tucked Matt’s truck in storage along with the rest of our land life belongings
  • Made about a million and one trips to West Marine, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and a host of other stores for final stock-ups
  • With the help of Christie’s dad, installed the chart plotter, loaded the safety locker (holds the liferaft, life jackets, safety harnesses, and EPRIB) and built a shelf for the dinghy gas can
  • Got to celebrate Christie’s birthday with her family (thanks for treating us to a celebratory dinner at her favorite local Mexican restaurant, Mas Amigos! and for having us as house guests for awhile)
  • Continued the birthday celebration with a visit from our friend, Crystal, for a dinghy ride to have dinner at Opus Bistro near our marina
  • Enjoyed a little send-off with our marina neighbors and received some great books, a set of Pardey cruising how-t0 DVD’s and lots of helpful advice
  • Received a visit from some fellow cruisers, The Sittons, who have their boat in a marina close to ours and have recently cruised the Bahamas. They generously shared their experiences with us and gave us a special super absorbent towel for drying off quickly and a conch shell they brought back from the Bahamas for us to return when we harvest our own.
  • Started adjusting our plans to the shorter days of Daylight Savings Time (sunrises at 6:30, sunsets at 5:30!)

Today Kaleo got a much needed bath, we painted the registration numbers on Squeak (our new dinghy), ran a few final errands (thanks Mike for letting us borrow your truck!), secured the dinghy on deck and are now off to get some much-needed rest. We feel a bit like kids on Christmas Eve with anticipation for what tomorrow will bring.

As we get underway, we want to point out a feature that’s now on the blog, our live track map. Click the GLOBE ICON in the upper left-hand corner of the site and you will see a map featuring the last position report from our SPOT tracker. It’s a new feature, so please contact us if you experience any technical trouble.

We Love Our Family & Friends

Bon Voyage Trilogy

One of the toughest parts in pursuing this dream is having to say farewell, for awhile, to friends and family that we are so close to. We are humbled by their support and encouragement and were fortunate enough to spend some treasured time with them over the past few weeks before tossing the docklines.

We each had fun little get-togethers at our offices. Christie’s colleagues surprised her with a Kaleo cake and Matt’s with a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go” signed by his co-workers. We’ll miss the daily interaction with our officemates and appreciate their warm send-offs.

The Kaleo cake tasted great!

Next up, our Dallas friends sent us off in style with with a Bon Voyage complete with every detail – from the nautical decor, tasty bites and sailboat petit fours to a round of champagne toasts that warmed our hearts and karaoke that lasted well into the night. What made the party truly meaningful was being surrounded by a family of friends that we will keep close in our hearts along this trip. We can’t thank our friend, Crystal, enough for not only opening her home for the celebration, but also, with the help of Janay and Lacey, creating such a memorable and fun night!

The family Bon Voyage fiesta was the following weekend, held at Christie’s parents’ home, where we enjoyed a bountiful fajita feast and a gathering of family from far and near. We spent a restful afternoon visiting, opening notes of well wishes, unwrapping useful treasures and listening to the guys play guitar outside. It’s with our deepest gratitude to our families for lifting us up to reach this dream.

Listening to the music card from Aunt Debbye

Moving Along

Although the blog has been quiet lately, our lives haven’t been! We’ve officially finished at our jobs, sold Christie’s car, packed up our belongings and most importantly, soaked up some treasured time with our nearest and dearest friends before moving out of Dallas. The migration to Kemah was eventful, as Dallas wouldn’t let us go easily. After a flat tire on the moving trailer and our tarps disintegrating with rain to dodge, we made it in around 2:30 in the morning. The trailer looked like it belonged to Gypsies but it ended up fitting quite perfectly in our little storage unit.

We’ve spent the last week and a half working tirelessly on boat projects, and while an official cast off date hasn’t been set we are getting closer. Fortunately, Kaleo is close to Christie’s parents’ home so we’re enjoying spending time with them and the rest of the family as we make final preparations. We’ll keep everyone updated as timelines firm up.

Celebrating and Soaking Up Family

Over the past few weekends we’ve had the chance to spend some great time with out-of-town family. First, we flew up to Minneapolis a couple weekends ago to celebrate Grandma Butcher’s 90th birthday and Matt’s brother, Jeff’s, 23rd. And this past weekend, we were in San Diego for Matt’s cousin, Carly’s wedding.


Matt and his brother, Jeff, goofing off at Grandma’s

Some Minnesota trip highlights:

  • Spending an afternoon visiting with Grandma & Aunt Linda before her big party
  • Staying with Uncle Mike and Aunt Judy, where we were fed like royalty (including his famous pancakes)
  • Playing “Indian Poker” and “Guess Who I Am” at Grandma’s
  • Watching everyone being entertained by baby cousin Jack (super cute!)
  • A trip to Trader Joe’s to stock up (we don’t have T.J.’s in Texas so we always pack extra bags to bring home treasures when traveling to cities that do)
  • Sitting around the campfire with the family, hearing stories of the trouble Matt’s dad and uncle got into as boys (thanks Jeff for making the s’mores!)

San Diego

This past weekend, we celebrated Carly and Ben’s beautiful wedding in San Diego. With schools of sailboats breezing by in sunny 75-degree weather, it was the ideal setting for their big day.

Christie and Matt at the wedding in San Diego

While in town we also:

  • Did a little foul weather gear shopping and found a great jacket for Christie
  • Enjoyed our stay at Aunt Linda and Uncle Kim’s house (thanks again for having us!) and hung out with cousins Tyler and Trevor
  • Made another stock up trip to Trader Joe’s
  • Took a sunset walk along Carlsbad Beach with the fam and were treated to a seafood dinner at Dini’s by Aunt Janet
  • Spent time with Matt’s parents on a roadtrip through his hometown of Ramona where we visited his childhood house, elementary school and some of the places he used to love exploring

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Galveston Shakedown Cruise

Our friends Jeph and Amy joined us this weekend for the 5-hour tour along the Houston Ship Channel to our home for the night at The Galveston Yacht Club.

Here is our route as tracked by our Spot GPS tracker

This mini-cruise was intended to hone our navigation skills in a channel with very big ships, to give the motor a test after last weekend’s cooling system rebuild and to have some fun with friends. We easily accomplished this and the motor had even more run time as there was little wind so we motor-sailed for virtually the entire 10 hour roundtrip.

Both days began with an early start in hopes of avoiding the mid-day heat and getting to Galveston with some time to explore. After our first encounter with a huge container ship, the rest were quite benign and not as intimidating as we were expecting. The motor-sail down was fairly uneventful, though we were treated to a playful dolphin escort into Galveston. Some even swam right alongside Kaleo! After arriving, we checked into the marina, tied up at our assigned slip, showered and promptly took a long nap in the A/C.

After recharging our batteries, Christie’s aunt Cherie, who is staying in Galveston, was kind enough to pick us up at the yacht club and drive us to The Strand, Galveston’s tourist district. After some serious sugar at LaKing’s Confectionery, Cherie lent us her car to explore the island where we toured the historic homes along Broadway and drove along the Seawall. We wrapped up the evening with a great seafood dinner at Gaido’s and a family visit at Aunt Cherie’s beach house.

Sunday was the reverse of Saturday but a lot warmer and Matt brought home the sunburn to prove it. We cruised past the largest ship of the trip, the Nassau Spirit, weighing in at 810 feet long! It was a fantastic trip which helped us learn that sailing harnesses are a must, even on calm days, big ships aren’t so bad if you stay out of their way, and confirmed that we really enjoy sailing to and exploring new destinations.

Friendly Crew, Family and Great Sailing

We shifted gears this past weekend from all our recent projects to focus on time with family and friends aboard Kaleo (a welcomed change of pace). Crystal and Mel joined us for a weekend of road tripping (wouldn’t be complete without a pit stop into the infamous Buc-ee’s!), family fun (always includes several feasts), and of course sailing!

The Admiral and her crew

Shortly upon arrival the fam joined us at the marina for BBQ and a fireworks show. Christie’s dad, Craig, brought a brisket that was cooked to perfection and large enough to feed everyone plus Matt well into the week. Mom brought coleslaw, Nana always brings some sweet Italian greatness, Miss Penni brought fresh fruit, Aunt Veronica and cousin Natalie cookies and brownies, Aunt Cherie brought tamales, and well you get the idea … We had a feast at the marina cabana and chatted late into the night with an exciting fireworks show intermission over Galveston Bay.

Saturday quickly brought on the Texas heat so we all cooled off and relaxed by the marina pool. (Of course before Matt joined, he finished up one quick project of replacing the cable that shuts down the engine.) After a lunch/early dinner we made ready for sea and headed out around 4:30. Out on the bay, Matt was the best cap-i-tan by sailing us down to Redfish Island while ensuring our sangria glasses didn’t spill a drop. The winds were blowing steady and I helmed the speed record for the day and for our ownership of Kaleo – 6.1 knots!

As the sun started to set we all agreed that it was far too perfect of a day to end just yet and our decision was confirmed by a dolphin sighting. Much to our excitement, two dolphins crested and swam in front of Kaleo. With the temperature cooling, the winds steady and a gorgeous sunset, it was some of our best sailing we’ve had aboard Kaleo yet. Proven by the fact that we didn’t return to dock until after 11:30. Hopefully it’s a taste of a life to come.

Whirlwind Work Weekends

Lack of activity on the blog certainly isn’t reflective of lack of activity on the boat, as we have been hard at work over the last 4 weekends. In fact, we spent more time aboard in the last month than the two previous months combined!

Our whirlwind work weekends began on May 14, when I headed to the boat alone, as Christie was traveling for work. The plan was for her to fly into Houston and join me for our anniversary weekend. (Yes, I have a committed wife because she agreed to spend our anniversary aboard.) Unfortunately due to flight cancellations she wasn’t able to make it to Houston. I drove back to Dallas where we had a fantastic celebration at Hotel Joule, the place we stayed on our wedding night.

But before I left I was able to:

  • Unpack the Cape Horn self steering
  • Become completely intimidated by the installation process
  • Attend the annual Kemah swap meet to sell and score some boat gear

We returned on May 20 for a great 4-day Memorial Day weekend and to celebrate my birthday. While there we managed to:

  • Remove the old name (Fiona) and polish the transom
  • Sand and re-varnish the forward cabin handrails
  • Celebrate hard work, being debt free and my birthday with champagne
  • Get the neighbors and family involved in deciding how to mount the Cape Horn
  • Measure and drill the test hole in the transom for the Cape Horn
  • Enjoy some family time at the Legend Point Craw Fish Boil
  • Prep the boat for a new bottom job and drop it off at South Texas Yacht Service

The next weekend aboard began by returning Kaleo to the water where she belongs. We also:

  • Had Casey, Christie’s brother, aboard to help strip and sand the coaming tops. Thanks Casey!
  • Remeasured the mounting location of the Cape Horn (to be sure), then drilled a 2 1/2″ hole in the transom
  • Test fit the Cape Horn and fiberglassed the interior supports inside the lazzerette

And finally our most recent weekend aboard allowed us to complete the longest ongoing boat project yet.

  • We finished installing the cowl vents on the dorades, which were rebuilt last summer. On this note, do not deal with Blue Water Hardware, as Scott, the owner, took our money, didn’t deliver the product and will not return emails or calls!
  • Matt spent more time in the lazzerette working on the Cape Horn and the install is now about 60% complete
  • Attended Christie’s cousin’s graduation at Dayton High School

We’re taking a break in Dallas this weekend, but we’ll be back aboard this summer for more projects, family time, friends visiting and of course, sailing!!

Companionway Doors Complete!

As Christie and I are learning, boat projects always take much longer than anticipated. But that means it feels even better when a project is finally complete. We crossed another item off the list with the final hanging of the companionway (a boat’s front door) doors.

This project has been a cross-country build as:

These will provide a more pleasant living experience when we are anchored or in easy sailing weather. For rough weather we will use still the drop boards as they provide better protection against boarding seas and heavy rains. I really enjoyed this project in particular because I was able to work alongside my Dad, learn from his experience and have his craftsmanship aboard.

A Grand Birthday Celebration

A little pre-lunch radio control boat race with the fam.
Family aboard Kaleo. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday weekend!
Nana, mom and Critter too.
Dad kicked back on the foredeck.
Lunch outside on the patio of Landry’s on the Kemah Boardwalk before our sail.
What a way to celebrate a birthday! Mom, Dad, Casey, Nana and Critter too came to visit us aboard Kaleo. We started with a patio lunch at Landry’s on the Kemah Boardwalk and then took to the Bay for a leisurely sunset sail.

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