30 June 2014

Our Cheap & Cheerful Travel Style Over Time (Pt 1/2)

The theme this month for Travel Tuesday is "travel style" which got me thinking about all of the travels that Scott and I have done over the 20+ years that we've been married. I think that it is fair to say that our travel style is "cheap and cheerful." We aren't the type of people to stay in fancy hotels, eat out at expensive restaurants or shop up a storm. Instead, we would rather be mindful about how we spend our travel dollars and go on a lot of cheap and cheerful trips, rather than blow all of our money on one fabulous (but expensive) trip of a lifetime. And we're continuing to apply this same philosophy now that we're traveling around by sailboat. 

I thought it would be interesting to take look back through time at the places we've traveled to and how we've tried to do things frugally. We've been very fortunate and had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling so I've split things out into two posts. Today's post starts out with the time we went to Europe and ended up getting married...

1. Eloping to Copenhagen, Honeymooning in Paris

The town hall in Copenhagen where we got married.
Our first time traveling together overseas was when we went backpacking around Europe for a month way back in December 1991. Along the way, we got married in Copenhagen and spent our honeymoon in Paris. As one does. At the time, I was in graduate school and Scott was working as an archaeologist, so we didn't have a lot of money to spend. This trip was definitely of the cheap and cheerful variety, which pretty much set the stage for how we would travel together over the next 20+ years. 

We stayed in one or two star hotels, some of which seemed like their one star rating was a bit of an exaggeration. We traveled on night trains so that we didn't have to spend money on hotels. We bought groceries so that we could make our own lunches rather than eating out. And we got married in jeans and sweaters. No flowers, no dress and no reception. Eloping is a very cheap and cheerful way to get married!

We had a fabulous time seeing places like Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Brussels, and of course Copenhagen and Paris. After that trip, we knew that traveling would have to be a big part of our life together. But unfortunately, work and life got in the way. When you live in the States, you don't get that many vacation days (compared to other countries) and much of our travel revolved around visiting family and exploring the Pacific Northwest where we ended up living. Eventually, we became "grown-ups" and bought a fixer-up house which ate up most of our time and money for many years.

2. Going to Greece and 9/11

I love these amazing purple trees growing amongst the ruins at Olympia in Greece.
Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing on 9/11. When the first plane hit the Twin Towers, we were at the airport in Portland waiting to board our flight to JFK with an onward connection to Athens. We had been so excited about this trip, which would have been the first time we were overseas since we got married. Although we were older, had proper jobs and a bit more disposable income to spend, we still had planned on doing this trip on the cheap and cheerful. We had our trusty guidebook with all of the inexpensive hotels and restaurants bookmarked, planned on taking public transportation and doing everything we could to stretch our travel dollars.

Needless, to say we didn't make it to Greece that day. When it became apparent that there was no way we would be getting there at all and our vacation days were slipping away, we took a short road trip to Vancouver, BC. We so desperately wanted to go somewhere and were so disappointed that our big trip wasn't going to happen so off we went. In hindsight, it wasn't the best idea. Security at the border going into Canada only took three minutes but getting back into the US was a nightmare. 

After arriving in Vancouver we took a room at a Holiday Inn and spent the night. The next morning we took a short hike and then had breakfast. Scott, though he likes Vancouver, really wanted to go to Greece so he called up the airline and was told we were already booked for the next day since it was reported the airports were going to be re-open. So we headed back down to Portland while listening to the radio for news. After taking eight hours to get across the border, the news was that the re-opening of the airports was going to be delayed. Then just as we were getting back to Portland it was reported the airports were to remain closed indefinitely. Oh well, things could have been much, much worse and our situation was extraordinarily trivial in the scheme of things.

3. Moving to Glasgow, Scotland

Some sort of deer with wings in Linlithgow, Scotland
Moving to Scotland was one of the best things that ever happened to us, especially when it came to opportunities to explore the UK and rest of Europe. My company transferred me to Glasgow for a two year international assignment in December 2001. The two years ended up being seven. And they were seven fabulous years! We traveled absolutely everywhere, whenever we could. Some of the best adventures we had were on weekend outings in Scotland seeing the historical sites. You can't walk two feet in the UK without tripping over some sort of historical site and artifacts. And if you are an archaeologist like Scott, it is fascinating. One of the ways we kept thing cheap and cheerful in Scotland was to stay in bed and breakfasts (rather than fancy hotels) and to become members of Historic Scotland which gave us free entry to sites throughout the UK. 

4. EasyJet and Ryanair, We Love You!

I love this carved shutter we ran across at the Folk Museum outside of Oslo. It just screams Scandinavian to me.
Imagine jetting off to London, Paris, Florence or Oslo for a long weekend. If you live in the States, it is pretty much unimaginable and would cost a fortune. Living in Glasgow meant we could get on a plane and within a couple of hours be in another European city for dinner. And it was affordable thanks to budget airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair. By keeping an eye on their websites, we could snag flights for ridiculous prices like £20 return plus taxes. How could you say no?

5. The Package Holiday

The barren landscape of Mt Teide, Tenerife
It seems like people in the UK love their package holidays. And why wouldn't they - airfare, hotel and your meals all included in one price. Lots of folks decide where they want to go on holiday and then find a package deal to suit them. If you travel the cheap and cheerful way like us, you figure out when you can travel and then book a last minute package holiday. If you aren't fixed as to where you want to travel to and can be flexible, you can score some amazing deals. Like the time we went to Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife in the Canary Islands. We stayed at a hotel with half board included which helped us manage our food costs. Rather than book expensive excursions, we used public transport to get to places like Mt Teide and La Orotava. While lots of people go on package holidays to spend time at the beach and pool, or in the bars and nightclubs, we've found that booking last minute deals was an inexpensive way for us to enjoy the cultural attractions and outdoors in places such as Rhodes, Tunisia and Cyprus.

6. Traveling around on Bicycles

If you're going to travel around by bicycle, then you can only bring so much with you in terms of clothes. Kind of like living on a boat.
If you want to travel around Europe and want to save money on a rental car and petrol, then get on your bike and ride! Not only do you save money, but you also burn a lot of calories during the day which means you don't have to feel too guilty about having that second glass of wine or apple strudel. We did two big cycling trips - one in Denmark, Sweden and Norway and another in the Netherlands and Germany along the Rhine. We saved money by taking the ferry from the UK (rather than flying), camping along the way (sometimes) and staying in hostels, bed and breakfasts and cabins at campsites. 

Coming up next week in Part 2, more of our travels in Europe, moving to New Zealand, splashing out in Tahiti, exploring Southeast Asia and, of course, traveling around by sailboat.

We would love to hear about how you manage your costs traveling - what cheap and cheerful tips do you have?

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27 June 2014

Shakedown Cruise Review: Wish List For Our Next Boat (Pt 2/4)

Background - When we decided to become full-time cruisers, rather than buy our "forever" boat and set off around the world, we took a different approach and moved aboard our "for now" boat in New Zealand for the 2013/14 season. We used it as an opportunity to do a shakedown cruise to discover what works and what doesn't for us in terms of the cruising lifestyle before we buy our next boat. This is the fourth in a series of posts on how it all went.

In the last post, we talked about the stuff that we want that makes life easier - like a windlass, lazy jacks, roller reefing and self-tailing winches. In this post, we're sharing our wish list for down below. 

1. The Galley

Many a magical meal was cooked on this stove. And by "magical", I mean pretty much pasta with red sauce almost every night. I need new recipes!
One of the most important parts of a boat for me is the galley. On our last boat, our galley was pretty minimally equipped but functional. And by "functional", I mean we had a two burner stove and a sink with one freshwater tap. We had a reasonable amount of counter space on which to prepare food. One catch though - we tied up a spare water can on the counter which made 2/3 of it unusable most of the time. 

While we managed to survive without a fridge or an oven, these are two things that are on my wish list for our next boat. If I have to pick one over the other, I think it would be a fridge. (Hopefully, I don't have to make that choice!) Having a fridge onboard does involve some trade-offs, like power consumption and the space that it takes up.  But I think it will be well worth it in terms of food storage and more choices about what we can eat. Our next boat may already have a fridge on it, in which case, we'll work with what we get. But if we end up having to install a refrigeration system, it seems like there are a lot of choices to make. Carolyn from The Boat Galley has an interesting article about all the things to think about which I've bookmarked. If you aren't familiar with her site, there are great articles on everything galley related. One of my go to places when it comes to thinking about and planning for the galley in our next boat.

An oven sounds fabulous too - primarily in terms of baking bread. I haven't actually used an oven very often on land over the past several year as the flats I've lived in have those small half ovens which I don't think are really effective as the food is too close to the heating element. Since I'm out of "practice" using an oven, we can probably make do without.

The other thing I think would be really useful is two taps - one for freshwater and one for saltwater. We used saltwater a lot for washing dishes, usually out in the cockpit in a bucket. Would be so much easier to be able to wash in the sink with saltwater on tap. And if I could have two sinks that would be swell too!

2. Sleeping

The settee that Scott slept on and my little v-berth nest. I bet you love the 70s vibe we were rocking with that awesome plaid fabric!
We must, must, must have a better quarters for sleeping on our next boat! On our old boat, Scott slept on the settee because the v-berth was too small for him to sleep comfortably in. Especially if he shared it with me. It was so cramped and elbows and knees were everywhere. So the v-berth became my little nest, which I shared with the laundry, provisions and other bits and bobs. Neither of us really slept well and sleep deprivation is a real drag. It makes people cranky. In an ideal world, our next boat will have a center-line queen size bed. One that is relatively easy to get in and out of and with plenty of room for both of us to sleep comfortably in. This might even be more important than a fridge. But to be honest, a center-line queen size bed probably isn't going to happen on the size of boats we'll be looking at (35-38'). But a girl can dream.

3.  Good Engine Access

Our trusty Yanmar engine which never gave us any problems. Praise be to all the engine deities watching over us! We had pretty decent access to the engine by removing the companionway. It wasn't always easy to top up the diesel, but it was manageable.
Kind of a no brainer, but having good engine access on our next boat is pretty high up on our wish list. I read so many stories about people who struggle to get access to their engine and have to contort themselves in strange positions to be able to see what's going on and fix things. (Not that anything ever breaks on a boat.)

4. The Head

We're simple people - we just want one head. Our next boat will probably be somewhere around 35-38' and it is just the two of us, so I can't see why we would ever want a boat with two heads. Just takes up valuable space that can be put to better use. If our next boat comes with two heads, I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line we would remove one and convert it into something else. Like extra space to store my supply of chocolate and cookies. 

We didn't have a shower on our last boat and instead used a solar shower in the cockpit. I would love to have a shower on our next boat, but I really want it to be a separate part of the head. I hate those set-ups where you shower while standing in the middle of the head which gets water everywhere. I do realize that this may be one of those trade-offs we have to make. I also want a toilet whose seat doesn't break and slide off at the most inopportune time. Like when you're using it and the boat is heeled way over. Yep, this has happened to me

5. Other Bits & Bobs

And some other bits & bobs on our wish list include a separate chart table, no carpet, a good sound system and pretty cushions and upholstery. Okay, that last one is just on my wish list. It should prove to be interesting if our next boat has hideous cushions and upholstery. I know that will be one of the things I'll want to change first. After all, our boat will be our home and I would like to live in something aesthetically pleasing. I suspect Scott's priorities will be a bit different. 

We both agree that a separate chart table would be very desirable. Our last boat was just 26' so we didn't have a chart table which made things awkward at times. And we both absolutely agree that we do not want carpet on our next boat. What a nightmare to keep clean! I also shed hair like there's no tomorrow so the carpet on our last boat was constantly coated with it. And if you spill anything, then you have to worry about stains. So carpet is a no-no on our next boat. And finally, a good sound system would be a huge bonus for us on our next boat. We had one on our last boat and it was great to be able to listen to music down below and in the cockpit. 

So there you go - our wish list for down below. What's on your list? 

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25 June 2014

Fun With Blog Spam

I've been trying to make things easier for our blog readers who like to chat with us via comments. A while ago, I removed the moderation function so that comments are automatically published without having to wait for me to review and approve them. There had only been a handful of spam comments which managed to sneak past the spam filter and make their way into the published comments, so I figured it was easy enough to delete them after the fact. 

That all seemed to be working fine, so a couple of days ago I decided to remove the "captcha" functionality. You know the annoying thing that makes you type in fuzzy house numbers to prove you aren't a robot. Well, it looks like the spambots have figured out that things are a little lax on our blog and the spam comments have been flooding in. Fortunately, the spam filter on Blogger still works well and they don't end up getting published, but they're clogging up my email, so sadly, I've turned "captcha" back on. Sorry to make things harder on you guys!

I've been reading the spam comments and they are hysterical, so I thought I would share some with you.

I think this one only makes sense if you've been drinking heavily.

"Hello mates, its fantastic paragraph regarding tutoring and entirely defined, keep it up all the time."

Wow, I was really starting to believe all of the flattery in this comment. Then I remembered that there isn't too much in the way of valuable information on our blog. Especially as they left this comment on our post on marina life, which was basically a sarcastic look at how we spend our time when we're in marinas. You know, showers, laundry and provisioning. The kind of thing that's really important to community groups.

"We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you."

I kid you not...perfume made out of spider webs, oil and vinegar. I bet you wish I had left the link in so that you could rush off on buy some. 

"This is great for many shoppers that surf day and night on the internet, just a few clicks and you could get your favorite discount cologne delivered right at your doorstep. This is a spicy, sweet classic scent that is an overall popular fragrance by Chanel was created by soaking special perfumed ointment and spider webs in a mix made of oil and vinegar."

Yeah, because if you read my blog at all you can tell I'm some sort of computer genius and know all sorts of things about transferring platforms. Not sure how they didn't notice that I use Blogger as my platform, not WordPress.

"My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using WordPress on various websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform. I have heard excellent things about [naughty spam link removed] Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it? Any help would be greatly appreciated!"

This one was left on a post about roller reefing. Apparently, sailing blogs don't generally talk about things like boat equipment.

"I believe that you ought to write more on this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but generally people do not discuss these subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!"

And my personal favorite because it almost seemed believable. Until you read the part about it being off-topic. They left this on a post about anchorages, you know with beaches so it actually was kind of on-topic.

"Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!"

We've had so much fun with spam, that even Scott has gotten into it. When I asked him to check the draft of this post, this is what he emailed me back. If you've ever sold anything on TradeMe then you may have had an email or two like this. 

"Your topic looks good and I am satisfied with the product. I will be paying more then the asking price so will need you to wire the excess amount back to me. To proceed I will need your bank details. I look forward to concluding this transaction quickly."

Please, if you're not a spambot, keep the comments coming. We love hearing from you!

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23 June 2014

Going For A Walk: Urupukapuka Island {Or The Metric System Is Way Too Complicated}

Urupukapuka Island in the Bay of Islands is pretty good size - 207 hectares. Confession. I just googled "hectare" as I really don't know what it means. And now I know why - it is part of the metric system. Once upon a time, I remember when they tried to go metric in the States. It never really caught on. Which is a shame as I was a kid at the time and my brain was a lot more flexible back then. It probably would have made sense to me. Now, it just sounds like gobbledygook. Now there is a word I understand - gobbledygook. My whole blog is dedicated to the art of gobbledygook. 

But back to hectares, if you're interested. A hectare is 10,000 square meters. If you're American, that still may not help you. One hectare is about 2.47 acres. Now it is all starting to make sense. But whether you think in acres or hectares, Urupukapuka is still a pretty big island. And we had one of the best walks we've ever had in New Zealand there. It is full of archaeology, lots of varied scenery and great views. What's not to love.

Our starting point was Paradise Bay. We were the only boat in the anchorage that day - this rarely happens to us in New Zealand. And it's one of the reasons why I chose Paradise Bay as one of my favorite anchorages in New Zealand in this post here. Solitude can be a lovely thing.

    From Paradise Bay, we picked up the southern side of the Paradise Bay loop. You can see it on the map below. The trails are color coded so that you know what you're getting into - green is easier, red is medium and yellow is steeper. If you do the whole thing, it is supposed to take around five hours. We concentrated on the northern part of the island and were mostly yellow walkers, with a touch of red.

    Via Department of Conservation
    Then we walked along the Urupukapuka trail over to the Patake Loop trail. Scott claims that I tried to lose him along the way. Which is completely ridiculous. He is the skipper of the boat and I really can't sail the thing without him. Highly unlikely that I would try to lose him on an island in the middle of the Bay of Islands. The far more reasonable explanation is that he walks slowly and stops often to take pictures.

    There I am - way in the distance. I'm going to have to start wearing brightly colored clothing so Scott can keep track of me. 

    On the northern side of the island, you get more rugged cliffs. I'm always happy when they have stairs. It makes things so much easier. 

    It is a long way up. When I get cranky about walking up hills, I like to remind myself that I've managed to make it up Mt Hobson and do the Tongariro Crossing. This was nothing compared to those walks.

    Scott likes to take pictures looking down from cliffs. Which is fine except he gets right to the edge of the cliff. This makes me very nervous and I keep telling him to move back. This of course causes him to inch forward. You can see why I race ahead of him on our walks. I can't stand watching him almost tumble down the side of a cliff just for the sake of a picture. 

    Next we picked up the Pa Loop track. This is where a lot of the 66 archaeological sites on the island can be found. The Maori occupied the island long before the Europeans showed up. The island is chock full of history - you can read more about it at the Department of Conservation website here. There are a lot of signs which explain what you're seeing.

    The signs are helpful because otherwise, you might not realize that you're walking past an archaeological site. Would you know what this depression was if the sign didn't tell you? 

    This is the Akeake Peninsula. We walked along it and checked out the beach. 

    And some random trivia before I leave you with a final photo - Zane Gray used the Otehei Bay as a base for game fishing which made it popular with the rich and famous. 

    Walk on Sunday, 2 March 2014

    20 June 2014

    Shakedown Cruise Review: Wish List For Our Next Boat (Pt 1/4)

    Background - When we decided to become full-time cruisers, rather than buy our "forever" boat and set off around the world, we took a different approach and moved aboard our "for now" boat in New Zealand for the 2013/14 season. We used it as an opportunity to do a shakedown cruise to discover what works and what doesn't for us in terms of the cruising lifestyle before we buy our next boat. This is the third in a series of posts on how it all went.

    One of the biggest benefits of doing a "shakedown cruise" on our "for now" boat was that it gave us a really good idea of what we want on our next boat - both the must haves and the nice to haves. If you've read some of my earlier posts, then it will probably come as no surprise that a fridge is a must have for our next boat. But as Scott keeps reminding me, there is a lot more to a boat then its galley. We kept a running list in the back of our logbook and recently took it out to do a little review. It seems pretty comprehensive and we think we've captured the big items, but we thought we would share it so that we can get your thoughts and feedback. 

    Our wish list is pretty big, so we'll start off in this post with some of the stuff that makes life easier.

    1. Windlass

    Our Rocna anchor which Scott picked up with his bare hands.
    Our last boat was relatively small (26') and our Rocna anchor only weighed 7 kgs (15 lbs), so it was easy enough for Scott to pick up the anchor himself. Well, "easy" might be an overstatement as there were times when it took a little bit of effort to convince the anchor that it really did want to dislodge itself from the seabed and come join us up top. But that's what biceps are for - convincing anchors to do what you want them to do. I tried to avoid pulling up the anchor as I'm not a big fan of hard work. I could do it, but much preferred to be at the helm cheering Scott on.

    As we'll be getting a bigger boat with a bigger anchor, a windlass will probably be an essential. A windlass is basically a gizmo that makes pulling up heavy things easier. The anchor chain is wrapped around a cylinder and you use a crank to lower and raise the chain. It is kind of like pulling up a bucket of water from a well. Not that I've ever done that, but I've seen the movies where Lassie barks, "Johnny has fallen in the well! Come help him! Follow me!" And when you follow Lassie to the well, you see a cute little windlass with a bucket attached. If only Johnny had bothered to use the windlass instead of trying to haul a bucket of water up himself, maybe things wouldn't have ended so badly.

    Although you can get electric windlasses, we probably want some sort of manual/electric hybrid one. There are enough systems and equipment that can break on your boat, why take your chances adding a windlass that can only be run with electricity. Seems much more sensible to have a hybrid version so that we can always fall back on the manual option if needed.

    2. Lazy Jacks

    Jack the Cat
    I'm not sure who Jack is and why he is so lazy, but we want him on our next boat. My mom had an orange cat named Jack. He was needy and greedy, as well as a little bit lazy (like most cats). I think he would have made a fine boat cat. But since we can't have a boat cat named Jack, we'll get the next best thing and get some lazy jacks instead.

    Lazy jacks are basically a spiderweb like contraption of lines that are attached to your mast and boom which make furling your mainsail much easier. The mainsail is trapped inside the lines which means that it doesn't tumble down all over the deck in an untidy manner. I hated it when it was windy and I had to try to flake the mainsail on top of the boom and get it tied down. Inevitably, I would get one section done, go to tie it and then it would slip off onto the deck. And I would have to start all over again while Scott shook his head at me in the cockpit. Bring on the lazy jacks.

    3. Roller Reefing

    You can see the Reef Rite set up without the headsail on it.
    If the next boat we buy doesn't have roller reefing for the headsail already, trust me, we will spend the money to get it installed. I've experienced what it is like to make my way out to the bow, clutching the headsail, hank it on manually and hoist it. I've also experienced what it is like to sit in the cockpit and pull on the lines which magically unfurl the headsail. It really is a no brainer. We had a Reef Rite roller furling system on our last boat. Reef Rite is a Kiwi product and considered one of the best set-ups out there. The great thing about it is that you can reef your headsail. Some set-ups only allow you to fully furl or unfurl your headsail. So much better to have the option to reef the headsail when needed. I never really understood how it worked, but I loved it. Scott did try to explain it to me, but I didn't understand so I gave him my patented cat-like disinterested stare. You can read more about it here.

    4. Self Tailing Winches

    You can see one of our non-self tailing winches. Imagine the contortions as one person cranks the winch, while the other tails and helms the boat at the same time.

    Winches are another one of those gizmos that make life easier. Your lines are wrapped around a spool which has a crank which you turn to pull in and let out your lines. And for my mom and others out there, when I say "lines", I really mean "ropes", but apparently you can't say "ropes" if you want to be accepted into the sailing community. That would be too easy. You are required to learn to speak Nauticalese and acquire lots of bruises on your legs. And know how to use a winch.

    Our winches on our last boat weren't self-tailing which meant that while I cranked the winch, Scott had to hold the line and pull on it. We had some interesting gymnastic moves going on in our cockpit with me contorted in some sort of strange position to get enough leverage to turn the crank, Scott steering the boat with the tiller with one hand and tailing the line with the other. Why go to all that trouble when you can get winches that do half the work for you. They cost more money, but it seems like it would be worth it. If our next boat doesn't come with self tailing winches, it isn't something we would probably invest in right away, but they would definitely go on the wish list for Santa.

    So what do you think? Do you have any of these items on your boat? Are they fabulous or could you live without them?

    18 June 2014

    Would You Risk Blowing Up Your Boat For Better Hair?

    "The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair." Audrey Hepburn
    At first when I saw that Kelley was coordinating a topic on "Beauty Routines Afloat" on the Monkey's Fist, I started laughing to myself thinking, "What beauty routine?" I didn't really have one on land and living on a boat hasn't really helped out in this department. I figured it was one of those topics which I really had no place participating in. Very similar to my feelings about bikinis. 

    I'm really hoping Audry Hepburn was right about this whole beauty thing because not only are my clothes not very glamorous, but the effects of all chocolate and cookies I eat on board to cope with gale force winds are showing up on my figure. Hence, no bikinis for me. I do, however, comb my hair everyday. So, I've got that going for me.  

    If you want real beauty tips, I'm sure Kelley will have some great posts to share. But if you want tips about how to disguise hairy legs or fool people into thinking you've washed your hair (while possibly causing your boat to explode), then by all means, read on.

    1. Bruises are a great distraction from hairy legs.

    I'm all about the glass being half full rather than half empty. This applies not only to wine, but also to your attitude. When we first moved on to the boat, I was really starting to get despondent about all the bruises on my legs. When you boat gets tippy and you're a bit of a klutz and you have skin that bruises easily like a turnip, then chances are you're going to get a lot of bruises. They aren't pretty and when you go onshore non-cruisers tend to look at you funny. But then one day, I realized that the bruises were like the best concealer ever. There were so many of them and in such exciting shades of purple, green and blue that no one noticed how hairy my legs had become. Glass half full! 

    2. Freckles are cute in moderation.

    When I spend a lot of time in the sun (as one does when they live on a sailboat), the freckles on my nose come out. I think they're cute and they make me forget that I'm not wearing any make-up. Of course, they're also a sign of sun damage, so the one thing I do religiously every day is to put sun cream on. Because one thing make-up or freckles can't disguise is melanoma. You can read more about why I take the harsh New Zealand sun so seriously here.

    That's was a bit of a downer, so here's a joke to make up for it:

    Q. Why do bananas have to put on sunscreen before they go to the beach?
    A. Because they might peel!

    3. Want better hair? Say a little prayer to St Martin de Porres. 

    I have quite possibly the worst hair ever. It is really fine, gets greasy really quickly and either frizzes out from my head at very strange angles or sticks flat to my head in the most unflattering way. On land, I usually work around it by washing it every other day, using a hairdryer and saying a little prayer to St Martin de Porres before I leave the house. And if you're wondering, before becoming a saint, Martin was a barber-surgeon in Lima, Peru back in the day. In addition to knowing a lot about bloodletting, he also knew a thing or two about cutting hair. He also did a lot of other good works, but it is all about the hair for me.

    When you live on a boat and have to shower and wash your hair in the cockpit, in the often cold waters of New Zealand, and you don't have a hairdryer, then things aren't all that pretty. Showering becomes a luxury and I've found that saltwater can leave an interesting crunch in your hair. I tried all sorts of things like shampooing my hair with washing up liquid. But the best thing I found was a little gift a friend gave me of Batiste dry shampoo. It works wonders - my hair seemed cleaner, the chemical fragrance covered up the natural odors emanating from my head and it had a bit more body. Or as much body as super fine hair can have.

    But one teeny, tiny problem. When you turn the can over, you can see a warning that the product is highly flammable. If you live on a boat with LPG and open flames, this can be a bit worrying. I still used it though. I figured if the boat exploded at least my hair would still look good. Safety vs. beauty - sometimes you have to make choices.

    I do have one other solution if you don't want to take a chance with causing an explosion on your boat and you're having a bad hair day. It's simple - you just need a box. It's probably better for the environment too.

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