Archive for the Category »Inspiration «

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Whether afloat or ashore, we wish you and your loved ones a joyful Christmas.

Looking back at the blog post we shared around this time last year, we are reminded of how richly blessed we’ve been and are truly grateful.

Where will you celebrate the greatest gift of Christmas this year?

By the power of technology, YOU can join an engaging Christmas service at your convenience (why not now?) at Our prayer this season is that you know the true joy of Christmas, that God is with us – in answered promises, realized dreams, and refreshed hope. When you have a moment, explore the songs born from the joy that Christ has entered the world through the Carols Christmas series at

Merry Christmas, friends!


Great Gifts for Sailors

If you’re not a sailor, then picking out a great gift for one can be puzzling.


It may seem like we speak a foreign language when you hear terms like sheets when referring to ropes and the head when talking about the toilet. So, to make shopping for a sailor (i.e., you) a little easier, check out this list for potential ideas to share with someone who may have you on their list.

We can vouch for all the tools and gear below as we’ve used them while cruising aboard Kaleo.

  • Platypus PlusBottles – Great for toting water on the go. Clips on a backpack and rolls down when empty.
  • Waterproof backpack – Inexpensive and great for packing a change of clothes or the laptop on a wet dinghy ride
  • Sailor Bags – These bags are sturdy, fully collapsible, water resistant and guaranteed for life making them ideal for anyone active on and off the water
  • Clear dome umbrella – An easy way to stay dry on a wet dinghy ride while still being able to see in front of you
  • Jump drive – for sharing photos and other resources with fellow cruisers
  • MSR Packtowels Personal XL – Ultrasoft, compact, quick-drying and Anti-Microbial towels make drying off easy in humid environments
  • Canon Powershot D10 Waterproof Camera – known as “the cruiser’s camera”, it takes beautiful shots and stands up to the hard life of living in saltwater
  • Lock & Lock Food-Storage Containers – airtight, watertight, durable polypropylene storage containers that seal in freshness of provisions like baking supplies (flours, sugars, etc.), rice, pastas, cereal, crackers, cookies, etc.
  • Adventure Medical Marine 1000 Kit – the ideal cruisers’ first aid kit designed for short offshore adventures. Well stocked to tend to the crew if medical care is 12 – 24 hours away.
  • Bullet 2HP WiFi booster – Internet access on the boat when there are unlocked signals within about five miles
  • Hawaiian sling – a slingshot type of device used for spearfishing
  • Lookie Bucket – a clear bottom bucket used for checking the anchor or looking at reefs without getting wet
  • Mr. Heater Buddy – an indoor-safe propane heater for those cold nights we encountered when headed for tropical cruising grounds
  • Iris 50 Hand bearing compass – an effective well-made compass for taking bearings when navigating close to shore or tracking a massive freighter’s direction when they’re too close for comfort
  • Picquic Mariner – a rustproof fullsize 7-in-1 multibit screwdriver with custom ordered bits to fit the square head screws used on Kaleo (most Canadian-built boats)
  • POWER8 Workshop – the most common power wood working tools combined into one flexible unit that packs into a small case and is battery powered, meaning it can be used in remote anchorages or when away from a power source
  • Mvelopes Online Money Management – in our opinion, the best way to manage day-to-day finances and save for living your dreams.

What are other ideas that YOU’D add to this list? Share with us in the comments as we’d love to hear what’s on your wishlist this year!


Category: Inspiration  One Comment
Racer’s Reunion

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to catch up with our dear sailing friends and racing mentors, Diann and Tim!

 The Gold Rush Regatta on Lake Grapevine a few years ago, 1st Place Finish!

Though we met at their house, the talk was all sailing! It was great to hear about their latest adventures chartering in the Caribbean and they quizzed us on the cruising life.

We also learned that the original Coquette (pictured) is now for sale. It’s the boat we first learned to sail on and she’s berthed on a nearby lake. Needless to say we’re considering a little Beneteau as we scout our next cruising boat.

From Sea Shores to Hardwood Floors

It feels good to be HOME.

Right now, we are …

– feeling blessed that we dreamed big and lived our big dream

reflecting on the courage it took to take the road less traveled

– unpacking a wealth of memories made in a year that will surely last a lifetime

acknowledging that this was not a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but rather a spark of action to live a life of more adventure

bridging so many life lessons learned on the water into our new life on land

– passing on the frenetic pace of life that seemed inevitable before we went cruising

treasuring the tangible closeness with family and friends

– thankful that loved ones know no distance nor time away

– feeling the warmth of them near to heart and home

– missing folks who became family on the water

– adoring our new land home

stretching out within it with new found appreciation of space

refusing to fill it with meaningless “stuff”

– sharpening some forgotten skills, like driving at 70 mph!

– anticipating the crisp fall weather that blows closer each day

– fancifying wild pirate stories so as to not disappoint all those who ask

recalling the vividness of life’s colors while afloat

reminiscing of those lazy days at anchor

itching to be sailing again (good thing we’re heading to the coast this week for the Harvest Moon Regatta!)

hoping that Kaleo will be out cruising again soon

– praising God at our home church, Fellowship Church

– realizing just how incredibly blessed we are

– encouraging sailors who want to be cruisers

– sending our love to those out cruising now

– and ultimately, praying that everyone would know the joy of accomplishing their own dreams.

We’ve settled in but the adventure in us hasn’t settled down. We’ll keep you updated on happenings as they happen.


Thank you SouleMama for this “Right Now” idea.

Category: Inspiration  4 Comments
How do Americans spend their days?

Basically, we sleep, eat, work, and watch TV. Repeat. At least that’s what a recently published “American Time Use Study” is reporting.

Call us Un-American, but this makes me even more grateful to have married such an adventurous man. We’ve scrapped the sedentary cycle of TV (why live vicariously through characters as your OWN LIFE passes you by) for a more active lifestyle.  I’m just sayin’.

My prayer for you today is that you are actively LIVING life. However that looks for you, may it bring you abundant JOY.


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.


{this moment}

Happy Saturday! Hope your weekend is coming along well.

{this moment} – A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple moment to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama’s Friday ritual.

Our 7 Links – Into the Archives

We’re delighted to have been nominated by Matt over at Life’s A Journey to participate in the Tripbase, “7 Links Blogger Challenge“. This project is sweeping the social media scene and is a way to shed light on a handful of archived posts and to show some love to fellow travel bloggers.

We are honored to be the first cruisers that have been selected to participate and are excited to pass the torch on to five others (cruisers of course) in hopes of spreading the word about this interesting project among the cruising and sailing communities.

With the challenge’s criteria to guide us, we reflected on the 200+ posts we’ve written here over the past two and a half years to compile the following.

MOST BEAUTIFUL – Harbour Island, The Nantucket of the Caribbean

This was probably the hardest category to narrow down. We’re blessed to have sailed to so many jaw-droppingly beautiful places along our travels. If we have to pick just ONE place then it would be Harbor Island off of Eleuthera. Only accessible by boat (and having to cross through the Devil’s Backbone to reach it), this settlement is truly beautiful in every sense of the word with the open Atlantic crashing over pink sand beaches, tree shaded lanes winding through historic English architecture and a sense that everyone on the island had the same mindset – to enjoy it. Read the post …


Many readers have asked what it’s really like living on a sailboat. They’re specifically curious to know how we can thrive each day in an indoor living space no larger than most people’s bedroom. The best way to describe it was to open the front door and invite them in. Our home is mobile, efficient, and sufficient. And that’s the beauty of it. Despite being the size of a walk-in closet and in some form of constant motion, it doesn’t feel confining. Rather, we wake up to a new playground each day and have a pretty snazzy pool. We welcome you to take the tour. Read the post …


We knew as soon as we pressed “Publish” on this post, we were in for some startled responses. While we are offering Kaleo for sale, it’s because she is a vessel built for cruising the ocean and at least for a while, we are returning to adventures ashore. She served her purpose admirably and we look forward to to seeing where she will take her new crew. But for the record, we are by no means finished with sailing or the cruising lifestyle. Read the post …

MOST HELPFUL POST – Kaleo Has Been Newly Salted

This post, written as part of the Interview with a Cruiser project, compiled some of the most common questions from aspiring cruisers and our answers to them. This interview, along with the many others who have participated in IWOC, are building a knowledge bank that aims to better prepare those dreaming of and/or planning to toss the docklines. Read the post …

MOST SURPRISING SUCCESS – The Charm of Charleston

When looking at our traffic stats, we were surprised that our top destination post was not the exotic locale of a remote tropical island. Rather, it seems like readers were lured by good old lowcountry livin’. We couldn’t agree with them more as the charm of Charleston captivated our hearts and had us staying much longer than planned and leaving sooner than we would have liked. This post was even featured on the Southend Brewery & Smokehouse’s blog, a local restaurant where we dined one evening. Read the post …

DESERVED MORE ATTENTION – A Big 0, Means We’re One Step Closer

This post probably didn’t get a lot of attention because it’s not about sailing, cruising, travel or adventure. But for us, without the step of becoming debt free and having an aggressive savings plan, none of the other posts would have been possible. When people ask how we were able to step away from our careers to sail about the world for awhile, we suggest they start here. Read the post …

MOST PROUD OF – Yoga and Kids’ Church

Kids have a big place in our heart. And it’s important to us to give back to the communities we visit along our travels. So, one of the many ways we have connected with islanders was by volunteering as tutors at their schools and teaching kids’ church in the community. With Bahamian churches, we also  shared resources from our home church that support children’s Christian growth. Read the post …


The final piece of the project is to nominate five other travel bloggers to take part. Here are my 5 nominations:

 To the bloggers selected above, the rules for participating in the 7 Links Project can be found here. Be sure to nominate someone who has not already been nominated. You can check the current list of nominations here.


{this moment}

Happy Wednesday! Hope your week is coming along well.

{this moment} – A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple moment to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama’s Friday ritual.

{this moment}

Happy Wednesday! Hope your week is coming along well.

{this moment} – A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple moment to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama’s Friday ritual.

Happy Independence Day

Today we gratefully celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Because 235 years ago a group of courageous men got together and they made a commitment, they made a declaration. These Founding Fathers were willing to risk everything for a set of ideals that still inspire the people of this nation today.

For us, those ideals have bestowed the freedom to pursue a road less traveled. One where the notion of breaking free from the status quo, living simply and exploring the world in our floating home went beyond just capturing our imaginations. It gave us the freedom to pursue a dream and to see it take life.

Today we’re reminded that this freedom came at a high price and that we’re remarkably blessed because of the sacrifices made to secure it. That in itself is worthy of a spectacular celebration.

As you reflect on your dreams, you might find inspiration in revisiting The Declaration that was drafted to give us all the freedom to pursue them.


Kaleo Has Been Newly Salted

Newly Salted is a project created by fellow cruiser, Livia Gilstrap to showcase a series of interviews with cruisers who’ve been out less than two years. She reached out to us to answer a few questions about our journey so far and we were happy to participate, especially given all that we’ve learned from more seasoned cruisers sharing their stories on the companion site, Interview with a Cruiser.

A quick background:

Matt was born in San Diego and spent his formative years feeding cattle and mucking stalls on the family farm in northern Idaho. After graduating college Matt migrated south to Dallas to start his career in advertising. Where as fate would have it, he met an explorer like himself and that’s where this story truly began.

Christie grew up in a small town near Houston, Texas where she discovered big dreams and a lot of spirit can take you pretty much anywhere. Following grad school, Christie immersed herself in exploring other cultures by traveling worldwide. After which she landed in Dallas to start her career in advertising. Where as fate would have it, she met an explorer like herself and that’s where this story truly began.

Along the way they fell in love with each other and with sailing through adventures aboard a little Fireball Skiff, a week aboard friends’ cruising boat in the Chesapeake, and as part of a local race team.  Soon thereafter they bought Kaleo, a 1984 Aloha 34, with a dream of cruising and were married 2009.

Early last November they took sabbaticals, cast off the dock lines and cruised down the Gulf Coast bound for somewhere warm and tropical.

Kaleo has since carried them across the Gulf Stream, throughout the Bahamas and as far south as the remote Jumentos islands. You can read more about their travels and contact them on their website.

What did you do to make your dream a reality?
We woke up and went for it. The fastest way to make any dream happen is to take action. So we started turning “what ifs” into “what’s next”. We made a plan, set dates, worked hard, made sacrifices and celebrated along the way.

Our advice for any dreamer (unless you’re independently wealthy) is to get your finances in order. Before we were married, we lived like most people, with some debt and no significant financial plan. Regardless of going sailing or not, neither of us were content with our financial situation. So, we changed that by following the financial principles laid out in the Bible which were made easier by using Crown Mvelopes Software. The biblical principles helped us pay off all debt, empowered us to be more generous with what He has provided and save enough to live this dream.

Why cruising now?
The notion of breaking free, living simply and exploring the world in our floating home captured our imaginations. Since we decided to go now, we haven’t had time to acquire much. In fact, that’s part of the point of this adventure, being liberated from stuff and free to enjoy experiences and life at a different pace.

What’s cruising been like for you so far?
Christie :
It’s humbling and exhilarating. Incredible and intense. Vivid and scary. It’s punctuated by exceptional highs and lows and all very real. It is not easy. And it is not for everyone, but we’re grateful to be experiencing it.

I guess with a dream you tend to only envision the good parts. But cruising is just like living any lifestyle. There is a balance of good and bad. The boat doesn’t magically fix itself and the wind isn’t always blowing the direction you want. But the feeling of actually living something you’ve dreamed of makes the challenges worth it.

What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
That there will be days that your heart melts at how much you miss the presence of family and friends but that your heart will be equally filled with the joy of new experiences and connected with amazing people along your journeys that will touch your lives forever. Bonus is that Skype will bridge the miles to loved ones while you’re taking in these new adventures.

What do you miss about living on land?
– Family and friends
Our home church
– Our own washer, dryer and dishwasher
– Instant connectivity
– Access to organic, fresh produce

Tell me your favorite thing about your boat?
How we’ve made it our home. All the little modifications that make it as livable as it is functional. From adding a large double sink with modern home-like faucets in the galley and refinishing the head countertop with granite to resting more soundly on a custom v-berth mattress and sheets.

Kaleo is very forgiving. From running aground to having up too much sail. No matter the situation she gets us through it despite our steep learning curve.

What are some of your favorite pieces of gear on your boat and why?
– Bullet 2HP WiFi booster – Internet access on the boat when there are unlocked signals within about five miles
– Honda Generator Eu2000i – nearly as much shoreside power without having to be shoreside
Cruise RO 20 GPH watermaker – more leisurely showers as often as we’d like, no worries when the tattletale water pump kicks on
– Lavac electric toilet – no looking, pumping or flipping a valve from wet to dry bowl. Just lowering the lid and pressing a button takes the guesswork and campingness out of going to the bathroom.
Adventure Medical Marine 1000 Kit – the ideal cruisers’ first aid kit designed for short offshore adventures. Well stocked to tend to the crew if medical care is 12 – 24 hours away.

– Autopilot – other than anchoring or docking, R2-D2 pretty much pilots us everywhere
– SSB receiver – thanks to this and Chris Parker, what to expect for weather is rarely a question
– Handheld VHF radio – in the cockpit, in the dinghy, on the bow or ashore, this is like a cruiser’s cell phone
– Forespar Dinghy Motor Crane – I can’t imagine having to lift the dinghy motor up on the rail each time without the help of this device
Cruise RO 20 GPH watermaker – freedom from the dreaded blue jerry jugs

What are some little things that made a big difference in your cruising experience?
Albeit not critical gear for cruising, these are a few things that we didn’t know to bring when we tossed the docklines but got as we were underway.
Waterproof backpack – great for packing a change of clothes or the laptop on a wet dinghy ride
Platypus PlusBottle – great for toting water on the go. It clips on a backpack and rolls down when it’s empty
– Lookie Bucket – a clear bottom bucket used for checking the anchor or looking at reefs without getting wet
– Hawaiian sling – a slingshot type of device used for spearfishing
Clear dome umbrella – an easy way to stay dry on a wet dinghy ride while still being able to see in front of you
– Jump drive – for sharing photos and other resources with fellow cruisers
MSR Packtowel Personal XL – Ultrasoft, compact, quick-drying and Anti-Microbial towel makes drying off easy in humid enviroments
– Smith Polarized Sunglasses – they look good and cut the glare on the water, making it easier to spot reefs and fish
Canon Powershot D10 Waterproof Camera – known as the cruiser’s camera, it takes beautiful shots and stands up to the hard life of living in saltwater

What piece(s) of gear would you leave on the dock next time? Why?
Cape Horn Windvane – This is a superb piece of self-steering gear built for sailing around the world. Since we’re not crossing oceans during this cruising season, it’s underutilized and we could easily live without it.

How are you giving back to the communities you visit?
Kids have a big place in our heart. So, we’ve volunteered as tutors at a local all-age school and have taught kids’ church in the community.  In addition, we connect with local churches to share resources that support children’s Christian growth. Our home church, Fellowship Church, donated DVD’s with lessons, songs, bible stories and kids’ gear for us to give out and so far they’ve been warmly received.

What are your plans now?
With hurricane season approaching, our route has taken us as far south as we will travel this season and we’ve now pointed the bow north. We plan to continue exploring the Bahamas until the end of May, then sail back across the Gulf Stream to Florida. But, we’re not ready to end our voyage just yet. From Florida, we’d like to sail up the east coast for a few months before stepping back into land life. And probably start planning our next cruise.

Shroud Cay

We set sail from Allens Cay early Saturday morning for Shroud Cay, which is famous for its extensive network of mangrove creeks that criss cross the interior of the island.

After a short 3-hour sail, we picked up a mooring ball (a permanently set line into the sea floor with a floating ball that a boat can secure to in lieu of anchoring) to guarantee a good night’s rest after the anchoring rodeo last night in Allens Cay. After securing Kaleo, we jumped into the dinghy to explore one of the nearby, uninhabited white sandy beaches (Shroud Cay has many).

We puttered through bright blue waters into an expansive cove and walked the dinghy through clear, shallow tidal flats to a crescent beach. It was just the two of us and we had finally arrived in Bahamian Paradise.

Shroud Cay Beach

Just over the edge of the beach were small palm trees as far as the eye could see and along it were shells of every shape and color. Walking barefoot through the sand, San Pellegrino Aranaciata in hand, we looked at Kaleo moored just off the beach and thanked her for bringing us all these miles to such an earthly paradise. All the while, thanking the Lord for creating such a place and giving us this dream to pursue.

Kaleo at rest on the mooring in Shroud Cay

After checking out a few tidal creeks that ran up past the beach, we headed over to “Storyville” to plan a dinghy trip up the island’s north creek. The chartbook said the creek cuts through the entire island and ends along a gorgeous beach with a trailhead to the highest point on the island, Camp Driftwood. Steve was kind enough to have us aboard his dinghy, which is much faster than ours and a quick twenty minutes later we were at the entrance to the north creek. Accompanied by “Storyville” and some new friends from “Pipe Muh Bligh” we motored into the creek.

The next few hours were simply amazing as we idled through a twisting and turning creek surrounded by low lying mangroves and the occasional conch crabbing along the creek bed. Coming around the last corner, the creek opened up to the wide blue expanse of the Exuma Sound, highlighted by the crashing of waves upon a half-mile long beach. A breath-taking view awaited us as the group made a short hike up to Camp Driftwood for perspective on our newest island home. The current around Camp Driftwood creates a natural whirlpool that spins you right onto the powdery beach.

The creek opening to Exuma Sound

Looking down from Camp Driftwood

Shroud Cay

Returning to the boats, we later met aboard “Pipe Muh Bligh” and were introduced to a new set of friends who sail “Genesis” while watching the sunset and sharing stories as stars grew in the sky.

The morning was kissed by sunshine and a delicious breakfast of mushroom, bacon, egg scramble for Matt and black bean, cheese, egg scramble for Christie. We decided to move off the mooring ball ($15/night) to anchor nearby ($free) as we had time to check out the area for good holding.

With the dinghy packed to gills with chairs, books, towels and a picnic lunch, we headed off to the beach to lounge, kayak, visit with friends and work on our tans. After a hard day spent enjoying the beauty of Shroud Cay, we all returned to our respective boats just before sunset. A few domestic chores were in order, one of which involved ferrying fresh water from our buddy boats to replenish Kaleo’s tanks. “Storyville”, “Pipe Muh Bligh” and “Genesis”, who all have watermakers, were generous in each giving us a few jerry jugs full of fresh water they had made that day. We’ve found it’s these little acts of giving that bind the cruising community together in ways that aren’t as easily found in land life.

Christie kayaking along the mangroves

This magnificent island was as intriguing and exotic as we had hoped to experience. We went to bed with grateful hearts and answered prayers. Next up, plans to sail for Warderick Wells in the morning.

N 24° 31.7 / W 76° 47.75

New Favorite Sailing Song

Thanks to fellow cruising couple, Bright Eyes, we stumbled onto some incredible new tunes created by former young cruisers and musicians, Tennis. The pair set out on a eight-month sailing trip on the Eastern seaboard where they started writing songs together as “sort of a soundtrack” for their experiences.

This one is called ‘Marathon.’ (Where we are at this week, waiting for the next weather window to cross over to the Bahamas.) It’s about the first time they ever sailed at night, and as they describe, “it’s exactly like being in outer space, and it’s really scary. And when I was doing it I was like, the only reason why this is worth it is cause I can tell a really cool story afterward. So this is the story.”

What a backdrop for any grand adventure! I adore these breezy lyrics …

Coconut Grove
is a very small cove
Separated from the sea
by a shifting shoal
We didn’t realize that
We had arrived
At high tide, high tide
Barely made it out alive
Oh … Oohhoohuh

Red over white
Fishermen working at night
Not even once did we see a light
We didn’t realize
The forecast had been revised
By moonless skies and
Shifty wind that gusts and dies
Oh on the sand our keel is heaving
But tonight we’ve got to be leaving
Travel through the day and into the evening
Oh … Oohhoohuh

Marathon how long we’ve been gone
And still not yet set foot upon you

Your low lying shores open welcomingly
To one who’s spent the night at sea
Adrift in the shallows, a modest repose
Adorn with coral, your bright color shows
Ushered in through a bridge that is never closed.
Oh … Oohhoohuh

Bonus: iTunes is offering a free download of this single track as they launch the album this week :o).

N 24° 42.22 / W 81° 05.99

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)

Inside Our Home

We had some down time while staying warm today and thought we’d share an inside tour of our little floating home. Kaleo has a salon (living/dining room), galley (kitchen), head (bathroom with hot water shower), v-berth and quarter berth (bedrooms) although our quarter berth has been converted into our garage, navigation station (home office), and a cockpit and deck (patios). There are several book nooks on board with the main one being tucked behind the fold-down salon table. Kaleo also has a ton of storage space in virtually every nook and cranny of the hull which helps keep the living spaces more organized. Ah, and there’s our trusty infirmary (Adventure Medical Marine 1000) tucked above our closet if needed. We even have a water car (dinghy) that resides on deck when we’re not using it. Welcome to our humble abode.

Entrance view of the salon and galley from the companionway (front door)

Inside the salon with hallway to the head and v-berth

The galley with refrigerator in the countertop cabinet on left and a pantry in the countertop cabinet on right

The v-berth

View of the galley, navigation station and companionway from the salon

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.
Morgan City and Houma, LA

Hanging out in Morgan City for the day

We took advantage of the rainy day today by catching up on a little rest, finishing some engine work and ran (walked) errands while docked in Morgan City. Here’s how we spent it:

  • Slept in till 8:00 a.m.!
  • Made a mega Migas breakfast
  • Visited with our new friend, Hank the shrimper (incredibly nice guy who went out of his way to help us)
  • Took a sloshy tour around Morgan City to hunt down some Wi-Fi, starting at the library but was a no-go with stationary computers that were too slow and no Wi-Fi. A local library goer turned Morgan City tour guide offered to walk us about two miles to the nearest McDonald’s to try theirs. After meandering the miles in the rain, James, though his friends call him Jimmy, was ready to camp it out with us at Micky D’s (and aboard Kaleo had we let him) so we bought our new friend, Jimmy, a soda and tried to get going on catching up on all things digital. Wha wahhhhh. Faulty internet at Ronald’s house. We gave in and pulled out our Hilton Honors card and walked next door to relax in the less greasy aromas of the Hampton Inn lobby to quietly tap into Wi-Fi (all that work travel is starting to pay off).
  • Worked out the kinks in our onboard internet service and are back up and running. Whew!
  • Got a call from our former marina neighbor, Steve, who happened to be passing through Morgan City for work. He stopped by the boat to visit, sign the guest book and let us know about a little treasure of a Cuban restaurant just a few blocks away. We planned to go there for dinner but the restaurant didn’t answer their phone to confirm they were open and it was dropping buckets at dinner time. We opted to stay dry and made dinner at home while watching a service.
  • Received a call from the mechanic we had been working with remotely at about 8 p.m. (surprising as it was after work hours). He was responding to a message left earlier in the day about working the kinks out of our oil pressure issue. Matt stayed up a few hours completing his suggestion, talking with one of his dad’s friends and ended up with a list for the parts store in the morning.

A visit from our former marina neighbor, Steve of s/v Ebb Tide

Tuesday morning came, still cold but without the rain, and Matt began his trek to the parts store. The only one within walking distance didn’t have what he needed and after talking with Hank, it was decided that his wife would drive Matt to the store across town. A short while later Matt was back with the parts, the engine was put back together and the high oil pressure we experienced coming into Morgan City was resolved. Whoo hoooo!

We were back on course to our next destination of Houma (pronounced Home-uh), Louisiana. It turned out to be a gorgeous day with 10-15 knots of wind from a direction our sails could use. We rolled out the jib sail and clocked 6.5 – 7 knots for most of the day. Morgan City to Houma is the most scenic section on the Louisiana GIWW. Majestic cypress trees line the banks, their knee-like roots protruding from the water surface to breathe, and the Spanish moss romantically hangs from tree branches.

Cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss along Wallace Bayou, east of Morgan City, LA

Enjoying the gorgeous day. In my flippie-floppies.

Matt assembling our new shower bench that he and his dad made

We arrived to a wonderfully quaint dock just off the ICW in Houma, tied up and walked to the laundromat (sailors have to wash clothes too).

Docked at the Houma Downtown Marina

After laundry was put away, we set out for a date night on the town. Some local joggers led us to discover Café Milano in historic downtown Houma. To say the least, we had a FEAST. (Started with lobster & shrimp bisque and jumbo lump crabmeat in a creamy herb dressing atop fresh avocado garnished with cherry tomatoes and sherry balsamic reduction. Next up were Stuffed Filet, Filet filled with shrimp & crabmeat mornay stuffing, topped with sautéed mushrooms, served with oven-roasted potatoes & sautéed vegetables. Matt had the Pork Chop Belanger – All natural pan-seared Bone-in Pork Loin Chops finished with blackberry demiglace served with a pork confit and sweet potato mousse (BEST EVER), accompanied by sautéed vegetables. Ah, and the bottle of Ausi Pinot Noir and Chocolate Terrine, Frozen chocolate mousse glazed with chocolate ganache, with raspberry, chocolate, white chocolate and passion fruit sauces for dessert). Wow! We might have gone a little overboard (pun intended).

Part of this adventure for us is about new experiences. And at the dinner table, we each committed to a specific promise that would expand our perspectives. We’ve coined them, “Café Milano’s promises” and are holding each other to them as we continue forward. We’ll reveal them as they’re kept. As you can see, we had plenty of time to pontificate through the dinner courses.

We enjoyed (and needed) the brisk walk back to our floating home, took showers (loving the hot water heater!) and fell asleep with a full and restful day behind us. It’s back on the waterway tomorrow to Lake Salvador for the night and then on to New Orleans and beyond.

N 29° 34.88/ W 90° 43.03

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