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A Weekend On The Water

There’s nothing like the feeling of getting back on the water after life on land for awhile. Whether it’s been a week away, or for us – weeks away, being welcomed aboard a gently rocking boat by dear friends is one of the best ways to start a weekend.

 Peaceful Sunday sail aboard Our Way Too

We hit the road for the coast as the sun rose Friday morning for a long weekend with good friends aboard their boats and to check out the Southwest International Boat Show. Once we pulled into Kemah, which grows on us with every visit, it was all things boats all weekend.

  • We settled in aboard Our Way Too, where we’d be staying with Katie and Dean for the weekend. In our cabin was the cutest and most thoughtful gift, a Lil’ Legends life jacket to help keep our little sailor-to-be safe when out on the water.
  • The afternoon was spent checking out the recently expanded West Marine (which is now about five times bigger than when we were outfitting Kaleo) and visiting with Carolyn, our broker at HSH Yachts. It was great catching up with her and after all the sailing and cruising talk, we couldn’t help but let her know that  if the right boat comes through the area, call us – we’ll be ready. She knows what we’re looking for.
  • Next stop, Alternate Latitude, our cruising friend Steve’s Voyage 440 catamaran, which seems like a cruise ship compared to our former Kaleo and his former monohull, Anchor Management. Along with his sister, visiting from Milwaukee, we headed out for an easy sail, tacking back and forth across the bay while smiling about everything. In fact, Alternate Latitude is available for charter in Galveston Bay and the Caribbean if you’re looking for some time on the water. You’ll be in good hands under Captain Steve and on a very comfortable and sound vessel.

 Cruising around the bay aboard Alternate Latitude

  • And, it wouldn’t be a day on the water without a little seafood, so as soon as Katie wrapped up her work at the boat show, we all headed off the beaten path to a local favorite, Gilhooley’s for their famous oysters and shrimp. After a fun and filling meal with great company, we made our way back to our berths feeling stuffed like flounders.
  • The Saturday morning sun beamed as we hopped into the dinghy for some exploring. Two highlights included playing bridge limbo with the high tide and dinghying over to Wanderer, the actual boat from the cruisers’ cult classic, Captain Ron.

Scooching under a bridge with just inches to spare

 Up close and personal with the boat featured in Captain Ron

  • After lunch, it was off to the boat show, where we checked out a host of beautiful new sailboats, only furthering our fever. We chatted with Carolyn again, visited Katie’s booth for Redfish Island Marine and even ran into an old friend and sailing instructor, John Brown.

Scoping out a new Lagoon

Catching up with John at the boat show

  • We had a quiet evening on board and were up early Sunday for a dinghy ride for breakfast at Classic Cafe. The 20 hp outboard on Dean and Katie’s dinghy made it a much quicker trip than last time. Two new sailing friends, Chris and Tammy of Living and Loving Life, joined us for breakfast and we all talked about … you guessed it, boats and cruising. Soon we were all back aboard Our Way Too for a long Sunday sail on the bay
Sailing alongside Alternate Latitude

We stayed as long as we possibly could and eventually made our way back to the dock where we reluctantly wrapped up the weekend. Thank you again to our generous friends for opening their floating homes to us. We loved every sun soaked, sea breeze filled moment.


Sail Gear For Sale

Since we’re land based sailors for the time being, we thought we’d release some cruising gear that should be put to good use rather than being stored in our home.


If you’re interested in anything below, would like to see more pictures or have questions, please let us know. (We will arrange sale and shipping via PayPal.)

Hope you all enjoyed a restful weekend.


Kaleo Has A New Captain

Our beloved Kaleo officially has officially sold.

Enjoying life aboard Kaleo in the Southern Bahamas

She is now under the command of a wonderful new captain who will immediately continue her adventures.

It’s certainly a bittersweet feeling, as we love Kaleo and the journey she took us on. But we’re grateful that she’ll be used as designed, rather than floating alongside a dock somewhere while we’re land-based sailors for awhile.

With the final signature, we reflected on the little ship that carried, protected, and taught us so much. It was a blessing to sail aboard our floating home, build lifelong relationships, and see part of the world in such a unique way.

This blog will live on as we share more about our cruising reflections, thoughts for fellow dreamers, and plans for the next adventure.


7 Simple Recipes to Keep a Boat Shipshape

Who doesn’t like a clean house? Whether it be out to sea or ashore, we’ve found a few simple recipes that help us keep Kaleo shining inside from stem to stern.

Yet you won’t find Mr. Clean or Windex lurking under our galley sink.

With just a few basic items that you most likely have on hand (water, vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil), you can do almost all of your household cleaning, save money, and keep your home free of the toxins found in many store-bought cleaning products.

Here are a few recipes that will help you do most of your everyday cleaning:

General Surface Cleaner

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon tea tree oil

Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and use to clean general surfaces such as counter tops, sinks and the stove. Do not rinse.

Tea tree oil is antiseptic, germicidal, antifungal, and antibacterial agent making it a very effective surface cleaner.

Mold and Mildew Eliminator

Using the same recipe as above, wipe down surfaces in high-mold or high-humidity areas. Tea tree oil is a natural fungus fighter but if you encounter large amounts of mold, or black mold, however, call a mold-removal specialist.

Head (Toilet) Cleaner

  • 50% water
  • 50% white vinegar

Mix in a small spray bottle and use for head surfaces, the toilet bowl and wiping down the gel coat shower pan. If you’re concerned about the smell of vinegar, you can add a few drops of essential oil to your mix, but know that the odor of vinegar disappears as it evaporates.

In addition, about once per month we run a pint of undiluted white vinegar into the toilet, flush once and let it sit overnight to fight the salt water deposits that build up.

Glass Cleaner

  • 1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Mix the ingredients into a spray bottle for an effective glass cleaner. It also works well on the chrome faucets in the galley and head and even on the stainless steel dorades and rails on deck.

Trash Can Deodorizer

Mix the two ingredients thoroughly, ensuring all lumps are removed. Place a (fresh) piece of absorbent cloth on the bottom of the trash can and sprinkle this mixture over it. Change the pad and deodorizer every other week or so.

A few other natural deodorizers

  • Boil 1 tablespoon of vinegar in 1 cup of water to eliminate unpleasant cooking odors
  • Baking soda is excellent for absorbing odors in the fridge or icebox

Laundry Detergent

  • 4 cups of water
  • ⅓ bar of natural soap, grated
 (this is where the scent will come from in the detergent, so go with something you like)
  • ½ cup washing soda (not baking soda)
  • ½ cup of Borax (20 Mule Team)
  • 5-gallon bucket for mixing
  • 3 gallons of water
  • (optional) A few drops of scented oil such as tea tree or lavender which will overpower the soap (especially if you choose unscented)

First, mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water, and heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket, stir in the washing soda and Borax, and continue stirring until thickened. Let the mix sit for 24 hours and it’s ready to go. Use 3/4 cup per full load. You can store this in gallon jugs aboard and fill a water bottle to take to the laundromat.

Bug Trap – Not really a cleaning product but one we use when those nasty fruit flies visit.

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 drops of dish soap

Cut the top off a small plastic cup. Add apple cider vinegar and drops of dish soap. Place on your kitchen counter and within minutes the little buggers will be swimming. Apple cider vinegar attracts the bugs and the dish soap traps them on entry.

Happy (and healthy) cleaning!

Sights From St. Augustine

After a few day hops up the ICW we landed at Hidden Harbor Marina to explore the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, FL.

Historic downtown St. Augustine from the water

While we had plans to take a mooring ball ($20) at the municipal marina (anchoring is a little sketchy with the currents), a blog friend, “Captain Peppers”, turned us onto Hidden Harbor Marina. Just two miles up the San Sebastian River, the marina truly is one of St. Augustine’s best kept secrets! Secure, impeccably clean, cruiser-managed and ideally located across from the winery and a short walk to beautiful, historic downtown St. Augustine. Ah, and their rates – just $25/nt., utilities included! Bonus: There’s even a community garden where we were given fresh tomatoes and potatoes upon checking in. We can’t say enough about this place and its outstanding dockmasters, David and Hayla.

“Kaleo” resting at Hidden Harbor Marina

With Kaleo tied up we spent the past two days:

  • Hiking to West Marine for a few project parts and the grocery store to stock up on fresh foods
  • Making Chicken Tiki Masala dinner which before joining “Captain Peppers” (who lives at Hidden Harbor) for a sundowner aboard his cruising boat. We had a nice time hearing about his cruising plans and sharing some of our experiences.
  • Exploring Old Town St. Augustine, with its narrow cobblestone streets, quaint cafes (snack break at the Spanish Bakery for empanadas), unique shops, the grand Flagler College (the former Ponce de Leon Hotel of the 1890’s) and the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in America

St. Augustine City Hall

The east cannon wall of the fort

Just checkin’ things out

  • Lunching at Carmelo’s Marketplace, home to the best pizza in town and only a short walk from the marina
  • Touring San Sebastian Winery, where the vintners make several varieties of sweet wine out of the native Florida muscadine grape. The gratis tour included an extensive tasting session and all sorts of wine-related recipes and entertaining tips from our enthusiastic guide.

The winery on the San Sebastian River, across from the marina

Casks full of Port

  • Listening to Hawaiian Jazz music at a complimentary concert in the plaza with a wine smoothie – yes, a frosty wine smoothie (!) to top off the night

Concert in the Plaza

  • Checking off a few boat projects like changing the oil, topping off fuel, replacing a deck fill and housecleaning
  • Baking a stuffed artichoke to share with sundowners

Stuffing the artichoke to steam/bake

  • Driving, yes driving, to run a few errands as David let us borrow the marina truck (another perk of a cruiser-managed marina)
  • Hanging out with new friends, Gregg and Jo on “Simpatico”, who were in the Bahamas this season but we had just met while anchored in Daytona Beach. They’re a lively couple from Nebraska and we enjoyed talking all things cruising and which boats are mutual friends.

Overall, St. Augustine is a city filled with rich Spanish history and was a great way to wrap up our sail through Florida.

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.

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)

Navigating New Orleans

The day started early as we untied from our dock in Lafitte and made our way back through the Barataria Waterway to rejoin the ICW on our way to New Orleans. We were met with a morning storm passing in the distance along a spectacular sunrise.

As we neared the Port of New Orleans, we could hear and feel a consistent thundering overhead that soon revealed themselves as circling fighter jets. Must have been some training exercise or important activity in the area because we also saw gunships (heavily armed helicopters).

Passing storm and rising sun along the Barataria Waterway

Before getting into the Mississippi River and the city of New Orleans, a series of nautical obstacles must be overcome to be granted access.

First up, the Harvey Lock.

Last night we had thoroughly read up on all the steps and protocol and were feeling confident as we approached. While we were hoping to be the only vessel in the lock (or at least one of a couple), we found ourselves being instructed to jam in alongside a barge and three tugs, on our port side. Our port side?! We were prepared to tie up on our starboard side as all the guidebooks instructed.

After hurriedly switching the bumpers to the other side, Matt slowly maneuvered Kaleo inside the lock and close to the wall where we attached a line to a built-in cleat. After specific instructions to watch for prop wash from the tugs (which could push Kaleo quickly into the wall), we were given our exit order and before we knew it, the water had risen the two feet needed to meet with the river.

The doors on the other end of the locks opened and there it was, the mighty Mississippi River!

Inside the Harvey Lock

Once exiting the Harvey Lock, we had the sight of New Orleans’ skyline in our view. We’ve gone under many bridges so far, but going under the Crescent City Connection was impressive with a clearance of 170 feet.

We passed under the bridge and cruised alongside The Riverwalk, downtown New Orleans, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the river boats along the bank, and the French Quarter.

Approaching the Crescent City Connection

Soon we were at the entrance to the Industrial Lock.

We tried hailing the lockmaster several times with no response as we inched closer to the lock entrance. When we heard a number of other tugs hailing the lock without reply from the lockmaster, we knew we were going nowhere fast.

After a few phone calls and two hours later, radio chatter with the lockmaster in attendance commenced. Hearing barge after barge check in, with the latest being at position 19, we were finally answered and granted a position for entering the locks. Luckily, it was position number three and after waiting for one barge to lock across to our side, we entered the Industrial Lock along with one other tug (much roomier than the Harvey Lock).

A couple lines were tossed down from a lock attendant and we secured one to the bow, one to the stern as we snuggled up to the port-side wall. It was then that we learned that the past two hours of radio silence had been caused by an impromptu union meeting of the operators.

The water in the locks dropped a foot and a half around us, the other side of the doors slowly opened and we were on our way. To a bit of anxiety as we could see a lift bridge (not lifted) less than 100 feet away. Again, the bridge operator was MIA as we requested an opening. Finally, after idling to lessen our distance her voice crackled through the VHF to ask where we were and when we needed it opened. Here and now.

This is really starting to feel like an unforgiving game of frogger out here.

Next up, the Florida Avenue Railroad Lift Bridge. Because of our delay at the previous bridge, this bridge operator let us know we had better get up here as he was lowering this bridge because a train had been waiting to cross for the past five hours. We throttled up to max speed to get through as quickly as possible. Just as we crossed under, the bridge started lowering and moments later we heard the operator announce that it had gotten stuck at 34 feet (pretty much in the middle). We were pretty grateful to have not been stuck between those past two lift bridges for the entire afternoon.

Inside the Industrial Lock

Because we have both already spent time in New Orleans, we had hoped to just pass through to an anchorage further down the ICW for the night. With the delays of the morning, exhaustion from the obstacles, and not enough daylight to reach the anchorage, we decided to stay at a marina close-by at SeaBrook Harbor Marine.

After tying up, we spend the rest of the evening stretching our legs with a great walk around the area, washing down and organizing the boat, checking in on finances via Mvelopes, making dinner and some pretty heavenly pumpkin spice bread with Cranraisins and walnuts.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Rabbit Island with plans to get to Biloxi, MS by Monday or Tuesday for a roadtrip to spend Thanksgiving with family!

N 30° 01.47/ W 90° 01.93

Our Longest Run Yet

The usual early morning wake up came, but surprisingly it hasn’t been hard to wake up at all. Maybe because we go to bed at 8:00 most nights or maybe because each day has such purpose – to get to the next spot with as much daylight left as possible. Matt went to start the motor and rhun rhun rhun, nothing. Rhun, run, run, nothing. It wanted to start but wouldn’t. After a brief moment of despair, Matt got out Nigel Calder’s Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Handbook to see what the issue might be. Though oil pressure was the most likely culprit, the book said to check that the engine was getting enough heat to start firing. A quick inspection revealed that the preheat solenoid had broken loose from the engine (meaning, it wouldn’t preheat the engine and couldn’t start). Understandably, Mr. Beeker (affectionate name for our Westerbeke engine) was a bit too cold to get up and going right away this morning. A simple replacement of a bolt and the tightening of another and Mr. Beeker growled to life.

Bundled up against the cold

It was pretty chilly as we got underway (the coldest morning yet at about 50 degrees) and as Matt said, “This morning puts the icy in ICW.”

Next up, as R2-D2 (our auto-pilot) was guiding us along, it started veering too closely to the starboard shore and before Matt could react – thump – the boat stopped. Yep, stuck in the mud. Again. Now, an all too familar occurance, we went through the usual drills of trying to motor ourselves off, but no luck. With mulitlpe barges and tugs coming down the waterway, we got on the VHF to alert them that we were grounded with hopes to avoid any further problems. After several minutes of radio chatter, two tugs agreed to help us out! One, Miss Kim, blocked traffic while the other, Saftey Spirit, dropped its barges in the middle of the canal to float along briefly and came to hook up to the bow of Kaleo. The deckhand tossed a line the thickness of a coffee can for us to connect our, in comparison, very puny line to.  Moments later, without the slighest engine rev from the tug, we were flung to freedom into the middle of the ICW and back on course.

A swift pull out of the mud

We can’t thank these two tugs enough. Their generosity and kindness made all the difference in our day. It’s folks like the captain and crew of those two tugs who make even the challenging parts of cruising more enjoyable.

With water back under the keel, Kaleo was gliding along again when we happened upon our first (moving) alligator sighting. It was hanging out in the middle of the channel then quickly swam toward shore as we drew closer. This was pretty exciting as we’ve been waiting to spot one on the move the whole trip.

Because of our delayed start, getting stuck and the 64 miles to cover, night fell on the bayou before we arrived at our destination. A first for our trip. We turned on the navigation lights, radar, and chatted with the tugs closest by. The tug Big Bay agreed to let us follow her into Morgan City if we needed to. But by God’s timing, we were passing through an area that has a vessel traffic control service (like air traffic control) that not only we checked into, but they were able to tell us the location and direction of every vessel on the water en-route to our destination. About another hour and we were safely tied up to the Morgan City Pleasure Docks, bought some fresh shrimp from a shrimper tied up next to us and enjoyed a dinner of Christie’s Étouffée.

N 29° 43.59/ W 91° 12.93


Tell someone that you’re taking a substantial break from the status quo to sail about the world for awhile and you’ll inevitably be engaged in an extended game of 20 questions. For anyone that we haven’t talked with in person, here are the ones we get most often and always enjoy answering. Missed one? Let us know in the comments below.

Wait! You’re doing what?

After responses ranging from “you’re crazy” to “can I come along?”, we then re-explain that we are moving aboard our sailboat to spend time with each other in God’s creation, especially the tropical parts.


The reasons are far too numerous to list here and more details are at “Our Dream, God Willing,” but for the most part, we want to experience life at a different pace for awhile. Also, to gain perspective on how blessed we are and satisfy a curiosity to see the world differently.

Where are you going and for how long?

We’re planning to head out from Texas to Florida along the Gulf Coast and throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean. This trip will take about six months or so. You can see more details here and continually track our progress by clicking the globe in the “Keep In Touch” box on the left.

When are you setting sail?

We’re planning to toss the docklines the beginning of November. The actual day will be dependent upon the right combination of weather, tides and winds.

Do you know how to sail?

While we aren’t professional sailors, we have been sailing together for about 3 and half years. We know our boat inside and out, how to properly trim (adjust) the sails and most importantly, how to watch the weather doing our best to stay at anchor when it’s blowing too hard to sail comfortably. And we’re looking forward to learning even more about sailing while out there living it daily.

Are you sure you’re ready?

As with most big things in life, you can prepare as much as you like but you’re never quite ready. So there’s no better time than the present to really answer this question by heading out. If we’re not ready, we imagine that we’ll learn how to be pretty quickly.

What are you going to do out there?

This lifestyle will be a significant change of pace for us, but before you envision crystal clear waters and white sand beaches, know that cruising is hard work. Maintenance and care of the boat alone will take plenty of time but so will swimming in crystal clear waters and exploring white sandy beaches.

What about your jobs?

We’re taking a leave of absence. We both have excellent careers and our employers were gracious enough to leave the doors open. And if we find a different calling while out there, we’ll pursue that.

What will you do for money?

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 pursue this dream for awhile. Read more about this part of the journey here.

What will you do with all your stuff?

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. Of what we do have, most has been sold, some given away, and the rest put in storage. For the stuff we “really need” we’ll figure out a way to bring it on board. If it doesn’t fit, we probably don’t need it anyway.

What will you do for food?

While our boat has a fridge and freezer, they are very tiny, so packing food aboard ,or provisioning as it’s called, is an important part of preparation. We ‘ll stock up in the States from places like Costco, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s (Christie’s all-time favorite) and buying fresh vegetables and meats along the way as needed. Surprisingly, there are many foods that don’t need to be refrigerated and can be stored for a long time. Eggs for example, if never refrigerated, can be stored for up to three months as long as they are rotated a few times a week.

How will you stay in touch?

Part of the point of this adventure is to turn down the volume on our 24/7 digital connectivity. That said, we will still have many ways to keep in contact with friends and family. Besides the normal marine communications (i.e., VHF), we have a worldphone for calls when on shore in any country and a WiFi extender to get signal up to a few miles from the source. With WiFi, we will have email, this blog and Skype. For tracking purposes we have a SPOT satellite GPS device and for safety, we have a GPS EPIRB.

What if you get lost?

Thanks to modern technology, it’s fairly hard to get completely lost. Our boat has multiple GPS receivers and redundant navigation systems to help keep us on course. More importantly, we carry good old fashioned paper charts (maps of the sea) and a compass to navigate with. In the worst case, there is always land in some direction, right?

How big is your boat and can you really live on it?

Kaleo is a 34 foot Aloha sloop with room for six to sleep, though more than four people makes it a bit uncomfortable. While the accommodations are small, we believe it’ll be an excellent exercise in learning to live with less stuff and more experiences. Bonus, we’ll have a really big back yard.

There are millions of people around the world who live in much less. Kaleo has a galley (kitchen), head (bathroom with shower), salon (living/dining room), v-berth and quarter berth (bedrooms), navigation station (home office), and a cockpit and deck (patios). Plus, the bigger boat, the bigger the expense, which means less time we get to be out cruising.

Is it safe?

The reality is that we’re more likely to be in a car wreck on the freeway than any real danger from sailing. With prudent seamanship, common sense and thorough preparation, most mistakes that lead to unsafe situations can be prevented.

What about pirates?

If we meet Jack Sparrow we’ll probably invite him onboard for dinner. All kidding aside, “pirates” are a real threat in some parts of the world, but not the parts we’re going to. Our biggest threat will be locals who might eye the outboard dinghy motor, which we’ll have to remember to lock up.

Haven’t you seen Shark Week?

Yes and it’s scary. They’re out there. And we’ll be in their neighborhood. We’ll be nice and hope they are too.

What about rogue waves?

We’ll hold our breath ;o).

What happens when you get in an argument?

We’ll be forced to make up a lot quicker since there’s nowhere for either of us to go. If it’s a bad one, Matt will ride in the dinghy while Christie lets some extra line out behind the boat.

Can I come visit?

Absolutely! We would love nothing more than to be a friendly face in a place you’ve dreamed of visiting. After you get done swabbing the decks there will be plenty of time to go ashore or sail between some tropical islands. If you’d like to come for a visit get a hold of us via the “Keep In Touch” box on the left.

Cruising Curriculum

Every time we visit Kaleo, we learn a lot. Sometimes it’s about how to best trim the sails for the fastest speed or for a more comfortable ride. Sometimes (everytime) it’s about how a planned project takes more time and money than expected. And often it’s about loving the idea of a life aboard with each new experience.

But when we are away from the boat (which is most of the time as we don’t live in the same city as our beloved vessel) the education doesn’t stop. Of course we learn a lot from books we’re reading and blogs we follow but the latest addition to our education stable have been classes from the Seven Seas University. SSU is the online education portal of the Seven Seas Cruising Association.

SSU offers a number of online courses on various cruising subjects that can be taken online in a webinar format. These classes allow an instructor to take students through a slideshow while they voice over and sometimes teach via video. We will post topline learning from each session but in the meantime here is a list of the courses we’ve taken so far:

  • Celestial Navigation
  • What you really, really need to know about yacht insurance
  • Emergency Protocols You Must Have
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System)
  • Island Hopping to the Caribbean
  • First Aid Afloat

Stay tuned for the highlights of what we’re learning.

Set and Share Life Goals

A big part of our dream, and any dream for that matter, is writing it down and setting steps to achieve it.

We’ve recently found a web service that helps us jot down, track our progress and share these dreams as they come so we can make room for even more. mySomeday is designed to help you achieve those goals and dreams you’ve always said you’d get to ‘Someday’. It even goes a step further by letting you share and connect with others that may have similar dreams.

Twitter response from MySomeday upon creating our MySomeday


  • Record your life goals
  • Share your goals with friends and family
  • Receive encouragement to achieve your goals
  • Similar tools: GoalBot, 43Things, GetGoaling and stickK
Some Gear That Keep Us Going

We’ve certainly started more projects than have finished lately. It seems that in the boating world parts take longer to arrive than the time it takes to do the actual project. We’re currently waiting on the delivery of items such as dorade cowls, a finished bathroom counter top & revamped companionway doors.

So while we have less completed project updates, we do have a few tools that we’ve started relying on time and time again. The first is a custom screwdriver called a Picquic.

Matt first read about this at Navagear and I (Christie) got him the Mariner for Christmas! It’s especially handy because it was custom ordered with the bits we need most (e.g., a square bit because our Canadian boat was built with square screws).

A second tool that sees a lot of use is the Power8 Workshop, basically the most common power wood working tools combined into one flexible unit. Another holiday gift (it was a good Christmas for Matt), this makes it easy for him to handle projects and fabricate parts that he would normally have to pay someone to do. A bonus for boating life is that it packs into a small case and is powered by batteries, meaning it can be used in remote anchorages or when away from a power source.

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Cruising Cards

Sailors are a social bunch. More than that, they have a sense of camaraderie and duty to look out for and support one another. People often trade boat cards like these to help keep track of others you meet along your voyages. We ordered these online free, plus about $6 in shipping from Vistaprint.

Another small step taken this week was the purchase and creation of our website, It cost a little less than $10/yr and will house our blog, information about Kaleo, our current location, sailing resources, what to expect when coming aboard, and photo albums. But for now, it just links to our blog as we develop other content.

A Tool For The Hunt

In our search to find the ‘right’ cruising sailboat, we created these business cards to help connect us with any and all potential matches. Vistaprint is a great resource to use to make free cards like these (+ $6 shipping). We handed them out to anyone who would take them … to everyone we knew, along the marinas we’d visit, posted them on marina bulletin boards & restrooms, etc. They led to a few calls & were great for new contacts, but ultimately we found our beloved Kaleo through Carolyn at HSH Yachts in Seabrook. We highly recommend working with her in a search!

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