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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 LifeChurch.tv 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

Week 1 Wrap-Up
It’s been an eventful first week of cruising. As we start to adapt to this new lifestyle, here are some highlights from the past 7 days.
  • 235 miles traveled
  • 3.5 nights spent on the hook (anchored)
  • 3.5 nights docked (the .5’s represent our first night where we were half anchored, half tied to a dock at Stingaree’s)
  • 6 fixed bridges and 1 lift bridge passed under and 2 pontoon bridges passed across
  • 2 locks crossed
  • An insane amount of mosquitos killed during their ambush at our marshy anchorage in Taylor’s Bayou (buggy!)
  • 4 times stuck in the soft mud of the ICW
  • 2 times towed off of the soft mud of the ICW
  • 1 gator crossing
  • 2 engine issues (jammed oil pressure relief valve, broken pre-heat solenoid ground)
  • Enough notes and voices of encouragement to keep our spirits up as challenges were overcome
  • 7 spectacular sunsets
  • 7 days we’re grateful for this dream coming to life

First Full Day Of Cruising

What began as an early and calm morning turned out to be quite eventful. We cast off from our marina docks at about 6:00 a.m. with one of our slip neighbors generously snapping photos and wishing us Bon Voyage.

Kaleo motoring out of the marina

From there, we:

  • Navigated an unexpected crane crossing at the entrance to Clear Lake (yep, before we were even fully out of the marina). They quickly moved the crane arm to let us by, so no biggie.
  • Needed to make a quick stop into Seabrook Shipyards for Matt to walk the half-mile to have our propane tanks refilled. (We missed their closing time by about 30 mins on Sat.). Well, they were out of propane but had empathy for our plight so the guy working there drove Matt to a nearby competitor to get them filled. On the ride back, they got to chatting and Matt learned that our new friend had just been released from spending 9 years in prison. He was a nice guy, trying to get his life back together, and we graciously thanked him for his favor and prayed for his renewed path.
  • Had a beautiful motor sail to Galveston averaging 7 knots (and a record time for us in 3 hours)
  • Got stuck in the mud as we were entering the ICW. An embarrassing Tow Boat US visit but it was good to have learned our depth sounder about 2 feet off from being accurate. Insurance paid off for us again with this one.
  • Made our way along the ICW for a bit, only to find our intended destination to be a dilapidated structure that was formally Steve’s Landing (cross that off your must-see list).
  • Our back up anchorage was Stingaree’s Marina and Restaurant. Well, our chart plotter wanted us to believe it was about 2 miles closer than it actually was and sent us down a misguided channel to get bogged in the mud AGAIN. A serious chat with the Big Guy upstairs, and Matt at the helm, returned us into the ICW to continue on by calling Stingaree’s for their exact location. (A good lesson to never trust one source of navigation equipment.)
  • Ah, within sight but just out of reach to their finger pier (think your pinky finger pier for size), we were just about to breathe a sigh of relief when… you guessed it. Stuck. That makes three strikes on our first day. So, we tied up to the piling with a long line, dropped the stern anchor and were out of the ICW for the night. Another sailboat, who hadn’t made it to the anchorage before dark, frantically searching for a place to tie up for the night, almost became stuck in the mud with us but we were able to relay the shallow depths to them before they turned in.

Welcome to the ICW jungle.

After enjoying breakfast migas for dinner, we headed to bed early with anticipation for the next day’s 40 mile run (that’s long for a slow moving sailboat).

N 29° 28.07/W 94° 38.71

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

Preparation By The Numbers

The tallies are in and we’re in the home stretch to setting sail. There’s still plenty of work to do (as always) but soon enough the tally on lines tied to the dock will be zero.

  • 4.5 – Hours each way from Dallas to Kemah, Kemah to Dallas
  • 9.25 – Hours spent in the car with each other, each trip to Kaleo
  • 323.75 – Total hours of drive time so far!
  • 19,320 – Miles traveled between Dallas and Kemah, to date, since we bought Kaleo
  • 1 – Trip to go before we set sail!
  • .5 – Average trips to Sonic per weekend
  • 95 – Average summer temperature in Kemah (projects got started early in the morning and our A/C got a lot of use)
  • 0 – Trips to the ER (though Christie tried to get us there at least twice)
  • 6 – Overnight guests aboard Kaleo so far (awesome crew!)
  • 5 – Trips going aloft (up the mast)
  • 5 – Stories high (the height of the mast!)
  • 2 – Times ran aground so far (been able to free ourselves without help – so far)
  • 1 – Tows back to our marina slip (engine overheated in the Bay, was certainly worth having insurance)
  • 2.5 – Average trips to West Marine per weekend
  • 2 – Average product return/exchange trips to West Marine per weekend
  • 5 – Immunizations (just to be safe)
  • 20 – The most frequently asked questions that we happily answered here
  • 24 – Hours we’ll be spending together each day in our new Huck Finn lifestyle
  • 2 – Potentially crazy (in love) people aboard

Thanks to Windtraveler for this ‘by the numbers’ idea.

Category: Inspiration, Refit  Tags: ,  2 Comments
Big Bang Weekend

Fourth of July on the water is an event we really look forward to each year. Not only do we get an extra day off work to spend aboard Kaleo but we love to anchor out in Galveston Bay to watch the fireworks. Last year we had a great fourth with family aboard and it was repeated this year with our good friends Maurice and Janay joining us for the weekend. Maurice had been aboard before but this was Janay’s first stay, though by the end of the trip she was a regular salt.

The rainstorm on the way down led to a beautiful rainbow for our marina arrival

The road trip down on Friday included our traditional midway pitstop into Buc-ee’s and we arrived at the marina after some crazy weather. Most of Houston was flooded due to Hurricane Alex weather coming up from the Gulf having us wade through water 2′ deep in our SUV to bypass some traffic. That evening we stayed dry at T-Bone Tom’s for dinner and then headed to bed pretty early.

The next morning we woke up to a beautiful day, cooked a healthy breakfast and prepared for a day on the water. There was a little cloud cover coming in from the South but it wasn’t anything foreboding. That soon changed as a squall set in between us and the channel to the marina. After a quick talk with the crew we decided to motor to the marina as no one was having a blast getting wet. NOAA weather predicted rains the rest of the day so we headed in for a few rounds of train (dominos), a boat project and to cook dinner.

The 4th of July dawned a bit too hot and sunny so we headed to the movies for a perfect retreat from the hottest part of the day. As soon as we returned to the boat, we made ready for sea and headed out in search of a suitable location to drop anchor for the show. We had a pit stop at another marina to put the name “Kaleo” on the back of the boat because the Coast Guard was hanging out at the Kemah channel entrance and we didn’t want any trouble from them. Since we are a USCG registered boat we are required to have the vessel name visible on the transom. However, we were between buffing out the old name and applying the new. The blue painters tape method looked a little shabby but it served its purpose for the day.

Working on the temporary Kaleo name graphic

Heading into the bay we quickly found a spot amidst the multitude of boats and watched the fireworks barge pull into place. Setting the anchor went very well and so did cooking dinner aboard. Moments after darkness fell, the sky lit up from all directions as the surrounding towns proceeded with their fireworks shows. And then BOOM!, the first of the Galveston Bay fireworks shot off and vibrated the hull of Kaleo. We were about 500 yards from the barge and had some of the best seats in the bay. A lengthy and colorful show ensused. Last year we spent over two hours in a traffic jam of boats to get back in so this year we decied to sail around for a bit to let the boat jam clear up a bit.

Well, sailing around a bit turned into an incredible night sail, returning us to the slip after 1 a.m. We had one of the best sails yet, hitting speeds of 6.7 knots. Kaleo slid through the black water like a knife with Maurice piloting her to perfection. He and I enjoyed some music in the cockpit, occasionally highlighted by laughter from the girls who were laying on the foredeck. This was all highlighted by the fireworks barge occasionally firing off undetonated rockets while it steamed back to its berth. This lit the whole sky and reflected a rainbow of colors across the sails. That was sailing!

A Big 0 Means We’re 1 Step Closer

We recently had a red-letter day in pursuing the cruising dream! As of April 29, 2010 we officially own Kaleo and no longer owe the bank a dime on it. More importantly, it was a red-letter day in life – We are officially debt free! We don’t owe a dime to anyone. No ifs, ands, or asterisks involved.

Screen shot of our loan account

Not only is it great to have paid off the boat, it feels even better because we did it earlier than planned (thanks to the payback of a generous interest-free loan we gave the government last year – aka our tax return) and a dedicated savings plan outlined by Crown.

Since before our marriage we have both been following the biblically-based Money Map (which is available for free right now) from Crown Financial Ministries. Following its steps have guided us to this liberating day of being debt free. The Money Map outlines specific steps to not only becoming debt free, but achieving true financial freedom (being able to use the resources we’ve been given to help others and live enjoyably).

Of course, our intention is to stay debt free as we follow the remaining steps of saving for a future land house, our future children’s college funds, and … well you’ll just have to order a Money Map to find out!

Obviously, we’re big fans of Crown, their Money Map and the daily money management tool we use, Crown Mvelopes. Whether you’re 6 or 60, Crown has advice, tools and live counsel to help you easily manage money successfully.

We are shifting our boat payment into the cruising fund and will build it up as much as possible before we take off. Now we just need to keep working on all the boat projects!

Our Dream On Paper

Just received the latest newsletter of the Christian Boaters Association. We were reading through the stories and stumbled upon a feature about our dream! It’s really exciting to us that it was shared with others through an organization we hold in high regard.

The CBA Newsletter, Shipmate

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
A Christopher Cross Kind of Afternoon

Our first solo sail adventure aboard our Kaleo in Galveston Bay. Looking forward to many more!

We were intrigued by the shrimp boat & wished they’d share with us. A little afternoon dancing on deck. We tossed aside the dock lines this afternoon & set sail for nowhere in particular … just a relaxing, fun & confidence-boosting adventure.

The Engine Gets New Zincs

No, we’re not smuggling hot captains across Galveston Bay. Today I walked up into the cockpit to find Matt down in the port side lazarette changing the zincs in the engine (prevents the sea water from corroding the cooling system). Just when I’m convinced he’s contorted himself into every nook & cranny of our boat, he always seems to find new places to explore. I love this face!

Annual Transgrape Series Race

Our friends Tim & Diann aboard their beautiful Catalina 28, Coquette.Transgrape Race course board. It’s a long one!
Deck hands at the helm.
A day that blessings are made of! We started the day sailing in the annual Transgrape Race on Lake Grapevine with our friends, Tim & Diann, aboard their speedy Coquette. After a great race, Matty took me by Casa Bellamini before ending the evening watching our wedding video that had come in that day and it is uh-mazing! Thank you God for giving me this awesome man.

Go now, and live.

(via we heart it)

Our Dream, God Willing

We’re standing on a cusp right now, looking forward to the journey of a lifetime.

And we desire to start that life a little different than some. Our dream is to take some time to experience the world, to slow down, reset our expectations of things to come and enjoy the world that God created.

Someday soon our plan is to, at least for a while, cast off the lines in search of adventure and sail about the world. The ultimate goal is to change our perspectives forever. This cruising lifestyle, as it’s called, is not a permanent vacation, nor an escape from our lives, nor running away. Rather, it is running (or sailing) toward the life we want to define for ourselves, creating the environment that will build our bond for a lifetime together.

We have certainly heard plenty of reasons not to but as one fellow cruiser put it: “The best reason ‘not to’ is because you will be forced to face the unknown. You will meet challenges that you may not be able to solve with the skills you have already learned.” You may only overcome some circumstances with ingenuity, perseverance, and the grace of God.

Through the joys and challenges of sailing about the world in our modest little house we will be forced to solve problems in ways that draw us closer together, see people’s lives wholly different than our own, and interact with a world full of people that most never folks never know exist.

Our own desires are not the only driver for this lifestyle, as we would like to help and serve the people we meet and share experiences with along the way. The ultimate calling of this service will be to show and share the life-changing message of Jesus.

Plus lounging on a few pristine white sand beaches will be nice :)

For more details about our plans and follow our progress return here.

“There are two options in a person’s life — reflection and action. One is an opportunity to think about it, the other an opportunity to live it.”

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